Saturday, March 9, 2013

Telion, Scouts, and Cover Saves

Yesterday morning I was preparing for the second half of our Cabal's 1250 point mini-tournament that was to be held that evening. (After a brutal bloodbath, Jon and I ended up in a draw.) Part of my force was a five man Sniper Scout Squad led by Sergeant Telion. While I was reading through several forums discussing the use of Scouts, I found something that I had completely missed.

Prior to the release of 6th Edition, the description of the camo cloak found in both the Space Marine and Imperial Guard codexes said that "A model wearing a camo cloak has the stealth universal special rule." Camo cloaks could be purchased for Scouts at 3 points each. However, a player had the option to upgrade his Scout sergeant to Sergeant Telion. Telion didn't have a camo cloak as part of his wargear, but he had the stealth rule. As the 5th Edition FAQs clarified, if a single model with the stealth rule were part of a squad, the rule was conferred to the whole squad. Thus, bringing Telion made camo cloaks redundant. As long as the Sergeant was still alive, all models in the squad benefited from +1 to their cover saves per the stealth rule.

Of course he has a camo cloak.
That's not just a fancy cape.
Shortly after the release of 6th Edition, the revised FAQs made a few changes to both camo cloaks and Telion. The one I noticed at the time was "Add Camo cloak to [Telion's] wargear". This made no sense to me; the FAQ hadn't deprived Telion of the stealth rule, so why add a completely unnecessary camo cloak? What I had missed was the redefinition of the cloak's effect. Both the Space Marine and Imperial Guard codexes had been revised to say that "A model wearing a camo cloak has +1 cover save".

It wasn't until yesterday that the implication of these changes hit me. The camo cloak doesn't confer the stealth rule anymore, it improves a model's cover save by 1. Instead of being a redundant piece of wargear on a model that already has the stealth rule, the effect of the cloak is to improve cover saves that have already been modified by the stealth rule. The result is a model that has +2 to its cover saves. When GW added a camo cloak with the revised wording to Telion's wargear, they effectively gave him the shrouded special rule. Thus, if Telion takes cover behind a wall, he gets an impressive 2+ cover save. When I wondered why they didn't just give him the shrouded rule, it occurred to me that they didn't want Telion to confer shrouded onto his Scouts; they want us to pay for it.

Now here's where it gets really crazy. Since Telion confers stealth to his Scouts, and since a camo cloak now grants +1 to a model's cover saves instead of giving it the stealth rule, you can purchase camo cloaks for the rest of Telion's squad and give them the same awesome cover saves as their sergeant. Telion doesn't simply replace camo cloaks now, he can make them better. However, if you need to save a few points you can forgo the camo cloaks and settle for +2 to Telion's cover saves and just stealth for the Scouts.

Apparently, the stacking cover saves for Sergeant Telion and the fact that his squad can benefit from them too by purchasing camo cloaks has been relatively well known since last summer. I don't know how many games I've played since then in which Telion would have been saved by the revised rules. He benefited from his improved saves for the first time last night, but his men had to go without cloaks since the Cabal's tournament lists were locked in two weeks ago.

Under 5th Edition, I found a lot of people who considered a Scout Squad, particularly one with Telion, to be too expensive. Although they had the scout and infiltrate rules, Scouts had a poorer weapon skill, ballistic skill, and armor save than a Tactical Marine while costing 13 points versus a Marine's 16 points. Once you added a camo cloak, a Scout cost exactly the same. If you took the base cost of a five man Scout Squad (75 points) and subtracted out the cost of four Scouts, you'd find that a basic Scout sergeant cost 23 points; a mere three points less than a Tactical Marine Sergeant who has identical stats but is equipped with power armor. When you bought the 50 point Telion upgrade, you ended up with a 73 point model with some awesome special rules but only a single wound, a 4+ armor save, and a 3+ cover save in most circumstances.

By changing the definition of a camo cloak and adding one to Telion's wargear, GW gave the Sergeant a 2+ cover save in many circumstances without increasing his cost. And since the effect of cloaks now stacks with stealth, his Scouts can also have 2+ cover saves behind walls and ruins for only three more points per model. The icing on the cake is the ability to purchase fortifications and emplaced weapons in 6th Edition. A 50 point Aegis Defence Line can give your Scouts a 2+ cover save in a location of your choice. For 50 points more you can put Telion on a quad-gun, making it BS6 and giving it precision shots. Or, for a mere 35 points, you can give Telion a 96" range Icarus lascannon for sniping enemy HQs or other important targets (with BS6 he'll be hitting over 86% of the time). The cost of Scouts in general, and Telion's cost in particular, seems a bit more reasonable now.

Immediately on the heels of the FAQ, the following setup started bouncing around the Internet:

10X Scouts (8 with sniper rifles): 140 points
Sergeant Telion: 50 points
9X Camo Cloaks: 27 points
1X Missile Launcher or Heavy Bolter: 10 points
Aegis Defence Line: 50 points
Icarus Lascannon: 35 points
Total: 312 points

Now this is a fairly high price tag, but it makes for a pretty impressive firebase that's manned by ten models with 2+ cover saves, eight 36" range sniper rifles that wound anything on a 4+ and can rend, a missile launcher or heavy bolter (with Hellfire shells), and a BS6 sergeant who always makes precision shots and who will be hitting his chosen targets with an extra long range lascannon 86% of the time.

I look forward to testing this build out, although it obviously has a few weaknesses. Most apparent is the fact that you'd have to keep certain units away from the defence line. Heavy flamers or equivalent would eat this squad alive if allowed to get close.


  1. I have used a similar scout setup. I tend to go with the quadcannon though. I find they can lay down some hurt, but, they are huge huge huge targets on the kill priority.

    1. A few games ago the Scouts had an unfortunate run-in with a heavy flamer. In another game they nearly had a close encounter with Grey Knight Interceptors with incinerators (the Vindicator cancelled the meeting).

      I still like what they've been doing for me, but the Scout's 4+ armor is becoming a huge liability. This is especially the case when you play against the same four or five guys every game night like we do.


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