There MUST be a better way to generate command points?
Command Points and Stratagems are one of the hallmarks of 8th Edition. They are one of the things that set it apart from prior editions. The way command points are generated leaves something to be desired. Tying them to detachments creates a dynamic system that forces players to build armies in specific ways and constraints the game. Let’s look at why this needs to change and what we can do about it.
Command points are generated in one of two ways. Armies start with a pool of command points based on what detachments you take. This is the most common way to get commands and something every army can do. In addition to this, some armies can generate command points during a game through the use of a warlord trait or relic. In general, these work in a similar fashion allowing you to roll a dice when command points are spent with a chance of gaining more. Both of these options have some real issues.
Death of Choice
Look at Goatboy’s article form this week. Notice anything similar between those Imperial lists? See that battalion of 2x Company Commanders and 3x Infantry Squads? Maybe you’ve seen that Battalion before in other armies? In fact, I’d say at this point Imperial armies without it are less conventional than those with it, and for a good reason. This battalion is one of the most cost effective ways of getting CPs in the game. Imperials also aren’t unique in taking detachments like this. Chaos forces often take cultists, and Eldar have cheap battalions as well.
All this comes down to one point. Command Points are a vitally important part of the game. Getting them is mostly tied to army construction, that means players are pushed towards taking cheap battalions with the purpose of getting CPs, even if that battalion doesn’t make sense in the army otherwise. CPs are so crucial that getting them forces a sameness onto all armies. The same is true of the CP generating Relics and Warlord traits; they are so good that they have become the default option if they are available, and they often push out the other options. When was the last time you saw an Astra Militarum warlord without Grand Strategist? The issue, however, goes deeper than this.
Gaining command points is a very non-dynamic part of the game. Most of your command points are going to be generated by army building. This has nothing to do with with game play, and is divorced form the actual act of playing a game of 40K. In addition since you start with a large number of command points and since army building ties into this, the current rules encourage not just netlisting, but also Alpha-striking. Even the command points generated by your warlord or relic aren’t particularly dynamic. While they are random, there is no choice involved in them, as long as your character is on the table you just get to roll. There is no real strategy or tactics here. Its a sadly static system of unlocking one of the most interesting parts of the game.
How Can We Fix This?
It really seems like there is a better way to generate command points out there. I’ve seen a few proposed here and there. A number of them tie command points with in-game objectives. For instance at the start of your turn each objective you hold generates one command point. Simple things like this that tie command point generation to playing the game. This idea would certainly lead to a more dynamic game where players are rewarded with playing towards the objective. It also can stretch the game out. Rather than having a huge pool to draw from for an alpha strike, players build up their pool over the early turns to unleash devastating effects mid and late game.
Now one of the things you’ve got to balance with a system like the above is snowballing. Rewarding players who are playing to the objectives are good. However, giving a player who is already winning the ability to win more isn’t great. If you have one objective that decides the winner of the game and the person who holds it gets things that make her better at holding it… well you can see where that leads.
Other similar ideas tie generating CPs to holding terrain or doing certain in-game acts. Even simply having players generate them each turn, would lead to a more dynamic system. You’d still need to start with some so that you can activate before the game stratagems, but spreading out your generation across the game could be a big help.
Let’s Find A Better Way
There are a lot of good options for fixing CPs, some that most likely haven’t even been thought of yet. While the way we have it now sort of works, I think there is a better way out there. Moving CPs to a more dynamic generation system would not only make the game more exciting but would also curb alpha striking and open up list building a lot. CPs are a part of the game, and right now I can’t blame people who take the AM battalion; it’s how you unlock a huge part of the game. It makes sense in the current system. Rather than trying to change that workaround people have found, let’s fix the system itself.
Tell us how you’d fix CP generation, down in the comments!