Start Competing: Adepta Sororitas/Sisters of Battle Tactics

Credit: Robert "TheChirurgeon" Jones

Do you want to run an infantry-heavy force of devout warriors, marching forth to war (literally) shielded by their faith in the emperor? Does being able to call in miraculous assitance to pull off improbable dice rolls at key moments sound like your kind of fun? Or do you just want to throw a large number of fanatics wielding chainswords bigger than they are at your opponents? If any of these sound like you, read on.

Sisters of Battle received the last “full” codex released for 8th, a strong, well-designed book building on the lessons learnt by the developers throughout the edition, and players saw decent success with armies build around their powerful melee units and characters. 9th Edition, however, is where the Adepta Sororitas have really come into their own. The melee and board control elements are well-suited to playing the GT2020 missions, and the wargear updates that accompanied the release of the Space Marine codex have given many of the army’s ranged units a massive power boost. That has put the Sisters in the enviable position of being one of the game’s current armies to beat, taking a Tier 1 slot in our most recent tier list update at the time of writing and with multiple builds proving themselves worthy of taking podium spots at events. Whether you’re a long-term, dedicated fan of the faction or want a brand new army to flex your competitive muscles, there’s never been a better time to try out the Adepta Sororitas on the tournament scene, so if that’s got you fired up, read on!

This guide was updated for 9th Edition in December 2020.

Army Strengths

  • Powerful Army-Wide Abilities: Between Shield of Faith, Order abilities, Sacred Rites and (especially) Acts of Faith Sisters have a ton of strong special rules that charge the army up.
  • Great Board Presence: Sisters have a wide variety of infantry options, pretty much all of which are sturdy and competitively priced, letting them control the board and objectives very effectively
  • Lethal Damage Spikes: Between Repentia and act-of-faith using Retributors, Sisters can pick something they need dead and hit it extremely hard.
  • Dynamic Range of Tricks: The Sororitas stratagem sheet is massive, and there’s a whole bunch of nasty things you can do with Acts of Faith to ruin an opponent’s day, giving a knowledgeable general an array of options to outsmart the opposition.

Army Weaknesses

  • Low Toughness: Sisters have decent saves and near army-wide invulnerable saves, but at only Toughness 3 for their infantry, many weapons in the game are gonna be wounding you on a 3+ or even a 2+. If you run into a list that can whittle you down, you need to be ready to adapt on the fly.
  • Psychic Powers: Sisters have some tools for denying powers, but lack any native access to psychic of their own, and they don’t really have any other mortal wound options to compensate.
  • Short Ranged: Sisters do have a few powerful ranged units, but the bulk of the army needs to close to operate at full efficiency.

While this list of weaknesses remains unchanged from 8th, astute readers will note that none of them are nearly as big a problem for the army in 9th – games tend to be close-ranged and brutal, Psykers are currently moderately disincentivised by secondaries, and hordes definitely still exist but are a smaller part of the metagame, so fewer opponents are really gunning for them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that leaves the Sororitas in an extremely good spot!

Competitive Rating

Sister Superior Amalia Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Tier 1

I mean we spoiled that up above, but yeah, Sisters are one of the best armies in the game right now, and have a diverse and powerful enough range that we don’t see that changing any time soon.

Special Rules

As suggested by us listing it as a strength, the Adepta Sororitas have a tonne of special rules going on. We’ll break them down in this section, starting with the one that everyone got most excited about when the book released (and with good reason).

Just before that, it’s worth quickly noting that this book is slightly unusual in how many units have different keywords from one another. The unifying faction keyword for the book is Adeptus Ministorum, with a large sub-set also having the Adepta Sororitas keyword and a further sub-set of those having an <ORDER> subfaction keyword. For convenience in further discussions (as there are quite a few rules generalisations based off this), the following units have neither Adepta Sororitas nor <ORDER>:

  • Missionary
  • Preacher
  • Crusaders
  • Death Cult Assassins
  • Arco-Flagellants
  • Penitent Engines

The following do have Adepta Sororitas but don’t have an <ORDER>:

  • Triumph of St. Katherine
  • Celestine
  • Geminae Superia
  • Dialogus
  • Hospitalier
  • Mortifiers

Acts of Faith

Adepta Sororitas Sister Superoir
Adepta Sororitas Sister Superior. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Acts of Faith special rule is one of the most powerful in the game, giving you access to a pool of pre-rolled dice that you can use instead of making a roll once per phase. Access to this ability is based on whether the rule appears on a unit’s datasheet, which it does for every Adepta Sororitas unit except Mortifiers and also on the Crusaders datasheet.

Miracle Dice

Acts of Faith (AoF) run off Miracle dice. As long as your army contains at least one unit with the ability, you gain them in the following ways:

  • One at the beginning of each battle round
  • One at the end of a phase if one or more of the following conditions are met:
    •  A unit from your army with the AoF ability destroys an enemy unit.
    •  A Character unit from your army with the AoF ability is destroyed.
    •  A psychic power is resisted by a unit from your army with the AoF ability (without performing an AoF to do so)
    • You roll an unmodified 1 for a Morale test taken for a unit with the AoF ability (without performing an AoF to do so)
  • Via various special abilities, trait and relics.

When you gain a Miracle dice, roll a D6. The result is the value of that Miracle dice. Keep it to one side in your Miracle dice pool.

A very important thing to bear in mind as an implication of this is that whenever you lose any models in a unit with AoF, roll the morale test! Normally people just shortcut and don’t bother rolling tests they can’t fail, but it still technically happens, and now gives you a free chance to earn a Miracle dice in the morale phase. It also makes pulling off a wrap/trap/kill in the enemy fight phase extremely valuable as it earns you an extra die.

Performing an Act of Faith

Once per phase, before making a dice roll for a model or unit with AoF, you can choose to use one or more of the dice from the Miracle pool instead. For each individual die that is being rolled as part of the dice roll, you can select one Miracle dice to be subbed for that dice roll. Once all Miracle dice subs have been made, remove the chosen Miracle dice from your pool, and roll any remaining unsubbed dice that are a part of the dice roll.

You can do this for the following types of roll:

  • Advance
  • Charge
  • Deny the Witch
  • Hit
  • Wound
  • Save
  • Damage
  • Morale

A Miracle dice is not a modifier, so the result counts as an “unmodified” roll of the number showing you selected if that’s relevant.

When re-rolling a dice roll, no new Miracle dice may be used and the number and values of any Miracle dice that have already been subbed in the dice roll remain the same for the re-roll (i.e. you can’t re-roll the Miracle dice if you suddenly decide you don’t like the result).

An important note here is that your Act of Faith applies to a single roll. That means you can’t use one to sub in multiple dice for hit rolls when a single unit fires all its guns – while normally people fast roll every weapon of the same type at once, they are technically separate rolls, so you can’t miracle multiple of them. You can, however, make both dice in a charge be 6s, so if that comes up, knock yourselves (and hopefully shortly afterwards your target) out.

How to Use Them

This ability is one that’s incredibly powerful in its basic form but also has some depth to it in where you get the most value out of it. In general, like any variance-reduction ability you’ll get the most value out of using it when there’s the least variance “left” after processing the result of the fixed roll. In simpler terms you get the most benefit from spending a resource to avoid relying on luck when there aren’t any steps left where luck can still screw you over!

If you want something dead, for example, and choose to use a Miracle dice on the hit roll you could still fail to wound, leaving the dice effectively wasted (though judicious use of the Faith and Fury can let you avoid having to choose). It won’t always be wrong to pick one for a hit roll – if you need a much higher roll to hit than to wound it could be worth it – but these are a limited enough resource that you don’t want to just go throwing high-rolled ones at anything. If you’re firing any sort of d6 damage weapon at critical targets and have a 6 in your pool then the damage roll is probably where you should be blowing it, as there’s no more variance left after that step of the attack resolution.  You can be a bit more liberal with dice showing 3s, as they aren’t nearly as useful for charges or damage rolls, so blowing one of them to lock in a wound might not be such a bad plan. If you’ve got some ones or twos around you can also use these to modify a hit, wound or save with the Moment of Grace stratagem, which helpfully also doesn’t count as an Act of Faith itself (so could be a way to get a hit through prior to you using a Miracle dice for the wound).

A final thing to remember when trying to use them for attacks is that if you’re shooting a batch of powerful shots into a single target (say an Exorcist into a vehicle) you may want to roll your attacks a few at a time – you decide whether to use an Act of Faith before rolling an individual step of a single attack, so if you have six melta missiles going towards an enemy, maybe roll out the first four and see if they just kill it outright, then use the Act of Faith on one of the last ones if needed.

While reliable shooting is cool, the most effective use of these is definitely on things that provide a straight binary success/failure, most notably on pulling off 9″ Zephyrim and Repentia charges from Deep Strike or Strategic Reserves, or firing the latter a long way across the board with a maxed out advance which they can follow up wtih a charge thanks to Holy Rage. The additional consistency with which you can deploy these two units is a big contributor to their effectiveness, and the fact that they can do this is critical for those playing against the Sororitas to bear in mind.

Another example of this is that, thanks to the next ability we’ll cover, all the units with Acts of Faith have a 6++ at worst. That means if you have a six in your pool you always have the option of saying “nope” to any one attack coming at you, which can be particularly nice if a melta shot has just slammed into a Rhino carrying precious Repentia. Moment of Grace again provides an alternative here.

A final (and nice) “guaranteed” option that 9th adds is passing Morale with a 1. There are now real reasons to use squads of Celestians and Retributors above the minimum unit sizes, and Repentia have always rolled in bigger squads, so being able to stash a 1 away to guarantee you don’t lose key models in the morale phase is a handy additional use. Having a spare 1 in your pool is also helpful for stratagems, as the other use for them is to save a dying character using Divine Intervention, always a trick you want up your sleeve.

Getting More

Of the tools that provide access to additional or modified Miracle dice, the ones that see the most use are:

  • Litanies of Faith (relic) – optionally re-roll one gained Miracle dice per player turn.
  • Beacon of Faith (warlord trait) – Gain an extra dice at the start of each of your turns. Not needed in every list, and you sometimes want your warlord slots for other things, but a strong option when you can fit it in.
  • Triumph of Saint Katherine We’ve been telling people how great the Triumph was since released and the world has properly cottoned on at this point – this unit turbo-charges your Acts of Faith in multiple ways, and giving you an avalanche of extra dice is one of them.

Some lists also use:

  • Terrible Knowledge (Ebon Chalice warlord trait) – means your first Miracle dice at game start is always a 6. Harder to fit into lists in 9th where you’re less incentivised to add detachments, but a few people have slotted a Canoness with this in alongside Mortifiers.
  • Battle Sanctum (fortification) – unlike the vast majority of fortifications the Battle Sanctum is priced to move, and is only held back from wide usability by the current rules for fortification deployment making it essentially unusable on a lot of tables/without prior TO clearence.

Finally, there are a couple of stratagems that give you one or more. Test of Faith (which gives d3) can be worth rolling if you get the chance, but the conditions are somewhat outside your control (make a deny or roll a 1 on morale), but Vessel of the Emperor’s Will gives you a fairly unappealing one for one CP to Miracle dice trade after a character uses one, and isn’t usually worth it.

The vast majority of armies are going to want at least one of the options for adding extra dice, as being able to keep the miracles flowing significantly increases the army’s effectiveness on the table.

Shield of Faith

This ability is common to almost all ADEPTA SORORITAS units in the army except Mortifiers. Models with this ability get a 6+ invulnerable save. In addition, one model in the unit can attempt to Deny the Witch once per turn, but the roll is taken on 1D6.

At a baseline this is merely fine – the save is nice but the Deny will rarely work. However, there are several ways to improve both aspects. There are multiple aura abilities available that boost the Shield of Faith save for INFANTRY (all capping out at 4++), and Sacred Rites can boost the power of the Deny. The presence of these abilities (and the fact that for the latter you can choose it on a per-game basis) turns this into a genuinely useful trait, and a big pile of 4++ infantry rolling around the board is the core of the majority of successful builds. It’s also especially good when applied to units like Repentia who otherwise don’t have great saves, and even on vehicles the 6++ is nice to have around because it means in a pinch you can use a 6 from your Miracle dice pool to guarantee a save against something horrific.

Zealot

When resolving an attack made with a melee weapon by a model in this unit, you can re-roll the hit roll if that model’s unit made a charge move, was charged, or performed a Heroic Intervention this turn.

This ability is common to various Ministorum and Sororitas melee units, and is extremely useful on Repentia in particular, helping them do appalling damage on the charge. This ability is what makes most of the units with it good, and is overall a very powerful one.

Credit: RichyP

Order Convictions

Most membersof the Adepta Sororitas belong to an <ORDER>, which is a sub-faction that will give them a special trait (here called a Conviction) if all the units in an Adepta Sororitas Detachment belong to the same Order. Units that don’t have an <ORDER> tag don’t stop other units gaining a trait but don’t gain one themselves.

Two of these (Valorous Heart and Bloody Rose) stand head and shoulders above the rest in competitive builds, two have valid competitive uses (Martyred Lady and Ebon Chalice) and the remaining two aren’t exactly bad, they just don’t stack up with the incredibly good ones.

Like the subfactions of most armies, as well as a Conviction each order gets a dedicated Warlord Trait and Relic for their characters and a Stratagem that can be used on their units, and as ever for some of the factions these are a big part of the draw.

Bloody Rose

  • Order Conviction – Quick to Anger: Add an extra -1AP to attacks with pistol and melee weapons. In addition, gain +1A on any turn in which the unit charged, was charged or heroically intervened.
  • Warlord Trait – Blazing Ire: The model has an extra attack and can advance and charge.
  • Relic – Beneficience: Super chainsword. +1S, AP-2, D2, 3 extra attacks.
  • Stratagem – Tear them Down (1CP): Give a unit from the order +1 to wound in the Fight phase.

The Bloody Rose have proven themselves to be the strongest of the Sororitas subfactions. The gap between them and the other options has closed quite a bit in the move from 8th to 9th, but that’s very much because of the other factions getting better rather than the Bloody Rose getting worse.

The Order Conviction is the strongest ability here, and easily one of the best available in the game. Adding both an attack and a point of AP to all of your units essentially provides a step change to the capabilities of almost every infantry unit in the roster. Non-melee specialist units get enough of a boost to become “capable” while melee specialists like Repentia and Zephyrim jump from “good” to “utterly monstrous”. 9th’s missions make being able to partipate in the fight phase more advantageous than ever, and when you have this Conviction pretty much all of your units are happy getting into a scrap, especially if you double down and bring Preachers and Imagifiers as well. Even the pistol effect is relevant, as it significantly improves Seraphim using either bolt pistols or the newly boosted hand flamers. Honestly even if the Conviction was the only thing this Order had going for it, it would be in contention for the best.

Luckily, it doesn’t stop there. The stratagem is hugely powerful too – flat +1 to wound is one of the best effects in the game, and using it on Repentia lets them wound most stuff smaller than a tank on a 2+, and gets them back to a respectable 4+ against a Knight It’s also critical for Zephyrim, as it means that even against T8 targets they only need a 5 to wound, at which point their re-rolls and volume of attacks can allow them to do serious damage. Finally, it combines with the volume of re-rollable attacks Celestians can rack up to turn them into a surprisingly lethal horde-clearing melee threat. Good stuff, and an absolute bargain at 1CP.

Finally for the good stuff, the relic is an exceptionally powerful one, combining with the Righteous Rage warlord trait to give you a murderous killer Canoness at a bargain price, throwing a hilarious 8 AP-3 D2 attacks that can re-roll their hits and wounds. Fun stuff. The only real miss is the Warlord trait, and that’s because you want the wound re-rolls from the generic one more than you want the Advance and Charge.

The Bloody Rose are an absolutely incredible Order, and they pop up in both mono-order lists and as a detachment in damn near every competitive army – their melee stuff is that good.

Valorous Heart

  • Order Conviction – Stoic Endurance: Ignore the AP of attacks with AP-1. This explicitly stacks with an Imagifier using Tale of the Stoic to allow you to ignore AP-2. In addition, if a model would lose a wound they ignore it on a 6+ (i.e. have a 6+ feel no pain).
  • Warlord Trait – Impervious to Pain: The warlord has a 5+ feel no pain.
  • Relic – Casket of Penance: Enemy units within 1″ of a model with this relic have -1T.
  • Stratagem – Blind Faith (1CP): Use when a unit from this order shoots. Ignore hit penalties.

Valorous Heart infantry are some of the most resilient in the game thanks to their faction trait. With the (practically mandatory) Imagifier you’ll be rolling their 3+ most of the time, and often have a 4++ to fall back on from Shield of Faith buffs, followed either way by a 6+++. Very few armies can put out infantry that tough in bulk, and even many horde-clearance options will get badly stymied by it, especially the AP-2 version. It’s also good against a lot of the volume melee attacks Marines currently throw, as prior to the Assault Doctrine activating you get your full save against lightning claws. All this means that Valorous Heart infantry do a fantastic job of controlling the board, making it extremely tough for an opponent to stop you racking up the Primary.

As well as buffing up infantry this order is a popular choice for anyone packing Exorcists, as they too can benefit from the inspiration of an Imagifier to shrug off a lot of the mid-quality firepower some armies trade on. The current prevalence of melta weaponry makes this a bit less relevant, but when it’s good it’s very good.

The other stuff here is pretty missable – the Stratagem was good in 8th, but with 9th capping hit modifiers at -1 (and current darlings Retributors ignoring move/shoot by default) it’s far less of a swing in the situations when it’s good. If you’re throwing 8 multi-melta shots through dense cover by all means use it, but it’s not an active draw for the faction any more.

While Bloody Rose gets the most use in competitive lists, Valorous Heart comes a close second (and is the default for shootier armies), and lists combining the two with each doing what they do best are pretty common.

Our Martyred Lady

  • Order Conviction – The Blood of Martyrs: Gain an extra Miracle dice at the end of any phase where a unit with this conviction was destroyed. In addition, add one to hit rolls for any unit with this conviction that has lost any models.
  • Warlord Trait – Shield Bearer: The warlord has an extra wound and adds one to their save characteristic (so not invulnerable saves) to a max of 2+.
  • Relic – Martyr’s Vengeance: Relic inferno pistol. 12″ range, S9 and always gets to roll 2d6 pick highest for damage.
  • Stratagem – Honour the Martyrs (1CP): Use when an enemy unit kills a CHARACTER from this order. Units from this order re-roll 1s to hit against that enemy unit for the rest of the battle.

Arguably the biggest thing the Order of Our Martyred Lady has going for them is not on this list, which is access to Junith Eruita, a super canoness on a floating pulpit thing. She brings auras both for re-roll 1s to hit and wound for Martyred Lady units and also a +1 boost to Shield of Faith saves for all Adepta Sororitas INFANTRY units. This is all good stuff, and the significant power boost seen by Retributors specifically after the 9th wargear changes has unlocked enough synergy to get this order into lists.

The vast majority of Sisters armies at the moment are maxing out on melta retributors, and it turns out that running full ten-model Martyred Lady squads plus Junith is a strong way of doing this. Because you’re packing Junith you’re almost always going to have stacked them up to a 4++, and the order Conviction makes it so that if your opponent chews through any fewer than seven models they’re getting shot back by four multi-meltas that are hitting on 2s with re-rolls and have re-roll 1s to wound. That’s nasty stuff, and forces your opponent to commit to chewing through tough to shift chaff models if they want to diminish your firepower, always a good spot to put them in. Because the Shield of Faith boost works cross-order you’re also totally happy to run this in a mixed list – in fact if you bring Celestine as well it actively saves you a warlord slot which you can use for something nasty like builing a Bloody Rose murder Canoness.

The rest of the stuff here is kind of intensely mediocre, and there isn’t really the depth here for a full army. Defensive buffs on random characters aren’t super worth it – this army wants to be spending those slots on utility effects. The pistol is cute but incredibly skippable, and the strat is just not that valuable when it’s easy to have Canonesses bouncing around. However, the Junith/Retributor setup is now good enough to get this Order into the competitive conversation.

Ebon Chalice

  • Order Conviction – Daughters of the Emperor: Gain a 5+++ against Mortal Wounds. In addition, when performing an Act of Faith for a unit with this Conviction, you can discard an additional dice to make the dice you used a 6.
  • Warlord Trait – Terrible Knowledge: Your first free start of the round Miracle dice of the game is an automatic 6, and you gain d3 CP.
  • Relic – Annunciation of the Creed: Relic condemnor boltgun. S5, AP-2 Dd3, can character snipe PSYKERS and does straight damage 3 against them.
  • Stratagem – Cleansing Flames (2CP): Use when a unit from the order shoots or overwatches. You automatically roll the maximum number of shots on any flame weapons they are using.

The Ebon Chalice Order Conviction is very powerful in the abstract, but in practice on the table the diminishing returns from it are too great to make it worth going wide on this order, and because of how powerful various aura abilities in the army are you generally want to unify around two orders at most. We do think there would be room for a small detachment of Ebon Challice loaded with some big guns to exploit the ability to line up sixes just whenever, but it’s not enough to build an army around.

What is pretty good is the Warlord trait. A guaranteed 6 in your Miracle pool means you can be confident of loading up an auto charge the first time you need one (or making a crucial save in a pinch), and because it comes with free CP you can buy it with Heroine in the Making and immediately break even. The challenge with this is that it’s a bit harder to get into armies in 9th, as adding more detachments is now a drawback rather than a thing you actively want to do. The fact that Mortifiers are now so good does give you a route to this that we’ve seen in some lists – a Spearhead of three Mortifier units and a Canoness with this trait lets you get it all into your army without losing out on any Convictions. Between it being harder to fit in and Sisters having a better range of non-melee damage dealers this isn’t nearly as prevalent as it once was, but the option is still there if you want it.

Both the relic have the potential to be extremely funny but the normal play is to use the Canoness from this faction as a backline objective holder also carrying the Litanies of Faith, so they don’t see much use.

Ultimately, this order joins a long and storied history of one-trick pony subfactions, but at least it’s a good trick!

Argent Shroud

  • Order Conviction – Deeds, Not Words: When it advances, this unit only counts as having moved for the purposes of shooting.
  • Warlord Trait – Selfless Heroism: The warlord has a 6″ heroic intervention and fights first (although still after the first charger) if they were charged or heroically intervened.
  • Relic – Quicksilver Veil: -1 to hit the bearer.
  • Stratagem – Faith is our Shield (1CP): A unit from the order gets a 5+++ against Mortal Wounds for a psychic phase.

The Order conviction here is pretty attractive, allowing you to run a more mobile firebase of Sisters and potentially keep firing special and heavy weapons while doing so. Melta and Heavy Bolters being better than ever makes that even more attractive in 9th on paper. Sadly, the smaller board sizes pull in the other direction, making it so that you don’t really need this effect to get stuff done, or at least you don’t need it enough to want to pass up on the incredible power of the Bloody Rose and Valorous Heart Convictions.

That’s compounded by the non-Conviction stuff here being pretty weak – there’s yet another defensive buff for Canonesses and a melee buff in an order that doesn’t have access to the best melee boosts. The strat also isn’t super useful, but can be worth blowing if your opponent manages to drop mortals on something good.

Sacred Rose

  • Order Conviction – Devout Serenity: Cannot lost models to Combat Attrition. When you use an Act of Faith on a unit with this, you roll a dice and get a new Miracle Dice on a 5+. Finally, you overwatch on 5s.
  • Warlord Trait – Light of the Emperor: You immediately gain a Miracle dice after performing an Act of Faith for the warlord instead of rolling for the order conviction.
  • Relic – Light of Saint Agnaltha: A relic Brazier of Holy Fire that you can reload by discarding a Miracle dice.
  • Stratagem – The Emperor’s Judgement (1CP): Gain Bolter Drill – a unit from the order deals an additional hit on 6s to hit with bolt weapons when they shoot or overwatch.

The last subfaction here again has some somewhat interesting stuff going on but doesn’t really do enough to put it ahead of the best ones. Losing only one model to morale is kind of mediocre – Sisters have good leadership and easier ways of mitigating morale failures than this. Overwatching on 5s also isn’t nearly as interesting in 9th, as you’ll only ever benefit on one unit per turn. The Stratagem is fine and could be OK on heavy bolter retributors with a filled out squad, but suffers from there being vastly better ways to put shooting down.

There’s some cute stuff you can do with the Warlord trait, which can be kind of fun and definitely is worth using if you like this Order’s aesthetics and want to use them on the table. By Advancing or popping off random bolter shots with the Canoness, you can use it to essentially “recycle” 1s and 2s from your pool into a chance for a better dice. This isn’t a powerful enough effect to justify trying to ram a Canoness with it into a weird side detachment, but it is genuinely quite powerful – who cares about auto-missing with one bolter shot if it lets you power up for an auto-charge down the line? It was probably a warning shot.

It says a lot about this book that while one of the weakest here this Order is far from terrible – there are honestly plenty of books in the game where this would stack up fine, this just isn’t one of them!

Strength of Faith

Your standard Objective Secured ability, applying to all Troops in battle forged armies that are in Soroitas detachments (which are any detachments entirely drawn from this book).

Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave

Most of the weird and wonderful units in the book from the wider Ecclesiarchy (except Penitent Engines for some reason) have this ability. It means that in any detachment with a Ministorum Priest (either a Missionary or a Preacher) they don’t take up any detachment slots. If you don’t have a Ministorum priest you can only include one unit with this ability in the detachment and they do take up a slot.

This gets quite a bit more useful in 9th than it once was – most of the Ecclesiarchy weirdos are kind of terrible, but Death Cult Assassins are seeing use as random objective/Action dorks, and being able to squeeze them into a patrol without using slots is genuinely helpful in some lists.

Sacred Rites

Last but not least we have the pure army “Doctrine” style effect for the Sisters of Battle. As long as your whole army is Adepta Sororitas or Adeptus Ministorum (i.e. drawn from this book) units with the Sacred Rites ability (all SORORITAS units except mortifiers) gain a bonus.

After deployment but before the first battle round pick one of the following to be active or roll two dice to choose two at random. If you roll a duplicate you don’t get a second effect, but the second one counts as active for a stratagem that lets you roll into a new one later on. In either case they’re active until the end of the game.

  • Hand of the Emperor: Add +1 to advance and charge rolls
  • Spirit of the Martyr: On a 5+ when model dies means it can shoot with one ranged weapon or make one attack with one melee weapon
  • Aegis of the Emperor: +3 to Deny the Witch rolls
  • Divine Guidance: Unmodified 6 to wound from ranged weapon improve AP by 1
  • The Passion: Unmodified 6 to hit in combat scores 1 additional hit
  • Light of the Emperor: You can re-roll Morale tests

These aren’t as powerful as Doctrines so it’s not as important to keep the army pure in the abstract, but they’re certainly still good and the first on the list, Hand of the Emperor, means that melee strategies gain a lot from this being active. Brutal melee threats pulling off improbably long charges out of Strategic Reserves or Deep Strike is a massive headache for your opponent to have to work around, and adding 1 to your “rolls” lets you pull this off with weaker dice from your Miracle pool. Higher mobility across the board is also just generically great.

As an alternative for melee strategies you have The Passion. In a Bloody Rose list you’ll be throwing lots of dice, meaning this will rack up a healthy crop of extra hits over the course of the average game. Now that Sisters lists have more damage dealing options, they’re a lot less reliant on auto-charges as their only source of damage spikes, making this a much more competitive choice with Hand of the Emperor. If you’ve only got a few units that you’re leaning on making charges from reserves The Passion will probably end up giving you more value over the course of your games.

The significant upgrades to some of the Sisters ranged weapons also means that Spirit of the Martyr has a bit more going for it now. Getting a chance at some final multi-melta shots as your models are on the way out is obviously pretty spicy, and if you’ve skewed heavily towards shooting this is worth thinking about.

Finally among the sometimes-valid ones, Aegis of the Emperor is very good in the right matchups, and feels like a strong consideration if you’re up some of the popular Daemon lists or a soon-to-be-unfortunate Grey Knights player. The basic 1d6 Shield of Faith deny will rarely do much by itself, but adding this makes it much more likely to actually help, and makes life tough for armies trading off smite spam.

The last two are pretty much just misses – Divine Guidance is nowhere near as potent a boost as The Passion and your shooting units don’t need AP help, while Light of the Emperor isn’t totally useless, but is solving a problem this army has no real trouble with, especially now that a roll of a 1 auto-passes morale (meaning bad dice in your MIracle pool can become emergency passes).

Stratagems, Traits and Relics

Sister Superior of the Wounded Heart.
Sister Superior of the Wounded Heart. Credit: Corrode

With 28 stratagems and 6 Order stratagems Sororitas are definitely not wanting for answers to whatever situation they find themselves in.

Stratagems

  • Open the Reliquaries (1 CP): The modern stratagem for adding extra relics to your army, repeatable for 1CP as many times as you wish. A
  • Embodied Prophecy (1 CP): Pick a unit of Zephyrim at the start of the Fight phase; they give other ADEPTA SORORITAS units within 6” re-roll 1s to wound. Fine in 8th and probably even better in 9th, as there are gonna be more situations where you have to say “screw it” and chuck your entire Bloody Rose army into a fight. B+
  • Furious Recital (1 CP): When you choose an Exorcist to shoot with, enemy units within 12” suffer -1 Ld, with Chaos units suffering -2 Ld. She’s just that good at the pipe organ. Sadly given your Exorcists should never, ever be within 12” of enemy units this really won’t come up, and leadership shenanigans are only the tiniest bit more whelming in 9th than they used to be.. D
  • Blazing Piety (1 CP): At the start of your Psychic phase pick a Chaos unit within 6” of a Dialogus and ping them for a mortal wound; if it’s a Daemon ping them for a flat 3 mortal wounds instead. Cute, will greatly annoy the occasional opponent, but otherwise not particularly useful and being real, you are not taking a Dialogus. D
  • Battle Rites (1 CP): Select a Sacred Rite that is currently active and randomly roll a rite to replace it, re-rolling if that rite is currently active. Good if you find yourself having rolled for rites and ended up with a double, but with a couple of duds on the list (and some really good ones) rolling randomly is going to be very rare. C
  • Moment of Grace (1 CP): After making a hit, wound or save roll, discard 1-3 miracle dice and add +1 to the roll for each die discarded. Now that you can only modify a hit or wound by 1 this is a bit less good offensively, but realistically saving throws were always where this shined, and you can still modify those as much as you need, and can even do so after re-rolling and still failing a save in a dire situation. Just remember that this is still applying a modifier, so a dice showing a 1 will still be a failure no matter how hard you try because unmodified saves of 1 always fail. B+
  • Final Redemption (1 CP): Use this when a unit of Repentia are targeted in the fight phase, on a 4+ whenever someone dies you ping the attacker for a mortal wound after it has fought. Useful on a maximum sized unit of 9 Sister Repentia, as it can waste a character that has waded in to murder them or finish off something big like a Knight if you went after it and just missed on the kill. Nice for getting revenge on Vanguard Veterans that get the jump on you. B
  • Martyr’s Immolation (1 CP): When an Immolator dies force it to explode. That’ll teach them. Cute, and Immolaters maybe even see occasional play after the wargear boosts! C+
  • Holy Trinity (1 CP): If a unit fires all its weapons at a single target, and those weapons include at least one each of bolt, melta and flamer weapons, the unit gets +1 to wound. Has historically been very difficult to set up, but there’s maybe just a bit more to it now that flamers have a 12″ base range, because that means you’ve got the option on using this straight out of deep strike with tooled up Retributors, unleashing super-charged melta death amped up by the Superior toting a combi-flamer There’s a healthy question mark as to whether Retributors actually need the help, but in a meta full of Inceptors I could believe it’s worth tooling exactly one of your Retributor squads to do this, as they make anywhere within 18″ of the board edge a very spooky place for Gravis models. B
  • Heroine in the Making (1 CP): After picking your warlord, pick another Sororitas character who isn’t a named character or your warlord and give them a warlord trait. Most lists want this, usually so that they can get 2/3 of Indomitable Belief, Terrible Knowledge, Righteous Rage and Beacon of Faith as appropriate. A
  • Divine Intervention (2 CP): When a character other than Celestine, the Geminae Superia, Ephrael Stern, Junith Eruita, or The Triumph of Saint Katherine dies, discard 1-3 miracle dice and set them up as close as possible outside of 1” at the end of the phase with a wound for each miracle die discarded. Each character can only be saved by this once per game. The fact that this  is100% reliable compared to some of the other similar effects is extremely good, and this is really useful in a pinch, and because it’s the end of the phase when you re-set them you often won’t need more than once dice to do it relatively safely. Keeping your Beneficence Canoness swinging for a second turn is a particularly spicy way to use this, but just denying your opponent Assassinate points in a game that has gone to the wire is strong too, and saving an Imagifier who has somehow been sniped out can also be clutch. B+
  • Holy Rage (1 CP): In your Charge phase, any single ADEPTA SORORITAS unit that advanced can charge. Great with Celestine, Repentia, Zephyrim and Mortifiers, but it’s a little sad that you can’t use this on Penitent Engines or Arco-Flagellants. Still, especially because you can also max-out advances and charges with Miracle dice in a pinch, this is great. A
  • Faith and Fury (2 CP): After you use a miracle die for a hit roll, you can spend 2CP to use the same die for the wound roll as well. This is a steep price, but it can still be worth paying in some circumstances, although it would probably be better if you could use it for the Wound and then Damage instead! Nice with various effects, such as the Triumph of Saint Katherine, that let you modify the miracle dice as you apply it. Sometimes powerful, but expensive enough to only use it when you really need it. B
  • Martyred (1 CP): If your warlord is definitely dead, i.e Celestine has failed her roll or you haven’t used divine intervention to save them, generate d3 command points. Assuming you haven’t run out of command points this is just a two thirds chance to generate free command points if your warlord dies. You don’t want to have to use this but it’s nice that it’s there. A
  • Venerated Saint (1 CP): Upgrade stratagems are the Hip New Thing right now and so the Sisters have their own; upgrade a single Imagifier during deployment to give out two buffs rather than one; you’re mostly going to be using this to take +1 strength and immunity to AP-1 at the same time. You won’t always use this, but some armies definitely want Tale of the Warrior and Tale of the Stoic in every game, and it’s especially good if you use the Book of St. Lucius to boost the range. B+
  • Suffer Not The Witch (1 CP): Pick a unit at the start of the Shooting or Fight phase. That unit re-rolls wounds against enemy PSYKER  units this phase. Psykers are pretty rare at the moment, but there are a few very good ones in the meta and they’re all crunchy enough that this is very attractive when it’s available. B+
  • Storm of Retribution (2 CP): When shooting or overwatching with a unit of Retributors you can pick one of three buffs; heavy bolters get +1 to hit, heavy flamers can re-roll wounds, or multi-meltas get +12” range and +1 to their damage roll. Strong contender for “most improved stratagem” in this book from 8th to 9th, because now Retributors are great this is great too. Pretty much the only drawback on melta retrubutors is their short range, and this lets them reach out and pop a backfield shooting threat or push half range out by 6″ for that sweet, sweet damage boost. The other two effects are also nice, but realistically melta is the draw here, and it’s a good one. At 2CP you shouldn’t be aiming to pop it every turn, but if you need the reach or are shooting at something where adding the damage or pushing the half range will guarantee that wounding hits kill, go for it. B+
  • Last Rites (1 CP): Pick a Hospitaller at the start of the Morale phase, units within 6” of it don’t add the number of casualties they take to morale tests. Just not really needed – overwhelmingly Battle Sisters run around in 5 model units and their Superiors are Ld8, so this will rarely do enough to be worth it. Do remember if you do use it that you still roll the tests even when they’re unfailable, so fish for those 1s for a miracle dice. C
  • Devastating Refrain (1 CP): Re-roll any or all dice for the number of shots an Exorcist is firing. You have to use this before you roll the dice the first time, which is a bit of a drawback, but now you can’t use a CP re-roll on an individual dice there’s a bit more of a reason to go for this if you’ve got a key round of shooting to resolve. Basically kind of fine. B
  • Deadly Descent (1 CP): When you set up a unit of Seraphim you can add 6” to the range of their pistols until the end of the phase and have them immediately shoot out of sequence. An already good stratagem gets even better in 9th, as 12″ base range means that hand flamers are actually a real option on Seraphim now. With this you can straight up double shoot them on the turn they arrive, and 8d6 flamer shots out of a 79 point unit is quite something, especially when they can be at AP-1 with Bloody Rose. The more conventional uses of getting to shoot with inferno pistols the turn you arrive or clearing out screens with bolt pistols to open up other charges also remain extremely real, and this is something you’ll use almost every time you run Seraphim, who are a good unit! A
  • Vessel of the Emperor’s Will (1 CP): If you use an Act of Faith on a character generate another die to replace the one you spent. This one is usually trap – you are going to be more constrained on CP than Miracle Dice, so trading one for one isn’t usually good, especially as some of the ways to use dice need CP. Can occasionally be worth it if you only have bad dice in your pool, have a vital charge coming up and have purchased the Litanies of Faith, giving you a good chance of levelling your die up.  C
  • Test of Faith (1 CP): When generating a miracle die by either rolling a natural 1 for morale or denying a psychic power, generate an additional d3 miracle dice. Better than the above, and will often be worth it when it comes up, but one in three times you’re still trading one for one. B
  • Exceptional Proficiency (2 CP): Gives Celestians re-roll all hits and wounds when they shoot, fight or overwatch. Celestians are huge winners from almost every aspect of the changes from 8th to 9th, and this lets a big squad of them throw some serious pain down. B+
  • Blessed Bolts (1 CP): Lets a unit fire Storm Bolters at AP-2 D2 for a phase. Great on a Dominion squad that’s maxed out on storm bolters, and not horrible on regular squads or Celestians in a pinch, though you cap out at two of these guns per squad. Not boosting the strength and being difficult to combine with wound boosts is the main thing holding this back – even against the perfect targets (Marines) you only pop around three models with thes bolts in a full volley of 16 shots. B
  • Purity of Faith (1 CP): Nullify a psychic power within 24” of one of your units on a 4+. All of these abilities took a much needed knock in 9th now that you can’t re-roll the 4+ test, but realistically you still activate this against your opponent’s key power most of the time. B+
  • Judgement of the Faithful (2 CP): After a Sororitas unit falls back, they can shoot and charge. Good for throwing a wrench in someone’s plans when they tie up a unit of yours, use it to back off some Mortifiers, blast the impertinent heretics that bothered you, then charge someone else or just disengage some Zephyrim towards their next target. Also protects you from a low roll if you’re using a wrap to keep some Repentia safe through your opponent’s turn, as it can pull them out of combat for a new charge even if the enemy survives. A
  • Extremis Trigger Word (2 CP): Max out the attacks on a unit of Arco-Flagellants in exchange for losing 1/6th of the unit at the end of the phase. There are just too many other good things Sisters can get up to to make flagellants propertly worth it, but if you are packing them this is a good strat. C+
  • Desperate for Redemption (3 CP): Sisters lost their fight twice Act of Faith, so now they have the run of the mill 3CP fight twice but with limitations; in this case it only works on Repentia, Penitent Engines and Mortifiers. The price on this is very steep sufficient that you should be aiming to avoid needing to use this, and Repentia and Mortifiers both have a habit of killing most of their targets with one swing, and often die if they fail. Still OK sometimes. B

Warlord Traits

Credit: RichyP
  1. Inspiring Orator – Add 1 to your warlord’s Ld and everyone within 6” can use the warlord’s Ld instead of their own, so a Ld 10 bubble. Will do you well if you’re running infantry heavy but there are better options for it, and you have other solutions to this problem. C
  2. Righteous Rage – Your warlord can re-roll any or all dice of a charge, and whenever they charge or heroic intervention they re-roll wounds for that phase. Lets you build a serious murder machine with the Blade of Admonition or (especially) Beneficence, and frequently worth it on that basis. B+
  3. Executioner of Heretics – Enemies within 6” of your warlord are at -1Ld. Do not take this. F
  4. Beacon of Faith – If this warlord is on the field at the start of your turn, generate a miracle die. This will literally always be useful and a solid choice, especially for a Heroine in the Making trait. A
  5. Indomitable Belief <ORDER> INFANTRY within 6” of this warlord add +1 to their Shield of Faith save to a maximum of 4+. Useful if you’re running infantry heavy and stacks with similar effects from special characters to a maximum of 4+, and a pile of 3+ 4++ Battle Sisters will be quite hard to shift. Pretty much the only time you ever don’t take this is if you have Celestine and Junith already. A+
  6. Pure of Will – This warlord can deny a second psychic power through Shield of Faith and enemy casting is at -1 if they are within 12”. Like almost all “counter” picks, loses out massively from not being able to be changed game-to-game in 9th, meaning you never take this. D

Realistically, unless you’re taking one of the <ORDER> specific traits most Sisters army is going to want Indomitable Belief and Beacon of Faith. Both make the army better at doing what it wants to be doing. Righteous Rage to build your own murder monster is the only real tempatation away from this core plan, and can get the nod over Beacon if you have the Triumph for bonus dice of Indomitable if you’ve solved the shield of faith problem with named characters.

Relics

  • Blade of Admonition: Replaces a Blessed Blade, S+2 AP-3 D3 . Perfectly decent, but not that much of an upgrade over the basic blade. B
  • Brazier Of Eternal Flame: Replaces a Brazier of Holy Fire. Psychic Tests taken within 18” of the bearer are at -2. Used to be one of the best counter-pick relics in the game for crushing the dreams of Grey Knights, and is one of the few that is so good at what it does that a sufficiently skewed metagame could plausibly bring it back, especially because the key thing it combos with (the Aegis of the Emperor Sacred Rite) can change game to game. Right now there aren’t enough armies trading on psychic to make this worthwhile, but if the 9th Edition books for Thousand Sons or Grey Knights snap the metagame in half then we’ll be sure to revisit this! C
  • Wrath Of The Emperor: Replaces bolt pistol. Pistol 4, Range 18”, S 5, AP -2, D2 . This is ridiculously deadly and something you can plausibly chuck on a random Canoness B
  • Litanies of Faith: Once per turn, if the model with this relic is on the battlefield, when you gain a miracle dice, you can re-roll that dice. Was pretty much auto-take in 8th, but 9th giving you access to more diverse damage dealers means you’re less reliant on a stock of high dice for charges. Still strong and worth taking if you have the spare CP and a character to put it on. B+
  • Mantle of Ophelia: Canoness only. Gives the model a 3++. Extremely meh – Canonesses are neither valuable enough nor deadly enough (at least, not without spending your relic on a weapon) to want this. D
  • Triptych of the Macharian Crusade: A 5+++. See previous. D
  • Book of St Lucius: Add 3” to the aura abilities of a model with this relic. 9th heavily incentivising the mid-table throwdown has really brought this into its own, and combining this with Indomitable Belief for a wide ranging boost to Shield of Faith is something you see in most lists. Putting that combo on an Imagifier with Venerated Saint for even more aura goodness is a particularly common sight. A
  • Iron Surplice of St Istaela: 2+ armour save, wound rolls of a 1, 2, 3 against the model always fail. Another major defensive buff for a Canoness that you don’t really need. D

The generic relics are one of the few places in this book where things end up a bit mediocre, and even here you have several strong ones. The Book of St. Lucius makes it into almost every army, and the Litanies of Faith are always going to add value if you take them. Why there needed to be three different irrelevant defensive boosts for Canonesses will remain a mystery for the ages.

Units

Order of Barry
The Sisters of Barry

With all of their rules and traits out of the way, it’s now time to look at the Sisters of Battle units. There isn’t a massive range here, but pretty much every slot has at least something you want in it, even more so since the boosts they’ve picked up with the 9th edition wargear changes.

To save too much repetition in the entries; all of the Battle Sisters derived units i.e Battle sisters, Celestians, Dominions and Retributors have an option that are common to all of them in the Simulacrum Imperialis. These let you use an Act of Faith on a squad in a phase where you’ve already used one on another unit.

Battle Sisters, Celestians, and Dominion squads (but not Retributors, they have their own toys) can also take a single Incensor Cherub; a weird vat-grown old-man baby who can be expended for a once per battle bonus. At the start of any phase you can elect to use up an Incensor cherub, you roll 2d6 and pick the one you want for a Miracle die. This die can only be used this phase on the unit it came from. These run 5pts each and given that they aren’t modeled onto any specific squad member, instead floating along behind the squad disconcertingly.

The options obviously work well together, but although it’s only 10pts for the combo the cost will rack up if you put them on everyone. The Simulacrums can absolutely be worth it on an alpha squad like Retributors and Celestians, but most players choose to skip the Incensor Cherubs.

HQ

Sisters have a fairly sparse set of options here compared to something like Marines, but the units they do get are all pretty good!

Canoness

Sisters of Battle Canoness
Sisters of Battle Canoness Credit: Dionycia

A fairly standard HQ choice with BS/WS 2+, 4A, a re-roll hits of 1 bubble for <ORDER> units and decent defences at 5W 3+ 4++. The Canoness is less punchy than a Marine Captain, but she’s a steal at a base cost starting from 50pts, letting you get re-rolls or whatever warlord traits you want to bring at a bargain price.

Canonesses have a weird array of options that attempt to cover all the ways the new kit can build them. The model starts with a bolt pistol and chainsword, and you can make the following changes:

  • Swap the pistol for a condemnor boltgun, hand flamer or a plasma/inferno pistol
  • Add a brazier of holy flame (once per battle mortal wound overwatch) or a null rod (can’t be affected by psychic powers and -1 to enemy casts within 18″)
  • If you don’t take a brazier or null rod, swap the chainsword for a power sword or blessed blade (d3 damage S5 power sword)
  • Take a plasma pistol, power sword and rod of office (+3″ to her re-roll bubble) instead of making any other changes.

Why this needed to be so complicated no one is quite sure, but overwhelmingly the current preferences in lists are either to keep them cheap with just the chainsword (which Bloody Rose can turbo-charge to Beneficence) or buy them a blessed blade. The other options are a bit fringe – the null rod is a genuinely powerful effect in the 10% of games it’s relevant in, but it’s difficult to justify throwing points after that, and the brazier is cool but extremely unnecessary (though at least broader in what it can affect).

Ultimately, all lists are going to want at least one of these, and they’re cheap enough that you don’t mind forking out for two, and they’re one of the easiest models to squeeze utility relics or warlord traits onto if that’s your jam.

Celestine

Celestine. Credit: Corrode

Celestine is very strong in Sisters builds thanks to being one of the sources of +1 to Shield of Faith saves, letting the army build the incredibly durable infantry blocks that are its stock-in-trade. Most lists want at least the option of pushing their infantry core up to a 4++, and including Celestine means that’s always on the table by adding Indomitable Belief to another character and bubbling around her. She’s also great when running with Zephyrim or Seraphim, as they have a built in +1 so she tops them out by herself. She also gives a 6++ to Astra Militarum and Adeptus Ministorum units, which can be relevant in a mixed list and is a very nice buff to Mortifiers, who don’t have Shield of Faith.

At her cost you probably want a little more than just a buff character and luckily she’s also a pretty decent killer, having 6 S7 AP-3 D2 attacks. That’s certainly enough to put a hurting on a lot of things (and is great in a 2W Marine world), but it’s actually a little underwhelming compared to other units in her weight class, so don’t expect her to start soloing knights, especially as she has no way to double fight. The lack of any sort of re-roll bubble compatibility also means she sometimes spikes down hard. In damage output terms she’ll definitely do some good work, just be realistic about your expectations with her. Her sword also has a heavy flamer built in, so don’t forget to fire that whenever relevant!

Defensively she has one very nice trick on top of her 2+/4++, which is that the first time she dies she gets back up where she died on full wounds on a 2+ at the end of the phase. Although this has again been tuned down from older versions (where she also teleported wherever you wanted) it’s still extremely powerful, as a lot of armies won’t be able to put her down in two phases in the same turn, meaning you’ll get a chance to either utilise her offensively or beat a (very valorous) retreat in your turn. The only armies you need to be extremely wary of with this ability are ones with high smite output – she’s very vulnerable to mortal wounds, and if killed in psychic can then just be shot to bits.

Celestine’s buff powers make her a staple in near-every competitive Sisters list, and you should pretty much always plan to find the points for her.

Triumph of Saint Katherine

Remember the Bretonnian Grail Reliquae? It’s back, in Sisters form! One of the new units in the Sisters of Battle Codex, the Triumph of St. Katherine has one of the most interesting statlines in the entire game, sporting 3 Strength, 3 Toughness and 18 Wounds and, at full health, 14 Attacks, of which up to 4 can be made with a S+3 AP-3 3-damage power sword (the rest are S+2 AP-1 1 damage). Defensively, the unit gets a 4++ and -1 to hit against shooting attacks, helping to mitigate the mild vulnerability it has to small arms fire, and counts as a 9W model for the purposes of terrain traits, meaning that it can still benefit from Dense and Obscuring terrain.

As for what to fo with it on the table, while you could fight with it in combat, the real reason you bring the Triumph of St. Katherine into battle is for the buffs. At full health, the Triumph holds five Relics, and these turn off/go away as the model hits its damage brackets, at 9W (2 active) and 4W (1 active) remaining. As it loses wounds, you choose which relics it loses, and if it regains wounds you choose which ones to get back. At full health, all five buffs are active:

  • Censer of the Sacred Rose – Gives you 1 miracle dice at the start of each turn (yours and your opponent’s).
  • Simulacrum of the Ebon Chalice – At the start of each Shooting phase, roll a D6 for each enemy unit within 6” (add 1 if the unit is a Psyker and/or Chaos) and on a 5+, the unit takes D3 mortal wounds.
  • Petals of the Bloody Rose – Add 1 to hit rolls for melee attacks by friendly ADEPTA SORORITAS units within 6”.
  • Icon of the Valorous Heart – Once per phase you can do an extra Act of Faith for a friendly unit within 6” that has the Acts of Faith ability.
  • Simulacrum of the Argent Shroud – When you perform an Act of Faith for a friendly unit within 6”, you can modify the value of the miracle dice used by 1 (up or down) to a max of 6 and a minimum of 1. This doesn’t stack with other abilities that modify the result, though.

Four out of five of these are all-stars, with really only the Simulacrum of the Ebon Chalice being on the weak side. Early in the game, your goal is definitely to leverage the absurd turbo-boost the model provides to Acts of Faith, giving you more dice, letting you use them more often and boosting them each time you do. This lets you throw relatively low dice at automatic hits with Retributors (or invulnerable saves for the Triumph itself, since you only need a 3 with the boost from the Simulacrum of the Argent Shroud) and using higher dice to either guarantee deep strike charges or make improbable 6++s for Rhinos. Once battle is joined, giving all of your units +1 to hit in a fight (including otherwise hard to buff Mortifiers) lets your army punch up in a very satisfying fashion, and is obviously particularly good in concert with the Bloody Rose.

The Triumph took a while to catch on, but people have finally learnt to respect the absurd force multiplication capabilities it provides, and in any list that’s maining Bloody Rose it deserve serious consideration for one of your slots. We’ve kind of only scratched the surface of how much it does here, but luckily we wrote a whole article about the nonsense you can pull with this unit, so go read that and pretend it talks about Retributors more (it was written for 8th).

Junith Eruita

We’ve already kind of talked about Junith on the discussion of Order of our Martyred Lady, but to quickly re-iterate – she’s a souped up Canoness who combos extremely well with Retributors and provides a Shield of Faith boost to other Orders, and that’s enough to make builds using her valid (if still fringe-ish).

Missionary

Missionaries are the final HQ choice and are cheap and terrible at nearly everything except giving out a +1A aura. In 8th, when you actively wanted to fill out detachments that tended to make them a good choice, but now HQ slots are at a premium you usually just bring a Preacher, who does the same thing in the Elites slot.

Troops

Your army only has one Troops choice but thankfully they’re a good one.

Battle Sisters

Battle Sisters Squad
Credit: RichyP

Sisters are an extremely cost effective troop unit, running either 55pts for a bare-bones squad or 61pts for the popular loadout of chucking in two storm bolters (plus a free chainsword for the superior in both builds). Some success has also been had with throwing a heavy bolter in for 10pts. With BS3+ and a 3+ they’re reasonably durable and have decent output for the price, and you can soup up their durability by either bringing Shield of Faith boosters to get them to a 4++ or running them as Valorous Heart with an Imagifier so that they can use their 3+ most of the time. Both options make them exceptionally durable, and while you want to be spending the bulk of your points on the spicier specialist equivalent, an army that’s trading on board control wants to have a decent chunk of ObSec models most of the time, and these do a stellar job of that. In Bloody Rose, they’re also at least OK in a fight thanks to the Conviction, especially with the Triumph around.

Sisters aren’t a complicated unit but they are a very good one – most armies would be very happy to have such a reliable core unit to use in their forces.

Elites

Preacher

Spin the wheel of cross-edition army construction changes and surprise – these are pretty good now. If you’re going wide with the Bloody Rose you absolutely want a Preacher around, as adding another extra attack to all of your surprisingly punchy Sisters is great, and boosting your Repentia or Zephyrim into top-tier killers is also, according to our notes, great. Not mandatory in armies that are lighter on Bloody Rose, but great for those.

Geminae Superia

Celestine’s bodyguards, who roll around with her intercepting wounds and getting repeatedly revived by her. Very hard to use effectively in 9th – paradoxically, they would probably be significantly better if they were non-CHARACTERs who provided a Company Veteran-style “can’t be shot” boost to Celestine. As it is, you need to keep all three models safely near a big squad, and the Geminae can’t perform key actions like Deploy Scramblers, so give them a miss.

Dialogus

An inspirational buff character, these give a +1Ld aura and let you +/- the value on a Miracle die you use by 1 (to a max of 6/min of 1) if the unit performing the AoF is within 6″. Experience has shown that these don’t add enough value by themselves, and if you want Act of Faith boosts you take the Triumph.

Repentia Superior

Credit: RichyP

A buff character strictly aimed at improving Repentia. They grant re-rolls to advances and charges and re-rolls of 1s to wound for Repentia squads within 6″, and while there are other ways to boost, fix or re-roll these results it’s nice to have this aura to fall back on if you’re running low on good Miracle dice or CP. Especially when Hand of the Emperor is up, advances and charges start to pretty reliably hit high numbers with this effect,and the wound re-rolls are definitely nice, especially for Bloody Rose, which most Repentia are run as anyway. These aren’t seeing that much competitive play, as you don’t really need them and 40pts is a signficant chunk of a whole sisters squad, but they aren’t actually terrible either.

Sisters Repentia

Repentia of the Wounded Heart
Repentia of the Wounded Heart. Credit: Corrode

Bloody Rose Repentia are one of the most absurdly deadly glass cannons in the game. On baseline stats these would be borderline – they’re fragile (having only a 6++ and 5+++ to go with their T3 and 1W) and while nasty in melee only have two S6 AP-3 D2 attacks with their Eviscerators. As soon as you add the extra attack and AP from the Bloody Rose, however, these cross the line to being exceptional, and only get nastier if you manage to get them swinging in a Preacher aura or use Tear them Down. Although their weapons have -1 to hit, Zealot cancels that out a fully buffed Bloody Rose unit will go clean through an Imperial Knight in a single swing. Because of the volume there isn’t much smaller than a Knight that will stand up to them either, and the prevalence of 2W Marines in 9th is great for them, as they go through them like a hot knife and will almost always make their points back instantly if you can get a swing with a full squad, because they’re only 15pts each. They’re one of the biggest winners in the whole game from the advent of Strategic Reserves too, as with the ability to do an Act of Faith charge from reserves, it gives you an incredibly hard to stop damage spike that seriously constrains your opponent’s ability to operate.

The only note of caution to sound with Repentia is that while they’re absurdly deadly when they swing, almost anything can kill them trivially, being as they are T3 with a bad save (and often operating outside the range of your Shield of Faith boosts). As well as meaning you should only commit them when you’re confident of getting them into melee, you should avoid charging two units into crunchy targets at the same time, because an opponent interrupting (especially with pretty much any flavour of Marines) is going to take a big chunk out of the second squad, massively reducing how deadly they are. Spread them out, one turn at a time.

Repentia have been staples in competitive lists since the release of the codex, and they’re still excellent in 9th. Now that you have actual shooting options, most lists run one or two squads rather than the maximum of three being in every army, but they’re extremely good and you shouldn’t leave home without some.

Celestian Squad

Celestians are an upgrade on a regular Sisters squad, getting +1A and WS, being able to bodyguard characters and getting full hit re-rolls when any friendly Canonesses are nearby. That’s a heck of an array of boosts, and run only one extra point per model, and in 9th being Elites rather than Troops is no longer the kiss of death, making these genuinely good now, especially in Bloody Rose.

The big reason for that is the Exceptional Proficiency stratagem, letting these access full hit and wound re-rolls when either shooting or fighting. In the shooting phase, that means if you dump a couple of melta weapons into the squad they’ll do some real damage, while in the fight phase if you get them into the relevant buff auras they become surprisingly lethal volume killers, especially if you find the points for a power sword on the superior. “Betters Sisters that will lamp you in melee” is a pretty decent slot to fill, and while they aren’t a mandatory unit they’ve got some real strengths to recommend them in this edition.

Hospitaller

Credit: Starvolt

Another cheap buff character, this one able to heal a model for d3 wounds or revive one dead model from a unit. They can also use Last Rites to make nearby units essentially fearless for a phase. All of this is fine, but because there aren’t really any multi-wound sisters infantry around to exploit the revive with (as is popular with Marine Apothecaries) these are another unit that you won’t mind having, but also don’t need. There one standout use is healing up your other buff characters if your metagame is sniper heavy, but with Eliminators taking a big old L in 9th, that’s less of a thing.

Imagifier

Now these are the buff characters you really want. When you deploy these you pick one of three aura abilities (or two, if you use Venerated Saint which you often should) from the following:

  • +1 to S for <ORDER> units within 6″
  • Order units within 6″ ignore AP-1 (or AP-2 if they’re Valorous Heart)
  • Re-roll denies for <ORDER> units within 6″

Both of the first two abilities here are fantastic, and S boosted Bloody Rose or defensively boosted Valorous Heart are huge staples of strong lists, and you should include an Imagifier defaulting to the relevant ability in those detachments. A Venerated Saint with both, Indomitable Belief and the Book of St. Lucius is a pretty spicy choice too.

These are amazing and if you’re serious about playing sisters, get at least one.

Crusaders

An Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave melee unit that just doesn’t really fill a niche or have synergies that make you want them.

Arco-Flagellants

Arco-Flagellants are another Ecclesiarchy unit that suffers from a lack of synergies, but does at least have a task they’re incredibly good at doing, which is scything through hordes. Combining a full unit with a Missionary and the Extremis Trigger Word strat throws out a cool 93 S5 AP-1 hit rolls, which is a lot of dead chaff (and such spectacular volume that even bigger stuff will be dragged down). They’re not too pricey either, and if you bring an Inquisitor to put an invuln on them can be decently tough thanks to having 2W each and a 5++.

All of that’s perfectly fine, especially if you start them in a Rhino, but they suffer the terrible curse of being an OK unit in an exceptional codex – you just don’t need what they’re bringing, and at this point if you want anti-horde melee, Bloody Rose Celestians are your jam.

Death-Cult Assassins

Death Cult Assassins. Credit: SRM

Stop the presses, these are actually good now! 9th Edition makes extremely cheap non-CHARACTER INFANTRY units super valuable, because you can chuck them into strategic reserves to get easy Deploy Scramblers. These very much fit that bill at a tiny 26pts for two, and the fact that they’re just about dangerous enough to punk other things in their weight class (e.g. Servitors) in a fight is a nice bonus. Take up to two units of these when you want to shore up your secondary capabilities, just don’t expect them to actually achieve stuff other than that.

Zephyrim

Zephyrim were one of the big surprises out of the Codex, proving to be extremely nasty killers in Bloody Rose in particular, and were a staple of successful lists in 8th. They entered 9th with a pretty hefty price tak of 20pts per model, but it turns out that they’re powerful enough that one unit is still absolutely worth it, especially now that the power sword change has given them S4. You mostly want to run these as Bloody Rose, because they kind of need the extra attack to get enough swings to be worth it, but once you have that these are strong, with their build-in wound re-rolls letting them take big chunks out of enemies, especially if you pop Bring it Down. Now that serious go-wide Bloody Rose builds are viable, the fact that they unlock the Embodied Prophecy strat is really helpful too, as giving wound re-rolls of 1 in a wide area is a nifty boost that Sisters don’t really have many other ways of getting access to.

At the high price you pay for these in 9th you don’t see players running three big units of them any more, but they are still good enough to see use in mid-sized squads in Bloody Rose armies.

Fast Attack

Seraphim Squad

Sisters of Battle Seraphim
Sisters of Battle Seraphim. Credit: Corrode

The other flavour of wingèd Sisters are also really good as Bloody Rose, and another big winner from the various changes in 9th. At their very, very baseline they’d honestly probably see some play, because a cheap, moderately durable unit that can deep strike and pick off enemy objective grabbers for 75pts is pretty OK, and gets even better once their pistols are AP-1.

Special equipment and the Deadly Descent stratagem push them considerably beyond that. Two models in the squad can swap to either inferno pistols or hand flamers, and both options have some serious attractions, giving you some spike damage out of deserves against targets of various sizes. The melta option has always been good, but the extra range on hand flamers in the new edition leaves them looking really pushed – because Descent lets them effectively shoot twice, you can squeeze 8d6 flamer shots out of your 83pt squad, and have those at AP-1 if you’re in the Rose. Stapling that kind of threat onto a unit that is already kind of fine just for objective play is an exceptionally good deal, and the fact that you can use Descent to remove enemy screeners to open up your other deep strikes is just gravy. These are a good unit with multiple valid builds, and see lots of play as a result.

Dominions

Dominions are a special weapon squad for the sisters, and they’re theoretically where you want to come to try out various buffs like Blessed Bolts and Holy Trinity, as you can stack up lots of toys to squeeze value out of them. In practice, however, what you’re actually here for is the scout move – these get to move as if it were the movement phase at the start of the first battle round, and pushing forward to make sure you can contest early objectives is enough to get one unit in to the occasional list. In terms of actually doing damage, Celestians and Retributors tend to get the nod.

Heavy Support

Credit: Dunkelbrau

Exorcist

Exorcists are fine, but like a lot of previously strong vehicles they suffer a bit from how pushed infantry alternatives (in this case Retributors) are in 9th. Their main missiles are pretty indimidating, firing 3d3 S8 AP-3 d6 damage shots, and they have an appealing T8, but they run you 195pts and don’t quite line up against Retributor squads with extra bodies at that price. They’re far from a bad unit (especially as Valorous Heart with an Imagifier), and 9th letting them move and shoot without penalty is a nice upside, so you do see them played, but in a reverse of our previous edition advice, you should probably buy yourself some Retributors first.

The possible exception to that is if you construct a list that only presents armoured hulls/vehicles to the enemy, which in concert with Mortifiers and Rhinos you can probably pull off. Saturating the board with Imagifier-protected tanks does plausibly start to look quite good. 9th does also incentivise you to include one unit that can safely sit on a home objective blasting away, and these aren’t awful in that role, but most players are just using Mortifiers for that.

Overall a perfectly fine unit if you want to blast things, just not the most optimised thing in the world unless you go deep on them.

Retributor Squad

What is the most optimised thing in the world is multi-melta Retributors, who are vying with Repentia to claim the crown of best unit in the army in 9th. Retributors came out of their codex with a healthy spread of abilities (including ignoring the Heavy penalty) and great stratagem support from Storm of Retribution, but suffered from none of their weapons being quite good enough. That is now an emphatically solved problem, as doubling the damage output of both the bolter and multi-melta builds makes them way better. Who could have guessed? The multi-meltas are the big winner, as you get both an increased number of shots and a boost to the average damage of half-range shots, leaving these as one of the most cost effiicent sources of melta death in the game. That’s pushed even further by the fact that they can bring two Armorium Cherubs, letting them unleash a mighty twelve shots on their first strike, and can also pack in additional bodies to protect the melta bearers. Given those bodies will often have a 4++, ignore AP-2 or actively boost up the melta shots once they die, that can be a bit of a headache for opponents. They’re also great for bringing in from Strategic Reserves, and conveniently come in under PL10 even when you max out the squad.

At this point the majority of Sisters lists are maxing out on three units of melta retributors, so if you’re planning to play this army competitively, get lots! The heavy bolter build is also at least OK in theory, but the meltas are so good that you run up against the rule of three before you’d ever put bolters in a list.

Penitent Engines

Credit: RichyP

Despite being a classic part of the Ministorum roster, Penitent engines are nasty melee killers at an attractive price, but suffer from the terrible problem of Mortifiers existing and just kind of being better across the board. They are, at least, now only 50pts each to the Mortifiers 60pts, making them appreciably cheaper, but the exceptional flexibility and great long-ranged shooting from Mortifiers just mean they’re a better choice in almost every situation.

Mortifiers

Credit: Starvolt

So Mortifiers. Like Penitent Engines but faster and you can mount two BS3+ heavy bolters on each, and upgrade one to have a 3+. Sounds pretty good huh? These are one of the better units in the whole book, and can fill three different roles in the list. Full squads of them are serious damage dealers – packing 6 BS3+ heavy bolter shots each makes them credible ranged threats, and the flails (which you should pretty much always take) make them exceptional at killing almost any targets in melee. They have acces to both Advance/Charge and fight twice out of the stratagem sheet, and are a must-answer threat your opponent is going to have to plan around. If you’re going this route, make sure to bring Celestine along, as she gives them a 6++ to help protect against melta or plasma death.

The next option is to run them in squads of two, usually with one Anchorite. These make great units for pushing onto early objectives, because they’re durable enough  that they won’t just die to a stiff breeze, but also not valuable enough that your opponent wants to send heavy hitters after them and get them deleted by a counterpunch from the rest of your army. In this setup, they’re cheap and low enough in PL that you can also toss them into Strategic Reserves in a matchup that calls for it.

Finally, singleton Anchorites are seeing a bunch of use as a unit for sitting on home objectives/in table quarters. They’re cheap, need to be shot with actual guns to shift at T5/3+/6+++, can rack up a few kills with their heavy bolters, and can defend themselves against enemy action chaff units. At 65pts, they’re a bargain in this slot.

Basically the only drawback of Mortifiers is that if you decide to spam them you open yourself up to easy Bring it Down, and that’s one of the few things holding them back from heavy use. They’re a great unit to have in your collection, and we highly recommend trying them out.

Dedicated Transport

Sororitas Rhino

It’s a Rhino, the standard transport Marines and Sisters have had for ages, with 12” movement, T7, 10W and the ability to transport up to 10 models. Sororitas Rhinos are made slightly better by having the Acts of Faith and Shield of Faith special rules, which make them a little more resilient, especially after you’ve used the vehicle’s smoke launchers to give enemies -1 to hit when shooting at it. Having a whole bunch of powerful infantry options, most notably Retributors, Repentia and Celestians, gives this a real home in Sisters lists, and one or two is a fairly common sight in armies, flexing between protecting these units in some matchups and making early objective plays in others. You generally don’t need to be putting all of your alpha units in them, as some can go in Strategic Reserves instead, but being able to start some pressure on the board in relative safety is very strong.

Immolator

Essentially the Sisters version of the Marine Razorback, i.e. a Rhino that trades some transport capacity for firepower. They’re not cheap, but both the melta and heavy bolter builds getting significant power boosts in 9th means that they’ll probably be OK on the table now, even if they’re still not something you want to spend points on over Retributors.

Fortifications

Battle Sanctum

9th giveth and 9th taketh away. Compared to many Fortifications breaks the mold by at least being sort of useful, and slotting a Fortification Network into your army is way less of a challenge in 9th. In terms of rules it’s 55pts for a piece of area terrain with ruin traits that you can place, and additionally, if any MINISTORUM (not just SORORITAS) units are within 6” at the start of each battle round you generate a miracle die. Ministorum units within 6” also get +1 Ld, Chaos units get -1 Ld.

At 55pts, that sounds pretty decent, but unfortunately the FAQ about Foritification deployment kind of dealt this the kiss of death. It’s a fairly massive piece of terrain, and you have to deploy it >3″ away from any other terrain features (other than hills). On the smaller, denser tables that 9th encourages, this means you’re at real risk of not being able to deploy it at all in a lot of games, and won’t be able to put it anywhere useful in many others.

Essentially, that restriction is enough that you basically need to check with a TO ahead of time “hey, am I actually going to be able to use this?” before putting it in your army at all. That’s a real shame, because it provides a good effect and is something that would see a lot of use with less severe restrictions. If you are packing one, the trick is generally to deploy it somewhere flush against a hill to restrict the maneuvreability of enemy monsters and vehicles, and ideally let one of your units sit in cover on an objective at the same time.

Playing Adepta Sororitas

The strangth of the Sisters of the Battle is that they can put up the numbers to move onto objectives in force, their units are tough to shift, and they can throw out absurd damage spikes from key units like Retributors and Repentia. Given that they’re also quite capable of winning a grinding game as well, that presents a real problem for the opponent, because if you can get your forces into position then they’re faced with a difficult choice – commit to the fight and risk getting blown out by a lethal counterblow, or hang back and lose gradually over time as the Sisters player pulls ahead on the Primary.

Many armies want to do some variation on this basic plan, but Sisters can make a reasonable claim to be the best at it, and that’s down to the incredible strength of the force multiplation auras they can bring to the table. Defensive aura buffs are better than ever in 9th, so slamming down multiple ways of augmenting Shield of Faith is super good. At a most basic level, therefore, you need to be planning to roll the main block of your army around the board in a big aura bubble, and set up various counterattacks to punish your opponent depending on how they choose to come at you.

You’ve got several options for that. Repentia are dirt cheap to throw in Strategic reserves, can automatically charge out of deep strike and will blend almost anything. Retributors can either lurk in rhinos until the time is right, or just bring extra bodies and dare the opponent to waste shots trying to chew through them, then unleash a withering hail of melta fire. Zephyrim can jet forward and lurk in a ruin till its killing time. Mortifiers are just plain nasty. You’ve got a bunch of different options for damage dealing, and options for getting them where they need to be pretty reliably, making it extremely difficult for your opponent to interfere with your plans. The key learning curve is to build up a feel for when to commit your various units, because they often will die pretty sharpish after you go for a big play with them. The models in this army have a very high average durability, making it difficult to chew through the whole thing, but the individual units are still, ultimately, T3 infantry and will die accordingly if your opponent really goes for it.

What really takes this board control/countrerattack plan to the next level is the Acts of Faith mechanic in combination with the exceptional stratagem sheet. Especially if you choose to bring the Triumph of St. Katherine to the table, Miracle dice provide you with the unparalleled bonus that when you really need something to work, it works. Need to make a 12″ charge to stay in the game? Well, if you’ve got the Triumph and a 5 and a 6 in your pool, you can. Need to roll anything but a 1 on this damage to clear out a key target squad? Use up a random 2. Desperately need your Rhino not to pop to the melta shot that just hit it? Auto-pass that save. There’s basically nothing else quite like it in 40K at the moment, and as well as helping you out it can badly mess with your opponents play. If they don’t think about it enough they’re going to fall face first into your traps, opening themselves up to long-bomb advance/charges that you wouldn’t ever risk without access to the mechanic. If they do think about it they’ll sometimes go too far the other way, caught in analysis paralysis because of the array of horrible things you can do to their poor, defenceless army. At the start of every phase you should be quickly reviewing the Miracle Dice you have to hand and thinking through what, if anything, is suffiicently important that it would be worth spending them on, then keep that in mind while playing out the phase. While you want to keep a few in the pool for stratagems at all times, if you’re ending the game with lots left you’re should think about how you could use them a bit more aggressively.

This mixture of consistency and raw power is what is what has taken Sisters to the top – and if you master their tricks, they can certainly take you there as well.

Army Lists

Sisters of Battle Imagifier. Credit: Corrode

From our point of view, one of the massive upsides of Sisters being so powerful at the moment is that there’s a wealth of different builds we can showcase. We’ve picked out three from recent competitive top fours to demonstrate different ways you can go with the army.

Shane Watts’ Bloody Rose

Our own Shane Watts is up first with a go-wide melee list:

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Fortification Network 0CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [3 PL, 55pts] ++

Battle Sanctum [3 PL, 55pts]

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [98 PL, 1,943pts, 9CP] ++

Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose
Sacred Rite: Hand of the Emperor

Open the Reliquaries [-1CP]: Additional Relics of the Ecclesiarchy

+ HQ +

Canoness [3 PL, 50pts]: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Relic: Beneficence

Celestine [8 PL, 170pts]: Warlord, Warlord Trait: 4. Beacon of Faith

Triumph of Saint Katherine [10 PL, 195pts]

+ Troops +

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun

+ Elites +

Celestian Squad [7 PL, 140pts] . 8x Celestian: 8x Bolt pistol, 8x Boltgun, 8x Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword
. Celestian w/ Special or Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

Celestian Squad [7 PL, 140pts] . 8x Celestian: 8x Bolt pistol, 8x Boltgun, 8x Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword
. Celestian w/ Special or Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

Imagifier [3 PL, 45pts, -2CP]: Heroine in the Making, Relic: Book of St. Lucius, Tale of the Stoic, Tale of the Warrior, Venerated Saint, Warlord Trait: 5. Indomitable Belief

Preacher [2 PL, 35pts]: Chainsword, Laspistol

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 135pts] . 9x Sisters Repentia: 9x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 135pts] . 9x Sisters Repentia: 9x Penitent Eviscerator

+ Fast Attack +

Seraphim Squad [4 PL, 95pts] . 2x Seraphim: 4x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
. Seraphim Superior: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Inferno Pistols
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Inferno Pistols

Seraphim Squad [4 PL, 95pts] . 2x Seraphim: 4x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
. Seraphim Superior: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Inferno Pistols
. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Inferno Pistols

+ Heavy Support +

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 120pts] . Retributor
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 145pts]: Armourium Cherub
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 145pts]: Armourium Cherub
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

+ Dedicated Transport +

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 78pts]: Storm bolter

++ Total: [101 PL, 9CP, 1,998pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • Pure Bloody Rose, but playing all the hits of the 9th infantry hotness, with Retributors and Celestians out in force in an infantry horde list.
  • Seraphim and Repentia provide excellent spike damage potential.
  • A Battle Sanctum and the Triumph ensure a continuous flood of miracle dice to power up this army’s nonsense.

Why it Works in 9th

Shane’s build brings brutal melee board control to the table, passing up on Mortifiers and Exorcists to go for a full-blown infantry horde list, with just a single Rhino and a Battle Sanctum breaking up the serried ranks of Bloody Rose Sisters.

The result is something that’s pretty well tuned to the current metagame. Melta weapons are everywhere right now, and shooting at massed 4++  1W infantry is about the worst possible fail case for them, and armies going hard on that are going to look a bit silly. This army’s offensive output, by contrast, is extremely broad. It has melta of its own to pop large targets at range, Celestians to sucker punch hordes in melee, and Repentia to come in from a board edge, auto-charge and kill almost anything. The broad range of tools the list has also means it can be profitably popping Miracles all the time (including shooting in the movement phase with Seraphim in a pinch), and with the Triumph, the Sanctum and Celestine’s warlord trait it’s going to have access to an ample flow of dice to use for this. With so much melta kicking around, and the Triumph to boost their value, pretty much any dice showing 2+ are actively useful, and even the 1s can be blown to auto-pass morale tests under the new rules. The list ends up exceptionally reliable because of it, and opponents have a tough choice in terms of what to do about it – they can swing at the Triumph to try and stop the Miracle nonsense, but doing that ignores the threats, but then on the flip side if they go for the best threats the Triumph lets everything else punch above its weight!

Beyond the Miracle power, being almost pure infantry and having every unit be at least OK in melee thanks to the Bloody Rose conviction, this list is just fantastic at playing 9th Edition missions. It can control the board extremely well, has a bunch of angles on actions, and while it theoretically gives up Assassinate, in practice you basically need to be tabling it to pull that off, and that’s extremely challenging for most armies. You also need to really know what you’re doing against this army – underestimating what it can achieve with Miracles is going to get you brutally killed in very short order. Overall, it’s a really neat build that does things differently enough from many mainstream armies to wrongfoot the opposition, while leveraging the raw power of the Bloody Rose.

Tim Pinney’s Shooty Sororitas

Our next build showcases how the big boost to Mortifiers lets you really go wide on powerful shooting now.

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [20 PL, 426pts, 12CP] ++

+ Configuration [12CP] +

Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose

+ HQ [3 PL, 50pts] +

Canoness [3 PL, 50pts]: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Relic: Beneficence, Warlord, Warlord Trait: 2. Righteous Rage

+ Troops [4 PL, 55pts] +

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister [44pts]: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior [11pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades

+ Elites [7 PL, 161pts] +

Death Cult Assassins [1 PL, 26pts] . 2x Death Cult Assassins [26pts]: 2x Death Cult power blades

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 135pts] . 9x Sisters Repentia [135pts]: 9x Penitent Eviscerator

+ Heavy Support [6 PL, 160pts] +

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 160pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Combi-flamer Frag & Krak grenades
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta

++ Spearhead Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [77 PL, 1,571pts, -4CP] ++

+ Configuration [-3CP] +

Detachment CP [-3CP]

Order Convictions: Order: Valorous Heart

+ HQ [10 PL, 195pts] +

Triumph of Saint Katherine [10 PL, 195pts]: 6x Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Relic weapons, The Martyr’s Sword

+ Elites [4 PL, 71pts, -1CP] +

Death Cult Assassins [1 PL, 26pts] . 2x Death Cult Assassins [26pts]: 2x Death Cult power blades

Imagifier [3 PL, 45pts, -1CP]: Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Heroine in the Making [-1CP], Tale of the Stoic, Warlord Trait: 4. Beacon of Faith

+ Heavy Support [63 PL, 1,305pts] +

Exorcist [9 PL, 195pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [30pts], Heavy bolter [15pts]

Exorcist [9 PL, 195pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [30pts], Heavy bolter [15pts]

Exorcist [9 PL, 195pts]: Exorcist Missile Launcher [30pts], Heavy bolter [15pts]

Mortifiers [12 PL, 240pts] . Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails

Mortifiers [12 PL, 240pts] . Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails

Mortifiers [12 PL, 240pts] . Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers [3 PL, 60pts]: 2x Heavy bolter [30pts], 2x Penitent Flails

++ Total: [97 PL, 8CP, 1,997pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • Mortifiers for days, taking advantage of the heavy bolter buff.
  • Leaning in to vehicles making Exorcists more attractive.
  • Death Cult Assassins getting the nod as the latest “bad” unit to be kind of worth it for Action/objective purposes.

Why it’s Interesting in 9th

Mortifiers are a really cool unit and their firepower is perfectly tuned for a Space Marine heavy world. They pack a lot of heavy bolter shots at a very appealing price, and are also great in melee, with a profile that will go through hordes and power armour alike. Their only real drawback is that they aren’t that durable, but quantity goes a long way to solving that problem, and this list is going to look pretty fearsome when it’s coming at you. Saturating the board with that kind of threat also makes some list building options that have been losing out to pure Bloody Rose seem a bit more appealing as well – if you’re already giving up Bring it Down and your mid-board units are moderately durable rather than glass cannons, it’s much more reasonable to try Exorcists (backed up with an Imagifier) backing them up, especially as 9th lets them operate at full effect while mobile. The Triumph is included it as well, and taking it all together opponents are going to be rather overwhelmed by all the targets they have to choose from.

A few Bloody Rose elements do still make it in – the smash Canoness and a full squad of Repentia are great value adds, and we can also see that the good news about multi-meltas has reached the Sororitas, as a unit of Retributors makes the cut. I’d guess the Repentia and maybe the Retrubutors go into strat reserves in a lot of games, though Repentia + one Mortifier squad + one Death Cult unit is also a potentially spicy configuration to stash for 2CP at a cool 19PL. As long as there’s somewhere to hide the Retributors that’s probably fine, and once you manage that this list presents very few targets for anti-horde firepower, something that’s definitely in its favour. The list ends up coming together really well, able to contend with almost any kind of threat and pressure the board very effectively.

Andrew Gardenhire’s Mixed Sororitas

The last build to showcase is a more mixed one, and makes use of the Order of Our Martyred Lady to provide buffed Retributor shooting while the Bloody Rose handle close-in violence.

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [40 PL, 805pts, 12CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Order Convictions: Order: Our Martyred Lady

+ HQ +

Celestine [8 PL, 170pts]: The Ardent Blade, Warlord, Warlord Trait: 4. Beacon of Faith

Junith Eruita [8 PL, 115pts]: 2x Heavy flamer

+ Troops +

Battle Sister Squad [4 PL, 55pts] . 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Sister Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades

+ Elites +

Preacher [2 PL, 35pts]: Chainsword, Laspistol

+ Heavy Support +

Retributor Squad [9 PL, 215pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub
. 4x Retributor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Simulacrum: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Simulacrum Imperialis

Retributor Squad [9 PL, 215pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub
. 4x Retributor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Retributor Superior: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta
. Retributor w/ Simulacrum: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Simulacrum Imperialis

++ Vanguard Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [62 PL, 1,191pts, -6CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Order Convictions: Order: Bloody Rose

+ Stratagems +

Open the Reliquaries [-1CP]: Additional Relics of the Ecclesiarchy

+ HQ +

Canoness [3 PL, 50pts, -1CP]: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Heroine in the Making, Relic: Beneficence, Warlord Trait: 2. Righteous Rage

+ Elites +

Celestian Squad [7 PL, 145pts] . 7x Celestian: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Boltgun, 7x Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian Superior: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Combi-melta, Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian w/ Simulacrum: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Simulacrum Imperialis
. Celestian w/ Special Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun

Celestian Squad [7 PL, 145pts] . 7x Celestian: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Boltgun, 7x Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian Superior: Bolt pistol, Chainsword, Combi-melta, Frag & Krak grenades
. Celestian w/ Simulacrum: Bolt pistol, Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Simulacrum Imperialis
. Celestian w/ Special Weapon: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun

Imagifier [3 PL, 45pts, -1CP]: Boltgun, Frag & Krak grenades, Relic: Litanies of Faith, Tale of the Stoic, Tale of the Warrior, Venerated Saint

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 120pts] . 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 120pts] . 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Zephyrim Squad [10 PL, 160pts] . 7x Zephyrim: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Frag & Krak grenades, 7x Power sword
. Zephyrim Superior: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Power sword

+ Heavy Support +

Mortifiers [6 PL, 125pts] . Anchorite: 2x Heavy bolter, 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers: 2x Heavy bolter, 2x Penitent Flails

Mortifiers [6 PL, 125pts] . Anchorite: 2x Heavy bolter, 2x Penitent Flails
. Mortifiers: 2x Heavy bolter, 2x Penitent Flails

+ Dedicated Transport +

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 78pts]: Storm bolter

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 78pts]: Storm bolter

++ Total: [102 PL, 1,996pts, 6CP] ++

The Standout Features

  • Martyred Lady Retributors draw big benefits from the presence of Junith and their order conviction.
  • Bloody Rose provide melee and mid-ranged punch in the form of large Celestian and Repentia units.
  • Mortifiers fill a strong flex role, able to join the push, go into Strategic Reserves or sit on home objectives as needed.

Why it Works in 9th

This build shows off the Order of Our Martyred Lady in a competitive list, breaking the stranglehold that the Valorous Heart and Bloody Rose have largely had on competitive play (with the odd Ebon Chalice relic carrier) since the book released.

The innovation Andrew has found that makes that order worth it is that they’re a fantastic home for multi-melta Retributors, now firmly established as one of the best units in the book. Running out full ten model squads gives you a strong chance of activating their order conviction, which gives units +1 to hit as long as they’ve lost at least one model. On multi-meltas, which will also be getting re-roll 1s on hits and wounds thanks to Junith that’s pretty terrifying, and they’re going to be even better in this list than they are anywhere else. Junith being present (alongside Celestine) also lets the army save on having to find a slot for the Indomitable Belief warlord trait, as her boost to Shield of Faith invulns works across orders, meaning all of the infantry here are getting the 4++, something you can’t do in lists mixing Bloody Rose and Valorous Heart, and overall adding up to a compelling reason to take Martyred Lady. Junith has always been fine as a model, but she’s needed a reason to bring the rest of the order – it looks like Andrew has found one. Being able to fire her heavy flamers in combat now isn’t nothing either!

While Martyred Lady has pushed out Valorous Heart in this list, the pure power of the Bloody Rose means they’re still here in force as well. Repentia make an unsurprising appearance, but the bigger story is probably the two units of Celestians. I’ve waxed lyrical about how good these are in Bloody Rose (extremely) and being great carriers for a few scattered in meltaguns is a big upside as well, making them a great all-round mid-table unit. People finally seem to be adjusting to just how potent they are, and they work especially well when you’re going wide on defensive buffs as here. The list also finds space for 8th Edition favourites Zephyrim, who while pricy in 9th can definitely pull their weight as Bloody Rose, especially now they have upgraded Power Swords. With the potential to auto-charge they’re yet another unit the enemy has to screen against, and being able to drop into the enemy’s deployment zone if Scramblers is needed is a useful backup role.

Finally, the list fills out with a couple of Mortifier units, each sporting an Anchorite and one more model. I had a quick chat with Andrew to confirm how these were being used, and sure enough they sit in the slot of something that can push onto an objective and take a moderate amount of shifting to get rid of, even if they don’t last the whole game. In theory they could go into Strategic Reserves as a harrassment unit as well, but Andrew found that wasn’t actually needed in the games – being effective throwaway objective holders that could range away from the main force was more valuable.

Wrap Up

Sisters have had a pretty great run since the release of their book, and are really going from strength to strength right now. If you want army with consistency, cool tricks and an enormous depth in terms of competitive builds, they might be what you’re looking for.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions you can, as ever, hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com.