40K: Pay The Toll – Reinforcement Points vs Command Points

Units that can return to the tabletop can be a powerful advantage but are the costs for returning them equal?

As Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition has really started to come into it’s stride with the codex releases, we started to notice a few trends. Other than how GW was implementing the releases and the information gathered in them, we also started to notice different abilities in one form or another, pop-up. To borrow a term from Magic: The Gathering, these abilties are “recursion” abilities – they take a “thing” that was previously dead (or just about dead) and return it to the tabletop. Many times they even come back at full strength. Depending on the unit these can range from minor annoyance to a full blown rage-inducing, table-flipping experience. Here are a few examples:

Fresh Converts (Adeptus Mechanicus)

Tide of Traitors (Chaos Space Marines)

Send In The Next Wave! (Astra Militarum)

There are other abilities that also allow units to regain new models or regen previously dead ones. Here are a few examples of those as well:

The Dead Walk Again (Death Guard)

Spawn Termagants (Tyranids)

Reanimation Protocols (Necrons)

Summoning (Chaos Daemons)

Now the really fun part is when you start messing around with how these rules interact. We’ve talked about that with the Necrons and also how you can get crazy with the Poxwalkers as well.

But that’s not what we want to dive back into – no, today we need to look at how balanced these abilties are when you’re using them in matched play and how that works with Reinforcement Points:


What is really interesting is that most of these abilities, specifically the stratagems, allow you to skirt around the need to pay for these units out of reinforcement points. They are written in a way that you’re “not creating a new unit” you’re simply replacing/regenerating a current one and therefore do not need to pay out of your reinforcement pool. So what gives? Why do you get to ignore the Reinforcement Points sometimes but not all the time? Why do we even have that rule in matched play to begin with if armies are just going to have Stratagems to bypass the rule altogether?

Simply put: Are Command Points and Reinforcement Points balanced against each other?

Pay the Pied Piper

For the vast majority of the stratagems above they have to meet certain triggers for them to be effective. Ideally, if you want the biggest “bang-for-your-buck” you want to trigger abiltiies like “Tide of Traitors” when the unit is down to a single model. In the case of “Send In The Next Wave!” the unit has to have been completely destroyed. That “situational trigger” has to have been taken into consideration when you bring up the “weight” of balancing that vs Reinforcement Points.



You’ve also got a cost for the “deployment restrictions” you have to take into account. Many of these units have to arrive on a board edge. In other cases they have to rejoin an existing unit (Necros/Nids) or they have to “Spawn” from/too a specific unit as well (Tyranids/Death Guard Poxwalkers).

Additional Triggers might also be required. In the case of Daemon Ritual, you have to 1) have a unit with a Mark of Chaos 2) have them roll a high enough result to actually summon the unit you want and 3) they might also take wounds for doing so. On top of those factors if you’re saving Reinforcement Points to maybe summon in those units, you’re also not spending those points filling out your detachments. That means you can’t get as many Command Points as you could have because you’re just playing points down…that’s a double whammy.

Maybe just put those Nuglings on the board vs summoning them in…

Those three things are situational. Sometimes it will be beneficial to have a unit return on a table edge. In other cases it’s better if you can “summon” a unit exactly where you want it. It’s really hard to gauge or assign a value to these things for the purposes of balancing them. But what we can do is compare some hard numbers.

It’s All About Ratios

Every model in the game has a points value that can be calculated. It’s when we look at those points and compare them across the board that things start to go sideways. For example, the Tervigon’s ability to spawn a new unit of 10 Termagants would cost 40 Reinforcement Points. But if those 10 Termagants are just added to an existing unit, suddenly they are “free” – but the case can be made you’re paying for the Tervigon’s points for access to that ability…So are they really free?

The good news is Reinforcement Points have a pretty straight forward ratio with a models points cost – it’s simply a 1:1 ratio.

Command Points on the other hand…

Let’s take The Dead Walk Again as an example. You spend 1 command point and depending on how many Infantry models die within 7″ of that unit, you get a model back. That model is a Poxwalker which costs 6 points. Assuming you weren’t just spending the Command point to waste it, you’re going to get at least 1 Poxwalker back but the upper range is ??? That’s a problem! But for the sake of this example, let’s say you get 10 Poxwalkers back – that’s 60 points of “free” models you got to add to the unit (which, btw, can grow WAAAAY beyond it’s starting number). So in this case it’s a CP:Points ratio of 1:60. But if you got 20 models? 1:120 ratio. 50 Models?! 1:300 ratio. That’s a deal!

For a Dollar? 

But if we look at Send In The Next Wave! (a stratagem that costs 2 CP) this can also vary greatly. If you used it on a 10 man squad of Guardsmen with a Lascannon and a basic Sgt. Then that squad would cost 60 points. That’s a 1:30 ratio now. But if you used in on a Full 30 man Conscript Squad that would cost 90 points. Now you’ve got a 1:45 ratio. This seems odd, does it not?

We’re also not taking into account the Opportunity Costs of spending those CP for the army.  Another thing we might want to consider is the intrinsic value of Command Points per army. CP in an Astra Militarum Army are MUCH easier to build for vs a Death Guard army due to how “easy” it is for the AM to fill out a Force Org Chart. On top of that *blah blah blah* economics terms *blah blah* math….

I think you get my point.

No Taxation Without Representation

One of the last things we should consider is also the fact that you shouldn’t have to pay for things twice – or in some cases 3 times. You’ve already paid points to get these units in your army – should you also be charged a few CPs to bring them back AND the Reinforcement points on top of that?! That is a fair point that does bear considering…

If you tax my honey… I am a bear. I will kill you.

At the end of the day, this is a discussion we need to have – but I’ve got no good solutions. I don’t think that Reinforcement points are balanced vs Command Points. At the same time, that’s an impossible task due to the crazy amount of variables and situations that can arise. We haven’t even jumped on the Hypothetical Train yet…that’s one trip I do NOT want to take.

I’m hoping we see some tweaks in the Chapter Approved when it comes the Reinforcement Point rule. Maybe just get rid of it as Stratagems are already bypassing it and will probably continue to do so as more codexes come out. But other than that…good luck trying to balance out that equation.

Do you always look at Mathhammer in code?


What do you think? Are Command Points the way of the future or are Reinforcement Points fine as is? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Deacon Ix

    Daemon Summoning needed to be fixed but (and have got these things wrong in the past) the current one is a little ****.
    I haven’t used Daemons yet in 8th as they look a little screwed – they have lost Deep Strike so have to foot slog it. if you want to do a pseudo DS then you have to summon, which relies on getting the dice roll – if you don’t manage it by the end of the game then those points are lost, plus the fact that it nullifies a characters shooting. The CP issue which has been brought up compounds it, rerolls would be useful when summoning along with the WB stratagem.

    I have a fairly large Daemon army and I can’t see me using them at all.

    • Fenix Dargon

      It nullifies movement, not shooting.

      • Deacon Ix

        Knew it was one of them – not near my RB ATM

    • generalchaos34

      I think the ability to bring the exact unit you need for the situation is pretty powerful. Think about it, theres a unit on the board that would be perfectly susceptible to Screamers/Horrors/whatever and now you can bring in that one particular unit to deal with it. Its like built in list tailoring. With the guard you can only bring in a destroyed unit and a savvy opponent could leave your under strength units alone. Plus they only come in on YOUR board edge, PLUS its only for valhalla, so they are missing out on some of the nuttier doctrines and orders. Not to mention guard do get a lot of command points, but we also have more stuff to spend it on than anyone else (and its all worth spending them on!).

      • Charon

        You can’t bring the exact unit you need for the situation. You make a random dice roll and the dice roll tells you what units are available. Good luck if you need your 20 plaquebearers on the objective and you roll a 4.
        Also you can only summon for the corresponding mark. Need bloodletters? Too bad your sorc has MoN.
        Also your character cant move.
        Also your character could die from summoning
        Also the range is limited around the character – which can lead to “oh there is no free space within the distance that is far enough from enemy units
        Also if you dont have any characters anmore, your summoning points are wasted.
        Summoning right now is hot garbage.
        It could be somewhat saved if summon would allow to reinforce existing daemon units instead of only creating new units.
        Free units are so inconsistent that it hurts.
        Buy an item that creates a chaos spawn if you slay an enemy character? You better have reinforcement points for that.
        Buy an item that lets a 360 points model come again? Free.
        Creating a new unit of 10 termagaunts? Reinforcement.
        Heal up multiple units with 60 termagaunts over the game? Free.

        • stinkoman

          agree. i miss my demons. i would love to bring them back 5th edition style (when i started them). just get rid of summoning and allow them to deapstrike (or call that the new summoning). my footslogging demons get ripped.

        • LankTank

          Yuppp. I understand the cost rule to stop free bloodthirsters but something needs to be done. I think it shoukd be no move or shoot, roll a D6 then add the characters own power level. That totsl will then be the power level you can summon up to for free. That will also prevent malefic lords summoning GUO etc. Abaddon could bring in somethinhg nasty at he price of a leading charactwr doing zilch. Then the stratagem or word bearers things could be more usefu

      • stinkoman

        summoning has it’s restrictions and there are few occasions where you even have a demon unit available that will be the perfect answer to an opponents. all are just meh really unless you are doing the smite dance. even in 7th edition, you would spam summoning characters.

      • Deacon Ix

        Back in 7th the ‘get what you need’ was amazingly valid, with 8th and the everything can hurt everything not so much, yes a fast attack unit could be useful for grabbing some late game objectives but overall it doesn’t make up for the negatives IMO.

  • I think you should have to pay both reinforcement points and command points. for replacing whole units onto the table. I can see using a stratagem or listed ability for replacing models to existing units. I like the way AoS handles this better than I like how 40K does.

    • Brian Griffith

      All of these stratagems remove an existing unit from the table, bring it back up to full strength, and redeploy it. None of them place a completely new unit, and if you don’t have the units to remove, you can’t use the stratagems.

      • Yes, I read the article too.

        • Brian Griffith

          Then I don’t understand the distinction you’re trying to draw here. This is functionally no different than replenishing an existing unit, which you’ve said you don’t feel should cost reinforcement points.

  • Xodis

    Leave the jokes to Pimpcron.

    • adamharry

      The funny thing is you think the jokes in the article are meant for you. They are not.

      • Xodis

        So who are they meant for if not your audience? Seems like an odd statement…
        “I wrote jokes…but they are not for people who read my article.”

        • adamharry

          No – they aren’t for the people who read them. I put jokes in there for me because I have to write these articles.

          If you happen to get a laugh – great. We probably have similar senses of humor.

          If you don’t get them, hey, we probably laugh at different things. That’s fine by me.

          • Xodis

            …Well thats something at least.

          • LeroyJenkinss

            Lol I did not laugh. But I appreciate you. Pretty good article.thanks for your time writing!

          • BClement

            Hey – The robocop reference got a chuckle out of me. keep it up.

    • BClement

      Conversely, I dislike Pimpcron’s jokes. So I’ll have to disagree.

      • Xodis

        Fair enough lol

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Frankly, I’m really not seeing how this is an issue.

    Summoning and the like, i.e. needing to plan to use Reinforcement point into your armies strategy, and Stratagems that allow units to come back are two distinct kettles of fish. They are intended to represent two very different, and thematic, functions in the game. Trying to equate them is like comparing apples and oranges.

  • pippoilboss

    Yes, I read the article too.

  • mr.ramos

    …Well thats something at least.

  • Frostasche

    Did I miss something? The rules for reinforcement point explicitly state you have to pay them, when you replace a destroyed unit. So why is Send in the next wave treated as if you don’ pay them?

    • Necrontyr

      This. Send in the next wave costs both reinforcement and command points. So you leave points out your original list for sitnw meaning understrength army, then spend cp, then rp just to get a single unit of guardsmen to come on from your table edge. Doesn’t seem worth it?

      • Frostasche

        But without it, it would be too good in my opinion.
        For example ojectives in your deployment zone are pretty safe, your enemy knows you could just bring a dead unit back to secure it. While everyone else would need to remove a unit from somewhere else on the battlefield, and so weaking the position there.
        Nothing you need regulary, but it also costs nothing to have the option, and then spend the cp to use it or let the threat hang there.

    • BClement

      So this came up in a game I played with a buddy of mine. The problem is that you’re not replacing a destroyed unit. you’re taking a unit that was destroyed and putting it back on the table.

      You don’t need to pay reinforcement points because you’re not adding a new unit – you’re using the old one.

      See the difference?

      …yeah I didn’t either, which is why we just diced off because it’s a rabbit hole we didn’t really want to get into.

      I think this article does bring up some good points – do you have to get “double taxed” to use a stratagem to bring back a dead unit? Why do Command points/stratagems skirt around Reinforcement points?

      I’m hoping this type of thing does get addressed in the Chapter Approved – or maybe even just errata Reinforcement Points with some actual examples like this:

      Tervigon: Make a new unit – RP. Refill an existing unit – free!
      Send in the next wave! – using an existing unit, CP yes, RP no!

      …I still don’t know why it’s not the same thing as replacing a unit vs putting a dead unit back on the table though.