One gamer takes a look at the insidious seeds of corruption Traitor’s Hate is sowing…
As a true devotee of the Ruinous Powers, I must admit that I find myself of two minds regarding Traitor’s Hate. On the one hand, I love the lavish background and the Black Crusade Detachment just strikes my fancy – I enjoy that it makes all my Chaos lunatics Hate everything Imperium and, unlike so many it seems, I love the Chaos Boons table, so heaps more of this I welcome with open arms (Huzzah, tentacles for everyone).
On the other hand, like Goatboy (wait, who said that?), I’m disappointed that new Relics, a new Warlord table (s) and/or new psychic powers for the three Chaos Gods to push the disciplines to seven powers each like everyone else, were not included. I did not expect to be brought to the level of loyalist marines, but these few things would have completed my satisfaction – and I don’t think they were too much to ask for.
Ultimately, Traitor’s Hate is what it is and so I must embrace it to my corrupt bosom to further fuel my bitterness for the Long War. So it is that I’ve been wasting far too much time furthering my Zen-like emotional state by pondering the intricate ways of the Eye of Terror, and in so doing, I think I’ve stumbled upon a philosophical conundrum. If the Chaos Space Marine (CSM) codex is not balanced with its Imperium counterparts (and surely we can all agree that it is not) then why must we force it to be balanced with those codices? Confused? Ah, such is the way of Chaos, but I’ll attempt to explain.
Though I openly acknowledge that I’m more of a fluffy player rather than a competitive one, I do attend tournaments and often play games against some of my buddies who are unabashedly competitive. Hey, what can I say? I enjoy the camaraderie and love getting to play a bunch of games in one day. At any rate, most of the tournaments in my local region use the ITC format, or some variation thereof.
(For those unfamiliar, ITC tournaments use a specific set of scenarios that modify those found in the main rulebook so that you are essentially playing two at once, and they have an extensive FAQ/errata that addresses nearly everything in the 40K rules/codices that needs clarification. At least until the new official Games Workshop (GW) 40K FAQs go live. These FAQs are one of my favorite aspects of ITC, and the key to understanding my philosophical conundrum.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love 40K, and I’m personally happy that it is this sprawling ruleset, filled with randomness and varied options that allow for immersion into the rich setting, and not this dry, “everyone’s the same” and every option is dumbed down to the bare bones for smooth, fair and dull play. Having said that, I do want it to be as fair as possible, and let’s face it, until very recently, GW has been very lackadaisical about keeping the various books up-to-date, correcting obvious errors and/or just fixing weird stuff that creeps in with new material.
ITC’s FAQs do this, and while there are a few that I feel are questionable, the majority are solid, needed corrections/clarifications that I believe makes the game better. Again, until the new GW FAQs go live. It’ll be interesting to see how ITC handles that situation, as much of the new GW FAQs address the same material, and often in the same way, but not all. But, that is a subject for another time.
I know, I know. I’m coming to it. So, speaking of ITC’s FAQs, this is where my conundrum comes in. For those who don’t know, Traitor’s Hate bestowed upon CSMs four new psychic disciplines that are exactly the same as those that appeared in the recent Space Marine (SM) sourcebook Angels of Death, except that the names have been changed. These new powers are rightly respected as generally more potent that those that appear in the BRB (Big Rule Book), and wildly more impressive than the three disciplines of the Chaos Gods that appear in the CSM codex.
Indeed, the new names and the general atmosphere of the powers seem more fitting for Chaos sorcerers as well, so I’m not complaining. But, and here’s the crux of the matter, three of these new powers were deemed by the player base that governs ITC to be too powerful and have been recently FAQed to not function as they are written (two were toned down, the third obliterated altogether).
So, philosophically speaking, since we all know and agree that the CSM codex is terribly underpowered compared to those of the loyalist SMs, should these newly named, but exactly the same, powers also be FAQed to be toned down by tournament organizers/formats such as ITC? Or, in an attempt at parody, should the Chaos versions remain unchanged? I know where I fall in such an ethical dilemma, but I’ll leave it to you decide.
It may be that some of you may be thinking that I’m overblowing or overthinking this situation. Well, perhaps; I’ve certainly been accused of worse. It just seems an odd situation to me. I mean, we often hear online or in person, the lament that the CSM codex is both terrible and underpowered, especially compared to the SM codex (which is just teeming with equipment, rules, etc. that its evil counterpart should have as well, but doesn’t). And yet, I’ve witnessed several competitive players talking on the matter of Traitor’s Hate and these new psychic disciplines, and it quickly becomes obvious that the idea that these ‘nerfs’ shouldn’t apply to the Chaos versions has never crossed their minds. Why is that? If we all know and agree Chaos is inferior, why not provide them this little leg up?
Let’s take a closer look at these three specific powers and the measures taken to rein them in:
In brief — this power allows the psyker to swap places with a friendly opponent within 24″ and then they may both charge the same turn, if they were otherwise allowed to do so anyway. In addition, if either unit was already in assault, the newly swapped unit will then be in assault with whatever enemy unit was already engaged with the original friendly unit.
And this is how the ITC has FAQed it:
Fulmination (Ectomancy) Disicpline:
Electrodisplacement (Soulswitch): the target (s) of this power may not charge after using the Electrodisplacement psychic power. Further, if the target unit (s) were locked in close combat, after being transported by Electrodisplacement it must be placed at least 1” away from enemy models and are no longer locked in combat.
So given that this is a SM psychic power, I can see why the first part of it would make the ITC tournament players cringe. The ability to Deepstrike, Scout or otherwise have a fast moving and insignificant unit knife deep into the opponent’s lines and then transpose with a big, scary SM deathstar of bikes, thunderwolves or whatever, and then immediately charge, is devastating. It is also near impossible to counter effectively.
Once you layer other SM shenanigans on top of it (Hit and Run, assorted other Chapter Tactics, Librarian Conclave, etc.), it really gets disgusting. Having said that, CSMs do not have near the ability to create such powerful deathstars, and the ones they do have, depend largely upon allying with the Khorne Daemonkin codex. And even setting this fact aside, it’s not like SMs lack other means to drop units on top of their opponents and still immediately charge – see formations such as Shadowstrike Kill Team, Angel’s Fury Spearhead Force, the dreaded Skyhammer and several more in the upcoming Angel’s Blade sourcebook. CSMs can counter only with the freshly minted Raptor Talon formation found in Traitor’s Hate.
Regarding the second half of the psychic power that ITC negates, namely not allowing the newly swapped units to remain in assault after the swap, I find I’m at a loss. This is clearly the power’s intent, and compared to the ability to immediately charge, seems pretty insignificant. I honestly find this particular part of the power just not worth being FAQed.
In brief — this psychic power allows a friendly unit within 24″ the Move Thru Cover ability as well as allows its ranged weapons both the ability to ignore Line of Sight and the Ignores Cover special power.
ITC FAQs this power thusly:
Geokinesis (Geomortis) Discipline:
In ITC format events, modify the Phase Form (Earthly Anathema) psychic power as follows: the target of Phase Form gains the benefit of either Ignores Cover or ignores Line of Sight.
Given the firepower that SMs can bring to bear, particularly across all their separate codices (not to mention their other Imperium allies), it is no wonder that this power gives ITC tournament players the heebie-jeebies. But let’s just be blunt, this is all about grav weapons. The ability to give grav weaponry both ignore Line of Sight and Ignores Cover, all for the low low price of 1 WC, is just ridiculous. Grav weapons are already stupidly broken without such a boost.
But is this same power really so bad in the hands of CSMs? The traitors have no grav weaponry. And while CSMs can get access to some serious artillery via Imperial Armour 13 and Renegade Knights, their loyal kin get all this, plus the weaponry of the Skitarii/Mechanicus, Grey Knights and the Inquisition/Assassins. And in the end, they still have grav.
In brief — this power allows the psyker to pick up one piece of terrain within 24″ and move it to another part of the battlefield within 24″. Models within said terrain move with it, as long as they wholly occupy the terrain before it is moved.
Finally, ITC FAQs the last power like this:
Shifting Worldscape (Worldwrithe): this power is not used in ITC format events.
Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this one. I’m not a big fan of moving terrain pieces around in-game, particularly in a tournament setting where it’s just faster and smoother to have the terrain preset and fixed. Besides, moving terrain about during a game just strikes me as loaded with the possibility of exploitation and/or argument.
So what say you? Should the corrupted scions of the Eye of Terror be treated exactly the same as their loyalist brethren? Or should we allow them this one bone?