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It's been a case of all-hobby, no-bloggy for the last few months. The new edition of 40k has reinvigorated my motivation to build a...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Analysis: New Cadian Formations

War Zone Damocles: Mont'ka is full of new Astra Militarum Formations, plus a new set of Cadian Relics, Warlord Traits and Tactical Objectives. Let's see if we can find some new gems amongst all the chaff.

Hammer of teh Emprah

Astra Militarum are the latest Faction to get a Super-Detachment: the Cadian Battle Group. Like all the other Super-Detachments in publication, it follows the same general format of Command, Core and Auxillary Formations and Sub-Detachments; but unusually, the Cadian Battle Group treats the Command element as the compulsory element, so if you really wanted to you could just take a horde of solo Lord Commissars, each representing an entire Cadian Battle Group...

More realistically, you would take a Company Command Squad or Tank Commander, with the Company Command Squad being the strictly better choice; the Tank Commander gets no Detachment benefits, whilst his foot-slogging counterpart gets a 24" Order radius and a third Order per turn—not bad.

On the topic of Orders, all officers in the entire Detachment get a very nice bonus in Battle Group Vox-Net: take Orders Ld tests on 3D6 and discard the highest. This is pretty reliable even for Ld8 troops.

Lastly, all Lasguns in the Detachment reroll 1 To Hit. Meh.

Notably missing is Objective Secured. This is quite simply a deal-breaker. Sorry GW, but if you're not going to buff my Guardsmen so I can win with brute force, then I'd rather keep Objective Secured and continue winning with skill.

So much for the Super-Detachment—what value can we extract from the Formations?

Big Slow Platoon

If you were already planning to take a 50-man non-Conscript blob for some reason, then you could consider the Emperor's Shield Infantry Platoon Formation. You get taxed a Sentinel, which is not too bad, and your infantry get Move Through Cover within 9" of the Sentinel as a handy bonus. You lose access to dedicated transports, which really sucks—even if you were going to run a blob, you still might have wanted a Chimera for their Command Squad or Special/Heavy Weapon Squads.

The Command Squad—on foot and unlikely to survive to turn two—get a unique Order which lets the blob shoot as if stationary. This is really pretty lame, as it is not Relentless (no charging after shooting) and good players already know how to daisy chain troops back to their stationary heavy weapons if they want to move and shoot.

And of course, no Objective Secured—really I should have just written those three words and moved on...

Big Slow Company

OMG GW, we get it, you need to flush out your warehouse stocks of Cadians before you release plastic Steel Legion in 2016 and no one ever wants to buy a bobble-head trooper again!

Take three of the aforementioned non-Objective Secured version of the Infantry Platoon, and you have the Emperor's Shield Infantry Company—more than three times as bad, as you now have no where to deploy any useful units! Pass.

Revenge of the Chicken Walkers

The Emperor's Talon Recon Company is not too bad; you can take tax-free Armoured Sentinels with Outflank, the Command Sentinel can issue a small set of Orders to other Sentinels, and they get Preferred Enemy against one selected unit. Their subtle value is in unlocking a bunch of cheap, big-footprint screener/blockers to protect your more valuable vehicles from Pods if you want to run a full mech/armour list.

Mech Vets Strike Back

At first I was really excited by this Formation, since it comprises a bunch of units I normally use in my own army: a Company Command Squad and three Veteran Squads, all mounted, plus a Hellhound. The Emperor's Blade Assault Company gets a nice little bonus in Preferred Enemy against targets within 6" of an Objective, which is especially nice in Maelstrom missions. Plus they get Objective Secured!!! Well, sort of...

The devil is in the detail, because only the infantry get Objective Secured; compared to running these units in a Combined Arms Detachment, you gain Objective Secured on the Company Command Squad, but lose it on three Chimeras/Taurox. Unfortunately, this remains a deal-breaker, since Objective Secured transports are very useful, and the Combined Arms Detachment also nets you a Fortification and Lord of War slot too.

Big Guns Never Tire

Finally, a playable new Formation!!!1 The Emperor's Wrath Artillery Company redeems all the crap we've seen so far, for one very simple reason: Ignores Cover Basilisks and Manticores.

This Formation comprises a healthy backline of two squadrons of Basilisk/Hydra/Wyvern and a single Manticore/Deathstrike, plus a mounted Company Command Squad and an Enginseer as tax. The Company Commander can issue certain Orders to vehicles in the Formation, notably including the Ignores Cover and Split Fire conferring ones. This is extremely strong, and makes the iconic Basilisk competitively playable for the first time in literally decades.

I would probably build this Formation with a pair of Basilisks, a pair of Wyverns, a Manticore, and a mostly naked Command Squad and Enginseer in a Camo-Net Chimera. A Master of Ordnance would fit in well to this Formation given its mostly static nature. But you could also build this Formation very cheaply if you had to—a couple of Wyverns and an Ignores Cover Manticore is still pretty strong.

To make things even better, any Vox-Caster in your army can be used as a spotter for this Formation: you nominate a target unit within 18" of the Vox and all your Artillery get Twin-Linked against that target.

Now the inherent flaw in this Formation is that the vehicles only have Ld8 for taking Orders. But don't be disheartened, Mont'ka also delivers a nifty new Relic to mitigate this flaw! Volkov's Cane is the ultimate pimp-stick of the 41st Millennium, conferring effective Ld11 to units within 6" for the bargain price of 10 pts, which is absolutely perfect for an Artillery Company Commander directing fire from the comfort of his correspondingly pimped-out Chimera. Now say it with me: "FIRE ON MY TARGET!!!"

Moar Tankz

The Emperor's Fist Armoured Company provides tread-heads with a subtly different alternative to the Steel Host. The two Formations have a very similar composition—the new one has an Enginseer tax instead of the Hydra tax of its predecessor. But while the good old Steel Host passed around Preferred Enemy, the new Armoured Company passes around BS4.

This makes your choice of tank Formation very simple:

  • If you want to fire blasts, take the Steel Host, and enjoy your full rerolls thanks to the broken Blast/Preferred Enemy interaction
  • If you want to fire bullets, take the Armoured Company, and enjoy better dakka
In practice, I would now build a Steel Host with Executioners and Eradicators, and an Armoured Company with Exterminators and Punishers. Pick your poison.

One interesting feature of this new Formation is that its Enginseer generates a 6" bubble of 'venerable', which could actually be quite good when deploying against Pods; while it won't help against Grav (that's what Void Shields are for!) it will save you from Melta, and force your opponents to honestly grind through all your HP instead of scamming Explosions for First Blood.



Bananarama Division

Remember back in late 3rd Ed, when the Seer Council was special? I do. These days, it seems like every arse-clown in the 41st Millennium is part of a super-secret exclusive wizard club.

The Psykana Division comprises a single Primaris, three Wyrdvane squads, and between one and three Commissars (you always want three). It has a page of rules to try and pre-empt dicks from breaking the game, but here is the short version:

  • The Primaris gets +1 Mastery Level per five Wyrdvanes within 12"
  • The Primaris knows all the powers known by Wyrdvanes within 12"
  • The Wyrdvanes cast on 2+ if they have a Commissar
  • If you fail or Perils with Wyrdvanes, remove some models (you should have lots anyway)
Before you get too excited about a ML8 Primaris, remember that he is still only casting on a 4+, so he is really just a Warp Charge battery for your Wyrdvanes.

Now if you max out this Formation, and keep them within a 12" grouping, then they generate 11 WC and include three copies of Summoning with 2+ casting. So yeah, go buy some Daemons.

Multiple Baneblades

I guess this is because they're not going to publish Apocalypse-only supplements anymore?

Polishing teh Emprah's Spear

Never run out of Fast Attack slots in your Combined Arms Detachment again!

If you want to run three Vendettas, and still have slots for Hellhounds or Vultures, than this is the Formation for you. Most of its special rules don't really matter. I guess you could also go cheap and take a trio of Valkyries to cart around Skitarii or a Culexus Assassin.

Warlord Traits

Stick to Strategic or vanilla Astra Militarum. The new table just reprints a couple of good ones from the codex, and mixes in some terribad new ones.

Heirlooms of Cadia

Other than the aforementioned pimp-cane of Ld11 Orders, the only Relic of note is Kabe's Herald, a 20 pts upgrade for a Tank Commander that allows his Tank Orders to affect all Russes within 12". This seems a lot better than it really is, since Split Fire only matters if you're not running your Russes solo (why?), or if you wanted to pop everyone's smoke at the same time (why?), or perhaps wanted to skip shooting with all your Russes to go slightly faster (really, why?).


TL;DR: The Artillery Company is awesomesauce. Everything else is inferior to a Combined Arms Detachment. Objective Secured matters!!!


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