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Genestealer Cult Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Ed

WH40k Tyranid Genestealer Brood Brothers

In this section we will have a look at the Genestealer Cult army in the Warhammer 40000 game and how to win more games with the Genestealer Cults.

These pages are written with the expectation that you have a copy of the Warhammer 40000 rules and a copy of the Index: Xenos 2 book that has all the rules and points values for playing a Genestealer Cult army.

What are the Genestealer Cults?

Genestealer Cults are the vanguard army for the Tyranids. Purestrain Genestealers hide on abandoned space hulks, star-ship wreckage floating through the space lanes that lie between the star systems. With luck these hulks will be boarded by salvage merchants and raiders looking for valuable ancient tech that these hulks often hide. Once boarded the Genestealers will infect the raiders with their DNA. The side effect of this is that the hosts become blindly devoted to their Genestealer parasites. The Raiders then take the Genestealers to a suitable planet, smuggling them past customs and hiding in the depths of society.

As soon as a Genestealer brood find a new home they begin to infect more and more of the poor and unwashed with their parasitic DNA. However that is not the most insidious part of it. As the infected humans breed and reproduce they create 2nd generation hybrid human/Genestealers (Acolyte Hybrids). These Acolytes often have latent psychic powers. The hybrids use their psychic powers to beguile the humans around them to accept these hybrids as their leaders. The most senior Acolyte becomes the Iconward.

2nd generation Genestealer Hybrids breed 3rd generation hybrids (Neophyte Hybrids). These in turn create 4 generation hybrids. Each generation looks more and more human, and becomes more and more likely to master psychic powers. 4th generation psykers are called Magus. Non-psychic 4th gen hybrids become Primus.

All this infecting and breeding has one purpose. When there are enough infected mind controlled humans, the Genestealer Cults rise up and cause chaos and mayhem around the planet. At the same time the Genestealers subconsciously send a beacon to the Tyranid Hive Mind that this planet is ripe for harvesting.

General Genestealer Cult Tactics

The Genestealer Cult army is deceptively flexible. This is because not only can you use units from the ample Genestealer army list, but you can add Imperial Guard Astra Militarum detachments (with some restrictions) and Tyranid detachments (with no restrictions) to your Genestealer Cult army.

Cult Ambush

The Genestealer Cults thrive in the sewers and dark underworld of society. Using their knowledge of the tunnels and passages that exist below they can pop up in the middle of the battlefield part way through the game. Be aware that even the Cultists can get lost in the labyrinth of passages, so this somewhat random in it’s effectiveness. However this ability is useful enough to warrant becoming very familiar with how it works!

Unquestioning Loyalty

This is a way of giving your Genestealer Cult Characters extra wounds, at the expense of their near by underlings. If your Character has a bodyguard of Infantry close by, and the Character takes a wound, then on a roll of 4+ one model is slain. Note that you do not get a save for this model, and it looses all it’s wounds, if it had more than one. Also note that this works in the shooting, combat, psychic phase, or any other time that the Character may loose a wound.

The best way to use the Unquestioning Loyalty ability is to assign a unit of cheep Neophytes to your characters. These can be used to absorb some wounds and allow your characters to keep doing what they are good at.

Genestealer Cult Psychic Powers

There are three psychic powers listed in the Broodmind Psychic power list. All three of them are very usable. If successfully manifested, Mass Hypnosis stops a unit over watching which is very useful for an assault focused army, Mind Control allows you to get your opponents biggest and baddest units against him (great anti-cheese device), and Might From Beyond just beefs up a unit in the fight phase. This could be the psyker themselves, specially in the case of the Patriarch.

Genestealer Cult Ambush Tactics

subterranean exitOne of the main features of the Genestealer Cult arm is that many units can pop up from the subterranean sewers and passages. It is highly recommended that you get familiar with this ability and how to use it.

In matched play games half of your army needs to be set up at the start of the game. This means that in most cases you will not be able to place all your units in reserve as ambush units. As you build your army list think about which units will be in ambush and which will start in your deployment zone. You will want to arm you units differently depending on the role you want them to play.  Ambush units will need to be better equipped for close combat and the other units will need to have more fire power.

When units arrive using the Cult Ambush rule they arrive at the end of the movement phase either in turn one,two,three, or four. Any units that have not arrived on turn four are lost as casualties. Most players bring their units in on turn one, but you may have a sneaky reason for bringing then in later.

When you elect to bring a unit in you need to roll a D6 and compare the result to the Cult Ambush table. Basically the hire the roll the closer you can set your units to enemy units. On a 5 or 6 you can usually assault on the turn you arrive. On a roll of 4 there is a 50/50 change of assaulting. You do not have to decide where you place your units until the result has been decided. It may be worth using command points to re-roll bad results.

As there is a fair chance of assaulting on arrival you will want to target enemy capital units ( high value units that you can take down in one assault).

Chapter Approved 2017 Update

Games Workshop has released a Chapter Approved rule book at the end of 2017. On pages 88 and 92 the Genestealer Cult rules have been updated to keep them somewhat in line with the armies that have had a full codex released. Personally I am glad to see Games Workshop put some time in to keeping the less popular armies relevant.

Special Rules: Objective Secured

The biggest rule change is that a Genestealer Cult Battle Forged detachment gets ‘Objective Secured’. This rule has appeared in all the Codex released so far under different names. How it works is that TROOPS units can secure an objective even if they are out numbered by the enemy. HQ, ELITE, FAST ATTACK, HEAVY SUPPORT, and etc units do not get this special rule. If the enemy units have this special rule too then you are back to counting relevant models with this rule and see who has the most.

The effect of this rule is massive. Securing objectives is a key part of winning games in WH40k 8th edition. The rule change means that TROOPS units are now far more valuable then the points costs for those units. It also completely changes now to create the ‘perfect mix’ of units. To win games you now will need to make sure that you have enough TROOPS units to capture objectives. With Genestealer Cult armies remember that you have the Cult Ambush rule too. this will allow you to sneak in and steal objectives from under the enemies noses. Just make sure that you can sneak out too!

Genestealer Cult HQ Tactics

With the Genestealer Cult army list you get a choice of four HQ unit choices. There are no names special characters, but this is fine. The four available options are a good fit for the army and very usable.

Genestealer Patriarch Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Genestealer Broodlord and Genestealer Brood

A Tyranid Genestealer Patriarch ( Brood Lord ) and Genestealers

Known as a Brood Lord in the Tyranid Army, the Patriarch is an over grown Genestealer. The Patriarch is a close combat specialist. This does come at the expense of shooting abilities. He (she?) has no ranged weapons other than it’s psychic ability. This makes tactics for the Patriarch easy. Get in to assault as soon as possible and as often as possible!

Patriarch Psychic abilities

The Patriarch know Smite and one Genestealer Cult Broodmind psychic power, and he can cast one power each friendly psychic phase. If you are playing point matched games then you will want to have a different Broodmind psychic power to any other psykers in your army. This will give you the greatest range of options during the battle.

Get Familiar With Your Familiars

Genestealer Patriarchs can be accompanied by little creatures called Familiars for a few extra points or one Power Point. These are well worth having. First off, one per battle, they allow the Patriarch to manifest two psychic powers in the psychic phase, and secondly they effectively give the Patriarch two extra Toughness 5 ( T3 if the Patriarch dies) wounds. All very useful! Note that the Familiars only have a 6+ save and no invulnerable saves. This means that you will want to assign wounds that could not be saved to the Familiars, for example Mortal Wounds. Knowing which other wounds to assign to the Familiars, and which to have the Patriarch attempt to save is a skill that you will need to learn.

Genestealer Cult Magus Tactics

Warhammer 40k Genestealer Magus PsykerWhere the Patriarch was the first Genestealer that made planet fall, the Magus is the product of several generations of breeding with the local population. With each generation the most psychically gifted offspring where mated to create an ever more powerful psyker. In previous codex releases the Magus has had formidable psychic powers. In the Index: Xenos 2 this has been toned down for better game balance.

More Familiars

Genestealer Magus’s can take Familiars in the same way Patriarchs can. Note that Magus Familiars are Toughness 3. However all the other benefits are there for the Magus too. This means that they are well worth taking if you have the points / power point spare.

Genestealer Cult Primus Tactics

Where as the Cult Magus is the result of generations of breeding to create a psyker, the Primus is the result of selecting the best fighters in a colony.

The Cult Primus is a decent close combat fighter. Armed with poison weapons the Primus is defiantly better at taking on none vehicles. He will need a bodyguard though. Team your Primus up with a unit or two of Acolytes or cheaper Neophytes to absorb some wounds as your Primus closes in.

Genestealer Cult Acolyte Iconward Tactics

The forth HQ unit choice is the Acolyte Iconward. Acolytes are 2nd generation Genestealer hybrids. The icon ward does have some nice Abilities but on the whole the Iconward in not a choice HQ unit. Think about taking a Primus or Magus instead.

One reason for choosing the Acolyte Iconward as your HQ is if you are creating a themed army list based on a fledgling Genestealer Cult.



Space Marine Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Ed

Pre-heresy Dark Angel Space Marine

Space Marines! The legions of the Adeptus Astartes – the Angels of Death (and remember that these are the good guys!), the defenders of mankind (ignoring the Imperial Guard, the Inquisition and all). These are the guys that will save the galaxy from the clutches of Chaos (just as long as they don’t succumb to Chaos themselves)!

Space Marine are easy to play in Warhammer 40k,and you don’t need many of them to make up an army. This means that they are very popular as a first army for new players. Easy to play doesn’t mean weak either! Space Marines are definitely the army to beat. If you win a game against them then you know that you have done well!

Space Marines come in many verities, some are different enough to have their own Codex. Examples are Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Space Wolfs. However there are many Space Marine chapters that follow the standard rules for Space Marines as set down by the Ultramarines, or close enough to use the standard rules with minor tweaks. These are called the.’Codex Space Marines’. Codex Space Marines include, but are not limited to; Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Salamanders, White Scars, Raven Guard, Iron Hands, Crimson Fists, and Black Templars. In this section we will look at the Codex Marine, their rules and tactics you can use when playing Space Marines in Warhammer 40k 8th edition games.

To make use of these pages you will need to own, or have regular access to the main Warhammer 40000 8th edition rule book and the Codex: Space Marines additional rules.

General Space Marine Tactics

Space Marines are generally very tactical units. By that I mean that units are able to fulfil several roles on the battlefield. They have good armour, good shooting weapons, and are capable of fighting hand to hand. Equipped with an armoured personal carrier (Rhino or Razorback) they can act as fast blitzkrieg / shock troops too. To aid this multi role you will find that most Space Marines are armed with long ranged shooting weapons (Bolters), short ranged Bolt Pistols, and hand to hand Chain Swords.

Common Ability: They Know No Fear

'They Know No Fear'Many Space Marine units have a common ‘They Know No Fear’ ability. this lets these units re-roll moral tests. This is most useful in the Moral Phase as it can mean that you loose less troops to failed moral checks. However be aware that there are other times when moral checks are needed. An example is when you are on the receiving end of some psychic power.

Battle-forged Detachment Abilities:

To encourage you to create ‘well formed’ detachments you get extra special rules that will help you to win. ‘Well formed’ means detachments that contain only Space Marines, and conform to the ‘battle forged’ formation structures found in the main rule book. For the ‘Defender of Humanity’ Spacial rule you can have a mixed bag of Chapters in your detachment, but for the ‘Chapter Tactics’ special rules you have to have just one chapter present.

Defenders of Humanity

Capturing objectives, or markers on the table makes up an important part of winning most 8th edition games. To capture a marker you usually have to have more models contesting a marker than your opponent does. With this special rule you can grab the objective with a single TROOPS unit regardless of how many enemy units are there. Note that all the other codexes released so far give other armies well formed the same special rule. If both players have units with this special rule contesting an objective you go back to counting the number of models in those units. The player with the most models with this ability wins it.

Notice that this ability only effects TROOPS units, not HQ, ELITE, HEAVY SUPPORT, FAST ATTACK, or any other unit type. For the Space Marines it means that it’s effect is limited to Tactical Squads, Intercessor Squads, Scout Squads, and Crusader Squads. So if you are contesting an objective and you have one Tactical Squad in 3″ of the marker, and your opponent has three ELITE Terminator Squad and a HQ Captain there, you still will the objective even though you seem to be outnumbered!

The Defenders of Humanity special rule boosts the value of TROOPS units way above the actual points cost. If winning games is what you are after, you need to see that you need to place the TROOPS units at the centre of your strategy. In a Space Marine army you will be helped with the ‘Combat Squads’ special rule and Dedicated Transport units. More about those later!

Space Marine Chapter Tactics

To add flavour to the Space Marine chapters, different chapters have been given some special rules that fit the back stories of those chapters. In game terms it allows you to have a look at the different chapters and see which special rules fit your style of play and adopt that Chapter, or a made up successor chapter.

  • Ultramarines: Codex Discipline. Ultramarines add one to leadership characteristic and you can shoot even if you Fall Back.
  • White Scars: Lightning Assault. White Scars can add 2″ to advance moves, ands can charge the same turn they fell back.
  • Imperial Fists: Siege Masters. Imperial Fists ignore cover saving throws and can re-roll failed wounds when targeting buildings.
  • Black Templars: Righteous Zeal.Black Templars can re-roll failed charge rolls.
  • Salamanders: Master Artisans. Salamander units can re-roll one failed wound in the shooting or fight phases.
  • Raven Guard: Shadow Masters. When shooting at Raven Guard from 12″ or more, the opponant must subtract 1 from the hit rolls
  • Iron Hands: The Flesh is Weak. Iron Guyard ignore wounds on a 6.

Space Marine HQ Tactics

Every army needs a leader to lead it to great victories! Well mostly, as in Warhammer 40000 you can get away with not having a leader for your army, but it is a good idea! If you do take a leader, you will find them in the HQ section.

You can take several HQ units in one army if you wish. If you do then you will want to nominate one of them as your general. It is usual to choose the biggest and strongest character as your general, but the choice is yours!

Space Marine HQ Units include:

Chapter Relics

Chapter Relics are free upgrades that you can give to a Space Marine Character if your Warlord is a Space Marine. Note that you can not upgrade a ‘Named Character’. The character could be, and usually is your warlord himself. You can find a full list of the relics and their special rules on page 200 of the Codex: Space Marines.

Space Marine Troop Tactics

5 man Dark Angel Squad with Assault WaeponsThe core of any Warhammer 40K army should be the Troop units. You should have enough troop units to make sure that you do not get out numbered.

The Space Marines have 3 main options . The Tactical Squad, the Scout Squad and the new Primaries Marine Intercessor Squads. Black Templar marines get the Crusader Squad, but not the Tactical and Scout Squads.

As mentioned above with the Defenders of Humanity special rule troop units have a much bigger role in the game.

  • Tactical Squads: The core of the Space Marine army. A Tactical Squad can do it all. It can capture objectives, give a good fight in close combat, and take on monstrous creatures with bolters, meltas and heavy weapons.
  • Intercessor Squads: Get use to S4 bolter weapons! Armed with the 30″ bolt rifle this unit can lay down a lot of fire over a good distance. Look to the upgrades to make this unit more tactical. Primarice Marines also get an extra wound and extra attack in the fight phase.
  • Scout Squads: Trainee Space Marines. Used to infiltrate and grab objectives before the first turn. However lightly armoured so die quicker. Scouts can be armed with close combat or heavy weapons.
  • Crusader Squad: Special Black Templar troop unit. This squad mixes both scouts (Neophytes) and tactical marines (Initiates). Crusader squads are very flexible in thier configuration and can have up to 20 Marines in a unit.

Space Marine Elite Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Space Marine Terminator SquadThe Space Marine army has a number of Elite unit choices. It is very tempting to dive in and have a lot of elite units in your army. However beware! Elite units  cost points. If you have too many then you will find that you do not have enough points for Troop units and become out numbered very quickly. You may want to keep to two or three Elite units in a 2000 point game.

  • Primaris, Chapter, Company Ancient: Banner carrier Character for the army. Use to be part of the command squad. Has extra wounds and minimal wargear upgrades. His banner does improve the leadership for nearby Marines from the same Chapter.
  • Chapter Champion: Close combat specialist character. Comes with a big sword but no shooting weapons. Get him in to combat quickly and often.
  • Honour Guard
  • Apothercary, Primaris Apothercary
  • Company Champion
  • Company Verterans
  • Seritors
  • Reiver Squad
  • Aggressor Squad
  • Terminator Squads, Cataphractii Terminator Squad
  • Terminator Assault Squad
  • Tartaros Terminator Squad
  • Vanguard Vertran Squad
  • Sternguard Veteran Squad
  • Dreadnought, Ironclad, Venerable, Contemptor, Redemptor Dreadnought
  • Centurion Assault Squad

Space Marine Fast Attack Tactics

Space Marine unit with jet packs

Fast attack units do what they say on the tin. They move around the table quickly adding support to stricken units or strike at an enemy’s weak spot. Fast attack can be useful for grabbing objectives if there aren’t any enemy troop units around.

Make sure that your Fast Attack units have support. They can make easy targets if they rush up the board unsupported.

  • Bike Squad
  • Assault Squad
  • Land Speeders
  • Attack Bike Squad

Space Marine Heavy Support Tactics

The game is not all about rushing forward and killing the enemy. Having a good back line too.

  • Devastator Squad
  • Centurion Devastator Squad
  • Hellblaster Squad
  • Thunderfire Cannon
  • Hunter, Stalker, Tanks
  • Whirlwind Tank
  • Predator Tank
  • Vindicator Tank
  • Land Raider, Land Raider Crusader, Land Raider Redeemer Tank

Space Marine Dedicated Transport Tactics

  • Rhino, Razorback Tanks: Rhinos are great for getting 10 man Tactical Squads around the table quickly. Razorbacks Transport 6 but has a big gun to support the troops too. Razorbacks are good for zipping Honour Guard and Veterans, or 5 man Tactics Squads around with a spare space for a Character to ride along!
  • Drop Pod
  • Land Speeder Storm
  • Repulsor Tank

Space Maine Flyer Tactics

  • Stormhawlk Interceptor, Gunship
  • Stormtalon Gunship

Space Marine Lords of War Tactics

Lords of War are extremely powerful units that can unbalance smaller games. For this reason Lords of war are usually banned from games under 30000 points.

  • Roboute Guilliman

Imperial Guard Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Ed

Warhammer 40000 Imperial Guard Armoured division

The Imperial Guard, or Astra Militarum is the front line of humanities desperate battle to survive in a very hostile universe. Oh yes the Space Marines think that they are the heroes and saviours of human kind, but they are few in number in relation to the vastness of space. The true saviours are the Astra Militarum, the Imperial Guard, the vast numbers of GI Joes putting boots on the ground, eating dirt, and paying the price in blood.

In this section we will be looking at tactics for using the Imperial Guard armies in the Warhammer 40000 8th edition game. To understand these tactics you will need the basic rules and a copy (or regular access to) the Index: Imperium 2 rules

Astra Militarum General Tactics

Playing Imperial Guard armies in Warhammer 40k can be great! You get loads of troops and some of the biggest guns in the game. You are never short of number when playing this army. The skill comes in when it comes time to co-ordinate all these units to achieve your objectives. It’s all to easy to just sit back behind you barricades blasting away. However the more advanced WH40k mission involve capturing strategic locations and tasks. If you are not careful you will get out manoeuvred allowing the enemy to win the points even as he looses units. The most effective Guard armies have a solid back line with units that can capture objectives with supporting cover fire.

Imperial Guard Abilities

The Imperial Guard only has one published ability, and another that is less obvious!

Voice of Command

The Imperial Guard armies have a common special ability called ‘Voice Of Command’. this represents the structured nature of the army and how the men look to officers for direction. Most HQ units will have the ‘Voice of Command’ ability listed on their data sheet. If they do then they can issue a special order to a unit nearby. Each HQ unit with this ability can issue one command, so if you have several HQ units you will use this ability several time a turn. There are no costs to using this ability, so make sure that you make the most of it!

Command Points

If you are using the advanced rules you will need to form your army in detachments. The Imperial Guard army are no different to any other army in this respect. However because Guards are cheep in points you will find that it is easier  to create larger detachments that gain extra Command Points, or several smaller detachments that has the same effect. This means that you should be able to call on more Command Points than opponents that play elite armies ( Space Marines & all ).

Get familiar with the basic Command Point Stratagems and and additional Mission basted Stratagems. Your mastery of these additional skills will be a major bonus in your games.

Imperial Guard HQ Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Imperial Guard Lord Commissar YarrickThe Imperial Guard only has two options for HQ units. Those are the Company Commander, for your general foot slogging officer, and the Tank Commander that is more useful leading an armoured detachment.

Company Commander: The Company Commander is the de-facto standard leader for an Imperial Guard Army. His main benefits are his high leadership and ‘Voice of Command‘ ability. The Company Commander only costs 3 power points or 30 points in a point matched game.  This means that you can take a few of them even in smaller games. My advice is do it, and keep them near a unit with a Vox caster radio. Keep your Company Commanders near the centre of your army so his influence ( leadership and Voice of Command) will have the greatest support for your infantry squads.If you have a nest of heavy support teams in a building or on a hill, then this would be a great place to place a Commander too. The ‘Take Aim’ or ‘Bring It Down’ really help heavy weapon teams. Do not be tempted to get your Company Commander in to a fight. Yes I know that in most armies the HQ character is the best fighter in the army. This is true for the Imperial Guard army too. The Company Commander is a notch better than a Veteran Imperial Guard trooper, but this is still a far cry from any other armies characters. Even the Tau commanders wear battle suits that give them an edge!

Tank Commander: If you are fielding a company of tanks you will want to take a tank commander instead of a Company Commander. This is because the ability that the Tank Commander gets instead of the regular Voice of Command is designed to be better for tank platoons.

Lord CommissarDid I say there where just two HQ unit options? well there is a third option hiding later in the pages of the Index: Imperium 2 ( page 46 ), and that is the Lord Commissar. Commissars are a double edged sword. They do add order to nearby units, but if they run then the Commissar will start shooting deserters. So which closes combat unit with low leadership scores, and enough models so that you can afford to loose one or two does this scream to you? – – Conscripts – -! Yes the best unit to team your Commissars with are conscript units, and then plough the commissar and conscripts in to your enemy troop units.

Imperial Guard Elite Tactics

The Elite section of the Imperial Guard where you find the specialist units.It is also where you find the greatest concentration of special weapons. Beware though, elite units cost more points so if you take too many you will not have enough points for the many infantry units you will need.

Imperial Guard Elite units include:

  • Master of Ordnance: This is a one man Ordnance weapon. For 2 power points you can call a Heavy D6, S8, -2, D3 ordnance blast anywhere within 100″ of him. Ok he can only do this once a game. However if he brings some of his Master of Ordnance mates along, each one can call down a strike (one strike per turn per army).
  • Platoon Commander: The Platoon Commander is a character that can issue Voice of Command commands. This means that you may have expected the platoon commander to be found in the HQ section,however it’s inclusion in the elite section opens up some interesting options.
  • Command Squad
  • Special Weapons Squad
  • Veterans
  • Militarum Tempest Command Squad
  • Ministorum Priest
  • Crusaders
  • Tesh-Priest Enginseer
  • Servitors
  • Commissar
  • Officer of the Fleet
  • Wyyrdvane Psyker
  • Astropath
  • Ogryn Bodyguard
  • Ogryns
  • Bullgryns
  • Ratlings

Imperial Guard Troop Tactics

When you need boots on the ground, it is the Troop units that you need to choose from.

  • Infantry Squad Tactics
  • Conscript Tactics
  • Militarum Tempestus Scions

Imperial Guard Fast Attack Tactics

Fast attact units allow you to support your troops quickly, strike at enemy weak points or grab objectives.

Imperail Guard Fast Attack units include:

  • Rough Riders
  • Scout Sentinels, Armoured Sentinels
  • Hell Hounds

Imperial Guard Heavy Support Tactics

When you need some punch, get some Heavy Support units.

  • Heavy Weapon Squads
  • Basilisks, Wyverns, Hydras, Manticores, Deathstrikes
  • Leman Russ Battle Tanks

Imperial Guard Flyer Tactics

Imperial Guard Flyers include:

  • Valkyries

Lords of War Tactics

The imperial Guard have access to probably the largest selection of super heavy tanks. Each super heavy vehicle costs 25 to 31 power points. This means that they are virtually armies in their own rights!

Lord of war units include:

  • Bainblade
  • Banehammer
  • Banesword
  • Doomhammer
  • Hellhammer
  • Shadowsword
  • Stormlord
  • Stormsword

WH40k 7th Edition Tactics

Warhammer 40k Dark Vengeance Box set

Warhammer 40000 (WH40k) is the futuristic version of popular Warhammer science fiction table top wargame. Between the two core Games Workshop games (Age of Sigmar being the other) Warhammer 40k is probably best developed. With WH40k you have rule books and army books ( codexes) that have developed over many years and a huge repository of background material..

In this section we will have a look at the tactics for the Games Workshop Warhammer 40000 table top wargame. Please remember these pages do not replace the game rules. You will need to buy (or have access to) a copy of the Warhammer 40k Rulebook to play the game. The official introduction to the game can be found at

Uplate! Warhammer 40000 8th edition Comming Imminently!

Games Workshop are releasing the 8th edition of the Warhammer 40K rules. This release will be a major change. The changes will be so big that most of the existing tactics will need to be reviewed and re-witten. For the players staying with the (very solid) 7th edition rules, I will be moving these pages to the ‘other wargames’ section.

I have written this site aimed at those who have played a couple of times and own a copy of the rules and want to advance their skills. If you do not have a copy of the Warhammer 40000 Rulebook them buy one. It’s a must have item to play the game.

Some Of the 7th Edition Tactics You Can Find Here

I have slit this site in to a section with General WH40k tactics that apply to most armies, and then sections for each 40k army with specific tactics for those armies.

General Tactics for Warhammer 40000 – 7th Edition

Warhammer 40000 (WH40k) is the futuristic version of popular Warhammer science fiction table top wargame. Between the two core Games Workshop games (Age of Sigmar being the other) Warhammer 40k is probably best developed. With WH40k you have rule books and army books ( codexes) that have developed over many years and a huge repository of background material..

In this section we will have a look at the tactics for the 7th edition of Games Workshop Warhammer 40000 table top wargame. Please remember these pages do not replace the game rules. You will need to buy (or have access to) a copy of the Warhammer 40k Rulebook to play the game. The official introduction to the game can be found at

Uplate! Warhammer 40000 8th edition Is Here!

Games Workshop are releasing the 8th edition of the Warhammer 40K rules. This release will be a major change. The changes will be so big that most of the existing tactics will need to be reviewed and re-witten. For the players staying with the (very solid) 7th edition rules, I will be moving these pages to the ‘other wargames’ section.

I have written this site aimed at those who have played a couple of times and own a copy of the rules and want to advance their skills. If you do not have a copy of the Warhammer 40000 Rulebook them buy one. It’s a must have item to play the game.


Chaos Space Marine Tactics for Warhammer 40k 8th Ed

Warhammer 40k Khorne Berzerker Chaos Space Marine

In the age of the Great Heresy a full half measure of the Space Marine armies where corrupted by Chaos these corrupted Space Marines becomes the Heretic Astartes, or Chaos Space Marines!

On this page we will have a look at the Chaos Space Marines and their tactics.

Index: Chaos or Codex Chaos Space Marines

There are two rule books available with the rules for Chaos Space Marines. These are the ‘Index: Chaos’ rule book and the ‘Codex Chaos Space Marines’ rule book, so which do you get? Well the Index: Chaos was released right after the Warhammer 40000 8th edition rule book was released as a stop gap. This rule book allowed players to get going while the full Codex was being lined up for release. The Codex Chaps Space Marines has all the unit rules but also adds rules for special equipment, stratagems, and mission objectives. If you have the choice I highly recommend going for the Codex!

So what are the Data Cards and do you need them?

If you look at the Chaos Space Marine Essentials on the Games Workshop or re-sellers web sites you may see Chaos Space Marine Data Cards for sale. Data cards are packs of playing card sized cards with the most used rules from the Codex: Chaos Space Marine on them. For example the psychic powers, command point stratagems, Chaos Space Marine themed mission objectives. You do not get the rules for Chaos Space Marine units. For those you need the Index: Chaos or Codex Chaos Space Marines.

General Chaos Space Marine Tactics

The Chaos Space Marines are not just your vanilla Marines in spiky suits. There are a number of differences that make a huge difference to how they play.

Many players that are new to the Chaos Space Marines see the army as a close combat specific army. The reason for this is that there are a lot of close combat units available, specially for the popular Khorne themed army ( see Marks of Chaos below ).

Warhammer Chaos Lord with WingsRemember that the Chaos Space Marines are only half of the Chaos army. Much like the Imperium Space Marines have the Imperial Guard to back they up, the Chaos Space Marines have the Chaos Daemons as easy allies too. The link between these two forces in so strong that you can see some of the Daemon units slip in to the Chaos Space Marine too. If you are building a CSM army I highly recommend giving the Daemon army list a look over too.

Marks of Chaos

There are four Gods of Chaos. Khorne who loves violence for its own sake. Tzeentch who loves to trick, lie and confound. Nurgle loves decay, rot, and purification. Slaanesh loves sensory excess, pleasures of the flesh, exquisite pain, drugs and rock and roll!

Some Marines do not follow a single Chaos God, but Chaos in its raw form,. These Marines are said to follow Chaos Undivided.

Each Chaos Space Marine Legion follows one of the four Chaos Gods or Chaos Undivided. If you want to mix and match units with different marks of Chaos then you will need to have multiple factions.

Chaos Space Marine Abilities

On page 116 the Chaos Space Marine Codex introduces a couple of abilities that are shared between many of the Chaos Space Marine units. Also on page 155 additional Legion specific abilities are added.

Death The False Emperor

Most units in the Chaos Space Marine army get an additional ability called ‘Death To The False Emperor ‘. This reflects the Chaos Marine belief that the Imperial Emperor is not the saviour of human kind and needs to be removed through revolution.

How this ability works is that in the fight phase, and when targeting Imperial units (Space Marines, Guard, and friends), units with this ability get to have a bonus attack for each hit roll of 6 (before any modification). Note that bonus attacks cannot generate more bonus attacks. Also note also that these bonus attacks need to hit, wound, and etc. Also note that these attacks can be target a different unit from the initial attacks.

Note that this ability only works in the fight phase, but both fight phases. So you need to get into the fight!

Daemonic Ritual

Age of Sigmar chaos Blue Horrors of Tzeentch.. or how to get some reserves on the table fast!

How this ability works is that on a turn where any characters has not moved or arrived on the table in the movement phase, those characters can each summon a unit of daemons with the ‘Daemonic Ritual’ ability.

When you look at the army lists you will find that there are only four units that can be summoned ( but the rule has been left open for possible expansion ). The units are Khorne Bloodletters, Tzeentch Horrors (mixed units of Pink, Blue and Brimstone Horrors), Nurgle Plaugebearers, and Slaanesh Daemonettes.

There are limitations on what can be summoned, and as usual with the Chaos armies, if the summoning goes wrong there are consequences! First off you can only summon units that match the Character Chaos alignment. This means that Nurgle characters can only summon Nurgle Plaugebearers. Note that unaligned characters can summon any of the four daemonic units. This may be a factor when you choose the alliance for your character.

Units summoned using this ability does count as reserved and can only be brought in if you have enough reserve points. If you are not playing a point matched game, feel free to summon as many units as you like!

How you summon daemon units work like this. At the end of the movement phase pick your first character. Roll 3D6. Select a unit of Daemons who’s power level is equal or less that the dice total. As the average of 3D6 is 10.5 this should not be a problem. Place the unit of Daemons within 12″ of the character and beyond 9″ of and enemy units. You can repeat this process for any other Character that has not moved that turn.

Now here is what can go wrong. If you roll a double on your 3D6 roll then the character suffers a mortal wound. This should happen 1 in 12 times. However if you roll a triple then the character suffers D3 wounds. This should happen once in 216 times. I am expecting that the triple roll damage replaces the double roll damage and is not accumulative because in a triple you will always find 2 doubles!

Chaos Space Marine Stratagems

8th edition Warhammer 40000 introduced Stratagems and published 3 basic ones in the rule book. You can sometimes get extra stratagems at part of some missions, but in the Chaos Space Marine codex you get another 24 tailor made Stratagems! I feel like a kiddie in a sweet shop!

Chaos Space Marine Data Cards

Warhammer 40k 8th ed Chaos Space Marine Data CardsOne issue I have with the number of Stratagems / Special Chaos Space Marine Mission Objectives and Psychic powers is that I loose track of them, special during an intense game. I find this happens more often when using the e-book versions on the codex, but does happen when using the paper Codex too. Yes this is a memory issue and not a fault with the game. My advice in the past has been to focus on using one or two Stratagems or powers until you get use to them and expand from there. However these days there is another option, the Data Cards.

The Data Cards are a pack of playing card sized cards that have the special Mission Objectives, Stratagems and Psychic powers for that army, printed one per card. For an army like the Chaos Space Marines that adds up to a big pack of cards! 73 cards in total. Now these cards do come at an extra cost and are not essential to playing Chaos Space Marines like the codex is, but if you are playing Chaos Marines on a regular basis, or a member of a club that shares rulebooks & etc, then they are very useful!

The best way to use the cards is to split them in to 3 piles. Place the Stratagems you will use in one pile, the mission objectives in a second pile, and the psychic cards that you will use ( if any ) in a 3rd pile. These cards will act as a reminder to use these option and as a quick reference to their  rules.

It is a pity that the Chaos Space Marine units don’t have a similar card deck, say in A5 size. This would would make it easy to have just the information for the units that you are fielding to hand without having to flick from page to page to page to page in the Codex or on a tablet. The bes5t option I have found so far is to screen grab the pages from the eBooks for the units I am using and print them off. You could just photocopy pages from a paper Codex (for your use only!). The quality may not be great, but it does speed up the game!

Chaos Space Marine HQ Tactics

Warhammer 40k Chaos Space Marine LordEvery army needs a leader and this is where you will find the Chaos Marine leaders. Chaos HQ tend to be better at close combat fighting. They also have abilities that empower the troops around them.

The HQ section is also where you find the Chaos Psykers. Psykers use the power of the warp to Smite your foe directly and/or use their power to empower your troops too. You will note that there are no Khorne psykers. This is because the god of Khorne places brute force above all else.

Chaos Space Marine Psychic Powers

Soul Steal SpellAll the Chaos Psykers know the Smite Psychic power from the core rules. Most of them know two other power too. These Chaos Marine powers can be found on page 161 of the Chaos Codex.

There are nine Psychic power to choose from. Six in the main ‘Dark Heretics Discipline’ list and then one each for the 3 Chaos alliances that can have psykers. You can either just select which additional power your Psyker will have or roll for a random one. Obviously you would usually just select the power that best suits your play style and will help the most against whichever opposing army you are playing against that game. Usually you will be able to choose your power after you know which army you will be facing, and hopefully after you have seem the models on the table. There may be time when you agree to roll for your psykers power. You only want to do this if the opposition has more psykers that you, or because you have negotiated some other bonus for yourself!

Abaddon The Despoiler Tactics

Traditionally the biggest, badest, Heretic Space Marine. Armed with a nasty power fist with built in storm bolter, and a Daemon blade and wearing master crafted Terminator Armour.

Hopefully Games Workshop will release a new Abaddon model soon. The current one is out of scale with the new Chaos Terminators!

Cypher Tactics

Cypher by name, an enigma by nature! Even though Cypher appears in the Chaos Space Marine Codex, Cypher  and the Fallen are not a Chaos units. They are Imperium that fight with the Chaos Armies!

Cypher is a master pistolelio! Master Crafted bolt pistol in one hand and plasma pistol in the other he can blaze away with both weapons even if he has advanced or fallen back! A slippery character indeed!

Cypher is quite keen in close combat, but not fantastic. If you get in to close combat you will need to back him up with some close combat troops too.

Cyphers Ability: No-One’s Puppet

The Errata for the Codex Chaos Space Marines added an ability for Cypher that stops him from performing a Daemonic Ritual even though he has the ‘Chaos’ and ‘Character’ keywords.

Chaos Lord Tactics

Warhammer 40k Chaos Space Marine LordThe Chaos Lord is the standard Chaos Space Marine HQ choice. He can come on foot, on a bike, in terminator armour or with exotic transport like a Juggernaut of Khorne or Disc of Tzeentch.

The Chaos Lord is designed to be in the thick of the action, backed up with some good men. Load the Lord and his men in to a Rhino or Land Raider and charge in to the enemy front line!

Chaos Lord Abilities

Death to the False Emperor

Chaos Dark Apostle Tactics

The Dark Apostles are the Chaos Space Marine version of a Chaplin. He fulfils a similar role too. In the Fight Phase nearby friendly units of the same Legion can re-roll missed hits. This means that his main strength in in close assault surrounded by his mates! A popular tactic is to have a Dark Apostle in with the Chaos Lord and his posse.

Chaos Daemon Prince Tactics

Warhammer Chaos Lord with WingsIf the Chaos Gods are pleased enough with a Chaos Lord they can get promoted to being a Daemon Prince.

Daemon Princes are more Daemons than mortal, and as such take on many of the features of the Chaos Daemon army. The Daemonic 5+ save is an example of this.

Daemon Princes must take on an allegiance of one of the 4 Chaos Gods. You are not allowed to have an unaligned Prince. It is most usual to take on the allegiance that matches the rest of your Chaos Marine army.

Chaos Daemon Prince Psychic Powers

If your Daemon Prince is aligned with Tzeentch, Nurgle, or Slaanesh, then he is a psyker too. As a psyker he will have the Smite psychic power plus one from the Chaos Space Marine psychic power list.

Might Over Magic Ability

If your Daemon Prince is aligned with Khorne then you will not have any psychic powers, but don’t worry! you will get the ‘Might over Magic’ ability instead. This ability gives you one extra attack in close combat.

Chaos Daemon Prince and Wings

The Daemon Prince has the option to have wings. If you have.already built your Daemon Prince, this option may be moot. However if you are about to build your Daemon Prince, or if you have magnetised your Daemon Prince so that add or remove the wings at will, you will want to know if wings are worth the points!

If you are playing open games or games using Power Points, then there’s no additional points for adding wings, so do it! If you are playing points matched games then the wings adds 24 points to the model. For these additional points the movement speed goes up to 12″ a turn and you get the Fly keyword.

Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer Tactics

Warhammer 40k Chaos Space Marine SorcererSorcerers are the Psychics of the Chaos Space Marine army. This does not mean that they are no use in a fight!

Chaos Space Marine Sorcerers are closely linked to the power of Chaos that is the source of all psychic powers in the Warhammer 40k universe. Because of this they can cast two psychic powers in each of your psychic phases. Each Sorcerer can pick two powers from the Dark Heretics Discipline list.

Get Familiar With You Familiar!

In Warhammer 40k Chaos Familiars are not places on the board as models like Age of Sigmar, however they can be found in the Chaos Space Marine Stratagems (page 159). For 1CP Chaos Space Marine Psyker can swap on of his psychic powers for a different one. You can pick any of the powers from the Dark Hereticus discipline list. This is really useful if you started out with one psychic power for a specific job and halfway through the battle you find that it is no longer useful. In this case you can just call on your familiar and swap that power for one that will be useful here on in. Note that when you swap your power you keep the new one for the rest of the battle. Well unless you use this stratagem again later in the battle!

Where are the Khorne Sorcerers?

The Chaos God Khorne despises magic / psychic trickery. For this reason there are no Khorne Psykers. If you need one you will need to co-opt one that has a different Chaos alliance.


Space Marine Techmarines are not beyond the corrupting influence of Chaos. These corrupted Techmarines are called Warpsmiths.

The main use of the Warpsmith is to repair vehicles that have received damage during the game. The Warpsmith needs to be within 1″ of the vehicle at the end of the vehicle to repair it.

If you have two Warpsmiths there’s no point keeping them close together. A vehicle can only have one Warpsmith attend to repairs per turn, so if you spread them out you can repair two vehicles a turn.

Not got a vehicle to repair? Then how about jinxing an enemy vehicle? If the Warpsmith is within 18″ of an enemy vehicle, on a roll of 2+ on 1D6 he can inflict a mortal wound on the vehicle.

Warpsmith’s are available from the Games Workshop as a web store exclusive. There may be some available on eBay & similar.

Chaos Space Marine Troop Tactics

Chaos Space Marines have two troop choices, Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Cultists! This is not a great selection, but they are very flexible. With a bit of imagination the two unit choices will fulfil most needs.

Chaos Space Marine Tactics

Chaos Space Marines are the backbone of the Chaos Marine army. They can be configured for close combat fighting or more general / tactical role. The tactical role is where the Space Marine units excel. They can lay down withering fire clearing objectives or defending objectives, or fight at close quarter fighting.

Chaos Cultist Tactics

Chaos Cultists are the gun fodder of the Chaos army. Their stats are similar  to the Imperial Guard trooper, but costing only 3 power points for a unit of 10, you don’t expect much!

So if Cultists are so cheap, why take them? Well even cheap troops with a lot of shots can cause damage, even to Imperial Knights and Meknoughts! Otherwise you arm them with close combat weapons. This gives you an expendable close combat unit. Use this unit to defend tactical objectives, or as a moving shield for Characters or elite units.

For every 5 models in a unit you can take a Heavy Stubber or flamer. If you are planning to use your as a defensive force, load them up with Heavy Stubbers. Place them high and they will be able to give covering fire for advancing units. Assaulting units are best tooled up with flames. You can take a pot shot with these in the shooting phase before piling in for the fight. Assaulting units also find flamers useful if they are about to receive a counter assault.

Khorne Bloodletters Tactics

Tzeentch Horrors Tactics

Age of Sigmar chaos Blue Horrors of TzeentchAaagh! You kill one and two smaller ones pop-up, and they can throw Smite bolts around too!

Tzeentch horrors are tricky things. First off they come in 3 sizes and in the Chaos Space Marine Codex, you can have all 3 types in one unit. Also they are psykers. for simplicity the whole unit is treated as on psyker. Don’t expect a 30 model unit of Horrors chucking out 30 Smite bolts! Even so, having psykers as a troop choice will sent your foe in to utter panic. This is specially true now that psychic powers have been beefed up in 8th edition 40k. If that was not enough, Pink Horrors have 18″ A2 shooting attacks too.

Nurgle Plaugebearers Tactics

Slaanesh Daemonettes Tactics

Chaos Space Marine Elite Tactics

The Chaos Space Marine army has nine different elite choices. This could tempt you spend most of your points on Elite units. Avoid this temptation! You need a good volume of troop units and just a small number of Elite units.

Chaos Terminator Tactics

Warhammer 40k Chaos Space Marine TerminatorsChaos Terminators are veteran Space Marines in super though Terminator Armour. This armour gives the Terminators a 2+ basic save and a 5+ invulnerable save.

Terminators are classically used to weed out opposition from fortified positions. Their Teleport Strike allows them to get close to the enemy, and with a change of charging in on the turn they arrive. Their tough armour means that they can take on numerically superior units for several rounds, and their weapons will rip through tanks and monstrous creatures alike!

Khorne Bezerkers

Warhammer 40k Khorne Berzerker Chaos Space MarineKhorne Bezerkers are Elite Chaos Space Marines that have dedicated themselves to the Chaos God Khorne. The Chaos God Khorne is the god of war, and wanton destruction for it’s own end. They go in to a frenzy in battle, specially if you call them ‘bunny ears’!

Khorne Bezerkers are close combat specialists. To aid this role they have +1 strength and +1 attack over the basic Chaos Space Marine. However there is more! If the Bezerker had a chain axe they get an additional attack ( that’s 3, and 4 for the Champion). On top of this they have an ability ‘Blood for the Blood  God’ which effectively doubles the number of attacks Bezerker gets.

Khorne Bezerkers cannot take heavy weapons. You can arm your Bezerker Champion with a Bolter or Combi-Weapon from the Champions equipment list, but this is a waste. This means that your Bezerkers will be armed with short ranges pistols and close combat weapons. This means that Khorne Bezerker tactics is easy, get them in to the fight and keep them fighting for as many rounds as possible!

Khorne Bezerker Ability – Death to the False Emperor

Khorne Bezerkers get the ‘Death to the False Emperor’ special rule. This rule allows the Bezerkers to get a bonus attacks each time they hit, if they target and hit Imperial units and hit on a roll of a 6.



Missions and Mission Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Ed

Warhammer 40000 8th edition Dark Imperium Rookbook

In this section we will be looking at the different missions you can find for Warhammer 40000 and mission tactics that will help you win more games.

The core of Warhammer 40000 is the game mission. This is what gives you the details of what you need to do to win a specific specific game. You can create missions yourself, and Games Workshop will publish missions in future army Codex and rule extensions, however the missions that you are likely to be playing most often are the ones published in the rule book. If you get familiar with the rule book missions then you will win more games!

In the 8th Edition rule book there are 5 different sections of missions starting at page 186. One thing you can not complain about is the lack of missions in this release! Each section of missions do get more complicated as you progress through the rules. If you are new to Warhammer 40k I recommend that you start with the ‘Only War’ missions on page 187 or the ‘War Without End’ missions on page 191.

Only War Mission Tactics

On page 187 you can find the Only War missions. At first look this page looks like there is just one mission, but on closer inspection there is a table where you roll to select one of three missions.

Each of the missions on this page use objective markers. You can use anything as an objective markers. Dice are popular, or coins work well. If you play WH40k regularly then creating terrain pieces numbered one to six looks better on the table.

The missions use objective markers, but do not mention how many to set up. I suggest that for small games up to 1000 points 4 markers work well, standard games of 1000 to 3000 points, 6 markets are recommended, and larger games need 8 markers, and the table space to place them!



Psychic Tactics for WH40k 8th Ed

Soul Steal Spell

In Warhammer 40k there is no magic like you find in the Age of Sigma game. What you have instead psychic powers.

Psychic powers can only be manifested by special individuals called psykers (duh!). All psykers can manifest a psychic power called smite.

These note are written with the expectation that you have the Warhammer 40000 8th edition rule book, or you have regular access to one.

Chance of Manifesting Psychic Powers

To cast a psychic power you need to roll 2D6 and get a result equal or higher than the power level of the power. You need to pick the power before you roll, so you need to ballance the chance of success with the result you need. If two powers will give you the result you want, for example the death of a character, then use the power that will be easiest to invoke.


FireballAll psykers get the Smite psychic power, so you need to get familiar with it. Even if you have no psykers you are likely to be on the receiving end of it.

Smite has a psychic level of 5. This means that it is easy to cast. However the psyker needs to be within 18″ of the target, which is well within counter assault range. This short range means that your psykers will need some body guards.

With Smite you can only target the nearest visible enemy unit. If you are in 1″ of the enemy then this should be easy. If you are touching 2 or more units you can choose which of these units you want to smite.  If you are further away you may want to use the movement phase to get in position to Smite your preferred target.

If you get the Smite power off then it causes D3 mortal wounds to the target enemy unit and if you rolled 10+ then you get D6 mortal wounds. Mortal wounds carry over, so this can, and often does, remove several models from the target unit. The best target units are those with only a few wounds ( or only a few left) that have high save and invulnerable saves. Terminator Squads or Characters are my favourite targets.

Deny The Witch

The main use of psykers is to cause damage to your enemy or strengthen your army. However there is another very important role for your psykers, and that is to block successful psychic attacks from enemy psykers. This blocking action is called ‘deny the witch’.

Deny the witch rolls can be made 24″ away from the enemy psyker. Notice that this is further than the 18″ range of Smite. This means that you can keep your psyker a bit further back. Note though that other army specific psychic powers may have a longer range!

Army Specific Psychic Powers

Each army has, or will have their own Codex which include special psychic powers that are available for that army only. I will be covering these powers in the general tactics section for each army.


Tyranid Tactics for Warhammer 40K 8th Ed

If you have ever wanted to side with the alien in the ‘Alien’ film series, or you just like the thought of playing giant monsters rampaging across the gaming table, eating everything in sight, then the Tyranid army is for you!

Now that the Tyranids has a full Codex for 8th edition they are a real force to be reckoned with!

General Tyranid Tactics

A Tyranid Genestealer. Genetically designed to be the perfect killing machine!

Tyranids are, on the whole, a close combat army. The sooner you get your Tyranids in to assault the better. There are exceptions to this rule. Some larger creatures have shooting weapons as well as close combat weapons, and some are dedicated artillery, but on the whole these are support creatures to your main assault.

While you are rampaging across the table you will be on the receiving end of a lot of gun fire. Do your best to start the game as close to the enemy as possible. Also do your best to hug and cover. This will help to get as many of your Tyranids in to the fight as possible.

The exception of the assault-assault-assault stratagem is the Hive Fleet Kronos Adaptation that get an advantage from standing and shooting.

Tyranid Abilities

There are a couple of general rules that cover all, or just about all of the Tyranid units. One is Instinctive Behaviour’ and the other is the ‘Hive Mind’. As it happens these two abilities are linked.

Instinctive Behaviour

Tyranids work better when they are psychically linked to the hive mind. If they are not linked then they revert to basic animal instinctive behaviour. Basically this means that creatures that are affected by instinctive behaviour (most of them) can only shoot at the nearest viable enemy unit, and when they charge they can only charge the nearest visible enemy unit too. It does mean that you can move and advance normally.

Synapse Creatures

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Zoanthrope BroodSynapse Creatures are Tyranid are the leader creatures connect the lesser Tyranids ( those with instinctive behaviour) with the greater Hive Mind. The range of this connection is limited to 12″ from the Synapse creature! Note that some Tyranids, like the Hive Tyrant, have a special rule that extends this to 18″.

As the Synapse effect radiates in all directions from the Synapse Creature. This means that it is most useful in the centre of the table.

Tyranid Stratagems

The Tyranid Codex lists a number of Stratagems for Tyranid armies. These Stratagems, used at the right time can be very useful. Several of these Stratagems allow units a second move, round of shooting phase and extra attacks in the fight phase.

To make the most of all the stratagems you need command points that come from fielding battleforged armies. The good news is that  with the Tyranid army it is easy to have several formations, and therfeore loads of points!

There are so many possible stratagems that you will want a list of them to hand. A book mark in the Tyranid Codex would work, but the Datacards make this much easier.

Tyranid Tactical Objectives

If your army has a Tyranid Warlord then you can use the alturnative Tactical Objectives found on page 128 of the Tyranid Codex.

The Tyranid Tactical Objectives replace the first 6 tactical objectives in the rulebook. As these objectives are tweeked for the Tyranids style of play, I highly recommend using them whenever you can.

Flipping between diffent rulebooks keeping track of your objectives can be a chore. If you play Tranids frequently I highly reccomend getting the Tyranid Data cards. These are packs of playing sized cards with frequently used infomation like the Tyranid specific objectives.

Hive Fleet Adaptations

Not all Hive Fleets are the same. As the Great Devourer adapts different Hive Fleets are exhibiting adaptations are created. In game terms the adaptations place the Tyranids on an even footing with the other main armies that have different regiments, chapters, war bands, or craft worlds. The six named Hive Fleets are Behemoth; Kraken; Leviathan; Gorgon; Jormungandr; Hydra; and Kronos.

Each of the Hive Fleet adaptations have a unique special rule. You can find these special rules on page 117. These special rules cost no points so there’s no reason not to opt for one of them.

House Rules: You can make up your own Hive Fleet Adaptation, with it’s own special rule. You will need to get your permission to use this Hive Fleet / Special rule, but if it is fair and you back it up with an interesting back story, most reasonable players will go along with it.

Tyranids vs Tanks

Warhammer 40k Space Marine Landraider CrusaderAfter playing a few games one issue that crops up is how to handle Tanks. The issue is that they have a good armour save and plenty of wounds. This combination is tough for the Tyranid shooting weapon arsenal. Also unlike most monstrous creatures, they can hang around the rear of the table away from your advancing troops. Shooting long range heavy Weapons they can takeout your Monstrous Creatures in one round.

To solve this issue you will need to drop units behind the enemy lines, get up close and personal, and your claws on those pesky vehicles!

The Tyranid army has a few options when it comes deep striking units. Raveners, Trygons, and Ripper Swarms can burrow up through the ground. Other options are to drop a unit in a Tyrannocyte, or have a unit pop up out of a Trygon hole. As tank hunting is the name of the game, you will want to get a Monstrous Crature in on the act. If you upgrade your creature will adrenal glands, there is a 30% chance that you can get into assault on the turn they arrive. Dropping several units in at the same time will greatly increase your chances of success! But watch the points cost. Dropping several Monstrous Creatures in will eat up points. Don’t leave your front line too thin.

When choosing a Hive Fleet I usually go for Hive Fleet Behemoth. Behemoth allows you to re-roll charge rolls. If you are aiming for a first turn assault this is very useful.

Tyranid Psychic Powers

Many of the Tyranid Synapse Creatures are also Psykers. Because Tyranids use psychic powers (after a fashion) to maintain their Hive Mind links some of these Synapse Creatures are powerful psykers. These psykers can use the standard Smite psychic power and usually one or more of the special Tyranid powers listed in the Codex Tyranids.


This psychic power allows you to extend the Hive Mind to a single unit 36″ away from the Psyker / Hive Mind. 36″ is a fair range and can be used to surprise your opponent who thinks that that a unit will be subject to instinctive behaviour, but then is not!


Expecting a lot of incoming heavy weapons fire? if you are ten this gives your units a 1 in 3 chance to shrug off each wound. Most useful on monstrous HQ creatures. This is because your bigger HQ units can not hide behind other units like your none-monstrous enemy HQ units can.

The Horror

The Horror is on of the 3 Psychic that damage the enemy rather that pimping up your troops. If this power goes off you can force an enemy unit in 24″ to have a -1 modifier to their hit and leadership rolls. The normal targets for this power are heavy weapons squads of tanks with lots of guns.


Onslaught is a psychic power with a power level of 6 and allows a near by unit to Advance (run), and move and still fire at full ballistic skill and still assault in the assault phase. Used correctly this will get a unit that is usually slow right in to your enemies face. Carnifex and Hive Tyrants with both shooting and combat weapon are choice units.


Paroxysm effectively slows target enemy units down in the fight phase. This is a great power to have if you are fighting an enemy that is even faster than you are. Some Eldar and Slannesh units come to mind. Very fast units often rely on their speed, so robbing them of their strike first rule is usually devastating!

Psychic Scream

This is partly a Psyker neutraliser. However it works well as a Smite clone. As a clone it means that you can Smite twice in a psychic phase for those units that can cast two powers in a psychic phase.

Tyranid Bio-Artifacts

Bio-Artifacts are more freebies you can have if you have a Tranid general and the Tryanid codex. As these have no points cost it is highly recommended that you take one.

Tyranid HQ Unit Tactics

With most armies HQ units add nice to have combat and command skills, but the army will function without them. With the Tyranid army the HQ units are where you will find most of the Synapse Creatures that keep the army together.

Tyranid Old One Eye

Warhammer 40k Tyranid CarnifexOld One Eye is a classic Tyranid Character. The first Tyranid Carnifex with regeneration that seems to have spawned an untold numbers of Carnifex that also have regeneration!

Old one Eye is a HQ choice, however he is not a Synapse Creature. This means that I would not recommend using him (her?) as your main HQ choice, keep him in mind as a secondary HQ choice though!

Old One Eye is a plod along Tyranid with a 7″ move. You will need to give Old One Eye cover as he approaches the enemy,or better still, place him near an objective where the enemy comes to you.

Tyranid Genestealer Broodlord Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Genesteales

Classic Tryanid Genestealer Broodlord and ‘Stealer Brood

Instead of having a monstrous leader for your army, there is an option to take a Tyranid Genestealer Broodlord as your HQ. This is better option for smaller games or if you fancy playing a swarm army that consists purely of smaller Tyranids.

Genestealer Broodlords have really been given a boost in the 8th edition of WH40k. They are fast, they have sharp claws, they are psykers with Synapse, and they boost the Genestealers around they with a +1 to hit in the fight phase.

Broodlords do not have any shooting weapons. This means that you need to get them in to assault as soon as possible. Broodlords can not deep strike so you will need to run across the table, or get the enemy to come to you!

Tyranid Prime Tactics

Warhammer 4000 Tyranid Hive TyrantThe Tyranid Prime is an oversized Tyranid Warrior. This is another possible choice if you want to keeps the points cost down.

Games Workshop doesn’t do a Tyranid Prime model so if you want one you will have to model one yourself. You could take a Tyranid Warrior and beef it up, or paint it so the Prime stands out from other warriors. What I did was to take an unused Mk1 Tyranid Hive Tyrant that is a touch larger that the Warriors and used that as a Prime.

Tyranid Tervigon Tactics

Tyranid Tervigons are the Mother of all Tyranids, or at least Tyranid Termagants! This is a monstrous creature and not bad in a fight, however its (her?) main strength is that it can create 4 new Termagants each turn. This means that as long as the Tervigon is alive your army keeps growing!

The best way to use the Tervigon is to keep it behind the front line as long as possible and spawn off as many Termagants as possible. If your back line gets pressed then it can jump in to the fight.

Tyranid Troop Unit Tactics

An army with HQ Units only will be over run by more flexible armies with a good mix of HQ, Troop, Fast, and Heavy Support units. The backbone of any decent army is their Troop Units.

Tyranid Warrior Tactics

Classinc Tyranid Warrior with Spine Fist, Bone Sword, and Rendering Claws

Classinc Tyranid Warrior with Spine Fist, Bone Sword, and Rendering Claws

Tyranid Warriors are another very adaptable unit in the Tyranid Army. They are Synapses creatures (but not psychic), one in 3 models can have heavy weapons and close combat weapons, other models can have assault weapons and close combat weapons or 2 close combat weapons!

Tyranid Warriors are not full psykers and cannot cast psychic powers in the psychic phase. Tyranid Warriors can, however, act as Synaptic nodes and keep the smaller creatures in order. With this in mind you will want to form your units in a bubble with the Tyranid Warriors in the middle. The down side is that the value of Synaptic creatures is well known and your Warriors will be hot targets. They are not characters so they will not have any natural cover. Also Warriors do not get any kind of invulnerable save, so one good round of bolter shots will knock them off the table.

Tyranid Warrior Devourers

With an 18″ range and A3 at S4, the devourer is a decent assault weapon. This is specially true if you are using the Warrior in the usual support role supporting the smaller Tyranids as they approach the enemy.

Tyranid Genestealer Tactics

A Tyranid Genestealer. Genetically designed to be the perfect killing machine!

Genestealers are pure close combat creatures. They have no shooting weapons so get them into assault as soon as possible!

If you are playing a point matched game you will want to see which upgrades inflict the greatest damage to your enemy. This will be much easier to calculate if you know who your enemy is! Before the game and preferably before you write up your army list find out which army you will be facing. If you cannot do this write out an army list for each likely enemy and pull out the optimised list as you set-up.

Tyranid Termagant Tactics

Termagants are the rank and file troops of the Tyranid army. They have a number of weapon options, but most of these are short ranged. You will need to get close to the enemy or set up an ambush for the Termagants to be effective.

Termagants are notoriously susceptible to instinctive behaviour. It is highly recommended that you keep a synaptic creature close to hand!

  • Devourer: 18“, A3, S4. This is the basic Space Marine killer. Works well on Orks and other hords too. The multiple shots and half decent range make this the new go to  weapon for Termagants.
  • Fleshborer: 12“, A1, S4. This use to be the basic Termagant weapon but with less shots and a shorter range than the Devourer, you would only choose this weapon if you had to or you needed to cut the points cost.
  • Spike Rifle: 18“,A1, S3. This use to have some armour penetration, but now it’s just another 18″ single shot weapon.
  • Spinefists: 12″, Pistol, A3. The go to weapon if you want the cheapest Termagant weapon. Because Spinefists are pistol weapons you can shoot with them in the shooting phase even if you are in the middle of an assault.
  • Strangleweb: 8“, A D3, S2: Strength 2?, why bother?

Termagant Abilities: ‘Hail of Living Ammunition’

If you have a unit of 20+ models you can re-roll 1’s when shooting. This means that you don’t get a bonus when in assault.

Tyranid Hormagaunt Tactics

Hormagaunts are the faster close combat specialist troop units. With a 8″ move and a 6″ pile in and consolidation move.

As Hormagaunts are close combat specialists you will want to get them in to assault as soon as possible. There aren’t many weapon options with a Hormagaunt. The Scything talons are your lot! Scything talons do give you 2 attacks per model and a re-roll when you roll 1 to hit. However with S3 you will be advised to target infantry units.

Tyranid Ripper Swarm Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid ripper swalm The often overlooked troop choice of the Tyranid army has many uses and are still very cheap in terms of points, and may be even in cash if you can find them second hand!

Deep Strike / Burrowing

Ripper Swarms can deep strike on to the gaming table as the Rippers are so cheap you can drop them in / pop them up, where ever they will cause the most disruption.

As Ripper swarms pop up 9″ or more away from enemy units at the end of the movement phase. This is too far away for the Rippers Spine Maw to hit anything useful, but you may be in assault range.

The Fly-paper Manoeuvre

How do you stop units assaulting your key units? One way is to place a disposable unit between the enemy and your expensive units!

Capture Objectives

Ripper Swarms have the swarm keyword (no surprise!) however swarms can capture objectives again so let’s do it! Using the Ripper Swarm’s deep strike ability you can pop up and snatch objects. This is even better if you are playing ‘Maelstrom of War’ missions where you get points mid-game for holding tactical objects.

Tyranid Elite Unit Tactics

Elite units are the specialist units of an army. The Tyranid army is no different. Be careful though, Elite units can cost a lot of points. If you have too many elite units then you will find yourself out numbered on the battlefield.

Tyranid Tyrant Guard Tactics

The Tyrant Guard are designed to be body guards for foot slogging Tyranid Hive Tyrants.

Shield Wall

This ability is the core of the units purpose. If one of the Tyrant Guard are within 3 of a Hive Tyrant when the Tyrant looses a wound then on a roll of a 2+ on a D6 the Tyrant Guard take the wound instead. As each Tyrant Guard have 3 wounds, a unit of 3 will give the Hive Tyrant an extra 9 wounds!

Blind Rampage

You may think that loosing your ward would be a problem, but not with the Tyrant Guard. Apart from the fact that they are subject to Instinctive Behaviour they do not suffer any ill effects. Instead the Tyrant Guard go on a rampage and get an extra close combat attack for each model.

Tyrant Guard Weapons

Tyrant Guard come with Scything Talons and Rendering Claws. This is the standard configuration of the current Tyrant Guard. The plastic Guard do offer some modelling options where you can swap the scything talons with other weapons. If you are getting your Tyrant Guard in to combat regularly then you may find upgrading to the Crushing Claws worth while.

Tyranid Hive Guard Tactics

Based on the Tyranid Tyrant Guard, and sometimes confused with the Tyranid Tyrant Guard is the Tyranid Hive Guard.

Hive Guard are heavy support artillery placed in the Elite section because there are loads of Heavy Support units in the Tyranid Army already! They are armed with either a 36″ Impaler Cannon or a 24″ Shockcannon. Of the two weapons the Impaler Cannon is the one associated with the Hive Guard.

Tyranid Hive Guard Impaler Cannon

It’s not just Tau that can fire missiles around corners! The Impaler Cannon can target any unit in 36″. Line of sight is not needed.. Also the distance is measured as a direct line, not the path the Impaler would travel to reach the target!

  • Note : Need to check if units in bunkers or vehicles can be targeted.

The Impaler Cannon is a heavy weapon. This means that your BS will be knocked down one point if you move and fire in the same turn. Where possible place your Hive Guard in a safe place with a few target options to get the best out of them.

Tyranid Hive Guard Shockcannon

The Hive Guard Shockcannon is an Assault anti-tank weapon. If having D3 S7 shots where not enough, this weapon causes a mortal wound if you roll a 4+ to wound against vehicles, that’s a 50/50 chance with each shot! If that’s not enough, if you roll a 6  then you inflict D3 mortal wounds!

Tyranid Lictor Tactics

Tyranid Lictors are the sneaky infiltrators of the Tyranid army. They are engineered to work ahead of the main Tyranid army.

Hidden Hunters

Tyranid Lictors have a number of special rules that facilitates the hit and run nature. They can deep strike in to the game table mid game, the usual 9″ away from the enemy, but they do get a re-roll on the charge range when they come on to the table. This gives them an average charge range of 10.5″ and means that they are good assassins.

Choose your target carefully. make sure that it’s one you can take out in one turn. Try to target HQ units that have become separated from their body guards.

If you do survive the initial assault there is a fair chance that your Lictor will be a distance from friendly support so it’s time to run! To help you out the Lictor has a couple of special rules that make it easier to survive retaliation.

Tyranid Zoanthrope Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Zoanthrope BroodZoanthropes have been bio-engineered to be super psykers. They normally go around in groups for protection.

Warp Field

To aid the Zoanthropes survive-ability they get a 3+ invulnerable save. As this is better than their 5+ regular save, even if they are hiding, you will probably be using this save most of the time.

Strength In Numbers

The Zoanthrope brood can have two psychic powers. Smite is one of them, and the other comes from the Tyranid Psychic Powers list. When Zoanthropes manifest psychic powers they manifest one power for the hole brood if there are 1 to 3 of them, and two powers a turn if there are 4 or more in the brood. Zoanthropes come in boxes of three, so units of six will be popular!

Another benefit of larger broods is that Warp Blasts cause an additional D3 Mortal wounds. It does not say is this means that you get D6 wounds, or 2xD3 wounds. Given a choice 2xD3 wounds is better as you will always get 2+

Synapse Creature

Zoanthropes are not great in a fight, however in the WH40k universe their 18″ or 24″ psychic power range is not great. This means that you will want to keep them supported by a body guard of lesser creatures. This is not so hard as Zoanthropes are Synapse creatures too!


Yes, Zoanthropes have the Fly keyword. They are still quite slow, as far as Tyranids go at 5″ a turn!

Tyranid Maleceptor Tactics

If you want a monstrous sized psyker then the Maleceptor is the creature for you! However this psyker needs to in the thick of the action! Apart from it’s psychic powers the Maleceptor only causes damage at close range.

Psyker & Synapse Creature

The main reason for taking a Maleceptor in the army is for it’s psychic powers. It can manifest one power a turn, but it has a +1 to the psychic roll. This means that casting Smite is quite easy and hardly ever fails!

The Maleceptor is a synapse creature that can keep the lesser creature in line within the usual 8″ bubble.

Tyranid Pyrovore Tactics

Pyrovores are short ranged (10″ range) flamer creature. It’s main strength is clearing strongholds of infantry.

Pyrovores have moderate close combat abilities. With 2 attacks the Pyrovore will have hard work if faced with massed troops, The Pyrovores attacks are S5 and AP-3. This means that it will hurt power armoured troops. Aim for Space Marines and Chaos Marines. Even Terminators are viable targets!

Another less obvious skill is to resist an assault. With D6 automatic hitting even in overwatch, the Pyrovore will blunt assaulting units as they charge in. Remember that you only ge5t to overwatch once a turn and then only if you are not in close combat already. So the idea here is to thin out assaulting units before they get to you. You can scare units off, use terrain to funnel units, or just blast away from a distance until there is much in the way of opposition left!

Ok, so this may not be super easy, but if you use your Pyrovore to defend strategic locations then wait for the enemy to come to you!

Pyrovore Abilities

Pyrovores have a bit of a sting in the tail if they are wounded or killed in close combat.there is a chance that the Pyrovore will cause mortal wounds on the assaulting enemy units.

Pyrovores are one of the lesser seen Tyranids. You can still buy Pyrovores from Games Workshop. One advantage of this rarity is that your opponent may not know the Pyrovores abilities giving you an advantage!

Tyranid Haruspex Tactics

The Tyranid Haruspex is a close combat creature through and through. It’s main ‘weapon’ is it’s Ravenousness Maw.

The Haruspex is a close combat creature through and through. However with it’s regeneration ability you want to aim for multiple softer targets. This is because the Haruspex regains a wound for each model eaten, and not each unit. Line up a unit of Imperial Guard and you could recover 3 or 4 wounds an Fight Phase. Remember that this includes the enemies Fight Phase as well as your own!

Tyranid Fast Attack Tactics

Tyranids are generally a close combat army. This means that you usually have to dodge a hail of fire before you can get your claws on the enemy. One way to get around this is to get some fast troops to tie up enemy units while your heavier, slower units catch up!

Tyranid Shrike Tactics

Tyranid Shrikes are Tyranid Warriors with wings. They share the Synapses ability with the Warriors. This means that they can bring order to all the Instinctive Behaviour creatures.

The other main ability that the Shrikes share with the Tyranid Warriors is the access to a wide of weapons. This means that the Shrikes are able to fulfil many roles. Heavy weapons, close fire weapons, and close assault weapons are all available. What’s more like Warriors, Shrikes can carry two weapons. This means that they can be configured to be tactical, ie. able to take on changing roles as needs and opportunities change.

Tyranid Ravener Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Raveners appear from the Abbey ruinsTyranid Raveners are fast and light. They can pop up anywhere on the table (9″ away from the enemy). Raveners are subject to instinctive behaviour, however this is not a major restriction, so they are great at harassing the enemy flanks.

Tyranid Raveners usually come with two set of scything talons, and these are very useful in close combat. You can upgrade one set of scything talons to a deathspitter, devourer, or spinefists. Depending on your style of play you may wish to swap some close combat ability for some shooting ability. Raveners work well either way.

Tyranid Sky-Slasher Swarm Tactics

Tyranid Sky-Slasher Swarms are Ripper Swarms with wings. This gives them the fly keyword. This gives them faster movement at 12“ a turn.

Sky-Slasher Swarms are cheap. This means that you can use them to slow down or distract the enemy from your main assaults.

Tyranid Gargoyle Tactics

Tyranid Gargoyles are in many ways Termagants with wings. This means that they are fairly cheap, carry fleshborers and fight like Imperial Guard (useless).

Gargoyles fly. This means that they can move 12″ in the movement phase and jump over obstacles.

Ability: ‘Hail of Living Ammunition’

Another feature that Gargoyles with Termagants is that they get the ‘Hail of Living Ammunition’ ability. This does give the Gargoyles a boost when shooting.

Tyranid Harpy Tactics

The Tyranid Harpy is a monstrouse flying ground attack creature. Flying up to 30″ a turn at full strength with a minimum move of 10″ a turn, the Harpy can move around the board quickly.

Tyranid Hive Crone Tactics

Where as the Tyranid Harpy is a flying gun platform, the Hive Cron is an aerial close combat beast.

The Crone does have some decent shooting weapons. The Tentacilds have a special rule where it causes mortal wounds against vehicles half the time it hits. This is a help against lighter vehicles, but tougher tanks absorb a lot of mortal wounds. The targets of choice for this weapon are flyers. So shoot, move in close and pull flyers apart with it’s scything wings.

Tyranid Spore Mine and Mucolid Spore Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Sporemines

Tyranid Spore Mines occupy a building.

Spore Mines and Mucolid Spores can be taken as units, but they are usually set up as missed Biovore and Sporocyst shots.

Spore Mine Abilities

As Spore Mines and Mucolid Spores are mostly mindless mines there are a few special rules that dictate how they move and fight. I will deal with these Abilities in reverse order of play. This is because you will need to know what damage they do first in order to know how to deploy them!

Floating Down

Spore Mines bought as units in your army list (ie. not shot out of a Biovore or Sporocyst) can come in to play later in the game. At the end of the movement the unit of mines can be set up  anywhere that is  more than 12″ away from enemy models. This distance means that there is no chance of charging the same turn you arrive. This in turn means that your opponent will have a round of shooting to get rid of the mines before they can do any damage. This really reduces their effectiveness.

Floating Death

When Spore Mines and Mucolid Spores blow up they do a random amount of Mortal Wounds. That’s right, hardly anything can save against a Spore Mine blast. This means that you will want to target those units with high saves, specially those with high invulnerable saves. Also as Mortal Wounds carry across models in a unit, you want to look out for multi-model units. My favourite targets are Space Marine Terminators. Other Terminator armour wearing targets are good pickings too, as are characters with invulnerable saves.  Remember if you are shooting your Spore Mines from Biovores or Sporocysts, you can only target a character if they are the closest target.

When they do blow up, Spore Mines have a 1 in 6 chance of causing no damage, 4 in 6 ( 1 in 3 ) chance of causing 1 Mortal Wound and 1 in 6 chance of causing D3 mortal wounds per Mine. This means that they have an average of 1 in 1 chance to cause 1 Mortal Wounds each, or 3 Mortal Wounds for a unit of 3.

The Mucolid Spore has a 1 in 6 chance of doing no damage, 4 in 6 chance of doing D3 Mortal Wounds and 1 in 6 chance of doing D6 Mortal Wounds. This gives an average of 1.92 mortal wounds per Mucolid Spore.

Living Bombs

Spore Mines and Mucolid Mines are bombs that happen to be floating around the table. To reflect this Spore Mines and Mucolid mines have been given this special rule that means that they can not capture objectives, but also do not create victory points for your opponent if they are destroyed!

Tyranid Heavy Support Tactics

Tyranids have a good range of Heavy Support units to choose from, and do they need them! Tyranids are often seen as close combat specialists. However even close combat troops need some long range supporting fire as your close combat troops get to grips with the enemy!

Be careful not to hope to come out top in a long ranged fire fight. Just about all the enemy forces have better long ranges weapons than the Tyranids do. So again think of Tyranid heavy support as support units rather than game winners in their own right!

Heavy Support units include:

  • Exocrine
  • Tyrannofex
  • Toxicrene
  • Carnifexes, Thornbacks and Screamer-Killers
  • Mawlocs and Trygons





Warhammer 40000 8th Edition Tactics

Warhammer 40000 8th edition Dark Imperium Rookbook

The new release of WH40k is apon us! These tactics are written for the new Warhammer 40000 8th edition of the WH40k rules!

What is Warhammer 40k?

Warhammer 40000 is a table top wargame played with models, dice and rulers. It is set in a dark gothic version of the far future. In this future the human race has expanded to fill the galaxy, meeting several different races, most of whom want to kill them! However after this glorious expansion the human civilisation collapsed. In this game you join either the human race or one of the various alien races as humans try to rebuild society, mainly by beating everyone one else up!

What is Warhammer 40000 8th edition?

Game of Warhammer 40000 in playThe first release of Warhammer 40000 in 1987 was called ‘Rouge Trader’ and this was a role playing game with a bit of skirmish table top fighting thrown in. In 1993 Games Workshop took the game and re-wrote it to be a fully fledged tabletop battle game called Warhammer 40000 2nd edition (WH40k 2nd edition), and when I started playing WH40k. This became an instant hit. On the back of this game Games Workshop sold masses of models and rule books. Over the next years these rules where expanded and improved through the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th editions. Now in 2017, twenty four years later, Games Workshop have seen that the game needs a full overhaul. Much like the leap from Rouge Trader to 2nd edition, all the rule books have been thrown out and rewritten from scratch. This is the new Warhammer 40000 8th edition.

General Warhammer 40k Tactics

In  Warhammer 40k there are some tactics that are very useful no matter which army you use. In this section I will cover some of these generic tactics.  I will be presuming that you are playing Matched Play games and using the Advanced Rules. If you are playing power level matched games some of these tactics may not apply.

  • Learn The Rules. This must be the number one must do. You need to know the core rules, your armies rules,the advanced rules, the mission rules, and if possible the opponents rules too. That can be a daunting list if you are starting out. Don’t worry! You can split the task in to small, easy to do steps. Start by learning the basic rules first. Get some models on a table, roll some dice and see what happens. The model’s datasheet will give you most of what you need. When you are familiar with the core rules get gaming! There is nothing like playing a game with an opponent to have everything drop in to place quickly. As you come more proficient you will be able to mix in more advanced rules.
  • Use all Your Points! In Matched Play games you will agree on a maximum points limit for your army. There are no benefits from not using your full allocation of points. There have been many a game that has been won because an extra bit of wargear has swung the battle.
  • Get the Free Warlord Traits. When you look through the rule book and army codexes you may notice some free upgrades and abilities. The first is Warlord Traits on page 186 of the rule book. Extra Warlord traits are added in the army codexes too. You can only get Warlord Traits if you have a Character in your army, however this is recommended anyway.
  • Max out on Command Points. On Page 242 we are introduced to Command Points. Each army gets one command point just for showing up however if you organise your army in to a battle forged army formation then you can pick up loads more command points. The easiest option here is to go for Battalion Detachments. You can pick up 3 extra command points by having 5 units (two HQ and three troop units). For larger games you can have several Battalion Detachments.
  • Arcane Artefacts. These are yet more freebies hidden in the armies codexes. These are items that add even more abilities to your general. You usually only get one per army. However they are a free upgrade, so why not?
  • Any other freebies? With the army codex’e being released we can see that by opting for a faction or allegiance you can have access to aditional Stratagems, Warlord Traits and faction abilities. Generally there are no points cost to nominating a faction, so do it and get the freebies!

Armies of Warhammer 40k 8th Edition

As you may expect, after 30 years of development since the release of the original Rouge Trader version of Warhammer 40k the universe of WH40k is very developed with a number of races each with their own backgrounds and play styles. If you are new to the game you may want to browse through the different army types and discover which one is more suited to your play style and temperament.

One of the great advantages of the 8th edition reset is that no one army will have a dominance over any other. This means that you should have an equal chance of winning regardless of the army you select, and winning or losing will be dependent on your skills and not on the armies rules.

What are WH40k Imperial, Chaos, and Xenos armies?

Warhammer 40k armies fall in to 3 broad categories, Imperial – which is the human forces that follow the Imperial Emperor ( who is currently mostly dead and has been on a high tech life support machine for the last thousand years), the Chaos – human and daemons corrupted by another dimension called the realm of Chaos ( these are the basic bad guys), and Xenos – all the other races that just want to live peacefully and gorge themselves on human flesh!

Space Marines

Pre-heresy Dark Angel Space Marine

Warhammer 40k Dark Angel in pre-heresy colours

Space Marines are genetically enhanced humans developed to fight the enemies of the human race and bring order to the universe.

In game terms Space Marines are big, tough and well armed! The downside of the Space Marines are that they are few in number. When you are playing Marines you are saying that quality is better than quantity!

Space Marines are an excellent starter army for beginners. This is because you need fewer Space Marines models to play a game and they are good all round troops. Space Marines always included in the Warhammer 40000 starter box sets that Games Workshop release.

Space Marines come in different factions called Chapters. Each Chapter has it’s own colours and markings. Most of the Space Marines use the same rules, but there are a few exception to these rules.

You can find the rules for the Space Marines in the Index: Imperium 1 rule book.

Imperial Guard ( Astra Militarum ) and friends

Warhammer 40000 Astra Millarum Imperial Guard SquadWaging a galactic war need more troops than just a handful of super solders. This is where the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum, or Imperial Guard.

The Imperial Guard depend on large number and big guns over the skill of individual infantry men. This stand back and shoot does lead to difficulties if the enemy gets close, or if you have to go over the top of the barricades to claim objectives. To fill this gap the Imperial Guard have a number of friends to call on. These vary from Assassins, Nuns with guns, and Giant walking robots!

You can find the rules for the Astra Militarum, in the Astra Militarum Codex

Chaos Space Marines

Warhammer 40k Khorne Berzerker Chaos Space Marine

A Chaos Marine Khorne Berzerker.

In the Warhammer 40000 universe psychic powers are drawn from another dimension where evil spirits and the pure energy of chaos reside. The use of psychic powers and warp space travel has created rips in reality where this force of chaos can spill in to our reality, twisting, warping and corrupting all that it touches.

Chaos Space Marines are Space Marines that have been touched by, and succumbed to the seductive chaotic powers. These powers then warped their body and minds in to being crazed psychopaths with super human bodies and big guns!

Chaos Space Marines are basically 75% close combat specialists and 25% heavy support and support units. This means that you should be formulating plans where you can get in to combat quickly. Fast transport and loads of cover are your friends here.

You can find the rules for Chaos Space Marines in the Codex Chaos Space Marines rule book.

Chaos Daemons

Warhammer Chaos Lord with WingsWhere the Chaos Space Marines are humans that have been corrupted, Chaos Daemons are the raw stuff of chaos in corporeal form.

In game terms, the forces of Chaos Daemons are a very diverse army. All this corruption and mutation means that there is a massive variation in skills and abilities between units. The up side of this is that you are never short of interesting and wickedly devious models to play with. The downside is that you have to form this chaotic maelstrom in to a game winning army!

Summoning Chaos Daemons

Because the Chaos Daemons are made up of this ethereal energy many of them can be summoned by Chaos Characters (Daemons or Chaos Space Marines) in the middle of the battle. This makes them great re-enforcement units. Used correctly they can pop up unexpectedly catching the enemy completely off guard!

The Daemonic Ritual

To summon Daemons the Chaos Character needs to perform a ‘Daemonic Ritual’. To do this the Character needs to be on the table at the beginning of the movement phase (so not coming in via deep striking or reserves, or summoned this turn). If the Character does not move they can roll 3d6 at the end of the movement phase and bring in a Daemon Unit with a power level less than or equal to the 3d6 result. The Daemonic unit must be placed near the Character and more than 9″ away from enemy units.  This means that they may be able to assault in the assault phase!

Don’t expect summoning Daemons to be easy! first off, a Character can can only summon Daemons with the ‘Daemonic Ritual’ ability (most of them do) and the daemon needs to have the same Chaos Alliance as the character. This means that Khorne Characters can only summon Khorne Daemons and etc. The last issue is that the ritual may kill your character! When you roll the 3d6, if you roll a double then the Character suffers a mortal wound, and if you roll a triple then they suffer d3 mortal wounds! A double will happen 1 in 6 times, and a triple once in 36 times! So don’t worry about it.

You can find the rules for Chaos Daemons in the Index: Chaos rule book.

Eldar Craft Worlds

Warhammer 40k Eldar Guardians Defender SquadHere come the Space Elves!! Yes, your favourite pointy eared, hi-tech, aliens are here in Warhammer 40k too.

Eldar are mostly human friendly, but there is a good degree of mistrust and battles between humans and Eldar are as frequent as battles where they fight side by side.

In game terms Eldar are fast, nimble but fragile. With this army you will need to get various specialists working together hitting the right place at the right time, and at the same time avoiding the big guns of your enemy.

You can find the rules for the Craft World Eldar in the Codex Craftworlds rule book.


Metal Skeletons from the far past, or is that the far future? Either way they have the unnerving ability to re-animate. Will these dead things just lie down and die!

On the table Necrons are considered slower than most armies, however there are Necron units that move really, really fast. This can catch your opposition off guard. With Necrons it is essential that you know your army and all the special rules they have.

The rules for the Necrons can be found in the Index: Xenos 1 rule book.


Orks are savage green Orcs of fantasy. Armed with guns and war machines that seem to be built from scrap. These machines seem to work purely because the Orks have an absolute conviction that they should!

On the gaming table Orks are masters of close up hand to hand combat. Some are on foot, but there are post-apocalyptic trucks, and easy rider motorbikes. They are also backed up with some awesome, crazy war machines.

Orks have really benefited from 8th edition rules. In this version massed small arms fire really hurt. Big Shooters that have loads of shots, and Burners that don’t miss are great! Ork Dreadnoughts and Killa Kans have toughened up too!

The rules for the Orks can be found in the Index: Xenos 2 rule book.

T’au Empire

The Tau are an Anime themed army. Their high-tech weapons give them speed and unprecedented fire power. And missiles that fire around corners!

The Tau where one of the top performing armies in the 7th edition. They may be toned down for the 8th edition but they will still be a force to be reckoned with. Speed and firepower is their stock in trade, but they do have a weakness in close combat.

You can find the rules for the Tau empire in the Index: Xenos 2 rule book.


Forge World Tyranid HiraduleIs that a monster lurking in the darkness? Oh yes! Tyranids are aliens from another galaxy, totally unlike anything seen before ( unless you have seen any of the Alien’ films ), they have come to gorge on all living material, plant and animal, who’s genetic material is used to create new Tyranids and repeat the process. Tyranids are sometimes called the Great Devourer. Tyranid monsters come in all sizes from those the size of large dogs to some the size of four story buildings!

Tyranids have a very specific play style. They are mainly close assault creatures however they are brood creatures and controlled ‘node’ Tyranid creatures. Without these node creatures the lesser creatures start reverting to instinctive behaviour – and not doing what you want then to! So you need to protect your node creatures and get the the other creatures  in to close combat with the enemy without loosing too many to gun fire!

You can find the rules for Tyranids in the Index: Xenos 2 rule book.


Warhammer 40000 8th Edition nearly here!

Warhammer 40000 8th edition Dark Imperium Rookbook

The much anticipated new 8th edition of Warhammer 40000 rules are about to be released. some have managed to get copies early and there are videos on YouTube showing the box set, main rules, and additional Index Books (army codexes).

At is stands, the new rules look to be everything that Games Workshop have promised. The basic rules are going to be free. This will help new players get in to the game with the fewest obstacles. For more advanced players there will be an advanced rule book and ‘index’ books with the unit by unit rules for existing models.

As I write the new box set ( which includes the advanced rules), the Advanced Rule Book and the Index books have been made available for pre-order. Following a moth or two of solid marketing I expect that early orders for these items will be strong and if you want to ensure that you get them on release day, or soon after ( if you are mail ordering), then I highly recommend that you place an advanced order. You can order the new box set and rule books through your local Games Workshop store, or through the Games Workshop website, however if you want to buy them with a discount I would recommend buying them through a reputable online Games workshop stockiest like Element Games.

As you may expect, I will be getting my hands on the rules as soon as possible and update these pages with new tactics for the new game!