40K Tactica: Play to the Mission


What is, in my opinion one of the biggest mistakes we all make when playing Warhammer 40k competitively? Trying to kill enemy models!

It sounds counter intuitive but trust me it will cost you a lot of games if you aren’t careful. Today we will disuss this and ways to avoid it!

First let me start by sharing something with you, it is something I remind myself of EVERY turn of EVERY game, I say to myself “always play the mission, not your opponent. This sounds simple enough but remember this is WARgaming, there is a lot going on, its exciting, infuriating, emotional and confusing! It is very easy to get sidetracked, which can and will cost you the game.

The golden rule of all competitive games is simply find out what you need to do to win, do that and nothing more. This applies perfectly to 40k and when applied it will have you do some things that just seem weird. For example if you have the “secure objective 3″ card in a Maelstrom of War game, and your Maulerfiend is within 12” of the objective OR an enemy vehicle, many would get distracted by the easy target and as a result lose the game on victory points.

This is particularly important in Maelstrom of War as once you achieve an objective card it is yours and cannot be taken away, where as eternal war missions are another thing entirely where you must be thinking 2-3 turns ahead.

This works both ways too, for example if you notice your opponent has to “secure objective 3” then it may be in your best interest to position a sacrificial unit in a tempting location – so tempting your opponent forgets his mission in an attempt to destroy your forces.


Now for the Khorne Daemonkin version of this Tactica!

Khorne Daemonkin are particularly good at this as we have great Objective Secured troops (FnP Bloodletters) great fast units (too many to list) and the best part is we can summon more units where we need whenever we want! Make a Khorne Daemonkin list with some Flesh Hounds who can scout onto objectives in the midfield turn 1, follow that up with a bucket of Bloodletters and a few fire magnet Bloodthirsters.

With this army you have 1 tactic, start by pretty much ignoring your opponents army, when placing objectives at the start of the game spread them out as best as possible. Then use speed, numbers and summons to make sure you ALWAYS have 1-2 units on every objective, this will severly limit your opponets ability to score and ensure you score every turn! Not many armies bring enough firepower to stop you as you can just keep summoning units to replenish your forces. And thanks to all Khorne Daemons being Fearless you will never be forced off of an objective.

The second part to this tactic is to use the Bloodthirster to intimidate your opponent and control his actions, i don’t know how many times I have seen an opponent drop pod a bunch of marines out in the middle of nowhere just so they can kill a Bloodthirster just to spend the next 3 turns running towards the closest objective. Or move thier tanks back off an objective just to stay outside of my charge range. The most effective choice for this is the Insensate Rage bloodthirster, people are petrified of 8 strength D WS10 Attacks….

Just remember, play the mission…. so if the mission is score VPs then do not focus on killing, focus on scoring your VPs!

Thanks again for tuning in! Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of Tactica: Khorne Daemonkin! and while you are at it head over to Blog for the Blood God, give me a like, and join in on the other great content! Everything from Battle Reports to Hobby Tutorials, Rules discussions and tactics to Animated movies and 40k based comedy.

  • Ronin

    What’s funny is I know people who will absolutely ignore the mission and only find satisfaction in killing models. They actually think objectives is a pointless addition to 40k and winning by objectives is meaningless if you didn’t win attrition wise.

    • Thomas Gardiner

      Definitely all Iron Warriors players =P

      • MPSwift

        Almost the opposite! Iron Warriors always take the objective, we just grind our way there over our own dead 😀

    • sjap98

      It ook me a year and a half before I agreed to play Maelstrom missions (I was so set in my ways , only wanting to play Eternal missions). But, very recently, when preparing for a tournament with only Maelstrom missions, I realized that by concentrating fully on the mission I suddenly could have a chance to win games! Wow, that was something new to me. I was so used to losing all the time.I always make troops heavy lists, never hardcore deatthstar ones…But, really, lots of Objective secure troops and Maelstrom missions (and playing the mission!) make my games a gazillion times more enjoyable. Maelstrom is really the way to go..and also Mysterious objectives give extra …. Weird, because when 7th hit, I dismissed them both as too many extra complications…Now, I don”t want to play anything else…

    • Spacefrisian

      Played against such a player who never played an objectiv mission, cause he thought it wasnt any fun….he has a different oppinion now, he found out he actually liked it. And we both agreed that gravweapons are a stupid idea and that you can have fun even without any D weapons in an Eldar list.

      Guess its all part of bringing back the hobby.

    • Secundum

      Sounds like any Khorne Player to me.

    • A true Khorne warlord always fights this way

  • Asrai86

    I first learnt this in racing games, race to the track, not the other car. But I agree entirely. My last game, I saw my opponent had moved his blocker units to try and kill my back line and was able to sprint through the gap, winning the game on the last turn (with a few lucky rolls going my way of course)

    • benn grimm

      Yeah, I’m guessing killing the other drivers is probably somewhat frowned on too…

      • ChubToad


      • I don’t think I ever finished a track in Carmageddon 2, I just killed all my opponents

  • jasonsation

    Good article, just seems weird to have Khorne as the example of who NOT to kill with.

    • dodicula

      and a perfect example of why 40 rules are so unsatisfying

      • Master Avoghai

        Nope the example is uncomplete.

        Half of the Maelstrom cards obj are “kill something”
        Kill the warlord
        Kill a psyker
        Kill a flyer
        Kill a unit in CC
        Kill a unit while shooting

        + the special obj cards for KDK removes 6 obj “hold obj X” for typical Khorne objective.

        So it’s not as caricatural as the situation described. Sometimes you need to focus on objective just like : rather to try to kill a close unit of imperial guard, you should focus on the psyker that is further because you get the card “kill a psyker”.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          is it compulsory to use special mission objectives if your army has them?

          • Master Avoghai


            But then it’s player’s fault… Not GW…

          • Spacefrisian

            Some dexes state that you must use there versions, eg Spacewolves and Dark Eldar has that noted.

          • Secundum

            Depends on the army. iirc Wolves have to use them, whereas crons don’t.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            seems like the sort of thing bests made optional, but then I guess GW want to sell their little sets of cards…

      • benn grimm

        ’40 rules are so unsatisfying..’ sounds like a line from a pop song…)

  • Such simple but powerful advice, it is always worth reiterating.

  • This must be a new thing….But what if you don’t have an army left because while you were grabbing objectives you got rick rolled? Its totally dependent upon the army built.

    • Ronin

      Some players/groups/formats decide getting tabled isn’t a victory condition. Fluffwise for some armies like Orks and Tyranids where their numbers are endless and casualties don’t matter, it could make sense that they’re simply trying to achieve a certain objective like harvesting resources where the control points are. Our group format allows you to farm objectives as a primary mission so you can sit and rack up points against an opponent you’ll know you won’t have a chance against attrition wise. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6O_MNuxCu3UQ0J1UVNOdm5UaDA/view

      • MPSwift

        This works really well for Maelstrom as you get objectives as you go. Guard, 30k Iron Warriors, Nids and Orks really work with that mentality of we don’t care how many we lose as long as we complete the mission.

      • Secundum

        Problem with house ruling victory conditions as basic as don’t get tabled’ is then you’re not really playing 40K any more…

        • I’m pretty sure you are.. GW is a strong proponent of modifying the rules to make the game fun.

  • dodicula

    wow an army of the blood god that is good at swamping objectives instead of killing. awesome game deaign gw

    • Agent OfBolas

      hehehe, GW have no idea how to make games.

      • Victor Hartmann

        As I mentioned above, GW did address it with the KDK maelstrom deck which removes a bunch of the “hold objective x” cards with Khorne flavored objectives.

        So, this is an example of good game design. They created a basic game mechanic which can be altered to suit each army’s flavor and style of play.

        I know “G-dub can’t design games” is the easy meme to snark at but at least give them credit when they do something well.

    • Victor Hartmann

      Actually, GW did address it with the KDK maelstrom deck which removes a bunch of the “hold objective x” cards with Khorne flavored objectives.

      So, this is an example of good game design. They created a basic game mechanic which can be altered to suit each army’s flavor and style of play.

      I know “G-dub can’t design games” is the easy meme to snark at but at least give them credit when they do something well.

  • benn grimm

    Yeah, but killing the opponents fave models is so much fun…

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      aim for the most recently painted, and break their morale!

      • benn grimm

        Indeed and anything they’ve posted on FB that got a lot of likes…;)

  • Agent OfBolas

    Blood for the Blood Good … or Objectives for the Appraisal God!!

    Even CSMs are living in a world dominated by huge companies…

  • Bethayne

    Though at the same time making your army vulnerable by going all in on an objective can be just as bad as not playing to the mission.

    • Victor Hartmann

      True, so you have to weigh risks vs reward as well as timing. I think this adds a more subtle layer of skill to the game which a more skilled and/or perceptive player can take advantage of.

  • Spacefrisian

    Would be even more perfect if the secondary objectives had a point added for each challenge you win regardless of whom has issued it, it would make sense right?

    • Victor Hartmann

      One of the Khorne objectives wins a victory pt (or d3 if it was an IC) for winning a challenge regardless of who issued it.

  • ChubToad

    i just want my Khorne Flakes. Is it too much to ask?

    • euansmith

      Blood for the Knorne Flakes!

      • Mr.Gold

        don’t forget to eat them out of an up-turned skull…

  • CPENinja

    Missions make the game much more fun, I’ve found. I recently played my Tau against a friend’s Supess Wulves and randomly rolled the MoW mission where both players’ ‘Secure Objective X’ cards are in play for either side to achieve. Sadly, we both kept pulling cards for the objectives that his Rhinos were sitting on top of, so he quickly ran away on VPs.

    I changed tactics to table his army before the game ended – I managed to do so, but it was coming down to the wire. It was an enjoyable experience.

    • nurglitch

      It’s nice that there’s multiple paths to victory.

  • Crablezworth

    Maelstrom is 40k plus twister, it would only work with activation based gaming. In 40k it’s just a victory lottery. Left foot green.

  • CamCom

    I am a CSM player and just last week I played against my buddies Tau army (with new codex) and because of my Rhino spam with min squad units (about 5) and 2 squads of plague bearers I was able to get tons of points with board control. However, last turn of the game he was able to secure 4 points with a tau exclusive card thusly winning the game by 1 point. Was a good game and gave me hope as a bottom tier army. Did I mention I also brought 3 turkeys?