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Warhammer 40k 9th Edition | Adeptus Mechanicus

So here we are. 9th Edition is upon us. The core rules can be downloaded right now and gamers up and down the country will be getting their paws on the latest rulebook on the 25th July.

With all the changes, the new army FAQ and new points costs I wanted to have a look at my favourite Warhammer 40k army, the Adeptus Mechanicus (also known as the Ad Mech), and see how they may change going forward. Will they be buffed? Or have they been nerfed?

A point of note, I’m going to be concentrating on the Mars Forge World. This is due to Mars being my favourite of the Forge Worlds, and all my models are painted in the Mars scheme. Much of what I will discuss however is applicable across the different Forge Worlds.

The below are my thoughts on how the Adeptus Mechanicus will do going into 9th. I’m by no means a top tournament player, but I hope the below gives you all some insight!

Ad Mech in 8th

The Adeptus Mechanicus Codex was released back in 2017, so it was a fairly early codex in 8th Edition. As the edition wore on it was clear that codexes were increasing in content and power which was leaving the Ad Mech a little behind. 

This all changed when they became the focus of Psychic Awakening: Engine War. The release of the book saw a lot of new and powerful content for the Ad Mech, including superb Warlord traits and new stratagems. You can read my review of the book here

Engine War also introduced a raft of new units, all of which offered Mechanicus players new, fast moving units. Mobile cavalry in the shape of the Serberys Raiders/Sulphurhounds, jump pack troops with the introduction of the Pteraxii and finally the first flyer for the Ad Mech, the Archaeopter. Add to this the previously released new dual tank/transport kit, the Dunerider/Distintegrator, and suddenly an army that used to be played so often in a ‘castle up’ style could now have lists which focused more on mobile firepower. 

Moving Into 9th

The last point in the previous paragraph is important when we look at the new edition of the game. From the get-go, Games Workshop, or more accurately the Warhammer Community team, stressed that the new edition would offer more flexible army building, and the new rules would allow for armies to be much more mobile, pushing away from having a static army castled up and shooting everything in sight with all the re-rolls in the world. 

The introduction of the new Ad Mech units filled a gap in the army composition, and with the focus on getting armies moving across the battlefield, without the new additions, this could have caused a problem for Mechanicus players in certain scenarios.

A big change is the terrain, in both rules and the number of terrain you should be having on the battlefield. This, added to the smaller board sizes, means busier boards with less line of sight.

A lot of scenery in your games will now be tagged with the Obscured keyword. This means, unless you are right up against the terrain piece or within it, you cannot shoot through it. No more sniping a Neutron Laser through a building because you can see the unit on the other side of the battlefield through a window on a piece of terrain in the middle of the board. This means your army will naturally have to move more in order to obtain line of sight on the unit you want to shoot at. 

For the Mechanicus tanks, this wouldn’t have posed much of a problem, as most can move and fire heavy weapons without penalty anyway. In 9th the changes to Heavy weapons takes away the need of that rule on the datasheets for tanks such as the Dunecrawler, as every Vehicle and Monster keyword model can move and fire without penalty. 

This provides a massive boon to one of, in my opinion, strongest units in our book, the Kastelan Robots, more precisely, the ones armed with triple Heavy Phosphor Blasters

The 80s space robots have the Vehicle keyword, so they can now move as much as they like and still fire at base Ballistic Skill. They have a 4+ BS right now, so if they did have to move you really needed to have CP to buff the BS back up, with stratagems such as Rage of the Machines or Elimination Volley. Now you can still use those strats, but instead of putting the BS back to 4+ you’ll be going up to 3+. Awesome stuff!

It is important to note at this point however, that in 9th you cannot modify a hit or wound roll by more than +1, so you won’t be getting your Robots hitting on 2s by combining one of the above strats with, say, a Daedolous’s +1 to Hit ability. 

The cap on modifying is interesting when you look at the stratagems Protector Doctrina Imperative and Conqueror Doctrina Imperative. These stratagems provide + 1 to hit in either shooting or combat (Protector for shooting, Conqueror for combat) or +2 to hit if the selected unit has a Data Tether upgrade. It’s easy to think that the second part of this stratagem is now redundant, however it isn’t.

Let us take for example, you are firing a Data Tether upgraded unit of Vanguard against a unit of Imperial Fist Intercessors who are on the other side of some woods. In 9th Edition, the woods are Dense Cover which means you can shoot through them, however you are at a -1 penalty to shoot. Pop the Protector Doctrina Imperative strat however, and this will counteract the -1 to hit, bringing you back to your base BS, and then adding a further +1 making you +1 to hit. As your BS isn’t more than an additional +1 to hit your good!

This may not come up as much, however it is still a handy ability to have stored away for when you need them.

Moving back to Vehicles, we have to note the inclusion of the Big Guns Never Tire rule. This allows our vehicles to fire in combat, helping us to fight back against those units that would look to tie down our tanks in combat. This does not, however, allow any weapon that has the new Blast keyword to fire. An example of a weapon that now has the Blast keyword is the Neutron Laser. 

What you can do however, is when choosing your targets to shoot, select a different target outside of the combat you are in, to shoot at with your Blast weapon. The caveat however, is that your other weapons, say your Heavy Stubbers, need to kill the models in combat with you, to then allow you to shoot your Blast weapon at the selected target. If you don’t clear the chaff, then you can’t fire your Blast weapon. 

Again, a unit that comes out of this very strong is the Kastelans. You can fire their Phosphors or Incendine Combustors in combat, which is utterly brutal. Let us not also forget the Ironstrider Ballistarii armed with Autocannons!

I have yet to use my freshly painted Fusilave (the bomber variant of the Archaeopter), so I won’t have needed to abide by the limiting flyer rules in 8th, ensuring that it stayed on the board at all times. The Archaeopter in all of its flavours allows you to pivot twice when moving, which does reduce the worry about running out of space on the board, but it still makes life a little awkward. No such concerns in 9th (which is lucky, as the recommended board size is smaller than what we are used to!), as flyers can leave the board and go into Strategic Reserves, allowing you to bring them back on in later turns. This grants your flyers protection, and also gives them a much more cinematic and narrative ability to perform sweeping maneuvers over your enemy. 

Building your troops requires a little more thought in 9th, for two major reasons. 

Morale is set to play a key part in your games. Whilst the Morale test is pretty much the same in regards to adding the number of models that died in the previous turn with a roll of a D6 then comparing it to the units leadership, you now only lose the one model, regardless of how big the difference in value is between the combined dice roll and casualties to the units leadership. Instead, after losing that one model to morale you then have to take a Combat Attrition test. You roll a D6 for every model left in the unit, and on a roll of a 1, a model flees. If your unit is below half the starting strength (so under 3 models in a 5 man squad, or under 5 models in a 10 man squad) a roll of a 1 or 2 results in another model fleeing. This may tempt you to build bigger squads.

Another boon to having a larger troops unit is to protect your Character models. In 8th a Character could only be targeted if it is the closest model. The same is true now, however, that Character must also be within 3” of a unit with either 3 or more models or a model that has the Vehicle or Monster keyword. A 5 man unit won’t be 5 man for long if your valuable Tech-Priest Dominus is nearby. 

With big squads, comes the issue of the previously mentioned Blast weapons. A model that fires a random number of shots Blast Weapon at a unit with 6 or more models always has 3 shots, whilst any with 11+ models allows the firing until to fire the full capacity of shots. That D6 tank that wants to shoot your max unit strength could find it a lot easier to thin your numbers. Keeping your squads at minimum sizes avoids this. 

It is time to start looking at the Mars Forge World in particular. In Engine War we gained a new Canticle, Panegyric Procession, which replaced one of the standard Canticles of your choice. This Canticle allowed you to move and fire Heavy Weapons, which at first glance you may think is pointless, as tanks can do that now anyway. However, this Canticle allows any unit that benefits from the Canticle to move and fire heavy weapons, so that includes all of your troops and characters, including the weapons equipped on your Dominus. GW clearly thought Ad Mech players may feel short changed with the arrival of 9th, so Panegyric Procession also gives your Heavy weapons an extra point of strength, so don’t forget this! It’ll mean your Heavy Stubbers dotted around your army will be wounding Space Marines on a 3+ rather than a 4+ for a start!

Army Building

Building multiple attachments to gain more CP with the Adeptus Mechanicus was not much of an issue in 8th thanks to the cheap troops units at our disposal in the form of Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard

CP farming by building your army with multiple detachments is a thing of the past now with the changes to army building in 9th. Now it favours gamers to build an army around, preferably 1 detachment if possible, as using multiple detachments will cost valuable CP. 

This is a massive gain for the Ad Mech, as with the variety of units means you can easily build a Brigade, or if you wanted a more elite army you could go for a Spearhead or Vanguard detachment and forget completely about taking troops.

I still think however, that having a number of troops is going to be important for grabbing objectives, so I would always try to include one or two in your army. 

Objectives & Secondary Objectives

Again, following on from my previous paragraph, our cheap troops choices give us plenty of scope for general board control. Even the Kataphrons, whilst being more expensive in points, provide a little bit more punch and resilience, making great objective grabbers and holders. 

Victory points and securing objectives I feel will be much more important than grabbing as many kills as possible. Whilst it will of course still be possible to table an opponent, this could now more than ever not guarantee victory. 

With the above in mind, and with the types of units we have at our disposal, including all the newer, faster units, I feel the Battlefield Supremacy progressive objectives would be a safe bet. These include Linebreaker, no longer a standard way to secure points in missions and Engage on All Fronts, which requires you to have a unit wholly within table quarters but 6” away from the centre of the battlefield. 

Points, Points, Points

Warhammer Community already gave us the heads up that in many cases points in matched play would be increasing. This is to reduce the size of most armies, as they felt in some cases armies were too large. 

The Ad Mech have not avoided this, and lists will need to be changed.

I’ve mentioned the Kastalans quite a lot in this article. Let’s take a look at the changes in points for this unit, taking a look in particular at the triple Heavy Phosphor loadout:

Codex Cost

Kastelan Robot 65pts
Heavy Phosphor Blaster 15pts Each
Total Cost: 110pts

9th Edition Cost

Kastelan Robot 80pts
Phosphor Blaster 15pts
Total Cost 125pts

The increase in points is reflective of the added bonuses that 9th Edition brings. Being able to move and fire without penalty and shooting whilst in combat. They were already a pricey option in an Adeptus Mechanicus force, and they are even more so now, but I still feel this unit can make up its points costs during your games. 

In fact, every tank has increased in cost, including the Dunecrawler, Dunerider and Disintergrator. In fact, the Disintergrator has jumped up a fair amount.

Base cost following Engine War the Disintergrator had a value of 85pts. In 9th it is jumping up to 115pts. And that is before you start slapping the main turret weapon on it. The popular Belleros Energy Cannon is still the same cost, whilst the Cognis Heavy Stubbers have gone up 3pts, and this tank rocks 3 of them. I believe most, if not all weapons that don’t require line of sight have increased in price, including the Plagueburst Crawler for the Death Guard. This is clearly because of the new terrain rules making it harder to have a clear shot at your enemy units. 

Cawl has only gone up by 10pts which is surprising, I was expecting him to jump up further. I was concerned that we’d see the Blackstone Fortress characters moved over to Legends, however they still have points in 9th, albeit with a 5pt increase, which means we can still have the Daedalous in our Ad Mech armies! This guy is still great, giving a +1 to hit a unit that he points at within 24”. I do fear this guy will eventually disappear, so let’s make the most of him for now! 

The best way of looking at the points changes is comparing a 1k list I wrote for 8th Edition with the updated points changes:

Tech-Priest Dominus

Kataphron Destroyers (With Plasma & Cognis Flamer)
Skitarii Rangers (5 man with 1 x Arc Rifle)
Skitarii Vanguard (5 man with 1 Plasma)

Sicarian Infiltrators (With Tasers and Flechette)
Serberys Raiders (3 man unit with Data Tether)
Sydonian Dragoon

Kastelan Robots (2 Robots, with triple Heavy Phosphor Blasters)
Onager Dunecrawler (With Neutron Laser and extra Stubber)

8th Edition Costs 993pts
9th Edition Costs 1175pts

I’m finding it hard to argue with the changes to points, with perhaps the exception of the Disintegrator, as most other 40k armies have also seen a jump up in points.

You’ll need to pick up Chapter Approved on 9th Edition launch day to get the full list of points. The book is up for preorder right now


The Adeptus Mechanicus are in great shape as we start rolling dice in this new edition of Warhammer 40,000.

With Engine War, we took a step up in competitive play. I keep saying that objectives and maneuverability will be key in the new edition, and we have lots of tools in our locker to achieve this, including all the recent reinforcements.

I’m a big fan of bunching my units around Cawl and making the most of all the re-rolls, but I won’t be alone in needing to change up the way I play, as it’s going to be easier for your opponent to duck and cover from your static gunline. It is time to get moving around the battlefield!


  1. I am really struggling with putting a 9th edition competitive list together. Do you have any must have units or a list recommendation? Great article!


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