The game has added priority targets as well as prime hunters. Priority Targets are strong units that now give up an additional victory point (some are worth 2!) when slain, similar to monsters. Prime Hunters constitute entire factions, and they gain one additional victory point for slaying a priority target. Note that you score an additional VP for each time said unit is reinforced!
This means as for example, that a unit of 4 Stormdrake Guard that are slain by the Nighthaunt faction will now give up a total of 4 VP:
- One for slaying a monster (if the first monster unit slain that round)
- One for killing a priority target
- One for the unit being reinforced
- One for being a Prime Hunter faction while doing the killing
What does this mean?
A different approach is being taken to balance when it comes to certain meta heavy hitters – rather than adjust the points, now they’ll be a real liability in the victory point standings. An army relying on a lot of priority targets will now bleed a lot of additional victory points, meaning certain matchups could be flipped entirely on their heads.
Grand Alliance: Order
Factions hit with Priority Targets: Stormcast Eternals, Seraphon, Daughters of Khaine, Lumineth Realm Lords
Prime Hunter Order Factions: Sylvaneth
- Dracothian Guard Fulminators
- Stormdrake Guard
- Vanguard-Raptors with Longstrike Crossbows
- Hurakan Spirit of the Wind
- Sevireth, Lord of the Seventh Wind
- Blood Stalkers
- Bastiladon with Solar Engine
- Salamander Hunting Pack
Ellarr: The hardest hit here are Stormcast and Seraphon, who both see some of their most prevalent competitive units hit with the priority target tag. All Stormdrake armies are now giving up a minimum of 5 potential VP (or 10 versus Prime Hunters), whereas Seraphon lists will now be incentivised to consider alternatives to Salamanders. DoK and LRL round out those affected, both punishing the skew lists we tend to see from both factions (mass snakes and foxes respectively). Sylvaneth came away as winners here, and saw some fringe play as it was due to some of the sneaky benefits they received in the move to third edition and with the new Alarielle Warscroll.
RagnarokAngel: The impact on pure Dragon lists is going to be felt here, like Ellarr said above it is going to open up a lot of potential VP against you to run these types of lists especially if you run into an anti-meta list. The impact on some of the other Order armies is of more interest to me. Fox-based lists have sort of drifted off the Lumineth meta (though they still have an appearance, frustrating as they are) which leaves me surprised Sentinels stayed off the bounty list. As a result I think Lumineth will likely stay similar, keeping foxes at home or limiting it to one. Daughters of Khaine will likely be impacted very little, as Blood Stalkers and Morathi are too important to just not bring, and they have few models to even attempt to replace it with.
Seraphon however, that’s going to be big. Bastiladons are tough to kill but not impossible, especially with a lot of mortal wound spam or volume of attacks. Salamanders are a common screen unit, easy to block charges and do some decent damage before dying. The problem is they are not very resilient and bringing too many could open you up to being scored on, for a unit you basically expect to die. I won’t say it makes Salamanders obsolete but I think we’ll see a lot fewer of them out there.
There are a few units not listed I’m kinda surprised by, Gotrek, Irondrakes and Phoenix Guard seem like all very popular “problem” models even if they’re not nearly on the same level as Longstrike or Stormdrake spam, but as Order is the largest faction by far they may wish to experiment with how the system works before introducing more controversial choices, sticking to the stuff most will agree is A Problem.
SRM: Kinda shocked Gotrek isn’t in the running here, but it’s pretty apparent this is a rule being added that doesn’t take fluff and lore much into account. I’m glad something is being done about Stormcast dragons, but depending on the matchup your opponent might not get anything out of it. I also would have guessed Annihilators would make the cut, but I’m not the balance maestro over here.
Grand Alliance: Destruction
Factions hit with Priority Targets: Orruk Warclans, Sons of Behemat
Prime Hunter Destruction Factions: Gloomspite Gitz, Bonesplitterz
- Megaboss on Maw-krusha
- Gatebreaker Mega-Gargant (excluding Mercenaries) – NOTE: Worth 2 Priority Target VPs, not 1
- Kraken-eater Mega-Gargant (excluding Mercenaries) – NOTE: Worth 2 Priority Target VPs, not 1
- Warstomper Mega-Gargant (excluding Mercenaries)
RagnarokAngel: Surprised by the lack of Kragnos here, but a lot of that likely has to do with his high cost balancing out his new warscroll. If I have any major concerns here it’s that an Kragnos+Bonesplitterz or Gitz list could really do some damage, getting extra VP while Kragnos is the one actually doing all the work.
This really harms Sons of Behemat, where all their big stuff is going to feel the pinch. I’m of two minds about this because the people who can kill a Gargant probably have already won, as that’s about a quarter of their opponent’s army removed. It will probably help aid those who take a bit longer to grind them out, to get a few bonus VP to make up for points lost while the giants sat on the point.
Ironjaws are going to feel the squeeze too, as two Maw-krusha bosses is basically the gold standard now. While felling one can be difficult,it’s far from impossible and opens themselves to getting outscored on close games if their opponent focuses more fire on them.
The two factions benefiting from this change, Gitz and Bonesplitterz are probably not controversial. They are two extremely poorly performing armies and if they can fell one of the bounties on this list, all the more credit to them.
SRM: Kinda surprised the Mega-Gargants are worth 2 each when other heavy hitters like Be’lakor and Stormdrake Guard units are only 1. This kind of awkward situational system feels even more awkward and situational when some units are worth more than others.
Grand Alliance: Chaos
Factions hit with Priority Targets: Legion of the First Prince, Slaves to Darkness, Tzeentch
Prime Hunter Chaos Factions: Hedonites of Slaanesh, Skaven
- Be’lakor, the Dark Master
- Kairos Fateweaver
- Horrors of Tzeentch (Specifically Pinks)
- Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince with Mark of Khorne
Ellarr: Tzeentch over here catching stray bullets for the sins of Legion of the First Prince here, who have not only dropped in faction rankings hard after the changes to Archaon, but now will also be bleeding additional VP for two of their staple units. These changes are obviously written with LOFP in mind, as they will now struggle more in long games, which is a bad sign considering they’re a slow grindy control army not an alpha strike army to begin with. Slaanesh and Skaven (but not Khorne) have become hunters here, though both are in such a dire place right now I struggle to see this making any meaningful impact to their dismal win rates.
RagnarokAngel: I’d probably just remove Legion of the First Prince since that’s the only thing this seems to have a problem with. None of the factions in Chaos feel particularly OP, while a few are struggling. I concur with Ellarr here, just put a bounty on Legion of the First Prince and leave the other Chaos armies alone.
SRM: The Daemon Prince of Khorne over here just wondering why everybody wants to kick his ass.
RagnarokAngel: Oh, he knows.
Grand Alliance: Death
Factions hit with Priority Targets: None!
Prime Hunter Death Factions: Ossiarch Bonereapers. Nighthaunt
RagnarokAngel: Seems about right. Ossiarchs and Nighthaunt are the two factions really dragged down at the moment, Ossiarchs with their sort of janky rule set and Nighthaunt’s rules being plain bad. On the flip side, nothing in Death feels particularly gross in the way Prime Targets are in other factions so I can understand the lack of them here. In short it’s going to put OBR and Nighthaunt in a stronger position and Soulblight and Flesh Eater Courts will stay where they are.
Ellarr: I think this is an interesting take on balance that gives them more dials to turn to balance things than simply rewriting warscrolls or adjusting points values. I think that ultimately this won’t help the factions sitting right at the bottom of the pecking order because their issues are more fundamental than a few VP will fix (i.e. getting tabled by round two) but what it will do is help the fat middle significantly. I’m looking at Nighthaunt in particular as big winners here, as they’re sneaky good at killing specific targets and playing the objective game, and being able to score big for taking out things like Salamanders or Longstrikes will go a long way in helping them. I wish that Khorne had received the Hunters buff too as I think they’re struggling overall, but I’m excited to see these changes hit the tournament scene. They’re punishing the skew lists hard, which is a big win if you want to see more mixed lists.
RagnarokAngel: Not keen on the system itself, as it feels very awkward and cludgy. It seems to acknowledge certain units are a problem, and certain armies are struggling and just put a bounty on their heads to attempt to address it rather than actually introduce balance changes.
However, I acknowledge balance changes are hard. They take a long time to test and print and sometimes you need a solution right now. While I may not love the system itself, I have little issue with their choices. They seemed to pick all the armies that are widely considered to be at the bottom tier, and all units that are unequivocally considered problematic to the game (except maybe to those piloting those units). I hope this is treated as the temporary fix that it is and not a band aid on a bullet wound, but as it stands I’m pretty down for it.
SRM: My quick gut reaction is that this feels like a bit of a blunt force trauma solution to a game balance problem. Giving weaker factions the opportunity to straight up score more points while stronger factions have a potential liability in their (mostly) big guys feels odd, as ideally there wouldn’t be that much of a balance disparity to begin with. However, I acknowledge what Alice said before me – game balance is not easy, and this feels very much like a quick fix to a greater problem. It reminds me a bit of the Giant Killer bonus from old Necromunda, where disadvantaged gangs would get greater rewards from defeating more experienced and well equipped gangs. I guess it would be a Gargant Killer bonus now though.
Liam_Jordan: Overall this feels like a knee jerk reaction which is coming 3 months too late. I seriously worry that something which will need constant updates will be able to be kept up to date in the timeframe a document like this needs, and based I don’t expect this will hit the high input it deserves and needs. In the UK we’ve had 3 major events in a row where Seraphon have gone undefeated and this document doesn’t change anything major to account for that, they’re seemingly immune to being comp’d. But we’re all just going to pretend this helps it along.
I like the idea, but I don’t think the execution has hit the mark in the right place at the right times. It might prevent mass spamming of certain units but in nearly every instance those armies weren’t as good as the more balanced armies where these units where key components opposed to the whole list. In addition it seems like some armies like Gargants have been hit for no real reason while some combination of scenario and armies are going to lead to 6/7 point swings out of nowhere and destroy two full rounds of hard graft by some armies.