Warhammer 40,000 Codex Adepta Sororitas Review | 9th Edition
After a small delay (Warp turbulence is still affecting deliveries it seems) we finally have a copy of the new Codex Adepta Sororitas ready for review!
In this current Covid climate it can sometimes feels as though we’re living in the 41st Millenium, where Warp tricikery can influence the passage of time. Back in November 2019 the long awaited Codex Adepta Sororitas was finally released (alongside a fantastic new miniature range) for 8th edition Warhammer 40,000. Now, just over 18 months later the Sisters of Battle are back with a brand new Codex, new models and a fantastic set of Crusade rules.
Thank you to Games Workshop for providing this Codex for us to review you can preorder the book and save cash by ordering through Element Games at this link.
As with other 9th edition Warhammer 40,000 Codexes, Codex Adepta Sororitas is packed with background, history and timelines, descriptions of battles and major conflicts involving the Sisters of Battle and plenty of gorgeous images and artwork depicting the most faithful of the Imperium’s servants. A lot of the information presented in the older 8th edition Codex is presented here again although there is some new material too regarding some of the new characters and units that have since joined the Adepta Sororitas’ ranks and a section on Warzone: Varentia which sees the Order of Our Martyred Lady take to the field of battle to reclaim a world in the grip of a heretical uprising.
Decree Passive and Order Convictions
The Decree Passive and Order Convictions are the basic rules that apply to Adepta Sororitas Detachments. The Decree Passive lays down some restrictions on the number of Canoness and Missionary models you can include in each Detachment (one each per Detachment) in addition to a limit on the number of Cult Imperial Priest units you can include (no more than the number of Adeptis Sororitas Character units.
The Order Convictions are the familiar ‘Chapter’ rules that apply to all Adepta Sororitas units in the Detachment that belong to that particular Order so long as every Adepta Sororitas unit in the Detachment belongs to the same Order.
Worth pointing out that units with the Sanctified and Outcasts keyword do not benefit from the Order Convictions ability. This includes the majority of the named characters (Junith Erutia is the only exception it seems).
Blessings of the Faithful
Blessings of the Faithful are a new set of rules that allow you to upgrade the Canoness and Palatine units in your army in a similar way that Space Marine players are able to upgrade their Librarians and Apothecaries. There are six Blessings to choose from, each with it’s own associated Power Level and Points cost. Each character can only have a single Blessing and each Blessing can only be taken a single time in your army.
The Blessing themselves bestow two abilities on the character. The first is a generic ability that the character gains, such as adding 1 to the Strength and Damage characteristics of that character’s melee weapons in the case of “Rapturous Blows” or allowing the character to force an enemy unit within 3″ to fight last in the case of “Word of the Emperor”.
The second ability, the “Miraculous ability”, can be activated by the character in the Command Phase (and lasts until your next Command Phase) by discarding a Miracle dice. The value of the Miracle dice that you discard determines the range of the Miraculous ability’s Aura effect, from 1″ to 6″ depending on the value. These Aura effects include things like preventing enemy units from using invulnerable saves to preventing enemy units from benefitting from any re-rolls.
I really like the Blessings of the Faithful rules, it’s an interesting way of including new gameplay mechanics or special abilities into your army building and there are some impressive combos that you can create especially with some of the new melee focusses units the Adepta Sororitas now have access to.
Acts of Faith
Acts of Faith return in a pretty similar fashion to the version we saw in the 8th edition codex with the only changes being to how you gain them. Now a Miracle dice is gained at the start of each Battle Round and at the end of any Phase in which either an Adepta Sororitas from your army destroys and enemy unit or one of your Adepta Sororitas Character units is destroyed.
There are additional ways to generate Miracle dice via Stratagems, Order Convictions and other special rules associated with particular Data Sheets.
Again, just like in the 8th edition Codex, some units in your army will have the Sacred Rites keyword (most units actually with the exception of the Cult Imperialis and Outcast units). After determining the mission you will be playing you can either select one Sacred Rite to be active for your army or instead roll two dice and select two random Sacred Rites. There have been some changes to actual bonuses the Sacred Rites abiliies grant. Spirit of the Martyr now inflicts up to 6 mortal wounds on an enemy unit when your models are destroyed. Aegis of the Emperor improves the Shield of Faith Deny the Witch ability, blocking enemy Psychic powers on a 5+ rather than 6+ meaning your units have a 1/3 chance of stopping all Psychic owers aimed at them! Finally Light of the Emperor has been rewritten in line with the new Morale mechanics in 9th edition, meaning the affected unit ignores all modifiers to it’s Leadership and during Combat Attrition tests.
Shield of Faith
Shield of Faith has seen some changes. It still grants a 6+ invulnerable save to affected units (again mostly the Sister of Battle units themselves) but the Deny the Witch element has been improved. Instead of attempting to Deny the Witch on a D6+3 you now just roll a D6 and on a 6+ the test is passed. This means you can now attempt to stop even those Psychic Powers with a high cast value. We’ve got Codex Grey Knights and Thousand Sons on the horizon (and the Craftworlders themselves will make an appearance at some point I’m sure) so having a 1/6 chance (1/5 with the appropriate Sacred Rite) of preventing anyPsychic power with all of your Sisters of Battle units will be a great help.
Some units in the Codex have the Zealot ability which allows those units to re-roll hit rolls in the first round of combat.
The Orders Militant
The same six Orders return again from the 8th edition Codex, each with an associated Order Conviction, Relic, Warlord Trait and Stratagem.
The Order of Our Martyred Lady Order Conviction still grants an additional Miracle dice at the end of any Phase in which a friendly unit was destroyed but now the +1 to hit bonus disapears if a unit is subsequently returned to over half strength. The Order’s “Honour The Martyr” Stratagem now grants you a +1 to Wound bonus for the rest of the batte against to an enemy unit that has destroyed one of your characters. The “Shield Bearer” Warlord Trait is pretty nice and provides the following bonuses :-
- Reduces incoming damage by 1 (to a minimum of 1)
- Each time you gain a Miracle dice at the end of a Phase as a result of destorying an enemy unit, that Miracle dice is changed to a 6 if this Warlord destroyed an enemy unit that Phase.
- Each time you gain a Miricale dice at the end of a Phase as a result of this Warlord being destroyed, that Miricale dice is changed to a 6.
The Order of the Valorous Heart has seen a few changes too. It’s Order Conviction now granting a 5+ FNP save against mortal wounds and reducing the AP of incoming attackes by 1. It’s Stratagem remains the same however the Warlord Trait “Impervious To Pain” now also heals the Warlord each time it performs an Act of Faith. The “Casket Of Penance” Relic has also been improved to reduce the Strength of nearby Chaos units by 1 in addition to the genreal -1 Toughness Aura.
The Order of the Bloody Rose has had a few tweaks, it’s Stratagem “Tear Them Down” now granting automatic wounds on a wound roll of 6. The “Beneficence” Relic has been improved quite a bit with better Strength and some additional attacks too!
The Order of the Ebon Chalice keeps its Miracle Dice manipulating rules but also gains the ability to allow their units to benefit from two specific Sacred Rites (rather than two random) which is cool! The “Cleansing Flames” Stratagem is pretty cool too (well, pretty hot actually!). It now adds 4″ to the range of all flame weapons in the unit and any 4+ to wound inflicts a mortal wound (to a maximum of 3 mortal wounds). The “Terrible Knowledge” Warlord Trait has changed too, granting a 5+ refund CP ability and turning the Miracle dice you gain at the start of the battle straight to a 6! The “Annunciation of the Creed” Relic now has a new dual profile and now inflicts 3 mortal wounds on Psyker units
The Argent Shroud have recieved some nice buffs. Their Conviction continues to allow units to count as remaining stationary but now also grants a single re-roll of either a hit or wound roll when a unit attacks. The “Faith Is Our Shield” Stratagem has also been improved, now granting a 4+ save against mortal wounds! The Warlord Trait and Relic remain pretty much identical to the 8th edition version (although the “Quicksilver Veil” Relic now also grants +3″ movement to the bearer).
Finally the Order of the Sacred Rose has also seen some changes. Its Order Conviction has been rewritten in line with the 9th edition Morale mechanics, meaning that their units automatically pass Combat Attrition tests. In addition, when you spend any Miracle dice you gain a new one on a 4+! The “Light Of The Divine” Warlord Trait is very different, allowing you to use any Miracle dice as a 6 (once per turn) but also granting a new Aura effect that allows nearby units to fall back and shoot. The “Light of Saint Agnaetha” Relic is now a flamer type weapon with a 12″ range that inflicts mortal wounds on a wound roll of 4+ (2+ if the target has the Daemon keyword).
In addition to the six main Orders the Codex also presents 16 “Minoris Convictions” of which you can select two to ‘build your own’ set of Order Conviction rules. I will not list them all out here but you’ll find a mixture of recycled abilities from the main Order Conviction rules above in addtion to some unique abilites such as “Righteous Suffering” which treats and wound roll of 1-2 against your units as a failure or “Unshakeable Vengeance” which allows your units to ignore all modifiers when shooting.
There are a whopping 32 Stratagems in the Codex which is actually an increase from the last codex! I’ll look at some of my favourites below.
Exceptional Proficiency seems like a good Stratagem to use on the new Celestian Sacresants, allowing them to hit on 2+ with their nice melee weapons and costing only 1 CP!
Rites of Restoration is another Stratagem that I’ll be using on this Celestian Sacresants. Used at the end of the Movement Phase and costing only 1 CP it allows you to return up to D3 Adepta Ministorum models that have been slain to a unit within 3″ of a Hospitaller unit on their full wounds!
Suffering and Sacrifice allows you to force an enemy unit to direct all of its attacks against a specific target. Costing only 1CP you choose an Adepta Sororitas Warlord, Saint Potentia or Living Saint to become a Suffering unit. If the enemy is in egagement range of this unit it must select it as the target for those attacks!
Inviolate Shieldwall is another Stratagem that boosts the effectiveness of Celestian Sacresants or Crusaders and costs 1 CP. It can be used in any phase and forces the enemy to subtract 1 from wound rolls that target this unit.
There are six generic Warlord Traits in the new Codex and most of them have changed slightly from the previous edition.
Inspiring Orator extends the range of any hymn or ability the Warlord uses by 3″ and allows nearby Core units to ignore the penalty for being under half strength when taking Combat Attrition tests.
Righteous Rage now grants re-rolls to both hits and wounds!
Executioner of Heretics has been rewritten in line with the new Morale mechanics but remains very similar.
Beacon of Faith is now not quite as useful, granting an extra Miracle dice that can only be used by the Warlord but does allow you to use an Act of Faith for a second time that phase.
Pure of Will is very similar as well, but now adds 3 to Deny the Witch tests rather than subtracting 1 from enemy casting attempts.
There are 14 Relics (not counting the Order specific and Crusade Relics) that you can give to Character models in your army. I’ll look at a couple of my favourites below.
Litanies of Faith allows you to re-roll a single Miracle dice each turn.
Blessings of Sebastian Thor allows the bearer to benefit from two different Sacred Rites than the rest of your army.
Tryptych of the Macharian Crusade grants +1 Toughness and a 4+ invulnerable save to the bearer. In addition, after failing the first saving throw of a turn you can reduce the damage of that attack to 0!
Hymns of Battle
Hymns of Battle work in much the same way as a Space Marine Chaplain’s Litanies of Battle. There are several units in the Codex which have the Priest keyword and are able to make use of the Hymns of Battle rules (including the new Adepta Sororitas Dogmata unit).
All Priests know “War Hymn” and in addition to one additional Hymn from the six presented in the Codex. Adepta Sororitas Priests get access to all 6 Hymns whereas Cult Imperialis Priest can choose from only 3. A Priest can intone a Hymn it knows in the Command Phase by rolling a 3+.
War Hymn adds 1 to the attacks characteristic of one nearby Adepta Ministorum Core/Character or Engine of Redeption unit within 6″.
Refrain of Blazing Piety inflicts D3 mortal wounds on a visible unit within 12″ (increasing to 3 mortal wounds if the target has the Chaos keyword).
Chorus of Spiritual Fortitude can make one nearby Adepta Ministorum Core/Character or Engine of Redeption unit within 6″ immune to the effects of Psychic powers!
Psalm of Righteous Smiting buffs the melee prowess of the Priest themselves, increasing attacks, strength and armour penetration of their melee attacks.
Litany of Enduring Faith improves the invulnerable saves of one nearby Adepta Sororitas Core/Character unit within 6″.
Verse of Holy Piety allows one nearby Adepta Sororitas Core/Character unit within 6″ to benefit from the effects of a different Sacred Rite in addition to the Sacred Rite chosen at the start of the battle.
Catechism of Repugnance improves bolt weapons for one nearby Adepta Sororitas Core/Character unit within 6″.
Chapter Approved Rules
It will come as no surprise that and army of the Adpeta Sororitas get access to a handful of tailored secondary objectives.
A Leap of Faith is a “No Mercy, No Respite” secondary that rewards up to 12 points for simply using Acts of Faith in either yours or your opponent’s turn. Seems a pretty straight foward seconday (although Acts of Faith performed due to Cherub dice do not count).
Sacred Grounds is a “Shadow Operations” secondary that allows your units to pefrom a “Concecration” action on an objective, scoring either 1 or 4 points per concecrated objectives at the end of the game depending on whether that objective is in your deployment zone or not.
Slay the Heretic is a “Purge the Enemy” seconday that allows you to score a single point each turn when you destroy a unit with a Bolt, Flame or Melta weapon with the chance of scoring an additional point if you manage all 3!
Defend the Shrine is a “Battlefield Supremacy” secondary that is a bit risky. After deployment you choose an objective outside of your deployment zone as a Shrine. You gain 3 points a turn for holding that objective and additional 3 if you end the game controlling it. If the opponent controls it however you’ll lose 3 victory points.
I feel like there are some good secondary objectives for Adepta Sororitas players to choose from here. A Leap of Faith seems like a great choice (especially when using some of the different Order Convictions that reward additional Miracle dice) but I also like the Sacred Grounds secondary as well. There are ways to enable units to perform actions and still shoot which would work well with this secondary.
There are 8 new Datasheets in the Codex which we’ll take a closer look at next.
Morvenn Vahl – The High Lord herself is a formidable HQ option at a reasonable points cost. She is basically a Custodian Shield Captain (but with more wounds) and a great ability to half all damage she receives and a 4+ save against mortal wounds. On the attack the Abbess does not pull any punches either with access to a dual profile melee weapon to deal with both hordes or tougher targets in addition to two ranged weapons, a buffed up Heavy Bolter and a pretty nifty missile lancher. But that’s not all, Morvann Vahl provides almost Primarch level re-rolls to nearby Adepta Sororitas Core units and full re-rolls to a single Core or Character unit within 6″.
Palatine – Performs a similar job to other Luitenant level characters in other armies. A cheap character with access to the Blessings of the Faithful will be a useful addition in most lists I think.
Ephrael Stern – Wow! What a Datasheet. Stern and her Harlequin bodyguard form a unit of two models, with wounds first being applied to the Aeldari. The unit as a whole has a 4+ invulnerable save and impose a -1 to hit and wound against attacking models. The Harlequin himself has 4 wounds and a 5+ FNP so the unit as a whole is fairly resiliant. On top of this, the unit can deep strike and fights twice in the combat phase if the tricksy Aeldari is still alive. Wait till you see their weapons though, “Sanctity” is +2 Strength, AP-3, Damage 2 and ignores invulnerable saves! In the shooting phase Stern fires off a Smite type attack, buffed if there are any Chaos units nearby.
Aestred Thurga and Agathae Dolan – An interesting unit providing similiar style buffs to nearby Adepta Sororitas units with some interesting mechanics for Crusade players oddly enough. I like it!
Celestian Sacresants – One of the new Elite melee units with a respectable offensive and defensive profile. I think what makes this unit shine is the amount of buffs that can be applied via Aura effects, Stratagems and Hymns of Battle which really boost the effectiveness of an already pretty decent profile.
Dogmata -The new ‘Chaplain’ type unit with access to the new Hymns of Battle. In addition, the Dogmata allows a nearby unit to perform an action and still Shoot and can bestow the Objective Secured rule on target unit too! If that unit already has the Objective Secured rule, each model in that unit counts as 2 models. A useful ability in an army with only 1 Troops choice.
Paragon Warsuits – The Adpeta Sororitas get access to a unit that, as an Adeptus Custodes player, has me drooling. Strength and Toughness of 5 with 4 wounds, 3 attacks and a 2+/4++ save they already look a little bit like Custodians to be fair. They have a similiar ability to Celestine that makes them immune to damage 1 attacks too! They excel in both shooting and melee with access to the buffed Adepta Sororitas Heavy Flamer, Multimelta and Heavy Bolter in addition to shoulder mounted Storm Bolters or Paragon Grenade Launcher.
They have the Vehicle keyword so miss out on some of the buffs that apply only to Infantry (they can’t be resurected by the Hospitaller for example) although they do have the Core keyword allowing them to benefit from some re-rolls.
Castigator -The new Battle Tank of the Adepta Sororitas with a choice of main weaponry (Castigator Autocannons with 4D3 Strength 7, AP-1 D2 shots at 48″ or a Catigator Battle Cannon with two firing modes). No special rules or anything on this Datasheet, it’s just a mobile heavy weapons platform.
There have also been some changes to existing Datasheets which we’ll examine more closely now.
– Rod of Office now choose a Core or Character unit within 12″ and they can re-roll hits of 1.
– Brazier of Holy Fire, now a flamer that inflicts mortal wounds on a 4+ (2+ against Daemons).
– Boost to the Mace of Castigation.
– No longer allows all units within 6″ to re-roll hits and wounds, instead can choose a Core or Character unit within 6″ to re-roll hits.
– The Pulpit of Saint Holline’s Basilica substantially different, now Infantry within 6″ count as being in light cover.
– Gains the Lead the Righteous aura like the Canoness.
– Now has access to Hymns of battle.
– No longer has the attack buff or the Word of the Emporer ability.
Celestine and Geminae Superia
– Now combined on one Datasheet.
– Celestine herself now immune to damage 1 weapons!
– Ardent Blade now AP-4!
– No longer buffs the invulnerable saves of nearby Sisters of Battle (instead grants Imperium infantry a 6+ invulnerable save).
– Can now deepstrike!
Triumph of Saint Katherine
– Now counts as only having 9 wounds for purposes of Character targeting rules.
– Still has a number of Relics that reduce as the unit takes wounds.
– The Icon of the Valorous Heart now enables all Sacred Rites for the army!
Simulacrum of the Argent Shroud
– Once per battle round you can change the value of a Miracle dice used for an Act of Faith to a 6 for a nearby Core or Character unit.
Battle Sisters Squad
– Can now be taken in squads of 20!
– Tale of the Faithful now allows nearby Order Core units to re-roll advances and charges.
– Tale of the Stoic now reduces the Wound roll of Strength 3 attacks against neaby Order Core units by 1.
– Now has access to Hymns of Battle.
– Now has access to Hymns of Battle.
– Bodyguard rule has changed to make nearby Character unit untargetable with Ranged Attacks!
– Sworn Protectors now adds 1 attack if this unit is near a Canoness Superior, Canoness or Palatine
– A few changes in line with other similar units (like Apothecaries etc.). Provides a 6+ FNP save to nearby Infantry units and can heal a nearby model for D3 wounds.
– Can now choose a single Repentia unit allowing them to roll 3 dice and pick the 2 they want for charge rolls in addition to gaining +1 to wound in combat.
– The ‘Sergeant’ now gains +3A and has a strength of 5.
– This unit can’t perform any actions.
Death Cult Assassins
– Now fight first in combat.
– Holy Vanguard ability allows this squad and a Transport it is embarked upon to make a Normal Move of up to 6″.
– Lost the re-roll wound bonus.
– Lost the +4″ range bonus, and Faithful Advance ability.
– Gains an ability to to ignore effects of cover when shooting.
– Anguish of the Unredeemed now allows the unit to fight before being removed on a 4+.
– Can now Advance and Charge and moves an extra 2″ when piling in or consolidating.
– Penitent Buzz-blades get extra attacks as well!
Now we come to my favourite part of any Warhammer 40,000 Codex review, the Crusade section! The narrative rules in the Adepta Sororitas Codex do not disapoint. Like in other codex you get access to ‘flavoured’ versions of the Battle Traits, Agendas, Requistions and Relics but the main draw is the new Trials of a Living Saint mechanic that you’ll be using to chronicle your chosen Sisters of Battle Character’s journey from Saint Potentia to Living Saint (or possiby Martyr).
When starting out your Crusade you’ll select an Adepta Sororitas Character to be marked for Sainthood and that Character will gain the Saint Potentia keyword. You’ll then pick from a choice of 5 trials for your hero to embark on, ranging from the Trial of Suffering to the Trial of Purity.
Each trial has a list of ‘achievements’ or ‘objectives’ that you’ll have to meet during you games. These vary from destroying enemy models, passing invulnerable saves, using certain Stratagems or even collecting Battle Scars. For each objective met your hero is rewarded with a Saint Point. Earn 10 or more Saint Points and you receive the Saintly Reward associated with that Trial (and are then free to pick a new Trial). Once all the Trials are complete your chosen faithful Sororitas is annointed a Living Saint (and gains the respective keyword).
Your journey does not end there however, for if your Saint Potentia or Living Saint ever fail an out of action test you’ll accrue Martyr Points and must attempt a Martyr test. If you fail this test your hero is martyred and removed from your Order of Battle. The upside is that all other units in your Crusade receive some experience points, so it’s not all doom and gloom I suppose.
I can’t wait to start chronicling the rise and fall of a Saint Potentia in my own Crusade!