Thursday, May 5, 2011

Justicar Thawn And The NOVA Format: A Problem

by SandWyrm

Since the GK codex was released, I've had two 1500 point games against the new hotness with my Imperial Guard. I won big against farmpunk's Rhino/Razor approach (mostly due to his rolling), and drew against CaulynDarr's drop-knights. Both of those games (particularly CaulynDarr's) have given me an appreciation of the Grey Knights' strengths and weaknesses.

So I figured it was time to see how I would do against Spaguatyrine's StormRaven/Librarian rush list. It's the approach that, on a conceptual level, I like the most. He's also had a lot of success with it. So I invited him over to the man cave for a late night game after work.

With the NOVA coming up, I also wanted to have a 2000 point NOVA-format battle to test my modified Adepticon list. Spag hadn't played his GKs at this level; but he had plenty of extra models with him to choose from, including a 2nd Raven. So Spag put a list together and we went at it. We chose the 3rd primer mission.

The objectives were:
1) Table Quarters
2) Objectives (5)
3) Kill Points
The deployment was Spearhead. I beat him... barely. Then I found out today that he made a math error in his list. Instead of 2000 points, he'd only actually taken 1869 points.

So... Why did we have such a close game? I had every advantage. I had more points, went first, and had average rolling to Spag's middle-bad. I also deployed perfectly while Spag flubbed his; I even  dropped both StormRavens over 24" from my lines, making him walk to me under fire.

What then, was the great equalizer?


Yep. Everyone's favorite resurrecting Justicar. For those that don't know, he's a 75 point upgrade character for a unit of Grey Knight terminators. If he dies, you place a marker on the table where he fell. Every subsequent turn you roll a die. If you roll a 4+, he gets back up as an independent model with one wound and he can shoot or assault as normal. Since his unit is a troop choice, he's also scoring.

I killed him 4 times in the battle. He got back up 3 times. After dying the first time, he killed something like 2 squads and 2 tanks all by himself and sucked up a crap load of anti-tank fire that I would really rather have put elsewhere. But I don't have a problem with that. I'll figure out how to deal with Thawn's killiness in the future. That's part of the game.

No, the problem I have is how he interacts with the current rules for the NOVA Tourney missions. Specifically, the Table Quarters objective that was our primary. That objective states that to control a table quarter, you must have more Victory Points in it than your opponent does. The rules for Table Quarters also state that a unit with half or less of it's models remaining still counts as the full value of the original squad.

So, instead of Thawn counting as 115 VPs by himself every time he got back up, he counted as 300 points! Or 525 if Spag hadn't split the unit. Which is a problem; as you can't move, destroy, or block Thawn's marker. He'll always get up on a 4+, even if he has to be moved further than 1" from an enemy model to do so.

Plus, if he dies before his squad does (which can be gamed with wound allocation), both he and his squad will be worth full VPs. Giving a canny opponent an extra 300 (or 525) VPs to spread around the board when playing a Table Quarter objective.

Stay Down!!!

So despite everything I did right, I would have lost the game if Spag had made his last 4+ resurrection roll. My final turn came, Thawn assaulted my Primaris Psyker's squad, and he got put down by the Primaris' force weapon. I then had to wait and see if Thawn got back up. When he didn't, I won on Objectives, 3-0.

That's not cool. I mean no disrespect to MVB, but a change needs to be made to the Table Quarters rules before the NOVA this year.

I've sent MVBrandt and e-mail about this already. plus, He's probably going to read this. The NOVA missions were written before THAWN!!! was an issue. His resurrection's why I like him so much. He's like St. Celestine, the Troop choice. -farmpunk


  1. Table Quarters units are only max VP under half for Troops.

    Also, I don't feel disrespected, I would just prefer you couch it in terms of us developing the primer missions without Justicar Thawn released yet.

    All that said, we'll probably clarify that if he dies, his value is all that remains if he stands up again, maybe.

  2. Thawn is a Troop.

    Fun fact: I pointed out he was the dumbest thing in that Codex going all the way back to the leakdex, because there's no way to prevent him resurrecting.

    It's the Matt Wardiest thing in that whole book. Would be stupid for ANY model, but for a Troop model, it's ludicrous.

    If the GK player has second turn, he'll literally be turning games from "I lose/draw" to "I draw/win" based on the outcome of a single 4+ that the opponent has no matter of affecting, at all, with no skill or thought required whatsoever.

  3. It would be nice if a squad or tank could surround or sit on top of his marker to keep him from resurrecting.

    "Shoot him in the head if he twitches!"

  4. You could lash him about I suppose.

  5. i'm not convinced he's a Troop once he gets killed the first time. the rule states that he's a separate unit after that point, which i can see being interpreted as his being divorced from the original unit in every way, including the 'Troop' designation. there isn't any other model/unit with a rule that is close enough to this to really gauge precedent.

    i see the other side as well, but i think that it is vague enough to be in question, which means it is up to the TO or a dice roll to decide BEFORE the game begins.

    personally, i'll play it any way my opponent wants to call it.

  6. No offense, but saying he's not a Troop anymore flat out makes no sense.

    It's not like the unit was magically allowing him to be a Troop. Thawn, himself, is a Troop model just like any of the other Terminators in that unit. If he dies and comes back, he's still Justicar Thawn, and he's still a Troop.

    Everything in the game has to belong to an FOC slot, and even in GW's godawful rules-loopholey nonsense, they have always made certain of this. Even Dedicated Transports and other things that sit outside the FOC chart still technically count as belonging to one of the slots, and this is always specified.

    You can't just say he's a null-selection and somehow loses all connection to the FOC chart because he made use of his special rule.

  7. Although, it's important to note that wording absolutely IS strong enough to negate Sandwyrm's worries about the point of this article in the first place.

    For the purposes of VPs, Thawn would cease being a part of that unit of Terminators the first time he resurrects. He is his own unit, and therefore the Terminator unit is not "alive at half-strength" in order to receive VPs (full VPs, in the case of NOVA).

    The Terminators are dead, and Thawn is alive at full strength, having formed two separate units at the point when Thawn performed his resurrection.

    By NOVA's rules, he should be worth 115 VP for Table Quarters, if he survived following a resurrection.

  8. Now that I think about it, this guy is bad. Horribly bad.

    Want to win Capture and Control? Just send a 10-strong unit of Termies forward in a Storm Raven led by Thawn. The Raven will get you across the board in 1 turn. Then you have 4-5 turns to hack your way through to the objective and... sit there. Your opponent can't block Thawn, move Thawn, or do anything once he's on the objective but hope he doesn't get up.

    The rest of your entire army can just sit tight on your own objective. Unless you're fighting Chaos (lash), Wolves (Jaws) or DEldar (Hellion Drag) you'll never get worse than a draw.

  9. The Termies don't have to be dead for Thawn to split. Just allocate all melta hits to him when you're shot at. Then you end up with a 115 point Thawn and an above-half unit of Termies that technically get full VPs. So you're still 115 over the total that should be possible for the game.

  10. No, you would obviously remove Thawn's point cost from the unit of Terminators.

    If the original unit was 415 points, and you kill them and he comes back to life, then the dead Terminators are worth 300 VP and Thawn is worth 115 VP.

    It's a case of the rules very clearly stating that a single unit splits to become two separate units. As much as people try to get cute with those circumstances, it's pretty clear how it should be handled.

    It's not "you get a brand new Thawn to replace the dead one!," it's "Thawn is counted as a separate unit."

  11. And yes, a self-resurrecting unkillable Troop model in Objective games is exactly what I was talking about.

    DE can't even drag him away, he's not an IC.

    All you have to do is get the little bastard within about 8" of an objective and the opponent now has to babysit that objective with something strong enough to deal with a Terminator, over and over again, for the entirety of the game. And even that won't be enough if he gets close enough to contest it and pops back up on Turn 7.

    durrrrrrrr Matt Ward

  12. He needs to be classified for the VP rule, but besides that I agree that he is just awesome.

    I plan to have him just for the fact that he is so annoying, like Death Leaper.

  13. Among the other stupidities:

    He's also, himself, a Level 2 Psyker, rather than making use of the Brotherhood of Psykers rule. It's idiotic that he doesn't.

    Because of that, he can cast Hammerhand for the unit (using one of his two available Psychic Powers), and they can still make use of their Force Weapons (using Brotherhood of Psykers).

    Even when he's on his own following a revival, he can use both.

    derp derp derp derp

  14. Yes, It was hillarious! I did work 11 hours before we played, so I am still not sure how I missed the 130 points. I figured it out eventually, I should have had another 5 man strike squad in the mix. Anyways, I am not sure I would actually use him. I just didn't have anyway to get to 2000 points with what I had since I only had 1750.

    Good article.


    Sent you an email about Nova. Thanks!

  15. you could hog on your objective so he has to get up out of contest range, and hope not to get assaulted off.

  16. I don't know how you could reliably do that though. A 20-30 man IG blob could maybe keep him 3+" away. But anything less and Thawn could just walk and then run around them.

  17. You could move him if you Terror from the Deep a Mawloc on top of him and contest the objective at the same time.

  18. That sounds very nasty for objectives but pretty funny for KPs, do you get a point each time you kill him like whack-a-mole?

    Guys like this is why you need to take a psyker battle squad! Cheese vs Cheese! Fearless is lost if the character is in a unit of non-fearless troops. Pin them if you have some pinning weapons or just make them run away and escort them off the board with a Chimera.

    Weaken resolve counters these kinds of units pretty well, although my absolute favourite use is still vs devs lurking in the backfield.

  19. No, he's worth a separate KP once he resurrects (though, by the strictest rules, he actually ISN'T worth another KP if he doesn't ever resurrect--creating a weird situation where the unit might be worth 1 or 2 KPs depending on how/when he dies) but it explicitly says you don't get his KP if he's alive at the end of the game, no matter how many times you kill him.

    So, again, if the GK player is going second they get to negate his KP on a 4+ on the last turn of the game.

    And yes, he's not Fearless while the unit is alive, but obviously anyone intending to use him to annoy an Objective would just continually allocate the first wounds possible to him. Especially if there is a PBS around.

  20. Ooof true, he's obscene really. Removed from play weapons seem the only real way to deal with him reliably although torrent fire would get around the wound allocation issues. Flamer spam or something.

    At least if they take second turn you get a chance to down whatever transport he's in and leave him footslogging from the backfield.

  21. Wow Thrawn is a lot more useful then I gave him credit for. Didn't consider the option to just play dead on an objective. Nifty.

    Couple of oddities.
    --I noticed he is fearless. He's not an IC, so he doesn't explicitly lose it, but there's nothing to say the unit gets it either. Odd. Granting a unit of basic terminators fearless would be worthwhile if it worked that way.
    --Can an IC join him after he's died and come back? That's pretty damn tricky, I'd be inclined to say yes but I can see the argument for no too.

  22. "--Can an IC join him after he's died and come back? That's pretty damn tricky, I'd be inclined to say yes but I can see the argument for no too. "

    I'd lean towards no.

    He explicitly forms a separate unit once he's revived, and THAT unit always consists of a single model, which would prevent him from being joined to an IC.

    It's another stupid situation like the KP one--if he's just the last survivor of the unit, an IC could join him. But if he's been revived, he is an explicitly separate unit consisting of a single model, and wouldn't be able to be joined.

  23. Well no. In that case he's like Mephiston. He can't join a unit, but an IC can join him.

  24. No.

    ICs can't join Mephiston, either.

    Single model unit caveat in the IC rules.

  25. The caveat only really applies to units that are ALWAYS/ONLY single model units, which is why you can join a prime to a lone Carnifex.


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