Top Astra Militarum player in the ITC and former ITC and LVO Champion, Brandon Grant gives his opinion on the new Greater Good book and how it benefits his favorite faction. For more great articles, check the Tactics Corner.
The Greater Good book had some welcome changes for the AM faction. To begin with new regiments are available for both Tempestus Scions and AM units. Let’s start this overview there.
The new custom regiments for AM are nicely balanced: you pick two of the bonuses listed and that’s your custom regiment. Nearly all the custom regiment bonuses are over-specialized and less useful than simply taking a vanilla regiment. That said, the top regiment bonuses are:
- Reroll a single die when resolving the number of random shots for a weapon on a vehicle.
- Add 6” to the range of heavy weapons with 24” or longer range.
- Rapid fire twice at 18” with infantry.
- Count as being in cover with infantry that haven’t advanced.
Ideally with an infantry only regiment you’d have counts as being in cover and rapid fire at 18. These abilities help your guardsmen to rapid fire earlier and more often while keeping them around longer. For vehicles, the reroll on number of shots increases damage output by 17% with d3 shots and 21% with d6 shots while also making your attacks more consistent. The extra 6” of range with heavy weapons also helps weapons such as demolisher cannons and punisher cannons to get in range while avoiding retaliation as a lot of melee units can charge 24” in a turn. While you give up regiment specific orders and CP abilities, I expect to be trying some custom regiment abilities myself as they can be tailored to fit exactly the build you want.
Of the new CP abilities, nearly all of them won’t see much play as almost all of them are unit specific. The best of the bunch are:
- Relentless: for one CP allow a vehicle that’s not TITANIC to fight with the top row of its’ damage table for a turn. This ability is welcome for boosting the firepower of a Leman Russ or artillery piece back up when needed. For 1 CP for a 100 to 200 point model this ability is reasonably balanced as well.
- Furious Charge: for one CP OGRYN keyword models in one unit within 1” of enemies after charging cause a mortal wound on a 4+. Few will be taking ogryns even with this strat, but Bullgryns can take on enemy elites more effectively with this change. 1 CP for 4-5 mortals on an enemy unit is strong but balanced by the fact that Bullgryns are slow.
- Hail of Fire: for two CP a LEMAN RUSS keyword model targeting VEHICLE keyword enemies shoots the maximum number of times with random attack weapons. On a fully loaded tank commander this can change the course of a game into enemies that have tough vehicles. For 2 CP it’s still balanced for a 200 point model to shoot ~50-70%% better.
Honorable mentions include:
- Direct Onslaught: for one CP, have a Wyvern or Manticore hit with +1 when targeting a visible enemy with their main weapon.
- Strike First, Strike Hard / Deft Maneuvering: each cost 1 CP. Sentinels can now get +2 to hit turn one and reduce incoming damage by 1 to a minimum of 1. These changes are interesting, but typically sentinels have been taken in order to fill brigades, while both strats work best on maximum units of sentinels to get the most benefit. I think we’ll actually see squadrons of 3 on the table with plasma cannon and hunter killer missiles in armies that take brigades anyway, but if your opponent is hidden on turn one the Strike First strat doesn’t do anything, and damage reduction of 1 on sentinels is just OK, they’re low toughness enough to fall to damage 1 weapons if necessary.
Tank aces are nice to have now too. You can give up your warlord’s trait to get one, and also pay 1 cp to gain another for a total of 2 per army. The tank ace abilities are nice to have for boosting offense or defense as needed, the best ones being:
- Weapon Expert: give a Leman Russ one better AP for the turret weapon. Very nice on a relic battle cannon or punisher cannon.
- Master Mechanic: give a Leman Russ reduce all damage by one to a minimum of one. Crucial in matchups where enemies have lots of damage 2 weapons for preserving your most valuable tanks.
- Full Payload: a basilisk, wyvern, manticore, or deathstrike does not roll for random damage, it always inflicts the maximum. Super nice to have, particularly in combination with other abilities, so long as the easy to remove vehicle can hide well enough.
Look out for most AM armies to have one, and some to have two of these abilities active in a game. (Note you can’t put two abilities on the same vehicle!)
The new regiments for Tempestus Scions are good enough to see them on competitive tables again, as they get warlord traits and relics as well. The standout abilities from the bunch are:
- 43rd Iotan Dragons: add 6” range to rapid fire weapons. This is HUGE for hot shot lasguns which only have 18” range normally. Now when arriving from reserves these guys can put out 4 shots per model with orders, while being 7 points per model. Nice if you want to bring cheap scions that still do respectable damage.
All the other regiments are also nice, with all of them giving a nice bonus to the damage they do under certain conditions. They’re mostly interchangeable so you’re free to select the regiment that has the best relics, warlord traits, and CP abilities, including:
- Refractor Field Generator relic: 133rd Lamdan Lions Tempestor Prime only: have a 6” aura of 5++ for Lamdan Lions. Not bad for keeping your guys alive through ap 2 or better.
- Distraction charges relic: 55th Kappic Eagles Tempestor Prime only: if a model within 3” of the relic bearer scores a hit in overwatch, halve the charging unit’s distance rolled (rounding up). Absolutely clutch when dealing with enemies that can arrive from reserves and charge to counter your scions.
- Keys to the Armoury (133rd Lamdan Lions warlord trait): reroll hit rolls of 1 for attacks with ranged weapons while within 6” of the warlord. Really nice for spamming plasma guns around the warlord while freeing up other orders, such as shoot even though you advanced or reroll ones to wound.
- Precision Targeting (43rd Iotan Dragons warlord trait): ignore cover against one enemy within 18” of the warlord with friendly units within 6” of the warlord. Nice to have against enemies relying on cover that lack good invulnerable saves. Situational.
- Progeny of Conflict: for one CP a Tempestor Prime who is not the warlord gets a warlord trait. Super good if you needed any of the warlord traits and wanted to take 2 tank aces as well. Just this ability alone might be reason enough to include a detachment of scions with your AM army.
- Point blank efficacy: for one CP add 1 to the strength of hot shot weapons for a unit when targeting an enemy unit within half range. Not bad for making hot shots reasonable against even t7 enemies.
- Killing zone: for one CP, after an infantry Scions unit has removed an enemy model from a unit, all other infantry Scions of the same regiment get +1 to wound that unit. Super good for focusing down tough units of enemy infantry with a big drop.
- Daring Descent: for one CP a 9th Iotan Gorgonnes unit can setup 5” away instead of 9” away from reserves but can’t charge that turn. Nice for a big unit of scions to get close for maximum damage with their hot shots and melta guns.
All of the CP abilities focus on helping individual units and all of the new abilities (outside of regiment bonuses) cost CP, so while it is possible to have a unit put out far more damage in one turn than before, this is balanced by not being army wide, abilities that last the whole game not stacking, and costing a hefty sum of CP to do. Here are some examples of combos of abilities which could be devastating:
The ultimate basilisk barrage (7 CP). Ingredients:
- Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company Vigilus formation (-1 cp)
- Orbital Tracker relic: ignores cover for a basilisk (-1 cp)
- Basilisk with support ace of flat 3 damage (-1 cp)
- Pounding Barrage strat to shoot twice in a turn with the basilisk (-2 cp)
- Aerial Spotter strat to reroll to hit with the basilisk (-2 cp)
With all these abilities combined, your basilisk expects to hit approximately 7-8 times at strength 9 ap 3 flat 3 ignores cover. Very handy for removing high threat units turn one that have multiple wounds and are out of line of sight.
The ultimate Leman Russ volley (6 CP). Ingredients:
- Emperor’s Fist tank company Vigilus formation (-1 cp)
- Hammer of Sunderance relic battle cannon (-1 cp)
- Tank Commander with tank ace of -1 ap for turret weapon (relic battle cannon) (-1 cp)
- Firstborn Pride: +1 to hit with a Vostroyan unit (-1 cp)
- Hail Fire: shoot maximum number of times at vehicle keyword (-2 cp)
- Gunners, kill on sight! order to re-roll 1’s to hit (0 cp)
All of these abilities on a tank commander with plasma sponsons expects to hit 12 times at strength 8 ap 3 flat 3, 6 times at strength 8 ap 3 flat 2, plus a lascannon hit. For best results, combine with the Old Grudges warlord trait to re-roll to wound against your target of choice as well.
In summary, I think all these new combos are great, but you’ll need to be selective about which ones you use and how often. If you feel I missed a great combination of abilities, list it below in the comments.
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