As you know, I’m not a fan of how Games Workshop handles its secondary flagship product, Warhammer 40k. They release their new codexes with long time gaps, put emphais on the Space Marines and put price hikes on their products. This time, however, they seem to have outdone themselves.
There is a 40k-army called the Grey Knights. In the 40k-lore, Imperial Guardsmen are the cream of the crop recruited from the armies of billions of worlds. The Space Marines are even more elite, with every single marine being hand-picked from the best of the best, having endured training and genetic enchancements that kill about 90% of any given recruit batch. And the Grey Knights are the best of the Space Marines. They hunt demons with their psychic powers and swords that kill anyone instantly, and never in their lifetime has any Grey Knight fallen to the temptations of Chaos. Apparently there is a short story of a Grey Knight who was randomly teleported into the Warp, arriving in a Daemonic city filled with Warpspawn. He immidiately began a rampage through the city, slaying demons until they teleported him back so he would stop ruining their dimension. He apparently defended some convoy from an entire enemy army single-handedly, killing enemies with bolter fire and power fist (or something).
With GW spreading their creative wings with the new codexes, they are going to make the Grey Knight army the most elite army ever. Big point costs and insane power levels. Psychic flamethrowers that straight-out remove models from the board. Imperial guardsman, poof. Older-than-Warp-Star Vampire Gods encased in living, self-repairing metal, poof. Gone. While to me as a Necron player the thought is horrid, one choice they are (apparently) making is so idiotic that it trancends the game and hurts me as a game designer.
They are making them murderous against Daemons.
Now, this might seem like a sensible thing to do. The Grey Knights are meant to fight Daemons, so should they not be effective against them? Effective, yes. Not murderous.
Apparently, the Grey Knight models/squads will have a special 10” field around them that will cause Deep Striking units automatic mishaps. So a few units spread around will make about half of the game table deadly to Deep Striking units. This wouldn’t be as bad as the fact that every Chaos Daemon unit comes into play via Deep Strike. So in a Grey Knight-Chaos Daemons-matchup the Daemon player will likely lose at least one unit to that field. I’m not certain, but I remember that the models are quite expensive, meaning that the loss of any unit might be catastrophical. And to top it off, the Grey Knights also have Preferred Enemy – Daemons, meaning that they can reroll their attacks against them in close combat.
Why do I rave about this? 40k is a long and heavy game. You invest money into the models, you clip them out, glue them together and paint them. Then you make a game table, some tiny terrain, study the rulebooks before you can actually play. And then you find another sad tosser who plays the damn game, get yourselves to the game table, deploy the models and spend up to several hours playing it. If Grey Knights automatically win every match against Chaos Daemons, why would you even want to go through the game itself? Imagine that you and your friend are the only 40k-players you know. Imagine that your first army that you put so much thought and money in would always lose to your opponent’s army. Always. How long would you want to play the game?
Now, I think that Grey Knight and Chaos Daemon matches should be something special. After all, they are mortal enemies to each other, moreso than any other army. But instead of designing the other army to perfectly counter the other, they should make the battles different. I’m not sure, but I recall hearing something about a rule that the old Grey Knights used to have bonuses against the Daemons, but every dead Daemon unit came back into the fray the next turn. That would be great: The other army is efficient, but the other one has a special advantage. Instead of accepting the inevitable loss, the Chaos player would just have to shift his strategy to utilize the new advantage. That way the matches would not end after revealing which armies the players brought with them.