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Saturday, 30 June 2012

40K 6th- First Impressions- Characters and Psykers

Hi all,

Well, so far I've covered a fair amount of the new 40K rules, but there's plenty more to come- vehicles haven't been touched on, or the new allies system, and what about the fluff? Right now, of course, I get to post about Characters and Psykers.

OK, first off Sergeants and the like are now Characters. They benefit from Look Out Sir!, can fight in Challenges (more on that in a sec) and you still keep all the old benefits for the unit. they also have Precision Shots- meaning that on a 6 to hit when shooting, you can allocate the wound where you want, rather than closest to closest. So keep your characters guns in mind- sniping plasma shots may be a worthwhile investment (although 6's to hit- probably not!) They also have to pile in first when it's their turn- troops can't get in their way to keep them out of the fight. In combat they guess Precision Strikes- guess what, it's the same as Precision Shots, but for Combat, where a higher number of attacks might pay off. This makes Power Mauls more open for consideration, for me at least, since you could stun a few choice enemy before your squad attacks.

On to Challenges! Oh yes, characters can now square off with each other mano-a-mano. The attacker can issue a challenge, and if they don't the defender can. if you refuse, 1 character of your opponents choice cannot fight in that round, or pass on their Ld. if you accept, move them base to base and go for it! Any strikes from these 2 characters can only be applied to the other character until one of them dies. A nice touch is that for every 5 full models in the squad not fighting, a character gets a re-roll (as his mates cheer him on!)

Challenges are a cool thematic addition to the rules, and help you by-pass the wound allocation rules of this edition to snipe characters. That said, there's not any massive advantage or disadvantage given by challenges outside of that (no overkill, Ld penalty for the squad etc) which I would have liked to see. never mind- the ability to do it is great, so I'll roll with it and see how many enemy HQ's my Marine Power Fists can snipe from the shadows! Oh yes- it also lets power-sword characters snipe out power-fist sergeants.

Moving swiftly on- Psykers. This is one of the new Big Things for 6th Ed- there's a lot more mind-magic floating around the battlefield, so bring protection!

Each psyker gets a Mastery Level (this is equal to the number of powers they know) and for each Mastery Level they get a spell and a Warp Charge token. These are generated at the start of each turn, and yes you need to keep track of them. To use a power, declare which one you are using, expend the correct number of Warp Charge counters, declare target, take a Psychic (Ld) test, roll for Deny the Witch, resolve the power.

That's fairly clear, and ties in nicely to existing Codecies. Perils of the warp occurs on a 2 or a 12, and is 1 wound with no saves of any kind (glancing hit if it's a vehicle.) Deny the Witch is 6+ save to nullify a power- you get +1 to the roll if the unit contains a psyker, which increases to +2 if the psyker has a higher mastery level. Psychic Hoods now allow a psyker to affect units within 6" of him- that's it! So Tigurius will, in the main, give a 4+ Deny the Witch to units within 6" of him, for example. Eldar Runes of Warding and Tyranid Shadow in the Warp are back in the game!

There are 4 types of psychic power, which determine when they are cast, at who and what the restrictions are. this is welcome, since it means that psychic powers are much clearer in 6th than in previous editions. Blessings are for friendly units, work at the start of the turn, and can be cast into combat. They are also cumulative. Conjurations can create new units, or bring others in from reserve, at the start of the movement phase. maledictions are essentially the opposite of Blessings- Hexes and Curses for the enemy cast at the start of the movement phase, that usually last for 1 turn. Finally there is Witchfire- ranged attacks, shooting, vortexes etc. these work in the shooting phase, count as shooting a weapon, and are limited to 1 per turn- a psyker can only cast 1 Witchfire power per turn (for example, a Hive Tyrant can cast 2 or more powers, only one of which can be a Witchfire power.) There are a few sub-types- Beam, Focussed, Maelstrom and Nova. Beams are exactly as described- everything they travel through gets hit, but for each model effected the beam loses -1Str. Focussed Witchfire can be allocated by the Psyker rather than normal wound allocation- if you roll 5 or less on the Ld test, so it's not guaranteed. Maelstroms affect everyone within range, friendly and enemy. These can have an effect similar to a Blessing or Malediction, but they are a Witchfire power for casting purposes. Finally, Nova powers are the same as Maelstrom, but they are exclusively shooting attacks.

How cool does all of that sound? Psychics are probably going to be a hot topic in 40K for a time while people get used to them- I'll discus the individual powers and schools in a later post, for now I just wanted to provide an overview of how they work, and that they aren't game-breaking- they are a new tool for armies. Combined with the way Characters can interact with units, and in challenges, I think that Psychic characters are a tough option to ignore when list building.

Comments, as always, are welcome

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