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Sunday, November 14, 2010

GWvsJohn talks Chaos: the Possessed

I think I'm going to hold of on DE until we start the "official" 3++ review. I also had a request to continue my CSM review, and I'm a sucker for requests. So let's continue.

Many at GW still pine for the good old days of Rogue Trader when every unit had 5 special rules and you needed about 14 tables (to roll randomly on) to make any sort of character, especially a Chaos champion. I'm sure the game was much more relaxed back then and probably more fun when everyone was playing for, well, fun. Somehow this got translated in random = fun. That was never true, and it's especially not true today. The game has evolved, and "modern" players want a more polished product. (As an aside, this is true for other games as well. In the original AD&D, your ability score rolles basically determined your class, in 4e D&D, I think the Player's Handbook gives you an electric shock if you try to roll stats rather than points-buy) Some of this random garbage carries over into 5e. There are two armies that bear the brunt of this anachronism more than the rest, Orks and Chaos Space Marines. Where were we? Oh right, Possessed.

Possessed Chaos Space Marines... Awesome fluff. Awesome models. Should be an iconic unit for the CSM army. But something went horribly wrong. Someone decided to add a random table. Great idea,... NOT. Way to let the past ruin the present GW. Keep up the good work. Let's see what we actually get.

26 points. Already off to a bad start. A full untit is gonna run over 300 points. That's a LOT of points for a CC unit, considering that 5 TH/SS Termies costs 200 (if you hadn't noticed, that's the benchmark CC unit in 5e). Still, compared to a basic CSM, for 11 points you get +1S (good), +1A (very good), fearless (ATSKNF is better, but this cancels a major shortocming of the basic CSM), 5+ invul (meh) and a roll on the infamous table. We also lose all shooting (boo) and no grenades (terrible). Before we get to that disaster, let's look at Icons, since we have control over them.

Glory - we're already fearless, so it's just to summon. Pass
Slaanesh - +1 I is nice, but without grenades it loses value. Pass.
Khorne - it's the most popular icon for a reason. Khorne possessed drop a lot of s5 attacks, and it's pretty cheap.
Nurgle - S/T 5 makes for a fun unit, but if you want your possessed to tarpit, there's a better option.
Tzeentch - 4++? It's a big upgrade from 5++. At 30 points each, Tzeentch Possessed become mini TH/SS Termies which don't hit as hard, but can ride Rhinos. I think this and Khorne are the best options by far.

Quick note on the Champion "option." 10 points for an attack. No options? Seriously? What a dumb, dumb upgrade.

Now the table. If the Possessed could purchase 1 or 2 of these options for a set cost, they are a very solid unit. Right now, they're just too unreliable. Let's look at each option

Scouts - scouting Possessed are good. Gets them closer to the enemy. Can be used to bubblewrap/annoy. Can outflank if your opponent doesn't know how to defend against it. Possessed that scout 1/6 of the time? Worthless. Scouting is an ability that need to be incorporated into your army list design. Just tossing it on randomly adds hardly anything.
Furious Charge - s6 on the charge? Your Possessed are now an anti-tank unit. This might be the best result.
Fleet - imagine if you could pay for Scout and Fleet. With Oblits, you have the start of a decent all foot army. Doesn't GW know how much everyone loves foot lists? This ability is actually really good, making up for the lack of assault ramp on the squad's Rhino.
Rending - now you scare Dreads as well as "regular" vehicles. Rending + Khorne would be very, very good. I think FC is better though.
Feel No Pain - man, this USR is everywhere huh (except for 5/6 of Possessed obviously). Helps against small arms (duh) but if you need/want FNP, CSM are not lacking.
Power Weapons - now our Possessed are Sanguinary Guard :) I think we all know how good s5 power weapons are at this point, right? Turns your Possessed into a serious CC threat.

As you can see, all of the abilities are good. If the squad just came with one of them (any one, but you knew in advance), a model might be worth 26 points. But you don't know. And that means you can't build the Possessed into a cohesive army list. That's not all that's wrong with them. If you'll notice, they have no upgrades (well, icons, and the champ, but you know what I mean). No special weapon means no anti-tank. No champion PF or MB means they fear Dreads (man, I really fear Dreads a lot, it's becoming a theme of my posts). No grenades means they fear everything (5e is full of cover if you hadn't noticed).

Verdict? Bad, but not terrible. Same problems as most of the CSM codex. They can kill a lot of crap in CC, but they're overpriced, they don't bring duality and they can't be relied upon. I'd leave them at home.

What's that, you really, really want to use the Possessed? Fine.

335 - 10 Possessed, Mark of Tzeentch, Rhino. Throw this anti-super unit squad into an otherwise "optimal" list and it won't hurt you too much.

Wait, what?!? You want army based around the Possessed? Fine. I hope you like all 4 marks and a mishmash of non-cohesive crap.

335 - 10 Possessed, Icon of Tzeentch, Rhino. Your anvil.
2x 289 - 9 Possessed, Icon of Khorne, Rhino. Your hammers.
3x 150 - 2 Obliterators - Your obligatory anti-transport.
3x 170 - 5 Plague Marines, 2 Meltaguns, Rhino. Light on Troops, but people will probably be shooting at the Possessed.
125 - Sorceror, Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission - CSM HQ choices such, but this is the best one.

6 Rhinos and 6 foot troops? Not very scary. I'd pair each Possessed with a Troop and use their Rhino to block. The Possessed will probably mangle anything short of TH/SS Termies they meet in CC, but getting there is the problem. Also having something to charge is a problem with 6 Lsacannons and 6 meltaguns as your only shooting. Dropping a Khorne squad to add 2 more oblits, a CC Dread and a 10th Possessed to the remaining Khorne squad probably makes a better list. That Dread also adds some anti-Dread bailout as nothing in this list (barring a roll of Rending) can touch an enemy Dread in CC.

When they eventually re-do the CSM Codex, fixing the Possessed is easy. Lower the base cost, scrap the table, make the table upgrades. If they insist on a "random" element, make them d3 attacks base rather than 2. A special weapon type anti-tank "mutation", a Champion fist option and a grenades option (again, call it a mutation) would be welcome additions, but secondary to scrapping the table.

Agree/disagree? Thoughts? What unit should I do next?

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