Forge World released the Scyllax Guardian-Automata Covenant over last weekend. They helpfully also released the experimental rules for them on their web site. Today we’re going to pick through these rules and figure out if these guys are worth it.
First and foremost, I want to complain about what I call “points packaging”. When you buy a unit in 40K, you get a few of the models. Rarely you get one model when buying the unit. The problem is that when you take this “package” of several models, the points value doesn’t add up.
This makes sense for stuff like Tactical Space Marines. Buying five Marines automatically comes with a Sergeant. Since they are X points each, you would expect the packaged group of five to be more points than 5*X since you are paying for the Sergeant as well. Indeed, the Tactical Space Marines are 5*X + 10 points.
The problem is that the Guardian-Automata don’t have a Sergeant. They are 35 points each, and the initial group comes with four of them. You would therefore expect them to be 140 points. They are not though – they are 155. If anyone wants to enlighten me in the comments as to why this is, feel free.
So, on to the actual review. The Guardian-Automata are a Troops choice for the Adeptus Mechanicus army. At 35 points, they are definitely one of the heavier-costed Troops choices in the game. That huge investment does give them T5 and two wounds, which will increase their staying power. It also makes them more-or-less immune to double-strength Instant Death, which really helps with the huge point investment. That also helps in a weird way because you can buy less models for your army, which significantly reduces the amount you spend per year on the Forge World tax.
The rough part is that they have the rule “Guardian-Servitor Protocols”. This functions like a long-range version of the Tyranid’s Synapse rule. They have to stay near certain other models or they stop moving and become turrets. This isn’t a huge downside since the range is good, but screwing this up could cause some game-losing problems. I’ve screwed up Synapse dozens of times; I’m sure this hurts just as bad.
The Guardian-Automatas have an array of neat close combat tricks. They not only get a Blood-Angels-like free attack on to-wound rolls of 6, they can choose to make a single S6 AP2 close combat attack if they want. This increases their usability. Even though it’s by no means game breaking, it will help make Terminators and Monstrous Creatures do a double take before having a troop snack.
Combined with the already decent close combat rules is a special rule called “Rad furnace”. It has some nuances, but it basically states that enemies get -1T in close combat. That’s outrageously good, particularly since T4 is the most common, and making that T3 puts the enemy model into Instant Death range against the Dismemberment attack. Attacking a group of high-point Marines would just feel right with these guys.
The shooting on the Automata is underwhelming. They are equipped with Scyllax Bolters. These are Bolters that have +6″ range and one better AP to make them AP4. Sure, this is better than the standard Bolter, but you have to remember we’re paying a lot of points for these guys. It’s nice that they have some shooting, but the Scyllax Bolter is not going to change anyone’s mind one way or the other.
Overall, we have to compare these to other models around the same price point. I know comparing 40K and 30K is a bit tenuous, but I have a deeper knowledge of the standard 40K models. For the cost of a Terminator, we have something with T5, two wounds, and a 4+ save. A Space Marine shooting both with a Bolter will deal 1/18 (0.06) of a wound to the Terminator per shot, while he deals 2/18 (0.12) to each Guardian-Automata. A Space Marine shooting a Lascannon at both of them will inflict 10/27 (0.37) of a wound to the Terminator, but 15/27 (0.55) against the Automata. I believe it should be fairly obvious which hits back harder in close combat, too. It’s the one with the Power Fist.
The one main benefit they have is that they are a Troops choice. While there are tons of better things to spend 35 points on, these guys let you fill up your Force Organization Chart with lots of big, bad monsters. In a vacuum they might not be the best, but they can definitely augment a list of similar gigantic robot men.
The skull monsters have one last thing I want to really point out. These models are awesome. They look great, and they just ooze classic 40k styling. The only gripe I have is that all the tentacles covered in axes and guns on the front of them will be breaking off. It’s really not a matter of “if”, but “when”.
Servo Skull image via Wibbles The Fish.