Ruleshammer 40k: Armour of Contempt

Welcome to Ruleshammer! My ongoing attempt to make sense of the many rules, abilities and interactions of both in games of Warhammer 40k. You can find more Ruleshammer Q&A by clicking the banner below!The April 2022 Dataslate is here and we have a new rule: Armour of Contempt, which applies to a whole bunch of armies and units. I thought I’d take a few moments though to answer some of the instant questions players both on our Discord and on reddit have been asking about this new rule!

Can AP be worsened past AP0 to “AP+1?”

So this one thankfully is a pretty easy one to answer out of the gate: No, AP can’t be worsened past 0; you can’t have AP so bad that it improves a model’s chances of saving against the attack. This is covered in the Glossary… (where 50% of the rules now reside).

Reducing an AP characteristic: When reducing an AP characteristic, add the appropriate amount to the characteristic, to a maximum of 0. For example: reducing an AP of -1 by 1 would result in an AP of 0; reducing an AP of 0 by 1 would result in an AP of 0.

Or worse (AP characteristics): When referring to the value of an AP characteristic, a worse value is one with a lower number after the minus sign (note an AP of 0 can be considered to be an AP of -0). For example, an AP of -1 is worse than an AP of -2, and an AP of 0 is worse than an AP of -1.

There’s been some discussion on whether “reduce” and “worsen” mean different things but I think that these entries to heavily reinforce the idea that they are the same. GW just have some very confusing language around AP because of it’s nature as a negative number.


Who gets this rule – which models and armies?

So there’s two sides to this, first lets check the wording of this new rule:

Each time an attack is allocated to an Adeptus Astartes, Sanctic Astartes, Heretic Astartes or Adepta Sororitas model, worsen the Armour Penetration characteristic of that attack by 1.

This rule does not apply to any of the following:

    • Models equipped with a storm shield, a relic shield, or a combat shield (or a Relic that replaces one of these shields).
    • Models with either the Sacresant Shield or Force Shielding ability (Celestian Sacresant and Nemesis Dreadknight units).
    • Models that are under the effects of any other rule that worsens or reduces the Armour Penetration characteristic of an attack.

So the part of this tells us the keyword factions which get the rule. Adeptus Astartes covers most Space Marine units (even Servitors), Santic Astartes covers Grey Knights. So far pretty obvious. Heretic Astartes is a bigger umbrella though, and includes Codex Chaos Space Marines as well as units in the Death Guard and Thousand Sons codexes. While these units have their own unique Astartes faction keywords (Bubonic Astartes and Arcana Astartes), they also have Heretic Astartes as well. And finally, there are the Adepta Sororitas. These keywords apply to most of the models in these armies, so all the tanks, the dreadnoughts, and even the battle chapels (sisters are a bit weird) will benefit.

TheChirurgeon: Something to note here is that some units, like the Plagueburst Crawler, have the HERETIC ASTARTES keyword even though they do not have the BUBONIC ASTARTES keyword.

The second part outline some restrictions for these rules that excludes some specific models. The first two are fairly simple: Units that already have some types of shield, be they extra slabs of ceremite or something a bit more arcane. The last of the three exclusions is slightly more nuanced and leads on to our next question.


How does this interact with other AP rules?

The last line might benefit from some clarification. For instance this Death Guard psychic power from the Terminus Est discipline:

Malediction: Rotwind has a warp charge value of 7. If manifested, select one enemy unit within 18″ of this PSYKER. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, each time a model in that unit makes an attack, reduce the Armour Penetration characteristic of that attack by 2 (to a minimum of AP 0).

UPDATE: Lacking further clarification on this I think the best RAW interpretation is that Rotwind affects the attack models not the models with AoC, so AoC can stack with Rotwind. GW have modified abilities that don’t synergise with AoC in several codexes, even updating a Chaos Space Marines trait before the book was released.

Previous Answer

I think you would not be able to use Armour of Contempt against any of the attacks this enemy unit makes, but a player could argue that this power is a rule affecting the enemy unit and not a rule affecting the models being attacked. This one could use some further clarification.

There’s also issues with how the AP reduction can cause a model to become “affected”.

When resolving an attack made with a weapon that has an Armour Penetration characteristic of -1 against a friendly IRON WARRIORS unit that is within 6″ of this WARLORD and receiving the benefit of cover, that weapon is treated as having an Armour Penetration characteristic of 0. You must apply all modifiers to an attack’s Armour Penetration characteristics (e.g. the Dour Duty Stratagem) before seeing if it is affected by this Warlord Trait.

So this Aura specifically says that you should apply all modifiers to an Attacks AP before checking if this stratagem applies. However by doing so the units is affected by another rule that worsens or reduces AP. So is there a RAW way out of this? I’m not certain. Whilst it certainly seems like a unit affected by this Aura should be able to apply Armour of Contempt on an AP-3 attack. Which would reduce it to AP-2 and not trigger bastion. An AP-2 attack is more complex, it would trigger bastion and then not get Amour of Contempt. Another interpretation is that if a unit has any such rule that might affect “an attack” then it can’t use Armour of Contempt at all. This based on a perhaps slightly thin reading of the last line.

    • Models that are under the effects of any other rule that worsens or reduces the Armour Penetration characteristic of an attack.

As rather than saying that models don’t get Armour of Contempt if another AP modifying rule would affect “this attack” it says “an attack”, which doesn’t specifically have to be this particular attack. This interpretation does avoid any weird loops but it’s very thin, and relies on a interpretation of “under the effects of” that I don’t usually subscribe to. I don’t think having a rule that is currently doing nothing, can be described as effecting the unit.

I think my preferred suggestion is that you can just benefit from one such rule and you pick which.

Pre FAQ Suggestion: Armour of Contempt can not be combined with any other AP worsening rule the attacked model can use, when resolving an attack against a unit affected by Armour of Contempt and another AP worsening rule the controlling player of that target unit must select to either benefit only from Armour of Contempt or only their other AP worsening rule/rules. The effect of Armour of Contempt can never be used to modify AP to trigger a different defensive rule. AP worsening applied the the attacking unit would not prevent AoC.

Have any questions or feedback? Got a rules question you want answered? Drop us a note in the comments below, ask a question in our Ruleshammer form, or head over to r/ruleshammer to discuss.