The Big FAQ 3 And You
Making the Most of the Changes
It’s finally here! After almost a month of interminable waiting, Slaanesh announcements, and surveys, Games Workshop finally delivered its third major FAQ/Errata for Warhammer 40,000 and man did they deliver a massive update. At the same time as the Big FAQ, Games Workshop also released new rules for Ynnari in their White Dwarf Index article, plus updates to nearly every FAQ/Errata document for the 40k codexes and campaign books. Almost every army in the game was changed in a meaningful way and for players, it’s a lot to process. It’s also a fantastic update. We like almost every change that was made, and were clamoring for many of them months ago.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find the Big FAQ on the Warhammer Community site here. There’s a lot more that isn’t in the document, but the biggest changes are there. If it feels like there’s too much to process, don’t fret – TheChirurgeon and One_Wing are here to help you out! In this article, we’re going to cover:
- All of the major changes in this rules update
- The implications of the largest changes and how they might affect the meta
- The winners and losers of the update
- Army strategies for the post-FAQ world
- An Appendix with all of the other notable changes, for reference
So strap in and get comfortable, because there’s a lot to work through here.
The Major Changes
We’re starting with a rundown of the big changes. It’s worth noting before we start though that pretty much every army in the game was tweaked or got an important clarification in this update, so it is crucial that you review the FAQ documents for your army and educate yourself on all of the changes, as there’s liable to be something we’ll miss here. We’ve covered most of the important minor changes to each army in the appendix at the end of the article, if you’re strapped for time or weren’t sure what changed for the armies you don’t play but see across the table from time to time.
OK with all that out of the way, let’s walk through the biggest changes:
- Castellans took a major hit
Games Workshop finally acknowledged the format-warping effect that Castellans have on the game and made two key changes to the unit. First they effectively increased the unit’s cost by 100 points by increasing the cost of the Plasma decimator (+40) and the Volcano lance (+60). Second, they errata’d the Rotate Ion Shields stratagem to only confer up to a 4+ invulnerable save, such that Imperial Knights can no longer stack bonuses to end up with 3+ invulnerable saves. This is a much-needed change that won’t make Castellans less deadly, but should blunt their effect a bit and pave the way for us to see a wider variety of knight builds, leading to more Valiants and Krast Crusaders and fewer Castellans.
- Eldar Soup took a major hit
Similarly, one of the game’s other top tournament armies, Eldar Soup, took a major hit in the form of errata to their core psychic debuffs (Doom, Jinx, and to a lesser extent Reveal), meaning that they now only affect ASURYANI units. At the same time, Ynnari have received a complete overhaul, effectively killing their current builds stone dead. There are still some great Eldar builds out there, and some new toys to try out from the Ynnari index, but there’s almost no Eldar build that hasn’t taken some sort of hit, with Harlequin/Drukari lists relying on Doom to turbo-charge Haywire weaponry being the worst affected.
Wings note: I’m not allowed to complain about this because I literally said they should do it 6 months ago.
- Units with FLY can charge over enemy units again
Walking back a major change from last fall’s FAQ 2, units with FLY (and similar abilities) can once again move over enemy units – but not BUILDINGS – in the Charge phase, clearing the way for Slam Captains (and now, Slam Lords) to drop in and charge enemies with ease. You still have to measure vertical distances when charging with flyers (you don’t ignore terrain), but they also finally clarified whether they intended flying models to ignore vertical distance when measuring movement in the Movement phase (they do). The net result is that this lets slam captains jump over screens at their intended targets, and makes them much more viable again.
- Units disembarking from a destroyed transport can’t charge
Getting your ride blown up in Overwatch is no longer going to give you an opportunity to charge with the unit inside.
- Introduced the AIRCRAFT keyword, and now units can move through flyers
Units with a minimum move characteristic now gain the AIRCRAFT keyword (even if they have the Hover Jet rule) and get new rules associated with them. Enemy models can now move within 1” of AIRCRAFT vehicles and through them as though they weren’t there, but they have to end up more than 1” away and can’t end up on the base. Also, falling back from an AIRCRAFT is free – you can move away without falling back. This essentially ends the “Flyer prison” strategies of using cheap flyers to block enemy movement, although they can still screen out Deep Strike units like a charm.
- A comprehensive set of rules on deep strike and redeploy abilities
One_Wing: This is my favourite part of the whole FAQ – someone with some proper technical writing chops has actually sat down and unpacked the hideous mess that was the chain of rulings they’ve made about Deep Strike and Redeploy abilities into a single coherent set of rules. Mostly this is just a huge relief for people who care about a clean rules set, but notably:
1. They’ve made it crystal clear that abilities that key off Deep Strike do work against redeploy.
2. They’ve removed the old and incredibly confusing/contentious ruling about abilities falling off if you redeploy with a stratagem, and instead added a specific list of stratagems where abilities/state do fall off when you use them. A lot of events were ruling the latter point that way anyway (for non-stratagem effects) but it’s nice for beleaguered Necron/Grey Knight players to no longer have to argue about how literal core parts of their only viable builds work in every game.
- A bunch of identical datasheets were consolidated (for the Rule of 3)
All of the Daemon princes are now considered one datasheet entry for event purposes, but you can still field 4+ if you summon them after #3. Similarly, all the heavy weapon squads for guard are now the same datasheet, and ditto the Brood Brothers/Cult units for Genestealer cults. This limits some of the more out-there shenanigans with regard to Astra Militarum and Chaos.
- Bolter Discipline is final, and doesn’t apply to vehicles
No more arguing with idiots over Bolter Discipline being a “Beta” rule, and sadly, no more insane hurricane bolters double-tapping at 24” from vehicles. Still applies to Dreadnoughts and Helbrutes, but now doesn’t apply to Deathwatch when they use Special Issue Ammo, toning down what’s quickly become one of the lists to beat. There’s probably still room for Ravenwing fliers to be playable post-change, but it hurts them significantly as well.
- The Assassin Summoning Stratagem now costs 2 CP
A 2-CP cost on assassins definitely seems more reasonable, and makes them less of an auto-take in Imperium lists (though Imperial Generals should still be very pleased with their toys). You also can’t use the summon stratagem if you’ve already got an assassin, so no more picking some in your list and having a flex slot.
- Lootas can’t mob up any more
Only BOYZ can mob up now, which is a big hit to the Loota Star list, and maybe to a lesser extent Tankbustas. Another fair change that significantly tones down what’s currently the Ork list to beat. Their codex is still exceptionally powerful with loads of depth, but loses a key way to wipe vehicles off the table.
- Genestealer Cults Catch a Couple of Big Nerfs
As we predicted in our Codex review, Psychic Onslaught did, in fact, turn out to be “a bit much” when it could blow entire knights off the board in a single cast. It’s been sensibly toned down, effectively exactly in the way we suggested, just flipped to be on your opponent rolling a 6 rather than you rolling a 1. This makes it really unlikely that Psychic Onslaught will destroy a vehicle in a single shot.
Separately, “native” GSC Brood Brother squads can no longer be ordered by characters brought in Brood Brother detachments. This is another pretty big hit, as ordering 20-model squads was great, and it’s a surprising reversal from the initial FAQ where they appeared to clarify that you could do this. Much like Orks, however, GSC is a book with a tonne of depth, and were sure powerful lists will continue to emerge here, especially as with the Castellan diminished, some Tyranid stuff suddenly looks attractive again.
Oh, also, they clarified the massively obvious case that “They Came from Below” does not, in fact, give you three turn 1 deep strikes for 1CP, but that’s less of a nerf and more an instruction to stop being complete jerks (of which there are several in these documents, you go sassy rules writers).
Index Ynnari Changes
We’ll cover the Index in more detail in another article, but the major things to note about the Ynnari are:
- Ynnari detachments can’t include Aeldari named Characters outside of the Ynnari ones, Mandrakes, Solitaires, or the Avatar of Khaine. So no more Ynnari Eldrad (oddly), and no more insane Ynnari Solitaire shenanigans.
- Ynnari units are now cut off from benefitting from Stratagems, Psychic Powers and other faction specific effects from their original books, with these being replaced by a dedicated set in the index. You also have your <Craftworld> tag (or equivalent) replaced by a REBORN ASURYANI/DRUKARI/HARLEQUIN, which pretty much finishes the job of preventing your stuff that’s in “standard” Aeldari detachments directly buffing Ynnari units.
- If you turn a Craftworlds, Drukhari, or Harlequins detachment into a Ynnari detachment, it also loses any detachment bonuses it had, but datasheet rules are now unaffected, suggesting that those units retain datasheet abilities like Battle Focus,Power from Pain, and most importantly, Rising Crescendo.
- Strength from Death got a complete overhaul, no longer providing free actions when units die nearby but instead letting units always fight first in the fight phase and giving them +1 to hit if it charged or already fought first. The original version does not even survive as a stratagem (as a lot of Ynnari players were hoping).
- The Visarch’s points cost dropped to 120 points and he now actually has a reason to exist, gaining a re-roll 1s bubble that applies to all melee attacks from Ynnari models. Also he gets a 4+ invulnerable save.
The immediate impact is that Ynnari lists as we know them are pretty much dead, and the place where once they stood burnt to the ground. One_Wing will cover what he thinks might (very thematically) rise from the ashes next week.
What Does This All Mean?
Whew, that’s a long list of changes and it doesn’t even begin to cover all of them (even our appendix list, which is long, omits a few minor things that might affect you). But beyond these rule changes, there are likely to be a lot of long-reaching effects that this will have on the meta and the way people play games. Here are a few of the major impacts we expect to see on the game over the next 6 months (i.e. until the Big FAQ 4 comes out):
- More Monofaction Craftworld and Drukhari armies
It’s hard to tell how Ynnari will fall out, but at first glance they look worse off than monofaction Craftworld and Drukhari armies, and the lack of extra Soulburst actions likely means we’ll see more monofaction variants of each, to double down on their respective strengths. They’ll still be competitive, and it’s worth remembering that the key Doom/Haywire combo was in a lot of lists specifically to counter the Castellan meta, so losing it matters somewhat less with them heavily nerfed.
- The return of Slam Captains and Custodes, the rise of Slam Lords
With the reversion of most of the FLY rule changes, we can expect Blood Angel Slam Captains to start showing up again, along with their new Chaos-marked cousins who show up one turn later. Likewise Custodes Bike Captains are back in business.
- Knights aren’t going anywhere, but they will be easier to deal with
Knights are still strong units and going to see lots of tournament play. Wings and I are split on the Castellan, however:
TheChirurgeon: Castellans are just as effective at killing things as they were, but they’re easier to bring down and come with less support than they used to. We’ll definitely see fewer of them on tables, but I expect them to stick around in significant numbers (though not showing up in 3-knight lists anymore) and be less oppressive when you do take one on. We’ll also probably see people make a run at harpoon knights.
One_Wing: As much as I hate the Castellan, I think this went a bit far and we’ll see multi-questoris builds as the default, as well as a lot of experimentation with the Knight Valiant. 700 points is above the threshold where other available options are just flatly more efficient. In particular, the Krast Crusader with the Headsman’s Mark and First Knight (which was already a popular choice when it was only 100pts cheaper rather than 200) is now just flatly more efficient than the Castellan in pretty much all scenarios.
- More vehicles overall
With reduced effectiveness on Doom/Jinx, the removal of Soulburst-shooting Dark Reapers, the removal of Mobbing up Lootas, and a drop in Knight efficiency, we may see more vehicles show up in tournament lists, as they’ll be more durable overall. I for one would be ecstatic to see more transports in the game. If this does happen, it could end up making horde armies less viable, or end up heralding a shift away from massive units of footsloggers designed to reduce the effectiveness of knight shooting. Then again, I don’t think Castellans are going anywhere, so the net may just be a few more vehicles that were borderline pre-Castellan suddenly get use.
Wings note: I think any vehicles with T8 and 3+ saves are especially worth looking at, as they’re well positioned against the firepower the popular Tau lists bring to the table, and I expect these to be the lists to beat after the FAQ.
- Tau become the list to beat
Tau got some huge buffs in this year’s Chapter Approved, notably massive point cuts for Broadsides and Commander Shadowsun. As lists have optimised they’ve gradually crept up the rankings, and have arguably even become top dog in the UK meta, with a huge number of major podiums in the last few months. With no nerfs in a FAQ that hit all the other top armies and a non-trivial buff to the Kauyon ability, we think there’s a good chance of Tau becoming the next metagame boogeyman.
- Daemons go from strength to strength
Yeah, the Daemon Prince datasheets were consolidated but I hadn’t seen many lists running more than 3 Daemon Princes anyways, including the winning Adepticon list. Like Tau, they’re another strong army that doesn’t see a significant decrease in power while their major opponents get worse.
- Tyranids and Necrons doing better
Likewise, Tyranids and Necrons didn’t lose anything, but by virtue of other armies getting weaker, are likely to see a small boost in their ability to Get Shit Done. Mostly Tyranids, who have melee units with FLY, and weren’t total trash pre-FAQ. The big T8 shooty bugs in particular are certainly worth a look now, especially the Exocrine, which was quite good before the Castellan turned up, and got a decent point cut in CA.
Wings note: Sadly (as an owner of a Necron army) they’re especially bad against Tau, so unless I’m wildly off base about how good Tau now are, they probably aren’t breaking out any time soon.
TheChirurgeon’s note: I want to believe so badly that Necrons can finish in the top 50 of an event. DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME
- Flier strategy will change, but they aren’t going anywhere
The change to fliers will remove flyer prisons from the strategy list, but overall the game’s strongest flying units are still worth taking and they’ll still be a pain to deal with in Eldar armies. This should at least put a nail in the coffin of the 8+ flyer lists some Aeldari players were running – without the ability to control space at all, they’re going to struggle on objectives. Tough break to that one guy who ran Hellblades in his Death Guard list, though.
- Lord Discordants are going to be rad as hell
Something that Wings and I went back and forth on in our Chaos/Vigilus article was Lords Discordant, mostly because we kept forgetting that they didn’t get legion traits as Vehicles (Wings note: In our defence, so did people literally writing for Warhammer Community). Well, no longer! So expect some truly sick combinations with Red Corsairs, Flawless Host, and Alpha Legion Lords Discordant.
The Winners and Losers of the Big FAQ 3 Update
If we had to really point out who gained and who lost in this update, we’d suggest the following were the biggest movers in either direction:
- Blood Angels
- Chaos Space Marines
- Astra Militarum tanks
- Imperial Soup
- Drukari/Ynnari-based Eldar Soup
- Grey Knights
- Genestealer Cults
Army Takeaways for a Post-FAQ World
Here are some broad takeaways for how to think about army construction over the next few months.
- You don’t have to be able to kill a Castellan through a 3++ any more. Obviously don’t take your anti-armour out completely, as quad-Questoris lists are still extremely good but dedicated tools for specifically going after one behind a 3++ (such as Haywire or multiple Librarians with Null Zone) are less needed.
- You can bring things that “just die to a Castellan” again! In particular, a lot of the biggest and best types of firepower now available (Tau stuff, Avenger Gatling Cannons, non-Doom-buffed Disintegrators) are both <S8 and actually have relevant range limitations, giving much more scope to tech against it and play around it on the board.
- This should hopefully clear up things for smaller vehicles to make a bit of a comeback, so you’ll still have use for your anti-tank weaponry.
- If you can, bring Overwatch suppression. You’re going to need it where the metagame is going.
Wings note: after playing against a top Tau list at the weekend and reading the FAQ, I am frantically trying to find enough Howling Banshees to paint up a second squad.
- Make sure you have anti-horde tech too – Daemons and Orks both had their options that weren’t “just flood out more dudes” slightly toned down, but the lists that just run endless bodies are as good as ever. Punisher Russ Commanders have never looked better.
- Get out your cool toys! Once again, while there are some minor things we wish they’d done differently, GW have knocked it out of the park with this one, levelling down some of the most obnoxious lists and unit combos and opening a window for some brand new or previously ignored/maligned units to have a moment in the sun. Wings is looking at some of his Aspect Warriors (classic metal, obviously) contemplatively, while TheChirurgeon is standing next to three NIB Lord Discordants and cackling (with thunder and lightning in the background), and you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to have fun in a bold new metagame.
Appendix: Additional Changes To Know About
In addition to the major changes we outlined above, and in order to be a helpful resource, we’ve also included a rundown of the other significant changes most players should be aware of following the latest wave of errata.
- Rulebook: Clarification of “wholly within” vs. “within”
Another much-needed clarification, we now have more precise language detailing the game differences between a model being “within” or “wholly within” a radius/area. Specifically, “wholly within” requires every part of a model’s base or hull be in an area. “Within” on the other hand just requires any part of any model’s base or hull being in the area.
- Rulebook: Actions taken out-of-phase (including Overwatch shooting) are treated as if they were made in your shooting phase for non-Stratagem effects
Basically, if you have effects or abilities that affect say, shooting in the Shooting phase, those still apply to Overwatch shooting or shooting done by an effect that tells you to ‘make an attack as if it were your shooting phase.’ The exception here is Stratagems which can only be used in a given phase still can’t be used out of phase. Note that this would seem to imply that Overwatch shooting can’t target characters that aren’t the closes unit anymore, but that’s covered in the following paragraph.
- Rulebook: Clarification on extra hit-causing abilities
Another helpful clarification. Basically, replacement effects causing extra hits, i.e. those worded like “each hit roll of 6 causes 2 hits instead of one” don’t stack, and ones that are worded like “each hit roll of 6 scores 1 additional hit” do stack.
- Astra Militarum: Models deploying from a Valkyrie can’t move afterward
- Astra Militarum: Ratlings can’t deploy into a Deployment zone
They have to be more than 18” from enemy models and any deployment zone.
- Blood Angels: Hand Flamers are now Pistol D6
- Chaos Space Marines: Legion Traits apply to CHARACTERS
This is a pretty big change, specifically because it now means that legion traits apply to the new Lord Discordant as well as Lords and Sorcerers on Juggernauts, Discs, Palanquins, and Steeds. This makes Lord Discordants significantly better, and now suddenly makes the legion choice for them matter a great deal.
- Chaos Space Marines: Fixed Obliterator points costs
Fixing the obvious error in the new codex, Obliterators are now officially 1-3 per unit and 115 points apiece everywhere.
- Chaos Space Marines: Voice of Lorgar boosts Prayer range by 3”
- Chaos Space Marines: Killshot doesn’t apply to Hellforged predators
- Dark Angels: Speed of the Raven lets Ravenwing shoot as if they had not Advanced
This minor change lets the unit ignore penalties to hit as a result of shooting and advancing.
- Death Guard: Fugaris Helm does work with Arch-contaminator
- Deathwatch: Deathwatch can’t use Bolter Discipline *AND* Special Issue Ammo
A major nerf to the suddenly-insanely good Deathwatch returns them to being merely good as now they are forced to choose between firing regular ammo with Bolter Discipline or using special issue ammo.
- Deathwatch: Hand Flamers are now Pistol D6
- Drukhari: Architects of Pain and Hyperstimm Backlash can’t affect the same unit more than once per battle round
- Forgeworld Index – Xenos: Wraithseers are now T8 and have the WRAITH CONSTRUCT keyword
This is an interesting change that conceivably makes Wraithseers worth taking, both since they are now much more survivable and also can benefit from a bunch of stuff, like being repaired by Bonesingers or getting buffs from being in a Wraith Host specialist detachment. They could also be potent beaters in a Ynnari detachment.
- Genestealer Cults: Units revealed with Cult Ambush don’t count as moving unless they actually move during the Movement phase.
This is big for heavy weapons in your revealed units.
- Genestealer Cults: Brood Brothers Orders can’t be issued to any unit they couldn’t issue orders to before picking up the BROOD BROTHERS keyword.
So now Brood Brothers can’t issue orders to GENESTEALER CULTS units and a Company Commander can’t give orders to Ogryrns or Tempestus Scions.
- Genestealer Cults: Units cannot arrive with ‘They Came From Below’ during the first battle round, and the stratagem can only be used once per battle.
- Grey Knights: Brotherhood Champion can’t use Only in Death Does Duty End, and Blade Shield stance no longer boosts invulnerable saving throws
- Grey Knights: Heed the Prognosticars caps out at a 3+ invulnerable save
RIP Grey Knights in tournaments. It was fun while it lasted, I guess.
- Harlequins: Solitaires can’t Blitz and Advance in the same turn
They also can’t blitz if they’re within 1” of an enemy model.
- Necrons: Emergency Invasion Beams can bring in units on turn 1
This lets Necrons ignore the Tactical Reserves matched play rule if they get into a bad spot with their Monoliths and Night Scythes.
- Necrons: Quantum Deflection allows for ignoring attacks that do 1 Damage
- Necrons: Invasion Beams and Eternity Gate units count as reinforcements for the purposes of Tactical Reserves
This sucks for Necrons, but it’s not like anyone played Monoliths anyways.
- T’au Empire: Kauyon now lets you select affected units
A change to Kauyon makes the ability better by letting you choose the affected units at the start of the turn, rather than locking all friendly <SEPT> units within 6” in place. A significant improvement that also makes turtling slightly less likely.
Wings’ Note: A cynical part of me wonders if this is just them throwing their hands up at the number of people who missed that staying still was a hard requirement, as it was a big cause of recent internet drama in the 40k community.
TheChirurgeon’s Note: Never bet on “reason” and “literacy” as being core strengths that the 40k player base have
- Vigilus Ablaze: Fallen can’t take Assassins anymore
Yeah this never made any sense and was dumb as hell, but it was also pretty funny.
- Vigilus Ablaze: New Legion Mark Requirements
The new Vigilus Ablaze Chaos Legions now have Mark of Chaos requirements that fit their fluff, with each of The Purge, Scourged, Flawless Host, and Brazen Beast being forced to take the Nurgle, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and Khorne keywords, respectively.
Phew — and we thought our last article was long! That’ll wrap up our review of the new FAQ and the changes we expect to see. We’ll be back soon with content on the Ynnari Index, more tournaments reviews, and other thoughts. In the meantime, good luck building your armies in this brave new meta.