Praised be the Omnissiah, the Adeptus Mechanicus are finally here!
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Developer: Proxy Studios
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 22 Nov, 2021
With the 5th faction DLC for Gladius the Adeptus Mechanicus, the machine priests of Mars, finally enter the fray. The Adeptus Mechanicus are a group that holds a unique role in the Imperium of Man, being the only ones who know how advanced machines work and how to manufacture them. The Imperium needs them, yet they are not devout followers of the Imperial creed.
Adeptus Mechanicus, or AdMech for short, is a highly advanced faction who while relying on their powerful weapons and their understanding of machines are also very backwards thinking. They can build massive cities that out-produce everyone else, but their rigid thinking and adherence to protocol also makes their cities less flexible.
The Adeptus Mechanicus are a cult of technology worshippers who operate as an empire within the Imperium of Man. Thanks to an ancient deal struck with the Emperor of Man they were given a large degree of independence, in exchange for supplying the Imperium with the technology they need, and maintaining their machines. In effect the AdMech have a near monopoly on the production of all high tech equipment, be it starships, life support systems for the massive hive cities or the weapons the Imperium needs to fight its many foes.
Even though the AdMech are the caretakers of all technology they actual understanding of it is often limited. Instead of knowing why something works, they’re taught religious rites that contain the necessary procedures to build, repair and maintain things, rites that are themselves needlessly complex and long winded. Imagine having to pray to the machine, to certain hand motions and only using specific tools when you’re changing a light bulb. This focus on ritual over understanding means that the actual important parts are more often than not obfuscated. Due to their reverence of machines most members of the AdMech view the flesh as being weak and thus strive to replace as much of it as they can with cybernetics, resulting in its senior members often not even being recognizable as humans.
Seeking knowledge is a dangerous thing to do. While it’s not uncommon for members of the Priesthood of Mars to go out and try to understand the world, and make new machines such endeavors are often seen as heresy. This does not stop members of the priesthood from trying, and it often causes conflicts, and sometimes war, within the AdMech.
Gladius Prime, being a highly industrialized and densely populated world, was of course home to many members of the AdMech. They were the ones who were experimenting on the tyranids, and which caused the tyranid threat to arrive on Gladius Prime. And now they view themselves as the rightful rulers of the planet. After all, were it not for them the planet would have been dead millennia ago.
AdMech are in some regards one of the more conventional DLC factions, in terms of their gameplay. They do have some mechanics that make them play in their own unique way, but the changes they bring does not shake up the gameplay as much as the unique mechanics of the Eldar or Tyranids.
The Adeptus Mechanicus are a high tech faction with powerful long range weapons and troops that have some weird abilities. But the most unique part of the AdMech is how they build their cities. Beyond that they’ve also got a research penalty, with tech costing more than for other factions, resulting in it taking longer for them to progress through their tech tree, though the penalty is not huge.
Cities built by the AdMech might at first glance look similar to those of the Imperial Guard. They can be built in the same locations (i.e. almost anywhere), population growth works similarly and they need tech to expand out beyond one hex from the center. But being master builders (who hold even less regard for human lives and trivial things like comfort than the imperial guard) they can cram an extra building into each hex. The normal maximum is three, but the AdMech can build four things in each hex. Buildings of the same type also give each other a boost when they’re built together. On the other hand building several different building types in one hex results in a production penalty. So you’re encouraged to specialize. The result of this is that you’re encouraged to sprawl out more early on, so you don’t start building several different things in the same hex. The idea is not bad, and it gives the AdMech a personality of their own, as this efficient but inflexible group, but the execution is a little bit annoying.
Units in the AdMech army have their own unique quirks. Their early troops carry short ranged weapons that deal a good amount of damage, and they also carry a passive aura that hurts any organic enemies that end their turn next to them. Skitarii are apparently radioactive. Because they’ve got so much cyberware they’re also tougher than normal people and have a passive damage reduction, but they’re not as tough as Space Marines and will still quickly fall if they come under sustained fire. This is true for most of their infantry class units. One of their weirder units are the Serberys Sulphurhounds (which is a tier 1 unit), cavalry riding on top of robot steeds with flamethrowers where their mouths should be. They’re good against low armour threats like kroot hounds and due to their steeds can move pretty fast despite being recruited from the same building as regular infantry. Most of the infantry in the AdMech army are short ranged or even melee focused, and it’s not until the late game that they have access too good ranged anti-vehicle infantry.
Speaking of their vehicles, AdMech are a bit weird here as well. Their first unit is the Ironstrider Ballistarius, a chicken-legged walker mounting a range 3 auto-cannon. Their early Onager Dunecrawler is their anti-air unit that mounts auto-cannons and rockets. It’s not until the Skorpius Disintegrator, which is pretty late in the tech tree that they get some serious firepower that works well against heavier units. Most of the AdMech units have range, but not raw stopping power, on their side. The exception to this rule are the Kastelan Robots, who are best up close and personal, and are pretty tanky. These are the same as the neutral robots that were in the game from the very start, but now you have a chance to use them!
AdMech characters are not fighters, they’re support units, and should be used as such. They have some of the best single-target healing in the game and the Skitarii Marshal have a powerful damage buff that when upgraded gains more range, making it possible for a single Marshal to cover a large part of the army. The unit that AdMech uses to build cities, the Cybernetica Datasmith, does come with an interesting ability. Those annoying neutral Kastelan Robots can be re-programmed by the Datasmiths to become part of your army.
It feels like AdMech have a hole in their roster. Their early-game units lack armour penetration, and while the Ironstriders can out-range a lot of things, the army overall seem to lack the punch needed to take on tougher targets, like cities. Even Ork Killa Kans can be a problem for the AdMech due to their lack of anti-armour. That’s not to say that the AdMech are entirely helpless, and depending on the unit type, if they’re classified as a Canticle of the Omnissiah unit or a Doctrina Imperatives unit they can get certain buffs. The buffs also often come with a penalty though.
AdMech are a weird faction, one the one hand most of their units, and their playstyle feel rather conventional, you don’t have the ability to suddenly create a lot of gun drones, or warp across the board or have to have dedicated babysitters for your bugs. On the other hand it is a faction with some unique mechanics that make them work unlike any other. The way cities are built, with specialized districts, can be a hassle, but the late game production powerhouses that are AdMech cities are a glory to behold. But they are slow starters, and having to claim new land to build new building types, that is unless you want to suffer the production penalties, slow down their early game expansion. That’s not helped by their slower than average research.
AdMech are marked as having a hard start, and that is correct. In fact they might have the hardest start of any faction (some might still argue that Tyranids are tougher). But this is what makes them an interesting faction, the fact that they are hard to play, and they have a very clear weakness in the early game. They also don’t have a gameplan that is as obvious as that of the Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum, which is the faction they most resemble. AdMech is not a faction for those brand new to Gladius, it’s for those who are already familiar with the game and its mechanics and are looking for a greater challenge.