I may have mentioned before my absolute infatuation with Forge World's Renegades & Heretics army list from Imperial Armour 13: War Machines Of The Lost And The Damned. I'm greatly enjoying my Orks even though I'm 0 for 2 so far and I anticipate a third defeat against Dave's Tau Empire in my first campaign game this weekend. Still, the Lost and the Damned are my signature army and IA13 cost me a pretty penny so its time to sort out what I want to do with this thing.
I was going to do a post for each slot (one for HQ, one for Elites, and so on) but the list is so aggressively complicated that the Warlord choice needs a post all to itself. There's a strange nostalgia here for the beloved Codex: Chaos Space Marines 3.5 edition, though there's nothing so obtuse here as hiding parts of actual rules in fiction box-outs.
Plus there are a few army special rules we should cover first:
Uncertain Worth (and how to game it)
Uncertain Worth (previously the Renegades rule) is one of my favourite mechanics ever. Most of the Renegades & Heretics units don't have a Leadership value. Instead, the first time you have to take a Leadership test you roll a D6 and add 4 for a result between 5 and 10 and that's the unit's Leadership for the rest of the game. I don't mind a little randomness in my game mechanics so I love it but I can certainly see why others might hate it with a fiery passion.
The rolled value can be altered, though, and that softens the blow. If you give the unit a vox-caster the result can be re-rolled (though I wouldn't do it for anything other than a roll of 1 or 2); you can give the unit a Chaos Sigil which allows them to ignore the first failed Morale Check or Pinning Test in each game turn; units with the Fanatic special rule roll 2D6 for Uncertain Worth and pick the highest; or you can add an Enforcer (a sort of Chaos Commissar) to the unit for +1 Leadership.
And so we move on to the knotty problem of determining who is going to lead this tide of heresy to glory...
Mortals are too lowly to benefit from the actual Marks Of Chaos lbut they have their own version: Chaos Covenants. A lot of unit champions can be upgraded to have a Covenant and the effects carry over to their unit: Khornates get re-rolls to Wound in the first round of close combat; Nurglesques get Feel No Pain (6+); Slaaneshis get Fleet; and Tzeentchians take their Snap Shots at BS 2 (no, you can't give that to Heavy Weapons Squads, sorry).
The Arch-Demagogue and Renegade Command Squad
This is basically an Imperial Guard Company Command Squad with variable Leadership: instead of a Company Commander you have the Arch-Demagogue and instead of Veterans you have Disciples, the stats are the same. The unit has Fanatic and the capacity for a vox so, spectacular bad luck notwithstanding, you should get at least decent Leadership. The unit can be tooled up in all the usual ways: specials and heavy weapons, banners (one gives +1 combat resolution, another allows units within 12” to roll 3D6 for Morale and Pinning); carapace armour while the Demagogue has a choice of the usual special weapons and an invulnerable save upgrade.
That's all pretty standard issue kit but what makes it fun (and complicated, but mostly fun) are the many directions you can customise the Arch-Demagogue (who, I must admit, doesn't have to be your Warlord but if he isn't he can't benefit from anything that follows).
Chaos Covenants redux: Master of Renegades
The Demagogue can benefit from a Chaos Covenant but his opens up additional units (of course, you could go Unbound and take whatever you want but this way you stay Battle Forged).
A Covenant of Khorne gets you a unit of Blood Slaughterer walkers as Elites; a Covenant of Nurgle opens up Blight Drones (Elites) and Plague Zombies (Troops); Covenant of Slaanesh gives you Noise Marines and Sonic Dreadnoughts (both Elites and, frankly, a bit too transhuman for my tastes); Covenant of Tzeentch gets you Chaos Spawn (Elites); and taking no Covenant to represent the old Mark of Chaos Undivided unlocks Renegade Marauders, which in 40k are space pirates and mercenaries.
We'll get to Marauders in another post but between them and the fact I pine for the days when Chaos Undivided was a thing I'm definitely going with that option.
Customising opportunity number two is the Devotions system, in which you choose what sort of heretic your Arch-Demagogue is. You can only put a devotion on a single Demagogue and he must be your Warlord, which is a pity because there are a lot of great options here.
Primaris-Rogue Witch is the psyker option and the only way to get Malefic Daemonology into the army (yes, there is a psyker unit. No, they can't take Disciplines) as well as Biomancy, Pyromancy and Telekinesis. He can be Mastery Level 1 or 2, is Fearless and unlocks Rogue Psyker Covens as Elites as well as HQ.
Mutant Overlord is pretty self-explanatory concept-wise. He gets three rolls on a table that adjusts his stats, some up, some down and he might become Bulky and Slow And Purposeful. His Disciples get Curse Of Mutation which is another table to decide what their mutation is giving them Fear, Acute Senses or Hammer Of Wrath, each with its own disadvantages thrown in that make me question the worth of it all.
You also have to have two Mutant Rabbles as compulsory choices though you do get the choice of having a Chaos Spawn unit as a Troops choice without having to take a Tzeentchian Covenant, plus you Ogryns can upgrade to have Curse Of Mutation. All nice but too many drawbacks and things you have to have for my liking.
Heretek Magus is all about toughening up your army. The Magus himself has a 3+ armour save, +1 Toughness and Feel No Pain (6+). You can also upgrade a whole bunch of units, pretty much anything man-sized, to have Feel No Pain. Evene better you can have Defilers! Also Decimators but that's not such a big deal to me because I love Defilers!
Master Of The Horde gets a bunch of free troops... maybe. Every time a Renegade Infantry Squad that started off with 15 or more models flees off the board or is destroyed you roll a dice and on 5+ and reappears with all upgrades (not transports) intact. In exchange you have to have a minimum of two Renegade Infantry Platoons but the maximum unit size on Infantry Squads is raised to 30.
Bit chancey, really and though I'm a big believer in basic troops that's a lot of the same model to paint.
Arch-Heretic Revolutionary gets Zealot (pass all Leadership-based tests and re-rolls To Hit in the first round of combat) and gets his Chaos Covenant for free; you can give Renegade Infantry units Fanatic; and you can have 10 Enforcers to a choice instead of 5. Its a nice theme and probably one I'd be taking if not for...
Bloody-Handed Reaver, which is the Traitor General concession. My Lost And The Damned have always been a straight-up Guard army that happens to be from a Chaos culture (they are not traitors, I am quite insistent on this!) and here;s the perfect choice for me.
The Reaver himself gets krak grenades and a refractor field for free and he can upgrade to a hot-shot lasgun or laspistol. Better yet your Renegade Infantry Veteran Squads can upgrade hot-shot weapons (including volley guns) and BS4 to create Traitor Tempestus Scions (or Storm Troopers in the old money) which suits me down to the ground as I have some old characters that would be perfect for.
This Devotion also has a magnificent false drawback in that any unit that can take Militia Training (an upgrade that makes them as good as Guardsmen at shooting and fighting) must do so, and can also have flak armour. Again, suits me fine.