Saturday, May 31, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Psychic Powers (Part 4)

Moving on to the next section of the rulebook in the break-neck paced review. We're up to the psychic powers. Firstly I want to talk about the new psychic phase mechanic, I'll then look at the existing disciplines and what's changed before moving onto the much maligned Daemonology powers. Here goes...

The Psychic Phase
I've only had a single game with the new rules and already I can see some issues with this mechanic, still let's talk about the good things first. I'm a huge fan of giving it a separate phase. Not only will this mean I actually remember to cast my powers (although I forgot about the whole phase a couple of times and went straight to shooting) but also it clarifies a lot of arguments about when powers are cast in relation to everything else. The method of casting is an interesting change and being able to potentially deny Blessings is a huge bonus to some armies. On to the bad...

Each time you start the phase you get so many dice to play with. In my army I had a single Spiritseer so had D6+2 dice in each phase with which to cast my Telepathy powers. I mostly tried to cast psychic shriek so used 3 dice for that to give me an 88% chance of getting the power off (slightly less than an old style Ld10 psyker) but also minimising the chance of Perils. I cast the power pretty reliably but Matt was using a GK/Inquisition/SW army which had something like 13+D6 dice per turn. Since I was targetting a unit with a psyker in it that basically meant I got denied nearly every time. Now, I suppose this makes sense, a lone psyker against practically an army of them would need some force of will to get those powers through. However, the whole experience was just frustrating. On the other hand Matt was using Malefic powers (more on them later) with tons of dice to throw at them and very little chance of me cancelling.

That for me is the issue. If you've got a lone psyker I think he's more powerful than he was before. My spiritseer could potentially cast 3 powers per turn compared to two in the old edition. He could potentially cast WC3 powers if I wanted. Not only that but he can target several different units with witchfire and still shoot his pistol (for all the good that does). That's pretty good really. If you've got a whole troop of psykers I think the individual ones will suffer. Matt, for example, spent his warp charge on conjuring daemons with his inquisitors and then hadn't got enough left over to activate his dreadknight's force weapon. In the past, alright he couldn't have conjured daemons, but he'd have been able to cast every single power he had (potentially). He was easily able to produce two vortex templates, some bloodcrushers and turn an inquisitor into a bloodthirster with little I could do to prevent it.

In theory, getting both players involved in each psychic phase is a good thing as then you're not just spectating but in practice I was just as much of a spectator anyway. Daemonology powers weren't even the problem it was just the fact that he could easily cast and I had next to no chance of getting mine off. Of course Matt's list deliberately contained a lot of psykers (Coteaz, 2 inquisitors, 2 rune priests, 2 dreadknights and a dreadnought) but it's far from the worst list out there for this kind of thing.

I think if the sides are evenly matched in terms of psychic ability then it'll seem pretty similar to 6th. Obviously in 6th if you were using DE, Tau, etc against a psychic army you still felt powerless (against psychic at least) but the stakes are a lot higher now. More satisfying rolling a deny with a non-psychic army now though I suppose.

One final thing to note. There's no longer any restriction (that I can see) on a ML1 psyker casting a WC3 (or more) power. Providing you can generate the warp charge there's no limit to what you can do.

Psychic Disciplines
First off let me express my frustration that once again GW has failed to put the chart showing which disciplines each race (sorry, Faction) has access to into the rulebook. This means you'll need the cards as even newer codexes get this wrong. Having said that the insert in the psychic cards set (from the pictures, I haven't bought any) isn't really accurate as not all SM psykers have access to everything. In fact that chart is a waste of time really. Anyway onto the powers which I'll cover just like the special rules yesterday.

Biomancy
Smite - same.
Iron Arm - +3 not D3 and now Smash but no longer Eternal Warrior
Enfeeble - same.
Life Leech (moved from 4 to 3) - now 18" range and the bonus wound can be passed on.
Warp Speed (move from 5 to 4) - again +3 not D3.
Endurance (moved from 3 to 5) - now WC2 and now Eternal Warrior not IWND plus FNP 4+ now
Haemorrhage - WC2, now 18" range and requires 2 tests for first model.

Some worthwhile powers here, particularly Iron Arm. Smite remains a bit crap but still a strong discipline when in the right hands. Still gone for Tyranids though but a T9 Mephiston with Smash seems like a fun idea.

Divination
Prescience - now WC2 but otherwise same
Foreboding - same.
Forewarning - same.
Perfect Timing (moved from 4 to 3) - same.
Precognition (moved from 5 to 4) - same.
Misfortune (move from 3 to 5) - now WC2 and causes Rending rather than forcing re-rolls.
Scrier's Gaze - now WC2, gives a re-roll instead of three dice and pick and obviously removed Mysterious Terrain to be replaced by Mysterious Objectives and can discard and re-gen a Tactical Objective.

Everyone's favourite discipline in 6th is likely to stay near the top of the pile. Prescience is still useful if potentially harder to cast at times. Otherwise little has changed here.

Pyromancy
Flame Breath - same.
Fiery Form - no longer +2s but gives re-roll to wound for other pyro powers.
Fire Shield - 4+ to everything now (no melta/soul blaze exceptions) but just Dangerous Terrain instead of the old 2D6 S4 hits.
Spontaneous Combustion (moved from 4 to 3) - just S6 AP3 with Soul Blaze now, but blast after is now S5 AP4.
Sunburst (moved from 5 to 4) - increased range to 9" but Blind swapped out for Soul Blaze.
Inferno - (moved from 3 to 5) - WC2 but Large Blast for your trouble
Molten Beam - same but better for Beam rules not reducing strength anymore.

Still hard to love this discipline but with the ability to now use several different Witchfires potentially Pyromancy will get more love. Main problem is the crappy Primaris though, not so bad when you're getting it for free I suppose.

Telekinesis
Assail - again better with new Beam rules but still not great
Crush - same.
Gate - gone to Sanctic.
Objuration mechanicum (moved from 3 to 2) - now just Gets Hot but still Haywire on vehicles.
Shockwave (moved from 4 to 3) now 9" range Nova with S4 and 2D6 hits.
Levitation (new) - basically the poor man's Gate. Move the unit an extra 12" like they've got Jump packs in the psychic phase but can't assault. Safer than Deep Strike though.
Telekine Dome - WC2 now, 12" bubble around psyker with 5++ save to shooting but no rebounds anymore.
Psychic Maelstrom - similar to Vortex of Doom from 6th but Large Blast and Barrage and no penalty for failure.

Probably an underrated discipline but again poor Primaris is less of an issue now. Nothing especially bad here so we might see more of it.

Telepathy
Psychic Shriek - now 18" range.
Dominate - same.
Mental Fortitude - same.
Puppet Master - gone and probably missed by many.
Terrify (moved from 4 to 3) - now -1Ld but don't lose Fearless anymore.
Shrouding (new) - 6" Shrouded bubble
Invisibility - now can only be hit on 6s in both shooting and combat. Incredibly good!
Hallucination - 1-2 same, 3-4 just -1 to WS, BS, I and A. 5-6 character hit by rest of unit instead of whole unit attacks each other. Basically a shadow of its former glory.

Towards the end of 6th people started to see the attraction of Telepathy over Divination but I suspect they'll head straight back as some of the things that made this discipline good simply aren't there now. Basically if you don't get Invisibility don't bother but Psy Shriek is still nice (especially with range boost) and Terrify could be useful in the right situation.

Sanctic Daemonology
Banishment - reduces Daemon invulnerable save by -1.
Gate of Infinity - as before but no range limit.
Hammerhand - +2 strength not +1 like in GK book.
Sanctuary - +1 to invulnerable save and 12" Dangerous Terrain bubble.
Purge Soul - focussed basically poor man's Mind War.
Cleansing Flame - WC2 version of Sunburst basically but S5 AP4 instead.
Vortex - WC3 but worth it for a 12" range Destroyer blast that persists until you roll a double on scatter.

Pretty solid set of powers here but clearly aimed at Grey Knights. I can see this replacing their codex powers ultimately. Definitely best choice for GK but risky for other armies. Vortex is potentially excellent if you get that lucky 6 and in a GK army shouldn't be too hard to cast.

Malefic Daemonology
Summoning, Sacrifice, Incursion and Possession - all allow you to conjure up some Daemons of various flavours. Of course you've got to roll the right powers but in a Daemons army you can be adding a huge number of points worth of new units to your army every turn. Those units can in turn create more and, well, you get the picture.
Cursed Earth - +1 to invulnerable and no Deep Strike scatter in 12".
Dark Flame - torrent flamer
Infernal Gaze - Beam but only AP4 so no great shakes.

Yep, that's what Daemons needed. A way to get a re-rollable 2++ without using Divination. Brilliant. All of the Conjuration powers are frankly stupid. I actually think they'd be acceptable in a CSM army (and would make sense) but in a Daemons army they become daft quickly.

Conclusion
Some minor changes to the existing powers for the most part but a few beloved powers are lost or else moved around. Of course, the big problem is going to be Daemonology. Sanctic isn't going to ruin the game particularly but Malefic almost certainly is. 

I've read various people's opinions over the interwebs and they range from "it's ridiculous" to "no-one will buy that many models" and even "let Daemons have something good for a change". Frankly, it seems Daemons have been the OP army of choice a lot recently. We had the Screamer/Flamer nonsense, the flying circus and screamerstar and now this. If I was a long term Daemons player I'd actually be pissed off that there'll be a lot of bandwagoners. 

GW have done so much right with 7th edition but this, combined with the subject of tomorrow's post (army selection) I think they've gotten very wrong. There's little or no risk to a Daemon army of producing tons of units each turn with most armies unable to do anything to counter it. Not only that but a Tzeentch themed list will get worse every turn! GW clearly want to flog a lot of Daemons. Of course, you aren't going to meet the maxed out lists much but it'd be miserable the odd time you do. No worse than some of the lists around at the end of 6th I suppose but GW had done some excellent work in preventing some of the dirty combos only to create the mother of all of them.

Don't get me wrong I love the idea of it in some ways but competitively it's nonsense. Frankly most TOs will ban it. It's too early to make any kind of call for BW8 yet though. GW clearly want us to pick and choose what we want from the rulebook (they say it nearly every other page) but I wish they'd put some kind of limit on things. As you'll see in tomorrow's post they don't seem to keen on that idea.

1 comment:

  1. Santic purifiers are the biggest steam roller of this edittion. You take razors with DA field and buff them to 3++ thx to santic power on every GKS tank. Every squat of purifiers got insane nova power that can obliterate even daemons with tons of summoned units in a turn.
    I think that GKS will beat current 6th edition heavy OP armies (tau and eldar), but it is too early to see. I still thin that eldar will be as broken as before (thx to objective secured in combo with wawe serpent), but tau might be ok in this edition.

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