Imperial Assassins open up a can of worms with 8th Edition. Here’s what you need to know:
Let’s start off with a confession – I love Imperial Assassins. I’ve thought they were awesome models since they were first introduced back in Rogue Trader and totally lost it when the first Assassin mini-codex came out back in 1999.
I’m telling you all this so you understand I’m writing this from a position of love. I think Assassins are awesome and want them to be a cool flavorful part of the game.
They are Currently a Big Problem
Imperial Assassins are currently sitting right on the fault lines of 8th’s rules and open up a lot of cracks in the game that are exploitable, but easily fixed. Let’s hit a few of these:
Assassins are Dirt Cheap
Take a look at how much Assassins cost and note that this includes wargear. Oddly the better ones are cheaper.
Assassins are Spammable
In previous editions, Assassins were always a 0-1 choice, or you could take 1 of each in a Kill-team. This was meant to represent the solitary nature of thier assignments, or the dispatching of a single multi-temple killteam for the most dire of threats. But no more. In 8th, you can take as many as you want if you have the points. We’ll return to this later.
Assassins are Useful (mostly)
There are really 2 Assassins of note. The Eversor is your general get in your grill really fast murder machine. He’s going to get his points back and it’s hard to stop him before he strikes. Even after he dies, he blows up, gifting you a few mortal wounds at a goodbye kiss.
The 2nd assassin of note is the Culexus. It’s this rule that you need to be aware of: Etherium.
It’s pretty nasty, with most enemies only hitting the Culexus on a 6. Again, keep that under your hat for now, we’ll return to it.
Assassins are Characters
Yup, every single one of them, meaning they have character protections against shooting unless they are the closest unit.
See the Problem?
Imagine a list something like this:
10 Imperial Assassins appear near the enemy army. 5 Culexus up front in an arc, and a knot of 5 Eversors moving up behind them.
You can only target random individual Culexus as they are the closest models to the enemy army and you only hit them on 6s. Either that turn or the next all the Eversors charge out and inflict carnage. Due to fielding a large knot of character models, you have taken control of the the shooting phase out of the hands of the opposing player and the Assassin player now controls it. You fill the rest of your army with traditional units that hide, or reserve and deal with mission objectives mid to late game after the Assassin bomb inflicts it’s carnage.
It’s unfluffy, frustrating as heck to face, and takes advantage of the ability of some armies to field large numbers of effective and cheap characters (and character rules) – probably unintended by the Design Studio.
Assassins need to go back to 0-1 per Assassin. But the underlying issue still remains, there are some nasty nasty hidden combos some armies can do with massed cheap characters. That the tactic is effective or legal isn’t the issue. It’s that it’s horribly frustrating and un-fun – exactly the kind of thing we wanted to leave behind us with 7th edition’s passing. It’s just the type of exploit that makes people want to not play.
It needs addressing.
~What would you do if you were sitting in the designer’s chair?