We’ve known for a good two or three months now that the next Drukhari codex is just around the corner, and a couple of weeks back we saw the new stat-line for the Kabalite Warrior and the new stat-line for the Splinter Cannon.
I don’t play Drukhari, but my most frequent opponent does — check out his excellent work on Instagram — which means that I have quite a bit of experience being on the wrong end of a poison weapon or two.
And even though Splinter Cannons will now be a little more dangerous to my Battlesuits, I really like these changes that we’ve seen so far.
Of course, we saw the new Incubi stat-line way back in November, but I’ll come to that later in the article.
First things first, the ever-arrogant Kabalite Warrior has gained an extra Attack and a Save of 4+. While both of these items are welcome for Drukhari players, I would argue that the improved Save is where the money is.
Two Attacks on a faction’s basic infantry is certainly nothing to sniff at. It’s a great little upgrade. But Kabalites aren’t going to be the main combat threat in a Drukhari raiding party. There’s plenty of competition in the codex for models that can do the business in the Combat phase.
It’s the Save of 4+ that caught my eye, and it did so for a couple of reasons. First, anything that makes a Kabalite Warrior more durable has its value. A defensive profile of Toughness 3 with a 5+ Save isn’t going to make any opponent think twice about shooting them.
Of course, Toughness 3 with 4+ Save isn’t going to stop a hail of Bolter rounds if your opponent really wants to kill your infantry, but we’re getting to the point in which an opponent might think twice about the number of models that he commits to destroying your Kabalites. Granted, it still won’t take too much to do, but anything that forces your opponent to think a bit more about his choices is a good thing for the power of the faction.
However, there is one particular stratagem that now looks even more useful to Drukhari players: Hunt from the Shadows.
How does this stratagem work? For the cost of one Command Point, when a Drukhari infantry unit in cover is targeted in the Shooting phase, increase the bonus to the unit’s Save characteristic by +2 instead of 1+.
This stratagem, then, can grant a 2+ save to a unit of Kabalites. And what’s more, it’s very Drukhari. Aeldari have a reputation for shenanigans, but Drukhari have yet more of a reputation for cunning and guile, and this stratagem now feels yet more cunning and guileful.
A Save of 2+ can go a long way under the right circumstances. Granted, top-tier armies will have plenty of tools to deal with infantry with a 2+ Save, but one of the interesting aspects of this stratagem is that the Drukhari player activates it after his opponent declared which unit is to shoot, meaning that, with the change to the target unit’s Save, the firing unit may very well do significantly less damage than the opponent would have thought.
If the opponent wants the target models destroyed, he will have to employ resources for which he had other plans. Again, anything that forces your opponent to rethink his strategy is a powerful strategy.
Kabalite Warriors, then, have been slightly improved, and strong Drukhari players now have more tools to make these infantry models more effective and more efficient on the tabletop.
But what about the Splinter Cannon? How has this weapon changed? In the current Drukhari codex, the Splinter Cannon is a 36″, Rapid Fire 3 poison weapon. It doesn’t have any AP and it deals 1 Damage. In its current form, I quite like the Cannon. At range it doesn’t offer much in the way of offensive output, but doubling the number of shots at 18″ gives Drukhari players a respectable amount of dakka.
Indeed, it’s the Splinter Cannon that makes the Venom a particularly strong transport. With Twin Splinter Rifles, a Splinter Cannon, and a respectable Ballistic Skill, the Venom provides reliable anti-light-infantry firepower. Of course, the Venom’s main advantage is its speed, but a little firepower never goes amiss.
How will the Splinter Cannon look in the new codex? It’s still a 36″ poison weapon, but it’s now Heavy 3, with an AP of -1 and a Damage of 2. It’s in this new stat-line that we see the influence of the new Marines on the meta: in 9th edition, strong armies need tools to deal with two-Wound models. Where the Splinter Cannon used to be able to deal with a wide variety of infantry, it now looks as though it’ll be much more useful against Marine-equivalent models and units.
Broadly speaking, I think that this is a good change. Most competitive Drukhari builds can go heavy on Splinter Cannons, and a plethora of Damage 2 weapons is certainly an advantage when it comes to 9th edition.
And it’s not just Marines that this weapon will threaten. The increase in Damage makes it much more viable against a wide variety of targets. We saw a similar theme emerge when the Heavy Bolter was changed. Again, Damage 2 can be very useful, and strong armies need a way to reliably inflict consistent Damage across the game.
I mentioned Incubi at the beginning of this article, and we see the same theme with this unit. The Klaive will be Damage 2 when the new codex is released, meaning that Incubi will be even more deadly — and not just against Marines. Incubi will give Drukhari players the tools to do some serious work in the Combat phase, and we haven’t even mentioned the Master of Blades himself.
The influence of the Marines in 9th edition is clear. Strong factions need ways to deal with them, and we’re seeing what that means for new codex books and updated rules every time we get new content.
Most readers will know that it wasn’t too long ago that Space Marines were a very mediocre army. Indeed, most competitive players knew that, while many people would play Space Marines at events, the top tables usually wouldn’t contain any Power Armour.
And I think that it’s great for the hobby as a whole that Space Marines be a powerful faction. Remember: Games Workshop is a model company first. If GW doesn’t sell models, we don’t get to play the game that we all love. If Space Marines are strong, more people will buy Space Marines, which is good for everyone.
The Incubi, the new Splinter Cannon, the new Kabalites — these changes look pretty good at the moment. Yes, they look as though they were written with Space Marines in mind, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whatever the case, the Drukhari is a solid faction right now, and this codex could certainly see our pointy-eared enemies become yet more powerful.
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