Warhammer 40,000/Tactics (9E)

From 1d4chan

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.

This is the current 9th Edition's General tactics. 8th Edition Tactics are here.

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. For the time being, all the 8e Codexes are still valid but new ones will be released as per usual.
    • 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. Note that the legacy units are not planned to receive any balance changes and will likely become underpowered for their cost as time goes on.
  • 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. Following its relaunch in 9e, these are divided into two different types of books- one type contains revised points costs, and the other contains new mission types, rules, and Crusade expansions. The first is a must-have, and the second is optional depending on whether or not you want to mix things up a bit.
  • Your army's copy of the Psychic Awakening (for now, anyway). It will have some new strategems, updated rules, and potentially new models. The future codexes will have those rules built in, but you'll still want these until the corresponding 9e codexes come out.

Other Reading

  • The Forge World Armor Compendium, if you plan on shelling out a kidney to buy Forge World units.
  • 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 8e 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 a faction 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 sci-fi movies and/or have a preference for robots that aren't from anime, go nuts with the metalheads or the cogboys.

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, swarm 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 since more than a few factions lean towards one extreme or another.

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. As of 9E, it also adds the Crusade campaign system, which allows units to gain experience and grow stronger (or weaker, if they're unlucky in the post-battle sequence and get Battle Scars) over time and has an initially fixed Power Level limit that can itself be improved through the course of the campaign. It's a bit too complex to describe in a couple of paragraphs, but we've got a page for it here.

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: it doesn't have rules so much as guidelines.

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 was Buff Edition and 9th isn't looking too different just yet, 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.

9th edition has introduced a big change in how the auras themselves work, however. As a rule, only units which have the CORE keyword can benefit from an aura. Generally, that means Troops, most Elites, and a handful of units in other FOC slots (mostly infantry, but a few vehicles may also have the keyword depending on the faction). Characters on the other hand do not have this keyword and so cannot buff themselves or receive buffs from other characters.

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 FAQs,Chapter Approved, and the balance datasheets.

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 1-2 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 easily massed weapons that can pick off infantry at long range such as 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. With 9E, you should also consider taking at least one Blast weapon such as a Battle Cannon, as Blast weapons are guaranteed to land a high number of attacks against units with many models in them.
  • "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).
  • Plan ahead with Stratagems: 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're not thinking hard enough. 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. 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.
    • Since 9E now gives all armies a set number of CP for certain army sizes and reduces CP if you take too many detachments, it makes conserving what CP you have slightly more vital. If your army's battle-forged, you gain a single CP each command phase - sounds good, until you realise just how much you might be needing to use those 1 CP stratagems. This CP cap also cripples putting in allies or multiple detachments, since the only effectively "free" detachments are the base detachments that house your warlord (or the Supreme Command Detachment + 1 other if you grabbed Bobby G, Magnus or Morty, and that implies you both have their respective factions and can afford the points cost to field them, neither of which is guaranteed).
  • 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. Also important is that 9E has given a fixed level of CP available to both sides at certain army sizes. General point-levels for 40k include:
    • 200-500ish points: 3 CP. 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: 6 CP. Kitchen table level. Common for new players testing a few units out.
    • 1500 points: 12 CP. This is generally considered the smallest point level for tournaments.
    • 1750 points: 12 CP. 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: 12 CP. Most popular game size for 8th edition, used in most of the biggest tournaments.
    • 3000 and Beyonddddd: 18 CP. 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, (BUT 9e means monsters and vehicles can still shoot at you even if they're engaged in close combat, so watch out). 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. 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 9th.


  • Small units don't suffer as much from morale (in theory - an unlucky combat attrition test can actually do more damage to your unit).
  • 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.
  • It's 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.
    • 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.
    • Objective Secured and its army-specific equivalents override this rule for squads that are affected by it (usually Troops), so long as the contesting units do not also have the rule.


  • Small units are more prone to dying from overwatch
  • Small units don't fire overwatch as effectively as larger units
  • You fill detachments faster with smaller units, potentially costing you more command points.
  • 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.

Stratagems 101[edit]

Stratagems are special abilities triggered by expending Command Points (CP), and are activated in the new Command Phase that occurs at the start of a turn. 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 collection of 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-Offensive (2 CP): Now reworded to work outside of the charge phase. After an enemy fights at all (including just regular melee), you can then fight with one of your own.
  • Cut Them Down (1 CP): After an enemy unit declares that they are falling back, you can trigger this. Roll a d6 for every model in your unit that is engaged with the enemy, you deal a mortal wound on a 6.
  • Desperate Breakout (2 CP): During the movement phase, you can select one engaged unit. Roll 1d6 for every model in that unit, with each 1 counting as a casualty. After resolving your rolls, the unit can immediately fall back, running through enemy units they come across. However, if you stay within engagement range of any enemy units, you will lose models until you are again free. This is a seriously risky move, as once you use this, the unit can't do anything for the rest of the turn, overruling any rules that would otherwise let them charge or shoot after falling back. It also doesn't work if the unit you're locked in combat with has rules that prevent falling back.
  • Emergency Disembarkation (1 CP): If a transport unit is destroyed, you can use this to give you a better position at a higher risk. The passengers can immediately set up 6" away from the transport and are immune from any explosions. You now roll 1d6 for each model that was in there, with a 1 or 2 meaning a model dies. These survivors can't charge or use heroic intervention after bailing.
  • Fire Overwatch (1 CP): Perhaps the greatest change of 9E, the age of constant overwatching is no more. Now you can have only one unit fire overwatch (hitting on 6+) against a charging enemy. That said, some armies (e.g. Tau No longer) have alternate methods of overwatching and it can also be enabled by being in specific forms of terrain, so keep the exceptions in mind.
  • Insane Bravery (2 CP): Automatically pass a Morale test. This has been nerfed to be usable only once per battle.

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 or mega-formations to make your force into a single Detachment, you now are capped in how many detachments you can take based on game size. 1 detachment at combat patrol, up to 4 detachments for incursions. 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.

Depending on the size of your game, you will be allotted a certain number of CP. While almost all of them will rake CP, you will be able to make back your first detachment's CP cost through putting your Warlord in there or in a Supreme Command detachment (although the latter applies only if your Warlord has some specific keywords). Knowing which Detachment types will work best for your army will help you significantly when listbuilding.

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. Also useful for armies with HQ and troop taxes. 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.
  • CP Cost: 2 CP
  • Command Benefits: +2 CP if you have your Warlord here. Drukhari get 4 CP if they have at least three Patrol Detachments, which overall covers their combined CP cost.

Battalion Detachment[edit]

Probably the most common and powerful type of detachment, striking a good balance between reasonable requirements and options unless someone skews their list towards a more specialist role. Has more Elites slots than Fast Attack or Heavy Support, so better for factions with better Elites choices.
  • 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.
  • CP Cost: 3 CP
  • Command Benefits: +3 CP if your Warlord is here.

Brigade Detachment[edit]

Requires the most units. 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.
  • CP Cost: 4 CP
  • Command Benefits: +4 CP if your Warlord is here.

Vanguard Detachment[edit]

The Elites-focused detachment, costing 3 CP for the investment you put into it. You will be lacking in CP if you only run with a Vanguard Detachment 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.
  • CP Cost: 3 CP
  • Command Benefits: N/A

Spearhead Detachment[edit]

The Heavy Support-focused detachment, provides a lot of possible firepower for a 3 CP cost. 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.
  • CP Cost: 3 CP
  • Command Benefits: N/A. Astra Militarum LEMAN RUSS models in a Spearhead Detachment get Objective Secured.

Outrider Detachment[edit]

The Fast Attack-focused detachment, a 3 CP cost 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.
  • CP Cost: 3 CP
  • Command Benefits: N/A

Supreme Command Detachment[edit]

The superheavy HQ-focused detachment, making this the most niche Detachment option. As of 9E, there are few options for this detachment, all of them quite powerful: Morvenn Vahl, Belisarius Cawl, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, Commander Shadowsun, Roboute Guilliman, Magnus the Red, Mortarion, Angron, Abaddon the Despoiler, Be'lakor and the Silent King. Each of them is already a massive gift for your army while also giving you the same CP discount as having a regular warlord.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 HQ or Lord of War
  • Restrictions: This unit must have the Primarch, Daemon Primarch or Supreme Commander keywords. This model must also be your Warlord.
    • In most cases, this will be a redundant rule as many of these units will already have a rule forcing them to be the Warlord.
  • CP Cost: N/A
  • Command Benefits: Select one of the following:
    • +2 CP for any Patrol Detachments in your army.
    • +3 CP for any Battalion Detachments in your army.
    • +4 CP for any Brigade Detachments in your army.

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.
  • CP Cost: 3/6 CP.
  • Command Benefits: This detachment costs 3 CP if the detachment contains absolutely no Titanic units. Otherwise, it costs 6 CP.

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 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.
  • Mandatory Units: 1 Lords of War
  • Restrictions: None
  • CP Cost: 3 CP
  • Command Benefits: None

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
  • CP Cost: 1 CP
  • Command Benefits: +1 CP if this detachment and the Warlord's detachment share a faction keyword (this giving you Imperium Players the fun shittons of special setpieces)

Auxiliary Support Detachment[edit]

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.
  • CP Cost: 2 CP
  • Command Benefits: N/A

Specialist Detachments[edit]

Not a detachment on their own, Specialist Detachments are an upgrade to regular detachments and the spiritual successors of the 7E mega-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.

Of note, specialist detachments are no longer legal in matched play.

  • Replacing them are Armies of Renown, which are essentially the same thing but they don't cost a CP to enable.

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 being the Deathwatch. 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]

Before we get started, note that 9th edition has GW releasing updates to Matched Play in yearly supplements titled "War Zone: [x]" While the core rules for this edition is practically the same, each War Zone supplement changes the game slightly. That is, until 2022, when War Zone Nephilim came out and created a rational, reasonable discussion within the community after it cut your CP pool in half, made all WTs and Relics cost command points, and revamped secondaries. Luckily, no one says you've gotta play Nephilim if you and your group doesn't want to.

The basic rules of the game are available here.

Secondary Objectives (AKA: Prioritizing Your Targets)[edit]

New to 9E is the addition of secondary objectives...okay, not entirely. Unlike Maelstrom of War's cards, these are always active (although you can only get 15 VP per secondary objective), but you can only pick one from each category (listed below). Some missions even give you special secondary objectives to pick up if you want something better-tailored.

Some of these objectives give units actions - be careful as these have specific criteria that might mess with your gameplan. Also, just having your whole army painted grants a free 10 VP at the end of the battle: nobody's asking you to make them look like Golden Daemon winners, but just make sure that other people can look at them without hurting themselves.

As previously mentioned, these Secondaries have gone through quite a few changes since they first came out. For example, each faction has their own specific secondaries and you're no longer limited by the number of faction secondaries you can take, just by category. Nephilim removed lots of the situational secondaries (like Titan Slayer or Slay the Warlord that only gave you 8 or so points), making them more generalized so that you could keep scoring them throughout the game. On the other hand, it also removed Domination/Stranglehold, which was the one that piggybacked on the Primary (essentially doubling your VP).

  • Assassinate: 3 VP for each Character you kill, 1 VP if you kill the Warlord. In Nephilim, this is also your default Purge Objective, but can be switched.
  • Bring it Down: 1 VP for any Monster or Vehicle you kill with 9 or less wounds, 2 VP for each enemy Monster or Vehicle with a Wounds characteristic of between 10-14 that is destroyed, and 3 VP for each enemy Monster or Vehicle with a Wounds characteristic of 15-19, and 4 VP for 20 or more.
  • Titan Slayers[Removed in Nephilim]: 10 VP if you kill one Titanic model, but you max out at 15 if you kill more than one.
  • Cut off the head[Removed in Nephilim]: The old Slay the Warlord. The sooner you kill the warlord, the more points you get, so you better move fast. Also, be careful with resurrecting units, the one death that counts is the last.
      • 13 VP for killing it 1st round
      • 10 VP for killing it 2nd round
      • 6 VP for killing it 3rd round
      • 3 VP for killing it 4th round
      • 1 VP for killing it 5th round
  • Grind Them Down: The Default for No Mercy, No Respite. Score 3 VP at the end of the round if more enemy units were destroyed than friendlies.
  • Take No Prisoners: If you select this objective, keep a Kill Points tally. Each time an enemy model is destroyed (excluding VEHICLE, MONSTER or CHARACTER models), add a number of marks to this tally equal to the Wounds characteristic of the destroyed model. At the end of the battle, divide your Kill Points tally by 10 and round down - the result is the number of victory points you score. In addition, if your Kill Points tally is between 50 and 99, you score 1 additional victory point, and if your tally is 100 or more, you score 2 additional victory points.
  • While We Stand, We Fight[Removed in Nephilim]: Select the three most expensive models UNITS in your army. Yes, models, we are counting all the wargear options. For each of these models that remains at the end of the game, you earn 5 VP. Not anymore, as of the 2021FAQ these now specify "units" rather than models, making it absolute garbage.
  • First Strike[Removed in Nephilim]: 5 VP if you kill an enemy unit during the first turn, adding 3 more VP if you kill more enemy units than they kill your units during the first round.
  • Behind Enemy Lines: The Default Supremacy objective in Nephilim. Score 2 VP if one unit from your army, excluding Aircraft, is wholly within your opponent's deployment zone. Score 4 instead if two or more units are within the enemy's deployment zone.
  • Engage on All Fronts: Score 2 VP if you have units totally within 3 table quarters and more than 6" away from the center of the board. You instead get 3 VP if you have units totally within each quarter and more than 6" away from the center of the table.
    • Tweaked quite a few times to exclude units with less than x amount of models so check whatever book you're using for the exact wording: In Nephilim, you must be 6" away from another table quarter, and a unit must have started with more than 3 models in their unit, or be a VEHICLE/MONSTER (but not Aircraft) to qualify. Which means that even if your bike squad has been reduced to the Sergeant, you can still score if he gets 6" away from another table quarter.
  • Linebreaker[Removed in Nephilim]: 6 VP at the turn's end if you get 2+ units (excluding Aircraft) in the enemy deployment zone. Another classic.
  • Total Domination[Removed in Nephilim]: 3 VP if you own more than half the board's objectives.
    • This Secondary has seen lots of changes, before finally being removed in Nephilim because everyone tended to just double-dip on the objective game.
  • Retrieve Nachmund/Nephilim Data*: A Tally Objective. An Infantry or Biker unit wholly within a table quarter and 6" away from another table quarter can attempt to retrieve a servo skull. Roll a D6, subtracting 1 from the roll if it's being performed by a Troops unit. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of models in that unit, the action completes at the end of your turn, adding one to your tally.
    • If performed twice, you gain 4 points. Three times, 8 points. Four times for 12.
    • Some actions, like Raise Banners, can be done by multiple units. Retrieve Data can only be done once per turn, so you're looking at a four turn investment for 12 VP max.
  • A lot of the secondaries in this section were baked into the mission-specific Primaries in Nephilim.
  • Raise the Banners High: Your Infantry units gain a new action each turn in an attempt to emulate Dawn of War. When they move next to an objective, they can choose to plant a flag (action begins at the end of your movement phase), scoring you points so long as the objective remains in your control. At the end of every Command Phase and at the end of the game, you score 1 VP for each flag you have on an objective. Be sure to guard your objectives, as the enemy can immediately rip down your flags when they control your objectives.
    • Super subtle changes, the important one being that the action can begin and succeed even if there are enemies around the objective, you just need to make sure you hold it by the start of your next command phase. That means that if you have a single Intercessor on it surrounded by 10 Death Guard Cultists (who aren't ObSec in DG), so long as the Intercessors don't do anything else, the action succeeds and you gain points.
  • Investigate Sites[Removed in Nephilim]: Your Infantry units (excluding Character) gain a new action each turn. If they move within 6" of the table center and end the turn with no units (excluding Aircraft) within 6" of them, you win 3 VP.
  • Repair Teleport Homer[Removed in Nephilim]: Your Infantry units (sans Character) gain a new action each turn. If they move so they're totally within the enemy DZ and have them survive until your next command phase, you win 5 VP.
  • Mental Interrogation: Your Psyker units gain a new power. During the psychic phase, they can cast this power on a 4+ on an enemy Character within 18" and gain 3 VP.
    • In addition, if it exceeds the target's Leadership, you gain a CP.
  • Psychic Ritual: Your Psyker units can attempt a ritual if they're within 6" of the center of the map, keeping a tally for each successful cast. 3 VP for 1 Cast, 7 for 2 Casts, and a mere 12 for 3 and up.
    • Not as garbage as when it first came out, but still a steaming pile of shit. The fact that it's affected by both Deny and Pseudo-Deny makes it risky to pop off as anyone with a brain will do their best to stop you. Also restricts your Psykers from doing better things unless you use faction-specific strats.
  • Abhor the Witch: You can't take any Psyker units for this. You gain 3 VP for any Psyker Character you kill and earn 2 VP for any other Psyker units you kill.
  • Suck it, Nerds

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

Terrain 101[edit]

New as of 9th, pieces of terrain will all have certain traits.

  • Cover: Infantry, Beasts, and Swarm models receive the benefits of cover from an Obstacle while within 3″ of an obstacle unless, when you resolve an attack that targets said model's unit, you can draw straight lines, 1mm in thickness, to every part of a model's base from a single point on the attacking model’s base (or hull) without any of those lines passing over or through any part of the obstacle. Infantry, Beasts, and Swarm models receive the benefits of cover from Area Terrain while within it. Nothing else gains the benefits of cover from the core rules with the possible exception of Dense Cover, which is discussed in that entry below.
    • Dense Cover: If this terrain feature is at least 3" in height, then subtract 1 from the hit roll when resolving an attack with a ranged weapon unless you can draw straight lines, 1mm in thickness, to every part of at least one model’s base (or hull) in the target unit from a single point on the attacking model's base (or hull) without any of those lines passing over or through any part of any terrain feature with this trait. Models that are on or within an Area Terrain feature with this trait do not suffer this penalty if the only terrain feature these lines pass over or through is the terrain feature that the attacking model is on or within. Models within 3" of an Obstacle terrain feature with this trait do not suffer this penalty if the only terrain feature these lines pass over or through is the terrain feature that the attacking model is within 3" of. This penalty is also ignored when the target is either W18+ or Aircraft.
      • The Core Rules FAQ contains "Designer's Notes" which contradict the Core Rules on Dense Cover, but does not actually errata the definitions of Obstacle, Area Terrain, or Dense Cover:
        • Also, in the same way that Obscuring terrain ‘blocks’ visibility when it is in between the firing model and its intended target, Dense Cover terrain imposes a hit penalty whenever it is between the firing model and its intended target (with the noted exceptions). It is not required for a unit to be fulfilling the criteria of ‘gaining the benefits of cover’, as described for Obstacles and Area Terrain, for this penalty to hit rolls to apply (but also note that any rule that ignores the benefits of cover, or that ignores the benefits of cover that impose a penalty on hit rolls, would still ignore that penalty).
      • As a result, you need to discuss with your opponent how to interpret this. Common options are listed below:
        • The Designer's Note changes the conditions for Dense Cover to those of Obscuring Terrain: use the conditions for Obscuring (changing the height requirement to 3") and nothing else. This means units on or within Dense Cover gain no benefit (just as they do not for Obscuring), but units "behind" Dense Cover benefit unless Aircraft or W18+, even if not Infantry, Beast, or Swarm.
        • The Designer's Note adds to the conditions for Dense Cover such that both rules apply at once: under the conditions of Obscuring (changing the height requirement to 3"), all non-Aircraft non-W18+ benefit, and while on or within Dense Cover, Infantry, Beasts, and Swarms benefit (provided they are neither Aircraft nor W18+).
        • The Designer's Note is ambiguous, so without explanation, has to be ignored. Treat this text as not existing, and like Light or Heavy cover, only Infantry, Beasts, and Swarms benefit.
    • Heavy Cover: +1 to armour saves against attacks made with melee weapons unless the attacked model made a charge this turn.
      • As a practical matter, all heavy cover is also light (and hence none of it is dense).
  • Light Cover: +1 to armour saves against attacks made with ranged weapons.
    • As a practical matter, light and dense cover are treated by GW as mutually exclusive, and heavy is treated as light but moreso (some light cover is also heavy and all heavy cover is also light).
  • Obstacle: Terrain you can be on but not within. Has a series of traits that can be added on which in practice amount to "levels" of Obstacle:
    1. Baseline: Doesn't have Exposed Position, Unstable Position, or Defence Line. No additional rules.
    2. Exposed Position: This will never have Unstable Position or Defence Line. A model does not receive the benefits of cover if it is standing on this terrain feature. If you are behind it you may, though. Can't be on Area Terrain because you can be within Area Terrain but not on it. Note that this means the terrain will also deny cover to a unit on it that has a special rule granting cover - Exposed Position removes cover benefits even if the Obstacle doesn't grant them.
    3. Unstable Position without Defence Line: This will never have Unstable Position. You can't stand units on top of this thing. No exceptions. You can walk them over it or through it, but not on top of it. Can't be on Area Terrain because you can be within Area Terrain but not on it.
    4. Defence Line: This will always imply Unstable Position (and hence can't be Exposed Position). If an enemy unit is within 1" of this terrain feature, you can still make a charge move against it so long as the charging unit ends its charge move touching that terrain feature and within 2" of the target unit. Units are eligible to fight, and models can make attacks with melee weapons, if their target is on the opposite side of this terrain feature and within 2". Doesn't actually require Unstable Position RAW, but because UP is the only kind of terrain where you can need this rule in order to engage, in practice is only found on some UP.
  • Movement-modifying traits.
    • Breachable: All Infantry, Beasts, and Swarms can move through any walls, girders, chains, or foliage of this feature without impediment - nothing else can. As a practical matter, this usually means the listed units can easily move horizontally through Breachable terrain, while everything else has to pay additional movement to go over it.
      • For unclear reasons, in practice 100% of Breachable terrain is also Defensible.
    • Scaleable: Only Infantry, Beasts, Swarms, and Fly can be set up or end a move on top of an Obstacle with this (for anything else, it's functionally Unstable Position). Likewise, only the same set of models can be set up or end a move on the non-ground floors of an Area Terrain feature with this trait (other models can only be set up or end a move on the ground floor). Finally, the terrain is Breachable with respect to a different set of features than actual Breachable (basically, features that would usually block vertical movement): Infantry, Beasts, and Swarms can move through the floors, ceilings, and gantries of this terrain feature without impediment.
      • This means you'll never see terrain which is both Scaleable and Unstable Position (and hence you'll also never see Scaleable and Defence Line), as that would cause a rules paradox.
    • Difficult Ground: Or rather, Difficult Terrain. Reworked to not be as crippling, this now only robs 2" of normal/advance/fall back movement and applies -2 to charge rolls for any that cross over it unless the entire unit has Fly or it has Titanic and the feature is less than 3" tall.
      • For whatever reason, in practice all difficult ground is area terrain, even though in principle you could have difficult obstacles.
  • Durability-enhancing traits.
    • Defensible: Non-engaged Infantry units wholly within this (if Area Terrain) or wholly within 3" of it (if Obstacle) that are charged (if an Obstacle, draw a line 1mm thick between the closest parts of the bases or hulls of the two closest models in the two units; if the line passes over/through the Obstacle, then Defensible applies, otherwise it does not) can either hit with their overwatch shots on a 5+ (which doesn't enable overwatch, it just increases your accuracy if you are overwatching) or be barred from overwatch but gain a +1 bonus to hit in the next Fight phase.
    • Inspiring: Units within 6" of this terrain piece gain +1 to Leadership. This can be locked to certain faction keywords so you don't have guardsmen being inspired by being near a chaos shrine or necrons inspired by statues of imperial saints.
    • Obscuring: For your tall terrain pieces. Anything taller than 5" will block LOS for units on either side of it. However, it does nothing if either unit (the observer or the observed) is inside or on it, or if the observed unit's an aircraft or is W18+.

In the table below, under "Category", "Exposed Position" means an Obstacle with Exposed Position (and hence neither Unstable Position nor Defence Line), "Unstable Position" means an Obstacle with Unstable Position and neither Exposed Position nor Defence Line, and "Defence Line" means an Obstacle with Unstable Position and Defence Line. "Area Terrain" is Area Terrain that isn't Difficult Ground and "Difficult Ground" is Area Terrain that is.

Cover is "Dense", which means Dense but not Light or Heavy, "Light", which means Light but not Dense or Heavy, or "Heavy", which means both Heavy and Light. "No" simply means no cover.

"Breachable" is "Breachable" if both Breachable and Defensible, "Defensible" if Defensible but not Breachable, and "No" if neither.

Terrain Features
Name Category Breachable Cover Obscuring Scaleable Inspiring
Armoured Containers Exposed Position No Light (Exposed Position) No Yes No
Barricades and Fuel Pipes Defence Line Defensible Heavy No
Battlefield Debris Exposed Position No No (Exposed Position) No
Craters Difficult Ground No Light No
Imperial Statuary Unstable Position No Light No Imperium
Industrial Structure Area Terrain Breachable Dense No Yes No
Ruined Walls Defence Line Breachable Dense No
Ruins Area Terrain Breachable Light Yes No
Woods Difficult Ground Breachable Dense No

Tactical Deployment[edit]

Added in the Tactical Deployment Chapter Approved Mission Pack, this system adds points costs to terrain and enables them to be deployed by each side as if they were units; the point limit for deploying terrain is proportional to the size of the game (e.g. 50-100 points for Combat Patrol and 300-400 for Onslaught). Terrain deployed in this way will gain Terrain Abilities in addition to the normal traits, which grants them more complex effects than usual.

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. Select a unit to make attacks.
  2. If these are melee attacks, determine number of attacks.
  3. For each model in the unit, select its target unit(s), which must be within range, and, if this is being done for shooting attacks, within line of sight. Shooting attacks may target a different unit with each weapon and melee attacks may target a different unit with each attack, for determining how many targets to select - declare which weapons and how many attacks with each (if melee) are going against each target now. Proceed below for each model after all models have chosen targets.
    • Order of procession is pick one targeted unit at a time to be attacked, then cycle through each model that targeted that unit.
    • For each attacking model, proceed one profile at a time, grouping all attacks made with that profile together.
  4. If these are shooting attacks, determine number of attacks.
  5. Roll to hit, based on accuracy.
  6. Roll to wound, based on strength and toughness.
  7. 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.
  8. Determine amount of damage by rolling and adding modifiers, if applicable.
  9. If the target has a "Feel No Pain" type rule, it rolls that against damage, much like a saving throw, on a per-damage-point basis. 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. Modifiers are applied in the following order: Replacement, Division & Multiplication, Subtraction & Addition, Ceiling (you always round fractions up to the next whole number).


This can be random, such as 1d3, or 1d6, or 2d3, and can include an additive modifier, e.g. 1d3+3. 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. Of special note are weapons with the Blast ability, as these weapons get a higher minimum amount of shots against larger units.


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 wound roll (R) is 2+ if S ≥ 2T, 3+ if 2T > S > T, 4+ if S = T, 6+ if S ≤ T/2, and 5+ if T/2 < S < T.

The odds of wounding (oow) with a modifier to wound are

This means S and T scale with twice the base 2 logarithm of their values, subject to the wounding caps on either end of always failing on 1 and always succeeding on 6 - for example, S8 results in a 3 in the formula twice (which will always be close to having added 6), while S4 results in a 2 twice (always close to +4). If you were to pay for Strength on a linear scale - 1 point for S1, 2 for S2, and so on - the most cost-effective S would be 3, because it adds about 3.17 to your wound formula, and is the only S for which you add more than S to the formula. This also means doubling your S (as many melee weapons do) is usually as good as adding +2 to the formula, but adding to your S directly (as most of them do) has very diminishing returns.

  • 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.
    • For re-rolling 1s, x is always 1, and so the multiplier is always 7/6.
    • For re-rolling failures, x is larger the more likely you are to fail; a WR of 6+ multiplies by 11/6, 5+ by 10/6, and so on down to 2+ multiplying by 7/6. Remember, re-rolling occurs before modifiers, which is one reason why re-rolling wounds is better than re-rolling failed wounds - you can re-roll "successes" that will be failures after a modifier.
  • In practice, T will usually vary between 3 and 8 - T2, T9, T1, and T10 are all very rare, and you can just assume absolutely no targets have T11+. As S values increase, this results in diminishing returns, as the weapon becomes better at wounding T values it will never encounter. This is generally most obvious when considering S6->S7, which is only useful against T6 and T7 in practice.

Allocating Wounds[edit]

After you have rolled to wound, the attack gets allocated to a model in the target unit. Unlike in 8th edition, not only must this attack be allocated to any already wounded models, it must be allocated to whichever model in the unit has already had attacks allocated to it this phase, regardless if it actually lost any wounds or not. Bear this in mind when it comes to weapons with different AP or damage stats.

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, which 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) are

If your opponent can re-roll failed saves of x or less (so re-rolling 1s means x is 1, while re-rolling all failures on a final 5+ save means x is 4), your odds from above become:

  • Note that since AP is negative (-1/-2...) the outcome of AP is actually positive: -(-1)=+1.
  • AP increases damage linearly, which means having AP0 or AP-1 against a 2+ Sv and a 6+ Sv are very different things. Against a 2+ Sv AP0 will usually need 6 wounds to penetrate the save once, while AP-1 will need 3 wounds to penetrate the save once (causing 100%, i.e. 2x) more damage). Against a 6+ Sv AP0 will need 1.2 wounds to penetrate the save once, while AP-1 will need 1 wound to penetrate the save once (causing 20% more damage).

Light cover improves the armour save 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, and Heavy cover may give the same armour save bonus against close combat attacks. 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 (see terrain 101 above) have special rules which can affect chances to hit or visibility.

Inflicting Damage[edit]

When a model fails its saving throw it takes an amount of damage depending on the Damage characteristic of the weapon used. The model suffers that many wounds and any excess wounds are lost if not mortal; excess mortal wounds are allocated using the standard rules for allocating wounds, but since mortal wounds skip the saving throw step, you proceed immediately back to this step. If it is suffering both non-mortal and mortal wounds from the same attack, resolve non-mortal wounds first.

Feel No Pain "FNP" style abilities allow models to ignore some of the damage they take on by rolling a die and beating a number; these rules are exclusive, meaning you have to choose exactly one to use. Some of these rules may specify that they work only on non-mortal wounds or only on mortal wounds, or in different phases, or what have you, but they generally all work the same. This means that an FNP "save" is theoretically like an invulnerable save, but worse, as invulnerable saves are not negatively impacted by trying to resist greater damage values. In practice, invulnerable saves are much easier to get.

Roll a die for each point of damage the model would suffer. On a roll of X or more (typically 6), ignore it.

  • Sometimes, the roll is a 5+.
  • A 6+++ FNP generally 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.
    • This gets messy, quickly, because of how excess damage is wasted: while you will usually need 6 damage to kill a W5 model with a 6+++ FNP, it will actually suffer some damage between 0 and 5, as both 5 and 6 damage getting through kill it. This means a W5 model suffering 6 damage actually takes about 4.67 on average (and has a 73.68% chance of dying outright), while a W1 model actually takes very nearly but not quite 1 damage, with the same chance (nearly 1, which is nearly 100%) of dying outright. Meanwhile, a W6 model without an FNP takes 6 damage, with a 100% chance of dying outright (in this case, making it 'less durable than the W1/6+++ model). Generally speaking, W is better for resisting lower damage (W6 can't die to D5, while W5 can, regardless of FNP), while FNP is better for resisting greater damage, relative to some starting W.
  • 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.

This means you can usually roll the dice for all of the non-mortal wounds a model is suffering at once, as order does not matter - enough failures to remove the model's remaining wounds kill the model, and the excess is wasted - but remember that special rules can apply (such as a model that only gains an FNP after it suffers some damage, or a weapon that lets non-mortal wounds spill over to other unit members). You can't do this for mortal wounds in a unit with mixed FnPs, as each time a model dies, the unit's controller can choose a new model to start suffering remaining mortal wounds.

Shooting 101[edit]

The basics[edit]

  1. Shoot at something until it is DEAD/destroyed/exploded/gone/**cked/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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Blast Math[edit]

Every faction has access to weapons with the Blast special rule, which sets the minimum number of shots a ranged weapon can fire to 3 when targeting a unit of 6 or more members, and to the maximum value of its shots when targeting a unit of 11 or more. Here is the math on the size of the benefit for a variety of numbers of shots; note that a single weapon that shoots 2d6 times will get less benefit than two weapons shooting 1d6 each, and that if your first weapon reduces the target below a size threshold, the second weapon will lose out. Generally speaking, any other mechanics that improve rate of fire, such as re-rolling the dice, stack with Blast but have diminishing returns.

Blast Benefits
Number of Dice (X) Sides Average Result Result vs 6-10 Benefit vs 6-10 Result vs 11+ Benefit vs 11+
1 3 2 3 50% 3 50%
2 3 4 4.11.. 2.78% 6 50%
3+ 3 2X 2X 0% 3X 50%
1 6 3.5 4 14.29% 6 71.43%
2 6 7 7.0277.. 0.40% 12 71.43%
3+ 6 3.5X 3.5X 0% 6X 71.43%

What this means defensively is that if you are worried about being hit by blast weapons, you should not typically field units of size 6-7 (as they will die faster than units of size 5) or 11-17 (same deal, but compared to 10).

Assault (Charging and Fighting 101)[edit]

  • Note that you can charge any number of units, but unless your charge roll allows you to end up in engagement range of every unit you chose, your charge will fail.
  • 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 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, in engagement range of every unit you declared a charge against, and outside of engagement range of any other enemy units. 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/melee and you get 2d6" of free movement. You get an additional 3" of free movement before and after a unit 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, starting with the player whose turn it isn't, although chargers strike first and generally abilities that allow you to fight at the same time as chargers are resolved starting with the player whose turn it is, so pick your first unit to fight carefully; after this your opponent can use a stratagem to immediately fight with one of their units. 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 from 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.
  • Charging units may only attack enemy units that they charged, or that performed a Heroic Intervention that turn. So your consolidation move will not allow you to strike at other units, even if you use an ability or stratagem to allow them to fight again.

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, especially now it is a stratagem, though certain rules, bonuses, etc. (Defensible terrain, 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, range 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 generally 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 thing to bear in mind is: You can only finish a pile in or consolidate move closer to the nearest enemy model (which means if you are already in base to base contact you cannot move).
  • The ability to quit close combats is a very powerful ability, especially if you are TITANIC.
  • 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.

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 except that they will be able to shoot your assault unit in the face i their next turn. Also, watch out for TITANIC units that can fall back and still shoot.

Morale 101[edit]

A unit can lose additional models in the morale phase; failing a morale test by rolling over your Leadership with 1d6 + the number of casualties the unit has taken this turn means one of your models flees. A morale test of 1 always passes. If you fail the test (i.e. a model fled), you take combat attrition tests: roll for every remaining model in the unit, applying -1 to the result if the unit is below half strength after that model was removed. For each 1, another model will flee the unit. These rolls are "Combat Attrition Tests". After that, if your unit is not in coherency, you must choose models to flee until the unit is in coherency.

Fleeing means that a model counts as destroyed, but does not trigger any rules that would respond to its destruction when it flees - instead, it will trigger rules that respond to fleeing.

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

Morale Mathhammer[edit]

In general, a unit with Leadership "Ld" that has taken "C" casualties this turn will pass a morale test with the following odds:

  • Ld >= 6+C: 6/6 (automatically passes)
  • 6+C > Ld >= C+2: (Ld-C)/6
  • C+2 > Ld: 1/6

For example, Ld 10 means a unit with 5 or fewer models will always pass a morale test unless some other rule intervenes, because it can't take more than 4 casualties and still take a morale test, and after 4 casualties, the final member will not have to roll. On the flip side, for a very large unit, say, 30 members, any practical Ld value will quickly become meaningless as casualties rack up, and you'll end up relying on the baseline 1/6 odds of passing.

If a unit fails, it will lose 1/6 of its remaining members if it is still at or above half strength, or 1/3 otherwise. Due to this, even starting unit sizes are generally more efficient than odd ones: here is how many casualties several unit starting sizes have to take to take combat attrition tests with a penalty (i.e. before the morale test that must be failed in order to proceed). Remember, a unit at 1 more member than below half strength will take combat attrition tests with the penalty, because that 1 model will flee before the tests are taken. A 0 means the unit cannot take combat attrition tests.

  1. 0
  2. 0
  3. 1
  4. 2
  5. 2
  6. 3
  7. 3
  8. 4
  9. 4
  10. 5

And so on; in general, going from an odd number to an even number of models increases the number of casualties you have to take to be below half strength, while going from an even number to an odd number does not. The only exceptions to this are going from 1 to 2 (neither unit will ever take a combat attrition test) and going from 2 to 3 (a 3 model unit can lose its third member to a combat attrition test).

Dice Roll Math[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 6s, 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 estimates made via mathhammer. (this bullet should be deleted - this is only true in highly refined laboratory experiments as it requires that starting conditions be the same across consecutive dice rolls - initial die facing, height, surface, etc etc)
  • The average roll on 1d6 is 3.5, and the average roll on 1d3 is 2.
    • The average of XdY is X*1dY, so 2d6 is 7, 3d6 is 10.5, etc.
  • Picking the highest of 2d6 adds about 1 (actually 35/36) 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