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Warhammer 40,000 War Zone Charadon | Act 1 The Book of Rust Written and Video Review

With Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition in full flow, it’s time to delve into the first campaign book of the edition, War Zone Charadon: Act 1 The Book of Rust.

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Prefer to watch the review rather than read it? Check out our video below:

Introduction and First Thoughts

Weighing in at 96 pages, The Book of Rust promises new exciting campaign content set within the Charadon system, with additional Crusade rules and content for the Adeptus Mechanicus, Death Guard, Imperial Knights and Drukhari.

Whilst I always mention it, I will mention it again, the production quality of these books is fantastic. The artwork throughout mixes old and new and there doesn’t appear to be any wasted space. We’ve got glorious maps, detailed descriptions and well placed box-outs. 

The Lore

The first section of the book is a really important one in my opinion, for a number of reasons. 

First of all, this is being sold as a campaign book, so I wanted to see solid new lore that was going to push on the narrative of 40k as a whole. Up until the final moments of 7th edition the lore didn’t appear to be going anywhere, but that has certainly changed more recently. 

Whilst I did not read the entirety of the Psychic Awakening series of books, those that I did let me down on this front. The series was meant to be really driving the narrative going into the new edition of the game, but instead ended up focusing on smaller battlefields, warzones and systems dotted about the galaxy which, whilst good at being short stories, did very little for the overarching story. That was until the final book, Pariah, which directly led onto the Pariah Nexus and the return of the Silent King.

Secondly, we’ve recently had the first of the Broken Realms series of books for Warhammer Age of Sigmar, and in my opinion this has set the bar when it comes to campaigns and stories. It provided genuine ‘wow’ moments and described key points which will affect the upcoming storylines of the system. Now of course Age of Sigmar is still relatively new, and has more freedom in where the story can go than 40k, which has been written about for decades and has years and years of documented lore, battles and characters that cannot simply be disregarded. 

For this reason I’m going to hit you with a spoiler warning at this point, as I’m going to touch upon the lore presented in this book.

I’ll give you a couple of lines to decide if you are going to skip ahead to the next heading.

Final chance!

OK. Here we go.

The great news is, from the off, I found the lore and writing in this book to be fantastic and a step up from the Psychic Awakening series. 

The book introduces the location of where the campaign is set beautifully. It goes to great lengths to discuss the war zone, as well as the Forge World of Metalica, of which plays a pivotal role in the campaign. I in particular enjoy reading about all that goes on before the forces of the Death Guard arrive, as the system encounters plague, causing the dead to rise and other such grim, plague-like symptoms to spread across Charadon. 

Instead of minor characters, we are hit with some heavy hitters, the biggests names being Abaddon, who is overall clearly pulling the strings of Chaos at the moment (or so he at least thinks) and Typhus, the Death Guard character with history tracing back to the Horus Heresy, who in himself has issues with his Primarch Mortarion. The book primarily focuses on what Typhus is up to. 

The book also introduces 3 other characters which stand out within the lore of this book. Lord Zeid, a Lord-Discordant sent by Abaddon to oversee Typhus campaign in Charadon, Fabricator General of Forge World Metalica, Heptus Khleng and finally Tsorr’Kanath of the Word Bearers.

As the pages of lore progress the action heats up in the system, leading to Metalica being besieged. And whilst this mixed band of Chaos, led by Lord Zeid/Typhus, with the Death Guard, Word Bearers, Alpha Legion and Legio Morbidus battle it out against the Adeptus Mechanicus of Forge World Metalica, Adeptus Astartes, Adepta Sororitas and the Astra Militarum appear to have a bit of an upper hand, there is clearly deceit and miss-trust going on within the ranks of Chaos.

Typhus, Lord Zeid and Tsorr’Kanath all clearly have their own personal goals within the story, and all three involve Daemons within the warp. Typhus himself pulls through the forces of all 4 Chaos Gods at one point in the story.

Now, we of course know that Be’lakor is coming back to 40k thanks to his recent model announcement, so I was expecting the Chaos Daemons to play a part in this story, and play a part they do. Without Games Workshops release schedule being heavily affected by COVID this book would have arrived sooner and we probably wouldn’t have known about Be’lakor’s impending arrival. As it is I was almost looking for the story to tie into what would be happening very soon. The story does just that, without giving away how Be’lakor is going to make his grand appearance, which I predict will be in Act 2 or Act 3 of the series.

It isn’t all about Chaos though. I really enjoyed reading about Heptus Khleng, the Fabricator General of Forge World Metalica. Outside of the Horus Heresy we hear very little of the Fabricator General title, and with only Belisarius Cawl being a major named character within any of the recent storylines for the Mechanicus. 

Whilst the story does not end with the Forge World being taken, it does leave you with a sense that the Imperium are really up against it, with no aid to call upon. 

All in all I enjoyed reading about the escalating conflict, and what broader meaning it will have on the progressing 40k story arch. 

Campaign Rules

Storytime is over. It’s time for some rules. If you’ve been ignoring spoilers, then welcome back!

The primary purpose of this book is to play out the campaign set in the War Zone of Charadon in whatever game mode you prefer, whether it be Matched Play (so including Primary and Secondary Objectives), Crusade (with Agendas and Requisition points) or full on Narrative

First and foremost the book explains how the creation and management of the campaign works, and introduces the inclusion of a Campaign Master. Straight off the bat I thought this was a great inclusion within the book. Campaigns have come and gone, however none (to my recollection) have done so well at explaining how the campaign should be set up, the length of time to aim to run the campaign for, how points scoring works, up-scaling the campaign so that regardless of if you playing a a group of two/three of an entire 40k gaming group, etc. 

It also goes on to explain how including Crusade components works with this campaign, which I believe is one of the strongest new features of the addition. More on Crusade later. 

The campaign should ideally be split into three phases, with the setup of missions being decided by the Campaign Master. Within this book you have three Legendary Missions, each designed to represent an important conflict within each phase of the story. It’s up to the Campaign Master if these should be included, however they feel to me like the best way of concluding each of the phases. 

The three Legendary missions included unique deployment maps, Primary Objectives and rules to make them fun and narrative. The first of which, Rout on Okharium, pits an Attacker Vs Defender with special mission rules including Automated Fire Zones and an Action in order to Escape the board.

To further develop the narrative for each of the three phases we have three pages of rules designed to mix things up:

Phase One includes rules for Battlefield Twists and Mysterious Objective Markers

Phase Two includes Battle Assests, giving both the attacker and defender unique perks such as re-rolling charges and adding bonuses to shooting. 

Phase Three features Battlefield Twists to represent how, after so much conflict, the planet you are fighting on is struggling to stay in one piece. 

The next section goes into further detail how Requisition point scoring can be tailored for those playing the campaign with Crusade rules. Further war zone points, regardless of how you are playing through the campaign, can also be earned using Secret Objectives which are detailed at this point. 

With that the Campaign section comes to a close, although there is additional Crusade content to come. Before that however, we have perhaps the most talked about inclusion within the book, new Army Rules.

Army Rules

Featured within the next few pages are some brand new army rules. Two of which are classed as Codex Supplements, whilst the other three are Armies of Renown. 

Army of Renown

The best way of introducing what an Army of Renown is to cast your mind back to the Vigilius books, in particular the Specialist Detachments. If you took certain units you got new army rules. This was great, but soon became unbalanced. 

Another comparison for Armies of Renown is the Legendary Legions way of building armies within the Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game. If you are a fan of that game system you’ll instantly understand what I mean.

An Army of Renown is a unique way of fielding a faction you own. It unlocks a raft of benefits, as well as a new Warlord trait, new Relics and more. But, it comes at a cost.

The three Army of Renowns we can build using this book are the Mechanicus Defence Cohort, Freeblade Lance and the Terminus Est Assault Force.

Mechanicus Defence Cohort

The first one we are going to tackle is the one for the Adeptus Mechnanicus. 

This particular way of building your army harks back to the Cult Mechanicus, so at this point let’s look at the restrictions. 

If you wish to build a Mechanicus Defence Cohort you cannot include any Skitarii units. Zero, None, Nada. Skitarii keyworded units include the foot troops such as Rangers and Vanguard, but also the tanks (Dunecrawlers) amongst other units (Dragoons, Serbrys Raiders, etc). This leaves you with only a few datascroll options. The only other restrictions are that the army must be drawn from the same <Forge World> and must be Adeptus Mechanicus

Now for the benefits, of which technically there is only one, but this in turn features multiple boons. All of your Kataphrons, Servitors and Kastelan Robots gain a new keyword, Extremis Sentinel Protocols. This new keyword blocks out any of your Forge World dogmas (goodbye Shroud-Pslam for those units, as an example) but hello to the following (of which I will summarise)

  • Subtract 1 from a multiple Damage weapon if it was fired by a ranged unit targeting one of your units within your deployment zone
  • When an enemy charges you, regardless of if your in cover or not, you can Hold Steady or Set to Defend. The former giving you a 5+ Overwatch, the latter foregoing Overwatch but allowing you to have +1 to Hit in combat until the end of the phase.

You also unlock a new Warlord trait, which gives the bearer a new aura allowing units within 6” to have Objective Secured with an additional bonus of counting as one extra model when determining control of the objective marker. Perfect for Kastelans. 

You also unlock a relic volkite blaster and 4 unique Stratagems, my favourite being:

  • Citation of Ruin (2CP) – Selected unit gains Big Guns Never Tire, without the -1 to hit penalty normally associated with the rule. The CP cost does go up depending on the number of models in the unit. 

It could be a fun way of running a Mechanicus army, albeit expensive in points and on your wallet/purse. You’ll also miss out on board control, which is an important factor in 9th Edition. 

Freeblade Lance

Fancy running an army purely made up of Freeblade Imperial Knights? Well this is the one for you. 

Clearly the main restriction is you can only select Freeblade Knights here, and each must have unique Qualities/Burdens (unless you leave it to the dice gods and roll for each one).

On the flipside however, all of your models do get a Quality and Burden, and Characters within your army also gain Legendary Knight status, giving them +1 Leadership and allow two Qualities and only one Burden when selecting from the appropriate tables.

Your unique Warlord Trait allows for you to pick a Household Tradition for your Warlord whilst the relic is a beefed up Reaper Chainsword. 

You also get access to 4 unique stratagems, my favourite being:

  • Favoured Knight (2CP) – One Character Knight from your army can have two Relics rather than one!

Terminus Est Assault Force

Now for the fluffiest (and smelliest) Army of Renown.

This one focuses on Typhus’ own assault force from his ship the Terminus Est. 

Some seriously good benefits here, including access to a brand new Psychic Discipline called ‘Fester’, more on this shortly, and the ability to deep-strike a number of Bubonic Astartes units using Strategic Reserves, albeit ignoring the board edge rule and just sticking with having to be 9” from an enemy model. You also get a brilliant selection of new Relics and a new Warlord trait. 

With great benefits comes some serious restrictions though. 

First of all, no Vehicles. At all. 

No Primarch (Sorry Mortarion)

Your Plague Company must be the Harbingers

If Typhus is in your list he must be your Warlord (as is fitting)

With the bad news out of the way, let us carry on with the tasty stuff.

You have 4 unique stratagems. The pick of the bunch was recently previewed on Warhammer Community and allows your Blightlord Terminators to shoot into combats, even if you have Poxwalkers or Chaos Cultists in the fray!

Another favourite has to be:

  • Pestilential Drop (2CP) – When you deepstrike a unit you can pop this strat, select one Contagion of Nurgle ability that the unit has until the end of the turn, range counts as 12”. This is however, not cumulative with any other rule which boasts the range of the Contagion. 

The aforementioned Fester discipline is exclusive to this army build, of which even Typhus can choose to pick from should you wish. Couple of great powers in here including the following:

  • Pernicious Dose (Charge 7) – a unit within 6” armed with Plague Weapons can reroll the hit roll
  • Accelerated Entropy (Charge 7) – One enemy model within 12” selected, roll off and add the units toughness together. If your result is higher than your opponents the enemy unit suffers 3 mortal wounds. If the result is double, score D3 + 3 mortal wounds instead. (Don’t forget about your -1 Toughness Contagion aura!)

We’ve got 7 new Relics to choose from, including:

  • Canker – A plasma pistol with an 18” range, strength 9, -4 AP and flat damage 3. Oh, and its a plague weapon too!
  • Filth Censors – A Psyker relic which adds 6” to the range of psychic powers cast by that psyker

Oh and don’t forget the one previewed on Warhammer Community too!

The more I read about this way of building a Death Guard army, the more I want to try it out!

Codex Supplements

Now onto the Codex Supplements. These are here to boast the options available for three particular sub-factions, House Raven for the Imperial Knights, Forge World Metalica for the Adeptus Mechanicus and Cult of Strife for the Drukhari. 

House Raven

Currently Imperial Knight players will be using the 8th Edition Codex. This supplement adds to the options seen for House Raven in the Codex. I would imagine that the options for House Raven will change in the 9th Edition Codex when it lands to reflect the number of options available considering the amount here.

This supplement gives you a choice of a further 3 Warlord Traits, including one called Inviolate which gives you a 4+ wound shrug. 

You can also choose from 4 new Relics, including:

  • Fury of the Keep – Replaces a Thermal Cannon. Assualt D6 shots, 36” Range, S9 -5 AP damage D6+2, with Blast. 

8 new stratagems exclusive to House Raven are here too, a couple of favourites being:

  • Kolossi Eternal (3CP) – Select 3 House Raven Knights (excluding Armiger class knights). They gain a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks. Can only be used once.
  • Hammer Blow (1/3CP) – If your Knight remained stationary, you cannot charge, however you can reroll hit rolls of 1 from attacks made with a Blast weapon AND if the target includes more than 6 models in the unit you are shooting at you can reroll all hit rolls instead. 

Forge World Metalica

With the 9th Edition Codex of Adeptus Mechanicus seemingly on the horizon, its a little odd that we have a Codex Supplement for them now. I would imagine we’ll just have the one page of content for Metalica in the new Codex to work alongside these. For the time being these would work alongside the current Adeptus Mechanicus Codex as well as Engine War. 

This book contains 3 new Warlord traits, including Master Annihilator, an ability for your Warlord to choose 1 unit armed with Radium Weapon. Add 6” to the range of said weapons and +1 Strength too. 

4 new Relics are presented, including a damage 4 Gamma Ray pistol, which is also strength 10 and -4 AP. If firing at a Vehicle you get to reroll the wound roll too!

8 unique Metalica Stratagems are also up for grabs, of which I’ve picked out a couple below:

  • Knight of the Cog (1CP) – Select one House Raven Knight. It gains the Adeptus Mechanicus keyword for the use with Canticles as well as assisting with the army creation.
  • Extinction Order (3CP) – Warlord picks an area terrain feature. Any attacks made by friendly Metalica units within 6” of the Warlord add 1 to the wound roll when attacking anything within that terrain feature. 

Cult of Strife

Whilst writing this review Jay has been hard at work writing the review for the latest Drukhari Codex. I asked him if the Cult of Strike feature, of which they do, but only have 1 page of content (1 Warlord Trait, 1 Relic, 1 Stratagem). This book opens out the options, giving you a further three Warlord Traits, 4 Relics and 8 Stratagems. 

Again, we have to spare a thought for the release schedule a little. Clearly this book and the Drukhari Codex were not meant to release on the same day, however, it does feel like this is very much ‘Day One DLC’ as many online have dubbed it. Should this content have been in the Codex? Was it a space issue? Whilst the Drukhari do get a mention early in the lore in this book, they aren’t major players in the plot. 

Anyway, they do get some tasty new content in here, including:

Warlord Trait Example:

Master Executioner – Reroll your wound rolls in combat

Relic Example:

The Glaive Exquisite – Replaces a Archite Glaive. S +2, -5 AP Damage 2. If the target enemy model has a Leadership value of 8 or more, add 1 to the hit roll. If you did not target a character with this weapon with a leadership of 8 or more, then at the end of the phase you take a mortal wound. 

Stratagem Examples:

Flawless Approach (1CP) – Enemy unit cannot Overwatch, nor can they Set to Defend/Hold Steady

Pick Them Apart (2CP) – One of your Cult units can still shoot and/or charge, even if they fell back. 

Crusade Rules

As we edge closer to the end of the book we have a number of Crusade rules to add to your campaign. These can only be bestowed to those units that have earned a Campaign badge by taking part in a Obolis Invasion campaign mission. 

To earn the badge your unit simply has to end a battle within the campaign. 

I’m not going to go into a massive amount of detail here, however there is an array of new Crusade Relics to choose from, including some locked for Imperium and Chaos key-worded characters, including Abaddon’s Writ, a Chaos Infantry exclusive relic which makes the bearer increase the aura ranges on there datasheet by 3” and makes them Objective Secured (and counting as 6 models!).

There is a number of new Battle Traits and Weapon Enhancements up for grabs, as well as 3 new ways to spend Requisition, 1 for Imperium, 1 for Chaos and 1 for Xenos. 

Virulent Gifts

Finally we finish the content of the book with Virulent Gifts, an extra way to spend Requistion points for the Death Guard. This to me clearly feels like it was missed from the Codex for the Death Guard

For 1RP you can spend gained Virulence points to obtain gifts that are one use only. You can spend one Virulence point to roll a D6 and get a random gift, or spend 2 and choose 1. These range in usefulness, and include one called Putrid Regrowth, which can be used when the bearer dies. On a 2+ the bearer returns with D3 wounds remaining. 

Summary

And so that brings us to the end of the book.

All in all, there is some great content in this book, but it isn’t without its criticisms.

First and foremost, some of the content within this book feel like they have either arrived too soon after the publication of the factions 9th edition codexes, or simply should have been part of the Codex. Even without the jumbled up release schedule, the Virulent Gifts Crusade rules should have been within Codex Death Guard.

You could argue that we’ve already had a number of Codex Supplements for 9th Edition Codexes, as we have a number of Space Marine ones, however they all featured much more content than in here for that particular faction. We are fresh into 9th Edition and already, should you wish to run Cult of Strife for example, you need both the Codex Drukhari and this one, all for 3 pages of content. It is worth noting at this point that the book does have a code to unlock the content on the 40k App.  

We unfortunately don’t have the Plague Purge book which is also up for preorder, and features more Crusade content which is compatible with this book, so it would not be fair for us to judge if the content of that book could have featured in this one. 

Critique aside, the campaign setup is the best I’ve seen in a GW campaign supplement to date, and the lore helps to continue drive the overall narrative. I’m excited to see the return of Be’lakor and how the story of this War Zone affects the rest of the Warhammer 40k overall lore. 

If you want to start running a campaign in 9th I’d recommend this book, as well as if you like the idea of the Armies of Renown or one of the 2 Codex Supplements. If none of this appeals, then I would let this book pass you by.

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