Friday 13 November 2015

New White Scars Rules Review: Part 1- Warlord Traits and Relics

I recently purchased the new 40k expansion War Zone Damocles: Kauyon. I'm looking forward to reading through the story and taking a look at the new missions, but my main focus for buying the book was to access the brand new rules for the White Scars.
I really like my White Scars army, they play great on the table and it is really easy to put together a thematic force that is still very powerful on the table. I thought I would take the time to review the new rules that have been released for them.  

Part 1 will look at the Warlord Traits, Relics and new Maelstrom cards for the Sons of Khan. Part 2 will look at the new formations available for the White Scars (and other chapters).
The Chapter Tactics for the White Scars remain unchanged in the new rules. Considering they are one of the best available in the current Space Marine Codex (at least, in my humble opinion), this is a good thing.
So, without further ado, lets get on to the review.
White Scars armies now have access to their very own warlord traits table that they can roll on instead of the Space Marine table (or Rulebook ones).

1. Master Rider
Grants your warlord +1 to his Jink save if on a bike (if not, you get 2 instead).
A really useful trait, giving your Warlord a 2+ Jink save (no longer just for the Ravenwing). A tooled up warlord with Artificer Armour, Shield Eternal and this trait will be a tough nut to crack in an army, able to tank most wounds and keep going.
2. Deadly Ambush
Get +1 or -1 to reserve rolls when your Warlord is on the table or still in reserve.
A very useful trait for ensuring that any reserves arrive on time or delaying them later in the game for some objective grabbing. Shame it cannot be combined with Khan's scouting ability to give you Outflankers that arrive very quickly on the board, so only useful for Outflanking Scouts or Scout bikes. Nevertheless, reserve manipulation is normally pretty great in the game, but there are better ones on the table.

3. Hunter's Instincts
Gives your warlord Monster Hunter and Tank Hunter.
Again, a very handy trait to have. Your warlord will confer these to a unit, so your grav gun command squad will be able to re-roll to wound rolls against vehicles or monstrous creatures (Wraithknights, Imperial Knights and Riptides beware).
4. Hammer of Khan
Gives your warlord Hammer of Wrath or D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks if mounted on a bike.
Hammer of Wrath attacks are useful on a bike and the increased strength of White Scars Hammer of Wrath attacks are a nice bonus, but I think there are much better traits on the table that you want over this one.
5. Unrivalled Hunter
In a challenge, your warlord gains +1S and +1A, plus getting re-rolls to hit if in a challenge with the enemy warlord.
A nice thematic trait for the Scars, focusing on cutting off the head of the enemy army. The additional attack is the real bonus here, as I imagine most combat Warlords will be armed with a thunder hammer or power fist (or one of the new Relics), so will already be at least strength 8. It could be useful when combined with Furious Charge to give your warlord strength 10 and a good chance of getting Instant Death against most other characters (outside of Wraithlords and Nurgle Chaos Lords on a bike).
Can only be used in a challenge, which will help against other combat orientated characters or for slaying additional rank and file models if facing a unit sergeant with the extra attack.
6. Merciless Warrior
Your warlord and friendly Scars units within 12" can re-roll Sweeping Advance results.
A decent ability, but with "And they shall know no fear" and the high number of Fearless or Stubborn units in a competitive list, I wouldn't count on using it too often. Will be very useful for killing Necron Decurions by ensuring that you catch them and wipe them out if you beat them in combat. Alternatively, it is useful for ensuring that your prey escapes, freeing you up for the next shooting phase (assuming it is your turn next) or making sure that you remain locked in combat to hide from the enemy's firepower.
Some nice themed warlord traits available for your White Scars warlord. What is unusual to me is that I think they get worse the higher you roll. To me, the stand outs are Master Rider and Hunter's Instincts for the bonuses they provide to your Warlord's durability and bonuses to any unit he is leading, respectively.
However, I'm not sure that taking a Warlord with one of these traits is preferable to taking Khan in the first place. The ability to give bikes and selected transports Scouts can be game changing in certain missions (allowing you to quickly close with the enemy or Outflank) and he still has a pretty decent warlord trait to go with it.

Next up are the big winners in the new White Scars rules, the new Relics that can be taken. I think that they are all very good, with one in particular being incredibly powerful.
Banner of the Eagle
A banner that gives all units within 12" Fleet and Furious Charge.
For not much more than the price of a power fist, I think this banner provides some amazing bonuses to a bike heavy army. The ability to re-roll charge distances is the main bonus of this banner (as White Scars already get to re-roll run moves), as well as providing a strength bonus to charging units.
I envision this being carried on a grav gun command squad, who will charge in and get S5 Hammer of Wrath attacks plus three S5 attacks each on the first turn of combat. Strength 5 attacks make a difference in combat, especially when facing another bike army, improving your chances of wounding and winning a combat.
Now I just need to decide how I am going to model a biker carrying a standard.
Glaive of Vengence
A melee weapon that provides +3S, AP2 on the charge and +1S, AP3 every other time. Plus it is master-crafted.
I really like this Relic. Again, for not much more than a power fist, you can have a Chapter Master that will strike at strength 7, AP 2 at Initiative on the charge (or S8 if you combine with the Banner of the Eagle). As it is not a specialist weapon, he will get a bonus for having a pistol (unless you take him with a storm shield), so will get 6 attacks on the charge. With stats like that, he should easily tear through marines and terminators in the first round of combat. Even in subsequent rounds, a S5, AP3 power weapon will cause a lot of opponents hassle.
Hunter's Eye
Gives the bearer +1 BS and Ignores Cover. Will confer Ignores Cover to a unit the bearer joins.
This is the one. This is the one that will have your opponent tearing his hair out and screaming about how broken the White Scars are.
For a bit more than the cost of a power weapon, you gain the ability to provide Ignores Cover to practically any unit in your army. Imagine the damage output of a unit of Grav Centurions or a Grav Gun command squad that have Ignores cover. I envision this Relic on a bike mounted Librarian, joining a grav gun Command Squad with Khan or a tooled up Chapter Master. Twelve grav gun shots, re-rolling to hit (thanks to Prescience) with Ignores Cover will make a mess of most units in the game. The +1 BS is a nice bonus to the Librarian too, ensuring that you hit more often with Psychic Shriek (I don't think you should have to roll to hit with Witchfire powers after you cast them, but that is just my opinion).
Mantle of the Stormseer
For Librarian's only, this gives the psyker Adamantium Will and the Psychic Maelstrom power from the Telekinesis deck (that doesn't affect psychic focus).
A great Relic for your Librarian if you are facing a psychic heavy force. Having Adamantium will and a Librarian in your unit will grant you a 4+ Deny the Witch roll, great for stopping your bikers being killed by Psychic Shrieking.
The additional power is a nice bonus, giving you a S10, AP1 large, barrage blast to use. However, at warp charge 3 you may struggle to use it in many games unless you have a great roll on the psychic phase or are using a Librarius Conclave. If you do manage to cast it though, you will make a mess of most enemy units (especially when combined with Hunter's Eye).
Scimitar of the Great Khan
A master-crafter power weapon that gives +1S, AP3 and +3WS in a challenge.
A decent Relic, but I prefer the Glaive of Vengeance for the additional strength and AP bonus on the charge. The WS bonus in a challenge is useful, but you will generally be hitting most characters on a 3+ or 4+ anyway, so I'm not sure its such a huge bonus (unless it forces your opponent to hit you on 5's).
Wrath of the Heavens
A bike that can move 18" when turbo-boosting and can move as a Jetbike.
For only a few points more than a standard Space Marine bike, this Relic is useful enough if you have the points to spare. It may come in handy occasionally for some late game objective grabbing or jumping over enemy units, but I generally prefer to keep my characters in a unit to improve their survivability, so will be unable to utilise the bike to full effect.
Overall, I think that the White Scars have access to a really good set of Relics. The Banner, Glaive and Mantle are very good and I can see me using them in a lot of lists to boost the effectiveness of my army. The Hunter's eye is downright amazing for the cost and I see it as an auto-include in any competitive White Scars list.
The Scimitar and Jetbike are decent enough, but I can't see me taking them much, if ever.
Some of the White Scars Relics are better than the standard Space Marines Relics, but I don't think you can take both on the same model (though you can take Relics from both lists in an army). That means no tooled up Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal, Hunter's Eye and Glaive of Vengeance biking around the table any time soon.

The White Scars are the latest army to get their own special maelstrom cards. These cards replace cards 11-16 in the current maelstrom deck and provide more thematic objectives for the White Scars.
Rapid Deployment
Score a nominated objective at least 18" away from one of your units (or the furthest away one if this is not possible).
For a highly mobile army such as the White Scars, this card should be easy enough to achieve if the objective is not currently held by the enemy using bike units or by putting a drop pod next to it.
If it is held, you will either need to assault the unit and clear them from the objective or have two units working in tandem; one to shoot the enemy off the objective, the other to turbo-boost and grab it once cleared. Either that, or you will need a fast objective secured unit to grab it from the enemy (assuming they are not also objective secured).
Run them Down
Destroy an enemy unit in a sweeping advance.
I think this one will be trickier to achieve. Given the number of Fearless and Stubborn units out there, you are not always guaranteed to have an enemy unit break from combat. Also, apart from a Command squad or when led by an Independent character, I have not found Bike squads to be terribly effective in combat most of the time.
Mounted Assault
Destroy an enemy unit with a unit of bikers, bonus points for destroying multiple units.
This should be relatively easy to achieve early on in the game, given the number of White Scars bikers you will be fielding (if you are not fielding lots of bikers, why are you playing White Scars?!?). You may even be able to get the bonus points by assaulting easy to kill units, such as vehicles with poor rear armour.
Feigned Retreat
Hit and Run from a combat.
Again, should be relatively easy to achieve given that all White Scars units have Hit and Run, though if my Hit and Run rolls are any indication, this may be a bit more difficult than expected. This will be improved with the addition of some of the formation special rules that I will be covering later.
The Clean Kill
Kill an enemy model with at least 3 wounds left at the start of the turn in the assault phase.
I think this one will be a trickier to achieve in the game. First off, you will either need to be assaulting a powerful character or monstrous creature in order to fulfil the wound requirements. Second, you will need to ensure that you can take the three wounds, meaning you will probably be wanting to use a tooled up Chapter Master or some other rock hard character to be able to achieve this, normal units probably won't have the volume of attacks or stats required to take someone like this on. Some of the Relics and warlord traits may help you achieve this, but it may be equally risky to your own character or warlord to achieve.
Claim the Head
Kill and enemy character in a challenge. Bonus points if you slay the enemy warlord in a challenge and more points if you do it with your warlord.
In some circumstances, this will be easy to do; such as your warlord taking on a lowly sergeant-type model (assuming they accept the challenge). Chances of getting the bonus points depends on your own Warlord and how tough the enemy warlord is (great if you are taking on a guard commander), but slaying the enemy warlord with your own warlord will give you a massive amount of maelstrom points that could potentially be game winning.
The new rules provide a nice set of alternative maelstrom cards, some of which may be quite easy to score. I'm not sure how often I would use them, as they replace Seize objective cards in the deck. With such a highly mobile force as the White Scars, I always prefer to go after the objectives as I can generally get to them quickly than hope to get lucky with destroying enemy units or killing characters in a challenge.
That's the first part of my review finished. Let me know if you disagree with me or have spotted some tactics for different Relics and Warlord Traits that I had not considered.
Part 2 of the review will deal with the new Formations available to the White Scars.


  1. Interesting - if you're looking for a banner on a bike - look no further

    Granted, that's a sculpted banner I nicked from the 25th Anniversary miniature GW produced, but the standard marine one from the command squad should work just as well.

  2. Another option would be to get a RavenWing Command Squad banner from somewhere. Plenty of people run Black Knights/Command Squads in large enough numbers to have one left over. Then it's just some filing and filling to get the DA-specific stuff off.

    The Hunter's Eye really annoys me. The Helm of Durfast was already good, and now this costs exactly the same, but spreads the Ignores Cover to the rest of the Unit :P

    Scimitar of the Great Khan, I can only really see on a Captain/Chapter Master, where it's taking him to WS9 and forcing WS4 dudes to hit him on 5s. But it's probably still better to just take The Shield Eternal or the Glaive of Vengeance.

    The problem I see with the Feigned Retreat Objective is that you have to Hit & Run in your own Turn, which is generally not the best time. Not always, but there are definitely going to be times when that's just leaving you open to getting shot and charged yourself.

    1. Oh, also: The Clean Kill Objective is pretty variable. Some Armies have common stuff that can give that up really easily, like Chaos Spawn, Nurglings, Rippers, or Canoptek Scarabs. Against others, it can be literally impossible.

    2. Unfortunately, I had a spare Ravenwing banner, but sold it on ebay a couple of months ago. It would have been perfect, might see if anyone at the club has a spare.

      I agree, some of the objective cards may be hard to get. I think I would prefer the seize objective cards from the normal deck.