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Drukhari in Crusade: a Review

Master Antaeus

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I have had the pleasure of playing Drukhari in a Crusade league and I have to say they are massively fun. Much more so than their limited unit choices might indicate. I will divide this review into sections:


1. Building your army for narrative play

2. Requisitions

3. Battle Honors

4. Territorial Dominance

5. Anything else I think of

Edited by Master Antaeus
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1. Building your army for narrative play

The first thing you have to decide is what kind of HQ you're going to concentrate on.  Drukhari have some insane HQs and in crusade, you can really turn these guys loose!

If you start at 25 PL, then you probably will be stuck with a mono-faction force   (kabal, cult, coven).  At 50 you can probably branch out to two.  While you could make room for all three, narrative play focuses on quality and without being able to play with the granularity of points, you should probably stick to two.  For my crusade, I decided to challenge myself to keep it all Kabal until we hit 75 PL.  While you can start with Drazhar as an HQ and there is a good case for that, Drazhar cannot gain experience or rank up and a well-appointed archon or succubus can eventually eclipse the master of blades himself given time. 

The Archon

The obvious choice.  Beatstick character, good aura, punches well above its weight and with the shadow field, *might* even live to see a second round of combat against some of the other nasties out there.  Only the Succubus even has the potential of hitting harder and she is nowhere near where this guy is in terms of defense and utility.  There is no reason not to give your archon the djin blade because it will dovetail nicely into a cruise missile build for him.  Interestingly, according to the 40k crusade rules, you can give your archon the Hatred Eternal warlord trait AND still give it to Drazhar later.  Oh yeah, give your archon a blast pistol.  Just do it.

Archon picks for rank-up

1.  Artisan Bionics - +1 Strength and a 5+++ is exactly what is needed to get the Djin blade past the S5 breakpoint; where the archon goes from merely deadly to the stuff of nightmares.  

2.  Frenzon injector or Fleet of Foot - Both excellent choices for getting your archon where it needs to be to ruin people.  Since it will most likely pop out of a transport, I think the Frenzon injector is probably the slightly better pick as it also gives you +1 attack on the charge and if that also happens to be the turn that your master archon comes unglued and fights gain, that is a face-melting 14 attacks with the Djin blade.

3.  You have some tough choices to make here.  Archeotech nano-med will make your opponents pull their hair out trying to kill your archon.  You could also choose between conversion field or master clone field for a 4++ for the times you desperately need your shadow field to not fail (it will).  If you are suffering at the hands of Psykers, the blackstone shard amulet won't go amiss.  There is no best choice here, it will depend on your local campaign.

4.  So you looked at mask of the first age and thought that'd be cool?  You're wrong.  The ONLY pick here is the null field disruptor.  Your archon can literally hew its way through daemon princes, schools, chapter masters, battlesuit commanders.  Even primarchs fear the Djin blade when it defeats their invulnerable saves.  That said, by the time your archon his 50+ experience points, if you are the front-runner in your campaign, maybe pick the mask instead.  Crusade is all about having fun and if your cruise missile archon can mulch a daemon prince on a first turn charge, maybe go for the thematic choice.


The Succubus

A succubus as a main warlord is an interesting choice.  Even more of a beatstick than an archon, the succubus cannot take nearly as much punishment, so it's almost worth it to double down on her offensive capability rather than worrying about her defenses.  There are many paths to victory with a succubus and every weapon option has its own relics and warlord traits to recommend it.  I like a spectacle and the shardnet and impaler succubus really stands out as an unusual looking model on the field, so I generally go with that, precision blows and dark lotus toxin.  This damage 3 blender bypasses the obvious razorflails/competitive edge combo by delaying gratification.  Since Dark Lotus toxin modifies the stats of the weapon but does not turn the weapon itself into a relic, you can still put a weapon enhancement on the shardnet and impaler.  For combat drugs, I usually go for adrenalight because if she can get 2 sixes to hit with precision blows, 6 mortal wounds will put down most enemy characters and I mostly fish for that.

Succubus picks for rank up

1-3: same as the archon, for the same reasons.

4.  You think I'm about to say null field disruptor, but you'd be wrong.  Mask of the First age is probably the better pick for a character who can do 3 mortal wounds on 6's to hit.  The bonus to attacks brings you up to 10 attacks, statistically, you should almost always roll 2 6's to hit at this point, but we're not done.

We didn't talk about the soul trap for the archon, but for maximum carnage, a filled soul trap (see part 2) will bring the succubus up to her final total of attacks without special rewards from missions of 11 attacks at Strength 5, AP-2 damage 3.  Ow.


The Haemonculus

Since Haemonculus' lost access to electrocorrosive whips, they've really gone downhill in terms of their ability to dish out pain.  They're not the plug-and-play beatstick that you get when you run the archon or succubus.  They're more of a support/toolkit character.  Able to put wounds back on pain engines, give out their toughness bonus and generally be a pain for your opponent to get rid of.  The Haemonculus is probably the hardest to play, though the forces that go with it (coven units) make up for that.  If you're going all coven units, you might as well consider running coteries of the haemonculi, though IMHO, they don't give you much that you didn't already have access to.  The nice thing about crusade is you could theoretically change your subfaction and force organization every game, so you can experiment and see what works for you.  You are spoiled for choice in good warlord traits and relics on a haemonculus.  I like the vexator mask, but I am incredibly reckless with my haemonculi and routinely throw them near danger.


Haemonculus picks for rank up

1.  Laurels of Victory - CP are always good and you will start to see a theme develop here.

2.  Tactical experience - This being narrative play, you can mill command points to your heart's content--and you should!  Works nicely with Schemer Supreme warlord trait from Coteries of the haemonculi.

3.  Master Clone Field - A 4++ will go a long way toward keeping your haemonculus alive should the worst happen.  If you also manage to trigger the second ability, so much the better.  Dovetails nicely with nightmare doll to really troll your opponents.

4. Archaeotech Nano-Med - Eat your heart out, Death Guard.  You can kill this haemonculus *twice* and it will still get back up to menace you.


As for the rest of your army, if you can't afford the PL for favored retinue, you can always upgrade a unit later using requisition and the same goes for lords of Commorragh.  Make sure you have at least one raider and if you play kabalites, a unit of incubi wouldn't go amiss because you will lack close combat ability.

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Requisitions - RP buys you stuff in crusade, and it is a precious resource that you should guard jealously because it goes fast.  You 5 RP to start and you should probably spend two of them off the bat on the following:

Warlord Trait and Relic Requisitions - These do exactly what they say.  They give you a warlord trait and/or relic.  Simple enough.

Main Book Requisitions

Increase Supply Limit: This is how you get more units.  Each RP adds 5 to your supply limit and you can fill that in with whatever you want.  This is where most of your RP will end up going.

Fresh Recruits - Suppose you didn't have enough PL to buy a full strength unit and now that unit has gained some experience and you want to fill it out.  This is your req.

Psychic Meditation - Re-arrange your psychic powers.  Hopefully unnecessary.

Specialist Reinforcements - This was important when 9th ed dropped because there were still units that had to be upgraded for CP.  Some units in armies of renown that require CP to unlock special abilities like Cadian Whiteshields might still need to take advantage of this req.

Trap Requisitions

Repair and Recuperate - Pay 1 RP to fix a battle scar.  Not so fast, hoss.  This requisition can quickly become a trap, especially if you are unlucky.  Experience comes fast and if a unit is a lower rank than Battle Hardened (3), unless you absolutely MUST have it whole, just cut the unit loose and dismiss it from your roster.  I've seen guys put every RP they get into fixing battle scars while everyone around them is building and growing their crusade rosters.

Re-Arm and Resupply - Changes the wargear choices of a unit.  Note that relics (including normal weapons with enhancements) cannot be changed.  This is a bit of a trap, honestly.  You should know within the first game or two whether the wargear you picked is going to work for a unit and in those early days, it's easy to dismiss a unit from your roster rather than cough up precious RP.


Drukhari Requisitions

Lord of The Dark City - Thematic and cool, but honestly, you should have bought this right at the beginning.  If you were playing for theme, and I salute you for doing so, you'll have to wait until 16 experience points or more to buy this req.  It upgrades your character from a normal archon/succubus/haemonculus to the master version.  Has no effect on territorial dominance, just gives you the cool ability.

Chosen of the Master - Just like Lord of the Dark City, but for a favored retinue.  Unlike LotDC, this req might have some play.  I actually recommend going with normal troop types at the outset of a campaign because over the course of several games, you will see one troop unit start to dramatically pull ahead in terms of experience and accolades.  That is the unit you should upgrade with this req.  Otherwise, you run the very real risk of your normal kabalites, by the simple law of perversity in gaming, having more experience and utility than your trueborn.  Just the way things go in the dark city, right?

Soul Trap - Now we're talking!  You should always save one RP in case your archon manages to kill a character.  It is *shockingly* difficult to get this tally filled if your crusade campaign is full of daemon princes, chaos lords, and chapter masters (oh my), though if you're playing against Genestealer Cults or Astra Militarum, you might have an easier time.  Anyway, once you kill 5 characters in melee, your warlord levels up, permanently gaining 1 attacks, strength, toughness and leadership.  Can only be used on an archon, but if you are fielding multiple archons (you dog), you can eventually use it on all of them to turn them all into gymrats.

Patron of the Killing Arts - Looks great on paper.  Combat drugs for an archon or haemonculus?  Yeah, the way it's written, you have to spend the RP for every battle that you want the combat drugs, so maybe one to keep in your back pocket if you were running mixed wyches and one or two of the other factions, but mostly only for special occasions or when you're swimming in excess RP, which will be never.

A Constant Source of Disappointment - Wow, I can pay 1 RP for the privilege of dismissing a unit from my roster?  Yay?  The problem with this req is that it gives raid spoils equal to the dismissed unit's total crusade points.  The rub is that unit has to have 2 or more battle scars and for every battle scar, you subtract 1 crusade point from the unit's total.  In effect, you have paid 1 RP for nothing.  Perhaps work with your crusade arbitrator (if you have one) to fix this because I'm pretty sure that's not what it's supposed to do.

Clandestine Dealings - Functionally lets you pay RP for raid spoils, but this should have gone the other way.  We'll talk about raid spoils in territorial dominance, but RP are worth far more in the greater scheme of the campaign and if you do this once, I'll bet you a soda you regret it within a game or two.

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Battle Honors - 

Unless you are a psyker, battle honors come in three broad categories.  Battle traits, which change a whole unit, weapon enhancements which either go on individual models or unit leaders, and crusade relics which go on characters only.

Codex Battle Honors

There are also codex-specific battle honors, but let me save you some trouble; they are all terrible for kabalite units, including archons.  Perfectionist is an interesting idea and if your archon is really struggling to fill that soul trap *might* be a good choice for a free battle trait as a mission reward, but probably not worth one of your hard-earned experience-based battle honors.

The Wych ones are okay, lighting strikes on bloodbrides is pretty good, especially when combined with adrenalight and Dancers of Hekati (see below) and Multi-Steroid Glands is great for all of the coven units, but of particular note for units of Talos or Grotesques.  All of the upgrades help them massively.

Interestingly, unlike the kabalite battle traits, you can give the cult and coven ones to Succubi and Haemonculi, respectively as they are both infantry versions of their own keyword.

Piety And Pain Battle Traits

The other source of battle honors that are specific to Drukhari is from the Piety and Pain boxed set.  There are 3 for wyches and 3 for scourges and the are ALL AMAZING.  You'll probably get more use out of the wych ones as scourges can be killed by harsh language and bad intentions.  Bloodbrides with Dancers of Hekati AND Lightning Strikes will have you rolling bathtubs full of dice for your attacks.  Bloody Performance looks good on paper, but remember you have to kill the whole unit you were fighting with to trigger it.  Maybe as a third or fourth rank pick.


Main Book Battle Traits

Movement Traits

The first trait on every chart is some sort of movement buff.  Either +1" or +2" to Movement and +1" to advance and charge.  These are all great, but some are more important than others.  A unit of Talos, for example, will get a lot more out of +2" to move and +1" adv/charge and should be a first rank pick for them. 

Re-Roll traits

The second trait for all but characters is re-roll 1's to hit.  This applies to both close combat and shooting (and overwatch, I guess).  It is probably the single most powerful trait you can get for any unit and if you can't think of anything else, this is always a solid bet.  It bears mentioning that, especially for kabalite warriors who will mostly be shooting from transports, this is a good pick because it still works inside the transport.

Defensive Traits

There are a few traits I have grouped together which either modify armor vs AP0 or 6+ to ignore damage.  None of them are outrageously good and your attention is better spent elsewhere, especially for characters.  Drukhari characters have so many excellent sources of 5+ to ignore damage that there is no need for this.  There are also wound recovery traits for vehicles and monsters.  Your mileage may vary, but I find that the single wound each turn just isn't worth it when I could have made my monster or vehicle more dangerous.

Attack Traits

Frenzied and Deadly Charge are the same trait, just one is for monsters and one is for characters.  Not bad on a unit of talos, but if you wanted this for a character, consider the Frenzon Injector crusade relic as it gives you the same effect plus re-roll charges.  Armorbane would be decent if it worked on everything, but only applies when attacking monsters of vehicles, so probably go for a weapon enhancement instead unless it's on a lance ravager.  Uniquely, Headhunters is really good and goes well on any unit that is going to be targeting characters (obviously).  Consider for reavers or hellions who have both the movement and the attack power to jump overhead, use eviscerating fly-by to weaken a lynchpin character and then finish that character off in close combat with this trait.  Works in both shooting and close combat.

Leadership Traits

Inspiring Hero is pants,. If you need this because you're running huge mobs of models, perhaps consider Kabal of the Black Heart or Cult of the Cursed Blade.  Too niche to get a pass.  Tactical Experience, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you don't have access to Labyrinthine Cunning and combines well with Laurels of Victory (see crusade artifacts) for a back or midfield controller such as a Haemonculus, or even just a cheap beastmaster that you bought to net 2 command points and hide all game.

Tactical Traits

These both bear talking about as they have the potential to radically change how a unit functions.

Cool-Headed - Re-roll failed morale (debatably good, usually drukhari units on foot are dead soon, but can be absolutely clutch at lower points), the real fun here is that the unit can always resolve overwatch without you having to spend precious CP.  Great on coven units with twin liquifier guns.  Can also make charging kabalites profoundly unpleasant for enemy characters and damaged vehicles.

Battle Tested - Pretty much mandatory for Corsair units who spend a lot of their time on foot to get the most of their abilities.  Being able to shoot while doing an action also makes it ideal for scouting units like mandrakes or reavers.  Getting all four table quarters in the Recon Patrol mission is good for 45 VP alone and will probably win you the game if you can pull it off.


Next up is Weapon Enhancements

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Weapon Enhancements

A couple of things to be aware of when choosing weapon enhancements:

1.  Getting a weapon enhancement turns the weapon you put it on into a crusade relic.

2.  Relics cannot be further upgraded.

3.  Characters, vehicles and monsters get a single pick from all the options on either table.

4.  Units can upgrade one weapon on one model and if the unit has a leader, it must be one of that leader's weapons, BUT, they get one choice from all 6 on either table AND one choice of 1-3 on whichever table applies to the weapon.

Let me give you a totally viable example:

An Incubi Klaivex with Demi-Klaives who chooses the Brutal and Fleshbane enhancements (+1 strength and damage respectively) will look something like this:

-Single Blade |  Range: -  |  Type: Melee  |  S: +3  |  AP: -3  |  D: 3  |

-Dual Blades |  Range: -  |  Type: Melee  |  S: +2  |  AP: -2  |  D: 3  |  +2 attacks


That is gross and you should totally do it.  Another excellent candidate for weapon enhancement is a Talos, either for a damage 3 macro-scalpel (remember, having two macro-scalpels still gives you an extra attack with the enhanced one), AP1 chain flails, or damage 4 talos fist.  Finally, if you are running a Haemonculus as your main warlord, you might want to beef up its close combat attacks to something damage 2.  Your mileage may vary.


Next Up: Crusade Relics

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Crusade Relics

By the normal rules, you can have as many crusade relics as you want on one character, though only one instance of a given crusade relic can exist within your army at any given time.  You can also give a crusade relic to a character that already has a codex relic and vice versa.  This is important because while our characters are exceptional fighters, other armies have much tougher ones that can get absolutely INSANE in a late crusade.  You might feel bad making your character an absolute nightmare, but your feelings of superiority will fade when your nightmare character faces off against an even more nightmarish daemon prince or lord discordant (the most glaring examples) with weapon enhancement and a null field disruptor.

There aren't that many, so I'll just go through them all.

Codex Crusade Relics

Soulshard Grenade - Meh.   Used in your movement phase, so you can pile a couple of mortal wounds on a unit, but unless you are very lucky and get to throw it at a max size unit, you're only averaging 2 and change mortal wounds.  Maybe if you fight Grey Knights a lot, but there are probably better  uses for your relic slots.

Tormentrix - Terrible.  Keep moving.  Maybe if it was damage 2, but it's not and there's no way to make it damage 2.

Master Clone Field - Mandatory on a haemonculus, somewhat niche on an Archon and barely useful on a succubus.  The extra attacks only trigger if you're still alive at the end of the enemy attacks.

Casket of Suffering - A slightly more defensive alternative to artisan bionics and a decent choice if you've already given out that crusade relic.  A good pick.

Mask of the First Age - Amazing on a succubus, decent on an archon, kind of a turd for a haemonculus who is never going to be a great fighter, so increasing his stats really isn't doing the rest of your army a lot of good.  Would be an auto-pick if not for null field disruptor.  If you are lucky enough to get a free relic as a mission reward and can stack it on top of the NFD, you deserve some kind of magnificent bastard award.  Also, get ready for players to start allying against you.


Main Book Crusade Relics

Artificer Weapon - There are so many better choices.  Just say no.

Artisan Bionics - Fantastic for archons and succubi, pretty  useless for haemonculi who already wound on 4+ and have 5+ FNP.

Conversion Field - There are better choices for a 4++, but this one you can get really early, so there's that.

Frenzon Injector - Not my first choice for anyone, but an excellent 2nd or 3rd rank pick.  Archons and Succubi excel in close combat and this gets them there.

Laurels of Victory - Good on haemonculi for precious CP, but kind of a liability for anyone else.  An archon or succubus will probably be killed at some point in more than half of their games and this happening at a bad time could cost you those precious CP.

Master Crafted Armor - Should just give you a 2+ armor save, but it doesn't.  Succubi and haemonculi gain nothing from it, archons get a little better, the only time I would use this is to enhance the Armor of Misery to a 2+.  Yes, you can do this as both relics reference the save characteristic.

Archeotech Nano-Med - The very last word in trolling.  I like this because it keeps my archon fighting, you might not like the fact that it can be completely useless 1/6 of the time.  Mandatory for Haemonculi who will need it to keep getting back up.  Also note that this does not say "the first time in a battle that this model is destroyed" it says the first time.  RAW, that means it only works once and there is a good case for that being true; you might want to discuss this with your crusade group beforehand.

Blackstone Shard Amulet - If you fight a lot of psykers, this is pretty much mandatory.  If not, keep moving.

Dark Age Displacer Belt - Not an awful choice on a Haemonculus who hates to be touched, but not great on fighting characters who want to be much closer to their opponents than 9".

Xenotech Digital Lasers - I once maligned these, but since all of the characters have viable pistol options and excellent BS, this can be a viable way to soften up a tough opponent before closing in for the kill.  

Null Field Disruptor - Absolutely mandatory for a fighting character.  Someone meh on a Haemonculus.  It is, in fact, so powerful that we had to nerf it in our league because every single fighting character in every army that could produce one was going to take it.  Even the lord commissar was going to take it.  Precision Blows Succubus might want Mask of the First Age more, but most beatstick characters will have this later in a crusade.  If you are running the league and want some ideas for how to nerf the NFD, here's what we did:

NFD - Ignores all damage reduction, max number of wounds per phase and FNP-type mechanics.  On a wound roll of 6, ignores invulnerable saves.  Still really good, but not oppressive, especially when used by an experienced character on a new character.

Vortex Grenade - As written, you can literally only use this once.  Not once per game; once only.  While it is certainly potent, I would be hesitant to use a legendary relic slot on this, though I guess if you use it and it's gone, you have an open slot?  You might want to house rule this.  It's a little nonsensical as is.



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