Monday, February 20, 2017

What To Do About Magnus?

Magnus the Red deserves some special attention.  If you have not played against him yet, let me say this:  he is a world in-between.  As the Primarch that represents the Tzeentch he's a changer of games.

The model is enormous, taking up all of its base and then some.  It’s as big as the WraithKnight and much broader.  It flies around on wings and if you didn't read his unit entry you'd just assume he was a Gargantuan creature (though he is not).

I think the most important thing I could possibly tackle is the simple question:  how do you beat him?  To defeat ones enemy, one must know ones enemy.

Magnus relies on Blessings because he has only a 4 invulnerable save.  When you first see that on the page, you might not be so worried after all.  You should be.  The problem with Magnus is that his 4+ invulnerable save becomes a 3+ if he is benefiting from a Blessing which he inevitably will be and then there are psyker powers that can turn that to a 2+.  This on its own is reason to worry since it is also a Flying Monstrous Creature and therefore difficult to hit in the first place.  Magnus serves Tzeentch and as such re-rolls any 1’s on his saves.  Even worse.  He only really fails on an exact roll of a 2 (most of the time), because ones trigger re-rolls.  That is incredibly hard to get through seven times, and he does have seven wounds that are Toughness 7.  Impressed yet?

You must find weaknesses.  His primary weakness is that he can be stomped out of existence.  He is not immune to being removed by a Stomp.  They did not make the mistake of making him Gargantuan like they did with WraithKnights which he dwarfs in girth.  He almost immediately begs you to take a stomping model in your force,  if you know you could be seeing him and at tournaments.  You will be.

Deactivating his Blessings is one defense.  If he is forced to have a 4+ invul (re-rolling 1’s) he becomes a lot more susceptible to torrenting.  You can do this via the Culexus Assassin or Sisters of Silence, though you will of course have to probably go second to make that work the best that it can work (which means handing Magnus the initiative...).  Magnus is flying and is unlikely to stop flying, so he will have to move towards you to get in range and stay aloft.  This will shorten the distance the Culexus must travel before popping out and giving you your chance to strike and ground Magnus.  Once Magnus is no longer flying and is engaged, he loses a lot of his useful psyker powers (though not all and he should not be underestimated in melee).

The Sisters of Silence are kind of a new addition to 40K and I am not sure how far spread they are out there, but they certainly would be an excellent option for someone to use when dealing with Magnus.

One of the ways you will see Magnus used (and because many people seem to own a lot of winged Princes) is the Rehati Formation from the Traitor Legions book.  It allows Magnus to gather up a Flying Monstrous Creature circus of up to 9 Daemon Princes (though you won’t see more than 4 in all likelihood).  I have fought this particular variety of list a couple times now and can tell you it’s essentially four models absolutely blasting and summoning from the landscape with Psyker goodness, and often they will have at least one prince casting the Shrouding power which is a 12” bubble.  This allows the Daemon princes to Jink and act like batteries for Magnus at worst, which encourages them to keep fairly close together, lest they fall out of the bubble.  I mention this because Dark Eldar have a particularly useful tool here. 

The Crucible of Malediction is a terribly worded relic, but what it does is creates a 3D6 inch range nova like shot that auto-strikes any unit with a Psyker in it causing a STR 6 hit.  Hardly seems worth it BUT…  Think for a moment.  This means that the tightly packed Daemon Princes in the skies are all probably getting hit because they are flocking closely together!  The Crucible of Malediction is effectively  gives you skyfire, with no roll to hit, against all of them.  Impressive.  Already a very high percentage play.  STR 6 will wound Daemon Princes on a 3, Magnus on a 5.  Best part?  NO SAVE OF ANY KIND.  None of Magnus’s shenanigans work on it.  Fish for a 5 to ground him and maybe get a freebie wound on the way down!  This is probably the best chance you could ask for to take him down, so you can swamp him in a Beastmaster unit and let him rot there for the rest of the game with their babysitter HQ (one hopes made fearless by then using Power From Pain).  Assuming the worst and you “only” cause wounds to his group of Daemon Prince batteries, that’s fine.  3-4 more grounding opportunities all in one go, from one model.  You really couldn’t ask for a better deal.

Orks have the Traktor Kannons.  These babies are fun.  They can hit on 5’s, re-rolling and are Skyfire STR 8 AP 3.  Magnus may be tough but these wound him on 3’s and if they get through, it’s a grounding check at -3!  Talk about a good chance to drop a flying Monster and more importantly, it is their BEST chance.  Flyers and Flying Monstrous Creatures aren’t rare (especially the latter) so it makes more and more sense to consider ork artillery.  The fact that it is Toughness 7 does not hurt at all.  With enough tries, that artillery unit could be a hassle for Magnus and once on the ground, Magnus IS dangerous but not as bad as when he’s in the air.  A cheap Squabbling ork unit could keep him in one place for a while.  The Buzzgob Stompa will be unimpressed by his STR 7 Force Weapon methinks.  7th Edition really has made Gargantuan models “feature” models and as much an ANSWER to others as they are actually necessary for killing in general.  If it were not for the Magnus and WraithKnights of the world, many Gargantuan models would not be necessary but, here we are and here they are, to stay.

Other armies must deal with Magnus in a more circumspect way.  While Grey Knights might have enough dice to nerf the powers they really really need to (as most Grey Knight armies are easily cresting 14 dice a turn, they have at least a shot of turning one or two powers off) others do not have that luxury.

The Tau Empire for which I am most known, has no psyker defense outside the Talisman of Athas Molloch, and that's if you're willing to pay the Farsight Enclave tax (I am generally).  I recommend taking that.  There is a whole lot of Velocity Trackers they can utilize.  Overloading on this very expensive upgrade may not be advisable but look at some of the “power builds”:  Magnus is our chief concern today, but Tyranids are very strong when they are sporting five flyrants, Magnus and the Rihati formation of course, Heldrake spam in their new Formation are pretty nifty, Chaos Daemons with Be’lakor and Screamer Stars, and the list goes on.  Ravenguard won a huge tournament using some flyers that could pretty much come in turn one as well.  I think Velocity Trackers are definitely going to need to be present when Magnus is in your area.  Not having an answer for flyers is worse than the points you “waste” by doing so against armies that don’t necessitate it.  The old adage “better safe than sorry” is the operative concept.  The Stormsurge is an obvious platform to use it on.  So are the High Yield Missile Pods on your broadsides.  Given that the Tau Empire army can do little about the psyker problem directly, and given peoples propensity not to use Mysterious Objectives (which can grant Skyfire), I think it’s warranted.

My Militarum Tempestus with IG allies takes 3 Psykers in the Imperial Guardsman blob, and that Psyker defense of 5+ against things like Psychic Scream and flickering Fire is worth it.  If you weren’t a fan of boning up on Psykers before, reconsider should you play them.  Your blob-star can be a very effective weapon against a guy whose main coolness in close combat comes from swinging a Force Weapon.

Here’s a blast from the past:  Could Gloom Prisms actually be useful again to Necrons?  In a Canoptek Harvest list, especially, you will end up with a pretty fair number of Canoptek Spyders and the Gloom Prism has never been a fan favorite but Necrons may have reason to reconsider them as Magnus flies imperiously above them.


Those are just some ideas on how to handle this magnificent beast.