40K: Objectively Good

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Let’s talk objectives. They’re great for points, but what else can they do?

Objectives are an important part of a 40K game. They give you things to do besides shoot at your opponent’s forces. Just by being there, they offer up some tactical complexity–do you devote resources to trying to secure an objective, or to keeping your opponent from holding them by attacking their troops? Or do you just ignore them for the first turn or two while you secure your kills and then make a mad dash for them over the last couple of turns?

But sometimes that can feel a little flat. Even in games where you gain points each round you control an objective, and each person on an objective matters that much more, it still feels like all they do is give points. And while that matters, it’s still a little passive. Thinking about this got me wondering how you could make objectives feel a little more active in 40K.

Maybe not that active

What I mean by this is, making controlling an objective feel exciting, or like it’s somehow affecting the state of the table, not just the final score of the game. There are some difficulties with this–for one, how do you balance it so that nobody snowballs and wipes out the other player. And two, how do you keep it interesting rather than complicated. The big goal is to try and come up with reasons to make players spread out and/ot risk grabbing objectives early on. Let’s take a look at some things that could change up what an objective does in 40K.

Buffing Your Army

One thing they could do is give a buff to the controlling player’s units. An objective might offer a buff to units within its control radius (assuming their player controls it). The trick here is what kind of buff fits with this mechanic. Too good could really break the game–not good enough and we’re back to objectives feeling flat.

Looking at other units like the Feculent Gnarlmaw, or Captains or Exalted Champions and assorted characters can give us a jumping off point. An objective could let a unit reroll 1’s to hit or to wound in the shooting phase. Or it could be more defensive and give +1 toughness to infantry as long as they’re wholly within the control radius. That gives you an advantage for taking an objective, and makes it worth fighting over. I think keeping the buff limited to units nearby keeps the action focused around it.

Attack the Enemy

If you like killing your opponents, this one seems like an obvious choice. Let the objective represent a turret of some kind, and then at the start of every turn you control an objective (so you’d never get an attack on the turn you seized one), you cam make some extra attack against an enemy unit nearby.

You could pattern the attack after a bombardment, pick a unit or a spot within 24″, and then hit units within 3″ of that spot. Roll a die for each affected unit and on a 4+ (subtracting 2 if it’s hitting a character) that unit takes d3 mortal wounds.

Attacking the Enemy Base

This one changes the game a little more. It’s more like a new mission than an add on to objectives. But here we go. Taking a cue from video games like Heroes of the Storm, the idea is that each player has to take control of an objective–and that each round they control an objective it attacks the enemy base (a fleet in orbit, a distant hq, or even a special objective in each player’s deployment zone that can only be damaged by mortal wounds).

Unlocking the Battlefield

The idea here is to have an objective that, when captured, unlocks another part of the battlefield. Whether letting a controlling player set down another objective, or changing the way a piece of terrain works (see buff your army above), or having objectives that can only be claimed in sequence (objective A must be controlled before objective B is active/able to be controlled) it could add another wrinkle to the decision making process.

This one feels like it might be too complex, but it’s items by the idea of needing to first secure a landing zone, and then securing the supply drop that the overlying air support has dropped on the way in. Or of cutting power to the shield generator facility before taking out the generator complex on a small forest moon somewhere.

One of the things 8th Edition can do very well is emulate the narrative of what’s happening. Fights can feel exciting (or not) and if both players lean into it, 8th edition can be fluffier–but it takes a bit of buy in. And here’s hoping that mechanics like these can help incentivize that process.

Let us know what your think of these rules? Is there something there? Are they way off base?

  • LankTank

    Objectives already give me buffs? Cause I denizens of the warp feculant gnarlmaws onto each of them =) Or if the opponent goes first and thinks they can snuffle the objectives then I use the trees to slingshot my army onto them.

    • marxlives

      It is something Objectives do in Warmachine, don’t know how they would work in 40k.

  • Simon Chatterley

    Entirely depends on the rulespack you are playing. ITC they are a source of points each turn. GW book rules they are just something you want at the end….assuming one side isn’t tabled turn 3.

    • Dalinair

      Not just ITC, GW malestrom missions is what everyone i know uses

  • Carey_Mahoney

    7th edition Mysterious Objectives, anyone?

    • euansmith

      “At the top of turn three, my opponent gave me a knowing wink, and said, with an air of authority, “I Win.” I still don’t know to this day what what Objective he’d scored; but it must have been a good one, as I was leading 10:3 at time.”

    • Andrew O’Brien

      I liked the idea, but I always forgot to apply those buffs. I would rather just put the objectives in fortifications with turrets.

  • Ronin

    I like the latter ideas although regarding attacking a base, you could convert victory points to damage.

  • Karru

    My group has done the Objectives so that it is the only way to get more CP beyond 3 you get from being Battleforged. Made the game more interesting and people started caring about Objectives a lot more during the game. Lessened the gab between going first and second as well, which was very nice.

  • HeadHunter

    I’m all for the idea of Objectives that have more meaning than just VPs. Most of the games I’ve played have been too oriented to tabling the opponent.