Sunday, 4 September 2011

Top Bryss Reviews the New Sisters Army


All together now... dadada da daa da da dada da da daada.... Oh, and for the best effect, do the voice.

Tonight: Felix runs out of Rich Tea biscuits, 'Scape eats a cheese sandwich, and I get mauled by a wasp...

Hello! Yes, we're back on a different channel! Weird, isn't it? Yes, hello and welcome... to Top Bryss! Now, as we know, GW dominates the market for sci-fi motors right now, and they have begun to try strange new things including a new kit Codex. But is it any good?

I'm talking about Codex: Sisters of Battle. Entering the market at 900 (thousand) pence, it seems at first glance to be the cheapest to run of all GW makes. It's been supplied to the consumer in two parts, making it as easy to assemble as a metal blister. Under the bonnet is a modest 18 units, but it goes from nought to Turn 6 in about the same time as more expensive GW armies. It's compatible with a few GW accessories for other makes, like the Crusader, Arco-Flagellant and Death Cultist, but it stupidly insists on using a different Rhino, which is only different to other Rhinos because it is piloted by a butch nun and has the Boy Scout symbol on the doors.

Now, before I go on, I feel there is something I have to say. This is NOT an original make from GW. This is in fact one of their Space Marine models stripped down, slightly depowered, re-badged and given slightly new bodywork. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the units, which feel as minimalistic and underwhelming as Keira Knightley's breasts. There is only one single new idea in the equipment section, and that is the Laud Hailer, which is useless outside of this army anyway. And as a custom rules writer, this makes me a bit sad.

Now, you may say that minimalism is fine. A typical American wargamer would never even bother with all the weird and wonderful items put into other books. However, the problem extends far beyond this, as in addition to each unit only having basic upgrades, there is also a very strong reliability issue.

The basic unique thing about Sisters of Battle has always been the fact that they are the naughty Catholic schoolgirls of 40k, breaking the rules using their Acts of Faith, which let them do things that shouldn't be possible except for much stronger units. However, the way Faith works now clearly means that the schoolgirls have been caught by GW and sent to the headmistress for a stern talking-to.

In the old days, anyone could have a good Invulnerable Save or Rending bolters, and more units could do it thanks to Faith being determied by your number of Superiors and higher-ranked Space Nuns. However, it's now a single, unreliable D6, and this locks you into taking a man with a beard as one of your HQs just to have a chance at better Faith. And no army should ever have to have a beard, with the exception of Space Wolves. What's worse is that only certain units can do certain Acts, which has repercussions for the basic Battle Sister squad, which is now more expensive (and compulsory too) and unable to Rend.

The other huge casualty of the book is Heavy Support. With the Immolator relegated to Dedicated Transport status, we have to rely on either Retributors, which are easier to kill than a Grot with a limp, or a stupidly unreliable pipe organ. What's even more galling is that despite this being a Robin Cruddace book, we can't even get Exorcists in the squadrons of three that he is so fond of, as seen with the Russ, Basilisk and Carnifex.

I also have a problem with the engine. Most GW models are hybrids, but capable of running on only plastic. However, the engine used in the Battle Sister is instead a metal/resin one, which is not only an outdated engine with a finite amount of fuel left, but also ludicrously expensive to run. If you're going to spend that much on an army, I'd instead go to GW's tuning division (that's Forge World for those keeping up with the extended metaphor) rather than spend roughly the same amount on something that was modern in 1994.

At this point in a Top Bryss review, I'd normally state what I do actually like about the book. Today this list is depressingly short. I like Saint Celestine now that she's not five thousand more points than she should be. I like Seraphim squads even more than I did before for their abilty to fire dual pistols. That's it.

I can't recommend buying this book in any way, not least because of depreciation issues. In little more than a few months, the value will decrease to basically nought, at which point it should be freely available on the GW website. And there's no way they would do that with a good book, which shows how much confidence they have in it. About as much confidence as I have that Scotland will ever win the World Cup.

There is one image in the first part of the Sisters book that sums up the entire thing rather nicely. On the page detailing the fluff of the Retributor squad, there is a picture of a Battle Sister holding a multi-melta, with a caption underneath saying "Retributor with heavy bolter."

Make of that what you will.

2 comments:

Sabreu said...

Sisters of Battle seem rather...disappointing. And with your well-written view point driving home the point, I ask myself why bother taking an interest in their white dwarf codex?

Master Bryss said...

The only reason for taking interest is that for all we know they might decide to do it again. I would have been fine if they labelled it a get-you-by, but calling it the official Codex isn't right for it.