With the rumors of a new edition looming it’s time to roll up our sleeves and fix the broken psychic phase.
Goatboy here again and with the rumors of a new edition looming on the horizon it has me thinking of some of the big “issues” currently with 40k right now. Of course I don’t think any new edition is going to fix everything but hopefully due to the normal nature of their game edition upgrades – will most likely see some very specific changes to a set of rules. Every edition has had some big changes to the psychic phase. Sometimes the changes are just in the spells themselves and other times its base on how the army gets to utilize their psychic might. Each edition seems to try and “fix” it in hopes of creating something that is unique, fun, and powerful.
The Big Problem Now
The current iteration is unique and powerful but I think it leaves a lot of the fun sitting at the wayside. This is in how the phase interacts with both players turns. Sure if you are the Psychic player – this turn is full of “excitement”. You get to use your dice, throw mighty spells, and cause all kinds of issues to your opponents army. If the other player has access to a decent amount of dice they might even have a chance to stop a blessing. But most of the time you don’t stop the spells, the opponent powers up, and the game is left in a lurch as this phase became a game of Magic goldfish. Heck most of the time the one player throws all their dice, deals with the “weak” perils, and moves on as you are left wondering why did you even have this phase.
This brings in the thought of what should we do? First of all – the phase needs to be useful to both players. There has to be some sort of rules interaction that isn’t just one player going whole hog and wrecking the game. Now this could happen with either methods for every phase to be useful to the player – whether it is a chance to dispel blessings/maledictions even if you don’t have any psychics that are there to harness the powers of the warp. There could be a one shot way to dispel a power – thus eliminating a turn of broken rules interactions and thus making such all in investments of powers less powerful.
Some Psychic Solutions
Let’s build a list of what this new system needs.
- Perils need to be worse and more damaging to your army. This is a big one as while we need psychics to bring some excitement to the game – we also need to have some kind of threat or limitation that makes throwing all your dice at a spell dangerous. The old fantasy system had a pretty rough perils chart. From getting removed from play on a 4+ on a d6 to giant blasts of doom killing yourself and your teammates. Complete shut downs of the phase and losing more then just a single spells is important to keep some of these powers at bay. These sorts of things are needed to help bring some balance.
- Limitations on total dice usable. This is me thinking about how to control the amount of powers available a turn. Sure some armies need to have a ton of dice to throw as that is the only way their armies work (Daemons, Nids, Grey Knights). This means creating a system that would allow low level dice casts but still not make it feel like a turn is full of tiny pinks of damage.
- If you fail to cast a spell (not by being counter, but by not generating enough dice successes) you can’t cast anymore. The warp doesn’t like you, your can’t feel the power, or you just suck at what you are doing. This makes people have to burn a bit more dice to get a spell off.
- Dispelling needs to be better. Whether it is creating an item that lets you get one free dispel or allowing the player during their phase to try and turn off a blessing/malediction. There could even be a way to allow for a guaranteed dispel like there is a guaranteed casting (utilize perils to both auto cast and if you roll double 6’s you auto dispel). That phase needs to be usable by both sides of the table.
- The power level of spells need to be looked at. I think there are only a few spells that are problems – with one getting nerfed in the format I play in and the other having some answers in rough maledictions and other armies abilities to ignore it.
- Some kind of enforced limit on how many dice you can use per Psychic Spell. There are times where the chances to dispel is just too hard because your opponent threw 15 dice at a power. A limit would help curtail all or nothing throws and let opponents actually have a chance to stop something. With more deadly perils you could see a drop in this but I think a limit might be helpful.
Fantasy Had Some Good Ideas
I keep going back to the old Fantasy system as while it wasn’t perfect – it did feel like a true phase that both players had a chance to fight in. For those not knowing it – you basically rolled 2 d6’s plus a number of channel dice to get up to a maximum of 12 dice. The opponent got to channel as well as use the larger number of the dice rolled on the 2d6. From there you would throw dice plus your Casting level to try and get to or over a set number for the spell. These ranged from low powers like 6 or 7 all the way up to 16+. If you rolled a double 6 on the dice rolled to try and succeed a spell – your spell automatically went off and could not be countered – but you had a really rough perils chart to go against. Any total roll of under 2 is an automatic fail (if you roll a 2d6 and get a 2 for the total when trying to cast it auto failed) and that caster couldn’t cast anymore for the turn. An opponent would also throw dice at your spell as well – with a double 6 causing an automatic dispel of the spell unless they rolled a double 6. This gave you a back and forth as you had to really plan your spells, bait your opponent, and still tried to win the game with magic.
Now of course this exact format doesn’t always work. You couldn’t have duplicate spells and there are too many armies with duplicated powers to really get to work well. The other big issue is having to rework all the spells in each book with a formation that isn’t just WC 1,2,3 – and instead now a Spell level of 6, 10, 15. It would also take a great deal of “tweaking” to make sure some things are right – reprinting or FAQ’ing books etc. This leads me to think will most likely see a completely different version of the psychic phase that utilizes what they have printed in a new and different way.
Think of the Possibilities
Could you imaging if your had the ability to stop spells the same way you have to cast spells targeting you? Would having just a random Librarian running around to at least give you a 5+ to stop some kind of mind war be worth it? Would that open up armies that while devastated by a few powerful spells now – would be much better suited when they might actually have a chance to stop a spell if they have an Admantium Will piece of wargear?
I play Daemons so in a lot of ways I am part of the problem. Most of the time I run big fat monsters who plan it is to be a pain in the ass to get rid of and surrounded by a ton of buffs, abilities, and other big fat jerks. While I do play with them I do feel there needs to be a better way to help keep things in check.
~What do you guys think would help fix this?