Dread and Woe: A Forge World Dilemma

So, a while back, I decided to finally bite the bullet. With the lockdown going on here in Toronto, I had started up a fledgling Thousand Sons force to give me something to work on with all of the new free time I had. This project began before the new edition dropped, and while the overall points, rules and meta changes have left the poor Sons of Magnus struggling a little in the dust (badum-tish), I’ve nevertheless been persisting with them.

Recently, I finally decided to go ahead and order a fancy Forge World unit for them (my first time doing so). I always liked to think that the Thousand Sons had a generous number of Heresy-era relics left in their arsenal, and given that I was painting my fledgling thrallband in a red scheme that closely resembled pre-Heresy colours, it made all the more sense in my mind. I had always liked the look of the Osiron Contemptor Dreadnought from the Horus Heresy range, what with its overtly Egyptian theme, intricate ornamentation and its gigantic sword, and while it has no rules in mainstream 40K, I figured that nothing would stop me from using it as a regular Hellforged Contemptor in 40k.

Or, so I thought.

They had warned me, of course. Everyone whom I had consulted on whether Forge World units were worth taking told me to wait until after the updated Forge World rules were released for 9th Edition. But I paid these cautionary voices no heed. Surely, I thought, Games Workshop wouldn’t nerf Contemptors, one of their top selling units from the Forge World line? Surely they would keep them as the gloriously archaic metal powerhouses that they were?

The Dreadnought itself didn’t take too long to arrive, all things considered. The day after it arrived, I set down and attempted to figure out how to assemble it (a complicated affair of washing the resin, trimming mold lines, and getting magnets ready for interchangeable arms) when I heard that the new Forge World rules had finally dropped.

And they were shockingly bad.

Well, alright, “bad” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they were disappointing all the same. Under the new rules, as many people were quick to notice, Chaos Hellforged Contemptors (and a great number of other Heresy-era units) no longer had the LEGION keyword. This meant, among other things, that they were no longer useable by Chaos affiliate Codexes like Death Guard and Thousand Sons.

That wasn’t all, however. Even assuming that this was a horrible oversight on Forge World’s part that was going to be FAQ’d eventually and not some direct (and blatantly unfair) decision, the Hellforged Contemptor had still suffered some drawbacks. For instance, it’s 5+ invulnerable save would no longer improve in close combat, and its glorious BS and WS of 2+ had been downgraded to a 3+. More noticeably, due to a new rule called Martial Legacy, including a Contemptor (or indeed any other Heresy-era unit) would now cost one command point per vehicle.

Now it’s not all bad. Aside from the fact that the Loyalist relic vehicles, too, had been slapped with reduced stats and the Martial Legacy rule (insert Nelson “Haw Haw” here), the Contemptor’s cost had overall gone down, and more importantly, it had been given an equivalent of the new “Duty Eternal” rule from the new Space Marine codex, which reduces all damage it suffers by 1. As has been pointed out by many, what the Contemptor has suffered is not a downgrade, but merely a sidegrade: it has gained drawbacks in some areas and boosts in others, and is still perfectly useable.

If only I could use it, that is.

So, with my dreams of having an ancient BS2+ murder machine at my disposal that I could boost the invulnerable save of, warp across the field or heal damage from with my wide array of spells momentarily quashed, I’ve been considering how I will use the Contemptor in the meantime until it gets FAQ’d to be useable again by Thousand Sons (and/or a new Thousand Sons codex drops, whatever comes first). Thus far, my options are:

  • Use it as a Helbrute. Granted, its profile is a lot bigger than a regular Helbrute, and while it has similar weapons to a ‘brute, just one would probably get shot off the board in short order (unless Helbrutes also end up getting Duty Eternal). I’m a little annoyed as well that the Contemptor doesn’t come with any sort of missile launcher option, as this otherwise prohibits me from running a classic las/missile Helbrute. The upside is, at least as a Helbrute, the model would have access to the Fire Frenzy stratagem.
  • Use it as a Daemon Prince. With its tall profile and giant sword, it’s not hard to imagine it using the same rules and profile as a Daemon Prince. I can easily imagine the entombed psyker within levitating it (to simulate wings) and empowering it beyond what its steel shell might have once been capable of. It is, admittedly, a very cool mental image, and having a Contemptor model being able to cast psychic powers would, in a weird way, address the fact that the Thousand Sons never got psychic Dreadnoughts for some reason, despite being the psychic legion. (I mean seriously, if the Blood Angels can have Librarian Dreadnoughts, why can’t the Sons of Magnus have Sorceror Dreads, especially since that is exactly what the Osiron Contemptor was back in the Heresy era?)
  • Use it as a Decimator. It is easy to forget that there is another big, scary Chaos walker available from Forge World, and unlike the Heresy-era stuff, this one doesn’t have any kind of CP tax. In friendly games, I’m pretty sure I could get away with using the Contemptor as a Decimator, especially if I keep the weapons as representative as possible. Heck, a Decimator with dual soulburner petards would be a great way to represent a Dreadnought-entombed Sorceror unleashing his fell magicks upon the enemy.
  • Wait until a possible FAQ. I mean, in all honesty, I’m probably not going to get many physical games in until the pandemic finally ends, so I can afford to wait on this. Furthermore, the inability of Thousand Sons and Death Guard to use Contemptors/Leviathans/Sicarians/etc seems more like an oversight than a deliberate restriction, as I can’t think of any fluff reason why either of these legions would be prohibited from using these ancient war machines. Until any final rules resolution comes out on the Contemptor, it will nonetheless be a very pretty model to assemble and paint.

It’s worth noting that I know other players who have been affected by this nerf as well. I have one friend, for instance, who had been gleefully collecting some Forge World Dreadnoughts for his budding Iron Hands force. He had just finished assembling and painting his Leviathan when the new Forge World updates came out, prohibiting him from fielding his Dreadnought force without a serious command point tax, and nerfing the stats of his beloved Dreadnoughts badly. (And yes, he started collecting Iron Hands well after they had received some well-deserved balancing).

To play devil’s advocate, I can understand why Forge World imposed these nerfs: even at their hefty points costs, the Contemptors and Leviathans were perhaps a little too good for the insanely accurate firepower they could churn out (and don’t even get me started on the cheese that was loyalist Relic Contemptors). Even so, while I understand the rationale behind this move…I still reserve the right to be annoyed by it, especially after spending good money on a model that proceeded to become unusable for me mere days later.

Oh well, at least there’s still Daemon Engines…

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