Battle Report #9: War of Faith– Sisters of Battle vs Imperial Guard

c. Mark Tarisse https://www.artstation.com/mark_tarrisse

This war would have been tragic, Ursula Sevrei reflected as she looked at the ruins around her, if its cause weren’t so damned ridiculous…

It had begun with a simple theological debate,–hardly something that was out of place on a shrine world like Apotheca. A textual argument had arisen over the writings of Saint Letitia of Agithrace from some five millennia prior, particularly over a passage concerning when and how Mornginmas prayer should be handled in the event of a crisis. According to some, the blessed saint had decreed that, in the event of a crisis where Terra’s light was rendered invisible to the naked eye, all prayer should still be made in the approximate direction of Terra, hidden though it might be from sight. According to others, the saint had decreed that, if the light of Terra was no longer visible to the naked eye, then instead all prayer should be directed at and in the churches and temples, being as they were houses of the Emperor’s light. Given that the original writings of Letitia had been lost to war and administrative neglect, there was no clear answer on the matter.

In any other situation, the local Dialogi and scribes would have been entrusted to pore over every archive, librarius or cathedral for the original writings, and if an answer still was not found, then the Ecclesiarchy on Terra itself would have been petitioned to send a senior delegation to make a ruling. But Apotheca had cut off from the greater Imperium for years now by the howling madness of the Cicatrix Maledictum, and no Astropathic signals had been reaching Holy Terra or, indeed, could even confirm that the throneworld of the Imperium was still there. The people at this point were getting desperate and afraid, and as the situation went unresolved, factionalism, infighting and politicking broke out as debate raged on how to handle this spiritual crisis. Arch-Confessor Lestrad had advocated that prayer continue to be in the approximate direction of Terra, while Cardinal Boras had advocated that prayer be directed to pulpit and icons in Terra’s stead. Both disagreed publicly, both decreed one another to be heretics, and what had begun as fighting in the streets between mobs of fanatics quickly turned into an all-out civil war– one that quickly pulled in the local Sororitas and Astra Militarum deployed to restore order.

And now here Ursula and her Sisters were, occupying the Cathedral of Saint Letitia, a once proud complex of shrines, basilicae and mortuum-crypts that had been turned into bombed-out ruins by two months of continuous fighting, trying to find something, anything that might end this fighting. When the Order of the Blessed Damsel had come to this world after the loss of their own shrine-world to the Maledictum, it had been to seek shelter and a place to rest and to re-arm before carrying on the fight against heresy and witchcraft. More importantly, they had come to safeguard the faithful from the threat of Chaos, as had been their mandate since their founding. Instead, the threat of the Great Enemy was absent, and they had been forced to watch as the faithful that they had pledged to safeguard instead started killing one another in droves. Forced to watch, that was, until Cardinal Boras invoked his rank and formally requested the Sororitas’ aid, at which point duty and protocol forced Ursula and her Sisters to join in the slaughter.

She glanced wistfully at the shattered, burnt out ruins of the cathedral, and for a moment thought of her own home, lost Nantus– a humble shrine world like this one before the Maw had swallowed it. How long would this madness have to continue? On how many world like this one was the faith tearing itself apart?

“Contacts, Canoness Superior,” came a voice on the vox, snapping her back to reality. “I’m seeing armoured units on the horizon– they appear to be in the colours of the Praetorian 12th, and they’re approaching fast.”

The Praetorians. A venerable regiment of the Imperial Guard that had served the Emperor faithfully over several millennia. Good, disciplined soldiers who, like Sevrei and her Sisters, had been forced into this war by ties and obligations they could not back out of. Unlike the Sisters, however, the Guard had sided with Arch-Confessor Lestrad and his own interpretation of Saint Letitia’s tenets.

“All units, mount up and prepare for engagement!” she snapped into the vox, before keying it to a wider frequency. “Attention Praetorian forces, I am Ursula Sevrei, Canoness of the Order of the Blessed Damsel. These ruins are under our jurisdiction. In the God-Emperor’s name, I request that you to turn back immediately.”

For a moment, the vox crackled with empty static. Then, a voice spoke up in reply– a clipped, cultured voice that spoke of having come from wealth and privilege, but also carried with it the firmness and discipline of one used to command.

“This is Colonel Cassandra Sharpe of the Praetorian 12th,” the voice said. “We are under orders to take control of this area and secure both it and the relics within. I would ask, Canoness, that you respect our orders and withdraw your forces so that we might avoid further incident.”

“That is not going to happen, Colonel,” Ursula said. Try as she might, she could not keep the weariness out of her tone. “As I said, these ruins are under our jurisdiction. We are not going anywhere. Again, withdraw your forces, or we will be forced to open fire.”

Colonel Sharpe sounded genuinely sad when she replied. “Yes,” she said, “I suppose you will.”

And with that, the vox cut out. Ursula was about to shout for her Sisters to prepare for battle when there was a dull boom, and suddenly the air was filled with the screams of shells…

******

Hey dear readers. A while back I said that I was going to do a review of the new Sisters of Battle codex, and I still intend to do so. However, at this rate, I think I might be better served by getting some of my initial thoughts across in a battle report…and it just so happens that I have one ready for you all today.

A while back, I excitedly got to take the new Sisters of Battle codex out for a test drive. I was still assembling all of the stuff from the Battle Box at the time, and while I really wanted to test out new things like Mortifiers, I wanted to keep things simple and WYSIWYG and stick to what I had in my collection (give or take a few proxies).

For this 2000 point battle, I took the following:

ORDER OF THE BLESSED DAMSEL

ORDER OF THE VALOROUS HEART BATTALION:
The Living Saint- Beacon of Faith
Canoness Superior Ursula Sevrei- bolt pistol, blessed blade, Heroine in the Making, Indomitable Belief
Missionary- autogun
10 Battle Sisters- 2 storm bolters
5 Battle Sisters- 2 storm bolters
5 Battle Sisters- 2 storm bolters
Dialogus
Imagifier- Book of St. Lucius, Tale of the Stoic
2 Geminae Superiae
9 Arco-Flagellants
8 Seraphim- 2 pairs of inferno pistols
6 Dominions- 4 meltaguns, Sister Superior w. combi-flamer
Penitent Engine- 2 heavy flamers, buzzblades
Penitent Engine- 2 heavy flamers, buzzblades
Immolator- Immolation flamers
Immolator- Immolation flamers
Immolator- Immolation flamers
Rhino

ORDER OF THE VALOROUS HEART SPEARHEAD
Canoness Merced Tarquan- bolt pistol, power sword, rod of office
6 Retributors- 4 multi-meltas, Sister Superior w. combi-flamer
Exorcist- Exorcist missile launcher
Exorcist- Exorcist missile launcher
Rhino

Total Command Points: 9
Pre-Game Stratagems: Heroine in the Making

For the next several games with Sisters of Battle, I am going to be experimenting with the various Order convictions. For this game, though, I decided to try out the Valorous Heart, firstly because I knew I would be up against the Imperial Guard and their crazy firepower, and secondly because I was legitimately curious about how much tougher my Sisters would be under this Order conviction. Beyond that, this list was more or less a variation of my standard list, though with the addition of two new Penitent Engines (one from the Battle Box, and one that I had traded from another new Sisters player). Two big changes, though, were the Imagifier and her Tale of the Stoic (which I was hoping would combine effectively with the Valorous Heart’s ability to ignore -1 AP) and the multi-melta armed Retributors, who seemed a very viable anti-tank choice now that they could move and shoot freely.

Going into this battle, I was very keen to see how a lot of the new mechanics would work– the Miracle dice, the sacred rites, everything. Astute readers, however, will note that my list was roughly 50 points over. This is because, in compiling my list, I had forgotten that Immolators and Exorcists now get hull-mounted heavy bolters, and as such I never paid the points for them. (At the time, the codex was not yet in Battlescribe, so I was compiling the army list from the book with my own faulty math) On the one hand, this meant I never used those heavy bolters, but on the other hand it also meant I had enough points for an extra transport I shouldn’t have had. Rest assured, this is not a mistake I will make again.

(Note: some of my newer Sisters models were still in-progress at the time of writing this battle, so I apologize in advance for any unpainted or half-finished models)

My opponent, Michael, brought his Praetorian Imperial Guard, and given the age of our respective armies, jokingly remarked that this was a battle between two pewter dinosaurs.

12TH PRAETORIAN REGIMENT

TALLARN BRIGADE (EMPEROR’S FIST TANK COMPANY)
Colonel Cassandra Sharpe (Company Commander)- bolt pistol, Blade of Conquest, refractor field, Old Grudges
Lieutenant Major Glyn Mawr (Tempestor Prime)- Tempestus command rod, power fist
Captain McFly (Tank Commander)- battle cannon, hull lascannon
Tank Commander- Demolisher cannon, hull-mounted heavy flamer, sponson heavy flamers, pintle-mounted heavy stubber
Infantry Squad- meltagun, Sergeant w. power sword
Infantry Squad- meltagun, Sergeant w. power sword
Infantry Squad- meltagun, Sergeant w. power sword
5 Tempestus Scions- 2 plasma guns
5 Tempestus Scions- 2 plasma guns
5 Tempestus Scions
Master of Ordnance
Astropath- Nightshield
Techpriest Enginseer
Scout Sentinel- lascannon
Scout Sentinel- lascannon
Hellhound- hull heavy bolter
Heavy Weapons Squad- 3 lascannons
2 Leman Russ Battle Tanks- hull heavy bolters
2 Basilisks
Chimera- heavy bolter
Chimera- heavy bolter
Chimera- heavy bolter

Total Command Points: 15
Pre-Game Stratagems: Emperor’s Fist Tank Company, Ambush

Just some shots of my opponent’s amazing-looking army:

Scenario and Deployment

For the scenario, we randomly rolled The Scouring, and set up on a ruined snowy battlefield with the objectives evenly dispersed. As luck would have it, the vital objective ended up fairly close to my deployment zone– I would just have to hang onto it for the entirety of the game.

For my deployment, I put most of my units in transports, spread across a wide front. From top to bottom, I had an Immolator, a Rhino full of Arco-Flagellants, an Immolator full of Dominions, the Living Saint and her Geminae, and another two Immolators full of Battle Sisters as well as Canoness Sevrei and the Imagifier, respectfully. Further down at the back was another Penitent Engine, and another Rhino full of Retributors and the Dialogus. In the back were camped my two Exorcists, Canoness Tarquan, and the large unit of Battle Sisters and the Missionary.

The Seraphim were placed in reserve, ready to deep strike and freem some tanks with their inferno pistols. From here, you can see some of the objectives: one ended up right in front of my Immolator, while the one barely visible in the bottom floor of the building on the upper right turned out to be the superior objective worth 4 points.
The general plan was to advance up and grab objectives with my Rhino-mounted squads, and generally play aggressively to keep the Guard in their own deployment zone. The Sisters on foot would try to hold my back field and grab any objectives close to home/guard my Exorcists. The Penitent Engines I was hoping would either act as a big distraction, or would be ignored long enough to get into combat.
My opponent, meanwhile, deployed in a staggered formation, with most of his tanks and Chimeras deploying forwards aggressively while his characters and an infantry squad huddled near his artillery.
Two of his Scion units were placed in reserve, as was his Demolisher Tank Commander and Heavy Weapons Team thanks to the Tallarn Ambush stratagem.

Before the battle, I decided to be adventurous and roll randomly for two sacred rites. I ended up with Hand of the Emperor (+1 to advances and charges) and Aegis of the Emperor (+3 to Deny the Witch tests). Given that Michael had only one psyker, I used the Battle Rites stratagem to reroll that result, and instead got the Passion (each roll of 6 in melee counts as 2 hits). While I would really have liked Spirit of the Martyr, it nonetheless seemed that the Emperor really wanted me to get into melee in this game.

I won the roll off, we shook hands, and with that, the game was on!

TURN 1

With laud hailers blaring, the Sororitas transports surged forwards at full speed, all engaging their smoke launchers as they did so. Behind them, the Living Saint and her Geminae flew, while at the back of the Sororitas lines, the large squad on foot and their attendant Missionary moved closer to the vital objective, keeping the wall of the ruin between them and the enemy guns.

On the left flank of the Sororitas advance, the Retributors in their Rhino drove an as well in a flanking maneuver, followed by the clanking footfalls of a Penitent Engine. Another Engine stayed further back on the left flank, its sole occupant shrieking prayers of repentance as it waited to deter any enemy infiltrators.

After angling to get better firing positions, the two Exorcists combined their fire, their roaring missiles slamming into the rightmost Russ and combining to bring it down to 3 wounds remaining.

In answer to the Sororitas advance, the Praetorians’ own armour edged forwards, moving to keep a buffer between the Sisters and their heavier tanks. Though the Praetorians’ advance was mostly cautious, one brave unit of Scions moved forwards into the ruins to meet the Sororitas head-on. Elsewhere, the Techpriest dutifully moved up and restored 3 wounds to the damaged Leman Russ.

Drawing on the powers of the Warp, the Astropath cast Nightshield on the damaged Russ, shrouding it from harm. And then, at the shouted orders of Colonel Sharpe and the Tank Captain McFly, the Praetorian guns roared to life. Lascannons, battle cannon shells and heavy bolter rounds rained down on the Sororitas tanks: the Dominions’ Immolator took intense fire, and was left reeling on 3 wounds. The leftmost Exorcist also took heavy damage and was dropped down one damage bracket. The Scions even fired their hot-shot lasguns at one of the nearby Immolators, and managed to do a wound. Despite this, the Order of the Blessed Damsel’s transports surged on, heedless of their damage.

Bravely, the Praetorian Hellhound, “Sparky,” moved up to engage the Retributors’ Rhino, charring the enemy tank with its inferno cannon but causing only minor damage and burning off the paintwork.
Undaunted, Sparky’s crew gunned their engines, and their flame tank crashed headlong into the Rhino. Sparks flew as the two tanks ground against one another: though no damage was inflicted by either vehicle, the Retributors now had much less room to disembark from.
At the end of the round, the two armoured forces close on one another

TURN 2

With their transports now taking fire, the Sororitas knew that now was their best chance to close with the enemy and do damage. On the southern flank, the Retributors disembarked from their Rhino and moved up as best they could past the Hellhound, while the nearby Penitent Engine moved up to engage Sparky. In the centre, both Battle Sister squads and Canoness Sevrei disembarked to bring their bolters to bear, while their Immolator transports moved up, priming their heavy flamers as well. The Arco-Flagellants, similarly, piled out of their Rhino and went charging at full tilt towards the Praetorian tank line, the drug-crazed penitents seeking to tie up the enemy gunline even if it cost them their lives.

(Note: this turn I forgot to bring the Seraphim in from reserve)

In the shooting phase, the Retributors unleashed their multi-meltas on the closest viable target– the nearby Chimera. Searing beams of superheated energy sliced through the Praetorian tank, reducing it to bubbling slag. The Infantry Squad within was forced to bail out, and, miraculously, while they were a little singed, they all survived.

Meanwhile, yet more Exorcist missiles shrieked across the field, with the badly damaged Exorcist’s gunners relying on Blind Faith to fire with surprising accuracy. The previously damaged Russ was obliterated by several direct hits, depriving the nearby Dominions of their target. Annoyed, the Dominions were forced to instead turn their meltaguns on the nearby Sentinel, annihilating it in a blue-white flash.

There used to be a Sentinel here.

Elsewhere, the main Sororitas line opened up with flame and bolter fire. The daring Scions who had moved up earlier were reduced to ash within seconds, but the rest of the Sororitas fire failed to do any damage to the other Leman Russ tank: even with one squad loading their storm bolters with Blessed Bolts, they failed to inflict any lasting damage on the tank.

With an electronic shriek, the Penitent Engine hurled itself into Sparky, its buzz-blades tearing great gouges into the Hellhound but failing to destroy it.
The Retributors, meanwhile, launched themselves in a daring charge on the Sentinel, knowing that this would help get them closer to the enemy tank line. Alas, though they swarmed the walker, they could not damage it with bolt or blade, and one Sister was crushed under a great metal foot in reply.

Further up, the Arco-Flagellants launched themselves at the Leman Russ and a nearby Chimera. Although two of them were obliterated by a battle cannon shell as they charged, they nonetheless swarmed the two tanks, their crackling electro-flails tearing deep gouges into the hulls of both vehicles, inflicting minor damage on both.


In response, both the Russ and the Chimera disengaged, as did the Sentinel…
…while the recently disembarked Infantry Squad moved up to deal with the pesky Sororitas. Elsewhere across the Praetorians, units shuffled to bring as many guns to bear on the oncoming angry nuns as possible.
And then, suddenly, the sky was filled with grav-chutes as Praetorian Scions came down in the Sororitas backfiield, two squads of them catching an isolated Canoness completely by surprise.
Yet more Praetorian reinforcements arrived in a perfectly timed Ambush, with the Demolisher “Jughead” arriving on the right flank along with yet another Infantry Squad, catching the Dominions by complete surprise.
Further behind, a Praetorian Heavy Weapons team marched onto the field and set up their lascannons.
In the ensuing brutal shooting phase, the Basilisks targeted the Battle Sisters near the vital objective, their heavy shells oblitererating three of the Sororitas. Elsewhere, the combined fire of Judghead and some of the new reinforcements annihilated the Dominions, and blasted their attendant Immolator into a smoking wreck.

Further in the backfield, the Scions split their fire, with one squad dealing a wound to Canoness Tarquan; the other was ordered by Major Mawr to bring the damaged Exorcist down, and that they did, wrecking the Sororitas tank with precision plasma fire. Finally, the remaining Russes and Chimera targeted the other Sororitas vehicles and the threats right in front of them: the Retributors took heavy fire, and were reduced to two Sisters, while the Arco-Flagellants were savaged by small arms fire and lost a further three of their number, while a fourth lost control of its chem-dispenser and suffered a fatal overdose as a result. (Translation, I lost one more of the squad to morale).

Fixing bayonets, the Infantry Squad charged, hoping to finish off the last two Retributors; however, neither side managed to hurt the other, and the fight was a stalemate. Elsewhere, the Penitent Engine continued to thrash and saw at the Chimera, but only dealt minor damage to it.

TURN 3

Knowing that they had to deal with the dangerous Scions in their backfield, Canoness Tarquan, the Battle Sisters and their attendant Preacher all moved up to deal with the pesky Praetorians. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the Living Saint and her attendant Geminae moved up to go after the Praetorian commander, while Canoness Sevrei and all of the disembarked Battle Sisters re-embarked on their transports to move back and grab objectives.
Seeking yet more heretics to destroy, the last two Arco-Flagellants move up to assist the embattled Retributors.
Finally, the Seraphim descended from the heavens on jets of flame to deal with the Praetorian artillery. In their deadly descent, they trained their inferno pistols on the nearest Basilisk, dealing 6 wounds to the artillery tank.

In the shooting phase, massed bolter fire rang out in the Sororitas’ back line, scything down four from one squad of Scions. Meanwhile, massed storm bolter fire from one of the Sisters’ Rhinos managed to cut down one of the Infantry Squad shielding Colonel Steele, before the Living Saint pointed her Ardent Blade at them, immolating another four in a burst of flame.

Incensed by the loss of their Sister tank, the crew of the last Exorcist fired a terrible crescendo at Leman Russ that the Arco-Flagellants had savaged earlier, scoring several direct his on the battle tank and damaging it even further. As an encore, the now landed Seraphim fired further into the Basilisk, but this time, their inferno pistols were out of range, and their bolt pistols did no damage to the sturdy artillery tank.

Raising her blade, the Living Saint charged into the nearby Praetorian infantry, ready to punish the fools standing between her and her quarry. Crucially, however, the Geminae fell short in their charge, and failed to aid their mistress.
A confrontation between the two commanders seemed inevitable…
Meanwhile, Canoness Tarquan and the Battle Sisters charged into the Scions, forcing Major Glyn Mawr to heroically intervene. Crucially, the Preacher also failed to make the charge as well.
With terrible screams, the Arco Flagellants hurled themselves into the Praetorians fighting the Retributors, tearing seven of the Guardsmen limb from limb in a gruesome display of bloodshed. (Note: some died in melee, others died in the morale phase). Though they failed to hurt the murder-cyborgs in return, the plucky Guardsmen nonetheless fought on.
Meanwhile, the Penitent Engine finally ended the Hellhound, sawing the enemy tank open before massacring the crew within. And thus, do the works of heretics ever come to ruination.
Swooping down with angelic grace, the Living Saint swing out with her Ardent Blade. In the blink of an eye, all five Guardsmen were slain, and without losing momentum, the Living Saint consolidated, gliding on down towards Colonel Sharpe. Sharpe, however, proved herself to be no slouch in combat either, slashing out with her ornate saber and dealing four wounds to the Saint! Blades clashed as the two warladies duelled on.
Meanwhile, the Sororitas crashed into the Scions with unrestrained fury. The last Scion from one squad was clubbed down, while three Scions from the other squad met their end to Canoness Tarquan’s power sword. Vengeance was swift, however, as Major Mawr dove into the fray, his power fist a blur as he smashed two Battle Sisters to paste and fragments of armour. And with that, the melee ground on.
In response to the rude aggression by the Sororitas, Jughead and a nearby Infantry Squad turned to confront the now stranded Geminae. Meanwhile, the Infantry to the south disengaged from the fight against the Arco-Flagellants, preferring not to fight the blood-mad killers blade to blade. Finally, Colonel Sharpe herself stepped back from the Living Saint, and snapped at her men to fire at will.

And with that, the air was once again filled with the scream of shells as the Praetorians unleashed their full firepower. Battle cannon rounds, lascannon bursts, chattering lasfire and coughing heavy bolter rounds crisscrossed the battlefield. In the midst of this firestorm, the last two Retributors were cut down, as were three of the Seraphim and, crucially, the two Geminae, dying in shame as they failed to protect their Saint.

The Living Saint was spared none of this firestorm: struck by several lascannon rounds, the Living Saint went down, her charred body toppling to the rocky slope before the very relieved Colonel Sharpe.
To add insult to injury, heavy fire pounded the Immolator Canoness Sevrei was riding in, wrecking the tank and sending the Canoness and her Sisters spilling out into the ruins. One Sister died in the blaze, and the rest fanned out, grimly preparing to defend the objective they held.

Even as the Praetorian firestorm raged, a strange light suddenly lit the battlefield like a new sun, nearly blinding all nearby. Phoenix-like, the Living Saint suddenly rose into the air again in front of Colonel Sharpe, her wounds instantly healing and her silver armour whole once more as she glowed with an inner light.

Realizing it was do or die, Sharpe raised her sword and signaled a charge, before lunging headlong at the Saint, somehow avoiding being charred by the flames of the Ardent Blade. Drawing their own weapons, Sharpe’s loyal command staff– her Enginseer, Master of Ordnance and Astropath– all charged in as well. Slashing out, Sharpe managed to deal two nasty wounds to the Saint with her relic sword, and though the Master of Ornance’s pistol and Astrophath’s force stave rebounded from blessed armour, the Enginseer managed to clamp his servo-arm down on the Saint’s leg, crushing armour and dealing another three wounds. The Saint showed absolutely no pain, however, as she calmly drove the Ardent Blade through Sharpe’s chest, felling her at last and leaving the Praetorians leaderless.

Meanwhile, a squad of Guardsmen, yelling “Emperor Save Praetoria,” came charging in, while Jughead’s engine roared as it smashed through the wall in the aim of crushing the Sororitas under its treads. In the furious melee, one Sisters went down to a bayonet thrust. Enraged, Canoness Sevrei lashed out with her blessed eviscerator, carving several deep wounds into the Demolisher in return.

Further in the backfield, the savage melee ground on: another two Scions fell to the clubbing rifle butts and slashing power sword of the Sororitas: in exchange, however, Major Mawr again repaid blood for blood, his power fist crushing heads and spines as he felled two Sororitas in return.

In an effort to contain the Arco-Flagellants, a Sentinel and Chimera both charged into the murder machines. However, they did no damage, and in exchange, the Sentinel suffered two wounds to the lashing arco-flails of the creatures.

Turn 4

With many of their units mired in combat, those Sororitas units that were still mobile focused on grabbing objectives. The only notable exceptions, however, were the Penitent Engines, one of which came stomping forwards to aid the Arco-Flagellants, while another thundered towards the ruins where Canoness Sevrei and her Sisters were embattled.

The shooting phase for the Sororitas was brief, but no less potent: the Exorcist again fired into the Leman Russ, a barrage of misses bringing the lumbering tank down to a handful of wounds remaining. The south-most Penitent Engine, meanwhile, turned on its heavy flamers, and in a searing firestorm, annihilated the remaining Guardsmen from the squad that had fought the Retributors. Finally, the Seraphim once again trained their inferno pistols on the Basilisk closest to them: this time, there was no escape for the Praetorian artillery tank, and it was reduced to bubbling slag within moments.

With an electronic scream, the Penitent Engine then hurled itself into the nearby Chimera, and it and the remaining Arco-Flagellants proceeded to tear armour plates from both it and the nearby Sentinel.
Similarly, the other Penitent Engine hurled itself into the Praetorians in melee with the Sisters. Two Guardsmen were gruesomely sawed apart by the berserk war machine or crushed into red paste. Emboldened, Canoness Sevrei drove her blade deep into the guts of the Demolisher, dealing severe damage to the Praetorian tank.
In the Sisters’ backfield, meanwhile, the last two Scions fell…though again, Major Mawr earned some retribution by smashing down two Sororitas in reply. By this point, the snow had been soaked red from the furious melee that had seen both sides nearly wiped out.

Finally, in the ongoing melee near the Praetorian lines, the Living Saint’s blade slashed out again, this time felling the Enginseer. Try as their might, neither the Master of Ordnance nor the Astropath, outclassed as they were, could pierce the Saint’s armour.

In the Praetorian turn, the infantry and Demolisher fighting by the ruins fell back, as did the Master of Ordnance and the Astropath. Beyond that, with the Sisters so close to their lines, the Praetorians were finding that they had limited room to maneuver.

Once again, shot and shell rained out across the battlefield. One Sororitas Rhino holding an objective became the focus of much of the Praetorians’ ire, and the sturdy tank took severe damage.

More notably, the Living Saint was targeted by one of the Tank Commanders, Captain McFly. Lining up a shot with his battle cannon, McFly shouted the order to fire. There was a tremendous boom, and a great blast of smoke and debris. When it cleared, the Saint was gone.

Knowing that they had to hold up these dangerous Seraphim, the crew of the remaining Basilisk gunned their engine and charged headlong into the enemy jump troops. They took severe damage from the inferno pistols on overwatch, but they nonetheless managed to crush one of the Seraphim under their treads.
In the ongoing melee, Canoness Tarquan and Major Mawr eyed one another. Like lightning, Canoness Tarquan struck, her power sword a blur as she carved three successive wounds into the Tempestor Prime. Too late, she realized that Mawr had been letting her get close: his power fist smashed through her chest, felling the noble Canoness instantly. Howling with rage, the Sister Superior lashed out with her rifle butt, but failed to get past Mawr’s thick carapace armour.

TURN 5

At this point in the battle, both sides were running out of units. Engaging their jump packs, the Seraphim flew out of combat with the Basilisk, while Canoness Sevrei strode forwards, leaving her Sisters to guard the objective as she went after the enemy Russes. Finally, the Sister Dialogus exited her vehicle and went to support the faith of the nearby Exorcist crew.

In the shooting phase, the Exorcist targeted the only enemy vehicle it could see, the Demolisher, and at long last destroyed the enemy tank with several well-placed missiles. The Seraphim, meanwhile, trained their inferno pistols once again on the Basilisk, and fired, rupturing its ammo stores with several direct hits and causing the tank to explode.

The resulting fireball killed three of the Seraphim, and also incinerated the nearby Master of Ordnance. Though the Praetorian artillery had just been decisively dealt with, it had come at a tremendous cost to the Seraphim.
Meanwhile, the Penitent Engine unleashes its heavy flamers on the Guardsmen, but only managed to incinerate two of them. Powering up its buzzblades, it charged in, but its frenzied attacks went wild, and only one Guardsman was killed. In retaliation, one plucky Praetorian managed to drive his bayonet into the thrashing heretic piloting the machine, wounding him.
Raising her blessed blade, Canoness Sevrei charged the Leman Russ. A heavy bolter round fired on overward punched through her shoulder, wounding her, but the Canoness Superior gritted her teeth and charged on, her sword carving a deep gouge into the Russ before her bolt pistol executed the crew within.
Finally, Lieutenant-Major Glyn Mawr finished off the last of the Battle Sisters, his swinging power fist caving in the armour of the Sister Superior. Against all odds, the lone Tempestor Prime had emerged triumphant.
Further to the south, the Arco-Flagellants finally destroyed the Sentinel, while the Penitent Engine reduced the Chimera to a handful of wounds.

In response, the Praetorian infantry fighting the Penitent Engine disengaged, while the Chimera engaged with the Arco-Flagellants did the same. Major Mawr, however, circled around behind a hill, remaining out of line of sight of the Sisters as he tried to take on their fire support.

Calling upon his powers, the Astropath attempted to Smite the last of the Seraphim, but failed to manifest the power. Elsewhere, massed firepower raged across the Praetorian line, as the upper Penitent Engine was gutted and destroyed by lascannon fire, while massed fire from the tanks again pounded the Sororitas Rhino holding an objective, finally destroying the enemy tank.

Knowing that desperate times called for desperate measures, the Astropath charged the last of the Seraphim, but neither the psyker nor the Sister could hurt one another.
Meanwhile, Major Mawr charged around from behind the hill into the last Exorcist, his crackling power fist tearing hull plates out of the rear door. Though he only did minor damage, he also prevented the Exorcist from firing and, crucially, contested an objective.

At this point, my opponent needed to leave, so we called it there. We each had Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord, however my opponent only had one objective, while I had First Bood, an objective and the superior objective.And with that, the Sisters of Battle had won, 9-4!

Result: Sisters of Battle Victory!

Thoughts:

Well that was an epic and bloody battle! From turn 1, it was pretty plain to see I was outgunned, and that became more apparent on turn 2 when I started to lose units left, right and centre. In true Valorous Heart fashion, however, I just had to grit my teeth and bear it. I stuck to the plan, and it paid off, as the Praetorians were left with almost no room to grab objectives by the end of the game. The end result was a much closer game than the final score would indicate, though: had the game gone on, Michael still had enough firepower to blast my units off the objectives. It was a very fun battle, with lots of back and forth action, and despite the number of melee units I fielded, I’m still surprised at how much of the game descended into close combat (and at how competent at it the Imperial Guard were).

Looking back at the battle, there were a number of things about the new Sisters rules that became apparent, both for better and for worse:

  • Miracle dice were an interesting mechanic to explore in this game. There were several moments where I was able to substitute a miracle dice for, say, a saving throw or a damage roll, and the results actually were extremely handy. In the latter half of the game, however, I was seemingly unable to roll above a 3 for my miracle dice…and even then, they proved useful, as I was able to use all of my low-scoring dice for morale tests. It is partly thanks to my miracle dice that I suffered almost no morale casualties among my Sisters in this game.
  • For my first run with them, the rules for miracle dice were a little confusing. While it became clear I could only use one act of faith per phase, it was unclear how many miracle dice I was able to use per roll– whether it was just one miracle dice, or if I could, say, substitute an entire cluster of rolls with miracle dice. It’s a question I hope to find the answer to before I play any further games with the Sororitas.
  • The sacred rites are a very fun addition to the army, and one that definitely had an impact in this game. However, depending on the matchup, it also forces the player to choose between selecting one rite, and having faith and rolling randomly for two. For a lot of games, I could see myself eschewing luck so that I could reliably get something like Spirit of the Martyr or The Passion. The fact that sacred rites only work on a battle-forged list means that, in future games, I will have to decide long and hard over whether I want to include any allies for my Sororitas.
  • It is also worth noting that I made a serious rules error in this game: I had wrongly thought that I gained new miracle dice every time I destroyed an enemy unit. However, in review of the rules, I have since determined that it is only units with the Act of Faith rule (ie only Adepta Sororitas, not Ecclesiarchy stuff) that can generate and use Miracle dice in this manner. Again, that is something that I will have to remember in future games.
  • The Valorous Heart rules proved to be okay. Not great, just…okay. I didn’t make nearly enough 6+ rolls to negate wounds, though the few times they did happen proved to be exceptionally handy. Far more useful was the Valorous Heart’s ability to ignore -1 AP, which came into play repeatedly throughout the game. I only regret positioning my Imagifier poorly and not being able to take advantage of Tale of the Stoic to ignore -2 AP. Also, the Valorous Heart stratagem proved quite useful the one time I used it, allowing me to fire an Exorcist at full ballistic skill even after it had been damaged. All in all, the Valorous Heart proved to be a dependable subfaction, and even if I do not end up going with them for my Order, I may still use their rules for a Spearhead detachment (as their stratagem and the durability they provide should benefit Exorcists greatly)
  • To my disappointment, the Ecclesiarchy units have been downgraded significantly in this codex. While they still universally have the Zealot rule (which helps a lot for hitting things), the reduction of their Weapon Skill from 3+ to 4+ hurts them a lot, and means they rely a lot more on those initial rerolls and on having a Priest nearby to boost their attacks. The Penitent Engine has also been severely gimped, both by having its buzz-blades reduced from damage 3 to damage 2, and by losing their ability to attack twice. The fact that I had one Penitent Engine spending several rounds punching a Hellhound, and another trying twice and failing to destroy an Infantry squad, I think highlights how nerfed the Eccesiarchy units have become (right when they have models, no less).
  • Regarding how some other units have changed or fared: Exorcists are amazing now. The fact that I was able to reliably roll 6 missiles with them a turn meant that they were able to put some severe hurt on enemy tanks at a safe distance. The ability of Seraphim to hurt vehicles at a longer range with inferno pistols thanks to Burning Descent was also pretty damn awesome, and, for the short time while they were on the field, the multi-melta Retributors were pretty mean as well. I can see them feasibly taking the place of melta Dominions (since Dominion need to get closer to do their nasty work– I’m toying with the idea of possibly trading in their meltas for storm bolters to maximize the effect of Blessed Bolts).
    Of course, there is still so much that I want to experiment with, and so many units that need more testing. In particular, I’m interested to see how other weapon combinations on Battle Sisters work, whether or not I can properly use the Dialogus and Imagifier next time, and of course, at some point, I need to try the Repentia out. Not to mention, of course, the other Order convictions– I’m still debating which one I want to try next. If any of you gentle readers have a preference for which one you want to see in action, please feel free to comment!

All in all, though, it was a great game, and a great test run for the Sisters of Battle (although the fact that I was so over in points should, unfortunately, still be taken into consideration for said end result). Michael was an absolute gent throughout the game, and I look forward to playing him and his pith-helmeted lads again at some point.

MVP: The man of the match, without a doubt, was the force of nature that was Major Glyn Mawr. Despite being a lowly Tempestor Prime, he almost single-handedly punched down an entire Battle Sister squad and their attendant Canoness (partly by repeatedly ordering himself to Fix Bayonets), before contesting an objective in the final turn. Truly, he was a moustachio’d terror on the battlefield.

*****

The battle was over. The Praetorians had finally fallen back after half an hour of fighting, withdrawing to lick their wounds, to rearm, and to no doubt prepare for their next offensive. The ruins of the Cathedral had been devastated even further by the fighting, what few sections of the old monasteries and basilicae that had still been left standing pulverized by explosions, old prayers etched in stone forever shattered by bolter fire and shrapnel. Ursula felt almost unclean, for having allowed such a thing to happen to this place.

She slowly made her way through the battlefield, conscious that her shoulder still throbbed with raw pain where a heavy bolter round had exploded against her armour. The ground was littered with debris, with the guttering carcasses of ruined tanks, and with the bodies of her own Sisters and those of the Praetorians. Her armoured foot nudged against something– a Praetorian body, still clutching his lasrifle, the crimson of his uniform turned a muddy brown by the dirt and by the charring of incendiary munitions. His face, stained as it was with soot and ash, was that of a boy. He couldn’t have been older than fifteen. Wearily, Ursula muttered the Rite of Absolution and did the sign of the aquila.

There would be more funerary rites before the night was over, she knew. So much bloodshed on holy ground…all over a single, misinterpreted passage. Ursula shook her head in numb disbelief. The Great Enemy did not need to invade Apotheca: the Imperial faithful were already doing their work for them.

“Canoness!” The words caused Ursula took look up. A short, mousy woman, clad in indigo robes that were clearly too big for her, was approaching, flanked by a pair of Battle Sisters. Ursula was quick to recognize Sister Ziriel Shylo, a Dialogus from the Order of the Inkwell, who had been attached to her preceptory at the start of their deployment to Apotheca. And, Ursula noted, she was carrying what appeared to be a large, leather-bound volume in her robed hands.

“Sister Ziri,” Ursula greeted her with a weary nod, before glancing at the book she held. “Please tell me you’ve found something.”

Ziriel smiled at her. “As it so happens, I have,” she replied, reaching into one of her equipment kits and pulling out a tripod-mounted auto-lectern. “It took forever to find it, hidden as it was in a code-locked vault under a wooden pulpit…but I’ve found it, Canoness. I’ve found the original writings of Saint Letitia.”

Ursula’s heart leapt in her chest. “Are you certain?”

Ziriel nodded as she set the book down on the auto-lectern, and began to leaf through the pages, many of which were so worn they looked about ready to fall out. “I’ve run all of the necessary tests, Canoness, and I have confirmed the book’s age, the type of paper and ink used, and even matched the handwriting. This is indeed the original journal and collected sermons of Saint Letitia.”

Ursula tried to quell the the sudden rush of pious joy at being in the presence of so holy a tome– before all else, she had to consider her duty. “What does it say then, sister?” she asked. “Did the blessed saint advocate for praying in the general direction of Terra, or did she beseech the faithful to trust in the churches?”

Ziriel did not reply at first as she continued to leaf through the pages. After finally finding the right one, she leaned forwards, adjusting the sittings on her magnocular goggles, before frowning. “Both…and neither, Canoness.”

Ursula blinked. “What?”

“Assuming this is the right passage,” Ziriel explained, “the blessed saint wrote thusly: ‘If, by fell magick, or the obscuring blackness of war or ruin, the radiance of Holy Terra be blocked from the mortal sight, then it matters not whether the faithful pray in the assumed direction of Terra, or if they pray in the churches or in the streets. What matters the most is that the faithful have faith, and stray not into lawlessness and perfidy, for the God-Emperor’s sight is never blinded, and He is with us even in times of darkness. In such times as these, what matters most is that the faith endures in His name, no matter how it be expressed’.”

At these words, Ursula felt a warm surge of piety well up in her heart. She had been looking for an answer to this conflict, and in this darkest hour, the Emperor had delivered.

“Amen,” she said, before thumbing her vox bead. “Get me a channel to the Praetorian command. Tell them that we need to end this war.”

9 thoughts on “Battle Report #9: War of Faith– Sisters of Battle vs Imperial Guard

  1. First of fantastic battle report, it was engagning all the way from start to finish. now I just need to go back and read the fluff since I came here for the BR, stayed for the imagery.

    As for your miracle dice question; You can only replace one Miracle dice during shooting/cc due to the fact that from a rules perspective attacks happen one at a time (Battle primer – fast rolling and number of attacks cover it). Mind you the rules in the Codex are vague enough that its hard to know how it was intended to play so it could be faqed either way.

    Ohh and you can’t use the Blind faith strat to shoot at full bs since it only allow you to ignore tohit modifers (like 1- for flyers) while degrading gives the model a new profile.

    Though to reiterate the important part, Fantastic battle report S+.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the feedback, and for the correction on Blind Faith. I figured that it made sense for the Sisters of the Valorous Heart, what with their notable endurance of pain, to be able to fire a damaged vehicle at better BS. I’ll be sure to use Blind Faith properly in future.

      I agree wholeheartedly that an FAQ of miracle dice is sorely needed (or souer-ly needed. Get it, because souer is French for…oh nevermind). Otherwise, I’m glad you enjoyed the report! Thanks for your positive feedback!

      Like

  2. Great report and I absolutely love your fluff text!

    Yes the Miracle Dice thing is in definite need of an FAQ as it can be interpreted as single or multiple dice- a strong case for multiple being that it is near identical wording to the Fate Dice in Age of Sigmar for Tzeench. It uses multiple dice while starting the game with 9 dice already and gaining more as the game goes on. But that’s GWs job to clear up.

    You’re right about the Penitent Engines getting nerfed hard. They can still fight twice but it costs a 2cp stratagem to do it.

    How was your CP by the end of the game, feels like sisters are pretty CP hungry?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would definitely say that Sisters are CP-hungry. Offensive strategems like Blessed Bolts and Holy Trinity demanded use before, and now there are a whole bunch of other attractive stratagems (Battle Rites, plus the ones that let you resurrect heroes, advance and charge, etc) that give the Sororitas a lot of options. Future battles with the army will require a much more judicious use of my CP, I think.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Battle Report #10: The Reckless Lady | Ars Scripta

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