Warhammer 40K: Sisters of Battle Versus the Meta
Let’s take a look at how the new Sisters of Battle stack up against some of the top tier meta lists.
Sisters of Battle have a lovely new (limited edition only) codex full of new rules and abilities. We’ve gone over the army at a high level, and taken a look at the new units and so we should all have a pretty good idea of how Sisters work. Now it’s time to answer one of the questions that will be a lot of people’s minds, how well will the list do in a competitive sense? I want to look at how Sisters of Battle should fare when matched up against three meta powerhouses: Knights, Eldar Flyers, and Space Marines. While these are not the only lists you would find at a competitive event (I’ve left off T’au), they are prevalent and if you can’t win against them you are unlikely to do well, with the reverse being true as well.
Note, I am not here, right now, to judge if the SoB book is “good” or “bad” a lot of factors go into that, I merely looking at how it stacks up against the current meta.
Knights, first Imperial and then later Chaos, ruled the meta for a long time. While their dominance has ended, thanks to Space Marines, they are still a common list at events, and a list you need to be able to beat. Unfortunately, this isn’t a fantastic matchup for Sisters of Battle. The Sisters list is pretty light on anti-tank weapons, especially long-range shooting. The Exorcist represents the sole long-range anti-tank weapon the Sisters have at their disposal. The remaining anti-vehicle weapons are melta variations, which are generally short ranged and not very good. Worse, the Sisters army does not seem to have any weapon, shooting or melee that is better than strength 8, meaning against heavy armor they wound at best on a 4+, and don’t have a lot of ways to buff this.
What this means is that against most knights, you will be looking at, at best, half your hits wounding, and half being saved by the knights 4++ (and the one you target will have it). An Exorcist, not a cheap investment, will on average, get six shots (3d3), hit with 4, wound with 2, and get one past the enemies save, for a random d6 of damage, not super impressive. Sure, you can use stratagems and miracle dice to up the output a little, but you can really only do that for one of the Exorcists a turn, and only if you’ve rolled well on the miracle dice, or sunk a lot of points into them. The likely outcome is that you will simply make sure that one shot that gets through does serious damage.
What this means is that even three buffed Exorcists (an investment of 510 points) is unlikely to kill a knight in a single round of shooting. The same is true of three squads of Retributors with multi-meltas (579 pts if you take ten sister squads). They have an even shorter range (though with the ability to move and fire, they are better than other multi-meltas), get fewer shots, and otherwise are the same until they get into half range. Overall it’s not a great match up. While Sisters can fight Knights and win, I think to reliably beat Knights, if that’s even possible, they would have to build a list so focused it will fail badly when fighting other armies.
VS Eldar Flyers
This is another reasonably common “Gatekeeper” list you’ll find out there, and something you’ll want to be able to beat. Against this list, Sisters have a lot of the same problems they have VS Knights, they lack good long-range anti-vehicle firepower. Now the story here is in some ways a bit better. Eldar flyers tend to me T6, not T8, so the few good attacks Sisters have will wound on a 3+ at least, and even basic bolter fire is better. The lack of invulnerable saves also helps a lot. That being said, Sisters are really in trouble when it comes to the things you need to nail down Eldar flyers – range and accuracy.
While the army overall is decently accurate, with BS 3+ on most models, it doesn’t have a lot of ways to improve that or to get mass re-rolls. Thus the -1 or -2 to be hit that Eldar flyers can rock really punishes SoB. The only reroll sisters can get most of the time is the reroll 1s from a Cannoness, which doesn’t help a ton, and is far worse then a Chapter Master’s reroll misses ability. With fewer shots on average, the Sisters will struggle. The list also simply lacks range, it’s an army that wants to be about 12 inches away from the enemy, and that’s not going to happen much vs. flyers. Without a lot of fast units, or tricks, it is going to be a problem. Sisters can do a few things; if they can get heavy flamers in range, that’s great, or if they can drop in and charge with Zepherim, they can do some work – but overall, I think it’s an uphill battle.
VS Space Marines
I mean, do I really need to do this? Sigh, OK. Space Marines are the current top dogs of the meta. They are the most played army, being about twice as common as any other army, and have a staggering 56.62% win-loss ratio since August, putting them several points above their competitors. This is an army you HAVE to be able to beat to win events, and it’s bad news for Sisters of Battle. Overall, Space Marines simply do everything Sisters do better; they shoot better, fight better, survive better, and have a ton more tricks. Point for point a basic Tactical Marine is better than a Sister of Battle, and Tacticals are one of the worst units in the Marine book. Sisters are, unfortunately, outclassed by Marines at the moment.
Overall, matched up against these three common meta lists, the Sister of Battle army does not fair well. That is not to say they can’t win against these lists. Any list CAN beat any list, and no doubt, you have a story about beating all these lists you’ll share in the comments. It happens, and you can make builds to take one of these with a better chance of winning. However, I doubt you can build a solid list to beat all three most of the time. And that’s the rub, individual wins aside, in aggregate Sisters are going to struggle and lose against these lists. Overall that means that they are going to have a tough time cutting it in the competitive scene, and they are fighting uphill against the meta.
Let us know how you think Sisters will fare in the meta, down in the comments!