Trial by psyker

Discuss both Auxiliary, Allied and Aliens tactics
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Trial by psyker

Post#1 » Sep 13 2015 07:50

Greetings Shas'O's and Shas'Ettes (Shas'Ettes? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's canon. Somewhere). My friends recently dragged me kicking and screaming into the 40k universe - mainly through trickery and skullduggery. And Tau. Lots of Tau. I love these little models. Over the course of the past few months I've collected a large majority of the available Tau forces - missing only a few random kroot additions, our beloved Space Pope, and the less-than-interesting Tau aircraft. I feel like I can build a multitude of lists to play with, and thus my only weakness is my self.

Naturally, I come here asking for advice because I'm apparently pretty darned weak.

So far I've managed to play two full 1850 point games - once against a pile of Spess Whulves and once against tricky Eldar mindsorcery. I brought the awesome Farsight bomb for the first fight, and lost a grand total of 5 drones and 8 fire warriors before basically tabling my opponent. It was a pretty epic fight, but my awesome win was mostly due to 1) my opponent being "Johnny 1's" when it comes to rolling anything (seriously, my 4 remaining fire warriors managed to off 3 of his terminators because he couldn't roll a 2+) and 2) My first three objectives being "control the objectives that are already in your deployment zone." This led to me taking a very early lead (my riptide's overcharged Ion cannon also said "hello" to some infiltrated scouts), and turtle like a jer-er, I mean, follow the Kauyon tactical principles and wait for my opponent to come to me. Also copious use of Interceptor to destroy incoming Spess Whulves. It was fun. I thought I was good. I thought I was invincible.

Oh man, I was wrong.

My 2nd friend - also new - brought a massive force of Eldar. Being an elven magic fan, he built up a ton of psykers, as well as the wargear to complement. He had 19 total points in his pool each psyker phase - +1d6 of course. It was a 'purge the alien' scenario, and I went first (luckily) and delivered a railgun submunition blast right into his main psyker council... which scattered over to his dire avengers and obliterated them. 2 points for me!

Then my friend went.

Is Invisibility meant to be horribly broken? Because it seems horribly broken. Three psykers had it, and all three had no problem putting it up on three different units each turn. He never periled - and if he did, he says he has some ability to negate it. I *did* bring the Talisman of Anti-Moloch(sp), but it never helped - I was unable to deny anything he did.

Things went downhill from there. He dropped apoc blast warp storms on my entire forces - blasting apart most of my drones, all of my snipers (point for him), and then 3/4 of my piranha squadron. His fire prism immobilized Longstrike as well.

Round two for me saw me firing (and missing) a ton at his oncoming banshee force (with a banshee warlord leader). Two full teams of crisis suits, my commander, and a complete battle line of broadsides managed to deliver the 5 wounds to take out his banshees. My riptide (armed with a heavy burst cannon) let loose with a full nova-charged torrent on his defenseless warlord... and nothing. Longstike fired an awesome rail shot at the fire prism, which jinked out of the way.

His round two was shortened as I conceded before he managed to finish, but here's the gist:

1) Psyker lowered the riptide's leadership by 3, and then scared it off the table by forcing it to make a leadership test. Undamaged riptide off the table.
2) Psyker lowered the commander's leadership by 3, and then did some contested wills roll and did two damage to him - no saves
3) Invisible Vypers mowed down crisis team #1
4) 3 teams of bikes were charging in to attack my broadsides and crisis teams when I decided to call it

It... wasn't fun. Karma from the first game maybe? I'm not sure. I felt that I was utterly powerless. I thought about other options - bring more troops? Kroot? Try deepstriking? His speed was just so relentless that I couldn't really get anywhere in time. By turn 2 I had barely moved outside my deployment zone - I was making terrible thrust move rolls. The psyker stuff I never stood a chance on - the invisibility just seems broken - markerlights could help, but I couldn't get a single markerlight to stick (plus his first apoc blast took out the majority of my markerlights). The leadership drop/scare combo was just awful - it seems the ideal counter to giant units like my riptide, since there's no way to make a heroic roll once he starts to hoof it. The Fire Prism just sounds like the better overall tank - more weapon options (for free), cheaper, better vehicle options (5+ invul save?). Those bikes and their speed - plus their shuriken cannons roll that 6 to wound more often than you think.

But those psykers, man... those psykers. I don't know if GW ever thought someone would bring 19+ points to a game, but my friend did, and it just wasn't fun.

So I'm hoping somewhere here - with a ton more experience that I - can list some pointers on how to deal with a heavy psyker force. Or anything Eldar, for that matter. I honestly built up expecting lots of wave serpents. I'm not sure how the heck I build to counter invisibility and leadership attacks.

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#2 » Sep 14 2015 02:13

Invisibility is broken - that is not a statement that is a fact, accepted by wide assortment of people in the community. There would be ways to tone it done but at the moment, for the meager amount of Warp Charges required to cast it, its Waaaaheheheheheeey over the top.

Heh, from your post - be glad you didn't face the invisible Flying Daemon Circus. Or the summoning ring - pretty much exclusive to daemon armies (though others can do this to, GK for eg.) that use tons of cheap pink horrors to summon more and more and more deamons - oh... and they have more than 19 dices for their power pool :3

Anyway - yeah, some armies which don't have psykers, or "propah" psykers (looking at you weird boyz :D ) usually have other stuff to mitigate - for example Necrons - being almost immortal with their extra save in reanimation, etc.

The problem with your batle is that the current Codex CRAFTWORLDS Eldar, is like the previous codex on steroids. And the previous one was already pretty darn good. They are faster, hit harder, and have something strong to deliver in every single game phase. Whereas we have no psychic phase, and our close combat is like beating a tank with a stick... and that's being said IF the tank doesn't squish you in the process.
As a Tau due to all this you need your shooting phase to be twice as effective to make up for those two phases which we either lack completely, or are utterly bad in it. Sadly the things Eldar can cast on their units negates this a lot... and thats just by using their own codex Powers, not even tossing into the calculation things like Invisibility and such.

Eldar are a tough match up over all. Even without their psychic phase. The best advice would be to try negotiate with your friend some terms - like sure go for "Elf magic roller" but lets say, don't use Invisibility which (obviously broken) can single highhandedly ruin the game for you.
That and then just wait for our new dex, which should be dropping (hopefully) soon, lets hope no later than October.... and hope that we get our proper power creep level up as well.
Sorri for not having any better tactics or strategies for you, but psychic phase can do either awesomely or do absolutely nothing... in case of Eldar the first one is the case more often than not.

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#3 » Sep 14 2015 02:47

Invisibility is broken, the psychic phase in general is broken (Myrdin mentioned the summoning ring aka. Tzeentchian Clown Car as another example, it's just not fun to play against - I did once; my opponent deployed 80 models, I killed 150 models, he had 160 models still on the table, that's how ridiculous it is). Basically anyone who decides to go big on psychics can just freely break the game, the details of how they do it is up to them. The psychic phase mechanics mean that there's really no way to defend against it (denial needs 6s where casting needs 4s, so the defender needs 3 times as many dice as the caster, on average, in order to stand a chance of denying... and some armies have literally zero psykers while others have as many as they like) and the capabilities of some psychic powers make it trivial to just make things unfun. Oh, I daresay it doesn't always guarantee a win and someone will inevitably point to some tournament somewhere that was won by an army with no psykers; fair enough, but it does completely break any normal approach to playing the game. You can't take enough Markerlights to compensate for three Invisible units per turn... it just can't be done.

The worst thing about all this, and it's completely unforgiveable, is that 40K 7th Ed psychic phase is basically the same mechanic as Warhammer Fantasy's 6th Ed magic phase... which broke the game. Battery wizards, one side bringing 20+ casting dice while the other side has one or two dispel dice, it's all there. It used to be Necromancers summoning enough Zombies to just fill the table; now it's Heralds of Tzeentch summoning Horrors. The 7th Ed psychic phase is proof once and for all that GW don't release new editions of their games to improve them, because they cannot possibly have thought that a mechanic they've already rejected once for breaking Warhammer, would improve 40K.

What to do about it, well, the last game I played was Tau versus Dark Eldar, zero psychics at all, and it was great fun. Obviously imposing "no psychics" as a rule will seem pretty unfair to someone who took Eldar because he's an "elven magic fan", so some diplomacy / negotiation may be necessary... suggest something like "take a Farseer, by all means, but please don't go crazy with 20+ casting dice or whatever, I don't stand a chance against it and there's no fun in a game where one of us is tabled before the end of turn 2". Hopefully your friend will be understanding (the fact you refer to him as a "friend", not simply a random stranger you were matched up with in an FLGS, is promising), but as a last resort, you could say what I said to my opponent with the Tzeentchian Clown Car when he insisted on using it again the next time we played: "OK, I concede before deployment. Congratulations, you win! Shall we play another game, just for fun, where you don't bring infinite casting dice?"

Sorry I can't be more constructive, but psychics, when abused, have basically no counter by a reasonable, normal army.

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#4 » Sep 14 2015 04:15

I agree with everything Bitterman has said and second the observation that psychics can easily overbalance friendly games and makes tournaments less about skill and more about gimmick of the moment. This is particularly apparent in large points value games. Psychics in Apocalypse games - you can get a lot of warp charge in 3,000-4,000 points of army... well I will say no more.

It is possible to build an army that works better against psykers - or spoils particular techniques - and that can be a fun puzzle. Once, maybe.

The nature of the friendly game is worth considering. It is usually an unspoken set of rules between friends designed to soften the competitiveness and up the mutual enjoyment and drama - reduce rules-lawyering and replace it with a shrug, a smile and a roll-off. However a lesser acknowledged aspect of friendly games is that there also needs to be a mutual agreement to build army lists which are fun to compete against. This can be in an ad-hoc match as well as a local tournament context. We usually have a debrief conversation after the match where we discuss whether it worked for us and what we would change for next time.

Invisibility is not generally a fun power for the opponent and so has to be used sparingly. It is anti-dramatic as it leaves little to chance. In that way I think it's less fun that summoning abuse because a last stand against unending waves of enemies might, at least, be dramatic. I don't think it unreasonable to discuss a limit of one target unit for the ability per turn - or a modification to the rule allowing templates to be used - perhaps with full scatter (it makes sense to me that you can use a flamer or large blast to hit a unit you can't see).

You may need similar limits for other powers like summoning, as mentioned. I like the psychic phase though. It can create dramatic moments of psykers blowing themselves up - desperate attempts to kill psykers to prevent certain powers manifesting and the like. It would be a shame to banish it altogether.

My gaming group doesn't have anyone who has really min-maxed their list. We prefer unit variety and mission variety. That being said, I have won the last two tournaments we have run as a novice player. Tau armies are strong and some aspects of it may seem overpowered. As such I am trying a different army this coming season which should tell me if it's me - or more to do with the army I'm running (here's a clue - it's the army). Winning all the time is not what I'm after. Our tournament rules include points for painting models, good sportsmanship and is run for mutual amusement.

I hope you can find a happy balance with your friends.

Objective games can be quite 'swingy' at times and some missions modes are worse than others for luck of the draw. At least you have a range of options to try - and there are many ways to improve your points-scoring. I think purge the alien is one of the least interesting game modes.
Shas’O Sa’cea Kar’Li Cal’Cha “Commander Fairlight”

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#5 » Sep 14 2015 12:20

The very short answer is : take a Culexus Assassin ally.

The longer answer requires that I make a few assumptions about how that Eldar list was working.

For that to work as described he had to take 2 Farseers as his HQ choices and then take a Seer Council with 2 more farseers and a bunch of warlocks. In order to cast (or even attempt to cast) any one power 3 times in a turn he has to split those Farseers out into 3 different units - those had then better be the 3 invisible units or else your target priority just got easy and he will be losing a Farseer. Above all else he needs to roll up invisibility on both of the HQ Farseers, even if he rolls on nothing else but Telepathy his odds of doing that are roughly 1/4 per game - he then also needs to roll up Invisibility on one of the two Farseers in the Seer Council which is more likely but not certain.

What is un-fun about this sort of list is that if - as he did - he gets really lucky with generating all the right powers before the game you are probably going to lose before you even interact with him on the table. If he then gets lucky with making all those powers work every turn then most opponents have no chance to interact meaningfully once the game has started. Of course in the large majority of games this does not all come off but that is nothing you can control with your skill and strategy - it is literally all down to him being lucky. It is not so much that this sort of list is an auto-win, more that it is anti-fun.

There is one strong counter to psychic deathstars that can be taken as an allied detachment of just the one model you want, a Culexus Assassin. See viewtopic.php?f=57&t=22879 if you have not had a look already. Against 800+ points worth of JetSeer Council plus Farseers I would almost opt for 2 of them. When your friend wants to take the fully monty this is a viable counter, then when your friend wants to try something less extreme and anti-fun you can go back to playing more balanced lists yourself.

Another option to make this fun again would be to ask if you can play using the ITC FAQ - that has been tweaked to tame Invisibility for exactly the reasons discussed on this thread because tournament organisers want people to have fun rather than give up and stay away.

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#6 » Sep 14 2015 02:46

It sounds to me like you just had an unlucky game, I would council you to not get overly preoccupied by it. Losses happen. For context I haven't played against the newest eldar, but personally my experience with the psychic phase has been positive. Some of the most fun I've had is playing against two guys who really like possessing space marines/lessor daemons into greater daemons.

In my experience far and away the best way to deal with an invisible units to ignore them. Shooting anything else just usually results in more damage. Then you accept that whatever is invisible will most likely kill one unit around it a turn and deal with that fact by throwing expendible things at it or otherwise out maneuvering it (although that doesn't really work in purge the alien or three invisible units).

Offensive psychic powers seem to have very little constancy and are usually fairly short range. Your opponent has to pass their test, often roll to hit and often roll damage based on leadership while being close to you. This means that the attacks will do mostly do neglidgable damage and every now and again just delete something. Your riptide ran into the later, but statistically speaking that won't happen often. I've watched my riptides laugh off quite a few psychic shrieks and the like. I've also watched them lose 4+ wounds. It happens, just like having them take three wounds to a round of bolter fire. All you can do is skew the odds to be in your favor, you can't make the dice actually follow those odds.
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Engagement Results 54-18-8

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Re: Trial by psyker

Post#7 » Nov 16 2015 05:17

I'm surprised your opponent wasn't psychic shrieking you. Now that is a broken power. What we've done in my local gaming community, and it's been 100% accepted by all players, even the Eldar players, is make shooting attacks against invisible units resolve at BS1, as opposed to snapshots. That way you can still fire blast and template weapons at them. That mellows Invisibility out quite a bit, but in a very balanced way.
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