40K: Bring The “Dispel Scroll” To The Grim Dark

Rampant Psykers driving you mad? Maybe it’s time we get the “Dispel Scroll” back out…

There is a lot of talk lately about Smite Spam and how it’s “Destroying 40k” for folks. I get it! Psykers are a problem (yet again) but in new and exciting ways. Was Smite-Spam intentional or was it just an unintended consequence of having that particular power be so widely available? It’s in the core rules after-all and EVERY army has access to it (except for those folks who are psychically inept – Sorry T’au & Necrons). But even in those rare cases they can still take in an ally detachment. So it should be balanced, right? If (almost) everyone can do it, then what’s the problem?

Well, what if it’s not Smite that’s the problem, but the prevalence of Psykers in the Grim Dark? It’s getting to the point where most lists can pretty easily squeeze in 3-5 Psykers or Psychically imbued units without really trying. Is that good? Is that bad? I’m not here to judge. However, I do think armies need to something to give them some basic protection against Psychic Powers – at least for the short haul. Deny The Witch Tests are only useful if you’re in range. Plus you have to actually beat the roll and lots of Psykers do have a bonus to those rolls. So how can you even the odds a bit? Why not bring back the Dispel Scroll!

The Dispel Scroll is an item that was pretty popular in Warhammer Fantasy (yeah, we’re going old school). It was a basic and universally accessible one-shot item that simply allowed a player to stop ANY power from going off (short of irresistible casts, that is). I think that 40k is in a place now where access to this type of item is not only needed, but almost required.

This item wouldn’t actually BE a scroll (although, sure – it could be). But it should be universally available to all armies. It shouldn’t have a failure option. It should cost a player something. If only there was a resource that all armies had access to that could be applied here…

What about Command Points?” Yes. What about those?! What if there was a stratagem that was only once per game that allowed a player to simply nullify a psychic power – wouldn’t that work? Yes – I think so. Now, it would have to be expensive, 2-3 CP at the minimum. And again, it should only be available once per game, but it would be a start!

The Pros

  • It’s limited, but available to everyone – An ability this powerful needs to be limited. Just like Smite-Spam, we don’t want the counter option to be “just take a bunch of X” to stop it. We’re already there – this is a different mechanic to help reign in the psykers. We don’t the solution is to simply take more Psykers to stop the flood of Psykers running around…
  • It’s worked before – Warhammer Fantasy proved that a Dispel Scroll mechanic was pretty handy. Did that mean players generally took a character who’s only job was to be a “Scroll-caddy” – yes. I didn’t say it was perfect, but if we shift that over to a single-use Stratagem, it’s effective and you don’t need to change everything around.
  • It adds a tactical option – Look, you could totally blow this one shot Stratagem to stop a Smite. Or, you could use it to stop something that will be even deadlier – like say a Warp Time cast on Mortarion. But it’s a new tactical option and opens up some counter-play and player interaction on the tabletop. Think about it: Are you going to attempt Warp Time first or are you going to trying to bait out the Stratagem with something else? If you’re playing strict Matched Play, then you can only do a power once – and knowing your opponent has a “silver bullet” to stop a power is going to make you think twice. Thinking: That’s good for the game.

The Cons

  • Everyone has Deny already – It’s arguably already difficult to get a power off. Folks have a way to stop powers and it adding one more way to prevent powers seems like you’re putting too much control in the “counter” camp.

That’s a fair point I think. But again, we’re already at this point. “If you want to stop psykers from dominating the phase the solution is to take more psykers.” This only escalates the problem and isn’t a real solution.

  • You can just kill the Psykers and it’s not a problem – If you target the enemy psykers then they can’t spam Smite or another Psychic power! Just use Snipers or something that can pick them off.

HAHAHA, yes the infamous “Sniper” argument. Ok sure, you might get lucky and kill a Psyker in a few round of shooting. But I have a feeling that you might of never actually USED a unit with Sniper weapons. First off, most of them barely have an AP. And they it’s not like they wound on X any more, either. If you’re lucky, they cause Mortal Wounds on a roll of a 6+ to wound. But many of them are down right terrible. There is a reason you don’t see a lot of “Sniper” units in army lists and it’s not cause of their camo…

  • An Auto-Deny is just too powerful – A once per game Stratagem that just lets a player stop a Psychic Power from going off is just too powerful! I mean, it’s once per game and it could really screw over an entire battleplan. That seems too good.

If you’re entire battleplan revolves around getting off one particular Psychic Power, then maybe you should go back to the drawing board because that’s a massive flaw. On top of that, it’s only once per game and it should cost an appropriate amount of CP (2-3 minimum) to use anyways. It’s not like the other player isn’t sacrificing options to stop that power. Plus, you can just attempt to do it the following turn – you don’t LOSE the power or anything. The Stratagem could even an additional limitation that it can’t be used on a power that was successfully cast on a roll of +10. How does that sound?

Will adding a single-use Stratagem curb the Smite-spam onslaught? I don’t think so. But it will give players an option besides “take more Psykers.” The “Dispel Scroll” isn’t about stopping Smite, it’s about curbing the reliance of having to take so many Psykers. It buys players an extra round of not having to deal with something that could be even deadlier (like Warp Time + Death unit). It adds some counter-play to the game and creates interesting tactical choices. And it’s an option EVERY army would have access to. So what do you say? Are you ready to bring back the Dispel Scroll?

 

How do you feel about some type of Dispel Scroll Mechanic? A stratagem that costs 3 CP and stops a Psychic Power, unless that power was cast with a 10 or higher? Why not give it a go in your next game and lets us know how it works out!

  • Fenix Dargon

    The next time I see one more whiner complaining about smite, I’m going to ram all his minis where the sun dont shine. Yes, I’m talking to all of you re-rolling every thing, complainers.

    • ZeeLobby

      I mean if there’s an overwhelming number of “whiners” maybe it needs fixing?

      • GrenAcid

        Or maybe other folks dont bother cuz they are having no problem. And you only see tiny VOCAL minority that complains. You know, like with any other game/tv show/whatever.

        • ZeeLobby

          I mean but we have tournament results, and players, complaining about it. It’s not like it’s just a bunch of internet noise. There’s evidence.

          I mean personally I think it’s kind of sad that we never see other powers used on the competitive level outside a few exceptions. I would like to see it’s power diminished just so we see more variety in the game.

          • GrenAcid

            “tournament results”
            Yet again, abusers of rules cause uproar for rest of players.

          • Karru

            Do tell how it affects non-tournament players negatively to have something that can deal with massed Smite as well as some of the examples listed in the article reliably and have it available to all armies in the game in moderation.

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. Yeah. Those jerks. How dare they play within the rules. Clearly its there fault. Its not like the rule could just be bad.

          • Mr.psyker

            When tournament organizers provide house dice, things like smite and 2+ saves won’t be a issue.

          • ZeeLobby

            lolwut?

          • Mr.psyker

            People bring their own loaded/baked dice… Using tournament results as a justification for one power being preferred in tournament play does not mean smite is a “bad rule” / game mechanic. 40k Tournaments do not have proctors. 40k tournament organizers do nothing to eliminate the variable of cheating. The narritive has always been either “we all just love this game and want to roll some dice” or “ No one is perfect, we all make mistakes” the 40k fake community doesn’t want a legitimate tournament scene because they are a bunch of carnies who just want to sell tickets. The solution is not to change the rule. In the context of tournaments one toy always makes his 2+ Sv the other toy always gets off smite. It is the eternal struggle between the cheatas and the cheatas… the gazelles never make it into tournament results

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. I never thought of the day I’d see conspiracy theorists infiltrate 40K. You go to major events often and have experienced this many times?

          • Mr.psyker

            are cheaters UFOs and aliens.

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. You seem to be putting them on the same level at least. And yes I can afford a tank of gas in my car. Lol. I kind of guessed you were just vomiting your bias but its pretty evidently clear at this point. Pretty funny though.

          • Mr.psyker

            you never thought you would see the day when a fellow capitalist would start a grass roots movement to undermine your culture of consent.

          • ZeeLobby

            I think you need some sleep. Things aren’t firing right. You’re like a street poet from the street, he he.

          • zeno666

            I think he means house rules.
            House Dice seem very impractical

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. I dunno. He uses the term dice a lot. Me thinks he read an article on the internet once, and of course all things on the internet are true XD.

          • Mr.psyker

            No I mean house dice I have a shirt with the forge the narrative logo and I would have much rather had house dice provided than have a shirt. How is it impractical? Wild!

          • silashand

            Honestly I don’t think Smite in and of itself is the problem. I think having cheap psyker characters that can be spammed, but are essentially invulnerable to countering (I’m looking at you Malefic Lords) is the real problem. Things like the Grey Knights “mini-smite” is not really all that bad since it can only do one wound vs anyone but daemons and spamming enough to matter is problematic in an expensive army with almost no high strength, long range weaponry. Pretty much every complaint I’ve seen about Smite has been in response to the Malefic Lord issue. But YMMV I guess…

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I mean there’s multiple ways to stop it, but in the end it’s basically smite spam. Personally I liked the old school method of limiting the number of repeated spells in a list.

      • Fenix Dargon

        Its one model that everyone is complaining about. A single FW model…

        • ZeeLobby

          uh. IG psyker spam is popular too. It’s not like anyone actually BUYS that one FW model. They just convert. I’ve seen tons.

          • Lebowski1111111111

            there isnt a maelfic lord model

          • Fenix Dargon

            They cant buy it. Its OOP. But it seems chapter approved is going to up it from 30 to 80 points according to Warhammer Community.

          • ZeeLobby

            Which is good. Personally I think we’ll just see smite spam shift around. In many cases it’s just the best ability to cast. I still think it could use a reworking, or at least some penalty for casting it multiple times in a row.

          • Fenix Dargon

            Maybe.

          • ZeeLobby

            My issue with changing individual model power level is most of the time they nerf it to the point where you just never see it again. Take Celestine, she was one of the only amazing models in a pure SoB force. But if they increase her points cost, because of the frequency she was taken as an ally, then it hurts any SoB player. Nerf malefics, and we might never see them again. Change the ability, and you still might see one or two.

          • Fenix Dargon

            All true, but nerfing smite nerfs several armies only way of of dealing with high toughness models. 1kSons and GK for instance.

    • zeno666

      Yeah! Because this edition was kind of playtested! … Kind of… once.. or twice.

  • Vepr

    I don’t play 40k anymore so the following is just from what I have gathered at my local FLGS and the bits and pieces from reading stuff on the net. I thought smite was considered a good balance against other things like super/death star units and the biggest problem was alpha strike craziness.

    • silashand

      The biggest issue in the game now *is* the Alpha Strike IYAM. They really just need to do alternate activations and be done with it. I don’t care how some people justify it. When you can kill 1/4-1/3 of an enemy before they can do anything just because you rolled to go first something is wrong.

  • Heinz Fiction

    Hive Fleet Kronos already has it :p

    • I_am_Alpharius

      That does so much as stop Powers, but simply them harder to cast.

      • Heinz Fiction

        If you have to roll a 7+ though with 1D6 it does stop them quite well. And even if you got to roll a 6 you’ll probably pass if a result of 1-5 means you’re taking mortal wounds or lose that power permanently…

        • I_am_Alpharius

          True enough.

      • Lebowski1111111111

        ic Heinz made the comment i was going to say but simply having that strategic asset in play will prevent a good opponent from even attempting strategies that involve WC 7 powers like quicken for eldar. No point even attempting to setup a unit for a double move with quicken when it wont even get off and will most likely leave your unit exposed.

        It should be 2 CP not 1, its to strong and forces opponents to not even do certain things because they will be easily and trivially stopped.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    When 2nd ed introduced Psychic powers to the game, then a “Dispel Scroll” type Psychic “Warp card” were drawn each round (casting powers was a whole card game thing….well just leave that alone). That card was called “Nullify” – it was the only way to stop powers!
    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb32a8d0629fbba5d29f7fb4850f62767c995e0de1ad78d0616bdee38e06897d.jpg

    I don’t necessarily feel the game needs stratagem for every army. Ad-Mech have the Steel Mind, Iron Logic stratagem for Griaia Forge World based armies. Let just see if a new rules for match play is introduced in Chapter Approved. I have a sneaking suspicion they will do so.

  • AkulaK

    Smite is a problem for good invuls, power armoured armies… How can you down Mortarion or Magnus or even Robot Girlyman w/o smites ? Once again limiting smite would only be good for Chaos/Imperium armies… There is a way to defend against MW and almost every army has it, with the ability to ignore wounds on a roll of 6 (or 5+ for the luckiest)… Smite is fine, the problem is that you can use FW models in games… In Europe, most of major tournaments doesn’t allow FW units, and we see much less complaints about Smite.

    • sniperjack

      Sorry you are wrong for germany. TTM fully allows Forgeworld

      • AkulaK

        ETC does not, and most of French tournaments doesn’t aswell.

  • Koen Cambré

    BREAKING: spamming stuff isn’t fun!

    Next article: one of goatboy’s netlists.

    • GrenAcid

      Bueno.

  • Draaen

    Your solution doesn’t seem to work well to me. I don’t think an army with 5-6 psykers cares if I stop one smite so it doesn’t address smite spam which is the main reason to have a ton of psykers. It does hurt people however who run one psyker so they can cast warp time first turn or when they deep strike. The solution hurts reasonable psyker play more than spamming psykers.

    A better solution to curb smite spam would be to make a stratagem that countered one smite and allow it to be reusable. However with cheap enough psykers you could still just see it as a tax and play through it. Even then you are draining your opponents resource pool.

    Scroll caddies were a thing and very good without being game breaking in warhammer fantasy. However you had significantly more magic available to each side with a lot more granularity in terms of your resources for casting/dispelling. I often chose to have my tzeentch caster cast flickering fire with just 1 dice from my pool. I would save the most dice for the slaaneshi spell that made it so my opponents couldn’t swing back and were hit automatically as it was stupid good and hope to get 2 6’s out of my giant pile of dice I used to cast it. My brother would save a dispel scroll and still not be able to shut out my plans… sometimes and sometimes I would miscast too but there was a balance. There isn’t that option to heavy load a critical psychic ability in the game or a situation your scroll doesn’t fail.

    Also how do I ally in psychic defense with my Tau for matched play?

  • Bigdadi99

    T’au Armies wouldn’t mind having a defense against Psychic. 🙁

    • Chris Hilliard

      ‘”I kills it with my pulse rifle” doesn’t work so well when you’re out number 3 to 1 by Guard, so I’d love to have an option besides killing the bubble wrapped psyker.

  • James Regan

    I always had fun with my scroll caddies in fantasy. A firebelly with a ruby ring and a dispel scroll who was basically just there to close the odd infernal gateway, but every now and again he’d be casting after the opponent had used all his dispel dice on important stuff and i got to set something small on fire quite spectacularly. He cast fireball plus the fireball bound in the ruby ring is 2d6 S4 hits from a unit everyone was assuming was just going to sit out the phase (a single fireball has much more of a chance of whiffing, and the ruby ring dispelled on a 3+ if i remember, so proper practice was to save it until dead last if you weren’t confident in getting the big spells off/they weren’t currently in rage etc.)

  • Jeremy Larson

    I think this is an excellent idea, and I play ‘Nids and Grey Knights. Smite Spam IS a real problem.

    • Chet Atkinson

      I play Grey Knights and it’s got to a stage where I’m embarrassed to field them. It’s smite this, smite that etc etc :/

  • ar_40k

    Better solution: Smite = WC7. If the roll to cast is 7-10, 1d3 mortal wounds. If the check is 11+, 1d6.

    Just making the power a little worse, and a little less reliable would solve a lot of issues. Couple that with adjusting points for some obviously improperly costed units and the problem goes away.

    • David

      Terrible solution you end up with a lot of the weaker smite units such as astropaths being unable to cast at all

      • ar_40k

        Actually, they’d cast 58.33% of the time instead of 83.33%. That’s hardly “unable to cast at all”.

        • Nameless

          not to question your maths, but how are they rolling a 7+ on 1d6?

          • ar_40k

            Psychic tests are on 2d6.

          • Nameless

            David was referring to Astropaths and Wyrdvane psykers which both have rules limiting them to only roll 1d6 for psychic tests (astopath smite only, wyrdvane get +1/+2 if there are 3/6 models in the unit). I suspect there are other psykers with similar limitations in other armies, but I’m not as familiar with 8th ed

          • ar_40k

            Ahh, I wasn’t aware of that on those units. Then just do away with that limitation… The problem with smite is that (for the vast majority of units) it is far too reliable.

  • Justin

    I think there could be more universal defensive stratagems all together, not just in regards to psychic powers. I have seen a fair amount of games that pretty much end on the top of turn one to overwhelming alpha strike and that is just not a fun game (if that could be called a game). Most stratagems we have are used in the active player turn and are almost always offensive based. It would add something tactically if there was a universal access to powerful defensive stratagems.

  • Talos2

    It was “drain energy” in 40k 2nd ed i think

  • David

    I think this misses that against non-elite armies smite spam isn’t really an issue – a guard infantry army won’t care if you smite some conscripts and eliye armies can effectively counter with allied bubblewrap

    None of my armies really have an issue with it was except BA or IK and im not playing those if I want to play competitively

  • Greg Betchart

    Simpler solution: Have “psyker” cancel out “character,” allowing them to be targeted like a normal unit.

    • Grumpy Scot

      I play Thousand Sons, so how about no? :p

  • fenrisful2

    Some people just want to shoot shoot shoot, and would not want a psychic phase nor an asault phase, there are plenty of other games out there for you, stop complaining about this game. As long as points cost are proper, the psychic phase has the best mechanics so far.
    Smite is sadly necessary with all the 3++ Multiwound models out there.
    I think it’s more a thing that invulnerable saves are crap in this edition.

    • Chris Hilliard

      Sure, I’ll get right on that psychic phase with my T’au. Then I’ll charge in and Assault!

    • Karru

      But what if, hear me out, what if we nerfed 3++ Multiwound models at the same time and price them accordingly? A Primarch should start around 400-450pts and go from there to begin with.

      While I can understand that the Smite spam might be something that can be fixed with proper pricing, something that can’t be is powers like Warp Time when comboed with certain units. The Alpha Strike component should be reduced greatly in the game, as it is right now the core mechanic in the game. Either shoot the enemy of the board in the first turn or lock him in close combat on the first turn with the units that the enemy has exactly 0 defence against outside pure luck.

  • Grumpy Scot

    I play Thousand Sons and enjoy using psykers and psychic powers. I’d rather I wasn’t punished because I don’t spam cheap psykers. I take a couple, which is characterful for my army, and my units can cast ‘mini smite’ – though the risk of perils is horrendous.

  • Koldan

    “Everyone has Deny already”: Wrong, Drukhari for example have no deny.

    But i see, the more interesting solution in their army, they have an item, that only deals damage to units, that have the keyword psyker. More weapons that get a buff, if the target has the keyword psyker is my solution, if a unit is dangerous, give the enemy a good option to take it out. Risk and reward, should i go make a smite-spammer army or is my enemy perhaps using alot of this weapons, so giving him more easy targets.

  • Deacon Ix

    “If you want to stop psykers from dominating the phase” – Damn it, Psykers are dominatling the Psykic Phase? Next it will be that ranged units dominate the shooting phase…

    • zeno666

      Haha, very true! Madness isn’t it!? 🙂

      • Deacon Ix

        My Slaanesh Daemon army is completely out matched my Tau in the shooting phase! Obviously there is an issue with ranged weapons! Seriously tho, bar the Warp Bolter on the DP there are no ranged weapons in that army apart from Smite…

  • Alec Moskavich

    i could use it with my poor tau we have no way to stop powers from going off