Time for Combat Patrol

The 9th edition of Warhammer 40,000 is mere weeks away and so far, all I’ve seen on it has me pretty excited for the future of the grim dark game we all know and love. From its retooling of command points and force organisation, to the wave of new miniatures that we will get to play with in Indomitus, New 40k is looking great. Now, I know a lot of you out there are very excited to get your hand on the latest Chapter Approved to construct your new and improved 2,000 point armies, all ready for your next game night. I myself am looking forward to building some forces, but I plan on playing something a little smaller. I am looking forward to Combat Patrol.

As you probably will know by now, games in 9th edition are heavily based around the total number of points you are playing. Combat Patrol games are the smallest of these, with each player limited to a single Patrol Detachment of on more than 500-points (or Super Heavy Detachment if you’re playing Knights). Now smaller games of 40k are nothing new, as anyone who can remember 40k in 40 minutes with tell you. So why am I so excited about Combat Patrol, and why do I think you should be too?

Dedicated Missions

Firstly, unlike previous editions that required you to play scenarios that were designed for larger engagements, Combat Patrol will have its own selection of missions that are tailored to the smaller scale battles you will be representing on the table top. This provides a whole new strategic level to games of 40k, that doesn’t just revolve around fielding the best units possible. From army composition to deployment and tactics, your whole mind set about how to play 40k will need to change.

This provides a completely new and different way to play the game, which can be a welcome change to gaming groups when all you have been playing is the same 2,000-point tournament list for the last six months. Variety (as they say) is the spice of life, so having more unique ways to play our favourite miniature game can’t be a bad thing.

My Ghost Knights are all ready for Combat Patrol.

Less Time, More Games

Another advantage to these smaller scale games is the fact that they take only a fraction of the time to play compared to their larger cousins. 2,000-point games are great fun, but they take up a huge chunk of time to setup and play. This is especially true if you are like me and have children or other commitments that take up most of your time already. By the time you finally get to your friend’s house or LGS you might only have time to get in a single game, if that.

What’s more, space is a real concern for some. Sure, I’m luckily enough to have an LGS with a decent amount of gaming space as well as a local Warhammer store to play at, but not everyone is so lucky. Additionally, with the pandemic ongoing, gaming at home is now the new norm. And when everyone is under the same roof and can’t leave the house, space becomes a real commodity.

But with Combat Patrols point limit and smaller board size, comes reduction in both play time and space needed. This means you and your friends/family can get in multiple games in the space of a few hours. Heck, with a little bit of organising beforehand it is entirely possible to play through a campaign of mini tournament in a single evening. Additionally, if you have an odd number of players, someone waiting for a game won’t have to be stood around for hours before they can jump into a battle, which is a win in my book.

Connor Warbrick is all set for a Waaargh.

Army Builders Paradise

I touched on this above, but Combat Patrol is an army builder dream come true. As with most competitive games, meta gaming can kill creativity as a lot of players will want to play only the most efficient lists around. We have all seen this before. As soon as a new list does well at a tournament, everyone and their mother wants to try it out for themselves. This leads to everyone playing remarkably similar armies to everyone else, until the army gets nerfed or the next big bad is discovered.

Now this is not meant to be a dig at competitive players. If that is what you enjoy about the hobby, more power to you. I too have played and enjoyed such armies from time to time. But it can’t be denied this pursuit of the “perfect” list can make for some very repetitive games. I’ve been at hobby centres and seen nearly half the player base trying out variation on the same build, which is fine until you have to face it for the third time that day. That can get old. Quickly.

But with Combat Patrols limit on points and available units, players will really have to consider what they can fit into their lists. After you include your HQ and obligatory Troop choice, most armies will only be able to fit in another one or two units before they fill up on points and force origination slots. That leave you with some hard decisions.

Do you go for that Heavy Support choice, or pick up another Troop to help capture objectives? What are you going to use to take down enemy armour? Is it worth picking a cheaper HQ, or do you have faith your Daemon Prince can get the job done? These choices lead to a wider range of army builds, even among forces from the same codex. One Death Guard player might decide to go for a horde of Poxwalkers and try and swarm the board, while another might decide to have a small band of Plague Marines backed up by some Terminators. Who is right? Get them on the battlefield and find out.

Vincent Chandler (aka PleasantKenobi) has his Blood Angels ready to bring the pain.

Why Not Just Play Kill Team?

Now while most people I have talked to are excited about Combat Patrol, it would be untrue to say all voices on the subject are positive. A completely fair criticism I have heard against Combat Patrol is “why not just play Kill Team?”. “If you want to play smaller scale 40k, there is already a game for you, so why do we need Combat Patrol?”. The answer is pretty simple. Kill Team is not 40k, Combat Patrol is.

Now before you go to grab you pitchforks and report me to your regimental commissar for heresy, I just want to say I love Kill Team. It’s a great game, and I have had loads of fun playing the 40k equivalent of black ops over the last couple of years. But deep down at its core, Kill Team is a completely different beast to 40k proper. It has its own rules, setup and ways to play. It also is limited in the units you can play, as the game is very much about gritty infantry level combat in the dark corners of the battlefield.

Combat Patrol on the other hand is just a scaled down game of 40k, with all the rules you can expect from larger games but on a smaller board. You can’t learn how to play 40k with Kill Team after all. Additionally, where Kill Team represents squads of specialists battling one another, Combat Patrol shows off small armies facing off to complete unique objectives. This includes larger units like vehicles and bikes that simply don’t fit into the narrative of Kill Team. So, if you wanted to play with your Dreadnought or Land Speeder, Kill Team just isn’t for you. 

Tom Wintle’s Tyranids have a ton of potental builds in smaller games.

Any Excuse to Build a New Army

Lastly, Combat Patrol is a great way to get into the hobby. When you’re first starting out, the prospect of building and painting a 2,000-point force can be pretty overwhelming. You can easily get lost trying to work out what you want to run, and the shear amount of options available to you can be more of a hinderance than a help. But 500-points is a far more manageable, with only ten to twenty-five models on average to build and paint. In fact, most start collecting box sets are perfect for a starting base for a Combat Patrol force, if not complete army in its own right.

On the other side of the coin, veteran players have a great way to start on a new army. Most players start a new army with a HQ and a Troop choice to paint, and this is the same starting point for a Combat Patrol. From there, you can try out new units as you finish them, testing out new additions before putting them into larger battles. All too often we paint a unit, only for it to cut down before we get to test it them out. But in these smaller games, you are more likely to get to see what they can do without fearing to loses them on the first turn.

My Daemons are looking forward to swarming the battlefield.

But there is also another advantage to Combat Patrol when it comes to build an army. For those of us how has ever had a bizarre or unique idea about an army pop into their heads, but never wanted to commit to a whole force, now have an excuse to finally put paint to model. Ever wanted to build that force from your favourite novel like Commissar Cain and his Valhallans, then go right ahead. Maybe you wanted to try out painted some loyalist Alpha Legion or a Rogue Traders expedition force, be my guest.

Perhaps you want to do something that goes against the established lore of the 40k universe. Maybe a Space Marine force infected with Genestealer DNA by a rogue magos, or Chaos Sisters of Battle convent. All these are great fits for Combat Patrol and offer many conversion opportunities for veteran and new hobbyist alike. The world is your oyster, so go out and have fun.

I hope you have enjoyed this look into Combat Patrol. If you want to share your thoughts on Combat Patrol, or just want to chat or meme about 40K, then you can leave a comment below or contact me via twitter @MTGTengu directly. If you have enjoyed todays article, please like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. You want to support the site directly; you can join our Patreon for as little as a $1 a month. Until next time though remember, “A mind without purpose will wander in dark places.”

Liked it? Take a second to support Master of Magics on Patreon!

In response...