New Warhammer 40,000: Characters

Warhammer 40,000 is chock full of mighty heroes and powerful villains; from the humble Astra Millitarum officer to the Greater Daemons of Chaos, these Characters can profoundly affect the way their army’s troops work on the battlefield. For you gamers, using these Characters correctly can be the difference between victory and defeat.

The way Characters interact with the rest of your army changes fundamentally in this new edition.

Previously, Independent Characters would join units, and those units would benefit from the Character’s Leadership and certain special rules, while the unit offered protection from enemy fire. Broadly, this worked pretty well, but there was a tendency in more competitive games to see multiple Characters pooled into a single unit, resulting in an all-conquering unkillable mega-unit with a smorgasbord of special rules, a few psychic powers for good measure, and often, some very un-thematic pairings (we’re looking at you, Dark Angels and Space Wolves, running around in your Ravenwing/Thunderwolf units).

So here’s a big thing – Characters can’t join units anymore. The age of the -star is over.

Instead, you’ll tend to find that a lot of Characters will have an ability that affects nearby units with a certain Keyword within a radius of effect. For example, the mysterious Dark Eldar Character Drazhar lets you add 1 to the hit rolls of all friendly Incubi units that are within 6″ in the Fight phase, while the Kroot Shaper allows nearby Kroot to re-roll wound rolls of 1 and share his superior Leadership.

To counter the fact that these Characters cannot join units and “hide” from enemy fire, there is a rule in the Shooting phase that means you can’t target a Character unless they are the closest enemy model. This represents the difficulty in picking out individuals amidst the maelstrom of battle and applies to all Characters with a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less, including things that previously might not have benefited from any protection. For example, Roboute Guilliman, who has 9 Wounds, can now realistically advance in the centre of a disciplined Space Marines army, directing his troops while remaining relatively safe from incoming weapons fire. Really big heroes, like Magnus the Red, will still need to brave enemy fire, but with, in his case, over a dozen Wounds and a respectable invulnerable save, he holds his own just fine.

The final part of the Character ruleset is Heroic Intervention. This allows Characters near a combat to pile in and attack if the enemy comes close enough, even if they themselves aren’t charged (because your Chaplain’s not just gonna stand there and let your Assault Squad have all the fun now is he?)

These rules, together, mean that you’ll see Characters advancing in the midst of their armies surrounded by groups of units benefiting from their particular expertise – which looks great on the tabletop, reflects the background we all know of the 41st Millennium, and offers some interesting tactical challenges as players try to get the most from their army’s leaders while keeping them alive…

That’s your update for today.

Join us tomorrow when we look at a few more weapon profiles from the upcoming new edition.

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