Tuesday 19 April 2016

Angels of Death Codex Review- Part 2: Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists and Black Templars

Welcome to the second part of my review of the new Angels of Death codex supplement. Part 1 looked at the new Psychic powers that were released in the book, part 2 will look at some of the new rules, Relics and formations for the Imperial Fists (plus their successor chapters).

As siege specialists, a lot of the new rules and wargear for the Sons of Dorn focus on maximising the damage output on buildings.
The Chapter Tactics for the Imperial Fists are Bolter Drill and Seige Masters.
Bolter drill allows models in the army to re-roll to hit rolls of a 1 when using bolter weapons such as boltguns, bolt pistols, storm bolters, etc. It also includes Sternguard special issue ammunition. This is a nice chapter tactic for slightly improving the accuracy of your army, assuming you take lots of tactical squads and other bolter-armed units. It will come in very handy for the Sternguard using Vengeance rounds to help reduce the chance of them killing themselves with Gets Hot rolls.
Seige Masters allows Imperial Fists to re-roll armour penetration rolls against buildings and adds +1 to rolls on the building damage tables. Devastators and Centurion Devastators also gain the Tank Hunters rule. The bonus for building damage is nice, but I so rarely see buildings and fortifications being used in my local gaming club, so not sure how much use it would be. Gaining Tank hunter on devastators is a great bonus, ensuring that you will be able to damage enemy vehicles. It will also prove useful for Centurions armed with lascannons and missile launchers.
A new rule introduced in the Angels of Death is Centurion Warsuits. This allows you to take Centurion Devastators as elites and Centurion assault squads as fast attack. This could prove useful for freeing up elites slots for more Sternguard or Terminators, but in most cases you will probably want the free heavy support or fast attack slots. In theory, you could use this to take 6 units of Grav cannon Centurions, but good luck with your new life with no friends.

The Imperial Fists now gain access to their own warlord trait table.
SEIGE LORD- Warlord and his unit add 1 to the roll when rolling on the Building Damage table. This means you will be adding 2 to your building damage table rolls for your warlord when you factor in the chapter tactics. This could be quite situational and you won't get any use if your opponent has no buildings to target.
TENACIOUS OPPONENT- Warlord gains It Will Not Die. A nice bonus to help keep your warlord alive (if you ever remember to roll for it, which I never do).
WISE COMMANDER- You get +1/-1 to reserve rolls while your warlord is alive (must chose before you roll). A nice buff to your army if you have reserves. Will help your units to show up early or possibly delay them until later in the game.
INDOMITABLE- If you warlord and his unit are stationary in the movement phase, they gain Fearless and Counter Attack until the start of their next turn. Assuming you are running a shooting heavy list with your Imperial Fists, this will be nice bonus for your warlord and his unit if they are not moving to shoot.
ARCHITECT OF WAR- If the warlord is embarked in a building, all damage rolls against the building suffer -1 to the damage table roll. Again, a nice bonus if your army fields fortifications.
FLEET COMMANDER- Your warlord gains the orbital strike ability (the same that Chapter Masters have access to). Orbital strike can be very powerful if you can get it to hit the target. The strength of 10 will instant kill most units in the game, but the ability is one use only.
The Imperial Fists now have access to a decent set of warlord traits. Nothing stands out as must have or too overpowered. I would probably hope for Tenacious Opponent or Fleet Commander. As is suitable to their background, there are a couple of traits that give bonuses or penalties to damaging buildings for yourself and your opponent, respectively.
The Imperial Fists have access to their own Relics to use on characters that can normally take relics.
The Angel of Sacrifice
This is a Crozius Arcanum that gains the "Only in Death" special rule. This means that if the bearer is slain in combat, he get to make all his attacks and is only removed as a casualty once they have been made. This allows him to attack even if he is slain at a higher initiative step or by overwatch fire. This is a nice bonus for your Chaplain and a pretty cheap Relic. Might be worth taking if you have the points left to spend.
The Banner of Staganda
The bearer gains Counter attack and Crusader. All Imperial Fists within 12" get to re-roll failed morale and pinning tests. Counter attack is always useful in a unit, giving you additional attacks when you are charged. Crusader is useful for ensuring that you wipe out your opponent in a sweeping advance or to escape from a combat. The run re-roll is quite nice too for when you need some extra movement.
The Bones of Osrak
Gives a Librarian one extra warp charge and allows the re-roll of failed psychic tests. I like this Relic. For the price of a power fist, you get to re-roll your failed psychic tests. You cannot re-roll selected dice like the Eldar can, but it should help you out of those situations where you throw 4 dice at a warp charge 1 power and fail to manifest any of your dice.

The Eye of Hypnoth
This Relic reduces the cover save of a building or unit by 1 (not cumulative with Auspex). If a building is targeted, the armour value of the building is reduced by one for that shooting phase. Not a huge fan of this Relic, its very situational for buildings, which Imperial Fists already have many bonuses to deal with. An Auspex is a third of the cost and has much of the same abilities.

The Spartean
An Ignores Cover, master-crafted bolt pistol. Not too bad for the cost of some meltabombs, but I would probably just go for the meltabombs if I had the points to spare.

Not too many great relics for Imperial Fists. The Bones of Osnark seems to be the winner for me, but there is nothing one the power level of the Hunter's Eye.

The Imperial Fists gain their own 6 tactical objectives to replace 11-16 in the standard deck.

INDOMITABLE DEFENCE- Choose three objective markers. If you control any of them at the end of any of your following turns, you score the points. You get more points for controlling two or three of the objectives chosen. This is an interesting one. You cannot score it the turn you draw it, but can potentially score 6 points for controlling all three objectives. It depends on your play style if you will like this card, whether you try to score as quickly as possible and cycle through the cards or hold on to them for longer for the potential of more points.

MAN THE WALLS- Score if one of your units is embarked in a building or fired a gun emplacement. Again, quite situational as to whether you have any of these in your army.

DISCIPLINED FIREPOWER- Choose a number between 1 and 3. Score this many points if you destroy this number of enemy units from shooting. This card forces you to discard it at the end of the turn if you don't score it. This is a nice one to get early in the game where you have more firepower and the potential to kill more enemy units. You also get to choose how much risk you take for an equal reward in points.

CHAMPION OF DORN- Issue or fight in a challenge. Easy enough to do with so many sergeants in a space marine army.

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOUR- Score a point if one of your units is destroyed when you have this card (discard if you fail a morale check). This is another really interesting one. Being rewarded for the loss of one of your units is quite unusual and may give your opponent pause to take out easy targets in a close game.

BREACH THEIR DEFENCES- Score points for destroying enemy buildings or gun emplacements. Again, heavily reliant on your opponent having or controlling buildings.

A decent set of tactical objectives with some interesting new cards and twists that are not seen in the regular deck or army specific decks. The new rules seem to heavily favour taking a fortification or fighting on a building-heavy table.

The Imperial Fists have access to a new "Gladius-type" strike force that is an interesting change from the normal formation set up.

The command benefits for the formation are:
DORN'S LEGACY- All units have stubborn while the warlord is alive. A nice bonus for your army that will help keep them in the fight in combat.

SUPERIOR BOLTER DRILL- Models in the detachment get re-rolls to hit for bolter weapons (not just to hit rolls of a 1 as normal for the chapter tactics). This is a great bonus, pretty much army wide Prescience for many of your units. If you are taking a lot of tactical squads, this should severely improve your damage output.

DEMOLITIONS EXPERTISE- Models add +1 to armour penetration rolls against buildings. Any buildings in the enemy army should be in severe trouble when this is coupled with the Imperial Fist chapter tactics and some of their warlord traits.

The Sternhammer strike force is also quite unusual in its construction. Most of the other formations are made up of 1-2 Core choices, 1+ auxiliary choices and 0 to 2 or 3 Command choices. The Sternhammer, however, consists of 1+ Core, 1-10 Auxiliary per core and 0-1 Command per core. This means you will have to take a minimum of 2 Auxiliary choices if you take 2 Core choices.

The Core choices consist of either a Battle Demi-Company or Centurion Seigebreaker Cohort. You will probably want to take at least one battle demi-company to get benefits from the Superior Bolter Drill.

What is also unusual about the formation is the Auxiliary choices. As well as the choices you may expect such as Storm Wing, 1st Company Task Force, 10th Company Task Force, etc, it also includes the options to take single squads of Devastators, Centurions, Vindicators, Thunderfire Cannons and Dreadnoughts. I like this option and hope it may become more common in new formations. It allows you to build up your army without being forced to take multiple same units or units that you don't want.

Both successor chapters to the Imperial Fists get their own sets of warlord traits. For the crimson fists, these are:

PAIN IS FOR LESSER WARRIORS- Warlord has Feel no Pain. A nice bonus to keep your warlord alive.

TENACIOUS DEFENDER- Warlord and his unit have Counter attack and Stubborn when in range of an objective. With most missions being objective-based, this is a really nice bonus for making sure that you have the best chance of holding them.

RYNN'S WORLD VETERAN- Warlord and his unit have Preferred Enemy and Hatred for Orks. A bonus against an Ork army, but very situational. Useless if you are not playing Orks.

EXPERT INSTRUCTOR- A model can use your warlord's ballistic skill if he does not shoot or run. A decent bonus for ensuring that a special weapon will hit with your warlord's (usually) higher ballistic skill.

REFUSE TO DIE- Warlord has Eternal Warrior. Another great bonus for keeping your warlord alive.

SCION OF DORN- Warlord and all units within 12" are Fearless. A great warlord trait for ensuring that your army stays in the fight.

A pretty decent set of warlord traits all round, much better than those of the Imperial Fists I feel. The only one I would not be happy with is Rynn's world veteran, unless I was playing Orks that is.

The Black Templars warlord traits are as follows:

MASTER SWORDSMAN- Warlord gets +1WS and +1A. Normally these types of bonuses only apply in challenges, so its nice to have them all the time.

FURIOUS INDIGNATION- If the warlord's unit fails a morale check in the shooting phase, they move 2D6" towards the nearest enemy unit. A nice throwback to the older rules for the Black Templars. Will help ensure your unit gets into close range or combat faster, or could help them to be charged.

ABHOR THE WITCH- Warlord has Hatred and Preferred Enemy for psykers. Great for taking on enemy psykers, but again, dependent on your opponent having some in their army.

HONOUR DEMANDS COMBAT- Warlord and his unit can re-roll failed charges. Great if you have a combat Warlord and tooled up command squad for ensuring that they get into combat.

OATHKEEPER- Warlord is fearless. Gets to re-roll to hit rolls in a challenge. I like this one. Fearless is always useful in a warlord.

UNYIELDING DETERMINATION- Warlord and all friendly units within 12" re-roll failed Morale, Pinning and Fear tests (even though they know no fear). A really good bonus for your warlord, helping your army stay in the fight.

Another great set of warlord traits. They seem to be geared towards having your warlord and his unit being tooled up for combat.

So that summarises the new rules for the Imperial Fists as well as their successor chapters. I hope you find it useful. The next parts will look at the rules for the other Chapters available.

Part 1- New Psychic Powers
Part 2- Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists and Black Templars


  1. What do you think to the sternhammer force mate? I was a little underwhelmed to be honest, I know fists have a reputation for siegecraft but as you say, you really don't see building around too much.

    Incidentally I think the grav centurions would also benefit from the tank hunter rule, they could then reroll anything that wasn't a 6!

    1. I don't think the Sternhammer force is worth it. I've never even seen assault Centurions on the table or used them myself. For a dedicated assault unit, they seem too slow without putting them in a transport or drop pod (which the Sternhammer does not allow). Maybe a unit in your gun line would be a good counter deterrent, but with their slow speed they could be easily avoided.

      I didn't include grav centurions as they already get a re-roll from the grav amp, so wouldn't be able to use the Tank Hunter re-roll too.

    2. I wouldn't touch assault centurions with a barge pole personally, for the reasons you've stated.

      Of course you're right about grav centurions, I always used the lascannon variant so completely forgot about the grav amp re-roll!

      I guess the thing with the sternhammer is you can keep objective secured from the demi-company rules, but you then add in re-rolls on all your bolter shots instead of enacting the doctrines. For me, that's actually a tricky choice, and I think I'll end up using the Sternhammer simply for that reason. Of course, what I'll probably actually do is switch to using Raven Guard Tactics and make the Dusk Knights a Raven Guard successor since their stuff is awesomeness personified!

    3. Agree...assault cents are just utterly awful compared to the ridiculous power of grav centurions. Heck grav centurions are the sole reason about 50% of armies at tournaments bring void shields now! (grav can't hurt a void shield, something important to remember when building a list).

      I was really disappointed that GW didn't take the short amount of time required to just do a Black templar decurion or throw in a few relics. Come on guys, they are one of the most popular factions!

    4. I agree, considering they had their own unique codex and various supplements over the years, it is surprising that they didn't get more effort.

    5. Something I'm going to pick up on in my review of the book is that actually none of the chapters got a significant amount of attention!

      White Scars and Raven Guard are just ports across from Kauyon.
      Imperial Fists, Iron Hands and Salamanders all got detachments, yes, but no original formations, just the inclusion of existing formations as core choices etc, 2-3 command benefits to go with them and the inclusion of existing units as extra choices in the auxiliary elements. Imperial Fists and Iron Hands relics etc have simply been ported across from their respective supplements and the anvil strike force works in the same way. The only really original stuff in the book is the psychic powers, even the missions at the back look familiar to me (I have both altar of war dataslates they released ages ago).

    6. Assault Centurions, coupled with the new psychic powers, are going to melt some face ala Wulfen. The ability to move these slow moving assaulters around the battlefield is going to transform how you use them.

      I think right now, Assault centurions are suddenly viable

    7. I'm just holding my breath till the powers make it through the ITC rulings. Then we'll see what survives! I doubt the terrain moving power will make it. The swapping places one is also absurdly insane!!!! God it makes the entire ork codex seem like utter and complete crap.

    8. I'm right there with you Greg. Orks used to be one of my favourite armies and they could be quite competitive. Now I just despair.

  2. Good write up. Shame that there are no templar formations included though. They seem to be the only chapter really lacking in dedicated formations now.
    On a side note, even if the devestator centurions didn't have a grav amp, they still would not benefit from the tank hunters as they do not roll for armour penetration with grav.

    1. I'm a bit torn on this. I am sure the spirit of the rule is that the roll is an armour penetration roll. It was the same wording that led people to try and not allow cover saves or vehicle saves against grav weapons as they are technically not armour penetration rolls.

    2. It would be the same kind of mechanic as haywire. You aren't rolling for a penetration. You are effectively rolling on an table to see if you damage the vehicle. If you are rolling for armour penetration. Where is the vehicle AV taken into consideration?

  3. Personally I like the sternhammer, gives the fists a fluffy feel but still adds to their strengths.

    I like the inclusion of the devistator aux formation, it enables me to port my FOC across to the new formation. I'm looking forward to actually getting my fists successor chapter on to the table and trying this out.

  4. I just wish the SternHammer had included a Fortification option. With all the stuff they've got based on Buildings, it seems like it would fit. It's also a general disappointment of mine, that none of the Decurion-class Detachments include an option for a Fort.

    Also, if you did take the 6 Squads of Dev Cents, you'd still have some friends. It's just that they'd all play Orks or Daemons ;)

    I'm actually seriously considering running the SternHammer as a Counts As for my Iron Warriors. Way better and fluffier than anything they've got as actual IW options.

    1. Good catch WestRider. I never even noticed that it didn't include any fortification options!

  5. I play crimson fists, and was wondering what the consensus is on whether the imperial Fists special rules apply to the successor chapters too? And the command formation in Sternhammer, it says you have to take Lysander or a basic commander, but could I run Pedro instead?

    1. According to Codex Space Marines, you could use the Imperial Fists chapter tactics for the Crimson Fists as they are a successor chapter. I'm not sure about the Relics and Sternhammer as these specify the Imperial Fists chapter. I'm sure most opponents wouldn't mind you using them if you asked.