Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: Officio Assassinorum Dataslate

I've been playing 40k more or less since the days of second edition. One of the things I remember very fondly from those days was the fluff for the various assassins as well as the rules for them. Who doesn't remember being a total jerk having your Callidus assassin replace someone's super upgraded squad leader? The look on someone's face when you told them that exarch was now your assassin was priceless. Yes it was mean, but second edition was a beast of a different color. So today I'm going to talk about the latest version of our deadly assassin friends and what you can expect from the dataslate.

The first thing I want to address is the price on this dataslate. I purchased the enhanced ipad version, which is what I do for most of my 40k stuff. The price for the enhanced version was 20 dollars plus the tax I paid. The ebook (PDF) version is 17. Personally I don't take issue with the price. The enhanced version requires someone while some actual computer skills to set up the enhancements like the quick links, pop ups, and weblinks. I think charging more for that only make sense from a business stand point because that person with said computer skills probably makes more money than someone without those skills/abilities. The ebook version is basically just a pdf which are fairly easy to set up with minimal computer knowledge. If memory serves me correctly, the last time the assassins had their own individual book, I believe it was around 12 dollars or so. That was back in 4th edition I think, or perhaps 3rd. So fast forwarding a number of years and I think the price point is roughly on par with inflation.

I've read around the web some criticism for taking the assassins out of the grey knight codex book. I can understand the argument that you're making people buy an additional book when before they didn't need to. The flip side to that argument is that was only a benefit to people who played grey knights. If you played any other army, you still had to buy a 35 dollar book in order to get the rules for assassins. For everyone else but grey knights, this is a money saving move. For grey knight players I agree it is unfortunate, but GW seems to have wanted to really draw a clear distinction between grey knights, inquisition, and assassins. In reality assassins are their own independent organization within the imperium. Any and all imperial forces have the ability to petition for their use. Some from a fluff point I think it makes sense to have a dataslate.

So what is in said dataslate exactly? Well the enhanced version is 45 pages total, with the ebook version being 52 pages. The first 31 pages are completely fluff. I personally love to read and find that the fluff is really what makes me love 40k so much. The fluff they talk about is first a general overview of the officio assassinorum as an organization. It talks about how it recruits, how it deploys agents, how missions get assigned, and basically the role of their organization in the imperium of man. They it breaks down each of the 4 main assassins and has several pages on each of their temples. It explains how the individual assassin temples function and what techniques they use. Lastly, it has a page that talks about the other two major temples that don't have rules/models, the Vanus temple, and the Venenum temple. I know that in some of the black library books I've read they talk about those two temples, but I don't recall any place in the normal 40k codex books that really talk about them. The Vanus temple basically deals with the command of information, so think a computer assassin/hacker, and the Venenum temple deals with all sorts of poisons and "time-delayed toxins." Only a page on them, but worth a read if you own or plan on buying the dataslate already.

So onto the part that matters to most of you, the rules. The assassins count as their own separate detachment and are under the umbrella of armies of the imperium. So that's how they function as allies. The detachment only allows you to take a single assassin and he/she will take up an elite choice when doing so. They get a cool benefit that may or may not be worth attempting, but if the assassin directly kills the enemy warlord you get an extra victory point. That's kind of nice and fluffy, but may not be the best use of your assassin depending on the enemy warlord and situation. Additionally they do have a formation in the dataslate. The formation is 1 of each assassin, callidus, culexus, eversor, and vindicare. They gain the preferred enemy (warlord) special rule, which is particularly nice since it doesn't cost you any extra points.

The vindicare assassin is your stealthy sniper. His sniper rifle counts as a heavy weapon so you're going to want to make sure you put him some place where he won't have to move and can see most of the field. His 72" range should help greatly with that. Snipers no longer have rending automatically but that doesn't matter because all his shots are AP 2 and all his successful to hit rolls count as precision shots, meaning you can hit whatever specific guy you want. He always fires 1 of 3 types of ammo that you pick before you roll to hit. Shield breaker which ignores invulnerable saves, turbo penetrator which count as strength 10 against armor or causes d3 wounds against normal targets, and lastly the hellfire round which wounds on a 2+ instead of the normal 4+. Oh did I mention he ignores cover saves of his targets as well, and look out sir tests are taken at -2? He's a good killing machine that should always kill/wound what he's shooting at. The only down side is that he only gets 1 shot per turn. For the cost of roughly a 10 man tactical squad you need to make sure you pick your targets carefully. You don't want to be shooting at a necron warrior or eldar guardian. You want to shoot farseers or overlords. For a single unit he's pricey, but you should be able to make his points back with planning. Not to give it all away, but he also has the following special rules, fearless, independent operative, infiltrate, stealth, move through cover, and lightning reflexes (4+ invulnerable save).

The callidus assassin is what you use to immediately tie up a unit and mess with your opponents entire battle plan. She can infiltrate anywhere on the board at least 1" away from an enemy model whether or not they can see her. She can be held in reserve and choose to enter from any table edge/ The turn she arrives, or turn 1 all enemy shots count as snap shots against her. She also allows you to reroll for seize the initiative, and your enemies first reserve roll is at a -3. She has fleet, hit & run, and precision strikes making her amazing at hand to hand. Her gun uses the flamer template, wounds on a 4+ always, and is AP 2. Her phase sword is AP 2 and each wound roll of a 6 means your opponent can't take an invulnerable save against it. A second close combat weapon, poison blades helps with your high toughness targets. Its poison 3+ and has rending. With 6 attacks on the charge, and once again your opponent having -2 to look out sir rolls you should always be able to kill your target in hand to hand. 5 points less than the vindicare still makes her roughly the cost of 10 tactical marines. Also comes with fearless, independent operative, move through cover, and lightning reflexes.

The Eversor Assassin is your roided out, rage killing machine. This guy is the cheapest of the assassins being 15 points less than the Vindicare. For his points though you get a lot. He comes with a power sword, melta bombs, executioner pistol, neuro-gauntlet, sentinel array, and frenzon. His pistol either works as a normal bolt pistol or as a poison weapon, doesn't sound like much, but he gets 4 shots with said pistol a turn. He can shoot in either mode or split the shots up between the modes but they must be at the same target. The neuro-gauntlet  is a melee weapon with the shred and fleshbane rule. Sadly its AP - but with 9 attacks on the charge, yes 9 at initiative 7 and WS 8, you're going to make your opponent take a lot of saves. Frenzon gives his 3 attacks on the charge instead of 1 and the sentinel array lets him over watch at full ballistic skill of 8. Once again look out sir rolls are at -2. His charge range is also 3d6, not the normal 2d6. So if you can shoot something you're pretty much going to be able to charge it. He has fearless, infiltrate, independent operative, move through cover, lightning reflexes, furious charge, feel no pain, and bio-meltdown. Bio-meltdown means that when he loses his last wound he explodes. All models within d6" suffer a strength 5 AP- hit. So the battle plan with this guy is pretty much just go from unit to unit, or vehicle to vehicle and kill everything.

The last assassin is the Culexus and he is a psyker killing machine. It previous versions I've always over looked this assassin as far too situational for regular play. Now I think he can actually be made useful to a point even if you're not playing against a psyker heavy army. He has the normal assassin abilities of fearless, infiltrate, independent operative, move through cover, and lightning reflexes. In addition, armor saves may not be take against any melee wounds he causes, and to wound rolls of 6 in melee gain the instant death rule. He has preferred enemy (psykers) and psychic abomination. Psychic abomination is really an amazing ability. Psykers, friend or for, within 12" of the culexus are at -3 to their leadership, do not add any dice to to the owning players warp charge pool, and only make successful warp charge rolls on a 6. The assassin himself can never be the target of or affected by any psyker powers. Other units within 12" can be affected normally by beam, nova, or witchfire powers, but any blessings or maledictions immediately cease to be in effect whether friend or foe. Equipment wise he has an Animus Speculum, etherium, and psyk-out grenades. The grenades make it so psykers charging the assassin don't gain bonus attacks for charging unless he was already locked in combat from a previous turn. Additionally he can thrown the grenade at a unit that contains at least 1 psyker and a random psyker in the until immediately suffers a perils of the warp in addition to any other damage, its only strength 2 so good luck on that. It is however a blast weapon and he is BS 8, so it should never really scatter, only 8" range though. The etherium is kind of broken if you ask me, but it makes any shooting attacks or close combat attacks against the assassin count as WS/BS of 1. So everything against this guy is basically a snap shot, whether the unit has a psyker in it or not. Its basically invisibility for free. The animus speculum is his gun, and he can shoot is and still throw a grenade for the record. He can also shoot and run, but can not fire over watch shots. The Animus is 18" strength 5 AP 1. It gets a number of shots equal to the combined mastery levels of all psyker units within 12" of the assassin. You can then add up to 3 more shots to that by removing them from your own dice pool. Sadly, there is no explanation for how this would work if you have no psykers of your own and thus no dice pool. I would imagine you would just roll your 1d6 even though you had no psykers with which to use said dice. Certain armies, grey knights, can really make this guy pump out a lot of dice for shooting. This version of him really makes him worth taking even if you're not facing psykers. He's 10 points less than the vindicare. His obvious roll is killing enemy psykers, but his AP 1 gun and no saves against his attacks in close combat really make him an awesome terminator killer as well. Not an unstoppable killing machine, but worth his points again if used correctly.

My final opinion is that the book is worth getting. I can personally see uses for all of the assassins in the armies I play. Given what their capable of I think the points are pretty spot on. Maybe the Culexus should have gone up, but I need to see him on the table top before I am sure. I hope this was worth the read and that you enjoyed it. Thanks for your time. 

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