General’s Handbook 2020: Points Analysis

An article by and    Age of Sigmar Competitive Play Gaming        0

This took a bit longer than expected, so for those waiting on it I do apologize. The Matched Play point changes from 2020 have been brought to the lab, numbers crunched and we’re now ready to give you our hard-hitting analysis! Important point before going forward, we may not mention some point changes that are otherwise marked with a star in the General’s Handbook. That’s because Games Workshop can be a touch inconsistent on what counts as a “changed” value or not. From what we can tell, they base it off of whether or not it’s changed since the last General’s Handbook, or the last Battletome (Whichever is more recent). There were some pretty big point changes back around Christmas issued as free FAQs, which RagnarokAngel wrote about here. If a lack of changes came about as a result of a recent FAQ, we’ll make sure to note it.

Overview

Realistically not a lot happened here when looking at things with a broad lens, though there are some exceptions. It’s exhausting to keep bringing this up but with COVID putting a limit on tournaments, it’s pretty hard to decide what needs a point adjustment if you don’t have tourney data to draw on so that’s likely a major contributing factor to the lack of changes for some armies, the other reason being that the armies are either too new or recently got their points adjusted in an FAQ update.

Stormcast Eternals and Maggotkin of Nurgle are the big AAA winners here. We’ll go into the specifics down below but in short, they got point cuts across the board, which will make players of those armies very happy. Slaanesh is the only clear loser here, getting a few price hikes instead, particularly on some powerful units. Everyone else saw some no changes at all or very minor tweaks, with varying degrees of success.

Chaos Warriors. Credit: SRM

Chaos

Beasts of Chaos

RagnarokAngel: Dragon Ogor Shaggoth lost 10 points which combos nicely with the Dragon Ogors also losing 10 points. Cockatrice and Chimera also lost points, which is odd but alright.

A few Battalions lost points, notable the Tzeentch and Nurgle aligned battalions which is helpful to Disciples of Tzeentch and Maggotkin of Nurgle.

Ellarr: When I look over points changes the first thing I try to look for is new avenues opening up for army building, and I’m certainly interested to see if anyone takes advantage of the discounts to the Dragon Ogor units. 10 points here and there may not seem like much but that represents a significant saving of points for those going heavy on them and taking their battalion (30 point drop!). Even a minimum sized battalion of Thunderscorn represents a 70 points savings overall and while their datasheet isn’t the most exciting, it’s solid and punchy for it’s cost which might help the ailing BoC faction somewhat.

The other standout winner here for me is the Chimera, which got a 20 point discount and is a nice little skirmisher if somewhat expensive. I love units with guaranteed mortal wound output, and slapping it on a mobile body with a pile of attacks at the very least has me interested.

Blades of Khorne

RagnarokAngel: Almost no changes, despite all the stars in the book. The point changes they mention have been in place for a while and the only genuinely new one seems to be 100 points off Vorgaroth (A 1200 point model) which likely won’t make any waves.

Ellarr: Owners of giant resin monstrosities rejoice!

Disciples of Tzeentch

RagnarokAngel: No actually new point changes. Tzeentch’s book is new but it also got hit with a big nerf after trashing Cancon and Warhammer World in March, Games Workshop likely wants to wait to see how their changes influence the army on the competitive scene before making any further changes.

Ellarr: I’m keeping my eye on the flamers and horrors here going forward, both of which are disgustingly effective at what they do and still stand as somewhat of a boogeyman in the competitive scene.

Hedonites of Slaanesh

RagnarokAngel: The only army with a lot of really obvious point hikes, and I feel like it might be over-correcting a bit. Most notably Keeper of Secrets (and Shalaxi Helbane) gained 20 points a piece. Contored Epitome gains 10 points which isn’t such a big deal.

Down in the Battleline section it gets uglier still. While Daemonettes didn’t gain points they lost their max squad discount bonus, which effectively makes a full squad cost 30 more than before. Hellstriders gained 10 points for 5 models.

Hedonite Host and Seeker Calvacade were hiked up 10 points and Supreme Sybarites up a whopping 30.

Fiends lost 20 points so uh…yay? I don’t think point changes were strictly needed, they seemed in a good place at the end of December that targeting their best units feels a bit like overkill, especially when Tzeentch and Ossiarch Bonereapers remain untouched. There’s always opportunity to bring them back down in points in the future if necessary.

Ellarr: I’m really not a fan of these points changes if I’m honest. It felt to me like Slaanesh were in a much better place after the summoning changes and other targeted nerfs last time around, and I would have liked to have seen more tournament data before deciding to put the boots to the faction once again.

Legions of Azgorh

RagnarokAngel: You’d be forgiven not knowing who these guys are. They are the Chaos Dwarves, which mostly come from Forgeworld. You can go back to forgetting them though, no point changes here.

Maggotkin of Nurgle

RagnarokAngel: Grandfather’s blessings have been generous indeed. Nurgle saw one of the biggest boons from the General’s Handbook, with points slashed across the board. Great Unclean and Rotigus both lost 20 points, which will add up since it is not uncommon to take multiple GUOs in a list. The Glottkin lost 40 points which helps it a lot, being the most expensive (non-Forgeworld) unit in the game. Lord of Afflictions lost 10 points, which is nice.

All your non leaders went down in points. In the Battleline, Plaguebearers lost 10 for 10 and Blightkings lost 20 for 5. Blightkings lost 80 points at max size! Nurglings lost 20 points. Pusgoyle Blightlords, Plague Drones and Beasts of Nurgle lost 10 points for a minimum sized squad which rounds things off nicely.

Nurgle suffered a lot from the non-leaders costing a bit too much, and so every point drop in the General’s Handbook this year seems to target all of Nurgle’s best units and make them even better. Definitely a winner this year.

Ellarr: Between this and the sub-factions they gained from War of the Everchosen, I fully expect to see Blightking heavy lists making a splash on the tournament scene. One of the things Nurgle was very good at was putting a ton of wounds down on the board that was hard to shift, and that sort of resilience when AoS is fundamentally an objective based game is an enticing proposition.

Skaventide

RagnarokAngel: Got a little rebate back after being slapped with some point increases back during December. The Warlock Engineer saw a 10 pt price hike, possibly to bring it closer in line with the Bombadier. Otherwise, there are some small price drops here and there. Stormvermin went down 10 pts for for 10 models, the behemoths Doomwheel and Hell Pit Abomination went down 10 and 20 points respectively, and Rat Ogors went down 10 points

The most notable change appears to be Skrye Acolytes. Although their points did not change for the minimum sized unit, the maximum was dropped from 30 to 20. A max size discount was introduced, which saves you 40 points over 20 Acolytes before, which works out to a bit of a net gain.

Slaves to Darkness

RagnarokAngel: The book is still new so  no point changes here. A lot of people seem to feel Slaves to Darkness was a bit of an underwhelming book, so perhaps we can look forward to a rules update by Christmas.

Ellarr: As one of GH’s resident S2D fanboys, I would love to see some price drops on some of the factions less compelling choices like the Varanguard, Chaos Chosen and Chaos Warriors. I also expect a price hike on Chaos Marauders and Chaos Sorcerer Lord as those two units are quite frankly disgustingly good value and it only seems fair. Oh and can we drop like 100 points on Archaeon please? Please? Don’t make me beg.

Nagash

Credit: Silks

Death

Flesh-Eater Courts

RagnarokAngel: Crickets. I keep expecting price hikes for FEC but it just doesn’t happen. They are in a pretty good spot and more powerful armies have come out since their debut so they likely just aren’t as scary to people as they used to be.

Ellarr: FEC are in a great place competitively in my opinion, and adjusting them at this point would feel like needless meddling so I’m happy to see restraint shown here.

Legions of Nagash

RagnarokAngel: Most of the price changes listed aren’t actually new, and came in during the Christmas update. Soulblight lists got a little bump with coven throne and Prince Vhordrai both going down 20 points (More or less securing him as a superior Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon) and Blood Knights getting a 10 point price drop for 5. Otherwise nothing here other than the Deathmarch Battalion getting a small 10 point drop.

Nighthaunts

RagnarokAngel: Actually fair number of point drops here. The Briar Queen from Warhammer Underworlds is surprising, given GW seems to have forgotten most of the warbands actually exist. The Guardian of Souls and Reikenor the Grimhailer however are surprises of the pleasant kind. Both lost 10 points and are semi popular Leader options so dropping their price is welcome. Hexwraiths taking a price drop of 10 per 5 is nice, though Grimghast Reapers and Chainrasps remain too good and too cheap, respectively.

Finally Dreadscythe Harridans lost 10 points for 5. A lot of people have these from various starter boxes, but don’t use them. This might convince people to try something different.

Ellarr: I don’t see too much changing with the meat and potatoes of Nighthaunt lists, because as RA pointed out Reapers and Rasps still represent very good value and I just don’t think Harridans quite make a compelling enough argument to shake up lists. What I do expect to see a little more of going forward is Reikenor the Grimhailer, who has always been on my radar as undervalued and has quite a good toolkit for his cost. Corpse Candles in particularly is a neat little ability because it’s mortal wound is target model, so you can use it to delete pesky value models like banner bearers, champions or musicians.

Ossiarch Bonereapers

RagnarokAngel: No point changes, which is actually kind of surprising. OBR have been a specter across the meta and casual circuits, particularly Petrifex Elite being too broken. Games Workshop seems to feel like this doesn’t need to be addressed yet and so it goes.

Ellarr: I expect their time will come soon, as GW had already announced that factions post Cities of Sigmar will get their matched play profiles in a subsequent digital update soon. As for what will get hit? I would be shocked if Mortek Guard remain untouched, and wouldn’t be surprised to see a tweak to Crawlers and Harvesters too.

Ironskull's Boyz by Alfredo Ramirez

Ironskull’s Boyz Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Destruction

Gloomespite Gitz

RagnarokAngel: Dankholds for days. Trogboss and Troggoths both lost points, and the Gobbapalooza lost 10. Probably won’t make a huge difference, but it does come off of some Behemoths price cuts in December. I feel like Gloomspite Gitz desperately need some help and it’s a shame that GW has chosen to ignore them again.

Ogor Mawtribes

RagnarokAngel: No point changes. The book came out at the same time as OBR and if OBR didnt get any changes the Ogors definitely wouldn’t, as they didn’t leave much of a splash in the first place.

Ellarr: I originally thought we might see some price hikes to Frostlords on Stonehorns come their digital update, but after reflection I feel like the removal of the Ethereal Amulet probably brings that unit down to a more appropriate power level as is.

Orruk Warclans

RagnarokAngel: No changes, not sure why, honestly. I think they could use some price drops for the more expensive models but they have access to a wide variety of cheap and elite units so perhaps it’s felt it wasn’t needed.

Ellarr: I expect Orruk Warclans have won big here simply for having nothing change. They have some of the most efficient units in the game, and as this battletome is before Cities of Sigmar we can take this as confirmation they will not be receiving any major changes in the near future. If their competitors from later battletomes get nerfs (which I suspect they might), this faction may rise to top tier simply because their competitors have fallen out of favor.

Sons of Behemat

RagnarokAngel: Well, well, well isn’t this interesting? It seems Games Workshop initially hoped that Sons of Behemat would be out by now. There’s not any units here we’re not aware of already from previews, but it does shed some light on how the army is structured with its whopping 4 total units. Battleline are the “Mancrusher Gargants” which presumably are the same Chaos/Aleguzzler Gargants we’ve seen from other armies. They’re 180 for one or 480 for a max squad of 3, and a max squad counts as 3 battleline slots. The new gargants (Gate-breaker, kraken-eater and Warstomper) are Leaders that clock in at 480-490 points a piece. So a “pure” sons of Behemat list will likely involve either the bare minimum of Mancrushers and 3 of the leaders. It’s also possible people will take the inverse, one leader and 9 Mancrushers, or something in between. As we don’t have actual warscrolls it’s just impossible to tell right now.

Credit: FlamingFig

Order

Aelf

RagnarokAngel: The only 2 aelves who couldn’t fit into Cities of Sigmar or other more elf-y factions, Mistweaver Saih and Tenebrael Shard. They have no point changes and I doubt anyone noticed.

Cities of Sigmar

Ellarr: The only change we see here is that Drakespawn knights drop 20 points from 150 to 130 – a drop which I think is pretty interesting and intrigues me to see if people will decide to take some out for a spin. While they’re not terribly exciting a unit, they’re durable, cheap and mobile and if nothing else can benefit from some of the many buffs available to Cities of Sigmar.

While not technically a CoS nerf I did feel obliged to mention that the Soulscream Bridge has gone up 20 points, which is a minor nerf to the popular deathstar lists that Hallowheart loved to run.

Daughters of Khaine

RagnarokAngel: This is a slight nerf here. Hag Queens, the most common Leaders, went from 90 to 100. Which does add up as many lists will use multiple of them, 2 Behemoth units, the Bloodwrack Shrine and Hag Queen on a Cauldron of Blood did go down 10 points. Those are, unfortunately for DoK players, not the one that is mostly used (Slaughter Queen on Cauldron of Blood, the most popular one, is untouched).

Ellarr: Daughters seemed to be in a good place competitively, so any change in their presence in the meta largely will come down to what happens to other top tier factions like Tzeentch, Seraphon and OBR.

Duardin

RagnarokAngel: The only model is here is Gortrak, who hasn’t changed from his steep 520.

Fyreslayers

RagnarokAngel: Magmadroth characters got a slight decrease as they are all 10 points cheaper. Hearthguard Berzerkers got a maximum unit size drop from 30 to 20 back in December. This seems to have been followed up by a 10 point price hike to Lords of the Lodge, the most popular Battalion, which utilizes Hearthguard Berzerkers. Overall its probably a net zero given the Magmadroth point drop.

Ellarr: Another beneficiary of a light touch – they were already a strong contender in the tournament scene and they get past GHB2020 largely unscathed.

Idoneth Deepkin

RagnarokAngel: This is a bit of a stealth buff. On the surface it doesn’t appear a whole lot happened but the most popular lists people run have a net gain from the changes that are present. Morsarr and Ishlaen Guard (Eel Cavalry) didn’t have their points touched, while the on-foot infantry saw a decent point drop of 10 per 10 models (With a max unit of 30 Thralls saving 40 points). A few characters lost 10 points as well, notably Volturnos and the Akhelian King. It’s not great but Idoneth remain competitively viable so they didn’t need too much help.

Kharadron Overlords

RagnarokAngel: KO got their updated book in January, which under normal circumstances would be sufficient time for them to get a rules update but unlike Tzeentch KO didn’t have any particular stand out problems. I think they could have used a few point drops but they weren’t in a bad place so it’s not the worst fate for them either.

Ellarr: I have a more pessimistic opinion of KO than RA, and hope to see some points drops to their heroes and Skyships, as many things in the book feel just a tad too expensive.

Lumineth Realm-Lords

RagnarokAngel: The ink on this book has only barely dried (and most of the models aren’t even out yet) so it’s not shocking there are literally no changes here.

Seraphon

RagnarokAngel: No changes, as the book came out in March.

Stormcast Eternals

RagnarokAngel: Praise be to Sigmar! Stormcast players have a lot to celebrate here as almost everything got a point drop. Battlelines? Check, Liberators lost 10 points per 10 models, Judicators lost 20 for 5. Leaders? Almost all lost 10 points, with many of the mounted ones losing 20 or more. Frankly the list of things not affected would be shorter.

Sequitors and Vanguard-Hunters lost 10 points for 5, rounding out the “technically a Battleline” list. Surprisingly Evocators lost 10 points as well, as one of the more popular units both within Stormcast Eternals and as allies of other Order armies this is very good. All around there’s just too much to talk about, but I can guarantee if you play Stormcast a decent chunk of your list just went down in points. Stormcast’s biggest weakness was that everything just cost too much, and this will probably give them the boost that they really need.

Two interesting oddities: First, the Errant-Questor. This was a Warhammer World model which did appear in the 2017 General’s Handbook. As a Warhammer World model, it was regulated to Open Play for 2018 and 2019. Here it’s back, and is also 10 points cheaper. Either this is a typo or Games Workshop wants to sell it as a regular model. The other interesting oddity is the Lord-Celestant on a Stardrake is not mentioned at all. Was it a typo? Let your conspiracy theories go wild!

Ellarr: The most disgusting change I want to highlight is that Aetherwings got cheaper. 40 points for 6 flying ablative wounds makes them an absurdly good screen, and really help in a faction that lacks some of the cheap bodies of other armies. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many Order factions cram some allied Aetherwings into their lists because mother of god they’re only 40 points.  Stormcast now have a very cheap and cheerful wizard as the Lord-Exorcist is only 90 points, which is an interesting consideration if you have points left over. The other discounts are great and I expect players will trot out the Cleansing Phalanx a bit more due to these points changes, as they feature two of the battletome’s strongest units.

Sylvaneth

RagnarokAngel: Underwhelming. Kurnoth Hunters lost 10 points each for 3, not really the help they needed. Drycha lost 20, which is not the Behemoths who needed help. Another army that could really use the help but seems to have been left out.

Ellarr: What a disappointment for one of the games weakest factions in competitive play. Their issues are a bit more fundamental than their points cost, as quite simply many of their warscrolls just haven’t stood up to the power creep that’s happened over the last year. That said, you would have hoped they might have received similar treatment to the Stormcast, because as it is I just don’t see any compelling gameplay reasons to play this faction.

Other

Endless Spells & Scenery

RagnarokAngel: Mostly untouched, but Soulscream Bridge got a price hike of 20 points which seems a strike against slower moving horde armies. Penumbral Engine went down in 90 points. Probably won’t be used still, it just costs too much.

Monstrous Arcanum

RagnarokAngel: I don’t think any of these really matter because few people use them due to the cost of Forge World models. There are some adjustments all over the place though. Exalted Daemons of Khorne and Nurgle went down, while Slaanesh’s Soulfeaster went up.

Rogue Idol and Warpgnaw Verminlords went up by 20 and 10 points for seemingly no reason, while Mourngol went down 10. These are bizarre, I can’t recall anyone ever using them.

Ellarr: Some Orruk lists took advantage of Rogue Idols and stacking save-after-saves to create a durable brick to throw at the enemy, and I expect this nerf will take them out of consideration along with the changes to the way after-saves work.

Conclusion

The changes aren’t as sweeping as I’d hope and I have some thoughts that COVID-19 might be at least partially to blame, which probably limited playtesting and point analysis. A lot of the changes seem bizarre, underdeveloped and some armies that need point changes badly are just skipped entirely. Much of it feels very “Safe”, a few 10 point decreases here or there but nothing to really revolutionize the game.

As stated, Stormcast and Nurgle get to be the major exceptions and really got a win here, taking point drops to many of their most popular units. Slaanesh got price hikes on their most popular units, which may not have been necessary. The decision seems particularly odd considering many overpowered armies like Ossiarch Bonereapers and Disciples of Tzeentch remain untouched.

It’s hard to say when tournaments will get to open up again and when real tourney analysis can happen, but when it does I hope to really soak in some of the changes that have happened since March. Do you have any thoughts on the point changes for 2020? Leave a message on social media or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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