All Warhammer 40K Abilities – Complete List and Guide

In Warhammer 40,000, abilities are special rules that provide units, characters, and weapons with unique effects and advantages on the battlefield.
Warhammer 40000 Abilities - Complete List and Guide
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What are Abilities in Warhammer 40,000?

Abilities affect a wide range of factors, such as a unit’s movement, combat effectiveness, resilience, or even the outcome of certain interactions during the game.

For example, an ability might allow a unit to move faster, hit more accurately, survive more damage, or perform actions not normally allowed by the standard rules of the game. They can be inherent to specific units, linked to the equipment or weapons they carry, or granted by characters leading them.

Adeptus Astartes Units equipped with Artificer Armour benefit from the Feel no Pain 5+ Ability
Adeptus Astartes Units equipped with Artificer Armour benefit from the Feel no Pain 5+ Ability

Types of Warhammer 40K Abilities

In Warhammer 40,000, abilities fall into two primary categories:

  1. First, there are Universal Special Rules, which are broadly applicable across all factions and armies within the game, ensuring consistency and a level playing field. These can further be divided into Core Abilities and Weapon Abilities
  2. Second, there are Faction-Specific Abilities, unique to each faction, bestowed by the Faction Army Rules. These highlight the distinct characteristics and strategic options of each faction.

Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about all the abilities in the game!

Example of a unit datasheet with its abilities

As Games Workshop constantly makes balance changes to factions and their abilities, make sure you have the latest version of the Codex for updated stats.

Universal Special Rules (USR)

Universal Special Rules (USR) in Warhammer 40,000 serve as a standardized set of guidelines that apply across various units and factions within the game, providing a consistent framework for special abilities and actions.

These rules are designed to streamline gameplay, ensure fairness, and enhance the strategic depth of battles by granting unique traits and capabilities to units, weapons, and characters, regardless of their army of origin.

These can further be divided into two subcategories: Core Unit Abilities and Weapon Abilities.

List of Core Unit Abilities

These rules apply broadly to units, affecting their movement, survivability, or combat effectiveness, without being tied to a specific weapon. There are currently 12 different Unit Abilities in the 10th edition of Warhammer 40,000:

  1. Deep Strike: Enables units to be set up in Reserves and deployed away from enemy models, representing sudden reinforcements or teleporting troops.
  2. Desperate Escape: Affects units Falling Back, adding a perilous element to retreats.
  3. Feel No Pain (X+): Provides a chance to ignore wounds, showcasing the unit’s toughness or supernatural resilience.
  4. Fight First: Gives units an edge in melee combat, allowing them to strike before their opponents.
  5. Fly: Allows models to move over obstacles and enemy units, representing aerial or levitating capabilities.
  6. Firing Deck-X: Pertains to TRANSPORT units, allowing embarked models to fire out.
  7. Infiltrators: Enables deployment outside the usual zone, perfect for sneaky or forward units.
  8. Leader: Pertains to CHARACTER units, allowing them to attach to bodyguards for protection, emphasizing command and control.
  9. Objective Control (OC): Determines a model’s effectiveness in holding objectives, crucial for territorial control.
  10. Rapid Deployment: Concerns units disembarking from transports, facilitating rapid maneuvers.
  11. Scout (X): Provides pre-game movement, representing reconnaissance or vanguard deployment.
  12. Stealth: Makes a unit harder to hit with ranged attacks, reflecting camouflaged or elusive warriors.

List of Weapon Abilities

Weapon Abilities are specifically tied to weapons, affecting their effectiveness, range, or damage output. The 10th Edition of W40k currently has 22 different weapon abilities:

  1. Anti-Keyword (X+): Targets specific unit types for enhanced damage, reflecting specialized equipment or training. Example: “Anti-Tyranids
  2. Assault: Allows a unit to Advance and Shoot, emphasizing their rapid assault capabilities.
  3. Blast: Increases attacks against large units, ideal for area-effect weapons.
  4. Conversion (X): Transforms successful hits into CRITICAL HITS under certain conditions, enhancing long-range precision.
  5. Critical Hits: Ensures hits are always successful under certain conditions, adding a layer of lethality.
  6. Critical Wounds: Similar to Critical Hits, but for wound rolls, increasing damage potential.
  7. Deadly Demise (X): Triggers when a model is destroyed, causing collateral damage to nearby enemies.
  8. Devastating Wounds: Converts damage to Mortal Wounds, highlighting particularly lethal attacks.
  9. Extra Attacks: Grants additional attacks with a weapon, ideal for melee combatants or rapid-fire weapons.
  10. Hazardous: Introduces risk to the user, where a weapon can backfire, adding a gamble to using powerful but unstable tech.
  11. Heavy: Benefits stationary shooters, ideal for long-range firepower.
  12. Ignores Cover: Weapons that negate the benefits of cover, ideal for flush-out operations.
  13. Indirect Fire: Allows firing at unseen targets, simulating artillery or lobbed projectiles.
  14. Lance: Improves wounding capability on the charge, perfect for cavalry or shock troops.
  15. Lethal Hits: Elevates CRITICAL HITS to automatically wound, emphasizing precision or potent weaponry.
  16. Melta (X): Increases damage at close range, perfect for anti-armor operations.
  17. One Shot: Limits a weapon to a single use, representing rare or powerful munitions.
  18. Pistol: Affects how units engage in close quarters, allowing them to fire in Engagement Range.
  19. Rapid Fire (X): Boosts attacks at close range, typical of assault rifles or similar weaponry.
  20. Sustained Hits (X): CRITICAL HITS generate additional hits, simulating weapons with explosive or chain reactions.
  21. Torrent: Weapons that automatically hit, ideal for flamethrowers or spraying attacks.
  22. Twin-Linked: Allows rerolling wound rolls, representing precision-engineered or guided weaponry.

Faction-Specific Abilities

Faction-specific abilities, as indicated by their name, are exclusive to each faction in the game and can only be utilized by units bearing the corresponding faction’s keyword on their datasheet.

Rooted in the unique army rule that each faction possesses, these abilities often come with restrictions on the number of times they can be used, reflecting their typically more potent nature.

Here’s the complete list of Faction-Specific Abilities available in the 10th Edition:

Adeptus Astartes: Oath Of Moment Ability

Abilities: At the beginning of your Command phase, choose one unit from your opponent’s army. Until the beginning of your next Command phase, whenever a model in your army with this ability attacks the selected enemy unit, you have the option to re-roll both the Hit and Wound rolls.

Deathwatch: Kill Teams

Abilities: When attacking a Kill Team unit in your army with models of varying Toughness, use the majority’s Toughness value for wound rolls until all attacks are resolved. If there’s a tie, use the highest Toughness.

Kill Team models like Terminators, Outriders, Bikers, and those with jump packs count as two models in Transports but can board any Transport their unit can. Despite any Mounted or Jump Pack keywords, all Kill Team unit models interact with terrain as if they are Infantry.

Grey Knights: Teleport Assault

Abilities: For Grey Knights armies, at the close of your opponent’s turn, you have the option to remove a certain number of your Grey Knights units from the battlefield, as long as they are not within Engagement Range of enemy units. The number of units you can select varies by the battle size:

  • Combat Patrol: Up to 1 unit
  • Incursion: Up to 2 units
  • Strike Force: Up to 3 units
  • Onslaught: Up to 4 units

After selecting, these units are temporarily removed from play. During the Reinforcements step of your next Movement phase, you can redeploy each unit anywhere on the battlefield, provided they are set up more than 9 inches away from any enemy models. Units not returned to the battlefield by the battle’s end are considered destroyed.

Astra Militarum: Voice Of Command

Abilities: Officer models with the ability to issue Orders can do so during your Command phase. Their datasheets indicate the number of Orders they can issue and the eligible units. To issue an Order, select one from the list and choose a friendly unit within 6″ of the Officer.

The selected unit follows the issued Order until your next Command phase. A unit can only follow one Order at a time, and it loses the Order if it becomes Battle-shocked.

  • Move! Move! Move!: Increases the Move characteristic of the unit’s models by 3″.
  • Fix Bayonets!: Enhances the Weapon Skill characteristic of the unit’s melee weapons by 1.
  • Take Aim!: Boosts the Ballistic Skill characteristic of the unit’s ranged weapons by 1.
  • First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!: Increases the Attacks characteristic of Rapid Fire weapons in the unit by 1.
  • Take Cover!: Improves the Save characteristic of the unit’s models by 1, up to a maximum of 3+.
  • Duty and Honour!: Raises the Leadership and Objective Control characteristics of the unit’s models by 1.

Adepta Sororitas: Acts of Faith

Abilities: For Adepta Sororitas armies, each unit with this ability can perform one Act of Faith in each phase, utilizing Miracle dice.

Gaining Miracle Dice:

  • You gain 1 Miracle dice at the start of each turn.
  • You also gain 1 Miracle dice each time an Adepta Sororitas unit from your army is destroyed.
  • Roll a D6 for each Miracle dice gained, with the roll determining its value. This value is fixed and cannot be altered unless a specific rule allows it. Store these dice separately as your Miracle dice pool.

Performing an Act of Faith:

  • When a model or unit with Acts of Faith is about to make a dice roll and you have Miracle dice available, you can use one of these dice from your pool to replace a single die in that roll.
  • The chosen Miracle dice is not rolled. Its value is used as the dice roll outcome, treated as an unmodified roll for all rules.
  • Each Miracle dice can be used once for substitution. After use, remove it from your pool, and proceed to roll any remaining dice for the action.
  • Miracle dice can replace dice in various rolls including Advance, Battle-shock tests, Charge, Damage, Hit, Saving throws, and Wound rolls.

Adeptus Custodes: Martial Ka’Tah

Abilities: At the start of the Fight phase, choose one Ka’tah Stance for your army, which remains active until the end of that phase. Each unit in your Custodes army with this capability benefits from the chosen stance’s specific ability.

  • Kaptaris Stance: Optimized for close combat engagements, it allows the Custodes to effectively trap and eliminate enemy units. When under attack in melee, reduce the hit roll targeting this unit by 1.
  • Dacatarai Stance: Tailored for dealing with numerous foes, it enhances the Custodes’ ability to manage swarms of enemies. Melee weapons in this unit gain the [Sustained Hits 1] ability, generating additional hits.
  • Rendax Stance: Designed for taking down formidable beasts and war machines, it turns the Custodes into elite hunters. Melee weapons in this unit are granted the [Lethal Hits] ability, automatically wounding the target on certain hit rolls.

Adeptus Mechanicus: Doctrina Imperatives

Abilities: At the start of each battle round, you have the option to activate one Doctrina Imperative for your army. This chosen Doctrina Imperative affects all units with the Doctrina Imperatives ability until the end of that battle round, granting them specific enhancements.

  • Protector Imperative:
    • Ranged weapons in the unit are treated as having the [Heavy] ability.
    • When the unit is targeted by a ranged attack while within your deployment zone, the attacking weapon’s Armour Penetration characteristic is reduced by 1.
  • Conqueror Imperative:
    • Ranged weapons in the unit are treated as having the [Assault] ability.
    • When a model in the unit makes a ranged attack against a target in your opponent’s deployment zone, the attack’s Armour Penetration characteristic is increased by 1.

Imperial Knights

Abilities: Imperial Knights Armies benefit from 3 individual Army Rules, each with its own abilities. These are Code Chivalric, Bondsman Abilities and Super-Heavy Walker.

Code Chivalric Abilities

In Imperial Knights armies, after setting your mission objectives, you’re required to choose an Oath for your force. Units in your army with this feature receive the Oath’s benefits, along with a specific Deed to accomplish. Completing an Oath’s Deed by the start of any Command phase honors your army for the remainder of the battle, rewarding you with 3 Command Points (CP) once per battle.

Oaths and Their Benefits:

  • Lay Low the Tyrant
    • Oath Ability: Allows re-rolls of 1 for both Hit and Wound rolls when the model shoots or fights.
    • Deed: Fulfilled by eliminating the enemy Warlord.
  • Reclaim the Realm
    • Oath Ability: Increases the model’s Move characteristic by 1″ and boosts Advance and Charge rolls by 1.
    • Deed: Achieved by securing control of one or more objective markers within the opponent’s deployment zone.

Bondsman Abilities

In your Command phase, any Questoris models in your army equipped with the ‘Bondsman’ ability can activate it. When activated, choose a friendly Armiger model within 12 inches of the activating model, ensuring it’s not already under the effects of another Bondsman ability. Both the activating model and the chosen Armiger will benefit from the Bondsman ability until the beginning of your next Command phase.

Super-Heavy Walker Abilities

Whenever a model possessing this ability moves normally, advances, or falls back, it can pass over other models (except those classified as Titanic) and terrain features up to a height of 4 inches as though they do not obstruct its path.

Agents of the Imperium: Assigned Agents

Abilities: If every model in your army is tagged with the Imperium keyword, you’re allowed to add Agents of the Imperium units to your force, even if they don’t share the specific Faction keyword chosen during the Army Faction selection step. The number of Agents of the Imperium units you can incorporate varies with the battle size:

  • Incursion: Up to 1 Retinue unit and 1 Character unit
  • Strike Force: Up to 2 Retinue units and 2 Character units
  • Onslaught: Up to 3 Retinue units and 3 Character units

Additionally, Vindicare Assassins, Culexus Assassins, Eversor Assassins, and Callidus Assassins cannot be designated as your Warlord.

Chaos Space Marines: Dark Pacts

Abilities: If your army belongs to the Heretic Astartes faction, whenever a unit with this capability is chosen to shoot or fight, it may engage in a Dark Pact. This allows you to grant one of the following abilities to that unit’s weapons for the duration of the phase:

  • Lethal Hits
  • Sustained Hits 1

After executing a Dark Pact and completing its attacks, the unit must undergo a Leadership test. Failing this test results in the unit incurring D3 mortal wounds.

Chaos Daemons: The Shadow of Chaos

Abilities: For Legiones Daemonica armies, the “Shadow of Chaos” influences various battlefield areas, determined as follows:

  • Your deployment zone is perpetually under your army’s Shadow of Chaos.
  • At the beginning of any phase, if your army controls at least half of the objective markers in No Man’s Land, this area falls under your Shadow of Chaos for that phase.
  • Similarly, if you control at least half of the objective markers in your opponent’s deployment zone at the start of any phase, their deployment zone is enveloped by your Shadow of Chaos for the duration of that phase.

Daemonic Manifestation: When a Legiones Daemonica unit is within your Shadow of Chaos, it gets a +1 bonus to Battle-shock tests. Successfully passing a Battle-shock test allows one model in the unit to recover up to D3 lost wounds. For Battleline units passing the test, up to D3 destroyed models are reinstated to the unit instead.

Daemonic Terror: Enemy units within your Shadow of Chaos experience a -1 penalty to their Battle-shock tests. Failing such a test results in the unit suffering D3 mortal wounds.

Death Guard: Nurgle’s Gift

Ability: For Death Guard armies, when an enemy unit is within the Contagion Range of a unit from your army, the Toughness characteristic of models in that enemy unit is reduced by 1. The Contagion Range extends as the battle progresses, detailed as follows:

  • 1st Battle Round: Contagion Range = 3″
  • 2nd Battle Round: Contagion Range = 6″
  • 3rd Battle Round Onwards: Contagion Range = 9″

Thousand Sons: Cabal of Sorcerers

Abilities: For Thousand Sons armies, each model with the appropriate ability generates Cabal points at the end of your Command phase, based on its specific contribution (e.g., “Cabal of Sorcerers 2” equals 2 points).

These points form your Cabal pool, used to perform Rituals with varying point costs. Rituals are one-time uses per phase, and your Cabal pool resets to zero at the start of your next Command phase. Activate a Ritual by selecting a Thousand Sons Psyker model.


  • Weaver of Fates (2 points): Re-roll a failed save for a model within 18″ of the Psyker once per phase.
  • Temporal Surge (5 points): A Thousand Sons unit within 18″ makes a move during the Shooting phase, but cannot charge afterwards.
  • Echoes From the Warp (6 points): Use a Stratagem for 0CP on the Psyker’s unit once, even if it’s been used this phase.
  • Doombolt (7 points): Target an enemy unit within 18″ in the Shooting phase to inflict D3 to D3+6 mortal wounds based on a roll.
  • Twist of Fate (9 points): Enemy unit within 18″ cannot take armour saves for the phase.

World Eaters: Blessings of Khorne

Abilities: For World Eaters armies, at the start of each battle round, perform a Blessings of Khorne roll by rolling eight D6. Use these dice to activate up to two Blessings of Khorne, each requiring specific dice results to be activated. Each blessing can be activated once per battle round, and any dice not used for activations are discarded.

Each activated Blessing of Khorne affects all eligible units in your army until the end of the battle round.

Example Activation:

  • Roll: 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 6, 6.
  • Use two 6s for Warp Blades (needs double 5+), leaving 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4.
  • Then, use two 2s for Wrathful Devotion (requires any double), leaving 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • With two blessings activated, remaining dice are discarded.

Blessings of Khorne:

  • Rage-Fuelled Invigoration (Any Double): +2″ move for models in the unit.
  • Wrathful Devotion (Any Double): Units gain Feel No Pain 6+. If already possessed, improve Feel No Pain rolls by 1.
  • Martial Excellence (Double 3+): Melee weapons get Sustained Hits 1.
  • Total Carnage (Double 4+ or Any Triple): Destroyed models in melee may fight on a 4+ before being removed.
  • Warp Blades (Double 5+ or Any Triple): Melee weapons gain Lethal Hits.
  • Unbridled Bloodlust (Double 6 or Triple 4+): Units can charge after Advancing.

Chaos Knights

As their imperial counterparts, the Chaos Knights have access to multiple army Rules, each with their own abilities. These are Harbingers of Dread and Super-Heavy Walker.

Harbingers of Dread

For Chaos Knights armies, models with this ability receive bonuses from Dread abilities, which activate at specific battle rounds and last until the end of the battle.

  • Battle Round 1 Onwards: Despair (Aura)– Activates from the first battle round. Enemy units within 12″ of this model suffer a -1 penalty to Battle-shock and Leadership tests.
  • Battle Round 3 Onwards: Doom and Darkness – Starting from the third battle round, this ability enhances attacks against Battle-shocked targets by adding +1 to Wound rolls. Additionally, when this model is targeted by an attack, if the attacker is from a Battle-shocked unit, subtract 1 from the Hit roll.

Super-Heavy Walker

  • This capability allows the model to move over models (except Titanic models) and terrain features up to 4 inches high as if they weren’t there during Normal, Advance, or Fall Back moves.


In Tyranids armies, certain models serve as vital links to the Hive Mind, guiding and unifying the swarm’s actions on the battlefield through Synapse and Shadow in the Warp abilities.

Synapse Abilities:

  • Tyranid units within 6 inches of one or more Synapse models are within Synapse Range, closely connected to the Hive Mind’s directives.
  • When taking Battle-shock tests, units within Synapse Range roll 3D6 instead of 2D6, reflecting the Hive Mind’s control in maintaining order and discipline.

Shadow in the Warp Ability:

Once per battle, in any player’s Command phase, if you have units with this ability on the battlefield, you can trigger the Shadow in the Warp. This forces each enemy unit to take a Battle-shock test.

T’Au Empire: For the Greater Good

Abilities: For T’au Empire armies during the Shooting phase, units can collaborate to target enemies more effectively. Here’s how it works:

  • Pairing Units: One unit acts as the Observer, aiding the other, the Guided unit, in targeting an enemy unit, referred to as the Spotted unit.
  • Activation: When you choose a unit to shoot that isn’t serving as an Observer, it can activate this ability. Select another friendly unit with the same ability (excluding those that are Fortifications, Battle-shocked, or already Observers) to act as the Observer. Both units must have a line of sight to the enemy Spotted unit.
  • Benefits Until the End of the Phase:
    • For the Guided Unit targeting the Spotted Unit:
      • The Ballistic Skill characteristic of its attacks improves by 1.
      • If the Observer unit is equipped with Markerlight, the Guided unit’s attacks gain the [Ignores Cover] ability.
    • For Attacks Not Targeting the Spotted Unit:
      • The Ballistic Skill characteristic worsens by 1 for the Guided unit’s attacks.

Aeldari: Strands of Fate

For Aeldari armies, at the beginning of the battle, perform a Strands of Fate roll by rolling twelve D6. You have the option to re-roll all the dice, but each time you do, you roll one fewer D6.

Continue re-rolling in this manner, decreasing the dice by one each time, until you’re satisfied with the results or only one D6 remains.

These final dice become your Fate dice for the battle, set aside in your Fate dice pool, with their results fixed unless specific rules allow changes.

Using Fate Dice:

  • Before rolling for a model or unit with the Strands of Fate ability, you can substitute a roll with a Fate die from your pool, using its value directly (considered an unmodified roll for all purposes). Each Fate die is used once, then removed from the pool.
  • Fate dice can replace rolls for:
    • Advance
    • Battle-shock tests
    • Charges
    • Damage
    • Hits
    • Saving throws
    • Wounds

Drukhari: Power from Pain

Abilities: For Drukhari armies, units can become Empowered Through Pain using Pain tokens.

Gaining Pain Tokens:

  • At the start of the battle, you receive Pain tokens based on the battle size:
    • Combat Patrol: 1 Pain Token
    • Incursion: 2 Pain Tokens
    • Strike Force: 3 Pain Tokens
    • Onslaught: 4 Pain Tokens
  • Earn 1 Pain token whenever an enemy unit is destroyed or fails a Battle-shock test. These tokens form your Pain token pool.

Empowered Through Pain:

  • At the beginning of any phase, you can spend Pain tokens to empower units with the Power from Pain ability. Depending on the phase, empowered units gain specific abilities:
    • Movement or Charge Phase: Re-roll Advance or Charge rolls.
    • Shooting or Fight Phase: Re-roll Hit rolls. In melee, attacks gain +1 to the Armour Penetration characteristic.

Necrons: Reanimation Protocol

Abilities: For Necrons armies, at the end of your Command phase, each unit with this ability triggers its Reanimation Protocols, attempting to reanimate D3 wounds. When a unit reanimates a wound:

  • If the unit has models not at full health, select one; it recovers one lost wound.
  • If all models are at full health and the unit is below Starting Strength, bring back one destroyed model with one wound remaining.

This process halts once the unit reaches its Starting Strength, and all models are at their initial wound count.

Genestealer Cults: Cults Ambush

Ability: For Genestealer Cult armies, whenever a unit with this ability is destroyed, perform the following steps:

  • Roll a D6: Add 3 to the roll if the unit is a Battleline unit.
  • On a 4+: The unit enters Cult Ambush. Place a Cult Ambush marker anywhere on the battlefield at least 9″ away from enemy units. If no suitable location exists, no marker is placed.
  • Enemy Interaction: If an enemy model, other than Aircraft, moves within 9″ of a Cult Ambush marker, the marker is removed.
  • Reinforcement: At the end of the Reinforcements step in your opponent’s next Movement phase, for each Cult Ambush marker remaining, you can return the destroyed unit to the battlefield. This is done using the Deep Strike ability, with all models at full wounds. At least one model must be placed touching the Cult Ambush marker, which is then removed. Characters attached to a unit don’t return with it; only the Bodyguard unit does.

Orks: Waaagh!

Abilities: In Ork armies, you can invoke a Waaagh! once per battle at the beginning of a battle round. When activated, until the start of the next battle round:

  • Ork units can declare a charge even after advancing.
  • The Strength and Attacks characteristics of melee weapons wielded by Ork models are increased by 1.
  • Ork models gain a 5+ invulnerable save.

Leagues of Votann: Eye of the Ancestors

Abilities: For Leagues of Votann armies, when an enemy unit eliminates a Leagues of Votann unit, it receives 1 Judgement token. An enemy unit can accumulate a maximum of 2 Judgement tokens, with any additional tokens beyond this limit being disregarded.

When attacking a unit with Judgement tokens, models from your army with this ability gain bonuses based on the number of tokens the enemy unit has:

  • 1 Judgement Token (Eminent Threat): Gain +1 to Hit rolls.
  • 2 Judgement Tokens (Now We’ve Got a Grudge to Settle): Gain +1 to both Hit and Wound rolls.

Difference between Abilities and Stratagems in Warhammer 40K

In Warhammer 40,000, both abilities and stratagems significantly impact gameplay, offering tactical advantages and unique effects. However, they operate within the game’s mechanics in distinct ways:


  • Inherent Traits: Abilities are special rules that are inherent to specific units, characters, or weapons. They are part of a model’s profile from the moment it is deployed and do not require additional resources to use.
  • Always Active: Many abilities are always “on” or trigger automatically under certain conditions during the game. For example, an ability might grant a unit resistance to psychic powers or allow it to move faster across the battlefield.
  • Reflect Lore and Function: Abilities often reflect the lore, battlefield role, or technological aspects of the unit they belong to, emphasizing its strengths or mitigating its weaknesses.


  • Resource-Based: Stratagems require the expenditure of Command Points (CPs) to use. Players accumulate CPs through their army’s structure and spend them to activate stratagems at strategic moments.
  • Strategic Choices: Unlike abilities, stratagems are used at the player’s discretion during specific phases of the game. Their use is a strategic decision, influenced by the flow of battle and the player’s tactics.
  • Faction and Universal Options: While many stratagems are unique to specific factions, reflecting their unique strategies and lore, there are also shared stratagems available to multiple players, offering common tactical maneuvers. For instance, all Space Marines armies can use Oath of Moment Stratagem.

Key Differences

  • Activation: Abilities are generally automatic or condition-based, while stratagems require active player decision-making and resource management.
  • Cost: Abilities come as part of a unit’s toolkit with no additional cost to use, whereas stratagems cost CPs to activate.
  • Flexibility: Abilities define a unit’s baseline functionality and thematic role, whereas stratagems provide players with tactical flexibility, allowing for dynamic shifts in strategy mid-game.

In essence, abilities are fixed characteristics that enhance units in ways that are consistent with their lore and role, whereas stratagems are versatile tactics that players can employ by spending a valuable in-game resource, offering a layer of strategic depth and player agency to the game.

Quick Answers

How Warhammer 40K Abilities Work??

In Warhammer 40,000, abilities are special rules that give units, weapons, or entire armies unique advantages and effects on the battlefield. They can be always active, triggered under specific conditions, or used at the player’s discretion. Abilities enhance how a unit moves, fights, or survives and can significantly influence the game’s strategy.

What’s the relation between Abilities and Keywords in Warhammer 40000?

In Warhammer 40,000, keywords categorize units and models, determining which abilities they can access or be affected by. This system ensures abilities apply correctly, enhancing gameplay strategy and thematic cohesion within factions and unit types.

What are the Best Weapon Abilities in Warhammer 40K?

Standout weapon abilities include Blast for hitting multiple enemies, Rapid Fire for extra shots at close range, Melta for high damage against armored targets, Lethal Hits for automatic wounding, Armor Penetration (AP) to reduce enemy saves, and Ignores Cover to maintain damage effectiveness regardless of terrain.

What are the Best Unit Abilities in Warhammer 40K?

There are several core unit abilities widely recognized for their utility and impact across a range of situations: Deep Strike enables surprise reinforcements, Feel No Pain showcases unit resilience, Fly allows for navigating obstacles freely, Infiltrators start closer to enemy lines for strategic advantages, and Objective Control enhances territorial control in games. These abilities enrich gameplay with strategic depth and thematic elements.

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