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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thoughts about Grey Knights and Tournaments

I used to play a game about a decade ago called Natural Selection. That game was totally awesome! They are supposed to be working on a sequel but have been doing so forever.

Anyways, Natural Selection was popular enough at one point where groups began to spontaneously involve themselves in league play. The developers encourage this level of play.

Long story short, there become a clear division on the development forums between what was called "Pub play" and "Clan play". The differences are really simple.

- Pub players were just the average public playing the game. They logged into random servers for a game and played to their heart's content. (I was a pub player by the way).

- Clan players were guys who organized themselves into clans and participated in league play, matches, etc. These were the guys who would have schedule practice times, matches, and so on.

Now, most of you would probably relate to this story better if I mentioned Counter Strike which also had the concepts of "Pub play" and "Clan play". I would have just said Counter Strike, but Natural Selection was SOOOOOOOO much better!

Anyways, I digress.

The point is, there were two distinct groups of players.... those who played in unorganized, unpracticed games, and those who trained to compete.

Now, at face value, there isn't an issue here. However, an interesting phenomenon showed up after a while.

You see, when the devs were making adjustments to the game, the Pub Players and the Clan Players wanted different things, sometimes entirely opposite of each other.

One example I explicitly remember were that Clan Players felt Fades were terribly over-powered in clan matches and wanted their skills trees reworked and blink effects altered.

Meanwhile, Pub Players felt that Fades become almost completely useless when they lost their rocket attacks.

What gives? Well, practiced Clan Players could wreck your face with a blinking, assaulting Fade which were over-powered but required a ton of skill to really leverage. Pub Players (including myself) didn't have that kind of skill and wanted our easy to use rocket attack back.

I really believe Natural Selection's downfall eventually came from this type of discussion because the Devs almost continuously catered to the clan players.

Anyone out there play League of Legends? Of course you do! Next time you want to see a good analogy to what I'm talking about, read the dev boards. You'll notice that top "clan" players have entirely different opinions on what in the game is OP, UP, needs fixing, addressed etc.

Hai Grey Knights!

There is just a ton of vitriol surrounding the Grey Knights dex. Moreso than there was against the Space Wolves and Imperial Guard last year? Hard to say, but I think so!

I think so many think that the Grey Knight codex is so horribly broken that it's been terrible for the game of 40K.

Yet, others, including myself, think there are plenty of ways to overcome it. Powerful, YES. Broken, NO.

However, who do you think is in the majority opinion here?

If I were to examine the Codex from the eyes of person who is not an avid competitive player, would my opinion change?

I think it would. I think, if I looked at it from the perspective of someone who doesn't play overly competitively, who doesn't study the game, who doesn't spend hours and hours reading about, blogging about, podcasting about, 40K, I might think Grey Knights are a little broken when compared to books like Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Space Marines, Eldar, and so on.

What does everyone else think here?

And of course, the next logical question then is, if we think we would think it over powered if we were a "pub player" rather than a "clan player", would we do something about it?


  1. beatable, but broke. I can build almost any list from any SM codex and be better with the GK and for cheaper. Special characters are mostly responsible for the OP. being able to take most anything as a troop is a bane. Imagine if a special characters in other dex's allowed elites etc to be troops!! OMG. So most of the time winning has to do with troops ( objective , roll dice and tie ). If your dex has more better troops, you will do better. IMHO

    1. Other dexes making elites etc mean like Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Orks, Dark Eldar...

      Now GKs does this more than most (with 3 such characters.), but it is hardly a new thing.

    2. Well, there is probably a difference though between making Wolf Guard Troops and making Paladins troops... or Henchmen squads becoming troops versus making Wracks troops. At least, I would concede that if I were looking at this through the eyes of a non-heavy-competitive player.

  2. I think you are right on with your assesment. I also think different "level" players are more likely to think different things are overpowered. A "Pub" player might decry the crazy grenades, 2 wound terminators, etc. where as a "clan" player is more likely to think something like Fortitude is OP. GK hate makes me sad to play GKs, as almost every tourney I bring them to I end up playing the player where the whole game is "GKs are broken, GKs are OP, Psyfledreads are stupid." GKs are good, the lists tend to be forgiving of mistakes (as do most marine armies), and against lesser opponents optimized GK lists produce games that are really not fun for either player. Against top level competition I rarely feel that I am playing an OP list, and the games are always close. What I really find is that the people who complain, are really saying, "My non-optimized list, cannot compete against GKs. SO they are broken"

    1. That's almost a given I think. A non-optimized list will struggle very hard against even a mediocre GK list. I would probably compound that problem in that it's actually pretty easy to build a mediocre GK list. It's really hard to screw it up.

  3. I have to say that while they are in some ways overpowered, the real issue is that it isn't very fun to play against GK. They have so many special abilities around the lists that just basically hose other armies that isn't nearly unfair. Blood Angels are an assault army, yet GK do it better. Wolves are a hard core army, but fortitude and other abilities nullify their advantages. Psyfledreads make other dreads and light vehicles target practice. It's not one thing, but the abundance of things that make them so annoying as an army to face. And having SC's that adjust the FOC doesn't help.

  4. Personally, as with everything else in 40k is that it is a game of rock paper scissors. Grey Knights just continue that cycle. Every single codex has been considered "broken" at some point in time and yet every time the next codex comes out it mitigates the advantages of the previous codex.

    For example, Space Marines were "broken", imperial guard was considered broken for the longest time, space wolves the same, and now GK. Yet ALL of those codexes are more then competitive against GK. If you have a hard time winning against them, you should be focusing more on the learning how to play instead of complaining in my mind. But in all seriousness you don't hear about Space Wolves, Guard, dark eldar, or Marines being broken anymore. If I had to make an educated guess, once the new chaos, tau, dark angels, etc codex comes out they will be "broken" because people like to complain.

    The only rule set in my mind which was never considered broken is the new sisters rule set, but it is a joke.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I would have to agree with most of the opinions stated here. I have only played against GK a couple times, but I don't think they are "broken". I think what makes them seem broken is the fact that they have a lot of very good units. Units that most people are not used to yet. Once they realize that GK die just as easy as other Power Armor and Terminator armies, but there are even less of them on the table that perception may change.

      Most GKs still have 3+ armor saves so shooting them is just as deadly compared to any other Space Marine. Here eat 60 shots from these Dev Gaunts I just dropped next to you. Or here are 32 shots from my Leman Russ Punisher. Oh I see you have Paladins... meet my Slaanesh Chaos Lord with Daemon Weapon.

      It's a game of rock, paper, scissors. You just have to make sure you pick the right targets for your units.

  6. I think the broken parts of Grey Knights are:

    Fortitude and Coteaz. The rest I am fine with as a competitive player. I even play grey knights. Fortitude should not be in the game, and Coteaz allows way too much to change. I think Coteaz should be in the sister's book.

    I have been attempting to build my space wolves to beat my grey knights. They are both really strong, but I do feel the Grey Knights are stronger.

    1. Fortitude is far and away what I classify as the most "broken" thing about GKs if there is something broken. 5 points for an ability which makes all vehicles 33% more survivable is bonkers.

      That being said, the average complainer I talk to doesn't even mention Fortitude. The first thing I usually hear people mention is Grenades, Paladins, or Death Cult Assassins. Just goes to show that the average player and the competitive player don't even really agree where something draws its power from.

  7. I was playing at an RTT last Saturday and I took my Foot Eldar. I ended up on the top table in the 3rd round against a local player that plays my Nova Open Draigowing list (Funny thing is that it is my 4th edition tournament list facing off against my 5th).

    I (and everyone else) thought I was screwed. Well, it turns out I wasn't. I know the weaknesses of that army, and I was able to exploit them. Not only that, but Eldar have the best psychic defense in the game and he was afraid to cast any psychic powers for fear of getting ganked from PotW. Also the big advantage is that when I stunned his dreads, they stayed stunned, and that greatly decreased his firepower while my Wraithlords kept on shooting.

    So there goes the illusion of Grey Knight dominance when an old 4th edition codex beat a good Grey Knight army.

    1. So, was it an accurate assessment of Eldar versus GK in this case because the opponent was as good as you? (Somehow I doubt it! :P)

    2. Come on blackmoor,

      Eldar have the key to ensuring grey knight powers don't go off. I don't reall think this example is viable to the discussion.

  8. Coming at this from the point of view of a GT regular:

    I'll agree with Neil, the most commonly complained about things I get from less experienced/less competitive players are: grenades, deathcults, paladins, purifiers

    And from competitive: fortitude, coteaz, psybolts

    I honestly don't think fortitude is a bad idea, just the way it was executed wasn't well thought out. If you had to test for every shaken/stunned (like necrons) and you weren't able to get it on psybacks/razorbacks (reserve it for dreads (or maybe even just ven dreads), ravens, raiders, just the more point-heavy choices) it would be fine. As it stands, it's pretty silly.

    I think part of the difference in opinions is because more competitive players are willing to adapt their list and tactics to the changing times, while less competitive players (in my experience) aren't. And when their army that used to be good suddenly isn't and they haven't changed anything, they see that as "x new book is brokesauce". Experienced players blink less when I put out deathcults, they just force me to get on foot, or force me to charge into cover, etc etc

    1. Very True,

      For me it comes down to a difference in perception. Things like fortitude, don't seem as powerful to less competitive players because it never really causes that "Wait WHAT just happened" moment. Thinks like fortitude are just consistently good, and to a lesser player appear just like say extra armor with a test. Well that is not so powerful sounding right. The difference is that you pay 15 poitns for extra armor and GKs get it for 5. A more casual player runs into a squad with psykobroke grenades and their opponent rolls that magical 2, and auto-wins combat..."So let me get this straight, you auto-hit me, and I only get 1 attack back!!!"

      On the fortitude issue I think it would be less powerful if it was a payed upgrade for vehicles at like a 15-30 point price tag(think extra armor or Daemonic Posession), and/or if Vehicle LD was lowered to say a 9 in most cases (maybe venerables were a 10) so that hoods stood a good chance of stoping it. At which point people might not take it on every vehicle because you just would not have the points.

      Psybolts I think tend to be overcosted on infantry and undercosted on Vehciles. On infantry it effects storm bolters and on many squads a max of say 8 guys (a little more than 2 points per model), but when it is on vehicles upgrading things like 2 TL autocannos for 5 points it is a bit much. For it really to be fairly priced it should be say 20 points for the vehicle or maybe 5-10 points per weapon effected. Again you still might take it at 20 points per vehicle, but it would not be auto include.

      Lets just look at a dread (say hes 110 points without Fortitude stock), if you wanted what GKs have now 2 TL Autocannons with psybolts and fortitude. 110 + 15 points (autocannons)+20 points Psybolts + 20 points Fortitude, now you are looking at 165 for the Dread, which would seem to me Fairly costed, a Venerable would then be running 225, meaning 6 dreads would be 1170 vs the 990 it would be now. Then if you throw those same prices at other vehicles (or slightly modified as ignoring shaken and stunned is better on a dread than a Rhino.), and it would be difficult to get all those upgrades while still having much of an army.

  9. 40k has one major difference from the video game that you referenced, 40k has fluff players and fluff influences a lot of the non-competitive aspects of this game. Personally, I like to think about fluff a little in 40k and would love to see “field allowance” (like from warmachine) added to the game. If done right, this could help both competitive and non-competitive play.

    Now, I agree with some of the above comments and think that fortitude and psybolt dreads are the major problems in the book. From a fluff perspective, should a rhino be a better psyker (ld10) than the troops (ld9)? Now, I am only so-so on fluff, but that one doesn’t make sense to me. So, vehicles at say ld8 for psychic tests, that would please both groups of players, right? As for psyflemen, wouldn’t a change in points for the psybolt ammo upgrade show that psyflemen are rarer and that should balance for both groups?

    On a side note, I hate when people say just beat GK with shooting, oh “x” army can out shoot them. What if I want to participate in the assault phase of the game? I play BA because I like assaults and the GK ‘dex generally screws any assault themed list I want to make. So, because of GK, should I not be able to make an assault BA list? That doesn’t seem right from any perspective (that said, I think one halberd per 5 guys would go a long way to fixing that). And please don’t reply with a “they are a rock to your scissors,” because its generally shooty GK lists that beat me in assault.

    1. I agree that even with Shooty lists GKs can out assault BA. The issue then becomes making a balanced BA list, as an assaulty BA list also loses to lots of other things in the game. Can you make this kind of list, sure, but the game will never work in a way that every list design can compete against every other list Design (no game I am aware of works this way.

      As for Field allowance, it exists to an extent in the form of the FOC and 40k used to have this with 0-1 choices for units. The problem with things like this is that it restricts the number of possible builds. The ultimate solution to all of this would be beta test codices, released for play, and then balancing out things that were found to be more powerful than expected. I really don't think GW tests this game out with competition in mind, and as such you end up with unbalanced codicies, and undercosted/overcosted units.

    2. I agree, balanced is the way to go, I just wish I could tilt my list towards assault more.

      As for field allowance limiting builds, I think the opposite would be true. IG takes 3 vendettas like its a requirment, if they were limited to 2, then that would open up points in their list for other things and create some more diversity.

      And, untimately, yes I wish they did more testing or at least payed attention enough to issue some errata. Honestly this game would balance so much better with just a little errata and then I could drop the FA idea.

  10. I think what bothers me the most about this codex is how often you see it. It costs $50 to buy an entire army that you dry brush grey. List building is point and click and the tactics are shoot a ridiculous barrage of heavy firepower at one thing until it dies. At least mech IG has the decency of costing $10,000 to make a good army so only the truly dedicated can cheese it up. If they ever release death cultist into plastic I am quitting this game.

    All joking and hyperbole aside Coteaz is a bit over the top, and 3 acolytes making a fortitude Psyback into a scoring unit is just silly.

    I think where most of the complaining comes from is the Blood Angel players, which if you look at previous tournament statistics prior to the GK release encompassed a rather large percentage of the gamer population. The GK dex seems to slap Angel players more so than any other army by specifically negating all of their innate advantages.

    Descent of Angels: Warp Quake
    AV 11 Spam: S8 PsyDreads
    Feel No Pain: S8 Dreads + My entire army has power weapons
    Furios Charge: I6 Halberds with Hammerhand
    oh your fast?: how about I steel the initiative with Coteaz? I know your coming to me so I can just castle up and blast you off the table in one round of shooting.

    From a game balance standpoint I think halberds are too good. I won't say they are "broken" by any stretch, but i think its just one more thing that GK's shouldn't have. Blood Angels have to take a priest, plan out every phase ever so carefully and strike with accurate precision just to get the I5/S5 charge bonus to make them slightly better in combat than every other marine out there; GK just get I6 for 2 points and Hammerhand for free? Really? Could you at least take away their assault grenades so we can bait them with cover?

    1. I think you might be on to something with thinking that a lot of the GK hate might be coming from BA assault style players. There definitely were a LOT of BA assault armies in the previous 2 years since the BA release. And you are also right that GK bring a lot of tools to the party which really stymie BA assault lists.

      I think the competitive crowd would probably disagree in questioning if BA assault lists were viable to start with, but I think that's the entire point of what I was writing here. Who cares what the competitive crowd thinks when the vast majority of people are unhappy with the result?

  11. Ok,

    The other broken thing is terminators that have frag grenades.


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