The Goonhammer Hot Take: The Astra Militarum FAQ

With the recent full release of their 9th edition codex, the time has finally come due for the initial Astra Militarum FAQ. In 9th edition these documents generally don’t make massive balance changes, and tend to focus on answering key questions around points of confusion or issuing errata for rules that don’t function on paper as they were meant to do in practice. The Guard have been tearing up tables with a couple of spicy rules interactions lately, and there was an expectation that this FAQ might go a little further than most to fix these; particularly the ability to use of the Overcharged Las-cells stratagem where the wording caps the mortal wounds inflicted per target, allowing a single unit of Kasrkin to pump out a very reliable 18 mortal wounds if they split fire, while buffed by Lord Solar. .

You can find the document here, or in the FAQs section of the Warhammer Community site if you’re going to find it yourself. Let’s go through the changes in detail, and see what’s changed and also what hasn’t.

Updates & Errata

The updates and errata section does basically what it says; it changes the actual text of the rules:

The core alterations here are to the Cadian Shock Troops and Death Korps of Krieg squads, fixing the asterisk on their special weapon options to allow you take each special weapon once instead of twice like the codex says. This was a pretty obvious change, bringing the unit’s options in line with what’s actually in the kits.

The Militarum plasma cannon also gets an errata which hits its various entries on the Sentinel datasheets and in the weapon profiles. The fix here is important; 1s to hit now inflict a wound on the bearer’s unit and not the bearer. Previously, you could have a squadron of Sentinels and all of them could be wounded by their own plasma cannons, creating a situation that flat out breaks the wound allocation rules. Now the unit as a whole takes the mortals, so you should never end up with multiple wounded models. Instead, the plasma cannons of Sentinel A will slowly degrade Sentinel C, which is weird, but makes the game function as it should.

Valkyries get Airborne, previously missed from their rules entirely. The Aegis Defense Line has also been issued an errata, changing it from being Area Terrain to being an Obstacle. If nothing else, this will soothe our own Kais who was outraged by its previous categorisation. In practical terms, it’s much easier and more in line with what the model actually is for it to be an Obstacle instead.

Finally, the Tempestor in a Tempestus Scions squad gets a small update to his wargear options, starting him with a hot-shot laspistol by default and letting him switch to a plasma or bolt pistol. All this does is align the bullet point in the wargear options with the wargear listed in the unit entry.

FAQs

Five questions answered… which is actually quite a few in 9th edition where we’ve sometimes only had a single one.

Firstly, there’s a technical one about Chimeras – can an Officer issue an order using the Mobile Command Vehicle ability, then disembark and use the Disembarking Officers rule to issue a full further complement of orders? Slightly surprisingly, the answer is yes, made explicit in the example text. Straken, who can issue two orders per turn, can issue one from a Chimera and then disembark and issue two more for a total of three. This is a weird ruling; it is strictly correct RAW but it’s the kind of having your cake and eating it edge case that often gets ruled against in practice.

Second, a more straightforward ruling on Ursula Creed. There were certain schools of thought which wanted to manipulate her ability to either pump one squad of Mortars up to Strength 8, or spread orders around to make three of them Strength 6 and still have the whole lot benefit from Take Aim by using it last and utilising the PLATOON ‘splash’ of Orders. That is nixed by the FAQ here, which states that if the original Order that triggered Lord Castellan’s Fury is replaced, then you lose the Strength buff tied to it.

Two one-word answers for “Can Trophy Hunters be picked for Kasrkin or Veteran Commander Tank Aces” when normally you wouldn’t be able to combine it with other traits; to which the answer is “Yes”, and “Can I use Field Promotion to give a new model the same Warlord Trait as a destroyed model had”;to which the answer is “No.”

Finally, another question on Field Promotion; can you use it to give a model Old Grudges, and then pick a target for Old Grudges? Again the answer here is slightly surprising, “no, you can’t, because you have to pick the target in the first battle round”. This makes sense as a strict RAW ruling but is a bit odd in practice, because it means that there’s no reason to ever use Field Promotion this way.

What isn’t here?

As trailed in the intro, the most surprising thing is that there’s no comment on Overcharged Las-cells. Sure… balance changes don’t tend to be included in this initial FAQ, but surely, Games Workshop could have updated the wording to apply the cap to the Guard unit making the attacks, and not to the unit being targeted, the unit making the attacks is restricted to 6 mortal wounds overall. 

Beyond that, there’s not too much missing in terms of errata or FAQ issues; the lingering questions are about balance. If needed, that stuff is much more likely to be adjusted in a balance dataslate, with the next one likely to come in April. Expect any balance oriented changes to hit then rather than now.