Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Fortifications (9E)
I am fortifying this position.
Why Play Fortifications
Fortifications are a unique factor in Warhammer 40k; most have the Unaligned faction and thus can be used by any force (the exceptions are given in the individual tactica pages). Fortifications act as excellent defensive force multipliers for almost any army. They provide solid defensive buffs and protection and give access to several anti-aircraft weapons. Aesthetically, fortifications are visually large, striking features on a table that make a battlefield feel alive and "yours." Fortifications are also the easiest models in the GW line to assemble and allow for a host of conversions.
- Buildings are extremely tough; toughness 8+ and 20+ wounds are common.
- Fortifications can allow for a hard centre in armies that might otherwise lack them, like Dark Eldar.
- Fortification detachments let you field fortifications much more readily in 8th than you could before.
- The specialist building-breakers of 6th have become far more generalist.
- No building damage table, so your embarked models are snug as a bug in rug with a frothy mug and a tiny pug.
- Most buildings don't degrade in effectiveness as they are damaged.
- All transports are assault transports, and there are no access points anymore. Together, this makes buildings quite good for storing counter-charge units.
- Urban Conquest, an 8E successor to City Fight came out in 2019, so there is support.
- All vehicle prices are hiked, so cost efficiency isn't guaranteed.
- Without keywords, your buildings are hard to buff.
- Weapons can no longer be fired by attendant models, and pretty much every building has ork level BS.
- The loss of options, especially the Magos Machine Spirit, combined with the above two to make your fortifications extremely inaccurate.
- Fortifications don't move, glares harder at the Tau, which makes your structures less tactically flexible than even the slowest tanks.
- Immobile structures are hit automatically in close combat.
- Any weapon can theoretically damage a building in 9th, so they lose an odd wound to small arms fire.
- Ninth edition force orgs aren't overly kind to fortifications, so taking them in number is a tactical gamble.
- Don't expect too much GW support. You're probably not getting a codex here.
- These guys get mothballed at an alarming rate. It can be hard to find a good selection at your local store, if they're even in production anymore.
- Automated Weapons: Unless a friendly model in embarked or nearby, all weapons a fortification uses have to be fired at the closest model. Some fortifications with AA guns have Fully Automated Weapons instead, which lets them target models with FLY instead of the closest.
- Defense Line: Exclusive to the Defense Network buildings. Grants cover to any INFANTRY units within 1" and with it between them and incoming fire. However, it also gives a boost to the distance a Charge is considered successful to 2" if the unit is charging an enemy on the opposite side of the line, and also boosts the distance from which a unit can fight across it to 2" as well.
- Immobile: All fortifications are Immobile, glares angrily at the Tau. They can't move and are hit automatically in the Fight Phase. They also don't prevent an enemy model within 1" of them from being shot and enemy models within 1" don't prevent them from firing.
- Explodes: Most vehicles do this by default and buildings are no exception.
- Static Defence Network: Also exclusive to Defense Network buildings. After being set up, with the exception of the Aegis Defense Line's gun, the building is considered terrain and is both completely indestructible and usable by all players, regardless of who put it down. Be careful where you put these, or those Fire Warriors might have a much better spot to shoot your Heavy Weapon Teams from.
- Not a special rule itself, but worth noting: buildings break with 8th edition's transport trend and allow only a single infantry unit (and any number of characters) in a building at a time. This means you can't cram three Havok squads into a pillbox, and that you're less likely to fill out a building's full transport capacity. It also prevents you from using 7th's tactic of putting Artillery units in buildings.
- ( *Vengeance Weapon batteries, Plasma Obliterator, Firestorm Redoubt, Vortex Missle, and a few others seem to have gone the way of the dodo. They don't sell these kits today, but they might have Index rules. Plasma Obliterator was a limited edition model Guessing it was a tactic to drive sales, personally limited run items should stay within Video gaming ect and not Tabletop Wargaming.)
- Aegis Defence Line (Defence Network): Largely unchanged from 7th, with the notable exception of how cover works. It's far better for moderately-armoured static infantry (no longer giving any bonus to non-infantry) like devastators. Cowardly Tau or Guard can no longer cheese out 2++ from it, but that's not really a dreadful loss. The line cannot be attacked or damaged, although if you buy it gun upgrades those can be.
- Imperial Bastion: The quintessential fort. Nearly double the points since 7th edition hurts, but it does gain the ability to vomit all its bolter shots at whatever it cares to and gives firing points to ten models without facing. Best for housing fragile heavy support, although genestealers or harlequins can camp in it safely, too.
- Imperial Bunker: Half a Bastion in almost every way. Cheaper, but lower transport, fire points, toughness, and wounds. Also, no heavy bolters. However, it's half the cost and a reasonable alternative to 10-manning a devastator squad (particularly if you're Long Fangs or Dark Reapers who can't 10-man at all.)
- Imperial Defence Line (Defense Network): Compared to the Aegis, the IDL trades the ability to take guns in favor of adding +1 Ld to Imperium Infantry, while also giving units behind it and not in it the benefit of cover.
- Vengeance Weapon Battery *: Most of what made these good, or at least playable, in 7th is gone. They're far too expensive and the battle cannon and punisher shots really need a better BS to work. They aren't the worst source of anti-aircraft firepower, especially if your faction has trouble getting it from other places, but the AA guns have very little chance of hitting anything that doesn't Fly.
- Plasma Obliterator Platform *: Hilariously bad. On the surface, it doesn't sound like it should be: a nice big gun, a lot of wounds and toughness, reasonable enough cost for both. However, it has no safe firing mode for its gun and has a BS of 5+. This means that it wounds itself once for every two hits it scores against the enemy. All for the firepower that a single tactical marine with a plasma cannon could give. On top of all this, it's somehow cheaper than the Bastion while keeping the same transport capacity and firing points.
- Firestorm Redoubt *: Two Vengeance Batteries taped to a Bunker. Cheaper than the three taken separately, but that's about all that can be said for it.
- Fortress of Redemption: The Dark Angel's once exclusive hangout is as large, expensive and durable as it ever was, but now anyone can use it. It has lost the distinction between the parts, counting as a single building for damage and transport. The transport capacity is a huge 30, but at the same time limited, since only a single INFANTRY unit can occupy it at any one point in time, plus any CHARACTERS. Which is a shame because the fortress is quite tough. Toughness 10 and 30 Wounds tough. It packs a Twin Icarus Cannon and 4 Heavy Bolters, and has a unique missile system, the Redemption Missile Silo, but without blast templates it's fairly lukewarm. This is doubly true because it actually has degrading BS, reaching the completely useless 7+. If you plan on using it, it's worth taking advantage of the large size. It is large enough to hide tanks behind and the sprawling layout and lack of access points in 8th gives you a decent charge range out of it.
- Imperial Fortress Walls (Forge World) : Big enough to drive a Baneblade through and twice as expensive, this is the big daddy of fortifications. With T10, W40 and a 2+, you'll need two Baneblades just to take it down. It doesn't have any major weapons for all the flare, but it can take eight heavy bolters, lascannons, or long-barreled autocannons and, praise the Emperor, has BS4+ to go with them. You can also put 60+ infantry on top of it, giving them 4++. Unfortunately they are rare to the point that the existence of models can be questioned. If you're Chaos, you could substitute a Helfort, but they're increasingly rare, as well.
- Macro-Cannon Aquila Strongpoint: The toughest model any table is likely to see with T10 and 30 wounds. It has a nice transport capacity, although it can still only take one infantry squad. The macro-cannon it fires is... nice with S14 and a minimum damage of 3. However, with the universal shit BS 5+, it is unlikely to score more than a single hit with the thing.
- Primus Redoubt (Forge World) : Hilariously labelled Primaris in the Index. Takes up a Realm of Battle tile to deploy and has a massive titan-strength fuck-off laser. It enjoys being able to actually hit with the thing with BS 4+. Nowhere near as tough as it once was, but also much cheaper in points. At less than a third the cost of a Warhound, it's not a bad way to get a cheap(ish) turbo-laser. It can't really be spammed, though, what with it being a RoB tile.
- Vortex Missile Aquila Strongpoint *: Fixes many of the problems of the Macro-Cannon. The damage from the weapon is a flat d6 mortal wounds, making it good against anything you'd want to smite but with a range of 180". It also *always* explodes when destroyed, which is awesome.
- Void Shield Generator: Does what it says on the tin, giving nearby units (and itself) a 5++ (FAQ'd instead of a damage table) against shooting attacks. The whole unit must be within this bubble, however. It's expensive, but tough. You're often better off with the Skyshield, which is cheaper all around, offers a larger area, and continues to buff units when destroyed, although armies that rely on the save vs shooting or which can further improve their save in some way benefit greatly. Curiously, the generator doesn't explode when destroyed.
- Skyshield Landing Pad: A big change from previous editions, almost all for the better. First, it can actually be attacked (and it's pretty tough). It grants a nice 5++ to units on top OR heals d3 wounds on a Flier, both of which are quite good. Finally, if it's destroyed, it counts as a ruin rather than exploding... which gives cover to any unit still on top of it. It's also well cheap.
- Castellum Stronghold (Forgeworld): In case you want to play an army comprised of buildings instead of tanks and soldiers. 3 bunkers and a bigger bunker, with T9 and a total of 56 wounds (3x12 and 20). This realm of battle tile (yes, its 2' by 2') is fairly indestructible and can pack up to 5 heavy weapons, from anti-tank guns to AA or troop mulchers. The tacticus bunker has transport space for 30 guys, and the bunkers for 12 each. Up to 15 and 10 models can shoot out of each of the bunkers. If your army doesn't fit inside completely, they can man the battlements for a cover save. And until the big bunker is destroyed all infantry, bike and dreadnoughts get a 4++ against shooting attacks while inside the stronghold. Oh, and one stratagem per turn costs 1 less CP if your warlord is embarked. Each of the small bunkers can take one of: Twin Heavy Bolter, Twin Heavy Flamer, Twin Lascannon, Multi-melta, Twin Assault Cannon, or Air Defence Missiles. The big bunker can take up to two of: Twin Heavy Bolter, Twin Heavy Flamer, Twin Lascannon, Multi-melta, Twin Assault Cannon, Castellum Air Defence Missiles (d3 shot krak missiles with the AA rule and the ability to fire at units it can't see), Whirlwind Castellan Launcher (2d6 frag missiles at S6 with no need for LoS), castellum battle cannon (nicked from the Leman Russ), Icarus Quad Lascannon (4 lascannon shots with the AA rule), or the pointless Communication Relay (FW meant that the -1CP to strats bonus only occured when you took this, but they named the special rule "Command Relay" instead of "Communication Relay" so it comes as standard instead). All these guns must target the nearest enemy unit unless there's a friendly unit embarked within. At 550 points without guns this is something of an apocalypse thing.
- Chaos Bastion: Nearly identical to the Imperial Bastion, with a couple of odd adjustments. Besides the addition of the Chaos keyword, Chaos' playhouse has +1 Toughness over the one everyone else uses, so 10, at the cost of a 4+ Armour save, opposed to the 3+ for the Imperial. This gives it some improved protection against S9 and 10 guns, but results in it completely losing its Armour save against AP-3 weapons. Unfortunately, this results in a small buff against a nearly nonexistent selection of weapons and a nerf against pretty much every other gun that would be bothering to shoot at buildings. It's the same price as the Imperial Bastion to boot, so unless you're in a game of Apocalypse while also obeying the Rule of Three and just really want every fortification you can get your hands on, stick with the Imperial version.
- Noctilith Crown: The spiky Stargate wannabe grants all Chaos units a 5++ and a re-roll to failed psychic tests as long as they stay within 6", and the aura expands to 9" and 12" on the second and third turn of the battle. It also debuffs non chaos psykers by forcing all doubles rolls to act as Perils within 24" and it can defend itself with a 6" Pistol d6 S7 AP-2 2D shooting attack at BS 4+.
- Webway Gate: Has the Aeldari keyword and gives a couple of unique stratagems, so it's already more synergistic than many of the other building options. It has a special rule that gives it the equivalent of Infiltrate and units aren't embarked within it but instead may teleport from any Webway Gate. This is generally more of a liability than a benefit, as it can result in being locked out altogether and prevents you from firing out of it. Units also disembark one at a time, which can give you a larger "transport capacity" than other buildings, but it is less helpful for deploying characters. The gate has an invulnerable save, but has fewer wounds and toughness than buildings of a comparable nature. Best used in multiples (even having six wouldn't be completely crazy in larger games) as it lets you strike from many potential places and helps prevent getting locked out if they're destroyed.
- Also of note, you can send any unit type out of the Gate. This means you can create Matryoshka transports if you want to deploy characters and units out of it. The box art advertises a Wraithknight, but any massive melee monster or vehicle would work just as well.
- Doesn't explode when destroyed. Expected, but different from the other fortifications.
- General: Sector Mechanicus structures can have height. Vehicles, Monsters, Cavalry, and Bikes cannot scale height at all unless they Fly. Infantry and Beasts may climb up ladders, walls, chains, etc.
- Haemotrope Reactor, Thermic Plasma Regulator, Thermic Plasma Conduit, Promethium Pipe Relay: These structures grant cover. However, a cover save of 7+ causes a mortal wound. Because AP values are additive, this is only a problem against weapons with no AP value, and it only negates the effectiveness of cover; it doesn't cause more damage than a normal failed save.
If using Sector Mechanicus terrain, the battlefield can be declared a Battlezone: Industrial World. This requires your opponent's permission, so it looks as though we're on the same page as 3rd edition's special characters. Still unclear if you're that guy for not accepting when your opponent reveals their Shadow War terrain setup or if you're that guy for assuming your opponent will be okay with it. Pretty much all of these used to be special rules inherent to the terrain pieces.
- Grappling Hooks (1 CP): Fuck ladders for one turn. Obviously of no use to units that can Fly or Reivers with their own grappling hooks, but never underestimate being able to get to a vantage point with cover.
- Power Supply (2 CP): Choose a Void Shield Generator connected to a Haemotrope Reactor. Its save improves to 4++. Expensive, but it will save your fortification and the squishy marines inside it on that turn where the enemy gets into rapid fire range or a Knight gets line of sight to it.
- Overload Power Core (1 CP): Throw a plasma core as a grenade if you have an Infantry model with a grenade within 1" of a Plasma Conduit, dealing d3 mortal wounds on a hit. Pretty good. Great with a 2+ BS character or Primaris Intercessors with grenade launchers.
- Plasma Feed (1 CP): An Infantry unit within 1" of a Plasma Conduit or Regulator gets +1S and +1D to its plasma weapons. Gives you risk-free overcharge or super-strength overcharge. Probably the strongest of the stratagems, with the ability to turn your plasma cannons into D3 lascannons for a turn, whereupon they can start wounding all those toughness 8 tanks on a 3+.
- Siphon Promethium (1 CP): Adds +1 to wound rolls for fire-based weapons for Infantry for one shooting phase or overwatch if the firing unit is within 1" of a promethium pipe. You need a lot of fire in one unit to justify this one, but anyone who charges your flamer Dominions while they're parked by a pipeline deserves what they get.
- Supercharged Obliteration (1 CP): Fire your Plasma Obliterator again if it's got a Haemotrope Reactor nearby. Given that firing is as dangerous to your Obliterator as it is to what you're shooting at, this is generally a bad idea.
- Long Bomb (1 CP): Use on a unit with Height Advantage to double the range of its grenades. Pretty meh except for armies that can throw multiple grenades, or on Inceptors with grenade launchers to allow them to fire 60".
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