Warhammer 40,000/Tactics

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Hello. This page is meant to index pages for the Warhammer 40,000 tactics dumps.


Listbuilding 101[edit]

Money, time, and (a lot of) effort.

Pick an army you like, for whichever reason, and memorise its codex. Start with an HQ and two Troops. Troops aren't as important in 7th edition now that all units can hold objectives, as well as with the addition of unbound armies. However, when it comes to late game contesting of objectives, you're going to be glad they have objective secured.

Next decide on a play style. Even within an army this can vary a lot, as Mech Guard is very different from Blob Guard, and Bike Marines are different from Drop Assault Marines.

Note that it's acceptable to go though these two stages in the opposite order. Pick a play style and then an army that fits it. If you want to drown your enemy in cheap bodies then you don't want to play Space Marines.

Next if you want a chance of winning you need to balance enough anti infantry power (typically rapid 'shot' lower strength) to counter hordes (Guard,Orks,Nids) and enough anti tank power (single 'shot' high strength) to counter a wall of tanks and or monsters (Guard, Space Marines, Nid-zilla). Most armies fall in between these categories, but it's best to keep the extremes in mind when building your army.

Also as of 6th edition you NEED AA (Anti-Air) power. Either a flyer or some kind of anti air tank, though there are some exceptions (Tau).

It's also a good idea to look over the codex and tactics for armies other than your own, so you know what kind of forces and strategies other players will bring to the table.


Building a Successful 40k Army[edit]

"Good players build a list to deal with whatever may come their way. Bad players build a list hoping their opponent cannot counter it."

In theory, two people can attempt to build armies to out-tailor and out-counter each others' hard counters, but in practice, it's easier to attempt to strive for something resembling a "Takes-All Comer" army; if nothing else, sticking with the same army and gradually making adjustments to it as you learn what works and what doesn't work, will improve your skill as a player, compared to going "Fool, you think your Wraithknight can save you next time. I shall return with POISON!"mpl

So, what makes a TAC list anyway? What with fliers, and psykers, big tanks and giant robots, what all *can* we include to make our army safe and sane? Although these are not fundamentals, in many cases, the following are safe bets:

  • Seven is your lucky number: Generally, a good starting point for your army, is whether you have the ability to throw out a lot of Strength 6-7 shooting. This number is a sweet-spot one where you can threaten most light/medium with reliability, as well as force masses of saves upon smaller high-toughness units. Some armies have an easier time doing this than others (Craftworld Eldar are infamous for the amount of firepower that massed Wave Serpents can throw out). Most importantly, however, these weapons have good range, or are easy to maneuver around; whether running Broadsides with Missile Pods, Nightscythes, or even Autocannon Havocs, having at least two sources of Ranged S7 will give you a solid anchor to build most armies around.
  • Two HQs is two too many: Although this rule is no longer an absolute, many HQs have historically been overcosted while not contributing to your army as a whole. There are many notable exceptions to this rule, however (Tyranids and Flying Hive Tyrants are a staple, and having multiple Librarians seldom hurts), but for many armies, an HQ is an expensive tax you build into your army's cost. Note that this is NOT true for Chaos, who generally have awesome and expensive ones - although playing them properly can be tricky.
  • Know your Point Level: A 2000-point game is *not* a 1000-point game with 1000 points tacked onto it. As your games grow in size, you will find that you begin to run out of slots. While a Chaos player can get by with running a pair of Obliterators at 1000 points, such an investment won't suffice for anti-tank at higher levels. Slots become more heavily contested and you find you may end up running out of Fast Attacks/Heavy Supports. So then you take an Ally, or a Formation. Taking an ally usually means taking a second HQ unit, and as mentioned above, HQs have generally been the most point-inefficient part of any army in general. General point-levels for 40k include:
    • 200 points: At this level, you're playing Kill Team instead, or probably Heralds of Ruin.
    • 1500 points: Aka "UK GT" level. This is generally considered the smallest point level for tournaments.
    • 1750 points: Aka "ETC" level.
    • 1850 points: If you're in the states, most tournaments will use this point-level. NoVa and Da Boyz, as do the Bay Area Open and the Las Vegas Open (whom are run by the same team).
    • 2000 points: This was the previous point level for the NoVa US GT, and is still the point level for the Narrative Campaign. Some other tournments may use this level but it's being superceded in favor of 1850 points.
    • 2500 points: Aka clusterfuck-hammer. Back when GW used to run 'Ard Boyz, this was the point-level they used. Of course, they ran it in 5th edition, where you only had *one* FOC, equivalent to having only one CAD. What this meant for a lot of armies was that they could take their "good" units, run out of slots, then be forced to take lots of filler. Meanwhile, Guard could just keep scaling up, adding more tanks to their squadrons, adding more squads to their platoons...we don't speak much of this point level.
    • Apocalypse and Beyonddddd: WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
  • Build an Army, not a Mob: Remember that your units should support each other. Generally, you want to avoid "Pure" armies, or gravitating towards one extreme of list-building. While running a pure foot horde may look aesthetically appealing, it will suffer against players running mass mechanized vehicles (plus it will be a major chore to paint, and your turns will take forever...). While running a small elite squad may play quicker (and be cheaper), each casualty *hurts*. Notable "Pure" armies that don't work include:
    • The Scuttling Swarm: Aka "Horde" Tyranids; Tyranids in theory can drown an opponent in bodies and win. Key word is "in theory." In practice, the moment someone brings multiple vehicles, trouble is inbound. Although it's possible (and potentially doable) to destroy a Rhino in melee by glancing it to death with Hormagants, you cannot consolidate out of a close combat with a vehicle. What this means is that any time you want to charge a 35-point APC with your 180-something point horde of bugs, you're doing your opponent a favor by bunching your bugs up into easy-bake flamer (or other anti-swarm options; an IG player can delete entire 30-Gaunt broods with just a single Wyvern, if you bunch them up for him) formations. When the opposing enemy vehicles proceed to Tank Shock you, this only hurts you even further; meanwhile, his fire support is picking off your Synapse creatures and ranged AT. Lest you think "But wait, I can spread out my Hormagaunts and attack an entire car-park at once", you then read the rules for Disordered Charges, and the fact Furious Charge does not trigger during Disordered Charges...
    • Deathwing: Be it by Plasma or mass shooting, each casualty is noticed. You move like infantrymen, and pay too much for shooting to de-mech your opponents.
    • Swordwind Aspect Warrior armies: Nope, you won't take "one unit of Fire Dragons, one of Scorpions, and one of Banshees." Dragons, if that.
  • Cicadas and you!: Cicadas follow a evolutionary stratagem known as "Predator satiation", other wise known as "The predators can't eat all of us!". I mention this because it's something to keep in mind. While it's true that the above pure army's don't work, there is something to be said in running lots of something, since you know your opponent can't kill them all. It's OK to have a strong theme and have a predominance of one type of unit since you know your opponent can't wipe you out the majority of your army fast enough with the dedicated weapons they have, just don't use it mindlessly and grab nothing but Gants or terminators or something. As ever balance is key, it can be a imbalance, just so long as there is some balance.
  • Several successful tournament armies in the past have a few things in common, to use some case studies:
    • An Eldar player running Wave Serpents (3 with Avengers, 2 with Fire Dragons), Nightspinners, Hawks, and a Wraithknight has the advantage that *all* of his units are fast, there's anti-tank and anti-infantry threat built into most every unit, and can comfortably stay back and play a defensive game, while still having the means to flush out the occasional unit in melee as need be.
    • A Space Marine player running White Scars Bikers and allied with Space Wolf Thunderwolf Cavalry has the advantage of an army that moves *fast*, has mobile shooting, the ability to threaten giant monstrous creatures at long-range, and the ability to use the melee prowess of Thunderwolves as a mobile anchorpoint.
    • Another Space Marine player using Sentinels of Terra rules ran lots of Scouts backed by Lascannon Devestators and a Thunderfire Cannon, lead by Lysander escorting a unit of Grav-Cannon Centurions, backed it up with an allied detachment of Flesh Tearers (including a Librarian, meltagun drop squad, and Mephiston). The Scouts were able to run through cover, capping and holding objectives, while being able to finish off any errant units that wandered near them.

All three armies have a few things in common which made their armies work well:

  • All three of them have several ways to deal with tanks, and light/heavy infantry. The bike loses out on "ranged" anti-tank for the ability to force numerous threats at once (as well as being able to pack multimeltas), all tough and fast ones to boot.
  • All three of them have some primary advantage with regards to movement; not only does being fast let you move around the game board faster, but high speed also lets you more effectively take advantage of Reserves. In the case of the Sentinels list, the loss of 12" movement was offset by having Infiltrate & Scout rules, and having access to Drop Pods.
  • All three of them are primarily shooty, but have at least one big "beatstick": Building an army purely for assault won't get you too far, but having at least one tough guy will keep your opponent honest.

This isn't the only successful paradigm for building a list, but understanding "Beatsticks anchoring lots of mobile fire teams" (Or "Heavy Cavalry + Horse Archers") will get you far.

More detailed specifics will are found in the "Individual Army Tactics" of course.

Looking for advice[edit]

Note the large amount of excess information
I really hope you wouldent do this anon-kun
A much improved version


So you've managed to hamfistedly slap together your first list, its even won you a few games. but is it good? probably not, so you go to one of TeeGee's list threads, and immediately get yelled at for your poor formatting, lack of experience and general overall clean-shavenness


here are some do's and dont's in a list thread


DO:- Post what you want to do with this list (tournament, casual ect)

DO:- Post the points limit

DO:- Post the total cost of each model (for characters) or unit

DO:- List the upgrades a unit has taken

DO:- List the dedicated transports a unit has taken

DO:- Clearly identify which detachment/formation each unit belongs to


DONT:- Post the individual cost break down for each upgrade

DONT:- Post the individual stats of a unit

DONT:- Copy the list directly from battle scribe (or equivalent)

DONT:- List ALL the war gear/special rules a model/unit has

DONT:- List all the command benefits a individual detachment has

Playing the Game[edit]

Movement 101[edit]

Topics covered so far:

  • How movement works.
  • Common rules mistakes.
  • Basic advice regarding movement.
  • Accurate and predictable measuring.
  • Countering enemy movement.

Psychic Phase (AKA: mind bullet time)[edit]

Link to main article: Psychic Phase 101

New to 7th, the psychic phase is where you use your vast array of mind powers.

Shooting Stuff[edit]

  • There are two ways to kill a tough unit: Either you use a weapon to negate the strong defense, or you can attempt to overwhelm the unit's defense and fire enough dakka into it to make it fail a safe. Bring the appropriate amount of dakka to combat a heavy unit, lest you be the one shot to hell.
    • Example: Space Marine Terminators hate Guardsmen, Necron, and Tau bricks because they put out a fuckton of weak shots that will make them inevitably fail armor saves. Or rather then rely on 50 lasgun shots the guardsmen can instead bring a plasma gun that can negate the terminators armor save making them much easier to kill, even with only two shots, the plasma gun only needs to cook one terminator to make it's points back. Conversely the Terminators can bring a Heavy flamer, negating the gaurdsmen's or other bricks cover save, armor and numbers thanks it's AP and template nature.
  • Consequently, using too many units on a weak enemy is a waste of firepower and resources. Every unit who is somewhere can't be somewhere else.
  • Although over-kill might be considered bad by some, lady luck might not always be on your side. You want to succeed even if plans A, B and C fail.
  • During your shooting phase, assess what target options each one of your shooty units has, and always have your units who only have a single option fire first. The reason for this is if you've got unit A in a position to shoot anything he likes and unit B which only has one thing to shoot at, you want B to take the shot first. If you shoot B's target with A first instead, you run the risk of destroying it or breaking their morale, and you'll feel like a complete moron for depriving B of anything to shoot at.
  • Another thing that is good to remember is which guns to fire first. Always fire blast weapons first, because the number of wounds they deal is always equal to the number of units in the squad at best, whereas regular guns can deal as many wounds as they hit.
  • Another thing to note: Small blast templates suck. Against a unit in maximum coherency distance (2"), your 3" template will hit exactly one model, creating the weird scenario where you don't want to hit, but have a little bit of scatter to get the maximum number of enemies under the template. And all of this is for models with a small base, the issue gets even worse with larger bases (read: Plasma cannons against Terminators).
    • The one instance where small blast templates are actually good is against deepstriking enemies. Since they'll have to deploy in base to base contact, you'll usually hit the entire unit (The same goes for Deathwing Knights with their special formation rule, although the presence of Plasma Cannons usually deters them from ever entering said formation).
    • Large blast templates are also affected by this, but to a lesser degree. If your opponent deploys all of his models in maximum coherency distance all the time, he probably deserves to be punched in the dick (more so if he plays a horde army).

Assault[edit]

  • Assaulting is somewhat less reliable in 7th, due to Overwatch and random charge ranges, but it can still be a highly effective way of dispatching your enemies. It's also very situational, so make sure you are familiar with just what your unit can do and to whom it can do it to best. You'll be primarily concerned with delivering your fighting men into assaults reliably and keeping them alive between combats.
  • Optimizing your chances for success: Precision Shots should always aim to eliminate serious threats to your Assault game (i.e.: Template weapons, Marker Drones, Single Defensive Grenade bearers, etc.) Assault Vehicle, Crusader, Fleet, and Hammer of Wrath make your assaults more reliable, by getting your units closer, neutralizing enemies before they can fight back, and ensuring that when you Sweep, you stand a better chance of knocking the target out. Aim to kill the target of your assault during his turn, never yours, because killing it in yours leaves you open to enemy shooting. Pinning shots are your friend.
  • Weapon selection: fast armies should never take Unwieldy weapons, while with slower, tougher troops, it's less of an issue. Impact weapons are useless without Hit & Run. Smash- like attacks only make sense on units that cannot make Sweeping Advances. Poisoned Attacks are always better than Fleshbane attacks. Rending is no substitute for AP 2, but has its uses, especially in quantity. Above all, kill them before they kill you, and to that end, take Concussive when you're faster and you can get it. And don't sweat AP, or lack thereof.

Vehicle Tactics[edit]

  • (Tank) Shock and Awe
    • Mastery of metal box movement is key. They can be used as walls to many different effects. For bluntly blocking the enemies movement, or funneling some men on foot.
  • The most common metal box tactic used by armies that have cheap enough transports with few guns is to disembark in the movement phase, shoot with the infantry in the shooting phase, then flat out the transport in front of the infantry.

"Basicaly Ram them and hope it explodes :D it really is fun when it does"

Individual Army Tactics[edit]

Each of these pages contains (or should contain) a section on:

  • "Why Play Them," which briefly summarizes the positive aspects of the army.
  • "Unit Analysis," a brief discussion of the benefits (or lack thereof) and drawbacks of each unit individually.
  • "Building Your Army," suggestions on how to buy, convert, and paint the actual models.
  • "Tactics," suggested viable builds for a complete army.

Imperium[edit]

Chaos[edit]

Xenos[edit]

Horus Heresy[edit]