Warhammer 40,000/8th Edition Tactics

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This info is outdated, please see Tactics 9th Edition.

This page is meant to index pages for the Warhammer 40,000 tactics dumps, and also acts as a repository for more general 40k tactics.

Required Reading[edit]

Since you need a goddamn flow chart to figure out which books are needed to play the game anymore, here is a basic primer for new players. You are going to need the following in this order:

  • A copy of the Core Rulebook. That flyer you picked up at a test event or printed off online may have the base rules for the game, but the Core Rulebook will include details on everything else, including mission types, terrain, and stratagem use. So do yourself a favor and grab it.
  • A copy of your army's codex. This will have the majority of what you need to play said army, including unit entries, warlord traits, relics, stratagems, and point costs. Our own tactics pages contain some of that information, but for legal reasons we can't give full statlines and points costs for the units. (Certain Russians, however, don't care so much about petty things like 'laws'.) If your army is one of those unlucky ones that has not gotten a codex yet, you should obtain the relevant index containing their information. As 8th edition ages, the indexes are essentially obsolete; the legacy units and options not carried over to the codexes have their rules available for free on GW's website, under the "Warhammer Legends" section.
  • Your army's online errata and FAQ printed off the main Games Workshop website. A version comes out shortly after each codex, and the game designers are not afraid to completely rewrite a unit's rules if they realize they fucked something up. GW also schedules a "Big FAQ" to come out twice a year to address balance issues as they come up and make wider, more sweeping changes they want to get feedback for before they're officially added to the core rules.
  • The most recent Chapter Approved (maybe). A grab bag of new rules, updates, and experimental shit. If your army codex came out in 2017, some of your units already have point costs changes contained within. If you have not received a codex yet, you can find a small consolation prize until they get around to you. If your army received a codex in 2018, skip it unless your group prefers the alternate mission options.
  • Your army's copy of the Psychic Awakening. It will have some new strategems, updated rules, and potentially new models.

Other Reading

  • The Forge World Indexes, if you don't mind selling a kidney for resin. These are currently out of print due to a planned replacement with updated rules.
  • Warhammer Legends on the community website, which include rules for units GW no longer sells. Legends units will still be allowed in both matched play and narrative play, but GW discourages competitive tournaments from allowing them due to them not receiving future balance updates. Warhammer Legends has effectively made the non-FW indexes that came out at the start of the edition unnecessary.

Listbuilding 101[edit]

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

Pick an army you like, for whichever reason, and memorize its index/codex. Start with an HQ and two Troops. Troops are the backbone of many armies, although you don't technically need any to play a game if you don't want 'em. They tend to have average statlines, but are reliable and good for holding objectives since Battle-forged lists give them a rule that keeps other units from contesting their held objective unless they also have a similar rule. HQs are almost always characters that either act as tough beatsticks or grant buffs to everyone around them; sometimes they can even do both at once.

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 through 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, but Orks, Nids or Imperial Guard are good for that. If you're a treadhead then you might find yourself at home in the Guard rather than Dark Eldar, but if you like flyers and fast, paper-thin vehicles they fit the bill (plus their vehicles are *gorgeous*). For the people who love fielding teams of advance battlesuits and a more standard sci-fi force we have the T'au, while if you have a penchant for scratchbuilding stuff out of trash you are at home with the space fungus and their ramshackle vehicles and weapons... and if you like 80s scifi movies and/or have a preference for robots that aren't from anime, go nuts with the metalheads.

Next if you want a chance of winning you need to balance enough anti infantry power (typically high number of shots at mid-low strength and AP with 1-2 damage) to counter hordes (Guard,Orks,Nids) and enough anti-tank power (few shots at high strength, high AP and high damage) to counter a wall of tanks, heavy infantry, and/or monsters (Guard, Space Marines/Chaos 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.

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.

Knowing the ruleset being used is also important: Matched Play is assumed to be the default in our articles, but a lot of alternate options open up when using the Power Level system featured in Narrative Play due to the majority of weapon upgrades being free under those rules. And of course, Open Play is even more of a divergence since it completely ignores the Force Organization Chart, keyword limitations, and any equivalent to points costs: instead, it's just about flooding the board with the most overpowered units you can muster, for better or worse.

A Note on Characters[edit]

It's been pointed out by many a player that quite a few characters, including most if not all current Chapter Masters, aren't quite as powerful as they were in 7th Edition. Dante is one example. In 7th Edition he was pretty awesome and had several very useful traits that allowed him to dominate. The same goes for other characters. Those aspects features less in 8th, as it appears GW have geared squads and characters towards a more realistic rule set. Okay, so Dante is a supremely skilled and capable leader in the fluff, but he's no god. 8th Edition seems to point towards getting players to use an army that has multiple parts that must work well together, much like a real army, in order to get the most out of them. To that end, the big guys, such as Primarchs and Daemons ARE really nasty, but most are over 10 wounds, so you can shoot on sight. In short, 8th Edition is Buff Edition, with only a small handful of exceptions that require specific builds to work properly. Use characters to get the most out of your other squads and vehicles. Azrael, the Dark Angels Chapter Master, is a great example, and works well with Hellblasters, allowing them to fire supercharged plasma shots with a greater chance of survival.

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 Comers" (TAC) 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 20 lascannons!". It will also save you money in the long run, since skewed lists built around Cheese tend to get hit pretty hard by the Nerfbat of the FAQ's and Chapter Approved.

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

  • Strength 8+, D6 damage Generally, a good starting point for your army is to include enough models that can deal effectively with Toughness 7/8, 10+ wound enemies. Lascannons, brightlances, meltaguns, battle cannons, thunder hammers. Anything with strength 8 or more and dealing either 3+ or D6 damage is good. Whilst even a lasgun or boltgun can wound a battle tank with some lucky rolls, this is so ineffective that you can't rely on them to finish off a tank save in very large numbers (and if you have that many they should be shooting targets they're more likely to wound anyway). Strength 6 or 7 is not enough to reliably threaten Toughness 7 or 8 and typically only do 1 damage, but they can be used to supplement the above-mentioned weapons if needed.
  • Anti-infantry You will need something to take out massed infantry. Either units with weapons that can pick off infantry at long range of lasguns/shuriken/bolters, weapons with a lot of shots like burst cannons or assault cannons, or good assault units with a lot of attacks like Gaunts, berzerkers or ork mobs. Having AP on it is nice, but anything higher than AP-2 is overkill unless your opponent's troops are all MEQs at minimum.
  • "Plasma"-equivalent weapons Plasma and similar weapons (strength 6-8, 2 or D3 damage) are reasonably effective against both big units (tanks and monsters) and against infantry. However, they are never as effective as dedicated anti-tank weapons against tanks, or anti-infantry weapons against infantry. While plasma has its place as a multi-functional weapon, it is best used alongside decent anti-infantry and anti-tank weapons as a sort of middle-ground, so it can respond to your opponent's composition. If he has a lot of tanks, it can be used as additional anti-tank firepower and serve quite well. If he has a lot of infantry, it is better at killing infantry than a lascannon (for the points you spend on it). However, its favored targets by far are heavy infantry units with 2+ wounds and high armor saves that are too tough to be reliably taken out by more common anti-infantry weaponry but aren't tough enough to justify the use of anti-vehicle weapons against them in normal circumstances- Terminators of all kinds, Tyranid Warriors, Ork Nobz, and so on.
  • Take only the HQ you need: Many HQs have historically been overcosted while not contributing to your army as a whole. There are many notable exceptions to this rule, but for many armies, an HQ is an expensive tax you build into your army's cost. 8E has made this even more prominent: as compulsory troops do not exist in some of the alternate FOC types, HQs fill the role of compulsory units instead. In general, the two extremes for HQ units are: a pure beatstick, or a pure buff dealer. Most will fall somewhere to one side of the spectrum.
    • When choosing buff-HQ's, you should make the most of their buffs. Look at the buff and see what units benefit the most from this so you can make good combinations. For example: Re-rolling hit rolls is a nice buff. But it's better on units with worse WS since they'll have a larger increase in the damage they do compared to high WS units. Pay attention to keywords as well, as something may work only on infantry, and bikers may not be infantry. Also, pay close attention to if the rules mention 'model within 6" ' or 'unit within 6" ' as this can make a major difference in how you need to place the units on the field. For detachments with multiple buffing HQs, try to make their buffs synergize with each other: a good example of this is pairing a Space Marine Ancient (which allows slain infantry units near him to make one last shooting or melee attack when they die) with an Apothecary (which has a chance of bringing the slain infantry back to life again).
  • Command points or, "build an army, not a CP battery": In matched play and narrative play, Command Points give you access to Stratagems. These 'super-powers' for your army can make a big difference in how your army works, especially if you've designed your army with specific stratagems in mind. HOWEVER: having a lot of command points is NO substitute for a good army. Having a lot of command points may seem a good idea, and some armies have options to recover or steal more command points during the game to get even more. But what use are 10 command points if you only need 3 for your super stratagem and the rest are used on some non-critical re-rolls? If you end the battle with command points left over, you've got too many. If you think in turn 4 "I wish I still had command points for a re-roll", ask yourself what parts of your army you would have to give up to get more command points and if that sacrifice will have improved your army.
    • Use your command points wisely. Most command point abilities are very potent and will more often than not make the difference between who wins and who loses. Even two Brigade Detachments likely won't allow you to just waste them. A bad player could use 10 command points or more a turn. The smart thing is to use special abilities for your army as sparingly as you can. Make sure you know what stratagems are good options for your army and save your command points for these. Better to have CPs and not use them than to need them for your 'mega ultra killy combo' but run out the turn before.
    • Following the second Big FAQ, only 1 CP can be gained or refunded per Battle Round unless using specific rules like the Tallyman's Seven-Fold Chant.
  • 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 need to make sure you have a unit to cover every need that might crop up during a game. Support characters with auras suddenly become more viable when they have 5 units within their aura instead of just 1. General point-levels for 40k include:
    • 200-500ish points: Rock-paper-scissors level. At this level you're fielding an HQ and one or 2 units, so making a TAC list is very difficult.
    • 1000 points: Kitchen table level. Common for new players testing a few units out.
    • 1500 points: This is generally considered the smallest point level for tournaments.
    • 1750 points: While generally not the most popular format, it provides players more time to complete their rounds. It is being used in some GW-run tournaments after allegations of some dicks abusing the time limit on rounds.
    • 2000 points: Most popular game size for 8th edition, used in most of the biggest tournaments.
    • 2500 and Beyonddddd: WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Ahem: This point level generally lends itself to an entirely different kind of play. Here you're not worried about composition, so much as sheer firepower. Spamming Titanic units, and units with extreme range will get you much farther here than 6 troop choices all kitted out. Remember that Eldar Rifle that has a range of 160"? Here's where you can actually shoot from one corner to the other of a Double-Lengthwise Table that's the staple of 6000 point games. Chapter Approved 2017 gives more information on how to run these kinds of games, although it strongly suggests that you just use Open Play to do so.

General Advice[edit]

  • Cicadas and you!: Cicadas follow an 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 pure armies like the archetypes listed below take effort to use successfully, 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 Gaunts or Terminators or something. As ever balance is key, it can be an imbalance, just so long as there is some balance. This balance is mostly in the weapons you yourself can bring. Often specialising on one type of unit severely limits the types of weapons you can bring yourself (see Gaunts). If you can bring enough different Anti-infantry, Anti-tank and long and short-ranged firepower by taking one type of unit, you can make it work. This doesn't work for every unit, as for example terminators can be dealt with effectively by both anti-tank weapons and massed anti-infantry shooting.
  • 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 can work with some luck and effort:
    • The Scuttling Swarm: Aka "Horde" Tyranids; Tyranids in theory can drown an opponent in bodies and win (This also works for Guard). Key word is "in theory." Hell, this is even more plausible with 8e letting everything wound on a 6 no matter their toughness. The issue is, most of those attacks will be single damage so will take ages to chip off points from beefy models (but on the bright side, it also makes tarpits into a potential death of a thousand cuts for even dedicated melee units/characters). Also, the aforementioned issue of your turn taking forever. On the other hand, Objective Secured has been replaced with "whoever had the most models on the objective controls it", which means a large enough horde can make an objective nigh impossible for an opponent to take. While Objective Secured is in Chapter Approved and each Codex released has added an equivalent rule to its corresponding army, that won't mean much if the swarm outnumbers the opponent's Troops, or if the opponent is relying on FOCs with few Troops slots. Also, the amount of units with the FLY special rule in some armies (looking at you T'AU) means tarpitting won't work all the time.
    • Aspect armies: Eldar aspect warriors fall into this category, as do primaris marine armies. You have elite units, generally with good saves, but still weak against specific weapons. Each type of unit has its own role to play, and if your opponent takes out the two units that are a threat to him, you may suffer. Coordination and hiding your units behind terrain are key strategies to these armies as they don't always stand up to a straight shoot-out with most armies. When playing these elite armies, it is very important to be aware of what your army is weak against, and prevent your opponent from using his most effective units against you. Plus, with all of your units being so specialized, it only takes the loss of one squad to leave the rest of the force all but unable to handle a given type of opponent.
  • Successful tournament armies generally have a few things in common:
    • Hard-hitting units. Things with high strength and either a large number of attacks/shots or multiple damage per wound (3, D6, or similar). Dark reapers, dreadnoughts, Manticores, death company with thunder hammers, crisis suit commanders with 4 fusion guns, etc.
    • Mobility. Whilst any unit can walk around and still shoot, successful armies have a way of getting a unit where they need it fast. Options include fast units like bikes, jump pack infantry, tanks or 'deep striking' units, whether normally or with some stratagems.
    • Resilience. In 8th edition, you need to be able to survive an opponents first turn with your key units intact. Either by fielding multiple key units, so your enemy can't take them out all at once, or by using transports or reserves/deep strike to keep them out of the way. Other options include penalties to hit for enemies, line of sight blockers or fortifications or characters that grant bonuses to defense.

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

Small units or big units: Utilizing multiple small units (MSU) has both advantages and disadvantages in 8th.


  • Small units don't suffer as much from morale. Either the unit is dead entirely, or you will have a good chance of passing the morale test.
  • Enemies will score overkill more quickly, wasting firepower because you have no more models to remove. An enemy may score 10 wounds on a 10-man unit, or split fire and score 7 and 3 wounds on 2 five-man units, leaving you with 2 living dudes.
  • You fill detachments faster with smaller units, granting more command points.
  • Its easier to find cover or block line of sight to a small unit.
  • When shooting, it's better to shoot with 2 five-man units than 1 10-man unit, because you can see how the first five do before deciding what to shoot at with the other five, preventing overkill.
  • Sergeants/leaders/etc. A unit often comes with a leader for free, with better stats. By taking multiple small units you get more leader-models for the same price.
  • Small units offer more flexibility in movement and can be used as speed bumps more effectively.


  • Small units are more prone to dying from overwatch
  • Small units don't fire overwatch as effectively as larger units
  • Big units are more resilient to being charged, as they have a good chance of surviving to strike back.
  • Big units have more attacks in combat so are more likely to cause significant casualties.
  • Stratagems. A lot of stratagems let a unit do something special, like shoot or attack an extra time. However, you can only use each one once a turn so these are much more effective on bigger units. If you have stratagems in mind that you think you might want to use, keep these in mind when deciding how many guys your unit will include.
  • Scoring is done by counting the 'most models within 3" of the objective", so more models give you a better chance of capturing an objective, but not all models need to be a single unit.
  • The player with fewer(!) individual units will have a good chance of getting the first turn.

With the new Chapter Approved released, each unit in the 'Troops-Slot' gains an objective secured special rule, allowing to take an objective even if the enemy has more models in range of the objective marker, as long as those models are not Troops themselves. This makes MSU built of Troops even more playable.

Stratagems 101[edit]

Stratagems are special abilities triggered by expending Command Points (CP). You can use as many Stratagems as you like so long as you have the points to use on them, but you can only use a single Stratagem of a given type in each phase. Stratagems have a wide variety of effects, from buffing your units to weakening enemies to inflicting mortal wounds. In Matched Play each stratagem of a given type can only be used once per turn, so make them count.

The exact mix of Stratagems available to your army depends on your chosen faction, the mission type, and whether you're the attacker or defender in said mission (if there is an attacker/defender). However, the following four Stratagems are available to everyone regardless of the circumstances. Learn them well, as they can save your ass:

  • Command Re-Roll (1 CP): Re-roll any single dice. Simple, but infinitely effective. Whether you're trying to wring out a little extra damage from a lascannon shot that rolled a 1 for damage or trying to re-roll a critical save, you will learn to love this Stratagem.
  • Counter-Defensive (2 CP): After an enemy that has charged fights, choose one of your units and fight with it next.
  • Insane Bravery (2 CP): Automatically pass a Morale test.
  • Prepared Positions (2 CP): This was a beta stratagem available in the 40k FAQ released on September 28 2018, and officially became a rule in the April 29, 2019 FAQ. This stratagem can only be used by the player going second in the first battle round. Use this Stratagem at the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins. Until the end of the first turn, all units from your army that are wholly within your Deployment Zone receive the benefit of cover, other than Titanic and Aircraft keyword units, or units with the Flyer or Fortification Battlefield role. This applies even while they are not entirely on or in a terrain feature. A unit that is already receiving the benefit of cover gains no additional benefit from this Stratagem.

Detachments for Dummies[edit]

Outside of Open Play where anything goes, your army needs to be Battle-Forged in order to be usable. While in 7e this meant using either the old Combined Arms Detachment of previous editions or one of the faction exclusive FOCs to make your force into a single Detachment, you now can build an army composed of as many detachments as you see fit to use (as long as it remains within the points limit, of course). In addition, every unit in your army must share a faction keyword or must be unalligned, Genestealer Cults are a special case in this regard; their Brood Brothers rule allows them to bring an allied Imperial Guard detachment for each GSC detachment taken, even though they do not have a common faction keyword. Many tournaments, and by reflection game stores, do limit lists to three detachments. While some of the detachments are very similar, if not identical to, the CAD, many more are modified to emphasize a specific non-Troops slot.

Each Detachment you take will grant you the use of a certain number of Command Points. Everyone starts with 3 CP, but the total number can vary depending on how many Detachments you take and what types of Detachments those are. Knowing which Detachment types will work best for your army will help you significantly when listbuilding.

The first Big FAQ mandates that every unit in a Detachment must share a faction keyword other than IMPERIUM, AELDARI or CHAOS. They can still be taken in the same army, but they'll have to be in separate Detachments.

Patrol Detachment[edit]

Generally only good for 500 pt games and if you want to bring a small amount of units from a different faction from the one forming most of your army. All of the dual faction boxes like Dark Imperium and Shadowspear have prebuilt Patrol Detatchments, so you could easily slot one other into your army if you have the points.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ, 1 Troops
    • Optional Units:+1 HQ, , +2 Troops, +2 Elites, +2 Fast Attack, +2 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: None. Drukhari get 4 CP if they have at least three Patrol Detachments, but in tournaments this is not viable because then you are locking yourself out of having any other Detachments.

Battalion Detachment[edit]

Probably the most common and powerful type of detachment, striking a good balance between a high CP yield and reasonable requirements and options, you will usually see between 1 and 2 in each army unless the army includes a Brigade or is heavily skewed towards a specific battlefield role.
  • Mandatory Units: 2 HQ, 3 Troops
    • Optional Units:+1 HQ, +3 Troops, +6 Elites, +3 Fast Attack, +3 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +5 CP (originally +3 CP in rulebook, Errata'd to +5.)

Brigade Detachment[edit]

Requires the most units and provides the most CP. Not good for most armies outside of Apocalypse-size games, but armies that have cheap units in every slot (Astra Militarum being the main one) or that play a single sub-faction can use it without spending too many points.
  • Mandatory Units: 3 HQ, 6 Troops, 3 Elites, 3 Fast Attack, 3 Heavy Support
    • Optional Units:+2 HQ, +6 Troops, +5 Elites, +2 Fast Attack, +2 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +12 CP (originally +9 CP in rulebook, Errata'd to +12.)

Vanguard Detachment[edit]

The Elites-focused detachment, provides very little CP for the investment you put into it, you will be sorely lacking in CP if you only run with Vanguard Detachments and most Elite units work best in conjunction with other units, running just a single Vanguard Detachment or even multiple Vanguard Detachments will usually not be the strongest option, it is more of an option to get extra Elites or to ally with the elites from a different sub-faction.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ, 3 Elites
    • Optional Units:+1 HQ, +3 Troops, +3 Elites, +2 Fast Attack, +2 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP.

Spearhead Detachment[edit]

The Heavy Support-focused detachment, provides little CP for the investment you put into it, building an army based entirely around vehicles can make for a hard-hitting and survivable force, but it will usually lack in other areas, such as board control which can be difficult with a smaller number of units and a lack of screening units will hurt you, especially if your Heavy Support units cannot FLY.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ, 3 Heavy Support
    • Optional Units:+1 HQ, +3 Troops, +2 Elites, +2 Fast Attack, +3 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP. Astra Militarum LEMAN RUSS models in a Spearhead Detachment get Objective Secured.

Outrider Detachment[edit]

The Fast Attack-focused detachment, provides little CP for the investment you put into it but generally less expensive than Vanguard and Spearhead Detachments. Building an army totally devoted to going fast can work depending on the missions you play.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ, 3 Fast Attack
    • Optional Units:+1 HQ, +3 Troops, +2 Elites, +3 Fast Attack, +2 Heavy Support, +2 Flyers, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP

Supreme Command Detachment[edit]

The HQ-focused detachment, most characters perform a support role, making this the most niche Detachment option. The Lord of War option makes it the cheapest way for armies to give a single Lord of War the benefit of a Chapter Tactic/Regimental Doctrine/etc/etc. It can be powerful if you have HQ units that are worth spamming or if you want to stack a huge amount of different buffs around your army, the Space Marine Smash Captain with Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield whose job is vehicle hunting instead of inspiring his troops or the Thousand Sons Terminator Sorcerers whose main job is dishing out damage with their psychic powers rather than buffing their dudes are worth spamming for example, in the past Heretic Sorcerer spam and Tau Commander spam were such powerful tactics that one got nerfed to the brink of existence and the other got limited to one per Detachment.
  • Mandatory Units: 3 HQ
    • Optional Units:+2 HQ, +1 Elites, +1 Lord of War, 1 Dedicated Transport per other choice taken
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP

Super-Heavy Detachment[edit]

The Lords of War spam Detachment. Command benefits are better than the other mono-FOC Detachments, but it will fucking eat up your points like there's no tomorrow. If you field this in a friendly game or a 1000 point game you are probably That Guy.
  • Mandatory Units: 3 Lords of War
    • Optional Units: +2 Lords of War
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +3 CP. Knights get +0 CP if the Detachment only includes Armigers, +3 CP if the Detachment includes 1 non-Armiger and 6 CP if the Detachment includes 3 non-Armigers.

Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment[edit]

As most people will almost certainly only have one LoW in their armies at any given time, this is the detachment they'll use to get their Primarch/Knight/Baneblade/Wraithknight onto the field, unfortunately it doesn't give you any CP for your investment and faction-based benefits like Chapter Tactics don't apply to these Detachments- use a Supreme Command Detachment with an optional LoW if you want that.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 Lords of War
  • Restrictions: None
  • Command Benefits: None

Air Wing Detachment[edit]

The Flyer detachment, best suited for factions that want to milk their flyers for all they're worth. Also, the only detachment that gives you Command Points without an HQ (or three superheavies). Note that the big disadvantage of this Detachment is that units with the Flyer Battlefield role can't contest objectives, and if you only have these units on the table you are automatically tabled. Be careful if you plan to sink a lot of points into these Detachments.
  • Mandatory Units: 3 Flyers
    • Optional Units: +2 Flyers
  • Restrictions: All units must be from the same faction.
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP

Fortification Network[edit]

Your buildings, fortresses, and walls. Being able to field large numbers of fortifications was something of an issue in 7th, but this detachment allows you to keep your turtle up to your heart's content (or at least take 6 fortifications if you're in Matched).
  • Mandatory Units: 1 Fortification
    • Optional Units: +2 Fortifications
  • Restrictions: None; most fortifications are Unaligned by default
  • Command Benefits: None

Auxiliary Support Detachment[edit]

Unlike all other Detachments, you lose CP for every Auxiliary Support Detachment you bring. Needless to say, you should avoid taking this type of Detachment at all costs. If you really want a single character like Celestine or a Contorted Epitome and don't have the points to bring enough cheap units to have the detachment qualify as a Patrol, or if you just want a single Space Marine squad or Deathwatch kill team for fluff reasons, you're stuck with this. It is the only detachment in which you can bring under strength squads to matched play, so there is that.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ or 1 Troops or 1 Elites or 1 Fast Attack or 1 Heavy Support or 1 Flyer or 1 Dedicated Transport
  • Restrictions: Can only consist of a single unit.
  • Command "Benefits": -1 CP

Specialist Detachments[edit]

Not a detachment on their own, Specialist Detachments are an upgrade to regular detachments and the spiritual successors of the 7E formations, but now they function like "premium" Warlord Traits, Stratagems and Relics locked behind a 1CP paywall. More fluffy than OP (usually) and the real meat of Specialist Detachments are the Stratagems (i.e. the Specialist Detachment's benefits only kick in if you're willing to sink a lot of CP into them first), so the fanbase didn't rage that hard this time. Imperium Nihilus - Vigilus Defiant campaign supplement, 2018.

  • A detachment may be so upgraded only once, even if the Specialist Detachment upgrade affects different units in it.

Making the most of Detachments[edit]

  • You get to choose a special ability for each Detachment in your army if all the units in that Detachment share a specific keyword, although sometimes Auxiliary Support Detachments and/or Super-heavy Auxiliary Detachments do not benefit from these abilities, in addition, Chaos Space Marines don't get the benefit for these abilities except on Infantry, Bikes, and Hellbrutes and a few units in other armies are also exempt like Necron C'tan. These special abilities can play a huge role in how powerful a unit is and how it should be used most effectively, grouping units together so that all units in your army benefit from the most beneficial special ability for that unit can make your army more successful, although it might limit the benefits your characters can give to what units. You can read what special abilities are available to different factions in the faction army tactics pages found at the bottom of this article.
  • FAQs have explicitly stated that detachments whose different sub-faction keywords (such as Chapter and Regiment) have the same name do not allow buff sharing, so don't get cheeky by naming your custom IG regiment "Ultramarines" and expect it to do anything beyond making you look like a dick.
  • IMPERIUM Space Marines gain additional rules when the entire list contains nothing but Adeptus Astartes and an additional rule if the entire list contains nothing but models from a single Chapter sub-faction, the only exceptions are Deathwatch and Space Wolves which have yet to be updated in Psychic Awakening. Sisters of Battle likewise gain an additional rule if their army contains nothing but Adeptus Ministorum units.

Looking for advice[edit]

Note the large amount of excess information
I really hope you wouldn't do this, Anon-kun
A much-improved version

So you've managed to hamfistedly slap together your first list, and it's 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 is a list of some DOs and DON'Ts:

  • DO:- Post what you want to do with this list (tournament, casual etc)
  • 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 each unit belongs to
  • DON'T:- Post the individual cost breakdown for each upgrade
  • DON'T:- Post the individual stats of a unit
  • DON'T:- Copy the list directly from battle scribe (or equivalent)
  • DON'T:- List ALL the war gear/special rules a model/unit has
  • DON'T:- List all the command benefits an individual detachment has
  • DON'T:- Bump excessively either, as that will diminish the likelihood anons will respond
  • DON'T:- Be a wanker to somebody who gave you negative feedback; they gave it for a reason

Remember: To get feedback from an anon who either plays or knows your army, that anon first has to see the army list. (duh) This means you might have to post it a few times, at different times of the day, or include an image in the post. The less-played the army is, the less likely you will be to get feedback the first time you post. Chaos usually gets feedback first time, but Sisters generally have to repost a few times. (also, duh) Just be patient.

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

Combat 101[edit]

While Shooting and Fighting are separated below, they largely share rules, much like how Movement and Charging are in separate phases, but share many rules and concepts. By and large, any attack you make has 5 values: Attacks (which is rate of fire), Accuracy (typically WS or BS), Strength, AP, and Damage. These values are converted into other values in context (for example, attacks are left alone, but accuracy requires dividing by 6), then those values are multiplied together to determine how many wounds you actually expect to knock off your target. They resolve in this order, in general:

  1. Determine number of Attacks.
  2. Roll to hit, based on accuracy.
  3. Roll to wound, based on strength and toughness.
  4. Target rolls to save, based on its saving throws.
    • While all rolls are subject to re-rolls and modifiers, the most common modifiers in the game apply here, such as AP and Cover.
  5. Roll to damage.
  6. If the target has a "Feel No Pain" type rule, it rolls that against damage, much like a saving throw. Feel No Pain rules cannot stack with each other- only the strongest one is applied.

As will be discussed below, you always re-roll before applying modifiers.


This can be random, such as 1d3, or 1d6, or 2d3. There is a section below on dice averages, but for attacks, you can safely treat a random value as its average for the purposes of working out how much damage a given attack will do to a given target. More often, it will be a constant number- melee weapons generally use the Attacks stat of the user, while ranged weapons will specify the number of attacks they can perform in their profile.


By and large, this will be a WS or BS value. Regardless of the name of the stat, here called "AS" for "Accuracy Skill".

The odds of hitting is: (7-AS-modifier)/6

  • An ability to re-roll will multiply this value by (6+x)/6, where x is the number of facings on a hit roll you can re-roll, so if you re-roll 1s x is 1, re-roll 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s x is 4.
  • Re-rolling all failed hits means x=7-AS, note that modifiers do not change the effect of re-rolling all failed hits, this is only affected by the AS.
  • Abaddon's ability to re-roll hit rolls even if they hit mean x=7-AS-modifier instead.


Instead of requiring a fixed roll like hit rolls most wound rolls (WR) instead require that you compare the Strength of the weapon to the target's Toughness, although some weapons do require a fixed roll.

Your WR is 2+ if S ≥ 2xT, 3+ if S > T, 4+ if S = T, 5+ if S < T, 6+ if 2xS ≤ T

The odds of wounding is: (7-WR-modifier)/6

  • An ability to re-roll will multiply this value by (6+x)/6, where x is the number of facings on a wound roll you can re-roll, so if you re-roll 1s x is 1, re-roll 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s x is 4.
  • Re-rolling all failed wounds means x=7-AS, note that modifiers do not change the effect of re-rolling all failed wounds, this is only affected by the WR.

Penetrating Saves[edit]

Basic saving throws work very intuitively, broadly identical to accuracy a 6+ save works just like 6+ to hit - except that the target assigns which model takes the save in the unit and rolls the saving throw, this changes the looks of the math a little since we will be calculating how likely we are to penetrate our opponent's save rather than how likely we are to save. Many weapons have a negative AP value that increases the dice roll your opponent needs to beat to pass their saves, a cover save now adds a +1 modifier to the Sv of the unit rather than providing an alternate save like an invulnerable save like it did in the past. A saving throw roll of 1 is always a failure, but a roll of 6 is not necessarily a success. Invulnerable saves are unaffected by cover and AP but otherwise works exactly the same way as a normal save.

Your odds of penetrating (oop) is (Sv - modifiers - (AP) - 1) / 6

  • Note that oop cannot be greater than 6/6.
  • Note that since AP is negative (-1/-2...) the outcome of AP is actually positive -(-1)=+1.
  • An ability to re-roll will multiply this value by (36 * oop - x * (7 + Sv + modifiers + AP) ) / 36 * (oop) where x is the number of facings on a saving throw your opponent can re-roll, so if your opponent re-rolls 1s x is 1, re-roll 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s x is 4.
  • Ap increases damage non-linearly, having AP- or AP-1 against a 2+ Sv and a 6+ Sv are very different things, against a 2+ Sv AP- will need 6 wounds to penetrate the save once, while AP-1 will need 3 wounds to penetrate the save once (causing 100% more damage), while against a 6+ Sv AP- will need 1,167 wounds to penetrate the save once, while AP-1 will need 1 wound to penetrate the save once (causing 16,7% more damage).

Cover improves the Sv of the unit that is in cover by 1 against Shooting attacks regardless of which phase that Shooting attack is made in or whether the target or firing unit is in combat. A model cannot claim multiple cover saves, it is either in cover and receives the bonus or it is not and it does not benefit. If you have a unit that is partially eligible for cover the whole unit will not benefit, but if you remove all the models from the unit that are not eligible the unit benefits immediately, therefore it can be beneficial to roll your saves one at a time and pick off the ones outside cover first.

  • Certain units and terrain types (in the advanced terrain rules) have special rules which require additional restrictions regarding what units count as in cover or not. The best way to negate this if you want to maximize your output is to spread Anti-Armour units out across the board for as many viewpoints as possible. As for actually using this type of cover yourself, your best bet is to park these units inside a building or in a covered corner of the board where the opponent can't try to maneuver into a better place to shoot.
    • Most TITANIC units require you to have them in cover and be 50% or more obstructed from view from the shooter (and sometimes this simply doesn't apply to some models). This would found as a special rule of the TITANIC unit itself and is not, strictly speaking, a rule for all TITANIC models.
    • Woods require non-INFANTRY units to be in cover and be 50% or more obstructed from view from the shooter.
    • Ruins require non-INFANTRY units to be in cover and be 50% or more obstructed from view from the shooter.
    • Craters only provide cover to INFANTRY.
    • Barricades require INFANTRY units to be within 1" and behind it from view from the shooter. They do not provide cover to non-infantry.
    • Obstacles do not provide cover.
    • Imperial Statuary provides cover to MODELS that are within 3" and 25% obscured from the point of view of the firer.
    • Fuel Pipes require INFANTRY units to be within 1" and behind it from view from the shooter. They do not provide cover to non-infantry.
    • Battlescapes require non-INFANTRY units to be in cover and be 50% or more obstructed from view from the shooter.
    • Hills do not provide cover.
  • A special note that terrain obscuring requirements from the view of the shooter doesn't have to be obscured by the terrain feature itself. A Vehicle could be on a Battlescape terrain feature which did not conceal them, but if another terrain feature or model obscured at attacker's view of them, it would meet the requirement to be obscured from the view of the firer.
  • Many of the terrain types have additional special rules, but not rules related to meeting the requirements for cover saves.

Inflicting Damage[edit]

When a model fails its saving throw it takes a number of damage depending on the Damage characteristic of the weapon used. The model suffers that many wounds and any excess wounds are lost.

Feel No Pain "FNP" style abilities allow models to ignore some of the damage they take on by rolling a dice and beating a number, these rules are exclusive meaning you have to use the best one available but you can use it in addition to your normal saving throw.

Roll a die each time a model with this rule suffers a wound or mortal wound. On a roll of 6, ignore it.

  • Sometimes, the roll is a 5.
  • A 6+ FNP increases the average number of wounds you need to deal to a model to kill it by 6/5 or 20%. The chance that it will completely nullify an unsaved wound is 1/46656‬ for 6 damage, 1/7776 for 5 damage, 1/1296 for 4 damage, 1/216 for 3 damage, 1/36 for 2 damage and 1/6 for 1 damage.
  • A 5+ FNP increases the average number of wounds you need to deal to a model to kill it by 6/4 or 50%. The chance that it will completely nullify an unsaved wound is 1/729 for 6 damage, 1/243 for 5 damage, 1/81 for 4 damage, 1/27 for 3 damage, 1/9 for 2 damage and 1/3 for 1 damage.

Shooting 101[edit]

The basics[edit]

Shooting tactics rule ONE (1): Shoot at something until it is DEAD/destroyed/exploded/gone/fucked/smeared-across-the-floor. Seriously. Anything that is not dead can still hurt you. As the old Tactica Imperialis says: "Concentrate your fire on one target to the exclusion of all else. Once it is gone, choose your next target." Consider heavily before you commit several turns worth of shooting into a big target like a Knight with your lascannons, you might be better off ignoring the Knight and targeting a Leman Russ instead if you cannot kill the Knight in one turn.

Shooting tactics rule TWO (2): Shoot for the mission. At the end of the game each game is won based on Victory Points (VP), don't fall for the distraction carnifex.

Shooting tactics rule THREE (3): Shoot your weapons with the highest Damage characteristic first, if you deal a wound to a unit of Terminators with your Tactical Squad's bolters leaving one Terminator at one wound and then fire your Overcharged plasma into that squad with Damage two you are wasting 1 damage. If you had shot your plasma first you would get an extra damage for free. The opposite situation exists, if your opponent has a wounded model in a unit it can make sense to try and remove that model with your lower damage weapons in order to get maximum value of your bigger weapons into the next model in the unit.

Shooting tactics rule FOUR (4): Shoot with the unit with the fewest targets available first. At the start of 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.

Assault (Charging and Fighting 101)[edit]

  • Note that you can charge any number of units, even units you cannot possibly get to with your charge move, as long as they are within 12" they are fair game as far as charge targets go.
  • A charge roll is usually 2d6, which gives you an average roll of 7, a 1/36 chance of rolling 12+, 3/36 chance of rolling 11+, 6/36 chance of rolling 10+, 10/36 chance of rolling 9+, 15/36 chance of rolling 8+, 21/36 chance of rolling 7+, 26/36 chance of rolling 6+, 30/36 chance of rolling 5+, 33/36 chance of rolling 4+, 35/36 chance of rolling 3+ and 36/36 chance of rolling 2+.
  • When you charge all models except the first can be moved in any direction, including backwards, towards an objective, on top of a building or towards an enemy unit you did not charge, the only rule is that the unit has to end the charge move in coherency and more than 1" away from units you did not charge, only the first model must actually engage an enemy unit that the unit declared a charge against. This is effectively free movement you can use for anything, even if you are a shooting unit, this can let you get to where you need to be, just charge a unit with little threat in terms of Overwatch and Melee and you get 2d6" of free Movement. You get an additional 3" of free movement before a unit fights and after it fights, the key different here is that you can end these moves within 1" of a unit you did not charge, use this to your advantage, but those units will fight back, so take care to stay 1" away from melee units.
  • Take care to stay more than 3" away from enemy characters if you don't want to engage them, otherwise they will be able to heroically intervene and move up to 3" and engage you in combat, even if you did not charge them. Many Imperial Knights are characters, meaning they can heroically intervene as well. Some units can heroically intervene 6", Space Wolves and certain Imperial Knights for example. Adeptus Custodes can charge you in your charge phase as well with their jetbikes, so watch out for these things!
  • Players go back and forth each picking one unit at a time to fight with, but the very first charging unit always gets to go very first, nothing your opponent can do about that, so pick your first unit to fight carefully, after this your opponent can use a Stratagem to immediately fight with one of their units, after they do or if they don't the player whose turn it is can pick one unit to fight with one at a time until all their charging units have fought, then they can pick one unit they control that has not charged and fight with that, now the other player can choose a unit to fight and this goes back and forth until all units have fought. If a unit is within 1" of an enemy unit at the end of the fight phase it can fight if it has not already done so, so if your opponent uses a Stratagem to fight again and engage your units that have not yet fought, they now get to fight. If a unit is more than 1" away from enemy units and it did not charge it will not be able to attack, take care not to allow your opponent to remove the models with one unit which another one of your units would have liked to fight against. Generally pick the unit with the fewest models within 1" and fight with that first, your opponent will have a harder time removing the models that are within 1" of your 20 Genestealers than your Hive Tyrant.

Advanced Notes[edit]

  • Sometimes a shooting unit can be as valuable in melee as a dedicated melee unit, most units cannot fall back and shoot. Simply engaging an enemy shooting unit with your transport or shooting unit can hold it up for a turn.
  • As a general rule of thumb, you want to break or destroy your enemy in your opponent's assault phase. That way, your opponent does not have a shooting phase before your assault teams move towards their next target.
  • Generally speaking, Overwatch is more of an annoyance than a true threat, though certain rules, bonuses, etc. (Tau Supporting Fire/Counterfire Defensive Systems, flamers, etc) can take their toll, especially if you're relying on glass cannon units (Harlequins, notably). Some special "Negate Overwatch" powers exist, but there are other ways to mitigate the effects of Overwatch. Unlike 7th, there is no limit to what can fire overwatch or how many shots. Wyverns, for example, fire their regular 4D6 shots. Granted, they hit on 6s, but this can still hurt. During Overwatch, any ability that lets you re-roll all misses is much more effective.
    • Overwatch takes place before you move your charging unit, and is still subject to normal rules for Line of Sight, cover, etc. Moving a Rhino or other vehicle flat-out to block off models from shooting your chargers is always a valid trick.
    • If blocking Line of Sight is not an option, then aim to eat the overwatch. One way to do this is to have a "tanky" unit lead the vanguard. For example, when charging a unit armed with multiple flamers, have a fast monster/walker lead the charge. Heck, throw a Rhino at your enemies before charging with those Assault Terminators.
    • An easy way to ignore Overwatch is to charge a model with FLY from behind LOS-blocking terrain (aka the 1st floor of a ruin if you're using ITC rules) because the model ignores moving through terrain. You do not need LOS to declare a charge, but your opponent always needs LOS to use Overwatch.
  • Remember that pile-ins use the same overall rules for charging, and thus any unit must ultimately maintain coherency. When attacking a large spread-out unit, you can negate a lot of its strength by attacking on opposing flanks.
  • The ability to quit close combats is a very powerful ability, especially if you have Fly. As long as their initial charge doesn't hit too hard, you can kite them all day with Fly.
  • In multiple or extended combats, casualty removals via pile-in are very tactical. By careful removal of casualties you can force enemies to pile-in in the direction YOU want them to.
  • You can charge multiple units with a single model; the model just needs to be able to get within 1" of one of the declared units, not all of them, though obviously if they're not within 1" of all the units then the others can still overwatch again later in the phase as they don't have a model within 1" yet. This makes models with a good defense and a big base good for soaking as many overwatching units as possible before sending in your other squads. Transports are perfect for this.

Vehicle Tactics[edit]

Ever since 8e made vehicles nothing more than a keyword which changes how some rules apply to them, vehicles require no special tactics other than what you would apply to other models unless they fly.

Morale 101[edit]

A unit loses additional models in the morale phase, in general, equal to 1d6 + casualties taken this turn - Leadership, but cannot lose more models than it has, of course. This means the smaller a unit, the less it needs to worry about Morale - a 1-model unit never needs to roll for it in the first place, since it can't be alive after taking casualties, for example. It also means the expected "further" casualties from morale start at a plateau of 0 where the unit is immune to casualties, followed by an accelerating curve up, then an accelerating curve down, then a linear curve down once the unit is being wiped out in the morale phase, so it loses one fewer casualty to morale with every additional one it took earlier. For example, a 10-model unit with Leadership 6, taking mounting casualties from 0-10, suffers additional casualties in the Morale phase, on average, as follows: 0, 1/6, 1/2, 1, 1 2/3, 2 1/2, 3, 2 5/6, 2, 1, 0. This corresponds to the unit being the following size (on average) after Morale: 10, 8 5/6, 7 1/2, 6, 4 1/3, 2 1/2, 1, 1/6, 0, 0, 0.

  • The morale phase happens after the psychic, shooting, and assault phases and any casualties from those phases are added together when testing morale.

Dice Roll Maths[edit]

  • It is almost always better to re-roll dice than to get +1. For instance, re-rollable 4+ has almost a 10% edge over 3+.
    • The exception is re-rolling 6's, which is 1/36 worse than 5+.
    • Because of how people throw dice, a re-rollable 2+ has a lower chance than math suggests. People tend to use the same rolling motions, which means those dice often end up in the same position ("1" both times). So use a dice tower or roll your dice more thoroughly for a longer period of time in order to increase randomness and adherence to estimated made via mathhammer.
    • The only time you want a +1 To Hit instead of a re-roll is with Overcharged Plasma weapons or effects that proc off of 6+'s.
  • The average roll on a D6 is 3.5
  • The average of 2D6 is 7, 3D6 is 10.5., and 4D6 is 14 (add 3.5 for each die you roll).
  • Picking the highest of two dice adds about 1 (actually .9722....) to the average roll.
  • 4+ re-roll 5+ is the same as 3+.
  • Re-rolling 1s is always equivalent to multiplying your odds of succeeding by 7/6, which means, additively speaking, it's better the higher your original odds are: you'll get an extra success in every 12 dice for a 4+, 9 dice for a 3+, and slightly more than 7 dice for 2+ (actually 7.2).
    • Re-rolling all failures has a larger benefit the lower your original odds; you'll get an extra success every 4 dice for a 4+ base, every 4.5 (i.e. 2 successes every 9) for a 3+, and every 7.2 for a 2+.
  • The odds of getting a 9 or more on 2d6 is 10/36, a little less than a third (27.78%). Re-rollable, it's a bit less than half (47.84%)
  • And, if you're into it, there's MathHammer.
  • GW dice are not mathematically fair! This set of mathematical data presumes you are using perfectly balanced casino dice which are. See following for details. http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/That%27s_How_I_Roll_-_A_Scientific_Analysis_of_Dice