10th Edition Adeptus Mechanicus has an Expectation vs Reality Problem

AdMech in 10th edition has an identity crisis. While I believe Games Workshop delivered admirably on their "simplified not simple" mantra in 10th Edition overall, the changes outlined in the AdMech 10th edition index have gutted a great deal of what I thought AdMech as a faction was.

10th Edition Adeptus Mechanicus has an Expectation vs Reality Problem

Update: Games Workshop has addressed a few of the issues I've outlined in this post with their latest Balance Dataslate update—posted September 7th, 2023—namely the excessive cost of some AdMech units and the toughness of our Skitarii Battleline units. Read GW's August 2023 Dataslate Update for more info, and I'll update this note with more info when the new AdMech codex drops in Nov/Dec 2023.

If you're an AdMech fan like me, you may have been drawn to them based on traits that make them stand out in 40k lore. The tech priests of Mars are masters of technology, and design, build, repair, and refurbish nearly every piece of military hardware that the Imperium of Man uses. That have crazy, insanely advanced technologies that even they know barely how to use. ‌‌That addiction to technology extends to their own bodies, as followers of the Omnissiah willingly replace their weak, fleshy bits with metal limbs, superior optics and sensors, turning themselves into cyborg meta-humans to better serve the Imperium.

In addition to the lore, just look at the AdMech models! Call me biased, but I'd argue that the AdMech range has some of the most impressive plastic model designs in the 40K universe, particularly the ornithoptery (Dune-esque) Archaecopter, the scuttling, crab-like Onager Dunecrawler, and the 1960's Sci-Fi-era inspired Kastelan Robot. I'm not alone when I say that the striking AdMech model design pulled me from being a curious bystander into playing 9th Edition 40k on the tabletop in late 2022. My expectations for AdMech in 10th Edition were high, as I was looking forward to the "simple not simplified" approach that Games Workshop was promoting.

I dare you to find cooler models anywhere in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I'll wait. (Image source: Games Workshop)

Expectations? Meet Reality

Unfortunately, my expectations met reality: AdMech in 10th edition has an identity crisis. While I believe Games Workshop delivered admirably on their "simplified not simple" mantra in 10th Edition overall, the changes outlined in the AdMech 10th edition index have gutted a great deal of what I thought AdMech as a faction was. I expected AdMech to always be the determined, disciplined, cybernetically-enhanced warriors of the Omnissiah who willingly traded their weak fleshy parts for the certainty of steel, with sensors that improved on innate human ones, metal bodies that resist damage more than those of meatbag humans, and armed with powerful firearms, vehicles, and war machines from the golden age of technology that no other imperial faction has access to.

The reality is that AdMech no longer feels like the army that it should be, and is now divorced from the lore that the faction is surrounded by. I'd argue that most factions of 10th Edition—including Space Marines as a whole, Eldar, Genestealer Cults, Tyranids, Necrons, Orks, Imperial Knights, Chaos Knights, Custodes, Astra Militarum, and even the Drukhari—fared much better, and have army rules, detachments, and unit cards (with several individual exceptions, of course!) that make them play and feel as they're depicted in 40K lore. Games Workshop said as much for Space Marines in 10th Edition, saying they would "...once again live up to the legend on the tabletop."

The Adeptus Mechanicus index obviously wasn't included in that effort. I'd argue that disconnect between lore and gameplay has impacted the Adeptus Mechanicus the hardest, although I believe the Leagues of Votann and the Deathguard currently have the same problem. According to official 40K lore, AdMech should be flexible, deadly, and have exotic weaponry and war machines; Votann should be a tough, durable faction with advanced technology that the Imperium can't match; and the Deathguard should be disgustingly resilient, marching on their enemies like a smelly, durable, relentless, inexorable host of tireless horrors.

All of these armies feel like imposters because of 10th Edition army rules, detachments, and unit cards that fall short of playing how players think they should play.

I won't get into all the details of where I think Games Workshop dropped the ball with Adeptus Mechanicus on the tabletop, as more experienced 40K tabletop players than I have given their expert perspectives, namely Andrew "Pendulin" Haywood in his Goonhammer Unhinged: An Adeptus Mechanicus Rant and Richard Siegler and Quinton Johnson in their AdMech 10th Edition Index review on YouTube.

What I would like to focus on are just handful of iconic AdMech units that I think Games Workshop missed the mark on, and provide some solutions that I think may help fix the issues.

What Works

On the positive side, the Onager Dunecrawler (140 points)—one of the coolest looking models in 40K, IMHO—has finally been buffed to the point that it's a viable unit, thanks to a very tanky T10, W11, 2+/4++ saves, Doctrina Imperatives support, and a Dunecrawler ability that lets it freely move over terrain 4" or less in height. The Skorpious Disintegrator (195 points) has also been buffed—while still too expensive—and is the only unit in the AdMech arsenal that has an indirect fire option via the Belleros energy cannon.

An emerging consensus seems to be that AdMech's most effective combo in 10th Edition—at the time of this writing, in early July 2023—is teaming a Manipulus or Dominus with the Omni-Sterilizer enhancement and attaching that character to a unit of Kataphron Breachers, which I've found to be fiddly, hard-to-build models of a human torso grafted onto miniature tank treads that is arguably the least attractive model in the faction. A cynic might say that Games Workshop may have had a vast quantity of unsold Kataphron Breacher / Destroyer model boxes gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere that needed to be moved—hence the Kataphron glow-up to sell more of them—but I digress.

What Doesn't Work

Others have commented on how meh our army rule—Doctrina Imperatives—is (i.e., only 2/3rds of the army can use it, half of it rewards you for simply staying in your deployment zone, etc.) and how broken our Rad-Cohort detachment rule is (i.e., it actively benefits Adepta Sororitas and Dark Angels players, Necrons simply shrug it off and reanimate units, the rule removes player agency, etc.).

I'd argue the biggest issue is that most of our individual index unit cards have been nerfed into mediocrity and stripped of the lore / character that make them feel distinct, powerful, and, well, feel like AdMech units should.

In particular, I personally think these five units have the biggest disconnect between GW lore and their play on the tabletop: the Archaeopter Transvector, Skitarii Rangers, Kastelan Robots, Servitors, and several of the AdMech character units.

Note: I also discuss our flawed "close to battleline" mechanic a bit in the section on Skitarii Rangers.

I'll take a look at each, discuss why I think they're so weak, and offer some suggestions on how they could be improved to make them play—and feel—like you're playing the Adeptus Mechanicus we all know and love.

Archaeopter Transvector

Expectation: They're like ornithopters from Dune!‌

"They are incredibly agile, their implanted pilots able to reshape the wings to suit changing atmospherics, while directing their cognis heavy stubber to scythe apart oncoming foes." - 10th Edition Warhammer 40,000 app

Reality: Sitting ducks. Or hovering ducks. Sometimes flying ducks.

Another objectively gorgeous model, the Archaeopter can be built in three variants: the Stratoraptor (the ground-attack gunship), the Fusilave (the bomber), and the Transvector (the transport). While I think all of them are way too expensive, I'll single out most of my criticism for the Transvector.

A Warhammer 40,000 Archaeopter model.
Can't you imagine a squad of Skitarii Vanguard fast-roping out of this thing onto the battlefield in the same turn? I sure can. (Image source: Games Workshop)

To start with, it's much too expensive at 155 points, especially compared to flying transports from other factions. The Eldar Wave Serpent is 120 points, the Tau Devilfish is 95 points, and the Drukhari Raider is 90 points. All of them carry 10-12 infantry units.

Warhammer 40k flying transports comparison
Shopping for a flying transport? Everyone but AdMech has a deal for you! (Click for a larger image.) Image source: Grokvar

If you decide to add one to your army list, you can use it as a normal flying transport (from turn 2 onward), or you can use the Aerial Deployment ability to put it in Strategic Reserves (in Hover Mode) and bring it in during the reinforcement step in your first, second, or third movement phase. But there are some issues with that approach, which Andrew "Pendulin" Haywood at Goonhammer describes better than I can:

"The Aerial Deployment ability is a crummy knock-off a Drop Pod. The Transvector is a Deep Strike transport that can come onto the battlefield on round one. Except we can’t disembark those units on that round. So in practice, it shows up on the battlefield, just hovers there, and gets torn to shreds in your opponent’s shooting. It’s got a 3+ save, no invuln, no damage reduction, and a wingspan that covers half the board. Anything and everything can shoot it. And they will. And it will explode." —Andrew "Pendulin" Haywood, Goonhammer Unhinged: An Adeptus Mechanicus Rant

Possible Solution: Looking at the design of the Archaeopter, it looks ‌‌fast and nimble, able to zoom across the battlefield, hover, change directions quickly, and fly off again. It already has a 20" move, so why can't it have a once per battle ability to deploy units immediately when coming from strategic reserves? The Space Marine drop pod can do that, and it only costs 70 points.

Just imagine the visual: a Transvector swoops across the battlefield like a massive cybernetic dragonfly, slows to a hover and rotates into position. Side doors slide open, a Skitarii Marshal and his squad of Vanguard fast rope out of the transport and quickly disperse, their cybernetic limbs whirring and clicking under the downwash of the Archaeopter's beating wings as the transport roars back into the sky. How cool would that be?

Skitarii Rangers

Expectation: Lethal. Relentless. Calculating. Deadly gunlines.

"They utilize inloaded tactical schematics, meticulous planning and intuitive leaps of logic to respond to local divergences of kill ratios and geospatial positioning. Rapid reassessment of of enemy capabilities enable individual units to outwit those who believe they have the better of the Machine's God's faithful." - Adeptus Mechanicus 9th Edition codex, p.12

Reality: Near-sighted fusiliers made of papier-mâché.

So how do our "warriors made" stack up in 10th edition?

Update: In the September 2023 Balance Dataslate update, GW boosted the armor saves of Skitarii Vanguard and Rangers as follows:

Let's compare Skitarii Rangers to a few battleline troops from other factions. Eldar Guardian Defenders with an included heavy weapon platform (HWP) have a superior move (7"), ballistic skill (BS3+), weapons skill (WS3+), armor save (4+), leadership (6+), and more units (11 counting the HWP). They can also generate Fate Dice for their powerful Strands of Fate army rule. And they cost less (120pts)!

The great Skitarii Ranger comparo. (Click for a larger image.) Image Source: Grokvar.

Granted, Eldar are ancient, powerful xenos with superhuman intelligence and lightning-fast reflexes. But our augmented Skitarii are surely better than mere humans without augmentations, right?

Let's take a look at the Tempestus Scions from the Astra Militarum index: What do we find? A superior armor save (4+), better ballistic skill (BS3+), a default re-roll 1s to hit ability, default hit re-rolls on enemy units within range of an objective marker, they benefit from orders, and can get two free meltaguns (S9, AP-4, D6 Dam, [MELTA 2]). They're also available in units of 5 or 10. Cost? Only 120 points. So scratch that "flesh is weak" mantra—in 10th edition 40k, trained human troops are objectively better than our beloved, bionic skittles.

Our cybernetically-enhanced super-warriors may not be the equal of Eldar or the most elite human soldiers, but surely they're better than literal trash mobs from other factions, right? Right?

Let's take a look at Cultist Mobs, which Chaos Space Marine players commonly use as cheap chaff and cannon fodder. Games Workshop describes Cultist Mobs thusly: "Ordinary men and women fallen to promises of temporal power who take to battle in huge numbers...bearing a motley collection of improvised, stolen and makeshift weapons."

These aspiring cultists have the same shooting ability (BS4+) and a nearly identical statline—other than a slightly weaker save (6+ vs 5+/6++) and lower OC value (OC 1 vs OC 2)—as our augmented, enhanced, and armor-plated Skitarii legions. But wait! The humiliation of our beloved Rangers isn't complete: Unlike Skitarii, these Cultist Mobs have the tactical acumen to organize themselves in units of 5. Or in riotous mobs of 20. They're also only 55 points for 10 models, and a meager 110 points for 20. They also have a similar sticky obsec ability, which was likely a key selling point in the "Chaos needs you!" promotional literature that swung their allegiance to the ruinous powers.

That's the last word, my binharic-speaking borg brothers: Our elite Skitarii legions struggle to best warp-addled civilians with zero training, wielding a motley armory of junk weapons. Omnissiah be praised!

Battleline Buddy Blues

So what are we to do with our expensive, underpowered Skitarii legions?

Want to play defensively and use them in your backfield to hold objectives? Then vast swathes of your army—namely, Kataphron Breachers, Sicaran Rustalkers, Petraxii Skystalkers/Sterylizors, and Serberys Raiders/Sulphurhounds—lose their "close to battleline" buffs as they advance across the battlefield while our frail Battleline troops cower in our deployment zone.

What about on offense? While imagining regiments of Rangers and Vanguard marching in lockstep with trundling Kataphrons and skittering Sicarans across the battlefield might be an intriguing one, the reality is worse: Rangers/Vanguard can only be taken in units of 10, making them vulnerable, thin-skinned blobs of weakness—thanks to their 1 wound, T3, and 5+/6++ save statlines—that will likely get evaporated in the first round or two of combat by the nearest Wraithknight, Knight Abominant, or Desolator Squad rampaging through the meta these days. Erased battleline units = no more battleline buddy buffs for 50% of our army. <Cue sad beeping robot noises.>

If you really want to make the aforementioned battleline buddy mechanic work, you need redundancy, so you'll be forced to bring multiple blobs of Rangers or Vanguard—let's say two Rangers and one Vanguard—use stratagems like baleful halo (-1 to wound) / bulwark imperative (4++) to keep them alive, and attach characters to each of those units, one with the excoriating emanation enhancement that grants stealth. Then you're left with an expensive, overcosted (500+ point), unwieldy mass of units that you're constantly maneuvering to stay within a certain distance of each other, all with abysmal shooting skill and a dearth of wounds to absorb damage.

The "close to battleline" seems interesting on paper, but is less useful in practice. It also doesn't make sense from a lore perspective: Shouldn't proximity to their Tech-Priest leaders make AdMech units more effective, rather than being next to their rank and file brother minions? The Necron Command Protocols Detachment Rule is much more direct, straightforward, and effective way to represent this: A Necrons Character that joins a unit gives +1 to hit on every attack roll that unit makes. By comparison, the Battleline mechanic is fragile, fiddly, and difficult to truly maximize.

Conversely, you could be spending those points on units that, I don't know, have a chance to actually damage and kill enemy units with their shooting. Like Canis Rex, or a Knight Castellan, or a trio of Armiger Helverins, all options that cost less and are far more effective at killing enemy units at range. You know, like AdMech units used to be able to.

Sadly, drafting Knights into our AdMech lists is less of a brilliant strategy and more of a sobering recognition that AdMech's own units are so weak we need to rely on allied units to give us even odds of winning.

Again, this doesn't feel like the AdMech that drew me to tabletop 40K. ‌‌‌‌

Possible Solution: Reducing the point cost of Rangers is a given and would be the low-hanging fruit option, but taking this too far and making AdMech players then buy even more models—when we already have the most expensive army to collect in the game—isn't a panacea. I'd suggest that GW also allow Vanguard and Rangers to be taken in unit sizes of 5 and 20, make them more durable (T4 or a +4 save, or both!), and offer more ways to enhance their lackluster shooting, either by natively improving BS to 3+ or giving them more easily-attainable buffs that accomplish that feat.

Kastelan Robots

Expectation: Advanced relics of humanity's golden age of technology. Tough, hard to kill, deadly at range and in melee.

"Kastelan Robots are giant automata from Mankind's dark past, shielded with thick armour and advanced force fields...Kastelans are bastions on defence and nigh unstoppable on the attack, unleashing heavy firepower and bludgeoning swipes with their giant fists." - 10th Edition Warhammer 40,000 app

Reality: Slow, bumbling, depressing battle bots shadowed by a forgetful, objectively useless Datasmith.

My favorite Hammer and Bolter episode on Warhammer+ is Kill Protocol. In that animation, a lone Tech-Priest—standing in for a Cybernetica Datasmith—seeks out lost archeotech on the surface of a blasted, war-ravaged world. I won't spoil the ending, but our intrepid protagonist programs and re-programs her companion Kastelan Robot into its various protocols with unerring accuracy. The Kastelan Robot proceeds to ventilate (via Phosphor blasts) and smoosh (via Kastelan fists) dozens of rampaging Orks, all while our Tech-Priest/Datasmith slices and blasts her fair share of greenskins with her Omnissian Axe and various other weapons. It's an enjoyable tale, and I'd suggest that every AdMech fan give it a watch.

Want to see a Kastelan Robot ventilate and pulverize a few dozen Orks? And reliably get reprogrammed and repaired by a Datasmith? You'll have to watch this Warhammer+ animation, as the Kastelan Robot + Cybernetica Datasmith combo on the tabletop can do none of those things. (Image source: Warhammer+)

Sadly, the Kastelan Robot—and its attached Tech-Priest companion—are absolutely nothing like what I just described above on the tabletop: Both units have received so many nerfs as to be practically unrecognizable.

‌‌"To the Tech-Priests that who consider the flesh to be weak, commanding these constructs is like commanding the angels of the Omnissiah himself."
- Adeptus Mechanicus 9th Edition Codex, p.19

With 8th and 9th Edition AdMech, the Datasmith had a 100% chance to change the battle protocols of any attached Kastelan Robots. In 10th, the Datasmith needs to pass a leadership test to do so, which gives you a 42% chance of failure. The Kastelan Robot also doesn't start by default in any protocol, so there's a very real possibility you could play an entire game without your Kastelan Robots getting any Battle Protocol buffs.

Don't they look cool? Exhibit A of why I picked the Adeptus Mechanicus. (Image source: Games Workshop)

The Kastelan's movement has also been knee-capped, reduced to 6" from 8". The Kastelan Robot also is excluded from using the AdMech army rule, unlike in 9th Edition, where Kastelan Robots could benefit from Canticles of the Omnissiah.

It gets even worse: Hopefully this is an oversight on GW's part, but attaching a Cybernetica Datasmith to a unit of Kastelan Robots imparts the Infantry keyword to them, making your "bastions on defence" now vulnerable to [ANTI-INFANTRY] weapons.

And the hits continue: In 8th/9th Edition, a Datasmith could repair D3 wounds on one Kastelan Robot per turn. In 10th Edition? No robot heals for you.

Sadly, the rest of the Datasmith's index is empty. That's it: Other than a once-a-turn 58% chance to successfully reprogram a Kastelan Robot, the Datasmith has no other special abilities.

Even a lowly Ork Mek (45 points) can become a greenskin MacGyver and use scrap metal, Grot snot, and Squigosaur toenails to heal D3 wounds and give +1 to hit on a vehicle within 3". He also gets the Lone Operative ability within 3" of a vehicle, has decent shooting and melee weapons, and can take advantage of the Ork Waaagh! army rule.

AdMech Needs You! I'm sure the Omnissiah can make a hiring exception for this Orky, vehicle-repairing, buff-granting, Killsaw-wielding superstar. (Image source: Grokvar)

An even better idea: Give our useless Datasmith the metal boot and opt for a Tech-Priest Enginseer for 45 points. You can't attach the Enginseer to the Kastelan Robots as a leader, but that's fine: Just keep him within 3" of the robots and he'll gain the Lone Operative buff. The Enginseer could then repair the Kastelans for D3 wounds once per turn and give them a 4++ invulnerable save buff when it does so. The Enginseer also gains three extra Omnissian axe attacks if a nearby Kastelan Robot (being a vehicle) dies. I might be crazy for suggesting this, but I think I'd rather spend the extra 10 points for guaranteed buffs than spend 35 and risk a 42% chance of a character literally doing nothing every turn.

The ubiquitous Tech-Priest Enginseer: One of the very few AdMech units that largely avoided the nerf-hammer. (Image source: Grokvar)

It's a sad commentary on the current state of our broken index when it makes more sense to dump one of the models that ships in the Kastelan Robots box for something else.

Points Comparison: Kastelan Robots

We've established that our beloved robot bois are in their Fat Elvis period, a pale imitation of what they've historically been portrayed as in 40K lore on the tabletop. Now let's rub some salt on that wound with a point cost comparison!

As of early July 2023, two Kastelan robots cost 215 points. Throw in the 35 point Cybernetica Datasmith tax, and we're looking at 250 points, or 125 points per Kastelan Robot. Let's compare that to vehicle options other factions can field for roughly the same cost.

An Armiger Warglaive is only 15 points more (140 points), and features double(!) the movement (M12"), higher toughness (T10 vs T9), better weapon skill (WS3+ vs WS4+) and ballistic skill (BS3+ vs BS4+), the same 5++ invulnerable save, more wounds (12 vs 7), and quadruple the OC value (8 vs 2). It also has more and better weapons vs. vehicles, including better melee AP (-3) and [SUSTAINED HITS 1] on melee weapons when it charges.

Kastelan Robot points comparison
Weep for our beloved Kastelan Robots, my bionic battle brothers. (Click for larger image) Image source: Grokvar

The World Eaters Helbrute has even more close combat prowess for 150 points, with better shooting and melee skill (3+ vs 4+), more wounds (8 vs 7), better leadership (6+ vs 7+), better OC (3 vs 2), and better melee with the Helbrute Hammer, which sports 5 attacks, S14, AP-3, and D6+1 damage.

Finally, we can't forget the Astra Militarum Armored Sentinel. Although it's more focused on ranged damage, it's faster (8" move), a tad weaker (T8 vs T9), but otherwise has nearly an identical statline to our beloved Kastelan Robot, costs only 70 points per model, and is available in units of one, two, or three.

So there we have it: The mighty Kastelan robot, created in the golden age of technology, struggles to provide better value than a chicken-legged, mass-produced war machine manufactured in the millions by mindless servitors and crewed by reluctant conscripts.

‌‌"Many Datasmiths also bear prehensile dataspikes, which can steal the secrets of enemy machines within heartbeats of being stabbed into the engines' cortices." - Adeptus Mechanicus 9th Edition Codex, p.19

Possible Solution: Here's what I'd do: Give the slacker Datasmith the lone operative keyword, the ability to do D3 wound repair on the robots, grant his protocol-changing efforts a 100% success rate, and—just like in 9th edition!—let Kastelan Robots start with the Aegis protocol by default. You could also give the Datasmith the ability to damage enemy vehicle units as described in the 9th Edition AdMech codex (crazy idea, I know.)

Next? I'd axe the head-scratching 4+++ feel no pain for the Datasmith and bump up the invulnerable save for the robots from 5+ to 4+, which would make their 2+ / 4++ saves at least the equal of a Space Marine Terminator. Better yet: Give the Kastelan Robots at least a 6+++ or 5+++ FNP to make them even more survivable in melee, and help them truly live up to their "nigh unstoppable on the attack" lore.


Expectation: Mindless automatons created in the millions to serve the Adeptus Mechanicus. Have enhanced capabilities when commanded by a Tech-Priest.

"Ubiquitous throughout the Imperium, mindless Servitors also accompany their priestly masters to war and aid them in heavy-duty technical endeavours. Protected by industrial cybernetics, their huge servo-arms made for brutal weapons, while some are planted with ranged weaponry with which they defend their creators' holy work."- 10th Edition Warhammer 40,000 app

Reality: Highest cost, weakest stats, disgruntled beeping sounds.

Ah, the lowly servitor. The dutiful Tech-Priests of the mechanicus have solved their labor issues by converting millions of convicts, political opponents, and those that stumbled into the wrong dark alleyway on a forge world into mind-wiped automatons that serve the Omnissiah's will. While not an exciting or effective unit on the battlefield, you'd imagine that the Adeptus Mechanicus makes servitors better than anyone else, right?

Think again. I've put together a visual that shows the points costs and abilities of all the servitors in the imperium, including those from the Space Marines, Grey Knights, and Astra Militarum indexes. When led by a Techmarine, both the Astartes and Grey Knight servitors get buffed from a 4+ to a 3+ ballistic and weapon skill. AdMech servitors? Their BS/WS improves from a lowly 6+ to a 5+.

Looking for a deal on a few servitors? The Grey Knights, Space Marines, and Astra Militarum have a deal for you! (Click for a larger image.) Image source: Grokvar

Let that sink in for a moment: Simple, brain-wiped servitors under the guidance of Grey Knights and Space Marines have better shooting than any unit in the entire AdMech codex. Excluding characters. And most of the allied units we can draft into our weaksauce army lists.

What about the lowly Astra Militarum servitors, batch-processed from mind-scrubbed conscripts to polish Leman Russ tanks and lug ammo for Ogryns? Their statlines are identical to AdMech servitors—but surprise! They cost 15 points less.‌‌‌‌

Despite its lowly nature and meager point value, I'd argue that the servitor is just as iconic to the Adeptus Mechanicus as all the more expensive and more exotically designed units in our faction.

‌‌As is, the current AdMech servitor will remain an unused and under-utilized index card, a shame for a unit that—in lore—is used by the trillions to keep forge worlds humming and the imperium running.

‌‌Possible Solutions: Either lower the points—to at least match Astra Militarum servitors—or improve the BS/WS to at least 5+. Better yet: To reflect the superior control that Tech-Priests have over Servitors compared to other factions, let an attached leader improve Servitors's native BS and WS to 4+, boost their OC value to 1, and make them available in units of 5 (and 10).

AdMech Characters

Expectation: Masters of machines, and can heal the same. Wield deadly, exotic weapons, both at range and in melee. Cybernetically-enhanced, covered in armor, tough and resilient.

"They lead congregations of warriors in binharic prayer and direct those beneath them with precision strategies. They are masters of machines, as capable of healing damage to their creations as they are at destroying the enemy's corrupted engines."- 10th Edition Warhammer 40,000 app, Tech-Priest Dominus lore description

Reality: No more healing. No army rule support.

Want another example of official lore not matching tabletop reality? Just read the quote two paragraphs above this one where GW claims that Tech-Priests Dominus can "heal damage to their creations." Guess what? We get zero heals for the Dominus on the tabletop.

Other than the Tech-Priest Enginseer—which I've already discussed in the Kastelan Robots section—every Tech-Priest character has lost the ability to heal units that they had in 9th Edition. Even Belisaurius Cawl, our only named character option and a verifiable mechanical super-genius, can only repair himself. An integral aspect of AdMech lore—the ability of Tech-Priests of all types to repair, refurbish, and enhance vehicles and machinery—has been largely Omnissian axed from the army.

I understand Games Workshop wanting to make the game "less lethal", but how does nerfing Tech-Priest healing—one of the signature elements of the faction—make us less lethal? It makes enemy factions more lethal against us, however: If AdMech dies faster, we're less lethal to anyone we play against, so I guess that's mission partly accomplished.

All AdMech characters also can't take advantage of our Doctrina Imperatives army rule, making our already diminished characters even weaker. In 9th Edition, Doctrina Imperatives could be used army-wide, so there can't be a lore reason why Tech-Priests can't use them. It's a puzzling, seemingly arbitrary change that makes our character units feel underpowered.

I've already commented on the specific uselessness of the Cybernetica Datasmith, but there are other odd rules/interactions that seem poorly thought out. Why does the Tech-Priest Enginseer have the "Vengeance of the Omnissiah" ability—which triggers when a friendly vehicle is destroyed within 12"— that adds more melee attacks to the Omnissian Axe, when the Enginseer has an abysmal WS of 4+?

Possible Solutions: This will be an easy, two-part answer: A) Give all AdMech Tech-Priest characters the ability to heal AdMech units, or at least vehicles. B) Let AdMech characters access the AdMech army rule.

‌‌The Honorable Mentions Pile

Aside from the things I've mentioned, the AdMech index is riddled with head-scratching decisions that may (or may not) be typos or simple oversights. Here are a few:

  • Why can't all AdMech units in our army benefit from the army rule?
  • Why does the obviously open-topped Skorpius Dunerider not have a firing deck ability?
  • Why does the obviously ramp-equipped Skorpius Dunerider not have an assault ramp ability, or something equivalent?
  • Why did electro-priests lose their flavorful Voltagheist Blast, Motive Force Sight, and Siphoned Vigor abilities?
  • Why can't you take elctro-priests in a Tranvector transport?
  • Why are electro-priests and Kastelan Robots excluded from our army rule?

State of the Index

In it's current state, Adeptus Mechanicus as a faction seems to have lost its way, with on-table features and functionality that are at stark odds with the faction portrayal in lore and in official GW content. Space Marines have a focused and targeted set of army and detachment rules that fit perfectly with the lore of their faction. On the contrary, AdMech seems adrift, almost as if GW ran out of time to update the faction before deadlines and release dates forced them to push it out the door before it was truly ready.

A Note About Cost Per Point

While I believe that some of the problems with the current AdMech index can be resolved with point adjustments, AdMech—as pointed out in this AdMech subreddit thread—is already one of the most expensive factions in the game.

As of July 2023, a single 50-point Ironstrider Ballistarius model costs US$60. Max out your list with three units of three Ballistari and you're looking at a princely sum of US$540 for 450 points. (Image source: Grokvar) 

As of this writing (in early July 2023) an Ironstrider Ballistarius purchased direct from the Games Workshop online store is $60 for a single model, which works out to about US$1.20 per point. Games Workshop has repeatedly said that their goal is to make the game more approachable and accessible with 10th Edition, but I'm not sure that's achievable when some faction's models cost more than a dollar per point. Let's hope that any points adjustments are done with that important cost-per-point consideration in mind.

What's Next? Some Suggestions

As I've stated previously, I'm still relatively new to 40K, and I'm by no means a game designer or a competitive player. Yet like every other 40k enthusiast, I just want my faction of choice to have roughly even odds to be fun and playable, and see that my favorite faction is reflected accurately in both lore and on the tabletop.‌‌

The new Adeptus Mechanicus codex is slated for this Winter (sometime in the December 2023 to February 2024 timeframe, I'd guess) so one can only hope that GW makes some sorely-needed fixes to AdMech when the codex is released, possibly with new detachments, new units and characters, and additional tweaks to our army rule, point costs, and unit abilities. ‌‌

As of early July 2023, GW doesn't seem to have a good handle on what AdMech should be, or what the expectations of their audience are. GW has recently shown an impressive ability to respond quickly to game issue and other problems, like the Deathwatch rule tweak, recent point adjustments to the Eldar, towering units, and indirect fire, so one can hope—Omnissiah willing!—that they eventually turn 10th Edition Adeptus Mechanicus into a faction that feels and plays like it should. ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌

Would love to hear what you think of Adeptus Mechanicus in 10th Edition!

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