Fall of Cadia Review: Belisarius Cawl


Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the second of the triumvirate of the Imperium, Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.


Belisarius Cawl is an absolute beast of an HQ unit to take in an Adeptus Mechanicus army, or indeed any Army of the Imperium. Cawl has a pretty decent statline and some very nice special rules that make him incredibly resilient to enemy attacks. In addition, he provides some very nice buffs to a Mechanicus army and any Imperial vehicles in the force. At 200 points, he is expensive, but will be a great addition for an Adeptus Mechanicus army.


  • Arc Scourge- A Master-crafted melee weapon that is +1S, AP4, Haywire and Machine Scourge (can re-roll the haywire result).
  • Master-crafted Power Axe
  • Mechadendrite Hive- Gets 2D6 S4 attacks and one S5 Haywire attack at the initiative 10 step in combat.
  • Scryerskull- Can choose to identify a single Mysterious Objective anywhere on the battlefield at the start of each of your turns.
  • Refractor Field- 5+ invulnerable save.
  • Solar Atomiser- A strength 10 Meltagun that is Assault D3 and Master-crafted.


Special Rules:

  • Canticles of the Omnissiah
  • Feel No Pain
  • Independent Character
  • Very Bulky
  • Artificer Self-repair Mechanism- Cawl recovers D3 wounds at the start of each of your turns.
  • Masterwork Bionics (Warlord Trait)- Cawl may re-roll failed Feel No Pain rolls.
  • Canticles of the Archmagos- Cawl gains three canticles that can be used if he is own the field. They work exactly in the same way as Canticles of the Omnissiah, except they also affect friendly vehicle units from Armies of the Imperium within 12″ of him, even if they do not have Canticles of the Omnissiah special rule. The Canticles include the Harmony of Metalurgy (1-3, It Will Not Die/4-7, It Will Not Die, rolling twice/8+, It Will Not Die, rolling three times), Utterance of Neutralisation (1-3, +1BS/4-7, +2BS/ 8+, +3BS) and War Hymnal of Fortitude (1-3, 6++/4-7, 5++, 8+, 4++).



Obviously, Belisarius Cawl has a lot going for him on the tabletop. Let’s break it down and take a look at the different sections and benefits.

First up, durability. Cawl has T6, 5 wounds, Feel No Pain, a 2+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable save. On its own, that is pretty impressive. T6 is pretty good, though not impossible to get around in the current meta. It does mean that most basic infantry are wounding him on a 6 from shooting or close combat. Similarly, a 2+ armour save is pretty effective in combat and against a lot of shooting attacks. The 5+ invulnerable is a bit low, but with his high toughness and high number of wounds, it should help keep him alive for longer against AP2 attacks. Once you add in his special rules, his durability increases greatly. If Cawl is your Warlord, he gets to re-roll failed Feel No Pain rolls, giving him just over a 50% chance of blocking the wound. In addition, he re-gains D3 wounds at the start of each of your turns. This gives him a pretty high level of durability and will require a high volume of high strength attacks to take him out, or a very high volume of lower strength attacks. Now, a lot of armies can put out a high volume of S6 attacks in the shooting phase, but not every army is going to be able to do this.


Where Cawl’s durability is going to let him down is the lack of Eternal Warrior. Though he cannot be instantly killed by doubling out his toughness, he is still susceptible to other forms of Instant Death such as Force Weapons, D Weapons or weapons that simply remove the model from play. You will need to be careful when going up against a large number of these types of weapons, but otherwise, you won’t be giving up Slay the Warlord all that often when your warlord is Belisarius Cawl.

Cawl also has a nice weapon to use in the shooting phase. A S10 Meltagun is a nice gun to have. Gaining D3 Master-crafted shots is also great. At BS5, you will generally be guaranteed at least one hit with it each shooting phase. Plus, at S10 in Melta range, there are very few vehicles in the game that you will not reliably penetrate when shooting at them. The only downside is its short range and the fact that Cawl will generally be walking to the target. If your opponent sets up a gunline and doesn’t come for you, it is going to take several turns to get into range of make use of it. In addition, as his gun is S10, it can potentially instant kill anything that is T5 or below. Rampaging Bikers and Thunderwolf Cavalry will have something to fear if he can get past their Invulnerable Saves.

Cawl is not slouch in combat either. He is not going to be able to go toe to toe with the elite of the enemy army, but should be able to hold his own against a number of enemy units. Cawl gets to make 2D6 S4 attacks at the initiative 10 step. At WS5, he will generally be hitting most infantry on 3’s, giving you a possible counter to any weakly armoured horde units that assault him. Even tougher armoured foes might have something to fear if you can roll enough hits and wounds on them, as they are bound to fail some saves eventually. Against tougher armoured foes, Cawl wields a Master-crafted Power Axe. With 3 attacks base, he is not going to chew through a unit of Terminators on his own, but should be able to cause a fair few casualties.


Perhaps fittingly, Cawl should not have a problem taking on enemy vehicles. His Arc Scourge gives him three Master-crafted Haywire attacks, that get to re-roll the Haywire results. Against non-walker vehicles, that should provide him with at least two glancing hits, maybe even a couple of penetrating hits. In addition, the Mechadendrite Hive gives him an additional Haywire attack in combat. Any enemy vehicles that somehow survive the Solar Atomiser could find themselves finished off in combat against Cawl. Against Walkers, he may struggle a little. At initiative 3, he will be striking after any Imperial Knight, but as long as they are not able to D him out before he gets to strike, he should be able to cause a fair amount of damage against them if he gets lucky with the dice rolls.

Where Belisarius Cawl really buffs an army is in the Canticles of the Archmagos. These add three additional canticles for use in a Mechanicus army, providing an invlunerable save, It Will Not Die or increased accuracy in shooting. There has been some debate online as to whether the Canticles of the Archmagos are used in addition to the Canticles of the Omnissiah, or whether they function as three more canticles that can be used instead of the Canticles of the Omnissiah. For me, they function as three additional Canticles, though I can see how both ways can be read.


The War Hymnal of Fortitude adds even more durability to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Shroudpsalm is already a very popular Canticle for providing relatively easy access to an army wide 2+ cover save in the War Convocation (assuming your units are already in cover), so getting an additional turn of an army-wide 4+ invulnerable save will boost the durability of the army even further.

It Will Not Die will be useful for any vehicles or multi-wound models in the army, and having a large number of units with the Canticles rule will increase the odds of passing the roll, as you get to roll 2 or 3 dice for the test.

I can see Belisarius Cawl being a huge benefit to the War Convocation army list. Not only do you gain access to the awesome Arcana Mechanicum Relics, you also don’t have to pay for them. In addition, all models in the army gains the Canticles of the Omnissiah special rule, so gain the benefit of the Canticles of the Archmagos as well. As a nice little bonus, any Army of the Imperium vehicles within 12″ of Cawl also gain the benefit, allowing your allies to reap the benefits of the bonuses as well.

Overall, I think that Belisarius Cawl is a great addition to any army of the Imperium, particularly those of the Adeptus Mechanicus. He may not be as tough to shift as Saint Celestine, but he is pretty damn durable and a real threat to enemy vehicles.

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

12 Responses to “Fall of Cadia Review: Belisarius Cawl”

  1. Jasonwolfe March 8, 2017 12:24 am #

    Cawl also unlocks the fabled Skitarii CAD or AD. If you put Cawl in an allied Skitarii CAD, you can even put the memento mortispex on your WarCon’s dominus to help out the gravaphrons.

    1x Dominus – Memento Mortispex
    2×3 Kataphron – grav/flamer
    2×1 Servitor – plasma cannon
    10x Vanguard – 3 plasma, Pater Radium
    10x Ranger – 3 plasma, Quantum Annihilator
    5x Infiltrator – St Curias Autopurger
    5x Rustalker – Omniscient Mask
    1x Ballistari – Lascannon
    1x Onager – Icarus
    1x Knight Warden

    1x Cawl
    2×5 Skitarii Vanguard

    • Firewaspuk March 8, 2017 8:00 am #

      Why not just put cawl into the war con rather than the dominus?

      • WrentheFaceless March 8, 2017 8:54 am #

        The Dominus in an allied detachment would not be able to make a Skitarii CAD, nor would he get free relics and upgrades

        • Jasonwolfe March 8, 2017 8:56 am #

          Yeah, keeping the Dominus inside the WarCon means he wears 75 points of free stuff.

  2. Sanchezsam2 March 8, 2017 7:06 am #

    What’s the itc rule on canticles of the archmagos?
    Are people allowed to double dip?

    • WrentheFaceless March 8, 2017 8:53 am #

      I too would like to know how ITC would rule Canticles of the Archmagos and Canticles of the Omnissiah’s interaction

    • Adam Vollrath March 8, 2017 1:08 pm #

      Also, can you re-use a Canticle of the Archmagos within a Battle Congregation detachment? Since they work “in exactly the same way as Canticles of the Omnissiah”.

  3. Blight March 8, 2017 8:43 am #

    I would consider putting him in the deepstrike next to objectives formation from the cult book. It gets him relatively safely down the board and the breachers are actually fairly useful even if they are a bit of a tax. Can still be used with a war convocation to grant them access to his relics and since he had no upgrades and you really don’t need to upgrade the breachers there isn’t much of a downside.

  4. MechanicusNoob March 8, 2017 9:36 am #

    How are you getting a servitor with a plasma cannon in your WarCon list? The Imperial Agents codex only allows for two upgrades, heavy bolter and multi-melta.

  5. Laserfrog March 8, 2017 12:43 pm #

    Good review. Have only run this guy once so far and he is a beast. for 200 points, this guy is an insane bargain for what he does. Dude is no slouch.

    Worth noting is that his Power Axe and his Arc Scourge are both listed melee weapons without 2-handed or specialist weapon, so he gets 4 base attacks with his axe or scourge for dual-wielding (5 on the charge). Also remember that you get a Dataspike attack whether or not you attack a vehicle, giving him the potential for 18 attacks on the charge (the aforementioned 5, up to 12 from the hive, and one dataspike attack) if you get seriously hot dice.

    • Michael Corr March 9, 2017 8:57 am #

      Yeah, with hot dice he will cause a lot of damage in combat and will be hard to shift without instant death or D weapons.

  6. Rob March 12, 2017 10:16 am #

    I’m very much looking forward to using him in a War covocation. Are his relics definitely free in it though?

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