40K Deep Thought – That Unit is Broken!!!

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Gather around friends.  Today we dissect the 40K term – Broken.  What does it really mean for us wargamers and how do we draw the line?

What makes something “broken”? It’s a term armchair generals on the internet like to throw around to describe certain units.

Helldrake? Broken.
Wave Serpents? Kinda Broken.
The Forge World XV107 R’Varna Riptide suit? Extra broken.

What is it that makes something broken? Where is the line that you cross that makes something go from being good to being broken? Is it the points cost, the strength of their rules or just a combination of them all?

Consider the individual examples I’ve named above;

The Helldrake

It goes by many other names of course. The Helldrake. Hellturkey. That F**king Dragon. Widely regarded as the scariest of all fliers what earns it the reputation it has garnered in the 12 months since Chaos Space Marines launched. At 170 points it is one of the most expensive fliers in the standard codices at this point. Armour wise he’s nearly the toughest a flier can be, let down only by rear armour of 10. His “hook” comes from his armament. The ability to vector strike anything, causing high strength, AP3 wounds that ignore cover on top of THAT weapon makes him a powerful tool

The interesting thing is that a Drake with the Autocannon is identical in every regard except for weaponry. And yet people think that taking one is a wasted opportunity and a mistake.

So its pretty clear what makes him dangerous is that flamer weapon.

Now would he still be considered “broken” if his flamer was AP4? Or if it wasn’t torrent? Or if he cost 50 points more?

What he does in a chaos army isn’t replaceable by anything else in the codex really. CSM have very limited access to flamer weapons compared to some armies, and no other fliers

Wave Serpents

Taking the crown of the best transport in the game right now (only just dislodging those damn Nightscythes though), the Wave Serpent brings it all to the table. Incredible high strength firepower on a pretty durable frame that is fast enough to cross the table in a single turn. For this they do cost a fair chunk of points, at nearly 100 points more than the common garden variety Rhino.

It is the only dedicated transport available to an Eldar army, so its not something that can be taken out or left behind. Footdar is still a valid build but lots of people just want some speed and flexibility that a foot based force doesn’t offer.

So what makes it broken?

That damn Serpent Field. Downgrading penetrating fire to glances is potent, but not overpowered in my opinion, particularly with only 3 hull points. Its the ability to shoot it as a weapon isn’t it? 60″ of cover ignoring autocannon with up to 5 extra shots. That is incredible.

Would it be “broken” if it was shorter range? Or a set number (say 3) shots? Or didn’t ignore cover? Could you increase the points cost, but would anyone buy a AV12 transport if it cost the same as a Land Raider?

XV 107 R’Varna

Wow. All my defending FW as having “balenced” rules these days suddenly goes out the window. I hope the real rules are toned down a bit from these experimental rules.

What isn’t broken about this guy? Take a garden variety Riptide, something usually considered to be a little bit too good, increase its invulnerable save by one without needing to Nova Charge, give it a higher toughness and a weapon that will absolutely wreck nearly anything you point it at….all for less than a Land Raider

This unit is easily broken in my eyes. Requiring an average of 30 Lascannon shots to drop him (assuming you buy FNP and never Nova Charge the shield) or 54 Plasma shots, capable of dropping a Wraithknight in a single round of shooting on average dice and is more potent against other big threats than smaller infantry….then remember hes AP2 in combat, and can be S10 just to ID most units.

Where would this guy not be considered “broken”? 400 points? Same stat line as a Riptide, not made harder?

What We’ve Learned

So frequently, it comes down to the weapon. But these weapons alone, although good frequently appear elsewhere…a Drake flamer can be found on a Land Raider. Or there exist weapons out there that are better at murdering folks. Is a Wave Serpents shield weapon really better than the power of massed broadside firepower, which can achieve the same thing? Would you rather have your character shot by the Helldrakes template, or a bog standard melta gun?

Is it the spam ability? Helldrakes are spammable, wave serpents are FoC slotless being dedicated so you can have a lot of them. R’Varnas are just straight up better than everything in a the competing slot and you can easily fit three into an army.

So it must be a combination of things, like the points cost you pay for them, the platforms durability and its other abilities. But then there’s units out there that are potent, durable and under costed, but are not considered broken.

P.S. There’s a whole other side to this argument…when does a unit that is generic in itself (such as Screamers in Deamons) become a broken tactic (when its got a 2+ rerollable save thats when)…but maybe thats another post for another time

What’s Your take on these three units and the broader question – where do YOU draw the line at “broken”?

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