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Warhammer 40K: Six Rules We Don’t Miss At All

6 Minute Read
Sep 14 2023

Please don’t bring these rules back in 10th Edition.

Warhammer 40,000 has been through a lot of revisions over the decades.  Right now we are in the early stage of the 10th Edition of the game. Even in a new edition things aren’t stable, as rules are getting changed and drooped all over the place.   It’s a fairly common practice among older players to bemoan favorite rules that have gone away, armor facing, blast weapons, etc. Us grognards love to talk about how things were better “back in the day” after all.

But not all rules are missed. For some of those rules it’s very clear why the game moved away from them and never came back. Today let’s take a look at some rules 40K ditched for the better, and lets hope GW doesn’t bring them back in the future (is it too soon to talk about 11th?).

Vehicle Targeting Grid

This one was from way back in the early days of 40K. This was a rule for shooting vehicles. Basically you would have this clear plastic targeting grid that you would line up with a cut-a-way diagram of the tank you were shooting at and role to see which part of the tank was actually hit. Each tank had its own diagram and you could hit weapons, armor, tracks or even crew for special effects.

While this idea seems cool on paper and added a level a detail in the game not seen since. It was super clunky and time consuming. This was also an idea that worked OK when the game was small and had only a few types of vehicles and only a few vehicles in each game. Today with hundreds of types of tanks and sometimes dozens of vehicles in a single game… well we’d be playing all day. 40K got rid of the targeting grid pretty early on and the vast majority of people wouldn’t go back. While there might be a game that it works for, it isn’t 40K.

Line of Sight Sniping


This wasn’t so much a rule as an exploit the rules allowed. Basically some earlier editions of the game had rules where models in units could only be taken as casualties if they were visible to the shooting unit. This was designed to add a level of realism to the game and make it a bit easier to hide units. It was meant to work so that if for example, a unit was hidden behind a wall and one model was visible only that model could be killed, not the whole hiding unit.

Unfortunately gamers being gamers they found a way to exploit this. By proper positioning a “canny” person could make it so that only certain parts of the target unit, normally sergeants, heavy or special weapons or characters where visible to them. This was often done by moving your own tanks (Rhinos where a favorite choice) to block LOS to the rest of the enemy unit. Then when you shot the unit the other player had no choice but to assign the wounds to his valuable unit members. Luckily this exploit and the rules that made it possible have gone by the wayside. And good riddance!

Unbound Armies

This is a pretty recent one coming from 7th Edition. Basically Unbound armies where armies where you could… take just whatever you wanted. At first this sounds pretty cool, whatever crazy toys you want to use you can. And in a narrative setting or for some wacky fun game it’s fine. Heck, you were likely going to do it anyway.

However in any kind of attempt to have a balanced or competitive game it was a major issue. Not only did it remove having to make difficult choices (an issue with the current system as well) but it meant you could pick the best options from many armies. This was soup on steroids, and it hurt the immersion of the game to see different rival factions in the same army for no reason. Luckily it’s been dialed back to the point where this isn’t a thing any more. And we’re all glad to skip the soup, right?

Devastating Mortal Wounds

Here’s a more recent example. So recent in fact it comes from this very edition, despite that fact that its only  a couple months old. The initial 10th Edition rules included devastating wounds. Weapons with this rule, which are not common, but also not super rare, had an extra effect on a wound roll of a 6+. Instead of doing their normal damage they did their damage in mortal wounds. This was pretty obviously an issue to a lot of people out of the gate. This idea sounds fine on your simple 1D weapons- basically not allowing a save. However with larger multi-D weapons it was a huge problem. Not only were these weapons now really good at killing their intended targets, large vehicles and monsters, but they could also wipe out whole squads of less troops with mortal wounds.


The rule was recently FAQ’d to know just ignore all saves. This is a much better implementation of the rule that keeps the original idea. Outside of maybe a few sad Eldar players I don’t think anyone was sad to see this rule go away.

Weight of Fire Rules

These rules came in a couple different forms in older editions of 40K. Basically if you did enough wounds to a unit you could choose what models had to take the saves. This was normally based on some sort of ratio of wounds to number of models in the target unit. Again you can kind of see where they were going with this. It gave you a chance to snipe out heavy/special weapons and added some bonus to having lots of attacks.

However, this ended up adding a lot of extra time to attacks. Plus you had a whole extra level of math to deal with to see if the rules triggered. Oh and then had to roll some separate saves… It also just wasn’t fun. No one likes losing the coolest parts of their army. It was a double downer when the only member of your squad to die was the one with the plasma gun. This is another rule we are glad has gone away.

Being Able To Take Unlimited Of All Units

8th Edition introduced a much less restrictive force organizational chart to the game. In a lot of ways this was pretty nice for players. However it soon proved to be a little too freewheeling. With the ablity to take pretty much unlimited copies of any unit, players produced extreme min-maxed lists. Armies entirely made up of Marine Captains, or featuring 6 or more Hive Tyrants popped up. It all got a little extreme. GW rolled this back with the rule of three, which has mostly struck around, though you can once again build a whole army of Marine Captains. These limitations proved to be a good move.

Let us know which rules you are glad are gone, down in the comments! 


Author: Abe Apfel
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