So the second Chapter to get love from the recent Tau release is none other than the Whitescars. As I indicated with the Raven Guard review, I'm very happy they're finally giving more flavour to the more distinct Chapters as some of them, despite being codex Chapters, are that distinct from the Ultramarines that they deserve some more rules to make them distinct. That leaves Templars with a few unique unit and Warlord traits, Crimson Fists the same, Imperial Fists with the Sentinels of Terra book, Iron Hands with Clan Raukaan, Ultramarines with a few unique formations and Salamanders with some unique missions. While it would be great for all of the above to get more GW love (a campaign box with unique Iron Hands Character please) I don't think I'll hold my breath. Still, the hints for the next Tau campaign book makes it look like Farsight, Guard, Admech and SOB (PLEASE) may get some attention in the not too distant future. Anyway, I digress. On with the show.
So the main event here is the Scarblade Strike Force, which gives us the framework to build a unique Whitescars army. The restrictions here are 1-2 core choices, 1+ auxillary and 0-3 Command. I will mark the new formations with an asterisk then discuss them below.
Stormlance battle demi-company*
Strike force command.
Reclusiam command squad.
Armoured task force.
1st Company task force
10th Company task force
Strike Force Ultra
Land Raider spearhead
Anti-air defence force
So similar principle to the Raven Guard but different execution. It still includes some of the options that codex marines get, although new ones enhance and replace others. There are more SM choices and less new ones here than with Raven Guard. Command benefits are as follows:
Lightning assault - Reroll initiative tests for hit and run.
Ride the wind - Flat-out / turbo boost gain +1D6", unless fast or flyer which gains +2D6".
Maximum impact - If you charge an enemy from 8"+ away, the unit gains hammer of wrath. If it already has hammer of wrath it can re-roll to wound with HoW.
So by potentially losing free transports, elements of objective secured and doctrines, you get an extremely fast and hard hitting force. Doesn't quite sell on the face of things but we need to consider the individual formations which will likely make up the core of the themed army also.
Comprising one Captain/Chaplain/Special character, 0-1 command squads, 3 tactical squads, 1 devastator and one of the following: assault/bike/attack bike/land speeder. The units MUST take a rhino or razorback if they are not jump pack or bike equipped. The two rules they benefit from are clear and sweep, which allows you to re-roll failed shooting to-hit-rolls if the enemy unit controls an objective, and mobile firebase. The latter is pretty powerful as it allows several things. Firstly, jump pack / bike units can move 2D6 after shooting, sacrificing the ability to charge for a Tau/Eldar style redeploy. Infantry can also do a similar trick, being able to re-embark a transport after shooting (even if they only got out this turn). Pretty powerful stuff allowing you to increase the survivability of your highly mobile units. In conjunction, the two rules enable you to strike enemy objective while being able to position yourself in such a way to minimise retaliation.
Consisting of 1 captain, an optional Chaplain (either one of which can be a special character), an optional command squad, 2-5 bike squads, 1-3 attack bike squads and 1-3 scout bike squads, this is the core formation I will personally be running. Everyone must be on bikes. Different to the Stormlance, it focusses more on specific targets, meaning you pick an enemy HQ to be a primary target and then two other units to be the secondary and tertiary targets throughout the game. You start with the primary target, and all units in the formation can reroll to hit and wound against it plus gain furious charge! Once eliminated, you move on to the secondary and so forth. In addition to the above 'hunters prey' rule, you get thunderous assault, granting you two hammer of wrath attacks per model if there are 5+ models in your unit. A fun little formation that will help you identify and eliminate priority targets.
This formation requires you to take 1-3 units of scouts (in Storms) and 1-3 units of land speeders. The scouts (but not storms) get objective secured and all storms within 6" of a land speeder get +1 to their jink saves thanks to outrider support. Lastly, the scouts can disembark from their storms having moved 12". A great little unit allowing you to zip around grabbing objectives with more range and durability than normal.
This formation mixes 1-3 land speeder units with 2 units from bikes, attack bikes and scout bikes, and reminds me a bit of how the Ravenwing operate. The strategic spearhead rule allows you to pick one of the following to use each shooting phase:
- Focussed supression - if 2+ units shoot at the same enemy unit it must take a pinning test. For evey unit above 2 that fired you apply a -2 modifier to the pinning test.
- Harassing fire - any enemy unit suffering 1+ wounds must take a Ld test - if failed they can choose to either go to ground or be provoked, in which case they must move towards the nearest unit from this formation next phase.
Both quirky little rules which allow you to either pin down or dig out enemy units from cover. Probably not as strong as the perks from the larger formations though.
1. Master rider - +1 to jink saves if Warlord is bike mounted (if not counts as 2.)
2. Deadly ambush - +/-1 to reserve rolls while Warlord on field / in reserve.
3. Hunters instincts - Gains monster / tank hunter.
4. Hammer of the Khan - Has hammer of wrath, if already has then gets D3 attacks.
5. Unrivalled Hunter - +1 S / A if in a challenge - re-rolls to hit if it's the enemy Warlord.
6. Merciless Warrior - All units can re-roll sweeping advance rolls if within 12" of Warlord.
Relics of Chogoris
The Banner of the Eagle - 30 - Whitescars in 12" have fleet and furious charge.
The Glaive of vengeance - 30 - +3S / AP2 on charge, +1S AP3 if not (master-crafted regardless)
The Hunters eye - 20 - +1BS, grants ignores cover to him and squad (grav command squad!!!!)
Mantle of the Stormseer - 20 - Librarian has admantium will and in addition to other powers gains psychic maelstrom.
Scimitar of the Great Khan - 25 - +1S, AP3, master-crafted - gains +3WS in a challenge.
Wrath of the heavens - 25 - Bike, has 18" turbo-boost and moves like jetbike.
Mission special rules
11 - rapid redeployment - 1VP if claim an objective 18" away.
12 - Run them down - 1VP if sweep an enemy.
13 - mounted assault - 1VP if enemy unit destroyed by bikes (3+ = D3)
14 - Feigned retreat - 1VP if one of your units escapes using hit and run.
15 - Clean Kill - 1VP if a model with 3+ wounds at start of turn killed. (5+ = D3)
16 - Claim the head - 1VP if a character killed in a challenge (D3 if Warlord, D3+3 if your Warlord kills enemy Warlord).
So that about wraps things up. Not quite as much going on as with Raven Guard but a very welcomed set of rules. The mission rules, Warlord traits and relics are, as with Raven Guard, very well suited to both the fluff and the style of play they are trying to encourage. Some of the relics are indeed very nice, with Hunters Eye and the Glaive clearly designed around the Whitescar Captain model. The Detachment is also very fitting for Whitescars and potent in conjunction with the formations, which like with the Raven Guard ones can still be taken for generic marines. Once again a very welcomed addition to the ruleset which I will defintely be using in the future.
That's all for now, my next post will either be the final part of my chapter updates or will involve Heresy......Cheers.