GH20 Review Part 3: Points Updates

What the FAQ? Points are out, and some of them are…baffling. Today I’ll be rattling through them at a high level, and in a follow-up article, my Australian ETC team mate Michael Clarke will have a deep dive into specific changes.

Structurally Unsound

Let’s get something clear from the off: paper-based points have had their day. They are too slow, too unresponsive, and too far away from anything resembling the reality of how the game is currently played. If these things went to print way back in November 2019 – which has been strongly implied – they are not fit for purpose in a game that is moving this quickly.

The whole structure of the way points are updated needs to change. The fact is, GW are setting themselves a task of Hercules by trying to guess 8 months into the future.

Will that leave the GH threadbare?

Nope, there’s loads of content that can and should take its place in the printed book. I’ll cover that in a separate article, but the reality is that the Pitched Battle supplement is already a waste of paper. It would honestly be better for everyone if it just didn’t exist. It’ll never be opened again all year as it stands: half of it is already obsolete, and we can get our points from Warscroll Builder or Azyr anyway.

A printed points update was a fantastic idea at the time, but it’s now an anchor on the game. Its time has come and gone, and we should be moving to a points pdf as the official source – published on the Community site on the same day that the book launches.


OK, so I’ve got in my two cents about the structure – so what about the meat? I’ll be dividing this into three sections: things that moved the right way, things that didn’t move at all but should have, and things that moved the wrong way.

Opinions are like arseholes so I won’t labour the point too much, and I certainly won’t pick over every bone, but here’s my 2 cents on what went right, and what…didn’t.

And I would also like to take this opportunity to point you towards Heywoah’s excellent FAQ thread. For anyone not aware, Heywoah’s Twitter feed at FAQ time is the actual highlight of playing AOS, so go check it out.

The Good

Which points changes did I like? Well, a lot of things moved in the right direction. Some didn’t move as far as I would have liked, but there were some solid calls.

Chaos

Drops on a lot of the underused Skaven units were welcome. The FAQ to Gaunty was excellent, and I don’t think too many people would argue with Flamers and Horrors being nudged upwards.

Marauders were ludicrously cheap for what they did, outshining most of the proper Battleline in God armies, so they needed to go up; Chaos Warriors needed to come down. Both did, although a mere 10 points on Marauders seems particularly lenient.

Death

Rebalancing OBR internally had to be done. Petrifex was too obviously stacked, and although the faction has taken a net knock, that’s coming from a decent place to begin with. They have been nudged to alternative builds rather than being shelved.

Nighthaunt got a bit of welcome relief. Anyone who doesn’t believe that power creep is real, just remember that this is a second edition book that was winning tournaments when it first dropped. Nighthaunt needed help and they got it; everyone should be glad for them, whether they play the army or not, because they are without a doubt one of the coolest and most engaging armies in Age of Sigmar.

Are they getting to the point where they could be an interesting proposition for serious play? I’d say so.

Destruction

So the Troggboss and Battalion came down…I guess that’s heading in the right direction, so I’ve painted myself into the corner of putting it in this section, but come on. 10 points off the Troggherd is an insult.

Brutes were rarely seen competitively, so any fall is welcome (although it’s really a Warscroll problem). The Savage Big Boss being trimmed by 10 lightens his Battalion-tax status.

Thundertusks came down. They are still hamstrung by a weird-ass warscroll that answers the question nobody asked: How can I precision-deliver a small amount of high-quality damage to large troops units? But hey, they did come down.

Order

Salamanders up 30 points to 110 is pretty reasonable and they’re still viable at that points level, without being as oppressive. Pop up and blast away was a meta that nobody asked for, so seeing them and Flamers getting their wings clipped is welcome.

On a similar theme, it’s good to see the Bridge creep up to 100. I’m including that under Order because it was Cities that mainly benefited from what was, let’s be honest, a zero-skill move.

Magmadroths got a deserved massage. They’re not going to be truly competitive under this book, but at least it helps anyone wanting to have some fun with the other half of their collection and dust them off.

Stormcast in general were chipped into relevance, which is welcome. Shootcast can just bang some armies off the board, but their bad matchups will hopefully keep that in check; other than the old Vanguard Wing (the gold standard for negative play experiences), which is long gone, the poster boys usually give you really tight, engaging games. Welcome back.

Gotrek stayed the same, which is ideal. I’ve heard a couple of people asking for points drops, but I don’t think he should be cutting-edge competitive. He should be slightly on the wrong side of correct, an absolute powerhouse but quite difficult to use effectively. In that sense I think he’s spot on right where he is.

KO are the biggest phantom NPE there’s ever been, and I’m glad to see they were thrown a bone. They have an horrific reputation harking back to the old “Deploy and Destroy” Clown Car days, but that playstyle is long gone. I’ve played against them a lot with their new book, and GW pulled a rabbit out of the hat: their current playstyle is actually highly rewarding.

They can apply pressure anywhere at any time, but are constantly on the cusp of getting tabled. The game feels like a rolling series of tough decisions, every one of which can be the difference between life and death. They needed a lift and they got it, even though some specifics (Gunhaulers? Really? OK) were a welcome surprise.

The Bad

Whose points didn’t move at all, but (in my opinion) should have done?

Chaos

First up we have the Chaos Warshine. How this thing slips through attracting zero heat is beyond me. It’s way better in combat than it has any right to be – it compares pretty well to pure combat Heroes at a similar points level – backed up by a huge wound count and buffs galore. A major beneficiary of the Chaos Keyword Jamboree through its access to Khorne’s prayer lore. At least they didn’t drop it like they do most years.

Death

I’d still argue that the FEC Arch Regent is undercosted – that free unit really should be priced in to some degree, if only to head off bullshit future comparisons at the pass – but FEC as a whole have settled into a decent spot, so I wouldn’t push too hard on that.

Destruction

Was the entire Gutbusters half of Mawtribes absolutely perfect? Really? Off the top of my head, the Tyrant is tragic and the Butcher is too expensive for a one-spell caster with no inherent buffs.

On the Bonesplitterz side, the Battalions and pigs could have used some attention, but at least the heartbeat of the army (Savage Orruks and Wardokks) weren’t punished for the existence of Big Waaagh.

What happened to Gloomspite Gits was shameful. Spider Riders are still way overcosted, they have been since they dropped and GW doesn’t seem to give a shit. 20 Spider Riders cost the same as 20 Hearthguard, and if you think that’s in the same postcode as being reasonable, I wish you good luck.

Same with Troggoths. Same with Squigs. It brings me no pleasure to say that the Gloomspite points have “Will this do?” written all over them.

Order

Oh Kroaky Boy, that cheeky little tactical nuke sitting on a toadstool.

There’s a school of thought that his current cost fine, because you have to price in his support pieces. This is bollocks. If we’re taking him in the context of paying for what’s around him, that’s fine, but then we also have to take into account what a powerful army he sits in: one of the few armies in AOS to have a complete suite of tools, movement jank galore, undercosted chaff and the ability to generate more for free if required.

His boardwide mortal wounds and boardwide unbind are oppressive, and Seraphon players can point to needing other support pieces (the horror!) as much as they want – 320 is still too low regardless. He comes in at around the price of a Thundertusk (more than a Huskard, less than a Frostlord) which is a fucking joke whatever way you look at it.

On the subject of Seraphon, Bound Endless Spells are also well under. 10 points to never have Geminids move back towards you? Yes please! The whole point of Endless Spells was that you have a dilemma over taking priority. Making them Bound was an abysmal idea, dumbing down the whole concept and at far too cheap a price for the impact.

Fyreslayers continue to fly under the radar. As an army they are stubbornly unpopular and I’m sure that the only reason they don’t attract more heat is because barely anyone plays them. At the very least, Hearthguard should have had their horde discount reduced to 10 points (making them 120/440).

I actually have a soft spot for this army (closet dwarf fan), so I reluctantly accept that the book really leans on Hearthguard and GW was walking a tightrope with any nerfs, but I reserve the right to continue comparing my own units to them!

The Ugly

Chaos

Skryre Acolytes, what the fuck? Wow! 10 points per wound will make a whole lot of things look pretty shit in comparison. If GW wanted to give a few Skaven units a nudge, that’s very commendable, but this was not a unit crying out for help. Offset by a cap of 20 in unit size, but still a big net winner in my opinion.

Still in Skaven, how about that Warp Lightning Vortex? I don’t think Veruca Salt would have had the nerve to ask her dad for that one. The proof is in the pudding: compare it to Mork’s Mighty Mushroom. When it was 10 points more than the Mushroom, KO could choose either, and they were willing to pay a premium for this one. Every. Single. Time.

The fact that it now costs less is utterly, utterly baffling. But very welcome to all those Admirals out there, I’m sure.

And still in Skaven, how about that Glottkin? Now in Allies range, and capable of giving Plague Monks an extra attack and making them 2-wound models. Because that’s what we all needed.

Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, we have Slaanesh: who asked for them to get another kicking? The last round of nerfs already brought them to heel, and what’s happened since then to make them need looking at? All that’s happened is that the meta has moved against them, with far more armies not needing to engage in melee, and the Keeper has lost her Thermalrider Cloak.

If there’s a single argument for the points process having broken down, it’s Slaanesh.

Death

Really, the big thing was getting some relief for Nighthaunt and maybe the under-represented half of OBR, and that’s what we saw. I don’t think there’s too much to complain about with Death points changes, but let me know if you disagree. I’m just glad there’s a chance we’ll see more spooky ghosts around.

Destruction

Maniak Weirdnob at 140 points? Huh? I mean…I guess it’s nice that the wizards who actually see competitive play (the Wurggog and especially the Wardokk) slipped through…but really? All he brings is one rerollable unbind, so he was presumably knocked out of the game because he was the closest thing Destruction had to a wizard who might have ideas above his station and unbind a spell.

I’d love to know who surveyed the desolate wasteland that is Forgeworld’s competitive representation in Destruction armies and decided that they needed nothing but nerfs. If you want an illustration of why Destruction players often feel like they get the short end of the straw, this GH is it: compare the treatment of two books that came out around the same time, Gloomspite and Skaven.

Not only was Skaven the stronger book by far at launch, wracking up a huge string of 5-0s after release, but now they get significant attention to the parts of their book that needed points drops, while Gits seem to have been left to rot.

Skaven get points drops for Acolytes, Gits have their most successful list (Endless Spells) banned from the game.

Skaven get to have fun with the Glottkin as an ally, Gloomspite get the Rogue Idol removed as an option.

So yeah, the only change was the Rogue Idol going up to 420. That poor Troggoth Hag.

Order

How does a Carnosaur come down in points? That thing is already a wrecking ball. Baffling.


Overall Grade: D+

The easiest thing in the world to do would be to say everything is awesome, and anyone who isn’t gushing over these changes (or lack of) needs to git gud. I’ll happily give lavish praise where I believe it’s due, but I just can’t get on board with what I see as a pretty weak effort.

The idea of moving towards a pdf for more recent books is an attempt at going in the right direction, to make updates more current, nimble and relevant. But it’s not enough. We ended up with this weird limbo where the book was out but the most important points weren’t, and the Pitched Battles supplement is already a waste of paper.

There were definitely some positive moves in here, so let’s not get silly and claim it was an unmitigated catastrophe, but my gut feel is that what is a paid-for points update didn’t get the deep attention it deserves.

Whether that’s because 9th edition 40K is taking up too much of GW’s focus, whether it’s because some factions (mainly those with a green tinge) lack a voice in the room to advocate for them, I can’t answer. But this was quite disappointing on multiple fronts.

I’d argue for a refresh in the voices that are heard: Destruction needs somebody in that room who will go out to bat for them, because that honestly doesn’t seem to be happening currently.

And I’m hardly the only internet gobshite to bang this drum, so I’m sure the message is getting through, but next year I’d love to see a move to pdf-only points updates, released on the Community site on the day the book is launched.

It’s just a much more modern and robust structure, and its time has come.


I don’t want to end the article as a Debbie Downer, because honestly, the future is bright. I would argue that GH19 also had pretty significant flaws, but we still had a great year of Warhammer, for two reasons: the release schedule was superb, and Battleplans trump everything.

We have the best set of missions yet, so I’m genuinely excited for what I believe is set to be a great season. But if we can have another look at how points updates are done – the year after could be even better.

2 thoughts on “GH20 Review Part 3: Points Updates

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