Smaller 40k Games Are The Answer?

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Pimpcron has a way to deal with WAAC players, and game balance.

Welcome, friend. You’re in Pimpcron’s house now and you’re welcome here any time. But call first; I ain’t no seven-eleven.

So the thought occurred to me the other day that changed my view on 40k. It was one of those deep, existential epiphanies that shake your world view to the core. Kind of like “Why are they called ‘apartments’ when they’re all stuck together?” or “If a ‘UFO’ lands on the ground and we find out what it is, does it become just an ‘O’?”.

These are the hard hitting questions you have to ask. So I was wondering if we play too many points. I think maybe we should play 1250 points games in order to fix many of 40k’s problems. Here me out, fam.

Smaller Points, Shorter Games

Even though I like to really sink my teeth into a several-hour game once in a while, I find it really refreshing to play a game that is only, let’s say 2-hours long. It is fun, but doesn’t drag out. We’ve all played those games that, for whatever reason, take forever. Finally, after 5 hours of playing you end up calling it quits at the end of turn 3. I’ve seen friends do this time and time again. When planning a game they get all excited and overzealous. Let’s do 4000 points per side! Yeah! And when the store finally closes and kicks them out they didn’t get halfway through their game, they’re tired, and burned out.


It should say “Who Cares I’m Playing Apoc.”

Being that there is no real guideline for whole many points you are “supposed” to play at, maybe we have slowly crept up our game points.

Smaller Points, More Challenging Lists

Another interesting part of smaller games is that each unit has more value. Suddenly your Troops aren’t just bland meat shields, you will have to use them to best of their abilities because there are fewer supporting units to help them. When you have fewer moving pieces in your list (ie: units) it makes every move and every decision much more important. And when you have fewer units, you have to think much more about how they are kitted out. You might find yourself adding in special weapons to units that you normally would never add. Can you handle flyers? Can you handle armor? Are you mobile for objective taking? In a larger point game, you tend to be more cavalier with your unit choices because it kind of becomes a “throw everything at them and see what sticks” kind of strategy. I’ve noticed that a few of my friends who are not that great at strategy never, ever want to play small games. They want to bring everything and the kitchen sink to the battle and hope they can get lucky. You could even say they’re … up all night to get lucky.


Smaller Points, Less Cheese

-IF- you are playing with a CAD, the mandatory HQ and Troops take up precious points that would normally be used for bigger, nastier units. If your opponent does choose to bring some nasty units, then they will be less capable of taking objectives and can afford fewer support units for the cheesy one. But even if you’re not using a CAD, they are still limited in their points compared to a normal game, and it helps cut down on what they can afford.

Plus, sometimes players take cheese because they want to be competitive, while other times players take cheese to off-set their inability to strategize. In the case of the former player, it gives you a better chance of winning against them on your strategic merits if you take them out of their 1850-point comfort zone. That will set the tone of the entire game because they will struggle with what units to include and worry that he didn’t take the correct ones.


Maybe I should have taken more Terminators. I mean, what if he gets my nose?

In the case of the latter player, it makes it easier for you to win on your strategic merits because they are lacking their “throw everything at the problem” crutch. I like games that are won or lost on decisions, and trimming the points down to 1250 really puts that into focus.

So at the end of the night, my friends are still on the top of turn 2 with their humongous game that they won’t finish. Meanwhile I got to finish my game, had to work hard to make my list well, enjoyed a tactically-challenging game with the few units I had, and don’t even feel burned out at the end of the night.

So who wins there? The bank. The bank always wins. But besides that, and in 40k terms, I do.


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  • I’ve always hated the way points and scale spiralled out of control. Apocalypse was a novelty thing that made things big, it was cool, but then it basically became the standard for the system, with big kits everywhere. Then we got flyers too, which may make sense but once again upscaled the game to a point of discomfort.

    Reducing the scale again would be much appreciated. It’d lower the entry barrier (something that WHFB also needed, as it mirrored the race for the top 40k was going for) while making balance easier to gauge and games less of a chore. I’m all for it.

    The problem is in achieving the reduction reasonably. With formations rampant, its not that easy to handle, and people will be upset over not getting to run 4 Knights and 15 death stars anymore. People have invested a lot into the race for the top, and they’d feel very miffed over not getting to use it anymore.

    With Marines having Combat Squads already and most boxes going for 5 models now, I’d say that squad sizes should probably get smaller on average while their number could be raised to make for a more flexible game. Lowering the point ceiling shouldn’t come at the cost of only being able to field a tiny amount of independent units.

    • Karru

      I say to those that would get upset because their over the top formations are no longer allowed in regular games: “Life is unfair, deal with it”.

      I still believe in the power of a single CAD in lower point games. Games that take place at the under 2000pts limit should be limited to a single CAD. I know many are against this notion, but it’s literally the only realistic solution I can see working for 40k. GW has shown us their inability to make balanced Alternative Detachments and Formations. Some are unplayable at lower points while others get increasingly better with larger games. Then there is the unit spamming that can be done right now. Since CAD only requires you to take 1 HQ and 2 Troops it’s super easy to spam. This leads to increasing amounts of Elite/Heavy Support/Fast Attack/Lords of War slots. This takes away an entire aspect from the game, which is to work with what you have and achieve victory. Now you can just spam the best units in your book and win.

      • benn grimm

        Surely a better reply to people wanting to take unfair advantage granting OP formations, who suddenly find themselves unable to, might be ‘life might be unfair, but 40k doesn’t have to be…’?

        • Karru

          Apocalypse doesn’t have to be balanced. That’s the true unfairness that everyone deserves!

          Yes. I might have called a scheduled bombardment right there, but since I forgot to mention that to you dear ally, your Marines can just blame their commander for sending them there. You went ahead of my schedule, not my fault.

          • benn grimm

            For sure, but even (especially) Apoc gets kind of tedious when it’s obvious the imps won (again) on turn 1, but you still have to move all 500 or so of your minis forward, just a little bit, so half of them can be wiped out next imp shooting phase…I’m sure it’s plenty fluffy, but it sure ain’t much fun, for me anyway.

        • Valeli

          I wonder how many people would be genuinely bothered by the loss of their OP formations though.

          I know some WAAC people are just bad human beings, but I feel like the majority are simply being hypercompetitive and would love a more balanced game without formation abuse in the first place.

          I can sort of see some narrative people being upset by the loss of them though, actually. A lot of them are fun from a fluff standpoint, in a way that’s hard to replicate (I think) if you want to keep armies totally balanced.

          Hard to replicate without a /serious/ universal balance overhaul, at least. That would be hard for anyone to successfully pull off, much less GW.

      • mysterex

        I prefer games of 1500 points or less and I think that things like the space marine demi-companies and the chaos warband are reasonably well balanced and just as importantly fit the background. Problem is detachments like these tend to be the exception.

      • Pyrrhus of Epirus

        and you are free to play single CAD 2000 point games whenever you want, thats the beauty of warhammer. 1850 became the tournament standard, if your not playing in a tournament, play whatever points limit you want, you dont need GW to tell you how many points to play.

        • Karru

          I’m once again trying to bring up a solution on a grand scale. I don’t play 7th edition like most people do and I see that those that play 7th edition like “it is meant to be played” are extremely whiny about the game. When confronted about the matter they start saying its because Eldar can spam Warp Spiders and Wraithknights, Space Marines can bring their free transports and all that. What is the most realistic solution to this from experience? Single CAD.

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus

            ive seen other people bring this up already, but in a non formation CAD only game, i cant see how an eldar player could possibly lose. I play eldar, but id like to keep my friends. You can easily fit a farseer, few scat packs, squad or 2 of spiders and a wraithknight in 1250 easily. Nobody is matching that in a CAD.

          • Karru

            And that brings up my second point. Remove Super Heavies and Gargantuans from the base game and make them an expansion that isn’t automatically part of the core rules. This way you can be reasonable and say, “no, we are not playing the ‘expansion’.” if you are playing an army that doesn’t have those.

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus

            im not gonna say if i agree or disagree with that stance because really my opinion on it dosnt matter. what does matter is GW profits, and putting gargs and superheavies outside of the main rules will result in a drop in sales period. Its simply wishful thinking that will never become a reality.

          • Djbz

            Space Marines can hard counter that easily with drop pods+ grav with a whirlwind or two to deal with the spiders
            Literally drop in grav cents with prescience librarian for wraithknight,
            and bolter tactical marines to remove the scatter bikes

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus

            No point getting into a fictional debate about what could happen if this was taken or that, but how are whirlinds supposed to kill warp spiders when they deep strike in from reserve? even after they arrive, have done thier damage, how is the WW an effective counter? it hits only 1/3 the time, its not AP 3 so im getting saves, and with proper spreading (easy to do with battle focus) your at best forcing what ,2 wound per turn that can be saved?

          • Djbz

            Whirlwinds tend to be underestimated and will likely be ignored for the most part
            The 1/3 hit rate isn’t exactly right (depending on the 2d6 roll a “miss” can still hit, if it’s in LOS or not) and they can’t hide from it like basic weapons plus they’re dirt cheap so can have several either together or separate to increase the number of saves they’ll have to make

            Sure there are better things for killing them but they are pretty decent for the task if there is plenty of LOS blocking terrain that the spiders can jump around

  • Hazamelistan


    I really enjoy playing HoR-Killteam-Rounds and was disappointed that GW Killteam was just a refresh of the old ruleset

    • Zingbaby

      Love kill team, and small games – but it definitely doesn’t fix balance.

      Some of the weaker codex, like Blood Angels can’t use their formations for example.

      • ZeeLobby

        And things like Tau broadsides multi-tracking still decimate opponents. I mean it’s like a bandaid with no ointment on an infected cut.

    • ZeeLobby

      We actually just started it up. It’s great!

  • Karru

    I have yet more than one bad game of 40k at 1850 where you are allowed only a single CAD and No Allies. One time was against CSM army that got crushed by my Guard list, but CSM is CSM. I have fielded a single Imperial Knight about 2/3 of my games after I finished painting him and not once has he been completely dominating the game.

    Small games are a partial solution in my opinion. The real solution is to limit things like allies, alternative detachments and formations. This is where the biggest unbalance comes from in the game. Some armies like Eldar, Tau, Necrons and SM have amazing alternative detachments and formations that they can field even in lower point games without gimping themselves. On top of their normal units, they get a ton of free rules that other armies don’t get.

    • ZeeLobby

      The CAD worked. Sure there was still imbalance, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as what we had now. If you remove the majority of restrictions from list building it allows broken lists…. shocker.

      • Karru

        Precisely. People keep saying that I am the problem and I should just “learn to adapt to this new system” instead of preaching the CAD. Then these same people keep complaining when they face 3-5 Wraithknigths in a normal game.

      • Charon

        CAD never really worked. The only thing that made CAD seemingly working were restrictions.
        CAD heavily favored armies with strong HQ and strong Troops.
        If the strenght of your army was in the Elite slot for some design reason you got steamrolled.

        Imagine a CAD fight beween Farseers, Scatterbikes and Warpspiders (all possible in CAD) against a CAD CSM army. This is as one sided as with formations and superheavys… with the exception that a few CSM formation could actually fight back.

        • Karru

          You really had a bad experience with CADs then. My experience with CAD has always been super positive compared to what we currently have. During 5th edition, I had to think what I brought. Now I can just look at the toughest, most powerful unit in my army and spam it to my hearts content.

          Okay, so in your example the opponent has a maximum of 2 Farseers, 6 units of Bikes and 3 units of Warp Spiders. This means that the CSM players has up to 11 different targets at any time. Now, this CSM player can bring his 3-5 Nurgle Marines in Rhinos that can withstand those Scatterbikes relatively well (Wounds on 3+ and they get their 3+ save and +5 FNP). On top of that, I can take Defilers, Maulerfiends, Forge Fiends or Obliterators and see those Strength 6 shots trying to get trough my AV12 Daemon, It Will Not Die walkers that can shoot nice blasts at those units. If I take Obliterators, I might have a bit harder time dealing with them, but with Mark of Nurgle my guys will still get their 2+ save and 5+ invulnerable save after the opponent wounds them on a 3+.

          Chaos is actually one of the few armies that would benefit insanely well from this change. Since CSM doesn’t have anything good to spam in large numbers compared to Eldar and their Wraithknights, they actually have a fighting chance.

          • Charon

            I play since 2nd. I have seen a lot of systems come and go.
            You are in love with CAD. I get it. I want my percentages back. Not gonna happen either.
            Face it, CAD is as unbalanced as everything else.
            I wont even comment your 2nd part as you obviously have no idea what makes a csm army good or not. Defilers? Obliterators? Forgefiends? Really?

          • Karru

            CAD is definitely not as unbalanced as some armies having Alternative Detachments that give stuff for free and other don’t. CAD isn’t the perfect magical solution that removes every problem in the game, but it will give even the lower tier armies a fighting chance.

          • Charon

            I agree that some detachments are outright bad. Skyhammer, Gladius, War convocation,… should not be in the game.
            Neither schould grav and ATSKNF.
            Put down your pink glasses.
            Even in the time of CAD only there were top tier armies and low tier armies without a fighting chance.
            BA rhino rush armies, leafblower, Lashprinces,.. all happened with CAD.

            The problem is not formations or detachments but internal and external balance of units.
            What made iron warriors so good in 3,5? It was the possibility to take 3 units of obliterators in a CAD.

          • Karru

            It’s hard to put down my pink glasses when I don’t even have them. This is my experience with CAD which is why I would like to see it return to more common use.

            Once again, the power gap wasn’t as big during the days of CAD than it is now. I’m not saying it didn’t exist. It did, there were tiers for the armies, but each and everyone of them had a fighting chance until Grey Knights came and ruined it completely.

          • Karru

            Also, I would really like you to show me how well those Farseers, Scatterbikes and Warp Spiders work against those. I was just making a quick counter out of the top of my head against the given units.

          • Charon

            Like against everything else. By beeing basically untouchable while wearing you down with firepower while grabbing objectives.
            There is a reason why this setup is powerful. Sure, Aspect host is part of it but it also works without.

        • Valeli

          If it was the case that CAD featured armies with strong armies/troops, then at least it makes finding the areas where balancing problems lie a lot simpler.

          You’d just need to fiddle with other army’s and get their troops and HQ’s into an appropriate place.

          Right now (I feel) issues are flying around everywhere. It’s overwhelming, for me.

          In general, I liked the idea of CADs though.

  • benn grimm

    Yes smaller games are the way forward, no you shouldn’t be able to take everything you want and cover all the bases, yes meaningful choice is a good thing, no you shouldn’t have bought so many Knights, yes your bum does look big in that, no I’m not going to drive you back to the shop right now, yes I will lie so that I don’t have to…

    • Karru

      Precisely. You shouldn’t be able to cover everything in your army. Your army should have a weakness that you have to learn and work around. If you bought insane amount of super heavies and other big stuff, don’t cry that you can’t bring them against someone who didn’t sell their house to do the same. As for the bum looking big, I do agree, but in order to get out of the store I will just smile and give a political answer of avoiding the question.

      • ZeeLobby

        If that’s the case, I really think they should adopt list pairings in competitive arenas though. When your opponent is determined by the luck of the draw, it’s not really fun to just have no counter. Our group usually wrote lists independently, and then had a blast when we saw the results battling it out on the table. Not being able to cover bases to some degree just means that some games don’t even need to be played to pick a winner. It shouldn’t be like that either.

        • Karru

          True, but that is more in the hands of the TOs than players. If TOs decide that it’s just luck of the draw who you face, then I say that the tournament should do something about it.

    • Pyrrhus of Epirus

      play whatever size of game you want to play, do you need GW to tell you to play 1250 games?

      • Karru

        No, but GW also doesn’t give you the right to tell your opponent that you would enjoy a game that didn’t include 5+ Wraithknights. Yeah, sure I can say I don’t want to play and then realise your option is to not play at all since there is barely any who like to play an army that is balanced around different units instead of spam of a single uber powerful unit.

        • Pyrrhus of Epirus

          have you played or even witnessed a single game with 5 wraithknights? i doubt it. certainly not at 1850. why worry about things that dont happen?

          • Karru

            Actually I have and it’s not pretty. Those 5 Wraithknights can hold objectives pretty well while killing a lot of dudes in the opposing army.

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus

            sure you did.

  • Charon

    Point size does not really matter. It just changes the definition of “cheese”.
    Playing an army that only has access to expensive anti tank options? You might consider that 1250 points of vehicles as cheese.
    If you lower the points you do not only ban expenisve deathstar choices, but also the mean to fight their lesser cousins.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      This is why lower points is just part of the solution. Single CAD, no allies or formations, no superheavies, Highlander, taken altogether these changes make for a really tactical game.

      I’m happy to have all my toys on the table for the spectacle too, but the normal full out of the box game today is a shambles.

      • Charon

        Or, depending on the army: utterly unplayable.

        • Karru

          What armies are unplayable in this world? You are not allowed to use the ones that GW has only made to be allied armies like Imperial Knights, Deathwatch, Harlequins, etc.

          I am very interested what army wouldn’t have a shot in this world of singe CAD, since thus far my experience is that there is no such things as an unplayable army, but please do enlighten me.

          • Charon

            What makes you think harlies and knights are only “allies”? I would agree Inquisition, but all other books you mentioned are full and valid codices.

          • Karru

            When you say unplayable, this would mean that they are illegal in game. Meaning they don’t have HQ or Troop units to play in a CAD. This is why I pointed out that these codices aren’t exactly something you could point out as they were meant more as a allied army. You take a formation out of them for example.

            So beside that, what are these unplayable armies you mentioned?

          • Troy G

            You don’t have to eliminate the Incomplete codexes completely. You could just roll them together into the codexes they were always meant to be part of before they decided to try to sell it to us in 2 parts.

            For Instance, Deathwatch, Inquisition, and Assassins could be rolled into 1 Codex.

            Dark Eldar, and Harlies

            Ad Mech, Skitarii, and Imperial Knights.

            We’ve done that sort of thing a few times when doing Highlander events.

          • Karru

            I wasn’t exactly eliminating them. I meant that since Charon said that some armies are “utterly unplayable”. I would like to know what those are without giving me those armies as example. They aren’t originally meant as an army of their own, they are more supplementary to other armies. Some of them have the option to play by themselves, but you can clearly see that it was never the intention of GW.

          • Charon

            Source? They have warlord traits, items and everything a standard army has. They are just organized differently.
            The only reason why you these full codices as “allies” is because it does not fit into your CAD.
            Hint: CAD IS a detachment among many. It is the oldest out there for sure, but that does not make it more or less valid than any other.

          • Karru

            Can I still get the list of those unplayable armies that aren’t these?

          • Charon

            Why? Just because you labelded them differently for no reason?

          • Karru

            Humour me.

          • Shawn Pero

            “Well the first is, um, clearly… gotta go!” *retreating footsteps* *car door slamming* *tires screeching*

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Skitarii, Inq and Harlies don’t have the right units to fill a CAD, but if you treated Skitarii and Ad Mech and Harlies and Eldar/DE and Grey Knights+Inq as armies they could make CADs.

          • Karru

            Something they could do is to make these supplements for their “factions”. For example, Inquisition, Assassins and Deathwatch gets rolled into one codex supplement that could be used by any Imperial Army. How it would work is something like this:

            I want to have an Inquisitor for my Space Marine army. I can take one from the Inquisition codex as an HQ choice for my army, but he is not allowed to be my mandatory HQ slot. Then I can take Henchmen as troops for the army, but they cannot be my mandatory Troop choice.

            Basically all the armies that don’t have a CAD legal choices would be rolled into “allies of x” type of book that can be used along side any of their own faction army. They use the appropriate slot, but they cannot be used for your Mandatory choices. They could increase the slots in CAD by the Ally Detachment, so +1 HQ, +2 Troops and +1 everything else. This way armies that don’t have allies in this manner, like Tyranids or Tau, can use those additional slots to balance out their own slots.

          • David

            Skittari no hq so no CAD fluffwise mechanium controlling from space. Easy to write a full list for. It’s clearly meant to be allied with Mechanicus but they are very distinct in how they function and are complete armies relics warlord traits etc

            IK lots of people dislike them and certainly low pts kills them anyway but why shouldn’t they be playable if you earn a fortune no troops so no CAD

            IQ Better as an ally but can make a decentish AV list dislike it myself but again no CAD as no troops. I do know a player who plays 2k games just from this codex

      • ZeeLobby

        Lower points is unnecessary if they fix the other issues though.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Lower points helps with how long the game takes which isn’t helped by the other measures. I think it also stops huge multi unit combats which can be very tedious and complex and cuts down the effectiveness of summoning spam.

          They could fix game length, but not without radical rule surgery.

      • Shawn

        Highlander: Awesome format. I wish more people would do this format for tourneys. I think one of the biggest issues with 40 is the insane rules combinations that can be achieved (i.e. deaths stars, unit spamming).

  • David

    Smaller points games are bad.

    Too often lists end up having to drop something because they can’t cover all bases. So lists become all infantry all vehicles or all flyers and if you haven’t taken the anti flyer list vs the all flyer list you lose. It’s only then you realise your playing a game of rock paper scissors.

    Whenever players are complaining at detachments they are really complain at is balance

    Bad codex good detachment fine
    Good codex bad detachment fine
    Good codex good detachment problem
    Bad codex bad detatchment never used (blood angels battle company)

    Formations scaling in power with point size are fine if you follow the above table .some factions get worse as points increase so their formations need to get better.

    Making everyone CAD doesn’t solve the problem it just makes the power of the codex more important.

    Good codex win
    Bad codex lose
    CD role on a table 10 times if you hit 3 6”s win if you role 3 1”s you lose

    Yes some formations need a fix SM spring to mind but that does not mean the system doesn’t work.

    Finally half the reason that games go to time is the unnecessary complexity of the games ruleset particularly in relation to flyers,random psychic powers and even basics like movement far to many differences between units

    • Drpx

      Big Games are the same way. You take one or two AA/AV units against flyer/Knight spam, you get to see them focus fire it to death in one turn and then run rampant anyway. It’s like expecting a handful of Khorne Berserkers to worry 1850 pts of Tau.

    • Big games are also rock paper scissors.

      • ZeeLobby

        They don’t have to be though. If each faction got equal coverage. It’s one of the reasons I was VERY disappointed when fliers were added to the game. Just another build type when take all comers lists were already stretched.

    • Karru

      I disagree hard with this idea. As I have pointed out before, I have only one bad single CAD game under my belt. It was against CSM and they lost before they even got to turn 2. It’s all about how good you are with your list building. There are other factors as well, but the big thing is that spamming is a real thing.

      Your idea that only a good codex wins and bad codex loses is utterly wrong. The current power gap is insane and it’s mostly thanks to multiple CADs or overpowered Detachment/Formations. Good example of what is currently considered “a bad codex” is Dark Eldar. Dark Eldar player has won the “No Retreat” tournament 3 times in a row now. Normally I wouldn’t allow this one to be used as an argument if a codex is bad or good, but in this case it fits perfectly. The tournament didn’t allow Allies, Fortifications, Alternative Detachments, LoW was restricted to under 400pts and you were only allowed to bring one additional formation outside a CAD.

      Your logic states that this army should have lost, since it is considered a bad codex. Why didn’t it do so? Because the guy who was playing it knew what he was doing. He is extremely skilled player that knows his army inside and out.

      Try to look at it this way. Which option do you think is more realistic.

      Option #1:
      – All armies get an alternative detachment that is balanced at all point sizes, thus no faction can get theirs on a smaller sized game, thus do not gain free rules over the other army.


      Option #2:
      – All armies have a balanced codex with multiple different options. No army has a major advantage over the other trough free rules or significant point difference.

      The problem with Alternative Detachments, Allies and all that is the fact that there is no realistic way to balance them at all. Imperials will always have an advantage over everyone else. They can answer any situation with Battle Brothers.

      Making everyone CAD won’t solve the problem, this is true. However it does decrease the power gap significantly. It will gives even the weaker codices a fighting chance.

      Finally, there are loads of things that could be removed from the base game to decrease playing time while still keep the game nice and interesting. Fliers returned to Skimmers, Choose Psychic Powers (balance them first of course) and Warlord Traits and remove Psychic Phase and make it an LD check once again. Next remove D-weapons and make them Strength 10 in normal games, no Super Heavies and Gargantuans.

      Fliers, Super Heavies, Gargantuans and D-weapons are all meant for Apocalypse. They are super weapons that shouldn’t take part in a normal game of 40k. This would reduce game time by insane amounts since you now didn’t have to keep rolling on different tables each time you shoot something.

      • David

        To balance allies we use pts I can have 1000 allied units but if I can only take 400 pts worth I can probably only take 1 so the other 999 are not increasing my power. Also to take that ally I have to reduce my primary detatchment by 400pts. They are options which is not a bad thing to have but it comes back to balance.

        Also as a player running a chaos incursion/assassins army in my local campaign and doing well allies arnt restricted to battle brothers if you know how to use them.

        I respect people for wanting to run purist armys but much of the fluff involves daemons working with CSM and mechanicus working with astartes and many players like it.

        I’m also not suggesting player skill plays no impact it obviously does as does list building but you can’t control for skill unless you increase luck and thata not what I want in a board game.

        • Karru

          Allies could remain, I do give you that. They just have to restrict them and nerf some of them a bit. Everything else needs to go. It’s not the “I play purist army and so should everyone else” that I try to push forward here. It’s the fact that some armies don’t have insanely powerful super heavies/Gargantuans that are extremely hard to counter without having to sink 2-3 times their point cost just for that and then gimping your entire army. The detachments are also a problem as I pointed out.

    • Shawn Pero

      Your argument for big games is the exact same argument against them.

      I play Orks, and I *love* small points games. Orks are considered a “bad” codex, and it does have shortcomings. But I love ’em and learned what their strengths are, and now I very rarely lose a game with them in the 750-1250pt range, where other players are buying the flavor of the month and expecting it to be a win button. Curbstomping someone’s new, unpainted Cult Mechanicus or GSC army, because they thought it would be “unbeatable” because Orks are “bad”?Fun time.

      • Djbz

        I’ve always found Orks easier to deal with in smaller games than in larger ones where they can swarm the board and drown the army in bodies.
        (Even when using a metric tonne of “pie plate” weapons)

        • Karru

          Well, considering that in the example, the opponent spent most of their point in the attempts to cheese his way to victory by getting the most broken unit in the codex to the table. Of course, they most likely forgot that those points have to be taken from somewhere and those Orks have numbers.

          • Djbz

            Very good point, the cheesiest stuff generally don’t account for a pure numbers approach to killing them.

        • Shawn Pero

          Orks can swarm the table with bodies at any points level – I played two Kill Team games against a Skitarii player today, he brought 5 ruststalkers… I brought 25 boyz in one game, 13 boyz and 29 gretchin in the other. Tabled him both times.

  • ILikeToColourRed

    i tend to play anywhere between 750 – 1500 pt games, with the occasional larger ones thrown in

    the thing that I often see people fail to do in smaller games, is optimising their units. People get so used to being able to take elite squads kitted out and have enough points left over for air support etc.

    tdlr: i agree, smaller points are better (in that they test your list building, and unit usage, more)

  • Nyyppä

    The easiest way to test this is to have a kill team game against eldar. Warp Spiders and scatter bikes. The ultimate balance….

    • ZeeLobby

      LoL. Yeah, points aren’t the problem. They help remove some issues (mostly just big stompy walkers), but it just shifts the imbalance. You know what would really balance the game, reflective points values.

    • happy_inquisitor

      I’ll take that with my Kroot mob, no problem.

      Scatter bikes are junk in Kill Team when you force them to waste their huge firepower on one dirt cheap model at a time. Hyper-mobility is much less use on a small table that has already been infiltrated by enemy models. Warp spiders can only flicker-jump once, I have a ton of models left to shoot and I hardly care if I waste the shooting from just one of them.

      Sure that Eldar list might be a powerhouse against some things, other things will counter it just fine.

      • Nyyppä

        Yeah, true, and still most play marines so…..

  • NNextremNN

    Who forces to use/play any point Level? Just Because some major tournaments use a specific point Level you don’t have to use it. Currently you can play whatever point level you want. And you want smaller games the only way to change what you can currently already do would be to enforce it. Which would be a bad Thing people should play what they want.

    GW even encourages smaller Games with Start Collecting, Kill Team and Starter boxes.

    And GW makes super heavies and some people buy them and want someday to field their household and not just one as ally. Some people want to field their whole Company they have collected over years. It’s a producer/consumer thing. Some companies tell their customers no you can’t use/wear/play that it’s outdated buy our new stuff. GW let’s you use your really old models. But they want to make profit too so they add more and bigger stuff and hope you are happy with it and buy it. And that is why games get bigger and bigger. No one forces you it happens. (And yes it might be encourage by very big/point heavy formations.)

    And too some others commenters here no CAD is not the one and only formation there are things like Demi Companies or Hunter Cadres which basically are the same with different rules. The only problem are small formations taken as single formations. All these Auxiliary/Command formations should not be allowed to taken outside a Hunter Contingent, Gladius or Decurion.

  • euansmith

    Another neat article.

    How I dread the Seize The Nose roll at the start of games.


      • jeff white

        chainfists will get it back,
        and the righteous glory of our god emperor!

  • I haven’t played this edition though I have noticed it becoming bloated. This is a trend that started in 2nd and has been building momentum till the damn burst in 7th.

    Personally I prefer 1000pts, at this scale I want to feel every death of one of my minis not just pile in another wave. Apart from the odd massive game here and there I think the big games should have stayed with EPIC.

    • ZeeLobby

      It may have continued to grow, but it’s definitely been exponential. I think there was a sweetspot somewhere between 3rd and 5th that we’re well past now.

  • I think the answer is really change the size of your games up from time to time. Always playing at X points gets really really old.

    • ZeeLobby

      We do this often, and it really helps. 4K 2v2 battles, Kill Teams, etc.

  • Wonderdog

    Given the different effectiveness (and different assumed availability to a commander) of different troop types at different point levels of army variants, I’ve often pondered why why wargame army lists dont have say, 3 different points costs for a model, unit or upgrade.

    For instance, in a “regular” sized game, stuff costs its baseline. In a “small” game, certain particularly bothersome units (2+ saves, heavy tanks, stuff that kills whole units in a single shot) become more expensive due to the larger swing they can cause to the games internal balance when there are less likely to be things an opponent can bring to properly oppose or threaten them. By the same token, more basic troops (tactical squads etc) could have slightly cheaper weapons upgrades, as there is less likely to be a single juicy target for that lascannon or power fist.

    Extend this concept to list selection – a first company marine list might pay one tier less than normal in all games for terminator squads and upgrades, but one tier higher for all other powerful, complimentary units that are thematically out of place, or overly powerful in combination with cheap terminators to balance things out somewhat and limit the effects of min-maxing at an army wide scale.

    • euansmith

      This would be very complicated for GW to work out; but, hey, what are they being paid for? 😉

      • Wonderdog

        It would certainly further the argument that GW should consider splitting army composition and points costings into a free, living document and leave published books for rules and background – that ways balancing for future rules changes, additions, player feedback (and dare I say it, underpowered miniature sales numbers) could happen as necessary seperate from codex rotations.

  • The answer is still balance. Ten years later, still the answer.
    Smaller games just mean faster games. That’s a great thing, I’m too old to play 3 hour games, I’m done with that.

    But fixing 40k means balanced rules, man. Still.

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s almost like they’re determined to put out as many suggestions possible without addressing the real issue.

    • Parthis

      I’m genuinely hoping for an AoS approach to 8th Ed 40K. Codices become stats and fluff and art, with a core, cheap and easily replaceable Handbook.

      AoS isn’t perfectly balanced, but it’s in a much better state with just as many armies and models as 40K.

      GW have made so many great, encouraging moves recently, we can hope, eh?

      Make Warhammer Great Again. Or something.

  • Shawn

    Very good article Pimpcron. I’ve believed for a long time now that smaller games are more balanced. Please correct me if I’m wrong, It is also my understanding that in the UK games tend to be smaller, an average of 1500pts. It wouldn’t be surprising then to see less abuse prevalent in their games, if at all.

    • Parthis

      1850 is pretty common in my local area. It really depends on the club and time available, but 1850 is common. 1875 is standard for Warhammer World tournaments (or was).

      Personally I enjoy 1000pts. Its high enough to get some fun things in and low enough to keep the filth out and have a semblance of balance.

      • Shawn

        That’s good to know Parthis. I know every place and region is different, so my statement couldn’t be 100 percent true, but I did want a general consensus. 1850 is common in my area too, but that’s mainly because a lot of the players here are non-waac tournament players (I know, an oxymoron for sure).

        Some of the most fun I’ve had was a 3,400 point game. Iron Hands vs Imperial Guard. At one point one of his Valkaries desroyed a rhino. On the next turn the marines inside stood on the hill next to the wreckage shooting at it. My opponent seemed puzzled. I said that I know their bolters wouldn’t hurt it but it would be epic all the same. Five marines with bolters all shooting at an enemy plane zooming by – dakka, dakka, dakka, dakka! LOL.

    • ZeeLobby

      Knowing players in the UK, it’s still really imbalanced. The largest difference is that weak factions still see the table. We’ve given up on that here, haha.

    • euansmith

      When I used to play in 5th Edition, the standard games at the club I attended were 1,850pts. This was because the players were in to tournaments.

  • Parthis

    Still the absolute best balancing technique is a conversation though folks, no matter what points you play at.

    • ZeeLobby

      Required at this point, but it doesn’t have to be.

  • piglette

    I always hated going to a store to play. Finally getting an opponent, and they insist on 2500+ points. I’d look at the clock and see closing in 2 hours, what are you thinking??

    • Yup. My gaming group is notorious for this. we have 4 hours to play. “Hey, let’s do a 4000 point game with teams of 3?” Ugh.

      • jeff white

        bob’s on the way with his nids. just set up, he will be here soon!

        • 45 min later …

          • Karru

            Nothing says like a fast game of 40k than opponent that has been waiting for you to come from another city to play and they haven’t even bothered to write a list or set up the board. This is me every time I go play with the lads.

          • Yeah, our group too. Everyone waits for me to set up the tables, terrain, match up players, etc. When I’m arriving late I ask my friend who rides with me, “ya think any tables will be set up?” and he says, “Nope”. We get there and everyone is sitting around waiting for me to set everything up. I’m happy to be the leader of the group, but then everybody just expects me to do everything for them. So I started just setting up my the table I’m playing on and they have learned to set up their own. They still want me to make the match ups though. I have no idea why.

          • Karru

            One of the many reasons why I just decided to make my own gaming table (with blackjack and hookers) in my house so if they want to play, it’s not me that has to travel 20+ minutes to play a game of 40k that we even can’t finish since the first hour of our 3-4 hour limit is taken by my opponent writing down his list and me setting up the table and preparing the game. Even if he doesn’t have a list ready, at least I can set up the board before he even arrives. Also, we don’t have to worry about time so much.

  • Raven Jax

    This is some really great commentary and definitely something that we all need to think about.

    As others have pointed out, this could be the first step in a solution. As a casual Necron player, I can tell you that you can build a Decurion with 4+ Reanimation Protocols for about 1,000 pts.

    Just remember to Talk. With. Your. Opponents. My friends and I play 40K often. I love playing Necrons with the whole killer space robot vibe. My friends hate a 4+ reanimation role. So you know what I’ve done? I’ve never ever taken a decurion. I’ve tossed together a CAD and had a lot of fun.

  • Jonathan B.

    First games were 2000 points, then 1850, then 1750, then 1500, now people are talking about 1250 point games. At the current rate, we’ll see 200 point games by 2025.

    • yet the model count is still the same all the way through…
      (a 1500 point in 2nd edition was three units, a vehicle, and a character (psyker for the poker game), now that’s a 750 point game today)

  • Valeli

    I’m not saying big games are balanced, but the last time I seriously played small games (not including kill teams, which have their own thing going on) they weren’t the answer to WAAC at /all/.

    Ok, so keep in mind I haven’t really played small games in ages. But you could do something like fit in an avatar and a few wraithlords in your games to auto win vs. almost anyone who wasn’t expecting it.

    Would that make you an awful person? Probably, yeah. But WAAC players will keep doing the same things regardless of scale.

    Other than that, I don’t think 500-1000 point games are very interesting. Kill Teams is fun and kind of cool, but other than that I’d prefer something that feels more epic (ideally, without units /from/ epic). 500-1000 point games never really can take on an epic feel though.

    But yeah, if I’m going to have an unbalanced grimdark game, I’d much rather it be at 1500+ than at 750. (Caveat: I’d love a more balanced grimdark game if possible).

  • AnomanderRake

    The problem with claiming ‘small games’ are the solution to 40k is that they far too frequently aren’t. Terrible balance issues, slow games, and easy one-size-fits-all lists all exist at any points level.

    One of the worst games I ever had was a 500pt game; I was told ahead of time we’d be trying a small no-cheese battle-forged format. I said “Cool!” and put PAGK infantry on the table. My first opponent brought a Destroyer Cult and tabled me turn two.

    Some of the best games I’ve ever had were massive. I’ve played a close/hard-fought 10k-pts-per-side 1v1 Apocalypse game that was over (deployment to cleanup) in eleven hours including a dinner break.

    As we’ve seen in Kill-Team and in Heralds of Ruin changing the points scale doesn’t really fix much, it just makes different things overpowered. There isn’t a quick and easy fix to 40k. If you weren’t having a good time at 2,500pts insisting on playing 1,000pts only without changing anything else (talking to your opponents, reexamining your list/table/scenarios…) isn’t going to change anything.

  • jeff white

    yes, kid, what IF he gets your nose.

  • David Clift

    I prefer lower points games but often find people don’t really want to play them.
    They make it easier for those players with less resources so in a sense evens the games out.

  • Master Avoghai

    I’m tired of complaining about the sizes of battles.

    We have a lot of skirmish/mini battles games, why 40k should be another in the list.
    I actually like 40k because it’s NOT a skirmish game but a game implying 50+ minis per battle.

    I recognize that 40k should make a diet in term of special rules and micro combat reflexes but it shouldn’t become a skirmish game.

    We have kill team for that, GW could also resurrect Necromunda into nother skirmish game with evol rules…

    But leave the players the possibility to play big games…

  • Rob Stening

    Haha. I have a tiny table and small armies, I play 1000 points. Once did a 1000 + 500 in reserve game, that was quite fun. Single CAD. Games still take an evening… I guess at least it’s not a whole day.

    Still has plenty of balance problems. My brother plays Necrons and we can only deploy about 30″ apart, making his rapid fire …. ferocious. However, a Tyrannofex-heavy army at that range getting the first turn is also quite delicious…