Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Witch Hunters

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With the release of Codex: Sisters of Battle this page is now outdated. If you're too poor or neckbearded to change you can still use these rules (as GW put them up on their website for free a while ago), but don't expect to be going to any tournaments.
The rules. Sadly not as good as the artwork.

Why Play Witch Hunters[edit]

They are nuns with guns. Bolter Bitches. Do you like AP 1 flamers? If Yes then this is the army for you. The models are pretty nice, and all pewter (if you prefer pewter models) Most importantly, you get to use "Acts of Faith" which are a lot like cheating. "oh, this turn, my bitches get to make their 3+ save invulnerable".

Unit Analysis[edit]

HQ[edit]

  • Cannoness - A solid choice, but you need to gear her up pretty heavily to make her really shine. Don't even bother if you're not going to shell out on at least a book of Saint Lucius and cloak of Saint Aspira. A Rosarius, while a tiny bit on the pricey side, would also not go amiss. A Blessed weapon is great for insta-killing Eldar, Imperial Guard and other Toughness 3 junk, but against Marines (and other Toughness 4), the Blessed Weapon is garbage and not worth it great as even though you don't instant kill them you get to wound on 2's, ignore their armour and can take whatever they dish back with your 2+ invulnerable save. Better yet give her a jump pack and an Eviscerator/Inferno Pistol and send her tank hunting, it's not like anybody else in your army is getting that shit done.
  • Palatine - Seriously, forget what I just said and field a stripped Cannoness before this. There is almost never a good reason to field her no matter how small the game is.
  • Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Lord - A versatile HQ choice that almost never stacks up to a good Cannoness. Best taken with a psychic hood against opponents fielding psykers, otherwise pass on him. Psychic powers are overpriced bullshit in an army that rarely lacks bullshit. If you want assassins just take him as an elite choice instead.
    • Note that if you DO want him or an Elite Choice version, you may want to bring a Psychic Power. Diving Pronouncement can be kinda funny as can Scourging or Word of the Emperor, Purgatus gets a bad rap but can be hilarious if you combine it with a Celexus assassin, let's see any sorcerer try to use any of his powers at Leadership 3-4. On balance though, most of the Psychic Powers are overpriced, but if you want to bring an Assassin and thus have to bring an Inquisitor, they can be kinda lulzy. Scourging is great on low armor units relying on Invuls to save them.
  • Priests - Not an HQ choice per se, but instead attach to your other units. Great for taking away your sisters' rapid fire rule as well as for getting them killed in charges. actually being a decent counter-charge option on your Sisters, re-rolling to hit rolls with S5? Yes please, just bring along Retributors (or more excorcists) for the long-range dakka you'll need, and don't worry about the mandatory charge if you don't want to charge, if you attach him to anybody firing bolters then they can't charge anyway. Also gives you access to a bunch of units you probably didn't want.

The following are special characters:

  • Inquisitor Lord Karamazov - The inquisition's fluffy old guy. You want an inquisitor retinue that counts as a single monstrous creature and goes around the battlefield spitting hatred and meltafire? this is your man. You want something more geared towards competitive play? I'm sure games workshop will be releasing another marine codex for you soon you fucking robot.
  • Saint Celestine - Basically a much more expensive jump pack Cannoness with some special rules. Dubiously worth the points and eats faith on death. If you really must put her with a seraphim squad and go push somebody's shit in.

Elite[edit]

  • Arco-Flagellants - Not horrible, but their inability to generate faith, need of a priest to deploy, and their worrying habit of OD'ing in combat makes them less than attractive. If you're going mechanized you can safely ignore these guys.
  • Assassin - These units that require an HQ (pricey) or ELITES (cheaper) Inquisitor to use.
    • Callidus - The only assassin that will routinely justify its point cost. Can usually be counted on to cause enough combined dickery and pain to see use in take all comers army lists. Yes "A word in your ear" is as fun as it sounds. Callidus will fuck up that SMURF-boy's Captain before he can blink.
    • Culexus - If you're not fucking up somebody's weeaboo elf shit or some Tyranid synapses its a definite pass. They can also be paired with laud hailers for some vicious tank shocking, though this isn't the most competitive of strategies.
    • Eversor - Good for infiltrating and tying up units, but you'd still be better off with a Callidus. At least their stupid bullshit is hilarious when it works. I hope you like dice.
    • Vindicare - Horrible. Will never see enough action to justify his points, and that's only if he doesn't die like a bitch.
  • Celestian Squad - A deceptively mediocre always faithful unit. To really make use of its close combat potential you need to shell out a lot of points, and by the time your venerable sister superior has that eviscerator in hand its already not worth it. Add to this that always faithful means they can't use martyrdom and it's strictly meh. Stick to seraphim.
  • Death-Cult Assassins - Decent Counter-assault units in groups, but still inferior. Take a faithful unit instead. The only pro about this assassin is that you don't need an Inquisitor in the army to take one. 5+ save means they will die quick. 40 points better spent on upgrading your Cannoness.
  • Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor - Much more cost effective than taking the inquisitor lord, but that's not saying a whole lot. Previous bitching still stands.
  • Sisters Repentia - Sweet emperor why? Bad speed, bad initiative, uncontrollable, can't use transports, 20 points each? Sure they can rip apart most infantry and vehicles, to a lesser extent, in close combat but with their overall bullshit statline and rules, they'll be dead before they even get half-way to the enemy's lines. But if you like to willingly give your opponent VPs, waste an elite slot(Not that you really needed this anyway) and wasting cash/points for better units, why not? It's your army,

Dedicated Transports[edit]

  • Chimera - The chimera is only a choice for storm troopers, and you shouldn't be taking storm troopers, therefore you shouldn't be taking this.
  • Rhino - Now we're talking. Cheap, hard, and since your units are 3+ they don't count as open topped when firing. Load up the sisters and head for the front lines. Extra vehicle armor and smoke launchers are mandatory. No exceptions.
  • Land Raider - Where in the hell would you even take your inquisitor lord? Anybody spending points on this deserves to get purged.

Troop[edit]

  • Battle Sisters Squad - 11 points for 3+ saves, bolters, and faith? Yes please. These will form the base of any competitive army. Mount them up with a flamer/melta to take the fight to the enemy quickly. ALWAYS upgrade to venerable sister superiors. Without faith you're just a retarded space marine army knockoff. Oh and if you're foot slogging it what the hell, storm bolters for everybody.
  • Inquisitorial Storm Troopers - Its 1 whole point to trade up from glory boys to bolter bitches, what the hell is wrong with you? Really the only time you would take these is if you wanted cheap plasma guns, any other situation you'd be better off trading up to sisters or down to inducted guardsmen. Oh, and the Adeptus Arbites versions drop their hellguns for shotguns, just in case they were too useful for you. you wanted to attach a priest and make them into a poor man's assault squad, because you're playing witch hunters, so why not? It's not like you're going to win. Give them a chimera and give the Arbites Veteran and the priest Eviscerators to make a unit capable of slicing apart small MEQ units and vehicles.
  • Zealots (Chapter Approved) Some good close combat fighters that can re-roll on charge and take negative morale modifiers as positive ones, they essentially serve as an excuse to use a priest. A full unit of 20 with Exterminators, 4 Fanatics armed with Eviscerators and Grenade Launchers can be a scarily brutal close combat unit, but costs as much as a Land Raider without a Priest, so be aware what you're getting yourself into. They also aren't faithful and don't get dedicated transports, so they're best kept clear of a mechanized army list. But if you're doing a walking list, they could be useful. Also, while the entry suggests to use Flagellants, if you're completely crazy (as evidenced by the fact that you're still using Witch Hunters) you could use Sisters of Sigmar models from Mordheim, as they fit the visual theme of the army better.

Fast Attack[edit]

  • Dominion Squad - Basically a sisters squad with some overpriced shiny bits. Four meltas/flamers makes for a deadly combination, but it's rarely worth it. Save your points, moving on.
  • Seraphim Squad - Poor Seraphim used to be the core of your army in 4th edition, but like most jump infantry they got nerfed pretty hard. Never the less they can still be useful if you know how to use them. The trick is to keep them safe and out of LoS until they can strike, throwing down flamer and brazier templates before darting out of combat with their hit and run rule. Just for the love of the Terra don't mistake these for counter-assault units, they are T3 and will perform as such. As always be sure to upgrade to a venerable sister superior with a Simulacrum Imperialis, you'll be using a LOT of faith with these girls.

Heavy Support[edit]

  • Exorcist - Not the tank chewing murder machines they were in fourth edition, but still quite good at their role and more importantly the only dedicated anti-armor unit you have. An important note is that these missile spewing behemoths can remain fairly effective while on the move, outclassing a similar unit like a predator annihilator. Take advantage of this and don't be afraid to reposition if need be. As always they are best taken in pairs to mitigate the randomness of their damage.
  • Immolator - Your sisters need to get within 12", and emperor knows they're not getting there on foot. As a transport its basically an expensive Rhino that will draw more antitank fire. It starts to shine when taken en masse. A wall of flame belching AV11 metal can quickly overrun enemy positions.
  • Orbital Strike - Congratulations, you just lost a heavy support choice.
  • Penitent Engine - The Sisters Repentia of the heavy support class. Sure it looks devastating in close combat, but with AV10, open top, and holy rage do you actually think its going to get there? If you're really good with getting units who have difficulty getting to where they need to be, go ahead and take it, but...there's easier ways to do the same thing that this does.
  • Retributor Squad - A solid choice when outfitted with 4 heavy bolters. Unfortunately it suffers from the crippling disadvantage of not being an exorcist. Not my first choice but they certainly wouldn't go amiss in the right situation. Never walk them anywhere, ever.

Building your Army[edit]

Hope you know how to paint metal models.

Stop bitching, it's easy. Go to a place called a hardware store for self-etching primer. Duh. Paint your girls however you want. (No fucking rainbows please.)

Another thing to note is that it's also a good idea these days to buy squads or even whole armies second-hand, due to your basic Troops choices only available otherwise in fucking blister packs.

Tactics[edit]

Unfortunately the sisters have not aged terribly gracefully and are slowly being edged out of tournaments. Still, they have the capability to hold their own competitively, albeit as a bit of a one trick pony. The generally accepted sisters strategy is close range mech, using either rhinos or now Immolators in 5th edition to close with the enemy where your flamers and meltas can do their work.

Faith[edit]

If you're playing a sisters heavy army (read: doing it right) you want to maximize your faith. Faith is what turns your mediocre space marine knock offs into versatile powerhouses capable of making the opposing player squeal like a stuck pig. Tough hero units got you down? Use hand of the emperor and watch your Cannoness saw through their commander like warm butter. Sick of marine armor saves? Mass fire with divine guidance and watch their squad disappear under a volley of AP1 fire. Opponent laughing at your Sororitas heroine? Pair spirit of the martyr with her cloak of Saint Aspira (you gave her one right?) and you've got a 2+ invulnerable save. Who's -4 Str now, bitches?

Builds[edit]

On account of their age, Sisters of Battle armies have an increasing tendency to look like one another. This said, there are two competitive army-templates which Sisters of Battle operate on, and several goofball army builds.

Traditional/The EZ-Bake Oven[edit]

This army used to be the go-to Sisters army back in 4th edition. Its core was a mass of Sisters of Battle mounted in Rhinos, Seraphim (each lead by a Jump Pack Cannoness), and Exorcists for long-range anti-tank support. It worked great... in 4th edition, when vehicles were made of papier-mache armor and the Exorcist was king at killing them. The term EZ-Bake comes from the fact Immolators were not favored due to their relative fragility, and the traditional use of Sisters was to place them in a Rhino, and drive forth at full speed while firing flamers out the Rhino hatch. This said, its overemphasis on killing infantry and lighter vehicles has made the EZ-Bake army a lot comparatively weaker.

Immolator Spam[edit]

This army came into its own at the start of 5th edition. Vehicle-damage rules made Meltaguns the new go-to tank-hunting weapon, and new cover rules made flamers more important than ever. This increase in vehicle durability, as well as new cover rules, as well as the fact one could no longer move 12" and have passengers fire from a vehicle, lead to the Immolator becoming more powerful both relative to the Rhino, and on its own account.

One Immolator is easy to stop. Two even. It's when one fields 7 or more (up to all 11) that the army becomes nightmarishly effective. The infantry in this army include min-strength Dominion, min-strength Celestian, and min-strength Inquisitorial Stormtrooper units, each of them armed with 2 meltaguns. The Immolators in turn maintain their Heavy Flamers, while grabbing Extra Armour and Smoke Launchers. The main advantage of this army is that it possesses a *lot* more firepower than the old army, packing a lot more melta and heavy flamer weaponry. The main disadvantage is that the army *bleeds* kill points but is near-impossible to stop, and has a high chance of tabling the opponent should he be careless.

For Troops, a 'pure' Immospam army will include Rhino-mounted Sisters in addition to the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. A more recent trend however has been to replace the Sisters with an inducted Imperial Guard Platoon; this provides cheaper scoring bodies, and autocannon Heavy Weapon teams. The role of these weapons is not to destroy enemy vehicles; their goal is to stop said enemy vehicles from firing at your Immolators as they close in to deliver their meltaguns and heavy flamers.

White Tide[edit]

Pretty much what you'd expect. A whole lot of Sisters shooting and Celestians/Arco-Flagellants in assault backed up by Exorcists spewing missiles from the rear. The army relies on the weight of its well armored infantry to overrun the enemy and performs pretty well at this against other infantry based armies. Once you run into a mech list however, and you will almost immediately, the party is over. Your exorcists won't be strong enough to knock out enemy armor alone and any melta squads you have will be mowed down well before they reach the enemy. Not competitive but a fun casual army to put up against other hordes.

Lord Krazypantsoff's Discount Lawn Furniture Army[edit]

Finally, there's the goofy build for those nutters among the Ministorum. Admit it, you want to play this army. The core of this army is to get Lord Karamazov, an inducted Imperial Guard Platoon, three units of three Sentinels, and three units of three Penitent Engines. Fear the Laz-E-boy Inquisitor and his 18-Walker army of doom! Muahahaha. Add Arco-Flagellants or Repentia to taste and you have a real clown car of an army. If you win with it, congratulations!

Ordo Hereticus Wise Words of Wisdom[edit]

  • Pit Culexus assassins against Necron Pariahs for the ultimate soulless grudge match.
  • Attach priests to Retributor squads to get your strongest sisters into combat where they belong.
  • The proper use of points is one Inquisitor Lord, three orbital bombardments they are a 0-1 choice, so take one and 6 penitent engines, and as many inducted guardsmen as you need to keep the enemy in place to use them. EXTERMINATUS.