Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate & MFM – Rules Commentary – The Goonhammer Review

Today Games Workshop released a massive update for Warhammer 40,000 giving us a huge shake-up for competitive play. In addition to the balance dataslate for Q1 2024, we also saw the release of a new game-wide points update, rules/FAQ updates and errata, datasheet updates, and an entirely new detachment for the Drukhari.

There’s a ton here and nearly every faction in the game is affected in one way or another. While we’re covering the specifics of each released document in its own article to help make clear where things are changing, it’s important to note that these changes have combined effects. 

Finally before we dive in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing an early copy of these updates for review purposes.

10th Edition’s second Dataslate brings with it a big update to the Rules Commentary, plus updated errata for the Index Cards that many factions are still using. The comprehensive Rules Commentary is one of the best things GW have done in 10th Edition, and the trend continues with this update – lots of outstanding, thorny questions are given satisfactory resolutions, which will help ensure that whatever tournament scene you’re playing in, your experience of the game is the same.

The Index Card errata also ties off a few things, and also launches one gigantic buff into the wild, for some reason. Get hype Space Wolf players.

Let’s get into it, starting with the Rules Commentary.

Rules Commentary

The Important Ones

These are the things that will have a big impact, either on the metagame in general or on a specific faction’s approach. That’s because they represent a significant functional change to how a rule worked, or they were formerly ambiguous and being ruled inconsistently between events.

Embarked Units and Reserves (New)

Finally – this has been the big rules controversy since 10th landed. This is a new, general rule handling whether you can disembark from a Transport when it arrives from Reserves. The answer is that yes, you can, but you have to be more than 9” horizontally away from enemy units, count as having made a Normal Move, and can’t Charge unless an ability states otherwise (e.g. Assault Ramp).

Falcon. Credit: Rockfish
Falcon. Credit: Rockfish

This feels very much like the right conclusion here, and I’m glad we finally got there. It lets things like Falcons work as intended, but doesn’t create odd interactions like disembarking units being harder to screen than regular deep strikers and being able to deploy units within melta range with 18” guns, which wouldn’t normally be possible from reserves. It’s also a huge buff to the Necron Night Scythe (which has a turn 1 arrival ability that didn’t really do anything before), and I’m sure you were all very worried that Necrons didn’t have enough treats right now. Finally, also on the subject of treat surfeits, this is extremely strong with the new Drukhari detachment.

Ignoring Modifiers (Updated)

Allarus, Trajann, and Vexilus Praetor
Allarus, Trajann, and Vexilus Praetor. Credit: Pendulin

Death Guard and Custodes players rejoice – there is now a full clarification on whether ignoring modifiers includes modifiers to damage characteristics and it does. If those mean old C’tan are getting you down, have Trajann punt them directly into space. The wording here gets expanded quite a bit, but that’s the functional impact. This is great news for any unit that has this built in, and also helps Grey Knights and the Firestorm Assault Force (who can get it via an Enhancement).

Curie: This is the first of two major deviations from the World Championships of Warhammer FAQ that was provided by Games Workshop to the players at that event. Previously these rules did not affect weapon characteristics, which felt like needless pedantry to many players and took a lot more explaining than was necessary. Props to the GW rules team for reversing this ruling and choosing the simpler approach – if it says it ignores modifiers to a unit’s characteristics, that’s exactly what it does, without having to drill down.

Count as Having Made a Normal Move (New)

This covers off one of the big genuine uncertainties that has been being ruled both ways in the wild – units that are either Set Up as Reserves or disembark from a Transport that has made a Normal Move count as having made a Normal Move that phase – so does that trigger any abilities that key off a unit finishing a Normal Move?

The answer is no – so no reactive moves like Squad Tactics (though note Overwatch is still on the table, because it specifies “Set Up” as one of the trigger conditions). This makes two abilities pretty good counters to reactive moves – 3” Deep Strikes and the subtle elegance of the Land Raider’s Assault Ramp. The trick with the latter is that you move the Raider to be 9.1” away from your intended victims, then use the 3” of Disembark reach to give your big hitters a nice 6” Charge roll.

Objective Secured (New)

Plague Marine – Credit: RichyP

An actual functional change here – lots of “sticky objective” abilities (like the eponymous Objective Secured) say in their rules text that the opponent can only take control of such an objective at the start or end of the turn. This creates a few odd interactions around buffs that are affected by controlling objectives (and made Death Guard’s Spread the Sickness extremely powerful with their improved Contagions), and this new FAQ basically issues a correction to those previous statements – control of such objectives can now be taken at the start or end of any turn or at the end of any Phase, regardless of the text of the ability. Does work out as a bit of a nerf to Death Guard, otherwise mostly doesn’t change much.

Redeploy (Updated)

Another contentious one put to bed – when you’re using Redeploy abilities you can make use of abilities like Infiltrators. This is extremely good for the two Detachments (Skitarii Hunter Cohort and Tyranid Vanguard Onslaught) that have access to post roll-off Redeploys, and not totally irrelevant for pre roll-off ones – in a matchup where both players have Infiltrators, it means you can use yours to block out where theirs can be placed, then pull them back/reserve them to somewhere safer/more useful.

One Shot (Updated)

Another change operating on the principle that if you can’t play nice with your toys, they’ll get taken away. GW have clearly grown tired of questions about how One Shot weapons interact with Firing Deck and decided it isn’t worth the hassle – so now you are outright banned from firing them from a Firing Deck. In theory this affects any such weapons, but in practice mostly affects Genestealer Cults wanting to do drive-bys with demolition charges.

Arriving from Strategic Reserves in the First Battle Round (New)

Night Scythe. Credit: Rockfish
Night Scythe. Credit: Rockfish

This codifies an FAQ from the World Championships of Warhammer – if an ability somehow lets you arrive as Strategic Reserves in the first Battle Round, you treat the current Battle Round as one higher for the purposes of determining where you can arrive (previously there were no rules covering this circumstance, so they didn’t properly function).

Vehicles with Bases (Updated)

The changes made in the last dataslate so that Vehicles with Bases measure to their hull have been further updated – when embarking or disembarking from these, you now measure 3” horizontally and  up to 5” vertically from any part of the model, instead of having to measure 3” diagonally from the hull. This plausibly equates to an extra inch of disembark reach for some vehicles, and also has some interesting fringe uses in disembarking models onto the top of a ruin for that sweet Plunging Fire bonus, definitely a real rule that exists. More practically, there probably are fringe situations where you can use this to make a charge way harder than the opponent was expecting, particularly on UKTC tables where the biggest ruins are taller than 5”, so you can’t engage something on top from the ground, but with the extra height from, say, a Raider, you can disembark there.

The Housekeeping

These are updates which are largely going to codify “yes, the rules work how you expect”, in some cases with “…and not how your opponent really wants them to” appended. Most events were already ruling these consistently, but as ever it’s good to have them codified.

Abilities With The Same Name (New)

This entry clarifies when multiple instances of an ability with the same name can “stack”. The answer is that they can unless:

  • They’re an Aura ability.
  • They apply a named condition like “Suppressed”

That means that if you want to drop the same targeted debuff on the same target, and it doesn’t meet any of those criteria, go wild. It also means that if you want to have some hilarious Khorne Daemon fun, you can use three Blood Thrones targeting the same unit to allow even basic Bloodletters to punt something directly into the warp.

Curie: This one is interesting – there was nothing in the 10th edition rules set that prevented this interaction, but previous editions had been very clear that same-name effects didn’t stack. This carves out an interesting niche for some very silly interactions – Fields of Fire from Astra Militarum for +2 AP against a target after targeting it with two mortars comes to mind.

Adding Models to a Unit (Updated)

Necron Warriors
Necron Warriors. Credit: Pendulin

The rules on adding models to a unit are updated to specify that the restriction of being set up in Unit Coherency only applies if the unit is on the Battlefield at the time. This stops abilities like the Hypercrypt Legion’s Stratagem to reanimate while in Reserves falling into a weird rules lacuna.

Curie: Grey Knight players everywhere celebrate this change – their brotherhood apothecary now works while they’re teleporting around the board!

Battle-Shock Tests (Updated)

Three changes here, covering off a potential loophole for people to make “well ackshully” arguments about, clarifying a point that’s been ruled a few different ways, and adding an extra explicit point about Destroyed units that I think matters explicitly and only for one model in the game.

First up – if you’re Battle-shocked and get Destroyed, you still count as Battle-Shocked until your next Command Phase while in the Destroyed state, which (as the entry states) means you definitely cannot target that unit with a Stratagem, so no standing back up with Divine Intervention or respawning with Reinforcements! This is already how I’ve seen this ruled and been ruling it, but presumably there were enough questions about it at US Opens and the WCW that GW wanted to clarify it.

Next, abilities that force you to take a Battle-shock test at the “normal” time for being below Starting Strength are instead of taking one for being Below Half-strength, not as-well-as. No double tapping (except with Shadow in the Warp or anything that explicitly states otherwise).

Finally, while Destroyed units continue to be Battle-shocked if they already were, you don’t have to take Battle-shock tests for Destroyed units. I racked my brains for where this could actually come up in a relevant way, and I think it’s only a fringe case with Angron – technically you could use For The Blood God! to put him back into Reserves in your Fight Phase, then want to Rapid Ingress him in your opponent’s turn, so if Destroyed units had to take Battle-shock tests then he could technically be stopped from being able to Ingress if you’d failed a Battle-shock test, even though he then went back to full wounds…and this is a truly absurd thread of possibility and GW’s ruling of “don’t worry about it” is absolutely the correct answer.

Charging (Updated)

Credit: Keewa

A new bullet point here about the Charge Bonus, which clarifies that this only means the Fight First reward for Charging, it’s not what triggers other abilities like Lance that activate on a Charge or when a unit has made a Charge Move. The reason this matters is that Heroic Intervention lets you make a Charge, but doesn’t give you the Charge Bonus – this clarifies that you still enjoy all the other benefits of Charging.

Curie: Note this doesn’t mean you can heroic and Tank Shock with a Walker Vehicle unit – Tank Shock is still locked to your Charge Phase.

Contested and Control of Objectives (Updated)

Lumping these together because they’re covering the same ground – objective control/contested status is evaluated at the end of the turn as well as at the end of every phase, and at the end of the turn you evaluate objective control before any Victory Points are scored. I assume this is not a surprise to 99% of players – this has all the hallmarks of a personal “no, go away” to some sort of convoluted sequencing argument encountered by a floor judge at an event.

CP Gained at the Start of a Turn (New)

This just clarifies that abilities like that of the Autarch Wayleaper or Swarmlord that give you an extra CP in your Command Phase are not exempt from the 1CP per Battle Round limit on gaining additional CP. I don’t think this was particularly controversial at this point, but it’s good to have it written down.

Damage Characteristic (New)

This clarifies that where a Damage Characteristic has a “+X” in it, it’s not a modifier (which matters for things like the C’tan’s Necrodermis that halves damage, because of the order in which modifiers are processed).

Do Not Make an Advance Roll Abilities (New)

No, Ork players, if you have two different abilities that let you add a fixed amount to your movement instead of making an Advance roll when you Advance, you do not get to stack both. Pick one and stop asking. Necron players, consider yourself equally warned!

Enhancements on multi-model Character units (New)

Mostly stating the obvious here, but if you’re giving an Enhancement to a multi-model unit with multiple CHARACTER models who could bear it, you have to pick who is carrying it.

Fight on Death (Updated)

Ymyr Conglomerate Cthonian Beserk. Credit: Corrode

Two clarifications here. Firstly, if a fight-on-death rule triggers for multiple models at once, they all fight at the same time, so no throwing models into the mix one at a time for some fringe buff. Secondly, although a model stays standing long enough to fight-on-death when such a rule triggers, they do count as being Destroyed for the purposes of establishing whether a unit is Below Starting/Half Strength. This can make some units extremely dangerous to kill, and is particularly good with the Spirit of the Martyr stratagem in Adepta Sororitas.

Hazardous (New)

Ah, it’s the time of any FAQ review where I have to decide how mad I want to make extremely online Tau players. Somehow, it is always the Tau players. Anyway – this entry is (with the example included) now the longest in the entire document, and mostly amounts to “HAZARDOUS on Crisis Teams works how it obviously should”. No scattering wounds between models, no vanishing mortal wounds into the aether somehow – just take the wounds one at a time on the same model until it’s dead then repeat, please. OK? OK.

The only other thing of note here is that when you have a Character with a Hazardous weapon and another model in a unit with such a weapon, if the Character fires their weapon and fails the test, you can nuke the other model even if that model didn’t actually fire theirs. This does have the pretty funny implication that if you have a Character with a Hazardous weapon that’s joining a unit where you have the option of seeding in a random plasma pistol on a model designated as “the sucker” you absolutely should. There is also a flip side of this – if a Character dies to Hazardous and there are mortal wounds left, they do spill over, so try not to fail tests twice on the same 4W Character.

Curie: The carve out allowing you to assign the effects of the failed test to a model that did not attack with a Hazardous Weapon is an interesting one. Playing hot potato with a super-charged plasma gun?

Splitting Units (New)

Very much another exasperated “why are you like this?” to the players here. When using abilities like that on the Drukhari Venom or the Sororitas Immolator that allow you to split a unit in half, you can only split a unit once – no using multiple Venoms to carve your way down to single-model Kabalite units. Drukhari are devious but not that devious..


The Important Ones

Core Rules – Command Re-Roll

This now explicitly targets the unit whose test you’re using it on. No using it on Battle-shocked units, but yes you can use it for free with abilities like Rites of Battle since it’s a Battle Tactic.

Space Wolves – Wulfen

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Wulfen hammer gets a massive boost, climbing to S6 and D2. Here’s the thing – Wulfen were actually low key fine prior to this, just more as a cheap tarpit/volume piece rather than something you alpha strike with. Now? I am willing to bet that we see a 30 Wulfen list in Competitive Innovations sooner rather than later, especially as they go great in Stormlance.

Space Wolves – Weaponry

A bunch of Space Wolves weapons that were inexplicably slightly worse than for other Marines have been corrected – most notably, lightning claws no longer have worse WS than regular power weapons, and the Terminator wolf guard pack leader gets the extra attack you’d expect from a bearer of the Crux Terminatus. They also fixed the Wolfguard Terminator having an option with no melee weapons, now giving them a default Close Combat Weapon.

Grey Knights – Kaldor Draigo

Draigo gets a nice boost in that his One with the Warp ability can now be used when he comes in from Deep Strike or Teleport Assault. It’s still only once per game, but this means you can set him up on the board and threaten to go for the throat on your first turn if you go second, which is a very potent bit of threat projection.

Genestealer Cults – Primus

A hilarious edge case shut down here – you can only move your Ambush markers with the Primus, so no shenanigans in a mirror match.

Orks – Megatrakk Scrapjet

Now restored to its 9th Edition glory of having two twin big shootas. It’s also 10pts cheaper, so probably worth a look.

Thousand Sons – Binding Tendrils

The Disk Exalted Sorcerer’s Binding Tendrils is updated to apply a named condition, meaning that in line with the Rules Commentary clarification, a unit can’t be affected by it multiple times.

World Eaters – Lord Invocatus

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The limitation that Invocatus cannot choose a unit that already has the Scouts ability to grant Scouts 6” to has been removed. This resolves an issue where if Invocatus joined a unit it would no longer be an eligible target for adding Scouts, because he has the ability, but wouldn’t get to make a Scout move, because not every model had it. Successful World Eaters builds mostly like the flexibility of keeping Invocatus separate anyway, but it’s good to have this option for some matchups, especially as lists will need to be retooled to handle the points increases they got.

World Eaters – Exalted Eightbound in Rhinos

No. That means you, Nassim.

The Rest

…are not worth us listing. Go have a double check for anything in red under your army, but pretty much everything else here is just ensuring that minor errors and misprints don’t cause any issues.

OK, I guess there’s one that’s funny.

Agents of the Imperium – Detachment Rules

If you run an Agents of the Imperium army, you get to ignore the “select detachment rules” step of mustering an army. Because you don’t have any. Truly the most generous of changes.

Curie: and yet they didn’t do the same service to Titan Legions. How dare they!

Wrap Up

All in all a great set of changes here, bringing us ever closer to the perfect, glorious future of consistent rulings across the globe.

That wraps up our look at the Rules Commentary, but there’s a ton more going on with this update. If you missed any of our other articles, it’s worth heading back to the home page to check them out, and we’ll be covering the other faction groups in other articles as well. Over the next few weeks we’ll also be doing deeper dives into these factions and updating our Faction Focus series to incorporate these changes, so stay tuned for that.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. And if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.