Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grey Knights...the fix

Ok, ruminations.
It may be moot, we have yet to see what 6th brings, but these are the thoughts that rattle around in my melon on occasion.
It may also be done to death by others, everywhere (or at least whined to death about), but when I want to write, I will no matter how timely it may be.

I shelved my GK after my (2nd?) tourney with them.
I credited my performance, in the first event I played them, to lack of my opponents' familiarity with them.  It was clear they were efficient, and potent, but I have to see something in action before I truly make a judgement...and made it I did...

these guys SUCKED the fun out of the game (for both player and victim).

Mistakes, sure...I can make em...and you still have to fight me, uphill all the way...because no matter what you're playing, my book is simply more forgiving.  I'm playing one of the most efficient armies in the game.

I said, to some friends here and there, various things I thought would 'fix' them (and by fix, I mean create a more diverse representation of them on the various battlefields).  I was thinking about it more yesterday, and these thoughts came down to a few minor things...in this order of importance.  (note; the first one would take them down far enough to not be obscene right off the bat...the others bring them further into parity with other books AND encourage more diverse representation in the meta).

Numero Uno-
Be Rid of the Rifleman!
I didn't say 'Psi'fleman, I said Rifleman.  The 'Psi' part of the equation is for later.
The Rifleman configuration corrects EVERY inherent disadvantage a 'pure' GK army should suffer.  Yes, should.
By fluff, and function, the Grey Knights are a close, volume, firefight army.  They get into 24" and rain holy (s)hell down upon you!  They should march (or teleport) into your grill, with faith in the God Emperor guiding them, whilst peppering you with bolter fire every step of the way...then strike you down with the psychic fire in their blades!
Modern GK sit in their cans and rain un-holy 'magical' autocannon fire on you until you can't move, then run up and steal your tokens...I mean, seize the tactically important ground in this particular battle (or just count up the number of 'ports they've killed, and tell their Grandmaster how awesomsauce they are).
Forcing the Grey Knights to operate with more traditional Dreadnought variants would push players into a more thoughtful engagement process, learn how to maneuver and THINK beyond the first few turns of crippling a foe before skulking forward to occupy the field.
What would fit the GK 'feel', would be to include a dual-DCCW option.  If nothing else, it would give GK players a really good option to mount up in a Stormraven (beyond the infantry unit on board, if you're into those kinda builds).
The entire dynamic of many competitive builds would change right off.

Number Two-
Psi-bolt ammo needs to be point scaled to the units they are applied based on their efficacy.  We already know GW is relatively arbitrary with their points assignation, so this could follow a simple formula...or just actually be properly play-tested (snicker).
Infantry could be charged per 5 models, not a flat fee.
Vehicles based on what they gain (perceived or otherwise).
For instance, the aforementioned Rifleman (assuming it would be staying in).  For what it brings to the GK list, I feel that, at minimum, it is worth a 20pt upgrade on that dread (or, to follow the infantry example, 10pts per autocannon if you don't take both).  A weapon's platform that is basically a mobile Devastator team that can simply ignore stunned and shaken results with impunity and fill the GK range gap so cheaply...yeah, it's worth 20pts more. With Venerable status?  15pts per AC may seem a little steep, but still...
An LRC, on the other hand, may seem to benefit greatly, but the attendant loss of volume fire (the hurricane bolters losing defensive status) to gain the Psi-bump makes it (IMHO) only worth about 10pts on that platform.
And the psiback.  Why would a Heavy Bolter Psiback pay the same as Storm Bolter rhino for this kicker?
(Land Raiders all being the same Psibolt cost)...ad nauseum, you get the picture.
Yet, in Mr Ward's infinite wisdom he chose to flatline the costs per unit (or vehicle) for the most part, without regard to the imbalances this would impart.
Simply very poor projection.
If psiflemen stayed in, but bumped in points as I suggested, far fewer people would be playing with 3 or 4 (or even more) of them with so many builds.
Again, diversity.

Number Three-
Yeah, I went there.
I love him, love the concept...but c'mon.
With the ability to make any unit in the army scoring (via Grandmaster's Grand Strategy) why wouldn't you take minimally survivable, cheap throwaway (and scoring, FOC satisfying...etc) Chimera delivery systems?
Just back them with super units that score regardless of FOC, and go to town...or spam the hell out of them, and produce units that cannot be ignored elsewhere so that your cheap dink units live to grab objectives!
Simple fixes.
Minimal Squad size of, well anything reasonable (3?  REALLY?).
Do NOT satisfy FOC mins,
or don't count them as scoring (forcing people to take Grandmasters for the GS, or Strike Squads in greater numbers).
Simple, really.  My personal favorite is that they don't score.

Number 4-
Honestly, with earlier fixes this particular issue is far less of one.  Psibacks have a tendency to live or die on AV-11.  As often as not, when I took a hit with them they were either rendered impotent or destroyed.  On the occasions they were stunned or shaken, it was glorious.
But the Psiflemen...yeah, they're kings of Fortitude.
Simple solutions involve;
the simple removal of the rule,
reducing the Ldr for their tests to typical Sgt leadership 9,
make them vulnerable to other forms of P-Defense beyond hood-blocking.
I'm a fan of treating them as psykers in ALL respects, but I'm a Dark Eldar player too so that just brings me giggles.
Easiest to implement, drop their leadership to 9.  It may not seem huge, but ask any Dark Angels player who tries to use Librarians...it's HUGE!

Number 5-
Draigo neutering.
I'm not all that frightened of Draigo-stars, but Draigo-Wing can be a PITA in KP missions, or thick terrain seize ground.
I'm not a Draigo hater, but I'm addressing this one for the peeps that seem to hate him.
Simple solution?  Paladins don't become troops, just automatically become scoring.
This forces a player to field something other than pure paladin forces.
This restores little bit of balance,
a little bit of common sense (really, rarest of the rarest of the absolute rarest, comprising an ENTIRE army on the field...it's like fluff doesn't matter anymore...put down the pipe, Matt).
Again, a step that introduces a bit more diversity in the GK spread.

Those are my big 5.

The biggest is the first, and they really were in order.  You could just take the first two, and that would make the codex far more entertaining to engage from across the field, and far more challenging to defeat a foe with!
Everything else is just sauce for the goose!

The Grey Knight codex is quite a diverse and rich army waiting to be played...but a complete lack of foresight created a tournament beast that was winnowed down to a few archetypical builds very quickly, and those seem to have dominated the GK scene.
Where are the Dreadknights?  (a few, yes).
Where are the Mixed force Coteaz builds (that don't involve just DCA and some throw away hench-doods...maybe with melta).
For Gawdssake, where are the damned terminators that don't represent the entirety of the absolute (2wd/FNP) best in the galaxy?
And when did Grey Knight ancients suddenly cease to remember how fight their hated enemies in glorious close assault?

Sorry, my little rant for the week...about a codex I couldn't wait for, was quickly put off by, and then shelved (until I built and painted my Mordrak+Ghost Knights, mixed interceptors and Dreadknights!).

Thanks for listening!


  1. You read all kinds of things now on the internet in regards to what is going to happen in 6th edition. Some say the top armies will stay at the top while the mid tier will grow. It is still all speculation at the end of the day but we will soon see.

  2. I agree, which is why I chose to go ahead and post my thoughts.
    I'd been sitting on them for so long, thinking it was a useless excercise...but in retrospect, the ideas may still apply (to varying degrees).
    If they don't, then 6th will be enough of an alteration to our current systems, that the 'problem' could be solved on its own.