Vashtorr the Arkifane or Trashtorr the Arkifail?
Firstly I should apologize for the juvenile title of this article. Secondly, I will say upfront that this is probably the most disappointed I’ve been in a rule reveal for Chaos for 10+ years. (And that is saying a LOT). Finally, before getting into this, as much as I will try not to be too revealing, there might be some SPOILERS for the first of the Arks of Omen’s books.
So let’s get into this…. right after the reveal of the amazing model for Vashtorr, I was simply floored, and knew I had to have this guy. As I read the Arks of Omens book 1, I felt more confirmation that this guy was going to be awesome.
Today that all changed when GW dropped the datasheets for Vashtorr and his army of renown: The Cogs of Vashtorr.
So what’s so bad about it? Let’s start with Vashtorr himself:
Vashtorr’s Datasheet Part 1:
Vashtorr is, unfortunately 14 wounds. This means no ‘Look out sir’. What it does do is allow you to hide him, but you’ll see shortly why that is useless for such a character.
Usually if you see a character that can be shot at, you will see some sort of damage mitigation, or ‘wound cap’. Not so here, this guy can only reduce damage from all incoming attacks by 1. Not nearly enough. This guy is going to be taking a dirt nap the second he rounds a corner on a ruin.
Secondly, let’s have a look at his weapons. An AP-2 Heavy flamer, and a plain old Thunder Hammer that MIGHT do mortal wounds to a VEHICLE. Holy crap is this terrible. It literally is a vanilla AP -2, 3 Damage hammer unless you happen to roll a 5+ to wound… on a VEHICLE. This is so bad, you must be thinking…. that’s okay… he’s no Abaddon but perhaps his strengths lie in assisting the army?!?! Let’s get to part 2 of his Datasheet:
Vashtorr’s Datasheet Part 2:
As mentioned above he does get -1 damage, but with a Toughness 7, and a 4+ invulnerable I feel confident saying he’s going to be dead very, very quickly. However, he does have Warp Strike, and at first I thought this is the way I could keep him alive, and have him interact with the army…surely his abilities with Daemon Engines must make this a ‘thing’, right? Not really. Read on…
Will of the Arkifane:
The “Command Phase” Aura’s: (Pick ONE of the following:)
There’s a lot I consider wrong with the abilities, but let’s start with what GW have given him. The “Will of the Arkifane” are COMMAND PHASE abilities. This means even if you deep strike him, he can’t use any of these since he’s not on the table during the Command Phase. Strike 1.
Unholy Mechanisms: (Command Phase) Select ONE friendly Daemon Engine (not titanic, air craft, or Character) and essentially +1 to hit. This is not good. I mean this is an inherent ability of a Warpsmith! This dude is supposedly aiming for god-hood. So far he has to use one of his three aura choices to mimic a ‘Space-mechanic’!
Ghost in the Machine: (Command Phase). Select ONE enemy Unit. A theme here is within 18″ (Bad) and within line of sight (Very bad). Halve the range of ranged weapons, till your next command phase.
So let me get this right… this won’t really have effect on anything significant because something like a Lascannon can shoot across our smaller tables this edition anyway. So instead, during my Command Phase I’m going to point to a squad of Multimelta’s and turn them into 12″ range, thus reducing their “Melta rule” to 6 inches and thus denying them the extra damage! Ah-ha… it’s all coming together now. But wait, this is in MY command phase, so that means that in your opponent’s turn when they move 6 inches then Vashtorr will still take all the Melta in the face anyway?
Tell me I’m missing something here. I must be, otherwise this rule makes zero sense to me. Nevermind on a key character that GW is trying to sell us next week. Let’s move on…
Agonize Machine Spirits: On with the theme of (Command Phase) select one enemy Vehicle within 18″ (Bad) and visible to this model (very bad), and halve the move and attacks of models in that unit.
So first off assuming we round up this isn’t going to do anything unless you anticipate the target is indeed going to live past your turn, just like the other aura. And it only works on vehicles… So a dreadnought? A Knight perhaps?
Will of the Arkifane is full of bad rules. Why is the first rule only 3″? What the heck is that? 3 inches?! And just to add 1 to hit roll, but it’s in your command phase. The second ability to halve shooty range, and the third ability to halve close combat attacks are meant to protect the Arkifane from devastating shooting OR devastating Assault, but he has to be SO CLOSE to the target, and in his COMMAND PHASE that this is nearly, if not entirely, useless.
So where’s the saving grace? The Warlord trait, perhaps he’s cheap? Let’s see…
Warlord Trait: Lord of Terror….. So if I take this guy, he has to be my Warlord, and I have to take this trait. I can’t think of a single time I’ve had desire to use Lord of Terror. Come on GW. You have this amazing model, and this great new background you’re introducing into the 40K universe and this is as creative as you can get with this Demi-God’s warlord trait? At this point, you’re not even trying.
Points: 260. Okay, it’s hard to be too judgmental about the points because even though this is too high, they wax and wane with every update, and this was clearly written a long time ago.
Perhaps Vashtorr’s true talent with a wrench is in dodgeball more than Daemon Engine repair?
There are times we all make judgement calls on GW rules and they are negative, and unwarranted. I myself made a rule of not being judgmental about anything new until I play it. For example when everyone said this edition’s Iron Warriors were going to be terrible, I decided to see for myself, and I think they are underrated.
So why am I negative this time? Well I’m glad you asked….
As someone who has played almost every Chaos Legion, and Codex for over 20 years I enjoyed the unique pleasure of seeing a fun, thematic, and decent ‘middle of the road/right where it should be’ kind of Chaos Codex in 9th edition. Finally after years of very poor rules and being the only guy using Abaddon in tournaments, it finally came up decent.
Add to that we have Vashtorr as a new addition, and well written one in my opinion. And the model speaks for itself.
I mean look at this model. It should be capable of wrecking anything within 12 inches by leveraging the abilities and dark energies established in Arks of Omen. Instead GW gave him a thunder hammer and heavy flamer.
While Abaddon is spoiled in riches, this is the pauper of chaos demi-gods. Everything from Warlord traits, to his armourment, to his abilities. I feel like not one, but ALL of these are lacking.
How is it that the Arkifane cannot heal anything? He should be superior in every way to a Warpsmith. Yet instead you will most likely want one to make up for this shortfall.
His entrance into Abaddon’s life is a whirlwind of dark energies, and eerie nano-tech sorcery that heals the much damaged despoiler’s warship. (It is still undergoing lengthy repairs from the attacks of the Eldar in Vigilus Ablaze.)
His ability to heal Daemon Engines should be magnificent. Perhaps limited to 1 per turn, but certainly D3+ 1 or 2 wounds per turn. How about an 18″ aura that enhances the Daemon Engine ability to heal 2 wounds instead of 1? That’s easy, and Necrons can do it all game long all over the board. This is low hanging fruit that GW decided not to capitalize on.
So the good and the bad:
-Fly key word. He’ll need it.
-Ability to Deep strike, even though his abilities are miss aligned with the Command Phase.
-His Hammer might score the extra wounds necessary to take down a Dreadnought.
-Access to Cogs of Vashtorr Army of Renown might be his saving grace. (Although he’s looking like the worst part of it.)
-Minus 1 Damage. He’s got the Dreadnought rule.
The Bad Stuff:
-Too many points
-Abilities are mediocre at best, and require him to literally risk his existence to use, in the wrong phase of the game.
-Wounds are too high. You can hide him behind Obscuring terrain, but he’s probably dead right after that.
-Warlord trait is not only unimaginative but downright deplorable. Another missed opportunity.
-Get this…. He’s NOT a Daemon Engine. So not only is he of no help to himself, many of the Cogs of Vashtorr abilities don’t help him, ironically including the “Wanton” abilities. Truly a massive miss by GW.
-As mentioned no heal. Bizarre that I thought of this guy as a good chance to combine a Warpsmith, and a Master of Possession into a unique cool powerset. However, you will still need both of those models to leverage those (much needed) abilities. Just bizarre.
-He looks, and feels like a ‘chapter master’ but didn’t get that rule.
-There’s nothing ‘unique’ here. What I mean by this is if you read the book there is a HUGE missed opportunity here. You’ll have to trust me on this; what this guy is capable of and displays in the fiction is not even remotely evident in this release. There is a serious lack of imagination on this release.
Should you include Vashtorr in your Army?
To be blunt. No. Vashtorr is, at the time of this writing, not bringing enough to the table to replace our other HQ’s and certainly not good enough to bump our named baddies like; Abaddon, Huron, etc. Sorry, but it appears he is just another “Ethel” in those armies.
There is one place where I HOPE to make a case for Ethe… errr Vashtorr, and that is in Cogs of Vashtorr. While this article won’t go too deep into it, there is some ‘fun’ to be had with the army of renown. And since he is mandatory to play it, we’ll have to learn to make the best of him.
So with Vashtorr the Arkifane on the table, what can the Dark Angels expect?
In conclusion there is a what I feel a big divide between what I thought Vashtorr would be, and what he actually is.
I admit I am a sucker for Chaos, and I still want the model. But it’s different now. I will surely test the Cogs of Vashtorr and maybe it will be good. Vashtorr though I feel will be much more rewarding to paint, than play.
There was a feeling when Abaddon came out. A feeling like… this guy is believable as a wrecking ball that threatens the Imperium. And in the fiction at least, Vashtorr is not far removed from that same role.
He aligns his long term goals, and they are lofty, to Abaddon’s desire to crush the Imperium. But he is far from this representation on the table top… not even close. Fear not Dark Angels, I suspect the Rock will be unchipped, and your great Lion can go back to sleep. There’s nothing to see here.
Again, I hate being negative here on such a cool model. There’s just no way around this one though. Although I’m clearly not a fan of his rules, I truly hope to have some good news about the army of renown after some test games.