Lelith Hesperax: Will She Blend?

Is Lelith an absolute blender? Here’s the short answer: Yes.

But there’s a bit more to it than that.

Last week Games Workshop released a preview for the upcoming Piety and Pain box set, which will feature the Adepta Sororitas and the Drukhari.

The box set itself looks great, featuring some great models from both factions, but there’s one particular model that will interest Drukhari players: the new Lelith Hesperax sculpt.

It’s an excellent model, and while it’s not too dissimilar from the old model, it’s going to be cast with all the modern expertise that GW brings to all their new kits. What does that mean exactly? Well, it ain’t finecast.

And, of course, with the new sculpt comes the new codex, which means that Lelith is getting a new set of rules.

Let’s check out what we know so far, and let’s dig into the question of just how much of a blender the famed duellist will be.

First, the basics. Only one element of Lelith’s stat-line has changed. Instead of four Attacks, she now has seven. It goes without saying that this is an excellent change, and certainly one that would be expected given the relative lethality of 9th edition.

What else does the stat-line tell us? She has a very poor Save, 6+. This is standard for a Drukhari Wych, but it’s not going to get Drukhari players anywhere if they want to throw her into combat with the best that their opponent has to offer.

Of course, Lelith’s invulnerable save more than makes up for this. At least, it does in the current Drukhari codex. At the moment, Lelith has a 3++, making her very tough indeed despite her seemingly vulnerable Aeldari frame.

Why do I emphasise that this is the case in the current codex? Because the preview that I linked to above doesn’t mention anything about an invulnerable save.

Here’s the obvious question, then: will Lelith retain her invulnerable save? I think that there’s a pretty good argument to say that her invulnerable save will drop down to 4+. GW seems to be moving away from the 3++ in 9th edition. For example, the Y’vahra Battlesuit’s Nova Charge ability no longer grants a 3++; it now grants a 4++.

Lelith’s 3++ was one of the elements of her datasheet that made her such a powerful combatant. Indeed, when combined with the Lightning-Fast Reactions stratagem to make her -1 to hit, she would be a real problem. Granted, some of 40k’s heavy hitters do have the tools to deal with her. If you’re dealing 3 or 4 Damage with each unsaved Wound, the Drukhari player only needs to fail a couple of invulnerable saves before Lelith is in dire trouble.

We can only wait until the codex is released to find out just how tough Lelith will be, but even with a 4++, Lelith still has plenty to offer. Let’s keep on going.

Lelith is armed with two blades — imaginatively named Lelith’s Blades — which confer +1 Strength, have an AP of -3, and deal 1 Damage. What’s more, these blades grant an additional hit for every unmodified hit roll of a 6.

And it’s here that we start to come across some of the data-sheet’s limitations. In 9th edition, 1 Damage isn’t going to cut the mustard against a lot of foes. And what’s more, hitting at Strength 4 — Lelith’s natural Strength is 3 — is going to be real problem as well.

However, we know from the preview that Lelith will still have her Natural Perfection rule, and it’s here that we see some of the more interesting aspects of the data-sheet as a whole. Natural Perfection allows the Drukhari player to choose one of two benefits: Thrilling Acrobatics or Gory Spectacle.

Thrilling Acrobatics allows Lelith to declare a charge in a turn in which she made a Fall Back move or made an Advance move. Gory Spectacle allows Lelith to fight again at the end of the Fight phase if she destroyed any enemy models during the Fight phase.

It’s here that we see the real power of the data-sheet: Lelith is going to be deadly against units containing multiple models.

With a guaranteed double-fight, Lelith will be virtually unstoppable against practically all light- and medium-infantry in the game.

Charge her into, say, a squad of Guardsmen or a squad of Fire Warriors and she’ll pick up the entire unit without breaking a sweat. She’ll do the same against a squad of Skitarii Rangers or a squad of Dire Avengers. You get the idea. Against anything with a Toughness of 3 and a Save of 4+ or worse, she’s likely to remove the whole squad.

But we start to see severe limitations if she charges into a heavier infantry squad. For example, against a unit of Deathwing Terminators, she’ll not kill even one model on average dice, meaning that she won’t be eligible to double-fight. Let’s look at some back-of-the-napkin numbers.

Lelith will swing with seven Attacks. Let’s presume one 6 and one 1, which means that the total number of hits will be seven. Against our Deathwing Terminators she’ll be wounding on 4s, meaning that we’ll be looking at four Wounds in total on slightly above average dice. Let’s presume that our Deathwings remain on their standard 5+ invulnerable save; 66 percent of four is 2.64, so it’s pretty much a wash between causing two Wounds and causing three Wounds.

But let’s be a little generous and presume that Lelith slays one of the Terminators and is therefore eligible to fight again at the end of the phase. Presuming that the remaining Terminators don’t slay her in return, Lelith would be again have to be slightly fortunate to pick up another Terminator.

Killing two Terminators on above-average dice really isn’t much to write home about.

Let’s take a step back. I haven’t mentioned an important rule on Lelith’s data-sheet in the current Drukhari codex. A League Apart allows Lelith to reroll both hit and wound rolls if she is fighting an enemy Character.

Of course, the data-sheet that we’ve already seen doesn’t mention this rule, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rule is no longer on the data-sheet. We simply don’t know which rules will feature on the final data-sheet and which will not.

I very much hope that Lelith will keep this ability. And I would imagine that she will. Her whole shtick is that she is one of the most powerful duellists in the 40k universe, and it would be a shame if she were to lose an ability that fits so nicely with this theme.

Granted, this will make her all the more powerful if — if — she gets into combat with my T’au Commanders, but sometimes you’ve got to just roll with the punches.

But even if she keeps A League Apart, Strength 4 and Damage 1 is going to limit her. Against tough foes she’s really going to struggle. In fact, let’s demonstrate this fact with the aforementioned T’au Commander.

Lelith charges in, expertly pirouetting through the hail of overwatch fire, and lands eight hits on the heroic Commander — remember that Lelith rerolls hit rolls against Characters and that 6s explode. The Drukhari player now needs to roll 5s in order to Wound. From those eight hits, we could be generous and say that three score Wounds. From the remaining five, let’s say that another two Wounds get through. And let’s presume that the T’au player doesn’t make any of his 6+ Saves. Lelith deals five Wounds in total to the Commander. How many Wounds does a T’au Commander have? Six.

Well, this is awkward.

At the beginning of this article I stated that Lelith is a blender, and I stand by that assessment. But when we scratch the surface of the data-sheet, we start to see some problems. Yes, Lelith is a murder machine when deployed against the correct target, but she’ll bounce if the Drukhari player doesn’t wisely choose her opponent.

And, to be fair, when you have a codex that features Drazhar, it’s understandable that other close combat units don’t hit as hard as he does.

This new Lelith data-sheet, as far as we can tell so far, offers Drukhari players another option in the Fight phase that is very potent against one particular segment of the opponent’s army. But, if you want someone to go toe-to-toe with the big boys, Lelith isn’t the answer.

I’ll add one final caveat: we don’t know what the codex will bring. There might be stratagem and Cult-specific rules that make her more powerful. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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

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About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

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