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)
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.
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…
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.
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!