INTORT: NIGHT LORDS 2.0 WARCOM ANNOUNCEMENT

The VIIIth Legion Night Lords don’t fight fair, opting out of straight battles, instead looking to overwhelm enemies by both employing stealth and underhand tactics. They’re referred to as a Legion of cowards by some – but tactical cowardice is actually the mark of a very intelligent enemy. Knowing when to press an attack and when to disengage and how to skew the situation more favorably, later on, is pretty much the core of the modus operandi of the Night Lords.

The Night Lords might be marked out for their brutality, but actually, they pale in comparison to almost every other Legion for unneeded deaths. Instead of the normal method Legions employ of murdering their way through whole worlds to bring systems to compliance, the Night Lords simply take apart 10% of a world’s cities in the most horrific way possible. This then engenders a natural fear in the rest of the system’s population – thus assuring compliance. Whole systems have been cowed into compliance by the mere presence of a VIIIth Legion fleet translating in on an approach vector.

Most, but not all of my Night Lords Legion – nicknamed “The Black Shark” for its Company Narrative.

Today we saw the release of a few rules on Warhammer Community introducing the Night Lords. It’s irritatingly short of content, considering the widespread leaks for the Libre Astartes of what is widely understood to be near-as-final rules. However, we’ve at least been given something! It’s pretty nice too!

Before we get to the rules, let’s talk about that box set imagery.

BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT QUITE RIGHT

There’s no denying that the scheme is technically competent, repeatable, and thus accessible to a wide range of players and potential players’ skill levels. This, to me, has been the underpinning selling point of the new painting series. The scheme was shown on the Warhammer Community YouTube Channel and for those interested – I’ll release my scheme shortly too on here.

Credit: Warhammer Community.

However, It’s clear someone has gotten confused somewhere. Red is a colour that does indeed have basis within the VIIIth Legion, but not quite how it’s depicted here. You see, red is used to demark those who have been judged by Konrad Curze. This isn’t just a mark of censure, it’s a veritable death sentence. Night Lord Legionaries that have been judged wear red on their sin on gauntlets, not their helmets.

Maybe they killed someone they shouldn’t have. Maybe they overindulged in the slaughter. Maybe they didn’t achieve an objective, or maybe they just didn’t turn up for work on time – All crimes or failures are met with the same judgment by Curze – death. However, Konrad Curze isn’t so crazy that he just removes whole swathes of his sons; crippling his Legion. No, he keeps them around until their worth is expired. Then, the old phrase of “I have come for you” is uttered from the shadows and they expire by his hands.

So where does the red helmet thing come from? Well, interestingly – Roboute Guilliman took the Nostraman custom and made it purely into a mark of censure. Sort of like airing your grievances with a specific Legionary openly, or publically shaming them – instead of leaving a death sentence hanging above their head. This first occurs during Calth – that time when first the Ultramarines get absolutely battered; then give the Word Bearers what-for. This is where the mark then changes again – as a plucky “marked” Ultramarine basically shows his worth as a Sergeant – so Guilliman takes the mark of censure and turns it into a mark of a Sergeant. Thus, we have the red helmet demarking an Ultramarines Sergeant or Command element.

Hence, it’s a lovely scheme they’ve painted – but it’s inherently wrong due to the lore. Now, interpret things as you will and paint things as you like with your army – but this is supposed to be a showcase of the Legion lore as well as its rules; so it’s important that people get why those marks exist.

A TALENT FOR MURDER

The Legion has long been known for this sole rule, as previously it meant the Night Lords were the only Legion that could possibly hit on a roll of 2+ in melee in the game. Now, that is open to literally every Legion, so the rule has had an adjustment:

Credit: Warhammer Community.

No longer does A Talent for Murder apply to both to hit and to wound, relegated merely just to wound. However it also now applies to shooting – which is great. The sentence structure suggests the rule (and buff) now comes into effect when you’re in one or more of the following conditions:

  • Shooting or in an assault with a unit that is Pinned.
  • Shooting or in an assault with a unit that is Falling Back.
  • Shooting or in an assault with a unit that is Outnumbered.

The reason for this is mainly due to the changes in the number of weapons that cause useful Pinning (such as Snipers) in 2.0. Note that it doesn’t say that the unit that is shooting at the enemy unit has to cause the Pinning effect – that only applies to the Outnumbered section of the sentence. So you take units that can distribute pinning neatly across the disposition of the enemy infantry and then you take aim at what’s left with say Volkite Chargers or barrel into them with Chainglaives to rip and tear with +1 to wound. Neat.

Vehicles are a bit less of an immediate buff to the Night Lords (in terms of Vehicle against Vehicle) – as it’s applied more sparingly across the army. For instance, Dreadnoughts do not have the Vehicle keyword and have no bulk associated to them, so the idea of two Deredeo Arachnus Lascannon Dreadnoughts murdering their way through the enemy armour simply won’t take effect. That said, it does open up options for those running Predators, Sicarans, Sabres or the new Kratos tanks. Note that you can’t Pin a vehicle, and I’m yet to find a rule where Vehicles can fall back, so you’re effectively limited to Outnumbering – hence the Squadronable vehicles being the optimal choices here.

Infantry squads will absolutely tear up targets with dedicated anti-infantry weapons, and even the humble Bolter or Volkite Charger on Tactical Squads or Terror Squads will worry Rhino-chassis platforms. However, Heavy Support Squads with dedicated anti-tank will not benefit against their typical targets due to the fact they’ll never outnumber a Vehicle.

It’s always been a tactic for Night Lords players to drop in Night Raptors and shoot with bolt pistols prior to bombing in next turn. With the Deep Strike Assault rule, now allowing a charge after deep strike (in the turn they arrive), this ties in even more nicely with A Talent For Murder.

Not everything is entirely clear right now though. Don’t forget that although your movement distances are significantly increased (8″ for normal/12″ for Jump Pack), this also brings danger to you as much as to your enemy. There are a lot of weapons on the table that will do harm to basic infantry, let alone the glass cannons that are the Night Lords’ more vicious units.

Couple this with the Reactions that players can pop out in your turn means that there is a level of interaction that frankly, we just aren’t entirely versed in. It could mean you fail a charge, move closer to the enemy as a result, and then cannot outnumber the enemy in their ensuing fight phase (after they’ve whittled you down).

Alternatively, you could simply find yourself under more fire than you anticipate – even with maximum sized units (something Night Lords players already take a lot of) the loss of each model can make the difference between being above or below the threshold for A Talent For Murder to take effect.

In relative isolation – it’s a nice adjustment to the rule. However, due to that isolation, we won’t know quite how effective it is until the rulebooks drop and the games take place. I still have high hopes that it retains its place as the Legion-defining rule, being narrative in nature – but I also don’t want it to be absurdly strong. Here’s to hoping the balance has been struck right.

My Nakrid Thole Conversion.

THE ARMOURY OF BUTCHERY

The Night Lords have had some very nice weapons added to their collection over the years. From the Nostraman Mancatcher, which needs differentiation from a normal mancatcher due to how horrific it is, to the venerable Nostraman Chainglaive, there are a plethora of weapons for the avid Night Lord to use. These have all had changes applied to them:

Credit: Warhammer Community.

Let’s look at the more commonly seen Nostraman Chainglaive. Like all Chain weapons, it’s gained Shred to re-roll those failed wounds and has lost Rending to gain Breaching. This means that on a roll of 6+ the wound is resolved at AP 2. It’s merely to differentiate between the intended targets – Rending for vehicles, Breaching for infantry. However, its Strength is now User +2, making the blows hit at Strength 6 for those wielding it. This means you are already wounding on 2+, re-rolling failed wound rolls. It retains Two-Handed, which is expected but it’s gone from quite nasty to a fearsome weapon.

The Nostraman Chainblade really has taken a buff. The increase in Strength from just “User” to User +1 means that if you don’t Outnumber, you’re wounding on a roll of 3+, but if you do, that goes to a roll of 2+. Contekar just got very scary in melee, whereas previously they were a bit wet. Again, Shred and Breaching add bite to this weapon, where previously it was fairly weak in the game system.

Finally, the Headsman’s Axe. It’s business as usual here, with the addition of Shred upping the viciousness of the weapon and Rending being changed to Breaching.

One thing I can’t comment on is the prices of these weapons. Nostraman Chainglaives I could see as being a +5pts addition, with the Headsman’s Axe sitting at the +15pts mark. That’s roughly what they cost (unit dependent) now. They’re certainly not auto-takes, but they’re definitely better than what they used to be – mainly due to the addition of Shred and the extra Strength values, though one of those factors is now applied pan-Astartes.

Note that the Escaton Power Claw is missing. This is a weapon that is on the Contekar Dissident – and one hopes it’s just an error on the Warhammer Community site, as it’s quite a nice little weapon in Heresy 1.0. We shall have to wait and see. For those wondering where the aforementioned Nostraman Mancatcher is at – well, it was a relic weapon in Heresy 1.0 so we shall have to see whether they bring them back.

FLAYING FROM THE FRONT

Finally, we were shown the Legion Specific Warlord Trait for the Night Lords:

Credit: Warhammer Community.

Fear is something I’m vocal about coming stock on the Night Lords (especially the Legion-specific units), so the fact this trait adds it potentially doesn’t bode well for the Legion rules.

What can be said is that it’s very thematic. Let’s face it, if you watch the enemy Commander butcher your friends and chase them down before wearing their faces on his armour as trinkets – you’re going to be a little worried. Fear (3) is potentially quite nice – as Konrad Curze currently has Fear tests done at -4 in Heresy 1.0 rules. Lord only knows what his value will be now. The additional reaction is nice, and being a melee orientated Legion at core, it’s nice that the designers have tipped their hat here too by limiting it to the assault phase.

WASHUP

Overall, nothing to complain about really. There are some reaction-based shenanigans that we seriously need to see play out on the table before we can fully comment – but that will have to wait until the full, proper rules are out to see their impact on the VIIIth Legion.

The change to the Legion-specific weapons are well received and indeed counters some of my gripes from the previous edition; and the way A Talent For Murder operates now is still, as I see it, Legion-defining, yet based comfortably in the narrative.

The Legion-specific Warlord Trait is indeed lovely and definitely something that I’ll be taking in games where I’m not running named characters. I think it’s got the Night Lord touch on it done just right – kudos to the rules team.

I always pop on a list of what I’d like to see rules-wise – and today is no different:

  • Preysight. We are the VIIIth Legion, and have lore spanning years about how well adapted our Legionnaire’s eyes are to the dark. Thus, Night Vision should come stock across all Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) models.
  • Fear. Yes, I’ve already mentioned it, and it’s unlikely to come – but Fear is our basic premise, so would be lovely from a narrative sense if all Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) came with basic Fear as a rule.
  • Konrad Curze. I don’t really want a change on Curze – though he never seems to do any work for me on the table over the last 5 years. But some refinement on his rules would be welcomed. The guy is prescient and can match Sanguineous blow for blow – and left Dorn with half of his internal bodily fluids external to him (Curze wasn’t even armoured). What I guess I’m saying here is that I don’t want any unnecessary nerfs dealt to him.
  • Sevatar. I’d love Sev to keep his Infiltration Warlord Trait, but I doubt that will occur after seeing the Raven Guard lose it. He needs to retain the Nights Whisper
  • Terror Squads. Again, with the Infiltrate, I’d like to see them retain it – as they are fixed tactics Veterans in 1.0 – failing that, they need some “schtick” to set them apart.
  • Night Raptors. Let them work nicely with Curze!
  • Contekar. That damn Volkite Cavitator desperately needs 15″ range.
  • Atramentar. They’re hilariously over-costed in my opinion, so when they come back (as we’ve heard that those units will come later) it’d be nice if I could play them without thinking “Legion Terminators do this better for 200pts cheaper”.
  • Nakrid Thole/Gendor Skraivok. Nakrid Thole has been on my shelf awaiting paint since just after Crusade was released and Gendor Skraivok is blatantly crying out for a ruleset! He represents the Night Lords on the walls at the Siege of Terra battling against Red Loyalist Swordsman 1 and is responsible for the degradation of the Legion through his family manipulating the recruitment process.

That’s pretty much it. No great shakes. I’m not expecting much to make it from that list, which gives me the bonus of anything making it through super exciting!

My Night Lords repaint that has been going on for just over a year now is beginning to edge towards completion – they should be complete in time for the new edition to drop, which means soon there will be the twin echos from a gaming table somewhere of:

We Have Come For You!

and

Ave Dominus Nox!

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