Want to play robots who aren’t dumb space robots that lost to elves? Want to play a killer gunline that isn’t anime fish? Are you into body horror that isn’t torture porn or supernatural? Are you into SCIENCE? Then Adeptus Mechanicus is the faction for you.
As with the rest of these articles, the idea is not to give an exhaustive review of every single unit and option. Instead, each section will give a brief summary of what’s available, picking up on key units/relics/stratagems, highlighting clear trap choices, and then discussing how best to utilise the good stuff. For Ad Mech this is a little easier than most, because the Codex unit selection is a bit thin. We’re also going to mostly exclude Knights from this – the Imperial Knights book is the “real” Knights codex, and the ones included in Ad Mech don’t really benefit much from being in here. We will cover the unique-to-this-book stratagem Knight of the Cog though, since that does have a big effect on what a Knight can do. Finally, although this is primarily a discussion of the codex we will talk about the recently-released units that came after the book was out (i.e. the Tech-priest Manipulus and the new Skorpius tanks) and briefly touch on the Forge World units added by Warhammer Community.
Without further ado then, let’s talk about the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Strong gunline options. Every slot has great shooting options that work against elite and horde armies alike
- Very good counter charge and first turn pressure melee units that can disassemble the unprepared
- Between Stygies VIII, Terrax Drills and Duneriders, the army is surprisingly flexible and mobile
- No pskyers, removing participation in a sometimes very significant part of the game
- Not great native screening options to keep deep striking threats or fast melee units away
- No FLY anywhere in the codex – even on the hoverboats
- Melee options are fragile
Solid. Not the S-tier of GSC, but not in the dumpster with Space Wolves. I’d put them on the same tier as Drukhari, Imperial Guard, or Sisters. You can expect to take Ad Mech to an event and do well with them, and they’re strong against things which are prevalent in the meta right now, plus their style of shooting means that you aren’t disadvantaged against hordes even if your main focus is anti-vehicle or vice versa.
Canticles of the Omnissiah
Canticles are an army wide bonus that is rolled for or chosen at the start of the battle round. Once you have chosen a canticle you cannot select it again (though there’s a stratagem to let you pick once more) but you can still roll into it after. One of the major benefits of Mars with Cawl is getting to roll two dice and adjust them up or down one, which means you very often can have whatever you want for another round.
- Incantation of the Iron Soul: reroll failed morale checks. Certainly not bad, especially with the book’s encouragement to run large squads of Kataphrons, walkers, or Vanguard.
- Litany of the Electromancer: Roll a die for each enemy unit within 1” of your units. On a 6 deal d3 mortals. Bad, but sometimes worth fishing for to break out of combats or sneak in some extra wounds.
- Chant of the Remorseless Fist: Reroll 1s in the Fight phase: Very good for your melee units to be more consistent. One of the few melee rerolls in the book.
- Shroudpsalm: Be in cover, even when not in cover. Super duper good. Usually the default and the one to pick turn one to save you 2CP for Prepared Positions.
- Invocation of Machine Might: +1 Strength. Can help Infiltrators get to the S7 breakpoint, Dragoons up to S9, Priests to S6, and even your normal dudes to S4 for punching down on Guardsmen. Very solid, but generally would want Remorseless Fist instead.
- Benediction of the Omnissiah: Reroll 1s in shooting. Not always a great pick depending where your reroll bubbles are, but allows you to spread out.
Ad Mech have a few strats that affect Canticles that are worth noting:
- 2CP Divine Chorus: Once per battle, before rolling or choosing, choose a Canticle that has already been used. Can be helpful if you’ve already burned Shroudpsalm and super need it this turn.
- 2CP Gloria Mechanicus: At any time, change your canticle to something that has not already been used OR roll for another. I’ve seen this used to pick Shroudpsalm on your opponent’s turn after going first to take advantage of the offensive canticles, or vice versa for offense after using Shroudpsalm.
Like every good 8th edition codex, Ad Mech has several subfactions that unlock a package of a Dogma, relic, warlord trait, and strat.
- Dogma: Glory to the Omnissiah: When rolling for your canticles, roll an extra die. doubles do nothing extra. Allows for better consistency getting Shoudpsalm and can honestly turn your army into being ok at combat with +1 Strength and reroll 1s in the Fight phase. Very solid, always useful, especially with….
- Character: Belisarius Cawl: The Archmagos himself, and only unique character in the book, is a monster of an HQ that can 100% be built around. We cover him in more detail below, but rest assured that Cawl is a great reason to play Mars all by himself.
- Relic: The Red Axe: one of several melee weapons meant to be put on a Dominus. This one is +1S -5AP 2D. Yawn.
- Warlord Trait: Static Psalm-code: Add 3” to your auras. Cawl’s trait. Extremely Cawl and good with his giant oval base. The 9” bubble allows excellent maneuverability on the table when trying to shoot around terrain or stretch out units to screen.
- Strat: 2CP Wrath of Mars: On 6s to wound, generate a mortal wound in addition to the damage dealt. Holy guacamole cyborg Batman. Combined with rerolling all hits this can allow for some filthy damage from doubleshooting Kastelan robots (54 shots from 3 bots), a blob of deep striking Infiltrators (50 from 10 models), 10 Vanguard (30 shots from a squad of 10), or even a Skorpius Disintegrator in a pinch (~18 shots on average from the artillery version). This is what allows Admech and Mars in particular to punch way above it’s weight.
- Dogma: Refusal to Yield: Roll a d6 for each model that is killed or runs, on a 6 they are not removed. Basically a fancy FNP that is much more effective on multi damage attacks, since you just roll once and either live or die instead of having to pass twice for a 2 damage weapon or whatever. It’s good.
- Relic: The Cerebral Techno-Mitre: Dominus only. Start with +1CP. Sadly one of the better relics in the book.
- Warlord Trait: Emotionless Clarity: Models within 6” of your Warlord can shoot assault or rapid-fire weapons like pistols in combat. Eh. A few slightly better bolters or whatever isn’t going to bail you out of combat.
- Strat: Steel Mind, 1CP Iron Logic: On a 4+, stop a psychic power manifested within 24”. The reason many Rusty 17s are Graia. Giving you an excellent chance to turn off a key power can be game winning.
- Dogma: Relentless March: Can advance and shoot with no penalty and changes rapid fire to assault when you advance. Like the Tallarn doctrine in Astra Militarum it allows for some surprising mobility with infantry, but is only ok in a book with much better packages.
- Relic: The Adamantine Arm: Only one swing, but it’s a big one: Sx3 AP -3 D3. Still, mediocre.
- Warlord Trait: Units within 6” can shoot after falling back, with a -1. Very good in a gunline book that doesn’t want to get touched and lose a Shooting phase. The rest of the package makes this a pretty bad trait though.
- Strat: 1CP Deafening Assault: Pick one unit in the morale phase, all enemy units within 6” are -1 Leadership. Basically worthless.
- Dogma: Staunch Defenders. Overwatch on 5s. Like Tau, but without For the Greater Good which is what makes that really powerful.
- Relic: The Eye of Xi-Lexum: At the start of shooting pick a vehicle within 18”, reroll 1s to wound against it (unless it’s a Chaos vehicle, then reroll all wounds). I guess Chaos Knights might be a thing where you’d want this? Certainly not worth building around.
- Warlord Trait: Reinforced Exoskeleton: Attacks to your warlord deal -1 Damage, minimum 1. Domini have enough wounds and a 2+/5++ to make this ok, but if your warlord is getting shot/punched in an Ad Mech army he’s probably not too long for this world.
- Strat: 1-3CP Fresh Converts: At the end of the Movement phase, pick a unit of Servitors or Kataphrons, pull them off the table and setup again within your deployment zone, 6” from a table edge and 9” from enemy units. Sounds good but Destroyers want to be Ryza, Breachers want to be Mars, and you can at most respawn 5 bases (pulling 1, bring 6 back) in a limited fashion.
- Stygies VIII
- Dogma: Shroud Protocols: -1 to hit outside of 12”. It’s the Alpha Legion/Raven Guard/Alaitoc trait. Excellent on Dragoons with their innate -1 to hit, and for keeping the whole gunline protected.
- Relic: The Omnissiah’s Hand: Roll a die for each unit within 1” during the fight phase: on a 4+ do a mortal wound. Eh.
- Warlord Trait: Xenarite Studies: +1 wound for your warlord against filthy xenos (non-Chaos, Imperium, or unaligned). While semi tanky and ok armed, a Dominus or Manipulus isn’t good enough to burn a trait on this.
- Strat: 1CP Clandestine Infiltration: Choose when placing model in deployment. At the start of the first battle round but before the first turn begins, move this unit up to 9″. It’s the Alpha Legion/Raven Guard strat, but Ad Mech is pushing up a transport full of Fulgurites, or a brick of Dragoons. Can be game winning on the spot but is usually just a ton of pressure and screening for the rest of your gunline.
- Dogma: Red in Cog and Claw: Can reroll wounds of 1 in the Fight phase. This is not a close combat army.
- Relic: Weapon XCIX: Replaces a volkite blaster: 24” Heavy 3 S7 -1 D2. 6s to wound take a mortal on top of the damage. Certainly not a bad gun.
- Warlord Trait: First-hand Field Testing: Choose one of your warlord’s non relic weapons, +1 Strength and Damage. The Dominus 5 shot pistol just got a lot cooler.
- Strat: 1CP Plasma Specialists: Choose a unit: +1 to wound rolls and +1 damage with plasma. Using this on a brick of plasma Destroyers is extremely popular and is devastating. Another build around strat.
- Dogma: The Solar Blessing: When making Saves -1AP becomes 0. Can make your army even more tanky against medium strength shooting. Combined with Shroudpsalm or Prepared Positions this can allow for some surprisingly hard to shift turns.
- Relic: The Solar Flare: Give the bearer a once a game 30” teleport. Very good. Allows for some great mobility, and a Dominus is strong enough to bully some back line troops.
- Warlord Trait: +1 Invul for your warlord. Going down to a 4++ on a Dominus? Pass.
- Strat: 1CP Legio Teleportarium: Set up a unit from your army in deep strike. Great to hide key units. Can setup a real cute three-part combo with a Datasmith, a brick of close combat Kastellans, and the Cybernetica Cohort detachment.
That’s a lot of Forge Worlds to choose from! There’s a surprising depth of choices here. Mars is an obvious pick for a shooting-heavy army, because Cawl is a huge force multiplier and also gives you much greater ability to manipulate Canticles in your favour. Stygies VIII has gotten weaker as the edition has gone on (like its brethren in Raven Guard and Alpha Legion, the stratagem used to be even more powerful), but it’s still a powerful choice which opens up some great pressure options and also gives you a great defensive buff. Graia’s super-FNP and stratagem are less useful for a mainly Ad Mech army, but great for a souped-in detachment which enhances something else Imperial, especially if that something else is lacking in psychic defence. Ryza’s plasma stratagem is enough on its own to boost a big block of plasma Destroyers, which can be game-winning (though it relies a lot on going first). Even Lucius has a place. The only outright losers are Agripinaa and Metalica, which just don’t offer enough compared to the other options available to you.
Adeptus Mechanicus gained two specialist detachments in the Vigilus Defiant book, the Cybernetica Cohort and the Servitor Maniple
The Cybernetica Cohort is all about the robots. It affects Tech-priests Dominus, Enginseers, Cybernetica Datasmiths, and Kastelan Robots. There’s an ok Warlord trait in here (once per game, repair D6 wounds on a unit of robots instead of D3) and relic (change your battle protocols on a unit of robots at the start of your next Movement phase if they’re within 9″ of the bearer).
There’s two 1CP stratagems here too. Power Surge lets you pick a unit of Kastelan Robots at the start of your Charge phase (as long as it’s within 3″ of a friendly Datasmith in the Cybernetica Cohort) and add 3 to charge rolls. This is ok, but punchbots aren’t that big of a deal competitively (though they’re hilarious for casual games). The other option is Strafing Fire Run, which allows a unit of robots in the Aegis Protocol (the default one) to treat Heavy weapons as Assault for that turn. Again, ok if you want to shift your guys T1 without a movement penalty (or even advance them!), but it’s a lot of investment to get there.
The Servitor Maniple also affects TPDs and Enginseers, but then covers both types of Kataphron and the humble Servitors. This is a great little package – the Warlord trait allows you to feed a unit of Servitors to a unit of Kataphrons and either restore D3 wounds or restore one dead model to the unit (with 1 wound remaining). The 1 CP Enhanced Bionics stratagem gives the Kataphrons a 5+ invulnerable save – great for sticking on a big block of guys and bringing down to a 4++ to make them super hard to remove. The other stratagem, Noospheric Mindlock, is also 1CP and can give a unit of Kataphrons within 6″ of a SERVITOR MANIPLE TPD +1 to hit in Shooting – again, great for dropping on a big block of dudes who’re gonna blast away at an opponent’s key unit. The only miss here is the Genecog Corpus, which is yet another relic omnissian axe in a book stuffed full of them, but it’s still at least ok and it’s not like you have a ton of other great relic options in Ad Mech.
Of the two, the Servitor Maniple is by far the better one – it pairs with some units that were already strong and makes them even better. The Cohort is cute, but mostly lets you do fun things rather than things which are necessarily good.
With the army wide and faction stuff out of the way, let’s tackle the units.
In each section, we’ll list out the units in the slot, then discuss them in detail. Most of the time we try and only look at the good units in a faction, and only briefly touch on the rest, but the good news is that almost everything in the Adeptus Mechanicus book is useful to some extent (yay!) and also the unit list is not very long (boo!) so we’ll just cover them all.
After slogging along with just the TPD and Cawl back in the Index days, Ad Mech gained the Enginseer as an HQ option in the Codex and then the Manipulus later on when the Kill Team box released. The Enginseer is a bit of a band-aid solution who doesn’t really fit in as any kind of HQ choice, but at least there’s a cheap option to fill the slot out. The Manipulus brought some new toys along though, and if you don’t have one already he’s well worth investing in to pair with Cawl or a TPD.
Already covered above – he’s so good you play Mars to get access to him. He’s 190 points, 8 Wounds, T6, 2+/5++, regenerates d3 wounds a turn, repairs anything Imperium, has a crazy solar laser, and 4+2d6 swings in combat hitting on 2s. His real strength though is his reroll hit rolls (not failed hit rolls) in the Shooting phase, getting around the rerolls-before-modifiers rule, making a lot of the BS4+ shooting in the book significantly more attractive. He also lets you add or subtract 1 from your Canticle rolls. So any 3, 4, 5 on two dice gives you Shoudpsalm. A+ would build a Cawl castle again.
The default choice if you are investing into the army but not playing Mars and Cawl. Reasonably tanky with some ok weapons, the main purpose of the Dominus is to provide a reroll 1s to hit bubble. Also regenerates and repairs, though not quite as well as Cawl does. Domini are a little hard to get excited about because they’re just sort of there. At least it’s not very expensive to get rolling with them – if you play Ad Mech you will end up owning ten of these without ever trying.
The new kid on the block from the Kill Team box, this guy opens up some interesting options for the army. The Manipulus is worse in combat than a Dominus, but has a cute gun that gets better if he doesn’t move. His real secret sauce is the ability to add 6” to nearby units’ range, allowing Destroyers and Kastelans to shoot at 42” and to threaten 48” and 50” respectively. This allows some short legged units to significantly increase their range. His other trick gives a unit +1 advance and charge, which is great for sweeping forwards onto objectives once your opponent’s main threats are dead, though because of the beginning of turn timing prevents it from being used on units arriving from deep strike or getting out of a transport.
Your 30 point HQ filler. Bad at combat and shooting with only two melee swings and las pistol, though still useful in a vehicle heavy build since they can repair d3 wounds on an Adeptus Mechanicus vehicle which lets them stick around a little longer. Bear in mind though that the d3 repair is subfaction locked (units that don’t share a <FORGE WORLD> tag with him can only get 1 wound back), so be careful when mixing detachments.
Troops is a great slot for the Adeptus Mechanicus – all four options have a place and offer something, and they’re all fun to use and effective on the table. If GW nailed any part of the book, it’s this.
The filler basic troop, coming in at just 7pts each. They come in groups of 5-10 armed with 30” pseudo rending bolters firing at BS3+. A group of 5 can take 2 special weapons, and a group of 10 can take a third, picking from the list of transuranic arquebus (the best sniper rifle in the game), arc rifle (cheap and surprisingly deadly), or plasma caliver. Generally for these guys you’re looking at either running them naked, or taking the arquebus and sitting them at the back – though arc rifles are also pretty great on them. Plasma calivers range match better with Vanguard (below). A 4+ armour save and 6++ invulnerable round them out, though bear in mind that they’re only T3. Good, solid line infantry.
For the privilege of another point per dude over the Rangers, you get a 3 shot S3 18” gun that causes 2D on 6s to wound. The Vanguard also make non vehicle enemies -1 Toughness when they’re within 1″. Honestly MSU is the name of the game with these duders. Like Rangers they can take 2 specials per 5 guys or 3 for 10, from the same list as Rangers. Plasma calivers pair well with these guys – and don’t forget that you can utilise the +1 to hit (+2 to hit if you had a data-tether) stratagem to stop them killing themselves!. I’m warming up somewhat to MSU plasma guys now that there is a cheap transport out there but 11 point guns are still a little to justify.
Breachers are T5, 3 wounds, 3+/6++, equipped with a 2 shot heavy arc rifle (S6 AP-2, d3 damage, d6 damage against vehicles) for ranged combat and 3 swings with an ok arc claw for melee. This makes these guys an extremely hard to shift brick of wounds that are extremely dangerous to vehicles. The other options cost more and are worse – stick with the basic set-up.
Destroyers lose an armor save and cost significantly more, but carry d6 shot plasma guns or 5 shot heavy grav-cannons. A common build for these is to take them in a Ryza detachment and use their +1 wound +1 damage stratagem and pair it with the Elimination Volley (2CP for +1 to hit) to get a bunch of guys hitting on 3s and avoiding overheats.
Kataphrons are very different to most troops in the game. They have multiple wounds, large bases, and significant shooting abilities which make them something that can certainly be built around. They can also move and shoot heavy weapons with no penalty, which is great for being able to hide them and then pop out later on. They are slow though, with a mere 6” move and a requirement that they only advance D3″. As such they tend to not get very far, though the Manipulus can help them get hustling in later turns.
Elites is a bit of a funny slot for Ad Mech. It contains some great units in Electro-Priests and Sicarians (though in both cases, these are dual-build units where one build is way better than the other) and some weird stuff like Datasmiths and Servitors, which are mostly good for their interactions with one specific unit. There’s also a couple of Forge World units in here which bear mentioning, in the form of the Secutarii units.
Both kinds of Electro-Priest share a statline, with S3/T3, W1, A2, and a 6+ save. Corpuscarii have WS4+/BS3+, which Fulgurites trade with for WS3+/BS4+. You can take them from any size from 5 models up to a massive block of 20.
Both sets are basically melee units. Corpuscarii come with gauntlets with both shooting and melee profiles – either Assault 3 S5 guns with no AP and a 12” range that do 3 hits on 6s, or S5 melee gauntlets which also do 3 hits on 6s. They also have a 5+ invulnerable save and 5+ FNP. The same rule that gives then that save, Voltagheist FIeld, also means that when you charge you roll a d6 per model in your unit and do a mortal wound on a 6 to one of the units you charged. Basically there’s a lot going onhere. For 14 points a dude, the Corpuscarii can be cute with Wrath of Mars, but they’re a little expensive. 5++/5+++ is ok, but not exactly the toughest save.
The Fulgurite version is the real money here. Instead of the gauntlets they carry an electroleech stave which does S5 -2 Dd3 attacks that do d3 mortals on 6s to wound. Also, and importantly, their Siphoned Vigour rule means that if they kill a unit in melee they go to a 3++ save, and can hunker down on an objective at the end of a turn and use the Acquisition at any Cost stratagem to get +1 attack and get down to a 2++. That suddenly makes them a lot more resilient, great for bailing out of a drill or a Dunerider and wiping out something small like Scouts and then roaming around with a 3++/5+++.
Either flavour can also use the Zealous Congregation stratagem to fight twice in a Fight phase, so if you really need something dead – or you want to clip something small like Scouts first to get your save, and then smack a unit that actually matters afterwards – you can burn a hefty 3 CP to do so.
The relevant stratagems here are:
3CP Zealous Congregation: Fight again at the end of the Fight phase with Electro-Priests.
2CP Acquisition At Any Cost: At the end of your turn choose an infantry squad within range of an objective to get +1 attacks and saves.
The way to get robots to change protocols without a stratagem. Almost completely replaced by a relic in the Cybernetica detachment. These guys are kind of cheap, but they’re also just kind of there. When a unit can be replaced by either of a stratagem or a relic and go completely unmissed, it probably isn’t a good unit.
These guys are garbage on their own, though they make ok 20 point slot fillers if you really wanted to fill out a brigade on the cheap. The Servitor Maniple is the main reason to take these – hide 4 of them out of the way behind cover somewhere, and then use them to feed a unit of Kataphrons and keep them ticking a little bit longer. In the meantime they can also hold an objective or something, though sitting on a backfield objective is rarely a problem in this army.
Another dual kit and dual unit here, this time the Sicarians. There’s two versions of these – the sneaky Infiltrators and the murderous Ruststalkers.
Like the Priests, these share a profile – M8″, WS and BS 3+, S4, T3, W2, 4+ save, plus the 6++ bionics invulnerable shared with all Skitarii. Ruststalkers have a slight bump in Attacks, with 3 (4 for the Princeps) whereas Infiltrators only have 2/3. Both come in units of 5-10.
Sadly Ruststalkers aren’t all that. They have no shooting and few options for delivery (though the advent of Duneriders and drills make them a little better in this regard). Really they suffer for being a melee-only unit in the same slot as Priests, who are less durable thanks to the inability to get a 3++. They’re also great targets for things like avenger gatling cannons.
Infiltrators are the better option here. Armed with taser goads which make them S6, which hit 3 times on a 6+ to hit (that can proc on 5+ with the Conqueror Doctrina Imperative stratagem), plus 5 flechette blaster pistols, these guys are a very solid harassment unit that unfortunately seems like it trades down more than it should. Unlike the Ruststalkers, these can deep strike, which makes them great for dropping in to a backfield and blasting away at something. They are an excellent way to deliver a 50 shot Wrath of Mars. They also have a little bonus in the form of the Neurostatic Aura, which reduces the Leadership of enemy units within 3″. Overall these guys are pretty cheap, offer something different, and can throw out a bunch of mortal wounds with the stratagem. Worth an investment for sure.
The relevant stratagems here are:
1CP: Protector Doctrina Imperative: +1 hit in shooting for a Skitarii unit. +2 if they have an enhanced data tether, which is a mere 5pts.
1CP: Conqueror Doctrina Imperative: same, but in combat!
Forge World (the company) bois armed with a spear and shield. Do not get a Forge World (the dogma) but do not break detachments. Come in squads of 10-20. There is some rumbling of using these guys in a brick of 20 to be a screen/counter charge unit, and at 9ppm for a guy with a 4+/5++(4++ in combat) with 2 attacks at S6? I can see it. I’ve also seen these guys in Duneriders as a discount Fulgurite Priest countercharge unit. It’s hard to actually recommend these guys, but they’re not trash either.
The other FW bois. Have a 3 firing mode gun: Rapid fire 2 lasgun, 30” Heavy 1 S4 -2 1D, or an 18” Assault d3 shots S3 indirect fire gun. A way to get indirect fire is good, but outclassed now the Skorpius Disintegrator exists. Also can pop smoke! These are hard to really justify except on the basis that the models are cool, and if you want that probably go with the Hoplites instead.
Ad Mech only have two Fast Attack units, but both of them are really cool, so y’know, there’s that. Ballistarii benefited from a couple of points cuts to both themselves and their weapons in Chapter Approved, and the overall 15pt drop makes them a fair bit more viable.
These are fast, surprisingly tough with T6, W6, and -1 to hit natively, and have gross damage output with 3 attacks at WS3+, and their taser lances making them S8 and going up to 3 hits on 6s to hit. They’re also Skitarii, so they can take advantage of Conqueror Doctrina Imperative as discussed above to throw out 3 hits on 4s. These really want to be Stygies VIII and sat in their own detachment to achieve that, and this combo is worth building around. Adding another -1 to hit outside of 12” on top of their built in -1 to hit makes them really tough to get rid of. Infiltrated up the table with the Stygies VIII stratagem, they hit like a truck and force answers from your opponent immediately, which is some great pressure to be able to apply.
As mentioned above these got really cheap. At 60 points per, these are large models that come stock with 4 shot cognis autocannons, or can take twin cognis lascannons and be a build around blob of cognis lascannons that can move and shoot without penalty. These can be a great shooting platform, but you can also use them and their giant bases as cheap blockers and screeners to protect your other stuff – particularly since they can take advantage of Cognis Overwatch to fire at full BS3+. This can be a nasty surprise for something like a Venom or Sentinel trying to tag your unit to stop it shooting, or if equipped with autocannons can absolutely shred a cheap chaff unit – great for tearing up Genestealer Cult stuff intending to drop in and tie up your gunline.
Both Ironstriders and Dragoons can also benefit from Dunestrider, which allows them to roll 2d6″ to advance – great for getting them around the table. There’s no advance and charge stratagem, but Ballistarii can advance and fire cognis weapons with Rage of the Machines, so judicious CP use can get them moving around fast and then blazing away with their autocannons (though note that the stratagem only applies to one model, so if you have multiple in the unit you need to think about whether advancing is really the right call).
1CP Rage of the Machines: A VEHICLE can ignore movement penalties for Heavy or advancing with Assault weapons, and can advance and fire cognis weapons.
1CP Cognis Overwatch: fire Cognis weapons at full BS in overwatch. A blob of 5 or 6 Ballistarii getting full overwatch is pretty terrifying.
1CP Dunestrider: Use when a unit of walkers advances, roll 2d6 and add that total to their movement.
Heavy Support is where a lot of the Ad Mech action is. Running Spearhead detachments or double Battalion is very common in pure Ad Mech lists so that you can maximise your available Heavy Support, since it’s these guys who do all the heavy lifting. Robots are super variable in their performance – they can completely carry a game, and can also be tied up and locked out from ever shooting. The Dunecrawler and Skorpius are both excellent cheap platforms that can provide a baseline of fire all game if you keep them moving.
The Dunecrawler is a great little gun platform, coming in cheap in any of its 3 gun configurations. It’s not quick – 8″ move on its top profile and only D3″ advance, though like the Kataphrons it can move and fire Heavy without penalty – but at T7, W11, and a 3+/5++ (1s re-rollable on the invulnerable if it’s near a friend!) it’s tough to get rid of for its cost, especially since it can be repaired. Check out the Robot Wars battle report where Serotonin and Corrode’s completely failed to kill each other for the best part of a game!
Of the gun options, the default eradication beamer is cheap and terrible. The neutron laser is thereotically great, with S10 AP-4 and a minimum damage of 3 all the way up to 6, but it’s expensive and thanks to the proliferation of invulnerable saves in the game, kind of disappointing. The strongest option here, ideally taken in a Mars detachment to take advantage of Cawl’s re-roll bubble, is the Icarus array that provides 10 shots across 3 different weapon profiles. One thing that’s worth calling out here is that the Dunecrawler can take a 0pt enhanced data-tether, which lets nearby things add 1 to Leadership (as long as they’re within 3″ at the start of their Movement phase) and is also SKITARII, so it can take advantage of Protector Doctrina Imperative which can boost its BS. Great for taking out flyers, or even just reducing the impact of that -1 BS on the Icarus array.
Better known as 50s robots from outer space. These guys can be punchy or shooty. Their base profile is solid by itself – WS/BS4+ hurts a little, but they’re S6, T7, W6, with 3 attacks and a 3+ save. They also have a 5+ invulnerable against Shooting attacks which, on an unmodified 6 to save, does a mortal wound to the unit which fired at you. They also have three Battle Protocols: the default Aegis you start the game in which gives +1 save (meaning you start the game at 2+/4++), Conqueror, which stops you shooting but does allow you to fight twice, or Protector which plants the bots so they cannot move, but in return they get to double their shots. If you’re using Conqueror you’re probably taking these guys with the fists, which make them S10, AP-3, D3, whereas if you’re aiming to use Protector you’re probably taking triple heavy phosphor blasters for a staggering 18 S6 AP-2 D1 shots per robot.
Either way it’s a lot, but shooting tends to be the strong pick here. With 3 of them that is 54 shots rerolling everything with Cawl and an excellent Wrath of Mars target, and using Elimination Volley with some nearby Destroyers can get them to BS3+. Being planted is a huge liability and needs to be done carefully since you cannot walk out of combat if they get tied up without changing protocols – using robots to full effect requires you to screen very cautiously, or have other ways to clear out chaff which might aim to tie up your robots, such as allied psykers to throw Smites into it.
Changing protocols either requires them to have a nearby Datasmith, roll a 2+, and then change in the next battle round, or alternatively you can use Binharic Override or the Cybernetica Cohort relic to change instead.
1CP Binharic Override: At the end of any phase change the unit’s Battle Protocol, but it cannot be changed again for the rest of the game.
The new tank. This thing is pretty good! T7 and W12 3+ is a good defensive base, although it lacks the invulnerable save of the Dunecrawler or robots. It’s BS3+ on top profile and armed with 3 cognis heavy stubbers, a 36″ d6 shot S7 AP-2 Dd3 missile launcher, and a 48″ Heavy 3 AP-3 D3 ferrmuite cannon base. You can swap the cannon for an excellent indirect fire option with 3d3 S6 AP1 D2, which is 5pts cheaper than the ferrumite. Either option is good (though the indirect fire brings an option you don’t really have, whereas the ferrumite is more of the same), and at 111/116 points this thing is a solid performer.
Terrax-Pattern Termite Assault Drill
There’s two dedicated transports for the Adeptus Mechanicus, and neither of them is in the codex. The drill is a Forge World model with rules on Warhammer Community (see the link at the top of the article), and the Dunerider is a new unit which was only released in late 2019, and so far its rules are contained only in its own box. Both offer up great options for the Adeptus Mechanicus, and as someone continuously pining for mechanized game play to be good I’m looking forward to pushing around a hillbilly cyborg yacht club.
The other half of the Skorpius kit. Drops 1 Toughness to carry 10 dudes and have 12 stubber shots. It’s pretty unremarkable until you realize it’s just over 6 points per wound with a 3+ armour save and usually has a cover save when you need it thanks to Shroudpsalm, and therefore it’s the cheapest points per wound in the book. That makes for some very efficient durability, and along with being able to deliver MSU plasma Vanguard or Fulgurites to the front line with its 12” move, you can get a lot of out of this land boat. Plus they look cool!
Terrax-Pattern Termite Assault Drill
The Forge World transport we have had for a while. Comes with a transport capacity of 12, a d3 shot melta gun, 2 stormbolters, deep strike, and has a silly 6 S14 AP-4 D3 swings in combat (and if that’s not enough to kill your target, you can also start drilling and inflicting mortal wounds!). This thing is no joke. However, that combat prowess comes at almost twice the price of the Dunerider, and without having supporting rerolls its WS4 is unremarkable. Still, the drill offers great flexibility – you can fill it with Electro-Priests to drop into the backline, or you can throw in a couple of characters and Troops squads to suddenly throw a pile of units into an area of the board and take over distant objectives and force your opponent to deal with them.
Other tips and tricks
The rest of the stratagems not mentioned above are a pretty standard affair, mostly consisting of stuff that’s not that good or super situational. Obviously there’s the standard 1/2 extra relics strat, but we’ll also cover a few little bits here which don’t fit anywhere else.
- Dataspike – 1CP – use after fighting with a character, resolve one additional hit against a vehicle and if it hits, do D3 mortal wounds. Super situational, but worth remembering if you really need it to get rid of something vital.
- Benevolence of the Omnissiah – 1CP – use on a vehicle model when it suffers a mortal wound; for that mortal wound, and any you take for the rest of the phase, you can roll a 5+ to ignore it. Great for defence against haywire, or psychic, or whatever else. This technically can be used on Questor Mechanicus stuff too, but Knights have their own version if it anyway, so it’s not super relevant any more.
- Tech-adept – 1CP – after repairing a vehicle, use this and you can immediately try and repair again, and even repair the same model. Great for when you really need a vehicle back online, and great to combine with the Autocaduceus relic to max out your return.
- Machine Spirit Resurgent – 1CP – use at the start of any turn on a vehicle to use its top profile for the turn. Great for ekeing out just a little bit more from a beaten up Dunecrawler or Skorpius. You can also use this on a Questor Mechanicus Knight, but also it exists in their book too.
- Infoslave Skull – 2CP – if a unit sets up within 12″ of one of your infantry units, you can fire at it at -1 to hit.
- Machine Spirit’s Revenge – 1CP – auto-explode one of your vehicles when it dies. A great way to vindictively wreck something.
The Ad Mech generic relics are pretty much all mediocre to bad. Lots of relic axes which can only go on non-combat units, relic guns which are sidegrades at best, and my personal favourite, the relic power fist which can go on literally one model, the 2-attack Cybernetica Datasmith. Someone was asleep at the wheel writing these. That said, there’s three which are worth picking up in your free relic slot, though probably not paying CP for:
- Anzion’s Pseudogenetor: Add d6 S4 Ap-1 1D swings in combat which re-roll to wound. Not bad for throwing on a Manipulus to use him for chaff-clearing – he can throw out his axe + 2d6 S4 attacks, perfect for kicking out Genestealer Cultists or whatever from your backfield.
- Autocaduceus of Arkhan Land: Regen one wound a turn for the bearer and reroll repair checks. Great for getting a few more whacks of the spanner on a key vehicle, and since your Tech-Priests are probably going to be hanging out at the back with vehicles, it’s easy to get use out of.
- Raiment of the Technomartyr: 6+ FNP for the bearer, and units within 6” that roll a 6 in Overwatch generate another shot. It’s a lot less exciting than it looks when you realise that it’s an extra shot and not an extra hit, but if you don’t have any particular use for another relic, you might as well use this.
It’s really hard to get enthusiastic about Ad Mech relics. In any 2.0 codex this is one of the areas you’d really hope they would address.
Warlord traits are also a bit lacklustre, though not as bad as relics. We covered the faction-specific traits up at the top there, but the generic traits are:
- Monitor Malevolus: Gives you a once per game reroll of hit/wound/damage for your Warlord and get CP back on 6+ for each Stratagem you or your opponent use
- Magos Biologis: Re-roll failed wound rolls for your Warlord against INFANTRY, BEAST, or MONSTER units
- Mechadominator: -1 to hit for VEHICLES which target your Warlord
- Necromechanic: Regain 1 additional wound when your Warlord repairs something
- Chorister Technis: Re-roll to randomly select Canticles (note that you can only re-roll the first dice even if you have Mars)
- Prime Hermeticon: Friendly <FORGE WORLD> infantry within 6″ of your Warlord can re-roll hits in the Fight phase
Of these, Magos Biologis and Mechadominator are completely worthless, Chorister Technis is ok, and Monitor Malevolus and Necromechanic are solid. Prime Hermeticon sits in a category of its own; it can completely change how an army is composed, because getting a Dominus acting as a chaplain suddenly makes Fulgurites or Infiltrators really mean. Great for putting on a guy who’s gonna bail out of a drill and support a combat unit, though it can take a bit of set-up to get right.
Knights are in the book! And they even have their own strat!
Knight of the Cog – 1CP – Use before choosing your canticle, that canticle applies to a Knight who is within 12” of a tech-priest.
Another perk of the Rusty 17 being added to a Knight detachment or for a Knight being included in a “pure” Ad Mech army (the ITC allows scores for AdMech armies with a single friendly knight to be counted in the AdMech rankings). Giving a Knight a cover save or reroll 1s to hit can be extremely good. A great combo here is the Armour of the Sainted Ion on the Knight for a Knight which then gets Shroudspalm, giving it a 1+ save – against popular choices like avenger gatling cannons which rely on weight of AP-2 fire, you’re still at a 3+ save, which is as strong as the old Rotate + Ion Bulwark used to be.
Oil Stock Soup
I’ve focused mainly on staying within Ad Mech itself, mainly because going all in into Ad Mech tends to require a pretty expensive character and it would be a waste to not get the maximum use out of his aura. However, Ad Mech is still Imperium, and there are all sorts of options out there for mixing and matching. Adding a loyal 32, smash Captains, Librarians, Custodes Shield-Captains, or Inquisitors for denials, or even still stay “pure” (for ITC purposes) with a Knight are all certainly options. Ad Mech also gets splashed all over the place with the “Rusty 17” detachment of 2 Enginseers and 15 Rangers, but I’ve seen and played with adding in just Dragoon or Fulgurite rushes to other Imperium armies, and now that the Skorpius Disintegrator exists three of them and a Dominus is 438 and a ton of varied and self-sufficient shooting.
Assassins also exist, and I find it hard to justify not using one. Having a sideboard and extra downtown threat is worth the 2CP and 85 points. We have a whole article where Wings talks about it using them here, and you can read some tournament reports where I made heavy use of them (mostly the Callidus) here, here, and here.
The End of the Line
That’s the tour! Ad Mech has been very good to me this season. It’s a strong shooting codex with a lot of moving parts that can click together. The points drop in Chapter Approved 18 turned this book into something real solid. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and found it informative and helpful. Inevitably there’s going to be stuff you disagree with us, or where you think we’ve missed a trick. If you spot any, or have any other feedback, hit us up at email@example.com or over on our Facebook Page, and we’ll do our best to respond.