The New Psychic Phase – Missing the Forest for the Trees.


DarkLink is here with an article on the new psychic phase! Check out the Tactics Corner for more great content!

Since 7th came out, the new psychic phase has been a big cause of contention in the community. Talk

of the rise of uber-psychic armies and capping warp charges has cropped up left and right. So, being an

engineer with some understanding of statistics, and after being told my Grey Knights were now da bestest

eva!, I decided to actually crunch some numbers.


So I broke down the psychic phase in a couple of ways. I’ll address each from the assumption of

imbalance, that is, one psychic heavy army vs a psychically weak one. Say, GKs with 15+ warp charges

versus a SM player with a single ML2 psyker.


1. Casting powers

First, how many powers will the uber psychic army cast? Really, it doesn’t matter. Most powers are either

relatively unchanged, or very similar to what was available last edition. However, last edition you could

reliably cast one psychic power per mastery level. Now, though, a WC1 power will cost 3 dice, a WC2

power will cost 5-6, and a WC3 power will cost 8+. Stop to think about that. Last edition, a Seer Council

with two Farseers and 10 Warlocks could cast ~15 powers, each with a 70% or better chance of success.

Now, they’ll generate 19.5 dice on average, which will drop them from 15 powers to… about 5. Fortune

and Prescience will eat up 10 dice, and with 9 dice left that’s only three or four more powers. So the ”uber’

psychic army just took a huge nerf compared to last edition. You now need to make a huge investment in

psykers just to get even the basic powers off.


Now, is the Seer Council still good? Well, you can still get the 2+ reroll, but overall it’s unquestionably

weaker. GKs can cast lots of powers, but nothing they couldn’t already do with the exception of gaining

Invisibility. So GKs haven’t taken as much of a hit as Eldar, but they haven’t gotten any better than they

were last edition so I don’t see how GKs powers would be an issue.


2. Broken powers

Which brings us to Invisibility, and to a lesser extent summoning. This power is kinda broken. But

that’s got nothing to do with the psychic phase. Stopping invisibility by limiting warp charges would be

like nerfing Riptides by saying Tau can only shoot half their units. Tau players will just not shoot their

devilfish and keep firing off ion accelerators and heavy burst cannons. Problem not solved. So why do

people think that we should try to limit warp charges? That’s irrelevant to the issue at hand, and fails to

address the actual issue.


3. Deny

The new Deny system is, in my opinion, pretty clunky. But I’ve heard a lot of complaints that the uber

psychic armies shut down everyone else. So I did the math. I started by calculating the odds of stopping

a WC1 power with 3 casting dice. Turns out, to have a 5p% chance of blocking it, you need 9 Deny

dice. That held pretty true for other situations as well. To have a 50% chance of blocking a power, you

need about 3 times as many dice as your opponent does. Emphasis on the 50% part. More dice.had only

diminishing returns.


So, sure, an uber psyker army can block a couple of powers, maybe. A single Librarian at ML2 can on

average cast about 2 WC1 powers with 3 dice each. That takes 18 dice for a 50% chance to deny per

power. That means my uber GK army only blocks both powers about 25% of the time (assuming they’re

blessings). I wouldn’t call that completely shut down. And, what, you lose a psychic power? That might

make your librarian less useful, but it’s a fairly small chunk of your army. I do not see that as a balance



So if psyker spam is significantly weaker than last edition, capping warp charge dice does nothing to stop,

say, Invisibility, and psychic heavy armies don’t shut down lone psykers quite as heavily as some claim

(and even when they do, it doesn’t have that significant of an impact of the non-psyker army), why is

there so much pressure to cap psychic dice. Psykers just took a huge nerf, not a buff. Yes, there are still

some powerful psychic abilities out there, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Ban invisibility and/or

summoning if you feel the need, but don’t freak out over warp charge spam.




About Reecius

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23 Responses to “The New Psychic Phase – Missing the Forest for the Trees.”

  1. Julio Rodriguez June 24, 2014 3:15 pm #

    That’s why I stopped using psykers altogether.

    • Prindlehaven June 24, 2014 11:05 pm #

      It’s funny. The more people decide to not bring psychers due to the existence of psychic heavy armies, the more reasonable bringing one or two psychers becomes. After all, your one or two psychers might pale in comparison with summon-spam, but against all the other players who opt for no psychers all of a sudden your one or two psychers are extremely effective.

      • fluger June 25, 2014 9:47 am #

        I might be misreading this, but I think he’s saying that he stopped using them because they got NERFED, as is the conclusion of the article. I’m in the same boat, I dropped my prescience bot since he’s not reliable anymore.

    • John June 25, 2014 11:39 am #

      I just stopped playing 40K altogether and began warmahordes…it solved the problem even better.

      • Trio July 30, 2014 1:13 am #

        oh look! a dead man out of my door! i think i will close the door…

  2. Craig June 24, 2014 3:43 pm #

    no point in taking a single psyker vs a psychic heavy army at all

    • omnilicious June 24, 2014 6:12 pm #

      How about taking a single psyker vs. an army with a single psyker? Or no psykers?

  3. Adam June 24, 2014 3:55 pm #

    Bravo! Well said!

    Like Julio above, I basically never take psykers anymore for the reasons you mentioned, instead I’m more and more liking units with innate abilities that are more reliable, like Warpsmiths and Tech Priests.

  4. Jural June 24, 2014 5:16 pm #

    I’d nitpick the 3 dice for one power- you have a 75% chance to get off the power with 2 dice, and this allows a little bit more spamming. That’s compared to a 92% chance last edition, but perils is half as likely (used to be double 1’s and double 6’s, right?)

    So that changes the equillibrium a little bit, but I think the conclusions remain valid.

    A nice stealth buff has been to Chaos Sorcerers and Daemon Princes (can’t recall if Daemons get something similar?) The spell familiar basically guarantes you get off your powers with only two dice per ML, with huge returns as you throw extra die.

    All in all, the one or two psyker list remains a nice list against most armies, as long as you aren’t building your list around it, despite what people say.

    And a nice separation of the issues with OP powers vs. overwhelming psychic dice.

  5. Jason Brown June 24, 2014 8:56 pm #

    Having run the Shadow Council last and, now this edition, I can whole heatedly agree that psykers got a serious nerf. It now makes you take more of a tactical look at what powers you need to cast for waht turn.

    Personally I think that the psychic phase makes Tau near gods. They get innate USRs like its government cheese, free and well fromage. Anyhow, very truthful look at the new phase and all the nerd rage that has ensued over nothing.

    • Jural June 24, 2014 9:59 pm #

      I think the nerd rage is primarily aimed at invis and daemonic summoning, and perhaps rightfully so. It’s hard to separate the issues if your first experience is with a summoning Daemon list or if you are Tau going up against an invisible opponent!

      • Jason Brown June 25, 2014 8:44 pm #

        Tau deserve to run against invisibility, blue space fishmen communist bastards.

    • hotsauceman1 June 24, 2014 10:33 pm #

      Summoning is a near granted perils

  6. Lardus June 25, 2014 12:25 am #

    Good write-up. My thoughts:

    Played my first game in 7th against a Daemon summoning army with my GK. I managed only a few denies on his lower level powers, and he stopped a few of mine. He rolled poorly on his summoning – failed a few times and got Perils on a few as well. Banishment went of quite a few times which was surprising and helped me kill lots of daemon scum.

    He managed to summon about 1050 points worth of daemons in 5 turns. Luckily it gave me enough VP to draw the game, and I would probably have taken it if there was a turn 6.

    I let him summon proxy units because we wanted to test the summoning play style (a once off – no model no summon from now on), and thankfully he did not like it. Did not come up against invisibility and had a bit of warp charge myself, but was a good game.

    In my opinion, summon-heavy armies will not be viable in tournaments because it will take too long to complete – you will be stuck in turn 3 or 4 in the time limit.

  7. Moridan June 25, 2014 4:12 am #

    Great write-up.

    Summon-spam will never win because CD end up spending all of their WC for summoning… and then what… stand around? At least Eldar and GK have guns to shoot, CD… can look scarey but nothing more (unless you are summoning assault units, which arent getting you more warp charges).

    • Jason Brown June 25, 2014 8:48 pm #

      I think there is some viabilty to summoning in tournies, but being a one trick pony isnt going to grant you wins. I am playing around with a three man Shadow Council (Spiritseers from Iyanden). It can be super useful to turn into a Bloodthirster with your 70 point guy. Its also pretty fun to pump out a couple of flamers before hand.

      An all summoning list….no thank you, but a strong presence isnt bad.

  8. Baal Viper June 25, 2014 5:04 am #

    Warp Charge caps are a broad stroke, what we need is a scalpel. For some reason the 40k community is afraid to out right block/change a clearly broken rule because they cling tightly to GW’s rules (while at the same time admitting and lamenting how imbalanced they are).

    Change Invisibility, not the Warp Charge Pool. Making units attacking an Invisible unit WS/BS 1 is a very conservative approach that still makes the power really good, but renders it more vulnerable to combat and can be targeted by AOE/Template weapons which makes a lot of real world, as well as gameplay sense. Other options include making it WC 3 or returning it to it’s 6th Edition version of the power. As it is, it is way to good, instantly creating an ultra durable unit in the same patterns as the 2++ reroll units.

    If the community will ever call a Spade a Spade and take action against a clearly broken power the game would be better for it and a lot of un-fun games could be avoided. But to do this we will have to get over our irrational collective fear of banning or changing specific bad rules. GW is not looking for a balanced game, and they are a tiny group of designers, we the community can do a better job.

  9. Kartr Kana June 25, 2014 5:51 am #

    Still haven’t managed to roll Invisibility on my ML2 Librarian, nor have I gotten Terrify which are the two I’m shooting for with him. So don’t know how OP Invisibility actually is in practice, although it sounds amazing!

    That said, if it really is as OP as everyone claims and needs a nerf, why not the obvious one? The effects of Invisibility disappear once the Invisible unit attacks.

    • Gordon June 25, 2014 6:00 am #

      It’s basically about equivalent to the rerollable 2++ on the Seer Council. Cast it on something wimpy, like a Tactical squad, it’s not too big of a deal, like how Fortune on, say, a Wave Serpent isn’t a big deal, but cast it on something like a Daemon Prince or a Land Raider full of Terminators, and it makes them basically impossible to deal with.

  10. winterman June 25, 2014 9:10 am #

    Yup totally agree with this article. Did some binomial calculations myself around the whole deny powers thing.

    The strongest anti-psycher we have had for 2 editions was Njal — with a 2/3 or 66% chance of shutting down any power cast within his range. No one wanted to ban or limit him so thought it a nice place to start.

    To get ~66% chance at a deny a single non-targeting power:
    1 WC success needs ~6 deny dice
    2 WC successes needs ~13 deny dice
    3 WC successes needs ~19 deny dice.

    Yes the Njal comparison breaks down a bit since more deny dice means better odds, but remember too Njal is a lot less of a commitment then going for mastery level spam. And as DarkLink mentions there’s diminishing returns the more dice you have and throw.

    • bigpig June 25, 2014 11:36 am #

      Pretty sure nobody is saying the deny mechanic is what is in need of a nerf. The onlyl exception to this is extremely overcommitted psyker heavy armies who can shut down a single ML1 or 2 psyker (rightfully so in gameplay/realism sense). If anything, deny is not generally effective and in need of a boost.

      • winterman June 25, 2014 12:07 pm #

        People were definitely making claims that GKs and Daemons would deny the solo ML2 psychers too much as one reason to limit warp charges. Less so now though I guess.

  11. fleetofclaw June 28, 2014 12:40 am #

    Good article, I’ve been preaching this since the beginning of 7e. Don’t need to have mastery over Combinatorics to realize the 7e Psychic Phase is a dud. Despite all their silly hype in WD about highlighting the power of Psykers, they actually neutered them.

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