As promised, Games Workshop released a huge update today in the form of another quarterly balance dataslate. The Q2 2022 Dataslate is full of rules updates that creates a massive shakeup in the meta. As always, we’re here to not only document what changed but how it affects your games and the meta as a whole.
You can find the dataslate here.
The Game-Wide Changes
Similar to the December dataslate, we saw several sweeping changes this time around, with major effects across multiple armies. Note that the change to AIRCRAFT limiting them to 1 per army in Incursion/2 in Strike Force/3 in Onslaught was put into place in the December 2021 Dataslate and as such won’t be covered here.
Armour of Contempt
Armour of Contempt is a new rule for ADEPTUS ASTARTES, SANCTIC ASTARTES, HERETIC ASTARTES, and ADEPTA SORORITAS units that worsens the AP of incoming attacks by 1 in order to improve the resiliency of several power armoured factions. The only exceptions to this rule are some units that may already worsen or reduce AP in some fashion, with storm shields and the like being specifically identified. This is generally a shot in the arm for factions that were not handling the creeping increase in AP and damage values well, but while we generally agree with the spirit of the update this adds another layer of complexity when it comes to the mental load of calculating model saves. Presumably this will be handled in a smoother mechanic in the future, but for now we think most players will take it.
Furthermore, the change is made to the entire faction (barring certain enumerated exceptions), so this applies to everything: Repentia, Chaos Cultists, Astraeuses, Land Raiders, Guilliman, Rubric Marines, Blightlord Terminators, and so forth. It’s a big help to many of those factions, and Thousand Sons Rubricae and Scarab Occult Terminators in particular are salivating over the prospect of reducing AP by 1 and getting +1 save against damage 1 weapons, giving their ObSec Terminators a 0+ save against D1 weapons (or D2 weapons if you use the Unwavering Phalanx Stratagem).
Note that, per the game rules, you can’t worsen AP below 0.
Indirect Fire Weapons
Rejoice, the day of reckoning has finally arrived for indirect weapons! Models that fire indirect weapons that do not have visibility to their target reduce Ballistic Skill rating by 1 and also grants the target +1 t their armour saves (but is importantly NOT Light Cover). This is especially interesting, as it’s the first major instance of a potential -2 to hit modifier most armies are going to see. As it is not a hit-roll modifier and instead a modifier to the Ballistic Skill itself, a -1 to hit modifier can still apply. Units hidden in Dense or otherwise shrouded (spores, etc.) can expect to be well-defended against Indirect.
To the relief of many platoon commanders, ASTRA MILITARUM units are not affected by this change. This makes sense both mechanically and thematically, as their BS and most indirect attacks are already relatively poor and the ‘guard are well-trained for this. Also, the army needs all the help it can get.
The collateral damage here are Plagueburst Crawlers and Hive Guard (though to a lesser extent), the former of which will need to play more aggressively (but gets a little boost doing so thanks to Armour of Contempt), and the latter of which will probably just be phased out in favor of new Tyranid threats anyways.
A long time coming, “Bodyguard” rules have been reduced to allow Look Out, Sir for models which it applies. This is a welcome change that eliminates a frustrating mechanic that a lot of players have had to deal with up to now, where models could put themselves forward and be effectively invulnerable to incoming fire provided their guard stood dutifully behind a wall. These abilities are certainly still useful, but are now in line with the much more sane requirement that they not be the closest enemy model for it to apply.
An important note here is that characters with bodyguards can now be targeted by units that ignore the Look Out, Sir rule. This may make the Vindicare Assassin a much more valuable model to take as a result, and improves the value of snipers generally. The unit hit hardest by this is probably the Ravenwing Talonmaster, who players could previously bodyguard completely while having effective ranged shooting. This also hurts Morvenn Vahl and Celestine, who can no longer rely on hidden units of Sacresants for protection.
For Tyranids players, there is a specific mention that “Hive Tyrant” models are protected here, but we’re not certain if the implication here is only Hive Tyrant units (which are a thing) or they intended it to be HIVE TYRANT keyword units, which would include the Winged Hive Tyrant and the Swarmlord. If it’s the former, this hugely reduces the usefulness of Tyrant Guard and would be a bit of a baffling choice. Given the new rules will be generally available this weekend, hopefully we can get some clarification in the near future.
In addition to the bigger changes that affect everyone, there were a number of army-specific changes, some of which are designed to take into account the new game-wide changes and some of which are just designed to provide additional help.
The Sisters now gain a Miracle Dice each turn, up from one each round. This is a big boost that helps them smooth things out even further and puts the mechanic more in-line with the raw power of Strands of Fate. It also gives Ebon Chalice more dice to crush into better results when the rolls are subpar.
With the new Armour of Contempt rule not affecting units that already have AP reduction such as the Order of the Valorous Heart, there was a need to adjust their subfaction trait. The second half of the Order trait for the Valorous Heart has been changed to ‘Each time an attack is made against a unit with this conviction, that attack’s wound roll cannot be re-rolled.’ This is an interesting effect that makes them more resilient to attacks from lightning claws, plague weapons, and other elite units that can re-roll 1s or all wound rolls.
First, the big news we already saw, but re-stating here for the crowd that scrolls down to their own army’s header and doesn’t read the rest (I see you): Guard are exempted from the Indirect Fire changes in their entirety. Considering that this would have made Manticores hit on 5s with no AP, it seems fair. Their shooting is bad enough already, just let them have this.
The other two abilities they got are massive army-wide buffs. If you stick to the same regiment, all <REGIMENT> models auto-wound on 6s to hit, and all Infantry Squad wargear is free now. Note that the buff to auto-wound does not apply to Tempestus Scions, so chase away those visions of mass Taurox Primes dancing across your head, but it does make the humble lasgun much more of a threat, and may give Leman Russ Punishers more play. The free wargear on infantry squads essentially means that every squad will now pack a Lascannon and a Plasma gun, and a power axe on the sergeant. That’s not quite the same as giving Guard 200 extra points, but it’s a start.
Considering how god-awful this army was, We don’t even mind. We love this for them.
Edit: Ok kids, strap in on this one. How this applies to Militarum Tempestus is a bit up in the air. On review of the Guard book, MILITARUM TEMPESTUS does count as a <REGIMENT> for all rules purposes, so if you build a pure Militarum Temptestus army you should get the new Hammer of the Emperor rule – auto-wounds for all (but especially the Lambdan Lions)! However this cuts both ways – this would also mean that including any Militarum Tempestus stuff in other guard armies (a popular choice to provide fantastic Retrieve Nachmund Data units) would break Hammer. That doesn’t seem to totally line up with everything else about the Tempestus encouraging you to take them alongside normal stuff, but RAW appears to come down on the side of them getting it. Essentially, if you’re a TO, you need to make a call which way you’re landing on this one unless/until GW issue further clarification.
GW has peeled the Bananamen. First, Custodes Infantry took a hit as now only Troops units in Adeptus Custodes Detachments gain the Objective Secured ability, substantially reducing the effectiveness of Allarus Terminators and Characters. This probably removes Allarus from armies altogether, though it makes Sagittarum-heavy builds more valuable.
The following Stratagems have all been updated to include ‘You can only use this Stratagem once”:
- Esteemed Amalgam
- Emperor’s Auspice
- Martial Discretion
Arcane Genetic Alchemy and Emperor’s Auspice have also had their keyword effects updated from Adeptus Custodes to Adeptus Custodes Infantry, meaning the former no longer works on Vertus Praetors and the latter no longer affects Vertus Praetors and Dreadnoughts, making them significantly more vulnerable.
I hope you had fun turning off everyone’s re-rolls, ya jerks, because the party’s over. We would have preferred seeing a CP price hike on those stratagems, because “once per game” always feels like a hacky solution compared to actually balancing things, but this isn’t the hill we’re going to die on. Good riddance.
Otherwise, this substantially reduces the effectiveness of the army, making it harder for them to hold objectives with their elite units and small model counts. For Custodes players, the sky has fallen, but it remains to be seen whether these changes are too much or if there’s still a viable build in the mix. The X-factor here is going to be every other army’s changes.
No new updates; the changes from the previous dataslates have been rolled over into this one.
The second half of the Salamanders Chapter Trait, like the Valorous Heart rule referenced above, has been changed to “‘Each time an attack is made against a unit with this tactic, that attack’s wound roll cannot be re-rolled.” With the new general AP reduction and access to Transhuman Physiology for a lot of units, this is going to hurt a lot of enemy units that rely on rerolls to ensure they damage the Salamanders. That will suit the renowned durability of the Sons of Vulkan just fine, and makes them the natural enemies of the new and improved Death Guard.
It’s pretty cute that Armour of Contempt basically cancels out Doctrines against other Marines and Sisters, though.
Chaos Space Marines
No updates aside from Armour of Contempt. The changes to Death to the False Emperor have been reprinted here. Overall these changes help Chaos Space Marine Terminators the same way as everyone else’s improvements, and making the army’s 1-wound marines even better may make a Marines-heavy strategy viable. Then again, probably not – the real winners here are the terminators in the Legions who already got their 9th edition codexes…
Speaking of which, Blightlord Terminators and Deathshroud Terminators now have the Objective Secured rule, which is a solid update and boost to their effectiveness, ensuring they can grind forward and avoid losing objectives to a single Custodian. It’s a welcome change that, when combined with the nerf to indirect fire that makes Plagueburst Crawlers worse and the boost from Armour of Contempt, will likely mean we see players experiment more with terminator-heavy armies. 20 Blightlords, anyone?
On that note, being HERETIC ASTARTES means that Death Guard now also receive the resiliency boost from Armour of Contempt. This also helps the humble Plague Marine as well, and firmly pushes MSU squads into the army’s “cheap core troops” spot.
No new updates; the changes from the previous dataslates have been rolled over into this one.
No new updates; the changes from the previous dataslates have been rolled over into this one. Buggy spam remains dead and buried.
No new updates; the changes from the previous dataslates have been rolled over into this one.
Voidweavers have avoided the same axe that was used on the Ork buggies and have also dodged the reduction in the unit’s size. Instead they got hit by an almost 50% point increase, going up to 130 points each. Starweavers go up to 95 points per model.
Along with that, the Mirror Architect Pivotal Role has been changed from an aura that affects all units within 6” to affecting a single unit within 9” of the caster, applied as a Command Phase effect. That makes it substantially less effective as a defence, possibly to the point of not being taken at all.
The Favour of Cegorach Warlord Trait was also changed from hit roll, wound roll, or a saving throw to melee hit roll, a melee wound roll or a saving throw.
These are substantial changes, but it’s not clear if they do nearly enough. Harlequins players will likely just change up their builds and find new efficiencies elsewhere. The result will likely be Harlies putting up a fairly pedestrian 65% or 70% win rate, which somehow qualifies as a nerf.
This could have been a lot worse. We genuinely think T’au got off pretty easy.
Mont’ka lost the bonus to AP, but kept “advance and shoot” and the re-rolls on wounds, which is probably the right move. It makes the effect less powerful – though probably still an auto-take over Kau’yon – but keeps the parts that were actually fun and interesting, while reducing the insane lethality of it. This pairs with the Armour of Contempt and Indirect changes to make T’au much less effective at picking marines up off the table, particularly if they aren’t within line of sight – they’ll need to face their enemies properly if they want to do real damage.
Broadsides lost CORE, which combos with the Indirect nerfs to suddenly make SMS Railsides just fine instead of oppressive. That said, T’au don’t lean on CORE as hard as some other armies, so the relevant changes here are losing Ethereal chants and re-rolls of 1 to hit from Commanders. We’ll likely see fewer Broadsides in top lists, but they’re not suddenly bad units.
On that note, the “Outer Enclaves” strategy of taking a Farsight Successor with Ethereals is still legal, but less useful (see previous statement re: Broadsides), as Farsight only hands out automatic markerlights on ranged attacks at 9”, down from 12”. This forces a much more aggressive, risky play style than players may be comfortable with.
Finally, some of the charge-reducing abilities no longer stack, but that doesn’t seem like a huge deal.
Between the Farsight, CORE, and indirect changes, in the most extreme case SMS broadsides went from hitting 88% of the time (3+ rerolling 1s) to hitting 33% of the time (5+ no re-rolls), and from AP-2 to AP0 (no Mont’ka boost, and +1 to saves against Indirect). On the clapback they lose their access to a 5+++. Your AFP Crisis blobs can still get their re-rolls, but no one else is affected. Yes, it’s bad for our large idiot robotic sons or anyone else spamming indirect fire, but every single other build in the book is still there. The Mont’ka nerf combined with the buff to Marine saves looks bad, but consider: you probably don’t need help blasting marines off the table, so who cares. This is one area where we think the army will probably be fine, and the real casualties are some specific builds of the army. Stormsurges in particular don’t feel any of this.
Thousand Sons didn’t get any specific changes but players get a second helping of bonuses to their armour saves, as the All is Dust rule on Rubricae and Scarab Occult Terminators stacks with the new Armour of Contempt rule against attacks with a damage characteristic of 1, since All is Dust modifies the armour save and not the attacks’ AP value. That’s big news for Scarab Occult Terminators in particular, who will enjoy having a 1+ save normally before you factor in benefits from cover and All is Dust. Rubrics can be very scary with this (Beanith: Killjoys may now loudly point out the blatantly obvious that an unmodified roll of 1 always fails).
Aside from a shout-out to Guardian Organism in the Bodyguard section, the Tyranids did not receive any rules updates here. Presumably any changes to the new codex and/or the application of War Zone Octarius: Rising Tide or the Crusher Stampede Army of Renown will come in a post-release FAQ. We say “presumably” because if Leviathan and Crusher still apply post-release things are going to get very scary very fast.
Hive Guard will only suffer from half of the new indirect penalty at least, because their Synaptic Guidance ability allows them to ignore Ballistic Skill modifiers if their target is visible to a Synapse model. Which is a condition of being allowed to target non-visible targets for the Impaler Cannon to start with.
No changes to the Cults either, but they love the change to indirect – getting blown off the board by this was a huge problem for them.
What Does This Mean?
We’ve covered a lot of the major factors already in each section, but we’re going to be putting together a full roundtable from our competitive team and the Art of War crew as quickly as possible – check back for that tomorrow.
Here’s a quick overview of the winners and losers:
- Salamanders are one of the game’s big winners, sitting a solid durability buff.
- Grey Knights and Thousand Sons also win big here, and large paladin squads may be the major play for the former, while the latter were already running 20-30 Scarabs regularly.
- Death Guard players will certainly find enough here to at least coax them back into testing new lists.
- Astra Militarum get some big buffs, but we’re not entirely sure they’ll be enough
- Power-armored armies generally get some big help here, and Adepta Sororitas will take whatever they can get to try and edge back up above 50%
- AP0 and AP3 weapons. With the amount of AP reduction in the game now, the ideal AP of weapons is either 0 or 3, with the latter being what it will take to get many units to their 4+ or 5+ invulnerable saves. This means that high-volume AP0 guns like the Volkite are now much more efficient, while weapons that had AP-1 or AP-2 are going to struggle much more to be relevant.
- Adeptus Custodes are the hardest-hit by this, losing a ton of value on their non-Troops. There may still be some builds for them, but they’ll need to play a much more aggressive game if they want to compete.
- T’au Empire take some hits, and will struggle more against marines, but likely have plenty to work with following this. Broadsides catch the worst of it, but even that might still leave some room for a unit and the army will likely have to play more aggressively.
- Voidweaver Scalpers. Harlequins will likely just find other benefits, though.
- Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights, who *lose* the objective secured bonuses they had received a dataslate or two ago. While these bonuses will be returned to them once their (announced) Codexes are released, this will make for a few months where the big guys lose out on some lovely lovely ObSec and are likely just not viable as a result.
- Impaler Cannon Hive Guard, already crippled by their new rules, get a further shanking here. It’s not that they don’t deserve being knocked down some pegs for the length of time for which they ruled the roost, but this is just hurtful.
- Plagueburst Crawlers really won’t fare well with these rules, since they can’t get re-rolls to hit and having AP-2 on their mortars means they’ll have little impact against units in cover. They could see play as more aggressive mid-table units or direct fire support, but the army will probably want Blight-Haulers for ranged support instead.
If you have any questions or feedback – and we suspect you will – drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.