Over this last week we’ve seen Games Workshop release a handful of articles discussing the latest changes in the new edition of 40k.
Last week, I speculated on the potential changes to the way that command points will work in the new edition. Now we can talk more accurately about what is going to be the case.
Before writing their lists, players will begin with the same amount of command points. A 2,000-point game — a strike force game in the new edition — will yield 12 command points before any detachments are purchased. Keep in mind that 2,000 points won’t quite mean the same thing as it did in 8th in the new edition, but we’ll come to that later.
From the pool of command points, players will purchase detachments into which their armies will fit. At the moment, we’ve only seen rules for the battalion detachment, but presumably the familiar detachments from 8th will follow a similar format.
The battalion detachment, then, comes at the cost of three command points. However, if the player’s warlord is part of this detachment, the three command points are refunded. For example, in a 1,000 point game — an incursion game in the new edition — a player has access to six command points from which to choose his detachments. He opts for a battalion detachment and takes a Commander, a Cadre Fireblade, and three squads of Fire Warriors. Our fine gamer is, of course, a T’au player, which makes him a gentleman and a scholar. Don’t let those cheeky chaps on Signals from the Frontline tell you any different. He would now have to pay the three command point cost for the battalion detachment, but he makes the Commander in this detachment his warlord, which refunds the cost of the detachment. Our fine T’au player, then, remains at six command points.
Moreover, we know that this refund function works not only on battalion detachments but on patrols and brigades as well — as long as the player’s warlord is taken in the detachment.
This structure will of course incentivise players to continue to use the classic battalion detachment when building battle-forged armies. There has been a lot of talk over the past week about troop choices disappearing from the game, and it would be easy to see why. If players were not incentivised to take troops, many players would opt to spend their points on more powerful units. The loyal 32 became ubiquitous for a reason. These steadfast servants of the Emperor were essentially a tax, but judging by what we have seen so far, this troop tax will remain in the game to one extent or another.
We also know that players will receive one command point at the beginning of their turn if their army is battle-forged. Simply put, I think that this is going to be an excellent addition to the game. Most armies had to rely on relics to increase their share of command points throughout the game — but the opportunity cost to take such relics could be relatively high. For example, the Puretide engram neurochip allowed T’au players to receive an addition command point on the roll of a 6 whenever either player used a stratagem. Now that we can rely on an additional command point each turn, we could replace this relic with something that adds to the offensive or defensive capabilities of a model or unit.
Furthermore, this rule allows us to better plan our strategies for future turns. If, for example, we wanted to use a particular stratagem during the last battle round of the game, we would need to ration our stratagem use accordingly, but now that we know exactly what we will get at the beginning of each turn, players will be more free to use their command points more liberally.
Indeed, players can also somewhat mitigate the effects taking multiple detachments with the command points that they will receive each turn. I’d be happy to begin a game with only a handful of command points if I know that I’ll receive six more throughout the game. Of course, relics that allowed players to farm command points throughout the game would go some way to this end, but it was never something that a player could rely on. Now, players know exactly how many command points they’ll have and when they’ll get them. This will be a great addition to the game.
What other changes do we know are coming? For one, we know that the game is getting smaller — both in terms of physical space and in terms of points. That is to say that the amount of points that we pay for our models is increasing.
How much? While it’s too soon to tell exactly, GW has released the new points cost of two units: Primaris Intercessors and Chaos Cultists. A single Primaris Intercessor now costs 20 points; this is an increase of three points, or a little over 17 percent. A single Chaos Cultist now costs 6 points; this in an increase of two points, or 50 percent.
This doesn’t give us much to go on, but this much is clear at least: these points increases will allow for more differentiation at the lower ends of the points scale. For example, an individual Kroot Carnivore costs four points at the moment, just the same as a Chaos Cultist. However, the new rules may very well give Kroot Carnivores some interesting options when in comes to arriving from reserves, which would make them more valuable than Cultists in one way or another. In 9th, this difference in battlefield ability will be much easier to represent with points. A Kroot Carnivore might costs seven points in 9th edition. Or perhaps eight points. We don’t know, of course, but now the designers have more scope to experiment with points costs at the lower end of the scale.
With the total points for a game remaining the same, then, total model count will be reduced. Again, I think that this will be a solid improvement to the game. Not only does it reduce the barrier to entry — new players will need fewer models to get cracking with their games — but it also means that games will be quicker.
Game length has been a bugbear of many competitive 40k players for a little while now, and it’s no wonder. 2,000-point games can easily take three hours, sometimes more. Reducing average game time by even 30 minutes is going to make a big difference to 40k tournaments. It will certainly make the organisation easier, but it will also lessen the mental toll upon the players themselves.
I’m sure most readers will have played a couple of games of 40k in one day, and many readers will have played three or four. Needless to say, that amount of 40k is draining both mentally and physically. Reducing this burden in tournaments will not only have a positive effect on the top players, but it will also make the experience of the players in the middle of the pack who want to show up, throw some dice, and drink some beer that much better.
Time will tell just how quicker the game will become, but I think that this is a step in the right direction for 40k as a whole. Players can, of course, choose to play at a higher points limit if they really want to slog it out over a few hours, but I would hazard a guess that the majority of players would welcome a small decrease in average time at the table.
There’s plenty more to come and much more to talk about, but at the moment I’m excited about the new edition. We should wait for the release of the new edition before we pass judgement, but overall I think that things are looking very strong for new 40k.
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