Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CSM Options: Familiars

The new chaos codex offers two different flavours of familiar for the best dressed chaos lord: a spell familiar and a combat familiar.  Speaking as an old-timer (read: Realms of Chaos era), I fully welcome the addition of these two familiars to the codex family!  Its great to see them both have a place!  We'll have a look at each in turn.

Firstly the combat familiar.  This guys is a cheap-ish way to purchase two extra attacks per round.  The only drawback is that they are S4 AP- attacks.  Hence, the combat familiar isn't too great.  If the attacks were made at the same Strength as the chaos lord, then this would be fine and a reasonable upgrade.  But given the price tag, a power weapon would prove a better investment surely.

Secondly: the spell familiar. I like the idea presented in the codex relating to the Thousand Sons.  Particularly that these familiars are tutelaries as we read about in the Horus Heresy books! The spell familiar allows the user to re-roll failed psychic tests.  This is quite valuable in the long game.  Having said that, all the dark sorcerers have Ld10.  Even the aspiring sorcerers of the Thousand Sons beat out the other cult units in having Ld10!  (e.g. plague champions "only" have Ld9).  So, such psychic tests are going to fail 3 times in 36, which is once every 12 times.  But if we're considering a Sorcerer Lord with a level three mastery level, they could be throwing out 3 spells per turn: a total of 15 spells per (5 turn) game.  Hence in a game of 5 turns, we could expect (on average) at least one failure.  Is it important to have 15 passed tests instead of 14?  Probably not.  But knowing my die rolls, its probably going to be the one time that its really, really needed!  Even so, I cannot contend that the spell familiar is a good investment of points. 

For interest, in the previous codex, a spell familiar cost 5 points and granted the player an extra psychic power.  This was a totally superior familiar, but I can see why it was done away with!  As an additional note, the version 3.5 codex also had the same familiar: 5 points for an extra "major power".  But I think a full discussion of what a "major power" was (as opposed to a randomly rolled "minor power") is best left alone for the time being!


erfunk said...

The reason I think the Spell Familiar is worth taking is its effect when combating Eldar, Nids, and GK. All of them have things that modify your psychic tests, either through extra dice or modified LD.

jabberjabber said...

I take your point about eldar (etc.). If I knew in advance that I'd be facing them, then yes: this would be a good investment.

Unknown said...

Keep in mind that you might also want to re-roll rolls of snake-eyes for your powers. With that in mind, you are looking at a 1 in 9 chance of needing a re-roll, and consider as well that many psykers can use powers and/or their force weapon during the opponent's turn, and you can really get some mileage out of that familiar.

As Erfunk syas, there are plenty of armies that are going to be affecting you psychic tests. The other two not so much, but Grey Knights are pretty common as allies.

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