Big FAQ September 2019 – Review & Roundup

THECHIRURGEON’S NOTE, 9/30/2019: This FAQ has been updated to include several new FAQs that were released on September 30th.

It’s that time again folks – the September Big FAQ is here, and just like we were last time, the Goonhammer team is here to guide you through it.

Honestly we’re going to have a much easier job of it this time around, as this is the smallest Big FAQ we’ve yet seen, with GW choosing not to add any new beta rules and holding off on any balance changes until the points update in Chapter Approved 2019. While prolific tournament players do have a few balance gripes (which we’ll run through in a moment), it would appear GW don’t think any of them are serious enough to merit urgent fixes. That’s basically understandable – the release of the new Space Marines codex and accompanying supplements, combined with the revision to the Forge World Custodes rules, promise a substantial shift in the metagame, so waiting a few months to see how it shakes out is a very reasonable position.

Custodes Tribune Ixion Hale
Custodes Tribune Ixion Hale. Credit: Jack Hunter

TheChirurgeon’s note: One interesting thing from their release this time is that they’ve said the balance adjustments will be out this year alongside Chapter Approved 2019. I really, really hope this means that they’ll be finally splitting the two and giving us points values in a separate document, and publishing all points values like they’ve been doing for Age of Sigmar. The Games Workshop team handed out surveys to players at LVO, Adepticon, and NOVA this year asking players how often they’d like to see points updated and so I hope that has in part convinced them that a single update in a printed book that has to be finalized several months before publication is perhaps not the best strategy. Anyway, I’m holding out hope here. There’s plenty of other stuff to put in Chapter Approved 2019 to make it worth buying. Overall, I think it’s interesting to see that Games Workshop now thinks the structure of the game is pretty much set. Aside from Saviour Protocols, I think I’d pretty much agree, but I hope we get some big points changes in a few months to correct some things in the wake of the new marines codex.

That’s not to say the FAQ is meaningless – there are a couple of impactful changes in here along with a whole bunch of clarifications and non-functional errata. In general this continues the recent trend of being very well put together – while mistakes are still made, GW have substantially upped their game in terms of the clarity and consistency of the rules they write in the last 6 months or so, and it shows. Clear rules make the game better for everyone, so long may this continue.

In this review, we’ll go through three things:

  1. The updates that meaningfully change things.
  2. The changes that people might have been expecting that didn’t appear and what this means for the metagame.
  3. A book by book rundown of everything else.

The Important Bits

Genestealer Cults – They Came From Below

Photo: RichyP

Change: Units moved into Deep Strike with “They Came From Below” have to deploy by the end of the third battle round or they’re destroyed. 

Most people assumed this was coming, especially since NOVA chose to apply this ruling early as they were (correctly, it turns out) confident that this was the intended way for the ability to function.

Since the GSC codex released GW has been locked in a constant struggle to clear up how various GSC abilities interact with the tactical reserves rule, thwarted at every turn by the (extremely on-brand) cunning of the GSC hive mind. As originally drafted, the Cult Ambush rule interacted poorly with the Tactical Reserves Matched Play rule, causing confusion about how much of an army could set up in “on-board” Cult Ambush. A quick fix was issued in the two week FAQ that Tactical Reserves just didn’t apply to units deployed in Cult Ambush. This turned out to have been a bit ill-thought through because of the They Came From Below Stratagem.

This (still, to be clear, extremely good) Stratagem allows a GSC player to pull three units from Cult Ambush into Deep Strike at the point ambush markers are revealed. All fine and good – but thanks to that original change, these units technically aren’t affected by the Tactical Reserves rule. Initially people were using this to argue for turn 1 Deep Strikes – pulling units into reserves and then deploying them again straight away. Most TOs pushed back on this, reasoning that a 1CP stratagem was probably not supposed to allow three units to Deep Strike turn 1. GW duly issued an update in the Spring Big FAQ stating that units pulled with this ability couldn’t Deep Strike turn 1. All fixed. Lovely. The day is saved.

The Hive Mind was too cunning for that. By choosing to specifically prevent turn 1 deep strike in the updated wording of the stratagem rather than, say, stating “those units are no longer exempt from the Tactical Reserves rule”, GW implicitly indicated that the units were still Tactical Reserves exempt in all other ways. That meant that units pulled by this weren’t obliged to deploy by turn 3.

This is deceptively important, which is probably why it was missed. In a tournament context, GSC have the advantage of being able to apply unparalleled pressure out of deep strike, but with the drawback of crumbling fast if they’re exposed on the board. Allowing the army to space out its deep strike deployments until turns four or sometimes even five makes it vastly harder to counter, as it can keep rolling waves of units coming and never allow an opponent off the back foot, especially if they manage to wrap and trap units. It also gave them the option to hold their biggest, juiciest hitters until the enemy’s screen was down, making the best units more likely to get into something crunchy.

As I know from personal experience, it also made them much tougher to play against. Now that this ruling is in place, the strategy is pretty clear – score big turn one before they turn up, hold the line carefully turns 2 and 3, then take them off the board and clear up in the late game. With big threats still “pending” on turn four that strategy just wasn’t reliable, making it very difficult for some armies to push back. This levels the playing field a lot.

Genestealer Cults are one of the most powerful armies in the game right now and this doesn’t change that (after all, GSC still took 3rd and 8th at NOVA with this in place) but it does take away one of their most obnoxious tricks and give armies that can form a strong defensive castle a much more realistic way of countering the army. Look for a small downturn in GSC results but for them to remain popular – they’re still unparalleled in their ability to rend apart unprepared opponents and can still compete at the very highest level.

Demolisher Cannons

Change: Demolisher cannons on Guard units (i.e. Leman Russes and Tank Commanders) have received the same buff that Marine ones did, going to straight d6 shots rather than d3/d6 against units with 5+ models.
Change: Each marine faction’s FAQ now includes the Vindicator Demolisher Cannon change making their guns D6 shots.

Given that Russes and Commanders are going to be double shooting with these most of the time that’s a massive boost in the weapon’s output against vehicles and elite units, and should push these into seeing serious competitive play. The most obvious ways to use them are:

  • On Knight Commander Pask because of his BS2+
  • On Catachan Tank Commanders to re-roll the shot counts
  • On Vostroyan Tank Commanders for extra range and access to Firstborn Pride (a unit gets +1 to hit for a phase for 1CP)

Of these, I think Vostroyans are likely the best option. The extra 6″ of range pushes these to a 36″ double-shoot threat range, and Firstborn Pride allows you to pretend to be Pask when it really matters. I’ve matched up against a supreme command of:

  • Vostroyan Tank Commander with the Emperor’s Fist relic cannon
  • 2x Punisher Commanders

…and seen it do a lot of work, and I can now absolutely see one of the Punishers swapped out for a Demolisher, especially if Marines cull the number of hordes in the metagame.

“Demolisher Cannons Suck” has been pretty much a constant of 8th edition, so it’s good to see them finally being given a place at the table. Let’s just a.) hope this doesn’t turn out to be a bit much with Vostroyans and b.) hope they fix the poor Vanquisher next.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: Also in a hilarious twist, Dark Angels Vindicators’ Demolisher Cannons are currently Assault 3. This is definitely a typo, but I really want people to run them as Assault 3 and I’d be delighted if this led to an uptick in Vindicator sales and GW realized they should just make Demolishers Assault 3.

Extra Mortal Wounds

Raven Guard Primaris Eliminators
Raven Guard Primaris Eliminators. Credit: Dan Boyd

Those two are the big changes, but there are a couple more that are “functional” and can have an impact, even if it’s much smaller.

The first is a clarification on when weapons that deal an “additional mortal wound” under certain circumstances (usually a 6+ to wound) apply that.

Clarification: additional mortal wounds are dealt after applying normal damage

Previously, people often assumed that either MWs happened first or they could choose the order of application. This matters if Snipers (or other units with this effect) with multi-damage weapons are shooting at multi-wound units, and as GW explicitly point out it may mean they can’t use fast dice.

As the user of the sniper weapon, this is good for you if your target has multiple wounds remaining at the time you roll to wound, and bad if they only have a single wound left. If the target has multiple remaining wounds and you have a multi-damage weapon, this lets you apply all of that first, and then if it kills the target spill the Mortal Wound over to the next model. However, if they only have one wound left it’s bad for you – although the mortal wound can still spill over, you can’t allocate it first to remove the single wound from a first model then apply your full damage to the next one. This can change your decision when ordering your shooting – if you’ve got a bunch of multi-damage snipers you shouldn’t point them at a multi-wound unit with 1W remaining on a model and hope the mortals clear it out first – you’re now definitely better putting them into something healthy and using other shooting to smooth over trailing wounds.

It also interacts with…

Saviour Protocols (Again)

Tau Kill Team
Credit: Bonds0097

Savior Protocols laughs at upstart whippersnapper “They Came from Below” and its adorable attempts to create rules confusion. It’s been confusing and upsetting people since 2017.

Change: Clarified wording. Extra mortals aren’t applied to anyone for a transferred attack. Special effects of an attack transfer

The wording on this has changed again to add a bit of clarity onto how it resolves, now making it crystal clear that it triggers at the point a successful wound roll is made (rather than using ambiguous term “is wounded”) and ends the attack sequence afterwards. This should finally put paid to misunderstandings about saving throws and psychic attacks.

As a new entry in the FAQ section of the Tau document outlines, this combines with the update about extra mortals above to mean that sniper weapons just straight up don’t inflict the extra mortal wounds if the relevant attack is transferred. This makes defensive drones even better, and should serve Tau in good stead against the new Raven Guard codex. It also means that if you’re rolling Saviour Protocols against a mix of attacks that do and don’t have extra mortals attached you need to split them out and do them separately if you’re fast rolling.

The more confusing FAQ note is that if an attack with an “additional effect” (the example used is Tremor Shells, a Marine stratagem that slows a unit down if it’s hit by an attack buffed with it) is transferred then the special effect transfers as well, applying to the Drones and not the target.

This is, flatly, bizarre. Nothing about the wording now used for Saviour Protocols says anything about the “attack” being transferred, and I don’t really feel like this “follows” logically. It also creates some bizarre motivations – if you want to Tremor Shells a unit that’s got drones nearby you’re now hoping that at least one of your attacks fails to wound, as if you simply hit and don’t wound the attack can’t be transferred and you get to inflict the effect.

For this to “work” the wording on Saviour Protocols should be something like “If the wound roll is successful, roll a d6. On a 2+, the successful attack is no longer allocated to the original unit and is instead allocated to the Drones unit and inflicts a mortal wound instead of its normal damage”. For now, that appears to be how this is supposed to work based on this answer.

As we said, GW have mostly gotten way better at this, but Saviour Protocols remains a lone bastion of “whoops this concept doesn’t work super well with 8th ed’s rule system”.

Maybe next FAQ. We can dream.


Relic Whirlwinds (9/30/2019 update)

In the second update of FAQs, several changes were made to Forge World Relic tanks for Space Marines.

Change: Removed the WHIRLWIND keyword from the Whirlwind Hyperios and the Whirlwind Scorpius
Change: Added the WHIRLWIND SCORPIUS and WHIRLWIND HYPERIOS to the list of vehicles a Thunderhawk Transporter can carry

This change addresses an issue we spotted back in our review of Codex: Space Marines, where the Suppression Fire Stratagem could be paired with a Relic Whirlwind Scorpius to put out an insane number of shots. Now that the WHIRLWIND keyword has been removed from both tanks, neither can be paired with the stratagem. This change in keywords also necessitated a change in the allowable keywords for transport by a Thunderhawk Transporter, which is why we got the second change. With this change the Scorpius is no longer a complete beast, but still potentially worth looking at for its ability to fire 6D3 AP-3 shots indirectly in Devastator Doctrine.


Chaos Lords of War (9/30/2019 update)

In the second update of FAQs, several changes were made to Forge World Lord of War options for Chaos Space Marines.

Change: The Hellforged Spartan Assault Tank, Hellforged Mastodon, Hellforged Cerberus Heavy Destroyer, Hellforged Typhon Heavy Siege Tank, Hellforged Fellblade, and Hellforged Falchion gained the “Daemonic Machine Spirit” special rule, allowing them to move and fire Heavy weapons without suffering a -1 penalty to their To Hit rolls.

An interesting last-minute change, the Lord of War units were notably missing the ability to move and shoot their heavy weapons with no penalty, and were all significantly worse than their loyalist counterparts as a result. Now they’re a little better and still cheaper, but probably still not worth your time. The only exception is the Hellforged Spartan Assault tank, which at 477 points is probably still not cheap enough to justify its cost but lord knows TheChirurgeon is crazy enough to try running one with 20 World Eater Berserkers inside.


Index: Assassins (9/30/2019 update)

Prior FAQs were folded into a new FAQ for Index: Officio Assassinorum, which also has a clarification on when Eversors make their attacks against units that fall back.

Clarification: Eversor attacks made with the Sentinel Array ability are made when your opponent declares they are falling back, but before they move, and so the Eversor Assassin can only shoot a pistol at the unit falling back.

This prevents Eversors from melta-bombing units that fall back, which has killed more than one Wave Serpent.


The Road Not Travelled

Leaving aside the fact that near every 40k player has a unit they love to hate and want to see nerfed into the ground, I think there are three things GW could plausibly have applied “urgent” balance fixes to and chose not to. Especially for the first of these, there’s been a massive proliferation of Nintendo Uncle chat in recent weeks suggesting that something was definitely happening, but that’s been a constant feature of FAQs that has rarely been fully accurate, so most people have tended to wait and see. In this case the wait-and-see crowd win out, and several powerful units get left alone. What follows is my take on why.

Eldar Planes

My sky babies can continue their reign of terror unabated. Wrap it up mon-keigheilures.

Defensive posture
Photo: Wings

…except they probably won’t, because Iron Hands are here now.

Let’s go back a few steps. Eldar plane spam lists have been enduringly successful for a long, long time at this point, and people are, frankly, sick of them. Crimson Hunter Exarchs, Nightwings and Razorwing Jetfighters are all both deadly and resilient for their costs, and spamming a mixture of them give you an army that has the tools to kill most stuff while being almost impossible for some armies to engage with and still hard to put down for the armies that could fight back. While the three planes listed are the worst offenders, pretty much everything with the Flyer role in the Craftworld and Drukhari books is competitively viable, with successful lists at the LGT featuring both “vanilla” Crimson Hunters and the Voidraven Bomber.

Fliers got a big nerf in the spring Big FAQ, with the introduction of the AIRCRAFT keyword preventing them from blocking movement and stopping them getting cover in Prepared Positions. This has not, ultimately, stopped them from being a dominant force in the metagame – it stops them being pure bullshit, but doesn’t take away from them being consistently powerful.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: This did, however, kill Death Guard Hell Blades as an area denial/crowd control strategy. RIP Death Guard tournament bullshit, 2019 – 2019.

With the AIRCRAFT rules failing to properly rein these in, and the max-Flyer list being one of the most un-fun things to play against in the game, the rumour mill had been positively buzzing that some sort of new nerf, probably a three Flyer cap at 2K points, was surely inbound. In my opinion this would have been totally reasonable, and unless there are some big point changes in the pipeline in Chapter Approved, I don’t think we can rule out it coming along in the future – but it didn’t now, so why not?

I think there are probably two major reasons for this:

1.) Plane lists weren’t dominant at NOVA. GW explicitly acknowledge that this was all finalised shortly after NOVA, with the event presumably being used as final validation that they hadn’t missed anything vital. Unfortunately, as I covered in my analysis of the format, the NOVA missions are unusually non-favourable to Flyer lists, and this was borne out with only one Aeldari list in the top 16. The more recent LGT (running lightly modified ITC) saw vastly more dominance by the plane lists, and I do have to slightly wonder whether GW might have acted if that had been the “final test” of their changeset.

2.) Space Marines, in particular Iron Hands, have good tools to counter planes, and GW want to see if they can chase them out of the format.

Space Marines having access to “full” re-rolls via Chapter Master and being able to deploy lethal shooting platforms that are very hard for planes to burst down (Contemptor/Leviathan dreads, Iron Hands Repulsor Executioners) might just give them the tools to push back against the wicked sky-elf menace. Given they’re the fanciest and coolest new tool on the block, wanting to see if they can do what nothing else has yet managed seems fair enough.

Do I think it will work? I’m not totally sure. I do think the Iron Hands RepEx castle beats the flier spam lists pretty reliably, but as we’ve covered Iron Hands vehicles are so stonkingly good against everything that I’m not convinced that they themselves won’t end up on the chopping block at some point, meaning relying on them as a safety valve against planes is dangerous. Against most other Marine builds I think Eldar tactics can adapt.

I’m basically a pessimist here, and unless there’s an Alaitoc nerf coming in Psychic Awakening, or big nerfs coming in CA, I think a Flyer limit realistically has to happen at some point – I don’t think the spam lists are good for the meta and I don’t think anything other than a hard “no” is going to get rid of them.

Space Marine players feel free to prove me wrong (though preferably by killing other Eldar player’s planes).

TheChirurgeon’s Note: One_Wing was blubbering like a huge baby in Discord for weeks leading up to this FAQ, saying he ‘had heard from a reliable source that Eldar planes were gonna get nerfed’ and it was hilarious to watch. It’s still funny to see him wring his hands over it. They’ aren’t gonna cap flyers, bro — they’re just gonna make your fliers cost more so you won’t take any of them and your army will be trash. Take it from me, a Chaos player. I know how this works. No, I’m not bitter about my Fire Raptor. Why do you ask?



Speaking of un-fun, non-interactive nonsense…

Plaguebearers power one of the most effective lists in the game, the Nurgle/Thousand Sons/Dreadnoughts list, with their absurd level of resilience and spiky ability to recover slain models mid-game making them the premium unit for gumming up the board while the slow, reliable attrition of Smite spam clears out the enemy.

Plaguebearers are probably just a bit too cheap at 7ppm. Even well tuned armies often have to put an entire turn’s shooting into clearing out a block of thirty, and that block (with the effectively mandatory banner) only runs to 225pts, meaning the Chaos player has plenty of points to spend on other toys or more Plaguebearers. The combination of unit banners and the Sloppity Bilepiper (allowing you to roll 2D6 pick the lowest for morale, and if either is a 1 get back D6 models instead of any fleeing) is also extremely frustrating to play against – the combo gives the model resurrection about a 30% chance of going off, but if the player rolls hot on it their opponent can feel utterly helpless.

Just like the planes then, this unit arguably meets the criteria of being demonstrably and consistently good, and a bit unfun, so why did it get away unscathed? Honestly? Probably pretty much the same reasons!

Just like the planes, the NOVA format was much less favourable to the most powerful Plaguebearer list than the more common ITC format, and just like the planes Marines have the tools to push back hard against armies leaning on this unit. The mix of high rate-of-fire units like Aggressors and the wide availability of re-rolls means that all Marines can array themselves to smash these lists, and Raven Guard even more so thanks to having tools to get units that Plaguebearers will struggle to deal with into the board centre early on and the ability to snipe out characters with high efficiency.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: Proof again that NOVA is a better format, imo.

I think the wait and see attitude is much more likely to pay off here – I’m more confident that the average post-Codex competitive Marine list gives the armies that love these trouble than I am about the planes, and also don’t think the tools they use to pull it off are at risk of significant nerfs themselves. I don’t love Plaguebearers, but I think seeing how they do at their current cost was probably the right call.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: This was fine. Chaos is fine. Plaguebearer lists are effective, but they’re not dominant – they didn’t even have a top 8 finish at the LGT – and I don’t expect that to continue in a meta riddled with high volumes of bolt rifle fire and the ability to single out the Sloppity Bilepiper for 2 CP. They’ll still be alright, but they certainly didn’t get stronger.


Duty Eternal and Forge World

Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought
Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Duty Eternal stratagem from Codex Space Marines (which halves incoming damage to a Dreadnought) is outrageously good with Relic Leviathan and Relic Contemptor Dreadnoughts, making these already effective platforms ludicrously hard to kill. A persistent rumour bouncing around had been that a “no relics” rider was going to be added to the stratagem, but this hasn’t materialised.

This doesn’t surprise me, as I think if that was going to be anywhere it would have been in the 2-week FAQ for the Codex. That it wasn’t suggests that these interactions have been at least somewhat playtested, and GW are happy to wait and see how busted they are in the wild before stepping in.

While they’re extremely good that’s probably…fine? Iron Hands Dreadnoughts are their own particular kettle of madness as we’ve covered, but that’s more the fault of the Ironstone and their Codex being stuffed with answers to just about everything then just this stratagem.

The last time GW made a “kneejerk” nerf to a unit (Guard Commissars) it really didn’t stand the test of time, and while this interaction looks great on paper, I’d rather live in a world where the coolest combos out of a new book are given a bit of time to breathe and be tested in the real world before the hammer comes down (when necessary).

I’m sure we’ll all get plenty of opportunity to find out just how good this is and if by Christmas I’m begging for Relic Dread nerfs I guess those of you who want this done now can point and laugh at me.

TheChirurgeon: There’s no way we don’t get at least a clarification in the 2-week FAQ for Iron Hands, even if all it says is “Apply this order of operations when these abilities interact,” though I’m hoping they just rule that the two don’t stack. Iron Hands Leviathans will still be very hard to kill with just one ability active at a time.


Warhammer Legends

The final thing conspicuously missing from the FAQ was any more info about Warhammer Legends, the upcoming retirement of Index units and options (and maybe some Forge World stuff, it’s not clear) into a special category of units that aren’t included in balance passes and aren’t recommended for competitive play. The rumour bouncing around has been that this is coming at the start of 2020 and that now sounds pretty plausible (though we have no actual info on this, so please don’t blame us if it’s wrong).

This will have a decent impact on the meta when it comes, and it would be nice to have more information about it, but for now we’ll just have to wait for GW to say more.


Impact on the Metagame

For now then, we’re processing the impact of a relatively small set of changes, and what it basically means is that the game is wide open. While there are a few annoying strategies out there that could plausibly have been taken down a peg, there are a huge number of viable tournament armies out in the wild at the moment, and the recent Marine releases have only added more. You could tell me that any of the following won a major at the weekend and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid:

  • Space Marines (especially Iron Hands and White Scars)
  • Plane-heavy eldar
  • Covens-heavy drukhari
  • Genestealer Cults
  • Orks
  • Tau
  • AdMech
  • Nurgle/Tsons/Dreads
  • Standard Imperial Soup

With the release of the Iron Hands book Marines are definitely the most powerful they’ve ever been, but I think it would be hasty to count out other factions. There are extremely powerful builds of everything above that were available to players before the FAQ and (because of it being fairly light touch) continue to be available after it, and it will be fascinating to see how the game evolves from here.

Are Iron Hands a bit too much? Will forcing GSC to show its hand by turn 3 take it off the very top tier? Can Plaguebearers stand up to the horde-clearing tools new marines bring? Will double-tap demolisher cannons turn out to be the surprise secret sauce launching guard back to the top of the metagame?

Will the Psychic Awakening render all of this moot?

All of these things should be answered over the next few months, and we’ll see you again at Christmas time when we’ll review the Chapter Approved balance pass. In the meantime, we’re going to be hitting the tournament tables to gather our own data, and hope you will too.


FAQ Roundup

Thus ends the more opinionated bit of this article. The rest of this is going to be a summary of all the changes in the FAQ, along with brief comments on what they mean and why. Unless you build diabolical strategies around weird loopholes there shouldn’t be too much in here that impacts on you, but a lot of the things they’ve tidied up are pretty common misconceptions, so it probably is worth having a read of any bits concerning armies you play or regularly play against.

The Rulebook

Clarified – What “Can” Means

When “can” appears in instructional text in an ability (most commonly regarding re-rolls) it means you can choose whether to do it or not. If there is no “can” in an instruction, you have to go through with it.

This was already implicit in a bunch of rulings they’ve made, so doesn’t change anything, but it’s good to have it made explicit.


Ruling – Units That Don’t Take a Slot Can’t Buy a Transport

In a detachment, you can buy one transport for each detachment slot that’s filled. That means a unit that doesn’t fill a slot (example given being a Lhamean from Drukhari) doesn’t let you buy a transport.

Almost no army exists that would ever need to lean on this, but it’s useful to have it cleared up.


Ruling – Index Units and Wargear Lists

Black Legion Chaos Space Marine Lord with Thunderhammer
Painted by Tyler “Coda” Moore

If you take an Index Datasheet and the wargear list in the Codex has options on it that weren’t in the Index version of that list, you can’t pick from the Codex version of the list.

This (as GW call out) mainly impacts on Chaos Lords on various Index mount options, locking them out of the fancy new thunder hammers their recent Codex update gives them. Otherwise a lot of armies have trended away from the use of wargear lists as they’ve transferred to Codexes anyway, and I’ve had a quick look at Orks (the other most prolific Index users) and can’t obviously see anything this shuts down. Ork players feel free to educate my puny elf brain if I’ve got this wrong.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: Boo to this, mostly because the Chaos options this affects weren’t showing up that often in tournaments to begin with. The upside is that they can just fix this in Legends.


Ruling – Re-rolls in Roll-Offs

During a roll off, both players declare if they want to re-roll a dice before the dice is re-roll, i.e. you can’t wait for your opponent to re-roll, see what result they get, then decide. This is a good ruling, but could have done with more clarity on sequencing of declaring this.


Ruling – Multiple Re-rolls in Multi-Dice Rolls

If you have a roll made up of more than one dice (i.e. a 2d6 charge) and multiple abilities that let you re-roll a single die, you have to declare all of these before re-rolling any dice. This is probably most relevant to Orks and Tzeentch. For Orks, it means that if you roll, for example, a three and a four on the charge you can’t re-roll the three with “‘Ere We Go” and then if that comes up as a four, pick up and re-roll the original four with a CP re-roll. The same applies to Tzeentch making a psychic test with a “Gaze of Fate” re-roll in hand.

I like this ruling in general, but have reservations that it’s going to be mis-applied to dealing with fast-rolled attack dice, and would have welcomed a general ruling on how you’re supposed to deal with these when you have multiple re-roll effects “in hand” (the current answer being “technically you should roll one at a time but almost no-one does”).

TheChirurgeon: Something I hope that GW addresses with the next edition of the game is writing rules that take into account how people actually roll dice, and not writing them as though you’re supposed to always be rolling one at a time.


Clarified – Ranks in the Fight Phase

GW have clarified that “fighting in two ranks” was a narrative description of what the rules about who can fight were intended to represent and not actual rules.

Fine – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this misunderstood in the wild but it’s good to have clarity. Corrode’s note: I have absolutely seen someone being aggressively certain this meant that only 2 “ranks” could fight, so it’s nice to see them proven completely wrong.


Clarified – Cross Codex Stratagems

GW have re-confirmed you can use stratagems across Codexes as long as the keywords work as long as there’s not a specific prohibition.

This is fine, but as someone called us up on in the comments on our Space Marines FAQ review, GW have been a bit inconsistent about this. Specifically, the same wording is used in Codex Space Marines and Codex Chaos Space Marines about non-standard chapters not being able to use the rules in the subsequent sections of the book – but GW have FAQed that special Marine chapters like Blood Angels and Dark Angels can’t benefit from Space Marine stratagems even if they have the right keywords, but units from special Heretic Astartes chapters can. I’m not a fan of inconsistency, so this irks me.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: As a Chaos player, I hate this. Most of the units that can benefit from things like this aren’t viable anyways, so just removing the restrictions on letting Daemon stratagems apply to things like Possessed would open up a lot of opportunities and make things more consistent. Also I’ve always hated that GW was deciding via the rules which chapters were “Veterans of the Long War” and which ones weren’t, particularly when the Renegade group don’t get legion traits that are so strong they make up for losing VotLW. Anyways, whatever. This is fine. Everything’s fine.


Ruling – Additional Mortal Wounds

Already covered above.


Clarification – Multi-Model Units Heroically Intervening

Black Templar Lieutenant with Power Fist and Power Sword
Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

When a multi-model unit heroically intervenes, each model must end up closer to the enemy model closest to it.

This makes intuitive sense, as it’s exactly how pile-in and consolidate moves work, so I suspect 99% of people would have done this anyway.


Ruling – Extra Dice Abilities

If multiple abilities adding extra dice to a roll then doing something with the results (i.e. 2d6 pick the highest) apply to the same roll, you add a dice for all of them then process all effects. Their example is if you have 2d6 pick the highest plus 2d6 pick the lowest, you roll 3d6 and discard the highest and lowest.

Fine – a massive edge case but I love having those cleared up.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: I’m actually fine with this and it’s come up in games I’ve played where the Sloppity Bilepiper’s ability to roll an extra die on morale ran up against the Litany of Despair, so it’s good to know how this works. I’m not sold on the idea


Codex Astra Militarum

Buff – Demolisher Cannons

Already covered.

Errata – Go Recon!

Cannot move you within 1″ of an enemy.

It’s a safe bet that anything in 8th that gets you within 1″ of the enemy without charging, being charged or heroically intervening is a mistake. This is one of several places this is cleared up in this FAQ round.


Codex Tau

Errata – Moving Within 1″

As with Guard, the following abilities are erratad to prevent this:

  • Riptide Boost
  • Vectored Manoeuvring Thrusters

Nerf – Automated Repair Systems

Tau demonstrate perfect castle doctrine.
Tau demonstrate perfect castle doctrine. Photo: Wings. Models: Kyle G

This can now only be used once per turn.

GW have fairly frequently forgotten that the Strategic Discipline rule, limiting the use of stratagems to once per phase, doesn’t apply in “non-phase” sections of the turn or battle round, meaning that abilities like this could theoretically be used multiple times. In this case, a Tau player with CP to burn could heal a battlesuit multiple times, perhaps pushing it back over a key bracket. Now they can’t. They can still do it once on their opponent’s turn too though.

Buff – Dahyak Grekh’s Trap

This can now be activated while Dahyak is still in reserves.

The trap plus the ability to Deep Strike a character onto a backline or concealed objective is a good enough combo for 20pts that Dahyak already shows up in a large number of competitive Tau lists, so making him better is good for Tau players. It’s less good for rules consistency, because as far as I’m concerned any rule that can work when you’re not on the battlefield needs that baked into the text.

Clarification – A Whole Bunch of Stuff About Saviour Protocols

Already covered.


Codex Adeptus Mechanicus

Skitarii Ranger
Skitarii Ranger. Credit: Pendulin

Clarification – Stygies Transports

The Stygies pre-game move can be used on a transport with embarked models.

This makes sense, and is probably largely only a point of contention because on some similar abilities GW have explicitly said “including transported models” so people drew an inference that if those words weren’t there it meant it couldn’t be combined. This is the kind of mistake they’ve largely stopped making as they’ve realised using too many words can be as harmful as too few, so it’s good to see the legacy tidied up.

Nerf – Acquisition at Any Cost

This stratagem gains a once-per-turn limit.

Similar to the Tau Repair System, this happens outside a phase so could be spammed to give multiple units a boosted save, potentially giving a very tough mid-field castle at a critical moment. This is no longer possible.

Clarification – Repulsor Field

If a unit from an open-topped transport takes a “reflected” mortal wound, it applies to them and not the vehicle.

This makes logical sense but introducing the ability for an embarked unit to be affected by stuff sets off a whole bunch of warning alarms in my brain, as there’s probably some twisted inference that can be drawn from this that sets up a barmy and improbable combo. Hopefully this is sandboxed enough not to do that, but we’ve been bitten before.


Codex Deathwatch

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Clarification – Teleport Homers

These don’t count as a friendly model. I assume people were trying to use them to hold objectives or stop them getting tabled. This is me, shaking my head sadly at those people.



TheChirurgeon’s Note: The one notable omission here is that I’d have liked to see Deathwatch Null Zone get dropped to WC 7 from 8.


Codex Supplement White Scars

Clarification – Datasheets

Can only be used in White Scars armies, not successor. Really obvious for the named character, slightly surprising for the Khan on Bike, although less so here than in Ultramarines.


Codex Grey Knights

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Errata – Psybolt Ammunition

Now explicitly applies to twin heavy bolters. Technically required, but I’d be astonished if more than a fraction of people would even have noticed it didn’t before.

I can’t be bothered to check if any of the Forge World options with Quad Heavy Bolters can be Grey Knights, but if they can, sucks to be them.


Codex Blood Angels

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard
Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Codex Space Wolves

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Ruling – Jaws of the World Wolf

If there are multiple move characteristics in a unit targeted by this, you use the lowest. Technically this could be seen as a minor buff but you could literally run Space Wolves for years and have it never come up.

Ruling – Lone Wolf

A Helix Adept that becomes a Lone Wolf cannot then resurrect fellow squad members. They’re just too angry.


Codex Dark Angels

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.


Codex Heretic Astartes

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Errata – Fabius Bile

Doesn’t stop a detachment being a Chaos Space Marines detachment. Fine – he clearly wasn’t intended to and it’s good to let people use their toys.

Clarification – Dark Apostles

They have to be on the battlefield to use their prayers. I would say this shouldn’t be surprising, but then GW issued the Dahyak Grekh change so I can’t really argue that any more.

Clarification – Obliterators

It is made crystal clear that you roll for gun characteristics before choosing targets. This is already how it worked RAW, but it’s good to have that spelled out even more robustly.

TheChirurgeon: I’d seen too many people arguing that you didn’t roll parts of this until after so I’m glad those people can find something else to do now.


Codex Tyranids

Carnifexes. Photo: That Gobbo

Clarification – Onslaught

I’m betting this is the one we’ll get the hate mail for. TheChirurgeon’s Note: Send your hate mail to or post in the comments below!

Onslaught has been clarified to do exactly what the words say, and not anything else. The ability was not very well worded, but a careful reading made it clear that it didn’t allow you to advance and use Heavy Weapons, which some players read it as. It also doesn’t make you count as stationary – this is not the same thing as ignoring move/shoot penalties.

It’s good to get clarification on this one as this was a big holdout of a lot of people using it wrong.


Vigilus Defiant

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Errata – Reliquary of Galthamor

As predicted in our Marine FAQ review, they’ve noticed they forgot to take this out (it’s now in the main Codex Space Marines relic list). It now has been.


Codex Thousand Sons

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

“Nerf” – Double Instrument Tzaangors

Technically the Index flowchart used to let you take a brayhorn and an instrument of Chaos in a Tzaangor unit, giving them +2″ to charge total.

This was obviously not intentional and has been clarified not to be allowed. The vast, vast majority of players weren’t pushing on this, and most TOs weren’t allowing it anyway.


Index Ynnari

Errata – Ynnead’s Net

A wording loophole allowing you to use this in your opponent’s charge phase has been closed. Presumably someone, somewhere tried to use that to argue they could charge in their opponent’s turn.

You know what you did.

Clarification – Hemlocks and Wraithseers

Hemlocks definitely do draw from the Revenant Discipline and Wraithseers are definitely still locked in to their own awful, bizarro powers.

Not unexpected on either front – I’ve not encountered anyone using them any other way.


Codex Craftworlds

Wave Serpent
Credit: Wings

Clarification – Serpent Shield

Wave Serpents definitely reduce the damage of each ranged attack by one.

GW have finally driven a stake through the heart of the persistent confusion the wording on the Serpent Shield has sometimes caused. Specifically, the use of the word “weapon” in an inadvisable place caused some people to argue that the shield reduced the damage of the sum total dealt by all the shots from each weapon by one rather than each individual shot, despite this only making sense if you assume Fast Dice as the “default”, not a shortcut.

I am delighted to never have to have this argument again.

Clarification – Alaitoc Range

Whether the Alaitoc 12″ -1 to hit applies is clarified to definitely operate on a per-model basis, not get turned off for a whole attacking unit if they get a single model within 12″.

This was another persistent misunderstanding that came up quite often because of the way some of the surrounding rules were worded.

I am delighted to never have to have this argument again.


Codex Death Guard

Consolidation – Codex Space Marines Changes

All changes that were released in the aftermath of Codex Space Marines are consolidated into this FAQ.

Errata – Nurglings

Now must be >9″ away from any enemy models when set up as well as the enemy deployment zone.

This just brings these in line with all recent infiltrate abilities.

Clarification – Cloud of Flies

Enemies that don’t require LOS can shoot the affected unit if its out of LOs and is closest to them.

Effectively, this makes it clear that when Cloud of Flies states the conditions for targeting the affected unit, including “visible” in the wording is there to stop you screening the unit with hidden stuff, not preventing no-LOS shooting going after it.


Codex Space Marines

Errata – Chapter Tactics

It is made clear that the previously published chapter tactics for Crimson Fists, Blood Ravens and the Emperor’s Spears no longer apply. In addition, the Emperor’s Spears are noted to be explicitly an Ultramarines successor.

Clearing up the old white dwarf rules makes sense. I’m much less enamoured of the way they’re trying to push “locked in” successors, as all you end up with is strictly worse versions of the parent chapter in the majority of cases.

Ruling – Extra Hits on a Six

Crimson Fists Lieutenant Montage
Crimson Fists Lieutenant Montage Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

After a brief window after the initial Marine FAQ, where GW contradicted a previous ruling and said that extra hits generated on a six by a weapon that has other special effects on a six to hit (most notably the marksman bolt carbine) also counted as having rolled a six. This has been changed to be in line with the ruling on otherr effects, where the dice that wasn’t rolled doesn’t count as having rolled any particular number.

The initial change somewhat predictably lead to people extrapolating some very silly things, most notably combining two extra hit on six effects via Grey Shield to argue for infinite hits. I’m glad they’ve reined this in fast.


Codex Genestealer Cults

Errata/Mild Nerf – Kelermorph

The Kelermorphs ability to grant re-rolls is changed so that it only starts to apply after resolving all of its attacks. This stops you rolling them one at a time to try and turn the re-rolls when shooting a multi-model unit.

A sensible change and how a lot of people probably already played it.

I’m going to get Rob to make a giant piece of art embodying the concept that “FAST DICE ROLLING IS AN ABSTRACTION”, put it on a poster and mail ti to the GW offices.

Nerf – They Came From Below

Already covered.


Codex Orks

Errata – Mad Doc Grotsnik

Changed to “at the start of your charge phase”, as previously this would have triggered on the enemy’s turn as well.

Unlike the Ynnari example, I think this would even actually have worked previously because the ability takes you through the whole charge process. Technically that makes this a mild nerf? I don’t think anyone is using him competitively anyway.

Ruling – Keepin’ Order

Keepin’ Order essentially provides a 6+++ against models fleeing to morale. GW have clarified that if more models “would” flee than there are models in the unit, you still only roll once for each model in the unit.

Orks don’t really struggle with morale most of the time, but this could be fringe relevant. Imagine a unit of 30 Boyz that’s been shot down to 6 models left. They’re out on there own, so there isn’t another squad around for Mob Rule, and they fail by a substantial amount. Assuming the Ork player only has 3CP left, if one of those 6 Boyz makes their 6+++, that squad is still then around to be Green Tided without needing to auto-pass to get there.

This isn’t going to come up often as Nobz are rare in top-end lists, but it’s certainly a thing that’s at least there.

Ruling – Nob Weapons

The Nob Weapon list is ruled to allow you to either take two weapons from the single-hand list or one weapon from the two-handed list, not both.



Codex Chaos Knights

This incredible knight comes from Thomas Coltau Bærentsen (

Clarification – Summoning

Chaos Knights who are characters can definitely summon.

As far as I’m aware most people already assumed they could and it hasn’t exactly lit up the world – having to stay stationary is a waaaaay bigger deal for a Chaos Knight than a random infantry character. Nonetheless, having recently gone through Chaos Knights for a Start Competing I could definitely see myself leaving 30pts free in a list to bring in an emergency squad of Brimstones to hold an objective or score Recon, so it’s nice to have this cleared up.


Codex Ultramarines

Clarification – Datasheets

Can only be used in Ultramarines armies, not successors. Really obvious for the named character, but weird for things like Tyrannic War veterans, which the fluff in the book goes out of the way to say are fielded by successors as well.

Clarification – Honoured Sergeant on Sergeant Chronus

He’s not a sergeant for the purposes of the stratagem.

I’m honestly not sure what this could possibly have achieved but sure, fine, presumably someone somewhere came up with a galaxy brain combo.

Clarification – Rapid Redeployment

Gets the same FAQ Phantasm has that stops it being used to move units into “special” deployment options.

People were already using the Phantasm ruling as a precedent so this changes very little.


Wrap Up

…and that’s it. As we said at the start, this is by far the smallest of these we’ve seen – while there are a few impacts on Guard and GSC most armies are pretty much un-touched, and we get to go into the Autumn grind season (I have four GTs in the next two months, what have I done to myself) with all our familiar tools working as expected.

Have we missed something vital? Has the Index Wargear List ruling ruined your personal brand of nonsense and you want to tell the world about it? Hit us up at or via our Facebook Page or drop a comment in the section below – we’d love to hear from you.

Happy gaming.