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40K Deep Thought: Why is it a Vehicle or Monstrous Creature?

5 Minute Read
Jan 13 2016




How exactly does Games Workshop classify Vehicles as Vehicles or Monstrous Creatures as Monstrous Creatures?

Hey BoLS Readers, AdamHarry here with a question for you – What makes a Vehicle a Walker in some cases and a Monstrous/Gargantuan Creature in others?

First lets all make sure we’re on the same page and qualify our terminology so we can have an actual discussion about this.

Vehicle  A machine with an Armor Value and Hull Points as described in the BRB pg 72. Vehicles typically have a pilot or crew of some type. They also loose combat effectiveness as they are damaged or can be “One-shot” if the damage roll is high enough.

Walker – A Vehicle sub-type that has mechanical limbs for movement and generally moves like an Infantry Model.

Creatures – (dictionary definition) – an animal or person (aka a living thing).


Monstrous Creature – (BRB pg. 67) Creatures to big to be considered mere Infantry. Typically Bioengineered or Evolved to serve a specific purpose. They have a Toughness Value and Wounds. They do not loose combat effectiveness until it is completely destroyed (aka looses all its wounds). Can be “One-shot” if the Strength value vs Toughness is high enough or if hit with a D weapon and the roll is high enough (in most cases).

Gargantuan Creatures – (BRB pg. 70) Even Larger Creatures than Monstrous Creatures.

Are we all in agreement with the terms? I hope so – lets continue and compare a few examples of each with their backgrounds to see if they line up.

Space Marine Dreadnought


A Space Marine Dreadnought is a large, walking tank which carries both powerful guns and lethal close combat weaponry, armoured to withstand all but the most powerful of enemy firepower and often relied on by Space Marine forces to tear an opening in enemy defenses. Each Dreadnought contains a living being, permanently interfaced with the machine through a form of Mind Impulse Unit.

The Dreadnought has:

  • A pilot
  • Is mechanical
  • Mechanical limbs
  • Other mechanical systems.

Rules wise it makes sense that it has Hull Points and an Armor Value to reflect those attributes. This one is pretty clear cut.


Tyranid Carnifex


Carnifexes are hulking, powerful Tyranid creatures used as living battering rams. They are often armed with the most powerful Tyranid Bio-weapons, and are used in shock assaults, spaceship boarding actions, massed battles, and for battering through fortified positions and tank formations.

A Carnifex:

  • Is a creature
  • Is bioengineered and evolved
  • Has non-mechincal limbs
  • Has internal organs and living systems

It makes sense that is has a Toughness value and is classified as a Monstrous Creature.

Those two examples are pretty clear cut and it would very hard to argue that a Dreadnought should be a Monstrous Creature or that a Carnifex is a Walker or Vehicle based on the definitions from above. But lets look at some examples that blur that line.

Eldar Wraithlord


Wraithlords (also known as Iron KnightsWraith-Giants and Eldar Dreadnoughts) are giant Wraith-constructs made of wraithbone and inhabited by the souls of dead Eldar heroes. Towering far above their still-living brethren, the Wraithlord is a force to be reckoned with. Only the most capable warriors of the Craftworlds are encased inside them. They can be armed with a myriad of weapons, including close combat, short ranged and long ranged weaponry with the ability to smash most enemies in combat.

Wraithlords are:

  • Living Constructs (see Wraithbone for more info)
  • Have a Pilot…sort of. (See Sprit Stones)
  • Have non-mechanical Limbs
  • Does not have “internal” systems

Basically Wraithbone is “Eldar Psychic Plastic” empowered the energy of the Spirit Stone within. Wraithlords are solid Wraithbone contructs – It makes sense the Wraithlord has a Toughness Value and Wounds because as long as the Spirit Stone isn’t destroyed the “Will” of the Eldar ‘pilot’ keeps the construct up and fighting. You could call this a “Hybrid” – yet it’s rules slant toward Monstrous Creature to support those traits.


Dark Eldar Talos Pain Engine


The Talos is a Dark Eldar Engine of Pain. They are semi-sentient, part organic and part mechanical monsters that slowly drift along on anti-gravitic motors.

The Talos:

  • Is a construct (its built/created by Haemonculi)
  • is semi-sentient
  • part organic
  • part mechanical

The Talos is closer to a cybernetic organism than a true walker. This Hybrid still lacks a pilot and has organic parts surgically upgraded by mechanical additions. It’s also freaky looking. To represent these factors it is classified as a Monstrous Creature. The combination of organic and mechanical parts is represented with a Toughness Value and Wounds.

So based on all these – How do you classify the Tau Battle Suits like the Riptide or Stormsurge?

Tau Stormsurge


The Stormsurge is a heavy weapons platform designed to serve as the Tau Empire‘s Titan killer, created by Earth Caste engineer O’Ishu’ron after Tau forces were frequently being outmatched by Imperial Titans and Super-Heavy Tanks. The KV128 was the first of the Tau’s new generation of heavy artillery assets known as Ballistic Suits. Less maneuverable than a Riptide, such is the power of the Stormsurge’s weapons that the suit is equipped with thrusters and retractable ground anchors to counter recoil. In truth, the Stormsurge is more of a walking tank than a true Battlesuit. Unusually for a Tau battlesuit, the Stormsurge has two crew instead of one. It is operated by a selected pairing of veteran Hammerhead crewmen, who have graduated in the ballistic suit academies on Bork’an. A Shas’vre experienced in Battlesuit piloting controls the suit itself, while a Ves’oni’Vash graduate controls the weapons systems. It is said that crewing a Stormsurge is less prestigious then a standard Battlesuit.The Shas’vre wears a hair braid to signify his rank.

The Stormsurge has:

  • a crew (of two – a pilot and a gunner)
  • is a machine
  • has mechanical limbs
  • has mechanical systems
  • is Open Topped

The Tau don’t have “living” armor technology like Eldar. Their technology is very advanced but, if you blow the leg off of a walker, it shouldn’t be able to move at the same rate it used it. Same with the weapons systems…And yet Games Workshop has classified this “Walking Tank” as a Gargantuan Creature.

So what do you think? What makes a Vehicle a Vehicle or a Monstrous Creature?

What about the Soulgrinder or the Hellbrute?



At the end of the day I think it’s a coin flip…

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