A lot of things had some big shifts in the new edition, but one of the biggest changes was also the smallest change- the Command Reroll stratagem. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Command Reroll stratagem has been fundamental to the way 8th Edition played, although a lot of players may not realize it if they didn’t participate heavily in previous iterations of the game (or don’t remember what it was like.) While it may not seem like it, the ability to reroll any single die you want can have a huge impact on the game in ways that may not always be obvious.
To understand why, let’s remember that we play a game of dice. This might sound like a trivial statement, but it’s important to remember. Most of the stuff we do is dependent on dice- making attacks, of course, but even moving (via Advances), psychic powers, and many unit abilities can be contingent on a die roll. This is why rerolls are so valuable in the game- they allow you to mitigate the effects of luck while playing and dodge extreme outlier rolls where strange things happen. The reroll itself is, of course, still subject to some level of variance, but you still improve your chances significantly by having it.
However, for most of the game’s lifespan, rerolls were quite rare. Rerolls to hit weren’t uncommon (such as from the old Twin-Linked weapon ability) and rerolls to wound, penetrate, or on damage tables were certainly around, though they were rare enough that they were generally quite valuable. In other words, the game did have rerolls- but they were always rerolls of specific types, on specific kinds of dice. With one single exception in Chaos Daemons, there were no broad-reaching rerolls that could be used on anything.
This was critical because it meant that players were always, always at the mercy of the dice to a significant degree. If you had an ability that worked on a 2+, most of the time it would go off… but when it didn’t, well, better not rely on that because 15% of the time it will fail and your plan will come to pieces. This basically meant that you couldn’t realistically build an army (or a strategy) that relied on those kinds of dice rolls, because over the course of a tournament they would simply fail too often to be usable.
All of this changed with 8th Edition. While obviously there were a ton of things that were completely upended in that shift, somewhat unheralded was the addition of the Command Reroll, which changed the nature of the game in a subtle-but-important way. If you had an ability that worked on a 3+ or a 2+, suddenly it became a lot more reliable- to the point where you could maybe even bet heavily on it. It still wasn’t a guarantee, obviously, but you could expect it to work out for you the majority of the time if you had CP available.
This was especially notable for things like Agents of Vect or Litanies of Faith, abilities that could be game-changingly powerful but were dependent on a single die roll to function. We saw a lot of this in different armies, including Chaos Daemons using it to reroll morale checks in order to get free models, mortal wound outputs that could potentially snipe key characters, and a variety of triggered abilities that would happen randomly at different times, all of which became a lot more reliable.
In total, what this meant is that the game was a lot “smoother” in terms of probabilities. By using Command Reroll, you could ensure that you avoided the worst results on a lot of small dice rolls- was that vehicle gonna blow up and do a huge pile of mortal wounds to your army? Nah, I don’t think so. Fail that critical psychic test? Give it another go. Missed getting onto the objective by 1″? See if that squad can get a little more pep in their step. In every phase of the game, for every action, Command Reroll had the potential to make things go just a bit better for you in ways that could be absolutely critical.
9th Edition has changed that, though. As with Age of Sigmar before it, 9E’s version of Command Reroll has been changed to only work on a specific suite of rolls. Of course, this “limited” version still covers a lot of ground- it allows you to reroll the majority of types of rolls in the game, including hits, wounds, saves, damage, random shots, charges, psychic tests, deny tests, and advance rolls. This is more than 99% of the rolls that you make in a given game- but the other 1% can be critical, and the inability to reroll them is very important.
For starters, you can’t reroll Morale checks or Attrition checks. While this isn’t backbreaking due to the existence of other abilities that can mitigate the problem (and downgrading the binary nature of morale in 9E), you will still have situations where you wish you could reroll it to avoid being forced to deal with the ‘free’ casualties.
Explosions are going to be another big one. Explosions can be pretty dangerous now that they do mortal wounds (rather than S4 AP0 hits like in the old days) and with lots of models often packed together to take advantage of auras, screening, or countercharge an explosion can potentially be devastating to your formation. In 8E this wasn’t an issue most of the time, as judicious application of a command point could generally avoid the worst of explosive consequences. This will no longer be the case, however, and that means players are going to have to be much more wary of potential detonations, especially if vehicles rise in popularity the way lots of people are expecting them to.
Stratagems that rely on a die roll will also be heavily affected. Agents of Vect, of course, is the first one most people think of, but there are lots of others that also have powerful effects dependent on a roll. Things such as the Knight stratagem to stand back up on a 4+ or negate a psychic power on the same become far less reliable, and thus more risky, now that the reroll isn’t available to them anymore.
Similarly, some units have abilities that trigger on specific die rolls- doing mortal wounds on a 2+ with a Serpent Shield, for example. Like stratagems these vary in commonality from faction to faction, but they are present almost everywhere and are very key to certain factions like Space Marines, which make extensive use of them in their buffs.
The Sum of the Whole
The last part of the changes I want to discuss is the smallest, but still will have a significant effect on things. Command Reroll, in addition to being limited to certain types of rolls, also has changed how it affects certain rolls- namely, that rolls with multiple dice (most notably charge rolls and psychic tests) now must reroll all of the dice rather than just one of them. This is both a blessing and a curse; on the one hand, it lets you more easily avoid that dreaded snake eyes result or other very low results on the dice more easily. On the other hand, in situations where you rolled a 5+1 or 6+1, it makes it a lot harder to get high results (such as the 9 needed to complete a charge out of reserves), making a lot of the top-end values harder to achieve.
Note that this doesn’t affect most other rolls in the game, as these only roll one die at a time. A weapon attack, for example, only rolls one die per attack even if that weapon gets multiple shots, as each of those shots is a separate roll and thus won’t be affected by the change to Command Reroll. the only case where this would be different is with units that have the ability to roll extra dice on an advance and discard some of the results- in this case under the new wording you would reroll all of those dice before choosing which ones to discard, although this is probably a good thing overall.
I think, overall, this change will be good. The Command Reroll stratagem had an outsized effect on the game in many ways, dictating how Games Workshop was able to design stratagems and abilities that had random rolls as part of them in a ways that was not helpful. This changes pushes the stratagem back towards its intended purpose (giving players a small amount of interactivity with the variance of the game in important places) while allowing them more freedom to write such abilities in the future. However, it does mean that players need to be more aware of potential consequences of rolls from here on out, as they won’t be able to mitigate them as easily- so for example the new Necron upgrade character that can “power up” their squad on a 2+ but on a 1 causes a casualty is much more of a risk down, especially in small squads.
As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day in the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.