=][= In a new type of article, I shall offer some defence of units that often get overlooked. They may not be the best when you apply mathhammer into the mix, but for a fluffhead like me, sometimes the underdogs are more fun. Let me know what you think of it below! =][=
Ah, the slender, stealthy Callidus Assassin. It’s a shame that she’s maligned in the way that she is. Often seen as useless and a waste of points, I’ve come to rely on this lady (or amorphous shapeshifter, or whatever ‘she’ is) to provide real game changing moments for my Grey Knights. It wasn’t what I wanted, but this is how it turned out.
As you’ll come to realise as you use this blog, I tend to build armies far more based on fluffy principles than ‘must win’ ideals. If I like the model, and the stories around them, I’m more likely to pick it based on those principles than whether it’s going to do well. So it was with the Callidus assassin. I remember a few stories that were really well written and I love the model so when I was building out my Grey Knights army, I went for the Calidus.
Now, part of the Callidus’ problem is the Vindicare. As assassins go, he’s indisputably the better pick. The fact that his pistol packs the same punch as his rifle, and the rifle is pretty much one of the best personal arms in the game means that there isn’t really much of a choice to make if you want the best assassin. It can take out HQs, armour and everything in between. I’ll concede right here, right now, that the Vindicare rules the assassins’ roost.
As for the others, they’re not so much of a problem. The Culexus, I find, is highly situational – very useful if you’re up against heavy psychic armies, but next to useless otherwise (slight over exaggeration perhaps but undeniably in the right ball-park), and despite the fluff indicating that the Eversor is a raging-psychopath of a super-human, the rules make him far less formidable. But the Calidus has some pretty good tricks up her sleeve. Let me tell you of the first couple of games she played in…
1. Grey Knights vs Death Guard (2000pts)
Being a sometimes Death Guard player myself, I thought I could handle this one. I ended up getting tabled due to seriously horrendous dice-rolls and some school-boy tactical errors. My opponent had a big chunk of Nurgle Termies escorting Typhus across the board and they were looking unstoppable. As mentioned, my rolling had been woeful and these guys were hammering their way through the field causing all sorts of problems.
I get to bring in my Callidus on turn four. She pops up just a couple of inches away from the terminators, gets plenty of attacks (the one good roll I had that game) and kills two of them. The Neural shredder does nothing though.
Rather insultingly, Typhus et al decide to ignore her and trundle off after my Librarian and Termies in what promised to be a big showdown in the middle of the table (but ended up with my lousy rolling turning it into a bit of a one-sided waste of time).
A Flying Daemon Prince touched down that turn too, so when it came to my next go, I ran her straight into it. She died pretty much instantly.
As mentioned, I was a bit stupid with that one but I saw a spark. She took out two terminators where all others had failed.
2. Grey Knights vs Eldar (1850pts)
Just before the last Eldar Dex release, I took on another of the armies that I was relatively familiar with – the Eldar. I actually won this game (by the skin of my teeth) and one of the all star performances again was my Callidus.
I learned a good little trick this time and when she popped up in the third turn again, her task was to deal with a group of Fire Dragons that was about to run from cover and melt a Razorback. Another high roll for attacks, she appeared two inches off the squad with the Exarch in front. He, and three others fell to the blade while the neural shredder did for the remaining two. Good dice helped of course but I was actually giddy with happiness after that.
And then a wave serpent shot her with a missile and that was the end of that.
This happened through several games. Against Orks, Tau and more CSM lists, she’d pop up, cause a nice chunk of damage, and proceed to get munched almost immediately. Yes, it’s annoying that she kept dying, but she never failed to alter the game. Whether it meant an opposing squad had to spend a whole turn dealing with her when they could have been doing something else, or her actually taking down a whole squad, she’s always done me proud.
The real winner is that chunk of attacks she does as soon as she enters, out of sequence with the rest of the game. Get a good roll for that and you can dish out a pasting with her high initiative and weapon skill. Deal with any squad’s commander in that and the rest lost his leadership value when you hit them with the neat little template weapon she sports. It’s a one-trick pony sort of attack, and once she’s out in the open she’s a bit of a paper tiger, but the shock value and initial impact makes for a great moment in any game.
So, it’s not the strongest defence in the world. As mentioned, the Vindicare will almost certainly do better through a whole game, but I wouldn’t swap my Callidus for anything. If nothing else, she’s been highly entertaining, and for me, that’s almost better than her being a good unit.
However, I don’t think it’s a bad use of points if you know how to use her. Taking out a couple of Terminators, or a full squad of Fire Dragons makes quite a lot of points back and can swing a game. If you’re scared of a certain unit, dump a Callidus on them. Worst comes to worst they’ll have to spend a turn or two killing her and they’re unlikely to survive unscathed. Not many opponents relish dealing with her.
For pure fun, high entertainment game-changing moments (*whispers* that may cost you a kill point), accept no substitutes. Or get a Vindicare and kill everyone.