The 2021 Big FAQ Update Hot Take: Imperium Edition

Games Workshop dropped an absolute bombshell of an update today, with FAQs for the majority of factions, tons of clarifications, and big adjustments to everything from core rules to key faction abilities. There’s a ton to sift through but if you wanted a concise review of what changed and what it means, look no further – we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’re looking at the FAQ changes for the Imperium – specifically Space Marines, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Custodes, Adepta Sororitas, Astra Militarum, though as of this writing the only notable changes have been to Codex: Space Marines, Codex Supplement: Ultramarines, and Codex Supplement: Iron Hands.

Deployment clarifications make it clear when you can/can’t Combat Squad units

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Core Rules Rare Rules section now has a section specifically clarifying the Deployment step and what it means when a rule refers to At the Start of/During/After Deployment. Specifically, “At the Start of” rules happen at the start of the Declare Transports and Reserves step of the mission pre-game sequence, and this is when Combat Squads happens.

“During Deployment” rules happen any time during the Declare Transports and Reserves or Deploy Armies steps, and if it sets a unit up off the battlefield, it’ll happen during the Declare Transports/Reserves Step. Teleport Strike and Concealed Positions both fall during this timing window; Teleport Strike happens during Declare Transports/Reserves, while Concealed Positions happens during Deploy Armies, since it’s used “when you set the unit up.”

“After Deployment” rules happen during the Resolve Pre-Battle Abilities step. The example given here is the Lord of Deceit Warlord Trait, where you’d re-deploy up to three <CHAPTER> PHOBOS units during this step.

On the whole this is more of a “necessary clarification,” though it does give us set timing for when Combat Squads has to happen, and now your decision to Combat Squad a unit must be made before you decide to put it into reserves with Teleport Strike. No more spending 1 CP to reserve two Combat Squads – something that is addressed again with…

Combat Squads and Per-Unit Upgrades

A clarification has been added as to how one-use unit level upgrades like Teleport Homers apply to units that split up into Combat Squads – who gets the upgrade? The answer is pretty generous – you can still only use the upgrade once, but either half of the unit can use it, and you don’t have to decide which is getting the toy at the time they split. Thanks to this, there’s probably some fringe utility to combining a Teleport Homer with a 10-model unit of Terminators to be had somewhere.

Access to powers for Librarians changed

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Core Rules Rare Rules section now has specific wording around what it means to have access to Psychic Disciplines, and what happens if you take one discipline instead of another, such as giving up Librarius Powers for powers from the Obscuration or Interromancy Disciplines. In these cases you lose access to the original discipline and cannot gain powers from that discipline with a relic like the Tome of Malcador – the Tome now only gives you an additional power from the replacement Discipline you know powers from.

Guerilla Tactics

A notable nerf here – the Guerilla Tactics stratagem previously, due to the way it was worded, allowed you to come back in from Strategic Reserves the same phase you entered it as long as you used it during the Move Units step. Turns out that Phobos Marines are sneaky and speedy but can’t actually just straight up teleport across the table – you now have to wait until a future turn to bring the models in from Strategic Reserves. This reduces the amount of Scramblers (sorry, ROD) utility you can get from a single Phobos unit, as to use this stratagem you’ll need to skip at least one turn of doing Actions with them, and generally makes the existence of Phobos units that much less of a headache for your opponent.

Chapter Command and Stratagem Costs

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Some of the Chapter Command Warlord Traits (Selfless Healer and Wise Orator) set the cost of some stratagems to a specific value when the model uses them. Previously, because of the way ordering worked, if your opponent had some sort of effect that increased the cost of your stratagem (e.g. Agents of Vect) you could technically choose to apply your “set to a specific value” effect after the cost increase, totally ignoring it. No dice. In line with most places where this sort of thing can happen, the setting of the cost always applies first, then any other modifiers – so the Vect tax will have to be paid for your endless Combat Revivals.

Minor Marine Changes

  • The version of the Merciless Butcher warlord trait in the codex is brought in line with the one in Codex Supplement: Blood Angels.
  • The Ultramarine Seal of Oath relic got a minor wording change that doesn’t have a functional impact, but clears up some confusion where apparently a small number of players thought you could change the target every battle round. Which uh, we’re glad this has been made even clearer because holy shit.
  • The Iron Hands Teeth of Mars relic has been updated to now correctly replace an Astartes Chainsword
  • Bray’arth Ashmantle’s Burning Wrath is now an Assault Weapon – which is great, because as a VEHICLE he can still shoot it in combat, and can now go fully flame wild in melee by firing other guns as well.
  • An extra carve-out for the Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought allows you to take a Heavy Flamer in place of one storm bolter, essentially letting you take one on a great wolf claw, something that was missing before when your only option for a heavy flamer was on a Dreadnought Combat weapon.

Ruststalkers now ignore Difficult Terrain Movement penalties

Ruststalkers join the forces of the Death Guard getting an upgrade to their movement abilities. Not because Optimised Gait changed, mind – but rather because of the Core Rules changes to Difficult Terrain, which now makes it a modifier on a model’s Move Characteristic and charge rolls. This now means that they can traverse Difficult Terrain freely.

AdMech Forge World Units

AdMech’s Secutarii units and their version of the Terrax drill have now been changed to have the Doctrinas ability instead of Canticles of the Omnissiah, bringing them in line with other Skitarii units. This is particularly good for the Drill in Mars, and just in general being able to push an already tough and aggressive unit’s save up to 2+ via Bulwark doctrina, and having the option to amp up whichever of its considerable melee or shooting it’s using this turn is fantastic.

Death Rider Command Squads

These are now explicitly clarified as being Elites, where previously there was a disconnect between their datasheet and the points section at the back of the book. The large point hike these have recently taken means this doesn’t matter as much as it could have done, but it does mean if you still want to go wild on a Battalion containing Scions and as many ponies as you can handle, you no longer end up clogged up on the Fast Attack slot.

Everything Else

…didn’t change. AdMech are mostly too new, Sisters are too imminent, Custodes are too small and Guard are too old.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at