If you poll any five people on how to pronounce a word in the 40K lexicon, you’ll get six different answers (seven if one of them is on the design team.) Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Urien is the most ancient of all Haemonculi and master of the Prophets of Flesh, the largest of the Covens. Though most of his colleagues experiment with altering their physical forms, Urien has taken this to an entirely new level- his body regenerates at an impressive speed, regrowing organs and even severed limbs with astonishing rapidity. This nigh-immortality has taken its toll on him, however- not physically, but psychically, as he searches for ever-newer and more esoteric ways to cheat death. There are few endings that Urien hasn’t experienced at least once, and the number grows ever smaller year by year.
Urien’s statline, as we might expect, is almost identical to that of a standard Haemonculous. Movement 7″ makes him reasonably fast on the field, and weapon/ballistic skill 2+ means his attacks should virtually always land (although lacking a reroll aura, it’s not a total guarantee.) Strength three is largely irrelevant give other abilities, but his natural toughness of five is a pip above that of the basic model- making him even tougher than usual. Five wounds is still the same, however, and for some reason he loses one attack compared to the basic Haemonculous- not that you are particularly excited to get him into combat, but it’s an odd lack. At 90pts he does come in at noticeably more expensive, but not to a degree that is going to be problematic.
Special Rules and Wargear
Urien is blessed with a wide variety of unique rules and wargear, although some of them are definitely better than others. He also comes with quite a few other rules common to his type, however- like all Drukhari characters he has Power From Pain, granting him escalating bonuses as the game goes on. He also has Master of Pain, which gives +1 toughness to nearby Prophets of Flesh units. However, beyond that he has several important rules. Sculptor of Torments is probably the most important, granting +1 strength to nearby units in the same manner as his other aura; it also gives +1 leadership, which is useful but certainly not the reason you’ll take him.
Defensively, he comes with a couple abilities. Clone Field, which grants him a 4++, is decent but often would be identical to the save that any other Haemonculous would have in a Prophets detachment. The more relevant one in most cases is Contempt for Death, which halves all damage that he suffers; even though it rounds up, that still is a significant damage reduction against most things. And in case you were desperately wanting some sort of melee combat ability, Urien also comes with Haemovores, which has a one in six chance of doing a mortal wound to each unit within 3″ of him during the fight phase.
In terms of weapons, Urien comes with a surprising variety… all of which will almost certainly disappoint you. The Casket of Flensing will do so first, since it’s an actual ranged weapon- albeit one that can only be used once per battle. With a 12″ range, it starts off in a pretty bad place… and then continues that with S3 AP-2 Dmg1. Assault 2d6 is a reasonable number to have, but being a one-time weapon you know that it’s going to roll something sad like a five, miss with two of them, fail to wound with two more, and the enemy will save the one resultant wound.
Haemonculous Tools are disappointing only in that they’re exactly like the generic version. A poisoned melee weapon, nothing more, nothing less. The Ichor Injector is also like the one available to the generic version- it does come with AP-1, but can only make a single attack roll with it. You do get to reroll the wound roll and on a 6+ it does d3 mortal wounds, but the chances of that are not high at all and most of the time it will do little to nothing.
So, why would you want to take Urien over a normal Haemonculous? Would you, other than the niche of filling a 4th HQ slot in order to take two Prophets detachments (which, it should be said, is actually a fairly useful option to have)? Yes, in fact, you very often would.
Urien is only a fairly token amount more than his standard version- enough that it isn’t completely trivial, but not enough to actually deter you from taking him at all. There are some opportunity costs there as well, but since you’ll be taking at least one other Haemonculous anyways in order to fill the slots on a battalion it’s actually not going to be much of an issue. For those very small costs, he not only gains notably in survivability (as it’s very hard to assassinate him with a character run, something that can otherwise be a problem for Drukhari) but also brings a very important aura to the table.
The +1Str really is the key thing with Urien, because for many units it brings them up into the realm of being dangerous. Grotesques go up to S6, which means wounding weak infantry on 2s as well as improving their numbers against tough infantry and light vehicles. Talos get to S7 with the Chainflails, but more importantly S8 with the Macroscalpel, which lets you wound the vast majority of infantry on 2s and most vehicles on 3s, making them much more of a threat.
Of course, this is balanced by the fact that you do need to keep them in range of the aura- not the hardest thing in the world, but not trivial, either, given that the units he wants to be giving it to are gonna be moving forward pretty aggressively. Since you’ll presumably be running more than one unit of them in order to take advantage of Urien, this can also cause position problems if you are forced to split up to chase different targets- however, this is really more an issue of aura characters in general and isn’t really particular to Urien at all, so it’s likely a skill that players have (or will) master with practice.
Really, the only reason that you wouldn’t be including Urien in a detachment is either because you’re exclusively bringing Wracks in order to get some easy CP and utility. His inability to select a relic or warlord trait can be slightly annoying, as we alluded to earlier, but these shouldn’t be any real deterrent; you still have at least one guy who can tote them around as needed and it’s not as if there are so many fantastic relics that you’re going to struggle to find places for them.
So, if you’re staring down the barrel of a loaded Urien, what do you do? Well, like a lot of support characters, you pretty much have two options: ignore or assassinate. And in Urien’s case, I think the former case is actually the preferable one, which is something of a change in pace for this sort of thing. The bonuses that Urien gives out are certainly useful, but they aren’t game-changers; it’s basically just a small tilt in wound rolls, not something that should upset your entire army. Contrasting this with something like a Farseer that can wreck your game plan pretty hard and it shouldn’t be too difficult of a decision- most people thing of the bonus toughness/strength as essentially being built-in to those units anyways, so it’s not a big leap.
However, if you are going to take Urien out the best way to do so is probably snipers. Obviously you can’t shoot at him normally, but for many characters there’s also the option to sneak a character of your own in there and smash them to death before the enemy can react- but with Urien, that realistically isn’t a possibility. For one, he’s tough enough that you have to push through three Thunder Hammer hits (or six from any lower-damage weapon) to take him out, even after saves and wound rolls and all of that. But on top of that, he’s typically hanging around with a Vexator Mask friend, who will force you to fight last in combat and give a very good chance that you’ll get taken out before you get to swing. So instead, standing back and sniping away (or using psychic powers/etc) is probably a better option; his high toughness makes it a bit tricky, but his low native save eases the job a little bit, even with the 6+ FNP in the mixture.
Although Urien’s role in a list is usually a pretty unexciting one, he definitely brings something useful to the table when it comes to Drukhari armies and is something that you should at least be familiar with, whether you’re playing as or against them. I think overall his design is perhaps a bit less well-rounded that it should’ve been compared to some of the other named characters out there (especially his Casket, which is an absolute joke that I have literally never seen do a wound to anything), but he is at least fairly functional and beats out flops like Drahzar, so we can’t complain too hard about him.
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