A new week brings with it some exciting updates to 40K – after several weeks of eager anticipation since launch, the FAQ for the 9th Edition rulebook is here, along with some fixes to points values from Chapter Approved. Together, these address a good number (though not quite all) of the outstanding rules questions from the new edition, which is great news for all the players out there starting to get their teeth into some games. We’ve already covered the big PL update, so now it’s time to talk about the FAQs.
It wouldn’t be an FAQ day without one of our legendary searing hot takes, and there’s quite a bit to talk about, so let’s get into it.
What Updates Landed Today?
Today’s updated documents comprise the following:
- An errata PDF for the Core Book.
- An errata and FAQ PDF for the Grand Tournament 2020 Mission Pack. Much of this comprises the same changes as the corebook with the correct page reference for this printing.
- An errata PDF for the Munitorum Field Manual, fixing some omissions and point values.
- A PDF providing a game-wide update to power levels. This one we’ll cover off in a different article.
- A tiny update to the Saga of the Beast FAQ re-enabling the use of Kustom Job when your army doesn’t contain a Mekboy Workshop. Ork players rejoice.
There aren’t any other changes to faction FAQs, so some of the unanswered questions we had dangling after the last round remain, and we’ll have to wait for the next update to the army-specific ones to get those looked at.
For each change as we go through what this article covers, we’ll outline what’s been updated, and any big immediate impacts on factions or units. For some changes, we’re likely to explore them further in upcoming Ruleshammer articles, as some of our start of 9th series now needs revision thanks to sensible changes being applied.
It’s worth noting that there’s a new style to how some of these are being applied. Where a wholly new set of edge cases needs to be covered, the updated rules are presented as new Rare Rules, complete with bullet point summaries. This is great to see – it means these cases (which are by definition unusual and potentially hard to understand) are bring handled by the same comprehensive, fully thought-out style of rule writing we got in the rulebook. It also raises the tantalising prospect that future editions of a GT mission pack might include a revised version of the core rules containing these new sections in the Rare Rules appendix. Even if that doesn’t happen, this is still a very good change, and should also make things more searchable in the (rapidly improving) App.
With that out the way, let’s dive into the biggest and most important document, the Core Book Errata.
Core Book Errata
Blast Weapons – Per Weapon
A designer’s note at the start of the document clarifies how Blast applies when attacking with a weapon that fires a random number of shots with multiple dice (e.g. 2d3, 2d6) at a unit containing 6-10 models. In this situation, the 3-shot floor applies to the weapon, not per dice rolled. We were pretty confident here at Goonhammer HQ that this is the way this worked, but it’s been a major bone of contention since the edition launched (with strong arguments made in both direction), so it’s great to have it clarified.
This makes multi-die blast weapons weaker than some expected, and substantially increases the motivation to keep squads at 10 models or fewer unless there’s a very strong reason not to. Facing down units like Night Spinners or Thunderfire Cannons, the difference in output when you switch from 10 models to 11 is now huge, and something you only want to be open to if hordes are key to your strategy.
In terms of things it helps, flat d3 shot Blast weapons remain just as good as they looked, so units like plasma Inceptors remain strong, while SWARMs (looking like a strong tool based on early results and testing) remain a good way to put large chunks of wounds on the table without opening up this vulnerability.
- Blast applies on a per-weapon basis, not per dice.
Smite – Once Per Caster
Each PSYKER unit can now only cast Smite once per battle round. The way this was enforced in 8th was a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine of FAQs and matched play rules, and it’s now confirmed that the omission of this limit from 9th was not intentional.
This stops high cast count PSYKERs with access to casting boosts (mostly Magnus and Eldrad) from being unholy terrors on the battlefield, and brings the value of a lot of alt-Smites back up – as Kevin has covered in HoM, a bunch of them are worse than Smite on average, so when multi-smiting was possible there wasn’t much point taking them. Now that power choices are locked in on lists, that also forces players to make tougher choices about whether they want damage output or buff/debuff powers.
- Each caster can only Smite once.
Look Out Sir
A big change here – CHARACTERs can now only gain Look Out Sir protection from Vehicles and Monsters when they have 10+ wounds. This deals with an edge case that arose early on where two MONSTER characters like Daemon Princes could shield each other, as shown below:
Obviously this closes what seemed pretty clearly an unintended exploit (so sorry-not sorry if you were using it), but it has some substantial rippling effects. Most notably, light vehicles can no longer be used to protect CHARACTERs, as they don’t have enough wounds.
This is a spectacular blow to Harlequins, and also hurts other Aeldari factions, Dark Angels and Orks. Harlequins frequently spend the early turns with a lot of their units mounted up, and relying on their buff characters hugging Starweavers to provide character protection. With that disabled, they’re going to have to think outside the box, probably fielding a few more foot units to (hopefully) hide behind walls near the characters while the boats move forward. Their flip belts make them pretty nifty at traversing terrain, so on good tables following the new guidelines on terrain density they’ve got options, but this stings for what was looking like the top Aeldari faction. They may be forced to look at small contingents of other Aeldari just to provide Wave Serpent or Reaper hulls for screening.
Drukhari and Craftworlds also take a hit, as this stops Venoms, War Walkers, Support Weapons and (once they drop below three models) Talos from screening. Both these factions do at least have options on resilient hulls to protect their characters, and multiple Talos squads can reasonably safely escort characters. As the other factions that tend to go hard on light vehicles, Orks and Dark Angels also take a hit. Deathskull buggy spam was looking popular for the former, and this makes that a bit harder to do (while also stopping Mek Guns from screening), and various speeders for the Dark Angels no longer provide protection.
All of that’s a bit rough – another option here would have been just to make MONSTER/VEHICLE CHARACTERs with <9W not provide screening, but that does start to make the rule pretty complicated, so giving players a clean fix to adapt to now appears to have been the option chosen.
- VEHICLE/MONSTER units with fewer than three models only provide Look Out Sir protection if they have a wound characteristic of 10+
Rules on Fortification deployment were curiously absent from the printed rulebook and this has now been corrected. In addition to any normal restrictions, when you deploy a fortification it cannot be within 3″ of any other terrain feature other than a hill (and if you can’t, it’s destroyed). In addition, stating something that really should have been obvious but is (potentially) about to get relevant as new, violent boxes appear, Fortifications can never be placed in tactical reserves.
N.B. This does not appear in the GT2020 PDF because it’s been added to the Army Construction rules.
Currently relatively limited – the only fortifications people are even close to wanting to take competitively are the Battle Sanctum and the Feculent Gnarlmaw, so few armies see an impact (and it’s good to have this out in front of things like the Hammerfall). The main impact it has on the ones that are used is that it reduces the number of things you can completely block off by deploying a Battle Sanctum near another terrain piece.
It does, arguably, put a bit of pressure on TOs when designing terrain maps, because you should now in theory be ensuring that every table has a space where the largest extant fortification can be placed in a deployment zone. That might be pretty tough on The Scouring, and we wouldn’t be totally surprised to see this get another pass, adding something similar to the rule where if you can’t fit a model in your deployment zone it can protrude slightly.
- Fortifications cannot be deployed within 3″ of other terrain pieces (excluding hills).
- Fortifications cannot be placed in Tactical Reserves.
In the Eternal War and GT Secondaries, there was a confusing clash between Actions that specified that one or more units could attempt them in a turn, and wording in the main rules for Actions that said each Action could only be started once per battle round by a unit in your army. That restriction from the main Action rule has now been removed, so the limits on Actions are the ones specified in the text of the Action themselves.
Very little – it was pretty clear from the missions that this was how things were intended to work, and people were already playing this way. Because the wording on the Actions that are only meant to be once per turn specifies this, it also doesn’t open up any exploits that we can see. Good, clean fix. It may also be relevant as Actions start appearing in codexes, as previewed with the new Necron fortification.
- There is no longer a global restriction on starting the same Action more than once a turn (but each Action may still specify a limit).
The body text of Obscuring Terrain is changed to bring it in-line with the bullet points – units on or within it can see, be seen and be targeted normally, not just the latter two (because that would be terrible).
Very little – because the bullet points made the intent clear, this is how this was largely played already. This does mean it’s extremely important to define where the boundaries of Obscuring terrain are for pieces without bases.
The main notable thing here is this doesn’t address the clash between the body text and bullet points for how obscuring terrain impacts on Aircraft and 18W+ models. We’ll return to this at the end.
- Units on or within obscuring terrain confirmed to be able to see out of it.
Heavy Cover gets flipped – instead of units being attacked by chargers not benefitting from Heavy Cover, charging units now don’t benefit.
Heavy Cover as worded was a real headscratcher, as it actively made being in it bad for units getting charged. With this change, it now has much more of a function on the table, and against armies with high volume AP0 melee attacks like Orks camping something on a piece of this near an objective makes them a lot tougher to shift, especially if they’re on a 3+ base. This changes Heavy Cover from essentially a non-event to a thing to actually plan around, adding an additional tactical consideration to the game.
- Heavy Cover now applies to eligible units unless they made a charge this turn, meaning charge targets now get the bonus.
Master Crafted Armour
A Crusade-only change here – similar to the swift FAQ on Storm Shields, Master Crafted Armour in Crusade no longer improves a unit’s save characteristic by 1, instead adding 1 to armour saves. This avoids the dreaded 1+/2++ save that the internet was briefly melting down about a month ago.
This stops people pulling off silly stuff in Crusade and to our minds shows GW’s serious commitment to good narrative rules in this edition. No complaints there.
- Master Crafted Armour Crusade Relic can no longer put you to a 1+ save.
Rare Rule – Desperate Breakout vs. No Fall Back Abilities
Questions had arisen as to how the Desperate Breakout stratagem, which allows a unit to essentially fall back or die trying at the cost of losing models on a 1, interacted with abilities that could prevent falling back such as Wyches’ No Escape and White Scars Master of Snares. If the no fall back ability triggered, would the unit still be destroyed? This matters because, brutally, for the player trying to fall back in this situation they would often be happy to totally lose the unit to open up whatever was locking them to shooting, making Desperate Breakout an exceptional counter to these abilities.
The FAQ here clarifies that Desperate Breakout does not automatically let you destroy a unit in this situation. The process is:
- Choose to use Desperate Breakout.
- Roll a dice per model and destroy a model from your unit for each 1.
- Test whether any anti-Fall Back abilities apply, making any rolls etc. needed.
- Only if the unit is now eligible to Fall Back, attempt to Fall Back with them.
- Only if the unit got to make a Fall Back attempt, destroy any models still in engagement range.
What that sums up to mean is that if you activate Desperate Breakout and one of your opponent’s abilities keeping your unit in combat kicks in, you’re still stuck. If you’re desperate or feeling lucky it might still get you out of there – you could roll enough 1s to remove your unit, or maybe more likely all models in range of the anti-Fall Back effect – but it doesn’t come close to guaranteeing it.
This clarification also closes down one of the other fringe cases people were speculating on with Breakout, which was using it to immolate a Drop Pod or similar immobile unit that got tagged in combat. Because it has been clarified that if any rule prevents you from falling back (which would include a rule saying “can’t move”) this doesn’t work either.
This substantially increases the value of anti-Fall Back tools, as they’re now probably the most reliable way to keep an enemy stuck in combat. Look with renewed interest at Wyches, Slaanesh nasties and various Imperium tricks letting you pull this off.
Conversely, this brings back the risks inherant in using a Drop Pod. I have no idea if events thus far have been allowing people to implode them with this strat, but you’re back to needing to watch out for your opponent tagging them for a turn of safety if you were using that. It’s a bit less of a huge deal this edition because an opponent with a bunch of flying tanks can’t just abuse it to shield their shooting units, but still a problem against some armies.
- Desperate Breakout doesn’t automatically destroy a unit that gets caught by an anti-Fall Back rule.
- Desperate Breakout doesn’t automatically destroy a unit unable to make a Fall Back move due to any other rules.
Rare Rule – Multiple Attacks Dealing Mortal Wounds
Honestly – this one is odd, though having mulled it over we believe we understand the rationale behind it.
When a unit has attacks that can deal Mortal Wounds instead of or in addition to their normal damage, you resolve all Mortal Wounds their attacks inflict on a target unit after all normal damage that their attacks inflict on that target (and then moving on to the next unit that has any attacks allocated to it as normal).
That means, for example, if you wound 5 times with a weapon that’s damage 2, and you inflict 2MWs as a result of rolling 6s to wound from a special ability of that weapon, you would roll the opponent’s saves against each attack, apply 2D for each failed save, and then apply the 2MWs to whatever was left.
In some ways, you can essentially now thing of accumulating Mortal Wounds as you attack a target as getting processed as if they were another weapon profile after all the others you’ve shot at a unit.
The key thing this does is increases the number of situations where you can safely “fast roll” attacks where mortal-dealing weapons are involved. Otherwise, when firing something like a Rail Rifle at a squad of Aggressors, you would need to roll out the attacks one at a time because which attacks did Mortals could have an impact on whether they successfully spilled over or ended up wasted by going onto a new model.
In general, this should work out as a minor buff to weapons fitting the bill of being multi-damage and having a chance of inflicting mortals – there are more situations where this is going to help you squeeze the most damage out of them than hindering them. Increasing the situations where fast rolling can be used also speeds up games, which is in everyone’s interests!
The change here probably isn’t big enough to massively change any unit evaluations, but be aware of it if you use relevant models.
- When a unit makes multiple attacks that inflict Mortal Wounds on a target unit mixed in with other damage, all Mortals are applied after all other damage.
Rare Rule – Scoring Additional Hits
When you attack and have an ability that scores additional hits on a given roll (often a 6), any additional hits generated do not count as having been made with a specific dice roll for the purpose of any other abilities. That means, for example, if Imperial Fist (extra hit on a 6 with bolt weapons) Infiltrators (guns auto-wound on a 6 to hit), the additional hits they generate from hit rolls of a 6 will still need to roll to wound, not benefit from the auto-wound effect of the guns.
Very little – this is where the 8th Edition ruling on this ended up after several rounds of change, and most have assumed these effects to still work that way (which is now confirmed). Presumably that was still being chopped and changed too late in the edition to make it into 9th as printed.
- The 8th Edition ruling that extra hits generated by a roll of a certain number do not count as having been rolled as that number themselves is reaffirmed.
Rare Rule – Stratagems that Gain or Refund CPs
9th’s Core Rules included the (early) 8th FAQ change that each player can only gain or refund 1CP (other than the Battle Forged Bonus) per battle round. This stamps on a very small number of stratagems where you pay CP to gain more, making them useless.
These now get an exemption – as long as they’re used during a phase, the limit on gaining or refunding CP does not apply to any points gained via Stratagems.
This is good for Assassins, Tyranids and Space Wolves, all of whom have effects that do this, the former two in particular as their affected abilities were literally useless without this. Assassins being able to stack with other sources of CP gain is genuinely interesting, and probably goes some way to making them a more tempting choice (and they’re already seeing use).
The losers here are other effects that used to get an exempt on this, who don’t get it back in 9th. Most notably, that means that the Harlequin Player of Twilight warlord trait loses its crown as the best effect of its type in the game.
- Stratagems that are used in a phase and grant CP are exempt from the CP refund/gain limit.
GT2020 Errata and FAQ
As a reminder, the vast majority of the items in here are already covered in the Core Book FAQ, but there’s one mission-specific change and a couple of quick questions about secondaries only covered here.
Crossfire Mission Map
The Crossfire mission map is revised to make it more appropriate to the table size. As we covered in our Incursion review, the printed measurements pushed the objectives way out to the edge of the table in a way that didn’t look intended. It apparently wasn’t – the map has been revised to bring them 9″ further in, making the map much more interesting and playable.
This makes this mission better, and like with Crusade it’s good to see attention payed to maintaining the quality of stuff that isn’t 2000pt Matched Play games.
- Crossfire Mission Map is fixed.
No actual change here, as both of these rules seemed clear in context, but the FAQ confirms:
- Deploy Scramblers does not need you to complete all three Actions with the same unit to score points.
- Psychic Ritual does need you to complete all three Psychic Actions with the same unit to score points.
Very little – this is how most people have played these already. It does help in setting a precedent for how Actions are worded when they do or don’t need a single unit to complete multiple attempts, which is probably why this was issued.
Munitorum Field Manual Errata
Lots of little changes here. We’ll quickly blast through the ones that are just tidying up, and then go on to the bigger stuff.
- Half of Blood Angels Elites options are confirmed to not actually get all their wargear free.
- Dark Angels pay the same for Multi-Meltas as everyone else.
- Space Wolves pay the same for Suppressors as everyone else.
- Grey Knight Brotherhood Champions remain as HQ choices.
- Grey Knights FW units pay the same for Flamestorm Cannons as everyone else
- AdMech get the same cost for a power maul as everyone else.
- Deimos Predators have their melta cannon go down 10, but that’s not enough to matter.
- Various Forge World units get 0-cost entries added for their mandatory equipment that was missed.
- Various Forge World units have weapon costs brought in line with everyonerelse.
- Shadowsun’s second mandatory drone reappears with a 10pt cost.
- Canoptek Spyders return with a reasonable 5ppm increase from 8th.
- Various Forge World units get 0-cost entries added for their mandatory equipment that was missed.
Knight Castellan Cost Confirmed Correct!
The Munitorum Field Manual as printed had Imperium Castellans getting a significant buff back to the point of potentially being really good, while Chaos ones stayed nerfed. one of these was clearly incorrect but it was hard to tell which one – it could genuinely have gone either way.
Well good news for Knight fans and bad news for anyone still shuddering at memories from Winter 2018/Spring 2019 – the Castellan is back at the lower of the two possible point costs. At 645 points for the 2x siegebreaker 2x missile build, and now able to refund 6CP from a super heavy when paired up with two Armigers, look for experimentation to start in earnest ASAP.
Big Discounts on Forge World Knights
The Knight Magaera and Knight Styrix both get a hefty point cut (55pts each) from their costs as printed, making them much more competitive options with the mainline Questoris. They’re likely more relevant over in Chaos, as in the Imperium not being able to take most relic weapons holds them back, but it’s a nice boost for fans of them.
No Free Heavy Flamers on AdMech Drills
AdMech don’t get to take heavy flamers for free on the already-probably-undercosted Terrax Drill. Bad luck.
The Same Knight Changes
As mentioned above, the synergy for the Forge World Knights tends to be higher in Chaos, as the Chaos relic and ability suite isn’t focused on weapon replacements, as stacking those with Infernal Power would be way too good. That means there’s real scope to look for the best way to run Magaeras and Styrixes here.
The Knight Tyrant Castellan build is also, obviously, worth thinking about, especially as Chaos has multiple angles on letting it get back up again, but being able to stack Cawl’s Wrath and a 4++ on it easily was a big part of its success as Imperium, so it’s probably slightly less likely to be a breakout on this side of the divide.
Kharybdis Assault Claws Return
The Hellforged Kharybdis returns, rumours of its demise apparently greatly exaggerated. Once more Rob will be unleashed on the world (or more precisely our editor’s chat), able to galaxy brain plans involving 20 INFANTRY in a giant, murderous drop pod to his heart’s content. Lucky me.
Hellforged Vindicators Too!
Much less relevant, as it’s generally just “bad” rather than “bad but interesting” like the Kharybdis but the laser Vindicator also reappears on the Chaos side.
The Warboss on War Bike is Gone
This is a big hit for Orks – since the advent of Legends last year they’ve been lucky enough to keep one index-only option thanks to it technically having a Forge World model. It has clearly been decided that wasn’t the right call (presumably because there would soon be no way to get the rules), so this entry has been deleted.
This unit was probably always on borrowed time but there’s no nice way to put this – it’s a real blow.
The only mild saving grace is that for Evil Sunz players the named character this FW model actually represents returns, meaning you do have access to Waaagh on a bike, but you can’t take Da Killa Klaw on him. Named character Big Mek Buzzgob also returns, but doesn’t do anything as unique.
Non-gargantuan Squiggoths return, and honestly with how good transports are in this edition and the ability to advance/charge via Ghazgkhull I’m looking at their cost and going maybe? Interesting times for Ork players
Shadow Spectres Get Free Guns
As printed, Shadow Spectres got a huge hike on their body and had to pay for their guns. We thought that was probably a mistake and the weapons were supposed to be in-lined and that turns out to be correct. They are, sadly, probably still not relevant – the big reason to use them was to stack negative hit modifiers on them until they were literally unhittable, which doesn’t work in 9th, but they’re at least takeable in an army if you want to now.
Mercifully for anyone not a fan of the Greater Good, the Ta’unar going down massively in cost thanks to no longer paying for its main guns did, in fact, turn out to be a mixup, and it’s restored to a much more sensible price tag. Combined with the big increase on Shield Drones, and its general weakness at playing the missions, that probably takes it out of serious competitive contention.
The Core rule FAQ here is great, and we appreciate the fact that time has been taken to right proper, future proof versions of the updated rules. That being said, there are a few outstanding questions that have had us tearing our hair out in the Ruleshammer section of our Patron discord that aren’t fully covered by this, and we’re hoping more updates might be coming in the future to address them. Briefly, these are:
- Obscuring Terrain: There remains a clash between the bullet points and the main text about how this interacts with AIRCRAFT or 18W+ models. In the bullet points, these can be seen (but not see) normally through Obscuring terrain, so don’t gain the benefit of the infinite height LOS block that everyone else does. However, the text says that units with these traits “are visible and can be targeted even if this terrain feature is in between itand the firing model” – allowing them to be no-scoped through even walls big enough to physically obscure them. It would be good to clarify whether the bullet points or text hold here.
- Dense Cover: The Rare Rules strongly imply that this is a “benefit of cover” (and thus only applies to units that can benefit from cover) but this isn’t stated in the text, causing some possible confusion. It would be good to clarify this, and whether there are thus any circumstances where a VEHICLE or MONSTER can benefit from it (such as if they’re wholly behind an area terrain piece).
- Is Touching Terrain “On or Within”: This, we should be clear, isn’t a flaw with the rule themselves, more a hangover from an extremely common 8th edition tournament rule that would be worth clarifying on because many people treat it as a core rule. In 8th, most competitive events ruled that touching a wall of a terrain piece counted as you being “within” it, so you could claim the benefit of cover. 9th’s rules appear to be written with this no longer being required in mind, and it causes some weird interactions with Obscuring in particular, so it would be good to have an FAQ steer on how this should work in 9th.
- Cover in the Open Rare Rule: This has only really blown up in the last week, so it probably didn’t make the cutoff for this round of FAQs, but the wording of the Rare Rule for abilities that grant cover in the open (e.g. Masters of Concealment, Tide of Shadows) currently causes some hypothetical weirdness with abilities of this type that grant an additional benefit for being on or within a terrain feature. This is because the way these effects now resolve is that if a benefit isn’t specified (and a lot of the existing effects don’t quite make sense RAW in 9th), a unit in the open counts as being wholly on or within a Light Cover terrain feature – which in these cases turns the second part of the ability on as well. We think this is unlikely to be intentional, but it would be good to see it clarified.
- Flying Chargers: As we outlined in one of our Ruleshammer pieces, it’s currently unclear whether FLY in the charge phase lets you move within engagement range of a unit you didn’t charge while travelling, as the language that allows this in the Movement phase is not present in the charge phase. Most people are assuming this isn’t the intent, but given how well the FLY rules have otherwise been tightened up across the board, it would be nice to have it put to bed.
New FAQ day is always exciting for us, and we’re glad to see that as ever GW are continuously improving things. With many initial issues tidied up, your games of 9th should be even more fun – we know ours will be.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, or if we’ve missed anything, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.