Hello once more to another article about using allies to smooth out your army’s weaknesses and give them more punch. This time, I wish to discuss the least splashy book of the last couple of months, Dwarfs, erm Imperial Stormtroopers, I mean Tempestus Scions. Yes, while most people were still recovering from the Imperial Knights codex or waiting impatiently for the Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard codex to arrive, GW pulled a fast one and brought out a fringe codex letting you play the Tempestus Scions as a single army, though they probably only get to be the Primary detachment in small games as we are going to see in the next paragraph.
All in all, the book is rather slim on actual units, with a mere 5 units (6 if you separate Commissars into regular ones and Lord Commissars). In essence, you can buy Commissars and Tempestus Command Squads as HQ choices, Scions as Troops, Taurox Primes as Dedicated Transports or Fast Attack choices and Valkyries as Fast Attack choices and that’s it. Points- and stats-wise, they are exactly the same as their equivalents in Astra Militarum and the White Dwarf preview, so I am not going into that here. If taken as their own codex, they, unlike Knights and Inquisition, actually count as an allied contingent with all that entails. So on the whole you are limited to one HQ, two Troops and one Fast Attack choice if you run them as Allies or the usual slots for a Primary detachment, though without Heavy Support as there is no Heavy Support in the book.
Who can ally with them?
They are Battle Brothers with all Imperial Armies, Allies of Convenience for Eldar, Desperate Allies for Dark Eldar and Tau and Come the Apocalypse with all the rest, which is a shame as I really wanted to see if you could run them as a Blood Pact detachment with Chaos. I guess I could always make do and use the Astra Militarum list with Veterans as Troops and a Scion Platoon instead.
But why would you use them anyways?
It is all about the Hot-Shot Lasguns, baby! One of the reasons why everyone was running three units in their old Guard list was because they would just murder Marines with their AP3 guns. NOT! Hot-Shots are nice, but they are really just a bonus and not the reason why you should take Scions. OK, AP3 is nice, but you need a 5+ to wound Marines, 6s to kill the good stuff like Bikers or Plague Marines and they do occasionally get cover saves, so they are not the reason to get them. This means that Scions per se are just Imperial Guard Veterans with Carapace Armour who cost twice the points for a fancy gun, so why bother with them at all?
First of all, all Tempestus Scions, including their command squads, have the Deep Strike and Move Through Cover rules. This means that they can drop onto the battlefield and even land in terrain without having to take dangerous terrain checks. This means that they can get where you want them (within reasonable limits) and get off at least one shot before the opponent can shot back (baring Interceptors of course).
Second of all, they start at 5 models per unit, so you can place them more easily than a 10-strong unit of Guardsmen if they drop, thus avoiding mishaps and other complications.
Having Carapace armour and being able to drop into cover, they are reasonably tough against small arms fire, meaning that they require a lot of attention to be reliably killed, thus forcing your opponent to dedicate more resources than they want to kill what is only a harrying unit in the first place. This means that they can force them to divide their attention and thus have less firepower to deal with your main army. If they choose to ignore them, you have 2 special weapons in a scoring unit to go kick some behind.
They are reasonably priced for what they do, both in terms of points and cash. A small unit with double meltaguns or plasmaguns is 90-100 points and €23, with two of them and a Command Squad with 4 Special weapons just barely scratching 325 points or €70. That small fee gives you 8 special weapons that can be dropped anywhere on the field and really ruin someone’s day. Heck, you could replace the Command Squad with a Commissar and get the whole shebang for around 215 points, combining the two meltaguns in one unit and the two plasmaguns in another one. You then have a Commissar to make a random Imperial unit stubborn (as you are Battle Brothers with all of them) and four special guns to drop in the enemy’s backfield to crack rear armour or shoot artillery crews and cheekily grab objectives.
Some sample builds:
El cheapo build: Commissar with Boltgun, 5 Tempestus Scions with 2 Meltaguns, 5 Tempestus Scions with 2 Plasmaguns (you could use 4 of each, but you need to convert some of them at that stage as you only get one of each Special weapons in each box, or you might find people to swap them, though finding Plasmaguns or Meltaguns is always difficult): –> cheap and does what it says on the tin.
The four-boxer: Tempestus Command Squad with 4 Meltaguns, 10 Tempestus Scions with 2 Plasmaguns, 5 Tempestus Scions with 2 Plasmaguns (or any other combination of 15 Scions with 4 Plasmaguns between them). The Command Squad actually gives you some kick ass orders like Twin-Linked, Preferred Enemy (with Plasmaguns!!!), Rending against tanks or monstrous creatures or even Pinning and Sniper with their hot-shot lasguns. Just under 400 points for 8 Special weapons and a decent amount of hot-shot lasgun shots to boot.
I am looking forward to running them in a game tomorrow with a Primary detachment of mystery, or even run them as the Primary of themselves.
Update after two games:
Well, I used them twice in small games (1.250 and 1.000) with some Imperial Knight back-up. As I got to use them as Primary detachments in both games, I could use more units so I a full unit with plasmaguns, a 5-men Plasmagun unit, a Melta Command Squad and 5-men squads with either flamers or grenade launchers as well as an Ordo Malleus Inquisitor (only Ordo I have a model for right now) with Prescience.
They performed well in such small games. Being able to drop half your army is always useful and the sheer amount of Special weapons they can carry helps them unleash a world of hurt once they land. The Command Squad with Twin-linked Meltas thanks to an order dropped a Forgefiend in one go in game 1 and a Leman Russ squad in game 2, single-handedly winning that game by killing 340 points in a 1k game. The other teams performed just as well, though I did lose one flamer unit to a mishap that resulted in them deploying exactly out of flamer range but in the open in short range of the entire enemy army. Oh well, you win some, you lose some and if they had landed, they would have probably wiped out the enemy command squad in turn 2.
I feel that they will help gunlines the most, as those armies force the opponent to move towards them and thus leave the backfield open to deep-strikers.