Welcome back and buckle in because today we’re going to be discussing the “NOPE” stratagem! Possibly one of the most frustrating stratagems in all of Warhammer 40,000 right now, Agents of Vect has received a lot of hate online. Is being able to cancel an opponent’s stratagem too powerful? Should we limit it to once a game? Why does it even exist? Does it add a level of play and choice that might be good for the game? Hopefully by the end of this article we’ll answer all these questions and more!
And thanks to Dark Bunny Creatives for the beautiful pictures!
What it Does
If you’ve played a Dark Eldar army since the codex dropped you can skip this section. You already know what it does because everyone brings it, just go to the next section. Agents of Vect is a stratagem that can be used once per phase and costs 3 command points (CP). When your opponent uses a stratagem you can use Agents of Vect to roll a die and consult a chart. On a 1 your opponent’s stratagem goes off normally. A die roll of a 2-5 and their stratagem cannot be used and their CP’s are refunded. On a 6 your opponent’s stratagem doesn’t go off AND they don’t get their CP’s back.
How it Combos Well
Other than just stopping your opponents stratagems? Well you are also a command point farm in a certain way. Now remember the stratagem specific to the Kabal of the Black heart (Vect’s Kabal). This is powerful because the Black Heart warlord trait is anytime a CP is spent, on a 6, you regain a command point. Say your opponent tries to orbital bombard you for 3 CP. You roll 3 dice and any 6’s get you a CP back. Now you Vect it and roll 3 dice and any 6’s get you a CP back. Then you roll to stop it per the Vect stratagem. Oh, and if you get a 1, just reroll it maybe even getting that CP back on a 6 as well!
There’s a good chance that on six rolls you’re going to get at least one CP back. A command point farm, although not as great as a Guard/Blood Angel command point plantation, definitely pairs well with such an expensive stratagem.
Also, it’s unclear whether you just need a Black Heart model to use the stratagem or a whole detachment so shenanigans abound. We do suggest most tournaments clarify that a Black Heart detachment is required to use this goofiness otherwise we’ve seen a lot of salt and a lot of wasted time arguing about it.
Does it Have any Drawbacks?
Only a few. It cannot be used against stratagems in deployment so you’re not stopping infiltrating Alpha Legion or Victor of the Blood Games. At 3 CP’s, possibly 4 if you need the reroll, it can be very resource intensive to use more than a few times a game. Dark Eldar only have 1 type of HQ per internal faction (Archon, Succubus, Haemonculus). This means they are limited in the number of battalions they can take with the rule of 3. They also don’t get their goofy patrol rule at most tournaments with a 3 detachment limit.
Basically it can’t stop before the game things and it’s expensive. It also isn’t a sure fire thing technically. Otherwise it’s pretty amazing when you stop things from double shooting/fighting or buffing themselves defensively against the Dark Eldar onslaught.
Is it too powerful?
Get ready for the internet rage. NO! Here’s why: it makes players make choices. Yes it can stop a lot of things that players build their lists around. That’s frustrating. However, players now know that this exists! They should no longer always plan on their one special snowflake stratagem going off when they build a list. It’s not like they don’t know Vect’s agents are out there now (although admittedly it’s much more fun/awkward when they don’t know yet). Now players have to build in redundancy or alternative plans and can’t just rely on a single crutch. I think that adds depth to the game and rewards being able to just play the game. When your plan does’t go perfectly you have to make choices.
This is why I don’t think Agents of Vect is too powerful. It’s resource cost means using it prevents a Dark Eldar player from using those sweet, sweet CP’s on defensive stratagems their army needs for survivability. Both the Dark Eldar player and the opposing player have to make choices on how they use their limited resources. The answer isn’t cut and dry anymore of just “use all my stratagems first and second turns to blow my opponent away”.
There are already other situations where it makes no sense to use your special stratagems. Have you played the Guard/Blood Angels CP farm (plantation really)? We’ll be writing an article on that soon. Any time you use a stratagem they can possibly get 2 CP’s back themselves, which….they might keep anyways when they spend the stolen ones! Using stratagems in that context seems to almost always be a net negative effect especially against 3 “Slamguinius” captains.
There is still some randomness. I realize this might be the weakest points but it’s still there. Games like 40k are fun because there’s a balance of choice and randomness. Choosing to use the resources to Vect still has some randomness in it. Rolling a 1 is still possible and hilarious to your opponent if it happens. Just like your opponent can’t rely on their stratagems always going off, neither can the Dark Eldar player. To make it even better, the randomness is actually evenly weighted because the 1 makes Vect not work but a 6 does cost their opponent some of their resources. Choice and randomness, again, are what makes this game fun and Agents of Vect at least has some of both.
Why did GW Give this to Dark Eldar?
Well I think there’s a few reasons. The first is that Dark Eldar have historically really suffered and now GW has seen fit to resurrect those codexes. Secondly Dark Eldar have no psykers which is an entire phase of the game they don’t get to play. In exchange for this Dark Eldar get the Power from Pain chart, a lot of good stratagems, and Agents of Vect. Power from Pain makes up for the lack of offensive psychic buffs they could get while many stratagems the Dark Kin have are similar to defensive buffs.
Ok sure, but why be able to stop a stratagem? I think of Agents of Vect like a stratagem version of Deny the Witch. If they can’t stop psychic powers, at least they can stop the other type of buffs/debuffs in the game. It’s resource cost, even with the farming warlord trait, means that a Dark Eldar player chooses between denial or using their own stratagems. Agents of Vect fills a similar roll in a unique way to what the Dark Eldar normally can’t do. Dark Eldar are so fragile there really is a choice in how to use their CP’s and when to use Agents of Vect just like choosing what psychic powers to deny.
How to Make it More Balanced
Get ready for more internet rage. First and foremost clarify the requirements for being able to use the stratagem. Other than that? If we are treating Agents of Vect like stratagem Deny the Witch, make it range dependent. Range is a massive cap for the power of many abilities and adds even more tactical play. What if Vect only worked within 18″ of a Kabal of the Black Heart Archon? What if you could kill that guy and make it stop? Yeah I’d be down. That would mean at least you could kill or limit the range of the guy generating this effect and then pop all your stratagems. I’d enjoy that game as both the Dark Eldar and the opponent because it means how we play matters.
Alternatively, give other armies that lack psykers a similar ability. Instead of psykers Tau have… more shooting I guess? Wow, Tau really need some help other than just Yvharas thinking about it. Necrons have the ability to freaking resurrect themselves if you don’t kill all of the zombie machines. And neither of these factions can ally in psykers like Dark Eldar can. This is a long way of saying Agents of Vect answers a problem for Dark Eldar that other armies also have and should also get an answer for. Oh and those armies still can’t ally in Eldar psykers, some of the best in the game.
The Best Answer
Give every army the ability to deny stratagems. Games Workshop added this stratagem mechanic to the game and as more codexes come out more stratagems are in the game. We should be able to interact more broadly with this mechanic other than just “it happens”. We don’t need to limit Agents of Vect, we just need to give everyone the option to use their resources to interact with their opponent’s abilities instead of just their own. When you add in choices that have real costs and benefits, an element of randomness, and multiple ways to interact with mechanics, games get better, more competitive, and more fun.
Doesn’t it just sound like an Imperial Assassin or Inquisition thing to do to deny stratagems? No one expects the Inquisition! Hrm, sorry. For Chaos, what if Fallen were actually helpful because they let you deny stratagems? Maybe the Orks just don’t believe the stratagem is going to work? Warhammer 40,000 has such a deep lore universe to draw on can’t we find some reason every army gets something like this?