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Telemachus
04-07-2013, 21:01
As the title suggests, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on what constitutes a 'broken' army or unit. I was having a discussion with a couple of guys in the local GW store the other day and we got onto the subject. My take on it was that given the scale of the game, 16 armies in 40k, that it would be a near impossible task to produce that many codices for release at one time.

Meaning that every new release would leave several others floating about in the last edition (or 2 editions ago!). Some units would appear overpowered compared to older ones and some armies much worse off than newer ones.

Is there something else that makes an army 'broken'? Your thoughts are welcome.

Cheers

Bad monkey
04-07-2013, 21:14
Post moving away from my folks I had a very broken army.

A.T.
04-07-2013, 23:00
Different kinds of broken.

You had things like the sirenbomb ("the psyker may not be targetted by shooting attacks or assaulted this game turn"), the old eldars indestructible mech list, and so on. Some new cron lists are a bit like that, essentially armies which can win games by virtue of opponents not having any meaningful way of playing against them.

Specific hard counters - warp quake and scouting against daemons, and before that the daemonhunters sanctuary power (created an area of impassible LoS blocking terrain for daemons 3" in all directions from the psyker or the vehicle he was in).

Then you have things that just weren't all that well thought out like the non-scaling faith for sisters, the apocalypse-scaling lightning storms and nightfighting for crons, compulsory zeal for templars, and absurd drawbacks (for instance the 3rd ed Celestine crippling her entire army if killed or the ever popular grey knight formation which, upon the death of the last daemon, required the GK player to hand their models over to their opponent and sit out the rest of the game - yes, really).

Rules that just don't work, the literally broken stuff (forgeworlds supersonic transports that are incapable of dropping off passengers)


Finally there is just the stuff that is obviously too cheap/good or expensive/poor which is often called 'broken'. Some really are just terrible (4th ed spawn) while others are just not as good as some players would like (6th ed banshees).


In terms of a whole army i'd go with the templars (broken in the sense that the rules are a wreck), and sisters (broken in the sense that they are not particularly functional as a stand alone dex at higher points levels).

Other books are powerful, or not, to varying degrees with crons laying good claim to the crown - in retrospect some of the odd stuff in the dex can now be seen as ward using his foreknowledge of the 6th ed rules to sneak a bit of a power trip in under the radar. Simply being more or less powerful doesn't make an army 'broken' though, it's more of a handicap system where players with some books are at an advantage/disadvantage over others.

Menthak
04-07-2013, 23:23
Missing weapons, scratches, arms and legs damaged.

No I kid, A.T got it spot on.

IcedCrow
04-07-2013, 23:24
Something that requires a hard counter to stop.

MajorWesJanson
05-07-2013, 01:07
Well a pretty good clue is "Did Goatboy at BoLS write the list?" :p

Ruination Drinker
05-07-2013, 01:09
Does the army you play violate the First Rule for your opponents? That could be a hint.

squeekenator
05-07-2013, 08:51
Something that requires a hard counter to stop.

I'd like to expand on that, I would say that anything which a non-tailored, all-comers list cannot reasonably be expected to beat on a consistent basis. Land raiders could be said to require a hard counter in the form of big anti-tank guns, but it's reasonable to expect that a list will include heavy anti-tank weaponry, as it's widely available in (almost) every codex and big tanks are fairly common. Likewise, a light flier can be defeated by an all-comers list, as any decent list should have enough firepower to bring one down, whether it be through a quad-gun or the like or simply enough low strength firepower to chip away at its hull points. On the other hand, you can't reasonably expect a non-tailored list to beat 9 vendettas, because having that much anti-air firepower in your list would cripple it against anything that doesn't spam AV12 planes. For some armies it isn't even possible, not everyone can bring enough skyfire weapons in a single FOC (or even two at 2k) to stand a chance. Of course, this is affected by points level too - if you're playing 500 points, you shouldn't expect an all-comers list to be able to reliably bring down even a single land raider, and taking just one would be a bit dodgy, while at more standard points levels of between 1500 and 2000 no one model is going to have that large an effect on the outcome of the game.

Spider-pope
05-07-2013, 09:58
Once the ratio of complaints to compliments about the army on the internet reaches 10:1, the army is officially broken.

Poseidal
05-07-2013, 10:02
Broken is like SSF2T Akuma. Has mechanics / power the game clearly wasn't designed to handle.

Top Tier is like SSF2T Balrog. Power / mechanics are very good, but still handleable by the other choices; just top of the bunch but within the parameters of the game. Note that it could be still too good and requires downpowering, but not too good in a game breaking way.

Latro_
05-07-2013, 11:03
No army is technically broken as it could play its self or the same list so the matchup would be fair.

Broken is basically the term used not so much on an army level but on a list/unit level in 40k to highlight lists or units that are powerful against a wide cross section of other lists/units.

It can also fall down to the x Vs y broken, e.g. you could argue a marine army with 3 whirlwinds and 50 heavy bolters is broken against a ork horde but against a deathwing army it would suck... so its broken in one regard and not in another. Generally though folks label something broken when its good against 'everything'.

You can see then that at the top echelons of competitive play in 40k every army is trying to be 'broken' e.g. good against 'everything' and some regard that as an aspect of the hobby its self. e.g. listen to the 40k global podcast and you'll quickly see what tournament armies are like compared to everything else.

Think of it a bit like illegal street racing :D, if you just bum around in normal cars with your friends and race about maybe add some cool looking tyres or mods then you'll probably have fun and win a few races etc...

You go up against some professional street racer with thousands invested in an engine of some nuts car, all tuned to perfection etc then he's gonna leave you in the dusts. He's modding his car to compete against similar cars its and arms race of the automobile! His care is 'broken' vs a huge cross section of other cars but he merely competes with his peers...

The fact tournaments don't often have 100% the same army with 100% the same list means there is no 'one' broken army, its been close a number of times and armies/lists/units are constantly changing aswell, this is the 'game' the competitive players play.

For example 5 years ago if you said grey knights and tau were really competitive etc you'd get laughed at... now tau especially are smashing face on the tournament scene etc...

El_Machinae
05-07-2013, 11:29
The final broken (and I'm just gonna give a "+1" to the "hard counter" expansions, up above), if these some type of geometric synergy available in the rules. This would mean that something is 'neat' if taken in small quantities, and 'broken' if taken in large quantities. Like, if a squad's weapons increased in awesomeness if the squad has more members, but then there's an additional option to take an independent character for 15 points (or something). Suddenly, the squad is 40 members big and have 48" S9 AP1 Assault 8 weapons.

I don't see these happen in 40k, but it can happen in lots of gaming systems and quickly get noticed by power gamers.

A.T.
05-07-2013, 12:17
One type of 'broken' not covered is the guaranteed/high probability risk vs reward unit, essentially anything that allows the player to get back their value or more without a meaningful element of risk, skill, or random chance.

The 2nd polymorphine rules were an example of this - pick an enemy model, remove it, no saves. It was later revised to affect basic troopers only but the original rules were hugely abusive.

This type of 'broken' can be somewhat mitigated by context. The old Hades drill for instance was a cheap and powerful deployment device but also the only way krieg could deploy quickly forwards and limited to carrying an expensive and underarmed unit. However in order to sell more drills forgeworld also opened it up to the cheap and heavily armed guard veteran units which greatly magnified its effectiveness.

Lucius assault pods were also viewed in this way as there was such little chance of failure and so few drawbacks.

BigHammer
05-07-2013, 14:12
The 2nd polymorphine rules were an example of this - pick an enemy model, remove it, no saves. It was later revised to affect basic troopers only but the original rules were hugely abusive.

"Of course I am your lord and master Abaddon, foul servant of the dark gods. Er, I mean, mate." <stab>

I miss seeing Callidus assassins on the table, but yeah, their original rules were stupid. 2nd Ed Warp Spiders weren't quite as bad, but they weren't much better. In 6th Edition the only units that frequently get described as "broken" are things like the Heldrake and the Vendetta. To be honest, if that's the worst 40k has to offer these days I can deal with that. Though the Vendetta painfully needs to be more expensive... ;)

Telemachus
05-07-2013, 17:33
Thanks for the replies. Although I don't play tournaments, I do play a lot of casual/friendly games, and I always have a little chuckle to myself when I hear others around me say such and such a list or unit is 'broken'.

I can fully understand that newer units whose rules have been written with the latest edition in mind can be a lot more powerful than older ones, but I can't get my head around really competitive players moaning about an opponent's army because it's just beaten them. Does anyone think that 'broken' equals the number of times you've been handed your backside on a plate by similar lists? Or am I just being cynical?

Thanks again

3eland
05-07-2013, 17:48
Well, I don't mean to be "one of those guys" but Warhammer wasn't designed for competitive play and thus nothing can really be "broken".

However, I have seen anything that another person doesn't like fall under the "broken" list, then, it goes onto warseer or other websites and has pages upon pages about why it's broken and no one likes it. Helldrake kills your unit from vector striking = BROKEN! Grey Knights roll over your fluffy army = BROKEN! Tau destroyed a whole horde of troops before you could even make it to their side = BROKEN! Necron mind scarabs makes your 350+ point HQ choice kill itself = BROKEN!... and the list goes on...

Spellduckwrong
06-07-2013, 09:12
"Broken" is the sound that the meta makes when it is forced to change in direct response to a new army, new rules or sometimes a new unit. Nob Bikers did this, Draigo Wing did this, Cron-Air did this, the Heldrake did this, the Tau did this, I assume that the Eldar (in one form or another) will do this and probably the next codex and the next. Eventually, the change is complete and it doesn't hurt as much. Poor Nob Bikers, they used to be broken, now they are just needing repairs and a tune up.

DeathGlam
06-07-2013, 11:30
For me it is if id have to tailor my entire army just to have any chance of an enjoyable game against that person, as some of us just want to collect the models we like and stop at that, i dont mind losing but its nice to not feel you have no chance unless you change your entire army concept.

MajorWesJanson
06-07-2013, 11:35
"Broken" is the sound that the meta makes when it is forced to change in direct response to a new army, new rules or sometimes a new unit. Nob Bikers did this, Draigo Wing did this, Cron-Air did this, the Heldrake did this, the Tau did this, I assume that the Eldar (in one form or another) will do this and probably the next codex and the next. Eventually, the change is complete and it doesn't hurt as much. Poor Nob Bikers, they used to be broken, now they are just needing repairs and a tune up.

Nob Bikers and Draigowing weren't so much adjusted to by the meta as got caught by an edition change and weakened. Night Scythes and BaleDrakes are actually better under the new rules than they would be in 5th. They are broken not just because they are strong units, but because they ignore so many of the balancing drawbacks that other similar units have- If the Night Scythe had to hover to drop troops off safely, or the baledrake actually had to jink to get a save and face it's target to shoot at it, they would not be nearly as bad.

Scammel
06-07-2013, 12:00
I don't think it comes down to merely power and pricing, I think it's something a tad more complicated. I'd say a unit becomes 'broken' once it can't truly be assigned a points cost. I'm no game designer and I'm certainly not privy to the thought processes of the design team, but I think we can all agree that point cost is roughly derived by looking at both how much the unit in question can accomplish and how much the enemy needs to accomplish to deal with. 'Broken' units defy such calculations because they either cannot accomplish anything or the amount the enemy needs to accomplish to deal with it varies heavily or is outright impossible.

A unit might be so truly worthless it can never be worth whatever you pay for it and may even be a downright hindrance - old Chaos Spawn and the Dwarf Flame Cannon in Fantasy are prime examples because they just can't ever work. On the flip side of the coin, if a unit possesses counters that are so few and so specific that its' worth can fluctuate wildly from game to game, it could also be classed as 'broken' - Fantasy Daemon Princes, for example, are very prone to cannon fire against armies that possess that capability but against many others they are about as unkillable as it gets. Against Ogres, the actual worth may only be 200pts, against Beastmen, it may well be 2000.

El_Machinae
06-07-2013, 13:00
One type of 'broken' not covered is the guaranteed/high probability risk vs reward unit, essentially anything that allows the player to get back their value or more without a meaningful element of risk, skill, or random chance.

The 2nd polymorphine rules were an example of this - pick an enemy model, remove it, no saves. It was later revised to affect basic troopers only but the original rules were hugely abusive.

This type of 'broken' can be somewhat mitigated by context. The old Hades drill for instance was a cheap and powerful deployment device but also the only way krieg could deploy quickly forwards and limited to carrying an expensive and underarmed unit. However in order to sell more drills forgeworld also opened it up to the cheap and heavily armed guard veteran units which greatly magnified its effectiveness.

Lucius assault pods were also viewed in this way as there was such little chance of failure and so few drawbacks.

Wow, I like this insight.
Are there any other 40k units that seem to be 'broken' in this way?

Mandragola
07-07-2013, 01:38
I'd say that riptides are on the edge of that kind of broken. It's incredibly hard for some armies to kill them if they hang back. Plus the context within the army really matters. It changes the tau army to give it such an effective defensive blocker.

pantsonhead
07-07-2013, 03:31
Concerns about "the meta" probably make it impossible to come up with a really good definition of "broken". No list is broken in all conceivable metas.

But some metas are preferable to others. Given some ranking of possible metas, a list (or unit, or codex) is broken to the extent that it is destructive of better metas.

For example, lots of people don't like flyers. They don't want a meta where everyone needs lots of anti-air, which will often come in the form of more flyers. But lists that bring multiples of certain flyers (Helldrakes and Nightscythes being the main offenders) dominate lists that don't have lots of anti-air. So, plausibly, these models, or at least lists that bring lots of these models, are broken in that they're destructive of a fun meta and promote a less fun one (one where everyone has lots of anti-air, including their own flyers).

I expect that it is uncontroversial to say that a list which beats everything other than itself is broken, but obviously such a list is not necessarily overpowered given the meta, provided that the meta is "everyone takes this particular list". We can say it's a broken list because basically everyone agrees that a meta that only allows one list is a terrible meta.

Losing Command
07-07-2013, 05:36
I think that 40k is actually becoming less and less ībrokenī than it used to be. Heldrakes and such are all very annoying, but when you hear the stories about a chaplain with a jump pack and a vortex grenade single handedly winning a battle turn 2 and eldar charging you from the other side of the board recieving an extra attack for every inch they moved, a lot of things suddenly donīt sound that broken anymore :D

dooms33ker
07-07-2013, 06:41
Broken is like SSF2T Akuma. Has mechanics / power the game clearly wasn't designed to handle.

Top Tier is like SSF2T Balrog. Power / mechanics are very good, but still handleable by the other choices; just top of the bunch but within the parameters of the game. Note that it could be still too good and requires downpowering, but not too good in a game breaking way.

Hehe. Or the Cable/Magneto/Sentinel MVC2 combo. Everyone and their dog learned how to use them.

Weird Boy
07-07-2013, 08:12
Fifth edition codices, still in circulation. There's your definition.

Reinholt
08-07-2013, 23:04
A few thoughts on how to define a meaningful framework for this:

1 - You need to specify your sandbox. A gloves-off tournament will have a different definition of "broken" than all-comers gaming night at a store. In the former, the expectation of what you encounter may be different than the latter.

2 - You need to specify in what way something is broken. I find some of the above commentary good, and that it breaks down into three categories: brokenly bad (so poor that you basically can't play it if you want to be able to reasonably compete), brokenly good (so good that opponents cannot reasonably compete against you at all, or without doing things that greatly compromise the effectiveness of their force against any other kind of army), and brokenly weird (as in, it literally just doesn't work right, making it either shockingly good beyond even just being under-pointed, shockingly bad in a way that is truly disruptive, or just breaking the game and causing impossibilities, like being able to make a scenario un-winnable by either side).

You can test for each one in the following fashion:

- Would someone get upset with this at a tournament?
- Would someone get upset with this in medium-power all-comers gaming?
- Would taking this dramatically reduce your win percentage?
- Would taking this cause major rules issues?

If yes to one or four, it's just brokenly weird. If yes to two, it's probably brokenly good (example: the cron air type list that a standard all-comers army just won't have enough guns to deal with). If yes to three, it's probably brokenly bad.

I think within that context, your definitions drop out for you, and it also reveals the divide between tournament gaming (take anything that's not legitimately rules ruined) vs. casual gaming (don't take things that require narrowly tailored army lists to beat you, or that devolve into a rock-paper-scissors match where you are really just hoping you get the right matchups and/or go first) vs. genuinely weak design (nobody takes the sad old pyrovore because, well, he's sad).

KhornateLord
09-07-2013, 00:03
Broken, as a concept is easy to understand and hard to define/draw the line.
It's easier to first look at whether something is undercosted.

Let's take a helldrake.
For it's cost, a helldrake with a baleflamer, is better than any other fast attack option in the chaos list.
Every unit has a cost, and every units effect should be in proportion to it's cost.

The least beneficial way a unit can pay off, is by psychological effect. This is entirely dependent on your opponent, and is often used as a confounding factor to back the use of an otherwise useless unit. Case in point is warp talons. However getting a 160pt 5 man warp talon squad to pay off using psychology is pretty hard.

The next least beneficial, is the ability to hold an objective. Bear in mind, that I mean the ability to hold an objective is a low benefit in itself, however each of these benefits can have synergistic effects. A good example is a unit of cultists. They can hold an objective, but it doesn't take much (usually just assault from a tactical squad, or some rapid-fire bolters) to get rid of them.

The rest of the factors, aren't really in order or importance, as it depends how much of each a unit holds:

Staying power. Units that can take punishment and stick around. Each point of toughness over 4 takes away 33% of the damage you will take from massed bolter fire. This ability has a natural synergy with holding objectives. Plague marines as troops are a good example, and it goes a good way to explaining why they are a viable choice when other 20+ point chaos elite>troops options are not.

Damage output. This is the complement of staying power, how much damage can this unit do? Each time it kills something, it prevents the enemy using that model to hurt you, hold objectives, or just take up time slowing you down.

Force projection. This is the key caveat on damage output. Bezerkers are a good example, having a lot of damage output, but next to no force projection. The importance of this has increased in 6th ed, so longer range is more useful, and melee-limitations more harmful. However force projection also includes speed. Raptors have better force projection than bezerkers, which offsets their lower damage output. And their price is better. Bezerkers are slightly tougher, in that they are fearless.

So you look at a unit, and use these factors:

Warp Talons: Damage is good, force projection is okay, but there cost is very high and the survivability is not much better than raptors. They are so costly, that they are a very good target for bolters. Psychological effect is only apparent as a deterrent against some assault armies and against newbs.

Raptors: Damage is moderate, force projection is good especially when you give them meltas so they can have multiple roles. At the price a small unit of raptors to help in assaults and take out vehicles is a good choice.

Helldrake: We'll get back to price. It's force projection is subperb. It has speed and a 360" turret. Combined with it's amazing survivability, it's a pretty hard combination to beat. The baleflamer is an amazing weapon, and gives it a lot of damage. Between it's vector strikes and flamer which can effect two targets a turn, it can easily dish out it's cost in damage in a single turn. Therefore the only conclusion you can draw is that the combinations of it's abilities are far undercosted, making this the safest, most effective and annoying option to pick in that slot. To price the helldrake effectively, it has to be drastically more expensive, OR have worse force projection OR do less damage OR be less survivable OR a combination of some or all of these. It would probably be okay with the 10pts off the price, a 30pt upgrade cost for the baleflamer and only frontal 90degrees for the template.

Some units are costed for their impact on other units. A land raider increases the force projection and toughness of whatever unit you put in it, which is why they are pretty well balanced at their obscene points cost, despite never really paying for that off the back of their own firepower.

The vendetta, on the other hand, is now reasonably tough (as a flyer) has good damage output, and retains it's forceprojection/toughness for a unit placed in it.

There is no problem in 40k, that can't be addressed by fixing the pts cost alone.
That doesn't necessarily follow that everything SHOULD be fixed by tweaking the points cost.

I wanted to mention something else. Heavy bolters and Whirlwinds against terminators.
Terminators fail half as often as power armoured marines. With gear, they are upwards of the cost of 3 marines each (42pts +) in general for imperial armies.
At that cost, whirlwinds and heavy bolters are extremely effective. In general, relying on large volumes of anti-infantry firepower with decent range is a good way to go. While plasma guns certainly feel effective, many upgrades such as storm shields etc are geared towards stopping short range low AP high str firepower, but will do nothing when whirlwinds, heavy bolters, or battle cannons are landing on your terminators.

So in general, heavy bolters, scatter lasers, etc are an effective system to kill termies. At 75pts, a whirlwind is hard to knock back as a heavy support choice, simply because whether against marines, hordes, or terminators you can cause a lot of wounds, it has a far reach, and is generally hard to kill.