Lets take about how one simple change could have a big effect on the game.
Stratagems, as I may have said once or twice before, are a key part of 8th Edition and one of its major innovations. As something central to the edition they’ve been responsible for some of the best things this edition. They’ve also caused some of the biggest issues of the edition, and stratagem abuse is a part of many people’s big complaints. Soup, CP abuse, death stars and others issues all come back to the use of stratagems. People have spilled a lot of digital ink discusses ways to fix the system, with many of them focusing around CP generation. However I think I’ve come up with what is a pretty simple and elegant change that could rein in a lot of the issues: Make all stratagems once per battle only. Let’s talk about what this would do.
Now we already have some, normally very powerful, stratagems that are one use only, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented to make all stratagems like this. Doing this would I think accomplish a number of things:
- It would make each use of a stratagem feel special and require thought. This is a special maneuver or trick you are pulling on the enemy, not a standard tactic (those are special rules.) You have to really think about the best time to use each one.
- It would cut down on creating death stars out of bad units, and force units to function on their own merits. While you could still take a mediocre unit and use VotLW (hopefully a war longer than the Long Night) to boost their offensive power and then use Endless Cacophony to get them to shot twice, this is something you could only do once. It would be a temporary boost rather than the default for that unit, turn after turn after turn.
- We’d get to see a greater variety of stratagems used. Right now I’d argue that less than 1/4 of a Codex’s stratagems see regular use. Most of the time you have 3-4 really good ones you use over and over again and the rest are ignored. Making each on one use only would allowed players to dig deeper into the armies bags of tricks.
- It would make CPs a little less important and thus spamming cheap units just to get them is less important.
- It would make for a more tactical and thoughtful game.
These are just some of the biggest benefits you’d get from this change.
Does It Make Sense?
Now some people might say it wouldn’t make logical sense for you to only be able to do these abilities once per game. And while they may in some cases have a point its important to remember that the current system is already abstract and arbitrary. We are already limited to only being able to do each stratagem once a phase. I mean if one of my Knights can rotate Ion Shields, why can’t all of them? If one of Marine squads can fire a Flakk missile why can’t all of them? It’s already a forced restriction.
Are Ion Cannons better or worse against Ion Shields?
Arguably once per game actually makes more sense than once per phase. This is a special trick you are pulling off, and not something that can be easily replicated. It’s either a limited use “item” or a trick that once the enemy has seen you do it you can’t pull off again. So yeah overall I would say it makes at least as much, if not more sense than the current system.
The exception to this rule could be pre-game stratagems. These are already generally stratagems that are meant to be used more than once (or specifically don’t allow that.) Allowing these to be used more than once would be important for both deployment stratagems and those stratagems, like Veteran Intercessors that actually change your army. I’d argue that simply wording the rule “Once the game has started each stratagem may only be used once” would have the desired effect on game play but leave pre-game strats unchanged. On the other hand I don’t think I’d be really sad or worried if pre-game stratagems were affected by the change. It would have the same positive effect for moth of them.
This change would overall be a simple change with far reaching effects. I think it would make the game better and more balanced. While their might be corner cases where something doesn’t make sense, overall I think it would do a world a good. It would be trivial for GW to add it to the game in a future edition or FAQ. I’d encourage you to try the rule out in one of your future games and see what you think.
Let us know what you think about this idea, down in the comments!