Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Thinking about Combat Patrol

I've been thinking a fair bit about 40K Combat Patrol (AKA 40K in 40 Mins) recently, especially since I started my Guard army as CS would be a great way into starting to game with them before I reach 1k, 1.2. or 1.5k. Combat Patrol was part of the 4th edition rules, but was ditched from 5th edition arguably because GWs current emphasis is on bigger games (i.e. 1750pts is the new 1500pts, Apocalypse, War(hammer) of the Ring) rather than smaller, skirmish or narrative-based ones (i.e. LoTR SBG, Mordheim, Inquisitor, Necromunda).

The rules for combat patrol are pretty straightforward:

*Armies are no more than 400 points
*You must have at least one Troops choice.
*You may include a single HQ choice, but no more than one.
*You may spend remaining points on anything else in the codex
*No model can have more than 2 Wounds.
*No special or Unique characters.
*No model can have a save better than a 3+ or 4+ Invulnerable.
*Vehicles cannot have a total Armour Value greater than 33.
*No Ordnance weapons.

There are a few other optional rules such as you have to operate on WYSIWYG and that once your force is down to 50% you have to start taking leadership tests.

Several sites and blogs contain extra rules or refined rules or even attempts to update the original rules to make them fit better with 5th edition realities. An interesting example of this, and the blog that inspired me to write this posting, are the updated rules posted over at The Realms of Equinox. These take the initial rules and update them in several interesting ways, most notably:
* upping the points from 400-500
* restricting the number of Elite & Fast Attack choices to one each respectively
* an express ban on HQ, Heavy Support choices and Monstrous Creatures
* No single choice should cost more than 200pts

I've posted some initial thoughts on this, but my more detailed reflections would be:

*One Louder: I'm not convinced of the merits of upping the points to 500pts. I agree, as I said above, that the general move in GW is to reduce points for units and up the points for games (to sell more plastic crack), but I think the strength of CS is the way that it forces you to think within limits.

* You Can Stay At Home: While I can see the logic of restricting some elite choices and Monstrous Creatures (would Terminators be on a patrol?), I'm not sure about a complete ban on FA, HQ & HS. For example, it would fit within the fluff for a Marine patrol to comprise of at least one speeder, a Guard patrol to have sentinels etc. (in fact, one site has rules for a sentinel HQ). Equally, for HS & HQ: sure, you can try and include a turbo-charged HQ choice (Ahriman leading some Thousand Sons), but that is going to chew up points quickly and most likely break the Unique character or invulnerable save rules. By leaving it open, you are implicitly forced to take a low-level HQ choice (i.e. a bog-standard SM captain for 100pts minus the frills), which is, of course, more fluffy anyway. The 'No HS' rule is also, again, already covered with the AV rule

*I Need My Wheels: I don't think I will be fretting too much over the 'no choice over 200pts' with my Guard, but I would seriously struggle with this with my Marines and CSMs. Again, it would be fluffy for them to be travelling around in a rhino, but this (10 marines in a bog-standard rhino) would easily go over 200pts. 10 CSMs just walking around with meltas, a powerfist, and flamer would also push it over (esp. if they were Berzerkers). I think it makes more sense to, again, keep this open: so you want your troops to be 10 marines in a rhino? OK, but that is going to eat into your 400 pts and mean that you can't take, for example, Vulkan or Marneus Calgar (or much else for that matter)

My own sample Guard List (under the existing rules) would be:

Company Command Squad (4x Meltaguns) 90
Chimera (Multi-laser & heavy flamer) 55

Platoon Command Squad (4x Meltaguns) 70
Chimera (Multi-laser & heavy flamer) 55
10 Troops (Grenade Launcher, autocannon) 65

Fast Attack
Scout Sentinel (autocannon & Smoke Launcher) 65

The next question would be what missions would we play? The original rules just have annihilation, but there must be more (hopefully) fluffy ones that could be devised, covering, for example, ambushes, scouting etc.


  1. Don't know if this will help you at all, but I recently ran a Combat Patrol evening at my club. The report is here:


    I formed three very simple missions for it and we got 3 games in one evening. We played at 500pts though.

  2. I'm running an ongoing Combat Patrol tournament in Philadelphia right now. I have some discussion about how the CP rules are working out in 5th here:


    There are definitely issues with a lot of the 5th books. Tyranids are almost completely hosed---almost all of their units now have too many wounds or too low saves, leaving them with few choices, and no Synapse Creatures. The latter makes them not fun at all, unless you're just fielding tons of Genestealers. Similarly, I really wish I could run my SM Captain. Sure, Landraiders and Terminators might not work at that point level, but those rules cut out a lot of pretty normal choices in 5th.

    Anyway, that post talks more about the good things those rules are trying to accomplish, and possible ways to loosen them. I'll be posting more as the tournament goes on. There are also links there to the narrative missions we're using. I'll be posting them bundled up as a mission pack after we're done (end of February).

    Good post here; this kind of stuff is good to talk about though; I really like smaller games but the core CP rules definitely need some tweaking.

  3. Thanks for your post. Its good that fans/players are keeping these smaller games alive (like LoTR SBG) while GW seems to have lost interest.
    I've added a RSS feed from your page so i can keep up to date with how things pan out.

  4. @Pangloss

    I am working my way backwards, so let me start with your IG list. If we are using the current rules, your list is illegal. The Company Commander has three wounds, so therefore you cannot field a Company Command squad.

    “I Need My Wheels” – Do you need a full ten man squad to purchase a razorback? I could make the same argument regarding any maximum size squad and a corresponding dedicated transport. I don’t have the SM book in front of me, but what prevents the use of a drop pod?

    “You Can Stay At Home” – Your original example is a false one if you are basing it off my proposed rule set. You can field a squad of sentinels or a squad of speeders as you are allowed a single fast attack choice. Starting with HQ choices, since you are using a fluff perspective for your position, I will point out that the army lists already have “command” models built into almost every squad (necrons and nids being the obvious exception) that meet the fluff of a patrol. You use the example of a space marine captain, but would an eldar patrol be lead by a farseer? Would a necron patrol be lead by a lord or a C’tan? More to the point, most armies cannot field an HQ unit based on the current rules, so in effect you are supporting a position of giving primarly one army (space marines) a clear advantage.

    The same could be stated about HS units. From a fluff perspective, heavy support units are used in large campaigns or battles, not in small patrols. Sure, I can point to one or two small units that make sense in a patrol (tomb spyder or Tau sniper squad), but again, these are more exceptions than norms when it comes to heavy support options out there.

    “One Louder” – I agree that generally, a single models point cost is lowered with a new book. The problem is that the trend is also to increase unit sizes when possible (GW marketing…). A 100 points allows for a little more breathing room opens up more choices for each army.

    Another interesting thing is that the CP rules you posted are one variant of the ones GW posted throughout the years. The site you are also referencing doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2007, so that means it predates 5th edition. Due to various versions and house rules posted on numerous sites, the CP rules are not as straight forward as you would imply. Take the rule “You may spend remaining points on anything else in the codex”, this can be read to allow for 4 fast attack choices (sentinal spam!).

    Thanks for all of the fun discussion, I am also a fan of small games, so these posts have been great reading.

  5. great. watch this space as i have been giving this whole thing some more thought throughout the day and will be posting an update tomorrow which should hopefully move the conversation on.
    some initial thoughts, though:

    re: the Guard list: i guess the way around it would be to drop the wounds down to 2 and then free up some points, or ditch the CCS completely and then have the PCS as HQ.

    re: razorback. Yes, you could go for 5 marine in a razorback and a HQ within the points, but it would be pretty limited. same with a drop pod: im guessing you would have to come down on turn 1, and a dp may be limiting for most missions.

    re: in general im not really emphasising fluff per se. My general rule of thumb would be that the 400pt and AV rules limit would can be fielded anyway, without explicitly having to state it. my 2 main points are really:

    1. isnt 400 pts enough? (although im thinking now of maybe opening that a bit to say have 3 levels: 400pts, 500pts and 750pts that could all go under a CS game)
    2. let the inherent limits determine what cannot be fielded in terms of HQ, HS etc