Sisters of Battle first impressions

Yesterday saw the actual birth of the “Sisters for Sixth” campaign! Finally the stars were in alignment and I was able to
a) Have a game of Warhammer 40000 sixth edition
b) Use my Sisters of Battle with a brand new codex

My opponent took an Ork list. Leigh is a very experienced Warhammer 40000 player and an even more experienced Ork player. In deference to my total lack of experience, he took a much softer 1350 point Ork army to play my Sisters of Battle than I would have expected.

The massively popular “Sisters for Sixth” campaign is driving towards the Arc40K tournament in Februrary 2014.

My Sisters of Battle list was thrown together at the last minute and was the same type of foot slogging list that I have used badly before.

Celestine
Canoness w/ Inferno pistol, Book of St Lucius
12 Sisters of Battle w/ 2 Meltas
12 Sisters of Battle w/ Flamer and Heavy Flamer
12 Sisters of Battle w/ 2 Stormbolters
12 Sisters of Battle w/ Melta and Heavy Flamer
3 Exorcists

This added up to about 1350 points. In the list are fifty bodies and three tanks.

Using the a new codex is always exciting, and more so because the Sisters of Battle have not had any love for a long time; the White Dwarf articles were a stop gap measure, at best. The new Sisters of Battle codex is a digital delivery available as an EPUB or MOBI format for non-Apple devices and there’s an Apple version available as well.

I’m a veteran gamer sic: OLD, and quite attached to the physical world where books are books. The digital edition required a big shift in mindset that I wasn’t able to get over and so ended up printing the book off to have a physical copy. This was my biggest stumbling block. There are a hundred-odd pages that you have to sort through in order to check the new rules and stats; not favourable when in the midst of a game. Post game I reorganised the pages into a more game friendly order. Of course, this is all irrelevant when you actually use the digital edition and can navigate directly to the section of the codex that you need.

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My criticism of the book is with the quality of content. I understand that the Sisters of Battle are never going to be a massive seller, but the digital codex really leaves you feeling that it was hacked together at the last minute. There is a mass of source material coming from the old codex (it is noticeably missing) and the layout of the book lacks the polish of the normal printed book that would have been available. This is my first Digital Editions codex and I really think that the digital delivery of content is a brilliant idea from Games Workshop, however, I still prefer a real book to be able to pore through. I want to play Sisters of Battle; I have to use a digital codex. I’ll live.

sisters of battle review
The Sisters of Battle Codex has some sexy new art in it!

Historically, the Sisters of Battle tend to be a mid-range shooting army. Heavy Bolters and Exorcist Launchers are the only potent long range firepower available with everything else being effective at twelve to twenty-four inches. The new codex reinforces this, but makes it HEAPS cheaper than before, heavy and special weapons range from five points to ten points!

The mission was an objective based mission where Heavy Support count as scoring (and therefore count as victory points if destroyed).

The actual game we played was awesome. Sixth edition is really streamlined and very enjoyable. There weren’t many special rules in play based on the armies, so some of the intricacies of the game are still a bit of a mystery. There was movement, shooting, assault (how cool is overwatch?!) and leadership checks. What more does one need?

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With a foot slogging army claiming objectives on the other side of the board was always going to be a challenge, even with an additional “run” move during the shooting phase. Long term (see below) the addition of Rhinos or Immolators will help to fix this.

Blocks of twelve Sisters of Battle can really pour it on up to eighteen inches away and ate into the green skinned horde. Three Exorcists was massively unnecessary; two would be sufficient to take care of most armour and anything else can be dealt with for the cheaper price of liberally sprinkling meltabombs on squad leaders.

Also, blocks of twelve sisters can weather a fair storm of shooting. Sisters wear power armour and now have an invulnerable save as well. In fact, vehicles even get the same invulnerable save that normal troops have.

Tweaking the list would involve dropping the Canoness (who carried the Book of St. Lucius, to offer units a leadership buff) and just using Saint Celestine, cutting back the blocks of twelve to units of ten, dropping an Exorcist and using the saved points to put some Seraphim in to support Celestine and also add in a unit of Retributors with Heavy Bolters for some more, precious long range firepower. If there are points leftover, especially for units of Battle Sisters bristling with Flamers, add in some Rhinos for rapid delivery of a pretty brutal softener unit for Celestine to finish off.

While we’re on the topic, how awesome is Celestine? She’s got an armour save of two up and a four up invulnerable save. When she dies, she can come back to life in you next turn with all her wounds healed! On top of that the Ardent Blade fires a flamer template and it’s a strength five, master crafted, power weapon that Celestine can use to great effect, doing seven attacks on the charge!!

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When the field of battle cleared, there were enough objectives claimed by the sisters to hold off the Ork menace, and along with “First Blood” and killing my opponent’s Warlord, meant that the Sisters of Battle had a strong win in their first outing! I’m not naïve enough to believe that it was a typical game ie. I didn’t LOSE!!, however it was a great primer to the sixth edition of Warhammer 40000 and rekindled my love affair with the lower tier army that is the Sisters of Battle!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Sister for SIXTH!”