While I wait for the new software for my iPhone to download, I suppose I'd better bash out a quick post. Today moving into the realms of the Special Characters. I'm not going to do Interrogator-Chaplain Seriphicus or whatever his name is, because although he's in the FAQ, he's not printed in my Codex, and his data sheet is over 150 miles away. Thank you GW, for releasing a £30 book that isn't even complete.
There are 5 Special Characters in this book, Azrael, Ezekiel, Asmodai, Belial and Sammael. I really feel like I should start with Azrael, but unfortunately Belial is calling to me, so let's go through him first.
Belial is middle of the road as far as the costs of these independent characters go, weighing in at just under 200pts. He has exactly the same statline as a normal Company Master but he comes with Terminator armour as standard. So what exactly are you paying for?
Going through his wargear first, he has a Teleport Homer, so that Terminators coming in during later turns can Deep Strike near him much more safely. Tactics wise this probably isn't such a good idea. If you have multiple hammer units the last thing that you want is for them to stick together. The whole point of them is that they are able to smash parts of the opposing force aside without assistance, and whilst they are stuck together they are just smashing one part of your opponents force. Doubly hard, granted, but you can put them to much better use collapsing 2 flanks of your opponents army rather than 1.
He comes with the Warlord Trait, 'The Hunt', which means that if Belial and his unit kill the enemy Warlord in combat you get an additional Victory Point.
He obviously comes with Deathwing Assault and Inner Circle, but then he gets 3 other special rules on top of that. First off, he gets vengeful strike like the standard Deathwing Terminator squads, so his Storm Bolter is twin-linked on the turn he arrives. Groovy.
Next up, Marked for Retribution, which allows him to precision shot on a 5+, again, quite nice. The only problem is that he only has a Storm Bolter, although the precision shots are still useful, it's not like it's a guaranteed kill with that thing.
Finally, and this is quite a big one, he gets Vengeful Strike. When Deep Striking, him and his unit do not scatter provided that they all have the Inner Circle special rule. That's extremely useful, especially when coming in with all of those twin-linked weapons, as you now have a guaranteed angle of fire for picking off certain models in a unit, and you have some pretty fearsome shooting capability.
Additionally, and this is the main reason to take Belial, he makes all Deathwing Terminator squads Troops choices.
So Belial is pretty good as a Force Multiplier, but how about his own combat characteristics. His close combat weapon is called the, 'Sword of Silence', which is a Master-Crafted Power Sword with Fleshbane. There's only 1 problem with this, AP3. You might think that this isn't a big deal, after all it's only Terminators that are immune to it. Well, the problem is when you do hit Terminators. For example, I have 1 Terminator in each of my Grey Hunter packs, in my second game at Battlefield Birmingham my opponent charged my Grey Hunter pack on an objective, he had to challenge, my Wolf Guard Terminator accepted and slowly beat him up over the next couple of turns, because the Lord couldn't hurt him.
However, Belial can swap his weapons. The only problem is that you will have to forgo any shooting ability on Belial, meaning losing that 5+ precision shot and twin-linked on arrival, but I would still swap his weapons.
Both of the weapon swap options are free, and the first is swapping out for dual Lightning Claws. Sure, you get an additional attack for dual close combat weapons and re-rolls to hit or wound, but firstly, you were re-rolling 1 die anyway and wounding on 2s with your previous weapons, and secondly, this does not solve your problem, as Lightning Claws are AP3 again.
The next option is probably my favourite, as it does solve your problem. You can swap your Storm Bolter and Sword for Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield for free. Now, you do strike at I1, but now you have a 2+ armour save and a 3+ invulnerable. I know I say this a lot but the things that cancel out your 2+ save generally strike at I1, so you will have your 2+ save to keep you alive unless your opponent has a horrendous number of attacks. Even if you do come up against a weapon that is AP2 and strikes at initiative, then now how have a 3+ invulnerable to keep yourself kicking until you can hit with your S8 AP2 weapon.
So, in conclusion. I'd say that Belial is a good buy. Just as a combat beatstick I'd say that he's dubious for his points, but then you have all of the other Force Multiplier effects. If you want a Deathwing List, is an autotake, obviously, because you need him to make your Deathwing Terminators Troops, but then you're getting into is pure Deathwing the way to go with this book, I'd probably say not at the minute, but I'll leave that until the conclusion.
To summarise, when taking into account his Force Multiplication abilities and the fact that he's decent in combat, he's definitely worth his points.