Warhammer 40,000 War Zone Octarius | Book 1: Rising Tide & Crusade | Mission Pack: Containment Reviews
Welcome to this two part review, as we take a look at two brand new books for Warhammer 40,000.
The first part of this article will have us reviewing War Zone Octarius | Book 1: Rising Tide, the first of a series of books set in the Octarius sector (the same sector as the latest Kill Team box). This book introduces Codex Supplements, updated lore for the Octarius sector and the current Warhammer 40,000 timeline, a new campaign structure and two appendixes.
The second half of this article will be a review of the latest Crusade Mission Pack, Containment. This gives us lots of new Crusade missions and re-introduces Planetstrike, a series of rules focusing on attacking and defending scenarios, revitalized from previous editions for 9th edition.
Both books are up for preorder right now. Be sure to preorder one or both books via one of our Element Games links to bag yourself some money off and help support what we do here at Sprues & Brews.
Not a fan of reading? You can always check out the video below!
Our thanks to Games Workshop for sending us both of these books to review. Now let us delve in to these reviews!
Warhammer 40,000 War Zone Octarius | Book 1: Rising Tide
We are starting to get a taste of how content is going to be dished out during the course of the latest edition of Warhammer 40,000 with these War Zone books. We’ve had a two-part series set in Charadon already, which introduced a raft of brand new lore, all set in the current timeline, as well as new rules for our armies.
Octarius is a system that was first introduced to gamers when the tale of Inquistor Kryptman was put into lore. Kryptman thought it would be a great idea to distract the growing tide of Hive Fleet Leviathan into the path of the Orks, in the hope the two would just fight it out until one remained, for the forces of the Imperium to sweep in and clear up.
Needless to say, his play didn’t work, and we now have two Xenos behemoths getting stronger as the conflict worsens.
Book 1, the Rising Tide, reintroduces us into the system in the opening pages of the books. We then have two Codex Supplements, the Cadians for the Astra Militarum and Hive Fleet Leviathan for the Tyranids, complete with Crusade content for both of these subfactions. We also have two Appendixes in the shape of the Inquistion and the Tyranids, a new Campaign system, Army of Renown rules for the Deathwatch, Fortification datasheets and Crusade rules and finally new rules for the Tyranids in the form of Synaptic Links.
I’ll be taking us through the book, for the most part, in the order of which it is laid out in the book.
Whereas, for the most part (the recent Black Templars book as a bit of an exception) the new Codexes we’ve had so far in 9th Edition Warhammer 40k have retouched on old ground, these War Zone books have been given free reign to bring us up to speed on what is happening in the current timeline.
Rising Tide is no different, and primarily focuses on the conflict between the Orks, Tyranids and the Imperium (more specifically the Astra Militarum and the Deathwatch), but I’ll say already at this point I must state primarily those three factions, as other factions are very much at play within this book.
Whilst I’ll try not to include too many spoilers, I will at this point warn that spoilers are ahead, and for ease of reading/skipping I’ll change the font colour for those who don’t want anything spoilt.
Here’s the gap warning.
Here we go.
The first major race I wasn’t expecting to see in this book was the Aeldari. For a, for lack of a better word, chapter of this book we see the Deathwatch fighting alongside the Eldar on an Aeldari maiden world. They have a joint purpose, as they seek an area within this world which must be destroyed to help combat the Tyranids.
The Aeldari races present in this storyline are from 3 subfactions within Craftword Eldar. We have the Biel-Tan and Saim-Hann, two Craftworlds we know lots about, but then we also have a Corsair Prince. Eldar Corsairs have had models via Forge World in the past, and we’ve had rumours in the past that they may return to the model range soon, perhaps alongside the dino-riding Exodites.
Another army that gets a mention in here, almost seemingly out of nowhere, is the World Eaters. Drawn to the bloodshed of the major conflict between the two warring Xenos races, they arrive seeking to claim skulls in the name of Khorne. Again, recent rumours have suggested new Beserkers and Angron himself making an appearance in plastic. The World Eaters getting an, albeit slight, mention in here can only fan those rumour flames.
The Genestealer Cults also play a sizeable part in the lore, appearing mid way through the lore section of this book. Again, rumours are abound that this currently overlooked force is one of the next to get the 9th edition Codex treatment are strengthed by the Cultists currently situation in the timeline. I do expect we’ll see a lot more of the uprising Cultists in book two.
A little side note…the Hrud get a box out mention too. These guys have been named dropped quite a lot recently. Could we be seeing them getting a range of minis soon? In this instance they nearly kill off a introduced Inquisitor who plays a part in the story with the Eldar.
The story focuses on the centre of the conflict, where this war has been raging, but ends with the conflict spilling out onto neighbouring planets. The book is setting up these two particular armies to take the fight out of the system, whilst the Imperium tries to keep them penned in to the sector at all costs.
The writing is fantastic, as always, and really gets the mind racing. All of this text is surrounded by new and returning artwork, which are as stunning as always.
The lore in this book really outlines how the biomorphs of the Tyranids operate, and in my opinion the book does a great job of showcasing them as the big baddies they should be seen as.
I really enjoyed reading the lore in this book, and would recommend anyone wanting up to date new lore to pick up this book and give it a read. The downside to that however is, unless you have an interest in quite a limited selection of forces, the value of the book may not be worth it. But more on this later.
The book then switches its attention to building a campaign for you and your friends to play, to reinact what is going on within the Octarius system.
It’s important to note at this point, that this books has no new battleplans. The example Campaign trees for both Matched Play and Crusade include missions from the main rule book or past mission packs.
Instead of adding new battleplans this section concentrates on the layout of the campaign, from start through to finish. It also introduces a number of new elements for your campaign. The first of these is Strategic Value, which in short, is a way to review how your army has done in the campaign. It doesn’t change anything, but gives you a clear indication of how your army did during the course of the campaign.
The three major additions to the campaign rules are as follows:
Between each game, as you progress through the campaign, you can earn Victor Bonuses. These tend to be a mix of one use abilities or buffs for the rest of your campaign. The campaign rules state you can either roll for these randomely after a battle, or pick whichever feels right for the narrative.
This is very similar to the current concealed deployment that the Genestealer Cultists have.
You pay a CP cost (of which is based on the combined power level of the unit you wish to conceal) and instead of putting the unit down, you place a numbered counter. Both the attacker and defender can do this.
Once both armies are deployed, starting with the Attacker, you start to reveal and place down those units. You then start the battle as normal.
Now this…is tasty. By far my favourite addition to the campaign rules set.
You can choose to send one of your Infantry units being held back in Strategic Reserve to go on a Shadow Mission. You can roll for a random one, or pick which feels the most narrative.
In battle round 2 you roll a D6 and consult the chart. Should you roll equal to or over the dice roll required then you have completed the mission and gain a bonus. These mainly up the cost of a specific type of your opponents stratagems by 1, aside from Disrupt Supply Lines which instead allows you to roll a D6 when your opponent gains the new battle round CP they are entitled to. On a 5+ they don’t get the CP.
If you manage to achieve your mission in turn two then awesome, your unit can join the battle as per the normal rules for Strategic Reserves. Should you fail your mission, you can either recall the unit to the battlefield and abandon the Shadow Mission, or keep them in reserve and try next turn. In turn 3 the D6 needed to achieve the mission is made easier by 1.
In all cases, when the unit that went on the mission comes to join the battle properly, you must roll a D6 for each member of that unit. For each roll of a 1 a model in that unit, of your choice, dies. This represents them dying during the shadow mission.
I love this mechanic, and instantly makes me almost want to adapt it. Imagine having a small game of Kill Team taking place next to the main battle to represent these Shadow Missions. You can easily adapt this to make it work if you had the time or multiple players.
Codex Supplement: Cadia
Cadia gets some well deserved love in this book, but it’s important to note Imperial Guard players that unless you specifically play Cadia their is nothing else new rules wise. No new Crusade or content for the likes of the Catachans etc in this book.
Unlike the Charadon books which included armies that have or soon after had new Codexes, at the time of writing this review nether the Astra Militarum nor the Tyranids have 9th Edition books, and to our knowledge (again at the time of writing) they are not officially announced to be one of the next books on the horizon. What this in essence means is we could be using these rules for a little while, which is a good thing, and gives us a taste of whats to come (more so for the Tyranids, but more on that soon).
In this Codex Supplement the Cadians get a bespoke set of Warlord Traits (3 to choose from), Relics (4 of those) and Stratagems (7).
We’ve already seen the following trait revealed on Warhammer Community
This is far by the strongest Warlord trait of the three, with another helping to shrug some mortal wounds in the enemy psychic phase.
The third one however is worth mentioning, Steel Discipline. This is an aura Warlord Trait which allows Cadian units within (not wholly within) 6″ to perform actions and shoot without the action failing. That’s pretty nifty, as Guardsmen are great at performing actions, and it’s handy to not lose out on a bit of shooting.
All of the Relics available in here are great, I wouldn’t say there is a poor one between them. Bastonne’s Sword is a fun choice and was recently shown off on Warcom.
2 others to pick out have to be:
- Gatekeeper: This replaces a battle cannon and is S8, -2 AP and flat 3 damage. Still has the 72″ range and Heavy D6 number of shots, however if your target has the Chaos keyword you can add 1 to the attacks wound roll. Ouch! I like the flat 3 damage too, reliable damage gets the thumbs up from me.
- Tactica Pax Cadia: This allows you to reduce the cost of either a Battle Tactic or Strategic Ploy strat by 1 for the turn, so long as the unit obtaining the stratagem hasn’t used it before. The unit must be within 6″ of the model with this relic. Also worth noting, this relic can be popped once per battle round. Pretty tasty!
Cadian players have a choice of 7 stratagems, and for the most part, they are decent and fairly cheap. I’ve picked out a couple as examples:
- Field Promotion: This is a really fun and flavoursome strat. For a single CP, at the point of which your warlord dies, you can promote another Officer of your choice to become your new Warlord. You get to pick a Warlord trait. If the officer in question has the Voice of Command ability, your character now has the Senior Officer rule. Anything that would trigger when your Warlord dies, example Slay the Warlord, no longer triggers, unless this new Warlord dies. The book doesn’t say this couldn’t be used again, so fill your boots if you have multiple Officers!
- Shock Troops: This plays off the Cadia Regimental Doctrine, which allows you to re-roll hits of 1 in the shooting phase if you remained stationary. This 1/2CP strat allows a Cadian unit to move, but class as stationary and in addition, if the target unit you are shooting at is within half range you get a extra pip on Armour Penetration. This stratagem costs just a single CP if you have the Infantry keyword, otherwise 2CP.
- Load-Fire-Reload: Again for 1CP, you can select a single Cadia Vehicle in the shooting phase. When firing a Blast weapon, any unmodified hit of a 6 gains an additional hit, an additional 2 hits if the target is a Monster or Vehicle! So long as a hit was made, that enemy unit cannot fire Overwatch or Set to Defend.
Cadian’s are also treated to Crusade content, we’ll cover this soon.
Deathwatch Army of Renown: Kill Team Strike Force
The Deathwatch get a little bit of treatment in this new book in the shape of an Army of Renown build. For those who haven’t picked up any of the War Zone books so far, an army of renown is a specifically way to build your army. You have restrictions on what you can or cannot take. You unlock new rules, strats and a relic.
This is the only army of renown in this book, and is called Kill Team Strike force. Your best-of-the best Deathwatch units suddenly got more elite!
So, to build this list you can only include Deathwatch keyworded units. That’s fine and easily done. Boom.
The second point however states that each of your Kill Teams MUST have been paid to have a Specialism. These can be pricey and cost between 20-35 points, and in all honesty, not a massive fan. That however is it, apart from you can include one Dedicated Transport per Kill Team.
So what benefits does this bestow on your army? Your entire force gains the Strike Force keyword for starters, you gavin access to the rest of the cool stuff we’ll chat about shortly and you gain an ability called Veterans of the Long Vigil.
Veterans of the Long Vigil allows you to pick a Chapter Tactic at the start of each round, so this could be from the likes of the Ultramarines, exploding 6s of the Imperial Fists, etc.You gain this tactic instead of the Xenos Hunters chapter tactic.That’s pretty powerful to be fair! You cannot select the same Chapter Tactic again for the remainder of the game, however you can if you use the standard Brotherhood of Veterans stratagem.
As well as this ability, you also unlock an exclusive Warlord Trait, called Xenos Bane, which is an aura relic hitting all characters and Kill Teams within 6″. This basically gives you the Xenos Hunter chapter tactic AND the Chapter Tactic you choose at the start of the battle round.
You can also choose the exclusive relic, entitled Inquisitorial Cipher. It comes with a big paragraph explaining what it does, but basically, it allows you to change one of your secondary objectives (or Agenda if you are playing Crusade). It’s…OK I guess?
You do also unlock 4 stratagems that vary in usage, a couple of which I’ve picked out here:
- Battlefield Teleportation: For 1CP you can teleport a Strike Force Kill Team or Character. You pop the strat at the start of the movement phase, then in the Reinforcement step you can place the character/unit anywhere on the battlefield (well, with the normal reinforcement restrictions, 9″ away etc”. That’s very powerful, and if I ran this type of army I’d use this a lot.
- Specialism Extremis: This is an expensive strat, costing 3CP, but it is GOOD, very GOOD. You pick one of your Kill Teams in either the shooting or fighting phase. Every attack that hits AUTOMATICALLY wounds. So for example if you have selected a Kill Team, paid the points for the Furor specialism, you are looking to affect anyone with the Troops Battlefield role. You cannot select the same Strike Force unit again with this stratagem.
I’m not sold on this Army of Renown to be honest. Yes, you have access to some good strats and yes, the Veterans of the Long Vigil has a lot of potential, but your army will be smaller. Having to pay to upgrade each of your Kill Teams, whilst giving them a focus, shrinks the amount of points you have to spend on the rest of your army.
The Warlord Trait is good, but the relic isn’t great, in my opinion.
For how much of the lore the Deathwatch appear in, I’d have liked some other new content for them, but that’s your lot. They do already have a 9th Edition codex however.
In the next segment of the book it re-introduces Fortifications that aren’t bound to a particular army. These include the Bastion, Skyshield Landing Pad, Aegis Defence Line, Void Shield Generator and Fortress of Redemption. Each of these fortifications get an update datasheet. The points values for each of these is also included.
Very very few people pay points for these in matched play, however we will touch upon them again later in the book when looking at Crusade.
Appendices: Inquisition & Tyranids
Very quick mention for these two bits of content. This book comprise of the Appendix of the Inquisition. These rules were first seen in Psychic Awakening: Pariah. Zero changes.
It made sense, considering the Leviathan content in this book, to do exactly the same for the Tyranids. There updated rules were first seen in Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal. Again, no changes from the original print.
Codex Supplements Leviathan
The second of the codex supplements in this book focuses on the Tyranid Hive Fleet which is at war in Octarius, Leviathan.
Unlike Cadia, if you play a different Hive Fleet there is new content for you, coming up in the next part of the review. This part however purely focuses on Leviathan.
So with this supplement we have extra choices for the Hive Mind of Leviathan in the shape of 3 new Warlord Traits, 4 Relics and 10 Stratagems.
Tyranids aren’t in a great spot, competitively, right now (although they are probably doing better than their kin, the Genestealer Cultists), so this supplement is a good benchmark on what we could see for all the Hive Fleets when the 9th Edition book lands. There is some really fun and tasty content in here.
We’ve seen one of the Warlord Traits already:
This is very cool, but so is Swarm Leader, another choice of Warlord Trait. This one allows you to select one Infantry, Beast or Swarm unit, within 9″, and grants them full re-rolls to hit. Basically the Chapter Master ability that Space Marines can do.
Again, we have also seen a very powerful relic get shown off on Warcom:
That’s probably my favourite from the book, but a special shout out for these two:
- The Void Crown: Can be given to a Psyker and grants three abilities. First of all, they know one additional power from the Hive Mind discipline. If the bearer attempts a psychic action ability, you can still try and cast a normal power (normally psychic actions prevent you from casting anything else). And finally, if you make a cast on a unmodified 9+, the psychic power/action cannot be denied. You’ll be calling this monster Teclis! Teclis the Tyranid!
- Adaptive Neural Lobe: Simple but effective relic. As long as the bearer is on the battlefield, every time your opponent spends a CP, on a 5+ you gain one.
There are some very cool stratagems here, so much so I wish my Hive Fleet was painted as Leviathan instead of Behemoth! It was hard only picking out a couple, but check these out:
- Alpha Leader Beast: For 1 CP your Warlord can be granted a second Warlord Trait. I like abilities like these as it really beefs up your Warlord. Just try to use them at the right time so not to lose your Warlord straight off the bat!
- Animated by The Hive MInd: Again, 1CP. It is basically an auto explode. Most Tyranid monsters have a Death Throes ability, which allows them to lash out when they die and deal mortal wounds on a dice roll. This allows them to auto do this.
- Relentless Fury: Pick a Leviathan unit. Unmodified 6s to hit score 2 hits. Simple, effective, brutal. 1CP too, unless you pick something with the Genestealer keyword, then the cost raises to 2CP.
This is a really fun little supplement for the Tyranids, just as I was contemplating selling mine. I hope Behemoth gets similar treatment down the line.
Speaking of other Hive Fleets, there is a new ability all Tyranid players can take advantage of…
Additional Tyranid Rules: Synaptic Link
Synaptic Link is a brand new upgrade available to purchase for any Tyranid units with the Synapse keyword. Each Synapse creature has a unique ability that has a points/power cost, and can be used in open, matched play and narrative.
The cool thing about these new abilities is that the Tyranid unit you wish to use it on doesn’t need to be within a certain range of the Synapse creature with the ability.
An example…I’ve paid and given my Hive Tyrant Malicious Direction. This ability allows a selected unit to pile in an extra 3″ (to a maximum of 6″). Say I want to give this to a unit of Genestealers, but they are outside of 12″ of the Hive Tyrants synapse range. This would normally mean I can’t select them.
With Synaptic Link however, the Genestealers just need to be within range of a Synapse Tyranid, who it turn needs to be in range of the Hive Tyrant!
The book does a far better job of explaining this, but needless to say, I think this is how all Tyranid abilities should work, as this is exactly how I would imagine Synapse to work.
Here’s a taster of some of the other abilities:
- Mastery of the Shadows: Selected unit has both the benefits of Light and Heavy cover, and if the unit targeting this unit is 12″ or over away (excluding Monsters) the unit also has Dense Cover
- Unchecked Ferocity: Unmodified hit of a 6 in combat auto wounds
- Focal Essence: Unmodified wound roll of a 6 improves AP by 1 and this ability also allows you to re-roll the damage roll
The final thing I wanted to bring up from this book is the new Crusade content.
The first part of this section details the campaign specific agendas, battle traits and Requisitions. Needless to say these are all very thematic for the ongoing conflict in question, but open enough to allow any army to take part within the campaign.
I mentioned that Fortifications were reprinted and updated in this book. In the Crusade section it goes further, allowing you to purchase upgrades for your Fortifications. I’m going to build up a small Cadian force for Crusade, and 100% planning on including some fortifications to help my narrative. I’d never use them in matched play, but it feels right to utilize them in Crusade, in particular during the campaign in this book.
You’ve got upgrades such as…
- Ammo Store: Re-roll hits of 1 on ranged attacks made by the Building
- Void Shield: Building gets a 5+ invulnerable save, or if it’s a Void Shield Generator, the inv goes to 4+
- Underground Bunker: Add 5 to the capacity of the Building
The Astra Militarum and Tyranids also get new Crusade content, in the shape of Agendas, Relics, Requisitions and Battle Traits. These are all brilliantly narrative, I mean check some of these out!
|Astra Militarum||Uplifting Primer||Requisition (1RP)||Add 1 to Leadership, and also each time this unit adds 1 to Battle Survived tally, the unit gains an additional experience point|
|Tyranids||Recover Biomass||Agenda||If no enemy models left on the battlefield, each Tyranid unit on the battlefield left gains 3 experience points|
|Astra Militarum||Star of Terra||Relic||Unit gains a 4+ invulnerable save and if the bearer is the Warlord you gain 1CP|
|Tyranids||Enhanced Senses||Battle Trait||Ignore any to hit modifiers|
You can only upgrade your Synapse creatures once in Combat Patrol sized games then +1 as the game scales, up to 4 when we hit Onslaught sized missions.
Overview of Rising Tide
For me, this book was great. The reasons why? I have a Tyranid army, I’m about to start a Cadian one, I love Crusade and reading how the lore is expanding.
The problem is, it’s very unlikely that this is the same for the majority of Warhammer 40,000 gamers.
This is where the problem lies with the War Zone books, in particular this one. For general fans of Warhammer 40k, I don’t know if there is value in this book for the Crusade content, campaign guide and lore alone. The same could be said if your a veteran Matched Play Cadian player. You’ll want this book for the extra relics, traits and stats, but without any interest in everything else this book is looking very expensive for the sake of 4 pages.
What is better about this book compared to Act 1 of the Charadon series that I reviewed is that the two armies with focused new content in this book have yet to have fully fledged 9th Edition Codexes yet.
It’s hard for me to say you must buy this. It’s very subjective. If you have or are considering either a Hive Fleet Leviathan or Cadian force then yes, fill your boots as your enjoyment with the army will be increased. No interest in either of those though, makes this book a bit of a hard sell. I’d have liked to see new Battleplans, I think that would make this book a lot more appetizing for everyone else.
Warhammer 40,000 Crusade Mission Pack: Containment
Batteplans isn’t an issue with the second book in this two part review. It’s time to go on a Crusade!
Containment contains new less than 21 brand new Battleplans spread across the 4 different size games (Combat Patrol, Incursion, Strike Force and Onslaught).
These all look super fun, especially when combined with the revised mechanic, Planetstrike!
I believe Planetstrike missions were first introduced in 7th Edition, around the time of the Cities of Death supplement (don’t hire any Imperial Assassins if I’m wrong, I have a terrible memory!). These were very much Attacker Vs Defender based scenarios, of which this book concentrates on. The rules and mechanics have been brought bang in line with the 9th Edition ruleset.
The book goes into detail on how you would go about using this mission pack to play games of Planetstrike.
Within the specfic mission rules section of the book it talks you through the various elements of Planetstrike, as their are quite a few unique features here:
- Reserve Rolls: Attacker and Defenders work differently when it comes to reserves, which this book explains
- Shock Tactics: This mixes up how Strategic Reserves works, In the first battle round for example, you can bring reserves on from your table edge, or if the unit can Fly, is Infantry, Beast or Swarm, you can arrive outside of 9″ of the enemy.
- Firestorm: Attackers get to perform a Firestorm at the start of the first battle round, dishing out potential mortal wounds against the bunkered in defenders.
- Planetary Control: Like Age of Sigmar and some 40k scenarios, you can move off objective markers you control, and still control it until the enemy turns up. At the start of the game the Defender holds all of them.
- Strongholds: Objectives can be housed within Buildings. Should this ever be the case the building would be called a Stronghold and features there own rules.
The book also contains 8 Stratagems for the Attacking player and 8 for the Defender, as well as a 4 Agendas per side specific to the missions within this book, to play with.
Finally, the book has it’s own Battle Traits you can give to your leveled up comrades, and presents ready made campaigns for you to play through.
Like the previous Crusade mission pack, this book also features all of the Core rules for games of Warhammer 40,000.
Overview of Containment
I haven’t gone into a super level of detail for this book, as the majority is taken up by battleplans, which can be a little tricky to go through in great detail.
Whilst the book has no relics, army specific rules, Requisitions etc, I loved this little book. The battleplans look suitable narrative and fun, the mechanics of Planetstrike are well thought through, and most importantly work fantastically well with the Crusade content we’ve had so far.
If you like Crusade, I’d go as far to say this is a must buy. I really want to put a campaign together using the rules we have from the Core Rules and previous mission packs.
Here lies a slight issue however. I really liked the campaign concepts in Rising Tide, and would 100% want to introduce Shadow Missions, as an example to my campaign. That part of my campaign would be locked behind a book that, unless you had an interest in Cadians and Tyranids, would seem very expensive.
Both books work very very well together, but whereas Containment knows exactly what it is and what it offers, War Zone Octarius is a combination of many things, and could prove to be an expensive way to get hold of only a small selection of content that you may be interested in.
The shining light through my comments are the two included Appendices, which I believe at this point finishes off those two old Psychic Awakening books.
Crusade fans would struggle to go wrong picking up Containment, but before you pick up Rising Tides make sure there is enough content in there for you to justify the price before purchasing. It was for me, but won’t be for all.
Our thanks again to Games Workshop for providing both books for us to review. Both of these books are up for preorder right now, and will be released next Saturday morning.