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40K: 9th Edition Updates - Strategic Reserves

Over on Warhammer Community today we saw ‘Master Your Strategy’ - today’s preview of the new rules for 9th Edition. This is a significant announcement that will give Craftworlds players LOTS more to think about with more tactical options, but also more to watch out for too. Read on and we'll get into a bit more detail.





So what are the new Strategic Reserves rules?


Essentially, it is looking like we will be able to select anything in our army (we don't know if there will be a cap on how many units) and, by total power level, pay a cost in CPs to put it all into Strategic Reserve. Strategic Reserve is an ability that let's you bring units on later, and the later in the battle you leave it, the greater the benefit. See the tables below from the Warhammer Community website.





So how will this affect the Craftworlds? Well, we will need to be on the lookout for opponents using this against us. This means from turn 2 watching our left and right board edges and from turn 3+ doing the same but also from within our own deployment zone.


How do we mitigate these new risks? Well, Craftworlds are a fast moving list (apart from a few units) so we should hopefully be too mobile to be caught out here. If you are taking a less mobile list - say, with static units like support platforms or even tanks - there is more of a risk, but there are a couple of ways to mitigate this again. First is that you can keep a unit in Strategic Reserve which you COULD use on the offensive but you could also hold it back as a defensive unit for your more static units. Second is that you can put these more static units into reserve themselves so that, initially, all that is on the board is your fast-moving, mobile units.


Read on below for some ideas around which units will be interesting to use with the new Strategic Reserves rule, including some units which, in my opinion, will have a new lease of life because of it!



Winners


Wraithlords

For me, one of two big winners here. I love Wraithlords. I haven't had much success with them, but I love their look, their fluff and how, in a fragile army, it is possible to have something really tough.


Up till now, these have had to trudge up the field, usually with shuriken cannons (the only option to negate 8th Editions -1 to hit from moving). Now in 9th Edition, I see a real role for these noble constructs.


Picture the enemy, seemingly having got the upper hand, or maybe not. Maybe your wave serpents just arrived at a certain location where a key unit or objective, THEN a Wraithlord emerges from the fog of war on the flank and lays waste to the objective's defenders. That is, I think, what this rule is all about.


Wraithlords are all-rounders (and Monsters, so now able to fire non-Blast weapons in combat) and as such are great for Strategic Reserve as they can either come up up field to press the attack at a critical location or hold back to defend an area or your deployment zone from similar shenanigans from the enemy.


I will certainly be dusting off my beloved Wraithlord, arming it with two flamers, two star cannons and a ghostglaive and giving the above a go. I'll report back!



Wraithknights

Not quite fitting with the fluff of my Blades of Vaul - at least not yet - but this guys, for 3CP, will be able to be kept in Strategic Reserve. This will maybe be better for the close combat version as you aren't losing out from any shooting, though it's only one turn and that sun cannon is now a lot tastier with the new Blast rules!


This will be able to be protected much better so it's well worth a thought. They could even come on in your deployment zones to destroy enemy reserves and then use its ranged weapons on something else as planned.



Support Weapons

Now here we get to something potentially quite taste I think. I love my support weapons and have recently been toying with replacing 6 vibrocannons with distort cannons due to the new terrain / line of sight rules.


HOWEVER, for a static army hoping to use its speed and manoeuvrability to avoid enemy Strategic Reserves these look quite vulnerable. Well, there are two ways that they actually aren't so vulnerable, and one of them is actually pretty aggressive.


Firstly, longer ranged support weapons can happily sit almost on your board edge. If you pique the interest of enemy Strategic Reserves then another unit (like a Wraithlord, Wraithblades or Banshees) can come on within 1" of the enemy along your board edge and attack as if they charged. This is what I'd call the bait option.


Secondly, you go with the shorter ranged, line-of-sight ignoring distort cannons (a unit of 2-3) and put then into Strategic Reserves. Now, that first turn they may not have any decent targets anyway due to range. Turn 2 or 3 arrives and, right next to where your wave serpents just finished their move, disembarked their cargo and cleared the area, your distort cannons appear with 6" of the board edge. All of a sudden you have a really good threat area that can reach into the enemy back line and is, hopefully, obscured.


I am definitely going to try this and will likely do that turn 2, holding my Wraithlord in till turn 3 in case they need support.



Wraithguard / Wraithblades

One of my favourite all time Craftworlds units. These guys will be able to come on to blast things apart or charge / counter charge the enemy.


HOWEVER, at around 10 power level that would put a minimum sized unit into the 2CP zone for Strategic Reserves when you could just pay 1CP for the Webway Strike stratagem, which is better. If you are 1 or 2 power level away from going up a CP bracket for Strategic Reserves anyway, that is when it might be worth choosing these to fill that out, otherwise I think Webway Strike will always be better. Bear in mind, the distortion scythes will still be 1" too far out of range!


Dark Reapers

Simple really. People no longer have to buy a wave serpent just to start these guys in at the beginning of the battle. Arguably you could start them on the board and use 1CP for Fire and Fade to make sure they get to shoot turn 1, but you could also use that same 1CP for up to 9 power level in Strategic Reserve (as of right now, Dark Reapers are 4 at minimum squad size)






Guardians

You heard me right! Yes, despite Webway Strike always being superior to Strategic Reserves (as the rules currently stand anyway) the new rules will make running a 'footer' list more viable. You'll essentially be paying CP for Strategic Reserve instead of points for wave serpents, and I'll definitely be writing a list along these lines even if my primary list will involve serpents.






Summary

While some of our units have their own deployment shenanigans (War Walkers, Swooping Hawks, Rangers etc.) this is a really fun and useful tool to have. We don't know if there will be a cap on what percentage of your army you can keep in reserve (currently half) but we'll know more soon I'm sure.


Will they update old rules? Who knows. Maybe they'll take a fresh look at Webway Strike. What I REALLY would love - and this is my prediction, following rumours about free faction terrain like in AOS - is that they rewrite the Aeldari Webway Gate rules. My prediction is that the gate would simply be an alternative to a board edge when using Strategic Reserves, though hopefully it might have more of a useful area it is allowed to be deployed in.


Well, that's about it! Leave a comment below with any other interested synergies you can think of! I am looking forward to trying it with a Wraithlord and distort cannons!

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