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Warhammer 40K – The Grimdark’s First Stratagems Came From Apocalypse – 15 Years Ago!

4 Minute Read
Apr 15

Once upon a time, in 2008, every army in Warhammer 40K got a set of stratagems to pull all kinds of dirty tricks on the battlefield. 

We like to think that Strategems in 8th and 9th edition are a new exciting concept, but they are actually a venerable idea brought back from the dead over a decade since their introduction in 4th Edition.


2007 Brought us the first Apocalypse with everything needed to run giant mega-battles in Warhammer 40k. Everyone lost their minds. From the Baneblades, to the mega-templates, to the formations – it was everything a 40K player could want.

Do you remember my friends?

I remember Gandalf. I was there 3000 years ago…

There were also a couple of pages of generic “Strategic Assets” that players could use to pull dirty tricks in-game.


Fast forward a year to 2009 and Apocalypse Reload arrived and with it – Army Specific Strategic Assets – the origin of what we would today call modern 8th-9th Edition Stratagems.

Let’s Take a Look

Back then, each player in an Apocalypse game got to pick one, and decide when to best use it.  It was a great mechanic, as you were always sweating about whether you should use it right away, hold it for an ideal moment, but risk getting wiped out and losing a great ability if you waited too long.

It’s also worth taking the time to see which of these have Assets have direct descendants in the modern 9th Edition codex stratagems. Many are these are still with us – in a slightly modified form.

Replacements and Trophy Kill were popular generics.


On my Coordinates – such a IG classic, and Marines LOVED to sneak in a Legion Relic at the perfect time to shock an opponent in a key assault.


Da Big WAAAGH could save the Orks a turn of taking fire in an Apoc Game (a BIG DEAL), and Remote Drone Network could surprise a dug in force who thought they well protected from Tau fire.

I’ve seen Apoc games won by the Eldar’s sneaky use of Phantasm, and They’re All Around makes a dense terrain board a nightmare for non-bug forces.

Mirage of Tzeentch could even sway enemy titans, and Reconstruction Scarabs kept key Necron units frustratingly alive!

The CSM Daemon Shell was a big shocker, and Dark Eldar section was rather cruel as they hadn’t seen a codex update in a decade.

Apocalypse (2019)

The most recent version of Apocalypse came and went fast, and was quite different than its predecessors.  It came with a deck of 300 “Command Asset” cards, both generic and faction specific to fill the roll of the previous Strategic Assets.  With 9th Edition upon us, we will have to wait and see if we get an all new version of Apocalypse with ever more evolved Stratagems.


~Want to feel old? Apocalypse is 15 years old! It came out the same year as Iron Man.

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