Balance Dataslate Review June 2022 | Tabletop Tactics State of Play
Dataslate II: Balance with a Vengeance
It’s time for another Balance Dataslate, and this one has some pretty significant changes for both struggling factions, and dominant ones.
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.
- I still have no idea why Daemons aren’t in these, as coupled with minimal variety, no points changes, and Nephilim CP changes, they feel pretty much killed off completely from the game. Presumably a Codex is Soon™️
- Both varieties of Knights have nothing in here, as there Codex is generally quite balanced (a shocking statement from me I know)
- Nothing for Grey Knights, AoC seems to help them for the most part, and some of the other impending changes should have a knock on effect of closing the gap between them and some of their harder matchups
- Genestealer Cults are again also untouched, they generally feel fine as they are, outside of a few possible points tweaks needed for some slightly better internal balance in a future update
So without further ado, let’s dive on in.
Armour of Contempt
The same as before, but now also affecting ASTRA MILITARUM VEHICLES. This is a very interesting, if somewhat odd change, but one that gives the Guard some much needed survivability for their tanks, especially for those with a 2+ Sv.
No Custodes, no Contempt for you. Your 2+/4++ will just have to suffice.
It’s still the same, being limited to 1 in Combat Patrol, 2 in Strike Force, 3 in Onslaught. I can’t see this changing anytime soon now.
Indirect Fire Weapons
This remains as is, making sure that weapons which ignore Line of Sight aren’t as dominant as they used to be.
All the changes are still here, but now include Honour Guard of Macragge (Victrix Honour Guard) and Wall of Flesh (Tervigons), which look to have been oversights in the first place, so that makes sense. No Tyranid players, one Termagant doesn’t protect you, you still need 15 to qualify for the rule.
As before, keeping the extra Miracle Dice, and the change to Valorous Heart given Armour of Contempt exists. With already some better showings in the competitive scene they seem to be in a healthier place, so this is as it stands.
All the previous changes are still here, with another two updates. Eventually this section of the Dataslate will be longer than the Guard Codex itself.
Hammer of the Emperor now applies to all ASTRA MILITARUM units in your army, if all from the same REGIMENT, and they specifically leave a Designer’s Comment that this will work for Tempestus now included in other REGIMENT Detachments, and for themselves in their own Detachments if they all have the same REGIMENT. A good change for quality of life, and to add a bit more punch to Scions.
The second boost is a bit more limited, giving a 2+ Sv to your TITANIC models, ie Baneblades and the like. It’s fine, and combined with Armour of Contempt does make them a fair bit more survivable (a 4+ Sv vs AP3 weapons isn’t to be sniffed at). Does this make them usable, debatable, but it’s something. Yes yes Knight players, this does make them more survivable against some weapons than you, but you should have thought about that before exposing metal joints to the world, rather than being a brick made of steel. Not everything has to be the same.
No changes here. I was hoping they’d at least give non-CHARACTER INFANTRY their ObSec back, but it wasn’t meant to be I guess. Best bet Custodes players is to lose a bunch of events really badly and complain more , and you might get some reversions, which leads me into…
Chef’s Note- So some of these are still in the main AdMech FAQ. If you honestly think that won’t get changed, or takes precedent over this despite being the most up to date errata, then fine I guess…
A much smaller section in the PDF, as a bunch of things have now been removed, returning them to their original Codex state (for the most part).
IRONSTRIDERS and DRAGOONS are CORE again. This makes me quite nervous, as the fear of returning to a ton of laser chickens surrounding a Marshall and basically never missing and rarely failing to wound is at the forefront of my mind.
Clandestine Infiltration can be used multiple times again, which given the CP reduction and how CP hungry AdMech already are pre and in game, this isn’t too bad.
Acquisition at Any Cost is now usable more than once per game again. It still retains the wholly within requirement (as that is still in the basic Errata adjustment), and again CP reductions should help curb its overall power, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Galvanic Volley Fire returns to its book form, giving you Rapid Fire 2 on a unit of RANGERS. Still 2CP, and once again the CP limitations of Nephilim will mean this isn’t quite as potent as it was, but the potential it has is still quite scary.
Enriched Rounds now costs 1CP again regardless of unit size, but still only does its autowounds on 5+. Once more, in the wake of the overall CP changes, probably not a big deal, though the potency of a brick of 20 is no less mitigated outside of that now.
Overall, these are some interesting backtracks. Will they be enough to bring AdMech back up the rankings, or is the book being ludicrously complicated and lacking of variety in army builds what is making it suffer? In which case these changes will just keep the homogenous lists as they were, but make them more effective. The concern I have is this will simply return them to the mono-build of old with Ranger and Ironstrider spam, with a sprinkle of Vanguard and Infiltrators- something already capable of stomping mid-tier armies whilst doing nothing to deal with their overall issues, nor really being enough to help them compete against top armies. Whilst most of their points are still the same, and the CP changes as mentioned ad nauseam now should act as a limiter, I’m wary of the impact this might have overall.
Still no CORE on Kataphrons, and this makes Cawl sad.
No changes here, you’re still represented and performing fairly well, so that makes sense. Weirdly Never Stationary, your version of Fire and Fade, doesn’t get limited to once per game like your Aeldari brethren. Because you don’t have Shuriken Cannon Windriders, presumably.
The Craftworlds get some changes, mostly focused around the
common spam competitive and totally skill requiring lists.
Hail of Doom now can’t be combined with other custom Craftworld Attributes. A good and simple change, it’s still very potent, but removes the ability to combine with things like Ignore Cover or defensive abilities for other parts of your army. Personally I’d rather see this, and all the other custom abilities, removed from the game as it just reduces the complexity load, but ho hum.
Eldritch Storm now needs visibility to the marker, it only triggers on a 4+ rather than a 2+, and doesn’t get more Mortals for extra Actions, so is capped at D3. This makes it much more reasonable to take on the chin, without losing half your army to a trio of Farseers hiding behind a wall. It’s still costly at 3CP, so this is now much more situational rather than being a potential game winner the minute you move up the board by a fraction of an inch and into range of the enemy battleline.
Next up, Matchless Agility now only lets you reroll Battle Focus, rather than automoving 6”, removing its reliability a fair bit. You do use it after the roll though, so there’s no danger of using the Stratagem and then rolling high anyways and thus wasting it, giving you a semblance of control still, it’s just reducing the frustration/non-interaction element for your opponent. This is a social game after all.
On those same lines, Fire and Fade is now once per game. This one might be a bit unnecessary as it’s still 2CP in an era where there is likely to be a fair bit less CP floating around, but it’s probably for the better, at least for now. It also has a knock on effect to Harlequins, which is also probably ok, because they’re still very strong (maybe, see their section below).
These changes are fairly significant to the common builds, and coupled with points increases and Nephilim changes, should bring the “problem” lists down substantially. It may also have an unfortunate knock on effect to less meta builds, so we’ll need to see how the faction looks as a whole when the dust settles.
As before, maybe next time you’ll get an adjustment, but I think the majority of issues are now points and just being outpaced stats wise- not fixes for a Dataslate.
You get your new Codex. That is your balance. Rejoice.
Okay technically there is something here, namely Iron Warriors change part of their Trait to getting no reroll Wounds against them, presumably to futureproof for Armour of Contempt, ala Salamanders/Argent Shroud.
And for anyone thinking “Oh sO mY BoOk IS iNsTanTLy inVaLiD aND iTs NoT evEn OuT YEt!1!” – I can’t help you, as it is patently obvious you don’t understand how things like printing, lead times and deadlines work, nor seem to grasp that it’s a free update in a game you want to be living. Only you can help yourself now.
ObSec Terminators remain, which coupled with points changes should help bring them up to a more respectable level.
Well well well, to the surprise of noone, Tyranids are here, with three reasonably significant changes.
The first is one that should have been in the book in the first place, namely a HIVE TYRANT must be your WARLORD. Don’t argue, don’t complain, it’s fluffy and makes sense and you know it.
This becomes especially important for Synaptic Imperatives, as now SYNAPSE models only have Imperatives whilst the WARLORD is on the battlefield. This means that if the WARLORD is destroyed, all your Imperatives will immediately cease to function. A TYRANT in the army now becomes a ludicrously important lynchpin, and so needs to be used carefully, rather than yeeted forward with reckless abandon. Alternatively, you don’t take TYRANTS at all and so can have a more protected WARLORD, but then you lose out on a powerful heavy hitter in the army. Oh no, decisions and choices in a strategy game (!)
Finally, the Hyper-adaptations rule can only be used to swap out an Adaptive part of your Fleet Adaptations in the list building stage, not pre game any more. This removes a potent flexibility tool for the army, and means you’ll need to either build an army a little more specifically, or have to adapt with your strategy rather than an army rule (just like everyone else). Yes it was super thematic, but not in anyway balanced for those situations where it came up.
Will these be enough to stop the rampaging Great Devourer? I dunno, they’re still very powerful stat and rules wise, and their points changes don’t quite feel like enough to certain units, but it’s a start.
No changes to the Empire, with the previous Dataslate still doing it’s work, and points increases almost certain to make a massive impact on the main offenders of the book, competitively speaking. It’s quite possible we see this double whammy drop them below healthy win rates, so we’ll see if they’ll be monitored in that regard.
A massive (and long overdue) change, coupled with a completely out of left field change.
The first, and more important, is Command Protocols got a significant overhaul. First, you no longer need to have a NOBLE on the battlefield to use them, just any CHARACTER. Great for those times you want to run an army without them (I see you there Destroyer Cult players), or if your NOBLE has died, so it’s good redundancy.
Next up, Protocols are battlefield wide. That’s right, there’s no range requirement anymore, so you don’t need a Character babysitting every unit that you want to benefit from Protocols, they just get it. This gives you much more flexibility in positioning your units, as well as not needing to be quite so Character heavy.
Finally, you still choose Protocols in the same way, but the one you don’t pick (or one of the ones you don’t pick in the case of the SZAREKHAN Warlord Trait) becomes active for your army in every Battle Round, in addition to your normal one. And you get to choose which Directive kicks in each Round as well for extra flexibility. Even better, if it’s the associated Protocol with your Dynasty (eg Hungry Void for NOVOKH), both Directives are active as normal. This is a huge amount of flexibility, letting you have much greater control over how your army operates, and letting you benefit from more rules throughout the game. It still requires you to have Protocols activated (so all the same Dynasty, a CHARACTER on the board etc), but being able to effectively choose one to be active all game, and jump between the two Directives each round if you want, is a massive boon.
So Protocols are much better now, and you also get more CORE units. Namely SPYDERS and VEHICLES. Yes, all VEHICLES. Arks, Barges, Monoliths, Flyers…The Silent King…So that’s strange, and quite powerful, with a bunch of…interesting interactions. Veiling a Doomsday Ark, Rites of Reanimation on a SPYDER, a Monolith with My Will Be Done, a Command Barge getting rerolls to charge with Implacable Conqueror (but not an Overlord on foot), The Silent King benefiting from his own Auras… This is a pretty unexpected change, and there’s a lot of scope for this for making the Necron Vehicles a lot more viable. My gut says this may get reversed eventually, at least on the Characters, but we’ll have to see how this works out.
These are all big changes to how the army operates. Alongside points drops and Nephilim changes both directly and indirectly buffing them, Necrons should see a significant resurgence. I have a feeling those lists will all look the same (some derivative of a Silent King based force), but that’s competitive for you.
Some decent changes in here for the Greenskins. Your Buggies are still limited, but you can now take 3 models of each, so you can run 3 individual Buggies again, particularly nice for Kustom Jobs. Any flexibility for them is good.
Next up the main Waaagh! (not the Speedwaaagh!) now grants additional benefits alongside its existing ones, giving a flat +1 Str in both of its Stages, and also an Invulnerable Save- a 5++ in Stage 1, and a 6++ in Stage 2.
These are both great changes, letting Orks hit important Strength/Toughness breakpoints a lot easier, as well as giving them a much needed survivability boost. The main downside is that as you call a Waaagh! in your Command Phase, you almost need to go first to really benefit from the defensive boosts, however it’s better than nothing, and can still offer solid returns if you’re able to last through your opponent’s Turn 1 and can enjoy that 5++ throughout their Turn 2.
Combined with points changes, and maybe Orks are looking healthier? Answers on a postcard…
The previous changes are still here (with the Points changes now enshrined in the MFM), and there’s even more here to try and reign in the murderclowns.
First up, the base 3 Rerolls from Luck of the Laughing God are completely gone. You now can only get the rerolls by rolling for them and hoping you don’t get any doubles. This kills a lot of reliability the army has, as you’ll realistically only have 2 rerolls now, as rolling any more than 2D6 is a big risk for duplicates. It was probably needed to reduce the potency, but it feels a bit heavy handed. A system where you only remove the duplicates, rather than the whole pool, could have been more interesting and keeping the theme, but we’ll see how this settles.
Light Saedath is now only applicable 18” away, which to be honest was expected in the previous iteration of the Dataslate, and so shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This mitigates the defensive ability of Light a substantial amount, meaning it will only really be useful in the very early stages of the game now.
Meanwhile Dark Saedath no longer get to fight on death if they haven’t already attacked, instead when a Dark model is destroyed in melee, they do a Mortal Wound on a 4+ to the enemy unit that destroyed them, after they’ve finished attacking, to a max of 6 Mortals per phase to each enemy unit. This is a weird change, as whilst it does remove the feels bad of charging a Dark unit and murdering them, only to be heavily damaged or even killed in return, it does feel like it can make them better in certain situations. Yes the potential kickback is much lower, but this is now much more offensive, as you can charge, kill stuff, then kill even more if you die. A mixed bag, the change is probably for the best to allow actual melee counterplay against Dark, but there could be some unintended consequences for overall damage output.
Overall I’d say these are somewhat expected, albeit executed in an unforeseen way. Harlequins should take a bit of a hit with these, though I’m not convinced it will be enough, though players will need to adapt to playing with a fairly large drop on the defensive side of things.
And thus endeth the Dataslate
So where do we stand?
Frankly I’m not sure.
The changes to Tyranids and Harlequins will be welcome in terms of the competitive scene, but I’m not convinced they will be enough, at least not for the Tyranids, even with their points increases, as they just have so much power innately. Harlequins should see a dip in effectiveness with drops to their reliability and output, but they still have some favourable matchups and excellent utility. Craftworlds seem to have been hit quite hard with changes to some key offenders, and coupled with points increases it should neuter some common builds and problems with interactivity, though it could have the knock on effect of making less meta builds suffer. The same goes for the T’au Empire, who feel like they’re on the end of a one-two punch of old Dataslate changes alongside points increases.
The reversions to AdMech are an interesting direction that doesn’t necessarily fix the problems of the Codex in terms of complexity and variety, and whilst it should get them up into higher win rates, I’m predicting that will simply be at the expense of other mid-tier armies whilst having no impact on the boogeymen factions, leaving them as they were which is a low-to-mid placement “bully” army.
Meanwhile Orks, Necrons and Guard receive some good blends of offensive, defensive and overall utility buffs, which will be welcomed by those players for sure, and should open up a lot more options for army builds and power. Coupled with the other changes, the should hopefully start to close the gap, though I’m wary of the inherent power imbalances between them already, and even post changes some of the top armies will still cause big problems for them.
With other armies seemingly untouched and hovering around the 50% WR mark, which is where all armies should be, they seem to be settling, but we’ll have to find out what knock on effects might be had.
Daemons I pray for your Codex soon.
As always, there will still be armies that will come out on top, especially when comparing newer to older armies, but with any luck the gulf between them will be reduced further now, and some of the more oppressive aspects of the game will be reduced, and of course player skill should never be neglected.
But until next time, just remember that it’s a game, you’re playing with plastic toys, it’s meant to be fun, and this frequent form of update is what you get when you want said game to competitive.