PLAYTEST: 5th Edition Cypher Rules

I was making my daily rounds though the BoLS Lounge when I came across this post about using Cypher in 5th Edition. I remember totally digging "the mysterious hooded figure carrying a sword and two exquisite pistols" -- it was also very nifty that he never drew the sword. I can't help but wonder what he'd look like in 5th Edition. So, for fun, let's see!
To start, I dug out the "Heroes & Villains of the 41st Millennium" article from White Dwarf (for some reason, I have a compelling need to keep all of my old White Dwarfs close at hand) and it's clear his rules are sorely in need of an update.

Here's what we know about Cypher. He's a catalyst for death and destruction, although he rarely takes active role in the devastation. Cypher wears the unadorned black power armor of a Fallen Angel, and he carries a mysterious sheathed sword and two exquisite pistols. Cypher is so skilled that he can aim and fire both pistols, even to the point of shooting them in close combat. He has an almost supernatural ability to escape capture. Cypher is also sometimes accompanied by other Space Marines in similar black armor.

So let's translate that into 5E:

CYPHER..........................................................151 points


Special Rules:
* 1 (Unique)
* Power armor
* And They Shall Know No Fear

* Plasma pistol
* Fallen Angel
Unit Type:
* Bolt pistol
* Gunfighter
* Infantry
* Frag and krak grenades
* Divine Protection

Note: Cypher may be taken as an Elite choice for Chaos Space Marine or Imperial Guard army.

Fallen Angel: Cypher is often accompanied by a retinue of Fallen Angels. The Fallen Angels are a squad of Chaos Space Marines selected as normal from the Codex: Chaos Space Marines, except they may not be upgraded with Squad Icons.

Note: As long as Cypher is attached to the squad, the Fallen Angels benefit from Cypher's And They Shall Know No Fear special rule.

Gunfighter: Cypher's skill with his exquisite pistols are legendary. His shots wound on a 4+, regardless of the victim's Toughness. Such is Cypher's skill that wounds caused by his Shooting attacks are allocated by his controlling player, rather than the opposing player. His pair of pistols fire together as a single ranged weapon with the following profile:

Assault 4

In addition, Cypher continues to fight with his pistols in close combat. He counts counts as being armed with a power weapon and gains the +1 Attack bonus for being equipped with two close combat weapons.

Divine Protection: If Cypher is ever affected by an attack that would cause Instant Death or remove him from play, he instead takes a single wound (saves apply normally). If Cypher is reduced to 0 Wounds or would be removed as a casualty for any reason, don't remove him from the battlefield -- just place the model on its side to note his location.

At the beginning of his controlling player's turn, roll a D6. On a 1 or 2, Cypher is removed from play without a trace. On a 3+, he has cheated certain death again, scrambling into view of his attackers, bloodied but unbowed. Cypher is restored to 1 Wound and may be placed anywhere on the battlefield within 12" of his current location. He can move and fight normally in the turn he reappears. Furthermore, in missions that use kill points, Cypher (and his squad of Fallen Angels) never concedes a kill point.

Note: While joined to his retinue of Fallen Angels, Cypher counts as an upgrade character and cannot leave the unit until all other Fallen Angels are killed, at which point he regains his Independent Character status.

This is pretty much how we start when we are writing mini-dexes. We try to capture the flavor of the character in special rules, then we shop it around for feedback and playtesting to tune the character. At this point, Cypher is going to be a killer. The rules accomplish my design goal (an elusive and extremely dangerous gunslinger that dances around the battlefield), but without testing I won't know just how effective he'll be.

>>I'd love your thoughts and feedback on Cypher! If you actually give him a spin in a game, please let me know what happened. You can leave comments here or email me at

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