Faction Focus Sisters of Battle

Are you a defender of the faith? Erik here from Art of War! Today we will be going on a bit of dive through the Sisters of Battle codex.

In this article, we will go through the strengths of the sisters, some of their exciting combos, unit and list synergies that have been tried and tested, as well as exploring this incredible, unique mechanic: the miracle dice! 

Let’s start with the more apparent strengths in this book. Now, unlike most power armor factions, the sisters have access to several cheap power armored infantry models. Now, this may not seem substantial, but when combined with some of their order traits and abilities, they become an immovable object of an army. 

How do they acquire this? First, if you’re looking to build the most consistent performing sisters army list, then I highly recommend:


Valorous Heart 

This Order offers your army a 6+ feel no pain, which you all know I absolutely love when playing my leviathan Nids, but on top of this, you get an army-wide buff of ignoring -1 AP against ranged AND melee weapons! It doesn’t even end there; if you include an imagifier in your list (which I would never leave home without), that model has access to 3 different tales. 

– Tale of the Faithful: This ability allows all friendly order units within 6 to re-roll Deny the Witch attempts. This isn’t a bad ability to have, and we will revisit why later in this article. 

– Tale of the Warrior: Add 1 to the strength characteristic to all order units within 6. This is great as you are already quite resilient, ignoring -1 AP on all your sisters, but now with preachers and missionaries, you’re able to start stacking attacks on your sister units and now gain access to +1 strength! 

– Tale of the Stoic: The best for last, this tale is the must include in your sisters list regardless if you are running valorous Heart or not. This gives all units within 6 ignore -1AP. Now that doesn’t seem so good because you already have that right, however this buff STACKS!!!! with Valorous Heart. This makes a tide of sisters, which are incredibly cheap, such an insane army to shift, making them in my mind one of the best defensive armies in the game. The ability to be able to sit in cover and almost always have your 2+ save with a 6+ feel no pain is honestly too good to look past. 

What if you want to take more than one of those Tales? Usually, the +1 strength and an additional ignore -1 AP are a solid combination. Don’t worry; there is a stratagem to take two tales on the same imagifier, which is beautiful, meaning you won’t always have to fork out the extra 45 points for a second imagifier if you are pushed for points. 

Now that we have briefly touched on why the core of your army being Valorous Heart is so formidable, this does not mean ruling out other Orders. There is quite a lot of play with the Bloody Rose and even Our Martyred Lady. 


Our Martyred Lady

The tech options that Bloody Rose has to offer allows us to talk about Our Martyred Lady. This Order is not better then Valorous Heart, but it has merit. Our Martyred Lady gains one miracle dice at the end of any phase a friendly order unit was destroyed. Also, they add 1 to the hit roll for the rest of the game if any models from any unit are slain during the battle. This ability is quite strong because sisters hit on 4’s in combat. You can start generating this blender horde of sisters that fight and shoot well, now hitting most things on 2’s with their shooting or starting to ignore any hordes of models with -1 to hit. While in the current meta, I don’t think this should be the go-to option. If your local meta starts reverting back to hordes, there is some serious game here. They also gain access to one of the new special characters, Junith Eruita. What is so good about Junith is not only does she act like another saint by giving units +1 to their shield of faith (invulnerable), save she also gives out an aura of re-roll ones to wound. That is incredibly useful for Sisters to have, as there is no other way in the codex to have this buff through your shooting and assault phases. 

credit to 1d4chan
credit to 1d4chan

Bloody Rose – The Smash Canoness

While Bloody Rose used to be the only Order you would ever see from Sisters of Battle, they now act as an incredible tech choice to be injected into the strong core of your Sisters army. The Bloody Rose add +1 Ap on all their pistol and melee weapons and gain +1 attack in the first round of combat. So, on face value, there isn’t anything too crazy to see here until we dive a little further into some of the strategems/relics and warlord traits. 

Now obviously +1 ap on pistols for all your seraphim units or getting -4 ap Repentia is pretty damn sweet. Still, my personal favorite is what you can do with a simple 45 point Canoness. A Canoness has 4 attacks with a Chainsword plus 1 attack in the first round of combat along with -1 AP. The first thing we want to look at is a stratagem to give another model a warlord trait, Heroine in the Making. We want to give her “Righteous Rage.” This gives her re-roll charges and re-rolls to wound. She doesn’t seem like much just yet, but the next two things we are going to give this Canoness on her burst of damage is a relic Chainsword, similar to Teeth of Terra it gives +3 attacks +1 strength, -2 AP and 2 damage flat. So, as Bloody Rose, this becomes +4 attacks, -3 AP with re-roll to wound, (now we’re cooking) to top it all off, the Bloody Rose has access to a stratagem to gain +1 to wound! SO all of a sudden, this little 45 point model is walking into and straight through whole units, even resilient ones! This sort of tech is an auto-include because nothing will give you that sort of burst damage for such little cost. 

The tech behind the sisters characters: 

My favorite thing to do with the Sisters characters is to use the stratagem “Divine Intervention.” This essentially allows all your characters to stand back up just like the saint. Truly amazing. The cheeky objective grabbing/contesting you can do with this because you stand back up at the end of the phase has so much strength, so much that it may be overlooked until actually used in a game. It can also cause monumental issues for gunline lists that do not have an answer to her standing up after the army is done shooting. This means you are usually trading your 45 point Canoness for two units or strong characters, which is something you are more than happy to do without hesitation. This build is incredible to use on your smash Canoness and your key buffing characters as well. Things like Eliminators or a lucky turn on targetted mortal wound psychic powers don’t just end your game in a heartbeat. Sometimes you can even bait an over-commitment to try and kill one of your important characters with you full knowing she will be standing right back up to rejoin the fight, something even this small can tilt the momentum of a game on its head. 

Along with some great smash captain like wargear, the Sisters’ characters also get access to some very niche and useful options such as the null rod. The null rod makes the bearer immune to psychic powers, similar to the Culexus assassin. Also, enemy psykers within 18 suffer -1 to cast. I’m sure there are some meta countering lists you can build here combining those options with assassins, but if you do decide to stay as a mono faction, the sisters also gain access to a Sacred Rite that gives all your units with the sacred rite ability +3 to Deny the Witch (starting to look pretty potent for psychic armies). That wouldn’t seem like much if it weren’t for every Sisters unit getting to attempt to deny on 1d6. Combine this with miracle dice and re-rolling Deny the Witch from the Imagifier and you become pretty effective at shutting down spells on 1d6 + 3 with a re-roll, and hopefully, they’re at -1 to cast. 

credit to devian art
credit to devian art

Some key units to consider outside of the normal Celestine + Seraphim

Along with your core of Valorous Heart or Our Martyred Lady and sprinkled in tech of the smash Canoness, what are some other units you can include to flesh out the core of the list? My personal favorite is the Retributors. Not only are these units incredibly hard to shift, but they also project some high strength, high damage shots from decent range that your sisters list honestly really needs if it wants to go the distance. Normally, you would think there is no way multi-meltas are getting in range of what they need to kill. Now, ignoring -1 and -2 AP, they can make their way into the center of the table quite easily. They also now have access to a stratagem that boosts their range by 12″ and add one to all the damage rolls. This suddenly makes them quite a capable unit in the earlier stages of the game before they can close the gap on their targets. 

Another genuinely fantastic unit in a Sisters army is the Celestians. Having a 3+ weapon skill, an extra attack, and the ability to act as a bodyguard, Celestians have a unique combat role. They can also be vital in protecting from smites using the Canoness with the null rod. Celestians are also much better at projecting consistent damage as they gain full re-rolls from the Canoness rather than the typical re-roll ones. Like most units for sisters, they too have their own unique stratagem. Theirs allows them to also re-roll all wounds, which is excellent to have up your sleeve. 

credit to jianing hu
credit to jianing hu

Is there any way to make your standard sister units effective rather than just bodies on the table?

Despite what most people may think, they’re absolutely is. If you’re running Sisters units en masse, this can get quite expensive but adds quite a nice amount of concentrated damage that the army may otherwise be lacking. Each Sisters unit can be accompanied by an incensor cherub and a Simulacrum Imperialis. Once per game, the cherub allows you to roll 2d6 pick whichever single result you would like to be your miracle dice. This miracle dice can only be used by that unit and must be used in the phase I was generated. Usually, you can only enact an act of faith once per phase. However, the simulacrum allows you to perform an act of faith regardless of if you have already done one. When you combo all of this with stray multi-meltas in units, they can quite quickly do an absurd amount of damage when you truly need it. Saving these cherubs for moments you need to bring down something important is truly potent. Use this in overwatch against smash characters or vehicles; a cheeky miracle dice of a 6 makes these units quite scary to get stuck into. This small combo within your troop units can add so much throughout a game, and even if it amounts to nothing or you are never presented with an opportunity to use it, the threat of it being there is worth its weight in holy promethium. 

credit to muninn’s brush
credit to muninn’s brush

I’m sure some of you are wondering how do we put all of these units/ tech options into play on the table. 

For those of you that have read my article on Tyranids or have seen me play that army, this style of list operates very similarly. This similarity doesn’t mean you have to run big units of sisters to make use of the tendrils; it simply adds to the power of the army. All your models are incredibly hard to shift, and you have access to an arsenal of ways to stop models from running via the hospitaller, the missionary, and the standard auto-pass morale stratagem. Basically, you have an incredibly durable deathball of Sisters, all overlapping with a range of buffs, making them better in combat, harder to kill, and project more effective shooting. All of this allows you to assert board control against your opponent. It is an army that is super difficult to engage and walk away feeling like you’ve made a valued trade against the sisters, as none of these units are particularly valuable to how your army operates. 

The Miracle Dice: 

Now that you have the holy trinity being your strong core, smash characters, and fire support built into your mindset, its time to visit some of the thinking that goes into making the best use of your miracle dice. 

There are some obvious uses that are just plain good such as using a 6 to do some explosive damage or a 3+ to pass an important save roll automatically. But there are some pretty neat ways to put these miracle dice into game-changing use. Some of my favorites are using a 6 as one a result for your charge move for infantry and deep striking Seraphim that would allow you to get some pretty crucial tags and pins off on your opponent’s gunline. 

Sisters also have access to an advance and charge stratagem, which comes in quite handy on things like the Saint and the smash Canoness, and sometimes you just really need to be able to launch them across the table. Using your miracle dice to give you a big roll means you can plan out your movement and charge phases much better as you know what you’re going to get. The strength of this is incredible. Anything where you can take away the chance of something going wrong holds serious value in my eyes. 

Sometimes, you get stuck with a pretty bad grouping of miracle dice, but don’t fear, it isn’t all bad. A lot of the time, I have found it quite useful to use up your 1’s for morale dice to make sure you keep the maximum amount of models around. Not only that, but you also have access to a stratagem to burn 1-3 miracle dice and add +1 to the result of any save, hit, or wound roll for each miracle dice you discard. For 1 cp, this is handy to push through those extra wounds with multi meltas or pass a clutch 6+ invulnerable on a vehicle or character. 

I hope this article on the fundamentals of a sisters of battle army has been insightful. If you’d like to find out more how to use the technical side of the army, check out The War Room and The Art of War coaching services.

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