Friday, 3 January 2014

The Irrational fear of Screamers.

The Irrational fear of Screamers.

  So lately there has been quite a few discussions surrounding the 2+ re roll able save ‘issue’, what with Feast of Blades introducing Comp to stop Screamers getting a 2++ (by banning the Grimoire outright), Front Line Gaming changing the re roll from 2+ to 2+ and the second save being a 4+ and now some TO’s from the UK are talking about it.  Add to that a lot of normal guys talking about it a well.

  Now one thing that has struck me I haven’t seen any of the top tier guys talking about banning it, whys that then?, pretty simple IMO they know how to play against it.  Now I will be talking about the Screamer council rather then Seer council as I know the Screamers rather well.

  The 2++ re roll mechanic has been moaned at quite a bit but IMO there are a lot of balancing acts going on, for one the cost of it, with the Screamer Council the costs are 4 heralds one of which has an Exalted Reward, all being level 3 for max rolls on divination as well as shooting and one herald sporting a Locus of Conjuration also they will be running another exalted reward herald for a portalglpyh.  That little lot stands you in at 565 pts. and that’s pretty basic for them (mine run in quite a bit more).

  Then you add in the Screamers, 225pts for 9 of them, then mix in Fateweaver to the mix, 300pts please.  Tallies up at 1090pts, now in a 1850 game that’s 58% of your army, at 1650 (current GT level) that’s 66% of your army, in pretty much one unit (let’s face it fatey is there as a buff and very rarely you what to put him in harm’s way so his uses are quite restricted).

  So 60 odd percent in one unit, that’s the first balancing.  Most of the missions in 40k are objective based meaning troops are king, daemon troops are weak to be frank so you don’t have much to spend on them and that’s without thinking about units to support the screamers, usually Flesh hounds or Soul Grinders for pure Daemons, Blobs or dettas, cults and spawn/heldrakes/dp for allies.  All of which really eat into the points you have left other.

  The other balancing is the percentages, now everyone bands about the 1 in 36 chance to wound them, that’s fine it is true.  Now let’s look at the others that matter, IF screamers are going first and that’s quite a big IF this is the chances you have of rolling forewarning, casting Forewarning activating the Grimoire (factoring the Fateweaver reroll for Grimoire only) that’s a 70% chance of it working.  Then factor in casting forewarning on the other turns is 1 in 12 and grimoire with re roll is 1 in 9.  Then factor in not going first and throw all the above out of the window as no powers means Screamers die very easily……

  So yes the odds are with them but over the course of a game it’s not guaranteed trust me I know…..
Now, if you were an experienced player at the top of the 40k tree you will definitely look for the Grimoire to fail or fail to cast Forewarning, but what happens if they don’t?.  Simple, play the mission.  There is more than one way to play 40k one is playing the mission, other is playing the opponent, most people think it’s about playing the opponent which is why they come unstuck when playing against Screamers as it won’t work if it’s a good Screamer player.

  How do you play the mission against Screamers?, simple kill the troops protect your troops, do not bunch up and let the screamer player kill more than one unit a turn as frankly that is all they ever should be killing against a good player.  They can shoot and assault one unit but they will try and multi assault you to high heaven, good players do not LET this happen, they do not bunch up and wait to be assaulted. 

Yes the screamers will go after your troops but you have to give them hard choices, go into the corner to shoot your troops and you will move up field and kill their troops screamers do have good board control but it’s not that hard to wrest it back from them.

  Also, snipe the Grimoire bearer, its well known that he only has a 4++ RR 1's with Forewarning on, force wounds on him like you should be anyway against a unit with a weak character in there (Etheral springs to mind).  Barrage, blocking LOS to other models, making him closet model to the firing unit etc etc.

  The other thing Screamers like to do is to contest at the end of games while only holding one objective contesting all of yours and therefore winning the game (winning it by playing the mission I might add), simple you will have to do this against jet bikes and other fast moving armies, it’s a little tactic called bubble wrap, make sure he cannot get within x amount of your objective and voila! He cannot contest.

  People like to bleat on about them being so so broken, if that was the case then surely screamers would have won ANY thing in the UK or USA, iirc they have won a small tourney or two in the US (few of which were probably 1 dayers) and hardly anything in the UK, defiantly nothing of note in every country.  Why is this? Because of the above.

  In my opinion the issue most people have with playing against Screamers and saying they aren’t having fun is because they are failing to adapt to the mission.  They write their list a certain way and expect to play it that way every game, fail to do it against the screamers and then moan about it.  Ok some games against them just won’t be fun, I had one guy playing Dark Eldar just didn’t like the screamers, but the other games he played where he used his venom and splinter cannon spam to shoot people off the board he enjoyed, funny that the one army he couldn’t shoot off the board he kept to the same tactic he used previously and lost the mission because he wasn’t playing it.

  Personally I have played Screamers since last June/July after playing FMC before that so I could claim to be one of the longest running screamer players in the UK as I have played the buggers a lot.  I did have David Walcott say to me this, “IF I was playing against this army, against a douche I would rage quite” then he went on to say that I am a nice guy hell I even have had a few opponents add on me on book of face after our games and after I advised them on how better to handle a screamer council list (one of which used the advice to beat his next opponent which was a screamer council).



  1. I think the reasons people (myself included) do not like the screamer star is because it breaks the core mechanics of the game. There is no counter to it (especially if you are an average player like most of us are) apart from what you listed above (which is very difficult to achieve). I think it is fair to say that a general game against a screamer star list is pretty unfun (along with seer council) for the person at the receiving end of one. Against powerful codexes like tau and eldar there is still a chance to win through skill but that element is almost removed when coming against this kind of list. I understand that high class tourney players like yourself can counter the star effectively but the truth is that the majority of the 40k community cannot.

    1. The only problem is that there are so many other things out there other than the screamer council that the majority of the 40k community can't deal with. Tau missile spam would be back on the scene big-time if the save was changes to a 2+4+, and then ppl would be complaining about that... The ugly truth is that armies like Screamer Council and Seer Council are needed in today's meta to keep Tau/Eldar Gunlines in check.

      But you are totally right in saying that there is something a bit wrong when your average player has NO chance of winning a game without being 100% aware of the meta and how to build to it.

      It'll be interesting to see how mission design (something I know NOVA open are looking at) can change these death star armies. The common denominator is that they all leave their troops in reserve to come in late game and score. If you could design a mission where troops could score VPs from T1 onwards, you could nerf the death stars slightly...

    2. I think that your proposal for objectives scoring VP from turn 1 would be pretty sweet.

    3. Ollie, changing the system which just change the meta, i.e running a list to break that scoring system wouldnt be hard.

  2. I also think it's wrong to nerf Screamer Council 2++ RR as it's possible to deal with it with some practice (another option from the above is to kill Fateweaver). Seer Council is worse as it's much harder to stop due to hit and run and no external force (Fateweaver) holding it up.

  3. Ollie, I would disagree that the average player Cannot win against Screamercouncil. As said above after I played a relatively new comer to the tourny scene after our game he went on to beat a screamer council using the advice and tactics I gave him.

    NafNaf, to say it is unfun and therefore should be allowed is not right IMO, there is plently of things I find not very fun (taking a assault list against a shooty list, taking lots of str4 against a WK etc) but in a tourny scene I would never say ban them.

    Also game mechanics, what like nothing can modify a snap shot, not being able to run and shoot. Then think about every army bar one having little to no access to interceptor, having longer range and rapid fire sniper weapons, being able to join IC's to MC's etc.

    I also disagree that you cannot play the mission against any screamer star, you will not be able to play the way you probably wrote your list with gameplay in mind and that might not be fun for you, but wouldnt playing the mission and 'overcoming' a screamercouncil but enjoyable then say playing the same way 6 games out of 6?.

    1. I think it's a matter of how you define you "average player". I mean at tournaments its fine, but the majority of 40k players that play at a local club most likely will struggle against things like screamerstar, when playing say your flavour of the month Marine list.

      HOWEVER this is not only true for the screamerstar, but for SO many other lists out there, i.e. Taudar, FarBomb, BeastPack, SeerStar etcetc. Nerfing just the 2++ wont help that at all.

      I think that the fact that ppl are complaining so much about the Screamers is that the 2++ just sounds/feels OP - but in the end is just another way of having a large probability of success when rolling dice, just like e.g. TauDar have with their shooting.

      As both jy2 and you say Mark, for us competitive tournament gamers it's just about approaching the game in a different way (which is actually why I really enjoy playing against screamers/seers), but for the guy who's going to his first tourney with his Dark Angels/Orks/whatever it's not that funny - but that's just the nature of competitive 40k, isn't it...

  4. Naf for example, in my first meeting with Ven Bro was his Nids against a FMC list of mine, basically I had a unit of horrors, 3 princes and fateweaver. Ven had something like 90 gargoyles, 3 tervis more gaunts then I cared to look at on a open ish board with 4 objectives. I had two troops and he had about 9? at the end. I looked at the and knew I could not win so I had to play the mission, long story short I lost but only by 1 objective (Andy had 2, I had 1 and contest another). First blood to me and no other secondaries scored by either so 6-4 loss, losing that game by a short margin acutally won me the tourny so yes impossible to win games arent impossible to lose.

  5. As a competitive player, I'm not too concerned about the screamerstar. They are good, but they aren't great. The seer council, on the other hand, is a whole different beast. The seer council is a much more difficult army to play against.

    BTW, the screamerstar has won 1 GT here in the US - Duelcon, a smaller 2-day GT with 5-rounds.

  6. Nice artical mark. I agree with your sentiment here. Screemers are a very strong build that force an opponent to play differntly, I cant see the problem with this, adapting tactics to the situation is a key skill in 40k. They also bring some ballance to other top books (no one wants to see rooms of 75% tau gun lines). Tomo