As 2022 drew to a close BF took a welcome and unexpected step forward with FOW, releasing the Dynamic Points for MW. The aim of this was to update/rebalance some aspects of MW that wasn’t really working. The announcement was paired with a slightly odd covering note stressing that there was no issue with MW and that it ‘works well in its current form’, but that ‘always room for improvement’. Personally, I found it strange that any justification would be needed to go back and tinker with points from a game 5 years old. Dynamic points (or updated points) or now a mainstay in well-supported/major wargames. Hence why it’s great that BF has joined this crowd.
What was the aim
The general aims of the points changes were to fix medium tanks (ie make them cheaper and get them on the table), reduce armoured car spam and adjust SPG (ie Marders) being under-pointed (i.e. auto includes).
Taking SPGs first I think it’s fair to say mission accomplished. While some would argue Marders (the big offenders) could have been 20 for 4, the fact that they are now 24 for 4, is fine and I know people who will still take them, but they certainly are not an auto-include. Where things didn’t go so well is SP artillery. While Brummbars (a running joke in the UK tournament scene) did drop they are still 24pts for a tank that has a poor gun and bad assault. It’s too much to pay for a bombardment when you can get Wespes and an Armoured car company for the same price! British Priests are still a mystery at 18pts for 4. You can’t be paying that much for a single template. Especially as aggressive yanks get 2 x 3 priests (with ToT) for the same price which allows you to hit 2 targets, for 2 fewer DF shots but with double smoke.
Medium tanks have had an of tweaks and the reduction on German AT12 will also help. That said I would argue that expensive (Panther, Stug, Late PZ4 long) tanks are still not going to be played competitively, especially as companies. What was great to see was the T34s came down in points. At the last MW ETC, no T34s were taken which is quite a statement of how bad they were. With 10 x T34 early for 42pts they are now a really interesting force (and great reserve).
Armoured Cars (AC) mostly went up with many gaining a point for a patrol. However, I would argue this hasn’t changed much and didn’t get to the root of the issue. Armoured car Companies are a cheap way to produce a formation (and hard to break if cautious) and unlock support and formation support in the V4s ‘take what you want’ mentality. A tax of maybe 4pts on a company helps but doesn’t really change that much. Also, the issue wasn’t the single recce patrol taken by a force but the actual formations. Big (an in-depth full re-point of MW done over several years by competitive players around the world), addressed the issue with a cost on the formation command cards (ie a tax to take them) alongside similar changes to the patrol costs, equally, you could do the same thing by making the HQ vehicle very expensive. Therefore I don’t think we will really see the AC and light vehicle spam go away, especially as infantry and gun costs didn’t change.
Going off Piste – KV
While the aims of the changes could be argued to be partially met, we also need to acknowledge that this is the first step by BF and they are perhaps being very cautious about what is meant to become annual updates. That said I have no explanation for the elephant in the Dynamic points room….the KV.
The KV is a beast in MW, FA9, SA 8, TA2, and AT9 gun. With very little higher AT in MW, this puts them closer to a King Tiger in MW (not quite as they can be killed). We saw KVs used in MW regularly, they weren’t an issue. With the increase in SPG AT costs they have also naturally become better. So why did they drop 2 points a tank?
At 7pts they are quite literally an auto pick for Soviet forces (5 at 35pts is a big chunk of reserves and we all know a 1 dice reserve is important). This immediately makes the game a scramble of how do I deal with 5 x FA9 tanks. Good luck if you are British or Yank with nothing above AT12 (and the former only has static gun teams). Oh, I am ignoring MW prototype tanks by the way as ‘what ifs’ are not WW2 and aren’t allowed at many major events, they are a fun beer and pretzel evenings game type thing as far as I am concerned.
As if this wasn’t an issue enough you can get 5 KV-8 Flame tanks for 25pts. Yes, you read that right for fewer points than 4 x PZ3 7.5cm you can have 5 x FA9 tanks that have 5 x flame shots and an AT7 gun for nipping at light stuff and providing respectable DF on an objective. Again this is a no-brainer, and at 41 pts you could face 7 KVs, 4 of them with flames. Good luck infantry, especially when you need to move to an objective where you won’t have your guns dug in behind you.
But Mark no one plays Soviets I’m regularly told – Martin
Now don’t get me wrong there are downsides to KVs, their 2+ to hit being the obvious one. However, that doesn’t matter if you can’t kill it. This is one of the reasons you only see 3+ to hit SS King Tigers, you don’t need the 4+ to hit for more expense. Green is another but again why does it really matter? I am not fussed about a blitz, that’s important for things with low armour, and yes it is bad for hitting in the assault but you tend to win by the infantry failing their counterattack roll and losing the objective rather than killing and breaking them.
Now BF didn’t just sit down and go ‘wouldn’t it be funny to make the KV crazy cheap’ nor did they set out to make the Brummbar or UK Priest so expensive. There is obviously a formula for the cost of vehicles based on armour, stats etc.
What we are seeing in MW (and somewhat in LW) is the fact that a formula gets you kinda there but can’t reflect the realities of the use of a unit or how they mesh with a force. UK Priests are a great example. Take 9pts for 3 US vs 18 for 4 UK Priests. The Brits are cautious which is useful and helps keep you alive. However probably less useful than on an MBT as your artillery should be on the back line, or even hiding with an OP. An MBT is out there getting hit. The Brits get an extra hull (4 vs 3) so, of course, have to be more but that 4th hull doesn’t make the unit 33% better, it just adds an extra ‘life’ until you only have 2 guns and therefore re-roll hits. It’s like taking 6 US Priests vs 2 x 3 US Priests….you never would. Sure you can re-roll misses, but you can only hit 1 target, lack board coverage and only have 1 smoke template. It is why no one takes full units are arty, they go half-strength. of course, 6 vs 3 needs to cost more but not double as they aren’t doubly effective. This is where formulas fall down.
This affects things like Brummbars. They have great armour so can take a massive beating, but so what? They are a template delivery system so why would I spend 24pts on 3 when I can get 2 x 3 Wespes for fewer points, delivering 2 templates (1 FP less but with smoke)? You just wouldn’t and fundamentally there is only so much you will pay for 1 template. Again you are paying for ‘formula’ high armour that while cant be free doesn’t make sense outside an MBT.
KVs might look an oddity being super cheap but I suspect it’s due to the Green and Conscript. Now, this is a terrible combination (hence why T34s are cheap) as I said earlier it doesn’t really matter once you hit a certain armour rating. This is why you can’t just apply a set price or formula because some armour increases have a bigger effect than others. As an example, an FA11 tank changing to FA13 is worth less than a change from FA4 to FA6 because, by the time you make FA11, there are very limited options to kill you anyway. On the flip side going FA4 to FA6 takes masses of gun types out of your threat category.
This is why I still think we have some really odd situations in MW (LW isn’t as bad as you have way more options to deal with all types of units).
Trying to be positive, I must stress that while Dynamic Points were a lot less ‘Dynamic’ than most were expecting it’s a big step forward for BF and reflects that they are starting to enact a continuous improvement system for the game. This can only be a good thing.
It is important that players engage and feedback (constructively) on the points to prepare for next year’s update as well. Equally, I hope BF continue to step further from its comfort zone to look deeper at the points and why units are and aren’t used. Given that MW is ‘done’ and LW will soon follow, regular updates and changes will keep the game fresh and retain players, something that’s vital for a historic system where you can’t just invent a new breed of super solider (well you can add what if tanks but…).
Following conversations at length at a couple of big UK events (also attended by players from as far away as the US), here is my take on how Dynamic Points can grow to meet their potential:
- 1. Don’t be as closely bound to current formulas/databases for points. Think of 4 vs 3 Priests and high armour as examples of their limitations.
- 2. Consider Dynamic Points moving to a 1500pt system. Not only is this clearer for all players as to which points are being used but provides scope for smaller incremental changes. A perfect example is that a 76mm upgrade on an Aggressive Sherman should not be costed the same as one of a Cautious one (at 100pts you can’t help that). It worked for V1-3 and also works for the biggest-selling games series in the world.
- 3. Work on a way to gather more effective feedback for Dynamic points. The online form was long and quite restrictive. Perhaps consider focus groups with a range of players from a range of countries.
(Sounds like the studio needs to go on a worldwide tour! – Martin)
- 4. Look again at the Soviets as a whole. Soviets have gone wrong before in FOW and led to a re-point (Red Bear) let’s do it again and get people playing the largest faction of WW2 (non-hero inf needs to be top of the list).
- 5. Set up a system to gather empirical data from events to allow proper ‘field reports’ on the game (win-loss ratios of nations, etc).
Until next time
KVs aside Dynamic Points has taken a tentative but dramatic step forward for the benefit of the game. The system is already being adopted within the largest event in the world with the ETC adopting them as well as official events such as nationals. This will provide great evidence of the new meta (KVs 🙂 ) as the world adapts and learns how to counter and exploit. Most importantly with MW (and I think BF mentioned LW in our interview), Dynamic Points will continue to grow and evolve each year so the future is bright.