Guest Editorial by TinBane: Kill Points and Balance

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Another Editorial from Down Under by our friend, TinBane.

The general 6th ed counter to “focal point” based lists is that in general they aren’t scoring. Scoring is a way to win games, the Skyblight list is massively powerful in part because it allows you to take a unit which is incontestable, and gets recycled on a 4+. Points are spent so that troops can be delayed, so they can come in for a late grab on objectives, and troops are often small units incapable of having a meaningful impact on the battlefield.

So what stands in they way of MSU as a capable game winning meta? One of the biggest problems is missions that use Kill Points. It sounds like Adepticon included a high proportion of these, compared to the 1/6 in the BRB. Which pretty much puts any MSU list out of the game.

Why does this happen? Well in an objective based mission, a Deathstar can only really eat a unit per game turn. Assuming you bring enough MSUs, you can choke them up on small units which they may have trouble clearing. As soon as kill points come in, each MSU killed might give away a victory point, the same as you’d get for first blood or for killing a warlord. OUCH!

The counter to this, is that having some form of kill points means that armies have a reason to engage. It becomes a trade-off to try and secure a 3 point objective by sitting in a storm raven and coming in at the last minute.

What is the solution?

Well, let’s look at a few.

1. There’s no accounting for taste:

The first is to go back to an old 40k system, where destroying/routing a unit gives their points values to the other team. Taking them below half strength decreases this to half that value. It means killing an expensive unit, gives you more points. What’s the downside? Post-game VP calculations become very much a game of accounting. Victory points for objectives becomes a percentage of the total points on the table, so even getting a clear idea mid game of where you exactly sit becomes a bit of an art. In short, it’s probably the best option, but it becomes complex!

2. Rounding out the options:

To simplify the above system, VPs can be based on the value of the unit, rounded to the nearest 100pts. That sounds amazing! Less points to keep track of, you can write them on your army list, and there’s only 18 of those suckers in a 1750pt list?

Well, no, there isn’t. You see as soon as you set a threshold (like >= 50pts rounds up to 1vp) you get gamification of the scoring theme. Army 1 and Army 2 might have the same points, but Army 1 has 25% more VPs than his opponent can take! It’s better than what we have now, but it’s far from simple, and it moves the problem around. A unit at 145pts is worth half the points of a unit at 150pts, and this distortion ripples through lists, changing the validity of loadouts purely down to countering unit scoring.

3. Making the current system more even handed:

Instead, what if we just change the existing system? The aim (at least my intended aim) is to counteract KPs impact on the validity of having a greater number of independent small units. With that in mind, my proposal is that you work out the number of KPs each side has at the start of the game, and if there’s an imbalance, the side with the most KPs allocates them to enemy units of their choice. You cannot allocate more KPs to a unit that already has extra, without every other unit having one allocated (no cultist squad worth 5 vps). As this is done before deployment, it has two effects:

1. Your opponent can’t manipulate their number of KPs to add points onto your units. So you can’t combat squad units until you have one more KP in your army than your opponent, and force it onto their unit most likely to die. And on the flipside, if someone does stack KPs onto a weaker unit it will serve as an incentive to keep that unit in reserve/safe.

Do you have a good way to positively impact on the meta? Is there a better solution to the KP dilemma? Or is the KP disparity an important and fundamental balancing tool of the 40k game, honed to perfection?

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16 Responses to “Guest Editorial by TinBane: Kill Points and Balance”

  1. Gary Frank April 8, 2014 12:08 pm #

    I think the garg’s can be contested by denial units.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 8, 2014 12:22 pm #

      Yeah, that one is definitely unclear at this point in time. You can read it either way.

      • TinBane April 8, 2014 4:29 pm #

        I hadn’t been following the objective controlled rule “debate”.

        Straight up let’s ignore RAI, because frankly if it was intended for denial units to prevent objective secured from working, it would likely say so in the rule 🙂

        So RAW is basically that the “Objective Secured” rule states that the gargoyles control the objective, even if there is a scoring unit in range. So the interpretation that they can be contested, is based on that being a definitive conditional override of the core mechanics.

        However, I tend to take a different view. The main rulebook states that you control an objective if you have a model from a scoring unit, and no denial units within 3″ of the objective.

        The denial unit states that denial units can prevent an enemy from holding an objective. This isn’t bolded for emphasis, meanwhile the conditions where a denial unit does prevent control of the objective, is in the bolded section “controlling objectives”. As the section quoted, doesn’t actually contain conditions, definitive statements that it does blanked deny control, or anything else, we can only go on the bolded section.

        This section only deals with controlling an objective using scoring units. Objective Secured doesn’t make the unit scoring, it makes the unit control the objective.

        Overall though, the wording is incredibly bad. Better if they totally replaced the controlling objective rules with the Objective Secured ones, to write out any mention of denial units.

        However the way I’d play it (as someone who has no nids) is that they can’t be contested. It remains to be seen how the TOs choose to rule on it.

  2. Adam
    Adam April 8, 2014 12:52 pm #

    You could go back to 2nd edition style points, where a unit was worth a number of points based on the unit value. If the unit was worth under 100 points, you got 0 for bringing it under 50%, but got 1 for killing it. If the unit was worth 100+ points, you got 1 for bringing it under half strength and another 1 for wiping it out. Since this edition has many more high point cost units, you could take it further:

    0-99 – 0/1
    100-199 – 1/2
    200-299 – 1/3
    300-399 – 2/4
    400-499 – 2/5
    500-599 – 3/6
    etc.

    It’s roughly the same as VP’s, except it’s far easier to keep track of during a game.

  3. Rich with GSI April 8, 2014 1:35 pm #

    I thought of a mission the other day where only destroyed scoring units are counted as KPs… but your enemies scoring units are worth a number of KPs equal to the number of scoring units you have (up to a max of 6 points per scoring unit). You have 4 scoring units and your enemy 2? His scoring units are worth 4pts each to you and yours are worth 2pts each to him. Simplifies things a little bit.

  4. Hush April 8, 2014 1:41 pm #

    I like the idea of KP balancing through the third system however instead of balancing KP against one another there should be a set number to ratio against I.e. if the set number was 30 and I had 15 KP in the current system 1 unit is worth 2 VP’s, if my opponent has a death star List of 6 units each is worth 5 VP. This way before a game, perticuillay in a time pressed tournament environment, the KP for each unit is know as the KP ratio can just be on the list.

  5. TutorialBoss April 8, 2014 3:21 pm #

    1/6 kp missions is fairly well balanced. You have to remember that MSU itself offers significant advantages, which is what made it so popular in 4th ed. It allows you to have more efficient shooting and assault, and gives you more tactical options in movement.

    The last suggestion would be a horrible idea for this reason. It would just magnify the advantage of having MSU against balanced lists with a mix of tough and fragile units.

  6. TinBane April 8, 2014 4:30 pm #

    Thanks for all these great suggestions.
    If only there were TOs on this site who might find some of this of potential use ;P

  7. Black Blow Fly April 8, 2014 4:45 pm #

    Kill points is an excellent win condition for sixth edition and really helps balance the current meta. In regards to deathstars they can easily contribute more than one kill point per turn such as sweeping multiple units in combat or controlling a key area on the table by sheer domination.

  8. Jason Brown April 8, 2014 7:15 pm #

    Decent deathstars can multicharge like bosses, I can get three units wrapped up a turn and cause enough wounds that I kill one or two. I actually want one to survive so I am tired up for a turn of their shooting.

  9. TinBane April 8, 2014 8:48 pm #

    I’m talking about them chewing up a unit a turn, on the basis of a list devised around MSU.
    Multiple charges are only possible if your units are grouped together, and if your units are MSU there is very little reason to make that happen.

  10. bigpig April 8, 2014 10:29 pm #

    Couldn’t it be argued that KP missions are another equalizer? True they help deathstars, but in th big picture, they require players to build lists that aren’t so one dimensional or risk being wiped in that one KP mission and getting knocked out of the multiround tournament. Now, when 1/3 to 1/2 the missions have KP as objectives (as was mentioned for Adepticon) that certainly changes the landscape. I think if you keep the KP mission as the occassional wild card, it isn’t as big a deal.

    • bigpig April 8, 2014 10:31 pm #

      I’ll add that I used to play Fantasy back in the day. It was all about points, whoever killed the most won. It really wasn’t that big a deal to figure it at the end, though there is more possibility for your opponent to cheat you (a real possibility in a tournament) and, you are right, it was harder to plan and see where you were at mid game.

  11. Rau April 8, 2014 10:59 pm #

    How about when calculating kill points you score 1 for each unit you destroyed and 1 for each unit you have alive on the board. This means small armies that deny kp’s can be countered by just trying to survive with a msu style army.

    You could discount certain units from surviving points, such as dedicated transports

  12. Bassface7 April 8, 2014 11:25 pm #

    The main reason i dislike kill points is that it makes no sense as a mission objective (Unless you’re Guard i suppose) Killing more of the enemy than they kill of you isn’t a victory.

    • TheCramp April 9, 2014 7:57 am #

      Yeah, I really dislike kill points as a victory condition, as well as first blood. Why is striking first relevant? You don’t get extra “points” in boxing for landing the first punch, the first run in a baseball game isn’t worth extra. It’s obnoxious because it provides a disincentive to take certain units. Rhino’s are this huge liability because they just forfeit first blood, even though they are dedicated to the unit which survives (which is also silly, you should have to kill the transport and units inside.)

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