With the release of the new Adeptus Mechanicus Codex many players are going to be taking a fresh look at all the units in the new book. That may mean these models need dusting off the shelves, or it may mean some of the staple Admech units from before will be taking their place. With the introduction of the Core keyword, the re-working of Canticles, the addition of Doctirinas, and all the other rules layers Games Workshop created nothing plays quite the same way it did in the 8th Edition Admech book (for some units this is a huge understatement!). The Dominus, at first glace, may seem like a unit that does the same thing it did in the old Admech Codex, but a deeper dive into the new Codex shows that this 8th Edition staple may no longer be in all (or even most) Admech lists going forward.
This HQ option still gives out re-roll 1s to hit, can repair a Forgeworld model D3 wounds at the end of the movement phase, and comes standard with Omnissian Axe and Volkite Blaster. Looking closer at the datasheet reveals a major trend within the Codex as the Dominus’ re-rolls only affect Core units. While the aura buff is no longer restricted to the shooting phase alone the Core keyword restriction cuts out large portions of the Codex that were previously enjoying to-hit re-rolls. Things like Skorpius tanks, Dunecrawlers, Kastellan Robots, Breachers, and Destroyers all do not benefit from having the Core keyword, and this change makes the Dominus a less attractive buffing character then he may seem to be at first.
A minor improvement to the wargear of the Dominus doesn’t really make up for the restrictive re-roll aura, but the Volkite Blaster has improved. Heavy 3 shots at S6 with 6s to wound causing 2 mortal wounds is a decent weapon for a backline character. Unfortunately, the “upgraded” weapons a Dominus can take in the Phosphor Serpenta and Eradication Ray are downgrades over the stock options and are 5 points apiece more.
The new is not all bad for the Dominus with the introduction of the new Holy Orders that can be purchased for a Tech Priest during list building. All four of the Holy Order options cost points ranging from 25-35, all four make a different type of stratagem cost 1CP less once per game, and they all come with a starting buff which can be changed by taking an Action with the Dominus to move into the second type of buff in the next player turn. One interesting interaction from one of these Holy Orders includes the second effect (so your Dominus will need to spend one turn performing the Action to move into this effect) of the Logi Holy Order giving one Core unit the ability to turn AP 1 or 2 attacks into AP 0 attacks. This will be very strong in a Lucius army with the army wide ability to give +1 save against damage 1 attacks along with ignoring AP 1 and 2.
The Magi Holy Order has the most powerful starting buff in giving one Core unit exploding 6s to hit with ranged weapons (super weak Divinations of the Magos!). Many things did lose the Core keyword, but one unit kept it that makes this 30 point upgrade worth it. Ironstriders with Assault 2 Lascannons or Assault 4 Autocannons keeping exploding 6s to hit allows Admech to keep claiming they are the best shooting army in the game even after Cawl re-rolls and Divinations of the Magos are gone from the game.
The Admech Warlord Traits have also seen an overhaul that effects the Dominus in the addition of specific Traits available to keyword Tech Priest models. Cartogrammatist is one of the stronger Tech Priest Traits which allows one Core unit from your army to teleport onto the battlefield from Reserves outside of 9 inches of enemy models. If you are not already taking Lucius as your Forgeworld this Trait is an excellent option for a unit of Ironstriders, or large unit of Rangers, to be able to ensure they get the first round of shooting at whatever your opponent can’t screen from these unit’s long range weapons. Supervisory Radiance brings back the re-roll hit rolls in close combat but locks this benefit to Cult Mechanicus Core units. Thankfully Electropriests remained Core and are Cult Mechanicus!
While many players will open up their preferred list building app and throw in a Dominus out of habit this 9th Edition Admech Codex makes the 80 point character not such a no brainer choice as before. Everything the Dominus can take for being a keyword Tech Priest can be obtained by taking a Tech Priest (not keyword, like the model), and the re-roll 1s to hit aura for Core units can be achieved by taking a Marshal for Skitarii units. While both the Marshal and Enginseer Tech Priest have one less wound then then Dominus they are also much cheaper options. During list building if you find yourself 30ish points shy of that perfect list demoting a Dominus back down to Enginseer may not be the worst option.
If you shouldn’t take a Dominus what should you take?! Don’t worry next week’s article will look at the Engineseer, Technoarchaeologist, and the Manipulus as viable alternatives to the Dominus.