The purpose of this web page is to inspire a discussion of the best tactics to be used when playing WH40K. Whenever I receive another response to this article, I add it to this list. So if you have something to say on this subject, drop me an email.

JackSlush What the Eldar Need
Anthony Jelich Why Orks Are Screwed
Heinz Roehrl Map Tactics
Joseph Goodman Why 40K Tactics Are Limited
Neal Crankshaw Tactics Don't Matter


Eldar are a great army to play in WH40K. They have speed and firepower where they need it, which is very important (in games large or small). There are some things that you must have, however.

For 1000 pts:



Altogether 1,000 points, around US$60 (not counting Codex)

For 2000 points:

- JackSlush@aol.com


I have only been playing WH40K for about a year now, and I, too, feel that the game needs to have some changes made to it.

As an Ork Warboss, I am sick of seeing my boyz being slaughtered by those pesky Terminators with their assault cannons. This weapon is way too powerful for the amount of damage it is capable of causing. Usually found in the arms of Terminators with a BS of 5, and the armour conferring a further +1 to hit due to its targeter, as well as an additional +1 bonus at short range, the assault cannon is capable of destroying the finest troops you can buy. I find myself up against a weapon which will hit a model in hard cover most of the time, and even give a Greater Demon cause for concern, due to its high strength and d10 wounds. All of this, and the weapon isn't even move or fire. And how many times have you seen it triple jam?

Having bought Necromunda recently, I believe the way to fix this problem is by limiting the amount of shots the weapon can fire by something similar to an ammo roll. I don't think it is realistic to say that a single Terminator could possibly carry enough ammo to last the game, for a weapon which obviously has a huge thirst for ammo.

Having said all that, the rules for all sustained fire weapons should be overhauled, since even twin-linked heavy stubbers can be devastatingly effective.

In fact, the only troops that aren't really affected by heavy weapons are Space Marines. A standard SM can still save against hits from most heavy wepons, but how many Orks, Eldar or Imperial Guard troops can?

SM's are too powerful for their points-cost. 1 in every 4 shots from a boltgun will kill a Marine, and this is without considering the roll to hit. Using troops with BS of 3, this is reduced to 1-in-8 if the Marine is in the open. Given an individual tactical SM is worth 30 points, he is the equivalent of about two and a half orks. The SM should be worth far more, due to his greater survivability and the fact the a marine can shoot twice.

One final note: I'm disappointed with the way most items of wargear affect the different armies. Look on just about any of the special table for items like virus grenades and flash flares, and I can guarantee two things:

  1. The item will have no effect on Space Marines
  2. The item will probably only really affect Orks

How many armies are there that can't take conversion fields for fear of blinding their own troops? I fail to see how the Orks are such a "hugely successful race" since the use of flash flares and conversion fields can leave half your army moving randomly, so they can get butchered in hand to hand or shot to pieces.

-- Anthony Jelich (austax@dot.net.au)


I don't think someone interested only in tactics (a "hard" wargamer) would consider Warhammer 40,000 for more than a second. There are more consistent, realistic and/or tactical wargames on the market (Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader, for example).

The more I play WH40k, the more I realize victory depends heavily on 3 factors:

-- Neal Crankshaw (scotts@iafrica.com)


I think that the current style of 40K games have fewer tactics than do most historical wargames, and than do most larger and old-style 40K games. By "current style of 40K games" I mean the new rules for play and set-up: you start within 24 inches of one another, you know how long the game lasts, and there are lots of special troops that don't require any special tactics to be viciously effective (such as assassins and the many things that appear with each new codex; as opposed to troops that can be effective if used correctly, but fail miserably otherwise).

Any game where you start within firing range of the enemy automatically limits one aspect of tactics, which is maneuvering to get the best position. This is basically combined with your deployment decisions. Additionally, the fact that you can shoot someone on the very first turn means before they have even moved (assuming small amounts of terrain) they can see their army wiped out. Maneuvering without any tactics other than deploying correctly kind of limits the available options. (And this doesn't even take into account the "unrealistic" implications of such close deployment -- do armies really only begin maneuvering when they're within range of each other?)

Knowing how long the game will last -- especially in a game dependent on a points system to determine victory -- can lead to tactics that simply don't happen in any "real" battles. (There are some situations or scenarios where time limits make perfect sense ("stop the enemy convoy before it is reinforced", etc.) but having them in every game is a different matter.) Suicide runs on the last turn, when you know your enemy can't fire back, are an example of this.

Larger 40K games are less susceptible to these problems, I think. This is mainly because larger games are played are larger battlefields (usually). The bigger the battlefield, the more maneuvering is important, and the less important "who gets to fire first" is. I play my 1000 pt. battles on an 8'x4' board, bigger than that on an 8'x8' board; the only time I play on smaller boards is for quick "afternoon games" of fewer than 1000 points. I think that this allows for a lot more tactics than smaller boards. Big boards also give some point to heavy weapons' longer ranges -- there's actually some strategy in deploying them so they can cover strategic points (which isn't usually the case on a 4'x4' battlefield).

All of the special troop types in 2nd edition 40K also seem to reduce the game's "tactics rating". Having a troop with a unique special ability (an assassins' dodge, terminators, etc.) and a troop that can counter that (the ork squig wargear cards, wraithcannons, etc.) basically limits the tactics needed to win to "I know he will buy this, so I buy this." There is a lot more strategy in getting a squad of Imperial Guardsmen close enough to an enemy to toss a vortex grenade (vortex grenade also being a "unique troop type") than there is in having an invincible assassin hop out from behind a blade of grass and hurl it. (I'm not saying special troops are always bad, but I do believe there are a bit too many nowadays.)

Your comments about army placement are probably true of any wargame, but probably much less important in 40K when played on smaller boards, as you start close enough to pulverize each other before one of the players even moves. When you start in range of the enemy, it really doesn't matter where you deploy -- you're still in range.

I think the two factors that seriously limit tactics in 40K are (1) an overabundance of special troop-types, and (2) board sizes so small that maneuvering becomes almost irrelevant.

Joseph Goodman

Last Updates
29 November 1996JackSlush on the Eldar
Anthony Jelich's comments
Mr. Crankshaw's identity revealed
22 July 1996reformatted
16 April 1996reorganized
Comments or corrections?