40K Tactica: The Changing Landscape of the Rune Priest

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40K Tactica: The Changing Landscape of the Rune Priest

Post  Hinkel on Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:33 pm

Every Monday the SMG Blog publishes an article after 5pm. Check out this weeks article about the post-FAQed Rune Priest.


40K Tactica: Rune Priest
The Times They are A-Changin'
by Uktena
South Mississippi Gamers

Yeah, you could call it a nerf or you could call it an opportunity.
OK, for all of you whinny sissys out there crying like a girl because your beloved Rune Priest got a nerf I say this - WOLF UP! Be a Wolf Man or look elsewhere because the Space Wolves are not the army for wussy Xenos lovers like you. If a Space Wolf should find himself with a broken weapon he does not bitch about it like a woman - he finds a way to kick even more ass!

What has changed? What the Rune Priest laments in loss.
7th Edition has heralded in some big changes for the Sons of Russ. Not in the least is the new FAQ that takes away two primary abilities of the Rune Priest. First, gone are our codex psychic powers. Yeah, that one stings a little. Goodbye Jaws of the World Wolf and Living Lightning. But you know what? We got four psychic disciplines to chose from and two of them are the good ones. We are good for battle, Brother.

What else got taken away? Our 24" 4+ nullify psychic power bubble. There is no denying that this ability was a mainstay of the Rune Priest's mass appeal and for whatever reason GW deemed this was no longer in line with what they envision 7th should be about. Alright, you can knock a Space Wolf down but he gets right back up and a dozen times more mean! Don't sweat it Brothers, adapt, and fight on.

What's new?
The Rune Priest's runic weapon (which is still Force) grants a further +1 to Deny the Witch (DtW) rolls. This means that when you also add in the +1 DtW for being a psyker then the Rune Priest Denies the Witch on 4+. Very nice. The Wolf mind is like forged steel; it is unbreakable and is not idle candy for Chaos manipulation like the weak, frail Xenos mind is.

But that's not all, we can now upgrade our Rune Priest to Mastery Level 2 for half price! This was expected as the trend for psykers (and HQ in general) has been to lessen the points cost. What is not to like? For years we kept our Rune Priests at Mastery 1 because we really didn't need to upgrade (and it was way over priced). But now Rune Priests have access to an affordable level 2 and we need that added level to increase our psychic prowess. It is pretty much a must take upgrade now.

Discipline choices.
Because we are stripped of our beloved codex powers it is no longer a given to simply take Jaws and Living Lightning and call it a day. We must now choose from some of the same core rulebook disciplines that others do. We have four choices so lets take a look.

Right off the bat we get one of the good disciplines. Biomancy gives you a 2 in 3 chance to roll one of the powers that allow you to kick butt in assault. Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Warp Speed and Endurance are the powers you want. If given one or two of these choice powers the Rune Priest will become an absolute beast when charging into glorious combat.

Only the weak choose Daemonolgy. Steer clear Wolf Brothers and be not tempted by the tricks of the Allfather's greatest enemy.

Prescience is still a force to be reckoned with in 7th, even with the Warp Charge increase. Since Prescience also gives re-rolls in assault it is valuable for Space Wolves wanting to wade into visceral combat. Most of the powers in this discipline actually have merit in combat, although half are more situational such as Foreboding, Forewarning and Scrier's Gaze. Luckily, you will always have the choice of the primaris power and that alone is still one of the most powerful psychic powers in the game.

Some of the powers of Telekinesis have merit in battle but IMHO they do not compliment the role of the Rune Priest very well. I think you will find superior choices in Biomancy and Divination.

Building a Better Rune Priest.

Now that we know what has changed and what our discipline options are it is time to put it all together and create a kick-ass Rune Priest. One of the biggest problems with the Space Wolf codex (and it is a great problem to have) is that the HQ section has so many upgrades to chose from. Taking upgrades can add up fast so you have to be frugal and purchase only what you really need.

Mastery Level 2
First off this is the one auto take upgrade, so take it and you will have a cheap and cheery Rune Priest that will run you a buck and twenty-five cents. The FAQed price is what makes this option affordable. I highly recommend it unless you are really pinched for points.

You can stop at the mastery level upgrade and call it a day but if you want the Priest to mix it up in combat you might want to upgrade his armor. You have two choices here, Runic armor and Terminator armor. Both will make your Priest a more fearsome opponent in battle. The Priest only has 2 Wounds so it is best to protect those wounds the best that you can.

Terminator armor gives you the best value by coming with an invulnerable save and an option to upgrade to a combi-bolter for a mere five points. While the Runic armor does give you the nifty trick to nullify a damaging psychic attack on a 5+ you are far more likely to find yourself in need of an invulnerable save rather than a psychic save. What advantage the Runic armor does give you over the Terminator armor is that it is not Bulky. If you want armor I recommend the Terminator armor unless you are strapped for space in a drop pod or the Priest is riding in a Rhino.

The stock Runic Weapon is still a fitting instrument of war for a Rune Priest. It is a Force weapon with the added benefits of always wounding Daemons on a 2+ and granting +1 to DtW. Taking the Runic Weapon as an axe is a popular choice, just be careful of challenges against higher Initiative jerks that might kill the Priest before he can swing. It might be wise to have a Wolf Guard Pack Leader in the same unit to take challenges for the Priest. You probably won't do too bad by choosing the sword over an axe but don't choose the maul.

Don't forget to take melta bombs - these are super cheap and will become invaluable on the vehicle heavy 7th Edition battlefield. And don't bother with the plasma pistol or storm bolter as they are generally a waste of points. If the Priest has Terminator armor I suggest the cheap combi-bolter option for the same reason I recommend the melta bombs.

If hitching a ride or walking is not your style then consider the bike upgrade. This way the BikePriest can join a unit of Thunderwolf Calvalry and aid them on their mission of battlefield glory. Mobility is important in 7th so try not to let your Priest be caught walking across the table.

Miscellaneous Wargear
There is some quality wargear to chose from but you will have to watch your point spending or the Priest's cost can balloon out of control. That said, and if you have the points to spare, picking some of these items is not a bad idea.

Wolftooth necklace - Certainly consider the necklace if you want your Priest to be a Biomancy battle Priest. Always hitting on a 3+ in close combat, especially with a Force weapon, is like solid gold.

Wolf tail talisman - We are in unsure territory with this one because it was not FAQed. Rules as Written gives a 5+ chance to nullify psychic powers used against the unit. It says nothing about DtW rolls so the nullifying effect would be a separate roll after any DtW are made. This makes the talisman a must take for every Space Wolf unit as the effect is very powerful for the paltry 5 point cost.

Chooser of the Slain - With the removal of Living Lightning the role of shooting for a Rune Priest has decreased somewhat and Biomancy doesn't lend itself to shooting either. I think that the new Rune Priest's points are better spend elsewhere unlike before when the CotS was an almost auto upgrade. Skip it.

The Sagas
Saga of the Beastslayer - Not bad for the cost. If you are already rocking Prescience then this saga will be redundant. 7th Edition may see a small reduction in the number of monstrous creatures but T 5 foes shouldn't be to hard to find thus making this saga worthwhile to consider.

Saga of the Warrior Born - Costly but has potential. If your Priest in wading into battle with Biomancy then this saga might be worth taking. With the runic weapon powered up with Force it could rack up kills quickly and potentially hurtle the Priest into a flurry of Warrior Born bonus attacks every turn.

Roles for the new Rune Priest.
The Rune Priest's role among the ranks of his fellow Space Wolves must be reevaluated. No longer is he the guy to shoot Jaws at the enemy and make models disappear. Post-6th Edition I can envision two roles for the Rune Priest; that of the battle priest or that of the support priest.

Battle Priest
For a Space Wolf the clash of close combat is an exhilarating experience; for this is when the Wolf gene is let loose to unleash seething, unbridled rage upon the enemy prey. For this kind of Rune Priest there is only one discipline, Biomancy. When his pack charges into combat the Battle Priest will call upon his augmenting psychic abilities of Force and Biomancy. The time for the kill draws nigh.

Potential Battle Priest Builds

Battle Hardened
Upgrades: mastery level 2, terminator armor
Discipline: Biomancy
Powers you want: Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Warp Speed and Endurance
Cost: 145

Battle Veteran
Upgrades: mastery level 2, terminator armor, melta bombs, wolf tail talisman, wolftooth necklace
Discipline: Biomancy
Powers you want: Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Warp Speed and Endurance
Cost: 165

Battle Veteran Hero
Upgrades: mastery level 2, terminator armor, melta bombs, wolf tail talisman, wolftooth necklace, saga of the warrior born
Powers you want: Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Warp Speed and Endurance
Discipline: Biomancy
Cost: 200

Battle Bike Priest
Upgrades: mastery level 2, bike, melta bombs, wolftooth necklace
Discipline: Biomancy
Powers you want: Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Warp Speed and Endurance
Cost: 175

" If a Space Wolf should find himself with a broken weapon he does not bitch about it like a woman - he finds a way to kick even more ass! "

Support Priest
This Priest lends support to his battle brethren by guiding their blows unerringly to strike the enemy. Prescience is the bread and butter of the support priest. Love it, cherish it.

I can think of a couple of scenarios where the Support Priest would shine the most. The first is by jumping out of a drop pod (or other vehicle) with a pack of Wolf Guard all armed with combi-plasma/melta. The Priest casts Prescience and Boom! Whatever unfortunate unit was targeted just got deleted from the your battlefield.

Naturally, this tactic also works well before charging into assault. Are you assaulting out of a Land Raider Crusader with a pack of 14 berserk Blood Claws? What Space Wolf wouldn't want too? Prescience makes their 56 attacks on the charge land a brutal 42 blows on average instead of only 28.

Supporting Long Fangs with Prescience is nothing new and is still a tried and true method for a Rune Priest. Protecting your Long Fangs with an Aegis Line? The Priest can man the quad gun. In a pinch a Long Fang pack with Prescience makes a poor man's anti-flyer unit as you are bound to come up with a couple of 6's when you are re-rolling misses.

Potential Support Priest Builds

Cheap and Cheery
Upgrades: mastery level 2
Discipline: Divination
Powers you want: Prescience, Precognition, Misfortune
Cost: 125

Ready for Battle
Upgrades: mastery level 2, runic armor, melta bombs, wolf tail talisman
Discipline: Divination
Powers you want: Prescience, Precognition, Misfortune
Cost: 155

Support Bike Priest
Upgrades: mastery level 2, bike
Discipline: Divination
Powers you want: Prescience, Forewarning, Precognition, Misfortune
Cost: 160

Portents of the future. Reading the Xenos bones.
Keep fighting the good battle Wolf Brothers and know that Fenris will be rising once more. A new codex could be here this fall or at the latest this winter. That is, if the current rumors pan out to have some truth behind them.

The Rune Priest was a bargain for the longest time because he came with (a then) low cost and sported a 4+ nullification bubble. To top it all off he had some powerful unique powers in Jaws and Living Lightning. Thus consequently, the Rune Priest was often considered the Cadillac of 40K psykers. But as each new 6th Edition codex released it became more abundantly clear that the trend was towards cheaper psykers. If this trend holds true (and it should considering 7th's psychic phase makes it generally harder to manifest powers) then the next Space Wolf codex will feature a Rune Priest with a considerable point drop.

We may see the Runic Weapon get a make over but it will probably keep the awesomeness mostly intact.

An option for mastery level 3? I think not, as that level is reserved for only the most powerful psykers in the game. Also consider that Space Wolves are wary of psychic powers in the first place, so yeah, no mastery level 3 Rune Priest unless it is Njal.

Look for Space Wolf Relics to be added. I suspect to see one that will amplify a Rune Priest's psychic prowess but it probably will not be cheap. There might even be a Relic that gives the Rune Priest his nullifying bubble back. Again, that Relic will not be cheap and I predict it will be over priced.

And what about getting new codex psychic powers? I think this is a sure thing since the trend is to give each new codex unique psychic powers. Astra Militarum didn't get any new psychic powers but then again, orders can be considered a type of psychic powers if you think about it. I have no idea what new powers we might have in store but a reworking of the old powers is a good place to start. Given the Space Wolves ferocity and penchant for violence I hope to see powers that enhance the already formidable battle prowess of the Space Wolf.

The author is a member of South Mississippi Gamers and plays three factions: Astra Militarum, Chaos and Space Wolves. He is no expert at 40K and probably never will call himself such. That being said take this article for what it is, a conversation about a game that we all enjoy to play and discuss.

Please drop by and visit the author's blog at: Astra Chaos Wolf


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