So, I finally got my hands on the second part of the Sisters of Battle White Dwarf codex. I’ve been holding back from joining in the online discussion until I saw the points values and have all the info, and I have to say, I like it.
I realize that the response online from players has been mostly negative – at least from what I’ve seen – so let me share a few thoughts about why I’m glad GW did this. I admit it’s partly because I’m a glass half-full kind of guy (and partly because I enjoy flouting received opinion), but that’s not the whole story.
As someone who’s actually been playing with Witch Hunters right up until this release (I played a 2750 pt. game just a little while back with a few of my Sisters in the mix), I’m glad they’ve been updated. As I said here, I don’t think they really deserve a full codex, so I’m grateful to Games Workshop for actually giving us Witch Hunters players this update.
I personally think 5th edition 40k is the best edition so far in terms of elegance of design. This is a bit like saying that a rock is better than a banana for slicing bread, but whatever. What I’m getting at is that playing with my old Witch Hunters in recent years has been fun but quaint. They cost a bazillion points, have weird abilities that don’t gel with 5th edition, and all in all are either a dead loss or more effective than they’re meant to be due to some accident of edition-compatibility. This update makes them fit with 5th edition *cough*35 point Rhinos*cough*. And if there is another edition around the corner, my Sisters will now be on even footing with the other 5th ed. books when it comes.
Now the points. I don’t understand people quibbling and bitching over tiny points discrepancies. It puzzles me whenever I read someone’s opinion that “(insert troops) should be 2 points cheaper.” Me and my regular opponents have proved on multiple occasions that points are not an exact science – they’re a rough indication. The old Witch Hunters were, by modern standards, horribly overpriced. Now they aren’t. Even if you think they’re still a bit overpriced, it’s an improvement right?
Basically, I like my Sisters and I want to play games with them, and if having a monstrously outdated codex didn’t stop me, having a nice 5th edition one certainly won’t. Also, Saint Celestine for 115 points!? No-one seems to think this is even worth a mention. Last game I used the old Saint (who costs 201 points), and she killed three combat squads of marines, and the new one is even better. Dominions now have Scout and don’t have to take a transport. Penitent engines can no longer be killed by bolters. There’ll be a lot less looking up during games with the new faith system. I actually really like Light of the Emperor, the multi-purpose faith power of the regular Battle Sisters. One of my favourite things in the new Grey Knights book was the Inquisitorial henchmen squads. I was really hoping they’d make an Ecclesiarchy version, and they did. All of these things make me happy.
Some things are a bit sad of course. Change is rarely painless. My canoness can’t use a jump-pack any more but meh. That’s what the Saint is for. Faith is different, and probably not as powerful, but I’ll gladly suffer that in return for 5th edition organization and points costs across the board. Book of St Lucius is gone but I always felt like a cheat with that in 5th edition anyway . . .
So yeah, I’ve been reading talk about dumbing down, nerfing, etc, but really? 40k, at the scale people want to play it, should be simpler, not more complicated. That’s why 5th edition is so great. And now my Sisters have got with the program and I didn’t even have to buy a codex or any new models.
I can’t help feeling that a lot of the negativity towards this release comes not from Sisters players who will play the army no matter what, but from 40k experts and competitive players who are looking at the new rules in terms of the so-called meta-game. When someone like that reads the St. Celestine rules (for example) they just see an average character whose points could probably be better spent elsewhere, on more MSUs or whatever. I see my familiar flaming angel of the Emperor’s wrath, who is now better value than before. So I’m happy.
I really can’t see how a dedicated Sisters player could be disappointed. Sure, things have changed, but that was always going to happen at some point wasn’t it?