Thursday, February 10, 2011

Special Characters: Ban them or Embrace them?

Old school here with a quick discussion topic for you. If you follow the tourney circuits, then you know the ETC has voted to ban special characters from their tourney this year. This ban was decided by votes from the players involved.

With that being said, it would seem that despite the direction 5th Edition has taken special characters, there are still plenty of folks out there who do not like them.

My question to you is What do you think about special characters? Are they good for the game and a welcome part it tourney play and pick up games? Pick up games only? Do you feel they should not be brought at all unless for some fluffy story telling game. Perhaps you think they are overpowered. In any case, the goal here is to get a discussion going, so please lay out your case and opinion. I will swoop back in in the morning to join with my own opinion. The floor is yours.
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  1. I've never played in a big tournament but...
    I see'em like this... They're awesome (usually fantastic models and fun rules) but, a generic HQ is only generic if you don't put the love into it. The generic ones can become so unique (in appearance and backstory).

    The special characters also can add power (Vulkan, anyone?) to the army; so much so that those who do not take them *can* have a hard time. Denying Vulkan, Mephiston, Ghazghkull, etc... can force players that lean on them too much to really put their armies to the test :P

  2. I don't usually run special characters with my Blood Angels, but I love the options they bring. I don't think the game would be as fun without Deathwing, Sanguinary Wing or Loganwing armies popping up occasionally.

  3. I don't have any big problem with them. They're just a collection of stats with a point value, a character with fixed gear instead of an armory. The fact that they have a special name is just incidental.

    Personally, when SCs are used I *prefer* for them to be used in an army one of two ways. One, as a centerpiece the rest of the army is built around - this is Ghazzies personal guard, or Pedro leading a vital Crimson Fists mission, etc. Or...two, as a counts-as version, essentially a custom character that just happens to have the same stats. What I don't like from a fluff/visualization standpoint but don't care about as far as a game itself goes is a SC that's just tacked on. "Yeah, here's my Vostroyans, and here's my Catachan Marbo and Cadian Creed that happen to be here." Huh?

    I understand a bit about complaints that Eldrad or Marneus wouldn't be in every fight, but neither should a "generic" Daemon Prince, Chapter Master, etc. But hey, it's a game, and I often view 40K games as part of a larger battle anyways.

  4. I'm not a fan of banning special characters, especially those that unlock alternate army builds. Of course, I'd prefer if the rules were written in such a way that you could take those alternate builds without a special character, like Wraithguard (a full squad of 10 with Spiritseer becomes troops). As is, the 40k special characters are completely reasonable when you compare them to the special characters of Fantasy.

  5. 40k special characters are part of the game. I don't like the idea of banning anything. Seems like the wrong response.

  6. Ban them? Seriously people just like to cry about something these days. Most of the beastly characters are upwards of 230pts.....230 pts?! thats a land raider....or decked out storm raven.

    I dont have a problem with SC...none at all. They are meant to be played.....they are in the codex.

    Me id only bring a special character if he helps my entire army.....Like say Fateweaver....the duke from DE.....The SC has to have some pretty beefy abilities that adds to the synergy of my list. IF it doesnt ill just build my own HQ for prolly half the cost and hell do the same thing that the 200pt SC would.

  7. Unless you're paid to write rules for GW, you have no business dictating what you can and can not take from Army Books.

  8. Back in the dark times of 2nd Edition we would chose not to play with special characters as there was a lot of ways to make the character you wanted and you we're limited to a FoC at all.

    That being said I can see in 5th if you remove special characters how would I be able to take my Deathwing Army if that's the case?

    I don't think that that force is an overpowered force and why would I be restricted in playing it?

  9. sure they bring alot of good to an army, but they do also have a draw back.
    they are a points sink, and once gone, thats that, all those points have gone out the window. so in my opinion it evens itself out, they have a great stat line n weaponry, but you do pay for it, moreso when they are killed off.
    so i say allow them.

  10. Banning stuff is not cool.

  11. I wield many special characters in my catchan army. Straken and Harker is always in the list in 1000points cause i love the way i can use them to play a uncommon IG army.

    I wield Straken as a deathstar unit and Harker as a way to get vets infiltrated... Catachan devils anyone? Marbo i have often in 1000+ for fluf, hilarious situations for me, my opponent or for both. I even ran Nork at one point.

    If they banned SC i wouldnt play IG anymore. SCs open up alot of funny builds and i would miss them alot.. especially at tournaments..

  12. Banning Special Characters is like saying "no Rhinos allowed". You just Nerf some armies and others do not care.

    I wish the game rules allowed you to just buy the special powers withoutt the character.

  13. I'm personally not a fan of SCs in 40K or WFB - but thats mainly down to how opponents seem to use them i.e. taking the bare minimum in a list to allow the maximum number of SCs.

    I personally think SCs should be used sparingly.

    Then again, I dont think banning them outright is entirely the right solution - maybe limiting SCs would be more effective?

  14. Since majority of the people here seem to be on the "ur crazy to ban" boat, I'll have to devils advocate.

    Its weird to me that a special character shows up to every fight someone plays. How many times has vulkan died? Marbo? Marbo is the deadest special character I know. Special characters are unique and in 5e are just thrown around like a regular generic guy.

    As far as the points costs, you might look and say "holy crap, mephiston is (something like) 250ish points?! That's a landraider!" Or "You paid how many points for Logan?!" But their effectiveness is crazy. They're not only difficult to kill, but most of the time, pretty killy themselves. Relative to a land raider, I'd rather have to kill a land raider than have to kill Lysander, any day.

    So I can see why some people who might play in a meta where every player has these special characters in their army and they're leaned on a pushed to the max like combining Lysander and Vulkan or some other weird, non-fluffy combo. Sure you can make most anything fit the fluff, but come on...don't push the win at all costs.

    People that want to ban specials aren't looking at the armies that take creed just because he can issue 4 orders instead of 2 and can at 24". That's the whole reason I take him. I hardly ever use his special order or try to abuse his scout move he can give to a unit. Its the players who have pushed the boundaries of fun with maxing out special characters who have created this little minority, lynch mob. You know who you are...knock it off!

  15. Personally, I disapprove of banning special characters because it just adds to the social stigma some people seem to have about using special characters. If you don't want to use Specials, more power to you, 90% of the time I don't either. But the attitude that Special Characters are somehow innately broken, or unflavorful, or whatever, is just annoying.

    I have actually run a demo of Warmachine, and had someone complain that they HAD to include a "Special Character" (their Warcaster) in the army. When you're projecting your biases on a completely different game, you've gone too far.

  16. Special Characters are the "traits" system for 5th edition, but they are available to all of the armies. Banning them is kind of silly.

  17. My personal opinion is that banning anything that is allowed by a codex is absolutely the wrong road to go down. Codex designers and studio playtester (despite what some might think) spend a great deal of time and consideration writing the rules in modern special characters and I think the balancing factors are there.

    Furthermore, some special characters unlock army builds that otherwise would not be possible (ravenwing, deathwing, pure salamanders, helion armies, ect.) and while I think GW could make regular HQ's with upgrades that would make this possible, they do not and the armies that can come out of this are often fun, exiting and competitive with other solid armies.

    I would also submit that if you are running a tourney like the ETC and your players have come up through multiple tourney circuits across the globe (ones that included use of special characters), and you suddenly ban them, instead of making the competition a more diverse and competitive tourney, you have actually made the process of developing lists that much easier and much less innovative. "Well, I don't have to worry about seeing Eldrad or any real Salamander army, or any form of outflanking biker build" Essentially, this creates a much more sterile, artificial competitive environment.

    Competitive play aside, some folks also believe that Vulkan, Abbadon or the Swarmlord showing up to every pick-up game as being kind of dumb. Really, there are a couple ways to take that. Maybe, in the narrative going in your head, all of your regular games are "The big one" and your army is pushing the enemy's last stronhold or protecting their leader. Maybe the army is the special guard or elite for their SC (Loganwing for instance).

    For those people who still cannot stomach that, perhaps instead of Pedro Kantor himself being present, perhaps it is a captain of your own design, using the rules and points for Pedro. This leaves plenty of room for creativity and imagination as well as for conversions. Whether it be an Imperial Fist version of Pedro or an Iron Warrior counts as Vulkan, the possibility for cool conversion and unique story developement is there.

    I think the whole arguement really stems from the schism in the group that makes up the 40k community as a whole. There are the old players from 2nd and third, who more often or not, took a break during 4th and have come back to a much different game in terms of the way the rules are distributed in the books and how the game works. They are used to an older way of doing things, where special characters were frowned upon in general and were altogether banned from certain levels of play. The idea of Vulkan He'stan or The Duke being used as a game mechanic is heresy and feels kind of lame to these older players, because it isn't something that existed when they began.

    The other group are the guys who came in during 4th or 5th edition and never knew a world without SC's playing a part.

    I think there is room for all types of wargamers in 40k, but for the old guys ... the game is changing and the era of holding back on characters is over and the rules and points value usually reflect a more balanced approach to fielding them as well. Give them a chance, try them out. If you don't like them, put them away and move on. If you do, show these young bucks how it's done and convert and model an amazing centerpeice model based on a SC.

    New players, understand the bias of the old players and maybe don't use SCs as a crutch every game if you do. Show them you are a good player without them and then pull the SCs back out. You may learn something as well.

  18. The problem with this entire discussion comes once you read the imperial guard codex, which specifically states that with the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of worlds out there that are occupied by the imperium, there is -bound- to be another KC Pask.... another Marbo, another Creed...

    That is how the codex specifically states to think about special characters