Age of Darkness-Warhammer 30k/2.0 Tactics/Psychic 101

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This page indexes how the Psychic Phase works in the Horus Heresy wargame.

How It Works[edit]

Generating Psychic Powers[edit]

Like in editions past, psychic powers are generated BEFORE the game starts. A given psyker has access to a certain number of psychic powers and disciplines but will always know the Aetheric Lightning power on top of whatever they choose. Unlike in previous editions, the psyker knows all the powers of a chosen discipline by virtue of each discipline only having two powers.

Casting Powers[edit]

They Psychic phase as you know it is gone. We're back to the old days of powers going off during the turn.

The player actively casting powers (you, in this exercise) chooses one of his psykers and one of the powers that psyker knows. You then roll 2d6, trying to roll under the psyker's Leadership.

Notes:

  • Some psychic powers have the ability to be automatically cast instead of needing to make a Psychic test to cast. In all cases, doing so gives you a considerably weaker version of the power, forcing you to measure the pros and cons of actually chancing that test.
  • Any one psyker can only attempt to manifest a given power once in a psychic phase, regardless of if it failed or succeeded. Two psykers knowing the same power can each (attempt to) cast it, at different or same targets.
  • A single unit can only be affected by one copy of a given blessing at any one time - so Hammerhand, for example, no longer stacks. Two DIFFERENT named blessings on the same unit are A-OK, though.
  • Since psychic powers are used in the Psychic phase, you cannot use a witchfire power to shoot Overwatch if you get assaulted. Not anymore! Now that powers each live in the most linked phase there's no reason why you can't blast away with some MIND BOOLLETS in a reaction. Don't rely on it unless it's Aetheric Lightning, as all the other Psychic ranged Weapons have the Psychic Focus rule and therefore might fail. Relying on your Telepath to hallucinate that charging block of Justaerin to a stop will only be cool if it works, otherwise you're about to get served psyker soup à la Cthonia.
  • Perils of the Warp as we knew it have been done away with, replaced with the more generic d3 save-ignoring wounds. Any invulns can still be taken, because apparently the energy field of an Iron Halo extends into your own brain.

Psychic Tactics[edit]

So that's how you mind bullet, but what do you do with them?

Have a clear purpose in mind for each psyker. Taking a random Librarian and expecting him to be a general-purpose beefy beatstick is a recipe for fail - but stick him in a unit of Terminators and apply Thaumaturgic Succ to heal them up, or have a Biomancer buff the strength of a unit to make those chainblades really bite. That's not to say your psykers can't kick ass, they'll mow through MEQs like any Consul with a power weapon, but don't throw them at Praetors or named characters without some psychic buffs.

Psychic Disciplines[edit]

One thing you'll notice as a massive departure from last edition is the inclusion of Psychic Weapons. See, instead of using types like Witchfires and Novas, your psykers just gain special weapons. Aside from Aetheric Lightning (formerly known as Smite), all of these weapons have the Psychic Focus rule, which requires you to make a psychic check before you can attack with them. Because of this, it's a bad idea to rely on any of these to use in overwatch.

As a matter of fact, psychic types as a whole have been abolished, as even Blessings and Maledictions are just lumped under Psychic Powers. Not that this changes much on them, as the list of psychic powers has drastically shrunk. Older players will remember back in the day

Rulebook Psychic Disciplines[edit]

This section lists the psychic disciplines outlined in the general rulebook; they can be used by psykers from multiple Age of Darkness armies.

Force[edit]

Overview
Force counts as a Psychic power, but it does not actually belong to any discipline nor does it count against how many powers you know. Remember, you need to make a psychic test in order activate it so you'll need to pick out the prime opportunity. Additionally, Force no longer inflicts Instant Death (except against units with the Daemon unit type), instead just doubling your Strength. This might still be enough to trigger ID just by the effective strength being double the enemy's Toughness, but this won't matter against Dreads and Castellaxi.
Force
Name Description
Force Any attacks made by a Force weapon count their Strength as doubled upon a successful psychic test.

Aetheric Lightning[edit]

Overview
The default power known to most psykers. Just as modern 40K gives Smite to every psyker, this acts as your Smite. It's pretty flimsy on the outset by virtue of only being S3 AP4, but it also has Force, meaning that if you pass a Psychic check, you can bump this up enough to cut through a couple marines with some support from an attached squad.

Some psykers like Curze and Sevetar do not get Aetheric Lightning - check each Psyker's unit entry in the appropriate Liber book before you try and cast bolts of lightning from a hero whose psychic potential is limited to foresight and headaches!

Aetheric Lightning
Range Type S AP Special Rules
18 Assault 4 3 4 Force

Biomancy[edit]

Overview
Biomancy is taken for two main reasons: You want to make your Psyker a fighter, or you're gonna make someone else one. For the former, it's usually better to attempt to buff a character that's already an acceptable fighter, rather than trying to make a weak unit suddenly awesome. +1 to strength on a tactical squad is a nice bonus but not likely to swing things. Upping a veteran squad with power swords so they're wounding on 3s, or with power lances wounding on 2s, though?
Biomancy Powers
Name Description
Biomancer's Rage
Biomancer's Rage
Range Type S AP Special Rules
- Melee 10 4 Rending(4+), Psychic Focus
With Smite now an automatic add-on, your next-best buff (Iron Arm, in case you were wondering) has become a special weapon of its own, a smash attack capable of turning marines to paste and potentially making a dent on a tank.
Biomantic Augmentation Instead of shooting, you can cast this on a friendly unit within 6" and give them +1 Strength. If you pass a Psychic test, you can boost this to also add +1 to Toughness as well. Regardless of whether or not you opt for that boost, you're still giving a decent boost to someone, if hamstrung by the very limited range.

This can get theoretically disgusting when coupled with Rad Grenades - a tricky combo to pull off for most armies, as you'll need to buff a charging group of Destroyers or charge them/a Moritat into the same squad as your murder squad, but consider this: a unit of Veterans/Terminators/Bikers armed with power lances, buffed by this power and with the boost from Rad Grenades are hitting before any non-characters and inflicting AP3 instant death on astartes. If you have a character like Farith Redloss, or happen to be the Death Guard under the Reaping Rite of War, you can make this relatively trivial. Just don't expect to get many games with a list like this.

Divination[edit]

Overview
While you no longer have any ability to guarantee that you get a good roll, you do have one power that can cash out on a good hit and another that can snake through many of the defenses that would otherwise foil psychic weapons.
Divination Powers
Name Description
Divinatory Aegis Instead of shooting, you can give a friendly unit within 6" Precision Shots (6+) and Precision Strikes (6+). If you pass a Psychic test, you can up these to proc on a 5+ in the event that you're really banking on them. It's like a different flavour of Cognis-Signum.
Diviner's Dart
Diviner's Dart
Range Type S AP Special Rules
18" Assault 1 6 2 Sniper, Guided Focus, Psychic Focus
Psychic sniping. This is powerful enough to cut through most defenses that a particular target might have, though the range is a bit limited to throw in a gunline of bolters.

Pyromancy[edit]

Overview
Pyromancy is good for only one thing: melting light infantry hordes so it's one to consider when facing Militia and Daemons. This is the only discipline that focuses on AoE effects, giving you the ability to blast whatever you see, but it leads to limited effect against vehicles of any sort since you lack something like Molten Beam.
Pyromancy Powers
Name Description
Pyromantic Combustion Drop 1/3 large blasts (depending on whether or not you take a psychic test) anywhere within 18" of the psyker and scatter d6". These pieplates will remain on the field until next turn, with any model who starts within them or walks into them taking an S6 AP4 hit. While the scatter is a little sucky, you've got a pretty hefty means of area denial that might cut off routes for the enemy.
Pyromantic Desolation
Pyromantic Desolation
Range Type S AP Special Rules
- Melee 6 3 Unwieldy, Pyromantic Desolation, Psychic Focus
More a nova power than a melee power, but this is still powerful enough to reasonably cook through most enemies. The issue is that this is a small pieplate and it can deal friendly fire if attached to a unit. Even worse, the wounds you deal here don't count towards combat resolution, spoiling the ability to use this and rout the opposition.

Telekinesis[edit]

Overview
A generally combat-focused set of powers, with one giving a defensive boost and another being a psychic weapon to smash crowds and nearby terrain with.
Telekinesis Powers
Name Description
Telekine Dome Instead of moving, you can cast this, giving any models within 8" a 5++ Invuln against anything from beyond 8". This power is unique that this can persist indefinitely, but your psyker will be a sitting duck for the entire time, unable to fight back or even get behind cover without breaking focus on the power. Fortunately, you can spend any turn yo make a psychic test to chance boosting that save to a 4++.
Telekine's Focus
Telekine's Focus
Range Type S AP Special Rules
24 Heavy 1 8 4 Blast 3", Sunder, Psychic Focus
Your psyker's a small artillery platform made more to hit anyone hiding behind cover or emerging from a transport than mob smashing due to this being a small blast.

Telepathy[edit]

Overview
Telepathy is a great support discipline, perhaps even the most powerful due to (presumably) oversight of the rules writers. Both powers of them rob the opponent of the ability to take reactions, one of the big features of the game, with Telepathic Hallucinations even going so far as pinning foes with such debuffs to Ld test it can be an "I win" button.
Telepathy Powers
Name Description
Telepathic Fugue During any phase, you can cast this on any enemy unit within 24" to rob them of their reaction. Considering the limited number of reactions you can use in a given turn, this can prove to be devastating for the enemy, especially ones that give the opponent extra firepower.
Telepathic Hallucinations
Telepathic Hallucinations
Range Type S AP Special Rules
36 Assault 6 - - Hallucinations, Psychic Focus
Anyone hit by this must take a Pinning test "adding one to the result of the roll for each Hit scored by this attack before the result is decided" (so an average of 5). The wording means Stubborn or similar rules don't work, because the Leadership of the target unit isn't affected. This is even more crippling that the other power simply because this doesn't just rob reactions. This also robs movement as well, opening them up to any charging where they can't escape. And the best part - one can use it for Reactions. Somebody Deep Strikes or Outflanks in 36" radius? Now they're Pinned. Shooting at the squad with the Psyker? Pinned. Trying to charge that squad? That's right, Pinned. It is unbelievably frustrating to play against in smaller games.

Thaumaturgy[edit]

Overview
A brand-new Discipline, this makes your psykers into Clerics, with the ability to heal and burn daemons in the days before the Sanctic discipline.
Thaumaturgy Powers
Name Description
Thaumaturge's Cleansing
Thaumaturge's Cleansing
Range Type S AP Special Rules
Template Assault 1 4 3 Sanctic, Psychic Focus
You've got yourself a psychic flamer specially keyed to destroy daemons since it wounds them on a 2+ and forces them to roll their invulns. While this won't mean much against anyone else, including Corrupted Word Bearers, you do have AP3 to get through anything short of terminator plate.
Thamuaturgic Succour Instead of shooting, pick a unit with at least one model within 12". Each non-vehicle model in that unit can restore a wound on a 5+, giving you an actual healing power for veterans and termies.

Anathemata[edit]

Overview
The discipline of the Esoterist Consul, this is more like the Daemonology discipline of old. Depending on your allegiance, this gives you the ability to either summon Ruinstorm Daemons (which you have to purchase and then throw into reserves only to summon in this fashion) or a debuff and unblockable attack against daemons and daemon-adjacent units like the Corrupted Word Bearers.
Anathemata Powers
Name Description
Breach the Veil(Traitors Only) Instead of shooting, drop a small blast within 12" of the psyker and at least 3" from any enemies and impassible terrain. If you don't make a Psychic test or fail it, this blast will scatter. At this point, you can now deploy a daemon on the edge of this blast. While this leaves them exposed to the Interceptor reaction, your daemons can charge after arriving.
Void Darts
Void Darts
Range Type S AP Special Rules
18 Assault 12 5 4 Deflagrate, Sanctic, Psychic Focus
Extreme rapid-fire daemon disintegration between Deflagrate and Sanctic wounding daemons on a 2+ and forcing them to re-roll their invulns. Even against marines, this has the ability to harm with S5 and Deflagrate and you have more than enough shots to make even a small dent on a squad.
Seal the Veil(Loyalists Only) Instead of shooting, you can target an enemy daemon or corrupted unit within 18" and deal a -1 to Strength and Toughness. You can then take a Psychic test to inflict Perils against the enemy, though failing the test will also make the psyker suffer perils as well. Seeing that denying has gotten removed from the list, you pretty much have an unblockable means to cripple a daemonic unit.

Aetherbane[edit]

Overview
The discipline of the Primus Nullificator Consul, which means that it's stuck in the Legacies document. Where Anathemata was given quite a bit between its allegiance-based power, this was pretty clearly more of an afterthought. While it doesn't need to roll to cast, its effectiveness is only worth anything against daemons.
Aetherbane Powers
Name Description
Aetherblast
Aetherblast
Range Type S AP Special Rules
18 Assault 1 4 3 Blast (3") Cruel Exgesis, Sanctic
Small blast weapon, but its effectiveness is...not good. S4 against marines means that you'll need to roll at least a 4+ to wound and it lacks Force to make it any better against anything except daemons, where this power always wounds on a 2+. It's not very friendly either, as Cruel Exegesis means that if you roll the same number on each scatter die it instead lands on top of the psyker, which is a wasted opportunity.

Unique Disciplines[edit]

White Scars[edit]

Overview
The White Scars only get Stormspeakers for psykers. While their options for psychic disciplines is limited, their unique discipline very much embodies their theming of channeling the weather with a powerful speed boost and a pretty fancy psychic artillery weapon.
The Storm's Fury Powers
Name Description
The Call of the Wind Instead of moving, the psyker can give all units with a model within 6" Fleet (2) to improve their speed when running, charging and reacting. If you risk a Psychic test, you can up this to Fleet (4) for a massive speed boost, but even if you perils you get the weaker version to work.
The Unseen Bolt
The Unseen Bolt
Range Type S AP Special Rules
72 Heavy 1 4 4 Barrage, Large Blast, Shock Pulse, Force
Psychic artillery on a psyker. Being Force means that this can always be used, but you'll likely be constantly using Force because Shock Pulse only triggers on a penetrating hit on a vehicle or a successful wound on a dreadnought or automata.

Space Wolves[edit]

Overview
The Space Wolves were infamously disdainful of psykers, but their own Wolf Priests were still allowed to persist, using a more limited list of disciplines including a unique discipline that includes a very powerful defensive boost and a pretty potent psychic weapon.
Winds of Fenris Powers
Name Description
Stormwrought Instead of shooting, one infantry, cavalry or dread within 6" gains Shrouded (5+) until the next turn. If the psyker passes a psychic check, the unit gains Shrouded (3+) for some guaranteed protection against the worst your enemy can throw.
Wrath of the Death Wolf
Wrath of the Death Wolf
Range Type S AP Special Rules
Template Assault 1 5 4 Deflagrate, Force
Another psychic heavy flamer, gifted by having Deflagrate to guarantee some damage. If you trigger Force then it can pretty easily demolish troopers and easily wound marines.

Death Guard[edit]

Overview
This is a discipline exclusive to Calas Typhon, first captain of the Death Guard, when not fielded alongside Mortarion.
Witchblood Powers
Name Description
Witchsense When cast, this gives Typhon a boost of +1 to WS and +d3 attacks for the assault phase. Combined with his power scythe, this can give him quite the edge against any mobs he comes across.
Toxin Cloud
Toxin Cloud
Range Type S AP Special Rules
24" Assault 1 1 4 Fleshbane, Pinning, Large Blast (5+), Psychic Focus
Typhon gains his own means of psychic bombardment, capable of not only burning through most things but also potentially locking them into place with Pinning.

Thousand Sons[edit]

Overview
Instead of making everyone and their mother a full-powered psyker like last edition, the Thousand Sons now give smaller psychic powers to the various cults, allowing them some manner of casting that's well behind the proper Librarians. That said, your unique units can still grab powers from the various disciplines, offering minor benefits. The Khenetai Occult Cabal instead get their own special power instead of being a part of any cult.
Minor Cult Arcana
Cult Description
Athaenean When making a shooting attack, make a Psychic check. If successful, the targeted unit reduces their Leadership by 1 for any Pinning or Morale checks caused by the shooting attack.
Corvidae When making a shooting attack, make a Psychic check. If successful, the first Wound scored by the shooting attack targets one model of the psyker's choosing, negating any rules about damage distribution.
Pavoni In the Movement phase, when selecting a unit to Move or Run, make a Psychic test. If successful, add +3 to the unit's movement and they can ignore movement penalties for Difficult Terrain. Helpful in getting through any annoying obstacles.
Pyrae When making a successful charge, roll a Psychic test. If successful, the charging unit gains Hammer of Wrath (2). The HoW attacks count as being from Flame weapons.
Raptora When ending a Move or Run in the Movement phase within 12" of an enemy unit, make a Psychic check. If successful, all models in the psyker's unit gain a 6++ invuln, or improves their invulnerable save by 1 if they already had one to a maximum of 4++ until the start of the controlling player's next turn.
Mindsong of Blades (Khenetai Occult Cabal) When cast, the squad gains +1 to WS, Movement and Attacks. A pretty decent buff, especially when stacked with Achaen Force's Strength buff.

Salamanders[edit]

Overview
The Awakening Fire RoW unlocks a unique discipline for librarians. This isn't quite as template-happy as Pyromancy, but its equally as effective at area denial.
Salamander's Wrath Powers
Name Description
Salamander's Fury Enemies within 18" treat all terrain as difficult terrain and difficult terrain as difficult and dangerous terrain, hobbling any attempts at assault. However, your psyker is immobilized, unable to shoot or charge until the next turn.
Elemental Horror
Elemental Horror
Range Type S AP Special Rules
Template Assault 1 7 4 Deflagrate, Pinning, Shell Shock(3), Psychic Focus
A psychic flamer on top of all the buffed up normal ones the legion gets. This one's pretty remarkable as it's capable of pinning quite reliably with Shell Shock's penalty while Deflagrate can make any successful hits burn further.

Word Bearers[edit]

Overview
Diabolism is a discipline exclusive to Diabolists, Praetors who buy Burning Lore, and Lorgar Transfigured. While not as conducive on summoning daemons, you do get a decent attack buff for your psyker and a psychic flamer that can handle most things. Zardu Layak has his own unique discipline, Soul Binding, that's more support based.
Diabolism Powers
Name Description
A Dark and Terrible Power When the psyker and any unit they accompany charges, you can make a psychic test before rolling for distance. If you pass, the psyker gains Hammer of Wrath(3), but failure triggers Perils. In any case, your psyker also always gains a +1 to Strength and Toughness so you're not absolutely hosed if you blow it. In fact, this gives you a decent bump to your offensive potential.
Hellfire
Hellfire
Range Type S AP Special Rules
Template Assault 1 7 4 Deflagrate, Rending (6+), Psychic Focus
A beefed-up psychic flamer. This provides a decent way of burning past armor, though S7 means it's only somewhat effective against dreads and automata.
Soul Binding Powers
Name Description
Soul Binding If an enemy tries to declare a reaction against the psyker or they unit, the psyker can immediately suffer Perils. If they survive, the reaction fails and counts as not having been used. This forces the enemy to suffer the assault coming to them, unable to react as you come to rip them apart.
Telepathic Chains
Telepathic Chains
Range Type S AP Special Rules
36 Assault 4 2 - Pinning, Shell Shock (3), Psychic Focus
A debuff vector more than a weapon, Shell Shock deals a penalty to the pinning test. Pinning in this edition is particularly crushing as a pinned unit can't take reactions, cannot move and can only fire snap shots. This exposes the opponent to another charging unit of despoilers or Ashen Circle.


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