Psychic Awakening II: Alpha Legion review

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and welp, after a well needed recovery from LVO 2020, I’m back, and doing something different today, taking a look at those sneaky marines that can even infiltrate the heart of a Tyranid player, Alpha Legion! If you like your bombs to be possessed, read on, and of course, Frontline’s Tactics Corner keeps getting bigger and bigger, so head on over.

Let’s take a quick spin through all the goodness that Alpha Legion received in Psychic Awakening II: Faith and Fury. There are some misses here to be sure, but there are a lot of fun tricks that reward creative thinking.


Warlord Traits:


I am AlphariusYou get a random WL trait, and if your WL is destroyed, you can select another ALPHA LEGION character to be your warlord with a new random trait.  Your opponent cannot score any points for killing your WL unless all AL characters are dead.


This is from the standard Chaos codex, and it is a funny points denial mechanism.  Getting a random WL trait isn’t ideal though and as Chaos doesn’t have a lot of ways to get multiple WL traits, it is probably not worth giving up the great ones that you have unless you are building a very whacky points denial list to make just about any secondary worthless for your opponent. 


Clandestine: -1 to hit against the WL
This one is fun on a Daemon Prince or any other very killy character like a Disco Lord as -1 to hit (any attacks too, so melee/shooting) can be enough survivability to live a bit longer than expected. -1 to hit isn’t an end all, be all defense, but it can help, especially on a character with a lot of wounds and an invulnerable save as you are skewing the dice more and more into your favor. Since this is Chaos, there are also other ways to stack further to hit penalties for even more fun.


Headhunter: You can shoot enemy characters, even if they are not the closest, and an unmodified 6 to hit causes 1 mortal wound.

Chaos doesn’t have a lot of snipers, so this fills a certain niche, and when coupled with Viper’s Bite, that gives you a bit of play here, but again, is it worth a Warlord Trait and a Relic? Probably not. 


Master of Diversion: Before the first turn begins, select up to 3 AL units and redeploy them.  Transports keep the folks inside.


Here is some real money.  Redeploy is exceptionally powerful in the hands of a savvy general, and being able to bait your opponent into a bad deployment and then move to exploit such can win the game before it even starts.  You can use this offensively to deploy aggressively and force your opponent to shelter in place or put down their biggest threats to counter you, and then boom, you move to an exposed flank.  You can use this defensively to ensure that if you do not go first (and remember, this after the Seize roll, so you KNOW who is going first), you can reposition key units to make sure they are as safe as possible.  Again, redeploy is absolutely excellent. 


Cult LeaderAn unmodified wound roll of 6 for AL cultists units within 6″ of the WL are AP-1.  

If you like Cultists, sure, but yah, cultists doing work in melee isn’t easy to achieve, so this is fun and fluffy, but again, why would you choose it over Redeploy?


Faceless Commander:  Once per game, at end of Movement phase, you can remove WL from play and set it up within 3″ of a friendly AL Infantry unit and more than 9″ away from an enemy unit. 
This is fun for messing with your opponent, especially for DPs and Discos as being able to essentially redeploy midgame is great fun, but, yah, Master of Diversion is better. 

So to briefly sum up Warlord Traits, Master of Diversions is just hands-down the best one, so it should always be something to consider. If you are taking AL or even if AL is only one detachment in your army, this can be such a strong mechanic that it is hard to prioritize other options.

Stratagems:


Forward Operatives: 1 CP. One AL Infantry unit gets a free 9″ move.


An oldie but goldie from the Chaos Dex, and hey, still great.  A lot of folk used to love AL Berserkers for this, but really, what you see now is the Possessed Bomb, and well, why not? A free 9″ of movement can be the difference between being shot off the board or getting a first turn charge off.   Offensively, just send your unit forward to get as close as possible to do some damage.  As this triggers after the seize roll, you know who is going first, so if going first, you can go full speed ahead and try to snag a first turn charge or just take and dominate the center of the board.  Defensively, you can use this to redeploy certain units or get them to take a piece of cover outside of deployment.  If you get seized on, it helps to have spent 1-2 CPs as an insurance policy to make sure your meanest threats can try to get to safety.  This is gold, absolutely gold.  The trickiest part is that you need to spend in during deployment but then use it right before the first turn, so you have to think wisely and plan ahead.


Conceal: 2 CP. Use in opponent’s shooting phase. You can only target selected AL Infantry unit if it is the closest enemy unit.  

This is again bananas level good, and it is what makes the Possessed Bomb work.  You get to protect one unit a turn, basically ensuring that anything but fast moving elements that can get right into the grill or reserves that you didn’t screen out properly get shots off.  Again, for a big unit of melee monsters like Possessed, not getting to shoot them means that they are going to get to you, and that’s bad times.   You can also use this on 3 Obliterators to have a very powerful ranged unit camp closer to your deployment line and still be safe. 3 Obliterators getting 2 or 3 turns of shooting is devastating, especially Slaanesh ones that get to double tap.    
Again, you can combo this with so much good melee infantry that is no wonder so many of the top Chaos players went Alpha Legion. You can also use it as a quasi old-school Chaos board control list where through terrain, you make your big unit untargetable and then have your usual smite spam characters safely hiding behind.   The only downside here is that it can be Vect’d, so that’s something to consider.   This is why I like it with Obliterators since against the DE/GSC matchup, you can just reserve the Oblitetators.  That said, Possessed are capable of doing way more damage. 


Sabotaged Armoury: 1 CP. Use this Stratagem when an opponent rolls to see if a Vehicle explodes. If any AL units on the battlefield, add 3 to one of the D6s to explode, and the roll cannot be re-rolled. 


This is a corner case but extremely fun stratagem.  It essentially makes a vehicle liable to explode on a 3+ in most cases (and in some cases, a 2+), which can absolutely ruin your opponent’s day.  Especially if you are building for a heavy ranged list that can reliably pop a vehicle or knight in a turn, this can hollow-out a vehicle castle real quick.   Getting a Knight or a Repulsor to explode and do d6 mortal wounds to all the support elements around it is pretty much the height of comedy.  That said, this is limited to vehicles, and even then, in some cases, it does not really matter of the vehicle explodes, so again, this has limited utility, but it is nice to have the back pocket.  The only real downside to it is that it is best when a heavy ranged element, which a lot of AL players tend to not do, but it is certainly an option.


Scrambled Coordinates: 1 CP. Use in your opponent’s movement phase when an enemy is set up as reinforcements. It must be set up more than 12″ from AL units rather than 9″.  


So this is another corner case but extremely powerful (when relevant) stratagem.  If your opponent relies on a big hit unit of reserves like Assault Centurions or Bloodletters, you get to essentially turn 1 unit off as deploying outside of 12″ means that they cannot declare a charge on any AL units.  If going against an army with multiple small drops or simply shooting elements that arrive out of reserve, this is less useful, but when it matters, it can really matter.  Being able to essentially keep Assault Centurions to a shooting only role for a turn gives you the opportunity to murder them, and while they pump out a ton of shots, that’s better than them shooting and then charging in and murdering something else.   Especially in a meta that really prizes Centurions, this is a great stratagem to have.  


Renascent Infiltration: 1 CP. Use this at the end of your movement phase and select 1 unit of AL infantry that is more than 3″ away from an enemy model (and did not arrive this turn). Remove the AL unit and deploy then at end of next movement phase more than 9″ away from an enemy.


This is a tricksy one that has different plays.  First, it really does allow you to camp one objective and then late game move to a completely different area of the board. Being able to reposition a large blob of infantry, even cultists, can mean that what your opponent thought was dead land or safe is now suddenly flooded with a lot of bodies.   You can try and be trickier and use AL Noise Marines to redeploy to get better angles for shooting or my favorite, Obliterators as between all the other stratagems, you can keep the Oblits safe relatively forward, and when there are no longer any good targets within their relatively short range, you can redeploy them to get them back into the fight.    Even having a unit of just 10 CSM bros that can teleport around to go grab an objective is not bad, especially for 1 CP.

  
Ambush: 2 CP. Use this stratagem in your opponent’s movement phase after an enemy unit is set up as reinforcements. Select one AL unit within 18″ of the enemy unit and shoot as if it were your shooting phase. 


This is another fun stratagem that can be counter-played, but man, can it put in work. Getting a free volley of shooting at a unit can turn enemy reinforcements from a problem into a free kill.  This is why I love Obliterators with AL since this can absolutely devastate a unit that arrives danger-close for a charge out of reserve.  The range is a bit limited, so you do need to keep the Oblits close to the action, but between Ambush, Conceal, and Scrambled Coordinates, AL are really excellent at missing with your opponent’s game plan.  Never forget that you can do this, and again, having a ranged focused AL force is not a bad idea at all. 


Feigned Retreat: 1 CP. Use this stratagem when an AL unit falls back: it can still shoot. 


This is again just money in the bank for CSM shooting units.  This works on any AL unit, so you can protect things like Dreadnoughts, Obliterators, Scorpius, whatever.  Yes, sometimes an assault element gets to you, more to tie you up than to kill you, and being able to just walk away and still do what you want, shoot things to death, is money in the bank.  If you play right, this may never come up, but being able to do so is a nice trick to have up your sleeve.  You can even bait units to move forward to try and snag one of your shooting elements, and if your opponent forgets that you can Fall Back and shoot, you can get them to over extend and pick up the unit for little cost.  


We are Alpharius: 1 CP. Use this stratagem before the battle after nominating your Warlord. Select one AL character and give them a Warlord trait. They count as the Warlord only for that trait.  One use only.


AL get to have some more Warlord traits, and unlike I am Alpharius, this is not randomly determined.  This is a great way to get Master of Diversion and another Warlord trait, maybe from another detachment, or even to give a Field Commander two Warlord traits (RAW, this works, so perhaps in an FAQ, it will be addressed one way or another).   Really, for me, the best part of this is being able to get Master of Diversion for my AL units and then another Warlord trait for someone else that is going to have a bigger impact on the rest of my army (like the World Eater’s +1 charge trait).  This opens up a ton of combinations, and seeing as how AL are very CP hungry to fuel their tricks, you can even do Abbadon for the extra CP as your Warlord and still get Master of Diversion.   You should be using this every game. 

Well, these Stratagems are excellent, and just about everyone can see play and be deeply impactful. A lot of players build with Conceal in mind, but really, AL have a lot of cool abilities that you don’t see outside of Imperium.

Relics:


Drakescale Plate: Infantry only.  +2 save and a 5+++ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds.  


This is cool, and it makes a Jump Captain relatively tough, but eh, this is not really worth the relic slot.  


Mindveil: At the start of your movement phase, if the model with this relic is on the battlefield, roll 3d6.  Until the end of that phase, the model’s move characteristic is equal to the result. In the movement phase, it can move across other models and terrain as if they were not there, and in the charge phase, it can move across other models (except BUILDINGS). Finally, the model can charge in the same turn that it Fell Back. 


Wow, ok, that’s a lot of rules.  This essentially gives a character Fly without being able to assault Fliers, and instead of being able to Fall Back and shoot, it can Fall Back and charge.  Fall Back and charge is amazing, coming from a Kraken Genestealer player, so this is great on say a Daemon Prince or Disco who can get into the scrum, and if they live, Fall Back from a fight and get around to the juicier parts of the enemy’s lines.   Being able to ignore Terrain lets Discos hide behind buildings or walls and still be able to pop out and get to where they want to be.  Really, this is for Discos, and it can make one pretty damn annoying.  The random movement is not so good though as it is less than what a healthy Disco can do, but there are ways to buff the Disco anyway.   


Hydra’s WailOnce per battle, at the start of the battle round, if the model with this relic is on the board, you can use it, and until the end of the battle round, whenever your opponent spends a CP on a stratagem, on a 4+, they must spend 1 additional CP or the stratagem is canceled and the CP cost is taken.  
Do you play Chaos and want a Callidus? Here you go.  It is crazy that AL basically get a bunch of stratagems to act like an Imperium army, and you know what, that makes them crazy good because you still have the all the fun stuff of Chaos but now all the tek of an Imperium army.  Getting about half of your opponent’s stratagems to be 1 more CP than normal can be game changing.  Top players budget their CPs carefully, but if you can mess with that budget, you can throw their entire game plan off.  Especially against armies that really rely on one big turn of stratagems to go HAM, this can ruin it.  Orks and GSC are especially vulnerable to this, but so are a lot of armies that want to spend a lot of CPs in a specific turn.  Sometimes this might be Turn 1 or 2, but if you can keep your character alive, this can shatter the mid-game as your opponent is low on CP and now may not be able to get that clutch stratagem off because they don’t have the CP to spend.  
In short, this is the best relic that AL gets, and one of the best relics Chaos gets, so take it, even if you have to spend CP for it. 

callidus assassin 1
But now in Chaos flavor!


Viper’s Bite: Replaces combi bolter. Range 24″ Rapid Fire 2 S5 AP-3 D2


This isn’t a bad gun by any stretch of the imagination, and if you really want the sniper AL character, this is the gun to do it, but really, it is not worth it.

  
Hydra’s Teeth: Replaces a “bolt weapon”. That bolt weapon automatically hits and wounds on a 2+ unless it is a VEHICLE or TITANIC model, in which case it wounds on a 6+.  These attacks ignore cover. 


Again, this is cool, but nowhere near cool enough to take over Hydra’s Wail.  


Shadeblade: replaces Power Sword or Force Sword. S+1 AP -3 Dd3.  When resolving an attack against the bearer, subtract 1.  


This is a cool power sword if you want to do an AL character with -2 to hit, which is funny and could be frustrating, but again, it runs into the problem of just not being as good as other options.  If you could put this a DP, then maybe we could talk. 


So, to wrap it all up, Alpha Legion are just stupid good thanks to the fact that they essentially blend Imperium tricks with Chaos power.  Whether as a full army of AL or as a splash detachment, AL should absolutely be something you look to if you want to add a lot of tactical flexibility to your list. 


That said, AL is very CP hungry as you are going to want to use their stratagems, so you need to build accordingly.  A battalion of Red Corsairs is definitely not a bad idea to get that extra love. Well, that was a fun diversion, and next time, well, we’ll see what where my focus falls as there is always something new coming out, or even something newish that hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserves. See you all around, and thanks as always for reading.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

One Response to “Psychic Awakening II: Alpha Legion review”

  1. Avatar
    NinetyNineNo February 2, 2020 9:08 am #

    Great article! As a very minor note, Hydra’s Teeth affects all bolt weapons rather than replacing one, so giving it to a bike lord with combi-bolter for 8 autohitting shots that wound on 2s could be funny if nothing else.

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