Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Farseer Psychic Powers - Part Three

Of course, all that analysis builds to one important question: how should you select powers on your farseer?

Our psychic power lists include Runes of Fate, which we've just covered, as well as Divination and Telepathy.  All of these have strong options, but they're balanced very differently, so which tables you roll on is going to depend on what your army needs.  We've already gone over Runes of Fate, but I'll skim over the other two for the sake of cohesion.
I could never tell if he's casting the spell
or getting hit by it.

Telepathy is strong, but awkwardly balanced table.  Psychic Scream, Dominate, Mental Fortitude, Puppet Master, and Terrify are all solid powers, but they're nothing mind-blowing (do you see what I did there). Invisibility and Hallucinations are game changers; when you roll on Telepathy, you're praying quietly for a 5 or 6.  Invisibility works exceptionally well with jink saves, especially jetbike-mounted seer councils, and Hallucinations is best used against super units - guard blobs are particularly vulnerable.  

But when you go for Telepathy, be aware that you are taking a risk - you probably won't get what you want on your first roll, which means you'll need to put more rolls into the table to try and hit the Invisibility/Hallucinations jackpot.  Because of this, Telepathy can be a dangerous investment - you should only go for this table if you're willing to spend all three rolls here, and even then Telepathy is a gamble.

Divination is popularly considered the strongest psychic power list in the main rulebook, and rightly so.  Some of its powers are situational, but all of them are useful and a few are incredibly potent.  Precognition is fairly weak here because of the farseers' low number of attacks, and Scrier's Gaze, while powerful, is only relevant if you have important units held in reserve and/or are playing with mysterious terrain.  Forewarning and Foreboding grant a unit full BS defensive fire and a 4+ ward save respectively, both of which are very strong.  

With the heavy firepower of an Eldar army, giving a unit Ignores Cover shots is potentially brutal; while not especially useful in a few situations, against some armies it can be absolutely devastating.  But the real prize in Divination is Misfortune - like Doom, it allows you to substantially amplify your damage against a single target.  If you roll both of these powers, try not to cheer - it's rude to celebrate when the guy across the table is weeping uncontrollably.

Arguably the best part of Divination, and Runes of Fate as well, are the primaris powers.  While Prescience is not as strong as Misfortune, it's a guarantee; rolling on Divination is very safe, because even if you get a power you don't want, Prescience is so excellent that it won't matter; the same applies to Runes of Fate.
Unfortunately, Runes of Fate is very hit-or-miss table.  Doom and Fortune are both excellent, and Eldritch Storm and Mind War are reasonably strong, though their high warp charge cost is a big detraction.  Executioner and Death mission are trash, strong contenders with Hemmorage for the worst psychic powers in Warhammer.  What this means is that Runes of Fate is safe on your first roll because you can always trade in for Guide, and risky once you've already taken your primaris.

Optimal psychic power selection will vary based on your army and your opponents, of course, but with that in mind, let's look at what is generally the best way to generate your farseer's psychic powers.  Start with one roll in Runes of Fate.  If you roll Doom or Fortune, awesome - grab that and move on.  If not, trade it in for Guide.  Next, roll once on Divination.  If you roll Misfortune, Perfect Timing, or Foreboding, take it, and if not, swap for Prescience.  You might want another power besides those I've listed, as both tables have some situational psychics, so if that's the case for this particular game, just add them into their respective list of "good psychics."

Having made two of our three rolls, we can sit back and assess the situation.  If you got a good power off of either Divination or Runes of Fate, your next choice is easy - just roll on the table where you still have a primaris power available, and you're guaranteed three excellent psychics for the game.  If you already have Guide and Prescience, that's still a solid build for a Farseer, but nothing is guaranteed past this point.  Divination is probably your best option here because even its worst powers are still really good, but if you're feeling lucky you could go for Runes of Battle instead.  

With this tactic, you'll very frequently end up with three high-quality psychic powers, and at worst you'll have Prescience and Guide - not a bad setup at all.

Part One     Part Two

Monday, July 8, 2013

Farseer Psychic Powers - Part Two

4. Death Mission

There's really no way around the fact that Death Mission is pretty terrible.  Admittedly, in the right situation it could be decent - say, if your farseer has Soulshrive or the Shard of Vaul.  Then, you might have a chance of dealing some real damage with this power, and it could be useful in a desperate situation (as the power's text implies).  Of course, that would require you to spend points preparing for a power you don't want...

His armor is made from the
bones of farseers who
make poor decisions
While +5WS, BS, I and +2A is a really strong buff, it's being applied to an initially weak character.  Farseers are sub-par in melee compared to other psykers, let alone a combat-dedicated character.  Of course, you don't necessarily need to deal damage with a farseer, and maybe that WS10 will keep him alive until you can mount a counterattack, but even that is irrelevant due to Death Mission's restrictions.

The first drawback is that this spell can kill your farseer.  When Death Mission is used, the psyker generates D3+2 counters, which he has a 50% chance of losing at the end of each phase, and when he runs out of counters, he dies.  So on average, you'll get 4 counters per round by recasting the spell and lose 3, which should sustain your farseer reasonably well.  However, it's very possible for a few bad rolls to kill your farseer very quickly, and failing your psychic test is probably a death sentence, so let's hope you're not playing against Tyranids or Space Wolves.

That's still not the worst part though, because once you've cast Death Mission, your farseer cannot use any other psychic powers for the rest of the game.  Here we come to the crux of the problem: even if you manage to save your farseer with Death Mission, who cares?  He's not guiding or dooming anything else - all he'll do for the rest of the game is run around waving his witchblade, hoping he keeps passing those 4+ rolls and psychic tests.  So unless you cast this on the 5th turn, your farseer is now a mediocre combat character and nothing else, and even then, why would you want a power you won't use for most of the game?  Even the name "Death Mission" is terrible, and its two warp charge cost is insult following injury.  This is without question the worst power available to farseers, and when rolled should be immediately discarded for Guide.  If you have the Eldar psychic deck, I suggest burning the card so that you're never tempted to dirty your farseer with this awful power.

5. Fortune

Much like Guide, Fortune remains essentially unchanged from previous editions, except for it's new 24" range and ability to target allied units, though it's warp charge cost has also gone up to two.  While not as overwhelmingly powerful as Doom, Fortune fills an important defensive niche in the farseer's arsenal.  However, unlike Guide and Doom, which are excellent in any situation, Fortune's usefulness is dependent on the Eldar player's army composition.

Bonus points if you play this every time you re-roll
your saving throws
To make the best use of Fortune, you need units with strong saves; the closer to 2+ the unit's armor/invul/cover save, the more useful Fortune becomes.  Cover and invulnerable saves are especially potent when reinforced by Fortune because your opponent cannot circumvent it with low AP weapons.  For this reason, Conceal stacks especially well with this power, as does Protect, both from the warlock psychic list.  Of the units available to Eldar, warlock councils and wraith units are the most viable targets due to their solid saves and high toughness (for Eldar).

Fortune is a more difficult power to use than Guide because it requires you to determine what target you opponent most wants to kill: using Fortune on a unit the enemy can ignore means you've wasted it.  To complicate this, use of Fortune can alter your opponent's target priority.  A fortuned wraithknight might not be worth shooting anymore, for example, so while it's possible you'll save him several wounds, he might also cease to be a fire magnet, leaving your next most prioritized unit vulnerable.

6. Mind War

A potentially strong power, Mind War has changed slightly from its previous incarnation in a few ways.  It's range has increased to 24", the wounds inflicted ignore cover, and the loser of the leadership roll-off has his WS and BS reduced to 1 for the rest of the turn.  It's warp charge cost has also risen to two.  Aside from the higher cost, Mind War has become significantly stronger.

It looks exactly like this, I swear.
100% legitimate representation of a psychic duel
In addition to dealing damage, the WS reduction allows you to set up devastating charges: shredding a monstrous creature's combat ability prior to a charge while knocking off a wound or two is a really nice option to have.  The longer range lets your farseer maintain a safe position while weakening or killing single models.

Bear in mind that because of the 6th edition psychic power changes, Mind War is not a reliable way of sniping targets inside of units.  As a focussed witchfire, Mind War suffers the same 28% chance of the caster selecting his target, which means most of the time you'll be rolling off against 5pt guardsman instead of the commissar you're trying to kill.  But while its days of killing nobz out of ork mobs are over, Mind War remains a very strong tool for killing monstrous creatures and other single models, and should find good results if used as such.

Part One     Part Three

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Farseer Psychic Powers - Part One

It's Eldar time, and we're going to start with farseers' psychic power options. These have been revamped for 6th edition, list of randomly-generated powers and all.  Let's get moving.

0. Guide (primaris)

Guide has long been a staple Eldar power, and with this edition it's been improved dramatically: range went from 6" to 24", and it can now be cast on any allied model (not just Eldar).  It's solid, reliable, and useful, whether you're running pure Eldar or taking allies for Tau or Dark Eldar.  I don't really need to stress that twin-linking a units shooting is really good

It's worth noting that, unlike the Divination primaris power Prescience, Guide does not affect close combat.  However, the 24" vs 12" range is a significant extension, as it allows the farseer to remain in a safe position even when your army is spread out.
Nobody wants an autarch on the cover

1. Executioner

Three/two/one hits, with fleshbane, and you can pick the targets - Executioner certainly has the potential to be an excellent psychic.  But the restrictive elements of the power - unreliable target selection and damage - mean that most of the time, the power will be disappointingly weak.

Executioner is a focussed witchfire, which means that you can only select its target(s) if you roll a 5 or less on your psychic test.  On 2d6, you have a 5/18 chance of making that roll - slightly less than one-third.  If you cast Executioner seven times during the course of the game, you'll probably get to choose who it hits twice.  You have the potential to snipe out a chaos banner, special weapon, or sergeant with Executioner, granted, but your chance of doing so on any given attempt are pretty questionable.

The other limit to Executioner is how its damage works: you have to kill the first target to generate more hits. And while three fleshbane hits are decent, they're pretty weak for a psychic power.  You've got an 83% chance of killing a space marine, then a 56% chance of killing the guy next to him, and finally a 28% chance of killing a third guy, but because the power requires a to-hit roll and the target can Deny the Witch, those numbers are actually 69%, 46%, and 23%.  Rather underwhelming.

Retro lightning
True, against high toughness, low save targets the spell is somewhat more useful.  But the low chance of sniping targets, coupled with its low damage, means that Executioner probably isn't worth its warp charge cost except in a few situations.

2. Doom

Much like Guide, Doom is a solid, reliable, and enormously useful spell.  It fills a similar role in the Eldar arsenal by amplifying the damage output of your army.  This iteration of the power is especially potent because in addition to allowing re-rolls to-wound against an affected target, it can also be used on vehicles, letting your army re-roll armor penetration rolls instead.

Doom will be less effective against armies with lots of small units, but even in that situation it functions similarly to Guide.  Its main downside is the the enemy can Deny the Witch, making Guide somewhat more reliable.  However, where Guide will amplify the damage of one firing unit, Doom has the potential to boost the damage of several of your own units.  Large terminator units, Necron wraiths, monstrous creatures, and similar high-priority targets that require an enormous amount of firepower to bring down are excellent targets for Doom.  And by using Doom and multiple Guides, you can multiply your damage output to really ruin somebody's day.

"Yer a wizard, Eldrad"
Of course, Doom is not a primaris power, so while it is brutally effective, you shouldn't rely on having it every game.  But if you can pick it up, Doom is even more useful than Guide, though a little less reliable.

3. Eldritch Storm

This psychic has seen a substantial power spike from the last Eldar codex, which is compensated for by its Warp Charge 2.  You can't spin around vehicles anymore, but the power is moderately powerful and flexible.

While still S3, Eldritch Storm now has fleshbane and haywire.  High toughness units are especially vulnerable, but a large blast that always wounds on a 2+ is dangerous against any target.  The haywire rule makes the storm very effective against groups of vehicles, particularly vehicle squadrons.  The hits will most likely be glancing, but having the option of softening up or finishing off a vehicle with Eldritch Storm makes it a very solid damage dealer.

Because it's dangerous against almost any target and has an excellent (for a witchfire) 24" range, rolling Eldritch Storm will almost always be useful.  The double warp charge cost is problematic, but that's what your spirit stone is for.

Part Two     Part Three