Warlord Wednesdays: Maniples and You – Choosing a Maniple for Adeptus Titanicus

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Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Titan Principes. We here at Goonhammer’s own Collegia Titanica know that Adeptus Titanicus can seem intimidating to players unfamiliar with its particular quirks, but this series aims to equip you with everything you’ll need to play out epic clashes on the battlefields of the far future with your very own Titan Battlegroup. In this series, we’ll be walking you through how to build your battlegroup and command it to glory, including everything from which Titans to include and how to equip them, through to how to command them on the field of battle to secure ultimate victory.

This week, we’re looking at the various maniples to choose from. Together with your legion choice, the maniple you choose will form a major part of your battlegroup’s identity, dictating what Titans you’re required to bring, impacting how you’ll expand, and giving you access to a maniple trait that will give you new rules to use and further define how your battlegroup will take the fight to your enemies. Think about how the maniples on offer interact with your Titan legion’s rules, and choose an option that plays to your battlegroup’s strengths. Remember, your plan to win the game starts at list construction, and choosing a maniple is no different.

After you’ve chosen your maniple, you can choose to fill out your battlegroup in several ways: either by taking the remaining optional elements from the maniple, adding support Titans or Knight banners to your list, or – if you’ve got the points to spare – another maniple entirely. For your first few games, focus around bringing a single maniple with a support element or two. Fielding two maniples is expensive – the cheapest way to get a maniple on the table – a Lupercal with three Warhounds each equipped with a pair of megabolters – will run you 600 points, and you’ll almost certainly want to bring some other options at additional expense. However, if you can fit it in your list, it’s worth considering: each maniple you bring will give you access to a second Princeps Seniores, who comes complete with their own personal trait. Once you’ve got a few games under your belt, try something different – there are an incredible variety of ways to build your battlegroup, so keep experimenting until you find what works for you.

Axiom Battleline Maniple (Core Rules, p56)

The Axiom is the first maniple presented in the book, and for good reason – it gives you access to every class of Titan as well as a maniple trait that can be useful in almost any situation and helps mitigate the penalties associated with a poor roll on a Command check.

Legio Vulpa Axiom Maniple. Credit: Garrett Severson

Required Elements:

  • 1 Warlord Titan
  • 1 Reaver Titan
  • 1 Warhound Titan

Optional Elements:

  • 1 Reaver Titan
  • 1 Warhound Titan

The first thing you’ll notice here is the broad selection of Titans on offer. You’re required to bring one of each class of Titan and have the option of bringing an additional Reaver and Warhound. From this base, you can build anything from an aggressive, close-combat focused list to a battlegroup that uses Warhounds to range out and skirmish as the other Titans providing supporting fire, though you’ll likely most often build toward a balanced, “take all comers” list to get the most use out of your flexibility.

The Axiom’s maniple trait allows you to continue to issue orders to Titans in your maniple even if you fail a Command check for one of them. This may not seem great, but it’s actually pretty handy. First, it lets you make contingency plans that other maniples can’t. For instance, if you want to charge an enemy Titan but fail your command check on your first choice, you can try again if you’ve got another Titan in range.

However, one of the best parts about this maniple is also one of the least obvious. We’ve mentioned in our prior articles how important it is to have a plan and stick to it, from the earliest stages of list creation right through each battle round of your game, but sometimes as situations develop, it can be difficult to identify which decision is best for your strategy. By allowing you to continue to issue orders even after failing a Command check, the Axiom reduces the number of decisions on your cognitive “stack” – in almost every situation, the correct play is to issue orders to Titans in the Axiom first, then move on to other models if you haven’t failed any of those Command checks. Simplifying this aspect of the decision making process will free you up to devote more time to other aspects of the game, something that will be especially helpful when you’re learning the core rules.

All in all, the Axiom Battleline Maniple is an excellent choice for beginners, as well as one worth considering for more experienced players who value the flexibility and ability to mitigate the results of a poor Command check over the more focused benefits of other maniples.

Myrmidon Battleline Maniple (Core Rules, p58)

The Myrmidon is the single most expensive maniple in the game, clocking in at a staggering 1050 points even before you add a single weapon. It’s not going to be possible to field this maniple at less than about 1250 points, and it’ll be a struggle to fit there even if you leave all your legion-specific wargear upgrades at home.

Required Elements:

  • 2 Warlord Titans
  • 1 Reaver Titan

Optional Elements:

  • 1 Warlord Titan
  • 1 Reaver Titan

At first glance, the Myrmidon looks like the premier choice for Warlord aficionados, but don’t be fooled – there are better ways to field those behemoths. First, locking yourself into taking two of them dramatically limits your list-building flexibility. A fully kitted-out Warlord will typically run you somewhere north of 450 points, and bringing 2 and a Reaver means you’re not going to have anything else on the table until at least 1500 points.

More importantly, though, the Myrmidon’s maniple trait just kind of sucks. Getting a bonus on First Fire and Split Fire orders sounds nice, but it’s less useful when you factor in that you start at a 3+ Command value for your Warlords and 4+ for Reavers, meaning you’re really only getting a +1 or +2 to the d10 roll until you start taking critical damage or otherwise get a debuff to your Command.

In general, the Myrmidon is probably a trap for the unwary. However, there are a few edge cases where it may be worthwhile. The most obvious one is Legio Krytos, who can use it to take three Warlords in the same maniple. This isn’t an amazing choice, but if you’re dead-set on getting three of these monsters on the board, it’s the cheapest way to do it. You might think that it would pair well with Legio Defensor, but they can actually get a higher chance of successfully issuing those orders in the early turns of the game through their Devotional War Sirens wargear and still take another maniple trait besides. Think carefully before you field a Myrmidon, and while its benefits may be easy to get your head around as a beginner, they aren’t as powerful as some of the other choices on offer.

Venator Light Maniple (Core Rules, p60)

The Venator is a specialist detachment that revolves around a straightforward one-two punch: pound down the enemy’s shields with Warhounds, then get an out-of-sequence bonus shot with your Reaver to get a jump-start on coring them out.

Legio Solaria Venator Maniple with Support Warlord. Sam “Safety Factor” Stapleton

Required Elements:

  • 1 Reaver
  • 2 Warhounds

Optional Elements:

  • 2 Warhounds

You’ll want to equip your Reaver with the highest strength weapons you can to take advantage of the free shots. We recommend a melta cannon – it’s strength 11, and its blast trait isn’t much of a drawback as you aren’t likely to call your shot on the first shot to a Titan’s armor anyway. The downside is that you need to close to within 24”, but you can probably make this work. Alternately, you could run a volcano cannon. It’s a little weaker, but has a significant range advantage, being able to reach out and touch your Warhounds’ latest victim from up to 60” away. However, its Draining trait means you’ll need to carefully manage your reactor track to make sure you don’t redline from pushing too hard too fast.

As we mentioned in our Loyalist Legion focus, this is a great pick for Gryphonicus – they can replace one of the Warhounds with a Reaver and split the free shots between them. If you do this, we recommend using a melta cannon on one and a volcano cannon on the other, then play aggressively with the melta to take advantage of its fusion trait while using the volcano cannon to cover firing lanes its partner can’t see. Interfector can also make excellent use of the maniple trait with its Static Rounds, since its Warhounds will absolutely shred shields if equipped with megabolters. Dauntless is another excellent choice – replacing the mandatory Reaver with a Warlord will let you take your free shot with a Belicosa or Sunfury, and its longer reactor track means it can better handle the increased heat load.

Taken as a whole, the Venator is a decent choice for your first maniple to build towards. Not including a Warlord means that you can easily build a battlegroup for smaller games while maintaining a reasonable activation count, and since Warhounds and Reavers are less time-intensive hobby projects than the incredibly detailed Warlord kit, getting the models you need for it up to tabletop standard can be a less intimidating prospect. In addition, its maniple trait is straightforward to build around and relatively simple to apply, giving you access to a powerful and useful effect that doesn’t necessarily require a mastery of how the game works to get mileage out of.

Corsair Battleline Maniple (Titandeath, p,60)

There are a lot of things in Titanicus that can seem lackluster to new players but turn out to be absolutely infuriating to play against. The Corsair Battleline Maniple is one of them.

Required Elements:

  • 3 Reavers

Optional Elements:

  • 2 Reavers

More often than not, the movement phase is where you’ll win games. Managing your arcs of fire and dodging your opponent’s counter-volleys requires careful planning, clever play, and a bit of luck. The Corsair’s maniple trait makes this a lot easier by just letting you “moonwalk” your Titans in any direction you choose. This is amazing, and your opponent will be pulling their hair out trying to predict where you’re going to go since the usual rules just don’t apply.

Your first thought may be to take this in Gryphonicus since Reavers are kind of their “thing,” but it turns out they’re not the best choice for it. First of all, only having Reavers as choices moots one of their traits entirely. This isn’t a problem, but it is kind of weird. More importantly, though, neither of their unique wargear options for your Reavers synergize well with the maniple trait: the extra armor from Gravatus Plating is nice, but it slows you down, cutting down on the mobility advantage that you’re taking this maniple for. Motive Subreactors becomes an either/or, since you can’t take advantage of the free boost if you’re moving outside your forward arc with your Corsair.

Instead, look for legions that can benefit from the increased mobility. Vulpa is a great choice here – they want to get up in their enemy’s face but doing so can render their attack path predictable. Shake things up by making harder to predict where you’re going to wind up and force them to split fire as you move to where you want to be. Astorum is another solid candidate – use the boost from their legion trait to get to the midfield in the first two turns, then sidestep firing arcs to keep your Titans alive while your Veteran Princeps trait and stratagems help you get back to peak fighting condition.

Unfortunately, taking advantage of this can be difficult until you develop a good grasp on the movement rules and how to use the trait to break the restrictions that would typically be imposed on you. The number of Reavers in the maniple is also a limitation: not only do you need to get your hands on the models, but you’ll need to track down additional terminals and weapon cards. Thankfully, Warhammer Community’s downloads section includes print-and-play versions of the terminal that you can use to make as many as you need to play, but you’ll need to track down at least a handful of extra cards to fill out your weapon loadouts.

In skilled hands, the Corsair can be extremely powerful, but getting the most out of it requires a solid understanding of how the movement phase works. It may not be the best option for your first few games, but as you grow to master the game system, you’ll learn how to do some amazing things with this.

Janissary Battleline Maniple (Titandeath, p,62)

Titans in a Janissary don’t gain any benefits themselves, but instead gain the ability to coordinate their movement more closely with allied Knight banners.

Required Elements:

  • 1 Reaver
  • 2 Warhounds

Optional Elements:

  • 1 Reaver
  • 1 Warhound

Reavers and Warhounds deliver a fairly maneuverable maniple with plenty of room to take a Knight banner or two in most lists. That’s important, because the maniple trait you gain here won’t do anything unless you have some Knights keeping stride with your larger pieces. The unwritten requirement to add Knights to your battlegroup increases the effective point cost of your list, not to mention the monetary cost and the additional time you’ll invest in getting the Knights built and painted.

Even once you bring Knights, though, this is honestly a difficult trait to get use out of – you need to develop a sense for when it makes sense for you to advance your Knights’ activations to earlier in the Movement phase. However, the flexibility in when you can activate your Knights can open up some cool tricks, letting you sneak in out-of-sequence Charge and First Fire orders that your opponent may not see coming. In a pinch, you can also use it to clog up the board and stop your opponent from moving in ways you don’t want them to. Outside of these situations, though, the Janissary’s trait can be more of a burden than an asset.

Compounding the problem is the fact that using this maniple trait will decrease your activation count in the movement phase, making your movement phase easier for your opponent to react to since every activation you lose is another unit they have that moves after yours. In some situations, this could come in handy – stepping out of the arc of a Warlord with First Fire orders comes to mind – but you’ll typically better served by taking another, more powerful maniple trait. The Ferrox and Venator maniples have similar force dispositions and more useful abilities, while the Dominus gives you a stronger and more useful option if you want a maniple trait that applies to your Knights. We recommend looking for a different trait and bringing Knight banners as support.

Regia Battleline Maniple (Titandeath, p64)

Warlords own. Warhounds own. This maniple combines them. What could go wrong?

Legio Xestobiax Regia Maniple. Credit: Soggy

Required Elements:

  • 2 Warlords
  • 1 Warhound

Optional Elements:

  • 2 Warhounds

A lot, as it turns out. Warlords and Warhounds typically fulfill dramatically different battlefield roles, and their respective speeds are so different that it’s difficult to keep them at pace with one another – your boosted Warlords won’t be able to keep up with unboosted Warhounds unless they Full Stride, and boosted Warhounds will outpace a Warlord at Full Stride unless the larger Titan boosts twice. Putting a Warhound at Full Stride in the first two rounds will almost certainly prevent it from contributing anything to your defense since it’ll wind up outside 3” of the Warlords that the maniple trait allows it to protect.

As a result, Regia battleplans tend to be somewhat “paint-by-numbers”: set up your maniple in a group, spread out your Warhounds within 3” of the Warlords, issue Full Stride orders to your Warlords, and amble across the board, spreading damage between your entire maniple until you’ve gotten where you want to be, at which point your Warhounds break rank and dash past your opponents, hoping to get shots into side armor while your pair of Warlords opens up with everything they’ve got. Consider deploying your Warhounds outside of squadrons – you’ll lose access to the Coordinated Strike ability, but the increased activation count will help delay moving your Warlords to make them better at dodging firing arcs, and you’ll want to avoid having your Warhounds wind up adjacent to each other anyway to minimize the number of hits you’ll take to your maniple’s voids from blast weapons.

Consider equipping your Warhounds with turbo laser destructors to take advantage of their longer range while you’re waiting for the time to make your final charge. Since your Warlords are likely going to need to Full Stride to keep pace with their Warhound courtiers in the first two rounds, it makes sense to outfit them with shorter ranged weapons they can use once they get a bit closer. Just be careful to give yourself some time to vent heat from pushing to get across the board before you open up with sunfuries on Maximal Fire.

The Regia maniple can be a deceptively durable force given the number of Warhounds it includes, since they can share with the Warlord’s much larger void shield track, but getting the most out of it requires you to set up carefully and will often result in a round or two where none of your Titans are contributing much to the fight – the Warlords won’t be able to fire their longer-ranged weapons at all if they’re full-striding to keep up with the Warhounds, and the Warhounds won’t be able to get close enough to leverage their incredible maneuverability if they’re moving to stay within 3” of the Warlords. However, clever use of your maniple trait can help you keep your voids intact and online for longer than you might otherwise be able to, potentially setting you up for a devastating attack once you get where you’re going.

All in all, the Regia is an interesting choice that will make your force play very different from other battlegroups. It brings a unique “flow” to the game by requiring you to play your Titans in a way that seems contrary to their intended role in the early game in exchange for powerful payoff in the mid-to-late game. Consider legions that help with repair rolls to keep your voids topped off as you’re shuffling hits between your Warlords and their courtiers. The Warp Runners are a standout here, since their Warlords can boost to keep pace with unboosted Warhounds even without Full Stride orders, and their ability to re-roll repair dice will keep their voids from collapsing longer than your opponent might otherwise expect. For the traitors, the tight deployment and closely-coordinated movement of this maniple means that Legio Vulcanum can get great use out of Symbiotic Commands, and you’re likely to get good use out of For the Fallen as your Warhounds get picked off over the course of the game. We recommend against fielding the Regia while you’re still learning, but if you want something unique, it could be worth taking for a spin.

Lupercal Light Maniple (Titandeath, p66)

Another excellent maniple choice, the Lupercal focuses on getting the most out of squadrons and the Coordinated Strike rule. Much like the Corsair, its abilities look a little underwhelming at first, but the first time you run into a Lupercal commanded by a skilled player, you’ll quickly learn to fear it.

Legio Krytos Warhounds.

Legio Krytos Lupercal Maniple. Credit: sulecrist/@prosecutorpainting (Insta)

Required Elements:

  • 3 Warhounds

Optional Elements:

  • 2 Warhounds

Titans in a Lupercal get a +2 to Coordinated Strikes rather than a +1, which is a great effect, especially when given the Warhound’s capability to maneuver into flanking position or the rear of an enemy Titan. With smart play and careful positioning, you’ll often be making armor rolls at a +3 modifier even before you’ve managed to take any structure points off your target, letting your Warhounds reliably punch well above their weight even with low-strength weapons like the vulcan megabolter.

However, the other half this maniple trait is what makes this scary: you can declare squadrons each turn and can put as many Titans in this maniple in a squadron as you like. To start with, you can play a kind of “shell game” with your Warhounds’ shields, moving them around to maximize how much defense any given Titan has at any given time. Taking a Warhound down to 1 on the void track only to have it squad up the next turn with a full-strength comrade is infuriating.

More importantly, though, is your ability to control your number of activations. You can increase your number of activations as you move to set up the kill shot, forcing your opponent to commit their movements before the majority of your force is locked in, then squad up your entire maniple when you’re ready and go for one of the most devastating alpha-strikes in the game. And if you really want to get wild, take this in Dauntless and sub a Warlord in for one of the Warhounds – it’s still able to join the squadron and commit its incredibly powerful weapons to the barrage at +2 strength. It turns out that cracking open a Titan’s armor with a strength 14 weapon isn’t that hard.

Like the Corsair, this is a maniple that rewards players for mastering the game, but this time it’s less about movement shenanigans and more about recognizing when to commit your resources for an alpha strike while taking advantage of your high activation count to keep those resources on the board until you’re ready to use them.

Fortis Heavy Maniple (Doom of Molech, p30)

Fortis Heavy Maniples are nearly as expensive as Myrmidons, but trade more reliable access to offensive orders for the ability to merge voids across a maniple composed entirely of Warlords and Reavers.

Required Elements:

  • 1 Warlord
  • 2 Reavers

Optional Elements:

  • 1 Warlord
  • 1 Reaver

At first glance, this seems like a solid “stand-and-shoot” maniple, and it can do very well built that way. If your Titans are in base-to-base contact and didn’t move, your opponent won’t get bonuses to armor rolls against them from structural damage or flanking. Since the standard strategy for taking down Reavers and Warlords is centered on exploiting those bonuses, a pair of vulnerable Titans could use this trait to gain some protection from harassers while they focus on destroying something in their forward arc. However, giving up your entire move to get this bonus really hurts, making it a neat bonus when it applies, but not something to count on.

It’s the other half of this trait that interests us, though – it lets you merge the void shields of any Titan in your maniple. Pair up a Warlord and a Reaver, and that’s nine points of shields your opponent needs to chew through before they can get to the interior of your Titan. This will make you more vulnerable to blast and template weapons, but the tradeoff in survivability against the most common shield-breaking weapons is worth it. 

Again, Legio Astorum is a good choice here due to their ability to re-roll repair dice to keep voids up, and the 2” bonus to boosted movement really comes into its own, especially if you take two Warlords. Legio Fureans is another interesting option – the larger Titans here can handle running a little hotter than most, and Offensive Surge will be easier to set up when your Titans are sharing voids. Legio Defensor may also be worth considering, since the larger Titans on offer here let you really push their first-turn alpha strike as heavy as possible, and they don’t mind standing still in order to take advantage of First Fire or Split Fire orders as the game goes on.

The Fortis winds up being a flexible, if expensive, maniple that allows you to leverage its unparalleled durability to advance on your opponent’s Titans and laugh disdainfully as their best shield-breaking weapons roll off your Titans’ merged voids like so much water. Compared to the Regia, the ability to merge Warlords with either Reavers or other Warlords gives you more flexibility in how you apply hits to voids, but losing any Titan in this maniple winds up being a huge blow. 

Ferrox Light Maniple (Doom of Molech, p31)

If you want your Titans to get in close enough so that your Princeps can wave to his opposite number before tearing out his enemy’s generator core, the Ferrox is the choice for you.

Required Elements:

  • 1 Reaver
  • 2 Warhounds

Optional Elements:

  • 1 Reaver
  • 1 Warhound

Titans in a Ferrox maniple want to get up close, where they add +1 to armor rolls against nearby targets. This is a great bonus for weapons like the Warhound’s vulcan bolter, since you can stack it with flanking and the Coordinated Strike rule for +3 or higher on your armor roll, allowing you to start threatening anyone on the field. The second part of their trait allows all Titans in the maniple to choose between their BS or WS within 2”, allowing you to use all of your ranged weapons without penalty when you’re close enough to ignore your opponent’s voids. 

This maniple can be devastating in the right hands, arc dodging in the first turns and getting into your flank straight away to reap the benefits of their traits. One downside of this approach to combat is that it involves you being very close to your opponent, which comes first with the challenge of getting there intact. Perhaps more importantly, though, is that you’ll be at ground zero when the Warlord you just flanked catastrophically melts down – leading to some hilarious results which we all love to see in AT. Be careful with how much you commit to taking down any particular Titan so you don’t wind up trading two of your Titans for a single engine kill.

Being a light maniple, the Ferrox is a great choice to build a force around using supporting elements such as knights or a fire support warlord for stripping shields at range. Many different legios are a great complement, including the Warp Runners who can use their legio trait War March to move up the field aggressively to get in range to take advantage of the bonus to armor rolls. Also consider Gryphonicus: Motive Subreactors will help your Reavers close with power fists or chainfists, and Lust for Glory can increase the potency of one of your Titans against a particular target while the rest of your battlegroup focuses their fire on other targets so you can create a favorable 1-on-1 fight. Mainstay of the Legion also opens up the option to run 2 Reavers and 1 Warhound. On the traitor side, Fureans can use their aggressive legion traits and wargear to close in for a devastating round with Offensive Surge. Vulpa gets an honorable mention here, but isn’t an optimal choice – while Distortion Fields does stack with the +1 to armor rolls for being in close, the other half of Ferrox’s trait is redundant with Vulpa’s legion trait. However, having melee and smash attacks that start at +3 to armor could be nasty, and there’s nothing better than the look on your opponent’s face when he realizes that his prize Warlord is about to get sawn in half.

Dominus Battleforce Maniple (Feb 2019 White Dwarf, p131)

If you want to bring Knights and have them interact with your maniple trait, the Dominus is your go-to choice, bringing some added durability to your Titans by turning your Knights into miniature bodyguards.

Adeptus Titanicus Questoris Knights

Adeptus Titanicus Questoris Knights. Credit: Corrode

Required Elements:

  • 1 Warlord
  • 2 Reavers
  • 1 Questoris or Cerastus Knight banner

Optional Elements:

  • 2 Warhound 
  • 1 Questoris or Cerastus Knight banner

The Dominus leverages vassal Knight houses to act as their bodyguards. Knights in the maniple never benefit from cover due to ECM defenses they employ, but shots fired at any friendly Titans within 6” suffer a -1 penalty to hit if both the Titan and the Knight were visible to the firing model. Titans in the maniple also have the ability to pass off hits they take to the banners within 6”, which is great for avoiding that last shot dropping your voids or, in very dire circumstances, allowing a Knight to dive in front of that volcano cannon blast fired at an unshielded Titan.

The Dominus is a solid maniple with a useful trait and well-rounded selection of Titans. Its ability is considerably less useful with the advent of Knights Acastus, however; the rules as written only allow you to use the maniple ability with Questoris or Cerastus banners, and with how dominant Acastus are right now, it’s hard to justify . If GW ever update these rules to include Acastus, taking a pair of them will help you create an incredibly durable firebase that can deal with threats from any position, but in the meantime, taking a few full banners of Questoris to use as chaff can help you can get your other Titans into position still intact. 

A number of Legios have some synergy with this maniple but one we want to call out is Legio Fortidus for their ordinarily less-impressive trait, Children of Mars. This trait allows Knight banners to reroll Command checks to avoid being shaken while they are in line of sight of a Dauntless Titan. This will allow you to keep your sacrificial pawns moving and hopefully in the game a bit longer. Also consider Solaria, whose somewhat expensive Cameoline Shrouding will stack with the penalty to hit from this maniple trait, making most attacks against them hit on 5+ and making called shots impossible. They can also swap one of the mandatory Reavers for a Warhound, which can free up some extra points and give you more flexibility in building your roster.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve chosen your Titan legion and the maniple you’re going to field, it’s time to start filling out your battlegroup with Titans. In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at the various classes of Titans you can field and how you can best equip them to fill various battlefield roles. We’ll start with the fast and agile Warhound Titan, helping you get the most out of its fast speed and incredible maneuverability to run circles around your opponents even as you tear their Titans apart.

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