Command Points are a very important part of the game, but what value can we place on them?
Command Points and Stratagems are one of the big things that makes 8th Edition special. They were introduced this edition and have had a huge impact on the game, both among casual and competitive players. Stratagems added depth and flavor to units, unlocking relics, unit abilities and army special actions. They can have a huge impact on the game. Getting a lot of command points to use them has become one of the major goals of list building. While we know what commands do, whats not totally clear is how much one is worth. Lets talk about how we can look at this and why its important.
Why Should I Care?
Knowing the value of a command is important mainly in that it can help you decide when to spend one. Knowing this can help you to get the most out of your command points and there for to win more games. Now there are two ways we can try to measure the value of a command point:
- The points it takes to get one
- The reward you can get from spending one
Lets take a quick look at these ideas.
How Many Points Is A Command Point?
Now obviously command points don’t have a fixed point cost, they come as part of the detachments you take when building an army or sometimes from character, war-gear or traits. However we can get a rough idea based on the amount it takes to field an a detachment. For instance the Imperial faction can get 5 command points by taking a battalion of the Loyal 32 for 180 points. In effect that army is paying a mere 36 points per command point. Thats a very efficient value for the Imperium. On the other hand a pure Custodes Army will pay a minimum of 532 for a battalion, or 106.4 points per CP. From this its easy to see why so called CP batteries, or taking cheap allied battalions, is popular. CP cost is going to change faction by faction, and army by army. The simple way of figuring out how much your army is “paying” for CPs is simply to divide the point cost of the army by the total number of CPs.
So how is this information useful? Well, a couple of ways. Firstly finding out how much you are spending on CPs can help you with army building. If you goal is to maximize your CPs then finding the most points efficient way to do that is useful. Moreover if you find yourself taking extra units in order to fill out detachments (I’ve talked a little about doing this before) it can be useful to see if its really worth it. Making sure you are not paying too many points for command points is something to watch out for. It’s also useful in helping you get a rough idea of what command points are worth to you and what kind of return you need on your investment. If you have a ton of cheap commands points you can afford to spend them for little reward. However if you only have a few that you’ve “paid” through the nose for, then you’d better be careful how you use them. Which brings us to our next topic.
What Should I Expect From Spending Command Point
Here is the really important part of finding the cost of a command point. What can I get from one? This is the most important thing to think about when using a command point, and something you should consider before ever spending one. It’s also a pretty hard thing to define, since the broad nature of stratagems means they can do so many things. Lets look at some examples.
It’s the end of my Fight Phase. I, a Space Marine player, have a unit of Assault Marines in combat with an enemy unit of Chaos Space Marines. I am considering using Honor The Chapter to allow the unit to fight again. Is it worth it?
Here are a few things I can consider to see if I should spend the CPs:
- My 2000 point army has 10 CPs, at roughly 200 points a CP.
- With 21 attacks my Assault Marines should hit 14 times, wound 7 and kill 2 Chaos Space Marines.
- Two basic CSMs are 26 points.
- For this attempt I killing 8.6 worth of enemy models per spent command point, or spending 1.5 command points per wound dealt.
- Lets assume for ease that the enemy is within a fearless bubble and will not suffer additional moral losses
So looking at this we can see that using Honor The Chapter is pretty inefficient. Unless you absolutely need to kill those two CSMs to, say, take an objective, its not worth it. Especially compared to the next example.
Same game, me with my Marines, only now its my shooting phase. I’m considering using Hellfire Shells on a unit of Scouts to shoot an enemy CSM unit. Is it worth it?
Here are a few things I can consider to see if I should spend the cps:
- Again my 2000 point army has 10 CPs, at roughly 200 points a CP.
- On average my attack will hit and do 2 Mortal Wounds, killing two CSMs.
- Two basic CSMs are 26 points.
- For this attempt I am killing 26 points worth of enemy models per spent command point, or spending 1 command point per 2 wounds dealt.
- If we average this out over three turns, I will miss once (assuming no buffs), and kill 4 CSMs for 3 command points.
- Since I am dealing Mortal wounds I can kill tougher or more expensive models just as easily (unlike by making extra attacks), meaning I could be even more efficient.
Putting it Together
From looking at those two examples we can see that Hellfire Shells is a far more efficient use of CPs and giving us a much larger bang for out buck. In fact looking at it we’ll find that Hellfire Shells is pretty much the most efficient use of CPs to deal direct damage in the Codex. Thus we can roughly say that for a pure Codex: Space Marine Army spending a CP should roughly net you 2 Wounds on the enemy. Getting less than that is not efficient.
In the end each army has to determine the value of a command point to it. Moreover command points can be used for so many things that, and there are so many situational factors that can play into it that its hard to make any hard rules. I do find that thinking about these things will help you get better at choosing when and where to use CPs. I also find this thinking is far more useful when it comes to Stratagems that deal direct damage, or allow extra attacks, as you can quantify them somehow. I see a lot of rookie players wasting command points on Stratagems like Honor The Chapter in situations that just aren’t worth it. If you want a few guidelines, mine would be:
- Stratagems that deal direct damage or Mortal Wounds, are the best and most efficient.
- Avoid most Stratagems that give you extra attacks on hit rolls of 6+. These can seem really attractive but if you do the math you will find that the extra damage output isn’t really worth it (For instance Bolter Drill on a Ten Man Tac Squad all shooting Bolters VS a CSM unit at rapid fire range, will generate 3 additional shots, 2 hits, 1 wound that the enemy will most likely save.)
- Do the Math before using any “attack again” stratagem, these are generally only really worth it on a unit or character with a really high damage output.
In the end you are going to most likely have to take every situation on its own merits. Still I think that sitting down a taking a look at your army, and its stratagems, with this kind of thinking in mind, can help you learn your list and make better choices during a game. Overall this will help you get the most out of your list and become a better player.
Let us know how you judge the value of a command point, down in the comments!