Warhammer 40k Stratagems have been a major part of the wargame since they made their debut in its 8th edition. Representing the unique skills, equipment, and tactics of your faction, Stratagems grant players extra tactical options and tough choices, from building your army right through to fighting out the final, desperate turn of the game.
Each Warhammer 40k faction has access to unique Stratagems that give it a distinctive style on the tabletop. With Warhammer 40k 10th edition coming this summer, the big question is: how will this key feature of 40k change in the new edition of the game?
This guide breaks down how Stratagems work in the recently revealed Warhammer 40k 10th edition core rules.
What are Warhammer 40k Stratagems?
Warhammer 40k Stratagems are special abilities that a player can activate at various points during a game of Warhammer 40k. Each player has access to a budget of Command Points (CP), which they can spend to activate Stratagems. Stratagems tend to cost between one and three CP.
You don’t have many CP to spend. During both players Command Phase, each player gains 1CP. They keep that until they spend it. It’s also possible to gain up to one additional CP per battle round through special abilities on Units.
Stratagems are used to activate powerful, one-off abilities. That might allow you to reroll dice, give a unit a combat bonus, move that unit in a way that breaks the normal rules, or any number of other powerful effects.
Core Stratagems are available to all armies in Warhammer 40k 10th edition. 12 are listed on p41-42 of the core rules, and additional core Stratagems may be part of mission packs.
Here are the Warhammer 40k 10th edition Core Stratagems:
1 CP – At the end of your opponent’s movement phase, one unit from your army currently in Reserves arrives on the battlefield as if it were the Reinforcements step of your own Movement phase. The unit can use any deployment method it has access to, such as the Deep Strike ability.
The Stratagem can’t be used if there’s a reason the unit can’t deploy during the current battle round. This is likely to come from scenario rules or mission packs that prohibit a model from entering the battle from Reserve on particular turns.
1CP – Re-roll a Hit roll, Wound roll, Damage roll, saving throw, Advance roll, Charge roll, Desperate Escape test, Hazardous test, or to determine the number of attacks made by a weapon or unit.
2CP – After an enemy unit has fought, select one of your units that’s eligible to fight and hasn’t done so already: it fights next.
1CP – A Character unit in your army gains the Precision weapon ability for one fight phase, allowing it to target enemy characters that are attached to a bodyguard unit.
1CP – After a unit in your army fails a Battle-Shock test in the Command Phase, it’s treated as having passed the test.
1 CP – Pick an enemy unit within 8″ of and visible to one of your units that has the Grenades keyword, is unengaged, and hasn’t shot yet. Roll six D6; inflict a mortal wound on the enemy unit for each six.
1CP – Select a Vehicle unit in the Charge phase: after it charges, pick one of its melee weapons and one enemy unit it’s engaged. Roll a number of D6 equal to the weapon’s strength, adding 2D6 if the Strength is greater than the enemy’s toughness. For each 5+ the enemy unit suffers one mortal wound, to a maximum of six mortal wounds.
1 CP – In your opponent’s movement or charge phase, when one of their units starts or ends a move, pick one of your units within 24″ and eligible to shoot; it can shoot at that enemy unit, hitting on sixes. Once per turn only
Go to Ground
1CP – One Infantry unit targeted by enemy shooting attacks gets the Benefit of Cover and a 6+ Invulnerable save this phase.
1CP – One unit with the Smoke keyword targeted by enemy shooting attacks gets the Benefit of Cover and the Stealth ability.
2CP – After an enemy unit finishes a charge, pick one of your units within 6″ of it that would be eligible to charge. It gets to charge that unit, but doesn’t get the Fights First bonus from charging. Vehicle units that aren’t also Walkers can’t make a Heroic intervention.
New Orders – part of the Leviathan mission pack
1 CP – Once per battle, at the end of your Command phase, discard one of your active Secondary Mission cards and draw a new one.
When you build your army list in Warhammer 40k 10th edition, you will select a single Detachment from those available for your faction, representing a particular force organisation or subfaction. This provides you with up to six, unique Detachment Stratagems.
That means that when playing with an army in 10th edition 40k you’ll have far fewer unique Stratagems to consider than you did in 9th edition – 9E factions commonly had at least 24 faction-specific Stratagems.
To get a taste for what this is like, check out the final 9th edition Warhammer 40k Codex, Codex World Eaters. The ‘default’ World Eaters army has access to eight Stratagems, and the ‘Disciples of the Red Angel’ subfaction has a different eight.
Warhammer 40k 9th edition core stratagems
There are seven Warhammer 40k 9th edition core stratagems. It’s likely that some of them will appear in 10th edition 40k as well. Expect them to be updated to reflect the changing rules.
|Command re-roll||1||Reroll a hit roll, wound roll, damage roll, saving throw, Advance roll, charge roll, Psychic test, Deny the witch test, or number of attacks made by a weapon. You must reroll all dice.|
|Cut them down||1||When an enemy unit Falls back, roll D6 for each of your models in Engagement Range with it, inflicting one mortal wound for each roll of six.|
|Desperate breakout||2||In the movement phase, a unit may make a Fall Back move that takes it over an enemy unit Engaging it. Roll 1D6 for each model in the unit; for each result of a one, destroy one model. Models that finish their Fall Back move in Engagement Range of an enemy are destroyed. The unit that falls back can’t do anything else that turn.|
|Emergency disembarkation||1||When a transport is destroyed, a unit embarked within it can disembark up to 6” from the instead of the normal 3”. When rolling to see if any models from the unit are killed, ones and twos destroy a model.|
|Fire overwatch||1||After an enemy unit declares a charge at one of your units, before they roll for distance, your unit targets them with a shooting attack. Only to-hit rolls of six count.|
|Counter-offensive||2||After an enemy unit has fought, one of your units fights. It can’t fight later the same turn unless it has an ability that lets it do so|
|Insane bravery||2||Once per battle only. A unit automatically passes a Morale test without rolling.|