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.