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Monday, August 6, 2012

Armies in 6th: Psychic Powers Part 2 - Biomancy

Biomancy is first up and can be used by Space Marines, Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Imperial Guard and Tyranids. Biomancy is mainly a buff based psychic discipline with a few damage spells thrown in. The majority of these buffs are focused on individual models however rather than making multiple models or squads more effective. Let's take a look.

Primaris - Lol Smite. The day Games Workshop realises this is a bad power, is a happy day. Until then, this is a pretty poor primaris considering it's not a spell you'd ever really consider though it does offer a small damage output and bypass 2+ armor. Yay...

1 - Iron Arm. An increase to both strength and toughness based on a D3. No model really says no to increased statistics and if this were the primaris power, awesome. With characters now being open for challenges but otherwise hard to pick out for fights, the Toughness bonus is good but not great (i.e. unless challenged, it's not used at all) and obviously far more useful when a model is engaged in a challenge or alone. Any psyker who can, or has to, operate alone (i.e. Hive Tyrant, Mephiston, etc.) is going to love this increased toughness as wounds are harder to come by. Otherwise the increased strength means more damage in combats and a greater ability to inflict instant death - always a good thing. All in all, solid for anything melee based which likes challenges or is likely to be targeted alone by shooting.

2 - Enfeeble. A malediction with 24" range which reduces the strength and toughness of a unit by one. It's stackable so again, would have been a great primaris but importantly cannot reduce a target's toughness to 0. Don't try ^^. Reducing the strength and toughness of a unit for an entire game turn has some pretty big implications. Firstly, it's easier for you to wound them with shooting. Always a good thing. Secondly, it's easier for you to wound them in assault. Also always a good thing. This easier to wound in assault lasts for your opponent's combat phase as well if combat goes on that long. AND it lowers the instant death threshold of the squad - another perfect, yet random to get, counter for deathstars. It brings T6 creatures down to instant-death range, T5 down to T4 and T4 down to T3 and T3 down to T2 - each pretty major steps and if you have lots of enfeebles...well even the most basic guns cause instant death and wound 2's. Impressive. Thirdly, the strength reduction makes the opposing unit less scary in combat. Again, great against deathstars or any units which want to assault. All in all, a great spell but due to the stacking nature and randomness of the psychic table, you really want to have lots of psykers to try and get this power on a couple of guys. Enter Tyranids...

3 - Endurance. It's Catalyst (Tyranid psychic power) on crack. First it has a 24" range, much bigger than Catalyst thank you and not only does it confer FNP but also It Will Not Die and Relentless. This gives this power a lot more applications beyond what Catalyst normally has and thus isn't going to be restricted to handing out FNP to important units. It Will Not Die allows vehicles to gain benefits from this and it's going to be very effective on anything with multiple wounds - single wound models/squads don't really give a damn about IWND. Relentless is also an important feature which can help any heavy weapon based squad move and not have to snap shot but more importantly, can be given to a rapid-firing squad which allows it to assault afterwards as well. Sneak attack fun ^^. The ability to hand out three USRs with one power up to 24" is an excellent ability, another great primaris candidate, and whilst some armies might only benefit from two of those USRs regularly, still an excellent supporting power.

4 - Life Leech. Another power similar to a Tyranid one... Life Leech is again a better option. A S6 AP2 assault 2 range 12" witchfire power, the damage output doesn't seem great but any wounds infilicted regenerate wounds on the psyker (to a max of what they started with). S6 and AP2 are good enough to inflict wounds on most things which use toughness values or saves for protection and scare vehicles to a mild extent. Great more mutliple-wound psykers looking to protect themselves but the other powers are often much better in terms of overall output.

5 - Warpspeed. The second power which affects only the psyker which increased their Initiative and Attacks number by D3. Like Iron Arm, this is a power which is really going to help combat based psykers but there is little application outside of this. Increased initiative/attacks doesn't protect you much from shooting or the like except against Initiative based statistic checks (i.e. Dark Eldar weaponry, Jaws, etc.). Getting this on a psyker like Mephiston or a Hive Tyrant (again) is great as you're striking at some insanely high initiative and with a very good number of attacks - good against squads and in challenges but be careful not to leave yourself open to shooting the next turn.

6 - Hemorrhage. It's a focused warpfire which means you can pick the target model which dies and if that model dies, the next model has a chance of dying, and so on and so forth. This is a nice way to snipe enemy models but unfortunately isn't very reliable at it as it's based on a toughness check. I.e. you have a 50/50 chance of dropping a Guardsmen. It's not terrible but it's not great either, particularly given then range meaning you'll only have one opportunity to do this. The dice can go crazy and allow this to wipe out whole squads but you're far more likely to hit a ceiling at three models. Best used for sniping rather than mass damage.

Concluding Thoughts:

There are some really good powers, some okay powers and some crap powers. The main issue here is one of the crap powers is the primaris which means at worst, you get stuck with crap powers. If you have a lot of dice to throw at this table and are a psyker which can operate just as well alone and/or as a support piece, Biomancy is probably a decent power for you. There's army and unit buff powers in there, enemy debuffs and singular buffs on yourself but if you're only good as a support piece, getting those self-buffs can often be counter-productive and hinder the model's ability to actually be a support piece.

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