30 May 2014

Psykers in 7th Edition - Psychic Disciplines Part Two

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 Two.



Pyromancy

As any 6th Edition player would know, a psychic discipline composed almost entirely of Witchfires wasn't really worth it next to tables such as Biomancy or Divination that weren't affected by Deny the Witch. This is why Pyromancy was almost never used at a competitive level, especially as what Witchfire powers were there weren't even all that good. Sadly, as seemingly easy it might have been to improve Pyromancy itself beyond just allowing Blessings to be denied as well, the rules designers apparently felt the need to merely slightly modify or even actively reduce the strength of most available powers.

I just can't see this discipline ever seeing top tier competitive use outside of some incredibly specific builds with throwaway psykers using the Primaris Power or a few others off of Deep Strike. While a psyker can now freely manifest more than one witchfire per phase and thus actually have a good reason to take more than one Pyromancy power, one has to remember that Deny the Witch bonuses still only affect Witchfires and psychic powers that specifically target enemy units. This still gives Blessings a big advantage over the rest of the pack and it really does serve to highlight just how limited these powers are compared to most Blessings and Maledictions nowadays.

I think the main issue I take with Pyromancy is overlapping roles. When I am fielding an Astra Militarum or Tau army, quantity of shooting is not an issue;  I don't need more shots, especially rather weak ones. Both forces already put out more than enough of that! What I turn to for psychic powers (or used to in the case of Tau) is buffs or augments for what weapons I do bring to make them more effective and useful in a game. The classic example is a squad of Heavy Weapon Teams; unsupported, they are an over-costed and unreliable unit. However, when that same unit is boosted by both re-rolls to hit from Prescience and Ignores Cover from Perfect Timing, they become an entirely different proposition. While this is a generalization and it does sort of apply to certain powers in other lores, that Pyromancy is so heavily focused on witchfires - and not ones that are even that special, mind - it just doesn't fit for me like, say, Telepathy would overall.

Primaris - Flame Breath
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Template
Type : Witchfire, Assault 1
Effect : This is an attack using the range listed with a profile of Strength 5, AP4 and the Soul Blaze special rule. Remember that Template weapons have the Ignores Cover special rule.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

This is a decent Primaris Power for one reason only and that is because it is a "psychic heavy flamer". Do you both expect your Psyker to be mobile enough to make use of this powers' incredibly limited range and happen to be facing off against light to medium infantry? If so, this power is perfect; if not, don't bother with it. I can see it having some use on a Deep Striking Sorcerer or Librarian equivalent, or as a unit-softener for a Herald of Tzeentch riding a Disc but otherwise it is a pretty limited but hardly "bad" power. A heavy flamer is generally useful but the psychic equivalent is of course random and thus inferior mostly, though not taking up a weapon slot and being accessed by potentially more models does give it some kind of edge.

First - Fiery Form
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker gains a 4+ invulnerable save, their melee attacks gain the Soul Blaze special rule and they may re-roll failed to-wound rolls for all subsequent Pyromancy psychic powers they manifest.
Change : Exchanged +2 Strength bonus for re-rolling failed to-wound rolls for other Pyromancy powers cast in the same Psychic Phase by the Psyker.

Even despite the changes to its functionality, Fiery Form still remains one of the better psychic powers in the discipline not only because of the 4+ invulnerable save it provides but also the extra offensive punch it gives to a psyker. A Space Marine Librarian with this power was nasty enough in 6th Edition and stood a very good chance of killing something like a Trygon in close combat despite being almost a quarter of the base cost. While such potential is now gone, the 4+ invulnerable save can still help out a bit for some psykers (though most already have invulnerable saves) while re-rolling failed to-wound rolls for other Pyromancy powers is certainly very useful if you go all-in on the discipline. If you take at least three powers from Pyromancy, Fiery Form is a must have - even if it is only to actually guarantee Spontaneous Combustion does a wound now! As a utility power it has lost a lot of its value, but if you are a fan of Pyromancy then it is still worthwhile.

Second - Fire Shield
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 24"
Type : Blessing
Effect : The unit gains a 4+ cover save and all enemy units within 6" of the target unit treat all terrain as Dangerous Terrain.
Change : Removed the restrictions on the cover save not working against Melta or Soul Blaze attacks. Exchanged causing 2D6 Strength 4 AP- automatic hits on enemy units charging the target unit for enemies treating all terrain as dangerous terrain within 6" of the target unit.

I think it is fair to say this power got hit pretty hard in the new edition, deniable Blessings aside. Having a 4+ cover save that now doesn't get stopped by attacks with the Melta or Soul Blaze special rule is pretty darned good overall, but losing out on 2D6 Strength 4 hits when enemy units successfully charge the target unit? Dangerous Terrain tests are almost comically inert now for anything but vehicles and have been so since 6th Edition was released, so the trade is definitely not one I'm a fan of. Still, that 4+ cover save was the main reason you took the power and it has become oh so much more valuable now that the area terrain rules are essentially null and void. If you have monstrous creatures or even something like a Land Raider this psychic power is incredibly useful!

Third - Spontaneous Combustion
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Focussed Witchfire
Effect : The target model suffers a single Strength 6 AP3 hit with the Soul Blaze special rule that, if slain in the psychic phase, has a small blast marker placed in its final position. All models touched by the marker suffer a Strength 5 AP4 hit with the Ignores Cover and Soul Blaze special rules.
Change : Exchanged causing an automatic wound with no armour or cover saves allowed for inflicting a Strength 6 AP3 hit with Soul Blaze, changed the small blast marker profile from Strength 4 AP5 Ignores Cover to Strength 5 AP4 Ignores Cover Soul Blaze.

This power gets some mixed reactions from me, honestly. It now is utterly worthless at attempting to single out 2+ armoured models and no longer guarantees taking a wound off of a high Toughness monstrous creature. However, being Strength 6 means it can inflict Instant Death on Toughness 3 models. That it doesn't ignore cover saves on the initial effect means that even bare obscuration can save the afflicted model; on the other hand, the small blast marker is now far deadlier. What you get is a power that doesn't affect 2+ armoured models anymore and is no longer "guaranteed" to cause a wound, but when it does work the resulting explosion - provided the model only had one wound - will eviscerate tightly clumped light to medium infantry. The changes to how Focussed Witchfire functions might favour the new variant of the power, but losing the ability to snipe out something like an Artificer Armour Apothecary from the Horus Heresy Legion list in a blob squad of twenty Tactical Marines is a pretty big downgrade in some cases. If you are trying to kill a Tactical Marine equivalent heavy or special weapon carrier or Sergeant type model then ultimately this power will still work just fine for the most part and got a nice little buff with the Strength 5 AP4 small blast.

Fourth - Sunburst
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 9"
Type : Nova, Assault 2D6
Effect : All enemy units in range suffer 2D6 Strength 4 AP5 hits with the Ignores Cover and Soul Blaze special rules.
Change : Range increased by 3", exchanged Blind special rule for the Soul Blaze special rule.

Nova powers have always been a bit odd; aside from one particular power used by Crimson Slaughter Sorcerers, they tend to have far too limited a range and generally affect light infantry the most. Thank the heavens then that this one in particular got an extra 3" on its range which effectively creates an 18" diameter for the power around the psyker. Not bad! 2D6 Strength 4 AP5 hits per unit affected isn't anything spectacular, but it is likely to cause at least a few casualties even on tougher units like Space Marine Tactical Squads. If you really need a power to thin out multiple light infantry blobs, Sunburst is a more than decent power to use. Just don't expect lots of casualties unless you hit a large number of units - this is still unfortunately the big issue with Novas and why Sunburst is merely "ok" rather than good or great. As far as Blind versus Soul Blaze, having Blind on a Nova power on a potentially Deep Striking psyker could work wonders against armies such as Necrons and - to a lesser extent - Tau, but it was pretty easily countered due to its limited range. Soul Blaze is nice for some light extra damage but I think I would have preferred the utility offered by Blind against low Initiative enemies, even Orks who might put out a plethora of attacks but still despise hitting on 5s in combat.

Fifth - Inferno
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 24"
Type : Witchfire, Assault 1
Effect : This is an attack using the range listed employing a large blast marker with a profile of Strength 4, AP5 and both the Ignores Cover and Soul Blaze special rules.
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, exchanged the small blast marker for a large blast marker.

Ugh, just...ugh. If a Psychic Mastery Level is 25 points, why would I bother with this when I can get a Wyvern that puts out four small blasts with the same basic benefits plus Shred (Fiery Form aside) and Twin-Linking for only 15 points more than two Psychic Mastery Levels? This really needed to be a Warp Charge one power because even with its lower cost in 6th Edition this was a poor power because of its inaccuracy and lack of hits except against badly spaced models. Using a large blast marker instead is a much needed improvement but one that should not have come at any cost; realistically, you may as well just use Sunburst and average twice the number of hits on a unit than you would assuming decent scatter with a large blast marker. Compare this to something like Cleansing Flame from the Sanctic Daemonology psychic discipline and you too will shake your head at how a power this weak can have a higher than normal Warp Charge cost. Sure, casting Fiery Form helps this power out a lot but that also means wasting valuable Warp Charge points to improve a sub-par ability and I frankly don't feel it is worth it in either case.

Sixth - Molten Beam
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 12"
Type : Beam, Assault 1
Effect : All enemy models touched by the beam suffer a single Strength 8 AP1 automatic hit with the Melta special rule.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

I was never really a fan of this psychic power to be perfectly honest; yes, having the Melta rule on a Strength 8 beam is great but that still follows the half range limits. It brutalizes Toughness 4 multiple wound models and is devastating to most vehicles assuming you can get the Melta effect in range, but lining up a good shot with a Beam on anything but a Flying Monstrous Creature is exceptionally difficult against a canny opponent. This power works wonders on something like Fateweaver but won't be that crash hot on your average infantry model. Lining up a good shot is difficult, the Warp Charge cost is high and thus makes the power very difficult to manifest successfully in the new rules all the while its anti-vehicular properties are limited to an effective 6" range against anything hardier than a Rhino or Dreadnought. It's not terrible by any means and some luck with positioning can work wonders with it but I just don't see the universal benefits here that I do - again, like Inferno - from something like Invisibility or even Telekine Dome. Those powers will always have a place and really justify their Warp Charge cost while Molten Beam is more of an "opportunity" power in regards to its application. I expect the former for the higher Warp Charge powers and Molten Beam really doesn't live up to its price; thankfully though it actually does have a place, unlike Inferno.


Telekinesis

I've always felt this psychic discipline was under-rated; with some incredible versatility and even a really nice anti-flyer tool, Telekinesis was a "can't go wrong with it" set of powers. I would say that three of the powers were very high quality with the rest being mediocre, but each at least had a unique role (unlike Pyromancy with lots of anti-infantry overlap). Enter the new edition, remove Gate of Infinity as well as Vortex of Doom and replace them with entirely new powers called "Levitation" and "Psychic Maelstrom", respectively.. Throw in some minor changes to existing powers and I think we have a winner here; again, I would say Biomancy and Divination are stronger overall, but Telekinesis can still perform very well for most armies. When you have a power for almost any situation at your disposal - especially with the free Primaris if you stick with the one discipline - then I think Telekinesis is a decent fit for most armies.

Primaris - Assail
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Beam, Assault 1
Effect : All models touched by the beam suffer a single Strength 6 AP- automatic hit with the Strikedown special rule.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

This power is a little bit underwhelming when you consider the Beam rules and its lack of an AP value, but let us take a look at what Strikedown does (it is mostly the same as in 6th Edition). All models that either pass a save or suffer an unsaved wound from a Strikedown attack move as if in difficult terrain until the end of its next turn. When even a single model in a non-vehicle unit needs to move through difficult terrain, the entire unit is treating as moving through difficult terrain. When you want to slow down a unit, there are few better ways than forcing them to roll 2D6 or 3D6 choose the highest as rolling a six is no guarantee on those dice. It only equates to a few inches at best per turn, but it usually means you will get an extra shooting phase to deal with certain types of assault units. Forcing dangerous terrain tests on Jump Infantry and the like obviously isn't a great use of the power, but it does at least mean it isn't entirely useless against certain units. Remember, you only need to force the model to actually take saving throw against a wound caused by a Strikedown attack. While it isn't the best power, it has such nice utility that I can't fault it as a Primaris; additionally, Strikedown now also works against monstrous creatures (though Move Through Cover essentially cancels this out).

First - Crush
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Focussed Witchfire
Effect : The target model is hit by an attack with a Strength equal to 2D6 and an AP value equal to 1D6. If the Strength value rolled is an 11 or 12, it either automatically wounds the model if it has Toughness value or inflicts an automatic penetrating hit if it has armour values.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

This power is funny if only for how incredibly random it is; I've played games where I've inflicted an AP1 automatic penetrating hit on a Leman Russ but earlier in the same match I could only manage a pitiful Strength 3 AP3 hit on that vehicle. We all (should) know by now that the average roll of 2D6 is about 7, which means you can reasonably expect the Strength value of Crush to be around the 5 to 9 area as the main group of results. The AP value of course has an even distribution of results, so we can instead look at the median value purely for examples. In that sense, is an automatic Strength 7 AP4 or AP3 hit "on average" really worth the cost of a Psychic Mastery Level? I tend towards "not really", especially when it is just as likely to be Strength 2 as it is Strength 12. To be fair, the results skew a bit in favour of the higher end with anything above 10 automatically inflicting damage but I think this power is just a bit too random for one you would actively want to take. If you have Psychic Focus and thus the Primaris Power already then I guess you may be stuck with Crush if you roll it up, but just remember that you can declare and roll each of your powers one at a time. Unfortunately, when this power should probably be substituted for Assail in most circumstances - unless you are facing mostly or exclusively vehicles and monstrous creatures - there really isn't much good to say about it. Being a Focussed Witchfire does make it decent for sniping out models, but again it is so unreliable that it is difficult for me to recommend it.

Second - Objuration Mechanicum
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range :  24"
Type :  Malediction
Effect : The units' ranged weapons have the Gets Hot special rule; additionally, if the unit has any models with the vehicle unit type then each vehicle in the unit suffers an automatic Strength 1 hit with the Haywire special rule.
Change : Exchanged forcing the unit to re-roll to-hit and to-wound rolls of a 6 for their ranged weapons gaining the Gets Hot special rule.

If players ever took Telekinesis on their psykers, you can bet it was more than likely to roll up this psychic power. Inflicting Haywire hits on vehicles is great with so much cheap Strength 7 and 8 shooting around, but that you can do so against flyers without needing to roll to hit is so darned useful - especially now with the Interceptor change reducing the value of many anti-air units. The other part of the power was also quite nice for messing up Necron and Eldar shooting or simply to get rid of a few wounds and hits against your units. The new version of this power instead gives the Gets Hot special rule to a units' ranged weapons which I feel is nice but not quite as useful in general, especially now that a commonly accessed building type provides re-rolls on failed saves against Gets Hot. Rolling 1s to hit sacrifices both the shot and forces the user to either take a 4+ save in the case of a vehicle or a natural armour or invulnerable save on a non-vehicle model. It's basically just an extra penalty for missing and it isn't really all that scary unless applied to high rate of fire weapons where the chances of killing ones' own models in the process increases exponentially. For this reason, giving Gets Hot to a unit of Devastators with four lascannons probably won't be that worthwhile, but using it on a Sternguard squad in rapid fire range of your valuable infantry squad or monstrous creature will certainly be more effective. If ten Sternguard were to rapid fire their weapons in this instance, you would see 20 shots for roughly three Gets Hot results and one failed armour save on average. It's not the best against units such as Space Marines, but against Ork Shoota Boyz or Eldar Guardians it can lead to a few or a handful of casualties. Again, I prefer the old version of the power but I still think it is a great ability to have even if only for the Haywire hits and giving opponents a second thought before shooting.

Third - Shockwave
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 9"
Type : Nova, Assault 2D6
Effect : All enemy units in range suffer 2D6 Strength 4 AP- hits with the Pinning special rule.
Change : Range reduced by 3", Strength increased by one and number of hits increased from D6 to 2D6.

Where Sunburst gained an extra 6" in its diameter and swapped out Blind for Soul Blaze, Shockwave instead lost 6" on its diameter but gained a pip in Strength and theoretically up to twice the number of hits. I think this is one of those "trades" that definitely favours the new version more as losing a bit on range - though obviously very important for Novas - doesn't really compare to effectively doubling the average number of hits at a higher Strength. Having an 18" bubble of inflicting 2D6 Strength 4 hits on units with Pinning is pretty decent, though this is one power where I think I prefer the Pyromancy equivalent. Pinning is really nice for a number of reasons but with cheap Ethereals, Regimental Specialists providing high Leadership or outright Fearless, immunity to Pinning from Daemons and just good Leadership values across most armies it probably isn't as useful as it really could be. When compared against a power that exchanges Pinning for AP5, Ignores Cover and Soul Blaze, I think the damage output of the latter wins out for clearing out minor scoring units in an edition that is likely to be full of them due to the Maelstrom of War missions. Couple this with all the issues I tend to have with most Nova powers like their limited range and seemingly exclusive anti-infantry role and I think this is a weaker Telekinesis power, though I would probably still take it over Crush.

Fourth - Levitation
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker and any attached unit make a move of up to 12", ignoring intervening terrain and models. This power cannot be used if the unit is Zooming, Swooping or engaged in close combat, and any move made cannot end in impassable terrain. Models that start or end this move in difficult terrain must take a dangerous test, and the unit may not declare a charge in that turn. The unit is treated as having moved for the purposes of using ranged weapons in the Shooting Phase.

When I first saw this power, I immediately thought "oh, it's a less useful Gate of Infinity" due to the limited range of the move and yet still counting as movement for shooting purposes. Gee, how wrong could I possibly get? In an edition where objectives and mobility are even more important than they were in 6th Edition what with the unique victory point attainment methods of Maelstrom of War missions, this psychic power is a real gem. Afraid your Scout squads' Run move won't see them make Objective 3 to get the Secure Objective 3 card victory point? Use this to ease the pressure and allow them the freedom to shoot as well. Desperate to contest an objective with your Objective Secured Troops choice? Move them into position and watch as your opponent glumly realizes they lost the game to a classic late game objective rush. The applications elsewhere though are rather staggering, to be honest; if you have units that are about to get charged or just out of range with their rapid fire weapons and so on, this psychic power can be a life-saver. Heck, being able to effectively redeploy a unit after deploying first, getting the initial player turn and seeing your opponent counter-deploy your valuable squad or transport can be game-changing. If your opponent counter-deploys against your nasty assault death star unit, a free 12" move in addition to their regular movement is simply priceless. I see this as possibly the new "must-have" psychic power of Telekinesis and yet another reminder of the enduring - albeit well hidden - strength of the discipline.

Fifth - Telekine Dome
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : Psyker
Type : Blessing
Effect : The Psyker and all friendly models within 12" of the Psyker gain a 5+ invulnerable save against all shooting attacks (note that this does stack with invulnerable save boosting abilities such as the Mark of Tzeentch).
Change : Warp Charge cost increased by one, affects all friendly units in a 12" radius instead of a single unit, lost the ability to "reflect" shots back at enemy units.

I'll be as short as possible; this gets a thumbs up from me! Exchanging a 5+ invulnerable save that deflects shots for one unit to all units within 12" of the Psyker getting that same 5+ invulnerable save is insane and well worth the increased Warp Charge cost. While it might "only" be a 5+ save and it "only" applies against ranged attacks, this is still an incredibly valuable power for any army that isn't either Daemons of some sort and a few other army faction sub-lists like Deathwing or Thousand Sons. If your army consists of mostly light infantry like Astra Militarum or Inquisitorial Detachments where your armour saves are pretty weak, this power will save you so many bodies that the Psyker will pay for themselves pretty much immediately. Even for elite forces like Space Marines this is still a valuable power because of the sheer amount of AP3 and AP2 certain armies like Chaos Space Marines or Tau can bring; having a 33.3% chance of saving a model as opposed to just losing it outright makes a big difference when the models you protect are expensive elites! There is of course just one big downside to this power, and that is that it only affects models within 12" and not units. A 24" diameter to provide a 5+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks is certainly big, but it can force some bunching up to make the most of it. To be fair I feel this power would have been a bit ridiculous if it worked based on units and not models as a 5+ invulnerable save against the most common form of death (shooting) is awesome.

Sixth - Psychic Maelstrom
Warp Charge Cost : Three
Range : 12"
Type : Witchfire, Assault 1
Effect : This is an attack using the range listed employing a large blast marker with a profile of Strength 10, AP1 and the Barrage special rule.

Yes, this is effectively the old Vortex of Doom with a big buff, and yes, the actual Vortex of Doom is even more destructive than this power. Still, there are a few factors to consider here outside of raw damage output and the sheer magnitude of having a psychic power with the Vortex special rule. Where Psychic Maelstrom has no extra penalties for casting it outside of being a Warp Charge three power, the Vortex of Doom not only causes automatic Perils of the Warp on a failed psychic test - though any double will cause Perils for non Grey Knights anyway - but you run the risk of creating an actual Vortex within 12" of your Psyker. That can prove incredibly damaging to your own efforts particularly with the initial scatter of the large blast template. The difference in terms of damage between a small blast Destroyer weapon and a Strength 10 large blast weapon aren't major against most enemies, with the Destroyer type edging ahead mostly against vehicles and - with luck - monstrous creatures. On the other hand, a guaranteed Strength 10 can annihilate characters and multiple wound models such as Bullgryns without any need for a random roll, while the Barrage rules in an edition completely lacking in area terrain also keep up with the flat Ignores Cover of the Destroyer weapon. In that sense, both powers have their place and the surprisingly forgiving Perils of the Warp chart sees that using five to seven dice to reliably cast Psychic Maelstrom is actually a worthwhile venture. This power will obliterate nearly anything it touches and it will definitely get a good number of hits with its large blast. Just don't count on it working against well armoured vehicles unless your Psyker or a model in the same unit has the Tank Hunters special rule as you will still need to roll just one dice to penetrate vehicles.


Telepathy

This is the rulebook Psychic Discipline that initially many players thought wasn't all that worthwhile outside of the two Warp Charge two powers but ended up being the go-to discipline for legions of competitive armies. Between counters to Fearless death stars through Terrify, devastating your opponent with their own best ranged units through Puppet Master or making a unit virtually untouchable through Invisibility, Telepathy was definitely one of the better psychic disciplines populating the rulebook. I'm pleased to report that while there have been a surprising amount of changes to this particular set of powers, the discipline as a whole is still one of the more valuable ones to roll for - if only for different reasons now!

Primaris - Psychic Shriek
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 18"
Type : Witchfire
Effect : Roll 3D6 and compare it to the target units' Leadership value; for every point by which the total dice roll exceeds the units' Leadership value, that unit suffers an automatic wound with no armour or cover saves allowed. If the units' Leadership value is equal to or higher than the total dice roll, no wounds are inflicted.
Change : Range increased by 6".

As a Vampire Counts player, I can tell you that Psychic Shriek is possibly the most brutal of any Primaris power when considering its Warp Charge cost. While Leadership values are generally hovering around the 8 to 10 bracket nowadays, lacking an Inspiring Presence (outside of certain abilities and Warlord Traits) equivalent makes this a terrifying power to face off against. The average result of 3D6 is between 10 and 11 which against your typical Space Marine squad with no Veteran Sergeant will see two to three casualties inflicted. That's a whole lot of pain for a Warp Charge one psychic power that doubles as a Primaris power! Its' general utility comes from also working against Fearless units and high Toughness monstrous creatures; being able to cause automatic wounds that go through most saves against things like Tervigons or Wraithknights is amazing. Of course, you could always fluff your rolls and do nothing, but when you average even just one or two wounds against something as insanely tough as an Eldar Wraithknight, you know you've got a winner on your hands. There are few better as far as Primaris psychic powers go, and the increased 6" range only intensifies such a statement.

First - Dominate
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 24"
Type : Malediction
Effect : The target unit must take a Leadership test each time it attempts to move, use a psychic power, shoot, make a run move or declare a charge. If a unit fails such a Leadership test, it cannot perform the action and can do nothing else for the rest of that phase. A unit that fails a test when attempting to fire Overwatch forfeits its shots but may still strike blows in the ensuing combat.
Change : Added manifesting psychic powers to list of actions affected, clarified that Overwatch failing to function does not prevent a unit from striking blows in close combat.

This is a nice little psychic power that I think is a bit under-valued, if only because - again - most units tend to have high Leadership values or have easy and cheap access to Fearless or Leadership boosting characters - I'm looking at you Ministorum Priests and Commissars! Still, as much as the range is a limitation for targeting key units such as Havocs, using this to stop even one action on a key enemy unit can be pivotal. If you can force an Objective Secured Troops choice to forfeit their movement phase, you might just deny your opponent a victory point in the Maelstrom of War missions. It's not bad but ultimately won't work all that well against quite a few armies.

Second - Mental Fortitude
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 24"
Type : Blessing
Effect : The unit immediately Regroups if it was falling back and gains the Fearless special rule for as long as the power is in effect.
Change : None (excluding meta changes).

As much as everyone seems to think Warhammer 40,000 comes down to flat out annihilating units at once and leaving no survivors, the reality is that Leadership still plays a big part in the game. Whether it be a unit running off of an objective or another fleeing from combat, Leadership can and will still have an effect on the outcome of a game in some manner. Enter a power like Mental Fortitude that is easy to cast and attempts to nullify issues like losing that all important Ministorum Priest in an Infantry Platoon blob squad or that Objective Secured Troops unit reduced to two men that would otherwise need snake eyes to rally. That this power works in the Psychic Phase and not the Movement Phase has reduced its viability in regards to units that are falling back if only because any units that are falling back will have already fled another 2D6 or 3D6 inches. Stopping a unit from just running off the board is still useful however, but the main draw of this power is undoubtedly to give a unit Fearless. This can turn Primaris Psykers into pseudo Ministorum Priests at a price in both points and reliability, prevent Obliterators from high-tailing it or ensure a unit about to be charged or in combat with a strong melee combatant can hold them there for as long as they have bodies to spare. For these reasons and more I heartily recommend Mental Fortitude; it isn't amazing by any means but it will surprise you with how often you might need it.

Third - Terrify
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : 24"
Type : Malediction
Effect : The target unit suffers a Leadership penalty of -1 and must take a Morale test at the end of the Psychic Phase. The unit additionally treats all enemy units as having the Fear special rule.
Change : Exchanged rendering the Fearless special rule null on the target unit to imposing a -1 penalty to their Leadership value.

Oh how the mighty have fallen! While I do think stripping one of the most important special rules from a given unit all with one Warp Charge was a bit over the top, I don't agree with removing that particular effect entirely. Fearless death star units such as a Seer Council with a Farseer wielding the Shard of Anaris or incredibly tough units like Wraithknights saw one of their few counters come from the old incarnation of Terrify, and stripping that out gives some armies very little room to maneuvre against those kinds of units. I'm afraid of what a Jetbike Seer Council could do in a meta lacking Terrify or an equivalent, while this also gives the Hemlock Wraithfighter an undeserved debuff (though it did get better otherwise). This is still a decent power when used in conjunction with Dominate, but with Fear being outright ignored by most armies and directly causing only one Morale test I think Terrify may take second place behind Dominate now, just maybe.

Fourth - Shrouding
Warp Charge Cost : One
Range : Blessing
Type : Psyker
Effect : The Psyker and all friendly models within 6" of them gain the Shrouded special rule (note that only one model in a unit has to have the Shrouded special rule for it to apply to the entire unit).

The appropriate replacement for what was quite possibly one of the strongest Warp Charge one powers in 6th Edition, Shrouding fits well with powers such as Mental Fortitude and Invisibility to create some incredibly rock-hard units defensively. Giving Shrouded out in a 12" diameter might be limited, but giving a free +2 to cover saves - or 5+ in the open - for units now that area terrain is a myth is so valuable for that lone Warp Charge point. Even just giving Shrouded to the Psyker and their own unit or nearby transport can work wonders when you have a combination such as Tigurius with Devastator Centurions or a Librarian on a bike riding up behind a Land Raider Crusader. This is a really nice power even with the sheer amount of Ignores Cover going around and stacks really well with the flat Stealth bonus provided by Night Fighting now.

Fifth - Invisibility
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 24"
Type : Blessing
Effect : All shots made at the target unit are Snap Shots and the target units can only be hit by to-hit rolls of a 6 in close combat.
Change : Exchanged the Stealth and Shrouded special rules for forcing Snap Shots at the unit, exchanged models being Weapon Skill 1 when attacking the unit to needing 6s to hit the unit.

There's only one to adequately describe my reaction to this psychic power. Do you remember any "jaw drop" scenes from movies? When I saw "jaw drop" I don't mean "jaw-dropping" like learning Darth Vader is Luke's father, I am talking about seeing a fictional characters' lower mouth fall like a bowling ball plummeting from a plane. Think of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 2 or Jafar and the Genie in Aladdin and you will know what I mean. Once you have the image in your head, I want you to mimic that as closely as possible - use a mirror if necessary. Take a moment and try to both feel and listen. Not only are you feeling the anxiety of players everywhere, you can hear the harrowing screams of abject terror by all their miniature models as well. I hear some people think death-stars are dead in 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000, and I direct them all to look at what this psychic power does. Where the previous version of Invisibility was great for providing a flat 4+ cover save even in the open to any unit, the new one just goes a step too far and effectively turns the target unit into a moving impenetrable titan of indestructibility. Markerlights aren't that great when they too are forced to Snap Fire, blast-type and template-type weapons are worthless and most shots will simply be wasted. Did I mention that forcing units to hit the unit on 6s in close combat is also far, far better than making them Weapon Skill 1? It goes without saying that this is the best psychic power in any of the five "classic" rulebook disciplines, but it may just be the best psychic power in the game now. Good luck killing anything affected by this, and thank your nearest rules designer for allowing death stars like the Jetbike Seer Council or the Devastator Centurion cohort to become even more ridiculous.

Sixth - Hallucination
Warp Charge Cost : Two
Range : 24"
Type : Malediction
Effect : Roll a D6 and apply the corresponding result to the target unit. On a 1-2, the unit must take a Pinning test. On a 3-4, the unit reduces their Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Initiative and Attacks by 1 to a minimum of 1. On a 5-6, a randomly determined character model in the unit suffers a number of Strength 3 hits equal to the number of other models in the unit; if no such character model is available, treat this a 3-4 result instead. Note that Look Out Sir rolls cannot be made against these attacks.
Change : The 1-2 result no longer automatically pins the unit but instead forces a test, the 3-4 result exchanges preventing the unit from taking any action to reducing four of their stats, and the 5-6 result now causes all models to inflict a Strength 3 hit on a single character model in the unit as opposed to having each model strike themselves with any usable close combat weapons.

Where Invisibility got an astronomical buff, Hallucination saw a disappointing reduction in effectiveness and a significant one at that. All three results have been noticeably toned down despite Hallucination still eating up two Warp Charge points, with the 1-2 result merely causing a Pinning test which is a huge down-grade from automatically causing a unit to be Pinned. The 3-4 result rendered a given unit completely inert and could be seen as just a bit ridiculous, especially if successfully cast on a death star unit, but it had its place as another "anti-death star" psychic power exclusive to the Telepathy discipline. The stat penalties are still decent mind and can reduce the effectiveness of any unit by a significant margin - mostly in combat, mind - but it is nowhere near as useful certainly. The 5-6 result is deceptively weak; if it is a blob squad, the chances of hitting a Sergeant are far more likely than getting the all important Primaris Psyker or Ministorum Priest - and those are some of the few characters that are well and truly afraid of Strength 3 attacks! Your average Toughness 4 character with a 2+ or 3+ save will have very little to worry about from this power save that they are in a very large unit, but even then there is always the chance it picks out a sergeant and not a truly important model. Again, compared to the previous version which could actually see things like Terminators kill themselves and would at least hit at each models' Strength, this is just a far less useful power overall and one that I wouldn't really say is worth the Warp Charge two cost.

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!

6 comments:

  1. you are as sharp as always. While everyone complains about demon summoning- a tactic i find absolutely unworthy- no one has yet realized how powerful telepathy ( and Belakor at this point, or Tigurius, or whatever psyker can choose his power) has become.
    Invisibility is insane. Period. Just think about a blob with Yarrick, lascannons, a serious psyker, some divination.
    You are immune to blasts: they have to kill you one by one, hitting on 6s. You make precision shots, ignore cover, twin link everything. You are even nasty in melee!!!
    Or think about a quick blob of demons , maybe cavalry, running around, butchering evrything. Bye bye gunlines. Bye bye flamers.
    This is a game changer.
    Good article, bro.

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    1. Cheers for the comment mate, you have great insights both here and on my other articles. I think Daemon Summoning is a bit of an all-or-nothing tactic to really make the most out of it, whereas Invisibility is essentially just something you can throw on anything with just one random psyker.

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  2. Last time i checked the rulebook strikedown only forces the wounded(saved or not) model to move as in difficult terrain, or I'm missing something?

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    1. Per the rules, if even one model in a unit has to move through or into difficult terrain, the entire unit must test for moving through difficult terrain. It is a really cool rule!

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    2. Yeah I got that but what I meant was that I couldn't find any thing about models halving their initiative,right? I know that in the old rules it used to be that way. Btw your run a great blog, been lurking around a while. Found your space marine and tyranids review very helpful, keep it up!

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    3. Ah yes, I see what you mean now. I quickly glanced over Strikedown and saw the difficult terrain part; I guess I assumed the Initiative part stayed as well! I've fixed it up now as well as the first image not loading. Cheers mate :)

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