How broken does it have to be?

I attended another single day 40k tournament last weekend and I was planning on doing a full battle report but in hindsight this probably wouldn't be the most riveting read. The reason for this was simply down to how I built my list and what it contained. My plan for this tournament was plain and simple, I had 2 sentry pylons on the shelf which I've only ever used once and never really tried them so it was a good excuse to dust them off and finally get them painted. I also had a tomb citadel which has only been used twice in the 12 months I've owned it and it was still unpainted.....

A couple of days before the tournament I got the airbrush out and managed to get them finished so knew I wanted these in the list. I also knew that the tournament itself allows 2 sources so it was list building time. Realizing that it would end up being a small model count list and then decided to make it into a challenge for the lowest model count I could muster while still being able to hold its own. The monstrosity I came up with was as follows:

CAD
5 x Immortals
5 x Immortals
Overlord, phase shifter, Tachyon arrow, Nightmare shroud, warscythe
2 x Sentry pylons with focussed death ray
Night Scythe
Tomb Citadel with Comms Relay

Royal Court
Vargard obyron
Orikan the Diviner
Nemesor Zahndrekh
Lord, phase shifter, warscythe
Lord, phase shifter, warscythe, gauntlet of the conflagrator

This came in at around 1735 points and only 19 models and the tactics for it are deceptively simple. The Immortals set up on the tomb citadel and are purely there to grab objectives and to fill the mandatory 2 troops choices for the CAD. Zahndrekh goes in the night scythe by himself and everything else joins the sentry pylons becoming one huge unit. The unit itself becomes toughness 7 due to the artillery rules, it has all relentless and move through cover due to the royal court. Orikan lets them re-roll saving throws of 1, and gives +1 reanimation, the tomb citadel gives them a 3+ invulnerable save and re-roll to reanimation and with careful position there are 2 x 2+ saves, 4 x 4+ invulnerable saves, not counting the tomb citadel itself and then a 4+ reanimation roll with re-rolls. Zahndrekh can choose his warlord trait every turn so on turn 2 he always chose re-roll reserves which are coming in on a 2+ with a re-roll, he flies on up to 36", has a 6" disembark move and then Obyron can deepstrike himself and his squad within 12" of him without scattering. The tomb citadel itself has a portal which can be used to teleport a unit from anywhere on the table and they simply disembark from it if I need them to get back to my deployment zone. After discussing it with the organisers it was decided that rules as written the pylons were just morally wrong and so ruled it as each unit takes 2 hits for each model in that unit which is under the line.

For those that don't know how the pylons work you basically choose a point within 24" of the pylon and draw a line 3d6". Everything under that line takes 2 hits at S10, ap1. Where this ends up becoming ridiculous is that the wording for the focussed death ray is that each unit takes 2 hits for each model under the line so in theory if you hit 4 space marines and a rhino the marines would take 10 hits and so would the rhino. As it was ruled the marines would take 8 hits and the rhino would take 2 which seems much more reasonable. Another point to make about them is that they don't have to fire in the same direction as your not targeting a unit which also means that they can't jink.

As I said, I wasn't going to do a turn by turn full battle report but here is a summary of each game and the highlights:

Game 1
The first game was hammer and anvil deployment and each of us had 1 objective in our own deployment and a relic in the middle. My first opponent was using the new harlequins allied with dark eldar and unfortunately I don't know much about the harlequins (even after the game I still don't...) so this will be rough estimations. The pylons hosed down two squads of skyweavers (the bikes) on the first turn getting me first strike while a squad of immortals moved towards the relic. The rest of his army fired into the immortals killing 2 and the solitaire charged them killing another 2. Zhandrek came on in his flyer, the pylons and characters deepstrike next to him giving me a line through 2 starweavers one way and 2 different ones the other. All 4 of them exploded, one killing all the passengers, one squad were pinned and the remaining 6 guys and the solitaire charged the characters. Obyron challenged which was accepted by the solitaire and due to his counterstrike rules every miss in a challenge gives him an extra attack. With his WS 6 and with astoundingly bad dice rolls from the solitaire along with his 2+ armour, re-rolling 1's and reanimation he was unhurt and managed 9 warscythe attacks back. Along with the other warscythe attacks I fully wiped the squad without taking a single wound. The only thing left was his razor wing jet fighter which I had stunned that last turn so it would be going off the table. That was pretty much everything. I did lose one of the pylons to deepstriking Archon with a dark eldar warrior and poison shots as they were able to arrive on the one unprotected side.

Game 2
This was also hammer and anvil deployment and was big guns never tire using 3 objectives. The list I was up against was a thunderfire cannon, big grav bike squad with a chapter master and khan, an imperial knight, 3 tactical squads in rhinos which had broken down into 6 combat squads, 3 of which were outflanking. His entire army fired on the 5 immortals and didn't cause a single wound, I shot back. Around turn 2-3 his bikes made it into combat with 5 immortals who held mainly due to the reanimation rolls (an re-rolls...). I split off the characters and charged the bikes wiping them out. The imperial knight counter charged the characters, only hit twice and didn't roll any 6's but my invulnerable saves kept everyone alive and the warscythes finished off the knight which scattered backwards not hurting anything. The character squads moved towards the centre objective and charged a rhino which exploded. Zhandrek was in his flyer taking out other rhinos and having random pot shots at tac marines. Turn 5 Zhandrek disembarked next to the thunderfire cannon which was in a bolstered ruin on an objective, Obyron and the mini lord with his strength 7, ap 2 flamer landed behind the tech priest and killed him which also destroyed the thunderfire cannon giving me all 3 objectives and line breaker. Kharn was riding around on the tomb citadel taking advantage of the 3+ invulnerable save but didn't want to charge anything so he survived.

Game 3
This game was dawn of war deployment and mosh pit which is essentially a kill points mission with a slight twist. There is a 36 x 6" zone in the middle of the board and you only claim kill points if you destroy something while you have one of your own units in the zone. Killing something while you don't have anything in the zone gives you nothing. At the end of the game you also gain 1 VP for each unit in the zone. My opponent was Danny who was using 3 wraith knights, 3 wave serpents, 2 hornets, farseer on jetbike and a squad of warp spiders. This was by far the most challenging game for me as everything in the big squad of death is essentially a kill point since they are all independent characters and the wraith knights can cause instant death on most of them. Danny deployed his wraith knights and reserved everything else, his warlord trait allowing him to re-roll reserves kept everything else off the table until turn 4. He managed to get a wraith knight into combat with an immortals squad who stayed in combat, my character squad counter charged and killed it. He snipped out one of my mini lords who failed his 3+ invuln and reanimation with re-rolls. He then charged his second wraith knight into the other squad of immortals and failed a 10" charge with his 3rd. The immortals kept the wraith knight in combat for 4 rounds, losing 1-2 every turn but passing the leadership tests while the characters dealt with the other wraith knight. The pylons took out 2 hornets in one shot, 5 warp spiders and all 3 wave serpents during the course of the game

Overall I came away with 1st place, Bloodiest general and had to avoid any dark secluded areas on the way home. During the course of these games I think I only actually lost one of the characters in the death star who was one of the mini lords and in all 3 games I only lost 2 pylons. Even the immortals survived most games and they seemed to take the brunt of the punishment as it seemed to my opponents that these were the only things that could be killed. The organiser did say that if I turned up with the tomb citadel again he would take it out back and set fire to it....

I guess my main point is, when does something become too overpowered that something has to be done about it? In seclusion, non of these things are too bad but combined with everything else it becomes ungodly, kills everything and simply doesn't die. We were standing around after the tournament and half a dozen of us were trying to think of anything that could successfully take it on and we couldn't come up with anything that would a) be able to deal with it and b) still be reasonable against anything else. In a competitive environment is something like this fine and reasonable or is it just...not fun? The other problem of course is that when people complain about the fairness of 40k its usually to do with D weapons, Lords of war or allies, none of which were used to make this list so what could be looked at to mitigate this douchbaggery? Taken in seclusion most of the things we see as overpowered can be dealt with fairly easily. Revenant titan, lynx or a Lord of skulls spring to mind and I've faced 8-9 of these in the past few months and they have died every time I've seen them and they seem to be fairly well balanced within the points cost. The issue comes when someone puts one on a skyshield landing pad and casts invisibility on it that people start to see it as broken.

For those of you who have seen some of my earlier articles this may seem to contradict my "lets play it as it was intended to be played" attitude but that is not the point I'm trying to make. The units themselves are not overpowered, its the asshats that bring them in that one combination that makes it broken and anywhere there is a system with rules and guidelines on how something should be used someone will always try to come up a way to bend those rules as much as possible. Is this broken? Fair? Within the spirit of the game? Does it even matter? For me this seems like a personal choice on the part of the player and can even be considered good generalship.  As per the battle of Thermopylae a smaller force was able to hold off a much bigger army using what they had at their disposal be that troops, terrain or tactical advantages. For me personally I won't be taking this list again as it leaves a sour taste and is borderline between not-being-fun and just the look of pure hatred coming from my opponent puts me off slightly.

As with most things, this shouldn't be banned just used in moderation.

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