Packaged with the War Zone Nachmund GT book is a brand new 2022 Munitorum Field Manual with points changes for most of the game’s factions. While some of the adjustments were already known – Drukhari and the Adeptus Mechanicus got their point changes early in the December balance dataslate – most of these are new. In this article we’ll talk about the major changes, their impacts, and our impressions about how they’ll change the meta moving forward.
Before we dive in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with an early copy of the Munitorum Field Manual for preview purposes.
Rather than trying to capture everything in this article, we’re going go do a high-level overview for the Imperium, Chaos, and Xenos factions here, and then we’ll be following this up with a series of faction-specific articles that tackle the changes to each faction from a holistic standpoint, taking into account not just point changes but the changes to army construction, missions, and secondaries in the GT pack. So stay tuned for those.
Even if you don’t count the changes to Admech in December, this is where the bulk of the changes are, just by virtue of having the most codexes released. The new Codex: Black Templars appears to have had no points changes.
If you were already lamenting the loss of the ability to combine Orders within the same army, these point updates are only going to pour salt on the wound. Several key Sisters units went up, including Vahl (+15), Dominion squads (+2ppm), and Sacresants (+2ppm), while Armorium Cherubs went up to 10 points. On the flip side the tank options dropped 10 points each, but that’s scant consolation given how reliant the army was on large squads of Sacresants to bodyguard key characters like Vahl and Celestine. The one potential bright spot here is that Paragon Warsuits have gone down 30 points for the squad, making them potentially something worth considering in play, as they’ve seen fringe success already.
The most surprising adjustment here is that the Adeptus Custodes got a set of huge buffs, possibly being the faction to get the second most out of the new points update (next to Necrons – see below). The Blade Champion is the only unit to go up in cost (+10), while almost every other character went down in cost and Misericordias became free pretty much across the board (with only Sagittarum paying, which makes sense as it gives them a meaningful melee profile they don’t otherwise have). Many of the Forge World Custodes vehicles also got significant drops as well, though this is less surprising as it largely accounts for them not being CORE mattering now, though with Emperor’s Chosen being able to provide plenty of re-rolls that still makes cheaper Telemons look pretty vicious.
The changes here represent fairly significant buffs on top of the Custodes’ just-published book, which is obviously good news if you play them but boy is it going to look premature if they now end up as a top-tier faction. We were already bullish on the faction so it’ll be interesting to see how this improves their results.
Some of the more baffling changes in the MFM can be found in Astra Militarum, where Leman Russ Battle Tanks came down 10 points, but Manticores went up 10 points, essentially hurting the army that tended to rely on Tank Commanders for its LRBT options and relied on a pair of full payload manticores to deal significant damage to targets across the table. At 155 points, players are bound to ask if they’d be better off with a basilisk instead now.
One additional note: Deathstrike missiles came down 30 points, to 120. For those of you who read our “Blunderdome” series, you’ll remember these as a key part of the 2nd place Astra Militarum list. No, this doesn’t make them good enough.
There were no new changes to the Adeptus Mechanicus, who had their changes “pulled forward” into the December balance dataslate. They’re currently flying under the radar, and potentially a stronger army than people realize, though the loss of the ability to combine Mars and Lucius is a reasonable blow.
We waited with bated breath to find out if Grey Knights were too new to get tweaks here, and mercifully it turns out they weren’t – though they’re not apocalyptic. Both flavours of Dreadknights go up 10pts and Interceptors increase by 2pts, with both flavours of Terminators coming down by 2pts in the other direction. That definitely takes the edge off the nastiest builds as they stand, especially in combination with no longer being able to mix Brotherhoods – the “top” build as it stands is five Dreadknights and 30 Interceptors, which has to be content with losing an entire GMNDK and only getting half the points back, but here we expect the response to be a broadening of the units used (which is a good thing). Strike Marines are still ultra efficient, and people have been dabbling with the odd units of Purifiers or Terminators already, so expect to see more of all of these out and about, and the raw nastiness of the best lists cut down.
The codex options for Knights haven’t changed, but the two staple Forge World options have both gone up, with the Magaera going up 20 points and the lightning lock (+5) and volkite (+5) options on the Moirax becoming more expensive. This isn’t a major shock to anyone who’s had to play against those but it does hurt a faction that was struggling with competitive play, though Imperial Knights tend to have better ways to use a diverse range of big Knights than Chaos.
The Space Marine changes may be baffling to anyone looking at the army’s current competitive results, though it’s difficult to balance Space Marine points given how disparate the army’s builds can be and how wide the gulf is between its best (Iron Hands) and worst subfactions (Imperial Fists).
First there are the changes to dreadnoughts: Redemptors have gone up 10 points (to 185), while the Volkite arms on Contemptors went up 10 points each, so a Volkite Contemptor now costs an additional 20 points. Both of these units are still good; they’re just costed a little more reasonably given their output. Whether that’s what Marines needed right now is a different story, but it’s a particularly big blow to Iron Hands lists that rely on Dreadnoughts, including an untargetable Character Contemptor.
Something that affects all Space Marine lists is the Primaris Chaplain on bike, whose cost has gone up 10 points. Given how many lists were running 2 Redemptors and a bike chaplain, this means finding at least 30 more points right off the bat.
On the drops side, the major drops are for Devastator Centurions (-15), Storm Speeders (-10 each), and Gladiator tanks (-15 each), the last of which may see some actual play in Iron Hands lists… or may not, given how deadly T’au shooting looks for vehicles in the upcoming codex. Storm Speeders have already seen some play in Ravenwing, so this is potentially good news for Dark Angels, and one Gladiator Reaper is something that plays better than many would expect
Everyone’s favorite Dracula, Mephiston, comes down 15 points, while Death Company Marines and Intercessors are now 2ppm cheaper. If the changes tank Grey Knights enough that building for Abhor is no longer optimal, that might turn out to be neat, but it’s not a game changer or anything.
Dark Angels are the big winners of the points update when it comes to Marines. They get substantial point drops for several key units, specifically Black Knights (-5ppm), and both the Nephilim Jetfighter (-15) and Dark Talon (-15). In a move that seems personally tailored to make Greg and Gunum happy, Black Knights probably flip from “nearly there” to “there” and the Dark Talon is worth renewed consideration even though you can no longer run three. Honestly, if there’s a dark horse (or motorcycle?) for surprise breakout build from these changes it’s Ravenwing – people already play it to occasional success, none of the units that dropped in cost were terrible in that army beforehand, and you can comfortably run stuff that’s giving you 60pts+ more to work with than before (since Storm Speeders are actually good here).
There’s only one change for Deathwatch and that’s a 15 point drop on the Corvus Blackstar, which just doesn’t have much of a role in modern armies thanks to its odd transport capacity and lack of firepower.
The biggest changes for Space Wolves are jump packs going up on Wolf Guard (+2), effectively raising their base cost to 21 points (in line with Vanguard Veterans), while Wulfen and Thunderwolf Cavalry have come down. Wulfen dropped both 2ppm in base cost, but WarCom fully buried the lede on this one -they also have cheaper axe (-3) and hammer/shield (-6) options, making them a much more attractive choice, especially the hammer/shield build. Meanwhile Thunderwolf Cavalry have gone down 5 points per model, though that is unlikely to be enough to make them worthwhile. 30pt storm shield/hammer Wulfen seem very likely to get at least some cut through.
The armies of Chaos needed a bit of a boost. After strong initial showings, Chaos Daemons and Death Guard have continually slid in the competitive rankings over the course of 2021, while Thousand Sons have held steady at a spot just above the competitive average, though with the loss of the ability to combine subfactions, Thousand Sons armies are likely to be significantly weakened. And Chaos Space Marines are just one of the game’s worst armies right now.
The changes to daemons are, frankly, baffling. They seem written by someone laser-focused on January competitive results with the faction, yet simultaneously afraid of a Be’lakor-dominated meta. The result is a series of unnecessary nerfs and minor buffs to units that aren’t good enough even after. Be’lakor has gone up 20 points, while the Lord of Change came up another 10 and one of the Bloodthirsters came down 10. Meanwhile, Nurglings have gone up to an eye-watering 25 points per model, just to hurt you. On the plus side, Flamers – one of the army’s better units – are now 3 points cheaper, and flesh hounds (-2) and seekers (-2) also came down. Also Soul Grinders (-15) are cheaper, though still likely not worth it.
Chaos Knights get the same points adjustments as Imperial Knights, with point increases to the Magaera (+20) and the weapon options on the Moirax. At the moment this looks like a harder hit to the forces of Chaos, especially in concert with the mono-subfaction tweak, as most Chaos Knight builds are using a Magaera and at least a few Moiraxes, plus a mixture of Infernal and Iconoclast units.
Chaos Space Marines
The traitor legions are in a rough place right now, with a ton of units you’d describe as “glass cannons,” yet that are too expensive and durable to be good glass cannons for trading. The new points help this a bit by dropping Chaos Space Marines to 12ppm – making them suddenly an interesting Troops choice with an astartes chainsword and a mark of excess. Likewise, Warp Talons dropped 3ppm to 20, making them go from a one-off to a unit that you’re definitely looking to include of for disruption (this is a big bonus to Emperor’s Children and Night Lords armies). And Obliterators have come down 10 points per model, to 95 per. That’s a big help for a unit that seems cool but tends to be very disappointing on the tabletop when you actually run one.
On the negative side, Lords of Skulls went up 15 points and the Volkite Culverins on Contemptors went up 10 points each, hurting some of the vehicle-heavy Iron Warriors builds out there. Though CSM lists had recently begun to use twin lascannon contemptors anyways, blunting the pain of this particular wound.
The net result is that Chaos Marines are a bit better as a faction. There’s some interesting promise in 12 point marines, especially when you can get them +1S and Movement in Creations of Bile. And 60 points for 5 power armor wounds looks much better compared to the 50-for-10 in t-shirts.
Death Guard get screwed pretty badly in this points update, catching a series of nerfs they didn’t need (and no one was asking for), while getting some buffs no one was asking for either. We’ll start with the biggest two: Poxwalkers have gone up to 6ppm, while Deathshrouds have gone up 5ppm (though as a consolation, the second plaguespurt gauntlet on the champion is now free). This basically kills the Terminus Est build of the army dead, adding an average of 120-150 points of cost onto it from its existing units, with no drops to compensate. Similarly, Blightlords have gone up +2 points per model, and in the one points change of the lot that was actually warranted, the Foul Blightspawn has gone up 15 points. In addition, the changes to the volkite contemptor costs (+20) hit the Death Guard particularly hard, since the Tollkeeper + volkite combo was easily the most potent version of that unit.
On the drop side, the changes here are drops to the Myphitic Blight-Hauler (-10) and the Plagueburst Crawler (-15), both of which were frequently seen in competitive play and did not need drops. The net result is that the Death Guard have lost a major competitive build (Terminus Est), and are left looking at vehicle-heavy builds as the alternative, with armies relying on vehicles and Death Shrouds sitting at about the same cost.
The biggest winner here is Don Hooson, whose Epidemius + vehicles list gained enough free points to add a Tallyman. Congrats, Don.
No changes to the sons of Magnus, save those to volkite contemptors (+20), which may affect some builds. That’s a bit of a double-edged sword here, since the faction could have used buffs even before getting hurt by the changes to army construction that prevent them from taking the Cult of Duplicity and the Cult of Time together.
Is it fair to keep lumping all the Xenos factions together? Probably not, but we’re going to do it anyways.
Despite the upcoming codex, the Asuryani saw a few tweaks, though most are fairly minor. Fire Dragons are 2ppm cheaper now, and Wraithblades and Wraithguard have come down 2 points per model each as well, giving them a boost. Support weapons have come up 5 points, while Hemlock Wraithfighters are now 20 points cheaper, bringing them to a cost you still won’t pay for them. Nothing on the Forge World side changed, so it’s hard to imagine things changing too much for Craftworlds players between now and their new Codex, which seems slated for a release in late February/early March.
Although Drukhari got the bulk of their point changes carried forward for the balance dataslate, they did see a couple of adjustments to Forge World units. Specifically, the Reaper (-10) and the Tantalus (-30) both got cheaper, which given the Reaper was seeing fringe use (since you can Dark Technomancers it) might have some impact – though of course not being able to bring Technomancers and Artists of the Flesh in the same army any more may kill that. That said, the Tantalus is an extremely fun unit, and may see some outside use from the Gunums of the world.
Unlike the Adeptus Custodes, the points published in the new Codex: Genestealer Cults appear to be the final points values for the faction. So no changes here – with the exception that in the GSC book the Proficient Planning section and the points at the back disagreed on the price of Our Time is Nigh, and this printing has the lower 10pts cost, so enjoy your five bonus points workers of the hive world – you’ve earned them!
Voidweavers came down 10 points. Once again Chase has a wicked glint in his eye at this one, but it doesn’t massively impact most lists.
Necrons are the big winners of the points update and it’s not close. On the melee side of things, Flayed Ones (-3), Skorpekh Destroyers (-5), and Ophidian Destroyers (-5) all get healthy point drops, though the Skorpekh drop is likely to be the spiciest here since it affects a unit already seeing some play. On the Shooting side both Lokhust varieties came down 5 points, while Doomstalkers and Doomsday Arks came down 10 points each, giving them a little more reason for consideration. Flayed Ones look extremely appealing now – not only is a 6-model Action unit (catering to the new missions) cheaper than a five-model one used to be, there might be some serious scope to replace a big block of Warriors with a unit of these in lists running an ObSec Dynasty – they’re straight up cheaper, a sidegrade in durability (getting access to Shadows of Drazkh instead of the re-roll 1s on reanimation), and being able to defend themselves much more vigorously in melee can make them harder to shut down in some games.
On the fringes of the army, both flyers came down in cost, with the Doom Scythe going down 20 and the Night scythe going down 15, both to more reasonable costs. And every single Lord of War option dropped substantially. While the Obelisk (-40) and Tesseract Vault (-50) drops are large enough to be interesting, the real money here are the decreases to the Monolith (-30) and Silent King (-30). The Monolith may just be cheap enough to see play, and the Silent King was already seeing plenty of play as the army’s best unit. A substantial drop makes him even more essential and significantly improves the army, an important development as the meta stands to add some incredibly heinous shooting from the T’au. The Mephrit Silent King list that won the Grimdark New Year GT just picked up a free 45 points to play with.
Wings: Yeah so via the magic of time travel, as you read this I am playing in a major with Necrons, and the list I’m running comes down 85pts, which is pretty spicy. These changes are exceptional, and I’ll be digging in further next week.
Orks get some fairly significant hits to some of their most pushed units, but do see some cuts elsewhere. The Beastboss on Squigosar eats a 30-point increase, while Mozrog goes up 15, Scrapjets go up 10, Rukkatrukks got up 20, and Kill Rigs go up 20. That’s a big hit to buggy-heavy Freebooters lists that rely on taking a dozen buggies with support from a squigosaur and wartrike warboss, though they get a little help from Mek guns going down 5 points. Kommandos also saw an increase, going up 2 points per model (to 12).
To balance this a bit, Orks see several drops to the army’s less-used units, with drops to Meganobz (-5), Battlewagons (-15), Bonebreakas (-15), Flash Gitz (-2), Gunwagons (-15), Killa Kans (-5), and Lootas (-2). Hopefully these give Orks a few more options to consider and increase list variety for the faction, though the increase to Kommandos seems like rough timing with the release of the Octarius supplement.
The net result of this is that Goff builds are mostly fine, able to claw back big chunks of the increases on Rigs and buggies with Meganobz and Kans, but Freebooters are significantly reduced in power and will need to rethink their construction, though Wazbom Blastajets remain one of the game’s most insane datasheets.
Wings: These aren’t as generous as what Drukhari covens got, but the faction is probably still fine – but no longer needs the buggy unit limit from the Balance Dataslate, which I’m hoping will be removed at some point in the future.
TheChirurgeon: Strong disagree.
The points in the 2022 Munitorum Field Manual appear to be from the upcoming Codex: T’au Empire, since they include cost structures that otherwise make no sense for the existing book. That’s very exciting, but it also means almost nothing without the full context of the Codex, the rules, datasheets, and Stratagems. We’ll dive more into Codex: T’au Empire when we review the book at a future date.
Tyranids mostly catch the nerfs you’d expect, with Hive Guard going up 5 points per model (to 40), and the Dimachaeron going up 25 points (to 280), hurting the two most prevalent builds of the army right now, the hive guard-heavy Leviathan list and the Crusher stampede. The faction gets a number of buffs to compensate, however: In good news for Crusher Stampede lists the Tyrannofex came down 10 points and the Exocrine dropped 15 (the latter will also benefit regular Leviathan lists). And in less exciting news, the Haruspex also came down 10 points.
These are some interesting changes that seriously hamper the emerging Crusher Stampede builds, many of which ran multiple Dimachaerons. With The Dimachaeron suddenly much more expensive, Barbed/Scything Heirodules and Tyrannofexes may be the order of the day, and it may be the case that we see more ranged support from Exocrines at their new lower cost. The Hive guard increase hurts pretty much every Tyranid build to the tune of 30-60 points as the army’s best unit, and Tyranid players may struggle to find room for those points elsewhere.
Blackstone Fortress weirdos and other assorted hangers on are gone, with points values for the Voidsman and Cartographic Rogue Traders being the only survivors. No more solo Ur-Ghuls at the events that were still allowing them.
Thoughts and Analysis
There’s a lot going on here, and while it’s impossible to separate this completely from the mission changes, it’s worth talking about some of the points changes separately here. Some of these make sense, while others seem to have been written with a different meta in mind. Necrons get some much-needed help, Drukhari are still dominant, and some mid-tier factions get some shifts that players are probably not going to be super happy about.
Wings: So, the last point is worth talking about, because it’s something that GW are going to need to figure out an answer for going forward if they’re going to stick to print-based updates every six months. The point changes this time around aren’t super sweeping, and I genuinely don’t think they needed to be in most cases – Necrons got their due, and while I would obviously have liked to see further Drukhari changes, I wasn’t expecting them since the Balance Dataslate was pretty clear that those changes were imported from this release.
Where I think this update falls down a bit is on what happens to some of the game’s tier two and three factions, most notably Adepta Sororitas and Death Guard. Both of these see some nerfs and some buffs, and based strictly on an internal assessment of each book they’re broadly defensible (maybe more so for Sororitas). The best units go up in cost a bit, the worst go down – problem solved?
Not really, in my opinion, because while both of these factions are playable, neither was blowing the metagame away. For my money, 40K units basically fall into four balance buckets in each faction:
- Pushed: The really good stuff, stands out in the faction, better than equivalents available to similarly placed armies.
- Fine: Bread and butter units that you can build most of your army out of and not be sad.
- Fringe: Units that are slightly overcosted or need specific support so that you can sometimes use them, but usually in small numbers in specific lists.
- Nope: Units that are just bad. Part of me wants to name this category Cringe just for the contrast with Fringe. Tell me if that’s too dumb in the comments.
In a vacuum, points changes should ideally be aiming to lift units in the “Nope” bucket up, no questions asked, and shuffle units from “Pushed” and “Fringe” into “Fine”.In practice, internal balance isn’t the only thing that matters, and as soon as a faction is in Tier 2 or lower, the goals need to shift – because at that point, what’s “Pushed” in that faction is competing with the “Fine” in the top tier armies, and you’ll find the best builds much more heavily dependent on the very best units than in higher tier Codexes. In that context, nerfing some “Pushed” stuff but moving “Nope” units to “Fringe” and “Fringe” to “Fine” isn’t an equivalent exchange – every good list for the faction is going to take a big hit, and they’re still not going to want to include enough of the newly buffed stuff to pay it off.
That hits the Adepta Sororitas especially hard in this update, which is a shame as it’s one of my favourite books in the Edition. We’re not talking “nerfed into unplayability” or anything, but they definitely did not need as harsh a treatment as they got here, and I honestly expect some of this to just be flat out reverted in the next update/Balance Dataslate, and Death Guard are in a similar spot.
I can see why GW appear to be being cautious about handing out buffs without some accompanying nerfs, because if you’re not careful you end up with a ratchet effect where everything gradually gets cheaper over time, and we know this because that’s what happened with 8th, and gave rise to some eye-wateringly massive armies and incredibly unfun hull spam builds by the end of it. However, my honest feeling here is that GW should be more confident in the baseline they’ve established in 9th – the power curve for unit datasheets is much flatter, with far fewer things sitting in the dreaded “Nope” bucket, and not as many units ending up looking “Pushed” too. In that context, if a unit is just doing nothing in competitive play I think it’s safe to just buff it a bit and see what happens, and not worry too much about clipping the wings of the best performers at the same time, and I hope that’s what we see in the next update.
TheChirurgeon: These point changes look like they were written after the Lone Star Open GT and, if we’re being honest, they likely were given the need for a 6-month lead time on a print book like this. The print limitations represent the biggest challenge to GW’s seasonal approach by far – it is impossible to make good point change documents that require you make them six months in advance. If GW is working on the second season of 22 missions right now – and smart money says they are – then it means that they’ll have to figure out the next round of point changes before ever seeing how armies play in the Nachmund season, and before seeing any results from the Custodes, GSC, T’au, or Craftworlds books. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on playtesters, and I have real doubts about their ability to solve this problem through testing. “Pulling points forward” into the dataslate is also emblematic of this issue – we knew in December that the January points were set, and it meant that making changes to them after another month of events was incredibly unlikely. Of all the game’s publications, the points update is the only one that needs to be a truly digital release.
The net result is a set of changes that needlessly punish several armies that are now snugly mid-tier or worse (Adepta Sororitas, Death Guard, Knights, Chaos Daemons), while Drukhari get to keep right on trucking. There’s almost certainly something I’m missing in the new missions and how they play but so far I don’t see anything here to shake up the Drukhari-led status quo save that Grey Knights might now be much worse.
Wings, to add on to your comments, it seems as though Games Workshop’s philosophy with point changes is to try to keep armies roughly the same size, as opposed to the treadmill of continually cheaper units we saw in 8th edition. That clearly didn’t work out for weaker armies and while it may be something they can theoretically accomplish for smaller armies with fewer units, it’s not realistic for an army like Space Marines, where you have a hundred datasheets to consider and nerfing one and buffing another may mean very little. Even for Death Guard and Grey Knights, armies with a small number of datasheets, small changes don’t so much shift builds as they do just kill off viable options and force players into a corner.
Wings: I can agree that that’s probably the goal, but I stand by there needing to be some tweaks to the approach to achieve that. Fundamentally, Sororitas and Death Guard armies are just going to be smaller after this change, because their best datasheets are still their best datasheets, and you aren’t going to swap them out for the stuff that got cheaper (maybe with the exception of Paragon Warsuits), you’re just going to have to absorb it. For armies to grow, buffs to weaker units have to not only get them on par with the current best stuff, it has to make them better, and as I said I think the general level of balance in 9th we’re starting from is good enough that it’s easy to judge when that’s going to happen – we’re not in 8th where Night Spinners just suddenly become 112pts out of nowhere and erase most other hull options.
TheChirurgeon: We’ve already been promised another dataslate update in February, and frankly that’s months ahead of when I expected the next one to drop. There are certainly still a load of things that could use adjustment – including some things that were just adjusted in these points – but I’m not entirely sure what we should expect from that update. It’ll be interesting to see what GW has in store, but again, what they’re able to do will in some ways be hampered by what they’re able to do in June/July when we presumably get our second season pack of the year, and whether those changes are still in the works or have already been written – can actual point adjustments really be made in the dataslates, or can they only be “carried forward” from future updates, to avoid having them be reverted or changed by something already written? This is probably the most difficult challenge that GW needs to solve with competitive play and while I’m not really a big “digital rules” guy, I am very much a “digital points” guy.
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