Monday, 11 March 2019

8th Edition Assassins Codex Review

This month's White Dwarf featured updated rules for the Assassins you can field in an Imperium army. This review will look at the new rules for using the Assassins in your army.  

The Assassins can be fielded in any Imperium army, each costing 85 points. You can field them in a Vanguard Detachment, or they can be fielded for the cost of 1CP using a new stratagem called Operative Requisition Sanctioned. In matched play, this costs 1CP and you can choose to field any of the four Assassins, but must pay the reinforcement points for them. 

This is a good stratagem, as you don't need to specify which Assassin you are taking before you use it. For example, you could see your opponent's army and decide which Assassin is best suited to enhance your army during the game. 

Each Assassin has a 4+ invulnerable save and a similar general profile. They have 7" move, BS and WS 2+, strength and toughness 4, 5 or 6 wounds and between 4 and 6 attacks. 

The Assassin cannot be your warlord and can deploy from reserves using the standard rules. 

They also get another stratagem called Priority Threat Neutralised for 1CP. This can be played when an Assassin kills an enemy character. You gain 2CP (or 3CP if it was the enemy warlord). This is a nice way of getting a free command point if you have some left and kill an enemy character. 

Vindicare Assassin
The firepower specialist of the Assassins has gotten better in this new version of the codex. One big boost is that if he remains stationary, he always hits on a 2+ in the shooting phase. This is great for ensuring that he will have a great chance of hitting his target and is a great counter to negative to hit penalties from enemy abilities and stratagems. 

His primary weapon is the Exotus Rifle, which is range 72", Heavy 1, S5, AP-3 and D3 damage. It always wounds infantry on a 2+, giving you good odds of hitting and wounding with his shots. It also ignores invulnerable saves, as well as the Vindicare ignoring cover saves, so you have a good chance of getting through all but the toughest armour with ease. He can also target characters, even if they are not the closest. 

It loses the sniper rifle ability to do mortal wounds on a 6 to wound, but he gains a Head Shot ability which is a big boost to his firepower. If a model is wounded but not killed, roll a D6. On a 3+, the target suffers a mortal wound. If wounded, you roll again and on a 4+, they take another mortal wound, and so on until you fail to wound. 

This gives the Assassin the potential to do up to 7 wounds in a single shooting phase (though you would need to be very lucky with your rolls). This makes him great for taking on weaker characters in the shooting phase to disrupt enemy buffs. 

The Vindicare also gets a couple of new stratagems to use. The first is Double Kill and costs 1CP. This allows the Assassin to fire again at another target. This is great for shooting twice in a single shooting phase and gives him the potential to take out two characters or important enemy infantry models in a single phase. The only downside is that you have to fire at a separate target. If you could target the same model/unit twice, it would help to ensure a kill in a single phase. 

The second is Turbo-Penetrator round for 1CP. This is used when you hit an enemy Vehicle or Monster, and you do D3 mortal wounds on the target (though the Head Shot ability does not apply in this case). This is useful if you are trying to take the last few wounds from an enemy vehicle or monster. It's a nice bonus as he always hits on a 2+, so is great for taking on tricky vehicles such as Aeldari flyers with -3 to hit, or other units with negative modifiers. 

Overall, I think the Vindicare is a solid choice of Assassin. He has the potential to kill one or two enemy characters/infantry models per turn, which is very useful against many of the armies in the game. His rifle range means he should be able to target any units in sight on most boards, so should be able to get a shot each turn he is on the board. 

Callidus Assassin
The sneak operative of the Assassin also gets some nice bonuses. 

The Callidus can deploy from reserves, setting up D6+3" away from any enemy models. With a low enough roll, you can be almost guaranteed a charge from reserves.

The Assassin can also fall back and still shoot and assault without penalty, giving her some mobility in jumping from combat to combat.

She also maintains her Reign of Confusion ability. For the first game turn, each time your opponent uses a stratagem, on a 4+ the stratagem costs an extra CP. This occurs if you have a Callidus in the army, they do not need to be on the table to use it.

She is pretty effective in combat. Her Phase Sword is S4, AP-3 and 2 damage, and does not allow invulnerable saves to be taken. This is great for getting through tough enemy units or characters. With 5 attacks, you can potentially do up to 10 wounds on a unit per turn with the Callidus. She also has poisoned blades, which wounds on a 3+ against non-vehicle units at AP-1. You get an additional attack with the weapon, giving you 6 attacks in total.

The neural shredder is a 9" weapon that is Assault 1. If you hit, roll 3D6. If you equal or beat the target's Ld value, the unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. You should be able to fire this most times when deploying from reserve, unless you roll a 6 for the deployment roll.

She also gets two new stratagems in the codex. Acrobatic costs 1CP and allows the Assassin to advance and still charge. In addition, she is at -1 to hit until the start of the next battle round. This is not going to be of use on the turn you deploy, but could be useful in subsequent turns. The -1 to hit in combat is also a nice boost if you are going up against models with additional penalties to hit, such as those armed with Thunder Hammers.

Supreme Deception costs 2CP and activates the Reign of Confusion ability once more. This can only be used once per game. This gives you the option to diminish your opponent's command points reserves even more, but it is expensive at 2CP for something that may not have any effect.

The Callidus is pretty good in combat against other character models. Her sword ignores invulnerable saves and causes 2 damage per wound, giving you a good chance of taking out most infantry characters in a single round of combat, or at least severely damaging them.

I think she is a strong addition to the army, and has the potential to do some really damage to your opponent's command points, if you use her abilities in the first two turns.

Eversor Assassin
The Eversor Assassin is a close combat monster, with the ability to chew through entire units in a single round of combat if you roll well.

The Eversor gets 6 attacks base, the most of any Assassin. In addition, he gets to charge 3D6" into combat and adds 2 to his attacks in a round in which he charges, taking him up to 8 attacks on the charge. The 3D6 charge gives you very good odds of getting into combat from reserve, especially if you use a re-roll on one of them.

The Eversor comes with a Power Sword, Meltabombs and a Neuro-Gauntlet. The Neuro-Gauntlet is S+1 (taking him to 5), AP-1 and allows you to re-roll failed wound rolls. This is a solid weapon, as you will generally be hitting on a 2+ and wounding on a re-rollable 3+. The AP is low, but against most infantry units, he will be able to cause a fair number of casualties in a single turn.

In addition, he has the Killing Rampage rule. Each time an enemy model is slain in melee, you can make an additional attack against the same unit. This gives the Eversor the potential to do 16 attacks on the charge if you can roll well. Against low toughness models with poor armour saves, such as Astra Militarum infantry squads, Ork Boyz, Aeldari Guardians, etc, you have the potential to seriously harm or wipe out such units in a single round of combat.

He also has some decent shooting ability with his Executioner Pistol. This is a 12", pistol 4 weapon that is S4, AP-1 and re-rolls to wound against Infantry units. Added to his combat prowess, this is great for taking out large numbers of infantry models.

In addition, each time an enemy unit falls back whilst within 1" of the Assassin, you can make an immediate shooting attack as if it were the shooting phase. This will allow you to fire your pistol at the enemy unit, potentially causing more casualties as they fall back.

If the Eversor is killed, roll for each enemy unit within 6". On a 4+, the unit suffers D3 mortal wounds, making killing the Eversor a dangerous prospect to nearby enemy units.

He also gets two new stratagems to use. Stimm Overload costs 2CP and allows the Assassin to fight again in the Fight Phase. After he has fought, he suffers a mortal wound on a D6 roll of 1-3. This is an incredibly strong stratagem to use for the Eversor. On a turn that he charges, this gives you at least 16 attacks, with a potential of up to 32 attacks in a single phase! This could be enough to demolish a number of enemy units in a single phase.

Hypermetabolism costs 1CP and can be used at the start of any phase. Until the end of the phase, the Assassin gets a 4+ save against any wounds taken. A nice stratagem for helping to keep the Eversor alive for longer.

The Eversor Assassin is designed to be a close combat monster against standard infantry models. He has the potential to chew through enemy units in a single fight phase with his bonus 3D6" charge and stratagem allowing him to fight twice. This is a very strong Assassin against armies that specialise in horde infantry, such as Orks or Tyranids.

Culexus Assassin
The anti-psyker Assassin is back to hinder enemy psychics.

The Culexus gets a number of useful abilities to help him out. The first is Abomination, which means he can never be targeted by psychic powers, and any psykers within 18" must subtract 2 from psychic tests and deny the witch tests.
This can be a useful ability, but in my experience, most opponents can keep their psykers out of 18" and still use most powers to full effect. Subtracting 2 means you cannot get a D6 smite attack from psykers, so that is a nice bonus to having the Culexus.

The Culexus also does not allow armour saves for melee attacks, and attacks against him are resolved at WS and BS 6+. This makes it really hard to kill him in combat. I've found the Culexus to be great for holding up tough enemy units, as they struggle to hit and kill him in combat. He is great for tying up melee threats in the enemy army for several turns.

As a Psychic Assassin, he can target enemy Characters that are psykers, and his weapons are designed for harming psykers.

The Animus Speculum is 18", Assault D3 (D6 if there is a psyker within 18"), S5, AP-4 and 1 damage. Pretty good for taking on tough armoured infantry. The Psyk-out grenade is 6", Grenade S3 and S2. Against Psykers or Daemons, each hit roll of 6+ causes 1 mortal wound instead of normal damage.

These can be useful against enemy psykers, but generally won't be killing them unless you roll really well with them.

Soul Horror costs 2CP and is used at the start of the Fight phase. If used, enemy units within 3" of the Culexus must fight last in the Fight phase, even if they charged. If they have an ability that always allows them to strike first, they then fight in the phase as if they do not have the ability.

This has the potential to seriously disrupt enemy charges against the Assassin, or ensure that you get a chance to fight with all your units before your opponent can strike back.

Pariah's Gaze costs 1CP in your shooting phase. Until the end of the phase, the Damage Characteristics of the Culexus' weapons changes to D3. This has the potential to seriously hurt enemy psykers that lack a good invulnerable save. If you roll well for the D6 shots, you can kill an enemy psyker in a single volley with some good rolling.

Even though the Culexus Assassin is designed to cripple enemy psykers, he can be quite easy to avoid on the tabletop in practice. Most psykers that you would want to harm can be screened or have the mobility to avoid the Culexus.
I find him useful for tying up enemy units in combat, as they are only hitting him on a 6+ in most cases, seriously hindering their combat ability. If the unit suffers an negative to hit penalties, they will not actually be able to harm the Assassin, so he can be great for tying up a smash captain in combat in relative safety.

The Assassins have got some nice new bonuses with the new White Dwarf codex. They cna now be easily deployed in any Imperium army, with the new deployment stratagem giving you some great scope for choosing the correct Assassin for each opponent.

They also get some nice stratagems to help them out, really boosting their utility on the battlefield. Before, the Culexus was pretty much my only choice of Assassin, but now, the Vindicare and Eversor are very appealing, depending on your opponent's army.

I look forward to trying them out on the tabletop in the near future. 


  1. Great review! I look forward to trying them out at some point as well. This also gives me more inspiration to paint up the ones I have waiting int he wings...

    1. Thanks Dave! Yeah, they seem really solid now, great with the new stratagems.

  2. Nice review as always. Do these rules now replace any existing ones?

    1. Thanks Mark! I believe they will replace the existing rules. They have pretty much all gotten better in my opinion, so it is no loss over the Index version.

    2. The only downside I saw was on the Culexus, in the change to the wording of Abomination; in the Index, it only affects Enemy Psykers, whereas the WD version affects all Psykers. An important distinction if you were used to running them with your Grey Knights, or alongside your various librarian. If I have to choose between that or the Stratagems and buffs to the other assassins, I know which one I'm picking.

    3. Yeah, that is an important change. Makes having psykers in your own force a lot more risky, as you need to look at deployment and positioning more carefully.

  3. Remember that the Vindicare as part of his Deadshot ability changes his damage profile to D6 when he rolls a nat 6 to wound, putting his potential max damage up to 10. That's all with perfect rolls, but still.

    1. True, I forgot to include that. Gives him a bit more potential to do damage if you can roll that 6 to wound.

  4. Great write up buddy, I have a Vindicare I have used with my wolves a couple of times and always loved the fluff for them, these rules give him a great boost and I look forward to trying him out again soon :)

    1. Yeah, he was a bit mediocre before. You really needed two to have any chance of killing an enemy character. He gets a big boost now with new rules and a good stratagem.

  5. I think 'nice bonus' is an understatement! They've gone from 'pleasant addition to your fluffy army' to 'quite competitive and possibly even under-costed', I reckon. But I'm probably overreacting!

    1. I think they are incredibly strong now. However, the Eversor and Callidus can be quite easy to deal with. They are only T4 models with a 4+ invulnerable save. Weight of fire should deal with them quite easily. The Vindicare and Culexus are certainly trickier, thanks to the negative penalties to hit them.