Big Game Hunter – a First Blood Replacement

I find myself hopped up on excitement and caffeine, so I felt the need to write an article regarding one of the format changes of the tournament: the Big Game Hunter Tertiary Mission.

The Mission:

“Of all the destroyed units at the end of the game, the player who killed the destroyed unit which cost the most points wins this mission.”


This was used as a secondary mission for one of the scenarios at Da Boyz GT. I loved it at the time and immediately set to figuring out a way to incorporate it into my games. As a Secondary mission, it was a good counterpoint to Purge the Alien and not a bad way to reward players for destroying large units like Imperial Knights and deathstars of doom. For my taste, the mission was a bit binary to be used as a Secondary or Primary mission, however, I did think that it would make an excellent Tertiary mission.

Competitive Role:

Big Game Hunter has the binary nature of First Blood; sure, it’s possible to tie this mission, but it is highly unlikely. For this reason, it makes a great tiebreaker in traditional games of 40k. For multi-tiered mission formats such as that used by most tournaments, it’s an excellent bonus point because it actually requires some form of effort as opposed to First Blood which basically rewards a player for winning the roll to go first. It also creates a nice counter-point to Purge the Alien, but not to the same degree as if it were a Secondary mission.

Additionally, Big Game Hunter serves a purpose from a risk/reward perspective. There are good strategies surrounding forcing your opponent to “deal with” a specific, tough unit. With Big Game Hunter, a player who must destroy one of these units could have a nice bonus for pouring a significant amount of effort into a single unit (beyond the obvious advantage of it being dead, of course).

Narrative Role:

If you look at Victory Points as a measure of your army’s performance on the battlefield, I think there is a strong argument for Big Game Hunter as a replacement for First Blood. While destroying the first unit may have some kind of nebulous morale benefits, destroying a nasty and pivotal unit belonging to your enemy will not only have a psychological effect on the rest of the troops, but it also represents a significant blow to your opponent’s ability to wage war.

Critical Response:

As usual, I polled my players at the end of the night. I received generally positive responses and a few criticisms on the format which I took to heart for the next event. However, what surprised me the most was the extremely emphatic response to Big Game Hunter as a replacement for First Blood. Not a single one of the twenty players offered a caveat or complaint.  In fact, there were a lot of very positive, even excited comments about it. The response was so positive that it might even be risky for me NOT to include it next time!


I think it’s pretty clear that I love this mission. I won’t try to hide it. I strongly recommend folks give it a try. I hope you’ll agree that there’s not much point in holding on to sacred cows, particularly when almost everyone thinks the steaks taste like crap.



About adam Fasoldt

Loopy (Adam) has only been playing 40k since 2010, but is an active member of the community. He is a host of the Masters of the Forge podcast and also a moderator of the Independent Characters forums. He also belongs to gaming clubs at Grimfoe Games in East Greenbush, NY and Dirty Goblin Games in Queensbury, NY.

31 Responses to “Big Game Hunter – a First Blood Replacement”

  1. War Corgi March 10, 2015 2:07 am #

    Count me among the positive. I am a big fan of this clever idea!

  2. Greggles March 10, 2015 2:54 am #

    I liked the concept behind the original “uncontested” blood. (forget the original name for it). Both players could obtain it at any turn, and it was basically that you destroyed an enemy unit “without” one of your units being destroyed in the ensuing turn. Simple, effective, and obtainable by both parties.

    Thus you couldn’t drop a suicide melta squad just to get first blood, as your opponent would just wipe them out on his turn.

    The problem with first blood in general (and even big game hunter), is that it is excludes one player from receiving the point. If big game hunter applied to “both” players, (as in your opponents highest point unit), then I’d be for it. But anything that only allows one side a chance to obtain it still retains the same problem as first blood.

    • DCannon4Life March 10, 2015 5:13 am #

      I have seen it called, ‘Solo-Blood’. Record keeping is a bit of a pain, particularly in tournament games (“Wait, did I kill something of yours last turn?”), but it is viable.

    • Loopy March 10, 2015 6:08 am #

      The fact that this can go back and forth, and requires actual effort takes care of a lot of the problem. I liked the bonus for going after big stuff as a small balancing factor as well. I could see someone having a strategy of going for this mission and trying to tie everything else, but that seems like an extremely risky proposition, especially if you’re running cumulative missions.

  3. bassface7 March 10, 2015 4:45 am #

    As if players of invincible deathstars needed any more help.

    • Loopy March 10, 2015 6:04 am #

      Does it help them?

      • AbusePuppy March 10, 2015 8:17 am #

        It’s typically very difficult to kill something like a Centstar without tabling the army (at which point the one extra VP becomes irrelevant), so yeah, it actually kinda does. It hurts Knights/superheavies a lot, but doesn’t actually do anything to most deathstars.

        • Loopy March 10, 2015 9:26 am #

          You don’t have to kill the biggest thing, just the biggest of the dead things.

          • Reecius March 10, 2015 9:28 am

            Ah, that is an important distinction, I didn’t catch that. Not the unit worth the most points, the most valuable unit of all those destroyed.

          • AbusePuppy March 10, 2015 9:55 am

            But all of the things in a deathstar army (outside of the deathstar itself) are typically relatively cheap- so even if you kill their 55pt Scout Squad and 180pt Terminator unit, they’re probably still going to win Big Game Hunter by virtue of you having at least one expensive model in your army for them to get rid of.

          • Loopy March 10, 2015 11:03 am

            I’m not sure how true that is. It may be true for some lists, but many have units which the HQs can jump around from/to in order to remain safe.

          • Loopy March 10, 2015 11:04 am

            And sometimes Knights.

          • CaptainA March 11, 2015 7:48 am

            My Censtar List had a 340 pt Centurtion unit, which was hard to kill, but my 220ish pt dreadknights were not so hard to kill. A 220 pt unit is pretty hefty and could easily cost me that point.

            I like this concept a lot.

    • Reecius March 10, 2015 9:27 am #

      That was my immediate reaction, too: Deathstars will love this. They will almost never give this point up.

  4. Wischfulthinking March 10, 2015 8:23 am #

    Just allow both player to score first blood if it’s done on the same game turn.

    • bogalubov March 10, 2015 8:49 am #

      That’s how TSHFT used to do it. If both sides killed a unit during the same turn, both would get the point.

    • DCannon4Life March 10, 2015 9:27 am #

      Bit rough going first against a Null Deployment army.

      • AbusePuppy March 10, 2015 9:56 am #

        There is no rule you can make up for any game ever that doesn’t benefit some strategies and some players more than others.

        • Loopy March 10, 2015 11:05 am #

          Ya. That’s kind of what I’m getting at. At least this mission requires some kind of effort.

  5. Jural March 10, 2015 11:15 am #

    I like it.

  6. Wintertalon March 10, 2015 11:17 am #

    As a replacement for first blood I like it. Right now first blood decides too many games.
    Having a chance to counter this though out the game is a good thing. I be willing to try it out in a couple tourney to see how it works.

  7. winterman March 10, 2015 11:21 am #

    My only issue nowadays with First Blood replacements are the units and rules that trigger on First Blood (like Tankbustas). I have been a fan of replacing first blood in at least a few games at my events but now I am gun shy on the idea because of how it affects those units or command benefits.

    • Loopy March 10, 2015 5:07 pm #

      Good point, Winterman. I hadn’t considered that. It’s easily remedied. For example, you can still grant Tankbustas the free VP for getting first blood by killing a vehicle. Done and done.

  8. Alex Yuen March 10, 2015 12:11 pm #

    I like to add to this point. most of you know this already. first blood change the tempo of the game rather than 1 vp. there is a lot of tactical decisions that need to be made related to first blood. Big game hunting really destroy those tactical decisions.

    Short version of why first blood is much better than big game hunting.

    point 1:
    first blood is the 40k version of the king’s gambit. By exposing unit(s) for my opponent to kill, How much positioning advantage will I gain in return or vise versa? That a strategy decision that need to be made before deployment. Big game hunting, you change the calculation on the risk and reward on deployment positioning. Since there is no gain in big game hunting to expose my unit(s), the deployment will be more risk averse.

    point 2:
    Since there is no first blood hanging over players head, there is one less major reason to take on more risk during the game. With first blood, the player whom lost it must now take a more risky approach to the game. Knowing a tie on everything else is a lost game for him. That changes everything during the game; tempo, the plan, and all decisions during the game that is now effected by first blood.

    point 3:
    Big game hunting is a late game decision. Similar to objective, at the end of the game, so why hunt at early game? first blood is the only decision that need to be made in early game, if that is also move to a late game decision then there is no reward on early game. Therefore, the strategy decision will stay with a no lost strategy with minimal engagement.

    point 4:
    is not a good strategy to force someone to kill the biggest unit. in fact is a very very bad strategy. The greatest strategy or tactic is to neutralize my opponent biggest unit, render it unless without wasting resources on it. yes, i stole that from sun tzu.

    so the conclusion is that big game hunting is not a good thing.

    As for both side can get first blood on the same turn, that goes into the positional exposure. The one who try to recover first blood must now make a decision recover first blood vs positional exposure. Sometime that is not an easy decision to make.

    • AbusePuppy March 10, 2015 1:33 pm #

      It also eliminates any real advantage to ever going first in missions outside of Kill Points, since Big Game isn’t at all time-sensitive.

      • Alex Yuen March 10, 2015 1:49 pm #

        agree that should be point 5. unbalance the pro and con on going first and get first blood vs going 2nd and capture objective decision.

    • droozy March 13, 2015 5:05 pm #

      Very good points. Every time one goes second in 40k it is important to attempt to counter-deploy to prevent giving up first blood and balance that with your overall strategy. Replacing first blood will destroy that aspect of the game.

  9. Dash2021 March 10, 2015 4:47 pm #

    Got to agree with AbusePuppy here. I can’t think of a single Deathstar type army that has a supporting unit that’s over 135pts (cough, cough, WS, cough). The Centstar that finished in the finals of LVO this year was supported by cheap pods and cheap scouts.

    Even if there is a relatively fat target outside the star to give you the point, that’s really only in current lists. Soon as you make this rule, you simply do some list magic and fix that problem.

    I like the “solo blood” concept a lot better. Both people can get it, and it requires a lot of thought on the players part to set up a kill while staying safe from reprisal. Doesn’t benefit many armies overtly, still retains some slight advantage to going first.

    • CaptainA March 11, 2015 7:50 am #

      Nick was using just a Centurion unit that died most games.

  10. Panzer1944 March 10, 2015 7:36 pm #

    To a true Space Wolf player ever game has the Big Game Hunter objective whether my opponent knows it or not. Whatever the biggest thing on the board is it is my job to see it killed or wreaked so I can add it to my wolves trophy wall.

  11. Evil Space Elves March 11, 2015 7:13 pm #

    This idea has me excited to the point of needing to change my pants. I’m going to try this out in my Highlander league.

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