Welcome to the second in my Adepta Sororitas Tactica series, Tactics for Units. This time, we're going to be looking at the humble Battle Sister Squad.
The archetypal Adepta Sororitas unit if ever there were one, the Battle Sister Squad is a flexible and practical ranged unit that will form the backbone of the majority of Sisters lists. While it is our only Troops choice, there is little the BSSquad can't do, and what there is that is covered adequately by our specialist squads. It excels, as all Sororitas do, at delivering short range firepower, but is vulnerable to assault due to both a lack of melee options and mediocre statistics. The BSSquad compares favourably to an Astra Militarum Infantry Squad in terms of firepower and seriously increased durability, and almost approaches the legendary flexibility of the Space Marine Tactical Squad, though it loses out on durability and melee power. As such, it may be best to consider the Battle Sister Squad as a better Infantry Squad in use and tactics, than to attempt to compare them to the Tactical Squad.
- Statistics: A standard stat line for baseline humans, and favourably comparable to the average Guardsman, though with the notable exceptions of Leadership 7 (8 on the Sister Superior), and Ballistic Skill 3+, which are both excellent and on par with the average Space Marine.
BS3+ puts the BSSquad on par with a Tactical Squad in terms of firepower, hitting with a full two thirds of their shots, which is pretty great and supports the squad’s primary role as a ranged firebase. Weapon Skill 4+ however, is a step back, and combines poorly with the unit’s Strength 3, leaving the squad comparatively vulnerable in assault. However, with the Sister Superior’s 2 attacks and access to melee weapons, and the removal of Initiative from the game, a charging BSSquad has the potential to deliver at least a couple of wounds to the unprepared.
Toughness 3 is important, as it means most basic weaponry will be wounding the squad on 3s, which pretty severely impacts their survivability. However, with the 8th Ed To Wound chart, T3 is more durable to S5 attacks than ever before, a Strength that is likely to be seen in high numbers across all armies.
A 3+ save rounds out the package, the same armour as a Tactical squad. Between this and T3, this gives the squad slightly less durability than said Tactical Squad, but that is far from something to be sneezed at. 3+ means two thirds of AP- firepower should bounce off, and the squad will still be getting a 6+ save against Lascannons and Plasma. Pretty sturdy, all things considered!
Finally, the BSSquad starts at 4 Battle Sisters, and one Sister Superior, and has the option of an extra 10 Battle Sisters, for a total of 15 models. Nice bit of flexibility. Just keep in mind that a full 15 Sisters won’t be able to ride in a transport of any sort. It’s also notable that even a minimum size squad can take both Heavy and/or Special weapons, but a full size squad is still restricted to the same. More Battle Sisters provide exactly that, and no more. Extra Battle Sisters.
- Special Rules: The Battle Sister Squad has no unique special rules, just the two Army wide rules, but they are both great utility rules.
Acts of Faith is huge, giving the BSSquad a chance to either shoot out of phase, take an extra move, fight in combat, or even resurrect a fallen member.
As a primarily ranged squad, taking the extra shooting phase is a great option, doubling that squad's firepower for free, and will rarely be a bad idea.
Taking the extra move can help you get the ladies where they need to be,whether that's onto an objective, out of combat, or into a firing lane. Worth noting are how this move interacts with the various special movement options. If they Fall Back out of combat, they then cannot shoot, charge or advance later in the same turn. This means your squad can Fall Back, and then move freely in the Movement Phase, but they are still locked out of shooting. Similarly for Advancing, if you Advance, you cannot shoot or charge later in the turn, though you can Advance in the Movement phase AND with the Act of Faith movement, so if you're planning on Advancing in either phase, consider Advancing in both. And finally, the -1 To Hit penalty for moving Heavy weapons is counted from the Previous Movement phase, so you could use the AoF move to redeploy your squad, then remain stationary in the Movement phase, and fire your Heavy weapon at full effect! Potentially very useful for maximising that single Multimelta shot.
An Extra Pile-in and Fight may seem like a poor choice, but it does come with freedom from retribution. Consider using this to bloody the nose of something that charged your Sisters but didn't quite manage to finish them off, and then Fall Back as normal. Most likely you'll be able to think of a better option, however, as bolt pistols can be fired in melee range, and are S4 compared to the Sisters' S3.
Resurrection is a great little option, as with T3 it is likely that your BSSquad will get a bit bloodied over the course of a battle. With the ability to return models free from the constraints of a medic, this means no squad is ever out of the fight. Prioritise special weapons and Sisters Superior, though they're likely to be the last models removed anyway. This is never really a bad option.
Shield of Faith: This rule grants a 6++ Invulnerable save, and a modified Deny the Witch. of Faith allows any unit with it to Deny the Witch as if they were a psyker, but they can only roll one dice when they do so. As you may guess, this isn't going to stop much, but there's always the chance to deny a stray Smite with a mere Battle Sister Squad which is a possibility worth rolling for, and this is an ability that is practically unheard of outside of Sisters. Like the 6++, it's nice to have, but won't come up particularly often.
- Equipment: As standard, each Sister in the squad has a Bolter, a Bolt pistol, and frag and krak grenades. One Sister has the option of taking either a Heavy or a Special weapon, and a second may take another Special weapon. The Sister Superior may take a stormbolter, a combi-weapon, a special pistol and a melee weapon.
The Bolter (also referred to as a Boltgun, these terms are interchangeable) is a reliable standard weapon, at S4, Rapid Fire 1, and 24” range. Though this is nothing special, it's hard to go wrong. With BS3+, the BSSquad can send a decent amount of bolter fire down range, reliably threatening anything short of T8.
Similarly, Bolt Pistols are reliable, but nothing special. Of note is that Pistols may be fired when the unit is within 1” of an enemy unit, and all your Sisters have one. Might be nice to give the BSSquad an extra shooting phase with an AoF, and unleash a bit of short range hell.
One model per unit can throw a grenade, so try not to forget it (as I usually do). Frag provides d6 S3 shots, which is a nice way to boost the squads fire against a large unit. Or a smaller unit than you want to try and drown in saves. Krak grenades are better against single targets, with S6 and d3 Damage but only one shot. They also have AP-1, so they are an option if you're getting annoyed at your opponent's save.
Special Weapons: Three varieties, in traditional Sororitas flavour. The Stormbolter, the Flamer, and the Meltagun. When choosing Special and Heavy weapons, keep in mind ranges. While you can fire any weapon at any other unit, you want to try and pair ranges together to help you bring your firepower to bear the best. A flamer and a heavy bolter have rather different favourite targets, for example.
The stormbolter is the cheapest option, and essentially doubles the firepower of the Sister holding it. Statistically, it's a bolter with Rapid Fire 2 and no other changes. Excellent if you want to drown your opponent in bolter fire, as is only right. Best taken in twos in the squad, at the expense of a Heavy weapon, with a third on the Sister Superior.
The flamer. You know it, you love it. 8” range and d6 auto-hitting S4 shots. Hard to go wrong here. It's also an Assault weapon, so you can Advance and fire it, and the auto-hits ignore the normal -1 penalty. Very nice. It's worth remembering that these auto-hit in Overwatch too. Consider pairing with a Heavy Flamer for maximum burning, or with a different Heavy weapon to deter would-be chargers. Hard to go wrong, really, as d6 auto-hitting S4 shots will hurt most things, at least a little.
Meltaguns are the heavy hitter of the special weapons. S8, AP-4, and d6 damage is scary, as is their ability to roll two dice for damage, and select the highest, provided they're within half range. What's not scary is their range, which is a short 12”, and their rate of fire. While it's not as short as range as the flamer, it lacks the potential number of shots, and it doesn't auto-hit. At Assault 1, you're going to want to make sure this one shot counts, but you can try and Advance into half range, at the expense of a -1 To Hit. It's also by far the most expensive of the options by way of points. Consider taking two for a squad that can hunt Big Game with the best of them, or pairing one with a Heavy Flamer for a squad that can respond fairly well to any potential threat.
Heavy Weapons: Again, these come in each of the varieties of the Holy Trinity. Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer, and Multimelta. In most cases they have better range, strength, AP, and rate of fire than their special brethren, and they are commensurately more expensive.
The Heavy Bolter ups it's fire to a pleasant Heavy 3, a range of 36”, and an increased S5 and AP-1. Very nice in all cases. It'll threaten light vehicles, heavy infantry, and monsters all the same. As mentioned earlier, S5 is a useful strength, as it allows your Sisters to hurt most infantry on a 3, and vehicles and monsters on at most a 5. And AP-1 is hard to go wrong by. As a heavy weapon, it does suffer a -1 To Hit penalty if you move in the preceding phase, but this can be avoided by clever deployment and AoF usage. The cheapest heavy weapon. Very good for adding some reliable firepower to a squad.
The Heavy Flamer is essentially the same as standard flamer, but with an increased S5 and AP-1. Like with the heavy bolter, S5 and AP-1 is always nice. Unlike the regular flamer, however, the Heavy Flamer is a Heavy weapon, and thus loses out on being able to Advance and still shoot. However, auto-hitting does bypass the annoying -1 To Hit of Heavy weapons. If you're taking a flamer, consider taking the heavy flamer instead. In all ways but the Advance-and-fire thing, it's a direct upgrade over the flamer. Unless you're Really hurting for points, I suppose.
The Multimelta is a double range meltagun that trades Assault for Heavy. That's the long and the short of it, really. The increased range makes the multimelta a good choice for a firebase, or an interdiction squad. Not much wants to come in range of S8 AP-4. Like the meltagun, it's expensive, and lacks rate of fire, and is a comparatively short range weapon, for anti-tank. Unlike the other heavy weapons, the multimelta doesn't pair well with its special weapon counterpart, as the disparity in ranges makes getting the most out of both difficult. Consider pairing with a heavy bolter or a stormbolter for a squad to sit in the mid field and just be bothersome and pump out a tonne of 24” fire.
- Sister Superior weapons: The Sister Superior gets a wide variety of useful upgrades, which come in each of three varieties; Melee weapons, Pistols, and Ranged weapons.
Ranged weapons are powerful upgrades over the regular bolter, but do prevent you taking a Melee weapon.
The Stormbolter is the first option available. Cheap as chips, and you can’t go wrong with literally doubling your Superior’s firepower. See above for more detail. Good when paired in a squad with more Stormbolters to drown your foe in boltshells.
Combi-weapons are an interesting bag. For a few more points than taking the standard special weapon, you get a bolter taped to it as well, and you can fire both weapons at a mere -1 to hit! Very nice. Consider the Combi-flamer and Combi-melta either to give a unit a third melta/flamer, or to put one of them into an opposing weapon squad to give it some flexibility. A double flamer squad could definitely benefit from carrying a meltagun along too, if you want, in much the same way as you might take a Meltagun/Heavy Flamer squad. Similarly, double melta squad really boosts its overwatch with the addition of a combi-flamer, and is also much better equipped to fight hordes than before. It becomes a question of flexibility or specialisation, really.
The Combi-plasma warrants specific attention. This weapon is one of two places Adepta Sororitas can get plasma, and plasma is really looking good in 8th Ed. In terms of range and weapon type, it pairs beautifully with boltguns, and brings AP and strength almost as powerful as the melta, but with a better rate of fire. It loses out on damage, but it can be boosted to 2 damage and S8 at the risk of overheating. Of note, you should never fire both weapons in a combi-plasma if you’re also overheating it, as this doubles your likelihood of rolling a 1 and dying outright. The combi-plasma isn’t part of the Holy Trinity, which will put some people off, but I reckon it’s well worth considering.
The Condemnor boltgun is… Well, I don’t want to say worthless, because it really is very cheap and it’s got a nice benefit to it for how cheap it is. But a bolter that does d3 damage to psykers is pretty mediocre, given how likely it is to ever come up, even being the cheapest upgrade it’s possible to pay for. Pass, unless you’re playing Tzeentch or Grey Knights, I guess?
Pistols are an interesting bunch. The bolt pistol is nothing special, but it does it’s thing. The Plasma pistol is great. Surprisingly cheap for what you get, and you only overheat if you overcharge it. The Inferno pistol is interesting. Meltagun stats, but only 6” range, which is not much at all. It’s also expensive, which makes it a definite decision to take. But remember, if you’re firing into Melee, then you’re always within 2d6 pick highest range for your damage.
Melee Weapons: The Chainsword isn’t a bad place to start. It’s a free swap with your bolter, and gives the Sister Superior an extra attack, bringing her to 3. Nothing else to write home about, but it’s free. Power Weapons, of course, come in their three varieties, the armour slicing AP-3 sword, the middle-road axe with AP-2 and +1S, and the high strength +2S and AP-1 maul. Remember, however, that the Sister Superior only has two attacks with these, and they’re hitting on 4s, with S3 base. If you want to spring for a power weapon, I’d suggest the maul to help you actually land wounds, or maybe the axe if you want to keep some AP.
Now, there’s probably about three big ideas around running BSSquads, and I’ll do a quick rundown on each of them, and then move onto a more general discussion.
First there’s the MSU approach. Multiple Small Units is an approach that takes advantage, primarily, of how small units can still take two heavy/special weapons. This means more special weapons for fewer points. In the case of the BSSquad, that means a minimum sized squad, with special weapons.
Other benefits include a certain measure of protection from Morale. With the LD 8 of the Sister Superior, you need to lose 3 models to be at risk of losing any more, and that’s if you roll a 6! That’s not really too bad. And finally, if a squad shoots at your small squad, the most you can lose is five Battle Sisters, rather than potentially killing a whole fifteen Sororitas! As benefits go, this is somewhat reduced from how useful it was in previous additions, due to the inclusion of system-wide split fire, but few opponents are going to decide to only shoot half a squad’s weapons at one small BSSquad and the rest at another.
However, five Sisters is relatively easy to wipe off the board, so these small units benefit from redundancy and specialisation. Double-melta, double flamer, and so forth. Take them with a purpose, and don’t take one where you can take two. Don’t take two if you can take three, etc etc, etc.
Second, there’s blob squads. These are squads of a full fifteen Sisters and are meant to primarily be hard to shift. Fifteen Battle Sisters are going to take a concerted effort on your opponent’s part to get rid of. Additionally, that’s a lot of firepower, especially in rapid fire range.
Also, with the way controlling objectives works, you want more models on it than your opponent. Fifteen Sisters is a good starting point. However, fifteen models is too many to fit into any of the transports Sororitas have available, so these sisters are forced to walk. Finally, the size of the squad leaves relatively vulnerable to Morale. More than four casualties and you’ve a 50/50 chance of losing another model, if not more.
Consider using these sisters as a firebase, so stormbolters are a great option, maybe a heavy bolter. Since you’re not going to be moving these ladies around much, a Multimelta might not be a bad idea either, just to really amp up how scary they can be.
Finally, there’s the ten Battle Sister Squad. It’s a midway between the size of the blob squad and the cheapness of the MSU squad, and is small enough to be able to ride in a transport. It is in all respects a middle ground. Less firepower than a blob, more than an MSU, less vulnerable to Morale than a blob, more than the MSU, so on and so on. They can manage flexibility better than an MSU in particular, as they are more likely to survive long enough to use different weapons to their full potential, and they have the numbers to cap objectives well. However, ten Sisters is easier to shift than two squads of five, or one squad of fifteen (Obviously), and they can’t ride in an Immolator, and nor can a character ride with them. You could easily run one less sister to make room for a character, of course, and this can be a solid idea in some cases.
The next two points are characters, and transports. Both of these are force multipliers that can increase the value of your BSSquad immeasurably.
Hospitalier - The Hospitalier can return a slain model to a unit (or heal a model for d3 wounds) on a 4+. This means a great increase in endurance for a squad. Good for larger squads, but a blob squad will likely be losing more over a turn than the Hospitalier can return, and you might find it shovelling against the tide. MSU squads will typically get wiped completely out before they can really get rebuilt by the Hospitalier.
Dialogus - The Dialogus grants a bubble of Morale test rerolls. Which is nice. Quite good for blob squads. Obviously less good for MSU, and YMMV for ten sister squads.
Imagifer - A 4+ roll every turn to get an extra Act of Faith. Yes, please. In terms of AoF efficiency, larger squads are better, because you activate One Unit, so a big unit obviously gets more out of this than a smaller one. That said, any unit will benefit from a chance at an extra AoF. Not much else to say than “Nice”
Canoness - A bubble of Reroll Ones to Hit is always great, and the Canoness can lend an extra bolter or combi-weapon to the Squads’ firepower, or even pitch in to save them if assault happens. Plus, you’re going to have one or two already in your list. Never a bad idea, but not necessarily the best.
Priest - Not really a good choice, honestly. The Priest has a nice array of weapon choices, but the only buff they provide is a +1 attack bubble, and your Battle Sister Squad shouldn’t really be spending too much time in assault. Somewhat more viable with a blob squad, because that’s an extra 15 attacks, and that’s pretty nice.
Transports are divided between the Rhino and the Immolator. There’s also the Repressor, but that’s a Forgeworld unit so I’ll just be skimming right over those.
Both the Rhino and the Immolator have the same chassis, stats and Special Rules. Their main difference being that the Rhino repairs one wound per turn and carries ten models, and the Immolator carries six, and has a Twin Heavy weapon on top. The Immolator meshes well with the MSU, as they’re the only size BSSquad that can really ride in them, AND the Immolator carries a huge gun to back them up. There’s also space for a character to further back up the squad. However, the Immolator is expensive, and you have to pay for the big gun, while a Rhino only carries a stormbolter or two.
The Rhino’s benefits are largely that it’s cheap, it repairs, and it carries ten models. Take if you just want a tough box to get a unit from A to B, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Both of them have Smoke Launchers, so if you have nothing to shoot at, or you’ve driven right into a firing lane, remember to use them! A -1 to hit your Metahl Bawks is a better defense than you may think.
Generally, your BSSquads are going to be your utility squads. Between the squads in your list, they should be able to deal with most things you’ll come across on the battlefield. Or at least hold them down while your specialists get involved. If you’re playing objective games, then BBSquads do well at that, due to their generalist nature. They won’t typically be involved doing other things, like vehicle or monster hunting, so they’ll hopefully be free to try and cap objectives.
Due to their cost, flexibility, and place in most Force Organisation Charts, expect to be using these as the backbone of your army.
Thanks for reading, and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Edited by CaptainHelion, 02 August 2017 - 11:49 AM.