Credit: Booley, again. Damn those are some fine Repulsors that I covered up with some fast Photoshop text.
It seems like only last week we were posting long-winded musings on the value of the Repulsor Executioner. And now all of that work is essentially wrong, thanks to an extremely lowkey points update published on the Warhammer Community Downloads page. Cool!
That said, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs(?) if we weren’t ready to respond to these changes with gusto and new strategies! So in today’s Hot Take, I’m going to be looking at the changes to the Executioner, what they mean for its overall points cost, and what they mean for Space Marine armies on the tabletop.
Let’s start by going over what changed:
- Repulsor Executioners increased in cost by 30 points.
They’re now 215 points base. The Twin Icarus ironhail heavy stubber also went up in cost by a single point for some reason that cannot possibly matter. We’ll address how the points changes affect the unit’s efficiency as a gun platform below.
- Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and Deathwatch can now take the Repulsor Executioner.
This is actually a pretty big deal! Well, for some chapters more than others. We’ll talk about that below as well.
The Points Increase
We should start here. A 30-point increase in the cost of the Executioner is a pretty big deal. Any list built for the upcoming NoVA tournament that was running 3 Executioners will now find itself 90 to 93 points over the 2,000-point limit with little room to make cuts. It also has a significant impact on the unit’s efficiency when it comes to comparing it to other mobile weapons platforms. If we update some of our work from last week, here’s what we get:
VS. INFANTRY: Points per Wound Caused (By Firing Unit, Per Target)
|Repulsor Executioner w/Heavy Laser Destroyer (fired twice, before points change)||20||30|
|Repulsor Executioner w/Heavy Laser Destroyer (fired twice, after points change)||22||33|
|Relic Leviathan Dreadnought||25||41|
VS. VEHICLES: Points per wound caused (By Firing Unit)
|Repulsor Executioner||Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought||Relic Leviathan Dreadnought||Relic Sicaran Venator||Hellblasters (Supercharged, within ½ range)||Hellblasters (Supercharged, Long Range)|
You could be forgiven for not seeing the difference. With a 10% points increase comes a 10% drop in efficiency for the tank, which means that while before the Executioner was very competitive from a points-per-damage standpoint, it’s now merely on par with the other options in the Marine Armory, and that’s not great, given that some of those options have better BS and/or access to Chapter Tactics. In particular, the Contemptor Mortis strongly outperforms it now as an anti-vehicle platform.
That said, a 10% increase in cost is significant when it amounts to 30 points per (i.e. 90 for three), and we expect this increase will have a significant negative impact on the Executioner’s chances of seeing lots of tournament play. It’s still not a bad tank, nor an unplayable one, but it’s just no longer a bargain and that means that it will struggle to overcome other options in the Marine arsenal when lists need heavy firepower to turn to.
The New Chapters
For some of the chapters, having access to an Executioner is potentially a very good thing. If you are a Deathwatch or Dark Angels player, stick around! If you are a Blood Angels player, well, stick around and read the rest so our site metrics look good, but there’s nothing special for you here. The Repulsor is still an OK tank for your army (see above), but it doesn’t benefit from anything special related to your chapter.
Space Wolves Executioners
There is one thing to note about Space Wolves Executioners (and big thanks to one particularly keen-eyed reader on the Facebook Competitive 40k Group for spotting this), and it’s that Space Wolves Executioners can use the Keen Senses stratagem to ignore penalties to hit when firing the Executioner, a handy trick to have when you’re facing down perfidious Eldar flyer spam. If you find yourself dealing with many incoming deep striking units, you can also pair your Executioner with a Rune Priest to use the Chooser of the Slain stratagem (2 CP) to shoot the incoming units, albeit at a -1 penalty to your To Hit rolls. Our initial read was that Space Wolf Repulsor Executioners weren’t bringing much to the table, but we definitely missed a couple of things, and so kudos to the Competitive 40k group folks for pointing them out. These won’t make Space Wolves or their Executioners super-competitive, but it’s good stuff to have in your back pocket if you’re running them.
Dark Angels Executioners
Surprisingly, the Dark Angels are well-positioned to use the Repulsor Executioner thanks to their Weapons from the Dark Age Stratagem, which turns the Macro Plasma Incinerator into a much stronger weapon; it’s 1.75x better against hordes with its ability to average 7 shots each time it double-fires (and in regular charge mode), while supercharged with an additional +1 damage, it’s suddenly a more effective weapon than the Heavy Laser Destroyer, and one with more upside (reminder: If you are using a CP reroll with the gun, the number of shots is the best place to use it).
Weapons from the Dark Age turns the gun into a real powerhouse, and having the support of Azrael and a Lieutenant or Talonmaster can make a Macro Plasma Incinerator a powerful force on the battlefield. The plasma was already a better option against troops; by giving it +1 damage it becomes the superior weapon by a considerable margin; worth about 1 extra damage per volley against T7 targets and about half a point against the T8 targets. As a result, for the Dark Angels the Plasma Executioner is a much more versatile weapon, and cheaper by 8 points (though admittedly trading that cost for CP investment). The downside is that you can only use the stratagem once per turn; so we’d recommend having at most two plasma Executioners on the table at once.
For the Dark Angels, the best way to use the Executioner is to add it to a “battle pile,” stacking it with Azrael for his re-roll To Hit rolls aura, a Lieutenant for the re-roll To Wound rolls aura, and a Darkshroud for its -1 to be hit aura. Even if you don’t end up with the first turn, you can use the Prepared Positions stratagem to get a cover save bonus for your tanks, and being T8 with a 2+ save and a -1 to be hit is about as tough as you can be in 40k. If you run 3 Executioners, this pile is going to cost you close to 1,400 points out of the gate, at which point you may decide that Troops choices aren’t really part of your army’s strategy.
Deathwatch Executioners are the real winners from this update, though. Executioners not only give the Deathwatch some much-needed long-range firepower that they were sorely lacking, but also benefit from a host of stratagems and relics that turn their already considerable firepower into something even more deadly (and what some would call “downright gross”).
The first of these is the Malleus Doctrine, a 2 CP stratagem that gives a Deathwatch unit from your army +1 to its Wound rolls when shooting at a Heavy Support or Lord of War unit. This doesn’t need a ton of explanation – functionally the two main guns on the Executioner already give you S9+ so against almost any target in the game, this gives you a 2+ on your To Wound roll, which is a significant increase in potency.
The second is the Furor Doctrine, which does the same but against enemy units with the Troops battlefield role. Another handy trick, especially given the large number of anti-infantry guns on the Executioner.
Those two stratagems will cover your firing needs for a single turn with regard to make sure you get 2+ To Wound rolls on all targets, big and small. Now we just need to do something about those pesky 1s. Fortunately, Mission Tactics have us covered, letting us re-roll To Wound rolls of 1 so we can turn our 83% chance of wounding into something more like a certainty. You might say “but Goonhammer, you can’t use Mission Tactics on a vehicle!” That’s true, but you’re in luck – you can use the Tome of Ectoclades relic to give your nearby DEATHWATCH units Mission Tactics, and that includes things which would normally not be able to benefit from them (check the FAQs). This relic works especially well on a Watch Master, because his aura gives you re-rolls on all failed To Hit rolls for your Deathwatch units within 6″.
On the whole, it’s a pretty CP-intensive trick for an army that struggles to generate CP. But what it does do is let the Deathwatch functionally replicate most of Guilliman’s aura by giving multiple Executioners re-rolls to hit and re-rolls of 1 to Wound vs. their preferred targets, plus give them +1 to Wound against specific targets as well. For the tank that’s getting +1 to its To Wound rolls, the effect is actually better than Guilliman’s sick aura, but for any others nearby, you’ll be slightly less effective.
Two other stratagems worth mentioning here are Intercepting Volley and Synaptic Severance, the Deathwatch stratagems targeted at Aeldari and Tyranids. If any Aeldari flying units are stupid enough to land near a Deathwatch Repulsor Executioner, you can spend 2 CP and take them off the table; Synaptic Severance doesn’t even require that much, and instead for 2 CP you can target any SYNAPSE CHARACTER even if they’re not the closest. Got a backfield Malanthrope which you need to get rid of? Point the Executioner at it, and away it goes.
This stuff isn’t going to make Deathwatch a dominant force on the tournament scene, particularly now that the Executioner is 30 points more expensive and much less efficient, but it is a cool trick that helps the Deathwatch get more out of a powerful unit that fills a role they might struggle with. If you’re playing pure Deathwatch, there are many worse strategies you can roll out, and even at a higher cost, the damage output of a re-rolling, wound-boosted Heavy Laser Destroyer is pretty nasty.
It seems as though the Repulsor Executioner’s time in the spotlight was pretty short-lived, as we expect the 30 points per model price increase will see it falling off many competitive lists, or at least dropping in numbers. What’s most surprising to us is the timing and style of the announcement – no fanfare on Warhammer Community, just a Facebook post and a stealth update to the downloads section, of all things. And on top of that, far from an FAQ and with a new Codex supposedly on the way this year. It’s an odd, nonsensical way to update the cost of a model that really could have waited until either the Fall FAQ or the Chapter Approved 2019 release. Still, the downside of the points hike is mitigated, albeit a tiny bit, by the other specialist Marine chapters finally having access to the tank. It’s not going to make Dark Angels or Deathwatch into top-tier armies, but it does give them a couple more fun tricks to play with, and that’s good for everyone.