In a much-anticipated change, Games Workshop Assassins have been separated from the Grey Knights codex and given them their own Dataslate: Officio Assassinorum, giving every Imperium force access to them. Even though this is a hit to the Grey Knights special butterfly status, it is boon for fluff, and for many armies that can use the special talents of these units. 

As with many Dataslates a similar format appears, fluff followed by formations, and then rules.

The Officio Assassinorum Dataslate does an excellent job of bringing all the disparate Assassin fluff into one condensed book. As a major branch of the Imperium, having all these rich descriptions really enhances the Dataslate, but also presents a missed opportunity.  The Dataslate lacks any special missions; the Assassins are unique units which should have interesting narrative elements to go along with them. Instead, the rules provide the limited narrative exploits, additionally, the Dataslate lacks any new art, leaving us with boring paint jobs of the ancient Assassin models we are stuck with.

Without an extra something Officio Assassinorum Dataslate is priced high at $16.99 for 60 pages, four units and one formation. The fluff like I said before is extensive, but doesn't justified the price for the Dataslate.

So, what about that extensive fluff?

Officio Assassinorum Dataslate weaves a narrative taking us from the depths of Terra to the outskirts of the Imperium, showcasing the individual talents of each Assassinorum Temple. The stories shine the most as we are treated to descriptions of how each Assassin comes to be. Vindicare religious worship of the Exitus sniper rifle and the over-top descriptions of single shots ending wars. The Callidus temple with Polymorphine used to accomplish shape-shifting feats ending the lives of many villainous traitors.

The Eversor and Culexus have the best fluff of the bunch, showcasing the horror of being the monstrous these assassins truly are. Eversor and the body altering journey from child to instrument of terror against any heresy. Then the Culexus who everyone with a soul or daemonic attachments fears. The Culexus is horrifying, only used for the most specialized missions requiring ridiculous secrecy, but once unleashed is a living weapon.

This is the bulk of the Dataslate and provides condensed information for every devote fluff nut.

‘Pain is an illusion of the senses, despair an illusion of the mind.’
                                                                                                                           

                                                                                  - Assassin proverb

Finally, you have a litany of famous historical assassinations all demonstrating just how one assassin can change the course of entire systems.

This then moves us to the rules themselves. It starts with the simplest of Detachments one Elite (an assassin) and nothing else.

By taking a Assassin detachment you get the Command Benefit: Operation Assassinate- If the mission you are playing uses Victory Points, you receive one bonus Victory Point at the end of the game if the enemy’s Warlord was removed as a casualty as a result of a Wound inflicted by a model with this special rule.

Next is the special Assassin Formation

Assassinorum Execution Force Formation

Assassinorum Execution Force

• 1 Callidus Assassin
• 1 Culexus Assassin
• 1 Eversor Assassin
• 1 Vindicare Assassin

Restrictions:
None

Special Rules:
• Preferred Enemy (Warlord)
• Operation Assassinate: If the mission you are playing uses Victory Points, you receive one bonus Victory Point at the end of the game if the enemy’s Warlord was removed as a casualty as a result of a Wound inflicted by a model with this special rule.

The formation is the only way (if you limit detachments), to get multiple assassins at once. At only 570 points it actually makes for a devastating force, because they are all still scoring units and combined can take on any situation. As for the Assassins rules themselves let us look at them individually.

Vindicare 

The Vindicare has always been the most popular Assassin, feeding sniper desires many players can't resist.

Vindicare Assassin Rules

vindicare rules

UNIT TYPE: 150 points
Infantry (Character)

WARGEAR:

  • Blind Grenades
  • Close combat weapon
  • Exitus Rifle
  • Exitus Pistol
  • Spymask

SPECIAL RULES:

  • Fearless
  • Infiltrate
  • Move Through Cover
  • Stealth
  • Deadshot: All successful To Hit rolls made by a Vindicare Assassin, excluding SnapShots, have the Precision Shots special rule.
  • Independent Operative: A model with this special rule can never be joined by another character. If a model with this special rule is your army’s Warlord, it never has a Warlord Trait. Lightning Reflexes: A model with this special rule has a 4+ invulnerable save. In addition, they do not suffer the penalty to their Initiative for charging enemies through difficult terrain.
  • No Escape: Enemy characters suffer a -2 penalty to their Look Out, Sir tests against any Wounds inflicted by a model with this special rule.

The Vindicare is five points more than the previous version, gaining an extra wound like all the Assassins. The Vindicare is also brought up to speed with clean rules fitting 7th edition. The biggest change though comes with the Exitus Rifle and its ammo, gone is the 3d6 bonus to armor penetration, but replaced with a flat Strength 10. The Shield Breaker doesn't blow up Wargear, but denies Invulnerable saves making it a perfect killer against annoying re-rolling save units.

The Vindicare is better overall, but like always is one strength eight shot from death, making sure you have other threats is key to using the Vindicare. The range on the Exitus Rifle is also a defensive tool as you can set up shop in any corner and snipe away.

Callidus

The Callidus is the Lictor of Assassins being able to deploy right next to an enemy, but unlike a Lictor the Callidus can actual do something before being shot to death.

Callidus Assassin

calid

145 points
Infantry (Character)

WARGEAR:

  • Neural Shredder
  • Phase Sword
  • Poison Blades

SPECIAL RULES:

  • Fearless
  • Fleet
  • Infiltrate
  • Hit & Run
  • Move Through Cover
  • Precision Strikes
  • Independent Operative: A model with this special rule can never be joined by another
    character. If a model with this special rule is your army’s Warlord, it never has a Warlord Trait.
  • Lightning Reflexes: A model with this special rule has a 4+ invulnerable save. In
    addition, they do not suffer the penalty to their Initiative for charging enemies through
    difficult terrain.
  • No Escape: Enemy characters suffer a -2 penalty to their Look Out, Sir tests against any
    Wounds inflicted by a model with this special rule.
  • Polymorphine: When a Callidus Assassin is deployed using her Infiltrate special rule, she can be set up anywhere on the table that is more than 1" from any enemy unit, whether deployed enemy units can draw a line of sight to her or not. If a Callidus Assassin starts the game in Reserves, she can choose to move on from the enemy board edge when she arrives. In either case, during the first game turn, or during the game turn in which the Callidus Assassin arrives from Reserves, enemy units can only fire Snap Shots when targeting her.
  • Reign of Confusion: If your army includes a Callidus Assassin, you can re-roll the dice
    when attempting to Seize the Initiative. In addition, your opponent suffers -3 to the first
    Reserve Roll he makes during the game.

The Callidus is a weird hybrid, having the ability to clear out an entire unit of Space Marines with one shot, but at the same time table to wound any monster in assault, along with denying invulnerable saves to powerful Characters. The only way to use the Callidus properly is by understanding it is a support unit. The Callidus defensive abilities are not strong after the first turn, and even then a dedicated opponent can kill it. This makes it extremely important the Callidus isn't the only threat on the board when it makes its move.

At only 145 points taking with say a Drop Pod army can easily tip the scales. Neural Shredder can clear out bubble wrap units allowing a Drop Pod army clear paths for future turns or support them in clearing out large threats. Adding, the Callidus can lend its skills in Assault by tilting the scales in the Imperium's favor even attacking with the lonely Tactical Squad. The random Reign of Confusion power is a fun trick to play on people who Deep Strike a unit in addition to other reverses, because they have to roll the Deep Strike first. Compared to the previous edition the current Callidus is a minor upgrade, more survivable, but still requiring the right kind of list to be paired with.

Eversor Assassin

The Eversor Assassin is the cheapest, but probably weakest Assassin of the bunch. The Eversor is dedicated for assault, and even with its poison pistol you will find it challenging to cause any real damage.

Eversor Assassin Rules

Evers

UNIT TYPE: 135 points
Infantry (Character)

WARGEAR:

  • Power sword
  • Melta bombs
  • Executioner Pistol
  • Frenzon
  • Neuro-gauntlet
  • Sentinel Array

SPECIAL RULES:

  • Fearless
  • Feel No Pain
  • Infiltrate
  • Furious Charge
  • Move Through Cover
  • Bio-meltdown: If an Eversor Assassin is ever reduced to zero Wounds, before removing the model as a casualty, each nearby unit (friend or foe) suffers a Strength 5 AP- hit for
  • each model it has within D6" of the Eversor Assassin. After resolving any additional damage, remove the Eversor Assassin from play as a casualty.
  • Fast Shot: Whenever an Eversor Assassin fires his executioner pistol, he does so 4 times. All of these shots must be at the same target, but can be any mixture of bolt pistot and needle pistol shots.
  • Independent Operative: A model with this special rule can never be joined by another character. If a model with this special rule is your army’s Warlord, it never has a Warlord
    Trait.
  • Lightning Reflexes: A model with this special rule has a 4+ invulnerable save. In
    addition, they do not suffer the penalty to their Initiative for charging enemies through
    difficult terrain.
  • No Escape: Enemy characters suffer a -2 penalty to their Look Out, Sir tests against any
    Wounds inflicted by a model with this special rule.

Eversor Assassin isn't really that much different in damage output than the Callidus. You get an extra few attacks on the charge and strength five, but when faced against any 2+ armor units it will be left out in the cold. The Eversor also lacks the Hit & Run unlike the Callidus, but has Feel No Pain instead. It leaves the Eversor as an assault support unit, taking challenges it can win without being Instant Killed if it fails. Problematic is even in a combo charge the Eversor can end up doing damage to its friends if it dies with the Bio-Meltdown.

The Eversor though can keep opponents at bay with its insane charge range, just the threat of 18" charge can give many opponents pause, still without Fleet the Eversor isn't a shoe in to make a large distance. You also get the useless Sensor Array, because full ballistic skill over-watch pistol shots are probably not going to save your bacon from a unit actually choosing to charge the Eversor. Compared to the previous version the new Eversor is basically a wash; it is more expensive, Executioner Pistol is worse, no Fleet, but the Neuro Gauntlet is better, increased threat range, and has better defenses.

Culexus Assassin

Finally, the Culexus, the Assassin everyone is talking about. This meta busting unit has the thing everyone has been clamoring for: Passive Psychic Power defense. Better still, the Culexus rules finally fits the amazing fluff, bringing true horror to the battlefield.

Culexus Assassin Rules

culex

UNIT TYPE: 140 Points
Infantry (Character)

WARGEAR:

  • Animus Speculum
  • Absorbed Warp Charge
  • Etherium
  • Psyk-out Grenades


SPECIAL RULES:

  • Fear
  • Fearless
  • Infiltrate
  • Move Through Cover
  • Preferred Enemy (Psykers)
  • Independent Operative: A model with this special rule can never be joined by another
  • character. If a model with this special rule is your army’s Warlord, it never has a Warlord Trait.
  • Lightning Reflexes: A model with this special rule has a 4+ invulnerable save. In addition, they do not suffer the penalty to their Initiative for charging enemies through difficult terrain.
  • Life Drain: Armour saves cannot be taken against Wounds inflicted by a Culexus Assassin’s close combat attacks. Any close combat attack inflicted by a Culexus Assassin that rolls a 6 To Wound has the Instant Death special rule. Any close combat attack inflicted by a Culexus Assassin that is allocated to a Psyker has the Instant Death special rule.
  • No Escape: Enemy characters suffer a -2 penalty to their Look Out, Sir tests against any Wounds inflicted by a model with this special rule.
  • Psychic Abomination: Psykers, friend or foe, within 12" of a Culexus Assassin have -3
    Leadership, do not generate any Warp Charge (i.e. they do not add dice to their owning
    player’s Warp Charge Pool in the Psychic phase) and only harness Warp Charge points on
    a 6. A Culexus Assassin can never be targeted or affected by psychic powers – other units
    in the Culexus Assassin’s vicinity that are hit by beam or nova powers, or by Witchfire
    powers that use templates, are hit/affected normally. Any blessing or malediction psychic
    powers affecting a unit immediately cease to be in effect if the unit moves within 12" of a
    Culexus Assassin or vice versa.

 

The Culexus is a head and shoulders about the rest. Even without the psychic component, the Culexus in Assault can devastate almost any unit ignoring all armor. Then there is that psychic component, the Culexus creates a bubble that disrupts any psychic power and removes warp charges from all enemy psykers. Stacked with the Animus Speculum a weapon unlike any before it. Take a Culexus in a Grey Knight army; it can have psychic Grey Knight units surround it and easily getting to 10 S5 AP1 shots. Then what happens when next to an opposing psychic unit like say the Seer Council? Instantly, that is 10 Animus Speculum shots as well.

Oh, wait there is more, the Culexus can only be hit on 6s or 5s in the assault phase because of the Etherium. The real question is why is the Culexus only 140 points? This unit is easily 200 points even against a non psychic army. I expect to see the Culexus in at least every competitive Grey Knight army, and if more events open up detachment and formations you can expect to see the Culexus everywhere. Your only hope against the Culexus is to mob it with a large Fearless unit.

Conclusion

Overall, the Officio Assassinorum Dataslate is a welcome addition to the game giving access to Assassins for all Imperial Forces. As a product itself, the Dataslate is overpriced, with very little beyond the rules for players to chew on. The fluff is good and thorough, but without different ways to use the Assassins makes this Dataslate pretty thin. If you are the type of person who players 40k and always picks the Sniper/Infiltrating class in every First Person Shooter then this release is for you, if not find someone with the rules for the Culexus and be done with it.

Warning

BoK Reviews are rated: hyperventilating hyperbole for die hard Wahammer 40k nut jobs needing the opinions of others for survival