Warhammer 40,000 News Data Slate: The BIG FAQ 3 Review Part 3
Hello and welcome back to the Kitchen, and now that I’m back from holiday I can finally wrap up this FAQ reflection. So just to recap we’ve looked at the core changes and the first 10 ish codexes, so let’s wrap them up, talk a little bit about Soup and the overall impact I believe the FAQs will have to the state of the game.
Spikey Marines, we are leaving!
On the back of the 2.0 codex there’s been some confusion on the Chaos Marine FAQ, mainly because the changes for them aren’t in magenta, causing a fair few people to not read them as it’s not highlighted as “new”. So just be aware there may be more changes to them than perhaps you initially thought. Chief amongst these is the Obliterator change to be in line with Shadowspear. Whilst I think this points hike was expected, I cannot agree it was warranted. 90 would be a much more reasonable cost for the new Obliterators, as they stand now I’m not convinced the price is worth it, even if one considers the combos available for them. However this was never going to be changed pointswise now, and instead will likely be reviewed in CA 19.
Otherwise the changes for the Codex are a mixed bag. On the plus side, all Characters get Legion Traits now, much to the joy of Lord Discordants and other mounted Lords, and the Incursion power has been confirmed to allow Daemonic Summoning after Moving, which could open some interesting plays for Turn 1 charges. On the other hand, Berserkers received a slight downgrade with Butcher’s Nails only working the first time they attack when they charge now, not for their second (or potentially third) round that turn. Otherwise there is the usual tidying of wording or rules to bring them in line with other changes (such as the Killshot Stratagem) or the core changes (like Forward Operatives).
All in all, Chaos Marines are in a similar position to their loyalist kin, with some variants enjoying parts of the core changes more than others, and the offensive boost of Bolter Discipline whilst a great addition still doesn’t offset their overall fragility and expense in the game. They certainly have some quirks up their sleeves, and much like Imperialmarines can add some potent tricks to a mixed army, but alone may struggle.
Just a note I’ve split discussion of Thousand Sons and Death Guard from the main Chaos Marines as there’s a fairly significant difference in unit choices and playstyle when compared to the differing Marine Chapters.
It’s an ugly planet, a bug planet!
The Tyranids emerge from the FAQ with few changes in terms of their general rulings, following the trend of a few rules clarifications and clean examples amongst some bizarre questions (Is Opportunistic Advance an Advance- shockingly, yes it is), and with the bulk of enhancements coming from the main changes. Fly in particular will help those Hive Tyrants from getting pinned in by a bunch of infantry so they can go about their business.
Tyranids still remain a fairly solid army, with plenty of tools in their kit to deal with a wide variety of threats, however I’m not seeing any significant shift in their army designs moving forward from this. The changes to other armies will certainly help them in match-ups against them, although they will still need a canny player to get the most out of them.
All that glitters is gold
Custodes received very little from their own FAQ, with a total of two changes, one being another question that shouldn’t need answering but hey, I suppose it’s worth clarifying that you cannot declare a charge if you’re within 1”, just like the rules actually say…On the topic of that particular query (namely Swooping Dive), the Praetors have become incredibly scary once again, not that they weren’t before, but being able to leap over units once again will make many armies tremble.
Will Custodes see top billing at events then? In a word, kind of- As Soup is a thing, Custodes will be there for sure, be it as an alternative to Smash Captains, or with other Imperium support. They are very good afterall, but in a vacuum, I can’t imagine them placing all that well. Whilst they are the pinnacle of the “elite” armies, the sheer lack of numbers and varied ways to deal with both Hordes and Knights by themselves makes them a tough one to use in the current meta. Just to add, I’m not talking about the FW Custodes units here, as whilst they do prop up a fair number of weaknesses for the army, they are still relatively experimental/beta in form, and we are only focusing on the main Codexes here as we have done for all the other armies.
No need to call me Ser just because I’m an anointed Knight
Much of the main changes to Knights were mentioned in Part 1, which really exemplifies how much they were impacting the game. Their other changes are minor in overall terms, though having been on the end of what amounted to the infinite death gauntlet, significant enough to have an impact when they arise. Otherwise it is much as the others and some slight wording and order of operation clarification.
With the Castallen’s points increase, the cap to Rotate reducing survivability significantly, and Flying Charges being a thing again thus meaning they can no longer be screened out as efficiently, they are certainly in a weaker spot. At least in terms of the ubiquitous single Castellan in a Soup. Standing alone however, whilst Knights still suffer in a fair few missions due to lack of models or presence, they are still an extremely powerful force on the tabletop, and a good player can work around their limitations by good movement and placement. The other issue as well that I think will mean Knights will suffer less than many are thinking is still their overall cheapness relative to what they do. The Krast Triple Crusader is certainly doing the rounds at the moment, and for good reason as they are very efficient for what they do, not to mention the fact you can squeeze 3 of them in a detachment for less than 1500pts. Most armies will still struggle to deal with that. Are they invincible? No, but they still will act as a “gatekeeper” for a lot of lists, and a persistent presence in Soups.
You’re a Wizard Ahri!
The denizens of the Planet of Sorcerers received some clarifications on how their Psyker units work in terms of Perils, namely that they can apply the Mortal Wounds to the unit (thematic they would divert the backlash), and that the units still count as Psykers for other rules purposes. Spawn summoning via their various abilities has also been adjusted so said Spawn cannot appear within 1” of an enemy unit, previously used to result in some tagging of units in combat, so a reasonable albeit niche change. Another fairly important change is that Characters under the effect of Treason of Tzeentch have to be attacked back by their friendly units they charge, which would almost certainly be a death sentence for some characters finding themselves in the wrong position near a combat unit. Otherwise the main changes offer some occasional use with Disc-mounted units and Magnus when he sees the table, and of course the Bolter Discipline makes units of Rubricae potentially very scary to most Infantry units.
Thousand Sons were reasonably strong previously, albeit with certain builds and of course Souping them, and post-FAQ I feel they are in the same position as before. Their main strength comes from their characters of course, and souped Daemon Princes have taken a hit by virtue of the hard 3 cap across all books now, making Thousand Sons Princes likely the de-facto standard when Souping by virtue of sheer number of powers accessible and able to cast. Stand alone, the army themselves have seen little benefit from the FAQ outside the aforementioned Fly and Bolter changes, although I’m unconvinced that they will be elevated all that much – again Marines, even those with often boosted saves and innate Invuns, are quite fragile in the current game.
Everything you can do, elves can do better
The Asuryani received a number of changes, but the most important ones were discussed in the Core Changes, such was their impact. Aircraft, Fly and the changes to a number of their key Psychic Powers will certainly see an adjustment to a fair few Craftworld armies, and these will be the main cause for changes, as the remainder of their FAQ is brief, such as amend Ranger-esque units and abilities to be in line with the Reserve changes and clearing up some rule interactions within the book like Quicken and Swooping Hawk Grenade Packs.
Whilst I don’t think it can be understated how much the core changes will certainly affect the Craftworlds, it will impact Soup more – the Psychic Power changes for example have zero effect on non-Souped Eldar, which is something I would like to see rolled out amongst other armies- namely that abilities don’t have cross faction applicability. Craftworlds are still a solid army, with a solid codex, however over the course of a few FAQs and CA, I do feel they perhaps are a bit too top heavy in some respects – Crimson Hunter Exarchs are still criminally undercosted, despite requiring a bit more care in using, and whilst still very good, Dark Reapers may be a little overpointed for pure Craftworlds (now that double tapping Ynnari Reapers are no longer a thing). This again only exemplifies how Souping and changing Points only is bad for the game, and can cause some real disconnect in terms of actual balance. That’s not to say that the Asuryani are bad, indeed they will still perform very, very well on the table, however they are reminiscent of their 7th edition days, namely that the book is overall very good with solid choices across the board, but with some so utterly better than the others, you’d be mad not to use them, which will lend to some fairly monotonous looking builds.
A plague on both your houses!
The FAQ has seen little change overall for the Death Guard, although like all Astartes they do benefit from the Bolter changes, albeit occasionally less than others considering their increased Rapid Range already, and the Fly changes makes Mortarion no longer fear being boxed in by Grotz, as well as winged Princes and Bloat-drones. The rest of their FAQ focuses on Poxwalkers, namely to state that adding them to the units now does indeed cost points, as well as standard adjustments and wording updates.
The Death Guard are probably unique amongst all the Marine armies in that they actually are somewhat survivable, and their overall damage output is reasonable, with some strong tricks. On their own they are likely in a better spot than most of the Astartes armies, and their strong units have remained as strong in most cases. As with the other Marine armies however, their cost-output is at times a little unbalanced, and whilst certainly in an (ironically) healthy position, I cannot foresee them suddenly taking top positions at events left and right.
A great Eye, lidless, wreathed in flame…but the fire is like, all purple and stuff
Much of the Daemons changes were covered in the Thousand Sons section, as the only specific updates affect Spawn…well, spawning, and Treason of Tzeentch. The army is fairly unaffected by the main changes as well, barring Fly opening up some more maneuverability for Princes, but otherwise leaving them in much the same place as before.
Daemons are still an army with some incredibly strong choices and variety, mixed in with some other less viable options. The core changes will likely have very little impact on the various Daemon lists seen, in terms of their own use. The Aircraft changes, as well as some Soup changes however, will benefit them as their hordes can no longer be hemmed in, and certain common allied forces will be less effective on them. As such, the soldiers of the Warp will likely go from strength to strength, and their own Souping capabilities remain relatively untouched.
No tears please. It’s a waste of good suffering
The main Fly changes are key for the Drukhari, given their access to many often cheap Fly units, although the Aircraft changes as well as no longer benefiting from their Craftworld cousins Psychic Powers does impact them in some builds. The Transport changes affect them probably more than most armies, due to the quantity they usually run them in, as well as being Open Topped. Their specific FAQ adds some restrictions to once per unit, per battle round on some Stratagems, which is reasonably niche in Matched Play where this limit is already sort of in place due to the each Stratagem once per phase ruling, although it can affect some Stratagems that could be activated in the opponent’s phase. Speaking of Stratagems, Agents of Vect has seen another revision on top of its CP increase, now preventing it from affecting any Stratagems that were done in “during deployment” or “before the battle”, which is not something I had seen done, but I can imagine would be crippling to some armies that used many deployment type Stratagems. There was also clarification that Vect does not negate attacks using special targeting, nor does it “use up” once per battle Stratagems. Finally the Vexator Mask can be partially negated with the Counter Offensive Stratagem, which can certainly help out in a pinch for those units that might be affected and would do some good work by interrupting.
The Drukhari were already in a good place, and whilst the FAQ has both given and taken in some ways, they are still a force to reckoned with, and I would argue one of the stronger mono armies out there. Whilst the gap between them and other armies has closed in terms of points, they still have access to some horrific firepower and punch, often at a very cheap cost, and although sometimes their fragility can be a concern, often their speed, range and output more than makes up for it. They were already stronger than many other armies when comparing codex to codex/single faction builds, and the FAQ will likely do little to change that.
Hello, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and saviour the four armed emperor?
Genestealer Cults received little for themselves personally in the core changes, with Fly and Aircraft changes only having a bearing on how their opponents need to act, and of course we’d already mentioned the needed change to Mental Onslaught. Other changes they’ve received have removed the iffy rules interpretation of They Came From Below, removing the way to circumvent Turn 1 Reserves. Other minor updates on ability wording and to further clarify rules related to Brood Brothers are welcome to clear up any ambiguity on how these units work.
Overall GSC can and will continue to perform well, and although I think they have received some heavy restrictions, I feel they were warranted, especially as they were gimmicky or totally loose interpretations of the rules. They will still require a canny and intelligent general to get the most out of their unique playstyle, as they probably more than most armies are quite unforgiving to mistakes. With the core changes as well to some armies, they will not be as often impacted by Aircraft shenanigans, and the majority of the the other changes have little to no effect for them.
Some vaguely clever Ork related quote or reference, I don’t know, I’m tired
The Orkz only received a few changes, but they were certainly significant in terms of affecting certain popular builds. Mob Up as previously discussed now only affects units of Boyz, so things such as massive units of Lootas will no longer be possible. Whilst it certainly reduces some effectiveness of these units, they were made too efficient when combined with other Stratagems so this is reasonable for the purposes of game balance – if you can accept Ynnari losing double tap, you can accept losing double tap at twice the efficiency it was meant to. Other changes to the random stats involved with Shokk Attack Guns and Lootas are important for the interaction for the various shoot twice Stratagems Orkz have access to, indicating the dice to determine Strength or Shots needs to be rolled each time, rather than carrying over to the second set of shots. This offers flexibility should the first round be a duff, but ensures that a hot roll doesn’t become guaranteed on the second volley.
The Boyz have overall suffered a bit to the main offenders that were being seen, however they still have a potent and varied amount of units and list styles at their disposal, and the main changes open up some more options for them for things like Stormboyz able to Fly over things, no more arguments about Warpath on Da Jumped Boyz, slightly less potent Soups. I still think Orkz are in a strong spot, and whilst they do have some rough match-ups, they often have the tools and presence to at the very least put up a decent fight.
Only the pure in heart can make a good soup
Huh, guess Beethoven was a tournament player. Anyways, as I’ve touched on from the individual segments, I believe Soup has taken some lumps with the overall changes. Be it within individual Codexes or cross factional adjustments, they certainly seem weaker. However, they will still be a huge, almost omnipresent force, purely because there is still no restrictions on them, and the benefits are still fairly large. The ability to cherry pick strong units from across different armies with no downside or detriment will still ensure that Soup will continue to see use, despite the changes to some components of them. Craftworld-Drukhari armies, whilst no longer quite as good with the changes to Jinx and Doom, are absolutely still strong enough to stand together on the field, even with the reduced interaction. Likewise, whilst the Castellan received a points hike, it’s still very good to plug into some Imperial armies, where 100pts is not all that difficult to find. These are of course two of the “main” things addressed with Soups, although there are always going to be some clever combos that will rise out of the changes, and given the sheer utility of combining from across collections, it’s an attractive option for collectors.
So after all that, where are we?
Well as I mentioned in the first part of these overviews, I still maintain GW hit this FAQ out the park. It deals with a lot of issues and problems, it reduces ambiguity with some previously confusing wording and interactions, and will hopefully open the field. It’s not perfect of course, there’s a lot of work to still do, and some big changes will still be needed to deal with some of the ever-present issues that Soups and sub faction mixing bring to the overall balance of the game, however this is a massive improvement and will hopefully set the stage to come.
Despite the misgivings I have of Soups, 8th is still incredibly varied with a wide range of top, competitive lists, and many ways to play and still do reasonably well. Cookie cutters exist of course, but I don’t feel it’s as bad as 7th was in that regard. This FAQ should go a long way to furthering the mix of armies that can be viable. Some still need a lot of TLC still, but with the updates to these books sure to come, as well as a second minor FAQ before CA 19, we’re hopefully going to see even more of these big changes that go towards balancing the game to where it (and we) deserve it to be.
If you have a list with some unique tactics, a Tactica or hobby article that you feel would make an interesting read, or maybe you just want to give Chef a topic to rant about? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see your topic discussed in a future article!