What Should We Do About Tzeentch?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy

Following on from Mike Wendel’s contribution to the discussion, I’ll be presenting at my own ideas for what, if anything, should be done in the upcoming Tzeentch FAQ. Disciples of Tzeentch have made quite the impact on the top tables, and the online debate, in a very short time. For that reason I think it’s important that we as a community have a constructive say in this window; after that passes, we’re essentially locked in to the status quo until the next GH drops.

You’ll see over the course of this article that I don’t always agree with what Mike wrote, but I think that’s healthy; as an avid listener of AOS podcasts, for example, I’ve always found the shows where the various hosts will challenge each other to be far more enlightening and engaging.

Why don’t you stop moaning?

The first response to most new books coming out is for the internet to cry OP. The second response, like night follows day, is for the internet to call people out for moaning. The fact is that some people do moan for the sake of moaning; it’s also equally true that sometimes rules need looking at, and it’s not actually positive or constructive to brush that under the carpet.

On this blog I have always been happy to pitch in my own two cents in cases where the internet has cried OP, and it hasn’t always been in one direction: in my Slaanesh article, my conclusion was that the book was fundamentally sound but two specific mechanics needed to be dialled back in two specific ways. Some Slaanesh players didn’t like that one, but most of the feedback I got was that it was a fair approach, and ultimately the suggestions I made were exactly in line with the actions GW took.

In my Gotrek article, while the internet was losing its shit, my own reaction was far more practical and pragmatic. I actually copped a lot of heat for being a GW apologist for that one, although I do think the article has been vindicated, and the conclusion that he allows great room for player skill to determine the outcome seems pretty reasonable.

My point here is certainly not that I’m always right; like everyone else, I get things wrong on a daily basis. But I do think it’s relevant to point out that I’m not always on the side of doom and gloom, and I’m not out to present some kind of Project Fear agenda. I aim to be constructive at all times, and for that reason this article will present specific, practical suggestions, backed up by the logic behind them*. You’re welcome to tell me I’ve got it all wrong, but I hope that they will be considered in the same spirit.

So what would Plastic do?

I think there are already two builds that are shown to be immensely powerful:

  • Eternal Conflagration: One-drop deploy, teleport Flamers, Dakka Dakka Dakka, GG
  • Duplicitous Host: One-drop deploy, teleport Horrors, destiny dice charge, GG

Both of these hinge around an effectively one-drop Battalion with two risk-free teleports.  It’s an idiot-proof and dice-proof strategy that isn’t really playing Warhammer in any meaningful sense.

So let’s attack this at the source: Changehost specifically needs looking at, and the two core units to its execution are too efficient for their points.

Changehost

Fun fact: this Battalion currently costs the same as Troggherd.

Fundamentally, it’s priced as a normal Battalion when it’s effectively a Big Battalion.  It lets you take everything you would want to take anyway, with no taxes, and the ability is close to the definition of overpowered.

As an absolute minimum, it should be well over 200 points, because you’re getting such low drops.  I’d honestly be up for making it ludicrously expensive and just effectively removing it from Matched Play (which FWIW I would have been happy to see with Kunnin Rukk back in its pomp, rather than making the constituent parts overcosted in every other potential build).

Assuming that’s not going to happen, the teleports should have more restrictions on them, to bring in an element of skill and counterplay, as well as turning it back into a dice game.  In gameplay terms I don’t actually see why it needs to give you two teleports rather than one; the main reason I can see for it being two units is a fan-service nod to the old Changehost switching units about; one teleport is already an excellent Battalion ability.  A very straighforward fix would be for one unit to teleport on a 3+, but if they want to keep it as two units, I’d like to see each of them on a 4+.   

An alternative would be to see them tethered to the LOC in some way, for example needing to start wholly within 12″ and reappear wholly within 24″ of him.  That gives your opponent something to work with in deployment, and forces at least some kind of difficult choice in terms of positioning the LOC prominently.

Worth mentioning is that the Changehost currently allows you to redeploy back out of combat, which runs counter to the design philosophy of the game.  Other similar teleports (Khailebron, Hand of Gork etc) do not work if you have an enemy unit within 3″, which opens up counter play in terms of locking units down.  It’s not really an issue currently, because Changehost is mostly just deploy and win, but once it starts playing Warhammer again it’ll become an issue.  Best to clean that up now.

Pink Horrors

4 points per wound is very, very cheap.  This is a unit that contributes to your army by ratcheting up the spell count, as well as counting as a Wizard for Darkfire Daemonrift (more of which later); they contribute a little bit of chip damage in multiple phases, have some MW output, and they have their unique hook as a horde unit that is resistant to anti-horde tech (50 bodies, mostly on small bases, but most of them are not on the board simultaneously).  Based on that, they are already undercosted in my opinion; 4 points per wound is worthless trash tier, but they are better than that. 

So I’d like to see them go up.  Let’s assume that’s not happening until the next GH though, and they are hardly the only undercosted unit in the game.  What puts them over the top is the interactions with Changehost (see above), their interactions with Destiny Dice, and what happens when you put models back in.

With Destiny Dice, ignoring modifiers to Battleshock is offensive and should change, no question.  Likewise ignoring modifiers to rend. The funny thing here is that there is plenty of Battleshock and rend immunity in the game, but this is one that really gets people’s backs up and spoils the experience; everything about it feels like a loophole. I find it hard to believe this was intentional, and they just don’t need it.

As for replacing models, I’d like to see a rule that you can only put Pinks back in if there are already Pinks in the unit.  The Warscroll seems to envisage a one-way street from Pinks to Blues to Brims, but currently you can put Pinks back into a unit comprising solely of Blues and Brims after the Pinks have all been killed.  For context, putting in 6 Pinks puts an extra 30 wounds into the unit, and that’s just ridiculous.  

If you can’t kill 10 Pinks in a turn, that’s on you; but once you have killed them, you shouldn’t have to deal with them again and again in a never-ending tarpit cycle.  This is the kind of thing that makes people throw their arms in the air in frustration and honestly, they don’t need it.  They’re an excellent and undercosted unit without the nonsense.

Flamers

18″ seems too generous for their shooting attack; I’d prefer to see 12″, similar to a breath weapon.

This would mean that they can pop up 9″ away and blast off your screens, but with only a sensible amount of board control in terms of pushing everything behind the screens back.  Currently it’s literally impossible to screen a Maw Krush on a classic 12″ deployment, for example, and that’s not good enough.  I wouldn’t even consider taking a lot of big Monsters to an event as things stand, and this is a good example of why people agitate for rules to be looked at: it’s not moaning for the sake of moaning, these things actively suck the joy out of other people’s armies.

This short-range hose would give Flamers an interesting spot in the army: their output is still eyebrow-raising relative to their points, but you have to play smart to make them work.  They crouch behind screens, ready to pounce with their 9″ flying move and delete way more expensive units; but if you expose them, they will die even to chaff.  A really interesting unit that good players can get the most out of, rather than a dumb Win Button.

Whether GW is willing to “go there” in terms of a Warscroll change at this early stage is doubtful, but I think they need looking at in some way, and that’s how I would do it.

Special Mention: Darkfire Daemonrift

This is pretty clearly an unintended consequence from the Slaves book, and needs to be hammered into the dirt.  200+ mortal wounds from a 50-point Endless Spell that isn’t even part of the army is offensive, game-breaking and needs to go.  I don’t really care what happens to this, as long as it isn’t light-touch.  Tzeentch doesn’t need this to be viable.

Where will that leave Tzeentch?

There is potentially a secondary issue here in that the current power lists are so obvious, and so easy to win the majority of your games with, that we as a community have barely stress-tested the rest of the book.  My gut feel is that there are plenty of good tools to work with in this book, which Ash McEwan for example demonstrated at Cancon when coming in 5th with an army completely different to the lists that were dominating over in the UK. 

For that reason I personally would not be overly concerned about extensive corrections to the parts of the book that are already proving themselves to be problematic.  Destinty Dice were always an incredibly powerful tool, and the Agendas, which have hardly been mentioned, are game-winning in their own right. Tzeentch is a far deeper book than something like KO, and correspondingly more capable of weathering a significant knock in some areas; Arcanites are really good now, so let’s see some of them on the tabletop! 


So there you have it! There are lots of opinions floating around on this one, but that’s my own contribution to the debate. I don’t think the Changehost playstyle that we’ve seen so far is conducive to a good and healthy tournament scene for the next 6 months, but just as importantly, I don’t think the Tzeentch book needs that crutch.

Whether it’s my own personal suggestions, or something else the designers have in mind, I hope the book gets looked at seriously in the coming days, resulting in a deep FAQ that puts Tzeentch back on the right track.

Let me know what your own suggestions are for tweaking Tzeentch, or even if you think #It’sFine I’m happy to hear your reasoning. Excelsior!


*OK, apart from Darkfire Daemonrift, but that’s not even part of the book so I’m giving myself a pass there!

 

One thought on “What Should We Do About Tzeentch?

  1. Great write up and explanation using a very logical train of thought. (Not just “nerf it into the ground because I don’t like it.”)

    Warhammer is a dice game. Sure, there are ways to improve the odds in your favour, but the luck of the dice is a core part of the enjoyment. The current combos remove dice rolling to an extreme extent, which simply makes the game not fun.

    E.g. Guaranteed charges using Destiny Dice can lock up the opponent with Horrors in a Duplicitous Host. Smart deployment in between terrain can easily extend the length of the “wall”. This forces the opponent to lose 1-2 turns as they fight through the chaff while the Tzeentch player builds an insurmountable lead on victory points. A lot of competitive games run of out time way before the 5th round, so a large part of the battle will only be spent fighting the same unit Horrors (including respawns). Models trapped within 3″ range must fight, so effectively this means you can no longer choose what to do with your models. Removing the basic tenet of “interaction” from the game makes it extremely one-sided.

    Side note: This ability also makes units with “retreat and charge” rules become over costed.

    It’s great that there is a new battletome for all the Tzeentch collectors with models collecting dust. I hope they update all the other old factions too so everyone can play with their favourite models.

    What I don’t want to see (and don’t want to play) are one-sided battles. Auto-wins and auto-losses are boring. The enjoyment is in the back-and-forth, planning (and trying to execute) strategy, and not knowing exactly what will happen next. Anything that removes these elements also removes the fun from the game.

    Liked by 1 person

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