Plasma Syphon

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This article or section involves Matthew Ward, Spiritual Liege, who is universally-reviled on /tg/. Because this article or section covers Ward's copious amounts of derp and rage, fans of the 40K series are advised that if they proceed onward, they will see fluff and crunch violation of a level rarely seen.
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Every once in a while, something so egregiously stupid comes up in a Codex for WHFB and its sequel in the 41st Millenium that it makes analysts wonder what ungodly thought-process caused it to wind up in there, either because of relentless cheese, or because of brain-shatteringly bad units. In previous codices, examples included randomized Wyrdboy and Psyker power rolls, randomized Possessed Space Marine abilities, the 5th edition incarnation of that which must not be named, Blood Angel Force Weapon Dreadnought and deep-striking Land Raiders, and the WHFB Chaos Daemons Codex made by your Spiritual Liege in general.

Whilst the Grey Knights codex is loaded with bad fluff, cheese units that are basically equipped with "I win" buttons, and so on, a few examples stand out more than others. The Ulumeathi Plasma Syphon is one of these, and is considered by most of /tg/ to be one of the stupidest, most facepalm-inducing Wargear options ever transcribed to paper in the 40k universe, and considering what's already in the codex, that's a hell of an accomplishment, considering bullshit like Psychotroke and Rad Grenades.

What is it?[edit]

The Ulumeathi Plasma Syphon is a unique piece of defensive wargear that can only be assigned to an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor. Fluff-wise, its a piece of xeno-tech that contains an array of crystals that resonate certain frequencies that destabilize the flight of plasma bolts, making any kind of plasma weapon unable to shoot accurately once they are under the influence of the syphon. More free-thinking (see: Radical) Ordo Xenos Inquisitors may sometimes use these in combat. Why the Grey Knights would tolerate this blatant heresy is unknown, but then again, our Spiritual Liege also has them using daemonhosts in combat, so at this point, much of /tg/ isn't surprised.

Crunch-wise, when equipped, it makes any unit firing a plasma-type weapon within 12" of the Inquisitor as BS1 - functionally ensuring that any Plasma-firing unit will never be able to hit what its firing at unless it's a blast or large blast template (in which case it can still go wildly off-course with an unlucky roll, although it potentially can krump anyone near the inquisitor). What this basically means is that Plasma Weapons - long the Imperial's go-to weapon for dealing with heavy infantry - can be rendered completely irrelevant by strategic use of an Inquisitor as a screening unit. Thanks to some very sketchy errata by Our Spiritual Liege, the Plasma Syphon also affects Tyranid Bio-Plasma, Tau Pulse Weapons (which makes extra no-sense as pulse weapons are demonstrably not plasma, as Tau HAVE Plasma weapons and these are different), Eldar Starcannons, and Dark Eldar Disintegrators - just for starters. All in all the concept isn't such a terrible idea and could be a nice addition to an army with vulnerable commanders, but that's not what we are talking about here.

Because an Army with 2+ armor saves and W2 terminators throughout needed more survivability, obviously.

The Problem in a Nutshell[edit]

At a glance, the Ulumeathi Plasma Syphon doesn't seem so bad from a balance perspective - it only works on units within 12 inches, so it can generally only screen 1 or 2 units at a time. The problem arises when one pairs this with how many transport options the Grey Knights already possess - whilst the range is very short, to be sure, in /tg/'s extensive tests, it's extremely possible (distressingly so) to get a Plasma Syphon Inquisitor with a METAL BOX or Dark Gods help you, a Stormraven, in range in the first two turns after isolating the most dangerous plasma weapon-armed threat on the table, and it certainly did not help that the grey knights are small elite enough army that one or two units may be half of their army.

Because of the huge variety of units that can be affected, the low cost of the inquisitor and the fact that he is hardly a weak unit on his own - especially backed with a competent retinue - this can get ugly in a hurry. For example, dropping off a squad next to a Leman Russ Executioner functionally means that that Leman Russ isn't doing shit to what it should be firing at (the GK Terminators), and instead has to deal with the Inquisitorial retinue, either by going all-out and driving away (wasting a turn in the process), or firing on the Inquisitor itself. In the case of smaller units or those with rapid-fire weapons, the second option becomes a stunning attempt to copy Ork Shooting, with tons of ineffectual dice rolls hitting the table - after all, meleeing a unit with Fire Warriors is not exactly a stunning move of tactical genius. It's not quite broken, but rest assured that it can be fury inducing if used by remotely competent players.

The main counter to the tactic is drowning the Inquisitor itself in not-plasma - if he's on his own, pop him with a Lascannon, Krak Missile, Meltagun, or Railgun shot - otherwise rely on antipersonnel firepower, and drown his squad in massed anti-infantry weaponry (Heavy Bolters, Autocannons, and so on], ideally from outside his range. If he's with a team, use Battle Cannons, Railgun Submunition Shells, or the like to curb-stomp him and his retinue in one go. Once he's down, the screening becomes a non-issue, and you can use your plasma weapons with impunity. At the obviously reasonable cost of all of your armies non plasma weapons plinking away at by far the least threatening thing on the table, potentially for multiple turns.

However, one other way to deal with this is orks. Possessing little 'plasma' weaponry and BS2, this has next to no effect on them, so, as always, the most efficent way to kill termies is 30 ork boyz. Or for Tau, they can just markerlight everything like always. Unfortunately, this piece of shit wargear reduces your BS to 1 after you've expended those precious little markerlight tokens.

6E's Inquisition E-Codex hastily attempts (Read: attempts) to cover this up with the many allies the big I can take (even the Tau can exploit this, though their alliance is only decked to Desperate Allies), but this still becomes a major middle finger to the forces of Chaos, who can't at all ally with them (though the jury's out if it's possible if the Chaos/Orks is a second allied attachment to the main army). However, this doesn't even try to cover up such an obviously stupid item. However, it does note it's only plasma as define by the rulebook, meaning Tau Pulse weapons no longer count.

So yeah. It's bullshit and it's not cool. When units with 2+ saves, an invulnerable save, and multiple wounds per model can be near effortlessly be screened from the only ubiquitous anti-exactly-that-kind-of-unit weapon, there's something wrong in the fabric of the universe.

  • Then again with 6th there're a whole lot of other AP2 weapons other than plasma or most players just unload an insane number of wounds making butthurt over this kinda pointless.
    • Last poster is correct. The meta is full of so much AP2 now that terminators are less the juggernauts they once were and are essentially guardsmen vs AP- weapons, with their 5++ save. The Syphon is not broken. Errata has also stated that it only works on weapons named plasma, no longer against Tau pulse weapons or anything else like that, just plasma (remember Crisis suits can have S6 plasma guns).
      • As of 7th, the primary issue with this is at least somewhat allayed in that rules which involve measuring distance from a model only work while the model is embarked if the rule explicitly says it does, which the Syphon does not (nor has it ever), so your Inquisitor has to disembark to get his Syphon out. As noted above, what with the new-found ubiquity of non-plasma AP2 weaponry, like the extremely undercosted grav-cannon, it's not the worst thing ever any more.
      • In 8th Edition the Plasma Syphon is a no longer a thing. . However if a future Inquisition codex does bring it back. It would be quite pointless, as Plasma has been upgraded across the board. A huge boon to all Imperium players, except Grey Knights. Inquisitors also have the option of being Psykers, deprecating the need for the Syphon. More so if they use the Terrify physic power.