Anonymou5 brings us his take on Rune Priest tactics in 6th ed! For more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!
If you aren’t running Daemons or the Seer Council, and you’re building a list for a tournament, you need to ask yourself why you aren’t bringing a Rune Priest.
“But anonymou5, I’m running Tau!” Read my opening sentence again, it does not say “if you are bringing Space Marines to a tournament, you need to ask yourself why you aren’t bringing a Rune Priest? “But anonymou5, I’m running Eldar? I don’t want him cancelling my powers.” Read my opening sentence again. I don’t care about your powers. You need to ask yourself why you aren’t bringing a Rune Priest.
That’s not to say everyone SHOULD bring a Rune Priest. But you need to at least consider it.
I would say, if your counter for a Screamerstar is “Hope he fails a Grimoire,” or if your counter for a Seer Council is “hope I get first turn,” then you are making a mistake by not bringing a Priest.
But that’s simple, let’s break it down. The Rune Priest is a one man counter to the meta right now.
First and foremost, Rune Priests don’t care about your psychic death stars. This much is obvious. They are so drunk that they use the power of runes to cancel powers. Their AOE psychic defense is fantastic. Push a Rune Priest to midfield in a Land Raider and he can force a Seer Council or Screamerstar to waste time attempting to get him out of his can, then killing him, and all that time they dedicate to that task, they are 50% more vulnerable to the rest of your Army. He can just chill mid field sharing Mjod and singing sagas with his Grey Hunter buddies, completely screwing up your opponent’s game plan. He’s not picky though, he can come in a drop pod. It’ll be easier for your opponent to remove him, but you can start disrupting powers from turn 1. Get him near the middle of the field, and pretty much the entire board is a dangerous place for psychic death stars to roam. A Screamerstar that is afraid to cross midfield is a Screamerstar that is wasting 800 points.
Second of all, Rune Priests don’t care about Riptides. Do you know another unit that has a roughly 50% chance of killing a Riptide in one shot? How about three Riptides? How about three Riptides and a couple unlucky Broadsides that happen to be standing in a line? Again, he can drive up in his Land Raider and terrify a Tau player. They know they need to kill the Raider, but their best anti tank assets are usually his Riptides…and they don’t want to get within 24 inches of the Land Raider. Again, he can come in a Drop Pod, but in this scenario you’ll probably want multiple Drop Pods to help you beat interceptor.
Third, Rune Priests don’t care about infiltrate craftiness. Farsun Bomb won’t be appearing somewhere you don’t want it and killing you. Giant waves of Kroot won’t appear and start putting sniper fire into you. Huron won’t be able to master his deception and sneak beat sticks into your backfield. Why? Because the Rune Priest has a bestie, and that bestie is a bird. He’s called the Chooser of the Slain, and he is emplaced before deployment. Infiltrators are afraid of birds, and can’t go near him. As a plus he also boosts the Rune Priests BS to 5, which can be helpful. If there is no other reason for the Rune Priest to exist, he can take Living Lightning and become a sniper. This is great against Dark Eldar. Living Lightning has unlimited range, what’s infinite minus 6? I don’t know and neither do your Night Shields. How does D6, BS5, S7 shots sound? Sounds like Boats dying to me.
Fourth, Rune Priests are actually kind of helpful against a Flying Circus for reasons other than psychic denial. Stand him in terrain (maybe the wreckage of his Land Raider). Dare the Princes to come play at initiative 1 for charging through terrain. 50% chance the Prince doesn’t have Iron Arm (assuming he even got it to begin with). The Rune Priest is WS5, so hitting on 4s, rerolling because you’ll take Prescience versus Daemons, wounding on 2s because his Runic Weapon does that for some reason, and dishing out instant death because Runic also means Force. Runic also means “mix some Daemon tears in with the Mjod.”
Fifth, Rune Priests aren’t just good against Tau, Eldar and Daemons (and for some reason Dark Eldar snuck into this break down), they’re also good against the other powerful 6ED Army….the one that is Initiative 2 across the board. Necrons hate Jaws. Even with the FAQ allowing reanimation protocols against it. And you know who don’t have Reanimation Protocals? Wraiths. And yes, Jaws works on Jump Pack Infantry now….that changed with the edition and how infantry are categorized. But I look forward to the inevitable argument in the comments.
Sixth, Rune Priests are kryptonite to Nids. Sure, Nids aren’t a dominant Army right now, but they’re still an extremely viable spoiler Army. Jaws out ranges Shadows. Tervigons die easier to Jaws than Riptides do. Dead Tervigons every turn usually doesn’t work out too well for Nid players. If he’s focusing all his efforts on killing your Priest, he’s losing the powers that make him survivable against your “real” Army.
Okay, that’s six reasons why Rune Priests are awesome. But why did I tell an Eldar player to run one? Won’t that mess with his own powers? Let’s look at the standard Eldar list now, what really needs twin linking? Wave Serpents? Let’s not kid ourselves, you have Wave Serpents. They’re already twin linked. And honestly, the rest of your powers probably don’t matter because your Farseer is probably in his own Wave Serpent. Oh wait, you run a Bike Seer? I guess you like giving your opponent Slay the Warlord. Oh he has the laughing mantle? I guess you live in a world where other Eldar don’t run Wave Serpents. Where Riptide Deathstars aren’t ignoring cover from across the map. Where my 4 FMCs aren’t vector striking him to death on Turn 3 when I plan my redeployment. In fact, many Eldar players complain that they don’t know what to do with their Farseers anymore. Guide/Prescience is nice, but they don’t NEED it. Possible solution? Don’t run a Farseer. Take the Autarch, control your reserves, save points, and bring in a drunk member of the Rout to handle the problems your elves cannot.
Don’t take it from me, look at Mike Brant’s list from Battle for Salvation. He placed second by the way. Wave Serpents and the normal Eldar stuff…but also a Rune Priest, 5 Grey Hunters, a Land Raider (Crusader I think), a Lone Wolf (TDA, Fist, Storm Shield) and likely some booze. The Lone Wolf followed the Land Raider and punched things that got into melta range. 11th Company Neil? He ran Tau with a Rune Priest, 5 Grey Hunters, and a Land Raider.
Stop complaining about the meta, think creatively. Rune Priests answer most of the problems. If you’re running Marines, put him on a bike or in a pod. Or just walk him with a squad. He also brings you prescience that he can share. And maybe he’ll teach your men a few things about how your “precious codex” is stupid. If you’re running Eldar or Tau, a Land Raider makes a lot of sense. Imagine jump shoot jumping from behind a sideways turned land raider. Mobile LOS blocking for your suits.
I’m not saying EVERY list MUST have a Rune Priest. But you need to think about why you aren’t bringing one. You need to think how you’re going to handle invincible death stars, Daemons, and Riptides without one. If you don’t have an answer, there’s probably a drunk psychic who can give it to you.