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Competitive 40K: Detachments

6 Minute Read
Mar 6 2020
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Hey everyone! Adam, from TFG Radio, here to discuss the wonder that is competitive 40K.

Army building is an essential part of the game. It may be one of my favorite aspect of the game. It could be an app on your phone, an excel spreadsheet, or as simple as a pen and paper. There are many ways to try out your list building skills. You spend hours talking with your friends about the different variations on a list idea you may have or on ways to modify a list you may have seen or heard about that recently won a big tournament. You may also be working on a list for your group’s narrative campaign coming up and need to figure out how best to marshal your forces with whatever restrictions that are applied. All this list building is done in the confines of the detachments that Games Workshop has provided and told us are available. This week we will go over some of the most common 40K detachments used, how they are used, and some of the detachments you don’t see very often.

Obviously the most used detachment is the Battalion. It is the one most new, and old, players are familiar with. It’s 2 HQ and 3 Troops slots is slightly larger than the 1 HQ and 2 Troops the old force org chart players used to use in previous editions. 5 command points is a good amount to start the game with, when added with the 3 command points for being battle forged. It gives an army a solid core to begin with and, for some armies, can easily stack so you can get more command points without having to spend points on sub-par units to fill out the other slots. This ease of use and because it is such a good all around detachment is why many players go with this detachment. It is very rare to see an army with this detachment or the larger one. Many times you will see people use this detachment in combination with the next detachment to get as many command points as possible in 2000 points.


Editor’s Note: These are the Original Detachment rules, they have been updated with more command points. See FAQ link below.


The next detachment you see is the Brigade. This detachment gives you a whopping 12 command points by itself. This detachment requires you to have the same amount of units to start with that you would normally max out in a Brigade. So you have to start with 3 HQ, 6 Troops, 3 Elites, 3 Fast Attack, and 3 Heavy Support. This is a good detachment if you have a lot of cheap usable units and could easily fill out the Brigade. Many times you will still have enough points to add a second or even third detachment so you can really fill out your army with units that use a lot of command points as you will have at least 15 command points to spend. Some issues with this detachment is that you may give up a lot of kills is you use small units to fill it out. Another downside is that you may have to select units that happen to be cheap but do not really contribute or fit with the army as a whole. Sometimes the added command points makes up for these deficiencies.


Check the FAQ Update HERE

Another detachment you see a lot is the Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment. This is gives you no command points but allows you to field a Lord of War unit. Typically people use this to field things like one of the Astra Militarum tanks, Roboute Gulliman, a Knight, or one of the Chaos Primarchs. It allows you to not have to spend extra points to get a super heavy unit. if you aren’t starved for command points, it is easy to add this detachment to give your army a little extra punch. Only real downside is that is uses up a detachment slot.

This next batch are all about equally used as it depends on what type of units you want more of. They are:

  • Spearhead Detachment – 1 HQ and 3 Heavy slots minimum. 0-1 of any other unit type
  • Vanguard Detachment – 1 HQ and 3 Elite slots minimum. 0-1 of any other unit type
  • Outrider Detachment – 1 HQ and 3 Fast Attack slots minimum. 0-1 of any other unit type
  • Supreme Command Detachment – 3-5 HQ, 1 Elite, and 1 Super Heavy slot
  • Super Heavy Detachment – 3-5 Lords of War

As you can see, each detachment is specialized. If you want to add more artillery to your Iron Warriors army, add a Spearhead Detachment. Want more bikes for your Ravenwing? Then add an Outrider Detachment. Need more terminators for your Salamanders? Then its a Vanguard detachment for you. Long for the days of herohammer, or want to add a super heavy and still get command points? Then use a Supreme Command Detachment. Each of these detachments gives you 1 command point but allows you to really lean in on a certain aspect of the game that you either enjoy and/or makes that top tier army better. The Supreme Command Detachment isn’t seen that much outside of a Thousand Sons codex due to all the smites they can do, although with Grey Knights on the rise, you may see more of this one. If someone is playing more than 1 knight then they are using the Super Heavy Detachment. Along with letting you field multiple Lords of War they also give you either 3 or 6 command points, depending on the composition of the choices.

These last ones are rarely seen. They are usually used as if there is no other viable option and actually have no benefits when you choose these detachments. These are:

  • Patrol Detachment – 1-2 HQ and 1-3 Troops. 0-2 of any other unit type
  • Air Wing Detachment – 3 – 5 Flyers
  • Auxiliary Support Detachment – Any single slot
  • Fortification Network – 1-3 Fortifications

Of these only the Air Wing Detachment sees any use. This is usually for an army that has 7-9 flyers. It gives you 1 command point but due to the Sudden Death rule, it can leave you open to being tables if you don’t have ground forces that can survive for most of the game. You rarely see fortifications  due to the fact that you have to use a detachment slot and with only 3 detachment slots available many times it is not worth it. The Patrol Detachment is useful if you want to add more squads but don’t have enough points for a full battalion or if you just need them to unlock certain stratagems. Again, you do have to give up a detachment slot with no gain in command points but if you have something like a Brigade Detachment already, it may not matter. The Auxiliary Support Detachment is for when you really need a certain unit for your army. the downside is that you actually have to spend a command point to get that unit you want. For most players it’s not worth the price but it really depends on your situation and how you plan to play the army.


~Well that’s all for this week. I hope you enjoyed the article. Let me know what detachments you commonly use and why, in the comment below.

Author: Adam Solis
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