Monday, June 17, 2013

Thought - Unit Point Cap

One of the things that is difficult to balance when looking at comp systems is whether there should be an upper limit on the size of a unit be it in points or in models. The models issue is less of a problem in uncomped magic but the points you can put into a "Deathstar" thereby creating a point denial issue is.

By putting a points cap on the base unit (usually 400-450 points) you restrict the use of some elite units e.g. Greatswords or Black Orcs.

While listening to a podcast today I came across a solution to this "problem", put forward by Adepticon winner Brian Moyer. His remedy was to have no upper limit on the points cost of a unit but the cost of the second most expensive unit must be at least half of the largest.

e.g. you want 600 points of Greatswords then you must have 300 points in another multi-model unit. This might be Halberdiers, Demigryphs, Knights etc.

This means you can't put all your points into a single unit but must create another points rich unit that your opponent can go after. Currently you get the deathstar supported by chaff rather than other significant units.

I think this is quite an elegant solution. Interested in the thoughts of others.


  1. Interesting concept. I would be keen to try it.
    Can also allow simple modification for desired result ie 60%, 75% etc for second unit if umpire feels 50% is not enough

  2. Talking as an Empire player I fully support this. No real man of fluffy shirts, codpieces, and matching feathers needs to deathstar anything. Combined arms etc etc all the way.

    The Wood Elf and High Elf player I sometimes pretend to be also has no issue. Mega Treekin and Mega Whitelion units never appealed to me, and we all know how easily they can get pulled around the table doing nothing. Forcing someone to bring a reasonable support unit is simply encouraging them to learn how to play.

    1. Combined arms? Is that with or without the eight demigryphs?

    2. I also take infantry, knights, archers, artillery, and a "chariot". That's as combined arms as it gets :P

  3. interesting idea, worth a try and might give a boost to units like Great Swords and Executioners that need the bodies to make them viable in our monstrous Cav wonderland.

    1. I agree w you. Monstrous cav and death stars have killed the game a little for me

  4. DISCLAIMER: "powerful" units refer to things like skullcrushers, mournfang, ironguts, chaos warriors, demigryphs eg. (units that we currently have the 450 point cap in place for). whilst "fluffy" units refer to executioners, great swords etc.

    Do you not think that this will encourage larger sized, already powerful units over lesser taken units such as Executioners and Great Swords?

    The problem lies with any comp system, player will attempt to build the strongest list under the system. Sadly, when we comp things to even the playing field and make the game less dull, this leaves 'fluffy' units behind.

    However, in any comp system, whilst keeping a 'blanket rule set' across all armies and units, we are going to end up with either super strong "powerful" units and middle ranger "fluffy" units. or acceptable "powerful" units and see less of the "fluffy" units. Without putting a strict unit by unit cap on points (which is a terrible idea) we cannot obtain balance this way.

    My point is that no matter what cap you put on all units x points of Mournfang are better than x points of greatswords.

    Sure this is a good way to remove the cap on units whilst stopping a single large deathstar unit but I believe it is a terrible way to improve the strength of these weaker "fluffy" units that rely on a larger point cap.


    1. *shameless plug for Panzerschrek*

      As much as a passionately dislike the Swedish comp system it does successfully force the addition of the fluffy stuff-hence why I'm attending and looking forward to it.

      I think Locky has hit at the heart of the issue "what are we actually trying to achieve?"

      If it is to encourage fluffy units...then the Swedish system does this better.

      If it is to stop death stars...well we already do this with the comp.

    2. Or you can just add a further cap, Monstrous Cav are unit cap 4 models...

  5. The problem is that there are mixed messages. I've heard people say that we don't see Greatswords, Black Orcs and the Executioners because of the 450 point cap.

    So is it that or because they are crap? Certainly I don't think Executioners are experience of BO or GS

    1. When I played OnG BO were over-pointed for what they offered. In saying that some of the problem is you could not fit more than 30-35 under 450 points.
      It may have been nice to try 40-50 in a single mob but they still suffer from being 12 point infantry with a 5+ save...
      They were always dropped for better units such as Trolls which did a better job in that role for less points

    2. Exactly, the problem with Greatswords and Black Orcs (I think Executioners are fine atm.) is the 450 point cap. However, solving this problem by increasing or removing the unit cap strengthens all units in the game, not just these ones. They are just pricey crappy units.
      Sure we want to see higher points caps to see 40-50 greatswords running around the board, but do we want to see ogre armies taking more than 10 ironguts in a gut star?
      We have to put a line down somewhere or remove the line completely and accept the power level of the game.

    3. You don't see Greatswords and the like because they are bad for there points costs & usually Something Fulfills that roll and does it cheaper &/or better.

      Black Orcs, Savage biguns do it better.
      Executioners, Mindwazor does it so much better. So do Cold-one knights

      By increasing the cap limit will you see these units... No, someone who is going to take them will take them regardless of size of unit. Just because they can.

      Removing the cap would just be dull in my opinion. Might just be that I never get close to 450 points mind you. I barely make 300 points in a single unit most of the time.

    4. Re: greatswords. I've played around with them quite a bit recently. 450pt cap = a unit of 28 with full command, and to be honest that is the biggest unit size I would take given the points investment/return and the opportunity cost of piling points into them (ie demigryphs, artillery, stank etc). Add an arch lector and bsb and you have a decent anvil/kinda hammer. Even then I wouldn't take them over the other options (see my horned gobo list) unless I was "forced" to due to comp restrictions (eg getting a 'soft' army score using the Swedish system)

      Joel v

    5. It wouldn't hurt giving it a try really, if it is put in place (and doesn't work) it doesn't mean it has to be there for ever it can just as easily be put out of the comp system as easy as it was put in there in the first place.

      But what Locky said pretty much nails it right on the head

      For me, I think the current system works fine, 450pts is a good size and it still gives potential for strong and powerful units (9-10 man gutstars, 28-30 executioners and even 35 man Hammerer units) which are still very powerful units who can get the job done.