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Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, HQ Units

Let's analyse the HQ options available to Astra Militarum . Like all my reviews, this will be from a competitive play perspective, ...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Army List: Adepta Sororitas 1850 pts MSU [Revised]


In my post about MSU army list design, Elite 40,000 reader Adam requested a MSU army list for Adepta Sororitas (a.k.a. Sisters of Battle) that can compete in 7th Ed. Ask and ye shall receive, here we go!

Unit Selection

Sisters players have long lamented the lack of model support from GW for their army of choice, but at least the Nuns With Guns have received fairly regular rules updates, even if they are only 'mini-dexes'. The current version of Codex Adepta Sororitas is only available as a Black Library eBook, was released during 6th Ed, and does not follow the modern dataslate format.

As a 6th Ed codex, Sisters do not have any unique Formations or Detachments, and their transport vehicles are not available empty as Fast Attack choices. This means we are stuck with the Combined Arms Detachment, and will need to take a mix of infantry and armour to get a respectable unit count in our list.

Here are the highlights of the Sisters order of battle:

  • Battle Sisters
  • Dominions
  • Retributors
  • Immolators
  • Exorcists
  • Avenger Strike Fighters
We'll examine each of these units very briefly before moving on to list design.

Battle Sisters

Your basic Troops unit, Battle Sisters cost 60 pts for a 5-woman squad, including a non-veteran squad leader. They have the same profile as an Astra Militarum Veteran, with the addition of a 3+ armour save and a 6++ invulnerable save. They also have an Act of Faith: a One Use Only ability to gain Preferred Enemy for a single shooting or assault phase, that requires a successful Ld test to activate.

The best thing about basic Battle Sisters is that their special/heavy weapon options are not scaled to their squad size. A 5-woman squad can take a special weapon, a heavy weapon or second special weapon, and a combi-weapon on the squad leader. They also have access to the Heavy Flamer as a heavy weapon option.

Battle Sisters also unlock a dedicated transport slot, allowing you to take an Immolator.

I would run MSU Battle Sisters in either of two different configurations:

  • 5-woman squad with Heavy Flamer (70 pts)
  • 5-woman squad with Combi-Melta, Meltagun, and Heavy Flamer (90 pts)
A Preferred Enemy Heavy Flamer is a great way to kill horde infantry, and they can also bring Melta if you need it.

Dominions

The Fast Attack version of Battle Sisters, Dominions are slightly more expensive at 65 pts for a 5-woman squad but gain Scouts. Their Act of Faith confers Ignores Cover for a single shooting phase. Dominions can take four special weapons, plus a combi-weapon on the squad leader.

While they miss out on Objective Secured, Dominions are obviously a significantly stronger unit than basic Battle Sisters. There is really only one way to run them:

  • 5-woman squad with Combi-Melta, and four Meltaguns (115 pts)
That is so damn cheap for five Ignores Cover Melta shots!

Retributors

A big thank you to Elite 40,000 reader Rudyard Olmstead for reminding me about this!
The Heavy Support version of Battle Sisters, Retributors come in at same cost with an alternative Act of Faith: Rending for a single shooting phase. Retributors can take four heavy weapons, plus a combi-weapon on the squad leader.

Just like Dominions, you are trading away Objective Secured for more firepower. They can take Heavy Bolters and Multi-Meltas, but I am not a fan of static infantry shooting—mobility is king. I would run Retributors like this:

  • 5-woman squad with four Heavy Flamers (100 pts)
Four Rending Heavy Flamers will make an absolute mess of most infantry, and nicely complements the devastating anti-armour firepower of Dominions.

If you had a spare 10 pts you could also give their squad-leader a Combi-Melta for some anti-armour utility, but you probably won't need to given how much Melta you can distribute around the rest of your army.

Immolators

An Immolator is basically a Razorback with a twin-linked Multi-Melta and a 6++ invulnerable save for only 60 pts. Considering that a Razorback with a decent weapon and no invulnerable save costs 75 pts, the Immolator is an excellent cheap gun-tank.

Exorcists

The Sisters equivalent of a Predator, the Exorcist is an AV13 tank with a 6++ invulnerable save and a unique weapon that fires D6 shots at 48" S8 AP1. At 125 pts, it costs only slightly more than an Autocannon/Lascannon Predator, and its weapon is pretty damn nice.

Avenger Strike Fighter

Imperial Armour Aeronautica lists the Avenger as a native Heavy Support choice for Sisters, although it does not benefit from the Shield of Faith 6++ invulnerable save enjoyed by the rest of the army.

The Avenger is an AV12 Flyer with two Lascannon and an Avenger Bolt Cannon (36" S6 AP3 7 shots) that costs 150 pts. It is only BS3, but comes with Strafing Run to boost that up to a more respectable BS4 against ground targets. It can buy an extra pair of heavy weapons, but these are quite expensive and take you above the four-weapon limit that may be fired at full BS while Zooming.

Keep it stock and cheap, and use it to kill other Flyers, Flying Monsters, light armour and Space Marines (and Windriders) with impunity.

MSU Mech List

Now that we have an idea of what Sisters can include in a MSU list, let's start by building a pure Adepta Sororitas list based on Immolators.

We'll start with a Combined Arms Detachment, because that is really the only option available! Our mandatory HQ slot can be filled by a basic Canoness for just 65 pts.

Next we will take some Immolator-unlocking Troops. A Battle Sister squad with Heavy Flamer costs 70 pts, and an Immolator with Multi-Melta costs 60 pts, for a total of 130 pts. We'll take six of these unit pairs, for a total of 780 pts.

We could take Dominions in Fast Attack, but our Immolators already bring a reasonable quantity of mobile, accurate Melta, so we'll skip to Heavy Support for now.

Three Exorcists fill out Heavy Support slots for 375 pts and bring the total number of tanks with S8 AP1 guns to nine. Our list looks like this so far:
Combined Arms Detachment: Adepta Sororitas
HQ 
Canoness [65]
Troops 
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
Heavy Support 
Exorcist [125]
Exorcist [125]
Exorcist [125]
Our nine tanks and six Heavy Flamer squads only cost 1220 pts. All those squads, and six of the tanks, also have Objective Secured. Not a bad start, but how should will fill another 630 pts to complete an 1850 pts list?

Three Avenger Strike Fighters will add considerable firepower to the list, and help it against Flyers, Flying Monsters and tougher infantry. This would cost 450 pts, but we've already filled the three Heavy Support slots in our Combined Arms Detachment.

That problem is easily fixed; we add a second Canoness for 65 pts and move three of the Battle Sister squads into a second Combined Arms Detachment. This second Detachment can host our three Avengers, bringing our points total up to 1735 pts.

With our remaining 115 pts we could give our squads and Canonesses some special weapons to increase our infantry-based firepower; alternatively, we could drop in a Void Shield Generator to provide some first turn protection. For this list I'll take the latter approach (remembering that the VSG is also an extra backfield scoring unit) and spend the last 15 pts to give the Warlord Canoness a 4++ invulnerable save. Our final list looks like this:
Combined Arms Detachment: Adepta Sororitas
HQ 
Canoness, Rosarius [80]
Troops 
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
Heavy Support 
Exorcist [125]
Exorcist [125]
Exorcist [125]
Fortification
Void Shield Generator, three Void Shields [100]
Combined Arms Detachment: Adepta Sororitas
HQ 
Canoness [65]
Troops
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer [70]
Immolator, Multi-Melta [60]
Heavy Support
Avenger Strike Fighter [150]
Avenger Strike Fighter [150]
Avenger Strike Fighter [150]
1850 pts
That's a total of six squads (all Objective Secured), nine tanks (six Objective Secured), three Flyers and one building in our 1850 pts list; that's 19 units in total, not counting the two characters that will be attached to squads. I hope your opponent has well-distributed firepower to deal with all that... by the way, do you see any good targets for a D slapping?

This list brings six mobile twin-linked Multi-Meltas on the Immolators, six Preferred Enemy Heavy Flamers on the infantry, 3D6 shots of 48" S8 AP1 from the Exorcists, and six Lascannon and 21 shots of 36" S6 AP3 from the Avengers. That is a lot of firepower! It should be enough to deal with most deathstars, Supers and Gargantuans, mass Monsters, elite or horde infantry, light or heavy armour, Flyers and Flying Monsters, and other MSU lists.

MSU Pod List

Next up we'll try something a little less traditional: Nuns with Guns in Pods. I personally don't like Pods that much, because you gamble all on the alpha strike, which can be fended off by a skilled opponent. And once out of your Pods, your mobility sucks; but we'll see what we can do with this concept.

We'll make use of the Flesh Tearers Strike Force Detachment from Shield of Baal: Exterminatus—which includes six Fast Attack slots—and empty Fast Attack Drop Pods from Codex Blood Angels. Combined with the extremely efficient Melta and Flamer squads of the Adepta Sororitas, we will aim to build a null-deployment army list that delivers an utterly devastating alpha strike to cripple your opponent in the early game.

For our Flesh Tearers Strike Force Detachment, we need to fill one mandatory HQ slot and one mandatory Troops slot to unlock the desired six Fast Attack slots. The cheapest HQ unit in Codex Blood Angels is the Sanguinary Priest, a mid-level character that confers Feel No Pain to his squad. All he needs is a combi-weapon; we know we can get plenty of Melta from our Sisters so we'll give him a Combi-Grav instead. He will accompany a 5-man Tactical squad with Grav-Gun and Combi-Grav, with a dedicated Drop Pod.

Now we can fill our Fast Attack slots with Drop Pods for our Sisters! Our list looks like this so far:
Flesh Tearers Strike Force: Blood Angels
HQ
Sanguinary Priest, Combi-Grav [70]
Troops
5 Tactical Marines, Grav-Gun, Combi-Grav [95]
Drop Pod [35]
Fast Attack
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
This Detachment costs us 410 pts, leaving us with 1440 pts to spend on Sisters.

A Combined Arms Detachment is once more the best/only way to field Adepta Sororitas, so we'll take a Canoness with Rosarius and Combi-Melta to fill its mandatory HQ slot, then add two Battle Sisters squads. These squads each get a Heavy Flamer, Meltagun and Combi-Melta to maximise their firepower on the turn they Pod-in.

Next we fill our Fast Attack slots with Dominion squads; each with four Meltaguns and a Combi-Melta. We now have a ridiculous quantity of Melta delivered by Drop Pods, which should be enough to cripple any opposing army relying on vehicles, Supers, Gargantuans, or mass Monsters. We also have three Preferred Enemy Heavy Flamers to deal with horde infantry.

And then we will fill our Heavy Support slots with Retributor squads to provide efficient anti-personnel firepower. Our list is now looking like this:
Combined Arms Detachment: Adepta Sororitas
HQ 
Canoness, Rosarius, Combi-Melta [90]
Troops
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
Fast Attack
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
Heavy Support
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
Flesh Tearers Strike Force: Blood Angels
HQ
Sanguinary Priest, Combi-Grav [70]
Troops
5 Tactical Marines, Grav-Gun, Combi-Grav [95]
Drop Pod [35]
Fast Attack
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
And now we hit a problem: we have eight squads of Sisters but only six empty Pods. If we are going to maintain the null-deployment, full Pod strategy then we'll need a second Flesh Tearers Strike Force Detachment to unlock more empty Pods.

We'll copy/paste the Sanguinary Priest and Tactical squad mandatory choices—another 200 pts tax to get more Pods, but at least they can each drop in and fire six Grav shots to threaten Monsters/Gargantuans.

We need at least two more Pods to transport all our Sisters, and this leaves us with 250 pts to spare—just enough to take another two Battle Sisters squads, and Pods to transport them. Our final list looks like this:
Combined Arms Detachment: Adepta Sororitas
HQ 
Canoness, Rosarius, Combi-Melta, Melta-Bombs [95]
Troops
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
5 Battle Sisters, Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Combi-Melta [90]
Fast Attack
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
5 Dominions, four Meltaguns, Combi-Melta [115]
Heavy Support
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
5 Retributors, four Heavy Flamers [100]
Flesh Tearers Strike Force: Blood Angels
HQ
Sanguinary Priest, Combi-Grav [70]
Troops
5 Tactical Marines, Grav-Gun, Combi-Grav [95]
Drop Pod [35]
Fast Attack
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Flesh Tearers Strike Force: Blood Angels
HQ
Sanguinary Priest, Combi-Grav [70]
Troops
5 Tactical Marines, Grav-Gun, Combi-Grav [95]
Drop Pod [35]
Fast Attack
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
Drop Pod [35]
1850 pts
Holy shit, that's a lot of units! Twenty-six in total, but really only twelve functional units; Pods don't really count, but they are awesome at board control—your opponent can't claim Objectives if they're completely walled-off by Pods!

One of the great things about a MSU list like this is that it's nearly impossible to get tabled—most armies just can't target enough units per turn to kill all your stuff before the game ends.

This list has a lot of offensive capability; three Pods are hardcore anti-armour (Dominions), three Pods are hardcore anti-personnel (Retributors), and six Pods are versatile (Battle Sisters and Tacticals). With twelve Pods in total you will bring six in on your first turn, and you can pick and choose the best units for the job depending on what and how your opponent has deployed.

Obviously you want to go second with this list whenever possible, thus wasting one of your opponent's shooting phases. Just watch out for super fast armies like Eldar, who could use that first turn to spread out all over the table to disrupt your Pod positioning.

The only capability gap in this list is anti-air. Helldrakes and Flyrants will have a field-day with you, but with intelligent play you should be able to minimise their impact by covering most of the table with Pods and denying Flyer and Flying Monster movement, remembering their hard limitations on turning and minimum move distance. And if you lose a 5-man squad after it's already delivered its alpha strike, does it really matter? I don't think the lack of anti-air will hurt too much. Flyrants still have to Glide to claim Objectives, especially if you kill everything supporting them on the ground.

Conclusion

I hope this post illustrates how to put the principles of MSU list design into practice, and helps all those long-unsupported Adepta Sororitas players out there! My next MSU list will be Harlequins and Craftworlders.

10 comments:

  1. Don't forget the fw repressor from FW. They come with heavy flamers, and are av13, which is a massive deal in a meta that has a ton of Str 6 shooting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gregory Swanson9 May 2015 at 06:30

    Maybe a storm raven for one last flyer giving you quite the air force

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did look at the Repressor, because AV13 is very handy, but it just doesn't have the firepower of the Immo. It's a great transport for bigger squads, but for MSU I think the Immo brings more to the army.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Gregory, thanks for the suggestion. I did consider another flyer, such as a Storm Raven. I also considered making the Sanguinary Priest the Warlord so I could run a Relic Fire Raptor instead, which has even more guns! But I didn't commit to either of those options because the list already has 7 units on the ground, 3 in the air, and it really needs more boots on the ground! Those flyers aren't going to claim Objectives, after all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gregory Swanson9 May 2015 at 09:06

    Actually the storm raven can claim objectives

    ReplyDelete
  6. Only if it Hovers, which is fine for turn five/six/seven if you need the VP, but not throughout the game when you need to grab Maelstrom Objectives.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh you mad, magnificent bastard. I think I'll get you to write my next tournament list. My success with the Sisters is far from impressive (http://www.spruegrey.com/tag/sisters-of-battle/ ) and also about two editions old. But this? This is some next-level-lose-all-your-friends-in-a-hail-of-fire-and-vengence stuff. Thanks for that, it's food for thought to be sure. Drop Podding Sisters? Hmmm ....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Rudyard Olmstead10 May 2015 at 00:26

    Charlie, great article as usual. Appreciate all the hard work and insightful thought you put into this.

    I wrote a similar article (at least from the Drop Pod perspective) on my Tactics Blog a couple of weeks ago:

    https://greysplinter.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/promethium-from-above-sisters-of-battle-drop-pod-assault/

    Interesting how we have some very similar thoughts, though I focused on Dominions with meltas and Retributors with heavy flamers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Rudyard. Your article is excellent, great minds think alike! ;-)

    I'd forgotten that Retributors can take Rending Heavy Flamers... you've given me some ideas on how to finish off that Drop Pod list, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Rudyard Olmstead11 May 2015 at 02:00

    Great article, as usual. I posted a very similar idea on Sisters in Drop Pods (albeit with Heavy Flamer Retributors) on my tactics blog a couple of weeks ago:

    https://greysplinter.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/promethium-from-above-sisters-of-battle-drop-pod-assault/

    ReplyDelete