Into the Fray! Helping Heroes Lead from the Front in 40K

Posted by Chris Hobday on

Art of War Studios Lead from the Front 40k

Wouldn't it be great if your warlord could lead the way without, you know, dying?

There are a lot of things to love about Warhammer 40,000 8th edition. Elements like the synergy of auras and special rules, the stratagems, and all those lovely dynamically-posed new models spring to mind. The lack of templates also allows us to arrange our squads in ways that look cool - peeking around corners, resting their lasgun barrels on mounds of rubble, or mobbing up as they rampage forward - rather than spacing them out to avoid losing too many of them to a heavy flamer. 

I also like the character rules, which only permit opponents to shoot your heroes if they are the closest unit (unless you brought something nasty like a Vindicare, in which case, all bets are off). But I do wonder if there’s room for improvement here. Or at least, room to try something different.

Art of War 40,000

Sure, it’s great to have a mighty Space Marine hero charging across the table, bellowing a litany of contempt as his master-crafted power sword crackles in the hazardous alien atmosphere of wherever-this-is XIII. But it would be even cooler if he didn't need to be screened by a squad of Primaris whose job is to soak up bullets so that the boss can bound across the enemy line and cause havoc. That's just not as cinematic as it could be.


I’d love to see the hero at the front of the charge, with his men behind him. Currently, this would end in disaster, as a fusillade of small arms fire, the hiss of plasma and the roar of battle cannons turn him into red missed. But what if the rule was ever so slightly different?


Warhammer 40,000 charge art of war

Here’s our idea. Instead of ruling that you may only target a character if it’s the closest enemy model, why not rule that an enemy character can only be targeted if there are no other enemy units either closer to the firing model, or within 3” of the character? This way, your hero can lead the charge like the thousand-year-old sword-wielding religious maniac that he is, instead of skulking around behind a meat-shield saying, ‘keep going, lads, don’t worry about all those missile launchers.’


To this end, we’ve written an additional bolt-on rule for targeting characters. Entitled Lead from the Front, this allows you to place your heroes at the spearhead of your force, which will look phenomenal in terms of spectacle. To further support the concept behind this additional rule, we came up with a universal stratagem called Shoulder to Shoulder We Stand which allows units within 3” of a character to declare overwatch against an enemy that charged the character. In order to not steal thunder from the Tau, we made this non-refundable. Which we think is a nice trade-off.

Art of War Studios lead from the front

Note the last part: that could also have been targeted by the attacking unit this turn. This is designed as a safety net against players simply moving the attacking unit so that it can only see the character, before shooting. Sure, there are probably ways this can still be exploited, but there comes a point where sportsmanship is a choice, rather than something that can necessarily be enforced.

Art of War Studios Shoulder to Shoulder We Stand

So we’re going to try this out in a few games and see how it goes. In the new world of Vindicare assassins and associated sniper filth, it might be small beer, but it might lend our games that extra modicum of cinematic cool.

Thanks for reading, and let us know your thoughts!


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  • Thanks for posting. Always looking to streamline 40k rules even more than they did with 8th edition. 40k could learn a lot from other games like Star Wars Legion and how they handle unit leaders and heroes, targeting them, et al.

    A buddy and I have eliminated the Wound Check when you hit, no more of that silliness. We are working out and testing unit level turn execution, ie- one of your units, then one of mine, etc. instead of all of mine, then all of yours. And we are also working on unit movement and cohesion changes as well. 8th edition brought some welcome changes and streamlining, but there is more that can be done to bring 40k into the modern age of skirmish level war gaming.

    Greg Zuvich on

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