When asked to describe Wych Cult units, most players would tell you they are an unforgiving glass cannon: if left out of position, they might as well be back on the display board. Since the advent of the previous edition, Wych Cult units began to hit more like a wet noodle then any artillery. Today we will dive in the gladiatorial combatants of Commoragh to see if they rise to the challenge in their latest codex.
Note: This article is by Tactical Terrain Eric, posted at his request.
As before, I will be using the same grading scale, reproduced below
- Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
- Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combo’d up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
- Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.
Cult of Strife – Striking first if you are within Engagement Range at the start of the Fight phase is more important in the current rules than before. This means even if your opponent charges in to rescue a unit your wyches held from Falling Back, you swing first. That said Wyches and Blood Brides are not going to wipe a unit often, but a blender succubus will. If an opposing unit does not have any other units within Engagement Range, the unit adds +1 to charge distance, which will help with units dropping in from reserve. Blood Dancer Warlord Trait makes your Succubus do an impressive Tesla impression inflicting 3 hits per 6 to Hit roll. The Phial Bouquet gives your succubus a new drug every Command Phase. And yes, Huey Lewis, it won’t make you talk too much, and stacks with the ones you already have. – Efficient
Honesty the strength of this Cult comes from its stratagems and relics in the Book of Rust. So here is the Cult of Strike remix – Competitive Edge is one you need to prepare for. Any attack that does not reach the inflict damage step becomes an additional attack. Combined with Razorflails to double your attacks, this means your Succubus’s 12 attacks vs a Marine character with a storm shield will get comfortably 8 additional attacks. For you mathhammer attics: 12 attacks, 10 hits, 5 wounds, 2 saves means 9 dice never inflicted damage. Apply other bonuses to taste. The sad part if the other relics and Warlord Traits are good, just so overshadowed by this – Competitive
Cult of the Cursed Blade – An old favorite gets some new fun. The basic +1 Strength is back, which is so much more now that you can choose your Combat Drugs. Marine like St 4 T4 Wyches are a thing, as are Harlequin-esque S5 Blood Brides. Rolling for two drugs is also viable and seen often in early tournament lists. The ignore Combat Attrition trick is gone, replaced with a new feel bad ability, so keep your codex handy to explain this to your opponent. Each save of a 6 made from a melee attack inflicts a Mortal Wound back on the attack. Just be careful with wound allocation. For example, my lone Reaver jetbike with 2 wounds remaining is charged by 30 gaunts. I would make 2 saves at a time until the Reaver dies or all the successful wounds are saved. I think this will have some play with Reavers & Hellions who already have +1 S weapons – Efficient
Cult of the Red Grief – This was starting see more use prior to the codex dropped. Once they were the sole owners of advance and charge. Today, advance & charge is on the Power from Pain table, and Red Grief units get to add 2 to all advance rolls. This sneaky good for objective grabs and secondary objectives that require you to be someplace on the board. In addition, they retain the reroll charges rule making them reliable for Wych Bombs of old. Hyperswift Reflexes continues the trend of 3++ extinction. Instead, your opponents to hit rolls in melee of 1-3 always fail. The Blood Glaive is still nasty, and the flat 3 damage with Precision Blows Warlord Trait is an assassin’s dream. Athletic Aerialist will take practice to master but look for this on top tables. The stratagem allows an infantry unit to consolidate 6” towards a Red Grief transport. The unit can embark on that transport, even if the disembarked that turn. This allows your Blood Brides to leap out of Raider, charge and fight, then slink back into the transport before your opponent gets to swing. All for the low price of 1 CP. – Efficient
You can still build your own Cult, and these have seen some improvement over the Physic Awakening versions. Overall these seem Efficient to Situational when compared to the three described above.
Instead I would direct your attention to the Book of Rust stratagems for Cult of Strife. To use these and the other gifts you need to forgo the Real Space Raider detachment and have your Cult of Strife in a separate detachment. It looks like the triple Patrol armies are set to return.
Book of Rust – Stratagems
Art of the Kill – Re-roll wounds in the Fight Phase for 2 CP, 3 CP if 11 or more models are in the unit. Competitive
Dance of Death – Not only a great end of credits song from the Ninjago Movie, a unit of your choice can move over terrain and intervening models for 1 CP. See Harlequins for possible uses. Competitive
Invigorated By Evisceration – If you destroy a unit in melee, for 1 CP, that unit has a 4++ until the next turn. – Efficient
The Blade Well Placed – This adds 1 to the AP for the Fight Phase for 2 CP. Situational
Deadly Exemplar – If a Succubus kills an enemy character or Monster, until the end of the battle, her Aura extends to the entire battlefield. So, imagine this: She leaps over a screen using Dance of Death and kills a Company Commander. The detachment gains reroll 1’s to wound without being near the Succubus. This could be Competitive if your opponent is heavy with characters that need to be in the fray. Since you must pick at list creation Efficient
Flawless Approach – Turns off Overwatch, Hold Steady, and Set to Defend – Situational
Pick Them Apart – Fall Back and still be able to shoot and charge. Since it has a different name, can be used in the same phase as Cruel deception. Competitive
Hekatrix of the Crucibael – You may give your Hekatrix, the Wych unit leader for you Monkeigh, a relic. – Efficient
Is she good? Yes. Why is no one talking about her? She takes up your Super Succubus slot, so you are forced to run a second Cult patrol if you want one of the succubus combos you dreamt up. In exchange her unique abilities make her Efficient but easily overshadowed by other choices. I could see her being Competitive in 1000 point games as many of her core abilities mimic key stratagems such as Fall and Charge & Fight Twice without spending the fewer CP allotted to those sized games.
The strength of any faction is their troop choices and their ability to operate independently of character buffs and stratagem shenanigans. Wyches still maintain their glass qualities, so the best defense is making good use of the newer terrain rules and using transports. Drukhari transports offer a unique utility in that they now are a threat in close combat. In the past the Raiders and Venoms were thrown forward to soak up Overwatch, allowing the Wyches to charge without retaliation. Now with a few upgrades a Venom hits unit with 6 Strength 6 attacks at AP -1, while the Raider boosts that to Strength 7, both transports hitting on 4s. Not many screens in the game packing that kind of punch.
Wyches themselves still thrive in melee, but the key to mastering them to is kill units in your opponent’s Fight phase, then either move to safety or charge another unit to avoid your opponent’s shooting phase. With new Power from Pain table granting them the ability to advance and charge and new stat line boasting 4 attacks, Wyches start to resemble Harlequin troupes in terms of raw power. Where the murder clowns look to war gear to increase Strength and AP, Wyches have ample access to a myriad of Combat drugs and bonuses via Obsessions. For example, combine Cult of the Curse Blade with Grave Lotus drug and your entire unit will be ST 5 AP -1, with an added AP on 6’s to wound thanks to the Blade Artist ability. Caress that, clowns. Swap over to Cult of Red Grief and the Strength drops to 4 but now you can reroll all charges for reliable entry via reserves. Want to leap over intervening screens? The Book of Rust has a hidden gem for you Cult of Strife Fans.
Where the Succubi are separated from the Sybarites is mitigating your weaknesses. Like Harlequins, Wyches have a 4+ invulnerable save, but only versus melee attacks. Who’s Laughing now? So, a Shooting Phase of pistol shots can to still ruin your day, as can layered armies. If your opponent can fall back, leaving your Wyches exposed, it will not take much for another unit to pick up the unit in the Shooting phase. This makes positioning and shardnets critical. All Wyches can prevent units within Engagement Range from Falling Back, and shardnets improve your chances. But why risk fate to a roll off: engage multiple units to force your opponent to have to Fallback with more assets of their army. Competitive
Back by popular demand, Bloodbrides are the upgraded version on Wyches. You can include one per detachment as long you have supersized your Succubus to Show Stealer status. That said, I am not sure if this show is worth the price of admission. The upgrade allows you to keep your Objective Secured Status, which is huge, but also improves the weapon skill by 1 and Blade Artist upgrades to -4 AP on 6’s to wound. The trailer looks good, but on the table, I am not sure how often you need the improved weapon skill on turns one and two, especially when you get it for free via the Power from Pain table on Turn 3. And if I am wrong, you can always use combat drugs for a boost. The extra AP is nice, but with storm shields littering the battlefield and even those pesky Skitarri have a 6++, your mileage may vary. Efficient
The Wych Cult HQ unit continues to be a low-cost blender. Her Aura buffs to Wound roles for all Core Wych Cult units, which is helpful in a largely strength 3 army. The new points cost set up allows you to mix and match without any additional points for gear, so let your creativity run wild. There are tons of combos that will leave your opponent grasping for your codex seeking for a unit saving typo. In our previous article, every warlord trait is thought to be competitive. Make sure they have one, either by being your warlord, Alliance of Agony, or Tolerated Ambitions stratagem. Competitive
Over the years, these fell way behind the Craftworld Cousin’s Scat Packs with Doom. The newest rendition however may be a threat not seen previously. The first subtle change is the strength for Blades Vanes went from a fixed strength 4 to User. This allows you to buff the blades vanes with Cult of the Cursed Blade and Combat Drugs to St5, possibly 6 with Hyperstimm Backlash. Grav Talons also improved for increased mortal wound output once a successful charge is made, causing damage before the fight phase. Lastly, the changes to Heat Lances provides more punch with increases to strength and damage, but be aware they are now a heavy weapon, so no advance and shoot like before. The once forgotten Splintermind drug buffs Leadership and ballistic skill, so your Reavers will hit on 2’s in the shooting phase. Or you can still go old school with Painbringer for T5 bikes. The smaller board size and the unit’s uncompromising speed will put any unit on the board on notice. Efficient
Hellions have been the measure of mediocre for years, not just for Drukhari but all of 40k. This hurt many long time Drukhari fans. Hellions were once amazing with their own unique character. As with many of those characters, a Thanos like snap of the fingers pushed their existence to the exile of the lore. But the Hellions have returned from the Blip. In practice games, I am shocked how good they are and are so customizable. The base layer is a Strength 4 ap -1 2 damage close combat model with 3 attacks. What surprised me is their movement and shooting. Where Reavers must avoid advancing to bring all their guns to bear, Hellions are full speed ahead with their Assault 2 poison shots. The new stratagem to allow poison weapons to work against non-titanic vehicles suddenly makes this unit an all-round monster. You can go Cursed Blade to get a native Strength 5 attack, then buff this with +1 to Attack on the charge. Remember Hellions can still Fall Back & Charge for free, so always be charging. Cult of Strife, courtesy of the Book of Rust, gives you a stratagem to keep them alive by giving them a 4+ invulnerable save after wiping out a unit. But the secret sauce no one talks about: they are infantry! So, after they blow up a few units and fly by kill a character, your opponent will take aim at them. Once the unit is now down to 3 or 4 models, they are easy to hide with mobility to spare. Get them out of line of sight, and perform an action.
If you cannot choose between either Reavers or Hellions, be the superior Archon and let them prove to you who is best with the Deadly Rivals Stratagem. For 2 CP, one unit of each within 12” of each other and Line of Sight gain rerolls to hit in combat and +1” movement. Neither unit has easy access to rerolls as there are no (longer) any characters on a skyboard or bike, so this is another huge buff especially turn 3 and thereafter when both units are hitting on 2s. Competitive
If you like to hear more about the top Drukhari players in competitive 40k, for any other faction, make sure to check out the Exterminatus Podcast. Each week we break down the top players on the biggest stages of Warhammer 40k.
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