Monday, 26 October 2009

Tough Tacticas: Techpriest and Servitors

Continuing the Tough Tacticas route, we're now going to look at a unit which is a bit of a miss-fit when compared to all other codici. Techpriest under the old codex were a rare and unusual thing. The old option commanded an elite FOC slot, and in comparison to the oldschool stormies or vets, it was a poor choice. To further compound the problem, the Techpriest was not actually very good at fixing things (which is one of the main reasons for having him on board).

I bought a techpriest, and then purchased a Techmarine pack for the servitors (although I like the techmarine model too!)... like many of my purchases/conversions, I bought them on a 'I need that to finish the set and its cool looking' thought process.

Since then I've barely used them.


A techpriest is actually a fairly handy model in the Imperial Guard codex. At 45pts you get a T3 3+ armoured model with average BS and WS and and only one attack. He does come armed with a power weapon as standard (which is nice) ... although under the new codex he's not actually an independent character - so he can't be 'added' to a command squad etc.

Under the old codex a common trick was to drop a Imperialis buff on the Techpriest, giving you a 90pt hero stat model with a power weapon and power armour.

Now we have Straken - which makes that buff option VERY VERY silly.

Apart from the power armour and power weapon, the techpriest also has a servo-arm. This allows the techpriest to punch a S8 power weapon attack that hits at initiative 1. You can have a total of 2 techpriest and they are not part of the FOC ... in addition, these techpriests can be accompanied by up to five servitors each. These form the 'unit' for the techpriest and give some good ablative wounds. Each servitor has a servo-arm free of charge and basic guardsmen stats. The servitor can also be upgrade to mount a heavy bolter, plasma cannon or multimelta.

The techpriests trick is that it can repair immobilised or damaged weapons on a 5+. The servitors (which a servo arm ... ie: non heavy weapon boys) also add +1 each. Meaning that a 4 servitor plus techpriest retinue can autofix any vehicle. To add another reason for leaving the heavy weapons firmly in the hands of the heavy weapon teams ... this 'ommissariah' trick replaces the shooting for that turn - meaning that they can offer an 'fix and counter assault option'.

That said, 105pts for 5 models with mainly carapace and a bunch of powerfists ain't that great. 21 pts each is getting into Deathguard pricing territory - and that they ain't!

TACTICA ONE: Tank Support.

Servitors are all about the all mech list. Their 'fix during the shooting phase' trick allows them to park up adjacent to a damaged vehicle, 'leap' from their Chimera and provide a quick repair. If you are fielding a lot of armour then a techpriest may be the way forwards. That said, with the meta-game of melta obsessed weaponry, the chances of your tank getting away with just a weapon destroyed or immobilised roll is hardly likely. Also, the techpriest is a passive response unit... meaning that he's in the sidelines waiting for his 'moment'. It may be that that moment may not come and you've wasted 105pts.

So not that convincing eh?

TACTICA TWO: Counter Assault.

That S8 power weapon could be an awesome antitank weapon or even make terminators concerned. The addition of a power weapon in the unit gives you 3 power weapon and up to 10 normal attacks at S3, followed by 6 S8 power weapon attacks. This means that the unit has some good potential to nest in your ordinance pool and play counter attack to the unit of terminators incoming. The downside is that for 105pts you could have 21 S5 power attacks with a 24" charge. They are going to down 4.66 termies compared to the the servitors 2.66 kills. The roughriders also have a good chance of downing the remaining terminator, whereas the servitors will all be dead - very dead.

Against close assault tanks, the strength 8 is a bonus ... but the I1 means that its only against vanilla Termies you'll get a chance to strike. The expense and lack of a high initiative makes the Servitor crew a marginal 'last chancer' of counter attack.


The servitor crew can offer you lots of high strength attacks in a useful way. There are some monstrous creatures (such as the Wraithlord and some Carnifex builds) that have very high strength, but low attacks or low initiative. In this case, throwing a bunch of servitors at it could prove a good last minute attack. The S8 hits have a less than even chance of downing a MC.

However, it should really be noted that any guard player playing hand-to-hand with Monsterous creatures has really forgotten his strengths and on another factor it should be noted as a guard player that I've faced no MC's in the last six months. Eldar with the option of the Wraithlord will shirks away as the Guard can field too much S7/S8 antiMC firepower.


Techpriests are being hit by the melta obsessed metagame on one side, meaning their skills are less relevant, on the other side they are less effective than rough riders as a counterattack force, but with the price of over four guardsmen each... I'm struggling to find a role for the techpriest retinue.

This is the difficulty with the Guard list at the moment. The standard infantry of guardsmen
are so cheap and have so many options (power weapons, heavy weapons, special weapons, commissars and minitorium priests ... Chimera transports) that it becomes a challenge allocating even 105 pts to anything outside troopers.

As mentioned Earlier, 105 points can go a long way in a guard force:
  • 10 Roughriders
  • Veterans with three meltaguns.
  • Infantry Command with 4 Grenade Launchers in a Chimera.
  • Powerfist Commander and 4 melta toting BS4 veterans.
  • Three Multilaser Scout Sentinels
  • A Hydra Tank with HunterKiller Missile and Heavy Stubber.
  • A Valkyrie
  • 26 Conscripts
With upgrades like Camo or simple numbers (like taking more Chimeras), the benefit of the 'Ommisariat' Techpriest and Servitors becomes an unwelcome one - no wonder I'm painting them last.


What's your experience? Am I missing a trick here - is the techpriest heavily used in North America or Australia ... let me know.