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Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves  by Patrick Eibel
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  You want to get into 40k, so you choose an army and spend a small fortune to assemble and paint it.  If you are lucky, you have a few years of fun playing with it before GW releases a new edition or revises your codex, and you now find that your super cool army has been made worse by the changes.  Tyranid players with lots of Genestealers, Grey Knight players that relied on allies, and Necron players that used plenty of Destroyers all know what I mean.  You are now stuck with three options: sell the army for a loss, shelve the army until the next rule change, or find a way to make the army you collected viable. 

At the end of last year, I was faced with these options when GW published the revised list for the Sisters of Battle in White Dwarf.  I was all set to go with Option 1, but I was talked off the ledge, so to speak, over the Counter Offensive 8 weekend. I was talking with 40K scholars Ken Lacy and Bryan Layton (both Sisters players as well) about what to do with the army.  They suggested trying to use the Blood Angels Codex to make the army viable.  I tried applying some different army rules to find something that would maintain the flavor of what I liked about the Sisters and would be able to fit the bulk of my figures.  After much tinkering, I found a couple of options that worked fairly well, and hopefully these ideas will help other Sister players who are thinking of throwing in the towel.

My Sisters Army
I will briefly describe my Sisters army, as it informs how I went about choosing alternative army rules. 

I had collected a good amount of Sisters as part of my three-headed army that included Daemon Hunters, Witch Hunters, and Imperial Guard.  The army shared models and liberally used the Allies rules.  When the Imperial Guard Codex was released, the rumors were already suggesting that allies were going to go the way of the dodo bird, so I had to start making contingency plans.  I bulked up the Guard so that they could be a stand-alone force (basically buying a lot of tanks.)  When Codex: Grey Knights was released, I realized that I would have to buy too many figures to flesh out the army, so I unloaded most of the Grey Knight stuff.  I kept a few Inquisitorial things hoping they might still be viable with the Sisters.  Alas, Inquisitors did not make the cut in the revised Sisters army list. 

My force is somewhat typical of Sisters armies, except that I am woefully short in the Immolator department (only three, and only one with twin multi-meltas) and also seems to have way too many flame weapons and not enough melta weapons.  I do have two custom converted Exorcists that use Typhoon missile launchers.  I am fortunate that I liked the Sisters’ models and had collected a bunch of the girls to build my army around. For those of you running Sisters armies with the minimum amount of actual Sisters and lots of Guardsmen with autocannons, you should refer back to Option 1.

Alright, time to go about finding some decent rules.  It should be said at the outset why the most obvious rule set – the Sisters of Battle list from White Dwarf magazine – is inadequate.  The things that made Sisters viable before (if you did not play the aforementioned autocanon-Guard heavy list) was the ability to use Faith Points to become Fearless and to get a 3+ Invulnerable save.  There were some neat offensive powers too, but those two Acts of Faith really were what made a Sisters army resilient.  Needless to say, the revised list nerfed these abilities by giving the Sisters a 6+ Invulnerable save (nigh useless) and having Acts of Faith work on a 5+ (the whole Faith Point system, while needing to be simplified, was made less effective instead.)

As I went about selecting a codex that would work for the army, I knew I wanted to keep some goals in mind: 1) use as many of the existing models as possible, 2) keep some of the flavor of the Sisters (holy zealotry, short-range firepower), and 3) have the figures look reasonably WYSIWIG.  I was not overly concerned with any fluff problems (for example, using Sisters to represent an all-male Marine army) as long as my other criteria were reasonably met.

Sisters of Blood
Even if you buy into the current competitive wisdom that Blood Angels have joined the ranks of mediocre armies, they still are far superior to the rules that the Sisters got.  Most of the Blood Angels special rules work for the Sisters as well.  The Red Thirst (Furious Charge and Fearless for those effected) works better than Holy Rage (move to assault) or Righteous Zeal (move to assault), Descent of Angels seems very appropriate for Seraphim, and while Know No Fear is a Marine thing, I don’t have a problem with my Sisters getting it too.  The only thing that doesn’t work for me is Combat Squads, but that is not compulsory and easy enough to ignore.

HQ. Celestine works great as the Sanguinor, though over 100 points more than in her list.  To keep things simple, I would use my Canoness as a Captain with the appropriate wargear (power sword, infernus pistol).  The Inquisitor I used was converted from Mephiston, so I could run him as that, or as a basic Librarian to save points.  Both the Canoness and Librarian would get an Honor Guard with a standard (simulacrum), two meltaguns, a Noviate with a blood chalice (Sister Superior), and a Sister with a bolter to round out the squad.  Each unit would get a Razorback with twin-linked heavy flamers (Immolators).

 Elite.  Two units of Sternguard (Celestians) with two heavy flamers, two storm bolters, four bolters, and a Sergeant with a power weapon.  The Sternguard is the only unit to get heavy flamers and I had extra special weapons, which explains the odd assortment of weapons.  The Sternguard could use a Rhino for transport, but I was trying to think of a way to use drop pods and still keep the Sisters feel.  My last Elite slot uses Uriah Jacobus and Arch-Confessor Kyrinov as Sanguiary Priests.  Functionally they work, but there is some fudging to make the models count as a figure in power armor.

Troops.  My basic Sisters squads work as Tactical Squads with one flamer, eight bolters, and a sergeant.  I have four squads all kitted basically the same and getting a Rhino transport.  I know nobody likes Death Company because they are not scoring units, but I cannot resist using my six Arcoflagellants for Death Company and giving them all power weapons and a Razorback.  It may not score, but it will tear up some stuff.

Fast Attack.  I suppose you could use Seraphim as Assault Squads and count them as Troops, but I like the idea of using them as Vanguard Veterans and making them that much more special.  My Dominion squad has been broken up and is mostly found in the two Honor Guard units.

Heavy Support.  I have a Retributor Squad with four heavy bolters that is easy enough to count as a Devastator squad.  After that, the problem with my Heavy Support choices becomes twofold: what to do with the Exorcists, and where do I get my anti-tank capability.  Certainly, Exorcists would look fine as Whirlwinds, but that does not address my need to take out armor.  Another option would be to field them as Baal Predators, but that puts them into Fast Attack where I have the Vanguard.  The best option is to count the Exorcists as Vindicators (one big Strength 10 shot), even though they really don’t look like them.  I guess this would be a case where I would have liked the goofy pipe-organ tank.

Sisters of Flame
As I was contemplating what to do with the Sisters, I noted that the problem with my army was that it was all meltaguns and flamers.  And then it hit me – who makes meltaguns and flamers better?  Vulkan He’stan of the Salamanders.

HQ.  In this list, the Canoness takes on a much more important role as she represents Vulkan He’stan.  Celestine gets demoted to be a Chaplain with a jump pack (I suppose you could use Cassius if you wanted to make her more special).  The Inquisitor continues to be used as a Librarian. The Canoness/Vulkan gets an Honor Guard and Razorback (Immolator.)

Elite.  The two Sternguard units listed above stay pretty much the same, except I swap out the heavy flamers for the meltaguns from the Honor Guard (you’ll see why in a second.)  Kyrinov and Jacobus do not get used in this list.

Troops.  The basic Sisters are still Tactical Squads, but since they number ten strong, I can swap in the heavy flamers and count them as multi-meltas.  I know this breaks my WYSIWIG goal, but I am dealing with the figures I have and heavy flamers and multi-meltas at least look similar from five feet away.  All units still get a Rhino for transport.

Fast Attack.  Seraphim in this list become regular Assault Marines.  The Arcoflagellants count as Vanguard Veterans, all with power weapons, and get a Razorback (no jump packs, of course.)

Heavy Support.  The Heavy Support options are the same as the Blood Angels list above.

Conclusions
Looking over both lists, I feel that they both offer some interesting options and would be fairly competitive on the table.  I think that I did a good job of meeting my goals of using most of my figures and keeping things fairly what-you-see-is-what-you-get.  I look forward to giving these lists a run at one of the gaming events this year to see how well they work, but regardless I feel happy enough with them that my Sisters army won’t be put up on eBay any time soon.


Posted February 2012

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle