“I watched them approach the hatch, walking through the heavy las-rifle fire as if it were embers in the air above a fire.

Suddenly there was a liquid-roar. Just as quickly as it came, there was silence.

Then the screaming began.

The Contekar walked through the hatch, pulled the burning skin off the still flailing victims of their Heavy Flamer and wrapped it over their shoulders.

From there, they walked methodically to the next access way; announcing their presence by standing still amongst the las-rifle fire again. Again, the Heavy Flamer spoke.

They did this a further twelve times before they got to the bridge. When the hatch opened it revealed a command crew cowed by the Nightmarish visage of walking burnt flesh, dripping thick goblet of blood to the deck.

No fire came this time, merely whimpering.

The Heavy Flamer spoke the final words.

Remembrancer Aleksenter Malaek, assigned to the VIII Legion.

Contekar Terminator Elite are the VIII Legion heavy shock troops. Where Night Raptors can rapidly deploy and murder their way through an enemy position; Contekar are used against enemy fortifications and for ship boarding actions that would cut down Night Raptors and Terror Squads.

They employed a scorched earth tactic; nothing and no one was left standing once the Contekar were unleashed.

Despite the absolute barbarism, Contekar are an Elite warrior class drawn from the ruling elite of Nostramo. Those who employed them were held to a standard. Should they show themselves as weak, the Contekar would simply purge them and take command themselves.

Base Stats – Contekar Terminator Elite – 230pts

WSBSSTWIALdSv
Dissident544424392+
Contekar544414282+

I had high hopes for Contekar Terminator Elite.

Contekar are an HQ/Elite slot unit that divided opinions when previewed and caused rules designers to enter into heated discussions with consumers of their products on Facebook. Whether you subscribe to it or not, Contekar are a sub-division of the Atramentar – the 1st Company Terminator Elite – therefore they are Atramentar, if not the Atramentar that the community actually wanted.

Now we have their rules and they still divide opinion. They are an odd unit in many ways. Effectively, we have a modified Phoenix Terminator stat line (2 wounds on the Dissident) for a slightly cheaper points price. You get five for 230 points, with up to ten more costing 36 points each. The starting squad size brings issues with it – for instance you can’t run Sevatar and Contekar in a Dreadclaw Drop Pod or a Land Raider Phobos, despite them being Dedicated Transports for the Contekar. 15 models max is a lot and there are a few issues with that many models on the table at once.

Credit: Warhammer Community

Contekar have Terminator Armour which is actually a nice little nod to those of us who want to potentially run Cataphractii or Indomitus armour equipped Terminators. We saw the same with Deathshroud Terminators and was something that I hoped we’d see with these. Your local group will tell you whether they want WYSIWYG or if they’re content with you simply saying “These guys are in Cataphractii/Tartaros/Indomintus” – so that’s the real limiting factor as to whether you buy these models.

Contekar also have Trophies of Judgement, which means that they cause Fear checks to be taken against them. This is a rule that is expected on a Legion Specific unit for the VIII Legion, so no surprise it’s here.

Being Legiones Astartes (Night Lords), Contekar have access to the Legion Traits making them naturally better than their core stats suggest; especially if they outnumber in melee thanks to A Talent For Murder.

Thankfully, Contekar have Implacable Advance meaning that the can score objectives for you. This isn’t actually as widespread as people seem to think; just look at Ebon Keshig for a perfect example of a non-scoring Legion Specific Terminator.

A bit of a surprise – Contekar have the Chosen Warrior special rule, meaning that they can issue and accept challenges as if they had the Character type. Again, this is similar to Deathshroud Terminators – it’s a situational rule.

Their final special rule is Lords of the Night. From here on in, things get Schizophrenic rules wise.

You may take a squad of no more than 10 Contekar as a Compulsory HQ choice in an army where neither Konrad Curze or Sevatar is present. Additionally, if you take Sevatar; a single Contekar Terminator Elite unit may be taken as a Command Squad. This takes up a single force organisation choice with Sevatar, but does not have to be deployed with him, and is treated as a separate unit during play.

This is an odd rule as right now, I simply cannot think of a reason to choose up to 10 (410 points) of these over Sevatar as a Compulsory HQ, let alone with being able to take Curze for 25 points more. I’m sure with more time and more play this option might be clearer; as this isn’t a new rule in itself – you can take Deathshroud as Compulsory HQs, but not in that great a number.

The Command Squad element of the rule is nice; allowing you to take advantage of Sevatar’s Master of the Atramentar ability quite nicely and then send them off to nuke a target without worrying about joining or leaving squads.

Speaking of nuking targets…

Offensive – Ranged Capability

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Heavy FlamerTemplate54Assault 1
Volkite Cavitator10″65Heavy 4, Deflagrate

Did I mention the schizophrenic rules? Well – now we are very much deep into the rabbit hole. Contekar come with Heavy Flamers as standard, with the cost of the weapon included.

As mentioned you have a minimum of five Contekar and with Template weapons you cannot have any part of the template touching/over friendly models. So, if you’re deep striking in – you limit the amount of fire you can put out on your arrival and also cannot charge. This means you’re probably getting charged in the game turn you arrive – and that’s a bad place for a Night Lord to be in; a fair fight.

Similarly, if you pay a whopping and genuinely concerning 10 points per model for the Volkite Cavitator you’re no longer subject to the template issue; but you only have 10″ range.

Yes, you read right – 10″, the range of a Volkite Serpenta. That massive gun, fixed to the arm of a Terminator, has the range of a Volkite Serpenta pistol.

This is crazy – but it appears to be what the designers intended. Now 15″ – aka the range of a Volkite Charger seems more appropriate. I’m not saying the weapon is poor. You are after all chucking out Heavy 4 shots per model and it’s got some nice strength to it. It’s classic Volkite weaponry, but with a stupid range that seriously gimps it.

At this point I’m genuinely calling for the Rules Designers to explain why they chose that range. Until they tell us why, it’s difficult to grasp a situation where all five will be genuinely useful – let alone a ridiculous squad of fifteen of the bastards.

The back row simply won’t be able to hit the target. 40mm (their base size) equates to 1.6″ and therefore if you have these lined up in rows, let alone concentric circles for Deep Strike; the front row will have an effective range of 10″. The second row will have an effective range of 8.4″ – a noticeable drop is distance on the table. However the third row will likely only have 6.8″ of effective range; all of these distances are assuming you have scrunched them up tightly together with their bases touching.

This means that you have to get incredibly close to an enemy to use those expensive weapons – something that most of the time will be rather difficult. Any sensible enemy will simply move their units away.

By the way, if you’re wanting five with Volkite Cavitators – that’ll be 280 points – a not so casual amount of points for 10″ of shooting. For fifteeen, that’s 740 points. I mean for comparison – Grave Wardens are 380 points for ten Heavy Support Terminators with Power Fists and a really good Toxin Grenade Launcher that has an 18″ range.

In short, the Heavy Flamer is limited in use due to it being a Template weapon; pretty much forcing you down the Dedicated Transport route to be able to stand the chance of using them all on the turn you arrive (or get out). The Volkite Cavitator is ridiculously short ranged and rather expensive – the expense could have been justified if it were at least 15″ – but it isn’t.

So, any form of viably-ranged shooting clearly isn’t their forte. So melee must be!

Credit: Warhammer Community

Offensive – Melee Capability

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Nostraman ChainbladeUser3Melee, Rending
Escaton Power-Claw (+15 points)x22Melee, Unwieldy, Shred

You get Nostraman Chainblades for all five members of the 230 point squad to start. It’s not an overly impressive weapon admittedly – especially compared to the Headsman’s Axe and the Nostraman Chainglaive; It’s simply a Power Sword with Rending – but at least it has Rending.

Those veteran players of Night Lords reading this will have already worked out the decidedly average To Wound rolls you’ll need against toughness 4 Power Armour, even if you outnumber – and we will get to that shortly.

But what about the Escaton Power-Claw that you’ve undoubtedly noticed? Well, that can only be taken by the Dissident and costs a whopping 15 points. Yes it has Shred enabling you to re-roll wounds – that’s nice on what is effectively a Power Fist; but it isn’t 10 points more nice. It seems oddly priced and honestly, I can see 10 points all up being a more suitable price in reality.

Instead of dwelling on the seemingly spurious numbers that adorn the shooting and melee weapons – Lets have a quick look at a typical round where you’ve charged in.

As said, there’s Fear baked in via Trophies of Judgement, so a Fear test occurs first off. If the enemy fails, they are reduced to WS 1 for the remainder of the fight phase. Which is a nice start if it goes off.

With 3 Attacks base on the Dissident and 2 Attacks base on Contekar, that means that a Squad of five has 11 Attack base. Add in 1 for charging, and your Contekar have 16 attacks. That’s a solid amount of attacks – being the same as Firedrakes, Phoenix Terminators, Crimson Paladins and Red Butchers and more than Justaerin and Deathshroud get.

Weapon Skill 5 means that against WS 4 you’re hitting on 3+, but with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) granting A Talent For Murder for outnumbering you’ll be hitting on 2+ at Initiative 4. Don’t forget that if it’s Night Fighting with Terror Assault you also gain +1 Initiative. Most Legion Specific Terminators are WS 5; so at best via outnumbering you’re looking at 3+ to hit – you simply must whittle them down from ranged fire before charging in.

So you’ve hit at Initiative 4 (or 5) and at Strength 4 you’re wounding Power Armour/Legion-Specific Terminators (Toughness 4) on 4+. This is when A Talent For Murder triggers again for the 1+ to Wound, bringing us to 3+ to wound. Now, this is where Rending also kicks in, whereby any rolls of 6+ cause the wound to be AP 2.

I think the most positive spin I can put on it is that they’ll kill Armour 3+ models like they were never there; and potentially Artificer Armour equipped Sergeants or supporting Apothecaries in Tactical Squads in the fight phase.

You will most likely delete a 135 point-base cost unit with a 230 point-base cost one and be able to move onto another target if they’re close enough. Or maybe through pure brute force and good rolling you might even clear a 20 man Tactical squad (235 points) through combined, careful shooting and melee.

This isn’t – in my opinion a Legion Specific Terminator Squad that’ll be able to hold it’s own against other Legion Specific Terminators reliably – let alone win. So be wary of sending them in against the likes of Justaerin, Deathshroud and Firedrakes – those opponents simply have far more reliable weapons for killing your terminators with. You can gain bonuses to your initiative with Terror Assault – which would help you out with any pesky Emperors Children, but remember if you’re going WYSIWYG – you’re on a 5++ save. Crimson Paladins or other Invulnerable Save debuff units with access to reliable AP 2 or Instant Death will be the bane of this squad.

Credit: Warhammer Community

Summary

For the first time whilst assessing and reporting back on Book 9: Crusade in a tactica; I genuinely don’t know what to say in summary that has a positive tone. I’ve thrown some dice tonight – this isn’t just salt for salts sake.

Everything so far has been very well received – I’ve loved the small adjustments that happened to the Terror Squads, Night Raptors and Sevatar. Small changes that made big differences. These, in comparison feel like a bit of a let down.

A user on the Discord has discussed a potential fix for these, making the Volkite 15” Range, giving them 2W across the board and allowing them to take Power Claws for 5ppm. This works well mainly because the short range helps balance out the wounds, but that range is now actually usable.

That’d be 410pts for ten man squad with Chainblades and heavy flamers.

510pts for ten with Volkites with 15” range (2W balancing the short range)

460pts for ten with flamers and claws

560pts for ten with Volkite and claws for all.

However, this isn’t what we’ve been given and is a massive disappointment. When you consider that squad size means you can’t even put Sevatar, the Master of Atramentar in with them; it’s clear that this unit entry is entirely sub-par.

The Good

Contekar are priced well. 230 points for five with Heavy Flamer each is good. It doesn’t offer you much tactical flexibility but it’s ok.

Trophies of Judgement is always welcome in Night Lords Legion Specific units – a narrative buff in a narrative game.

The whole Command Squad piece is nice too with Lords of the Night – it adds a narrative drive to use Deep Strike and Sevatar – despite the risks of rolling a 1.

Stats wise, Weapon Skill 5 is great and so is the 2 wounds on the Dissident.

The Bad

The Nostraman Chainblades are fairly underpowered when it comes to its Strength and it has fairly large knock on effects. You’ll be reliable for pulling apart AP 3 and potentially knocking a few AP 2 wounds out per turn.

You can’t pay 5 points and take Power Fists to improve the situation at the loss of Initiative. Instead, you have a middling unit in melee, that couldn’t shoot anywhere near as effectively as their cost, wargear and narrative suggests due to template, deep strike or range.

The Ugly

I’m at the point where I genuinely wondering if the tape measure on my desk is accurately depicting 10″ or if it was sourced from Wish.com – It’s resoundingly short. Worse, that’s the longest ranged weapon they have.

I don’t know what went wrong during rules writing for these, but something seems to have definitely gone a bit pear shaped along the way somewhere. Comparatively, in the same book you have a Terminator Elite unit that; whilst it has rules bloat, is well written for. Whereas the Contekar are a schizophrenic mess with seemingly no real direction and spurious numbers chucked in for ranges and squad sizes that don’t work together.

The single most condemning fact is that the Knights Cenobium aren’t even that much more expensive (9 points per model) – and they get Terranic Greatswords which have access to Instant Death out of the box for that points cost and can take bloody Thunderhammers for a free upgrade.

Worse, a Squad of 10 Contekar with a Power Claw costs 425pts and a whopping 525pts with Volkite). Firedrakes cost 525pts for a Squad of 10 with power weapons and Storm Shields. That’s a damning comparison – because quite frankly, the Firedrakes have exceptionally better survivability, and are all 2W, WS5 models, with all having access to AP2.

I think from what I’ve seen play-testing their rules and understanding what’s on offer, if you have an opponent who likes big blobs of Armour 3+ then you will do extremely well out of these, even with just the Heavy Flamers, let alone the Volkite. Your method of deployment is clearly your own choice; the Dedicated Transports are limited to the fact they can only take 5 Terminators and that’s it, although there are other options in other slots.

I had high hopes for the Contekar Terminator Elite – I’m really not sure that was warranted.