Sunday, October 9, 2016

40K: The (Psychic) Power Of Choice

The random mechanic of acquiring Psychic powers is trash.  Dump it, and change it to the only thing that makes sense...the ability to choose.

I know, I know. The crowd is already screaming "death to the heretic" and "OP!"  Look Dan, there are some things that just shouldn't be talked about.  Which is exactly why I'm doing so.

Let's consider first the mechanic of a "random" piece of wargear, which in essence is what a psychic power functions as.  Moreover, if you upgrade a Psyker to level 2 or 3, additional psychic powers become wargear that is paid for.  Think about it.  If I want my IC to have a plasma pistol instead of a bolt pistol, I pay points for it.  If I want to give a devastator Marine a lascannon, I pay for it.  When I want a Hunter-Killer for my Predator, I pay for it.  In each case, I know what the weapon will do.  Here is where the random part comes in.  What if you paid for the plasma pistol and had to roll a D6 for the strength or AP?  What if the devastator had to roll a D6 in the same way for his lascannon or the tank commander for his Hunter-Killer?  That would be ridiculous, nes pas?  The same is true for a Librarian, Sorcerer, e.g., that have to roll on a random table for a psychic power.  Seriously?  These guys have been training to control warp energies for decades.  In the case of Tigerius, for centuries.  In the case of Eldrad or Ahriman, for millennium!  How is it they can't figure out which psychic power would work best for a specific situation and then be able to manifest it during a battle?  I just don't get all.

Here is another rub I have with psychic power randomness.  I can end up with a power that is redundant for my specific army.  Why the hell did I pay for an IC that gives me a power I already have as part of my army rules or special wargear?  As an Iron Hands player, the Reforge Technomancy power is pretty much worthless.  My vehicles already have It Will Not Die, and with Ironstone, I get a 4+ IWND and repair of damage; all for only 30 points.  Or how about Earth Blood from the Geokinesis powers?  My Characters already get IWND.  The D3 wound recovery is nice, but there are other Geokinesis powers that would be more useful for my army.
So how do we fix this?  Just like wargear. We give players the ability to choose their psychic powers, but at a cost.

Here are some specific mechanics to consider.  I will try to make this relatively simple, as we already have enough rules...
  • First, psykers can only cast to their Mastery Level.  So Level 1 psykers manifest Level 1 powers, Level 2 psykers manifest Level 1 or 2 powers, etc.  That's BS Dan!  It means Eldar and Chaos are the only ones who can cast powers like Summoning.  With the exception of Tigerius for Space Marines, you would be correct.  But read on before you demand my head and cart me off the the guillotine...
  • This is where some balance is added...all powers chosen beyond the 1st Level 1 power would have to be paid for!  Here is how it would work with some examples...
- Additional Level 1 power (each)                  25 pts
- Additional Level 2 power (each)                  50 pts
- Additional Level 3 power (each)                  75 pts
- For each power from different discipline      25 pts

Whoa...what's that you say?  A penalty for powers from different disciplines?  Simply, yes.  And in order to put the point costs in perspective, consider the cost of some wargear from the the Space Marine codex.
- Power fist                       25 pts
- Grav Cannon and amp   30 pts
- Shield Eternal                 50 pts
- Armour Indomitus          60 pts

Here are a few examples of how this would work...
  • Space Marine Librarian (Level 1)                    1 Level 1 Power (no cost)
  • Space Marine Librarian (Level 2)                    1 Level 1 Power (no cost), 1 additional Level 1 Power (25 pts)...both same discipline
  • Eldar Spiritseer (Level 2)                               1 Level 1 Power (no cost), 1 Level 2 Power (50 pts)...both same discipline
  • Chaos Sorcerer (Level 3)                               1 Level 1 Power (no cost), 1 Level 2 Power (50 pts), 1 Level 3 Power (75 pts)...all same discipline
  • Eldar Farseer (Level 3)                                  1 Level 1 Power (no cost), 2 Level 2 Powers (125 pts)...1 Level 2 power from different discipline

The ability to choose psychic powers is certainly a powerful thing.  But let's be honest; no more of a game breaker than so many other special rules/formations in 40K.  Moveover, the point costs would certainly be a mitigating factor, especially in tournament play where folks are all about point efficiency as it is.  To allow a Level 3 Chaos Sorcerer to take Summoning would cause his base cost to go from 110 to 185, not including the cost of an additional Power he could take.  For a Farseer to take two additional Level 2 Powers would be an extra 100 points.  Worth it?

The power to choose psychic powers should be part of the game!  That power to choose should also have a cost, one I would gladly pay.

Is this something you would consider for House Rules?

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