“There is no truth in flesh, only betrayal.
There is no strength in flesh, only weakness.
There is no constancy in flesh, only decay.
There is no certainty in flesh, but death.Credo Omnissiah
Anchor Photo Credit: Forgeworld, Edited and Effects added by LegioTraitoris.com
As anyone who plays Horus Heresy will tell you, the yearning to start another army is an ever present strong feeling.
It’s also smart. You’re less likely to be bored or find yourself hamstrung if you have a second army – especially so if it plays entirely different to what your other army does. There are plenty of choices out there, other Legions, Daemons of the Ruinstorm, Solar Auxilia, Militia and Mechanicum.
My chosen second army of the Dark Mechanicum was actually my first purchase for Horus Heresy. It started with a pre-order of a very lovely model. Anacharis Scoria. My second happened to be a Warhound Titan. Safe to say things escalated rapidly. As discussed in the previous Starting Horus Heresy: article, if you aren’t invested in your chosen army, you won’t enjoy it. Mechanicum have plenty to be excited about.
Mechanicum are a fairly strong army to play. I say this up front to make it clear as day that some may find your fluffy or lore friendly army lists unappealing to fight against.
It’s mostly the exoticness of the army that increases their difficulty – they play entirely differently from Legiones Astartes. There are many different ways to play the Mechanicum though and variety is the spice of life for them. They have different Universal Special Rules for their units and even now, after years of being in-game, players don’t always know what they can do and as a result, don’t know how to play against them.
In the round the Mechanicum is a mostly shooting force; but don’t let that dissuade you. They have access to units that do very well in melee too. They’re also quite a mobile army. Ok you won’t see full fat air assaults staged by Mechanicum forces, but you do have fast moving and resilient Jump Infantry, nasty attack craft and a solid line of transports that make Land Raiders look weak. For those units that are generally rather slow, they make up for it with high resilience.
Books & Lore
Lore wise, because for most players, the investment comes from the lore, you’re a little better catered for by Black Library than you would be for Night Lords. That’s not to say that there are a lot of books specifically explaining and expanding on the Mechanicum Taghmata Omnissiah – for a vast amount of the Black Library Mechanicum are a sidebar rather than a focus. Stand out books for me:
1. Guy Haley – Mechanicum (ISBN 10 1849708088). Set during the outbreak of the Horus Heresy and the schism of Mars, this book is fairly slow paced and isn’t universally acclaimed, but it does explore a lot of the world of the Mechanicum. You get to see Legio Titanicus politics, Mechanicum Forges, Knightly houses, Mech-assassins and much more. Solid book in my opinion.
2. Guy Haley – Titandeath (ISBN 9781784969882). The source of the quote for this paragraph of the article, this book is, quite frankly, outstanding. It follows Legio Solaria and Legio Vulpa in the Beta Garmon cluster and explores the personal relationships, combat and life in general for the Legio Titanicus personnel. It’s also a dark book, about harboured children, lies and the dark realities of the “True Mechanicum” (aka Dark Mechanicus) in their pursuit of “willing” tech-thralls to fight their war.
3. Dan Abnett – Horus Rising (ISBN 10: 1849707448). The first time any new reader really “meets” the Mechanicum in the form of the Imperator Titan Dies Irae and Horus Lupercal’ Mechanicum aide du camp Regulus. A solid initial look into the schism already forming in the Mechanicum and Legio Titanicus!
Much like the Legiones Astartes forces, several entries are found in the Horus Heresy Campaign books. Most notably in
The Taghmata Omnissiah
Unlike the Legiones Astartes, the Mechanicum isn’t an “all in one” army. In fact, the way they are used by the Imperium and the Warmaster is often in small (relative to Imperial Army or Legiones Astartes), highly elite groups with specific force organisations and objectives. The Mechanicum is a fairly segregated force in the main. This is effectively shown in the Belicosa Potentis Omnissiah, which is found in the Mechanicum Taghmata Red Rule Book.
A lot of questions normally fall out of this organisation style. Not only do we see Warhammer 40,000 players constantly asking “When is this model releasing for 40K” but often the inter-dependencies and the segregation or unsupported elements isn’t fully understood. As a result, you see a lot of “it’s not got very good rules” mentioned from time to time – when the unit in question has merely been misemployed.
On the right hand side of the image above, you see The Taghmata Omnisiah. This is a generic Mechanicum force. As a child from this you see Legio Cybernetica. The Legio Cybernetica is a battle automata heavy force, a fairly rare unit that has strict ruling on how many automata they can have in their command, lest too much power be given to one individual. Off on the far left you see Ordo Reductor, nomadic war mongers who want nothing but endless conflict – they focus on cohorts of cyborg constructs called Thallax and purging the battlefield with arcane weapons. At the bottom of the Belicosa you have the Legio Titanicus and Knightly Houses. Indentured to the Mechanicum in some form, these groups operate huge bipedal war machines capable of causing unfathomable destruction. The Legio Titanicus have their own close-in defence group, known as the Secutarii. In the centre, we have the Skitariius, the soldier caste of the Mechanicum, but absent from the rules currently.
Taghmata Omnissiah means “That which is ordained for holy war”. It’s the generic encapsulation for a force that isn’t occupying a specific niche. To that end, as a player you get access to all of the generic forces in the red book, but no real benefit to any individual way of playing.
You get The Rule of the Archmagos which limits you to having a single Archmagos of any type in a Mechanicum detachment and where present they must be the armies Warlord. That’s just because an Archmagos is singularly the most powerful entity in a Mechanicum army. Much like Highlander, there can be only one.
Your core troops choices revolve around Adsecularis Tech Thralls and Thallax Cohorts, which gives you huge blobs of difficult to shift infantry and specialised ranged weapon jet pack infantry to quickly move around the table and prosecute targets.
This is effectively your method of crafting an army to suit your narrative without being hamstrung by limitations. This type of army tends to blend the best of the unit types together in one list, allowing players to learn Mechanicum and still play effectively!
With the core choices comprised of Battle Automata or units with cybernetic cortex rules, this force hits like a train, but has some fairly big limitations to balance it out. It’s fun to play, but can be hard to pull of victories with.
A Legio Cybernetica must include an Magos Dominus with a Cortex Controller, but it also has access to the Archmagos Dominus as the compulsory HQ choice – although this can also be a special character who is an Archmagos Dominus, such as Anacharis Scoria or Inar Sararael. If this is the primary detachment then the Archmagos Dominus must be the Warlord. The Archmagos Dominus also gets the rule Patris Cybernetica. This rule allows the character to join a unit of Monstrous creatures so long as they have the cybernetic cortex special rule. This unit is equipped with a cortex controller enabling the remote control and modification of Battle Automata. With this, comes Cybertheurgy. This is effectively psychic for robots.
Using Cybertheurgy you can repair a model, gain initiative, increase attacks, fire twice or automatically self destruct battle automata. These abilities don’t come without a cost however, the more powerful the wetware modification, the bigger the modifier for Cybertheurgy to be effective. Also, some abilities are further limited, such as the Rite of Destruction. It already has a -1 modifier to Cybertheurgy tests but in addition the model that is affected may not fire its ranged weapons until after its subsequent shooting phase – including overwatch. To get the powers to work – you perform a leadership check and apply the modifier. If you pass, the powers work. If not, nothing happens. If you roll double 6 however, things can get really bad.
The Cybertheurgy mishap table is somewhere you never want to end up. If you roll a double 6, the power fails and has gone awry. You are forced to roll a D6 and on a 1-3 the model targeted can only fire snap shots and fight at WS1 for the next game turn. 4-5 and a corrosive paradox occurs, causing one automatic wound with no saves of any kind possible. 6 is a malific result. The battle automata becomes self aware and is no longer part of the controlling players force. It now moves, shoots, charges and fights the closest models each turn. The only saving grace here is that you can shoot it and kill it if you please. If you’re rolling a 6 here, you can seriously ruin your game – so Cybertheurgy can be quite punishing when all goes wrong and you end up with a Thanatar Siege Automata rampaging through your own forces.
Due to the rule Legion of Steel the Legio Cybernetica detachments Compulsory Troops choices must be comprised of Castellax Battle Automata units. These compulsory units must be at least two Castellax strong. This is an exception to the normal rules for fielding Castellax. That’s 210pts per squad without any upgrades, and you’ll want to upgrade them. So, if you’re going barebones, you’re looking at 575pts just to meet Compulsory HQ and Troops choices. Castellax are good at shooting but also good at Melee thanks to having rage.
Under Legion of Steel the detachments Fast Attack and Heavy Support choices must first contain at least one unit with a Cybernetic Cortex special rule before units without that rule may be taken. It’s a strong limitation, but one that is incredibly thematic. That’s not to say that you can’t run non-Cybernetic Cortex units in a Cybernetica army, but you are already tight for points. The narrative you might want to craft can be limited by the ruleset here.
That being said, there are some exceptionally good units with the Cybernetic Cortex rule. Cybernetic Cortex models the have Programmed Behaviour, Fearless, Cybernetic Resilience, Fire Protocols, Machine Creature, and Adamantium Will special rules. Programmed Behaviour means that if the model is out of Cortex Controller range, it must target the nearest enemy model – this can sometimes be of benefit and adds a significant tactical consideration to your play style. Cybernetic Resilience causes wounds inflicted by poison/fleshbane weapons to be rerolled, Fire Protocols means that models with this rule can fire 3 weapons at full BS, Machine Creature means it can never be a scoring unit and Adamantium Will adds +1 to Deny the Witch.
Legio Cybernetica detachments also gain the rule Enhanced Cyber-control. This rule expands Cortex Controller and Cyberthurgy range from 12″ to 24″. This is a solid bonus. All models with a Cybernetic Cortex gain +1 initiative – again a solid bonus.
The biggest detraction comes from one of your biggest bonuses. Castellax are great – but they can’t score objectives, only deny them. So if you play thematically (as per the Belicosa Potentis, Legio Cybernetica predominantly consists of units fitted with Cybernetic Cortex) you have almost no way of scoring any objectives.
To add to injury, if all of your Cortex Controller units are dead at the end of the game, the enemy gets +D3 Victory Points. The best way to overcome this is is to build an army around 2 Dominus with Cortex Controllers!
Overall, if you love big stompy robots and remote reprogramming, you’ll enjoy this army. However it is hard to win with unless you absolutely smash the enemies troops choices and force attrition to come into effect. You’re not limited to entirely Cybernetic Cortex units, however you are using them as the core of the army. This is an army type that’s very easy to accidentally build a Win At All Costs type list, or a list that some players won’t be ready for, so that’s something to be cognisant of. I play this sort of army most often with my Dark Mechanicum as i simply enjoy the models – however, i’m yet to win with them!
This is a force that effectively operates as the Mad Max of the Mechanicum. Ordo Reductor forces roam the galaxy, surging from war to war in the search of further conflict. They’re highly nomadic and very far removed from the Taghmata Omnissiah as indicated by their position on the Belicosa Potents Omnissiah. They have their own Force Organisation Chart called Matrix of Ruin which effectively allows them an additional Heavy Support choice, whilst fielding one less Fast Attack choice. As a limitation, no Allied Detachments or Fortifications may be taken.
One of the benefits of this army come from fielding tank units. Units of the tank type count as scoring units when in an enemy deployment zone. This means you can seriously create an aggressive force where virtually everything counts as scoring. Note, this doesn’t mean Spam Krios Battle Tanks, this means craft a narrative, well rounded but strong force!
The Compulsory HQ choice for any Ordo Reductor detachment must be a Mago Reductor, Archmagos Reductor or the special character Calleb Decima. This isn’t really a limitation as the units are as good as you want them to be built to and Calleb Decima is quite a good character, but Loyalist only.
The Walkers in Ruin special rule confers immunity to the effects of pinning and allows units to ignore the penalties and risks of moving or charging through difficult or dangerous terrain in areas of rubble, ruins, minefields and trench works. This is a cool ruleset that really drives home the narrative. It doesn’t change much on the table unless you’re fighting through a ruined city – but still, rule of cool wins here.
Due to the Ordo Reductor being methodical and idiosyncratic, focussing heavily on armoured formations, artillery strikes and the use of purpose-designed Thallax shock troops (yes, this is where those come from) they do have some requirements for any army using the force organisation to follow. Namely, Compulsory Troops must consist of Thallax Cohorts. This is a little bit of a difficult point to work out. I love the models. They are however, pretty average on the tabletop. They’re also not at all cheap. You’re looking at 135pts for 3. They aren’t as tough, have one less wound and strike at lower initiative than Castellax. They are jet pack infantry, can take specialist weaponry such as multi-melta or photon thrusters, are stubborn and have djinn-sight which reduces the effect of cover by -2. In my experience, they either do well, or die having achieved nothing. There is no in between. That said, as weapons platforms they do well, I tend to focus on fielding two Photon Thrusters or Multi Meltas in a squad of six. These then barrel down the table, opportunistically picking off vehicles and the occasional Terminator.
As an additional limitation, Ordo Reductor armies cannot take more battle automata and siege automata than half of the total number of units in the detachment. So you’re severely limiting Thanatar, Castellax, Vorax or Vultrax in the army. Not all is bad however…
As an Ordo Reductor army, you can take Ordo Reductor Artillery Tank Batteries or Ordo Reductor Minotaur Batteries. The former is effectively a “build your own” artillery system, using the Legion Whirlwind/Vindicator as a basis, but with lots of customisation options. The latter is a bespoke vehicle which has some good rules attached that can make it very nasty. I mean, who doesn’t like a massive artillery vehicle with a rear facing flare shield?
Overall, i like Ordo Reductor armies, especially ones heavy with Myrmidons as they just exude coolness. They’re quite effective and fun to use armies, but need to be played aggressively with an element of caution applied. You wont be winning melee often with Thallax, so the use of jump packs to keep their specialist weapons at range is key. Due to the fact they’re fast moving, somewhat of a glass hammer and have rules making tanks scoring, Ordo Reductor armies are both great fun to play and really mix up your local meta.
Within the Mechanicum, there are a lot of units that are quite interesting to play, some are especially noteworthy. You’ll see players routinely take the units listed below and it’s important to discuss why this is! A few have already been mentioned, but lets discuss the units:
Vulturax Stratos Automata
Originally, these were utterly disgusting – flare shielded haywire dealing flying monstrosities. Since the FAQ however they’re just rather good. They get a bad rep, but it’s unwarranted when played with the correct rules.
They’re also pretty much the sole decent anti tank battle automata – though they can be swingy on the haywire table.
175pts per model gets you a Toughness 6, 4 wound model that has Setherno Havoc Launchers with Setherno Djinn (forcing rerolling of successful saves) and a Vulturax Arc Blaster, both with enhanced targetting array. This means you’re running something with varied firepower that’s able to deal death to infantry and equally able to total Spartans and Mastodons (who are no longer immune to haywire). To make matters worse for your opponents they’re able to be taken in cohorts of three at 175pts each. Quite frankly, at this point there are only two key detraction. Cybernetic Cortex and Squadroned. We’ve already covered Cybernetic Cortex; however the Squadroned rule is critical. It applies mainly to grounding tests, when one model takes damage, it has to take a grounding test, if it fails, it’s and it’s squadron-mates are grounded. Squadroned also means actions carried out by one must be carried out by the others, like changing flight modes. You can see then, that along with the FAQ not being applied properly, there’s plenty of areas where players can intentionally or unintentionally cheat – which is where their bad rep mostly comes from these days.
If you take these in a Legio Cybernetica Force Organisation you’re looking at 24″ of flexibility until they’re shooting at the nearest units (unless there is a flyer or flying monstrous creature in range). This means that they can potentially be sidelined by a savvy opponent sacrificing units to keep them away from critical platforms or units.
Alternatively, you need a Dominus with cortex controller to remain within 24″ of them to direct their fire. Despite earlier saying that 24″ is a solid bonus, when it comes to fliers, it isnt. They’ll very quickly outstrip their support and require a bit of micromanaging.
Yes they have atomantic shielding giving them a 5+ invulnerable save like most of the battle automata, However you want to keep them moving and avoid Hovering, where they become very vulnerable – if one gets grounded – all of its squadron members do too, and when that happens, they’re all toast.
Three of these is the maximum you’ll want to field for a game in my opinion, any more than that and you’re getting into dodgy territory as most armies don’t run enough Anti Air to deal with more than 3. I run 2-3 and don’t get complaints from the people I play against. I’ll mention here again – since FAQ 1.1 Vulturax do not have flare shields.
A model introduced with rules that would kill off Primarchs with little concern. But that’s not solely what made him good. The offending item was the Vodian Sceptre, which now has had the entropic destroyer rule amended in the FAQ so that whenever this weapon causes an unsaved wound or Hull point, it inflicts D3 additional wounds, or, in the case of a target with an Armour Value, an additional Hull point, on the same model. Invulnerable saves may be taken against these wounds or Hull points, but they may not be replenished or ignored by any means, including Feel No Pain, It Will Not Die or Blessed Autosimulacra rolls.
Players may wish to make a note of how many wounds a model has suffered from this weapon for the purposes of tracking how many wounds they may not recover using such abilities.
Basically, it’ll still mince marines that Scoria is in contact with in melee and is still likely to cause concern for Praetors and an irritant for Primarchs.
Scoria can take an Arlatax automata chassis in the form of the Humonculex. This bodyguard unit that is.thematic and narrative based, is actually rather good, adding plenty of wounds and offensive ability to an already good unit.
He’s 275pts base, but you’ll want the Xanathite Abeyant which confers +1 wound, +1 attack, move through cover, very bulky, hardened armour, it will not die and a photon thruster for 40pts. My main reason for this is because he’s mounted on it on the model. However, the bonuses it confers are quite good. Additionally, Scoria comes with a cyber familiar meaning he has a 3+ invulnerable save.
Finally, Scoria has his own Warlord trait forbidden protocols meaning that cybernetic cortex models can make sweeping advance and run moves, despite not normally being able to do so. This is actually quite strong for an army that is typically quite slow moving.
With a Leadership of 10 due to being an Archmagos Dominus, you’re also unlikely to fail leadership tests for cyberthurgy too. All up, for 315pts he is an absolute beast. Factor in the rule of cool and how he looks exactly like a corrupted Dominus should and he is an auto include for Legio Cybernetica traitor lists in my personal opinion.
When it comes to rule of cool these are way up there. BS5 and relentless for both types means you’re bringing a lot of firepower to the table. They’re also resilient being T5 and 2 wounds with a refractor field granting them a 5+ invulnerable save. They’re also stubborn, bulky, and have lumbering advance. This means they work like heavily armed Terminators for the Mechanicum. It’s often questioned which are the better for an army, Secutors or Destuctors.
Looking at points cost first, a base squad of 3x Myrmidon Secutors with Maximal Bolters cost 180pts. Maximal Bolters are Assault 3, S4, AP5, so you won’t be killing large swathes at range with them. However Secutors can take Volkite chargers for 10pts each, Graviton guns for 15pts each, or Irad cleansers and Phased plasma fusils for 20pts each.
They have two weapons and have fusillade meaning they can fire both weapons in the shooting phase as long as they target the same model. It a nice rule, but you really want to be charging with Secutors and some of these weapons limit that ability if you’re firing them in the shooting phase.
Myrmidon Destructors gain Preferred Enemy (Everything!) which reflects the fact they can carry a grade higher weaponry. 3x Myrmidon Destructors with Volkite Culverins cost 210pts. Volkite Culverins are Heavy 4, S6, AP5, Deflagrate for 25pts. This means they’re quite effective at turning marines into burning fireballs in a choom of Volkite shot. If you’re wanting some Anti Tank, Photon Thruster cannons can be taken for 35pts, bringing with them Heavy 2, S6, AP2, Lance, Blind, Gets Hot weapon able to cause damage to medium to heavy armour (facing and flare shield dependent). Conversion beamers and Graviton Imploders are next up, for 35pts but they are probably amongst the least used weapons on Destructors. Finally, we come to Irradiation Engines.
At 40pts per weapon these seem outrageously expensive. However, its a template weapon, S4, AP3, Heavy 1, Fleshbane, Rad-phage, Torrent weapon. Fleshbane means that it wounds on 2+, Rad-Phage means that if a model loses one or more wounds to a weapon with this rule and survives it has its Toughness value reduced by -1 for the rest of the battle. Torrent means you place the narrow end of the template within 12″ of the weapon, with the wide end no closer to the weapon than the narrow end. This means you have a very flexible area effect weapon, which absolutely burns through non-artificer armoured marines.
10x Myrmidon Destructors with Volkite Culverins will set you back 665pts. That will see these putting out 40x S6 AP5 shots, hitting on 2s. Again, any unsaved wounds will equate to deflagrate kicking in. If we put Iradiation Engines on them, that’s 10x Torrent Templates at S4 AP3, Fleshbane, Rad-phage. All for 815pts. They’ll effectively purge swathes of infantry from the table.
Now lets look at a full sized unit – potentially not a narrative choice, but to get the point across about their firepower. You’re looking at 565pts for 10x Myrmidon Secutors with 20x Volkite chargers. These will be putting out 40x S5 AP5 shots, hitting on 2s. Any unsaved wounds will equate to deflagrate kicking in, which will grant an additional automatic hit. Then, because of assault 2 on each charger, you’ll be charging in. Now, that isn’t exceptionally strong, but it is a solidly nasty use for them.
Both Myrmidon Secutors and Destructors have power weapons, power axes on Secutors and power fists on Destructors – giving them solid, if slow hitting and somewhat unskilled (WS4) melee capability.
In all, you’re paying the extra 100pts for the Volkite Culverins, which increase the range and devastation over the Volkite Chargers on the Secutors. Additionally, Preferred Enemy (Everything!) means you’re rerolling 1s to hit and to wound. Whilst i love the Myrmidon Secutor models, i prefer the outright carnage Myrmidon Destructors disperse across the tabletop. Mobility is the only drawback, so you really do need a Triaros Conveyor to get them about. The Triaros Converyor is priced very keenly at 135pts for a flare shield equipped transport which is effectively as well armoured as Land Raider – although you can not charge after disembarking from it.
Thanatar Siege Automata
These magnificent looking monsters of the table top are utterly brutal. There are three variants which represent their chosen weapon systems. The first is the Hellex. This is the standard Thanatar, though that naming convention does it a huge disservice – it mounts a huge Hellex Plasma Mortar on it’s shoulder. The second is the Calix. This is designed to be a tank hunter, brushing away lines of supporting infantry – it’s similar in function to a Leviathan/Deredeo Arachnus cross. The final one is the Cynis. Armed with a Cynis Plasma Injector it fulfils a close support role.
The chassis the Thanatar is based around is great. Strength 8, Toughness 8, 4 Wounds, 2+ Save and a 5+ Atomantic Shield (6+ from close combat) invulnerable save mean that it is a tough cookie to crack. It is a Monstrous Creature – so it is susceptible to Paragon Blades and the likes. Thantars also have Infravisors, granting them Night Vision so even pesky Night Lords won’t find cover in the darkness. Better yet, although their base WS and BS is 3 and 4 respectively, you can buff the BS to 5 with Enhanced Targetting Arrays for 15pts. This not only increases their BS by 1, but also reduces the enemies cover save by 1.
The Thanatar Hellex is the most common variant that you’ll see. This is because it is a solid performing all rounder. The weapon is effective 12-48″, though that range is reduced to 24″ if it moves in the turn it’s fired. It fires a Strength 8 AP 2 plasma shot, that classes as Ordinance 1, Barrage, Large Blast 5″, Plasma Wave. The first three are standard rules, giving the Thanatar more chance to penetrate with Ordinance, the ability to fire without line of sight due to Barrage, dropping a fairly hefty template and then, forcing the enemy to reroll successful saves due to Plasma Wave.
Sounds good right? Well, with Cyberthurgy and Rite of Destruction – you can do that twice – at the risk of Cyberthurgy Mishap and not shooting in the next turn. This weapon will wipe basic infantry from the tabletop like there’s no tomorrow. Better yet, it’ll do a damn fine job of damaging light to medium armoured vehicles. However, against heavier armour, it does struggle.
The Calix-Class is another lovely model – however it is also another rare one. As mentioned, its primary role is to hunt down tanks and also clear out infantry – thus it is a jack of all trades, master of none. Its Sollex Pattern Las Cannon is a beautiful weapon in itself, Strength 10, AP 2 and a comfortable range of 60″. It is however, Heavy 1, which means it has a high rate of failure to hit. What about the Graviton Ram? Well, Strength 10, AP 1, Melee, Armourbane, Concussive, Structural Collapse means it’s fairly strong it close combat. Whatever it hits, man, machine or structure, will likely either die outright or be in serious trouble. It also has a shooting attack, which operates like a flamer version of a Graviton Bombard.
So why is it rare? Well, oddly, there are no additional rules associated with its Sollex Las Cannon. This is at odds with the Deredeo with Arachnus Las, which arguably fulfils a similar role and has the same base stats but at Heavy 2. It also has the lovely Exo Shock rule to score more damage. It’s also 290pts (with Armoured Ceramite and Missile Launchers) compared to the Calix with Enhanced Targetting Arrays costing 310pts. In other words, being a jack of all trades, it really is a master of none. You get more utility in flashing up infantry and tanks from a Hellex equipped Thanatar than you do with this.
Finally, and most rare is the Cynis-Class. This is generally because the Cynis Plasma Injectors are a weird combination that doesn’t seem to offer any real play style. Why do i say this? Well, its 18″ range and has Strength 8, AP 2, Gets Hot!, Plasma Wave, Heavy 2. The addition of Gets Hot! isn’t great, but it’s the incredibly short range that really puts this to bed as the worst of the bunch. In fact, it can do nothing really any better than a Hellex equipped Thanatar can do, but it can kill itself trying to fire. It doesn’t have a model, so if you want to field one, a decent conversion is using a Thanatar body with a Deredeo Hellfire Plasma Array barrel in place of the mortar.
Also know as Cynical Thallax by Mechanicum players, they’re a lovely model with swingy rules that are fun to play. They can be good, however you need to temper your plans of tabletop domination with the facts. 135pts gets you three and you can field a max of nine per squad. They’re tough at Strength 5, Toughness 5 and 3 Wounds a model. BS4 is average for shooting and WS3 with 2 attacks is just below average – so try to avoid melee. They’re Jet Pack Infantry, meaning they can jet about the table getting into position fairly quickly and have Relentless to move and fire weapons as if they stayed stationary. They’re Bulky, but can go in Mechanicus Transports despite being Jet Pack Infantry and they’re Stubborn to boot.
Better yet, they have Djinn-sight which means that the benefit of enemy cover is reduced by 2 – nothing to snort at! They can also take a wide assortment of specialist weapons (Multi Meltas, Phased Plasma Fusil, Multi Laser, Photon Thruster and Irad Cleanser) and add in some tactics (for points cost) to enhance them further. Destructor tactics gives them Tank Hunters to reroll armour penetration. Empyrite gives them Deep Strike and Void Hardened armour. Finally, Ferrox give them Rage and Rending for all of their attacks. The whole squad can take melta bombs.
So why don’t you see tables flooded with them? Well, with Ordo Reductor armies, you do – as they’re the core troops. However the Lorica Thallax means that they only have a 4+ armour save and a 6+ Feel No Pain. This is average at best.
In all honesty – i don’t know why they’re not a hugely common unit. I like them. Sure they die to AP4 and better weapons but they’re extremely flexible, fast and the inbuilt Feel No Pain 6+ is surprisingly helpful.
I use two squads of six to harass enemy infantry and armour using either Melta Guns or Photon Thrusters. They’re reliable enough, tough enough and flexible enough to bounce around, causing carnage or to thrust out and secure objectives. Thats 330pts for six with two Melta Guns, Destructor tactics and all with Melta Bombs. For more ranged Anti Tank, you’re looking at 350pts. That’s a lot, but remember they’re Strength 5, Toughness 5 and have a total of 18 Wounds, with Feel No Pain 6+. They take a considerable chuck of firepower or focus to clear.
Vorax Battle Automata
Vorax are the Mechanicum’ scout automata forces. They perform search and destroy function and are used to hunt down both rogue machines and militant vermin! They’re lovely models (a trend with the Mechanicum) and they have a lovely set of rules. It’s 65pts per model and that gets you WS/BS4, Strength/Toughness 6, 3 Wounds and a 4+ save. They’re armed with a Lightning Gun, two Rotor Cannons (Salvo 3/4, up-gradable to Bio Corrosive Rounds for 10pts, granting wounding on Poison 4+), Battle-automata power blades (Strength 6, AP2, Rending, Paired Weapons) and Infravisor granting Night Vision. This means that they have plenty of dakka for almost any threat and pose quite the concern to the enemy. Vorax can also replace their Lightning Guns for Irad-Cleanser which is a Fleshbane, Rad-phage weapon – wounding on 2+ and reducing toughness of any multi-wound models that it successfully wounds. Depending on your loadout and intent, they can be given Enhanced Targetting Array for 15pts each to increase their BS by 1 and reduce enemy cover saves by 1.
The also have Fleet and Scout (which confers Outflank if placed in reserves). This means they can re-roll one or more of the dice when determining run moves and charge distances and you can redeploy them entirely within 6″ of their current position (in any direction as long as they are 12″ from an enemy) or if they’re in reserves they come in from a table edge. This gives them a really solid ability to push up the table and get into range to do damage. When outflanking, you might want to be thinking about how you’re going to control them. Being Cybernetic Cortex equipped, you need to have them in range of a Cortex Controller to give them the ability to target anything that isn’t the closest model to them. Otherwise, they’re subject to Programmed Behaviour. This can work in your favour if you just want them to push through units at will, but if you’re going to want them to perform a specific task, they need to be managed carefully.
You can take up to 6 in a single squad, which does get quite points heavy – but also comes with some solid firepower and capability! The only thing to really be concerned about is Praetors with Paragon or Divining Blades – as being a monstrous creature, you’re susceptible to instant death!
In short, Vorax are amazingly good for causing a huge distraction to an enemy or just bludgeon through an enemies lines and kill off enemy characters. Larger squads can be expensive, but will literally drown the enemy in shots before charging in and hitting them with some AP2 weapons. They’re really nice, just be cognisant of where the enemies Instant Death wielding characters are!
These Jump Infantry provide the Mechanicum with some immensely hard hitting melee weapons and high mobility. Ursurax have WS 4, BS 3 and are Stubborn, have an inbuilt Feel No Pain 5+ and aren’t hugely expensive to boot at 175pts for 3 of them. You can bolster this up to a maximum of 9 for 50pts per model. As standard Ursurax come with two Lightning Claws that are Strength 5, AP 3, Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon. You can equip them with Power Fists (Strength x2, AP 2, Specialist Weapon, Unwieldy) for 10pts a model if you want more devastation.
They’re also kitted out with Volkite Incinerators. These operate as either Beam or Blast. The Beam firing mode is effectively a 10″ Volkite Charger, being Strength 5, AP 5, Assault 2, Deflagrate. The Deflagrate rule means that for every successful wound you score an additional automatic hit. It’s a lovely rule. The Blast firing mode is Strength 6, AP 2, Melee, Instant Death, Prisoned – This attack may only used in close combat against models with the Infantry, Jump Infantry or Jet Pack Infantry types. In doing so, the model makes only a single attack (regardless of any other factors). It means that even if you’re not running them with upgraded Power Fists then you have a melee weapon that can do some serious damage inbuilt!
In short, they’re fast moving, heavy hitting and fairly resilient. They’re the opposite number to Thallax being melee focused instead of shooting focused.
Adsecularis Covenant (Tech Thralls)
Cheap and surprisingly good is a great way of explaining Tech Thralls. These are humans who have been implanted with systems to make them compliant soldiers. Because of this they have a fairly unremarkable stat line of WS/BS2, Strength 4, Toughness 3, 1 Wound at Initiative 2. Their armour save is 5+ meaning most weapons in the game will happily burn through their armour. They do have a 6+ Feel No Pain but that only really helps out with Bolt Guns and Volkite Chargers. They cost 65pts base for 20 of them with either Las Locks (rifles) or Mitra Locks (shotguns). Both are Assault 1 weapons and can you can mix the squad with any combination of the two weapons.
It’s really the upgrades you can give them that their true talent lies. For 15pts you can give them The Rite of Pure Thought which grants them Fearless in exchange for being unable to fire overwatch and unable to make sweeping advances. Carapace Armour gives them a 4+ Armour Save for 20pts and Revenant Alchemistry costs 25pts to give them Hatred, Feel No Pain 5+ and Slow and Purposeful. If you’re wanting to upgrade combat power, you can give them Frag Grenades for 5pts, or fit Induction Chargers to their Las/Mitra Locks for 15pts, making them Assault 2. The upgrades are costed for the squad and not the individual model too, meaning they’re still cheap.
If you give them The Rite of Pure Thought to make them Fearless, Revenant Alchemistry to give them Hatred, Feel No Pain 5+ and Slow and Purposeful, Induction Chargers to increase their combat power and Carapace Armour for a 4+ Armour Save, you’re looking at 140pts for 20 of them.
That’s 20, slow moving, fairly poorly shooting and fighting, but resilient Tech Thralls. Just like in the lore, the enemy will be shooting at them, but they just don’t seem to die. Even if the enemy does kill a squad, you’ll likely have lots more. If you’re really pushing the narrative for a Taghmata army for instance, for 840pts (filling your troop slots) you could have 120 of these Adsecularis walking up the table. It’s a hugely narrative and fun troop choice to play.
Whilst the Mechanicum does have access to its own Lords of War in the form of the Ordinatus (which has two weapon types), it also has Acastus class Knights indentured to it. These are discussed at greater length in the Acastus Knight Tactica. So why choose one? Well, they’re both rather good at what they do. Building an Ordo Reductor army and need more anti-fortification firepower? The Asterius is armed with very nasty Conversion Beamer Cannons. Lacking some solid, very long range, resilient anti-tank? The Porphyrion with its Magna Lascannons will definitely fit in nicely. Whilst the Ordinatus have some lovely rules, their size and points cost makes them prohibitive to use routinely.
The Mechanicum is a wide ranging force that offers some exceptionally different play styles to Legiones Astartes. This makes them a great choice for those looking to satiate the urge to start a new force as well as to start the game with! Whilst the Mechanicum is still awaiting some models for various units, there is plenty of opportunity for converting and making an army truly unique. Within the Mechanicum Taghmata rulebook there are plenty of units that are subjectively “good” and allow a vast amount of variability. With Campaign Book 10 slated to focus on Dark Mechanicum forces, it is likely that both Mechanicum and Dark Mechanicum will see new models added and rules adjustments for the future!
This is an awesome article, very thorough and such a good rundown of the army. As a 40k AdMech player, I pine for the Heresy models, which are so much cooler in nearly every way. I sadly don’t know a single person who plays 30k, but I am tempted just to get some of the models as a painting project anyway.
Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.