Small Changes to a Big Game

The 2021 edition of Chapter Approved is set to be released in a week’s time, and we’ve already had a couple of articles on Warhammer Community revealing some of the points costs and rules changes that we can look forward to.

Taken in the abstract, updates to points costs seldom affect the game as do changes to the rules, and, if what we have seen so far is anything to go by, CA 2021 won’t change this.

The reason is simple enough: while the points that a player pays for a unit is important, far more important is the datasheet of the unit itself. A change in points rarely makes up for an average datasheet.

Take, for example, Crisis Suits. This classic T’au unit has been steadily reducing in points cost for a good 18 months now, and I would hazard a guess that CA 2021 will further reduce the costs of the unit — be it the base cost of the model itself or the weapons or Support Systems that go with it.

Yet it took new rules from Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good to prompt T’au players to take a look at Crisis Suits again. There’s no doubt that the Veteran Cadre stratagem — increasing WS and BS by one — is an essential choice for almost all T’au lists at the moment, and without it T’au players would almost certainly look elsewhere in the codex.

Granted, there is a points cost at which any unit in 40k becomes essential. If Kroot were to become two points per model, I’d certainly buy myself two or three boxes.

But, all things considered, points can’t fix an average datasheet.

The changes to the secondary missions that Games Workshop previewed earlier this week, then, are much more interesting than points reductions.

So what’s going to change? We know that three secondaries are going to change; let’s look at each in turn.

First, Investigate Sites is renamed to Investigate Signal. This mission used to be virtually unplayable. In order to gain points from it, a unit must perform an action within 6″ of the centre of the battlefield — provided there are no enemy units within 6″ of the centre of the battlefield.

Since actions are performed in the Movement phase, it was relatively simple for the opponent to stop it. Simply run a unit to within 6″ of the centre of the board, and your opponent will be very unlikely to score any points: very few armies can deal damage in the Movement phase, and, therefore, most armies cannot remove the opponent’s models until the Shooting phase, which, of course, is too late.

How has this changed? Now players can perform the action, and as long as the centre of the board is clear by the end of the player’s turn, he will score the points.

Simply put, this is an excellent change. Indeed, GW should have written this secondary like this in the first place.

This secondary comes under the Shadow Operations section, which means that if a player takes Investigate Signal, he may not take Raise the Banners High or Deploy Scramblers, both of which can be quite appealing secondaries for the right army.

However, more choice is almost always a good thing in 40k, and Investigate Signal will certainly offer an interesting choice for plenty of armies. I could certainly see players pairing this mission with Domination — removing the enemy from the centre is a common goal when a player takes Domination, and Investigate Signal will offer yet more incentive for players to do so.

Next, we have the No Prisoners secondary, which will replace Thin Their Ranks. No Prisoners grants points based on the Wounds characteristic of destroyed models — with the exception of Vehicles, Monsters, and Characters.

Previously, this secondary gave players one point for every ten models that were destroyed. Again, it’s easy to see why this wasn’t a particularly popular option.

But now it’s starting to look a little more valuable. If No Prisoners grants one point for every ten Wounds, destroying five Primaris Marines would yield a point. Destroying a unit of ten, two points.

Players will have to choose between this secondary, Grind Them Down, and While we Stand, we Fight — the three options in the No Mercy, no Respite section — so, again, there’s going to be some competition here, but I could certainly see No Prisoners being a reasonable option for certain factions and armies.

Finally, Deploy Scramblers will change to Retrieve Octarius Data. The designers clearly had a bit of fun naming these missions.

While the article doesn’t go into detail on how this secondary will function, we know that it is no longer an all-or-nothing option. Furthermore, we know that players will get points for completing the action in multiple table quarters.

We could speculate, then, that in place of performing an action in his own deployment zone, no-man’s land, and his opponent’s deployment zone, a player now gets points for performing an action in each table quarter.

Indeed, each action could be worth three points, meaning that, instead of the ten points on offer for completing the three actions required for Deploy Scramblers, players could now score twelve points in total.

What’s more, Retrieve Octarius Data is not an all-or-nothing secondary, so the player could score three, six, nine, or twelve points. With Deploy Scramblers, the only two options are nothing or ten.

If the above is anything close to how the mission will look, I’d say that it’ll be an improvement. Deploy Scramblers was often a solid choice for many armies, but it wouldn’t take much for a player to miss out on one of the actions, meaning that he would score zero points. Retrieve Octarius Data sounds much more forgiving.

However, that which I describe above sounds just a little too close to Engage on all Fronts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is something of a twist with this new secondary. If not, we will surely see players take both Engage and Retrieve together and score highly on both.

Broadly speaking, I think it’s excellent that GW choose to update the game like this. These kind of changes will keep the game fresh and interesting, and, with any luck, will help out some of the factions that are struggling in the current meta.

Indeed, I could see T’au players looking at Vespid for a fast-moving unit with the Infantry keyword that can get where it needs to be on the board and perform an action. That said, Vespid are still a failcast model, so perhaps not.

Still, you know what I’m getting at. Small changes like this bring new units into contention, units that otherwise most players wouldn’t look twice at, and not only is that good for GW’s model sales, but it’s also good for the game as well.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

2 Responses to “Small Changes to a Big Game”

  1. Avatar
    Yarium May 31, 2021 2:47 am #

    Sadly, from the leaks I’ve seen, Investigate Signals is still wrong. You still can’t start it if the enemy is within 6” of the middle. Just now that enemy unit has to be wholly within 6” rather than partially, but the core issue of not being able to start it in that case is still there. Seriously, GW needs to FAQ this or something, because everyone was excited for it due to their own article saying this was something else!!!

  2. Avatar
    Rob Butcher June 1, 2021 9:10 am #

    The important thing about this release is that these are the points and scenarios to be used at offiical GW tournaments. Three are announced for the USA; with more coming at Warhammer World in the UK and elsewhere after the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

    Yes, I’m one of those players who don’t enjoy having to do different missions in every tournament I attend so this is welcome. (It also means I don’t have to keep inventing missions for our own tournaments/campaigns as everyone knows these are reasonable and they can be looked at by anyone.)

    You are totally correct when you say that rules/missions matter more than points. Wade Pryce (then Head of W40K) in March 2018 said that when people were screaming about seven hive tyrants winning Adepticon – the rule of three stopped that and bonuses for taking one Codex armies lessened the effects of spam.

    GW are making an effort to improve choices. We’ve seen in Underworlds that popular choices of cards are rotated out and new ones released. We’re seeing the same for W40K with these secondaries, missions and points.

    But my choose of secondaries is still based around a few from killing vehicles/titans/witches, scanners and the Codex specialist ones. I’ll read CA2021 closely to see if i need to make any changes.

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