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Warhammer 40,000 Psychic Awakening: Pariah Book Review

Welcome to the Pariah Nexus

With all the recent Indomitus news and the incoming new edition of the Warhammer 40k, it would be easy to overlook the final instalment of the Psychic Awakening series. 

Pariah marks the ninth and final Psychic Awakening supplement for Warhammer 40,000. The series has been building up to the 9th Edition of the game, bringing forward the lore whilst also adding new rules to each of the 40k armies, including new stratagems, relics, warlord traits and even datasheets in some cases.

It’s time to delve into the book and see what the final 8th edition supplement brings to the table.

The Lore

I’ve been a little critical of the lore in previous Psychic Awakening books, mainly as they didn’t feel like they didn’t tie into the bigger picture. 

After the first page of lore in Pariah however, I was hooked, and couldn’t stop reading. The book marks the end of 8th and the start of 9th, tying closely into the Indomitus Crusade launched by Roboute Gulliman.

Focusing on a fleet of Imperial vessels, with the Adeptus Astartes, Adepta Sororitas, Astra Militarum and Imperial Knights in tow, as they head into the Nephilim sub sector, which later becomes known as the ‘Pariah Nexus’.

The Necrons have used Blackstone (Noctilith) to create pylons that have affected the will and minds of all those within the Nexus. The grand plan is to increase the aura of this, destroying the will and emotion of the galaxy, thus ending Chaos, but leaving everyone else dull, uninspired and not giving two hoots about anything. 

The lore describes in detail the unease within the ranks of the Imperium forces as they enter the Nexus and the battles that follow with the Necrons. It also includes new lore for some key players, including Illuminor Szeras, Lord Inquisitor Kyria Draxus and Ephrael Stern

A fantastic end of 8th and a brilliant introduction to 9th as the Necrons turn it up to 11 with the return of the Silent King!

So Many Teases!

Moving on from the core lore of the book we have two pages of audible quotes from different characters from various factions. These are to reflect the sounds and fears spreading through the warp.

Some of these full on tease potential future content for Warhammer 40k. I’ve included a couple below:

Yes! The Squats are being mentioned! Further confirmation they are kicking it about the galaxy. Could Matt one day get the Squat army of his dreams?!

A reminder that the Tyranids still have their eye on the Sol Sector. Could we one day see a Hive Fleet arrive at Terra?


We’ve heard rumours in the past of a new range of Catachan models following the recent special characters that we’ve had popping up. Those same rumours also pointed towards a Catachan Vs Orks battle box at some part in the future. 

Crucible of War Missions

We have three Crucible of War missions in Pariah, each with their own special rules, deployment map and Stratagems. 

I in particular like the ‘Layer By Layer’ mission. The reason for this is the ‘action’ elements, where the attacker is destroying the Defender’s Uplinks whilst the Defender is protecting them! This really gives a cool narrative to the battle, and includes some really cool narrative stratagems. This would work great with Crusade in 9th Edition!

Index: Inquisition

This may very well be the closest I get to a Codex for the Inquisition.

Now back in November 2019s White Dwarf we had some updated Inquisition rules. Whilst I imagined we would see a number of these reprinted in this book, it actually transpires that it’s all in here. 

We do have a change within the first two pages however. In the issue of White Dwarf it introduced how you can fit an Inquisitor or his retinue into your Imperium armies. You can include an Inquisitor model in an Imperium army without taking up a detachment slot. In Pariah however this has slightly changed. Instead of using the Inquisitor keyword, this has been changed to Agents of the Imperium.

Whilst you can continue to add an Inquisitor to your army in the same manner the change of the keyword means you have to choose between an Imperial Assassin (as these now also have the Agents of the Imperium keyword) or an Inquisitor to add to your army without losing a detachment slot. Of course, you can always take a separate detachment for Agents of the Imperium or the Inquisition. 

We have the datasheets for all the named Inquisitors, including for the first time the datasheet for Lord Inquisitor Kyria Draxus.

She is armed with a relic Shruiken Catapult, Dirgesinger, with the same statline as a catapult, only this is flat damage 2. She also includes a powerfist, which has the normal downside of being -1 to hit, but is strength x2, -3 AP and D3 damage. 

She also has an awesome grenade. The Paralysis Grenade can be used at the start of the Fight phase after charging a unit. You can then pick one enemy unit within an 1” and that unit then has to fight at the end of the phase. You want to ensure you are charging in with Kyria to help assist any of your units already locked in combat. 

And let’s not leave out Shang, her faithful Wyvach pet, who allows you to pick one enemy unit within 18” with Smite instead of the closest enemy unit. 

The other datasheets, including all the named characters and the make-your-own Inquisitors, are exactly the same as the ones printed in White Dwarf, aside from the inclusion of the Agents of Imperium keyword (however Acolytes, Jokaero and Daemonhost units don’t get this keyword).

The Warlord traits are identical, giving you 6 ‘standard’ ones to choose from, or instead you can choose the warlord trait that is specific for the Ordo of your Inquisitor. I have a couple of favourites in here, including the Ordo Xenos trait, Esoteric Lore which basically gives you a 5+ gain a command point when your opponent uses a stratagem. 

The Telethesia Discipline again, is identical as the one in the White Dwarf magazine. Again we have 6 psychic powers as well as one specific for each of the Ordos. The Mental Interrogation power has a warp charge value of 6, and if cast, you can pick a Character within 12” and roll 3D6. If the number of the dice combined equals or beats the Leadership characteristic of the selected character you gain a command point. In either case, that character is now -1 until your next Psychic phase.

Moving onto relics, and again, no changes unfortunately. 6 relics are present, one for each Ordo and three that can be taken by any Inquisitor. Blade of the Ordo replaces a power sword and gives you a +1 strength, -3 AP and D3 damage sword, which also includes a special rule that ups the damage of the weapon to 3 if the enemy is your Quarry.

Stratagems are next, and we have some changes. The 4 that were in the White Dwarf have all been renamed, however they have identical rules. We do however have 2 brand new stratagems.

  • Clandestine Operation (1CP): Deep strike, Inquisition style! You choose an Inquisitor, up to one Acolyte, up to one Daemonhost and up to one Jokaero Weaponsmith. Simply deploy these units anywhere on the battlefield 9” away from the enemy deployment zone.
  • Alpha-Class Psyker (1CP): Choose a psyker Inquisitor (but not a named one). That Inquisitor now knows an extra psychic power and can deny an extra psychic power. 

Following on from recent Psychic Awakening books we also now have a name generator for naming your Inquisitors and his or hers retinue. 

That wraps up Index: Inquisition, and if I’m honest, I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping that the content of White Dwarf would make it into Pariah, but I was expecting more new content. We have now got another plastic Inquisitor and her datasheet, as well as two new, and good, stratagems, but nothing else. 

Added to this, whereas previous books had rules and new content for a couple of armies, Pariah only has faction rules for the Inquisition. It does however, have some further new datasheets, which we will move onto next.

New Datasheets

To coincide with the new miniatures released alongside Pariah, we have brand new datasheets within this book.

Ephrael Stern, the Daemonifuge herself, has her own set of rules, and she is really cool! Armed with Sanctity, a +1 strength, -3 AP and flat 2 damage sword, she also has a unique ability which can be used at the start of the shooting phase. You roll 2D6, adding 2 to the result if there are Chaos models within 18”. If you get a 5+ then you inflict D3 mortal wounds onto the nearest enemy unit. Rolled a 9+? That’s D6 mortal wounds on the nearest unit.

Totally not Smite, but is Smite.

She is also -1 to hit because she’s divinely awesome and has a 4+ invulnerable save. 

She doesn’t come alone however, as the datasheet includes her companion, Kyganil of the Bloody Tears. This outcast Harlequin always fights first in combat, and gives Stern a 5+ feel no pain save. 

The two models can deploy on the battlefield via the webway, and can be placed 9” away from enemy models but have to be within 3” of each other. What’s even more awesome is that they can be taken in any Imperium Detachment without taking up a slot. 

Totally going to be adding these two to my Adeptus Mechanicus at some point!

The final new datasheet re-introduces a Necron special character, Illuminor Szeras

He has gone from this…

TO THIS!

Clearly, he’s been working out.

He is a powerhouse, both at smashing things in the face, shooting things in the face and supporting nearby units. 

His lance can be used to shoot an enemy unit within 18” at strength 8, -4 AP and D6 damage! Ouch! Alternatively, in combat the lance is strength +1 (making it strength 7), -3 AP and flat 2 damage. 

For supporting he can augment a nearby unit of Warriors or Immortals within 6” at the end of your movement phase. Roll a D3 and apply the result, which includes adding 1 to the units strength or improving the Ballistic Skill by 1, both until the end of the battle. This always you augment a different unit each turn.

Everytime a Psyker within 9” goes to cast a power, should they roll any doubles, they suffer Perils of the Warp. Oh and he adds 1 to Reanimation Protocols…and heals a wound a turn. Brutal.

Theatres of War

The final content of the book features a number of different Theatres of War, 9 in total. 

These allow you to battle in various environments, including a Forge World, the Webway and on a Devoured World!

Each of the theatres has rules for the overall battle, a couple of unique stratagems and a table of Battlefield Twists. You roll a D6 at the start of the battle and apply the result, which can vary with effects. 

If we take a look at the Devoured World for example, it has a rule that means if you are taking a psychic test you must roll an additional D6 and discard the lowest result. The twists vary from halving the maximum range of your shooting attacks to reducing your morale as the battle progresses.

Again, I quite like these, as I think they’ll work brilliantly with Crusade in 9th. Outside of narrative however, I can’t seem them sadly being used very often. 

Summary

And so that brings the final chapter in the Psychic Awakening series to an end, and in turn also brings 8th Edition to a close. 

Compared to the other Psychic Awakening books that I’ve got, I’m disappointed in the rules content. I’d have liked to have seen more changes to the Inquisition, as this is basically a reprint of the White Dwarf rules. I do prefer to have my rules within a hardback book, however, so that’s a bonus.

We also don’t have any other factions with new rules. Necrons haven’t had any rules updates within Psychic Awakening, however we believe this is due to them getting a new Codex within a few weeks of the release of 9th Edition and Indomitus. Maybe it would have been nice to have some new Adepta Sororita content, although they have only recently had their long awaited Codex released. 

What we do have in this book however is some excellently written lore that builds up the next edition of the game perfectly. It brings the Necrons to the forefront, and really pushes on the now ever evolving Warhammer 40k storyline.

8th Edition resparked my love of Warhammer 40,000, and it’s great to see the lore being developed through 8th and into 9th as it was starting to stagnate a little. The Psychic Awakening series was the perfect refresh for all of the current factions before they all get new books in 9th Edition. 

Whilst Pariah is sadly the weakest in rules content, it was by far the most enjoyable of the series to read. 

I totally want to make my own Codex Inquisition cover for this book, though.

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