Testing the Beta Codex- some initial thoughts

So, lately I’ve been taking more and more time to get some games in with the new Sisters of Battle beta codex. Before I get any actual games in, though, here on some thoughts as to how I want to go about testing the new rules.

A Little Bit of Everything (with exceptions)

For playtesting this beta codex, I want to try as many different things as possible to give feedback on them. This means that, each game, I may in fact try a completely new list…at least, as much as can be alowed by the meagre limits of my collection. If I manage to get a game in that allows proxies, then I may in fact try some units that I usually never field (such as Repentia and Death Cultists). This is not limited to units, either, as I may end up trying different combinations of warlord traits and Order convictions as well (yes, even the ones I’m less impressed by).

However, I will be limiting myself to units from the beta codex only– I will not be fielding any Repressors, despite how useful they are. In part, this is because I have yet to convert any of my own (laziness, I know), but also, in part, because inserting Forge World units seems to defeat the purpose of the beta test: if I start using Forge World transports in place of Immolators and Rhinos, then I won’t be able to reliably say how good/poor those said transports are when I post feedback.

I am also toying with the idea of eschewing the use of allies and just fielding pure Sisters. This is the approach I would usually want to go with anyway, because I tend to prefer fielding “pure” codex armies as opposed to using a mishmash of allies. That being said, I may allow myself to throw in some allies at a later stage of the playtesting, once I have had a few games with pure Sisters lists under my belt. I figure that GW would still like to know how well Sisters interact with other Imperial armies, and what they add to the ever-evolving monster that is Imperial Soup. With this in mind, I would certainly like to try games with Guard, Knight, Space Marine or even Grey Knight allies, but again, I am going to be saving these experiments for later.

A Question of Lore

One question I have been asking myself is: how will I reflect the lore of my army with the new codex? I, like many other players, prefer for my army to have some background, even/especially if it is a made-up subfaction. However, I rarely, if ever, make background inform my army choices– usually it is the reverse, with my choice of army selection informing how the army fights in the lore I create. However, in my opinion, the inclusion in 8th edition of subfaction rules means that now, players who have created their own Space Marine Chapter/Guard regiment/etc can now pick a rule set to adequately represent them (or just go with whatever they think is the most powerful/the most fun).

The lore I have made up for my own Order of the Blessed Damsel is, roughly, that they are based upon a feudal world, and were originally sent there to guard a local missionary. When said missionary died during a plague, however, the head Sister of the mission not only managed to miraculously cure the plague, but then managed to convert much of the populace and lead them in a revolution against their feudal overlords, effectively bringing the planet into the Imperial fold. They later went on to conquer/liberate the small sector they were in, and afterwards their founder was declared a Saint upon her death. The Order has since been guarding the pilgrim trail that now runs through their sector of space.

Because I have used mechanized lists for the longest time, I figure that this is because (1) they operate mainly on backwater, forgotten worlds, and need to maintain highly mobile patrols, (2) the culture of their shrine-world links the Sisters inextricably with the knights of their prehistory, and so they practice a highly mobile form of warfare in keeping with this image. This is is all well and good, of course, but now I find myself trying to figure out which Order conviction would best represent this mobile, chivalrous force.

My two main considerations for the Order conviction are the Bloody Rose and the Valorous Heart. The latter, I feel, would do well, to represent the Blessed Damsel’s staunch determination, their willingness to endure hardship for their faith, and their humility and drive. The Bloody Rose, however, is one I am also considering because, firstly, it does well to reflect the Blessed Damsel’s aggressive style of warfare, and also because…well, let’s be honest, it is a really good Order conviction.

For the time being, I am more likely to go with the Bloody Rose, simply because I like the idea of even my basic Sisters being semi-decent in close combat. However, as I mentioned previously, I want to experiment with various Order convictions throughout my playtesting, and see firsthand which ones I like and which ones I don’t. For all I know, I may decide that fun factor or effectiveness supersede alignment with lore when it comes to picking an Order.

Putting it all together

For a first game with the new Sisters, here, ideally, is what I would like to run:

ORDER OF THE BLOODY ROSE BATTALION:
Canoness- inferno pistol, Blade of Admonition, Righteous Rage- 56
Saint Celestine- 160
5 Battle Sisters- meltagun, heavy flamer- 73
5 Battle Sisters- meltagun, heavy flamer- 73
5 Battle Sisters- meltagun, heavy flamer- 73
Preacher- chainsword, Book of St. Lucius
2 Geminae Superia- 50
9 Arco-Flagellants- 135
5 Dominions- 4 storm bolters, Sister Superior w. storm bolter- 60
8 Seraphim- 2 hand flamers- 100
Penitent Engine- 100
Penitent Engine- 100
Penitent Engine- 100
Immolator- Immolation flamer- 98
Immolator- Immolation flamer- 98
Immolator- Immolation flamer- 98
Rhino- 2 storm bolters- 77

ORDER OF THE SACRED ROSE SPEARHEAD
Canoness- bolt pistol, power sword- 49
8 Retributors- 4 heavy bolters, simulacrum- 122
Exorcist- 125
Exorcist- 125

TOTAL: 1995

Pre-Game Stratagems: Open the Reliquaries

Total Command Points: 9 (7)

Total Faith: 7

The general idea of this list to to maintain a high degree of mobility, while still retaining plenty of firepower and close combat hitting power. Although I went for the Bloody Rose with this list, most of the Sororitas units I took are not really optimized for close combat (with the exception of the tricked-out Canoness with the Blade of Admonition), and so it could easily be run with another Order instead. I also went with Sacred Rose for the Spearhead detachment, just in case something decided to charge any of my heavy support units– as much as I was tempted to go with the Argent Shroud for them, I’m wary of them rolling the 4+ necessary for a Faith point, or even of Faith necessarily having a big enough impact in the game, for that to be worth it.

The big challenge for this list, of course, is going to be assembling the Penitent Engines: I have three lying unassembled at home, and while I have started on one, I have heard tell that Penitent Engines are notoriously difficult to assemble properly. Hopefully, I will be able to get all three done soonish (though if I don’t, I may give up and try converting Sydonian Dragoons or Deff Dreads instead).

My biggest challenge with beta testing the new codex, however, will be getting games in: my weekly schedule, what with its varying work and social commitments, mean I rarely, if ever, have time to get a game in. I hope to change that this year, and in fact, I have a first test game with the Sisters coming up fairly soon. I hope to have a battle report ready at some point, and hopefully this game will give me a better idea of what works and what doesn’t with the beta codex. Until then, all I can do is have faith that this codex works as well on the tabletop as it should on paper.

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