Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shield of Baal: Exterminatus Review

Over the weekend I finished my read through of the newest addition to the Shield of Baal campaign. Again, the first thing that really stands out to me with the book is the artwork. I didn't note any repeated skull themes, but it was nonetheless very nice images. The take on the Tyranids in this series has been awesome, with a very unnatural and creepy look that fits with the longtime fluff descriptions of them.

Story-wise, slight spoiler alerts ahead.

The story arc, again, did a good job conveying the hopelessness of the defenders. Even with the deus ex machina of the awakening Necrons, the Tyranids are only defeated by an extreme gambit, that still nearly fails.

Overall the fluff was entertaining and accurately reflects the feel of hopelessness for the Imperial forces and their Necron allies throughout.

I was mostly satisfied with the conclusion, though I felt the story line of Corbulo and Captain Aphael of the 2nd Company was left largely in the air, the latter in particular. I may have missed it, but it wasn't clear whether Captain Aphael survived or not.

As for the rules, we get three new detachments, along with several formations and three sets of relics and Warlord Traits for the Blood Angels, Flesh Tearers, and Necrons.

First, the Blood Angels get a Banner that replaces a Company Standard for a Terminator Assault Squad, and is 30 points, which allows friendly Blood Angel units within 12" to reroll Morale and Pinning tests, and grants Preferred Enemy.

Next is an upgrade for a Terminator Sergeant for 5 points that replaces his power sword and gives him Instant Death on a 6 against Monstrous Creatures. Finally is a Psychic Hood called the Executioner's Hood, which makes the bearer immune to Shadows in the Warp.

Warlords chosen from the formation or detachments in Exterminatus can roll on the Archangels Warlord Traits table, which in order grants Fearless; Counter-attack for him and his unit; Re-roll to hit in a challenge; Objective Secured for him and his unit; re-roll failed morale and pinning tests for him and all Blood Angels within 12"; and Preferred Enemy.

The new detachment for the Blood Angels is the Archangels Strike Force, which includes 1-2 HQ and 2-16 Elites from a set list of units, essentially recreating a First Company. The Warlord selected from this detachment can reroll results on the Archangels Warlord Traits. Additionally, reserve rolls for all units held in Deep Strike can be re-rolled and units will only scatter D6".

The first Blood Angel formation is the Archangels Orbital Intervention Force, which consists of 3 Terminator or Terminator Assault Squads. These three units must be held in Deep Strike Reserve and arrive on a single roll. Additionally, they can run and shoot the turn they arrive.

Next is the Archangels Sanguine Wing, which is 2 Vanguard Veteran squads of 10 with Jump Packs and a 10 man squad of Sternguard that ride in a Stormraven. All units in the formation are held in reserve and arrive on a single roll. As a huge bonus, every member of the Vanguard Vet squads can take a power weapon or lightning claw for free, while the Sternguard members get a storm bolter or Combi-weapon for free.

The Archangels Demi-Company is next, consisting of 1 Captain or Chaplain in Terminator Armour (or Karlaen from Deathstorm), 2 Furioso Dreadnoughts, and 5 Squads chosen from Terminators, Assault Terminators, Vanguard Vets, or Sternguard. The formation gets stubborn, the warlord can re-roll on the Archangels warlord table, and failed reserve rolls for units in Deep Strike reserve can be re-rolled, and units only scatter D6" when they arrive.

The Archangels formation is the same as above, but doubled, and you must take a captain and Chaplain. They get the same three benefits, as well as being allowed to begin rolling for reserves on turn 1.

The Blooded Demi-Company is next, consisting of a Captain or Chaplain, a Command Squad (if the captain is taken), 3 Tactical Squads, and Assault Squad, a Devastator Squad, a Dreadnought, and a Furioso Dreadnought if a Chaplain is taken. If the warlord is chosen from this formation, he can re-roll on the Blood Angels warlord Traits. The units in the formation also gains the Red Thirst, which adds 1 to their Initiative the turn they assault.

The Strike Force Mortalis consists of a Chaplain, 3 Death Company Squads, 2 Death Company Dreadnoughts, and a Stormraven. The units in the formation gain the Crusader special rule as well as Fury of the Forlorn, which grants +1 Attack to models in a combat that are outnumbered but do not have the Rampage special rule.

The final Blood Angel formation is Dante's Avenging Host, which has Dante, Mephiston, 1 Librarian, 1 Sanguinary Priest, 1 Unit of Sanguinary Guard, the Blooded Demi-company formation from above, and 3 Stormravens. The Blooded Demi-company must take a Chaplain. All units must begin either in a Stormraven, be equipped with jump packs, or purchase a Drop Pod. All non-vehicle units in the formation gain Objective Secured. The formation also allows for re-rolls for failed reserve rolls for units with the Deep Strike special rule. Units that deep strike scatter only D6".

The Flesh Tearers are next, with three Relics and a set of Warlord Traits of their own to go with a detachment and a couple formations. The first relic, the Bones of Baelsor, is the same cost as a Plasmagun and can be given to any type of dreadnought, which will allow the dreadnought to count Crew Stunned as Crew Shaken, and transfers penetrating hits caused by Tyranid bio-plasma weapons and venom cannon weapons to glancing hits. The Slayer's Wrath is a replacement for a character's Bolter or Bolt Pistol that is a Master Crafted bolter that is poisoned (2+). Finally, the Shield of Cretacia is the cheapest of the three at the cost of a meltabomb; it is a suit of Power Armour (3+ save) that ignores the effects of poisoned weapons.

Flesh Tearers warlord traits confer, in order, Hatred for warlord and unit; Rampage; Hammer of Wrath for warlord and unit; Crusader for warlord and friendly Blood Angels units within 12"; Rage for warlord and unit; and Feel No Pain.

The Flesh Tearers Strike Force Consists of 1-2 HQ, 1-4 Troops, 1-6 Fast Attack, 0-3 Elites and Heavy Support, and 0-1 Fortifications and Lords of War. Units from this detachment gain the Rage special rule on the turn they roll a charge of 10 or more. Additionally, the warlord from this detachment can re-roll his warlord trait when rolling on the Flesh Tearers Warlord table.

The first Flesh Tearers formation is the Flesh Tearers Vanguard Strike Force, which contains 3 Tac Squads, an Assault Squad, a Vanguard Vet squad, and a Furioso Dreadnought. While the Vanguard Vets are alive and on the table, units in the formation ignore the penalty for disordered charges and gain Stubborn. Also, all units gain the Red Thirst special rule, boosting their Initiative on the turn they charge.

Next is the Lysios Relief Force, consisting of Gabriel Seth, a Tac Squad, a Vanguard Vet Squad, a Baal Predator, a Predator, and a Stormraven. All units in the formation gain the Crusader USR. All non-vehicle units in the formation that do not have Deep Strike or Jump unit types must be in a transport vehicle, which cannot include Drop Pods. The entire formation must be in reserve and arrive on a single reserve roll.

The Defenders of the Cathedrum is next, and consists of a Terminator Squad, a Death Company Squad, 2 Tac Squads, an Assault Squad, and a Furioso Dreadnought. The formation gains the Counter-attack and Stubborn special rules.

Finally, for the Flesh Tearers, is the Strike Force Razorwind formation, which is the Lysios Relief Force and Defenders of the Cathedrum formations, combined. All units from the formation within 12" of Seth gain the Fearless rule. Additionally, reserve rolls are made for units beginning turn 1.

Next up are the Necron Formations, detachment, relics, and warlord table.

The first relic is the God Shackle, which is given to a Cryptek only, at the cost of a Warscythe. The bearer nominates a friendly C'Tan Shard in the army before deployment, which gains a point of Strength and Toughness while the Cryptek lives. Next is the Edge of Eternity, a double-cost Warscythe that is +2 S, AP2, and has Armourbane and gains precision strikes on a 2+. Finally is the Solar Thermasite, which can be given to an Overlord or Cryptek. The bearer adds +1S to his ranged and Melee weapons, and re-rolls saving throws of 1.

The Mephrit Dynasty Warlord traits are, in order, Eternal Warrior; haywire for melee weapons; re-roll failed morale, pinning, and fear tests for warlord and units within 12"; Adamantium Will; Hatred for warlord and unit; and It Will Not Die.

The Necron detachment, the Mephrit Dynasty Formation, consists of 1-2 HQ; 3-8 Troops; 0-3 Elites, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support; and 0-1 Lord of War and Formation. The detachment cannot include Tesseract Vaults. Units in the detachment can re-roll 1s when rolling for Reanimation Protocols. The Warlord, if chosen from this detachment, can re-roll the warlord trait from the Mephrit Dynasty table.

The first Necron Formation is the Conclave of the Burning One, which is 2 Crypteks and a C'Tan Shard, which make up a single unit which cannot be joined by independent characters. All to-wound rolls against the formation must use the C'Tan Shard's Toughness. The C'Tan Shard also gains Feel No Pain (5+) while both Crypteks are alive, and is downgraded to 6+ while one Cryptek remains. Afterward he loses this rule.

Next is Zarathusa's Royal Decurion, which consists of an Overlord, a unit of Immortals, 2 units of Warriors, 1 Ghost Ark, a Doom Scythe, a unit of Triarch Praetorians, a Triarch Stalker, a unit of Deathmarks, and 2 units of Wraiths. At the beginning of each turn while the Overlord lives, all vehicle units benefit from one of the following special rules: Crusader, Counter-attack, Fearless, or Monster Hunter.

Anrakyr's Strategic Decurion is next, consisting of Anrakyr, a unit of Immortals, 2 units of Warriors, a Ghost Ark, a Doom Scythe, and a unit of Deathmarks. The controlling player can re-roll when attempting to Seize the Initiative and re-roll reserve rolls while Anrakyr is alive.

Finally, the last formation is the Guardians of Perdita, which is all three of the Necron formations combined. In addition to each formation's special rules, the rule that grants a special rule from Zarathusa's Royal Decurion is extended to all non-vehicle members of the formation.

I can't say much about the Blood Angles items and formations, though free weapons for Vet squads seems obscenely good (400 points of free wargear). I can however say, that as of now, the Necron formations are fairly bland, though the items are enticing, particularly being able to give an overlord a 2+ re-rollable and re-roll 1s when trying to Get Back Up. Seems good to me.

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