N18 Goonhammer article on skills

Thorgor

Of The YAQ
Oct 12, 2015
4,782
11,177
148
39
Sevres 92130 France
The good folks at Goonhammer are at it again. This time, they talked about skills.
I was particularly happy to read their final thoughts at the end, as it's a truth I've hardly seen expressed outside this forum before.

Their ranking of skills could also prove an invaluable starting point for any rework/re-balancing effort, though they missed the opportunity to neatly arrange everything in a single table. Let's fix that:

GradeAgilityBrawnCombatCunningFerocityLeadershipSavantShootingPalanite Drill
A+ / A++OverwatchNerves of SteelOverseerFast Shot
ADodgeInfiltrateCommanding PresenceHip ShootingThreat Response
A-Got Your Six
B+Spring Up
Sprint
Bull ChargeStep AsideUnstoppableFixer
Munitioneer
Savvy Trader
Restraint Protocols
Team Work
BMighty LeapCombat Master
Parry
EvadeTrue GritIron WillConnected
B-Rain of BlowsLie LowPrecision Shot
C+Crushing BlowCounter-AttackGunfighter
Marksman
CBerzerkerRegroupTrick Shot
C-Disarm
D+CatfallInspirational
DClamberHeadbutt
Hurl
BackstabFearsomeMentorBallistic ExpertHelmawr's Justice
D-Escape Artist
F / F-Iron Jaw
Bulging Biceps
ImpetuousMedicaeNon-Verbal Comms
There are a few things I disagree with though:


Dodge is good, but not that good. They seem to believe you always get to move 2" to avoid Blast attacks (while you still have to pass the 6+ roll to do so), that may be why they over-evaluate it a little. I'd say it should get a A-/B+

Spring Up is arguably better than Nerves of Steel. Assuming you have equivalent Cl and I characteristics (I2+ ~ Cl5+), Spring up is better because it actually lets you get Pinned (meaning you are now hidden if you are in cover, and harder to hit at long range even if you're not). Spring up can also be combined with voluntary auto-pinning (via the Take cover (Basic) action), while Nerves of Steel can't. I'd say Spring Up is A material, while Nerves of Steel should be A-.

I don't get why Bull Charge is ranked so highly. It's a situational +1S just like Berzerker is a situational +1A (and last time I checked, +1A was better than +1S) and both are bad skills since they are offensive melee skills (offensive melee skills suck because melee is already a all-or-nothing deal. Melee specialts don't need help to win fights, they need help to make fights happen). Sure, you also get Knockback on all your (non-Sidearm) attacks, which may help avoid reaction attacks if your rolls are good (but if your rolls are good, the target should be dead anyway). I'd give it at C-.

Rain of Blows is almost as bad than Headbutt or Hurl in my book, especially if you decide you can't consolidate into b2b contact anymore (which doesn't look like a voluntary change to me). C- at best.

For Impetuous, I agree it sucks under the current RAW. But I really think consolidating into b2b is still supposed to be a thing. That doesn't save the skill from being a melee offensive skill though. D+ at best.

Overseer... well I actually agree with everything they had to say about that skill. I just wanted to stress once again how bad this skill is for being so good making your best fighter into a non-combattant is actually worth it.

Commanding Presence: I may be under-evaluating group activation, but this skill always felt completely overkill to me. With a leader and 2 champ, it's already possible to activate 7 fighters in 3 activations. Is more really needed? And don't forget that the faster you activate your guys, the more unopposed activations your opponent gets to make. Plus, you have to form blobs of fighters, which makes your gang extra vulnerable to Blast and Template. Finally, gangs with access to a Cult icon don't really need this skill.

While I agree Munitioneer is not bad by any means, I wouldn't advise using it with Plasma weapons. Plasma is Scarce and cannot be reloaded, so you miss out on half the skill. Getting a re-roll on a 5+ check is only marginally better than a +1 to the check (you go from 11.1% to have the gun go OoA each shot to 7.4%, versus 8.3% for an Am4+ weapon). And of course it's even worse if you use Combi weapons. Munitioneer is at its best when used alongside non-Scarce Am4+/5+ weapons imo, as it makes them way easier to reload when something inevitably goes wrong (especially if you didn't ban Click...)

Threat response and Got your six could work if skills were not public information I guess, but since they are they should mostly be used to limit what your opponent can do. A good opponent will never trigger them (which is relatively easy for Got your six, as all you have to do is not begin a charge within that fighter's FoV) It also feels like it will be hard to bodyguard another fighter using Threat response, as the Threat response dude must always activate last (otherwise they can't counter-charge) but must also always stay simultaneously within 6" of the fighter they want to protect (otherwise they can't counter charge) and far enough away from the enemy fighter (otherwise they will just charge them). I dunno, they seem really difficult to use efficiently, and all this hard work will go to waste if the opponent opt to just shoot you instead of going melee.

Restraint protocol, even in its most generous interpretation (regular Coup de grâce with +1 to the capture roll) still looks quite bad to me. All it does is slightly improve your chances to get that one captured fighter at the end of the game, and you have to perform Coup de grâce actions with a specific guy to do so (in a gang that should really just stay back and rain bolts on the opponent). As far as generating income goes, Fixer is way more reliable. I'd give it a C-, at best (F, if it doesn't take the target OoA)

In general, I find the Palanite Drill skills really underwhelming. Enforcers have access to the far superior Shooting skillset, so why would they waste their XP on this table?

Finally, I'd like to reiterate that I completely agree with their Final thoughts. The skills system (or rather, the whole advancement system) is broken RAW. The only skill advancement worth considering is the 'choose a primary skill' one for 9 XP, and even then only a few skills are worth the trouble (and you already got the best one as a starting skill). Getting +1BS for 6XP or +1T for 8XP will most of the time be the best use of your experience points (and gang rating)
 
Last edited:
Out of the overall ranking the one skill I most disagree with the given rank is Trick shot: they ranked it as a C, mainly because they say 'its effect can be replicated with Infrared sights', but I believe they forgot Infrasights can't be used with Rapid fire or Blast weapons (several gun attachments don't work with Rapid fire/blasts), making it a much more relevant skill than presented (especially on most Heavy weapons, since those can't use Las projectors and are effectively left only with Monosights as an option).
I think Trick shot should be at least in the B range, if not even A- rank.

Also I believe Fast shot is somewhat overrated; it is a good skill, but in actual play it isn't all that common to have a Fast shot champ in position to just stand still and shoot twice: usually any competent opponent will at least try to Pin such fast shooters with blasts/templates or just stay behind the corner, out of LoS, effectively negating Fast shot as a skill. I'd say Fast shot should lower its rank to A- or even B+.

I do not completely agree that randomly generating skills is always wrong/bad; some skill tables are good enought (don't have absolutely garbage skills you really don't want) that I might chance the 6 XPs for a Random primary skill: mainly Ferocity, Combat and Shooting (assuming your group allows fighters to ignore the 'weapons tied to a fighter' rule, so they can re-arm themselves to better use skills like Gunfighter or Hip shooting).
On the other hand some skill tables have 1-2 such horrible skills that I would never chance generating a random skill from them fearing to end up wasting the 6 XPs of the roll (but I do agree in most cases gambling 9 XPs is probably too high a price and 12 XPs for random skill from any table is simply foolhardy-you're better off rolling 2x random skills from a primary table at that point).

Regarding skills like Bull charge and Berserker: yes, they are conditional +1 S/+1 A with a charge and for the XP cost you're generally better off just spending the XPs in a Stat increase (more true for +1S, since +1A costs you 12 XPs, when you could randomly roll on Ferocity for 6 XPs), but stat increases are 'capped at +2 for S and only +1 for attacks, making Berserker a little bit more relevant (if you really wanted to get that additional attack with an expensive weapon like the Heavy Rock cutter). That said, you are much more likely to first Max out your M/Ws/Bs (if you are offensively inclined) and your defensive stats (T and W), before you even consider advancing S or A, so it is quite rare to get to the point when you have those offensive stats maxed out and decide to go 'over the limits' with skills...
 
I agree with spring up, definitely better than Nerves of Steel for fighters with I2+.

Although I disagree with Dodge, in that I think it's merely 'okay', perhaps a B. It's a 1/6th chance, I don't think we should overvalue that.

Although no longer being able to consolidate into combat is definitely deliberate.
Andy Hoare mentioned on Facebook shortly after the new edition that the change was deliberate. Their own campaign was being dominated by an Escher 'melee steamroll' gang, so the change was to restrict that.
TBH, it pretty much just confirms how out if touch I think the Devs are with their own game. Sure they play it, but they play it weirdly.
Then of course you have the pictures that they posted on a Warhammer Community article recently, where they were clearly using Dark Eldar and Bikes in their games.
 
I know you have reservations about this but would skill trees be a better system?

So you can buy into a primary skill and then choose from that related secondary skills so you don’t end up getting unrelated stuff.

IRL if you train in something, you usually advance further into that discipline, perhaps specialising in a particular branch.

It would mean that sniper you’ve set up would get the primary skill of choice and then be able to pick a route to more snipery secondary skills, rather than generic gun skills.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TopsyKretts
Also, for Spring Up skill, Initiative is cheap to advance for Leaders, Champions and Juves and you can´t lose any point due to a Lasting Injury, so is easy to obtain a good Initiative for any fighter.
 
Also, Initiative can never be damaged by lasting injuries, an oversight that was never addressed.
 
I agree with the article's assessment in most cases. There are a few, though, where I think they completely missed the mark.

Trick shot
At least A, no doubt about it. And it's definitely more useful than Hip shooting.

Commanding presence
I disagree that group activations are a big part of the game. They can be very useful in certain situations, sure. But being able to jam an additional fighter into a group activation is not that powerful. Especially when you consider how crowded that 3" bubble is going to get.

Bull charge
As has already been noted by others. Nothing impressive about it.

Clamber
In SM, this skill makes getting into melee a lot easier. Deserves a B-, at least.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TopsyKretts
TBH, it pretty much just confirms how out if touch I think the Devs are with their own game. Sure they play it, but they play it weirdly.
Then of course you have the pictures that they posted on a Warhammer Community article recently, where they were clearly using Dark Eldar and Bikes in their games.
Pretty sure they're 'playtesting' (I chuckled writing that) for a future Book of Ashes or whatever, I have no doubt about seeing all that GSC bikes and vehicles having rules after them adressing the Ridgerunner as an Enforcer design.
Dark Eldar would neither be strange, after mentioning Ur-Ghuls in the Eye of Selene.
I'm not being apologetic for them thought (I wouldn't dare)
 
  • Like
Reactions: TopsyKretts
Trick shot
At least A, no doubt about it. And it's definitely more useful than Hip shooting.
I a vacuum, Trick Shot would be really good, but I agree with their reasoning: an Infra Sight does almost the same thing (and lets you see through Smoke) for a few credits and (more importantly) no XP, and the two don't stack well (unless you house-rule that they provide cumulative bonuses against full cover). Unless your meta has no Smoke grenades for some reason, you're gonna need Infra Sights for everyone who can shoot a gun, and Trick Shot will become almost useless.

Hip Shooting is really good for Template weapon users (who get nothing from half of the Shooting skills, Trick Shot included). It's quite the specialized skill, sure, but it can't be replaced with a piece of wargear.
 
I a vacuum, Trick Shot would be really good, but I agree with their reasoning: an Infra Sight does almost the same thing (and lets you see through Smoke) for a few credits and (more importantly) no XP, and the two don't stack well (unless you house-rule that they provide cumulative bonuses against full cover). Unless your meta has no Smoke grenades for some reason, you're gonna need Infra Sights for everyone who can shoot a gun, and Trick Shot will become almost useless.

If infra sight had worked with rapid fire weapons, then I would agree with you 100%. But boltguns, plasma guns and heavy bolters are all excellent weapons that benefit greatly from trick shot.

Hip Shooting is really good for Template weapon users (who get nothing from half of the Shooting skills, Trick Shot included). It's quite the specialized skill, sure, but it can't be replaced with a piece of wargear.

I am not saying hip shooting is bad, just that I think trick shot is better.

I would say that the best use for hip shooting is meltaguns, though. Most template weapons are overpriced, IMO.
 
If you're playing Zone Mortalis, templates definitely aren't overpriced.

That's another issue with the game, there's several totally different 'metas' depending how you set up the table.

Clamber and Catfall can be totally useless if you're often playing on ZM, for example. So how good those skills are varies across groups
 
  • Like
Reactions: TopsyKretts
If infra sight had worked with rapid fire weapons, then I would agree with you 100%. But boltguns, plasma guns and heavy bolters are all excellent weapons that benefit greatly from trick shot.
That's a fair point and one that the authors apparently missed. I agree with your A assessment then.
 
I wouldn't read too much into these pictures - as far as I can see they were from someone's private campaign games using home-brew rules for vehicles, I don't think they were Dev-related. Those trophies at the top are quite familiar to some members of the tribe too ;)
 
The issue with trick shot is that +BS is strictly better than it but costs less XP (assuming you pick it as a primary skill).

The other A+ and A skills all do something that can’t be replicated by plus stats.
 
The issue with trick shot is that +BS is strictly better than it but costs less XP (assuming you pick it as a primary skill).

The other A+ and A skills all do something that can’t be replicated by plus stats.
Another good point. However, it should be noted that more than a third of the fighters with easy access to Shooting skills (Van Saar leader and champs) also start with maxed out BS, while nobody starts with maxed out S or A. While Enforcers and Delaque champs will be better served with a +1BS (or two, for the not-so-well trained enforcers), it's not an option for VS.
So yeah, it does reduce the utility of the skill for anyone who is not a VS leader/champ with a Rapid Fire weapon, but it's still a good option for those.
 
The issue with trick shot is that +BS is strictly better than it but costs less XP (assuming you pick it as a primary skill).

Obviously, you only take Trick shot when your BS is already maxed out. Or as a free skill for leaders and champions.

The other A+ and A skills all do something that can’t be replicated by plus stats.

So does Trick shot. Since almost every shot is at something in cover (at least on the boards our group plays), it allows you to effectively go "beyond" a BS of 2+.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BearsWillEatYou
I appreciate that trick shot has a niche for fighters that already have BS2+ (Van Saar leaders and champions, and one Venator hunt leader profile) or who are going to get it at the first advancement (Delaque champions, one Venator hunt leader profile, GSC Alpha, and enforcer leaders and champions).

But to me an A or A+ skill is one that you would either take over other skills an stat increases or roll for randomly and trick shot just doesn’t do that for me.

It’s not bad, it’s just not great (except for with Van Saar).