A Tactica –Assassins and their correct applications
The point of this tactica is to discuss the various assassin options open to imperial armies and their various applications. Assassins are a viable option to be taken in any Imperial Army through the new ‘Inquisition’ Codices, and are a great characterful addition to any army. Assassins are not uber-characters by any stretch, and the constraints required to be taking them mean they are no longer cheap. After you read the requirements to take an assassin, you will realise taking one involves investing probably 200 points and your second HQ slot just to take one. I would argue though in a reasonably pointed game they have some excellent applications and cause some serious damage to your opponent’s strategy. They are all in all great fun, after all who doesn’t like Assassins?
How do I legally take an assassin?
Well, if your playing one of the Inquisition Codices (Daemonhunters, Witch-Hunters, Alien Hunters), you have no problem. You can take your choice of assassins from your codex as an elite choice. However if, like most of us, you play a different army from these and you want a cool assassin character for your army, it means you will have to take an Inquisitor Lord. Note you can’t take the normal Inquisitor as you can only take one allied elite slot, and that is going to be your assassin! Instead you must take the Lord, which takes up a HQ slot. This means your going to be paying for an extra HQ character too, and also means you can only take one HQ from your own codex. However I would argue that the Lord is actually a very good character for his points cost, and will probably be a very good HQ for your army. He is cheaper than SM characters, and better in close combat than IG characters.
The next problem you must face is that the Lord requires some kitting out, your going to have to take a small retinue for him (minimum of three henchmen). The henchmen though are fairly cheap, and add to the Lord’s already formidable powers.
A sample Lord I would use would be:
Lord + Power Weapon + Sage + Familiar + Warrior –
Here you have a power weapon wielding 3 wound character with better than marine BS, WS and I. No bad for around 85 points….it’s very probable he will kill his cost back.
To sum up, what you need to take an assassin is:
Compulsory HQ Choice
Inquisitor Lord + 3 Henchmen
Compulsory Troops Choice
Compulsory Troops Choice
Ah, everyone’s favourite, the incredible sniper assassin. Perfect for killing enemy HQ characters……wrong. The reason I’ve started with the Vindicare is that it is probably the most misused assassin, in that it actually is not designed to kill enemy HQ characters at all. Assuming that you hit and wound every time, the Vindicare is going to take at least three turns to kill the average HQ character. By that time the enemy Archon/Lord/Farseer has probably done a lot of what he is trying to do. Combine that with the fact the Vindicare’s single shot only ever wounds 50% of the time, and the enemy HQ probably has an invulnerable save (admittedly possibly ignorable for a single round of shooting), and you start to realise that the Vindicare is not the character killer his reputation makes him out to be.
Useless then? Far from it.
The trick with the Vindicare is to use him correctly and realise he does cunning tactical applications. The Vindicare is a sniper, his role is to pick off key enemy support troops. You just have to aim for the right targets.
Thinking of using the ‘hidden’ Power Fist on your veteran sergeant to knock out my Dreadnought?
Oh dear, you can no longer hurt my Dreadnought… goodbye Mr tactical squad.
Going to use that commissar to make that bunch of conscripts near unbreakable?
Oh dear, your now testing on LD5 (before modifiers).
Going to use that Aspiring Champion as a Daemonvessel to summon your Greater Daemon close to my lines?
Oh no, your Greater Daemon popped out too early, and now he’s testing for istability on 3D6.
You getting the point yet?
The Vindicare should be used to knock out squad member specialists that are important part of your opponent’s game plan. An example I used to use in third edition was to kill the Hive Node beast in gaunt broods, forcing my opponent to run his gaunts with his slow monstrous creatures rather than take instinctive behaviour checks. This has been nullified by the fourth edition Tyranid Codex, but you get the idea. Apothecaries, Standard Bearers, people carrying melta-bombs/melta guns uncomfortably close to your tanks…all of them are game for the Vindicare.
The Callidus is my personal favourite assassin, unlike the Vindicare the Callidus is a more than capable character killer. The Callidus is the most expensive assassin, but this represents her capabilities. The Callidus can deep strike anywhere and assault on the turn it arrives. This means than unlike lot of deep strikers, you know exactly where she is landing and than you will get to single out and attack your chosen target.
Don’t expect her to kill anything and everything, attacking any monstrous creature will probably get her killed due to her S4. However when you attack things with similar or lower toughness than her, she comes into her own. The C’tan sword allows no saves of any, so say goodbye to that annoying Farseer, rune armour or not.
One concept important about all assassins, but particularly the Callidus is the nature of the save. The +4 invulnerable means she is good against few particularly powerful shots, but gets killed quickly by large numbers of attacks. The number one thing to avoid is being swamped or pelted with fire. The best tactic I can recommend is to carefully position the Callidus so she can charge her target, but also that she can flame as many of her target’s bodyguards with that AP1 flamer of hers. The HQ character is probably LD 10 anyway, so your not going to wound them, but you can cause havoc in their retinues. An example is when I used the Callidus against my friend’s DE. Out she popped next to his Jetbike squad with attached Drachon, and covered all the jetbike squad with her flamer in the process. The template killed all but one, and so avoided the Callidus being swamped with close combat attacks. In the close combat with the Drachon she was victorious due to her save, but then popped out right next to a 10 man DE sniper squad with two Dark Lances.
What happened next illustrates my point about the Callidus’s save. The DE warrior squad fired both Dark Lances at the Callidus….and both were saved. The Callidus withstood them unwounded, but when my friend followed up with 10 ‘measly’ splinter rifle shots, the Callidus was quickly dead. Get my point? The Callidus can withstand quality attacks easily, but dies quickly with quantity.
A few other points I’ll make before I leave the Callidus is that her other rules are also very useful. ‘A word in your ear’, is a great underestimated power. It cannot be nullified, you will get to move an enemy unit 6” without restriction. Move that Leman Russ behind a tree…move than enemy squad 6” close to your infiltrators (and so in charge range)… move that Techmarine out of Btb with those enemy tanks….many great applications. Another one is ‘jump back’. If your outnumbered at the end of the enemy assault phase, use it to get out of btb. Then in your turn simply re-position, flame them, and charge back in. Oh and don’t forget to use ‘Poison Blades’, because I never remember.
I’ve got to admit, I’ve never used either of the next two assassin types, seeing as I only have the models for the Vindicare and the Callidus. But looking at them, the other two types seem pretty nasty themselves. The Eversor seems a nasty CC character based more on squad killing than on character killing. It seems that the Eversor was probably intended as such as an opposite to the Callidus. The Eversor seems a good general purpose compromise…and is also the cheapest of the Assassins.
The Eversor’s weapon is basically an Agoniser, and we all know how lovely those Agonisers are.
The always wounding on a +4 means the Eversor can do something the Callidus can not, i.e. the Eversor is a threat even to enemies of T5 or more. Indeed if you think you can get the charge the Eversor can be deployed similar to an Archon and take down Wraithlords and Monstrous creatures. The potential for 9 Agoniser attacks on the charge is amazing! The Eversor is particularly great at this seeing as it has a 12” charge distance, so unless your playing nids, if you get charged you must be doing something very wrong. Remember though, the great weakness of the Assasins comes into play here again.
Charge a unit of Raveners and you will probably win.
Charge a unit of Ripper swarms and you will probably lose.
Assassins do well against few powerful attacks, numbers means death to them. Let your assassin ever get rapid fired by anything and it WILL die.
So as always the Eversor should be used against powerful single models. It’s the Battlesuits, Raveners, Wraiths and the monstrous creatures you should be charging with the Eversor. However if you cannot get the charge against a monstrous creature don’t count on winning the combat. Lacking the Shadowfield and the high base number of attacks, without the incredible charging bonus the Eversor is unlikely to win, seeing as it probably will only take one failed +4 save and the Eversor goes splat.
Here though comes another great feature of the Eversor…it explodes! Killing the Eversor is probably a very bad idea, especially if you have T3. The great thing about the meltdown, is that if the Eversor hasn’t already killed 95pts worth of stuff already (unlikely), it gives it one last chance to win it’s points back. And the chance of having the Eversor explode amongst a big squad of Incubi, Striking Scorpions, Howling Banshees etc should have everyone drooling.
The Culexus is the most specialised of any of the assassins. The Culexus is the most anti-psyker model imaginable, which both limits and accentuates it’s deadliness.
So basically, if your playing Eldar (especially Ulthwe, the Culexus is Ulthwe death), Tyranids (remember synapse is a psychic power, see bottom of page 31 in the nid codex if you disagree), Thousand Sons (got to love the Animus Speculum against these guys), Inquisition armies, Undivided Chaos armies with Tzeench models/Sorcerers or some Space Marines armies with tricked out Librarians, the Culexus is nasty horrible death.
Against anyone else, take a different assassin or just don’t bother.
Right, the most valuable and most straightforward of the Culexus rules is Soulless. This is simply a great rule, especially as so many of the powers of the Culexus depends on making tests against enemy LD. So you will be making comparison of your LD10 against their LD7….your going to have to have some pretty awful dice rolls to lose. Don’t forget though, Soulless swings both ways….keep your own models a respective distance from your Culexus.
First lets think about the Animus Speculum. Consider this, a Culexus assassin in range of a typical favoured Thousand Son squad gets 11 BS5 S5 AP1 shots from the one model. Can you say devastating? However the better option against a Seer Council is the other shooting weapon Psyk-Out grenades due to their ignoring invulnerable saves. Against a Farseer it’s the reverse of Mind War….how’s that for revenge?
It’s a pretty similar situation in assault due to the Life Drain attack, designed basically to get around high T Monstrous Creatures, and the Rune armour of Seer Councils. This is why the Culexus is deadly against psykers, simply because it relies for wounding on many tests you will be making on 10 and your opponent on 7. Saying this, it is still hard to argue for taking a Culexus against non-psychic opponent. The Culexus is simply a precision weapon, properly applied it is devastating. A final note though I would like to make is simply that a Culexus thematically belongs in a Witchhunter’s army. With all their psychic abilities, it is both fluffy and believable to take a Culexus in a Witchhunter army. And if you ever play them Thousand Sons…it’s also devastating.