Monday, 6 June 2016

First Captain Sigismund - Character and Rules Review

I have had an Imperial Fist army for about a year now and quickly grew to love this guy. I am giving you a bit of fluff on this chap and my thoughts on his rules and playing him in games...

A history of Death's Champion

Sigismund is known as Death's Champion after he was given the title of being the first Emperor's Champion. However, Sanguinius remarked that he seemed '...less my brother Dorn's champion and more Death's himself'. Always thought this was a strange comment to make by a Primarch who was supposed to be espousing the Imperial Truth (pre-heresy comment), but it sounds cool so who cares - eh?!

He is considered within the lore as being first among warriors after the Primarch's themselves; I suspect there are a few other main characters who would like to challenge this view, but he is certainly considered one of the finest loyalist warriors (and has the rules to back this up).

He has hasn't featured much in the Heresy so far but has been one of its most insightful characters. Early on in the novels remarking to Loken "We will spend our lives fighting to secure this Imperium, and then I fear we will spend the rest of our days fighting to keep it intact.....In the far future, there will be only war" - thats got to rank him as one of the most thoughtful Heresy characters I think. I like also his critical insight into the nature of the Imperium at this stage 'space is limitless, and so is our appetite to master it.' He is one of those characters who stand out like Garro, Loken and the Sigillite as truly seeing the Imperium's flaws and finding something in humanity that they still wish to protect.

Sigismund in M.13

No thats not a typo....I am often curious to see what I can find out about a characters name-sake and see if there may be clues as to the 31st Millennium version. There was a warrior-king called Sigismund in 14th Century Europe so I took a look at his life for similarities or clues as to what might be in store for Sigi. This guy raises several armies, uniting parts of Europe against the Turks and Poles with varying success and is portrayed as leading these large (up to 80,000 strong forces) from the front mounted on horseback and waving a jolly big sword about!

In that sense there is a little similarity although there is none of the 'perfect warrior' element really although it will be interesting to see if our Sigismund will do more to unite others against a common enemy. The Hungarian Sigismund's life was beset by feuding, political games and intrigue, which he played his own part in too. Our Sigismund may be getting some more of this coming his way too then.

Two things that are common are that his life was one long struggle, the 14th Century version was always having to guard his throne from rivals within and battle rivals without too - he would often think his way out of these problems as well as occasionally send out an army. I think this rings true of our Sigismund too who is thus far in turmoil over his early faith in the Emperor, reliance on visions from Euphrati Keeler etc and the idea of him riding at the head of huge armies could give us clues as to the course of events in M.31. The Second thing and this may be what GW latched onto is that he creates his own order of Knights - who get the very cool name The Order of the Dragon, I think when I paint up my Templar Brethren i will try and incorporate some of this into their heraldry somehow.

Anyway back to M.31

Thus far in the HH novels we have seen Sigismund in:

The Flight of the Eisenstein - here we see him take on the visions of Keeler who tells him he must make a choice about the part he will play in the Heresy, neither of which are particularly appealing.
The Crimson Fist - here we see him confess to his father the motivations that lead him to stay on Terra and not lead out the Retribution Fleet.
Templar - here we see him attack a Word Bearer outpost in the Sol System.

He has not got his own book yet like his brother Alexis Pollux so what we know about him must be gleaned from these short appearances.

Sigismund's toughest moment comes not in battle but instead on Terra as he stands before his father and admits to the visions that guided his request to remain on Terra rather than lead the retribution fleet as he had been ordered. Dorn's fury at his sons belief in 'superstition' and the Primarch's blindness to the foresight and reasoned approach that Sigismund takes does much to warm him to me also. Like Garro speaking his ming to Dorn and getting knocked out, I think this guys honourable sacrifice is what makes him hugely appealing.

The duelist Sigismund
Of course its not only charm, intellect and looking good in a tabard that make this guy great. He is a monster in terms of combat - we don't see so much generalship from him so far (unlike Pollux who is demonstrably a leader who can get the most out of those around him and the situation he is in) - but what we do see is a single combat beast!

If you read Templar, by John French, we can see Sigismund on a mission to quiet a Word Bearer station within the Sol system. The story cuts in and out of this assault and takes him back to some happy time...taking out the greatest swordsman the White Scars can offer (he also reuses to ill the guy after beating him) .... beating down his best mate (?) Kharn who he regularly thrashes with apparent ease.... and of course we discover that when a daemon possessed Word Bearer who is seemingly unstoppable comes up against this son of Dorn, it turns out the are very stoppable in fact.

There is a nice link with the model and the history of Sigismund in this short story as we find out about why he has his weapons chained to him, which actually comes in handy in the end. A nice physical representation of how this great warrior is bound to his duty.

And on to M.32
Sigismund is described in Templar as having never lost a duel (we don't count the underhand cheating of Sevetar) and by the end of the heresy this is still true. I think he will get his own book, probably by John French who seems to be curating this character, about his actions at the battle of Terra at least. The lore has it currently that he defeats every enemy he meets there - the guy is a legend! Shame he wasn't there when Horus was fighting Dad at the end.

After stalking the battlefield at the Siege of Terra and defeating every enemy champion he could find he found no real slake to his thirst for revenge. He was looking for Abandon who he wanted to share a few points with on the battlefield. Fast forward 500 years and Sigi catches up with Abaddon on the first Black Crusade - the two meet in single combat and only Abaddon walks away from it. I've not been able to find the actual reference (Talon of Horus I think) for this in the collated lore, and given how much I like Sigi I am kind of avoiding it a little. We will see how the lore develops in a few years, maybe he's still out there...somewhere!

Immediately after the Heresy Sigismund is sent forth to found the Black Templars and he is given the most zealous Asrtartes to pursue an eternal crusade against the traitors, all dressed in his personal heraldry (black and white of course!) that he has worn since the Siege of Terra.

Best books to find out more about this hero...
Flight of the Eisenstein - James Swallow
The Crimson Fist - John French
Templar - John French

His rules in the game
Alan Bligh has done a nice job of matching rules to character in this case and (as an IF player) I am delighted with the result.

Sigismund doesn't offer much to the rest of the army in terms of force multipliers (other than allowing Templar Brethren to be taken as troops), but he does make his squad and absolute hammer in close combat.

He confers the chance to re-roll charges, the unit gains +1 to I in the first round of combat and they can re-roll sweeping advance rolls.

Like all ICs in the VIIth legion he must initiate challenges where he can, when he does this his wounds are Instant Death and he forces re-rolls of successful Invul Saves from his AP2 weapon. And if that isn't enough the Black Sword gives +2 to strength too!

When using him in challenges don't forget that if he is fighting a unit with two ICs and one refuses a challenge the other must accept - this can be really handy for working your way through units that have apothecaries or chaplains that confer benefits to the unit that can tarpit him.

Oh and how best to use him? Don't go mad, do the math-hammer and pick units he will destroy and be able to get onto the next thing. Go for their Warlord (extra VP for killing him), go for their high value units (not really vehicles if you can help it) and make sure he gets the charge. To do this, put him in a Spartan (or some other Landraider variant to get him into the charge).

I have lost him a couple of times - once to tarpits and another time because the enemy kept throwing decent units at him and I lost the initiative. Try and take on units you can isolate, as early as possible in the game and keep ferrying him around to put the hurt on your enemy.

I have run him with 5 THSS Terminators and also with a 20 man Breacher Squad (in a Spartan). Both are good in different ways and I am still tinkering to decide what is best.

The verdict
In summary, I think this guy is building a great back-story (thanks John French), the model (as i described in an earlier post)is stunning and the rules make him one of, if not the, best IC's in combat below the Primarchs. He is a permanent feature in my army.

There you have it - one of 30k & 40ks biggest figures - I hope you enjoy playing with/against him as much as me!

Happy hobbying!


  1. Sounds like a beast in his rules. I am really looking forward to hearing more about him in the books as well.

  2. Hi Rory, me too. I am trying to get hold of John French so I can see what he has in mind for the future. My expectations are that he may get a book on the run up to Terra, although more likely we will have to wait to hear about him at the siege itself. After that, he may grow in significance in the Scouring as he forms the Templars and no doubt is involved in Dorn's early refusal, and later acquittal, to break the VIIth legion down.