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The Patriarch


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As a little day-off project, I’ve been crunching numbers on the Patriarch – specifically, on a close-combat version. Here’s what I’ve come up with.


Frustratingly, the Patriarch doesn’t benefit from the Cult Creed. This is a shame, particularly when trying for a complete combat powerhouse, as something like the Twisted Helix creed would get us halfway to the magic S8, and a bonus 2” to advance would give 11-16” of movement plus a charge. Well, we can dream.

But if I do want to buff the Patriarch as far as I can for close combat, how do we do it?

As a baseline, the standard profile will average 4.9 unsaved hits on Guardsmen, 3.9 unsaved hits on marines, and 2.3 unsaved hits on a gravis captain. As marines are now two wounds each, those hits will likely equate to three dead marines (one going down to a rending hit, and three lots of d3 damage should finish off two more (unless we manage to avoid rolling 1s)). Against the captain, the luckier version sees a rending hit get through, for 3+d3 damage, and the less lucky version is two regular hits for 2d3 – either way, there’s a chance to kill him outright, but it’s more likely we don’t.


A Patriarch has to be the warlord, so has to have a warlord trait. In terms of making a combat monster, Biomorph Adaptation feels like a good start, with +1S and +1A. However, +1S on its own doesn’t do much. We were already wound T3 on 2s, and it’s not enough to improve our 3s against T4. It does help if you want to hit tanks, and it opens up the possibility of a combination with the psychic power Might From Beyond, which does then get us up to S8. And the bonus attack is always nice.

Alternatively, Twisted Helix offer the Bio-Alchemist trait, for +1D on the claws. This definitely has some value – not against guardsmen, who were dead anyway, but against marines we’re now now looking at a confirmed kill every time we land a wound (plus a better than evens chance of killing 3 wound models, and a chance at 4 wound models (who definitely go down to a second hit)). It would also tilt things favourably against the gravis captain.

Let’s compare the two. Functionally, Biomorph just gives us that extra attack here, whereas Bio-Alchemist give no bonus attacks, but useful damage against multi-wound targets.


Standard:        Guard 5 ... Marine 8.9 ... Gravis Captain 5.2

Biomorph:       Guard 6 ... Marine 10.5 ... Captain 6.1

Bio-Alchemist: Guard 5 ... Marine 12.8 ... Captain 7.5

For Guardsmen, I'm counting the number of dead bodies. For Marines and the Captain, the score indicates the total average wounds caused: each regular hit generates 2 wounds (the mean score on a d3), and each rending hit generates 3 wounds. So 2.8x2 + 1.1x3 = 8.9


Unsurprisingly, Bio-Alchemist is less useful against Guardsmen, because it’s completely wasted. But against multi-wound marines, it does better than Biomorph – the extra attack is less helpful than the consistency generated by the additional damage. Both take us over 6 wounds (average) against the captain, with Bio-Alchemist giving a wider margin. So far, it looks like Biomorph for killing chaff, Bio-Alchemist for anything else.


The Patriarch has access to various relics. We can disregard the Amulet for now, because it doesn’t affect combat prowess directly. The Scourge does, but offers +1 to hit on a WS2+ model (who already has +1 to hit thanks to Brood Telepathy, and potentially another +1 from a Primus) so isn’t giving us much.

That leaves Vocklor’s Talisman and the Elixir of the Prime Specimen. The Talisman gives us rerolls to hit against characters, and turns wound rolls of 6+ into an additional mortal wound (upping the effect of rending, basically). The Elixir gives +1T, +1W and +1A – again, from an aggressive point of view, only one of those matters (although the other two are nice to have).


Standard: Guard 5 ... Marine 8.9 ... Captain 5.2

Elixir:        Guard 6 ... Marine 10.5 ... Captain 6.1

Talisman: Guard 6 ... Marine 10 ... Captain 6.9


For the Talisman, the rending hits count twice – once as rends, once as mortals (because both fire on 6s). When calculating wounds, I’ve used the averages as before, then added the mortals on top. With the captain, that means 1.3 mortals, as they’re not saved by his iron halo (which reduces the rending hits by half)

The Elixir has the same overall effect as Biomorph (which makes sense, as both are simply contributing an extra attack, in offensive terms). The Talisman matches it against guardsmen, where the mortal wounds balance having less attacks; against marines, it’s a little less effective (but potentially kills the same number of models overall; against the captain, the bonus rerolls to hit on top of the mortals pushes the Talisman ahead. So the Talisman for character hunting, but the Elixir against anyone else.


When it comes to combining warlord trait and relic, we need to remember that three of the four I’ve looked at so far are locked to particular creeds. This means we can’t combine Bio-Alchemist with Vocklor’s Talisman, but we can run both relics with Biomorph, and the two Helix ones together.


Standard:                 Guard 5 ... Marine 8.9 ... Captain 5.2

Bio-Alchemist/Elixir: Guard 6 ... Marine 15.1 ... Captain 8.8

Biomorph/Talisman: Guard 7 ... Marine 11.8 ... Captain 8.5

Biomorph/Elixir:        Guard 7 ... Marine 11.9 ... Captain 6.5


Of these three combinations, Biomorph with either relic is most effective against chaff, either through sheer weight of attacks (with the Elixir) or by generating mortals (with the Talisman) which are killing a whole extra model each time.

Against marines, Bio-Alchemist comes into its own, generating a ton of wounds and killing a whole marine with every damaging hit. I was worried that Bio-Alchemist looks artificially good, because lots of those wounds will be wasted (at d3+1, rolls of 2 and 3 both produce more wounds than we need). But I think that’s counter-balanced by the sheer efficiency of the Bio-Alchemist – every time a marine fails a save, they die; with anything else, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that it’ll take a second hit to finish them off, wasting wounds that way.

And against tougher characters, both Bio-Alchemist/Elixir and Biomorph/Talisman have their perks. The Bio-Alchemist combo feels the full effect of the bonus damage, making every wounding hit count, whereas the Biomorph/Talisman approach benefits from rerolls to hit, and the mortal wounds bypassing the invulnerable save. On these numbers, the Bio-Alchemist edges it, but I suspect in real-life it’ll also be swingier – big damage when it beats the invulnerable, falls flat when it doesn’t; whereas the Talisman will be dropping a mortal or two each time, hopefully, on top of anything else.


The last thing to consider is psychic buffing. Specifically, Might From Beyond, which gives +1S and +1 A. This combines neatly with the Biomorph trait to boost the Patriarch up to S8, where he wounds marines on 2s. Being a psychic power makes it much less reliable than a trait or a relic, but I wanted to see how things would look if it went off. (Interestingly, it’s the same buffs as the Biomorph trait, so has the same effect on a basic Patriarch.)


Standard/Might:       Guard 6 ... Marine 10.5 ... Captain 6.1

Bio-Alchemist/Elixir: Guard 7 ... Marine 17.1 ... Captain 9.4

Biomorph/Talisman: Guard 8 ... Marine 13.8 ... Captain 9.6

Biomorph/Elixir:        Guard 7 ... Marine 14.3 ... Captain 7.4


With Might enabled, we see a small general improvement against guardsmen; the rounding hides it a little, but it’s generally another dead guardsman all around. We also see a fairly consistent increase against marines, with a couple more wounds put down each time. And against the gravis captain, the Biomorph/Talisman build picks up a slight advantage over the Bio-Alchemist/Elixir version, going from just worse to just better. Both remain stronger than the Biomorph/Elixir Patriarch.

But there are no dramatic shifts here. Might From Beyond makes all three versions better, but the jump to S8 does less than I expected it to. Interestingly, with full rerolls to wound, the Patriarch is more likely to pick up rends when wounding on 3s, as rerolling 1s and 2s gives twice as many chances to pick up 6s second time round. Wounding on 2s gets more wounds overall, but with less dice to reroll, less 6s are generated. So whilst S8 makes it easier to wound, it makes it slightly harder to rend, giving marines more chance of saving. This also has an effect on the Talisman, which also relies on those 6s – against T4 marines, the Patriarch generates less mortal wounds at S8 than at S7.


In the end, then, what would I go with? I think it has to be the Bio-Alchemist/Elixir combination. It has the most stopping power against marines and captains, and by extension, elite infantry and invulnerable characters. I can live with it being a touch worse against guardsmen. It also doesn’t lock me into the Hivecult, which is a personal preference thing, but I’m not playing the Cult to shoot guns and pretend to be Ultramarines. Bio-Alchemist/Elixir also has the bonus of pushing toughness up to 6, and wounds up to 7, which is always helpful.

I was expecting the Biomorph/Elixir pairing to do better – S8 and 9 attacks feels the strongest – but then I guess that was the point of doing all this. And I’m surprised that the Talisman put up such a strong showing. It’s not one I’ve considered before, but I’m glad I included it here. If I ever do end up playing as Hivecult, it’s nice to know that I can still put down a combat monster.

So here’s what I’ve ended up with – a few stat increases (+1T, +1W, +1A), and souped-up claws.

If you made it this far, thanks. Well done. And if you have any thoughts or better ideas (or know how to fix whatever happened to my tables), feel free to share them.



My original tables did not translate well to the forum. So I've redone them in simplified form.

Edited by Rogue
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I think it's hard to balance the advantages of strong offensive power and good resistance for the Patriarch : he is our fluffy overlord and grants us the best moral buffs, so I'd favor resistance over offense : from my point of view loosing him is always a devastating blow for the Cult, and means loosing the game (even if you win on points !)


I like the Shadowstalker trait that grants -1 to be hit, and I always try to keep infantry nearby for intercepting serious blows with unquestionable loyalty, and so far he's been pretty tough in my games !



Oh, your post is hard to read because of the set up/layout ;) !

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Yeah - turns out writing something with tables in Word doesn't translate to the forum at all. 


And I know what you mean about balance. I've not really talked about it above, but I like the Amulet of the Voidwyrm for that reason - pushing the Patriarch up to 3+/4++ against shooting is nice, especially when he's harder to target in the first place, and the ignore overwatch ability is brilliant for him. I'd certainly consider taking it over the Elixir if I wasn't going for all-out killyness.


Do you feel that the Patriarch is wasted if you're primarily using him for morale buffing and defensive purposes? It's good to keep him alive, but if you take a hit on his offensive output to do it, what's the right balance there?


And secondly, on the defensive front, have you tried Beloved Grandsire as a warlord trait? If you're keeping people close for the morale, you'd have tons of 2+ saves against everything.

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Do you feel that the Patriarch is wasted if you're primarily using him for morale buffing and defensive purposes? It's good to keep him alive, but if you take a hit on his offensive output to do it, what's the right balance there?


And secondly, on the defensive front, have you tried Beloved Grandsire as a warlord trait? If you're keeping people close for the morale, you'd have tons of 2+ saves against everything.

Yes, I think he would be wasted if played hidden :

We already have a good morale on our neophytes and brood brother, and the Icon can help about this matter too, so I am usually not too worried about that for our deployment zone/backfield objectives holders ; I either deepstrike him close to big packs of acolytes, or deploy him with genestealers, so he never keeps defensive purposes more than a couple of turn, as he is escorting shock troops :) !

In my experience he usually hits hard enough when I need him to, and I always prefer to make sure he has a chance to survive a little longer, than kills something and just dies. We can also boost him with Might from Beyond if needed, and with a Warlord trait and a Relic, you can have both decent offense and good defence.


I have never tried beloved grandsire : in my experience after a few wasted shots because of unquestionable loyalty, my opponents eradicate his fragile bodyguards before aiming at him again...


On the defensive part of the discussion, we also have the mighty Familiar, who can save our day on a lucky melta or lascannon shot that would go through unquestionable loyalty ! This little guy can help decently for his cost !

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