Before I continue with my series on Librarians and Psychic Powers, I’m going to take a minute to throw out a little blurb about list building and what my strategy is with Marines. I focus on building a ‘take all comers’ list with synergy, redundancy and tactical flexibility in mind. When I look at adding a unit to my army I want to be able to deploy and use that unit in a different way every game depending on what kind of list I’m facing, the terrain, and the mission(s). Good examples of this are Terminators and Assault Marines. While the competitive viability of these units is disputed on the Internet, they have exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to tactical flexibility. They can be deployed in a transport, deep strike, or go on foot depending on what the situation calls for.
Gimmicks, Spam, and Predictability are the norms we're trying to transcend here. Turn 1, suicide sternguard drop and engage one important enemy asset. Rhinos rush forward and get into position. Devastators shoot missiles at biggest threat. Turn 2, Reserve assets come into play (hopefully), Storm Raven with Thunderhammer-nators moves on and engages greatest threat whilst moving towards the eventual target of the terminator's assault. Turn 3, start to entrench on objectives or continue pushing forward. Rinse and Repeat. BOORIIIIING! If I wanted to play a game like this I would play Magic: The Gathering.
Yes. Marines are the flagship product of 40k. They are the easiest army to learn for most people. There are tried and true formulaic methods for winning with Marines. It's unfortunate that a lot of people choose not to look any deeper than that. What you will find if you watch a good veteran Marine player is that you can play Marines to be very flexible. They Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. That's their biggest strength against everything else.
Getting back on track here, Librarians exemplify this kind of play style. You have a cost efficient unit that, given the proper equipment, can be paired with almost anything in your army to improve your chances against whatever you are facing one game and change next game depending on what situations you find yourself in.
A CASE FOR PYROMANCY
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Is this guy crazy?" Now, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being this is a set of powers dedicated to ignoring cover, the most powerful tool against lightly armored horde armies in the game and will blow Gaunts, Guardsmen, and Orks clean away, you've gotta ask yourself a question; Why aren't you using Pyromancy? Seriously! Its one of the best power sets in the game! Against certain armies and builds that is. Lets take a look at each individual pyromancy power so that we fully understand what they do.
The Primaris Power of Pyromancy is Flame Breath. It is a witchfire power which means that it behaves exactly like a shooting attack would after the power is manifested via a psychic test. The profile is exactly that of a Heavy Flamer (Template, S5, AP4, Assault 1) with the addition of the Soul Blaze rule. If the unit you shot Flame Breath at takes one or more unsaved wounds, this rule generates a Soul Blaze token on the unit you shot at which gives you a 50% chance (on a 4+) of doing D3 extra S4 AP5 wounds to a unit at the end of each player turn, however should you fail that 4+ the token goes away and does nothing. So this is a decent power, not the greatest, but how many heavy flamers do you have in your Space Marine list? Are you confident that your list can deal with massed bodies coming at you as is? Maybe this might just be the thing to take the next time you play against one of the aforementioned horde armies. Just remember that you can't fire a witchfire power on overwatch.
Fiery Form, the first power on the Pyromancy chart, is a blessing that targets the Psyker. While the power is in effect the Psyker gains a 4+ invulerable save, +2 strength, and his close combat attacks have that Soul Blaze rule that we just went over. Again, kinda seems meh at first but think about this; if your Librarian is wielding a Force Staff, all of his close combat attacks will be at Strength 8, AP4. There are a lot of Tyranid, Ork, and Guard multi-wound models that this will kill outright because when this blessing is on, you are doubling their toughness for Instant Death without having to activate your force weapon (saving you a warp charge so that you can cast a witchfire power or another blessing) and the AP4 on your staff will bypass most armor seeing as armor saves are not something these armies are known for.
The second blessing we get with Pyromancy is Fire Shield. This targets a single friendly unit within 24”. The target unit gets a 4+ cover save against shooting attacks that do not have at least one of the following special rules: Soul Blaze or Melta. Also while the power is in effect, any unit that makes a successful charge against the target unit suffers 2D6 Strength 4 AP- hits resolved at the same time as Hammer of Wrath hits. So here you have something that lets you just walk a unit up the board without having to worry about taking cover. Thats pretty darn cool. Suck it Leman Russ tanks! Why stop there? Think bigger! What if your Land Raider has a 4+ cover save? Or, you could cast this on a unit that is about to get charged. Tyranids live for the charge, as do Orks, and it is a well known tactic of the canny Imperial Guard player to charge before you do so that your roided-out mahreens don't get their bonus attacks for charging. A 24” range will give you a lot of options to employ this blessing.
Ever wanted to throw fireballs? Inferno is the power for you! Its a witchfire power, with a range of 24” and a profile of S4, AP5, Assault 1, Blast, Ignores Cover, and Soul Blaze. A pretty nifty little power. Got a pesky unit in the back that you just want dead? Shoot this back there and watch them get cooked. The fact that it ignores cover and most armor against the armies that it should be employed against is exactly why you roll for powers on this discipline.
Here is a rather odd one, Spontaneous Combustion is a Focused Witchfire power with a range of 18”. The target model suffers a Wound with no armor or cover saves allowed. If the model is killed by the wound, center the small blast template over the target before removing him. All other models under the marker suffer a S4 AP5 hit with the Ignores Cover special rule. A Focused Witchfire power works like this: Focused Witchfire follows all the normal rules for witchfire, but you choose a specific model in the target unit you want the power to affect. However, when the Psychic test is taken to manifest the power, if the total number is 5 or less and the Psychic test is passed, then the power is resolved against the model you chose. If the total is greater than 5 and the Psychic test is passed, randomly select a different model in the same unit for the power to be resolved against. So you can obviously use this power to try and snipe out important members of a unit just like you could with barrage weapons or sniper rifles. You can also be happy about the fact that you have a power that realistically should never be able to scatter onto your own guys. It always hits the unit it targets with that small blast. Another thing to think about are those lone monstrous creatures walking around if you're playing Tyranids. Remember, “The target model suffers a Wound with no armor or cover saves allowed.” and since there is only one model in that monstrous creature's unit you're only ever going to hit it. The only thing to stop you there are Feel No Pain and Invulnerable saves. If I had to decide which power gave me the most utility in Pyromancy, Spontaneous Combustion would be it.
Sunburst is just ridiculous in the amount of potential damage you can do with it. Its a Nova power (1 of 2 in the deck) which means that it automatically targets and hits all enemy units within the psychic power's maximum range, regardless of line of sight, being locked in combat, intervening models/terrain and so on. Otherwise, a nova is treated like a shooting attack with a profile of: Range 6”, S4, AP5, Assault 2D6, Blind, and Ignores Cover. Yeah...Ow! Its high risk but very rewarding! You have to get your Librarian within 6” of the enemy but when you do, oh boy, lets get some averages here. You will average 6 hits on each enemy unit that is in range (remember it ignores everything you would normally take into account when making a shooting attack), there is over a 50% chance you will blind Orks and Guard, and will be ignoring any cover and most armor that they have. A good use of this that I can see would be to come in with your Librarian and a unit in a drop pod mid game and set the stage for a massive assault. Or just walk up and go boom.
Now we get to the last power. Good old Molten Beam. Just a melta you say? Oh no, not just any old melta, a BEAM melta. To use a witchfire power with the beam sub-type, target a point within the power's range and trace a line between the chosen point and the center of the Psyker's base. The beam automatically hits all models (friend or foe), other than the psyker, under the line. The model closest to the psyker suffers a hit at the beam's full strength. The beam then hits the next closest model under the line, but its strength is reduced by 1. The next model is then hit with the strength reduced by 1 again. Continue until the strength drops to 0, or there are no more models under the line. Note that models under the line can be hit even if the Psyker cannot draw line of sight to them. Additionally, the first model hit must be from the same unit that the rest of the Psyker's unit targets that phase. If the line of the beam passes through a building, the building also takes a hit at the appropriate strength. The beam then continues, hitting any other models under the line as normal; the building is essentially treated as another model. If the beam passes through the wall of a ruin, the strength is reduced by 1, as if it had encountered another model, and then continues on to hit any other models under the line as normal. Molten Beam's profile is Range 12”, S8, AP1, Assault 1, and Melta. Again, high risk high reward. Parking Lots and Vehicle castles take note! You can potentially wipe out a squadron of vehicles with this or just any vehicles that happen to get too close together. Its a much more effective sniper weapon than barrage or focused witchfire because it hits individual models much like Jaws of the World Wolf. The downside to using it that way is that you have to be really close to use it but if you take out that annoying banner or that flamer that is going to hit you on overwatch and blunt your charge then its totally worth it. Much like Sunburst you need to be able to make your Librarian mobile.
I'll end with this: If you leave space for your Librarian, give him a potential slot any place he can fit in your army, then he can be a much more potent tool than you might have thought at first. He can give you that little bit of extra winning potential with powers from disciplines like Pyromancy against certain types of armies that your army might not be best equipped to deal with. Like I said, who takes a lot of flamers anymore? The power to ignore cover and armor against armies like Tyranids, Guard, Orks, and walking Dark Eldar builds is nothing to laugh off.