So, today, Games Workshop more or less confirmed what many were already speculating at for months: that, sometime later this year, a new Sisters of Battle codex is being dropped.
The news was officially previewed today, along with the reveal for a whole lot of new units of models, many of which had been teased ahead of time for weeks, if not months, beforehand. This did a lot to fuel the speculation of an incoming Sisters codex: units like the Paragon Warsuits, Castigator Tank, Dogmata and Sacresants had already been previewed, and the Palatine had already been made available, along with rules, in the Piety and Pain boxed set. At least one new unit had been previewed, though– namely a new special character, Morvenn Vahl, a High Lord of Terra (the High Lady of the Sororitas? I had thought the Sororitas fell under the purview of the Ecclesiarch?), striding into war in her own personal Paragon Warsuit.
Here are some of my own quick thoughts on the new codex:
It Feels A Bit Too Soon
The current Sisters of Battle codex was released a little more than a year ago. As they were one of the last codexes to be released in 8th edition, they then transitioned very nicely into 9th– they had plentiful access to a lot of the improved weapons such as meltas and heavy bolters, and the close-ranged nature of 9th suits their aggressive playstyle very well. Indeed, I have been having a great deal of success with them, and they even went on to win this year’s Las Vegas Nopen (okay, granted, it was a combined Sisters and Custodes list, but still).
The fact, then, that GW wants to do another edition of the Sororitas codex so soon feels…well, odd. The Sisters certainly aren’t struggling in 9th edition, and indeed, I can think of a number of other factions that could really use a boost right now (Eldar, T’au, Tyranids, Genestealer Cults, Imperial Guard…the list goes on), or, alternatively, could really use an expanded model range (Harlequins, or…well, Harlequins). I, for one, as a Sisters player, am fine waiting for my turn after a lot of these other factions get the releases that they desperately need…but apparently that won’t be the case.
The only reason I can think of for GW doing another Sisters codex so soon is (1) women in power armour sell very well (as I’m sure they’ve discovered), and (2) they want to make sure one of their more popular armies has its rules fully in line with the current edition.
What I Expect To See
So, in line with what the codexes for the current edition have been like so far, here is what I expect from a new Sisters codex:
- Crusade rules- Obviously. Of course. I have yet to actually try playing Crusade games in 9th, and I hope to do so once this fricken lockdown ends.
- Rebalanced units/stratagems– currently, I fully expect some units (particularly Repentia and Retributors) to get their points adjusted, because they are arguably way too good for their points. Mortifiers, similarly, may see a slight adjustment. Beyond that, I fully anticipate to see some of the less-played units (like Penitent Engines, Immolators, etc) getting slight tweaks to make them more attractive options in turn. So long as the adjustments to the currently “good” units doesn’t nerf them into the ground, I’ll be happy.
- Rebalanced subfactions– The same point above for units also goes for subfactions: currently, the Orders of the Bloody Rose and Valorous Heart are competetive no-brainers, with the Order of Our Martyred Lady falling into an okay third and the other three barely getting noticed. I hope to see the other Orders get some improvements to their rules to make them all viable choices on the battlefield.
- Custom Order rules– just like all of the other factions in the game, I fully expect to see rules for creating my own custom Order. Hopefully they will be viable enough that they would be worth considering over any of the “named” orders.
- War Hymns/Prayers– mention was already made to “war hyms” being in the book. If these are anything like the litanies of the Space Marine Chaplains (which are very powerful effects in their own right), then I look forward to this. If nothing else, if any army should be able to have powerful in-game effects through prayer, it should be the Sisters.
Beyond that, I don’t expect too much to change: Sisters of Battle are already a strong army, and I don’t think GW will rock the boat too much by altering the army too significantly.
What I Would Like To See
- A new Troops choice! The Sisters of Battle have been getting by since forever with only a single Troops choice in the form of the humble Battle Sister squad. I, for one, would love to see this slot get expanded, maybe with Sisters Novitiates (ie Sororitas in training), or maybe with a handy mob of religious fanatics that would follow the Sisters of Battle and act as a cheap horde unit. Unfortunately, as nothing of that sort has been previewed, I highly doubt anything like that will be added.
- A few adjustments to existing units-– A few units that aren’t fielded as much could do with a few upgrades. The Sister Hospitaller, for instance, could perhaps be upgraded to provide a Feel No Pain aura or something similar, and the Dialogus, similarly, is a solid character that I feel is a bit underutilized. And finally, the Arco-Flagellants, while a solid (and scary) melee unit, are simply outshone by the Repentias at the moment.
The New Stuff I Am Looking Forward To (and some things I am not)
With all of the new units showcased, Sisters players like myself have been given a lot of pretty (and some not so pretty) new models to look forward to. Here are my takes, and what I find I like the most.
- Sacrestans– these girls look badass! Everything about them– the shields with slots for their pistols, the baroque, medieval looking weaponry, the hooded heads– looks amazing, and gives off a very strong “neo-medieval crusader” vibe that suits the Sisters very well. While I have no idea what their weapons do at the moment, I have a very strong urge to buy ten of them, give them all those Swiss Guard-style halberds they were initially previewed with, and march them up the board in a solid phalanx with my Canoness. These are definitely winners for me.
- Castigator Tank– this unit has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for looking too similar to the Space Marine Predator (a criticism that has been bolstered by Space Marine players fearing that their Firstborn range is going to be invalidated). Personally, as a person who always kind of liked the Predator tank, this criticism merely makes me like the Castigator even more, and I would definitely welcome any chance to diversify my Order’s motor pool.
- Sister Dogmata– the new “Sororitas Chaplain” has been much maligned for her bizarre facial expression and static pose. I agree, she looks like she’s suffering from something between “mental derangement” and “bad gas,” but her pose looks relentless and threatening in equal measure. Thankfully, she comes with a helmeted option.
- Palatine– already have one, quite like the model, moving on.
- Paragon Warsuits– I am very much on the fence over these fancy mechs. Initially, I really liked them, but the more I look at them, the more critical I feel. On the one hand, they look a lot less ridiculous than the much-derided Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight (aka the “Baby Harness,”), and look way less clunky and tanky than the Space Marine Centurions. However, by the same token, I still can’t get over how spindly and frail they look. I get that they have female pilots, but female pilots does not have to equal thin, feminine-looking battlesuits. Perhaps they will grow on me in time, but for now I am severely on the fence about them.
- Aestred Thurga and Agatha Dolan– the latest two Sororitas characters, a banner-bearer and her historian assistant. Aestred doesn’t particularly inspire me: she’s not a bad model, but so much about her looks so plain: she literally looks like every other fancy banner-bearer GW has produced before her. The fact that I am incredibly bad at painting free hand doesn’t improve my opinion of the model or make me want to get it all the more, sadly. In the other hand, I can’t help but appreciate the “grumpy-yet-bemused scholar” expression on Agathae’s face, giving a mid-battle lecture on how this is nothing compared to some battle fought several centuries prior. Her indifferent scorn, truly, shall wound the enemy more deeply than a hundred bolter shells.
- Morvenn Vahl– aside from the fact that her fluff of being a High Lady raises a lot of questions and eyebrows from myself, I quite like her. Maybe it’s the gigantic tabard covering much of the model, maybe it’s the elegant pose, but she doesn’t seem nearly as frail as the regular Paragon Warsuits. For some reason, this particular model reminds me a lot of the Protectorate of Menoth warjacks from Warmachine/Hordes. Hopefully, this is just a coincidental similarity.
Incidentally, between Celestine, the Triumph, Junith Eruita, and now Morvenn, Aestred and Agatha, the new codex will have a generous number of named characters (not counting Ephrael Stern, of course). Admittedly, this is awesome, but I also feel a little guilty about it as well, given that so many factions have fewer, or even no named characters of their own. Of course, being a Drukhari player, I’m still salty about how most of the named characters from the 5th ed codex were removed (but that is a rant for another day).
Those are my thoughts. Hopefully we’ll see more of the new codex and what the new rules will be like further down the road, but for now I am cautiously optimistic.
Next up…a (sort of kind of) review of the Drukhari codex…