How to Play the New 40k

The new 40k is dead simple. Like, really simple.

You can figure out the rules within maybe 5 minutes – within 10 minutes (at the most!) of playing, you will have them memorised. That is not to say it is without depth – quite the opposite. Like Age of Sigmar, the new 40k has very simple core rules, but layers complicaton and depth on top. Best of all worlds, really – newcomers get into the game quickly and without fuss, while veterans can endlessly tweak to get the results they want, be they narrative or competitive.

So, I am going to show you how to play the new 40k!


The mission you are playing will tell you who goes first and, unlike Age of Sigmar, you simply alternate turns. Go through each of the six phases in the turn, and then hand off to your opponent. Continue until the game ends.


Movement Phase

Pick a unit, move it. Units now have their own movement values and if you can Fly, then you can move straight over models and terrain. Keep your models within 2″ of each other and more than 1″ away from the enemy. Run (called Advance now) an extra dice worth of inches.

You can Fall Back, moving out of contact with an enemy, but you won’t be able to advance, charge or shoot.

And that is Movement done.


Psychic Phase

Pick a psyker, pick a psychic power, roll two dice and try to meet or beat the power’s Warp Charge value. Try not to get a double 1 or 6, as Perils of the Warp means your psyker takes D3 mortal wounds and, if he dies, all units within 6″ also take D3 mortal wounds.

Mortal wounds, you ask? Automatic wounds that do not need hit or wound rolls, and ignore all saves (including invulnerable!).

Deny the Witch is the same as unbinding in Age of Sigmar, except you can do it at 24″ range – roll two dice and beat the psyker’s own roll to stop the power.


Shooting Phase

No shooting chart, you just need to roll whatever your Ballistic Skill is – so, BS 3+ means you need 3 or more to hit something. Units can now split fire with abandon, and characters can only be picked out if they are the closest models (which is fair enough, as they can no longer join units). You cannot shoot at anything if an enemy is within 1″ of you.

There is a new wound roll table, but it is dead simple to memorise.

If Strength is greater than Toughness, you need 3+, if it is lower, you need 5+, and they are the same… 4+

That will cover you for 90% of all attacks. However, particularly strong or weak attacks extend the dice range, so if Strength is twice (or more) than Toughness, you only need a 2+. If it is the other way around, 6+. Everything can hurt everything else, it just gets really hard at the bottom end.

Once you wound something they get a saving through, but this can now be modified, either by a weapon’s AP score or terrain which gives a +1 bonus (there are obviously unit specific rules that add further modifiers, but these are the core rules being covered here).


Weapon types are still in, so Assault weapons can still shoot if you advanced (albeit at -1 to hit), Heavy weapons are at -1 to hit if you so much as wiggle a toe, Pistols can shoot at enemies within 1″, and so forth.


Charge Phase

If you have a unit 12″ away from the enemy, you can try to charge. They get Overwatch on you (6+ to hit, as before), then you roll two dice for the charge move – you must get within 1″ of an enemy model.


Fight Phase

Models that charged this turn fight first. After that, players alternate units, Age of Sigmar style. Models pile in 3″, again like Age of Sigmar, and they get to fight if they are within 1″ of an enemy or a friendly model that is within 1″ of an enemy.

Characters get a special pile in, a 3″ move to reach an enemy even if they did not start within 1″.

You get as many attacks as you have, well, Attacks, and these can be split between different enemies and close combat weapons if you wish. You hit with your WS (so, WS 4+ needs 4 or more to hit an enemy), and wounding is the same as for shooting.

After you have done your attacks with a unit, it can consolidate up to 3″, but this move must be towards the nearest enemy model and is not compulsory.


Morale Phase

A unit took losses? Roll a dice and add how many models it lost. If this total exceeds the unit’s Leadership, it loses additional models equal to the difference. Same as Age of Sigmar.

And that is not just morale done, that is the turn!


That is basically the game. There are a couple of extra bits and pieces covering Transports (dead easy, transports now have model capacity not unit, embark/disembark within 3″ – but not both in the same turn, and they can act normally after leaving), invulnerable saves (they act the same way as before, either or with armour saves), terrain (already covered, inflicts penalty to shooting), aura abilities (they affect the model generating them), and… that is about it, really.

So, you now know how to play the new 40k! Grab some Datasheets and get blasting!



6 Responses to “How to Play the New 40k”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Sounds brilliant! Can’t wait.

  2. steinbergshedspace Says:

    Maybe I should look see what this new 40k looks like. Thanks for the update.

  3. greysplinter Says:

    Thanks for the review, very helpful. A few questions for clarification:

    -Are there any limits on Psychic powers (i.e. in AoS, you can only attempt each individual spell once per turn in competitive play)… I am asking because my Grey Knights have lots of units with access to lots of psychic powers, but I want to know if they will be limited on what they can use each turn, for example.

    -How do you determine who goes first? Also, is there still Seize the Initiative, or is that gone?

    -Can bonuses/auras “stack” in competitive play, even if they provide the same benefit (i.e. if you get +1 to Hit from one source and then +1 to Hit from another source, does that mean that the unit gets a “net” of +2 for its to Hit rolls)?

    -How do Reserves work now? I read something about only having a maximum of 50% of your army in Reserves (i.e. no full Drop Pod or other “null deploy” armies anymore)… could you provide any clarity on this?

    Thanks again and kudos on an excellent and entertaining blog!

    • altsain Says:

      1. In Matched Play, there are the same limits as Sigmar.

      2. The mission determines who goes first, and yes, Seize the Initiative is still a thing.

      3. There are not all that many modifiers, but I cannot see why they would not stack.

      4. True on the 50%, but they appear when (and pretty much where) you want them to!

      • greysplinter Says:

        Thanks for answering these questions. One more for you: there appears to be certain rules that allow either re-rolls to Hits of 1s or even +1 to Hit (i.e. if you roll a “1,” then it is upgraded to a “2,” etc.). Regarding Plasma Weapons and their new overcharged mode (i.e. 1’s to Hit kill the bearer of the Plasma weapon), does this mean re-rolls of 1s can reduce the chance of blowing yourself up (like in old 40K) or remove it all together (i.e. +1 to Hit means that you can never get a 1, since the lowest you will get is a 2)?

        Thanks in advance for answering this.

  4. altsain Says:

    A +1 will remove it altogether…

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