“I am a son of the sunless world, and Eighth Legion to my core.”Attributed to First Captain Sevatar
The Atramentar are the VIII Legion 1st Company Elite Terminators and are the epitome of terror assault tactics. The VIII Legion are reknown for their teleport assault strikes deep into enemy lines with large cohorts of Atramentar, butchering all they manifest amongst. With a teeth itching thunderclap, the Atramantar appear unbidden like some horrific, gory totem to death incarnate. They operate under the sole command of First Captain Jago Sevatarion, colliqually known as Sevatar.
There is no official model for the Atramentar; which is good news for fans of conversions, bad news for those who aren’t. The Warhammer Community article which announced the Atramentar and gave us their rules also showcased a fan-conversion that is somewhat pricey, but undeniably effective.
These Atramentar are made by Manticore Design from parts from Forgeworld Night Lords upgrades, Tartaros Terminators, Contekar Terminators and Stormcast Eternal Prime (the Sergeant characters) shoulder pads. Effectively, you can break it down to:
- Games Workshop Tartaros Terminators Legs, Arms, Shoulder Pads.
- Stormcast Eternal Prime (the Sergeant characters) Shoulder Pads.
- Forgeworld Contekar Terminators Torsos, Shoulder Pads.
- Forgeworld Terror Squad Heads.
- Forgeworld Nostraman Chainglaives.
This means you’re looking at quite a lot of money for just five terminators – and that’s if you’re lucky enough to find the parts in stock. If you’re wanting to go a bit lighter on the wallet, then you could of course grab some arms and shoulder pads of normal Tartaros Terminators and magnetise them onto your existing Contekar, or even just stick to normal Tartaros Terminators with lions head transfers.
The Atramentar are simultaneously good and bad, in what seems to be the theme for these narrative packs. They cost 270 points base, which is +95 points more than a normal Legion Terminator Squad.
They’re pretty much identical in stats to the Contekar, which makes sense as they’re both a part of the Atramentar order of battle. Things start to go wrong when you look at the fact they’re only 1 wound for that massive upfront cost. Not even the Trucidor gets 2 wounds, which is odd, because the Contekar Dissident does.
You can take up to 20 Atramentar in a squad, which is a nice nod to the Night Lords overmatch tactic for sure. Each Atramentar costs +30 points, which is 10 points less than additional Contekar cost. This is of course somewhat offset by that 20 point increase on the initial Squad size.
You get the Implacable Advance rule alongside Legiones Astartes (Night Lords), so you’re scoring and taking advantage of A Talent For Murder with them, as well as things like Night Fighting giving +1 Initiative in Terror Assault.
The main concern here is that they’re locked into Tartaros Terminator armour. Something that isn’t lore based (which has never determined the armour types in the books), but certainly can work for you on the tabletop if you like your army fast moving and able to sweep. Effectively, if you want Cataphractii Terminator armour, you’re stuck with Legion Terminator squads. It’s an odd choice considering that Contekar have Terminator Armour in their wargear, meaning you can model and choose without issue.
As part of their base wargear you get Trophies Of Judgement, providing the unit with the Fear special rule. This is a narrative rule for the unit and one that was oddly a cost-option for Night Raptors, so it’s welcomed to see it included here, even if the function of Fear doesn’t translate often in game.
You also get Teleportation Transponders built in – making these quite the fearsome back line assault or response unit to keep in your back pocket. There is an issue hiding in plain sight here though and it revolves around Teleportation Transponders and full size squads. Where on a table can you actually fit twenty terminators deep striking without issue? Not a lot of places.
In addition to these Legion centric rules, you gain Cloaked In Murder. This means that any unit that is charging an Atramentar unit that is not already locked in combat is forced to do so as a Disordered Charge. It doesn’t sound much, but it causes them to lose the +1 Attack against the Atramentar, meaning you’re slightly safer deep striking them in than you would be with say, Contekar or Legion Terminators which are most definitely more vunerable to counter-charge.
Finally, we have Sworn Loyalty – a rule which hammers home the narrative basis of the unit. In an army that has Sevatar as its Warlord, Atramentar may be taken as Troops and count as Legion Terminator Squads for the Master of the Atramentar rule. This is great, a nice way of getting Terminators in as Troops choices outside of the normal ways. However, if Sevatar is removed as a casualty, the Atramentar cease to be a scoring unit.
Atramentar come with a Combi-Bolter as standard, which won’t set the world alight, but does at least cost nothing. Any Atramentar may replace their Combi-Bolter with one of the following:
|Combi Plasma Gun||24″||7||2||Rapid Fire, Gets Hot, One Use|
|Combi Meltagun||12″||8||1||Assault 1, Melta, One Use|
|Combi Volkite||15″||5||5||Assault 2, Deflagrate|
|Combi Grenade Launcher (Frag)||24″||3||6||Rapid Fire, Blast (3″)|
|Combi Grenade Launcher (Krak)||24″||6||4||Assault 1|
|Combi Flamer||Template||4||5||Assault 1, One Use|
|Volkite Charger||15″||5||5||Assault 2, Deflagrate|
Each of these cost a mere +7 points to take, meaning they’re no more expensive than their normal legion counterparts. It also means you can really tailor your Atramentar to a specific mission in mind, or even dual-role them by giving them wildly different ranged and melee weapons.
If this doesn’t smack of peace through terror and superior firepower, then for every five Atramentar, one may take one of the following:
|Heavy Flamer (+10 points)||Template||5||4||Assault 1|
|Plasma Blaster||18″||7||2||Assault 2, Gets Hot|
|Reaper Autocannon||36″||7||4||Heavy 2, Twin-Linked|
So in the main, you have entirely the same tactical flexibility in ranged capability that Legion Terminator squads offer. The Atramentar aren’t really about ranged weapons with the core statline of BS4 and WS5 however.
Atramentar come with a Power Weapon as standard, but their armoury is varied and wide ranging:
|Power Maul||–||+2||4||Melee, Concussive|
|Power Axe||–||+1||2||Melee, Unwieldy|
|Nostraman Chainglaive||–||+1||3||Melee, Two-Handed, Rending|
|Headsman’s Axe (+10 points, Trucidor Only)||–||x2||3||Melee, Two-Handed, Rending|
|Single Lightning Claw (+5 points)||–||User||3||Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon|
|Pair of Lightning Claw (+15 points)||–||User||3||Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon|
|Power Fist (+5 points)||–||x2||2||Melee, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon|
|Chainfist (+5 points)||–||x2||2||Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon, Armourbane|
|Thunderhammer (+15 points)||–||x2||2||Melee, Concussive, Specialist Weapon, Unwieldy|
It’s very much a case of identifying what you want from the Atramentar in game as to what you equip them with. There’s something very nice about a squad of them with Nostraman Chainglaives and a Headsman’s Axe on the Trucidor. It’s not the most efficient, but it strikes at Initiative and with a ten man squad producing 21 attacks base, 31 on the charge, you can be sure there will be some of those sweet rending rolls coming out. You’ll note too, that Nostraman Chainglaives are a free upgrade to the Power Weapon. Two-Handed doesn’t really factor in here as Terminators don’t have Bolt Pistols to get them an additional attack anyway.
That said, if you want your Atramentar to hit like a truck against Sv 2+, then you’re really looking for those Initiative 1, AP 2 weapons. The usual suspects reside here and you’re likely after those cheaper Power Fists over the Thunderhammers due to the base cost of the Atramentar. They’re at least an option here; something we don’t see on the Contekar and something that the community has been vocal about.
Notably the Trucidor’s option for the Headsman’s Axe is +5 points more expensive than the Night Raptors Huntsmaster – odd. With my preferred solution for arming them with Nostraman Chainglaives and a Headsman’s Axe, you’re looking at A Talent For Murder ensuring they’re hitting on 2+ and wounding on 2+ against other Legiones Astartes. So that’s defintely something that they can do far better than the Contekar can, which suffer from the lack of a strength modifier on the Nostraman Chainblade.
The Atramentar are almost identical to Legion Terminator Squads, obviously aside from the additional rules they come with and the Squad sizes. This is what it boils down to – are you going to benefit from using those few additional rules at that vastly increased cost?
It’s a personal decision and one that according to the wider community, is fairly simple to make.
It is made clearer when you look at the fact that a 10 man Legion Terminator Squad with Power Fists, Combi-Plasma and Teleportation Transponders costs 460 points. An identically equipped Atramentar squad costs 540 points – a solid 80 points more. That gap does reduce if you take Combi-Plasma, Headsman’s Axe on the Trucidor and Combi-Plasma, Nostraman Chainglaives on the Atramentar (something that can’t be mimiced by the Legion Terminators) to 40 points, or 500 points total for the squad.
It’s odd, therefore that the cost for Atramentar is so excessive. The ability to take them as Troops choices is strong, but also relies on your Warlord being Sevatar. No great shakes but you’re looking at 175-210 points for him alone. Sworn Loyalty has also got some serious drawbacks for you if Sevatar falls. For one 10 man squad as a Troops choice (taking Sevatar) you’re looking at between 420-750 points, loadout dependent. That’s not including any transports to protect Sevatar either. If you’re after a 20 man squad of these, then you’re looking at between 730-960 points, loadout dependent. The enemy suffering disordered charges isn’t really worth that and brings its own significant difficulties to the table.
When you consider that Curze and a flock of Night Raptors armed with Nostraman Chainglaives and a Headsman’s Axe costs between 730-830 points (10-15 unit size and loadout dependent) then the Atramentar begin to look very shakey indeed.
Whereas the Night Raptors can easily make their points back in a turn or two, the Atramentar will likely not, due to their lack of mobility once down on the table and the fact they’re so expensive to start with.
In reality, you’re likely to not use Atramentar in an army list unless you’re building around them. Even so, you’re probably limiting their use to a form of decapitation strike on the enemy Warlord or another key target. Even if they get charged by the unit you’re targeting, they won’t be hitting with full force, due to Cloaked In Murder; providing time to you to reinforce and overwhelm the enemy.
WS5 is good, with A Talent For Murder combining nicely. There’s a possibility too that if you take Nostraman Chainglaives and Headsman’s Axe to cause serious concern at initiative. Though that means that you’re taking a significant risk that you won’t be able to hit other Terminators hard enough to make a difference. This is something that is exacerbated if the enemy is in Cataphractii and finding your rending hits just bouncing off their better invulnerable save. At the Initiative 1 step with unwieldy weapons you’re just hoping to roll better than your opponent so you can make them run and sweep them. Fear doesn’t really factor in here because of how rarely it operates as a meaningful game dynamic. It’s a massive risk to have to wait to Initiative 1 in Tartaros and go against Cataphractii.
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention any Dedicated Transport choices for the Atramentar in the Base Stats. Well, that’s because they don’t have any listed. This actually adds a bit more drama to their utility. If you’re using Terror Assault as a Rite of War, you don’t have the flexibility to load up in a Spartan Assault Tank or Land Raider via Dedicated Transports, leaving that sole Heavy Support slot free for something tasty. Storm Eagles in the Fast Attack slot is another option, but again, quite contested in Terror Assault. This leaves Lord of War, where you’re looking at a Mastodon or a Stormlord. Both are quite expensive and very large targets. This forces you to use Teleportation Transponders at the 10-man plus size squads, which isn’t without it’s own issues, regardless of Sevatar being present or not.
Atramentar therefore are wonderful additions on a purely narrative front. However, they’re a double edged sword. On one hand they’re not really what the Night Lords community wanted when they shouted “Contekar aren’t Atramentar, we want Atramentar”. On the other, they’re exactly what was cried out for – lore based Terminators with customisability and easy access to reliable AP 2.
It’s difficult to see what could be done better rules wise (because I don’t think there’s much they could do better), but certainly the main downfall for Atramentar is the prohibitively expensive points cost, especially at higher unit sizes; which is ironically similar to one of the issues suffered by Contekar.