“It is better that one innocent man suffer than ten guilty men escape.”
– Misquoted British jurist (pre-unification Terra)
~Something a little different this time. Our Lead Tester has decided to tell you guys the secrets to kicking butt with my favorite BoLS minidex, Take it away Geoffrey:
We’ve all seen riot police marching with their shields and batons, throwing an occasional smoke grenade into a boisterous crowd. In turn they’re smashed with rocks, Molotov cocktails and baseball bats, along with an array of other improvised weaponry. What would a riot in the forty-first millennium be like? Apparently, things are a lot less peaceful thirty-eight thousand years from now, but the path to pacification remains unchanged. The riot police of Warhammer 40K are the Adeptus Arbites, and while their gear is high-tech in comparison to that of present day, their function is the same – hold back the upstart protesters, quell rioting mobs, and restore order to His Imperium for the good of its citizens.
Testing the Arbites army list was a great time. What initially got me excited about them was their ‘Thin Black Line’ concept; while the initial deployment of Arbiters holds off an advancing mob, their supporting forces are circumnavigating the area, waiting to outflank and contain the coming riot. Reserve units use the ‘Units Inbound’ special rule to enter play anywhere on the table that isn’t in an opponent’s deployment zone. This is especially useful in Spearhead missions where there’s a full 180” of board edge from which to enter (as opposed to the other two deployment options that give 120” and 144”).
Being an anti-horde army, the Arbites are the masters of anti-personnel weaponry. Their basic troop weapon is the Arbites Shotgun (arguably better than a bolter!). Their squad upgrade weapons either enhance their anti-horde capabilities, or enhance their anti-horde capabilities… and by the way, did I happen to mention that they can take on hordes of enemy troops? Their primary supporting units (like Suppression Platforms and Storm Teams) are anti-horde as well; in case that isn’t enough to take on a horde army, they have a heavy tank with an awesome anti-horde option. Hordes beware! Oh yeah, important detail here – almost all of their guns ignore cover!
The Arbites are great at tying units up in close combat. Their ‘Riot Tactics’ special rule makes it impossible for any unit to hit them on a 3+. This isn’t a huge bonus for troops with the stat line of guardsmen, but when combined with defensive grenades, its’ benefits become more apparent. You might ask “Why would a unit like Arbitrators want to put so many points into slowing an opponent’s charge?” Uhm, yeah, they’re the cops!
Can you guess the weakness of an army that’s frighteningly efficient at killing troops? If you guessed “It costs $1000 because every model is metal,” then you’re only half correct. Armor. Armored units are difficult for the Arbites to handle. The judges are good at stalling vehicles with their Lockdown Grenades, but eliminating them is a different story.
Another glaring weakness is the army’s low toughness and relatively weak armor saves. Carapace isn’t terrible, but as any Eldar player whose toughness 3 Aspect Warriors have been mowed down by a single Heavy Flamer will tell you, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Finally, while the Thin Black Line and Units Inbound can be great advantages in many situations, they can also hurt you. These rules force you to make do with your Troops selections until you roll high enough to bring in those much-needed reserves. – which might never show up. However, odds are that you’ll get 25% more of your army on turn two, another 16% on turn three, and another 7% on turn four. Have faith in the Emperor, for in case the unthinkable happens (about 1 in 50 chance) and your final unit doesn’t come in on turn four, it’s guaranteed to show up on turn five.
Due to the Thin Black Line rule there are a limited number of units the Arbites can utilize at the start of the game. Most Arbites forces will field as many units of basic Arbitrator Teams as possible; they’re scoring units, they carry Arbites Shotguns and Grenade Launchers, they gain the benefit of 4+ cover saves from terrain, as well as other units (making them highly resilient), and they’re extremely cheap to field. Consequently, this is the unit that got the greatest amount of testing. Balancing its ability to ‘dakka’ enemy troops to death was difficult, ultimately resulting in the restriction to a single Arbites Grenade Launcher per squad.
The other units available for your initial deployment are HQ characters, Execution Teams, Sharpshooter Teams, Sentinel Squadrons, and Suppression Platforms. While these are valuable units, most tactical requirements point towards Arbitrator Teams being the most useful in the greatest number of situations. However, that should not stop you from making great use of these units, as their bonuses are plentiful and obvious:
BS4 Sentinels – Outflanking and shooting at enemy armor from the sides is an invaluable ability.
Massed Grenade Launcher blast fire that wounds on 3+ – They’re great against Ork and ‘Nid hordes.
BS4 Sniper Rifles (Space Marines don’t even get them!) – Wave goodbye to those pesky C’Tan.
Arbites equivalent to Death Cult Assassins – No one likes heavy weapons teams hiding out in ruins.
Stubborn characters giving units the Stubborn USR – Holding out against dedicated close combat units for several turns is amazing.
Now we’ll get to the next bunch of units. They’re the most controversial in the codex; they’re the type of units that make you sit up and take notice… and they have to! Any unit that can’t begin the game on the table and has no guarantee of joining the fight for several turns has to pack a significant punch.
Shock Teams are nothing less than amazing. On the offense a fully equipped unit has the potential to wound any unit on a 4+, and the ability to re-roll to-wound rolls against T3 models. It’s not spectacular against units of Space Marines or Necrons, but it’s nothing to laugh at. Against models that rely on their high toughness to keep them safe, it’s phenomenal: Wraithlords, Marine Bikers, Elite Carnifexes, Greater Daemons, Daemon Princes – the list goes on! In fact, the more beastly the target, the more appealing of an option the Shock Team becomes due to their 4+ invulnerable saves.
The Pursuit Team is a highly specialized kind of unit. It exists mainly as a delivery system for one of its weapons. If you need an auto-hit against a stationary vehicle with a Breaching Charge, this is the way to do it. Is a squad of Storm Guardians heavily clumped together after rolling a ‘1’ for its consolidation move? Send in a fast-moving flamer to burn them out. Do you need to stay a step ahead of an advancing horde of Gaunts? Move 12” and drop a lot of ‘dakka’ on them with twin-linked bolters and an Arbites Grenade Launcher. Do you need to risk a unit to contest an objective in the bottom of the 5th turn? Turbo Boost them 24”.
Storm Teams are the all-purpose death-dealers of the codex. They can be equipped for a variety of roles, most of which will be useful. Given a quad load out of template and blast weapons, they can dish out the pain; if you want them up close and personal for maximum effect, deep strike them on top of a multi-comm. They can also fill a deep-striking anti-tank roll when equipped with a pair of plasma guns and a Proctor with Breaching Charges.
Finally, the Black Maria is the crown jewel of the list’s Heavy Support selections. But why pay 140 points for this clunker? Three reasons: 1) Its main gun is amazing, possessing both anti-tank and anti-troop capability (almost unheard of nowadays), 2) it can outflank to maximize the gun’s potential against armor or LOS-protected units, and 3) it has AV12 on every side; the potential damage from frag- and krak-equipped units is minimal; no unit is going to glance this baby to death!
Tactical sensibility says that once a unit gets charged, it’s better that they’re wiped out; you can fire at their killers the following turn. The alternative is a lot uglier: the charging enemy unit is locked in combat during your following turn, eliminates your squad, and is free to repeat the process when they’re able to move again. This is, of course, the worst case scenario.
The Arbites deal with scenarios like this by following a few easy steps. The first step is to make sure that any enemy unit that charges them has already been whittled down to a manageable size. Manageable is a relative term, but it’s pretty easy to gauge depending on the army you’re facing.
While testing this army, there were several games I lost where a single Venerable Dreadnought locked in combat was able to contest my only objective, or break and run-down multiple units. Models like this (including Sentinels, Killer Cans, Defilers, Soul Grinders and Penitent Engines) are extremely difficult for your basic troopers to deal with. They must either be constantly locked down, or avoided until a suitable solution can be found; the best I discovered was a unit outflanking and shooting it in its vulnerable rear armor (usually with Multi-laser equipped Sentinels). Other dangerous units include Land Raider Redeemers, Terminators with Storm Shields, or just about any unit that is loaded out with multiple decent saving throws (i.e. Plague Marines).
Geoffrey Snider (BoLS Lead Testing Magos)
~Bigred here, Did any of you guys ever finish up Arbites armies. I remember quite a few of you were pulling minis off of dusty shelves, and planning Arbites purchases from the Necromunda range to get you started. I would love to hear your battlefield exploits or see some pics of your armies. If you are a new reader and don’t know what the Adeptus Arbites are all about, grab the minidex, grab a cold drink, and enjoy!