In my overview of the basics and synergy concepts for building army lists in 30k and Horus Heresy era gaming, I noted that it is worth trying to take rites of war for armies as they can really enhance what the list is capable of. Today, I'm going to break that nominal rule, just to demonstrate that its the exception that makes the rule great!
Today's army list features the Night Lords and Sevatar. Hence, it could potentially have a rite of war due to Sevatar's Master of the Legion rule, but I'm going to argue it doesn't need it. Its one of the classic cases of an army doing better without it. Why should this be so? Well, in short: the Night Lords are one army that can potentially do very well (perhaps better?) without a rite at all. That is because their special rules (causing fear, and the ability to teleport terminators in - at a points cost premium) is akin to a rite of war in and of itself and can be exploited better without taking a rite of war, as I hope to demonstrate below.
Sevatar (175 points).
Sevatar's warlord trait is master of ambush by default. This is actually really awesome and something that this army can (at will) exploit. Select carefully which units to use it on and then place Sevatar with one of the bulkier squads below.
Master of Signal, artificer armour, trophies of judgement, power fist (110 points).
To go with the heavy support squad.
Primus Medicae, terminator armour, trophies of judgement, teleport transponder (130 points).
To go with the terminator squad. Or any other squad for that matter really.
Terminator Squad, 5 members, 5 chainfists, teleport transponders (225 points).
Teleporting terminators. Simple really.
Terror Squad, 5 members, Headsman with power fist, melta bombs, artificer armour (155 points).
A nuisance squad - plain and simple.
Tactical Squad, 18 members, all with bolt pistols and chainswords, legion vexilla, sergeant with artificer armour and power fist (265 points).
The humble, almost maxed out tactical squad. It's not maxed out as I needed to come in at 1850 points. I was 20 points over, so we have 18 rather than 20 member here. It is that simple.
Tactical Squad, 19 members, all with bolt pistols and chainswords, legion vexilla, sergeant with artificer armour and power fist (275 points).
There are 19 members here so that Sevatar can tag along with them.
Night Raptor Squad, 10 members, 2 with flamers, Huntsmaster with artificer armour, melta bombs, Nostraman Chainglaive (295 points).
Strictly better than an assault squad, this squad provides a rapid reaction force to hunt down enemy infantry squads - particularly those holed up in cover. The meltabomb is defensive in case of being caught by dreadnoughts. Add in chain axes to taste is expanding.
Heavy Support Squad, 5 members all with missile launchers and flakk, sergeant with artificer armour (220 points).
An anti-aircraft and anti-tank role here. To be teamed up with the Master of Signal and hidden in some ruins until they need to go forth to take care of out-flankers.
How it Works.
Firstly. Take a deep breath and count up how many models you have in this army. Sixty Five. Let's just repeat that and let it settle in. Sixty Five models in at least 3+ armour, with 12 in 2+ armour. Some with invulnerable saves too. For any army, 65 models is a tough ask to take care of. Sixty five models in power armour or better is awesome.
This army gives the player a lot of flexibility. There are so many components that can start the game in positions almost anywhere they like. The terminator squad and the Primus Medicae and deep strike. Naturally, they should go together. The Night Raptor squad can also deep strike if needed. The terror squad can infiltrate. And on top of that 3 other squads get to set up as per Master of Ambush thanks to Sevatar. I'd consider putting Sevatar with the 19 strong tactical squad and set them up accordingly. About the only squad in a fixed position is the heavy support squad. They're going to team up with the Master of Signals and camp out in some ruins in the deployment zone.
With this degree of flexibility, most enemies should be jealous. Even the Alpha Legion. And with this flexibility the strategy of the army can vary. But in most cases it will be aiming for an Alpha Strike (pun almost intended).
Use the heavy support and the master of signal to lay down some significant firepower at the start of the game. Preferably take out a tank or a flier. Have the Raptors fly in to dislodge analogue support squads from their hiding places.
The terror squad can be outflanked to creep up and cause fear where needed.
Sevatar and his squad position with Master of Ambush. They're probably going to be joined by the terminators and the Primus Medicae when they're available from reserve. But they don't need to be. The terminators can use their chain fists to tackle enemy tanks close up, and instead the Primus can join Sevatar alone. Or any other squad for that matter really. Use fear, weight of numbers and everything else to throw at the enemy.
That still leaves the 18 strong tactical squad that I've not mentioned. You probably won't even need them. Camp them out on an objective and have them laugh maniacally at the pitiful enemy? Or use Master of Ambush with them too? Your choice really.
Seriously, who needs rites of war with a list like this?
Expansions and Contractions.
Add the Night Haunter himself in here for bonus laughs. But if that is not permitted, then I would expand the squad sizes of all of these squads before even thinking about getting tanks. Then in terms of tanks, I would consider items like the Spartan, Storm Eagle and the Caetus Assault Ram. Focus on deadly things that also transport troops and are hard nuts to crack. Avoid rhinos - you don't need them. Drop pods are possible, but again, why bother. Take instead more infiltrating or outflanking troops (or even bikes) to keep with the theme of lots of marines on the ground able to be wherever they're needed. Keep focussing on fast moving items, the ability to be where you want, and take weapons you need.
To contract, start with the terror squad -- they're a distraction unit here. Then its up to you. Perhaps remove the raptors to make it under 1500 points or the two HQs that aren't Sevatar? It'll still be a powerful list regardless, but the synergy with these HQs makes it much sweeter. So I'd even toy with the idea of cutting down the squad numbers slightly.