Monday, 4 June 2018

Can you Keep a Secret?

Not pictured: An official Keeper of Secrets

There's been a bit of chat recently about the possibility that we might see a new Keeper of Secrets model, or maybe even a new wave of Slaanesh Daemons in general, as the Age of Sigmar story rolls onward. At the moment, the Keeper is in a very odd place on the 40k battlefield.

Hurt Me Plenty
The Keeper of Secrets is by some distance the weakest of the four Greater Daemons (if we're lazy and lump the various forms of Bloodthirster, Great Unclean One and Lord of Change together). It's fast-moving, true, and certainly capable of doing some damage with its close combat attacks and a couple of psychic powers, but all it has between it and a first-class one-way ticket to the Warp is T7, a 5++, and 12 Wounds. Compared to the considerably cheaper Winged Daemon Prince, which has 3+ armour and the protection of being a Character with less than 10 Wounds, the Keeper is almost impossible to, er, keep on the table for more than a turn.

I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me...
In part, this is understandable due to the state of the current Keeper model. With no nice new plastic combi-kit to call its own, we can see why the Keeper might be a little lacking in the rules department, too. But even this doesn't entirely make sense. Compare this:
I'm scary, honest
With this:

Jog on, pipsqueak
Now, although those two pictures aren't quite in the same scale, they're both on 60mm bases. We can see that in terms of mass, the current Keeper and the Daemon Prince are about the same, though if they were getting ready for a weigh-in I suspect the Prince would be desperately cutting water whilst the Keeper ordered a Big Mac Meal. The point is that going by the models, there seems no reason why the Keeper should have 4 more Wounds and suddenly be a fire magnet whereas the Prince gets to sit happily in the sweet spot. As things stand, the Keeper is what my Grandmother might have called 'Too tall for Dick and too short for Richard'- it's supposedly a big target, but it's simply not tough enough to roll in that league. It's like putting Manny Pacquiao in a fat-suit and on stilts and then throwing him up against Vitali Klitschko.*

You gets what you pays for (sort of)
Now, to be fair to the authors of the Daemon Codex, they at least made the Keeper considerably cheaper, to the tune of about 100 points, than the other Greater Daemons. But I'd argue that in its current state it's not even worth as much as a Daemon Prince unless you're lucky enough to run into another army with next to no shooting. There's also really not a lot you can do to protect the thing. (It doesn't help me that my Keepers are third-party models and are far bigger than they really should be)

No way is this hiding behind a Soul Grinder
There are Stratagems that can help, at least a little. You can reserve the thing with Denizens of the Warp, but that just delays the problem- the Keeper can't do much when it arrives other than throw a few powers and hope to make a 9" charge. Warp Surge can boost it to a 4++ for a phase but that still feels very flimsy, especially when poison or Deathwatch special issue ammo is about. (It's particularly perverse (appropriately) that Hellfire rounds, designed to kill Tyranids, are considerably better at killing the Keeper than they are at killing the armoured Big Bugs)

You could also try to summon one with Daemonic Ritual. Stop laughing at the back! (The advantage of this is that at least you can then spend the points on something else that might be useful and easier to summon.)

Don't get me started on the Daemon version of Delightful Agonies only granting a 6+ FNP when the Astartes version is 5+. Seriously. Don't Go There.

Where do we go from here?
Hopefully it's not too much to expect for any new Keeper kit to be accompanied by new rules, just as those for the other Greater Daemons were. So, what might we do to the Keeper to help it stay alive long enough to do something, assuming that dropping below 10 Wounds so it can hide isn't an option?

One possibility might be to simply ignore that aspect of the Character rule. Rather than dropping the Wounds of the Keeper, give it a special rule called, say, Bewitching Glamour, that means that the Keeper can only be shot if it's the closest target. Another might be that old favourite, a -1 To Hit for shooting attacks to go with the one it already has in close combat.

We could also consider giving the Keeper a version of the old Look Out Sir rule, perhaps allowing it to take a 2+ save against a hit in exchange for putting a Mortal Wound on a Slaanesh Lesser Daemon within 6". This would make using it to support Daemonettes much more viable, rather than the situation at the moment where it's basically suicide.

Of course, these are only my quick thoughts on the subject, and it's quite possible that GW will surprise and delight Slaanesh players if and when the new model is released, and not just because it'll mean Slaanesh is Still A Thing.

I'm keeping my fingers and... other extremities crossed.

*Note to boxing nerds: I have no idea how that would actually go, but I know how the people who wrote the weight rules would expect it to go.

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