White Dwarf #462: Index Astartes: Exorcists Review

Credit: Robert "TheChirurgeon" Jones

In what has become an inevitability for 9th edition, March’s White Dwarf brought us another Index: Astartes article, fleshing out one of the lesser-known Space Marine Chapters. This time it’s the turn of the Exorcists.

The Exorcists aren’t a Chapter of any particular renown, though they’ve shown up from time to time in the fluff including as one of the also-rans in the Badab War. However, what lore they do have is pretty cool, being specialised daemon-hunters with close links to the Inquisition and the Grey Knights. If you’re into the idea of a Marine Chapter of esoteric weirdos with runes and magic symbols but who are not into Chaos, then these are the guys for you.

The Chapter Tactic: By My Will I Deny Thee

Like the Emperor’s Spears, the Exorcists’ tactic is a combination of two of the base codex Successor traits; in this case that means the Stalwart (unmodified wound rolls of 1 and 2 always fail) and Warded (5+ to ignore mortal wounds) abilities. If you’ve read Start Competing: Space Marines, you’ll know that in our opinion these are pretty mediocre. Stalwart is a little better than it was with the amount of +1 to wound out there in the world now, and ignoring mortal wounds on a 5+ is nice, but neither of these would be our first choice from the Successors list and both together is pretty underwhelming. It does fit the Exorcists pretty well fluff-wise though.

Warlord Traits

An Exorcists Warlord can pick from one of the following three traits:

  1. Enochian Guard – Your Warlord gets two once per game abilities; one lets you automatically make a single hit, wound, or save roll for your Warlord a 6, and the other lets you use an ADEPTUS ASTARTES Epic Deed stratagem for free. In the majority of cases that’s going to mean using Only in Death Does Duty End for free when you bite the dust. Being able to say “not today” is a reasonable ability to have in your back pocket. B
  2. Know Thy Enemy – Before the battle, you pick one enemy unit; your Warlord gets an aura that gives EXORCISTS CORE or CHARACTER units within 6″ +1 to hit when they attack that unit. Great if you’re facing down Mortarion or the Silent King or something and really want an aura of Fuck That Guy in Particular, though likely to be cute at best if you’re facing e.g. Harlequins and your guys have to settle for being really excited about blowing up one specific Starweaver. B
  3. Erudite in the Verses – Your Warlord can Deny the Witch once per phase, or gets an additional Deny if they already can do that. Additionally, as long as they’re not in Engagement Range, your Warlord can bust out a pocket smite in each Shooting phase, doing d3 mortal wounds to the closest visible enemy unit within 12″. Honestly this is a great trait – having a Deny is always handy, and a quasi-Smite with no casting value is pretty cute too. B

Nothing here stands out as being so insanely good that you should pick it, but none of them are horrible either. I particularly like Erudite in the Verses just because pocket smites are fun and being able to carry around a Deny is helpful.

It’s also worth noting as we did for the Emperor’s Spears review that you can get access to the Imperial Fists Warlord traits thanks to a loophole with the “second Warlord trait” stratagem – which we could really do with GW fixing to work properly if they’re going to do bi-monthly Chapter releases like this.

Stratagems

Exorcists also gain three Stratagems:

  • Cast Out Thy Blackened Soul – Battle Tactic – 2CP – Use in the Shoot or Fight phases, on a single CORE or CHARACTER unit. Pick one CHAOS DAEMONS unit within 12″, and re-roll wounds against that unit. The worst kind of stratagem, but at least pretty good for its use case. A against Daemons, F in all other situations.
  • Orison Cult – Requisition – 1CP/2CP – Use before the battle, as long as you have Combat Doctrines to use (i.e. no soup). Pick one CORE or CHARACTER unit from your army, then pick one combat doctrine. Once per battle, in your Command phase, you can choose for that unit to have that doctrine active until your next Command phase, instead of any other. 1CP for units of 5 or less, 2CP for 6 or more. Definitely has appeal, perhaps on a Redemptor to put it back into Devastator for a turn and get some more use out of Legacy of Dorn. B
  • Spiritual Resolve – 2CP – Use in your opponent’s Psychic phase, when an EXORCISTS unit is selected for a psychic power manifested by an enemy PSYKER. The effects of that psychic power are not resolved. Not cheap at 2CP but still an excellent stratagem, since there’s no risk involved. Particularly good for something like Mind Worm from Dark Angels, but has utility against a whole host of other powers too, and of course it makes Craftworlds players cry tears of rage if you turn off Doom or Jinx. A

Relics

Finally, there’s three Exorcists-exclusive relics:

  • Cessation. Replaces any kind of bolt pistol (regular, heavy, master-crafted special issue, or absolvor). You get a single shot 18″ Pistol with S5, AP-3, damage 3, each can re-roll hits and wounds. Aggressively Fine; if you’re desperate to take a relic pistol this is about as good as one is going to get, but you’re passing up a whole lot of good Space Marine relics to get this. C
  • Exile Plate. The bearer gets a 2+ save and while an enemy unit is in Engagement Range, invulnerable saves of 1-4 always fail, or saves of 1-5 for CHAOS DAEMON units. This is actually a pretty interesting relic given how many 4+ invulnerable saves are out there, and of course it’s a hilarious defensive reduction for any Chaos Daemons that you can get into combat with. Bike or jump pack characters wearing this might be surprisingly effective, especially in a world where Harlequins and Chaos Daemons are at the top of the meta. B+
  • Expulsiaris. Replaces a power sword or master-crafted power sword. You get S+2, AP-4, D2, and unmodified wound rolls of a 6, or a 4+ against CHAOS DAEMONS, do 1 mortal wound on top of other damage. It’s decent – a S6 AP-4 D2 character is a fine baseline anyway, and the mortal wound effect is a nice extra especially if you’re running into Daemons. B

An overall ok set of relics. Cessation is whatever, but the other two are at least worth a look, which is a nice place for a supplement like this to be.

Our Thoughts

So, first of all, I now have an idea for a black metal concept album where every song title is taken from the ability names on offer here. Definitely big points in that area, so great job.

With that out of the way, how does all this come together as a package? Well, you’re still an Imperial Fists successor, which if you’ve read the most recent meta review does not exactly bode well for your chances. You’re also not starting off great with a weak Chapter tactic. However, you do get a few tools that can help you out here – first, a couple of your relics and stratagems are useful against meta-leading armies, particularly Chaos Daemons and to a lesser extent Death Guard and possibly Harlequins too, and you even have extra game against Dark Angels thanks to Spiritual Resolve since their powers are a) good and b) mostly targeted. Orison Cult is also pretty handy, since it lets you overcome one of the weaknesses of mainline Fists, i.e. a minimal number of ways to get into their preferred doctrine. Ultimately there’s not really enough here to overcome the baseline weakness of being stuck drawing from the worst Codex Supplement in the game, but if you’re playing in a meta with a lot of Daemons these might be a fun counter-pick to try out, and if you’re the one guy who already owned them then good news, you’re now in possession of the best set of rules available from the Imperial Fists book.