For the past six months I have been pretty much playing one army to prepare for the LVO 2015, 40k’s largest competitive tournament. A lot of people have been talking about the Centurionstar, and I thought it would be good to talk about what makes it tick and what I fear as a Centurionstar player. Let’s dig into this controversial unit and pick this puppy apart.
This is the core unit in the Centurionstar. 3-6 Centurions with Grav Cannons, Grav Amps, and an Omniscope. The Grav Cannons have a 24” range and are AP2. They also wound on the target unit’s majority armor value which is a blessing and a curse. It is great for targets like Terminators, Space Marines, Wraithknights, Daemon Princes, and other heavy armor wearers, but struggle against plain Daemons, Orks, or other light armor wearers. The bonus to this is that Grav Amps allow them to reroll this wound so even if you need 6’s, the weight of dice you throw has a good shot of doing some quality wounds.
The Omniscope allows them to Split Fire, which is key to how this unit needs to operate. For those that don’t know, Split Fire allows one model (not just the model with the split fire rule) to shoot first at another target, and the rest of the unit to fire at another. This allows you to potentially kill two units a turn in various ways. One Centurions shoots at a small squad while the rest shoots at a large target, or another model fires a stormbolter or pistol at a unit they want to charge later in the turn while the Centurions take out a key unit like an Imperial Knight or Barbed Hierodule. It’s only a few points so don’t leave without it.
Some people also like to add on Missile Launchers for extra anti tank, but I prefer the twin-linked Hurricane Bolters as it gives me an anti-horde option to still be able to impact those low armor targets. There’s nothing like 24 twin-linked shots to deal with pesky Daemonettes, Gaunts, or Guardsmen. Combine that with Perfect Timing (Ignores Cover) and even those units have a lot to fear from the Star.
Gate of Infinity/Draigo
This power allows you to be removed from the table and deepstrike elsewhere. This is a blessing and can be cast while in combat so you can get out of a close combat if need be. Most people get this power through the Grey Knights Character Draigo, a formidable close combat opponent and powerful psyker in his own right. Draigo comes stock with Gate of Infinity, so you can count on him being in most Centurionstars.
Draigo is also used as a “tank”, a model that soaks up wounds and protects the units. With four wounds, eternal warrior, and a 2+/3++ save, he fits the bill perfectly for this task. He usually sits at the front and takes those strength 10 hits to protect the more vulnerable elements in the Centurionstar. This Lord of War is also a fantastic close combat character and can fend off many undesirable units that hope to take down your gun toting Centurions in melee.
Prescience/Perfect Timing/Grey Knight Librarian
The next piece of the puzzle is guaranteed Prescience, which is the ability to reroll hits in shooting and assault. This comes with the Grey Knight Librarian who is necessary for the unit as well. The Libby gives you more warp charges and fulfills the HQ role in whatever Grey Knight detachment you bring, be it an Allied Detachment, Nemesis Strike Detachment, or Combined Arms Detachment. I personally take a ML3 Librarian and roll everything on Divination, guaranteeing me Prescience and always hoping for Perfect Timing, which ignores cover. Just imagine 20 ap2 shots coming your way that ignore your armor and your cover save! Barbed Hierodules, Malanthropes, Wraithknights, and just about anything save Knights hate this combo to death.
The final piece to the Centurionstar is Invisibility. This helps ensure that your enemy will not be able to focus fire and peel off this very expensive unit in one volley. Needing 6’s to hit sways most generals from even firing at it at all, which is fine for us.
One of the ways to get Invisibility is Tigurius, who gets to roll on one of his psychic tables, then reroll the result if he doesn’t like it. (Just be sure to roll each power one at a time when you do this. I’ve seen way to many people roll them all at once and reroll to their choosing, which is not how Tiggy works!) The MathHammers tell me you have a 75% chance of getting the power you want with Tigurius. Never seems to work that way, but that’s dice for you.
The other way to get Invisibility is through the FW character Sevrin Loth of the Red Scorpions Chapter Tactics. Loth CHOOSES three powers from Biomancy, Telekinesis, or Telepathy. You are guaranteed Invisibility with this character. He also has some other great features like being able to change his 2+ save into an invulnerable save by using a warp charge.
With these things combined, you have the Centurionstar. This unit, when things go right, has the chance to remove two units a turn from the table. This is very potent, but not unstoppable by any means. Others may have different versions of it, but most have Centurions, Draigo, and other Librarian Support.
Warp Charges – The Engine of the Beast
The thing that feeds this beast are your Warp Charges. Most armies will have between 11-16 base warp charge dice and sometimes that isn’t enough. The key powers I was going for in many of my games were:
Invisibility – Warp Charge 2
Prescience – Warp Charge 2
Perfect Timing – Warp Charge 1
Gate of Infinity – Warp Charge 1
There are lots of guides out there to tell you how many dice to use to ensure getting off powers. I would typically put 5-9 dice into Invisibility, especially against another psychic heavy army. This doesn’t leave you with much left and to be honest, the chances of getting all four powers off was rather unlikely. I typically had to choose 2 to focus on in any given turn. Typically that was Invisibility and Gate, but other times Perfect Timing was the most important one to get. The important thing is to read each situation and prioritize the casting order.
This leads to another part of running the Centurionstar, WHEN to cast your powers. There can be a bit of a battle of wills between you and your opponent when it comes to casting powers. You may start out with that go to power, or save it until the end. Typically, I would go for buff powers first, then movement powers next. This was to insure that my star was not in the wrong place without any protections.
Getting enough dice to cast these powers is also a game within itself. Grey Knights generate warp charges with other units, and you may even want a second Librarian for more power. There are lots of ways to go about it, just make sure that the rest of your army can contribute in some way to meeting the mission requirements and are not just there to power the star.
Things to Watch Out For (Or Things that Kill the Centurionstar)
There are many things that can and will kill your Centurionstar if you are not careful. This list is taking into account that the Star is invisible.
- Blasts/Templates – with the ITC change to Invisibility, blasts and templates can now impact invisible units. Ion Riptides, Errant Knights, Leman Russes and other large blast or template wielding units can certainly put a dent in the Star. They may scatter more with Blasts, but a well placed high AP blast marker can really do some damage to us. Spread out!
- Twin Linked/Weight of Fire – Just plain ol Buckets of Dice can really impact this unit. I played a practice game against Abuse Puppies torrent of doom, 105 mostly twin linked shots coming at me. He easily whittled down the star in no time.
- Positioning – A canny general will get his shots coming to your most valuable character, and they will often try not to make it Draigo. If they can take out the Sergeant (Split Fire), or Loth (2 Wounds), or the HQ Librarian (2 Wounds as well), they can drastically impact how effective the unit functions. I always try to put Draigo in a position to take the brunt and allow me to determine whom I Look Out Sir! wounds to.
- Vector Strikes/Sweep Attacks – Vector strikes from flyers and Sweeping Attacks from Chariots ignore the invisible nature of this unit as a whole. They can really do a number on the Star as most of these attacks will be AP2 and high strength. Then there are the other movement based attacks coming from units like Screamers, Reavers, and Mawlocs. All of these bypass our defenses and can really do a number on the Star. Isolate these threats and position yourself to minimize damage.
- Stomps – Super Heavy Walkers like Imperial Knights, Hierodules, and Stompas can really put a dent in the Star. If the Stomp rolls a 6 for its Stomp result than anything under the blast template will be removed from play with no save allowed! Watch out!
- Melee – Even though we are hard to hit, volumes of hits and rerolls can still put a lot of wounds on the Star. Any body we lose can dampen our power.
- Cullexus – This model can not only shut down the Star, but just about the entire army! Read over its rules and have a plan for when this thing shows up. Do NOT let it get within 12” of the Star of you will be sorry. It will prevent you from generating warp charges, casting powers, and will instakill psykers in close combat.
- Tesla (For now) – Necron Tesla Destructors get 2 extra hits on a 6 to hit, and often these players want to snap shoot or just try to get sixes. It’s not uncommon to be taking 8-11 wounds from an Annihilation Barge or Night Scythe that gets lucky. The math seems to work out that the number of hits from Tesla will be the same whether or not the unit is invisible or not! This may change when the new Necron Codex drops, but is something to keep in mind. You may want a different power facing an AV13 wall of Tesla Destructors. Endurance might be a better bet.
So that is the basics of what a Centurionstar really is. We’ve talked about the key models that make up the Star, the powers it needs to function and stay alive, as well as what to look out for when running the star (or alternatively, what you can put in your list to hurt the Star.)
In my opinion, the Centurionstar is not the OP end all be all unit in 40k. The nerfs in place and the other ways an opponent can impact this unit means it is not unstoppable or unkillable. Having been to a recent tournament and seen the types of lists out there, don’t worry about being “that guy” when taking this beast. It takes a lot of finesse to play correctly as you have a ton of points wrapped up and when they warp bites, it can bite hard. Have fun and enjoy the roller coaster that is the Centurionstar. Practice with it against a number of lists and learn when to cast what to fully maximize its potential.