“Teeth itching, the hairs standing up on our arms, we stood in a panicked huddle. We knew what this meant; it was the precursor of death. With a thunderclap of distortion and the most of the overhead lights blowing out, they were suddenly among us.
1st Captain Sevatar stood in midnight armour, behind him were five pairs of glowing red eye lenses.
The population of Hive 3-16A had been given 2 days agree to terms and be compliant. A hour ago the Remembrancers had been sent to surface to speak with the Governors. It seemed that the VIII Legion had had enough of waiting.
‘Life is but a fleeting moment for mortals. Your moment has come to an end’ Sevatar said to the Governors. He took a step forward, the Governors tried to take a step back. One tried to run for the door, he disappeared in a ball of flame that erupted from within him as a screaming wail was emitted from the large, snub barrelled Volkite Cavitator on one of the Contekars arms.
“You had a choice. You could have saved your Hive. Now, your deaths will save your world” Sevatar said.
Without a further word, the Contekar moved on them. Their red eye lenses staring on, uncaringly at the mortals. Their bulky midnight clad frames moving purposefully into the dim light. The Power Claw rippling with barely concealed energetic malice. The Chainblades beginning to cycle with loud growls.
There were screams. It was a slow death. Hive 3-16A found itself with new decorations atop its primary Vox relay. 12 Governors, their flesh crucified next to their muscle-exposed and bloody bodies like a sock discarded beside a foot.
The message was sent.Remembrancer Klavax, secondment to 1st Company, VIII Legion.
A sub-division of the much renown and vaunted Atramentar, the Contekar were released in Book 9 to average to poor reception by the vocal majority of the Night Lords community.
Indeed, their rules led to a frankly confused article for this Blog that called for an FAQ to address them, or at least confirmation from Forgeworld on what they were actually supposed to be designed for.
Well, 137-ish days since release of Book 9, we have been delivered an FAQ/Errata for the Contekar.
There are people who have been vocal about the cost of the book and the quality of the content; the fact that we have Errata already for it serves to reinforce their argument. But is it unfounded?
With the impact of COVID-19 placing restrictions on Wargaming, some argue that the Contekar haven’t had the time on the table. That’s a fine argument – but it does miss one crucial component; Tabletop Simulator. Without tangentalising too much; TTS has enabled the community to keep gaming, just on an electronic medium instead of in person. We’ve also seen regions flick/flack between restriction types, allowing physical gaming to occur. This means that even if we didn’t have the models, even with restrictions on the go; there’s been plenty of chance to run Book 9 Contekar out and playtest them.
Before we get into the actual content of the Errata, let’s just take a quick look at the models themselves.
It’s safe to say that the Forgeworld design team has its work cut out for itself. Heresy is a game of mostly narrative function, so when releasing new models, it must be difficult to make them markedly different to the rest of the cult models, whilst making them fit the overall aesthetic of the Legion and narrative setting.
Let’s start off with the “subjectively bad”. The little wings on the legs are most definitely in this bracket for me. They’re seemingly a nod to Curze, who is the only other model I can think of as having them. I’m not sure why they needed to be on an already busy model, but it won’t be difficult to shave them off. Also in this bracket of subjectively bad is the lacklustre and oddly motionless look of the flayed skin. Compare it to say, Night Raptors and it looks weird. However, Night Raptors are fast moving, so their dynamic skins serve a purpose of displaying motion.
Then we get to the symbology.
Why can’t Forgeworld stick to a single choice of symbology? Across the range of Cult models we have wings folded behind the skulls, wings open, wings open and flexed upwards and even wings that differ in minute details; despite being similar overall. This is more of the latter, with a clear design change now featuring small, interlinking web between the wing bones. This skull also has some teeth on display that are far more pronounced than we’ve seen before.
The irritation with this is purely cosmetic. Yes, you could remove some of that detail with some effort; but why is it there in the first place, what’s so wrong with reusing the symbol from the CAD of the Terminator Praetor?
I think it can be summed up succinctly as thus: FW need to stop making 40K-style models for 30K. If Contekar had looked like the above Praetor, they’d still be a good looking model range. They’d also fit in a lot better. Personally, I’d like to have seen genuine full fat trophy racks like the Praetor too. I’m half tempted to combine some Chaos racks with Mantic Zombies and have my elite Terminators carting around bodies atop them like deranged hermit crabs.
So what about the good? Well, despite the lack of chains on other models (aside from the Jump Pack Praetors Pauldron), I like them on the Contekar. There’s no getting away from the busy nature of them, especially when compared to the aforementioned Terminator Praetor. However they’re not as busy as the Dark Angels stuff, which is pretty much outright interchangeable with 40K models, a range I find in general, overwhelmingly busy. I like the fact that there are some fairly large swathes of pure Tartaros on display.
The quality of the Legion specific detail on these models is genuinely lovely. From the tarot cards, to the knives – it’s just really nice.
In the “Outright bad” section is the fact the majority seem to be stepping on a rock or a body. This really messes up people who want to use precast resin bases etc, because they end up having to spend more time converting parts for the base, or adjusting legs. They also lean off to one direction due to this, making that conversion more difficult to pull off.
Finally, in the “Aesthetic WTF” category, we have the hooked chainswords; these will be modelled out for Chaos Raptor non-hooked chainswords on mine as they just don’t make sense to me. The helms too are a genuine fail for me too. I can see what they were going for, but in execution I think they failed. Terror Squad or Night Raptor helms would have worked better than the “oddly-too-defined” helms in the kit.
Overall, I like them; though they’re still requiring conversion work “out of the box” for me. I also find that since the Anacharis Scoria preorder, Forgeworld have applied a technically competent paint job, but one that tends to really poorly showcase the model or lacks a characterful feel to virtually every release. Those who are struggling with the aesthetic might find that the models look better when they’re amongst the community.
The aesthetic hasn’t changed since they were previewed way back in Feb 2020, but you know what has? Their rules.
The Lord of Change
The Contekar have had what can be described as a buff and a nerf in the same sentence. Odd, but this mainly relates to how you used them. There has been a change to their stat line too that initially seemed to slip under many people’s radar, let’s see if you can spot it;
It’s a small change. A welcome one too, for a Legion with Nostraman Blood and Seeds of Dissent making
successfully running away employing tactical cowardice a potential drama when you’re starting to take casualties.
Now, losing that 2W AP2 wielding Dissident and his Ld9 isn’t as great a concern as it could be previously. It also changes things up for one of the roles this Squad fills: HQ.
If you’re dropping a whopping 465 points on them to run 10 (with an Escaton Power Claw on the Dissident) as an HQ, you no longer have to worry about that HQ looking like it’s about the flee and get swept due to Ld8 being all that’s left.
Those who have already done the “quick math” have realised that 465 points is precisely 55 points more than it used to be for that Squad. Here is where you either take the Errata as a nerf or a buff. Fans of the Heavy flamer, strap in; it’s about to get rough.
Book 9 Contekar were 230 points for 5 and 36 points for every Contekar up to a maximum of 15. You can still take 15 if you so wish, but the base cost is 250 points and every Contekar after the first five costs 40 points each.
This means that you’re effectively paying 4 points more per model for Ld9 increase if you just take the Heavy Flamers. Not so great.
Fans of the ridiculously short ranged Volkite Cavitators can rejoice however as it’s now incorporated into that base 40 points per model. That’s right, “free” Volkite Cavitators.
They’re a solid choice for what is effectively 4 points a pop (saving 6pts per model from Book 9 points). Sure, they’re still limited to 10” range as they were before; however you’re not paying dangerously close to Firedrakes with Stormshield or Siege Tyrant prices for a squad of them anymore.
It’s then the usual 15pts for the Escaton Power Claw, or you can remain with the Nostraman Chainblade if you’re not concerned about packing some reliable AP2.
There will be those who say “well, 450 points, let alone 465 points; that’s still expensive”. They do have a point, albeit a far weaker one than before.
If you run 10 Contekar for 465 points, you’re costing the same as 10 Phoenix Terminators without Sonic Shriekers. Phoenix Terminators are 1W models and have AP2 weapons only when they’ve charged. They also have no ranged capability. Not even a 10” one.
Nearest 10 man squad below that 465 point price tag is Deathshroud at 460 for 10 with Melta Bombs. These are 2W Terminators, with AP2 Reaping Blow (+1 Attack at -1 Initiative when in base contact with more than one enemy model). They have Hand Flamers with Chemunitions, but Hand Flamers are not really comparable to the Volkite Cavitators or the Heavy Flamers.
|Heavy Flamer||Template||5||4||Assault 1|
|Volkite Cavitator||10″||6||5||Heavy 4, Deflagrate|
Arguably, Contekar are now in the roughly right place points wise. It just depends what Games Workshop/Forgeworld do with other Traitor Legion Specific Terminators in terms of points as to whether they stay there.
This has always been the problem area for Contekar. Their rules have suggested “Bodyguard” but their Minimum Squad Size of 5 and their Dedicated Transports being 10-bangers has always thrown that out of the window; being unable to take the precious Independent Characters with them organically.
The fact they can take Teleportation Transponders screams death from suddenly massed Terminators in your midst. But if you want to run them like this, Sevatar – The Master of the Atramentar can’t Deep Strike with them. So, you’re using a Terminator Praetor for that. At least if they drop within Sevatar’s aura, they won’t scatter, but that’s potentially putting Sevatar into danger close range of the enemy however.
Infiltrate using Master of Ambush leaves them well outside of their firing range still, regardless of weapon choice. So you’re forced into taking risk there too (if not in Dedicated Transports), and this is a reason the short range on the Volkite was met with utter confusion, as it seemed to exacerbate the issue. Sure you can also put them in a Spartan or Storm Eagle; or a Thunderhawk, but two of those are generally contested slots for Night Lords armies and the other is mental, albeit fun.
That said, there’s plenty of merit to running them escorting Sevatar in a Storm Eagle/Caestus/Spartan/Thunderhawk. Especially with the Volkite Cavitator. Delivery is 100% their issue – but if you have the free points to provide the solution for this, they’re damn good.
So with those options temporarily removed for the time being, what do we have?
Headquarters is what we have. Imagine an 11W T4 HQ with a 5+ Invulnerable save (as modelled, 4+ if in Cataphractii). A unit with Ld9, that puts out 21 attacks base for a full size 10 model HQ unit. This increases to 31 on the charge. Those attacks are going in at initiative, or you drop 4 attacks to the Initiative 1 step with the Escaton Power Claw. The Nostraman Chainblade will have Rending and the Escaton Power Claw has Shred. That’s pretty damn good for an HQ.
|Nostraman Chainblade||–||User||3||Melee, Rending|
|Escaton Power-Claw (+15 points)||–||x2||2||Melee, Unwieldy, Shred|
Now factor in that they have Implacable Advance so can score or contest for you and you have a fairly worrisome HQ unit.
If that’s not enough for you, why not go all out and have them as a Compulsory HQ with Teleportation transponders and an Escaton Power claw for 485 points. They’re safely off the table, before coming in and manifesting in front of a target, unleashing 40 S6 Deflagrate shots on them and mopping up a turn later, before being able to secure an objective.
It’s a seemingly odd role for an “Elite Terminator” unit; especially considering how good Sevatar now is with his minor change of wargear putting him in a really nice position on the table. Contekar aren’t efficiency reinforced with bullshit like the Inner Circle Cenobium are; but they’re good now that the Volkite Cavitators aren’t cripplingly expensive. More importantly, they give a Night Lords player genuine choice.
Do they still have issues? Yeah, sure. But when you consider the way the Night Lords fight, close in, weighing the battle in their favour; Contekar start to make sense – either putting up huge walls of flame or firing their Volkites off with signature Choom at point blank, it’s all about maximising the delivery of ranged death before charging in and hitting the survivors with their Chainblades. That’s not to say their Dedicated Transport choices are even remotely understandable – Forgeworld really have knowingly done the Night Lords players over here; and that’s truly unforgivable – the Spartan should be a Dedicated Transport option.
In Zone Mortalis, they have the potential to be genuinely terrifying, especially now they’re more acceptable in terms of points. S6 Flamers (due to the Flamer bonus of ZM) are no joke.
So, problems with Dedicated Transport and Independent Characters aside, Contekar are now in a really nice place.
Sure they’re not what you’d call efficient; but nor are they an outright points sink anymore.
I think that it is a bit of a polarising decision to have those who love the all Heavy Flamer load out paying a premium. It is without a doubt an errata of benefit those who love the all Volkite Cavitator load out. I’m in with the latter camp and also appreciate the Ld9 upgrade. I don’t think Forgeworld could have done it any differently though.
How you use them will frankly depend on your play style and whether you’re open to new ideas. I still think taking a Praetor is a good choice, especially to get Master of the Legion and a Warlord Trait, but a Squad of 10 Contekar as a Compulsory HQ choice is also viable. It just depends on what you want from the game at the end of the day.
Personally, I still like the idea of Sevatar leading them into battle, so I’m opting for the Storm Eagle route. There’s something to be said for using them with Master of Ambush and their Dedicated Transports/a Heavy Support Spartan too.
I’m interested to see what the community does with them over time. In their Book 9 form on TTS I struggled to get decent utility out of them for their points and found them underwhelming. With these subtle changes, they’re a considerable margin better and as an HQ, quite the tantalising choice.
They’re still the poor cousin of their in-book analogues, but those are ridiculously well written for and Contekar were always going to be the underdogs comparatively.
They’re still a bit of an oddball unit, with some really quirky decisions made for them – especially with regards to Dedicated Transports. At least now though, with the points reductions on the Volkite Cavitator, the under dog stands a chance in the fight in general.
Let’s not forget, Heavy 4 S6 AP5 Deflagrate is still brutal, even at just 10”. Who needs reliable AP2 across the squad when you can absolutely melt units wholesale. Choom.