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Warhammer 40,000 Psychic Awakening: Engine War Review

It seems like an age ago when Engine War was announced, which is currently the newest Warhammer 40,000 Psychic Awakening book.

Due for release prior to COVID-19, now that restrictions are being lifted it has been released and I got my copy yesterday.

As a big fan of the Adeptus Mechanicus I was really looking forward to what Engine War can bring to the army. This book is also aimed towards players who have Imperial Knights, Chaos Knights and Chaos Daemons.

Without further ado we are going to jump into the book and see what goodies await!

The Lore of Engine War

The story that binds the previously mentioned armies together in this book is tied around the planet Ordex-Thaag, a once glorious forge world, now a fallen planet after constant Ork invasion. 

As Mars expedition fleets stretch out into the now torn apart galaxy a force of Adeptus Mechanicus along with Imperial Knights, led by Magos Xu Kroll, encounter the planet once more. Now besieged by Chaos Knights and Daemons they attempt to reclaim the planet once more for the Omnissiah.

The Dark Mechanicum gets quite a bit of attention in the lore in this book, as they are re-using the old forges. I’ll eat my hat if we don’t one day get a Dark Mechanicum book for Warhammer 40,000.

I found the lore in this book more compelling than the lore I read in the previous Psychic Awakening book, The Greater Good. In particular the character of Magos Xu Kroll and the Imperial Knight pilots. 

I’m not going to go into further detail, as I recommend reading the lore in this book yourself. 

Mission & Theatre of War

With all of the supplements that have come before Engine War, there is a section of the book which comprises a new mission with accompanying Stratagems, as well as a new Theatre of War. The Theatre of War introduces battles set on hazardous fumes, giving you a new chart for random effects, including the possibility of your armies having reduced strength and toughness during the game.

Based on the lore previously mentioned, it focuses on a battle between Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights. The rules set in the mission allow for a fun and interesting game between the Knights, and it wouldn’t work the same with other armies. 

It looks fun, and the stratagems for the mission are also thematic, but I’ve seen better missions in previous publications. 

The Adeptus Mechanicus

The core part of this book features brand new datasheets for the raft of reinforcements the Adeptus Mechanicus are getting in the form of brand new plastic kits. 

With the release of Engine War we have the following new datasheets in the book:

  • Serberys Sulphurhounds
  • Serberys Raiders
  • Pteraxii Sterylizors
  • Pteraxii Skystalkers
  • Tech-Priest Maniplus (Previously release in a Kill Team box)
  • Skorpius Dunerider (Already released, however the datasheets currently only come with the vehicle as they aren’t in the Codex)
  • Skorpius Disintegrator (Already released, however the datasheets currently only come with the vehicle as they aren’t in the Codex)
  • Archaeopter (Stratoraptor, Fusilave & Transvector)

The book features lore for each of the above vehicles, giving you background on how the Ad Mech use each of them in battles, and the history of the units. We also have 2 pages of army images showcasing the new units. 

Focusing on the datasheets for a moment, the main thing to take from the reinforcements is speed. Prior to the new units, the Adeptus Mechanicus lacked fast moving options. All of the new kits, aside from the Maniplus, have speed in abundance and with some the ability to deep strike and grab back field objectives. 

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on the datasheets, as I’ll probably go into a bit more detail on these in a future post on how good they are and what synergies they have with the Codex and new stratagems.

The point values for all of the above are also included, however it appears we do have an error in this book. The Heavy Phosphor Blasters are 0 points in this book, which if correct would mean the Kastellan Robots are much cheaper. Expect this to be FAQ’ed.

Moving on to brand new Warlord traits! To represent the different Holy Orders of the Adeptus Mechanicus we have 4 different warlords trait charts. Each of these 4 charts features 3 different rules which you can choose to use at the start of your turn, it’s almost 3 warlord traits in one!

My pick of the bunch was actually teased on Warhammer Community. Divinations of the Magos has 3 different auras you activate at the start of your turn. The strongest of which is all of your Forge World models within 6” of this warlord, an unmodified roll of a 6 to hit scores an additional hit. Your Mechanicus units suddenly became Imperial Fists! The other two aren’t as strong, including re-roll charges and another which allows you to roll 2D^ and pick the highest for when you are advancing. 

Picking out some of the other highlights of the warlord traits:

  • Fabrications of the ArtisanExquisite Calibrations: -1 extra AP on units within 6” of the warlord against units within half range.
  • Learnings of the Genetor Hyper-Cybernetic Physiology: 5+ Feel No Pain on Kataphron Breachers & Destroyers within 6” of the warlord. 
  • Analyses of the LogosPredicated Movements: 6” aura of 5+ Overwatch! Ad Mech getting some T’au rules!

The best bit, is Ad Mech players get a new strat to allow you to choose an additional character to have a warlord trait, so if you are running Cawl for example, you can still have him as your warlord with his extra range aura as well as one of the new traits above on a new character. 

Now we move onto the Stratagems! 

A common theme of the Stratagems that have appeared in the Psychic Awakening have been to provide additional strats for units that are under-used currently, and this continues in Engine War. 

I’ve picked out a couple aimed at those particular types of units:

  • Ruststalkers: These cyborg ninjas have recently been ignored by a number of players, including myself. Circuitous Assassins in this book allows you to teleport your unit of Ruststalkers within 9” of a board edge to anywhere else on the battlefield 9” within any board edge and 9” away from an enemy unit. This gives you another fast, redeployable unit!
  • Corpuscarii Electro-Priests: Whereas the Fulgurite Electro-Priests get a lot of use, the Corpuscarii don’t. Electrostatic Overcharge is a new strat that makes their gauntlets have -2 AP! This is really good, as they normally have no AP!

A couple of the new strats also focus on the brand new units, including the flyers and mounted units. Again, I’ve picked out a couple:

  • Seismic Bomb: At the end of the movement phase you can choose an enemy unit you’ve flown over with a Fusilave flyer, and as long as they don’t have the Fly or Titanic keywords you halve their movement, advance and charge characteristics!
  • Evacuation Sequence: If your Dunerider explodes, instead of rolling a D6 for every model in the unit to see if you lose any in the explosion you can instead use this strat, which costs 0CP (ZERO!) and it allows your transported units to get out safely. 

Again, I’ll probably look at doing a Adeptus Mechanicus tactics article in the near future which will include a number of the other strats from this book.

Forge World Dogmas allow you to build your own Forge World, instead of having to take one of the main Forge Worlds from the main Codex, such as Mars or Stygies. Again, we’ve seen this in previous recent Codexes and Psychic Awakening books. 

Again you have 4 different charts, each with a primary rule and a number of secondaries. You can choose a Primary and one of the subsequent secondaries. 

My favourite choice is the Data-Hoard options, with the primary giving all your vehicles a 6+ feel no pain on top of your normal save against damage. You can then choose 1 of 3 secondaries, one giving you any Breachers, Destroyers and Onagers an extra 1” movement. 

The last meaty part of the Adeptus Mechanicus content is the new canticles! For each of the main 7 Forge Worlds you can swap out one of the 6 canticles from the Codex with a new Forge World one. I think to be honest a lot of players will drop the Litany of the Electromancer canticle for a new Forge World one.

Some of these are awesome, a few of which I’ve picked out below:

  • Mars: No penalty for moving and firing heavy weapons AND +1 to the strength of the weapon. Brutal!
  • Graia: Overwatch on a 5+, T’au Adeptus Mechanicus return!
  • Stygies: Units can fall back from combat and still shoot, just with a -1 to hit penalty.

To wrap up the Ad Mech content we have a handy name generator. These again are appearing in the newest Codexes and supplements. Clearly the designers and writers had one eye on the upcoming Crusade content for 9th Edition!

Imperial Knights

Those who love big stompy robots of the Imperial variety we have new rules and stratagems to bring to the battlefield. 

What I really like about the new available stratagems is that most are for specific Knights. For example the Armiger Helverin has a 1CP strat the autocannons have 6 flat shots instead of 2D3, guaranteeing you the maximum shots. Knight Paladins get a 1CP strat that increases the damage by it’s battle cannon to flat 3. 

There are some pretty strong stratagems in this book, however that isn’t all the Imperial Knights get. 

Household traditions allow you to make your own Household, instead of one of the main Households from the Codex, such as Taranis. These can form Imperalis and Questor Mechanicus knights. 

You can choose two from the list of twenty, however some of them only let you choose one, as they are extra powerful. Such as Honoured Sacristans which allows your knight to treat -1 AP weapons as 0AP. 

Some of my picks of the rest include:

  • Noble Combatants: An unmodified hit of a 6 grants an additional hit, however this does not work with the Titanic feet. Awesome for the other close combat weapons though.
  • Front-line Fighters: Extra -1 AP on your ranged weapons when shooting an enemy unit within 12”

Some great competitive choices.

You know what is better than optional rules? Rules you get for just choosing an army! If you have an Imperial Knight army you get an extra special rule. 

  • Questor Mechanicus armies regain 1 lost wound at the start of your turn. 
  • Questor Imperalis armies add 1” extra to advance and charge rolls, although this can not be in addition to any other cumulative modifiers. 

To round out the rules content for the Knights is brand new Warlord traits, 3 for each allegiance. Some of these are very tasty, so I’ve picked out one for each allegiance:

  • Mechanicus: Cold Eradication – Roll 2 dice and disregard 1 of the dice when determining random number of attacks. 
  • Imperialis: Revered Knight – Your Warlord always hits first in combat. 

Oh, and of course, you get a name generator too!

Chaos Knights

Those who love big stompy robots of the Chaos variety, you get new stuff too!

In the main Codex you can choose between two Households, Ironoclast or Infernal. This book allows you to choose between further Households depending on your main Household choice. 

Each of these households gets a new Bond rule, Warlord trait, Artefact and stratagem. Some super cool choices! I’ve picked out a couple:

HouseholdBondWarlord TraitArtefact
House HerpetraxAdd 2 to the Wounds characteristics (aside from a War Dog, they just get the 1)If your Warlord doesn’t explode, on a 4+ your Warlord comes back with D3 wounds-1 to hit your artefact equipped model with a melee weapon
House VextrixRe-roll a single hit and wound roll when either shooting, fighting or firing Overwatch for that unitWarlord gains 1 wound back every turnExtra 1” movement, add 1 damage to a chainsword or Thunderstrike Gauntlet

Don’t like any of those? Then make your own! Like the Imperial Knights you can choose two from a list of rules to create your own Household. Again, some take up two slots as they are extra powerful. 

I’ve again picked out a couple:

  • Rapid Offense: Models with this trait don’t suffer the penalties to hits rolls when advancing and shooting Assault weapons.
  • Slayers of Kings: Add 1 to hit rolls for melee weapons (but not the titanic feet weapon) against Vehicles or Monsters.

Finally, Chaos Knight places also have a name generator chart! Yay!

Chaos Daemons

The final army to get a focus in this book is the Chaos Daemons of all flavours.

Slaanesh in particular get a fair bit of focus in Engine War, starting with revised points costs and updated datasheets for the following units:

  • Syll’Esske
  • Shalaxi Hellbane
  • Infernal Entrapturess
  • Contorted Epitome
  • Keeper of Secrets
  • Herald of Slaanesh on Exalted Seeker Chariot
  • Herald of Slaanesh on Seeker Chariot
  • Herald of Slaanesh on Hellflayer
  • Fiends
  • Seekers

Horrors, Bloodcrushers and Flesh Hounds also get new updated datasheets. 

Each of the Chaos Gods, Slaanesh, Nurgle, Tzeentch and Khorne get 4 brand new stratagems. Some are better than others, I don’t believe these are as strong as some of the other stratagems in the book, however there are a couple of notable mentions:

  • Slaanesh: A Daemotte unit in your army, for 1CP, have an additional -1 AP on their melee weapons.
  • Nurgle: For 1CP a Plaguebearer unit, on an unmodified hit of 6 scores an additional hit and also auto wounds!
  • Khorne: Flesh Hounds for 1CP can charge, even if they advance. You also get an extra 2 on the charge roll if a unit was destroyed in the same turn. 
  • Tzeentch: Flamers for 1CP deal an additional mortal wound on unmodified 6s to wound. 

Now for the best bit of the Chaos Daemons extra rules, Exalted Greater Daemons!

For 1CP you can choose one of your Greater Daemons and allow them to become an Exalted Daemon! You can either choose one of six abilities, or leave it to fate and roll two D6 and get both results. Any multiples though are wasted, so hope you roll two different numbers!

Your Exalted Daemon then gets the option to pick from a new Artefact list. I really like this mechanic, being able to boost your already nails Greater Daemon.

Examples of boosts include:

  • Bloodthirsters with a 2+ Save 
  • Lords of Change that, once they deny a psychic power, make the psyker forget the psychic power!
  • Great Unclean Ones that add 1 to their Disgustingly Resilient rolls
  • Keeper of Secrets with a 4+ Invulnerable Save.

To finish off the content of the book, rejoice! Chaos Daemon name generators!

Summary

The Adeptus Mechanicus come out of this book strong, mainly due to the new units and the Holy Order warlord traits. Seriously, some of those are super strong, in particular when castling up. They are in a great position heading into the new edition of the game. Again I hope to go into much more detail regarding Adeptus Mechanicus tactics in a future article. 

Imperial and Chaos Knights get some very cool new content. It is great that Imperial Knights get a new generic special rule, regardless of your Household. Chaos Knights get new Household options giving you more Households to choose from. For both types of Knights, should you not like the pre-made Households you can create your own, which include some strong options. 

Chaos Daemons don’t get a massive boost, however they do now have the ability to bolster one of their Greater Daemons. From the feedback I’ve had online Daemons are still underpowered in 40k, mainly due to 40k being more inclined towards shooting armies at the moment. Going into 9th Edition however we may see Chaos Daemons getting more competitive in 40k with the changes to terrain, falling back and missions. 

I did enjoy the lore in Engine War, which introduces some great characters, but the main reason you want to pick this book up is for the new goodies the four included armies get. 

Must Buy if…. You own, or have any interest in the Adeptus Mechanicus, Imperial Knights, Chaos Knights or Chaos Daemons

Maybe Buy if… You’d like to continue reading the lore as the Psychic Awakening progresses.

Don’t Buy if… You have zero interest in the lore or featured armies.

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