Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dr. Kelly Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Random Tables

Welcome back one and all to Scratchbuilt 40k.  Today we're doing things a little differently.  As many of you who are Warhammer 40k fans already know, the Daemons codex rules, to officially be released on Saturday, have spread across the internet like the Breath of Chaos over a Terminator unit.

That is, the old Breath of Chaos.  If you've been keeping up, you know it got nerfed pretty hard.  Codex writer and random table lover Phil Kelly took a completely different path to Daemons, tearing down any and all preconceived notions and threw caution to the wind.  And boy howdy, it shows.

When I got my first look at the first set of rumors, the new debunked ridiculous set which arrived sometime Monday, I found the entire thing laughable.  The points costs were insane, stats on the Greater Daemons were through the roof with toughness reaching 8's and strength reaching 10's.  The whole thing stunk of fandex.  Sure enough, it was absolutely false and we would get a look at the real codex shortly.

In a way, the fake first rumored codex set me up for disappointment.  Hopes of Greater Daemons wreaking havoc on the battlefield ran through our heads, elite troops doing what they were meant to do, beat face.  The true codex, however, handed us a set of rules no one was expecting- a fragile, glass-hammer/cannon army which while it could be powerful reeked of potential doom.  Gone were the special rules of being Fearless , replaced by Instability (lose combat and watch your unit disintegrate).  Only one model in the army now had Eternal Warrior, meaning the models would no longer need to be chewed through with grim determination but could be destroyed through Instant Death weaponry.

Through the whole process I watched what I had hoped to be my army crumble in my mind.  The desire to field a fluff driven Tzeentch army no longer considered cheesy overpowered but still able to hold its own was  instead left with what appeared to be hordes of models relying on numbers as much as luck.  Oh, and lots of luck would be needed, by the way.  At the beginning of each turn, when rolling for gifts on characters, when even using the shooting attack of the basic troops, constant rolling on tables would be required.

The whole endeavor left me a little mad, really, both angry and insane.  I lashed out at people who said the codex was balanced (I still say it's not, but hey, that's an argument for another time).  I argued constantly with those who said we deserved to have our codex be bad after the Screamer/Flamer update in the White Dwarf last October.  Overall, I simply felt like giving up on the army.

It wasn't until work, where I have a lot of time to ponder, where I decided none of that really mattered.  "I can still build the Tzeentch army I want", I thought to myself.  Images of brains with spinal columns on bases swirled within my own tortured mind.  Grinning ear to ear, lost to the madness, the fan of Tzeentch in me started to embrace the change, make it my own.  "Fine," I thought, "if I must work within these strange new parameters for my army, by golly I'm going to put my own stamp on it."

From that point on, I no longer felt angry.  I no longer blamed Phil Kelly for the way he had changed the way the army played.  I even learned to accept the random tables under the idea that in most cases they would hurt everyone else as much as they hurt me.  In the end, I learned to stop worrying and love the random tables.

I say bring it on.  I'll build my weird Brain Army of Tzeentch and grace the tabletop with it, grinning as 120+ Brain Horrors enter the arena.  Bring on the random tables.  Lets roll some dice.


  1. I don't play daemons, and I can see how, from a tactical perspective, how all the randomness can be a bit frustrating. But I really like the rumored rules, and all the randomness. It just seems more appropriate for an army made out of the collective emotions of the galaxy led by gods of Chaos.

    1. There is a lot to love, cpyke, but there are miss steps all over the book. Missed opportunities, really. Deny the Witch, psychic tests, and random shots make Horrors one of the most unreliable shooting units in the game... meanwhile Bloodletters are BS 5. It really is a bizarre way to do things.

      Thanks for your commenting!

  2. Oh, I love this post so much!!
    Yes things change, and yes change can be painful...
    But good can come from it!

    This hobby is about having fun, and you have decided you will have fun with your demons!

    And as crazy as the new codex gets, always remember one could be worse. Look at what Cruddace did to nids!!

    1. As someone who enjoys the nid dex, I disagree that this is better. Yes, it has issues with winning, but its got some really great units. This on the other hand I fear will become the "oh, you brought daemons, nevermind I'll see if anyone else wants to play" army. Not because its overpowered but because its unwieldy and adds even more crap to do every term before you start actually playing. I just get the impression nobody at GW understands the idea that a ruleset should be tight and easy to play fairly quickly. 6th takes so much longer than 5th or 4th that I have to basically dedicate an entire day to getting a game in (including the hour and 30 each way to get to the game store via train/bike). This (I suspect) pushes the games to a higher level of complexity.

    2. Thanks Rob, I'm glad you enjoyed my ramblings! I admit I was so frustrated by the changes it was hard to see the forest for the trees. There is a lot I would like to see get errata'd to 'fix' some of the issues I see, but for a first step it of a serious deviation from the original codex it could have been much worse.

      Ian, I understand completely what you are saying. There is so much that has to be done each game outside of actually playing the game now. Hopefully people will get past their initial frustration (maybe make some cheat sheets with the random elements, sort of like a quick reference sheet) to help things along. We knew there was no way Daemons could stay as simple as they were in 5th!

  3. I'm really confused about the point of pink horrors now. They, I guess, get a roll on the psychic powers table? And then they can cast 1 spell per turn? I suppose the idea is take them in numbers and use their warp points primarily to buff the primaris power, but it sure seems like they've had their primary function (the only shooting we had in the troops cateogry) taken away and replaced with a role that I don't really understand. Maybe I'm just missing the big picture.

    Either way, I'm interested in what we'll get. I'm not going to judge the nurgle side of the codex till I have the book in front of me (or the eBook as it were)

    1. I think Nurgle came out on top compared with the other three gods. Biomancy Great Unclean Ones can make them almost untouchable and the troops are dirt cheap. I think shrouding will be more useful than people realize. The Plague Drones are dynamite (the new Screamers, I think) and Beasts of Nurgle are fairly powerful in protecting the army at large (want to charge something? Here, eat some of this nasty unit too). Overall, we'll have to see how it pans out over time.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    2. You know, on a certain level I think this book being released helps Space Wolves, who have kind of fallen off the top of the charts due to lack of anti-air. Their psychic defenses are really tough, they will neuter the hell out of shooty tzeentch units.

    3. Oh, it's absolutely a huge boon to 3++ armies in general. No longer do we have the tools to easily remove them in any way, but their psychic defenses mean we'll be lucky to even get a shot off.

      Personally, I'm more worried about Eldar and their Runes, though. Going to be rough trying to get off a ton of psychic powers on 3d6, even with a ld 10.

    4. Yeah, although eldar lack a lot of the defensive tools marines have, I feel like while they will turn tzeentch off with a light switch, the higher number of models and lower price tags will mean being able to flood an eldar player with more wounds than they can do, especially in close combat. But, that means taking a mixed force. I'd say that it seems like the mono god lists are all rock paper scissor (they were before too), but in the current environment it seems like every list is rock paper scissor, its a question of degrees.