Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop miniature war-game that takes place in a dark, futuristic universe where humanity battles against a host of alien races and demonic forces. The game is played on a tabletop using miniature models that represent soldiers, vehicles, and other units.
Players build armies of these miniatures, which can include anything from heavily armored Space Marines to swarms of alien Tyranids. The objective of the game is to defeat your opponent by either wiping out their army or achieving specific objectives on the battlefield.
The game is played using a set of rules that cover everything from movement and shooting to close combat and psychic powers. Players take turns moving and attacking with their units, using a variety of weapons and abilities to try to outmaneuver and outgun their opponent.
Setting up a Warhammer 40,000 Game
To start playing Warhammer 40,000, you’ll need miniatures, a rule book, special dice, a measuring tape, terrain pieces, paints and brushes, and glue. Some starter sets may include these components, and as you become more experienced, you may want to invest in additional accessories.
Summary of the things you’ll need to play the game.
To start playing Warhammer 40,000, you’ll need a few essential components:
- Miniatures: These are the models that represent your army. You can choose from a wide variety of factions and units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Rulebook: This contains all the rules and regulations for playing the game, including how to move your miniatures, how to attack, and how to use special abilities.
- Dice: You’ll need a set of special dice to determine the outcome of certain actions in the game, such as shooting and close combat.
- Measuring tape: You’ll need a measuring tape to measure the distance between your miniatures and other objects on the battlefield.
- Terrain: You’ll need a variety of terrain pieces to represent the battlefield, such as hills, buildings, and barricades.
- Paints and brushes: If you want to customize your miniatures, you’ll need paints and brushes to do so.
- Glue: You’ll need glue to assemble your miniatures and attach them to their bases.
It’s important to note that some starter sets may include some or all of these components, making it easier for beginners to get started. As you become more experienced, you may also want to invest in additional accessories, such as specialized gaming mats and scenery pieces.
Setting up the game board
Setting up the game board for a Warhammer 40,000 game is like creating your own miniaturized battlefield, complete with a diverse range of terrain, buildings, and obstacles that create a sense of depth and immersion.
To begin, you’ll need to decide on the size of the board and the type of terrain you want to use. The board can range in size from a small coffee table to a larger, custom-made gaming table, depending on your preferences and available space.
The terrain you choose can include hills, forests, ruins, and other features that add tactical depth and visual interest to the game.
Once you have your terrain pieces and board size determined, it’s time to start setting up the board. This involves placing terrain pieces in a way that creates a balanced and interesting playing field for both players. You’ll want to consider line of sight, cover, and other strategic factors when placing terrain, creating a complex and challenging environment that rewards smart play and careful planning.
When the terrain is in place, you can start setting up your miniatures on the board, positioning them in a way that gives you the best advantage.
You’ll need to consider movement, cover, and line of sight when placing your units, making sure they have the best possible chance of success in battle.
Primary and Secondary objectives
In a Warhammer 40,000 game, there are typically two types of objectives: primary objectives and secondary objectives. Based on the type of game you play – Open, Matched and Narrative – Objectives can vary.
The main differences between open play, matched play, and narrative play are the level of structure and competitiveness involved, as well as the emphasis on creating a unique and personalized gaming experience.
Matched Play is by far the more competitive and structured way to play the game and also the one where the objectives can vary wildly. Here’s a few examples:
In the 9th Edition matched play of Warhammer 40,000, primary objectives focus solely on controlling objective markers.
The primary objectives are scored at the beginning of a player’s turn in the Command phase, but cannot be scored on the first turn of the game, providing four opportunities to score. Each primary objective can be worth a maximum of 15 points per turn.
- Take and Hold: One example of a progressive primary objective is Take and Hold, which centers around controlling objective markers.
- Domination: Another progressive primary objective is Domination, which requires a player to control objective markers.
- Unified Advance: this is a unique progressive primary objective found in the Lines of Battle Eternal War mission. It features six objective markers arranged in a line, and players can earn 5 VP for controlling any objective markers, an additional 5 VP for controlling objective markers on the ends, and another additional 5 VP for controlling markers on the ends and middle.
There are dozens of Secondary Objectives in Matched Play as each faction in the Warhammer 40K universe can have their own set of goals.
Regardless of the faction, each secondary objective is part of one of the categories below. In a game, players cannot choose more than one from each category.
- Purge the Enemy
- No Mercy, No Respite
- Battlefield Supremacy
- Shadow Operations
Examples of secondary objectives for the 9th Edition of Warhammer 40,000:
- Engage on All Fronts: This objective requires the player to have units wholly within three different table quarters at the end of the turn, with each quarter being worth 3 victory points (VPs). This rewards players who spread their units across the battlefield and control multiple areas.
- Assassinate: This objective requires the player to destroy specific enemy characters during the game. Each character is worth a certain number of VPs, with harder-to-kill characters being worth more. This objective rewards players who can target and eliminate key enemy units.
- Raise the Banners High: This objective requires the player to raise a banner on specific objectives during the game. Each banner is worth a certain number of VPs, with harder-to-reach objectives being worth more. This objective rewards players who can control key areas of the battlefield and secure objectives.
- Domination: This secondary objective is similar to the primary objective of the same name, requiring the player to control multiple objectives throughout the game. Each objective is worth a certain number of VPs, with more objectives being worth more points. This objective rewards players who can control the majority of the objectives on the battlefield.
- Linebreaker: This objective requires the player to have at least one unit wholly within the enemy deployment zone at the end of the game. This rewards players who can penetrate deep into enemy territory and disrupt their plans.
Building your army in Warhammer 40,000
Choosing an army is a crucial step in Warhammer 40,000 because it determines the units, abilities, and tactics that a player will have access to throughout the game.
Each army has its unique strengths and weaknesses, playstyle, and lore, which can greatly affect the player’s enjoyment of the game.
Additionally, different armies can perform better or worse against certain opponents, so understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each army can be critical to success in the game.
We recommend taking a look at our faction guide for a deep dive into what makes every faction in W40K unique!
Choosing a faction and army list
Each faction in Warhammer 40000 has its unique play style, strengths, and weaknesses, which can greatly impact how they perform on the battlefield.
- Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines): The Space Marines are a highly versatile and flexible army, capable of adapting to a wide range of battlefield situations. They have access to powerful special rules, such as the ability to re-roll hit rolls of 1, and their units are often very durable.
- Adeptus Mechanicus: The Adeptus Mechanicus is a faction of tech-priests and cybernetically-enhanced soldiers. They have access to a wide range of advanced technology, including powerful weapons, robots, and vehicles. They also have unique abilities that allow them to repair and heal their units.
- Necrons: The Necrons are an ancient race of undead robots. They have access to powerful weapons and abilities that allow them to manipulate time and space. They are also very durable, with many of their units having the ability to reanimate and come back to life after being destroyed.
- T’au Empire: The T’au are a technologically-advanced faction of alien warriors. They have access to powerful weapons and advanced technology, including battle suits and drones. They also have unique abilities that allow them to coordinate their units and fire together as a cohesive force.
- Tyranids: The Tyranids are a swarm-based faction of alien monsters. They have access to a wide range of powerful melee and ranged weapons, and their units often have the ability to regenerate lost wounds. They also have unique abilities that allow them to spawn new units on the battlefield, and to adapt their genetic material to better suit the battlefield conditions.
- Chaos Space Marines: The Chaos Space Marines are the twisted and corrupted counterparts of the Adeptus Astartes. They have access to powerful daemon weapons and abilities, as well as psychic powers. They are also able to summon daemons onto the battlefield to fight for them.
- Orks: The Orks are a savage and brutal faction of alien warriors. They have access to a wide range of powerful melee weapons, and their units often become stronger and more effective as they fight. They also have unique abilities that allow them to generate additional attacks, and to repair damaged vehicles on the battlefield.
Understanding army composition and points values
Understanding army composition and points values in a Warhammer 40000 table top game means having a clear understanding of the units and models that can be included in an army, as well as their respective points values. Each unit in the game is assigned a specific points cost that reflects its relative power and usefulness on the battlefield.
To build an army, players must choose units and models from their chosen faction that add up to a total points value, typically agreed upon by both players before the game begins. This process requires careful consideration of each unit’s strengths, weaknesses, and tactical abilities, as well as the overall strategy and objectives of the player’s army.
Understanding army composition and points values is crucial for building a balanced and effective army that can compete against a wide range of opponents and strategies. Without this understanding, players may find themselves at a disadvantage in terms of firepower, mobility, durability, or tactical flexibility, which can lead to defeat on the battlefield.
What is army size in Warhammer 40000?
Army sizes in Warhammer 40,000 can vary depending on the game format or scenario being played. The most common game sizes are:
- Combat Patrol: A small-scale game with 500 points limit, designed for quick and easy games that can be played in an hour or two. Typically, this would be composed of a single detachment, and a small number of units.
- Incursion: A medium-sized game with 1,000 points limit, designed for a more challenging game that can be played in around 2-3 hours. This game format would usually include one or two detachments and a moderate number of units.
- Strike Force: A larger game with 2,000 points limit, designed for a full-scale battle that can be played in around 3-4 hours. This game format would include multiple detachments and a significant number of units.
- Onslaught: A very large game with 3,000 points limit or more, designed for an epic battle that can be played over a full day. This game format would include multiple detachments and a massive number of units.
Here are some examples of point values for Warhammer 40K units:
- Space Marine Tactical Squad: 90 points
- Ork Boyz: 7 points per model
- Tyranid Hormagaunts: 6 points per model
- Astra Militarum Leman Russ Battle Tank: 155 points
- Eldar Fire Prism: 155 points
- Necron Immortals: 24 points per model
- Tau Crisis Battlesuits: 67 points per model
These point values can vary depending on the specific unit’s weapons, abilities, and upgrades, but they provide a general idea of the relative power and cost of different units in the game.
By comparing the point values of different units, you can build balanced and effective armies that can compete on the battlefield.
Important to know – Games Workshop is constantly balancing the units in W40K with each new edition so numbers above might differ.
Warhammer 40,000 Game Mechanics
In Warhammer 40,000, the game is divided into a series of turns, each of which represents a period of time during the battle.
The turn structure in Warhammer 40,000 is divided into five phases:
- Command Phase – Players use this phase to issue commands, activate certain abilities and generate command points.
- Movement Phase – During this phase, players move their units across the battlefield within the restrictions set by their units’ abilities and any effects from terrain or abilities.
- Psychic Phase – Players who have Psykers in their army may use this phase to attempt to manifest psychic powers.
- Shooting Phase – Players use their ranged weapons to attack enemy units, with the number of attacks and the effectiveness of those attacks determined by the models’ stats and any modifiers in play.
- Charge and Fight Phase – In this phase, players may charge enemy units, then resolve close combat attacks.
- Morale Phase – where players must take a Morale test for any units that have lost models during the turn. This represents the psychological impact of the battle on the units, and can cause them to flee if they fail their test.
After the Morale Phase, the turn ends and players proceed to the next turn.
Movement rules and restrictions
Movement is one of the core mechanics of the game, and it follows a set of rules and restrictions that players must abide by. Here is a summary of the movement rules and restrictions in Warhammer 40,000:
- Measuring movement: Players measure distances in inches using a tape measure.
- Movement restrictions: Units cannot move through other models, terrain features, or off the table. Some units may have special abilities that allow them to move through certain obstacles or terrain.
- Movement distances: Each unit has a specific movement characteristic, which determines how far it can move in inches during its turn. The unit must move in a straight line, but it can pivot on the spot before or after moving.
- Charging: Units can attempt to charge enemy units during their turn if they are within a certain distance. The charge distance is determined by rolling two six-sided dice and adding the result to the unit’s charge distance characteristic.
- Overwatch: If an enemy unit charges a unit, the unit being charged can shoot at the enemy unit before the charge takes place. This is called overwatch.
- Falling back: Units that are engaged in close combat with enemy units can choose to fall back instead of fighting. When a unit falls back, it moves in a straight line away from the enemy unit.
- Flying units: Some units have the ability to fly, which allows them to move over other models and terrain features.
- Psychic movement: Some units have psychic abilities that allow them to move themselves or other units on the battlefield.
- Vehicle movement: Vehicles have their own movement characteristics and can move over terrain features that infantry units cannot.
Understanding shooting mechanics
Shooting is one of the primary mechanics in Warhammer 40,000, and it involves using ranged weapons to attack enemy units.
Here are the key points to keep in mind regarding shooting mechanics in Warhammer 40,000:
- Line of Sight: To target an enemy unit with a shooting attack, the shooting unit must have a clear line of sight to the target unit. This means that there cannot be any intervening terrain or models blocking the shooter’s view of the target.
- Range: Each ranged weapon in the game has a specified range, which represents the maximum distance that the weapon can effectively shoot. If a target is beyond the weapon’s range, it cannot be targeted with that weapon.
- To Hit Rolls: Once a target has been selected, the shooting player must make a “to hit” roll to determine if the attack successfully hits the target. The player rolls a six-sided die and compares the result to their unit’s Ballistic Skill stat, which represents the unit’s proficiency with ranged weapons. The player must roll equal to or higher than their Ballistic Skill to successfully hit the target.
- Wounding Rolls: If the to hit roll is successful, the player then makes a “wounding roll” to determine if the attack causes any damage to the target. This roll is also made with a six-sided die, and the result is compared to the weapon’s Strength stat and the target unit’s Toughness stat. The player must roll equal to or higher than the target unit’s Toughness stat to successfully wound it.
- Saving Throws: If the wounding roll is successful, the target unit may then make a “saving throw” to avoid taking damage. Each unit in the game has a specified Armor Save stat, which represents their ability to withstand attacks. The player rolls a six-sided die, and if the result is equal to or higher than the unit’s Armor Save stat, the unit takes no damage. If the result is lower than the Armor Save stat, the unit takes damage equal to the weapon’s Damage stat.
- Cover Saves: If the target unit is in cover, it may be eligible for a “cover save,” which provides additional protection from incoming attacks. The cover save is made in the same way as an armor save, but the target unit receives a bonus to their Armor Save stat based on the cover they are in.
Good to know: You must carefully consider terrain, unit positioning, weapon ranges, and a variety of other factors when deciding how to engage in ranged combat. Successful shooting attacks can be devastating to enemy armies, and mastering the mechanics of shooting is a key part of being a skilled Warhammer 40,000 player.
Close combat and charging
Close combat and charging are another key aspect of the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game, and involve units engaging in melee combat with each other.
Here are the key points to keep in mind regarding close combat and charging mechanics:
- Charge Distance: To initiate a charge, a player must select a friendly unit and declare the enemy unit they want to charge. The charging unit must be within 12 inches of the enemy unit, and the player rolls two six-sided dice to determine the charge distance. The total rolled is the maximum distance the charging unit can move towards the enemy unit.
- Overwatch: Before the charging unit can engage in close combat, the defending unit may have the opportunity to fire Overwatch shots at the charging unit. Overwatch shots are made with the same rules as normal shooting attacks, but the defending unit can only hit on a 6+ and the charging unit is not eligible to make any saving throws.
- Charge Move: If the charging unit successfully reaches the enemy unit, they can make a charge move to engage in close combat. The charging unit can move up to their charge distance, and must end within 1 inch of at least one enemy model.
- Fight Phase: In the Fight phase of the turn, players alternate selecting units to fight in close combat. Units that charged this turn are allowed to fight first, followed by defending units, and then other eligible units in the order of the player’s choice.
- To Hit Rolls: To make a successful attack in close combat, the player must roll a six-sided die and compare the result to their unit’s Weapon Skill stat, which represents their proficiency in melee combat. The player must roll equal to or higher than their Weapon Skill to successfully hit the target.
- To Wound Rolls: If the to hit roll is successful, the player then makes a “to wound” roll to determine if the attack causes any damage to the target. This roll is made with a six-sided die, and the result is compared to the weapon’s Strength stat and the target unit’s Toughness stat. The player must roll equal to or higher than the target unit’s Toughness stat to successfully wound it.
- Saving Throws: If the target unit is successfully wounded, it may then make an armor save to avoid taking damage. The target unit rolls a six-sided die, and if the result is equal to or higher than the unit’s Armor Save stat, the unit takes no damage. If the result is lower than the Armor Save stat, the unit takes damage equal to the weapon’s Damage stat.
Good to know: Units with higher Weapon Skill and Strength stats will be more effective in close combat, and you must also balance the risk of charging with the potential rewards of taking out enemy units in close combat.
Morale and leadership
Morale and leadership mechanics are an important aspect of the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game, as they represent the psychological impact of combat on a unit.
Here are the key points to keep in mind regarding morale and leadership mechanics:
- Morale Test: At the end of each turn, units that have lost models during the turn must take a Morale test. To take a Morale test, roll a six-sided die and add the number of models that were slain from the unit during the turn. If the total is equal to or higher than the unit’s Leadership value, the unit fails the Morale test.
- Failing a Morale Test: If a unit fails a Morale test, it must immediately take further casualties equal to the amount by which the Morale test was failed. For example, if a unit had lost three models and failed its Morale test by two points, it would immediately lose two additional models.
- Nerve Tests: Certain units may be required to take Nerve tests, which function similarly to Morale tests. Nerve tests are typically taken when a unit is subjected to particularly frightening or traumatizing events, such as being charged by a particularly fearsome enemy unit.
- Leadership Values: Each unit has a Leadership value, which represents their ability to maintain discipline and morale in the face of enemy fire. Units with higher Leadership values are less likely to fail Morale tests, while units with lower Leadership values may be more susceptible to breaking and fleeing from the battlefield.
- Leadership Buffs and Debuffs: Some units or special abilities may grant Leadership buffs or debuffs, which can increase or decrease a unit’s Leadership value. For example, a nearby friendly unit’s Leadership aura ability can increase the Leadership value of nearby units, while enemy units with particularly terrifying abilities may decrease the Leadership values of nearby units.
Good to know: Leaders with higher Leadership values can be crucial to maintaining unit cohesion and ensuring that troops continue to fight effectively, while enemies with particularly terrifying abilities may be able to exploit weaknesses in a player’s morale and leadership.