Ezekiel, the Hidden Hand
Now we look at our own high level psyker and he's back in full glory — Ezekiel
He used to be all the rage back in 3rd Edition, where our unique psychic power (Weaken Resolve) would force an enemy unit to roll for Ld on three dice and he made the opponent pre-deploy D6 units… and deployment was one unit per player at a time — he was the man.
After years of sitting on the shelf this article will hopefully convince some of you to try him out. Ezekiel, as you will see can greatly influence the tide of battle, hence the title of this article "Hidden Hand". How this is done, I intend to reveal in the following text. The article is quite long and one of the major reasons for this is the fact that Ezekiel has a unique set of abilities in our codex which can enhance every unit we have.
What you get
Ezekiel, Master of Librarians, Holder of the Keys, Keeper of the Book of Salvation.
Standard Librarian stats with +1A and a 2+ save.
Only the one trait for 'Zeke.
If your Warlord or his unit kills the enemy Warlord, you score an additional VP. For a total of 2 VPs (one for Slay the Warlord and one for The Hunt). This is a straightforward choice which can be used well to pressurise your opponent into some tough choices.
Inner circle, Independent Character, Psyker Mastery Level 3
Not much to see here as really only the last adds real flavour and is the reason why to take him. We'll come back to this later.
Book of Salvation
Apart for containing the names of the Fallen, it also inspires troops around it, meaning a Dark Angel unit within 6" of it gains +1 WS. A number of units can benefit from this but the obvious choice here is to join Ezekiel with a unit of Deathwing Terminators with WS5.
No matter which unit you attach Ezekiel to, Mind Worm (his personal psychic power) stacks with the Book — as your troops gain +1 WS, and the enemy wounded by Mind Worm suffer -3 WS. This will mean most enemy IC that start with WS5 will be down to WS2 after being wounded by MW. If they are then charged by a unit of terminators — that fight will be over very soon.
Second (perhaps unlikely) unit to benefit from the Book is Scouts. Yes, normal Scouts with an extra cc weapon and their usual WS of 3. The book makes it 4. Scout sarge gains WS5. For a 160pts we can have a super cheap cc unit with WS4 and lots of attacks and a sarge with WS5 (he in turn gains a power weapon or power fist). In case Ezekiel is lucky and rolls Forewarning psychic power on the Divination table — the whole unit can have 4++. The perfect unit to go into cc with a tough armour ignoring foe. Daemon Princes, ICs, units with power weapons all can be met and dealt with by our humble Scouts — and all Ezekiel needs to do is stay within 6" of the fight.
Third unit to make (good) use of the Book is the Assault squad. For a reasonable price, we get marines that:
- move 12 inches
- ignore terrain
- are scoring in the mission Scouring
- have Hammer of Wrath
- can have 2 flamers and a combo-flamer on the sarge for that extra crispy effect
- gain WS5 from the Book
Seriously, I think the internet might not be right about those guys. Sure, on the surface it's just fast moving tactical marines — but 10 of these have a possible 30 attacks on the charge (after they use the flamers), Hammer of Wrath hits (at I 10), and WS5 — meaning most of those attacks will hit. Especially if you play against Chaos.
Alternatively, if you're using a Land Raider Crusader to transport them to the front (joined by Ezekiel) they remove their jump packs and get a Rhino for free. That empty rhino can do a number of interesting things like screen the troops by putting itself in front of them — very useful with bikes if you have a techmarine on bike join the squad and he happens to carry power field generator).
Ezekiel's personal weapon of choice, two-handed, master-crafted force sword with AP3. Useful after you hit something with Mind Worm and need to kill it and have a Warp Charge Token at hand.
Psychic powers and their uses
Ezekiel can use his own psychic power Mind Worm, and can randomly generate powers from the following disciplines: Pyromancy, Divination, Telepathy or Telekinesis.
Witchfire with a range of 12", S4 AP2 Assault D3, Ignores cover and Saps Will (any model wounded by this power suffers -3 to WS, BS, I and Ld). Incidentally the fact that this is no longer classified as an Heavy weapon is a great improvement over the 4th Edition Codex.
Mind worm has a strange synergy with the Ravenwing Black Knights. Their special grenades inflict -1T on a unit hit. That makes is easier for this power to wound the target (in case of say MC).
Say you need to kill a model with a lot of wounds and T6 (an example here). With a small unit of Black Knights, they hit it with their -1T Ravenwing grenade launcher Rad shell and with their twin-linked plasma. If you have a big unit of Black Knights — just send them in — they will do the job without any help needed.
Then Ezekiel uses Mind Worm — and the only problem is wounding (as he needs a 5). If MW does wound, a wonderful psychic power to have is Psychic Shriek (primary Telepathy power). You roll 3 dice and inflict a number of wounds equal to the number rolled subtracting the enemy Ld from the roll. Mind Worm already took that Ld down by 3, so worst case scenario is Ld7. They get no save, except invulnerable.
In a pinch, this can save you a lot of wasted firepower that could have been used on other targets. It also gives you an option for killing IC's.
Now that we looked through his own psychic power, let's look at them one discipline at a time. As Ezekiel is our best psyker this is key to winning games, just make sure you don't loose your friends while doing it.
This school is all about damage. Straightforward. It has some useful powers.
Primaris power. It's a heavy flamer with soul blaze (so on a 4+ the target hit suffers a further D3 S3 wound rolls). FB is not the best choice here, but as you roll for powers randomly, and can pick it instead of another I guess it's ok. If you are in a bad spot (about to get assaulted by genestealers or a bunch or orks) — this might save you. Especially if you have an empty rhino (or any other tank for that matter)near by to tank shock them with first. That would leave them bunched up, and then whoosh! — gone!
That empty rhino is gained by taking an Assault squad and removing their jump packs (or other places, plenty of them). In that case, with or without Flame Breath I doubt there will be a cc round once Assault marines start using their flamers too. Moving on.
Ezekiel gains 4++, soul blaze and +2 S. That makes him S6. I'd keep it in the right game.
4+ cover save to friendly unit and any unit assaulting it suffers 2D6 S4 hits resolved at I 10. 4+ moving cover save if interesting and it stacks with a +1 cover bonus provided by a Darkshroud for a total of +3!
Melta weapons and Soul blaze weapons will go right through though. Can't have it all I guess.
An especially dirty trick is putting this on a central Land Raider Crusader with a Deathwing Command squad inside with a Banner of Devastation. Techmarine on bike with power field generator and a Darkshroud behind for extra cheese dripping form the side of the table! End result is: LRC moving 12", firing 24 twin-linked bolter shots, plus other weapons. It has 4++, and cover 3+!
Focused Witchfire that does a wound, no armour, no cover save allowed. If it kills a model, before it's removed you place a small blast centred on it and models touched by the template suffer a S4 AP5 no cover save allowed. Useful against IG, Orks, Eldar — especially if they have been tank-shocked previously.
Skip it unless you can benefit from Blind that it causes.
It's a meltagun that uses 2 Warp tokens. Next
As far the the Dark Angels go our stapled discipline I think.
Primaris Power. It confers re-rolls to hit both in shooting and assault.
If you pick Divination — and most people do for a good reason — this power will ensure you made the right choice. Re-rolls make success from failure and help models hit things they have a hard time hitting. Can't go wrong with this at all.
Units to use it on: in short ALL OF THEM. But some can make better use of it than others.
- A squadron of Land Speeders (with assault cannons or missile launchers) will have a decent chance to hit flyers if they can re-roll misses (as you will miss most of the original attacks, you can safely say it gives you a chance that's twice as good compared to no re-rolls shooting)
- Assault squad with WS5 from the Book of Salvation and 30 attacks hitting on 3s with a re-roll are force to behold
- Scouts with 2 weapons see above
- Deathwing as such in any possible shape or form
- Predator Destructor
- Tactical squads under the effect of Banner of Destruction for roughly 40 S4 shots hitting on 3s
- Mortis Dreadnoughts with two missile launchers (yes there's that kind too!) It's dirt cheap, has Skyfire and Interceptor and two missile launchers. All it needs is some cover (which shouldn't be hard to find especially if you bring a techmarine along — bolster defences) and it will make those flyers pay
- Mortis Contemptor Dreadnought with the Kheres assault cannon x2. Firing 12 shots on BS5, with a re-roll (just in case), and a cyclone to boot! And AV13, and 5+ inv, and will not make you many friends
- A unit of sniper Scouts in cover. Bolster defences for 2+ cover! They have infiltrate and on 6s they pick off special weapon guys… with a re-roll.
A unit benefitting from it can fire overwatch on normal BS. Let's see some of the best choices here
- Tactical squads: 30+ shots in yer face!
- Bikes 6 of them fire 24 shots with a re-roll, or they fire meltas, or flamers
- Scouts with bolters
- Deathwing with everything except plasma cannons(darn!)
- A huge blob of IG with 80+ shots?
- Dark Knights hit people with twin-linked plasma.
A unit effected gains 4+ inv. Invaluable to most units except Deathwing. Dark Knights love it! Vehicles are another good choice. Techmarine does the same thing except he can get killed and he needs to stay close.
Our own version of the Eldar power (Doom). Target enemy unit must re-roll successful saves. This. Put this on any unit and let those bolters rip! Dark Knights' rad grenade for the win! It also gives you an excuse to say (DOOM) in a dark threatening voice.
Psyker and the unit he's with ignore cover. Interesting enough. If you join a unit of devastators — they WILL effectively scare anything and everything they can see! No vehicle can claim cover, shame, (hello cover ignoring Vindicators).
This psychic power is used to kill characters, MC etc. Stacks with any damage buffing effect like Fiery Form or the Dark Knights' rad grenades. Ezekiel will net you two sweet VP if he kills the enemy Warlord (The Hunt) so this power can be a giant step forward.
Rolling 3 dice for reserves and picking one for the final result is a great asset when dealing with enemy fliers. Helpful with all sorts of deeps striking / outflanking units.
This power is game changing, it gives you a chance to dictate the pace of the game and turn the turn of events to your side.
More experienced players know that over the editions, a number of games have been won or lost over reserves alone. Being able to count on a unit to turn up when you need it, or not to turn up when you don't can change to pace of the entire game.
Example of this is a typical mechanised list consisting of Razorbacks, Predators and Rhinos. Playing against an opponent that has a Drop Pod list and deploying all those vehicles will lead to failure, surely. He drops down on turn one, up close and personal, claims the (First Blood) VP, hampers your plan greatly and has the initiative early on.
One answer to this is deploying a part of the army while leaving the mechanised units in reserve. This psychic power ensures they WILL turn up when you need them.
Yes Telepathy does have it's place in our arsenal.
Primaris power. I've already talked about one use for this power and how it combines with Mind Worm.
Malediction that forces the enemy unit to roll Ld each time it want's to do something. Could win you a game if you put this onto a unit that's near an objective and has to move to get to it. If you pull this off, the expression on the opponent's face will be priceless.
If a unit is falling back it regroups. Not at all useful for Space Marines — they auto re-group. IG as allies might find a use for it. Or Tau if that's your thing. But I'd skip it 95% of the time.
You take control of an enemy model and make a shooting attack with it. Possible uses include controlling the enemy Icarus lascannon or quad gun to shoot down enemy fliers, frying something with a melta-wielding model. Or ruining someone's day with a flamer.
Power gamer alert(!): a model cannot target his own unit, but CAN hit multiple units!! So if you take control of an enemy flamer-wielding model, then you target a transport near another unit and just happen to clip a bunch of his comrades in the way, they will be hit and this IS a legal move. It won't make you many friends.
This, potentially is a killer with Ezekiel. Say you need to kill an enemy character you don't really fancy charging — like a Daemon Prince. Or a MC. First you hit it/him/them with Mind Worm — and hopefully wound. Now on top of everything else, their Ld is terrible. Then, Terrify steps in and now they are rolling Ld on 7 or 6 There is around a 50% chance of failure. All you need to do before all this is put a unit behind them to intercept their escape and slay them in the process.
Shrouded and Stealth for a 5+ cover no questions asked. No counter-attack for the enemy unit charged by an invisible squad. Bikes. This puts their already formidable cover 5+ into untouchable range.
The real beauty are Land Speeders. Our Land Speeders are the best out there, the fluffiest for sure. They jink for 5+, now they get 3+ cover!!!
Large unit of them can be a real pain to get rid of. A great unit to deal with enemy infantry and vehicles (with the right set of weapons) and this power makes them a KP denial piece. If you take a unit of 5 — there's a very good question: CAN they be killed at all? Moving 12 and having a 3+ cover and a LOT of firepower!
Dark Knights, 5+ cover normal, 3+ with this power, 2+ from skilled rider if they turbo. Invaluable for that one turn they need to get to the enemy safe.
Mortis Dreadnought(s) in cover in terrain bolstered by a Techmarine. 5+ normal cover, 4+ form being bolstered, 2+ from this psychic power.
Skip this, it's not worth the 2 Warp tokens it costs.
Primaris power. Terrible.
Model/unit hit will suffer a 2D6 hit with an AP of D6. 50% of the time this will be a S7 hit. 32% of the time it will be AP2 or 1. The chance of this working the way we'd love it to work (say S10 AP1) is slim indeed. Worth a try, but there are better powers out there as we have seen.
Gate of Infinity
This basically teleports the whole unit 24 inches away. This has several uses:
- claiming / contesting / linebreaker
- the old bait and switch. Put a juicy target for the enemy to try to assault, then teleport away.
- getting people into crossfire. As this is a blessing it is used at the start of the movement phase. This means that the unit can run in the shooting phase.
A malediction that forces the enemy unit effected to re-roll to hit and wound rolls of a 6. This has several possible uses:
- stops units that rely on rending attacks from being scary
- is deadly effective on units that go into cc with a squad led by Ezekiel. When one considers that their WS is 5 with the Book of Salvation — enemies will only hit on 4, 5…
An especially evil combo that comes with a hefty price tag, is hitting the target (deathstar) with a Stasis bomb dropped by a Dark Talon. Stasis bomb causes the target to get -3 WS, I.
A unit with WS2 trying to hit a unit with WS5 hits only on a 5 or 6. Then this power in and suddenly they only hit on 5. That means that a small unit of, anything, except Scouts can easily win the first round of combat with a much scarier foe.
Think big. Terminators charging a deathstar and killing everyone! Or Tactical squads charging and crippling the enemy up to a point where they loose by a lot, barely pass their morale and the fight will be over in their turn. Then you consolidate and advance further. Big mobs, also referred to as blobs, of 50 models just got a lot less scary.
Dark Talon has a Rift Cannon too — which combines nicely with this spell — they do get to resist the spell by passing an initiative test. There still is a very good chance of it working against MCs.
Assault D6, S3 pinning. Pass.
Gives 5+ invulnerable save to your chosen friendly unit against shooting. Each time you save, an enemy model takes that same hit if it's within 6 inches. Redirecting is very situational at best but the inv save is well worth it.
The trick is to give the invulnerable saves to unexpected units: Dreadnoughts, Land Raiders, big blobs of IG, Vindicators — the bigger the better.
Vortex of Doom
S10 AP1 blast, what's not to love? Drop a rad grenade from the black knights onto the target to lower T — and get an instant kill shot off while you're at it. Even better: tanks shock them first to have them all nicely bunched up. Have I mentioned how I love using tank shock? I might have.
With that, we are done with the psychic powers. They can make a major difference in a game. Generally speaking, you don't really get a say in choosing the exact powers Ezekiel will get — but you can pick the table you are rolling on. That alone is determined by the other units in the army Ezekiel is leading.
Leading an army
I know this is getting long, but there are so many things to list.
Ezekiel alone cannot win you games by himself. What he can do, however is greatly improve the performance of other units. Since he doesn't open up any FOC changing options (like all other characters except Asmodai) the force he leads will mostly consist of power armoured units.
Units that work well with Ezekiel
Second supporting Librarian
In power armour for a cheap unit leader that generates yet another power to cast.
Librarian in Terminator armour
As above except he allows you to pick a Deathwing Command squad.
Librarian on bike
Joining a unit of Dark Knights or RAS. Can cast a spell or two and deal with challenges. Opens up a Ravenwing Command squad option.
With Power field generator, perfect to protect your Command squad in PA. Deploy and enjoy the 4++ he provides and repair that Land Raider they are all riding in.
Deathwing Command squad
Deathwing. They are Terminators… with WS5 if joined by Ezekiel. Put a Techmarine in there and make them even tougher to deal with. Pick Banner of Fortitude and grant them and units within 12" Feel No Pain. Or Banner of Devastation. Effective but expensive squad as you need to take a Terminator armour Librarian first. (For clarity, the Terminators' storm bolters do not gain anything from the Banner of Devastation, but the Crusader they are riding in will.)
Personally, I don't like them as they consist of only five marines costing well over 200 points when you take all the gear you'd like. Deploy with combi-weapons if you're using a Banner of Devastation. Banner of Fortitude is also a very good option. Either way, you're probably taking a lot of Tactical marines and Scouts with bolters with the unit. Banner of Fortitude might be a hidden gem here — imagine 60 power-armoured marines with FNP running all over the place armed with a bunch of heavy weapons.
Ravenwing Command squad
With no access to a bike, Ezekiel can't match their speed. Pass.
In any number, shape of form these guys will rock. Support them with psychic powers and they are really tough to take down.
Close combat terminators on steroids. Will seriously destroy (as opposed to just destroy) anything they touch with their Maces of Absolution. After that initial shock (and a shock it will be) they are AP4 in cc unless you're playing against Chaos.
Personally, I would not take them and are never going to buy them. I don't like units that are slow moving and don't shoot. Our Classic Deathwing is much better — they do everything these guys do, and shoot while doing it. Don't see them as a good unit with Ezekiel.
Pass. They are not scoring, have two attacks and very expensive upgrades. Might serve as a suicide squad in a drop pod but I dislike these kinds of units (as they are two easy KP for the opponent).
Mortis Pattern Dreadnoughts
That's right — Dark Angels are the only chapter to get these — two twin-linked lascannon wielding dreadnoughts that gain skyfire and interceptor while stationary. Deploy near Techmarine for 4++. Or deploy in bolstered terrain.
I like them a lot. I could write a whole article on them! (and will — stay tuned!) They did loose some of their flavour in transition from 5th ed to 6th — but so did a lot of other units. There are a number of things Ezekiel can do for them, and giving them re-rolls is one of them. There are a number of options to explore here and I'll share one that I haven't seen on the net just yet.
Attention(!) all gamers! — don't use this in friendly games. Seriously, this will earn you a reputation of an evil person. No, I'm kidding here, but bear with me here.
Venerable Dreadnought, right arm with a twin-linked heavy flamer, left with a Dreadnought Close Combat weapon with… another flamer!
Friendly version: Drop pod Evil version (with a wide smile): Lucious Pattern Drop Pod from FW.
Friendly version drops down and flames a unit to death, extra fun if you give the left hand heavy flamer a re-roll with Prescience. Two heavy flamer templates with re-rolls to wound will result in a successful alpha strike. A dead enemy unit, a shock on the opponent's face and a First Blood VP!
Evil version does the same thing except the dread can charge too after landing. Yes, charge. Yes, I said charge. Yes, It's legal. Yeeees, the pod costs a fortune (and for a good reason!).
A Venerable dread has WS5, and will make short work of 90% of units it touches. Don't go charging Terminators and expecting good results — except if the squad in question is kitted out with only a couple of power fists — then try landing so that they are the first to go in case they fail a save or two from those flamers (and there's a good chance of it happening).
Evil version has soo many different thing you can do with it, it's not even real.
Dropping between two enemy units will ensure no scatter since the pod has Inertial Guidance System — which prevents scatter onto enemy units, but doesn't prevent scattering off the table.
Flaming a vehicle on purpose with a unit between the vehicle and the dreadnought will enable the dread to clip them with the templates (and kill a lot of them in the process) and charge the vehicle too — destroying it with DCCWs.
I gotta stop with this dreadnought love and just do an article on it alone.
Ravenwing Attack Squadron
Bikes, Attack Bikes and Land Speeders. If you're playing Scouring these all become scoring regardless of the fact that they are fast attack. Other then that, bikes make a good escort for a Techmarine and taking one in an Ezekiel force is a good idea.
Ravenwing Support squadron
Land Speeders. Good, cheap(ish) and can benefit from most psychic powers. Take them.
Ravenwing Black Knights
The fact that I have mentioned them so many times in this article says a thing or two by itself. A solid choice as a small unit — but the more the merrier.
Does the same thing in every army: it confers models/units around it Stealth. Very cheap, and combines with several spells that Ezekiel might have.
Scoring in scouring, killy in every other mission. Lack the flexibility of a tactical squad. If you remove their jump packs they get a drop pod or rhino for free and now cost exactly the same as a tactical squad (with a Rhino) without upgrades. Solid choice.
Apart from a few very evil combos presented in this article this model lacks serious punch. Still, it can spell doom in combination with a terminator charge so give it a try. Good for escorting a Land Raider Crusader with a Command squad inside bearing the Banner of Devastation.
Devastator squad joined by a Techmarine with Night Visor, in a bolstered ruin with some helpful spells from Ezekiel, good things will follow.
Solid, cheap tank. Always a good pick.
The (sniper) of 6th Edition. Did you know models are now removed starting from the centre of the template? Drop this on a squad and centre it on the heavy weapon model, if they fail ANY saves, he is the first one to go. Tank-shocking with another tank first will lead to major mayhem.
Dark Knights lower people's Toughness then this thing does a (click) and they're gone.
Our codex sports three versions now. I will do an article on it. For now, an Ezekiel army can benefit from all three. Godhammer to transport a Command squad. Crusader/Redeemer to transport Deathwing led by Ezekiel. Godhammer/Redeemer if the Command squad has a Standard of Fortitude. Crusader with a Standard of Devastation.
Making it work
Congratulations that you made it so far with me. Here is a sample army lists to run with Ezekiel.
|Command Squad (taking no FOC slot)
Banner of Fortitude, 4 x flamers and a power fist
|Techmarine (taking no FOC slot)
Power field generator, night visor, servo-harness
Two twin-linked lascannons
|Tactical Squad (10)
Plasma gun and plasma cannon
|Tactical Squad (10)
Plasma gun and plasma cannon
|Tactical Squad (10)
Plasma gun and missile launcher
|Tactical Squad (10)
Flamer and missile launcher, Sarge with power fist
|Land Raider / Crusader /Redeemer
Multi-melta (Crusader/Redeemer) and Deathwing Vehicle
We are talking about 55 marines with Feel No Pain here. Helldrakes don't seem as scary anymore do they? Mortis will take care of some fliers (up to a point) and make sure your opponent is't free to roam anyway he wants with them. Taking down 50 marines is a pain especially if they don't feel it as much.
The army could look different, by dropping Scouts or a Tactical squad for some supporting elements like a Vindicator or Whirlwind or some Land Speeders. Terminators are always welcome too.
The army plays differently depending on mission and the type of Land Raider chosen. Godhammer will dictate a rather static gunline where the idea is to outlast the opposition by sheer toughness. This works against most armies but some are just too shooty for this kind of thing (IG, Tau, Necrons).
Crusader/Redeemer are created for advancing forward and so will the units supporting it. Leapfrogging parts of squads while keeping the heavy weapon troopers static is key here. Micro-management at it's best.
Techmarine synergies wonderfully with he scouts. He bolsters defences of a wood from 5 + to 4+ or ruin from 4+ to 3+. They do lack cammo cloaks but if you drop a Scout and take Godhammer LR instead of CR/R (as it is cheaper) you'll net the 20 points for the cloaks.
Scouts with 2+ cover and FNP, and sniper rifles. Alternatively, they don't really need those cloaks, you can cheerfully go to ground and claim +1 to cover saves. Next turn they snapfire, they hit only on 6s — doesn't matter. Sixes are indeed all you are looking for. Each hit takes away a heavy weapon trooper from the unit.
Ok, so again thank you for reading. I hope I made a positive impact of the decision whether or not to use Ezekiel. He is a good leader, and a solid choice overall. What sets him apart from our other characters is his general approach to the game as he can make any unit in our codex do better then it would by itself.
While other DA characters open up FOC options or have very special abilities that help out specific units or list types, Ezekiel can make anything and everything work.
My final note on why to try Ezekiel instead of say, a (normal) Level 2 Librarian is several-fold. The Book of Salvation makes a major impact, so does his Level 3 when it comes to Deny the Witch rolls. So for roughly same number of points you get a better, fluffier and cooler librarian to lead your army.