YMMV: Vindicare Assassin

The Vindicare Assassin is the second most popular Imperial Assassin and the Assassin of choice for newer players. He's the deadliest sniper in the Imperium and makes an easy addition to most Imperial armies. This article talks about how to use him in 5th Edition.

Newer players are often inspired to add him to their army by the portrayal of the Imperial Assassin in Vindicare, a short story by C. S. Goto (in Tales from the Dark Millennium), and by the "Assassin" unit in Relic's 40k-based computer game, Dawn of War.

The Vindicare is a bit rarer in a veteran player's army because an Eversor or a Callidus is a bit better for the price. But we "old-timers" remember the memorable story of Agent Morias Skult (Vindicare Temple, 2nd Class) who took out an Ork Gargant with a single shot to the fuel line. The resulting explosion killed 800-900 Orks. Sadly, the mission was only 86.3% successful. The High Lords have very high standards for their Assassins.

If the Eversor is the Officio Assassinorum's Sword, then the Vindicare is the Scalpel. This article discusses the Vindicare, highlights his strengths and gives you some suggestions for fitting him into an army.

Although he rarely leaves his perch, the Vindicare is no slouch in close combat. He shares all of the combat statistics of an Imperial Assassin, but lacks the much needed Power Weapon. However, what he lacks in close combat prowess he makes up as a marksman. The Temple Vindicare Assassin is armed with the Exitus Rifle (and three special rounds of ammunition), the Exitus Pistol, a nifty Spy Mask and a Stealth Suit. Combined with the Marksman special ability, the Vindicare is designed to be game's deadliest sniper.

The Marksman ability is what makes the Vindicare one of the most feared models around. This ability allows him to ignore ALL targeting restrictions and target ANY model in range and line of sight. That means models hidden inside units aren't hidden from him.

The Exitus Rifle is a specially designed Sniper Rifle with an AP value of 2. In addition, the Vindicare has access to three special rounds: the Shield-Breaker (ignores Invulnerable saves), the Turbo-Penetrator (inflicts 2 wounds, Armor Penetration of 3D6) and the Hellfire (wounds on a 2+). My favorite is by far the Hellfire round and I almost always use it on my first shot (usually targeting a hidden Power Fist or Icon Bearer). Nothing makes your opponent rethink his strategy than popping an important model with your first shot.

Note: The Exitus Rifle gained the "Sniper" ability. This means that it's a Rending, Pinning weapon (that counts as S3 against vehicles)

The Exitus Pistol is a darn-fine pistol. Although it doesn't have the Sniper ability of the Exitus Rifle, it is S5. So there are going to be many times where shooting the pistol is better than shooting your rifle, especially against T3/T4 targets (hits on a 2+, wounds 2+/3+ and is AP2). You can also move and shoot the Exitus Pistol (and Assault if you really need to), so don't forget to pull out this gem of a pistol when you need it.

Note: You can also use the Marksman ability with the Exitus Pistol.

The Vindicare's Spy Mask reduces his target's cover save by one and allows him to roll 2D6x5 for determining how far he can see when Night Fighting, giving him an average of 35". His Stealth Suit forces the Night Fighting rules to be used when targeting him (and halves the distance if the Night Fighting rules are already in effect).

I regularly use the Vindicare in my Daemonhunters and Imperial Guard armies, but prefer other Assassins in my Witch Hunters lists. But I make a point to dust him off from time-to-time to remind people that he's around.

Vindicare's are especially effective against armies that rely on single wound models to benefit their unit (e.g., Regimental Advisors, Icon Bearers, Book-bearing Veteran Sister Superiors, Eldar Exarchs, Apothecaries, Dark Eldar Sybarites, etc.). He will also make players with valuable two-wound models think twice before disembarking them (e.g., Commissars and Rune Priests are going to dread a Vindicare).

Note: A Vindicare is pretty essential for the few Daemonhunters players that still play with Daemonhosts. Since Daemonhosts are T4, they are very vulnerable to S8 weapons. So I often use a Vindicare to kill a unit's Power Fist before my Daemonhost assaults, allowing him to do his job.

The Vindicare is easy for a new player to use, but improves in effectiveness with the skill of the player. He is user-friendly; I often refer to him as the "Point-and-Click Assassin". The secret to a Vindicare effectively is choosing a good deployment location and choosing the right target.

You want to deploy the Vindicare in a safe location with a clear view of the battlefield. I generally place him just out of my opponent's path (i.e., the direction I expect him to advance), but in a location where he has a line of sight to that path. I place him in the best cover I can find.

Where you place your Vindicare determines how many targets he has and how vulnerable he is to assault and enemy shooting. Take great care in placing him (I usually have a location picked out when we're building the board and always before I put down my first model).

The next thing you need to know before you start the game is who your targets are going to be. Don't wait until the beginning of your turn to decide. Re-read what I just said. If you have a hard time thinking a turn or two in advance, then the Vindicare isn't for you; go with the Eversor or Callidus.

Every army has a soft spot; you just have to find it. Here are some things to look for: Rune Priests, Commissars, Regimental Advisors, Tau Ethereals, Icon Bearers, Exarchs, Spiritseers, Shadowseers, Necron Lords, Leadership-bubbles, Synapse Creatures, Death Company Chaplains, Apothecaries/Medics, Dark Eldar Sybarites, etc.

Dirty Trick #1: Didn't get a chance to kill that hidden Power Fist before he got into close combat with your army? No problem. As long as the Vindicare has line of sight and range, he can target a model in close combat.

As befits a scalpel, the Vindicare can be used to shave Kill Points in later turns. Look for stragglers that you can pick off. Look for locations where you can cause Morale tests and Pinning checks. Unlike most shooting units, the Vindicare is often more valuable in the last two turns than he was in the first two turns.

Almost as important as whom to target is who not to target. Don't go after a model you can't kill with one shot. Always avoid W3 models (and W2 late in the game). Don't go after models with an Invulnerable save. Don't go after models in hard cover. And finally, don't go after a model that won't have an impact on the game.

Due to the amount of cover afforded models in 5th Edition, it's definitely worth shooting the Turbo-Penetrator round at tanks. The Rending rule really gives this shell a nice boost, allowing you to roll 3D6+3 for penetration (averaging 13.5). And if you roll a 6 on any of those dice, you add a further +D3 to the total.

Math Hammer Fun: If you get one six on the result, your average penetration will jump to 18. If you get two sixes, the average penetration jumps to 22.5; and if you get three sixes, the average goes to 27. Your chance of getting at least one six on 3D6 is just over 42%. Not bad.

Note: Keep in mind that the Spy Mask reduces a vehicle's cover save by one. So smoke launchers only afford a 5+ save against the Turbo-Penetrator.

Dirty Trick #2: Ever have a pesky model that manages to survive a close combat in your opponent's turn and denies your ability to wipe out the enemy unit in your next shooting phase? No problem. As long as the Vindicare has line of sight and range, he can target ANY model. That includes models in your own army.

If you have an Imperial army, then you should have an Inquisitor and a few Imperial Operatives to toss in for variety. They are relatively inexpensive and can really make an army feel different. Here are some ideas for unsing the Vindicare in Imperial armies:

Imperial Guard: Although he can no longer benefit from orders (that was a fun few months), the Vindicare fits right into an IG army. I love combining my Vindicare with Ratling snipers and the Exitus Rifle is great at keeping Guardsman Marbo out of trouble. The sweetest plum is that the Vindicare will almost always survive because of the target rich environment; few opponents will risk the Night Fight check to try to kill a T4 W2 model with a 4+ Invulnerable when they have so many other things to shoot at.

Dirty Trick #3: The Vindicare just loves Psyker Battle Squads. Weaken Resolve really makes pinning weapons much nastier.

Space Wolves: I've been tinkering around with a Vindicare in my Space Wolves army, but still feel that the Callidus is a better match (AWiYE is fantastic when used with Jaws of the World Wolf). But Space Wolves can always benefit from more long range shooting (especially the turbo-penetrator round). The most common use of the Vindicare will be picking choice enemy models out of close combat -- pesky Power Weapons and Power Fists, as well as putting wounds on tougher models to even the playing field.

Dirty Trick #4: I'd love to pop my own Lukas the Trickster with the Vindicare, lol. Being able to control when he dies makes him a lot more dangerous. And the Pelt of the Doppegangrel isn't much of a deterrent because the Vindicare's BS5.

Dirty Trick #5: If you are playing Annihilation and you are tight on Kill Points, use the Vindicare to take out your own Lone Wolves. In a close game, it can make all the difference.

Space Marines: The Vindicare works well with many Space Marine list variants. He plays well with Sniper Scouts and Sternguard Veterans; and he simply loves Null Zone.

Dirty Trick #6: A Vindicare is a pretty tough target in standard cover, gaining the better of the cover save or his 4+ Invulnerable (as well as being hard to see thanks to his snazzy Stealth Suit). But if you put him in Bostered Terrain, he takes a tremendous amount of shooting before he is removed as a casualty. Most players won't bother knowing that they are going to have to deal with Night Fight and a 2+/3+ cover save.

Dirty Trick #7: One of the problems witht the Vindicare is the fact that he has only one shot and requires a 4+ to wound. But if you team up a Vindicare and Torias Telion, you have the ability to allocate up to THREE wounds per shooting phase. Between the two of them, you can quickly and reliably take out problem models.

Black Templars: The Vindicare adds much needed long range shooting to a Black Templars army, as well as the chance to cause pinning. If I was going to add any Assassin to a Black Templars army, it would be the Vindicare.

Dirty Trick #8: The Vindicare is great for generating Righteous Zeal tests on your own turn! Just target a model from one of your own units and pop him.

Note: Yes, you can have an Inquisitor in a Black Templars army; as long as you don't buy any psychic powers. They probably won't like him though.

The Vindicare is a ton of fun and every Imperial player should have one in his bag of tricks. He adds lots of variety and some much needed tactical thinking to the average game. If you already have one, then I hope this article gave you some great ideas on using your Vindicare in your 5th Edition armies. If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Comments are welcome and feel free to email me your lists or questions. Just send them to me at mkerr@chainfist.com. And, as always, your mileage may vary.

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