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Thursday, July 1, 2010

These Special Characters are Special

I'll be honest. I've been keeping away from forums a little bit these last few weeks, because they were starting to drive me nuts. The idiocy of the masses combined with a growing sense of malaise and ennui about my life in general was really starting to manifest in me getting meaner rather than funnier. I'm feeling a little better now, so I hit up the retina burning power that is Warseer for some LOLs today. Seriously though- bright white text on a black background really hurts my eyes. Why would anybody choose such a scheme? So please Internet, stop using scheme like this or I will be forced to implement a pink and green scheme here to really put the hurt on.

Well, as you can expect, there are a number of things that I could have gotten riled up about on the seer today- people being fuckwits regarding the recent FAQ releases, more retarded army rankings based on the powers of subjective interpretation, WFB8 fallout, and so on. But what really put a bee in my bonnet today? Well fluff bunnies narrative gamers being close minded idiots of course.

Brettila seems to be tired of special characters. They're too powerful. Why would someone important be fighting in a little skirmish? Blah blah blah. Brettila really lets loose in Special Characters: Where Will the Madness End? Here's what he had to say:

So I decided to bring up an ongoing debate from my local gaming group. We have reached an impasse on the value/impact the unfettered addition of special characters has had on 40K.

I feel it only just, to begin by stating that I am FIRMLY from the old-school camp of, "You have to ask your opponent to play one." I do understand that allowing them when and wherever makes sense for them businesswise; as they can sell a plethora of expensive minis.

My objections are based upon two arguments. The first is fluff-based. Why in the world would someone like Abaddon (pronounced "uh-bad-done" BTW) be involved in some 1500-2000 skirmish? He leads Black Crusades, of almost all of Chaos, trying to destroy the false emperor; not insignificant shoot-em-ups for nothing. The same goes for Kharn, Mephiston, etc. Unless it is a game of Apocalypse, I just have a hard time buying the presence of these godlike beings.

The second reason is purely game-oriented. SC's tend to (from my observations of players in several states & 3 different time zones) cause players to build army lists that are very static. They only buy certain units that work in the, "Kharn Kills Everyone" list, or the, "Mephiston's Unlimited Jedi Power" list, etc. I see people playing armies that are right out of the yearly 'Ard Boy, rather than exploring their codex to try new builds and combinations. For example, I often think of some sort of combo I want to try, or an idea like, "How many template/blast weapons can I get in my CSM army for 1500 points?" I will work out the army list without any opponent in mind. I'll keep it in a folder until some future date when someone wants a game of that point level then play it; regardless if it is good for the mission/opponent. But armies based on SC's seem to look the same game after game, and if their opponents' reactions are any guage, are not much fun to play against.

So to sum up, where does everyone else stand?

As you might expect, the replies are varied but most seem to consist of comments like the following:

Some Idiot: "Too many armies rely on special characters. Apart from the obvious ones of ravenwing/deathwing, that literally cannot be built without special characters, lots of others rely on them to be effective. It is poor, lazy writing from GW"

Some other Dickhead: "I'm in agreement with you Brettila, I detest the over abundance of special characters - they used to be a rare treat, but they're no longer anything special"

Now, as I'm sure you have already guessed, my thoughts on this are quite different. First of all, Brettila is clearly a whiny piece of shit. No shit GW is trying to sell models. That would be a pretty good business model for them- make rules that encourage players to buy new stuff so we can stay in business. Second, here is my reply to his dumbass "arguments."

Oh boy, my favorite word ever. Surely nobody could ever use this in the wrong way or as an excuse to suck. So special characters in skirmishes aren't fluffy? Why would Mephiston participate in small battle? Well clearly you have no imagination. Make up a fluffy reason for the battle. Quit being lazy and hiding behind weak excuses. Eldrad and his small elite cadre of foot slogging body guards were ambushed on the way to this year's Eldarcon. Creed was meeting with the command staff of his rear guard when a small surgical force of biker outriders led by Wazdakka penetrate their lines knowing that Creed would be there, and are bent on his destruction. Was that so damn hard?

You're also forgetting the "counts as rule." If you don't think Pask would be participating in a battle, fine. But what if you still need his mechanics for something? Well re-name him in your fluffy list. He could be used to represent other historic characters like Gen. Grizmund or you could make something up yourself (heaven forbid you flexed your imagination muscles). Here I'll give you a name for free (but a second one will cost you)- Magnificent Brett. There that wasn't really very difficult.

Lack of Variety
Too bad the special characters actually foster more variety in list making. Have you noticed that contra to your belief, special characters often can inspire a great number of viable and more diverse builds than a regular codex. Creed giving you the ability to scout a unit gives you many different possibilities for creating a sneaky/fast guard army that you didn't have before. Lots of players will exploit this in different ways.

Shit, sometimes you even need a special character to make a build work. Anybody that alters FOC choices is great for adding variety. Want to Ravenwing? Well take Sammael. Don't think Sammael belongs in a fight- well call him Sam I Am for all I care, but you need him if you want scoring Dark Angel bikes. This doesn't imply or dictate that every special character driven army will look the same. There may be some similarities in builds due to working with the strengths and weaknesses of your special character, but that's just good sound list building at work. If you didn't take Ravenwing squads with Sammael I would punch you in the face. That doesn't mean you can't support him different ways after you've filled out your troops. Want a Raven-Rodeo list? Get some Assault squads with your (now open) FA slots. Want to make use of those homing beacons on your bikes and make up for your shit CC due to small squad size? Deep strike some terminators. Feel like you need some more vehicles? Well it looks like Predators or even more Landspeeders would synergize well with your list.


Chumbalaya said...

SCs are like any other choice in your army. The only people who dislike them are holdovers from 3rd edition, lemmings following the crowd and butthurt fucktards who need something to blame rather than face their own inadequacies as a player.

Tinkling Koala said...

"I'm sorry, I can't let you play Salamanders with an accurate in-game representation of their specialties because that's not fluffy."

Honestly, it cannot be logically justified, something like this can only exist in a rational person as a cover for their own inadequacies.

The SC losers aren't as bad as the guys who claim that Mech Guard is unfluffy though. Gee, last I checked that had historo-fluffically been their single greatest strength, besides ubiquity.

SandWyrm said...

Bah! People call my Mechanized Tallarns unfluffy even though there's Tallarn tank fluff right there in the codex!

What will they say when I bring out the Sanguinary Guard list I wonder?

"You always take Dante!"

"Um, yeah. He's REQUIRED for all these scoring feathers dummy! What? I should just take tanks instead?"

Ishamael said...

Shit, I wish Tau had characters that were worth a damn. One nerfs the army, one's a Space Pope, another's a suicide stealth suit, and the other one rides a sandworm.

Never understood this method of whining. It's in the codex, and the rules don't stop you from taking characters. Unless you have an older codex.

Actually, one of my friends whines about special characters...yet has this habit of taking 2 in whatever army he plays...

Anonymous said...

You know the awesome sauce thing about "fluff". Its all the fuck made up!!! I can say, this and that, and wave my dick around like Harry Potter, and poof, its now "apart of the fluff."

Seriously, why do these tards (turds?) even bitch about this stuff in the first place?

Oh and Dethtron shouldn't it be Magnificent (not) Brent?

Tinkling Koala said...

It's unfluffy to use your army's patent strategy because it's effective! Stop being a better general than me!

It's unfluffy for you to make up a compelling background for your own Space Marine chapter with distinct leaders! Stop being more creative than me!

GMort. said...

My Marine army is a made-up chapter of my own invention that turned renegade. Therefore I use Marine models with Chaos spiky add-ons. I've used pretty much all of the useful Marine special characters and have my own converted 'evil' versions of them all.

If I'd known having an imagination was a bad thing...well I'd have done it anyway...and bollocks to anybody who doesn't like it.

Zheilt said...

The "Marneus Calgar wouldn't be in a 1000 point skirmish" argument is so dumb. Doesn't it say somewhere in the rule book that just because you're playing a a specific points level, it doesn't mean that represents the ongoing battle as a whole? Like, the 1500 game you're playing is just like the "camera" focusing on one portion of the battlefield that actually covers the whole continent. I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere from a GW rep.

Actually, the "camera" analogy would make it even more likely that there would be a SC in every game. Nobody goes to the movies to see random squads number 5, 6, and 8 fighting random enemy squads number 4, 9, and 15.

Phalanx said...

I lol'd when I read this. Most special characters actually would be with a small skirmish sized army, or at least SM special characters would be. Looking at the BL books, many Captains, Librarians, and Chaplains will take part in an important mission with only a couple of units to back them up because a larger group would be too easy to spot or track. You also have to remember that you could just be looking at a small part of a battle and not the entire thing.

There's plenty of reasons for SCs to show up even in small battles. All it takes is a little thinking as Dethtron says.

DFM said...

Ohh a raven rodeo list!

If only my assault marines weren't now coated a fine burgundy/brown, and my bikes transformed into a VC Army that would be awesome!

The_King_Elessar said...

Shrike wouldn't be in a skirmish. Got it.

Eldrad wouldn't be with a small strike force. Got it.

Tigger doesn't lead small task forces. Got it.

Those smaller raids, like the forerunners to the Gothic War, or the acquisition of Drach N'yen weren't really Abaddon. Got it.

Ahriman doesn't attack tiny monasteries with a handful of guys. Got it.

Straken/Al'Rahem has never fought a guerilla campaign. Got it.

...Need I go on?

Spas-anuses, lern2Fluff.

Raptor1313 said...


Is it REALLY THAT HARD to come up with a reason WHY a character might be there? I mean, really?

Can you not use counts-as? Maybe a 2,000 point army IS Abbaddon's 'body guard' and he's launching a spearhead? Too hard, obviously.

And hoenstly, if you really want to cleave to fluff, it has changed a HEAP in the time the game's existed, yet managed to be a bit stagnant as well.

As for builds...um, again, all they do is unlock more builds. Each of the special HQs in the Space Marine Book, for example, opens up at least one new army option. If you limited yourself to the unnamed HQs you'd still have options, but they all work differnetly and all bring something to the table.

Also, if I drove to the store to play, and someone turned me down because he didn't like the fact I brought Kharn? COME ON. Dear god. I understand being tired of playing against, say, the same army build week in and week out and telling the mech IG guy you'd rather play the Tau guy, but telling the CSM guy you'll play him ONLY if he drops Kharn? WEAK SAUCE.

Codex doesn't say 'permission is required', so guess what? PERMISSION NOT REQUIRED. THERE. SIMPLE. I FIXED IT! ...I wish.

Messanger of Death said...

Special Characters don't break the game. It is under priced Rhinos and Chimera... we should comp any player that uses them. And Footdar.


Muffin said...

The following post contains RAEG. Consume at own risk.

Minor point he made, but it pissed me off a lot. "a-bad-done". Ugh. Pronunciation arguments make me want to rage so much.

1) GW's stuff primarily appears only in written form. The verified pronunciations are mostly anecdotal ("I heard Phil Kelly say it that way at a con once so I'm right") or from things like DoW which as we all know, has hilariously bad voice acting. I wouldn't trust the Soulstorm voice actors to clean my shoes, and the way they chew up and spit out words is not to be taken for word of god.

2) For the love of christ people, do you know what an accent is? Forums are international places and people have different ways of speaking. Point is, attempting to prove your point about the way a word is pronounced using only written aids is like trying to explain what the ocean is with only a glass of fruit juice. It's not like there's not a system for that sort of thing. IPA people. If you're going to be pedantic about pronunciation on the internet, learn you it good now.

Let's try it. 'Chimera'. Cambridge dictionary says kaɪˈmɪərə. Problem solved. Now for made up words it's another matter so I have a better answer: who fucking cares? From now on I'm going to pronounce Kroot as "bungle" just to fuck with them.

3) Who the fuck made YOU the authority on the matter? The fact he throws it in there as a casual aside reeks of "I'm right. No argument."

Note* Muffin's a linguistics student. The only thing that makes him rage more than 40K pronunciation dick waving is "Leet is killing English baaaaaw".

Oh, and special characters add variety and fun to the game. You may now tear me to pieces.

The_King_Elessar said...

Ah, Muffin. It seems you can be relied upon to vanquish the ugly face of prescriptivism - leaving me to rage about other things. I salute you.

Shame I have to deal with such archaic attitudes IRL...my brother in particular refuses to accept that vernacular=correct. :(

The_King_Elessar said...

Or rather, equally legitimate, since there is no such thing as 'correct' in linguistic terms.

Hoagy said...

Just my 5 cents - whay was this guy lumping Abbadon(pronounced 'go fuck yourself you pedantic twat' btw)in with Primarchs? He was never a primarch, but anyway, has he even read any of the Horus Heresy series? there are PLENTY of accounts of SCs and even Primarchs being involved in small scale skirmishes; sometimes its the smaller ones that can turn the tide of bigger conflicts. SCs do bring good things to the table, but some of them also create some hinderances too, I guess it does all boil down to the list you build (i'm still learning this).

Bottom line, imo, that the guy has achieved nothing by his little rant other than to make me (and possibly others) roundhouse kick him into the sun.

Brent said...

Not Brent, Magnificent or not, hurts Brent's feelings.

And naturally Not Brent beat Brent in the last FNF... can I add them together to feel good about myself?

I was actually going to jump on the pronunciation thing but Muffin beat me to it, and he did it better.

The only reference to Abaddon I know of is the Old Testament - do any of us think we can pronounce things like ancient Jews? We anglasaisize words; we all do it. So even though the soft C in the Boston Celtics drive me nuts, that's the way it is.

For what all that's worth!

Dethtron said...

@Brent: I think you need a character named butt-hurt brent

@muffin- I think it needs more glottal stops in the pronunciation

Brent said...


Well, you're the one that had the idea for Not Brent, so if you're really trying to drive me to cutting...

Muffin said...

@dethron I use the schwa as a sort of half glottal stop. It's got the same qualities but it isn't as harsh. A full-on glottal stop would sound weird. Probably kinda cool (a la Regina Spektor) but still weird.

Dethtron said...

well I was going more for a dick van dyke school of cockney... but that works too.

DFM said...

Two things.

1. @Brent - Does cutting yourself heal the Not Brent?

2. Muffin for FNIF Win due to the ass whipping he delivered on Thursday's thread.

Oooh a easy one this time.

Trani. You know, those things that go Chaggu chaggu, coho coho.