Balance Dataslate Review – April 2022 | Tabletop Tactics State of Play
It’s that time of the Quarter!
Well well well, another Balance Dataslate, and this one is well worth talking about, with some big changes within here that not only affect individual armies, but some core mechanics as a whole.
A few caveats to start with:
- As with all Balance Dataslates, this latest one is the version in use as it replaces the previous one. This does, technically, mean that Imperial and Chaos Knights have lost their Towering Foe and Objective Secured changes, which I’m sure has nothing to do with any upcoming Codexes…
- Tyranids aren’t in here cos THEY AREN’T EVEN OUT YET. Yes there are some big concerns with them, but come on guys. Common sense.
- “Alright then CHEF (in Spider’s voice), what about Harlequins?” Well they’ve been out for a little while, yes, but they actually have a Codex officially released and in use. As said by the WarCom article itself, they’ve been pretty oppressive already. So this is the emergency patch so many people call for. Craftworlds have escaped so far, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be adjusted in the future.
- I have no idea why Daemons aren’t in here
- Genestealer Cults are also untouched, but generally feel fine as they are
So, let’s go through this in order shall we?
Armour of Contempt
ASTARTES of all kinds and SORORITAS worsen the AP of attacks against them by 1. Power Armour feels powerful again! This is a huge survivability boost in an era of basic units having ludicrous AP, as well as increasing their chances of surviving heavier weaponry. It even applies to your VEHICLES, which might make them viable…maybe? Time will tell on that one, but a PREDATOR with an effective 5+ vs Lascannons could be actually usable.
This will help greatly against all manner of weapons, and as its modifying the AP, it will work with Sv increases such as Light Cover, making them tough indeed.
Now there’s some limitations, namely if you have a Storm, Combat or Relic Shield it won’t work, nor if you are a SACRESANT or DREADKNIGHT, and it doesn’t apply if you already reduce AP in some way. So let’s break those down.
Not working on units with Shields sort of makes sense, as you effectively already have it by virtue of the +1 Sv and Invun they give. There will be cases where it would be better to have the AP reduction, often AP 2 or 3, but against everything else you’re generally better off, so its kind of a wash. It probably wouldn’t have hurt to allow it, but it does avoid Deathwing Terminators with Storm Shields being impossible to remove without AP 5 weapons. The Dreadknight and Sacresants is much of the same issue, where it will lead to some odd situations where they are worse than a normal unit, but they will come out on top against others. The not stacking with other AP reductions isn’t so big of a deal as the two main contributors of that are covered later. On the odd occasion where you do have an ability or rule where it won’t stack (such as the Icon of Heinmann for Black Templars), chances are it was better anyways, and Contempt specifically says it doesn’t apply on top of that, so you just use that rule.
It’s also worth noting that no, this has zero effect on AP 0 Weapons, so no you don’t suddenly have 2+ Sv Marines vs Lasguns. If you can find a precedent of a +1AP Weapon, I’d love to see it, but first go to pg 364 of the Core Rule book, and read what it says about reducing AP Characteristics (Hint: It says to a maximum of AP 0). If on the other hand you’re going to try and argue about how it totally would work due to the semantics of “worsen by” versus “reduce by”, you’re the reason why rules are eight paragraphs long.
They’re still limited to 1 in Combat Patrol, 2 in Strike Force, 3 in Onslaught. Moving on.
Indirect Fire Weapons
Basically if you have a weapon that ignores Line of Sight, and you can’t see the unit you’re shooting at, you have a -1 BS, and the target gets +1 Sv. This will help curb these weapons by a substantial margin, though given many of them are on units with a good BS and have decent AP already, it shouldn’t make a massive impact to the point of them never being usable. They just now have a bit more of a niche application, rather than being a go to choice or being game defining, but this will definitely be felt by those looking to spam them.
Note as a BS reduction, it will stack with -1s to Hit, such as Dense, so something to be aware of. This also doesn’t apply to Astra Militarum, so artillery batteries are still on the menu.
FINALLY. Any type of Bodyguard rule (see the list in the Slate) now just lets them provide Look Out Sir with less than 3 models. Now whilst this does mean you can still hide them bravely behind a wall, you’ll now need another unit closer to the attacker to keep them safe as well, in addition to Snipers being able to…well, snipe. It’s a small change, but will mean placement of the characters can’t be as gung ho, as an opening to them could lead to being blasted off the board now.
Given the change, it could be argued this does invalidate the GSC Locus and Vargard Obyron, as being CHARACTERSthey couldn’t offer Look Out Sir in the first place, but that doesn’t seem intended. It’s also worth noting that for the upcoming Tyranids Codex, HIVE TYRANTS now count as less than 9W for Look Out Sir when next to TYRANT GUARD, meaning they can use it still.
A Miracle Dice at the start of every Turn now, instead of every Battle Round, gives them a lot more flexibility and use out of Act of Faith, as well as abilities that are fuelled by them. Whilst Sisters can often find they have more Miracle Dice than they know what to do with, having literally twice as many dice gives you more chances of the value you do want.
Valorous Heart now prevents Wounds from being rerolled against them, as Armour of Contempt is just a better version of their old trait. A good improvement which can help against a variety of rules, the only losers here are Sacresants, who are now as tough against AP 1 and 2 weapons as normal Sisters, which is a bit of pity.
All the previous changes are still here – Tank Orders on all non-TITANIC VEHICLES, bouncing INFANTRY Orders and 2+ Sv LEMAN RUSS – but you have two new updates here as well.
Hammer of the Emperor giving you autowound on 6s to Hit with Shooting is a nice reliability boost, and given the quantity of fire you can chuck out, it will add up nicely, from Lasguns to Demolishers. Whilst it doesn’t help Flamers, nor does it help TEMPESTUS, its a nice boost all the same.
The second boost is for your humble Infantry Squads, who now go up by 5pts, but get all their wargear options for free. You get a Plasma Gun, and you get a Plasma Gun!. Heavy Weapons, Special Weapons, Vox-casters, Sergeant weapons, all free. So if you were running barebones Infantry, yes this is a nerf. But otherwise this lets you really load up with a range of upgrades, which whilst not a massive improvement, is a welcome one.
Three changes for the Custodes since their release.
First up, only their Troops get Objective Secured now. This is actually quite a big change, removing the ability to capture Objectives easily with anything but GUARDIANS. You still count as more models, but you better clear off other enemy ObSec, which you should be capable of doing anyways to be frank. Removing it from CHARACTERS probably would have sufficed, but here we are.
Next up, the following Stratagems become once per game- Esteemed Amalgam, Emperor’s Auspice and Martial Discretion. This removes a good chunk of the flexibility that made the Custodes a terror to face, as well as one of their most powerful defensive stratagems. These will remove a fair bit of their options from the game, making them more restricted in terms of gameplan and counterplay.
Finally, Arcane Genetic Alchemy (sorry…*ahem*…”ArCANe GeNEtiC aLcHemMmYY”) and Emperor’s Auspice are now INFANTRY only. Removing these from your VERTUS and VEHICLES makes the army a bit more reliable in being taken down, though it does remove pretty much all the defensive tricks for those units. Whilst they are plenty tough themselves, positioning might be a bit more important now, rather than bombing it down the middle of the board and turning off all your opponent’s offensive options.
Oh and their points stay the same, but given these changes, that’s probably fine now.
The same as before, just with a few updates from their FAQ/Errata rolled into here as well. It would have been nice to see CORE put on the KATAPHRONS at least, but perhaps another time.
You get Armour of Contempt. That’s big.
And to account for it, Salamanders now turn off Reroll Wounds against them, making them a decent bit tougher.
Otherwise that’s it, but Contempt is probably good enough by itself for now.
Death to the False Everything is still on modified 6+s, making it worthless for anything with minuses to Hit, but really good with pluses. Fine.
No you don’t get +1 Wound. Let it go. Your Codex is probably round the corner and you’ll get it then, alongside that nice 50% points increase Tactical Marines got. You forget about that don’t you.
BLIGHTLORDS and DEATHSHROUD get Objective Secured. This is huge, and almost justifies the points increases they got. This firmly makes them better than Plague Marines still, and whilst the points increases still sting, they now have even better ways of playing the primary. Coupled with Armour of Contempt and they are beefy indeed, as they should be.
As with AdMech, it’s the same as previously, with a few FAQ/Errata bits put into here, probably for ease of reference. Drukhari are still doing quite well, and with the updates to other armies, will probably continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
Same as before, lots of CORE on stuff that wasn’t CORE in the book. No points changes, no Reanimation Changes, no Protocols changes. All of those would have been good to see, but it’s fine, for now at least.
No changes, you’re still limited to 1 of each type of Buggy. This could have probably been removed given the changes to Indirect Fire, and the main offender’s previous points increases. Orks could be in a bit of trouble over the coming months, as they could do with a bit of a bump in terms of overall effectiveness now. Perhaps some point changes will come in the next Munitorum Manual?
Hold onto your diamond covered butts. Four big changes to the Murder Clowns
Mirror Architect is now a “Pick a CORE unit within 9” to get the rule” ability, rather than a 6” Aura. This is practically dead now, not helping your CHARACTERS or VEHICLES, and only affecting one unit, removing a bunch of defensive potential to the army. Now you’ll need to position much better and behave a bit safer, knowing retaliation is far more likely.
The Favour of Cegorach Warlord Trait now only turns a melee Hit, melee Wound, or Save, into a 6. The Harvester of Torment is still a good deal for its points, it’s just not a point and click character shredder anymore. It can still spike pretty well, but this won’t be seen on him again.
Finally there are two points increases, both for the VEHICLES. Starweavers go up 15pts, to 95pts, and the Voidweaver increases by a whopping 40pts, to 130pts. These are now comparable in points to output to other, similar tanks, and are by no means less effective and powerful, just not nearly as easy to cram tons in a list. The Voidweaver change might be too high, and doesn’t really feel appropriate for the Haywire version, but they are still very good, as is the Starweaver.
I’d say I felt bad for you if you rushed out to buy 9 Voidweavers, but that would be a lie.
Another big swathe of changes here to reign in the power of an all too dominant army, the first of which completely removes the AP Bonus from the Mont’ka Philosophy of War. This reduces the effective firepower of the army quite significantly, but most things already have a good AP, or other ways to boost it, so all this does is let your opponent actually get to interact with the game in some way, as well as encourage you to not rely on any weapon to punch through armour, instead needing to (gasp!) specialize. Remaining Stationary and rerolling 1s to Wound are still great benefits, but this might close the gap a little with Kauyon (though probably not).
Next up, Farsight take a hit to their Tenet, only getting their Markerlight within 9” now, rather than 12”. This stops you getting it from Deep Strike, as well as those looking to maintain as much distance as possible from the foe. You’ll need to actually have Markerlights to support those units now, which isn’t exactly a big ask, and the change can hurt a bit more in the mid-late game where Markerlights are thin on the ground, but it’s still a good ability.
BROADSIDES lose CORE. This removes their synergies with quite a few rules, including Ethereals, some Warlord Traits and Stratagems, as well as Commander Auras. This makes them a much more independent unit, and a fair bit less effective without the buffs, but they are still quite cheap for their output, though they will probably fall a bit from grace due to the loss of efficiency this will cause.
The Photon Grenades and Repulsor Impact Field Stratagems don’t stack with other minuses to Charge, so you can’t combine the two anymore, or be basically immune to charges in a Wood. A simple, but good change to niche but frustrating scenarios.
And that’s all
So will all this be good for the game?
Honestly, I think so. This is a massive update that will hopefully go a long way to redressing some pretty significant issues in power disparity, both in terms of core mechanics and Faction specific issues, bringing up those that are suffering, whilst reigning in those dominanting.
Yes there are still some armies that could have done with a reversal of some changes (Orks, AdMech), or needed perhaps a little extra nudge (Necrons, Orks again), but overall this should go a long way to helping out the overall health of the game, and we can see some positive changes in the coming weeks. There will likely be armies that will still come out on top, especially when comparing newer to older armies, but with any luck the gulf between them will be less, and some of the more oppressive aspects of the game will be reduced.
Time will of course tell.
But we won’t talk about the Great Devourer, maybe there will be an anti Custodes patch that bumps their points up next week, or an emergency patch to bring stuff down, I dunno. Until then, we’re all just impending biomass I guess.