Virtual Toy Chest's
Introduction to Warhammer 40K


What is Warhammer 40,000, or 40k for short? It is a tactical wargame created by Games Workshop. It is based on their classic Warhammer Fantasy Battle game, WFB. Both games are played with 28mm miniatures on a large table. They also share similar game statistics, and combatants. However, WFB has a medieval setting, while 40K has a futuristic one. Troops in 40K are allowed to skirmish, whereas most troops in WFB fight in formation. This gives 40K a very modern feel. The rules have also been streamlined, so it plays quite quickly.

40K was first released in 1987 as Warhammer 40,000 Rouge Trader. The game has gone through a total of 5 editions over the last 21 years. Like most wargames 40K tries to strike a balance between ranged and close combat. The various editions have shifted the focus of the game amongst the heroes, vehicles, and troops.

In the current edition there are 12 main forces. The following table lists them and their relation of the races in WFB. Click on an army name for more detailed information about that force.
Space Marines
Daemon Hunters (Grey Knights)
Witch Hunters (Sisters of Battle)
Imperial Guard Empire
Chaos Space Marines Warriors of Chaos
Daemons of Chaos Daemons of Chaos
Orks Orcs and Goblins
Necrons Tomb Kings
Eldar High Elves
Dark Eldar Dark Elves
Tau and Kroot
Tyrannid


The strategies used in the game are derived from those used in actual military conflict. Most armies specialize in a particular strategy. For example, the Tyrannids commonly use a rushing mob strategy very much like the Goths. The following paragraphs briefly describe each army.

Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines are the two most popular armies. They both have elite troops in power armor that are tough and can hold their own in both ranged and hand to hand combat. They also have powerful characters. The key to victory with these armies is preventing the opponent from bringing the full force of his troops against yours. This usually involves assaulting a flank, or hiding behind terrain. Given their toughness they are well suited for beginners.

Daemon Hunters are elite Space Marines whose mission is to destroy the threat of Chaos. Being the elite of the elite they are very few in number, which can make the army difficult to play effectively. In most respects they are simiar to Space Maries, but have psycic force weapons that can cut through any armor. They are most effective fighting Daemons and well armored troops like Chaos Space Marines. They have a more difficult time against horde armies like Orks and Imperial Guard.

Witch Hunters travel the galaxy purging the xenos (non human races) in waves of fire. They are not quite as tough as Space Marines, but make up for this with their greater than average number of troops. Their favored weapon is the flamer which can roast large numbers of orks in one blast. They rely on troop transports to get close to the enemy, and then jump out and burn them.

The Imperial Guard has a Soviet flavor. They have some of the most powerful vehicles in the game. These are usually used to fire artillery long distances to soften up the enemy and take out any units that can hurt your armor. The troops are fairly weak, but are more numerous than the Space Marines. They play a much less important role in the fighting than in other armies.

Daemons of Chaos take all sorts of twisted forms. They emerge from the warp without warning wreaking havoc. This is represented by special deployment rules that allow them to deploy at any point in the battlefield. They specialize in hand to hand combat. Their weakness is their lack of armor, which makes them vulnerable to shooting.

Like the Space Marines, the Eldar have elite troops. However, the Eldar troops are not as tough as the marines. They do not fair well in prolonged hand to hand combat so they are generally considered a ranged army. Further, most of the troops specialize in a particular type of combat. A hand to hand specialist like the Howling Banshees, will perform rather poorly in ranged combat. Thus tactics become very important. The Eldar also have potent vehicles.

The Dark Eldar have very mobile elite troops. Like the Eldar they are not very tough. They win battles by picking their fights. They require quite a bit of skill to play well.

Tau are based upon anime. They employ ranged attacks to criple the enemy force. They have powerful long range weapons and good vehicles. They use the Kroot to help support them in hand to hand combat.

The Tyrannids, or Nids for short, are an alien race that specialize in hand to hand combat. They have hoards of inexpensive troops that rush the enemy. This makes them one of the easier armies to play. However, it is common for players to customize the models. Thus, begginers should consider their modeling skill before choosing them. The nids also have some of the most feared characters in the game.

The Necrons have elite troops that specialize in ranged combat. They are fairly hard to destroy, but are very few in number. They have the Monolith which is a very powerful vehicle.

The Orks attempt to swarm their opponents in a sea of green. Their technology is somewhat unreliable, but fairly powerful.

Unlike chess, the composition of an army in 40K can vary from game to game. You can create an army that is designed to use a particular tactic, like an ambush. To try to assure that the armies are evenly matched, troops are assigned points values based on their effectiveness, and armies are made from a commonly agreed upon number of points.

Some characters, weapons, and vehicles are extremely potent. Fortunately, there is a limit to the number that may be taken in any army. This being said, it is important to consider these threats when designing an army, as one cannot expect a squad of troops armed with bolters to destroy a tank. The following paragraphs discusses some of these threats in more detail.

The Tyrannid Carnifex is a close combat terror that has high toughness and many wounds. It is best to try to kill the Carnifex at long distances with heavy weapons. As with most aspects of the game, it is important to focus your attack. Thus, devote all of your heavy weapons fire to it. This is usually not so difficult, as it is a large target and is easy to see. Another option is to ignore the Carnifex and try to tie it up with cheap troops like Gretchin.

Terminator Space Marines are very tough to kill, have good ranged and close combat weapons, and can teleport right on top of your forces. The first step in counteracting their threat is to position your force near the edge of the board so if they do not teleport where they expect to arrive they may land off the table and be removed from the game. The second step is to have plenty of weapons that negate or seriously reduce armor saves. Another option is to try to avoid the terminators. They are slow moving, so after they land, run away.

Large tanks like the Land Raiders are protected by heavy coats of armor. They are vulnerable to heavy weapon fire and specialized close combat attacks. Lascannons and Terminators with powerfists are common tank killers.

The Necron Monolith is very tough to destroy. In general it is best to avoid attacking it, and focus on killing the troops instead.

A swarm of Orks pose problems for elite troops. Individually they are not very effective, but en mass they are quite deadly. It is important to make use of terrain so that many of their troops are idle. Also gattling gun type weapons like the scatter laser can cut them down in droves.

For many years the figures were exclusively produced by Citdel Miniatures, an arm of Games Workshop. In years past, most of the figures were cast in pewter. Now, many of the figures are made from plastic. Special units are made by Forge World Miniatures and cast in resin. The following are some pictures of the Eldar model from the 90s.

Howling Banshees
Warhammer 40k Eldar Banshees
Dire Avengers
Warhammer 40k Eldar Dire Avengers
Swooping Hawks
Warhammer 40k Eldar Swooping Hawks
Striking Scorpions
Warhammer 40k Eldar Striking Scorpions
Warp Spiders
Warhammer 40k Eldar Warp Spiders
Eldar Guardians
Warhammer 40k Eldar Guardians
Wraithguard
Warhammer 40k Eldar Wraithguard


Warhammer 40,000 has spawned numerous other games. Some of these include Space Hulk, Epic, Necromunda, GorkaMorka, Inquisitor, and Battlefleet Gothic.






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