Well its been a while, my absence in large part caused by preparations for the NOVA, and my familial obligations. Those are now past. Huzzah! sort of!
So as promised, thoughts on the Black Legion first.
Black Legion troops/infantry are actually worse than regular CSM This could have been so so so so so much better. It solved none of the inherent problems in CSM, in fact, makes them worse.. Troops are now more expensive. The largest problem of CSM is that troops are so expensive, with so little output for the price, that they are not worth taking under almost any circumstances. Cultists and plague marines are the only models vaguely worth their point cost, but even then, no one expects real damage output from them, more of just, duck and cover to hold objectives.
So now you get the same infantry, but worse, because they cost more. Oh and i suppose you could argue that the buff vs. loyalist marines + LD bonus makes it worthwhile, it helps, but ultimately leaves you dissatisfied as again, how are you going to deliver these guys meaningfully? Also, if your losing combat with CSM and/or forced to take game changing leadership tests, you're probably doing it wrong. (TAKE FEARLESS MODELS)
Transport problems are still there
No way for anyone other than terminators to take a LR as a dedicated transport, not solving the assault issue. No reduced point costs on rhinos to make them worth taking and essentially offering first blood to your opponent with. Even if you want to take these power armored bodies, why would you? They'll get blown off the board by Eldar, Tau, or the new vanilla marines.
The new Artifacts are great, except you can't really take them on the HQ's you want to.
My real beef, I want that eternal warrior artifact on my juggernaut lord so bad it hurts. Except I can't, because you can't cross beams, errr, artifacts. The new daemon weapon they put in the book, +1I, is ok - but seriously, the AP2 Axe is soooo much better its not even funny. AP2 meele weapons makes any ones assault pizza, when they want to french fry, its always a good thing.
So are the new artifacts worth it? Yes, sort of - . The penetrating hits artifact is hilarious, but versus a good opponent, likely to be so situational to the point of non-use. The Eternal warrior / Admantium will one is obviously good. The daemon weapon is ok... The rest I wouldn't go near. Its not worth risking a single bad roll ( i know you can re-roll with a spell familiar, but still) and losing a super expensive psyker. The insta-gib gauntlet is interesting, but only useful if you can somehow guarantee you're going to hit, i.e., re-roll that miss you're going to do 1/3 the time or more.
More FOC slots to play with
So here is the meat and potatoes of the Black Legion. Everyones automatically thinking, OMGZZZ 4 helldrakes, ok, congrats, you're probably the several millionith player to think that, and then immediately follow up with, omgzz that'd be so OP!.
Except that it isn't, its actually really bad. 680 points of, now I don't have any ground elements, so my opponents are just going to move past my guys 90 degree pivot arcs, shoot my rear armor, and laugh if you decide to hover just to make sure you get that flame template laid down somewhere useful. Well, I guess to be fair, having played one enough, I realize you can make helldrake almost always be useful every turn almost regardless, but still. It's not going to win you a game vs. properly done Tau, or eldar serpent spam.
Something to watch out for now - snap fired grav guns salvoing into your helldrake are going to make them facepalm real hard. Locked velocity is a bitch. If your opponent is smart, he's going to salvo the shit out of you.
Helldrakes are best at killing small squads, and more specifically, space marines. If you expect to be playing vs. marines regularly, take 1, or 2 even! Otherwise, stick with 1. To be fair, 1. 1 will win you that match up vs. ravenwing, or white scars, as it may be, or let you go chase down eldar jetbikes.
Golden rule of helldrake - Always take 1, never more than 2. Oh and always take the flamer, because seriously if you take the hades cannon...
I got side-tracked, so what do more FOC slots mean? Well, more of the things where CSM actually doesn't suck, and is costed mostly appropriately! That means another maulerfiend, squad of oblits, 2nd helldrake, or 3rd spawn squad.
Are these things better than daemon allies? My gut tells me no, but the time I spent painting a land-raider, a counts-as abaddon, and terminators, tell me it'd better, or else!
So its actually far better to take Abaddon in your primary detachment, use him as a replacement beat-stick lord (Say a swap out for the juggy lord), and then take a cheap-o allied sorcerer or lord in the black legion detachment. This helps avoid the VoTLW tax, not to mention, his warlord trait is now way more useful as people begin to bandwagon marines again.
The fluff is very well done
This, A+, seriously no sarcasm. I enjoyed reading the entire thing.
No real changes to playstyle.
If you played CSM before, this is just the same thing. Nothing is going to change in the overall mechanics of the army.
I'm seriously considering using abaddon now, as he he gives me one more super beefy, CC until, that can multi-roll thanks to his two pwnage weapons. He's also good in a pinch to tank something with eternal warrior.
I'm leaning towards him more and more every day.