Now that the Books of Rust and Fire are behind us, it’s full steam ahead to the next Warzone in Games Workshop’s 9th edition Campaign Book series. Warzone Octarius Book 1: Rising Tide is the first in a new set of campaign books detailing the struggles of the Octarius Sector, which see Tyranids and Orks squaring off with Imperial forces caught in the middle.
As with the prior campaign books, Rising Tide gives us a large set of rules to work with, covering multiple factions and play modes. In addition to campaign rules the book presents narrative play rules for Crusade and matched play rules for three factions – Tyranids, Astra Militarum, and Deathwatch – plus updated rules for Fortifications.
In this article we’ll cover the rules for the Imperial factions and fortifications. Then in part 2 we’ll look at the rules for Tyranids in Codex Supplement: Leviathan, and we’ll cover the Octarius Crusade book supplement in our third article today. Finally, we’ll have coverage of the Crusade and campaign rules from Rising Tide on Tuesday, as usual.
Codex Supplement: Cadia
Rob: One of the big surprises in this book is a supplement for the Astra Militarum, who are still suffering from having one of the oldest published 8th edition books and only a modest band-aid in Psychic Awakening to help them through a rough 9th edition place. The Cadia supplement adds new stratagems, warlord traits, and relics for Cadian armies. To talk more about the Cadian supplement, I’ve enlisted the aid of our resident competitive Astra Militarum player, Scott Horras “Heresy.”
Scott: The Cadian Supplement is a bit of fresh air for Militarum players currently languishing with an aging codex with competitive options few and far between. Overall this supplement might unlock some more interesting builds as Guard is still largely able to “soup” within the faction. Almost every competitive Guard list recently has had at least two detachments and a Cadian Detachment might be an option with this supplement in the wild. To be honest, I’m really on the fence about whether or not this is going to make a Cadian Detachment viable over Expert Gunners/Spotter Details, Wilderness Survivor, or Mixed Tallarn/Vostroyan, but either way it’s nice to have something to think about.
As with everything, this supplement is a bit of a mixed bag. I’d estimate a little over half of the material here is a ‘hit’ and half of it is probably something you’re not going to engage with too much. So here’s what I think you’re going to be interested in if you’re a content starved Guard player.
Available to all Cadian Characters… Overall, I think there’s one stand-out pick here: Gifted Commander. It’s a Turn 1 redeploy for up to three Cadian Infantry Units or one Cadian Vehicle that also allows you to put said unit(s) into Strategic Reserves. This is going to be very handy for an aggressive deployment for a Tank Commander that you can pop into Strategic Reserves if you don’t get the first turn. Could be really handy to help counteract some of the Go-Second Win Rate difficulties the faction currently has and if you’re not putting your Tank Commander in there, you can always flexibly shove Infantry, Special Weapons, or Command Squads into Strategic reserve for some secondary play or a little bit of Special Weapons Spice. The biggest hurdle here is going to be giving up your near-mandatory second Full Payload Manticore.
If your Army is led by a Cadian Warlord… The standout relics here are Gatekeeper and Tactica Pax Cadia. Gatekeeper is basically the reintroduction of the Hammer of Sunderance from Vigilus Defiant. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s Cadian-locked, but It’s really nice to see it back in the game. Keep in mind that Cadian Tank Commanders can still reroll their shots with the Pound them into Dust! Tank Order! Tactica Pax Cadia is one that I can see having some cheeky play. Basically, this relic reduces the cost of a Stratagem by one CP if that Stratagem targets a Cadian unit in the text of the Stratagem; the restriction being that it can only be used to reduce the cost of each stratagem once per game. This can have some interesting math when directly compared to Kurov’s Aquila in the base Guard Codex as a CP oriented relic. If you plan on leaning into Cadian strats. It’s probably a good one to look into.
This section is pretty good. There’s really only two Stratagems here that I see myself rarely using if I go Cadian. Cadia Stands! and Whiteshields have already been covered in the Warhammer Community Preview, but useful ones beside those two are: Shock Troops, Field Promotion, and Load-Fire-Reload.
Shock Troops (1CP for Infantry/2CP for other), allows a unit that has made a Normal Move count as Remain Stationary during the shooting phase.
Super handy for Tank Commanders coming in from Strategic Reserves (hint: Gifted Commander ). Yeah, nevermind. I forgot that Strategic Reserves isn’t a Normal Move.
Field Promotion (1CP) allows you to promote a new Character to your Warlord if your Warlord has died and gives them the Senior Officer Rule if they don’t have it already and have the Voice of Command Rule; super handy on Platoon Commanders! Even handier, as many Guard Warlords right now don’t actually have Warlord Traits because they have to give them up for our precious Tank Aces. Furthermore, it’s the only way for the faction to get an additional Warlord Trait outside of Scions. It’s going to be funny to have your Platoon Commander intentionally trying to get themself killed in order to get that sweet sweet Grand Strategist or Old Grudges going.
Load-Fire-Reload (1CP) is exploding 6’s (1 additional hit; 2 additional hits when you target Monsters or Vehicles) to hit for a Cadian Vehicle with Blast weapons. With the minor added benefit of keeping the unit from Overwatching or Set to Defend. Whiteshields are largely going to just open up some Conscript builds if anyone is interested in that. Which I’m eyeing because I like having a 4++ squad of 30 running from Warding Incantation and Psychic Barrier.
Honestly, this supplement is enough to tempt me to try out some lists with Cadians, either as a completely Cadian list or one with allies. Keep in mind that Cadia already has one of the stronger Stratagems and relics in the base book – Overlapping Fields of Fire and Relic of Lost Cadia. With this book, this just further increases the absolutely dizzying amount of Stratagems and Relics you have at your disposal as a Guard player, and given that it’s a Faction without Monofaction bonuses… I’m fairly confident folks will find a way to leverage something in this book to good effect.
Army of Renown: Deathwatch Kill Team Strike Force
Rob: It wouldn’t be a 9th edition campaign book without an Army of Renown and this time around it’s the Deathwatch who get a turn. Armies of Renown offer players some interesting upgrades and stratagems in exchange for some pretty harsh build restrictions. For the Kill Team Strike Force, the major restriction is losing access to non-transport vehicles and requiring that every Kill Team be upgraded with a specialism. You can include one Dedicated Transport or Corvus Blackstar per Kill Team and one Impulsor per Primaris Kill Team, and in order to make upgrading every team more palatable you’re allowed to take the same specialism twice (but no more than that) in your army.
So what are the benefits? Well the big one is the Veterans of the Long Vigil rule, which allows you to replace your Deathwatch Chapter Tactic with any other chapter or successor Tactic, and to do so each battle round. Whichever trait you choose lasts until the start of the next battle round, and you can’t pick the same chapter/successor tactic more than once per battle, though you can still do so if you use the Brotherhood of Veterans Stratagem, but it replaces their current tactic rather than letting them have two.
This is an incredibly powerful bonus. Being able to switch one unit over with Brotherhood of Veterans was already a strong ability; being able to do it every turn for free with the army is even better. You can now employ Grim Resolve, Forged in Battle, or Siege Masters when you need better shooting, Lightning Assault or Righteous Zeal when you need to close the gap and get into combat, Codex Discipline when you need to fall back and charge, or jump on Red Thirst, Fury WIthin, or Hunters Unleashed when you need raw combat power, or use Shadow Masters when you need more durability. The successor chapter tactics give you a few interesting extra options here, and while many are situational, it’ll be on you to find the situations they’re useful in so you can use them when it counts.
And if you think you’ll want the Xenos Hunters trait more often than not, you can get it back with the Army’s custom warlord trait – Xenos Bane, an aura that gives the Xenos Hunters trait to friendly Strike Force Kill Team and Character units within 6”.
Kill Team Strike Forces have access to four unique Stratagems. They’re all interesting, and one’s a real doozy.
- Battlefield Teleportation costs 1 CP and lets you pick up a Strike Force character or Kill Team in the Movement phase and deep strike them back onto the table as reinforcements in your following Movement phase. Useful, but the turn delay makes it a much weaker effect than many other armies get.
- Honoured Veteran of the Watch mirrors the new Black Templars Sergeant upgrade Stratagem, letting you upgrade a single Sergeant model in your army to get +1 Wound and a Warlord Trait. Because that trait can be Paragon of Their Chapter, you have a lot of options with this to choose from, and you can also just use this to give them a second relic with Castellan of the Black Vault if that’s your thing. This could make for interesting combos like Artificer Armor and Adamantine Mantle on a Heavy Intercessor Sergeant who can tank hits for some Eradicators and then get popped back onto the table by an Apothecary each time he dies.
- Black Vault Bolts (1 CP) attempts to give us a bit of a make-up for losing Special Issue Ammo across the whole army: You use this in the Shooting phase on a Kill Team or character to turn all their bolt weapons to Heavy 1, but whenever they make an unmodified wound roll of 6 with a bolt weapon, the attack does an extra mortal wound in addition to any normal damage, to a max of 6 per phase. This is a tough one to max out – it takes a lot of additional work to get any more shots out of it, and I think your baseline max is 15, if you use it on a squad of Aggressors and Heavy Intercessors. It’s an interesting way to push out more mortal wounds, but actually hitting that cap of 6 seems like a pipe dream.
- Specialism Extremis (3 CP) is the doozy of the bunch, used in the Shooting or Fight phase on one of your Strike Force Specialist squads, i.e. a unit upgraded to have a Specialism like the Aquila Kill Team. For the rest of the phase, if that team is targeting a unit of the battlefield role that it would re-roll wound rolls against, all of its successful hit rolls just automatically wound the target. You can’t use this twice on the same kill team.
Let’s talk about that last one – this helps the Deathwatch list make up for their lack of heavier shooting with the loss of dreadnoughts and ensures that your kill teams can take down almost any target, no matter how big. The name of the game here is getting something with an appropriately sufficient AP or damage characteristic zeroed in on the target you want, and piling a Watchmaster re-roll onto them to ensure they just melt their target. You won’t use it more than once or twice per game but whatever you point this at is going to just dissolve.
So is this Any Good?
Good question – it’s hard to say. There are some great bonuses here, but the downside is real. The most successful current Deathwatch builds tend to rely on a number of Dreadnoughts and removing those is a real challenge, plus the specialisms, while neat, cost you points that make an already expensive, fragile unit even moreso. That said, those bonuses are pretty good and there’s enough power here – particularly with the ability to change your tactic every turn and just not have Xenos Hunters when it’s not helping you – that I think this army will see a lot of test play, if not actual success. Tactical versatility is good but a bit overrated in 40k and so it remains to be seen if the flexibility to do lots of cool things is worth the additional costs.
Army List – Wings
Wings: This Army of Renown is super interesting, as it has some of the most stringent list construction requirements of any we’ve seen, but also some wild upsides if you can put together a list that uses it effectively. That’s obviously a challenge I can’t resist, and after some tinkering I’ve come up with the below.
I should say that I’m heavily riffing off the Kill Team-focused build favoured by Vanguard Tactics coach Michael Costello, which featured in Competitive Innovations a few weeks back. Given this AoR is all Kill Teams, all the time, starting with a list themed around them with some proven chops seemed sensible. The use of an Indomitor Kill Team for heavier hitters was also inspired by the army from DeathwatchSH that we featured in our Start Competing guide for the faction.
+++ Deathwatch Battalion Detachment (7 CP, 2,000 Points) +++
Captain on bike, storm shield, lightning claw, Dominus Aegis, Hero of the Chapter: Optimised Priority – 115
Librarian, Premorphic Resonance, Fortified with Content, Hero of the Chapter: Paragon of their Chapter: Adept of the Codex – 90
Primaris Master of Sanctity on Bike, Warlord: Wise Orator, Canticle of Hate, Recitation of Focus, A Vigil Unmatched: Xenos Bane, Beacon Angelis – 140
Fortis Kill Team – Malleus Specialism – 295
5x Intercessors with auto bolt rifles
5x Hellblasters with assault plasma incinerators
Indomitor Kill Team – Malleus Specialism – 440
Heavy Intercessor Sergeant with hellstorm bolt rifle, Honoured Veteran of the Watch: Castellan of the Black Vault: Artficer Armour
4x Heavy Intercessor with hellstorm bolt rifles
3x Inceptor with plasma
2x Aggressor with boltstorm
Proteus Kill Team – Aquila Specialism – 324pts
Sergeant with heavy thunder hammer
4x Veterans with Deathwatch boltgun and storm shield
2x Terminators with thunder hammer and storm shield
Black Shield with 2x lightning claws
Biker with Chainsword
Vanguard Veteran with jump pack, chainsword and storm shield
Proteus Kill Team – Aquila Specialism – 322pts
Sergeant with heavy thunder hammer
3x Veterans with Deathwatch boltgun and storm shield
1x Veterans with Deathwatch boltgun and lightning claw
2x Terminators with thunder hammer and storm shield
Black Shield with 2x lightning claws
Biker with Chainsword
Vanguard Veteran with jump pack, chainsword and storm shield
Spectrus Kill Team – Purgatus Specialism – 274pts
1x Infiltrator w/ helix gauntlet
4x Eliminator w/ bolt sniper rifles
+++ 2000pts, 7CP +++
The goal here is to try and cover all your bases and squeeze maximum value from access to Veterans of the Long Vigil and Specialism Extremis. The army is very likely to switch to full White Scars out the gate, allowing it to shoot up the board, threaten early charges with the Proteus teams (who have huge reach thanks to the speed and size of the bikes) and unleash maximum firepower from all the Assault weaponry elsewhere. Once battle is joined, Space Wolves or Blood Angels can help you out with controlling the board and/or kicking stuff in or Iron Hands/Templars if you need defences.
It also uses the spicy stratagem extremely well. The two Malleus units can obviously do damage with their big guns, but with the high shot counts the rest of the models they also just threaten to sandblast something to death when they’re auto wounding. There’s no restriction on splitting fire when using Specialism Extremis, you just need to be shooting ar the right kind of target, so if multiple tanks have strayed into range of the Indomitor team there’s a very real prospect of the Inceptors wasting one and the rest of the unit accounting for another. Having this in the back pocket also nullifies what is essentially the only downside of the assault hellblasters, as if they need to be able to kill something with T8 good news – they just can. Meanwhile, if the Aquila units are ever facing down something they can’t quite handle, having access to the strat lets them kick the hell out of it with maximum prejudice.
The other Deathwatch mechanic this army leans on is Combat Squads, which it may well choose to do for the Fortis and Spectrus teams. That gives a bit more flexibility around the board, and adding Battlefield Teleportation on top of Guerilla Tactics with the Phobos unit provides a surprising amount of angles on Action secondaries. Splitting those and keeping the three big units together also means that the large units are your To the Last targets, which is going to be troublesome for some opponents, especially as the Indomitor Sergeant is going in on being extra meaty.
This list certainly looks playable, and it’s definitely this Army of Renown that makes it so, which is a strong indication that there might be something there. We’ll have to see if the price you pay in terms of giving up Dreadnoughts and some other utility units is too high.
Finally we have fortifications. These have mostly been left by the wayside in 9th edition, given a quick points update in the Munitorum Field Manual and then never mentioned again. We finally get an update for them here – sort of. There are five datasheets here, covering the five unaligned fortifications that Games Workshop still sells on their site. These are:
- Aegis Defence Line
- Fortress of Redemption
- Skyshield Landing Pad
- Void Shield Generator
The notable omissions here are the Wall of Martyrs and the Bunker, which are both still actively up for sale but I guess just don’t need updated rules. Each of these new datasheets changes the fortification it describes in several ways, but ultimately most of the changes aren’t particularly interesting or meaningful enough to make them playable outside of narrative play, and most of the time you’re better off using them as inert terrain. There are a few things to note, however.
The Skyshield Landing Pad no longer has a Wounds characteristic, and is now just a terrain feature with the Light Cover, Heavy Cover, Scalable, and Exposed Position traits. You can still open and close it, only now that’s done via an action at the end of your Movement phase. Closing it removes the Exposed Position Trait and gives units on top a 6+ invulnerable save; while open you can repair an Airborne unit on top of the pad once per game, healing them 3 wounds and replenishing their one-use only weapons. It’s worth noting that these latter rules are extremely hard to use as they’ve been written – the logistics of getting a plane in place, in the right mode (you have to be hovering), at the right time are bad enough, and the list of units with a hover jet and an eligible one-use weapon are (drumroll)…only the Ravenwing Darktalon (outside of Forge World oddities). Realistically no one will ever know that since no one who will actually play with this cares.
Aegis Defence Lines also gained terrain features, and are now Defence Lines with Defensible, Light Cover, Heavy Cover, Unstable Position, and Difficult Ground, giving them rules more like what you’d expect in 9th edition. Operating the gun emplacement is now an action.
Imperial Bastions now have a degrading profile they certainly didn’t want or need before, losing BS on their gun emplacements as they take damage. The upside is that gained two new abilities – Roof Hatch lets 15 models fire out of the building, and if you take a Comms Antenna instead of a gun on top of the building (5 points, the cheapest add-on), then Command Phase you have a character inside you roll a D6 and gain a CP on a 5+.
The Fortress of Redemption also gained a degrading profile, dropped to T8 (from 10), but got nastier weapons. Well, kind of The Redemption Lascannons replace the Twin Icarus lascannon and no longer have Heavy 2D6; instead it’s now Heavy 2 but does D3+3 damage; a significant downgrade in overall damage, even if the damage on individual shots is higher. The Missile Silo on the other hand, saw its Krak missile damage upgrade to flat 3 from D3 – a massive improvement. Unfortunately, a typo on the fragstorm missiles lists their damage characteristic as 0. Whomp whomp. Also it’s TITANIC now and more expensive than before.
Finally we have the Void Shield Generator. This one also got worse – now its Void Shields Aura range drops as it takes wounds, going from 12” at 8+ wounds remaining to 9” at 4-7 and 6” at 1-3. Also it has two fewer wounds.
For the most part, these are just worse than they used to be, and they were already unplayable, even if you could make room on the table for them with player-placed terrain or the graciousness of your opponents/the TO. The Aegis Defence line is the only one I’d even consider and it’s more than likely if you have these you’re just running them as terrain anyways. So keep doing that.
The Other Stuff
Inquisitor rules from Pariah Nexus have been reprinted here, making this an even more important book to have if you’re an Astra Militarum player considering Coteaz in your list. These rules have some small changes to update them with FAQ adjustments and bring them in line with 9th edition wording, similar to the Chaos Space Marine rules in the Book of Fire.
That wraps up our look at the Imperial and Unaligned content in the Rising Tide but check back shortly for part 2, where we’ll talk about the new Tyranids stuff, and then check out our review of the Crusade book, Containment. On Tuesday we’ll be back with our review of the Crusade and Narrative rules in Rising Tide as well so if you’re wondering where that stuff is, stay tuned!
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