40K: How To Fix Stratagems

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Stratagems are a powerful tool for any army…but sometimes they can feel a little too powerful.

First off–I don’t think Stratagems, in general are super broken. They’re one of my favorite elements in the game, I like the complexity that they can add to the game–even if it does at times mean that you have to learn even more if you want to be aware of the things your opponent can do. It makes the moment to moment of the game feel kind of exciting, right up until you realize that you’ve been stratagemmed into the point where you may as well not even have shown up.

There are a few sort of “repeat offenders” that keep showing up–I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of articles talking about Fire and Fade or Warriors of the Raging Winds or Vengeance for Cadia or Endless Cacophony or Flip the Table (my personal favorite) on this site before, just to name a few. And it’s not even necessarily that the stratagems themselves are busted, but rather being used in combination with other things that make them hit a little harder than you thought. Like the old Ynnari one-two punch.

Stratagems aren’t going to go away. I wouldn’t want them to either. But what can help fix some of the more broken stuff we’re seeing? Here’s a couple of ideas:

Limit Stratagems to their Detachments. Basically only units that are in an X detachment can use stratagems from X codex. No more mix and matching Chaos Marine Stratagems and Daemon Stratagems. It keeps Stratagems a little more restricted and cuts down on the combos available to weird finicky soup lists.

A Fixed Number of Command Points. This one might just be an organized play thing–but setting a fixed number of command points based on either your army or the number of points you’re playing might help. I don’t know how effective this one would be, since right now the only incentive to adhere to a Force Org chart is the CP benefit, but it already feels like there’s so many ways around that anyway.

A “counterspell” for Stratagems, as Stable Abe has pointed out before, would really help stop the more abusive combos. Or at least give an opponent a way of responding to them, rather than hoping that they brought a rock list to their opponent’s scissors, and heaven help them if they brought a paper list…

Defensive Stratagems — there are currently the three universal stratagems that everyone has access to–and while there are a few stratagems out there that give units bonuses to their saves or penalties to targetting when fired upon, maybe having some kind of defensive stratagem that you could deploy in response to a stratagem (in lieu of a counterspell type one), could help you keep the game flowing.

At any rate, these are just a couple of ideas out there to try and rein Stratagems in a little bit.

What do you think of these changes? How would you fix stratagems? Let us know in the comments.

  • Fraser1191

    Or have a bunch of restrictions on them like the space marine codex

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I would love a stratagem that is along the lines of, for 1 more command point than your opponent spent, cancel their stratagem. This can only be used once per player turn.

    • benn grimm

      Not sure how popular a flat cancel would be, but definitely like the idea of counter stratagems.

    • LankTank

      Just having a wide variety of defensive stratagems would be great.
      For example
      Tyranids: Threat to the Hive Mind 2CP – If a synapse creature is targeted by a shooting attack by an enemy unit within 12″ immediately roll 3D6 and compare to Ld. The unit making the shooting attack suffers a mortal wound for each above.
      or Orks: Ya puny git! 2CP. Use on an ork character if it is targeted by a shooting or melee attack before wound rolls are made. The enemy unit making the attack must re-roll all successful wound rolls for the remainder of the phase. Furthermore each failed wound roll reduces the attacking units leadership by 1 until the end of the Ork characters following turn =)

      • euansmith

        “Yew punches like a Grot!”


        • LankTank

          I still remember one of my favorite ork writings where an ork mob retreated from the marines and another mob starting hurling insults.
          “Got chewed up and spat back out didntya?”
          “Didn’t see you out there!”
          “That’s because you were too busy running like a grot” Gritsnuk said giving a Snotling a boot for emphasis. It was an impressive kick, but he was not going to concede that.

          Just the admiration of grot violence. So heart warming

    • AnomanderRake

      So…only Guard get to use Stratagems?

    • Jürgen Clement

      SO everybody and their mother will be adding astra militarum guard blobs to their imperium army just for the CP. Can’t say I’d love that…

  • SilentPony

    I’d love a Stratagem that all players agree to pool all remaining Command Points, and consult the Exterminatus chart to see what happens to the battlefield.
    12+ The Game immediately ends in a draw as the entire planet is destroyed
    11-10 All models on the table take an immediate D3 Mortal Wounds
    All the way down to
    1 All units take an immediate Moral test at -1

    That’d be fun if nothing else!

  • marxlives

    Flip the Table is the stratagem I use to win all my games.

    • HeadHunter

      …and not just 40K.

      • marxlives

        From Monopoly on up.

        • euansmith

          Coupled with Chinese Burns, it’s how I became a Chess Grand Master.

          • marxlives

            See, I tell all my friends it’s a valuable stratagem.

  • HeadHunter

    Good ideas (especially limiting them to their Detachments) except for a fixed number of Command points. That would totally defeat their purpose in the first place – which is to reward an organized force structure. If they did that, they might as well just limit it to one card per turn or something.
    I’m on board with the other ideas

    • Karru

      Here’s the hilarious thing about that. They said when they revealed CP in the first place that it is supposed to indicate logistical capabilities of the army. Well, the funny thing is that bigger the army and more different companies you have in it, more problematic it becomes. A single, focused company is easier to supply and manage than an entire army of ragtag companies.

      This is completely opposite in 8th edition CP system. More ragtag your army, more CP you get. In other words, more chaotic your logistics, the easier and more it is available, because logic.

      No, how it really should be done is that you get fixed amount of CP during the beginning of the game, then during the game as you do things, such as hold objectives, you get more. That way, one army can’t stack on CP and nuke the other army off the table by just purely using insane combos that they pull off with Stratagem spamming.

      • Heinz Fiction

        I agree: capping the amount of available command points per turn can solve a lot of issues. Gaining them by taking objectives is a cool idea as well.

      • LankTank

        But what if your army is CHAOS
        *wiggles fingers* woooooohhhhhhh!

        • euansmith

          There is no force in the 40k Universe more codified than “Chaos” 😀 A true Chaos army would be a random number of Chaos Spawn, or, maybe, no minis, and just a bucket of random effects you can play it turn.

          • abaddonsmummy

            Chaos by it’s nature would have no force structure.
            The army list would be, Open codex, roll d20 and what ever is on that page is your 1st unit.
            Rinse repeat until you have spent your points.
            That would be true chaos, and absolutely hilarious.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I would play this/

      • kloosterboer

        I would like to hear more.

  • I love strategems. I don’t love how easy it is to get command points and how easy it is to game the system. There need to be trade offs and actual risks in choosing the things chosen, not just all reward.


    • euansmith

      It would require a bunch of work, but, maybe, Stratagems could all have a failure effect; so you would roll a die, and, on a “1”, the failure effect would apply.

      “Front Rank, Fire! Rear Rank, Fire!” Failure Effect

      “You forgot to say, “Front rank, kneel!”, first”

      The attacking unit suffers 1D6 Mortal Wounds before you resolve their attack.

      • I have an altered version in my campaigns. You get command points through comp not through min/maxing detachments.

  • Cam Hawkins

    How about you can only use stratagems from the codex your warlord is from. This would highly reduce soup strength without making it pointless. Represents your warlord using tactics from their expertise, rather than a company commander ordering sternguard.

    • probenoob

      I thought that was how it worked at the moment. Same with relics.

      • Spacefrisian

        Maybe take it all the way, only the detachment with Warlord generates cp, and only those strategems can be used, and last but not least only the faction bonus of that faction is used, other detachments only get that benefit if all units in it are drawn from the same codex as the Warlord.

        • Cam Hawkins

          Yeah that is 100% how it should be. No more cramming detachments in for advantages and keeping your core strategy based upon one codex. This would clear up so many issues.

        • Simon Bates

          Why not say:

          Warlord can only use strategems available to his faction/subfaction (so Biel Tan Autarchs can’t use Alaitoc strategems).

          Only detachments from the same subfaction as the Warlord generate CPs.

          Detachments of different factions/subfactions do get their subfactional rules, but don’t generate CPs or gain access to additional strategems. That means in most cases, strategems can only be used on units from allied detachments if they are from different subfactions in the same Codex, but there are exceptions (eg, Blood Angels allied to Ultramarines can use Codex Space Marine strategems).

          That would be a major nerf to most “soup” armies, giving a significant incentive to keep your army to one subfaction or at least one major faction (which is not necessarily the same as one Codex – “Adeptus Astartes” would, for instance, be more cohesive, than “Imperium”).

      • Apocryphus

        Relics yes, strategems no. It says in the codex that if you have a detachment with X keyword, the entire army gains access to the strategems, they’re just generally limited to specific keywords.

  • Amdor

    “A unit can only benefit from single stratagem at a time/each turn” would go far way in my book 😛

    • Kabal1te

      For the most part outside of the reroll strat there aren’t many cases of multiple strats on one unit being all that used, at least not that is see in one turn. Most of the issues come in when you stack them with detachment shenanigans, keyword tricks, and psychic powers.

  • BillyBillstone

    They need to fix … stratagems, alpha strike, cover etc etc … this dumpster fire of an edition should be scrapped … or maybe a community should start up and design better rules

    • quaade

      You mean like 9th Age which is slowly dying to natural entropy and the fact there are disagreements on hoh an army should be?

      • LankTank

        With positive idealists like Billy, what a world it would be. Every rule not his way just a dumpster fire that needs to be scrapped. Sounds like great fun *cough cough*

      • Kabal1te

        9th age was never destined to live long. Anyone who thought otherwise was fooling themselves. Without someone with clear authority at the helm it was doomed to a short life. The fact that there is no money to be made on it either didn’t help. It isn’t like Forge world still running along with 7th ed or to use an older example Paizo running along with 3.5 d&d in the form of pathfinder after 4e happened where there is a clear company involved and money to be made. 9th age is little more than a fan fiction.

      • defensive

        What did you expect from a completely community driven game?
        For it to still be semi-popular years after official support is dropped, and being unable to buy a lot of required models for it, is pretty good in my books.

        • quaade

          About nothing and semipopular says nothing. This is the age of the internet. You can always find someone who likes tth same as you.

  • quaade

    Strategems only to the detachment and army tactics only appliable on the detachments that triggers, yes this aimedaataYnnari without touching passive tactics.

  • Grumpy Scot

    I don’t want a counter stratagem. I don’t use many stratagems but this would make them feel like a pain, not a fun boon.

    • euansmith

      Maybe Stratagems could be given a points cost, so that there would be a trade off between taking some one shot buffs and taking some more minis?

  • Rob brown

    A CP based command counter is a terrible idea. Army with 6CP plays a flavourful stratagem and then 12 CP says I don’t think so and then gets to play around with the rest of their points.

    Better to balance the more extreme versions.

  • Calgar

    I think a good method is you pick your primary detatchment, i.e. the one your warlord is from and you only use the stratagems for it.

    So if Roboute is leading your Custodes, you get ultramarine stratagems and not your shiny new Custodes ones.

    (I am saying this as someone who is playing a Custodes army led by Roboute, knowing full well that this change would see Roboute dropped from my army.)

    • euansmith

      Are your Custodes painted blue?

      • NNextremNN

        Maybe his Roboute is painted gold 😉 mine will be if I ever get to paint him ^^

        • euansmith

          😀 😀 😀

        • euansmith

          “Thank you for this suit of super amrour, Cawl; but I think it could do with a bit more… bling.”

          “I’ll get the gold leaf, Rob.”

  • Bigwebb

    Simple fix is evry army starts with 12 CP when you build your list. Pay 2 cp for every faction and 1 cp for each detachment. Then keep whats leftover for your game. That will make balanced lists.

    • stinkoman

      I like this idea, but i think it goes against what GW wants to enable.

  • Warrior24_7

    First it’s Reapers now stratagems? Oh c’mon…Find another game to play.

  • pokemastercube .

    the defencive option i feel would be a better optioin then negateing, tho i could see certain models allowing a negate or disrupt ability (assassins for example)

  • Sam Shand

    Someone, cant remember where mentioned some house rules to help combat alpha strike advantage. Was something along the lines of you only start with 3CP, and the rest you gain by holding objectives. The kicker was that the CPs are gained at the end of your opponents turn. So the player going first only gets 3CP to use. But 2nd turn gets to use more as it’s after opponents turn. This limits alpha strikes that go hard on stratagem combos and makes choosing what stratagems to use more strategic. it also gives an advantage to going 2nd

  • defensive

    It always leads back to the list building.

    Rework the entire force org charts. Just scrap them, and replace it with something that works, and then base the CP gain off that.

  • Alexander Barahona

    How about a similar work around as the one they did for smite: every subsequent use of a Stratagem incurs a 1cp additional cost.
    This way you won’t just keep using the same on every round, but would be more inclined to save a Stratagem for when it is most impactful.
    It would also mean that you would see more variety in the Stratagem used, as your go-to Stratagem would get increasingly less efficient to the point less used ones may prove better.

    • euansmith

      How about, players select their stratagems before the game and can’t select the same one twice? So you can only use each stratagem can only be used once per game.

      Of course, GW could then go down the FFG route of selling extra cards. 😉