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Goatboy’s Warhammer 40K: Are ‘Rift War’s 3 New Armies Any Good?

8 Minute Read
May 10

Goatboy here and it feels like I had Rift Wars to read for a long time. Let’s talk about how its new armies are going to shake up 40K.

In fact – we got in a copy before the whole Balance dataslate – aka Power Armor Renaissance came out.  This means a ton of my initial thoughts about it got quickly shifted. Some of these Armies of Renown just aren’t up to snuff when you compare what is coming down the pipeline.  Here’s by review about how those new lists are going to shake out.

Where’s the Chaos?

First Rift wars continues to not have any Chaos Space Marine stuff in there.  Sure it has Thousand Sons but no armies of Abaddon filling the pages with some weird rules because the Chaos Space Marine book isn’t out.  It also doesn’t have any Chaos Knights in there too which I find interesting as that book is also coming out this week as well.  Still it does have 3 Armies in there and while not amazing it does let you do some fun things.

Coteries of Haemonculi

The best one out of the is the Drukhari army – aka making 170 Wracks good again. They call this one the Coteries of Haemonculi and it is an army just based around the Haemonculus Covens.  You can have some Blades for hire so your Incubi are still available to do some work if you want.  They lose their old obsessions and gain a new one named Driven by Fear.  This new rule gives them an interesting power in that when the unit is below Half Strength they get a 4+ Feel No Pain roll.  This seems pretty powerful in large blobs of Wracks. But again the meta isn’t nearly as scared of a ton of wracks as it used to be.  They also get a 4+ Feel No Pain versus Mortal wounds (take that Thousand Sons and Grey Knights!) and can charge after they fall back.

Overall this isn’t a terrible rule. It’s something to think about if you want to play a pure Haemonculi Coven army.  They get 3 new Warlord traits with a reroll 1’s to hit aura for core being the best.  If only they kept more CORE options in the book this would be the default choice most of the time.  They have a gain a Command point on a 5+ whenever an opponent spends one. It might end up being better if the whole limits to command points is pretty severe in the new matched play update.

Relics & Strats

The army gets 4 new relics too with some poison weapons, a creepy mask, a stinger pistol, and this Orb that seems interesting.  The Orb lets you pick an enemy non vehicle unit and it gains an Aura that lets your CORE choice get a +1 to hit roll versus them.  That could be fun to use on Knights or other big monster units that you can overwhelm with Wracks and gross things.

The army also gets 8 Stratagems to choose from with the whole idea of the Leaders of the army ruling thru Fear.  Things like increasing their range of Auras, having units get +1 strength to their ranged attacks during the battle, getting 3+ poison attacks, and other fun bonuses.  I like the ability to turn off objective secured when you are in engagement range of one of their units.  This seems spicy when you charge up with a big block of Wracks and creep your opponent’s troops out.  A lot of these feel like the army is quivering in fear of the Haemonculi which feels very fluffy.

Overall I give this army a solid B as it feels fluffy and thankfully isn’t nearly as busted as you might fear.  This will fall over when getting charged by some of the new Marine lists as they can easily dump out so many wounds that just don’t care if you get a 4+ FNP after losing a ton of them.  Still, it is neat and seems fun.


Thousand Sons Warpmeld Pact

Next up in usefulness we got the Thousand Sons option with the Warpmeld Pact – aka Army Renown Tzaangor!  If you had a ton of Tzaangors and are sad you can’t play them as much –  well this army is for you!  This removes the whole “cannot take more Tzaangors than Rubrics” limit from Thousand Sons and replaces it with Tzaangors gaining Core, units gaining Touched by Tzeentch, and Shamans gaining Strength of the Brayherd which lets Shaman generate Cabal points if near 15+ sized units of Tzaangors.

What do all of these things do?  They make Tzaangors usable in the army is what they do! Now all your units get a 5+ invulnerable save, 5+ FNP versus Mortal wounds (Take that GK!), and now units get to make a free 6″ move before the game begins.  All of these are pretty good and only if Tzaangors were better at killing things this might matter more.  Armor of Contempt really makes this not nearly as spicy because a lot of armies will just not care you are sending some creepy magic goats into your face.

Warlords, Relics & Strats

This army gets a single Warlord trait, Relic, and its own Cabbalistic Ritual to use.  The Warlord trait lets you remove 3 units from the deployment and put them back into your deployment zone or Reserves.  This isn’t bad if again you are not going first and can’t use the move to get close to start chopping.  The Relic lets you pick a unit and give it a 4+ invulnerable save and can be put on a Shaman so that isn’t bad.  The Ritual is for sure interesting as you lets you burn 6 points to throw an extra dice for a blessing or malediction spell.  If it gets a 10 or more to cast you can add 2d3 models back to full wounds in a Tzaangor unit within 9″ or return d3 destroyed models.  This isn’t too bad at all as it lets you cast a spell better and gain a benefit to a unit.

On the Stratagem front you get a better AP for your bow Tzaangors that might be useful if you use them.  A way to make a destroyed enemy character into a Chaos Spawn.  Ways to make your  Chaos Spawn better. More ways to add back dead Tzaangors.  A fun move if one of your characters is charged, and some fun options to let your units move thru things like they are not really there.  There isn’t a ton of them but all seem useful without feeling too backbreaking.

This army I give a B- as it really doesn’t fit nearly as well into the current mold of what makes Thousand Sons good.  If you have a ton of Tzaangors and you want to play a game with them this is the army to look at.  Still I don’t expect to see it too often.

Castellans of the Rift

Finally in usefulness, we have the Castellans of the Rift – aka the Marine Army of Renown with a chapter meant to protect the rift.  I am just not sure what they want to do with Marines so this army of renown feels weird.  This is also the true Primaris army as you have to take things with that Keyword and a slew of other – new Primaris style options in the army.

If you do take that then you get the following Chapter Trait called Unyielding Resistance.  This gives you a +1 to hit in melee if you made a charge roll this turn and a wound roll of 1 or 2 always fails against this unit.  Both of these feel like weakened rules you get for a custom Chapter in Space Marines. So it just isn’t nearly as exciting as it should be.  Especially since you can’t take Vanguard Vets in this army.


Warlords, Relics & Strats

From there you get 3 Warlord traits and Tip of the Sword seems alright.  It lets your character pick an Enemy unit within 12″ of it and your units get to reroll to charge and get +1 to their strength punching those guys.  Any kind of rule that allows your whole army to punk one unit out could be powerful.  The other two are kind of meh with one of them giving your warlord a +1 to strength and transhuman.

You get a few relics too with the common bolter style options, a gauntlet, and some fancy armor you can wear.  I am not a fan of either of them as they just make the guy a bit better and don’t give anything to the army.  I guess the Gauntlet is for that new Space Marine captain guy but still it isn’t like it ignores Look out Sir or has a damage 2 profile.  None of these are nearly as exciting as what is in the regular Space Marine book.

The army gives you 8 stratagems to use with a ton of them all involving guarding things.  There is a 5+ FNP one that could be spicy but without regular Terminators to use it on it feels like it is missing its place.  There is the whole get objective secured on a unit or make them better objective secured which could be fun.  Of course there is the great get a free move on 3 units option which isn’t too bad.

Overall this one feels like the dud of a rather lackluster release.  I give it a C as it is just isn’t worth it for the Competitive scene. With that the book is finished so if you want to play any of these armies go ahead and buy the book but most players can most likely skip it.

What do you think of the new Armies of Renown?

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