40K BREAKING: Smite & Character Beta Rules

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Suck it Malefic Lords and Culexus Assassins, check out these new beta rules.

Hot off of the internet presses, new rules that will be tested at LVO and AdeptiCon in 2018. You can’t rely on characters to hide other characters any more, and Smite Spam is getting a nerf bat to the face. With that in mind, let’s dive right in.

via Games Workshop

This of course reflects the recent errata to Chapter Approved, wherein they changed it to Characters with a Wounds characteristic of less than 10, which is the way that makes sense. No more shooting characters down from 10 wounds to 9 and then hiding them behind your cannon fodder.

Similarly, psychic powers got a nice refocusing.

Meanwhile, this proposed change to Smite means that the power is still a great way to dish out mortal wounds, but one that you’ll only be able to cast (easily) a few times in a turn. Using multiple psykers is still a great way to go, but rather than relying on a single trick, you’ll benefit from using a wider pool of psychic powers to secure victory in your games.

Who knows, maybe we’ll see psykers manifesting more than just Smite for once–or Smite AND whatever else, for those psykers who can manifest more than one power in a turn. Honestly this seems like a pretty good way to bring Smite a little more in line with the other things in the game. You’ll still be able to toss out a few, but with diminishing returns it’ll be hard to just eat up a unit with your Smite Spam. Guess it’s time to go through and look and see what those other psychic powers in the codex actually do.

Dangit. Now I actually have to think about the game. Well, I guess I’d better go start doing that, but in the meantime, there you go. Two tickets to rules update city.

What do you think of the changes to the new rules? Useful? Too much? Not enough? Do you think the Tau should just get an extra shooting phase instead of a psychic phase? Let us know below!

  • I_am_Alpharius

    All good stuff.

    I would note the addition of “Characteristic” to the Targeting Characters rule only adds clarify for people who can’t seem to read. The CA wording never stated “remaining wounds” and was just a different way of phrasing it what was covered by it. The introduction CHARACTER not block CHARACTERS is sensible. I was a little surprised at the time CA was published that this caveat was in there.

    As for Psychic Focus. Thats a step in the right direction. However, it does seem to unfairly hurt Factions that have a built in game design of utilising Smite, like Grey Knights or Tzeentch. I feel there needs to an exception for FACTIONS that have Smite Powers that are already amended to be less powerful.

    • John Kerrigan

      I thought the grey knight Smite was full power.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Nope, that would truly nasty; bare in mind pretty much every GK unit has it. When a GK units manifest Smites it has a reduce range of 12″ and only does 1 mortal wound to any units that are DEMONS, against which its does 3.

        • John Kerrigan

          thanks I just found it. I don’t play them and barley ever against them.

    • Apocryphus

      Re: Wounds Characteristic, the simple usage of the term “Wounds” in the original wording was easily open to interpretation due to it’s various common definitions used by players. “Wounds” can mean wounds characteristic, wounds remaining, or even number of wounds suffered. By stating in the ruling that it is the “wounds characteristic”, there is no longer any room for interpretation and the rule has an inarguably clear intent. This is the type of precision that is required when writing rules for a wargame with as many reference-able stats and rules as 40k.

      All that said, while I appreciate the intent, these new rules are arbitrarily game-y. Why is a character suddenly indistinguishable from his fellow soldiers if they are literally the ONLY VISABLE TARGET. The proximty of non-visable targets should be irrelevant. The new psychic focus feels like a sloppy patch that punishes high psyker count armies such as GK, anything Tzeentch, and Tyranids. I know it’s just a beta rule, but it feels like it wasn’t designed based on analysis of the game as a whole but more of a brute force method of fixing an isolated problem. I appreciate that problems are being addressed, but you don’t need a Claymore to open a locked door.

      • mreindl

        Or, people could just not be douches and try to take advantage. I run a *lot* of tournaments, and my rule of thumb is that if you interpret a rule in such a way that gets you really excited, then it’s probably supposed to be played the opposite way.

        • Apocryphus

          You’re absolutely right about not being intentionally abusive about rules interpretation, but well written rules shouldn’t be up for interpretation. Clarity and precision make rules easier to learn and enforce.

        • Charon

          Lts be fair here, half of the people who always claim “the intent is totally clear” were the same guys that argued “rerolls before modifiers can not be RAI!”

    • Balor

      I agree the armies that are designed to work around that power or have a heavy amount of psychic powers are going to get hit very hard. Sorry TS GW was lazy again.

      • LankTank

        This is just beta probably to see if they get nerfed. When it becomes official they could ommit them

    • Haravikk

      I suppose they could errata this in for GK, or address that in their codex? e.g- rename it to something else and specify in the description it can be used more than once per turn without penalty.

      • EnTyme

        Call it “Minor Smite” and it would be exempt from this rule. Easy enough to fix.

        • Sybarite

          I tend to call them Baby Smite

    • Deacon Ix

      Pure Daemon armies are a bit screwed too – I have a Slaanesh Daemon army and smite is literally the only ranged attack it has.

  • mgdavey

    “First they came for the Stormravens, and I said nothing because I did not run Stormravens. Then they came for the Commissars, and again I said nothing…”

    • Rainthezangoose

      Thats a fun quote but its origins are ugly, because he never actually said it and the guy was a massive antisemite who, up until the nazi turned on the churches was all for the prosecution of the jews.

      • YetAnotherFacelessMan

        Informative, but unnecessary. I feel like mcdavey’s point gets through without the need to dwell on antisemitism.

    • eMtoN

      Then they came for psykers and I duly kept my mouth shut. All this balancing is making me giddy.

  • LankTank

    Really happy with this approach from GW, and that they are also offering Beta tests at major tournaments rather than just running in and applying the nerf bat without further testing. If they had done that with Commissars and conscripts I think we would have met a middle ground where Commissars didn’t become obsolete but the conscript abuse was stopped.

  • DoctorBored

    Actual regularly released erratas and FAQ’s at predictable times that address player concerns in a timely manner?

    Holy crap.

    • danutzfreeman

      The door to hell is still frozen by the way.

  • ZeeLobby

    This is what I’ve been waiting for! Figure a year for things to finally balance out and then I’ll just dust off the GW credit card.

  • Diagoras

    Oh, nice! Now, instead of an army of heavily-crippled Diet Smite psykers, I get to run a whole army of sorcerers who can’t cast ANY spells. They’ll really feel like the army of powerful sorcerers they are in the fluff, now. Just what I always wanted.

    You know, if you’re going to pull this s**t, the least you can do is give my Aspiring and Scarab Occult sorcerers real Smite. Most of them won’t be able to cast it, anyway.

    • Domenico Malavisi

      Thousand sons will get a codex 2018, i assume they will be fixed so you have a army of powerful sorcerers.

    • cravenus

      A thousand times this /

      Simply allowing me to cast spells other than Smite will lessen how many times i cast it. Still think the character LOS rules are BS(they needed the character ignoring though)

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I’m all for the nerf to smite, but I do feel that if they are going to reduce the significance of the physic phase as much as they have (which I like), then they should really do something to empower physic focused armies (thousand sons & grey knights).

    • Apocryphus

      Don’t forget Tyranids. Neurothropes, Zoanthropes, and Maleceptors are all designed around casting Smite. Nevermind if you are using any psychic HQs, which is all but 3 of them.

      • LankTank

        Yeah but not taking armies of 15 zoanthropes

        • Apocryphus

          Who said anything about 15 Zoanthropes?

    • AEZ

      Look at the other powers.. and use them?

      • Apocryphus

        See my comment below. Some psykers can either ONLY cast Smite, or are simply designed around using it in lieu of something like shooting.

    • Balor

      This is really bad for armies like Thousand Sons where all the minor psychers only have a limited version of smite and no other powers.

  • Pete McGwire

    NOW, not Beta.

  • marxlives

    So…less than a year and comps are already a thing to balance the core rules?

    Not that the changes are bad, just had to state the obvious here.

  • Drew

    I 100% support not being able to target characters if there’s another valid target.

    If a character is the ONLY thing a unit/model/etc. can target,
    however, (because other units are in close combat, because it’s the only thing it can see, etc.), it’s completely ridiculous that you can’t shoot at them.

    • Kabal1te

      I agree this proposed change to characters is nice it just needs to let you ignore units locked on CC too so a giant blob of whatever locked in combat can’t still shield characters not in said combat.

    • EnTyme

      I would word it as “If a character has a wounds characteristic for 10 or less, it can only be targeted in the shooting phase if it is the closest valid target. Ignore other characters with a wounds characteristic of wounds or less when determining the closest valid target.”

    • Arstahd

      This is to prevent one from moving one’s own models to block LOS and snipe characters.

    • David Smith

      Characters can be blocked by models in CC?
      I think I’ve been playing wrong.

  • Jon Bohlinger

    The third unit of horrors can’t smite at all. That’s cool.

  • Haravikk

    I like the Smite change, but I really don’t like tying Character targetting to Wounds, it feels like a very clunky way to bolt a bad fix onto a bad initial setup.

    GW really needs to errata size keywords into the game for existing Codexes/Indexes, and introduce them to all new Codexes.

    Saint Celestine for example is a large, obvious, and tough to kill model that can deep strike into play and come back from the dead, but she doesn’t have 10 or more wounds so this fix won’t apply.

    She should be considered larger than other nearby models but there’s no way to do this thanks to GW’s oversight on keywords.

  • Erik Kristiansen

    Can I pay a little less points for my GKs and just take out their psychic powers? Seems GW doesn’t want my GKs to manifest anything…

    • Blinghop

      Sadly, GKs are still paying for the sins of the Ward dex, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. *Sniff* They flew too close to the sun, man. Too close.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        Wardian Heresy still lives on in the hearts of too many GW employees.

    • Dragon2928

      Yea, that’s basically playing vanilla Space Marines – there’s a book for that.
      But seriously, I’m sure there’s going to be a fix for GK and 1k sons in short order. Maybe introducing an actual “minor smite”, as suggested by someone above…

  • Nico Young

    Yay thousand sons get nerfed before a codex comes out. This is horrible they already fixed the main unit that was abusing smite. The simpler fix us to just change smite for everyone to the baby version. If you cast it 1 mortal wound if you roll 11 or above d3. I’m glad this is only a beta test.

    • Bootneck

      I don’t think its a nerf tbh, consider youself lucky they did this first – this means when the codex actually comes out you’ll be better off as they will have to take into consideration how the faction plays in the current meta.

      So you will probably find they have another power or mechanic which lessens this effect.

  • Fraser1191

    What they seemed to not mention was that there’s now an email account to message them about rules.
    It’s gonna be more abused than Rihanna

  • Chet Atkinson

    Am wondering why its taking so long for Bols to pick up on the news that Sly Marbo will only be available in a GW store for one day this year.

    • adamharry

      Because Marbo is going to get a real release in 2018. This basically a “pre-release” release.

      • Spade McTrowel

        Maybe with a new Catachan line.

  • marxlives

    Though the changes initially see good, we have to see how this affects the game with the core rules in mind. Some armies that were at least competitive and relied on that may now be…well completely non-competitive. With that in mind GW should implement PP’s CID method of updating the game and collecting feedback. Using “beta” rules in a tournament is a disaster waiting to play out.

  • Tushan

    Good idea except that the grey knights will be come even more of a lame joke then they are now.

    Let me guess, can there be a little bit of the frontline cretins behind this idea, the same idiots who think GK terminators are soooooo strong?

    • Ronin

      Easy fix for that would be to simply give GK D3 smites.

  • Ronin

    HA HA!

  • ReveredChaplainDrake

    Since Smite pretty much got fixed the way we asked for it to get fixed, I’ve got no major complaints here. Only thing I might’ve done differently is to make *all* powers repeat castable, except they have a much larger -3 penalty per previous cast. Then armies who are supposed to be really good at casting could have modifiable penalties if you do fluffy things (like roll an exact natural [favored god number] for chaos daemons to negate the penalty, or Grey Knights having a reduced penalty when casting against Daemons). Because I like mechanics that reward players for playing armies “right”, rather than having wild disconnects between fluff and on-table gameplay that make each game feel more like a parody of the setting than actually taking place in it.

    As for what we have, I can’t speak personally for GK and Tzeentch, but Tyranids have enough toys in their toybox now that if you feel you have to resort to smite spam to win with Tyranids, you are seriously lacking in, at the very least, creativity.

    • I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
      I’d seriously jump my Orks into close combat in mass if that was a thing. That’s a big first turn charge problem for some armies. And that’s before players smarter than me come up with something more “creative”.

  • Viper666.Qc

    Character Targeting done right: Characters with a WOUND Characterictic of less than 10HP can only be chosen as targets in the Shooting Phase if they are not within 4 inches of a visible non-character unit with at least one of the same KEYWORD type (INFANTRY, BIKER, CAVALRY, BEAST, MONSTER, BATTLESUIT, VEHICLE) that are closer to the firer AND if no enemy unit is across the line of sight of that character with at least one of your model.

  • Viper666.Qc

    Smite was a bad idea from the start….an easy to deliver Mortal Wound mechanic is just a disaster in the waiting….. They only created it to make it similar to AOS spell system. They should remove that power completely and only go with specific faction powers….. I don’t remember seeing Grey Knights shooting lightning bolts everywhere in the past……they were mainly boosting themselves with their powers

    • I’d rather they just set a rule of one and , as you suggest, add more faction specific powers. Making it harder to abuse smite for “Competitive play” is already well within the powers of the TO’s running the events. Locally all it takes is a vote prior to a tournament. GW doesn’t really need to to too much more than give us other powers for our Psykers to choose from.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Honestly Just proffered it when characters could join units.

    • bossdakka

      i missed those days. this new version is overly stripped down, and ending in 1-2 turns is not what i spent all time making models for… neither is buying models for a list and then multiple updates negate a balanced non spam list =(

  • Tesq

    this is stupid how cna ppl be happy about get your 6 wounds hq killed so easily?

    any propper weapon can one shoot it, this aint fun nor balanced , a thinkg is 10 wounds character and up; a thing is 6 wounds character especially t3-t4-t5 ones…..

    they should just join units again with have access to shenanigans they have in 6-7th…

  • Luca Lacchini

    Good stuff. Now, do some beta rules for sensible cover and vehicles too, GW.

  • Huzzah! Orks get another buff!
    Green is best!

  • Bootneck

    No big deal tbh, neither make much difference as far as I’m concerned

  • Peter Burton

    Im glad i read this now, just bought Tzeench demons today, means i can take it back tomorrow and get a refund.

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      An army thats entire appeal hinges and swings on a single rule? Surely, that was going to be years and years of hobbying! You were going to be known as “that Tzeentch daemon guy” by all the locals!

  • I’m glad smite is being taken down a notch. It is a fun-wrecker right now and the obvious go-to strategy to crutch on. I don’t mind smite being in the game but it shouldn’t be what it is today (so readily spammable)

  • Marco Marantz

    I didnt play GK but given they have a pitiful version of smite i cant help but think they might need some redress…same as thousand sons/tzeentch.

    • John Henry III

      Something along the lines that units with the nerfed smite (GK and Thousand suns) are exempt from that rule.