Warhammer 40000 Glossary and Terms

Warhammer 40,000 has a vast amount of lore and terminology, so we’ve decided to put together a simple list that covers the most common terms and jargon. It should help you understand the game better and navigate the rules and discussions surrounding it.
Warhammer 40000 Glossary and Terms
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Our Glossary categorizes the most common Warhammer 40000 terms into general terms that provide foundational knowledge, gameplay terms that are essential for understanding the mechanics of the game and supporting terms.

Please note that with the release of the new Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition some of the definitions will change or become obsolete completely.

General Terms


In Warhammer 40,000 tabletop, an army refers to a player’s collection of units and models that they use to play the game. It consists of various factions, detachments, and individual models that work together as a cohesive force on the tabletop. For example, a player might have an army composed of Space Marines, including squads of Tactical Marines, a Dreadnought, and a Land Raider.

Army List

An army list is a list of units, models, and their equipment that a player brings to a game. It outlines the composition of the player’s army, including the types and quantities of units and any upgrades or special equipment they possess. An army list helps players organize and plan their forces before a game and ensures that they adhere to the rules and restrictions of the chosen game format.


A codex is a rulebook specific to a particular faction in Warhammer 40,000. It contains rules, lore, and army-building guidelines for that faction. The codex provides detailed information about the faction’s units, their characteristics, weapons, special rules, and abilities. Players refer to their faction’s codex to build their army lists and to understand the rules specific to their faction.


A faction represents a specific group or race within the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Each faction has its own unique characteristics, abilities, and units. Examples of factions include Space Marines, Orks, Eldar, Necrons, Tyranids, Chaos Space Marines, and many more. Each faction has its own codex or rulebook that provides rules and lore specific to that faction.


In the Warhammer 40,000 wargame, a model refers to a single miniature representing a character, creature, or vehicle on the tabletop. Models are typically made of plastic or metal and are painted and assembled by hobbyists. They represent the various characters, troops, monsters, and vehicles that make up an army. For example, a Space Marine model can represent a specific Space Marine warrior armed with a bolter.


Points represent a numerical value assigned to each unit or model in Warhammer 40,000. Points reflect the power level and capabilities of a unit. Players use points to balance their armies and games, ensuring a fair and competitive experience. Each unit or model has a specific points cost, and players spend their allocated points to build their army lists. For example, a Space Marine Tactical Squad may cost 100 points, while a Space Marine Dreadnought may cost 150 points.


The rulebook is the main rulebook of Warhammer 40,000 that contains the core rules for playing the game. It covers fundamental mechanics, such as movement, shooting, combat, and special rules that apply to all factions. The rulebook serves as the foundation for gameplay and is used in conjunction with faction-specific codexes and supplements.


A unit is a group of models that act together on the tabletop, usually representing a squad or a vehicle. Units can consist of infantry, cavalry, monstrous creatures, or vehicles. For example, a unit of Space Marine Tactical Marines can consist of several individual Space Marine models, each armed with various weapons and acting as a cohesive fighting force.

Game Modes

Matched Play

It is a structured and balanced format designed to provide fair and competitive gameplay experiences. Matched Play games are often played in organized events, tournaments, or between players who want a more standardized and even playing field.

Narrative Play

A game mode focused on storytelling and creating thematic battles. Unlike Matched Play, which focuses on balanced and competitive gameplay, Narrative Play emphasizes storytelling, thematic battles, and immersive experiences. In Narrative Play, players create and develop their own narrative-driven campaigns, missions, and scenarios. The emphasis is on creating engaging narratives, building characters, and developing rich backgrounds for the forces involved.

Open Play

A game mode with more relaxed rules and customization options for casual play. It offers a flexible and unrestricted style of gameplay that encourages creativity, experimentation, and casual enjoyment of the game. Open Play is characterized by its lack of formal restrictions and rules. It is designed to allow players to freely create and play games without the constraints of army composition rules or specific mission objectives.

Gameplay Terms

Armor Save

An Armor Save is a roll made to prevent damage to a model or unit from incoming attacks. When a model is targeted by an attack, an Armor Save is typically made to determine if the armor and protective gear of the model can withstand the attack and prevent or reduce the damage. The value of an Armor Save is typically represented by a numerical modifier, such as “+3” or “-2,” which is applied to a dice roll.


A charge refers to an action taken by a unit to engage an enemy unit in close combat. When a unit charges, it moves towards an enemy unit in its charge range with the intention of initiating melee combat during the subsequent Fight phase. Charging allows units to close the distance with the enemy and potentially disrupt their plans or eliminate key targets.

Command Points

Command Points are a resource used to activate special abilities and stratagems during a game. Command Points are earned based on the composition of a player’s army, and they can be spent to gain advantages or use powerful abilities. Different actions and events throughout the game may grant additional Command Points. Players strategically manage their Command Points to seize tactical opportunities and turn the tide of battle.


Consolidate is an action that a unit can take after it has fought in close combat during the Fight phase. Consolidation represents the unit’s continued momentum and aggression as it seeks to maintain its advantage or reposition itself for future engagements.

Cover Save

A Cover Save is a bonus to Armor Saves granted to models or units that are in cover. When a model or unit is partially or fully obscured by terrain or other obstacles, it may receive a bonus to its Armor Save, making it more resilient against incoming attacks. The value of the Cover Save is usually represented by a modifier applied to the Armor Save roll.

Deployment Zone

the deployment zone refers to the designated area on the tabletop where each player sets up their units at the beginning of the game. It determines the starting positions of the armies and provides a specific area for players to deploy their forces.

Deployment Phase

In the deployment phase, which typically takes place before the game officially begins, players take turns placing their units within their respective deployment zones. The size and shape of the deployment zone can vary depending on the specific mission or game format being played.


A detachment is a specific formation of units that follows certain rules and requirements. Detachments provide structure and organization to an army list and often grant additional special rules or benefits to the units within them. Players typically include multiple detachments in their army lists to maximize strategic options and unlock certain gameplay advantages.

Fall Back

In Warhammer 40,000, the term “Fall Back” refers to an action that a unit can take during the game to disengage from close combat and retreat. When a unit Falls Back, it moves away from the enemy it was engaged with, creating distance between the two forces.

Game Phases

In Warhammer 40,000, the game is divided into several distinct phases, each serving a specific purpose and allowing players to perform different actions. The game phases are as follows:

  • Movement Phase: The phase during which units can move across the tabletop.
  • Shooting Phase: The phase where units can make ranged attacks.
  • Charge Phase: The phase where units can declare charges and attempt to engage in close combat.
  • Fight Phase: The phase where units engaged in close combat can make their melee attacks.
  • Morale Phase: The phase where units may have to take morale tests based on the number of casualties suffered.

Heroic Intervention

Heroic Intervention is a special ability that certain units possess, allowing them to move into combat during the opponent’s turn. It represents an unexpected and swift response by a unit to engage enemy forces that are within proximity. Heroic Intervention provides an opportunity for a unit to swiftly react and join ongoing combats, potentially catching the opponent off guard and turning the tide of battle.


Leadership is a characteristic representing a unit’s morale and its ability to stay in combat. Leadership values vary between units and factions and influence how well a unit can withstand the pressures of battle. Leadership tests may be required in certain situations, such as when a unit suffers casualties or when a special rule or ability triggers a morale check.


Melee refers to close combat or hand-to-hand combat between units. When engaged in melee, units fight in close quarters using their melee weapons, such as swords, claws, or other melee-oriented tools. Melee combat involves rolling dice to determine hits, wounds, and saves, and often includes special rules and abilities that affect the outcome of the combat.


An Objective refers to a specific location or marker on the tabletop that players must control to score victory points. Objectives are typically represented by objective markers placed on the battlefield. Controlling an objective means having more models from your army within a certain distance of the objective marker than your opponent. Objectives play a crucial role in many game scenarios and provide strategic goals for players to achieve.


Overwatch is a defensive ability that allows a unit to shoot at an enemy unit that charges them. When an enemy unit declares a charge against a unit in Overwatch, the defending unit can fire its weapons at the charging unit before the charge is resolved. This provides a chance to inflict damage on the charging unit and potentially weaken its assault.

Psychic Powers

Psychic Powers are special abilities used by psykers, characters capable of harnessing psychic energy. Psykers can manifest and unleash psychic powers during the psychic phase of the game, granting various effects such as offensive attacks, defensive buffs, or utility abilities. Psychic powers are typically selected from a specific discipline or psychic discipline unique to the psyker’s faction.


Shooting refers to ranged attacks made by units using their weapons. Ranged attacks allow units to engage enemies at a distance, targeting them with various firearms, energy weapons, or projectile launchers. Shooting involves rolling dice to determine hits, wounds, and saves, and it takes into account factors such as weapon range, line of sight, and the characteristics of the shooting unit and its target.


Stratagems are special abilities or tactics that can be used by spending Command Points. They provide additional tactical options and can have a significant impact on the game. Stratagems often grant temporary bonuses, allow units to perform unique actions, or alter the flow of the game in some way. Each faction has its own set of stratagems, providing a distinct flavor and strategic depth to gameplay.

Victory Points

Victory Points are points awarded for achieving specific objectives or destroying enemy units. Victory Points determine the winner of the game and can be earned through various means, such as controlling objectives, eliminating enemy units, or completing mission-specific tasks. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game is declared the winner. Victory Points encourage strategic decision-making and objective-focused gameplay.


A Wound is a measure of a model’s health, representing how much damage it can sustain before being removed from play. Each model has a specific number of Wounds, indicating its resilience. When a model suffers damage from attacks, Wounds are deducted from its total. Once a model’s Wounds are reduced to zero, the model is removed from the game.

Specific Game Elements


An Aura is a special ability or effect that affects models within a certain range of a character or unit. Auras typically provide bonuses or buffs to friendly models within the aura’s radius. For example, a character’s aura ability might enhance nearby units’ combat abilities, increase their resilience, or grant additional movement. Auras are a powerful way to enhance the capabilities of nearby units and create synergies within an army.


Blast is a type of weapon that affects multiple models in an area. Weapons with the Blast keyword have a larger area of effect, allowing them to hit multiple targets within their blast radius. Blast weapons are particularly effective against groups of infantry or tightly packed units. When resolving attacks with Blast weapons, players often roll a specific number of dice to determine hits against the potential targets.


Characters are special models that have unique abilities and often act as leaders for their faction. They can be renowned heroes, commanders, or powerful psykers. Characters possess distinct profiles and abilities that set them apart from regular models. They may have improved characteristics, access to special weapons or equipment, and the ability to issue orders or support nearby units. Characters often play a crucial role in the narrative and strategy of the game.


In Warhammer 40,000, a Vehicle is a model that represents a machine or transport used by a faction. Vehicles can range from nimble skimmers to massive battle tanks or towering walkers. They often possess unique rules and characteristics, such as increased durability, access to heavy weaponry, and the ability to transport infantry units. Vehicles can be a significant force on the battlefield, providing firepower, mobility, and strategic options to the player.

Additional Resources


Datacards refer to physical or digital cards that provide quick-reference information and special rules for units, abilities, and stratagems. They are used by players during gameplay to easily access the essential details of their units without having to constantly refer back to rulebooks or codexes. Datacards are typically available for specific factions or armies, containing unit-specific information that pertains to that particular force.


Datasheets are documents that provide all the necessary rules and information for a specific unit or model. They include characteristics, abilities, weapons, and special rules that define how the unit or model functions on the tabletop. Datasheets serve as references for players during the game and ensure consistent gameplay. Each unit or model in Warhammer 40,000 has its own datasheet, which can be found in faction-specific codexes, expansion books, or downloadable updates provided by the game’s publisher.


A dataslate is a supplementary document or booklet that contains rules, background information, and special missions or scenarios related to specific units, factions, or campaigns. Dataslates often provide additional content and options for players, expanding upon the rules and lore found in codexes and other rulebooks. They may introduce new units, formations, or updated rules for existing units. Dataslates are typically released as separate publications or as digital downloads, allowing players to enhance their gaming experience and explore new content.

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