25 May 2014

Psykers in 7th Edition - Psychic Disciplines Part One


Hey there folks, I am Learn2Eel from Imperator Guides and today marks the continuation of my analysis on psykers in 7th Edition. Thanks to many of our friends in the Bell of Lost Souls blogging network (specifically to 40k Daemons for the leaked Psychic Cards), we now have all the facts about these warp-charged beings and just what they are capable of. One of the more interesting additions in 7th Edition comes in the form of Daemonology in both its Malefic and Sanctic forms. The former favours the destructive nature of the Warp and its hell-bound minions, while the latter harnesses those same eldritch energies to cast the servants of Chaos back into the Eye of Terror.

Of course, what would 7th Edition be without some meaningful tweaks to the already established five core psychic disciplines? Let us see just how these powers will function and what strength psykers can derive from the Warp. A note that I will mostly cover the differences between editions when discussing the old psychic powers without giving mention to meta changes like the Psychic Phase already covered in my previous article so as to avoid wasteful information.
Due to extensive article length, I have this split this up into three pieces. This is Part One.


Biomancy

The discipline seemingly "made for Tyranids" back in the early days of 6th Edition, Biomancy has seem some rather crazy improvements to its Blessing-type powers to make up for the inherently unreliable nature of the new Psychic Phase. This is a theme throughout the five classic disciplines (and thus bears mentioning once) but I feel Biomancy in particular could be more useful than ever with the guaranteed benefits it provides.

Primaris - Smite
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Witchfire, Assault 4
Effect : This is an attack using the range listed with a profile of Strength 4 and AP2.

Change : Range increased by 6".

The extra 6" range for Smite is a nice little buff for what is still a decent if unimpressive Witchfire power. Killing anywhere between one to two Terminators on average dependent on the users' Ballistic Skill is not bad at all, but I don't think I would swap any of the powers - aside from maybe Haemorrhage - out for this. It isn't bad as a free Primaris with Psychic Focus, but I would prioritize your Warp Charge pool on the other Biomancy powers.

First - Iron Arm
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker increases their Strength and Toughness by three and gains the Smash special rule.
Change : +D3 bonus to Strength and Toughness now a flat +3, exchanged Eternal Warrior special rule with the Smash special rule.

The guaranteed maximum stat boost is amazing for combat-centric psykers such as Sevrin Loth or Ahriman, while lone models like Mephiston or a Great Unclean One become absolutely ridiculous. Losing Eternal Warrior is a blow, but on something that will at bare minimum be Toughness 6 that's not too bad at all! Gaining Smash serves to make up for the loss, turning even a standard Space Marine Librarian into a challenge monster.

Second - Enfeeble
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 24"
Type : Malediction
Effect : The unit reduces their Strength and Toughness by one and treats all terrain as dangerous terrain.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

Surprisingly, the one Malediction in the discipline saw no direct changes despite all of the Blessings improving in terms of effects once cast. Still, reducing an enemy units primary stats is fantastic when combined with any kind of damage output; a brood of Carnifexes aren't quite so scary at Toughness 5! Unless dangerous terrain tests have changed, the secondary aspect of this power is still forgettable.

Third - Life Leech
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Witchfire, Assault 2
Effect : This is an attack using the range listed with a profile of Strength 6 and AP2. If an unsaved wound is caused by this power, the Psyker or a single friendly model within 6" immediately regains one lost wound.
Change : Range increased by 6", added ability to restore lost wounds to friendly models rather than just the Psyker.

I was always a fan of this power as causing unsaved wounds with Strength 6 and AP2 is usually really easy, but adding an extra 6" to its range like Smite and allowing you to heal a friendly model within 6" instead is pretty darn good in my books. I can see Daemon Heralds of Nurgle using this to heal up a Great Unclean One that focuses on defensive powers like Iron Arm or Endurance, but the limited range does leave it as a nice but situational extra.

Fourth - Warp Speed
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker increases their Attacks and Initiative by three and gains the Fleet special rule.
Change : +D3 bonus to Attacks and Initiative now a flat +3.

Like with Iron Arm, having a guaranteed +3 bonus to both stats is a massive improvement on the old random version of Warp Speed. Any psyker with a decent melee weapon or Iron Arm may as well be humming the Dragon Ball Z theme when they get this power off as they can and will tear through entire units and characters with ease. It appears that Fleet still does not confer to the unit which does limit its use on weaker psykers like Librarians, but it is still something to remember for separating and charging separate units.

Fifth - Endurance
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 24"
Type : Blessing
Effect : The unit gains the Eternal Warrior, Feel No Pain (4+) and Relentless special rules.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, exchanged It Will Not Die special rule with the Eternal Warrior special rule.

Increasing the cost to successfully manifest the power in addition to the changes to psychic powers in general makes this one much "costlier", but the benefits are still as good as ever. Feel No Pain (4+) and Relentless on anything are awesome, but adding Eternal Warrior into the mix is the bees knees. As a Tyranid player, my heart is convulsing at the squashed prospect of giving this to Tyranid Warriors....but Centurions alike can rejoice!

Sixth - Haemorrhage
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 18"
Type : Focused Witchfire
Effect : A single selected or randomly determined model must take two Toughness tests; for each test that is failed, the model suffers a wound with no armour or cover saves allowed. If the model dies, select another friendly or enemy model within 2"; this model must take one Toughness test that if failed causes them to suffer a wound with no armour or cover saves allowed. The process is repeated until there are either no models left in range or a model passes the Toughness test.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, range increased by 6", the first target must take one extra Toughness test.

This was a very mediocre power and one that was almost always better served as a Primaris exchange with Smite. Unfortunately, I don't think the new rules really improve this power enough to make it worthwhile, especially with double the Warp Charge cost when considering the new psychic power rules. Two Toughness tests on the one model does give you a good chance of causing a wound even on a Toughness 5 model, but invulnerable saves, multiple-wound models and the unreliable nature of the power even against Toughness 3 models means it really isn't worth it. Why waste two Warp Charges on this when you can both cast Smite and Life Leech at the same Warp Charge cost?


Divination

This was perhaps the most complained about Psychic Discipline from the 6th Edition rulebook simply because of the ridiculously good Primaris power in conjunction with it being composed mostly of Blessings. Having a wide range of powers from providing key units with a 4+ invulnerable save or granting Ignores Cover to both the psyker and their unit that couldn't be blocked with Deny the Witch made Divination the go-to psychic discipline for many competitive armies. It's no surprise then that Divination formed the core of at least two major death-star builds, the Screamerstar (Screamers of Tzeentch and Heralds of Tzeentch) and the Jetseer Council (Warlocks and Farseers on Jetbikes in one unit). Being able to deny Blessings and increasing the Warp Charge cost of certain key powers sees that Divination has been reigned in quite a bit and is what I would now call fair, though it still one of the better Psychic Disciplines overall. Oh, by the way....

Ahriman can use Divination now! Thank you so much for a rules modification to fit the fluff that is roughly two years late! Whoever prevented the Master Diviner from taking Divination in the first place needs to slap themselves thrice over!

Primaris - Prescience
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 12"
Type : Blessing
Effect : The target unit may re-roll all failed to hit rolls of all types.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one.

We all know it and love it, this is the power that used to make mediocre Tau or Imperial Guard gun-lines just as or even more effective than elite units from other armies. The main issue with Prescience was that it was far too strong based on the number of models in a given unit, so increasing its Warp Charge cost by one coupled with actually being able to stop it - if unreliably - does see it relegated to being a good but not "auto-take" psychic power.

First - Foreboding
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker and their unit gain the Counter Attack special rule and may fire Overwatch at their normal Ballistic Skill instead of using Snap Shots, though this does not allow weapons normally prevented from Overwatch to be used.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

That this power hasn't changed at all despite the meta changes is acceptable, though if you could ever "choose" between this and the other defensively oriented power in Forewarning I would usually take the latter. Giving Counter Attack to anything from a blob of Imperial Guardsmen to a ten-strong Chaos Space Marine unit dedicated to Nurgle is always useful, as is firing Overwatch at full Ballistic Skill that effectively affords the unit a true additional shooting phase. It is a great power for any kind of unit whether it is camping an objective or being more aggressive, as the latter is never guaranteed to get into assault of its own accord after all.

Second - Forewarning
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 12"
Type : Blessing
Effect : All models in the target unit gain a 4+ invulnerable save (this stacks with effects that boost invulnerable saves such as the Mark of Tzeentch or Nemesis Force Swords).
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

Like with Foreboding, being able to stop this power through the Psychic Phase does serve to limit how potentially game-breaking it was (and still is) when combined with artifacts such as the Grimoire of True Names or Fortune. Still, this is a brilliant psychic power for almost any army; Centurions become crazily survivable, while something as obscure as Warp Talons with the Mark of Tzeentch get the defensive boost they need to be useful. That every army with access to psykers barring Orks and Tyranids can take Divination means you can give almost any unit the survivability boost they need to weather the storm, especially for units already packing 2+ armour saves like Honour Guard or Sanguinary Guard.

Third - Perfect Timing
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker and their unit apply the Ignores Cover special rule to all of their ranged (and melee, not that it matters) weapons.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

Continuing the trend of the Warp Charge one powers not changing based on their own merits, Perfect Timing is another quality psychic power that gives a Psyker and potentially an attached unit one of the best offensive special rules in the game. The removal of area terrain - except for craters which now provide a 6+ cover saves - means that Perfect Timing has seen its value decrease as it simply nowhere near as necessary, but dealing with Jink and obscured units still gives it a place. Monstrous Creatures can't get a cover save by having their toe in area terrain anymore, so using this to target them won't be as commonplace. I still think this is a good power but you likely won't need it to get rid of cover-camping smarties so commonly. 

Fourth - Precognition
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker must re-roll all failed to hit, to wound and saving throw rolls.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

I really hate repeating myself, but it bears mentioning again; this is a power that while functionally identical in terms of effects has seen a reduction in usefulness because of the ability to stop Blessings now. Of course, now that Divination is available for a slew of other armies than previously, you are going to see some really ridiculous combinations with this power. Chaos Space Marine Daemon Princes with this power are on a whole new level of insane, though the addendum that Flying Monstrous Creatures can't charge on the turn they swap flying modes is a pain for Daemon Princes in particular. The same logic applies as with 6th Edition, however; unless it is a psyker that can manifest plenty of Witchfire powers (Ahriman) or is a very strong melee combatant (Mephiston) then it probably isn't all that worthwhile save to help keep a psyker Warlord alive.

Fifth - Misfortune
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 24"
Type : Malediction
Effect : All attacks made against the target unit gain the Rending special rule.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, forcing unit to re-roll successful saving throws exchanged for all attacks made against the unit gaining the Rending special rule.

I'm a bit iffy on this psychic power as forcing opponents using invulnerable or cover saves to re-roll their successful saving throws is mostly superior to gaining a slight portion of Rending results out of all rolls, but if the opponent does rely on high armour saves then this change might work our better in some cases. Strictly speaking, Rending on 6s will rarely be as useful as having all wounds inflicted re-roll subsequent saving throws, but let us not discount what Rending can do. Being able to do damage to Rhinos with your basic lasguns or having the option to take on monstrous creatures regardless of Toughness with fodder infantry is pretty darn good and a better option than the older incarnation of Misfortune in some cases. Still, using this to effectively cancel out 2+ re-rollable saves in the old edition was just about the only semi-consistent defence one could use against ridiculous psychic death stars, so I think the change coupled with the Warp Charge increase will see this as a decent but not quite as good power. This also used to be notable for being the only power in the discipline that was subject to Deny the Witch, but the new edition sees this unique trait lost.

Sixth - Scrier's Gaze
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : You may re-roll any Mysterious Objectives, Outflank or Reserves roll for your army and can choose to discard a Tactical Objective in a Maelstrom of War mission to draw a new card immediately as this power is used.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, rolling three dice for Mysterious Terrain (discarded in 7th Edition) and both Outflank and Reserves exchanged for re-rolling the dice for Mysterious Objectives and both Outflank and Reserves, addition of Tactical Objective re-draw in conjunction with new Maelstrom of War missions.

I'm torn on this psychic power, honestly. One of the rulebook FAQs clarified that this could be used before Reserves rolls were made unlike most other Blessings, but even so only armies with plenty of units in reserve - whether Deep Striking or Outflanking - would really benefit from this power. That such units usually arrived on a 3+ on game turn two made this power rather sub-par compared to the rest of the Divination discipline. Now, adding some extra functionality in regards to the new Maelstrom of War missions is nice, but changing the "roll three dice" to "re-roll one dice" is a down-grade that when coupled with the mind-boggling increased Warp Charge cost sees this power as potentially even weaker than before. Having the option to take null deployment or all reserved lists outside of just Drop Pods again does give this power a place, but I feel it is too limited generally and the Warp Charge cost does not match its effects.


Force

Ladies and gentlemen, we can now prevent opponents from activating their Force Weapons. No, really! This is a largely unsurprising change but one that still managed to sneak under the radar in the build up to 7th Edition's release. With armies able to universally stop psychic powers of all kinds now, it makes perfect sense that the same rules would apply to Force Weapons which have only ever been affected by Leadership penalties such as Shadows in the Warp. Manifesting psychic powers and the ability to stop the activation of Force Weapons does make them much less reliable, but an important change to note is that if a Psyker joins a unit and both Psyker and unit have Force Weapons, only one psychic test is required to activate all of their Force Weapons. This provides extra incentives to take Librarians in a Grey Knight army if you don't use a Brotherhood Banner and is a nice change when fielding HQ Sorcerers with Thousand Sons.


The first two Psychic Disciplines in the core rulebook are still arguably amongst the top echelon with their focus more on buffs and reducing the effectiveness of enemy units to amplify standard damage sources. Divination has seen some re-working necessitated by its constant inclusion on cheap psykers such as Inquisitors or Primaris Psykers and its heavily Blessing-oriented nature, while Biomancy has been given strong improvements to balance out the loss of near guaranteed psychic power manifestation. The addition of a "Force" discipline is purely there to standardize and streamline Force Weapons with other psychic powers while also allowing enemies to prevent their usage. I am excited by these tweaks in regards to the new Psychic Phase and heavily expanded psyker rules, though my initial impression is that Biomancy and Divination will still be the top dogs of the five core psychic disciplines originating in the 6th Edition rulebook. 

I hope that you found some use or inspiration from this article for your own psykers; I am eager to hear how these living nexus of the Warp are functioning in your games of 7th Edition so far, or if you have any thoughts on what these changes could mean for your forces. Have a nice day!

7 comments:

  1. Very, very good article as always.
    There are some builds we will have to see: for example, 9 heralds on discs ( still count as bounded) provide 27 charge points.
    I'm curious about how the flying circus will perform with those new rules. Fateweaver is not necessary anymore as the landing test is taken once per phase , but you have an issue when charging- you have to rimain on foot for a turn which is nasty.
    IMHO the new best flying circus will be slaneesh princes spam- You can even use the multiple FOC for bonus scoring, taking troops and HQ on a 2-2 basis!
    You can also take an Heldrake as an ally. I think the Heldrake has taken a seriious boost in power ( as if it needed one !)
    But who knows- time and table will tell.
    Good work man, keep it on, i want an article on the new vehicles rules, and in particular on the new rhino rush tactics- i think it is viable again.

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    1. From what I've seen so far the Psychic-heavy armies that focus on generating ridiculous amounts of Warp Charge points seem incredibly strong, especially with Malefic Daemonology thrown in the mix. I think they need to release an FAQ to address this by stipulating some kind of limit like in Warhammer Fantasy of 12 Warp Charge dice.

      I think the buff to Fateweaver just makes him even more ridiculous, honestly. It is almost impossible to ground him and he gets so many psychic powers to choose from at any point in time. His only problem before was that he would pretty much drop dead against massed Strength 7 Skyfire or from failing grounding tests near assault units, but now....Yikes. Interceptor being nerfed means armies aren't going to be opting for a lot of the "classic" anti-air units as much while having to take only one grounding test per phase means he will pretty much stay in the air permanently. I agree though that a standard Lord of Change should suffice now, but I feel the benefits Fateweaver brings for the points are still more than worthwhile.

      I think assault FMC's will take a bit of a back seat now because they now suffer from "stationary Rhino" syndrome like most assault units in 6th Edition. This is mostly Bloodthirsters and Chaos Space Marine Daemon Princes, but to be fair they are still high quality units for the cost and they got some inordinate buffs elsewhere like the grounding test change. I think they will still be good, just not as great as they were. Ranged FMCs on the other hand - i.e. Tyranids and Tzeentch/Slaanesh Daemon ones - have just been buffed to ridiculous levels. Harpies, Hive Crones and to a lesser extent Dakkatyrants were mostly about blasting foes to pieces in shooting anyway, while Lash Princes and Tzeentch Princes are looking sweet.

      Thanks for the feedback! I'm going to be putting up a "Tournament Report" article discussing a competitive Warhammer Fantasy event I attended on Saturday, but other than that I should be moving forward pretty quickly with 7th Edition. I'm getting anxious to update all the now out-dated 6th Edition Tacticas!

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    2. Well, at the moment, it is good , but far from umbalanced even without unbounded. Just think about multiplie detachment of tzeentch heralds & pink horrors.
      Heralds are ML 3 for 95 pts. Take 10 them on discs , and 3 pink horrors, for a bounded , 1500 points army, with 33+4 ( die roll)=37 charge points.
      5 of them on average could have possession ( 1/6 of 30 generated powers , on average). Their chance of succeding is ( 4 dice, 3 successes needed) 1/3. So with 5 powers, you have 1.5 successes.
      The army remain with an average 37-16=21 charge points.
      Using them to summon other pink horrors, you have at the end another 21/4*0.3=1.5 units of troops.
      So at the end of the day, using 1500 points of troops, you generated 1.5 bloodthrister and 1.5 of troops ( and killed 1.5 heralds with possession) for a grand total of 525 points on average gain, and 180 loss . Not bad but not great either.

      And you lost 1 turn. I don't think it is such a great gain after all. A serious shooty list could seriously butcher those heralds , more now than you have no night fighting and so long range weapons can make you cry from turn 1 .
      Remember the new AM wyverns, drop pods, eldar wave serpents, whatever..

      So i think it is not umbalanced at all- it is good, but far from game breaking.

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    3. Also , the most efficient way to summon, is to use 6 warp charges.
      Then you have .666 probability of succeding.
      So let's assume you use 6 warp charges to summon those blood thirsters.
      5*0.66=3 bloodthristers.
      With the remaining 7 charge points, you summon another unit.
      How many points you have gained?
      250*3+100-120*3= 490

      a lot of points. But still, you lose a turn, and yout thristers on foot are going to suffer badly.

      Maybe the best option is to rush in, move the heralds into cover, and make them possessed by a great unclean one for a turn 2 charge, and a 2+ or 3+ cover save. This way you are going to charge something before dying, hopefully by turn 2.
      Anyway, all those tactics are quite difficult to perform on the table. . Killing a MC on foot is very easy actually. Tarpits units will be taking the charge .
      So i won't bother much.
      I think, instead, the heldrake is the new king. Is is almost unstoppable. It can now kill even heavy infantry so murders mixed armour saves.
      He's worst aganist transports, indeed, but aganist infatry, it's pure murder.

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  2. It's cool that the Psychers in this game are getting changed, and I applaud seeing Chaos Space Marines finally getting Divination. The only way they could get it other than taking Daemon Allies was using a special artefact from the Crimson Slaghters supplement. Now I'm curious what it will do now that they can take Divination by default in the FAQ (By the way, the answer to your question is Phil Kelly who made the error).

    Now I'm eager to see how Thousand Sons will change in 7th edition, making them better, if not competitive. I really like them, but they are just overcosted for what they can do, so I expect to see them getting a buff. Similarly, Tyranids may get a better treatment in the new edition, and I had a feeling they were written with 7th edition in mind, like Shadow in the Warp, so it will be interesting how they will play in a competitive level.

    Great article as always, I look forward to hear more info on "6th edition revised", as some would say.

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  3. Im just happy you have to make a whole edition worth of articles again. Always love the read even if I sometimes have different opinions.

    I am very keen to see how this edition plays out as im sure we will all have a different view in 6 month. So ill hold my thoughts in at the moment

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  4. OK.. some impressions i posted in 3++. concerning the FAQS
    The FAQ are maybe as important as the new BRB... however my 2 cents

    Njal stormcaller is a very good... anti air? d3 auto hits at S 9 side armour, range 18"... WOW. The only space wolves anti air- just bring him in the centre of the table.

    Grey knights psykers are still the least expensive warp charges in the game, 18 points for a unit of 3 ( 2 acolytes & 1 psyker)

    Also , acolyte spam is... very good. An unit of 6 acolyte with bolters, 1 psyker, 1 assassin, 2 melta or plasma is 77 points, and you can also have a psyker rhino. As such, for 123 points, you have a very good all around light infantry unit, possibly objective secured, which provides 2 WC. WOW. Much better acd cheaper than AM veterans!! And have Divination. Lovely!

    Nemesis dreadknight with some psyker support are quite good now as they provide 1 WC almost for free- i mean for 130 points you have a seriously beastly MC. Also , if you consider how smash has been nerfed, you still have S 10 and your full attacks, and istant death aganist all those MC .

    So GK provide a ton of charges They have weak powers, but an allied Psyker with good disciplines could then use those charges in the best way , for example a mantle farseer, Tigurius, whatever.

    The Heldrake is quite weakened IMHO . It will kill half the stuff it killed before, and while more resilient, and still an auto include for anti air, it will not be spammed too much.
    Poor BA suck terribly now. But Drop Pod furioso are quite a thing.
    Tau are still good but lose some useful tricks and buffs, from iridium commander + riptide, to attached eldar.

    The Blue Scribes are quite interesting with demonology- you have a 50% chanche of summoning something every turn. In practice they provide the equivalent of 5 warp charges. One or two of them in backfield is a very nasty summoner.
    Also Azrael ( and Asmodai btw but whi cares) has a bolt pistol. Nice.
    Belial has an iron halo- 4++.

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