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40K For The Masses: The Best House Rules You Can Use

6 Minute Read
Jun 21 2018
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Lets talk about some house rules you can use to change up the game.

House Rules, rules additions or tweaks you and your friends use at home or the FLGS, are a time-honored tradition of wargaming.  Even if they don’t admit it or know it just about everyone uses some house rules in their games. 40K is such a big, often vague game, that rules or agreement are always being made between players to tweak stuff. In many ways 40K is meant to be played with some house rules. Of course, there are different levels to house rules. Many of them are minor ones that don’t have much effect and aren’t even a conscious attempt to change the game. Others are a kind of major overhaul. Let’s talk about a few of these major rule changes you could use to switch things up.

N.B. the following rules are meant to broad changes, I will not be discussing changes to specific units. 

No Stratagems


It’s a pretty easy adjustment to the game, but one with far-reaching effects. Removing all stratagems from the game does a lot to simplify and speed up the game. A lot of the crazy combos and complaints people have are driven by stratagems, so removing them leads to a simpler more leveled game, with a little more focus on tactics and maneuver. The downside is that the game will lose some flavor and some units, or even whole armies really depend on their stratagems. With the right armies and attitude, it can be a lot of fun.

Change How You Gain Command Points



Command Points are a pretty big topic in 40K right now. Rather than getting rid of stratagems completely, you could try to change how Command Points are generated. I recently wrote a whole article about this. You can check it and the comments out for some great ideas on changing up command points. One of the most liked ideas was tying it to in game objectives. While there are several ways you can do it, any of them would lead to new ways to play the game.

Bring Back Vehicle Facing


Another big complaint many people have about 8th is how it removed facing on vehicles, thus removing some of the detail people liked in the game. It’s not however very hard to house rule some of this back into the game. Now you could if you wanted easily bring back a lot of the pre-8th edition rules. It’s not hard to divide vehicles back into having 4 facing or for weapons to have limited fire arcs again. Just crack open an older rulebook and copy those rules.



For a simpler version, however, one that fits a little better with 8th, just give vehicles a front and a rear. Keep all the other rules the same, but give attacks that draw LOS to the rear of a vehicle some bonus. 1+ to wound, extra AP or even an extra damage would all work. This keeps vehicles simple but adds a little more depth to the game. You don’t have to worry about fiddly spoon fire arcs, but you are rewarded for flanking enemy tanks or keeping yours in cover.

Random Reserves


Reserves are a pretty big part of 8th. Many armies work almost entirely around reserve based tactics, either dropping units in for first turn strikes or waiting for an opening to assassinate key enemy leaders. Unlike many parts of 8th, and prior editions, reserves have no random element. You chose to put units in reserve and they arrive when and where you want them. No issues. Using a house rule to change this can really add a lot to a game, making it more drawn out and dramatic.

When traitor fights traitor the Imperium wins. 


The change is pretty simple, at the start of each turn you just roll a dice for each unit in reserve on the required roll they can be deployed this turn. Depending on how likely you want your reserves to come in, it could start at a 4+ or a 5+ on turn one, and get better from there. You could rule that on a certain turn all reserves come in, or keep them coming in throughout the game. This can add a fun random element to the game, and force players to think on their feet a little more, while at the same time curbing alpha strikes. One issue though is that since in 8th you don’t attach characters to units there is no way to make sure a unit will arrive with the character meant to support it.

Random Deep Striking

This one is closely tied to reserves. Deep Striking (the various rules that allow you to place a unit on the table at the end of a movement phase) is a HUGE part of the current game. Now in previous editions, there was a random element to it, with not only when, but also where the unit came in being up to the dice. 8th changed that with Deep Strikers always arriving on target. Changing that is however pretty easy.

No need to go this far. 


Implementing a rule that makes deep striking a little random can have a pretty big effect on the game. Simply say that after a unit is placed the other player gets to roll a dice, on say a 5+ the Deep Strike has gone wrong. As a result, the other player gets to move the just arrived unit to within 6 inches of where it was placed. It’s up to you if the player is allowed to drop the unit in dangerous terrain or off the table. This keeps deep striking powerful, but makes it a little less certain.




THIS IS THE BEST HOUSE RULE. Every time you kill a unit you have to take a shot. Simple. Effective. Adds a lot of fun to the game. It also prevents snowballing, as one player starts getting ahead the shots they are forced to take will reduce their tactical capacity. USE IN SMALL GAMES ONLY. (~Adults only, and take flaming shots responsibly.)

Be Swift to Taylor The Game to Your Likes

It’s like she knows my comments section  

There are really a ton of great house rules out there you could use. These are just a few. You can use them on their own or in combinations. Just understand this, its OK to tailor the game to fit your likes and wants. It’s a game. Make it your own.


Let us know your favorite house rule down in the comments! 

Author: Abe Apfel
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