40K: The Rise Of Fortifications

BEHOLD the GLORY as fortifications are taking their place in the meta.

One interesting trend we’ve seen starting to pop up in the meta here and there is the use of fortifications. These heavy emplacements have been largely unused in competitive play since 8th came out. Now however they have started to come into use and seem to be making a place for themselves in the meta. Lets look at how and why.

Showing Up For Game Time

For most of 8th I haven’t noticed anyone using fortification at events, however all that changed when the Fire Nation attacked at LVO. I’ve already written about my favorite list from the event. This list featured the use of an Aquila Strongpont, the first time I’d seen one used in an event. Still, the list remained a bit of an anomaly. Since then however I’ve seen fortifications popping up here and there at events. Most recently at the local event we covered this last weekend the final round top tabled featured a Nid list with an Imperial Bunker. So why are fortifications suddenly starting to show up?

The Anti Alpha Strike

The main use behind taking fortifications is to counter enemy alpha strikes. Fortifications provide a safe haven for valuable units to hide in during the early rounds of a game, preventing the enemy form getting the jump on them. While they are not indestructible, they are pretty hard to kill. Take for example the Imperial Bunker with T8, 12 wounds and a 3+ save. The Aquila Strongpoint is T10 with 30 wounds and a 3+ save. Both can absorb some serious punishment and wasting that kind of firepower on them can seriously hamper the enemies ability to kill the unit within.

Moreover their sheer size means that they provide you with a ready made LOS blocking unit. You can hide a whole army behind an Aquila Strongpoint. Due to their special rules you also can’t prevent the units inside from shooting by tieing them up in close combat, so even that Alpha Strike is blocked.

Better Than A Tank

While people have used vehicles, such as Rhinos, to hide their troops against an alpha strike, fortifications offer some major advantages. The main advantage of the fortification is the fire points. While most units hiding in vehicles cannot affect the game, a unit in a fortification can fire out, thus allowing it to hurt the enemy while being kept safe. In addition as noted above the fire points rule allow the embarked unit to fire event if enemies are within one inch of the fortification, meaning that you really do have to kill the fortification before you can stop the unit inside from shooting.

No Size Restrictions

Another great advantage of Fortification is that they can hold units that can’t normally be in transports. Now while only infantry models can enter fortifications, there are no other limits. Moreover models, like terminators or Ogryns that normally count as two or more models in a transport just count as one in a fortification. This means that large units of say terminators that normally could not get in a non Forge World transport can fit in a fortification, and units like Inceptors that normally can’t get in any transport can shelter in a bunker. Come to think of it, a unit of five Inceptors in a bunker seems pretty mean.

Access For All

As discussed above one of the armies seen taking fortifications was a Nid list. This means that even armies that cannot normally take transports, or only have expensive ones (Like Custodes) can take advantage of fortifications. This can provide some much needed protection for vulnerable units that can’t get it otherwise.

Build Your Walls Up High

So with all these advantages are we going to start seeing more fortifications? I certainly would not be surprised if that is the case. Now I don’t think that every army can benefit from fortifications. Assault armies may not gain much, but a properly built army can certainly gain advantage by taking one. The fact that they also take up a detachment may limit their use. Still, I think at this point the cat is out of the bag, fortifications are good, and we will keep seeing more. So build up your walls or fire up your siege drills because there is no escaping them.

Do you think fortification are going to leave their mark on the meta? Let us know, down in the comments! 

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    I miss that castle set.

    Also, would you look at that… the answer to the alpha strike was in the game the entire time! Now people will have to take siege lists to crack the fortifications… so people will have to take alpha strike lists to kill the siege lists…

    It’s rock paper scissors!

    • Warrior24_7

      Really? I thought it was all about the Ynnari?

      • Munn

        It still kinda is. They just pop the fortification AND the unit inside instead of just the unit.

        • Warrior24_7

          Get yourself some Assassins and put your characters and heavy weapons team inside the fortification and they have a SERIOUS problem. But what if the Ynnari take a fortification? Noooooo……

          • marxlives

            It is all about who goes first. so ya it’s like rock paper scissors.

      • Cergorach

        No it’s all about the Abe…
        Or the Abe-hab, always trying to get those Ynnari…

      • Valourousheart

        Are you saying Ynnead it to win.

    • Drpx

      But we need nerfs every month for muh competitive balance.

    • Keaton

      Mmmm nope. I’ve read from multiple people who haven’t played since 5th that the game is broken and unplayable. Surely you’re not suggesting they’re wrong?!

  • Warrior24_7

    Just wait until the nerf guys get here, EVERYTHING here is overpowered! Nothing is safe.

    • EmperorOfMankind

      I really get annoyed by the “Eldar need to be nerfed” maybe some builds.

  • NNextremNN

    Will be funny to see both players bring fortification list. You go first. No you go first.

    • af

      “How on Holy Terra did the cultists manage to build their bastion a mere 100 yards away from your fortification, in plain sight of your position?”

      “Don’t yell at us, sarge! We were distracted playing Valhallan roulette and didn”t notice”

      “But it must have taken them at least a month to build that chaos bastion!”

      “Well, Valhallan roulette IS an engrossing game…”

  • DrLove42

    I know he rules for these were all in Chapter Approved, but that book doesnt include any matched play point values for them. Where are they?

    • Marcet

      Index Imperium 2

    • Dave Dogge

      really so Chapter Approved 2017 and the Index Imperium 2 have rules and points for all the terrain sets for WH40K ? cool I’ll go take a look

      • orionburn III

        I think some fortifications were split out even further. I want to say things like the Dark Angels Fortress of Redemption was in Index 1 (Space Marines).

  • Simon Chatterley

    The plasma one is the most popular one I’ve seen. For the points it seems very effective at doing exactly as you say. Hiding troops but still dropping out some fairly serious firepower.

    • Navaren

      That Plasma Destroyer Bastion is brutal, I personally run a firestorm redoubt with the Icarus Array swapped out for the publisher cannons

      • Martijn Meijer

        Publisher cannons – killing you with critique since the Middle Ages

        • Navaren

          I may have been in academia too long…

          • mgdavey

            Publish and Perish!

        • Snord

          Only really competitive with the ‘Gutenberg printing press’ strategem.

        • kobalt60

          Can’t like this comment enough

        • Heed the word of the Emperor *and* Perish!

  • Rob brown

    A little bit of me dies inside when Nids take imperial fortifications. Rationalize it all you like but It’s just wrong!

    • Mathew G. Smith

      The genstealer cult finished construction and went home early.

    • Rainthezangoose

      honestly people should be encouraged to convert or make sutible alternative peices, like a big biostructure the size of the bunker for a tyranid one.

      • Hence why I gave away the foamcore template when I made my nid Bastion

        • Peter Laszlo

          … wow…. i like your work.
          Want more of that on my table.
          I need to start building nid stuff now.

          • There are plenty of ways to do nid terrain if you have the patience. Even then I’ve seen some pretty cool terrain using just hot melt glue to great effect. You just need to settle on an approach and give it a go.

        • eMtoN

          You win the coolest post of the thread award.

          • Too kind, 8ve always been a fan of Fortifications they took an initial hit in 8th and I still think they’re overcosted, particularly the Bastion and the Quad Gun is essentially useless.

            However, I’ve had renewed love for the Skyshield with its Chapter Approved increase in toughness. It made me laugh when Spikey Bits thought Forgeworld were making Tyranid terrain when I was featured in the Warhammer TV live stream from GT3!

    • Kabal1te

      It isn’t like there are fortifications for any faction other than imperium. GW is kinda biased like that.

      • NNextremNN

        I woudn’t say biased more “profit oriented” but the result is the same. Also do Tyrannids build fortifications? Don’t they eat the planet and move on?

        • eMtoN

          In one of the Cain books there were large tyranid structures which were slurping up pools of biomass and sending it up to the hive fleet. They were described as large columns.

          • NNextremNN

            Ok thx for the answer.

          • Capillary Towers

      • But almost all the fortifications are ‘unaligned’ for faction so you can create your own for your army with a bit of effort .

        • Warrior24_7

          The Tau have “exclusive” fortifications.

    • eMtoN

      Just pretend it’s made of biomass.

    • Warrior24_7

      Why? Your saying that the Nids couldn’t tunnel up and overrun one of these positions?

      • Rob brown

        You saying Nids would fire the guns?

        • Warrior24_7

          Nids DO fire guns, and the fortification has a “machine spirit” with a BS of 5 that fires by itself! The nids do not have to man it. So what’s the problem here?

  • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

    No AoE benefits too as they are embarked, so no buffmander, no Company Ancient with banner, etc.

  • MarcoT

    Can you use strategems on units inside a building? Like a unit of Hellblasters using the Auspex thing (shoot on unit that deploys within 12″)? Because that’d be grand.

  • piglette

    If everyone played orks all our problems would be solved. Everything would be balanced and orks would always win.

    • Snord

      So wise…

  • Drpx

    Imperial fists are usele-

  • Loirdi

    I ran into some issues in deployment while considering to take Fortress of redemption or aquila strongpoint in my tournament list.

    Fortifications are basically treated as immobile vehicles, yes?
    Aquila strongpoint is at narrowest point of the model still wider than 12″, and Fortress is just crazy big in every angle. So there’s very high risk to be unable to deploy those buildings because there isn’t enough room for them in deploymet zones because of other terrain.

    Usually in tournaments the tables and terrain are preset so you can’t alter them in any ways.

    • I was concerned when I went to Warhammer World as deployment rules in 8th state you must deploy ‘wholly ‘within you deployment zone. My Skyshield is wider than 12″ so Dawn of War deployment makes it impossible to position. When I explained they immediately adopted 7th deployment and allowed the Skyshield on but ensured no other unit extended beyond the 12″.

      Ultimately it will depend on your opponent and the tournament rules and you must be prepared not to be allowed to deploy, which flies in the face of the article if some Fortifications just end up being unusable with tough tournament rules.

  • bad mood

    Does anyone know how it comes that the Aquila Strongpoint is out of sale all the time? Did it sell so badly?

    • mgdavey

      “No one ever goes there, it’s too crowded” – Yogi Berra

  • Dave Dogge

    Where are the 8th edition rules for these terrain sets that are still being sold ? I know some come with rule sets inside the box but are they even valid in 8th edition WH40K ?

    • Most of the Fortifications rules were in Index Imperium 2. Many have been updated in Chapter Approved.

  • LordKrungharr

    I can’t wait to paint my Iron Warriors!

  • Carey_Mahoney


  • Infamous Wendigo

    Actually this is the rise of “a” fortification… the Imperial bunker. Almost everything else is over costed.