Hey all, Danny here with my usual Wednesday wanderings about formations, and we are going back to the Imperial Agents book to take a look at the formation you take when you want to maybe win an award at a major ITC event, the Assassins!
The Formation: Execution Force
Faction: Officio Assassinorum Source: Agents of the Imperium
1 Vindicare Assassin
1 Callidus Assassin
1 Eversor Assassin
1 Culexus Assassin
Preferred Enemy: Warlord. You get to reroll 1s against your opponent’s Warlord.
Operation Assassinate: You gain a bonus Victory Point if one of these models lands the killing blow on the enemy Warlord.
So, this handy formation lets you take all four of the Imperial Assassins in one handy detachment, so for formats like ITC where you are limited in sources/detachments, this is a great way to get all four uber-badasses of uber-badasses.
Wait, don’t 3 out of the 4 Assassins suck?
Well, really, 1 out of 4 with 2 very situational ones, and really, all of them are situational. The Culexus is very much the most seen Assassin for good reason: he absolutely shuts down psychic Deathstars. Going against Wolf-Tide, Thunderstar, Cabalstar, Seer Council? Just one Culexus in the right place will power them right down and allow the rest of your army to go crazy. In melee, the Culexus is also scary as he ignores armor saves and can Instant Death on a 6, or against Psykers, always has Instant Death. Let us not forget his gun, the Animus speculum that fires 3+ how ever many psychic levels are within 12 of him, and these shots are S5 AP1. Not too shabby. He is also the hardest to kill as you always resolve shots against him at BS1 and melee strikes as WS1. So yah, the Culexus is rarely a bad guy to have around.
The Callidus is not as often seen, which is a bit of a shame as she has moves. Reign of Confusion is great for making at least one reserve roll of your opponent’s very likely to fail, but more importantly, getting the chance to re-roll seize the initiative is huge. Especially if an army is built without a Lord of War, you can get a 5+ reroll to seize, which is better than 50% odds. Polymorphine is quite nice for having the Callidus show up in your opponent’s backfield and start taking those once-secured objectives or sniping out artillery, especially since you can only Snap Shot at her when she arrives. Her wound anything but vehicles on a 4+ AP2 flamer template pistol is pretty great, especially if you use Polymorphine to infiltrate 1 inch away to a juicy unit and go first. Again, she really isn’t going to kill any decent Warlord, but she is great at punking objective holders.
The Vindicare is very much a scalpel, and he is the king of sniping out Powerfists. He is also the most likely to get you Slay the Warlord as with Ignore Cover, AP2, and either 4+ to wound no Invul Save, 4+ to wound and D3 wounds, or 2+ to wound with preferred enemy, that is some heat, especially since all of his shots except for Snap Shots are precision, and he has the standard Assassin ability of No Escape which means you suffer -2 to Look Out Sir! rolls, so an IC is LoS on a 4+ and a Sergeant on a 6+. Especially if you are going against say Librarius Conclave where one wounded himself from Perils, a Vindicare can end that Librarian pretty easily. One of the only real perks of taking two of these formations or even one and then one Vindicare is that two putting shots out each turn can really, really mess with people.
Ok, the Eversor is pretty terrible, sad to say. While he has all the cool toys to make him seem scary like blowing up when he dies and Furious Charge, the reality is that he is too slow and too easy to kill. He does get to charge 3D6 and gets 3 attacks on the charge for a total of 8, which is super sweet, but he lacks assault grenades (oops), so he will not get use his I7 very often. Assuming you get him where you need, he will butcher light units as he can swing in with fleshbane (2+ to wound) and shred on his 8 attacks or S5 AP3 powersword. This is where he wants to be: hunting down light units and carving them apart as he will fold up to any real resistance. He does have Feel No Pain, but that really isn’t enough to keep him alive.
Ok, they aren’t terrible, but…
Well, this isn’t a power formation, and there are some big flaws for each.
Culexus are relatively meaningless against non-psychic armies, and as the most expensive Assassin, that can be a lot of wasted points.
The Callidus is pretty squishy except for when she first appears, and she really doesn’t hit that hard except for her flamer. Against a null deploy army or against drop pods, her +3 to the first reserve roll isn’t all that great as your opponent can actually use that to their advantage and delay a unit that they want delayed by electing it to go first.
The Vindicare has a heavy weapon, so he needs to camp, and well, he doesn’t have enough defense to survive that. With just stealth, he either has a 3+ cover or 4+ invulnerable, which isn’t bad, but it isn’t enough to survive any dedicated return fire.
The Eversor is too slow, so he just gets shot to pieces before he even makes it, and with no assault grenades, he probably dies to volume of attacks before getting to swing.
Of course, all four of these also share the same problem: They are not Eternal Warrior. One S8 hit and they go pop, and really, T4 with 3 wounds and a 4+ invulnerable save is not that hard to kill. Volume of fire will shred these guys, and while the Culexus is the most survivable, he still dies easy enough.
So why ever take this formation? Do you want the low hanging fruit for an ITC season? Here’s your pick! Just take two of these formations, and boom, may god have mercy on your soul. Of course, why not have mercy on us and check out that sweet Patreon we got going. If we get enough, maybe we can convince Adam to try for Best Assassin in the ITC 17 season.