Ruleshammer – Transports


Transports offer a variety of gameplay elements, primarily in the Movement and Shooting Phases.

Embarking and Embarked Units

If a unit makes a Normal Move, an Advance or it Falls Back, and every model in that unit ends that move within 3″ of a friendly Transport model they can embark within it. A unit cannot embark within a Transport model that is within Engagement Range of enemy models, and it cannot embark if it has already disembarked from a Transport model in the same phase. Remove the unit from the battlefield and place it to one side – it is now embarked within the model. {CORE PDF Page12]

To embark within a transport every model in the Unit must make a Normal, Advance or Fall Back move that gets every model in the unit within 3” of the Transport. However you can’t embark in a transport that is within Engagement Range of any enemy units and you can’t embark if that unit already disembarked this phase.

Abilities and Embarked Units

Units cannot normally do anything or be affected in any way while they are embarked. Unless specifically stated, abilities have no effect on units while they are embarked, and Stratagems cannot be used to affect units while they are embarked. {CORE PDF Page12]

Just a blanket statement that no abilities affect them, rather than the older language about modifiers or penalties which lead to a lot of confusion about how the heavy penalty did apply but then +1 to hit abilities (which are also modifiers) did not.

What about the Open Topped rules?

As ever there’s a few quirks to this they ARE affected per the latest FAQ by any modifiers that also affect the transport they are in.

*Page 106 and 113 – Battlewagon and Trukk, Open-topped Change the third sentence to read: ‘When they do so, any restrictions or modifiers that apply to this model also apply to its passengers.’  [ORK FAQ Pg1]

So if you have an ability that gives the Transport +1 to hit, then the units inside gain that as well (following the same restrictions if there are any). If the transport would be affected by a -1 to Hit ability, such as when shooting at something that has -1 to hit from Dense Cover, then the units inside are also affected. However the new rules does still have one major issue, weapons have abilities and so do some units themselves. Orks for instance have Dakka Dakka Dakka. Plasma Guns have their overheating rules in the weapon ability section. This is and a suggested fix is covered in this articles Known Issues below.


If a unit starts its Movement phase embarked within a Transport model, that unit can disembark in that phase so long as the model itself has not yet made a Normal Move, an Advance or has Fallen Back that phase. When a unit disembarks, set it up on the battlefield so that it is wholly within 3″ of the Transport model and not within Engagement Range of any enemy models. Units that disembark can then act normally (move, shoot, charge, fight, etc.) in the remainder of the turn, but its models count as having moved that turn, even if they are not moved further (i.e. they never count as having Remained Stationary). [CORE PDF Page12]

Disembarking requires the models to be wholly within 3″ of the transport when you do so. Also remember that when models are set up they must be in Coherency.

Disembarking from a Destroyed Transport

If a Transport model is destroyed (pg 6), and that model has the Explodes ability (or equivalent), roll to see if it explodes and resolve any resulting damage to nearby units before setting up any units embarked within it (if any) on the battlefield. If there are any units embarked within the destroyed Transport model, these must now immediately disembark (see above) before the model itself is removed from the battlefield; these units are not affected by the destroyed model’s Explodes ability (or equivalent) – instead you must roll one D6 for each model you just set up on the battlefield. For each roll of 1, a model that disembarked (your choice) is destroyed. Units cannot declare a charge (pg 19) or perform a Heroic Intervention (pg 20) in the same turn that they disembarked from a destroyed Transport model.

Things to note about this include;

  • You should disembark models BEFORE rolling the dice to see which ones die, technically. This actually only matters if the transport is surrounded in such a way that some models cannot disembark at all. Any models that you can not legally placed are destroyed (see Coherency for Setting Up Units) before you move on to the next step of this rule.
  • You roll a dice per model, but each 1 is your choice for which model dies. So if you have 10 models on the board, roll 10 dice. Then each 1 is a slain model. Plenty of players myself included thought at first that this rule meant to roll for each model and a 1 would kill it. Meaning Characters in Transport could be present with a 1 in 6 chance of death, fortunately this is wrong.
  • Models that disembark from a destroyed transport can not declare a charge or heroically intervene in that turn.

Emergency Disembarking Stratagem

Use this stratagem when a Transport model from your army is destroyed. All units that are embarked within that model can bet set up wholly within 6″ of the destroyed model instead of the normal 3″ before the model itself is removed from the battlefield.

However in exchange for this extra range the unit will lose models on rolls of 1 or 2 rather than just 1s. It’s still your choice which models are lost though so it’s not a 1 in 3 chance that it kills a specific model.

Models Inside Have Also Moved

For all rules purposes, units that are embarked within a Transport model that has made a Normal Move, Advanced, Fallen Back or Remained Stationary also count as having made the same kind of move that turn. {CORE PDF Page12]

So if you have an Ork Trukk that has made an Advance move then even though the passengers aren’t on the board they still count as having also made an Advance move. Especially in combination with the other clarification…



The eternal war and GT2020 missions  require models in transports to be declared before you start alternating the deployment of models.

Known Issues


Open Topped and Weapon/Unit Abilities

It seems pretty pedantic but weapon abilties and unit abilities do not specifically state they still affect units whilst embarked. This has both advantages and disadvantages depending on unit, if you follow the exact RAW then arguably an Open Topped vehicle prevents Plasma Weapons from killing their users. This however does seem rather uninteded, it would also prevent units with abilities such as Orks using Dakka Dakka Dakka or Imperial Fist Scouts embarked on a Landspeeder Storm using Siege Masters (or any other chapter tactic).

Using abilities to shoot at models disembark from Transports arriving as Reinforcements

This is currently ambiguous, but right now (2020-09-04) the consensus is; Yes, you can use ability such as Auspex scan to shoot at units disembarking from a Transport that arrived from reserve. This was explicitly FAQed against in 8th and that FAQ has not made it to 9th.

I think it’s ambiguous because of how these abilities are worded and what’s actually happening with the models in the transport.

Use this Stratagem at the end of the Reinforcements step of your opponent’s Movement phase. Select one ADEPTUS ASTARTES INFANTRY unit from your army that is not within Engagement Range of any enemy units. That unit can shoot as if it were your Shooting phase, but its models can only target a single eligible enemy unit that was set up as Reinforcements this turn and that is within 12″ of their unit when doing so.

The glossary for 9th firmly established that the units inside a transport not deployed at the start of the game definitely are reinforcement units. However this ability isn’t solely concerned with that status, it’s also concerned with how the models are getting to the board. If a Drop Pod enters the board in the Reinforcement step, it is 100% shootable, no ambiguity. However the models inside, are they set up as reinforcements? Or are they set up as a disembarking unit that happens to be a reinforcement unit? The drop pod rule says the units inside “immediately disembark” it doesn’t say they are “immediately set up as reinforcement units wholly within 3″ of this model” I don’t think this has a complete answer yet so be sure to check and agree on the interpretation being used before the game begins.

Gamesworkshop FAQ

*Page 106 and 113 – Battlewagon and Trukk, Open-topped Change the third sentence to read: ‘When they do so, any restrictions or modifiers that apply to this model also apply to its passengers.’  [ORK FAQ Pg1]

Similar FAQs exist for other factions.

Ruleshammer Q&A

Embarking in Other Phases

Wings: There’s currently also a major gap here that will almost certainly get a quick FAQ. In 8th, an FAQ was added such that you couldn’t use any ability that granted an “out of phase” move to embark in a transport unless explicitly specified. Now the criteria for doing so is just that you have to make a Normal Move, Advance or Fall Back and end within range, meaning any ability letting a unit “move as if it were the movement phase” without additional qualifiers is theoretically fair game.

Applying Modifiers to units in Open Topped Transports

“In the Core Rules PDF, p12, it says models embarked within a transport “cannot normally…be affected in any way while…embarked. Unless specifically stated, abilities have no effect on units while they are embarked.” Note the important exceptions, “normally” and “unless specifically stated.” Likewise, p7 lists auras as an ability. Now, the Jackal Alphus’ Priority Target Sighted ability lets you pick an enemy unit and “add 1 to hit rolls for friendly <CULT> units that target that enemy unit while within 6” of this model.” The Goliath Truck has the CULT keyword, so can be given the modifier. It’s Open-Topped ability states that “any restrictions or modifiers that apply to this model also apply to its passengers.” So, would the Truck pass this +1 to-hit modifier on to its passengers? After all, the Alphus’s aura is not giving them the modifier, the Truck is. 


1) In the new FAQ, GW added this same restrictions-or-modifiers clause to Ork Trukks and Battlewagons;

2) Shots fired by embarked passengers are measured from any part of the vehicle’s hull, and 

3) the Open-Topped rule “specifically states” modifiers are passed on and Open-Topped vehicles are not “normal.” I sent an email to GW but you know how that goes. Personally, I feel like it could go either way. Thanks and sorry for the wordiness but it’s a complicated interaction.” – Kevin

I think so yes, but this is still a bit unclear.  My understanding is that any abilities, auras, strats, etc that affect the Transport, also affect the occupants. For instance if a character has a +1 to Hit Aura for friendly INFANTRY units, the INFANTRY inside the transport would not get the bonus. A similar aura but for any friendly units would benefit the Transport, and therefore benefit it’s passengers.

This also makes sure defensive traits such as Alpha Legion’s -1 to hit work – because it would apply to the Transport it also applies to the passengers. They’re not somehow immune to this modifier because they’re inside or on top of a metal bawks.

Shooting from Open Topped Transports, where to measure from

Can harlequin players still shoot pistols from any point on the physical model (hull if hull still existed on models with a base) of an open-topped transport? In case this needs some clarification, there has been some discussion on a TTS Discord about whether “model” now consistently refers to a model’s base due to the new verbiage in the measuring distances section. – Erick 

This question isn’t unique to Harlequins or Eldar but they do have some of the more nuanced interactions. Let’s look at the particulars for this issue, first measuring distances in 9th.

Distances are measured in inches (“) between the closest points of the bases of the models you’re measuring to and from. If a model does not have a base, such as is the case with many vehicles, measure to the closest point of any part of that model; this is called measuring to the model’s hull. You can measure distances whenever you wish.- [GT2020 Pg58, Core PDF Pg5]

Okay so you only measure to the hull by default if the model doesn’t have a base. Raiders and Venoms do have bases but also their version of open topped has oddly not been updated by the FAQs.

Open-topped: Models embarked on this model can attack in their Shooting phase. Measure the range and draw line of sight from any point on this model. When they do so, any restrictions or modifiers that apply to this model also apply to its passengers; for example, the passengers cannot shoot (except with Pistols) if this model is within 1″ of an enemy unit. Note that, due to their Rising Crescendo ability, the passengers can shoot if this model Falls Back.- [Harlequins Codex]

Starweavers (and a few other Eldar transports) have always been a bit odd, despite their open topped rules saying to measure from “any point on the model” they don’t have an equivalent of the hover tank rule the proper tanks have. So measuring for the vehicle itself is from it’s base. This means that the passengers can actually be closer to enemy models than the tank itself is. It is odd that this rule hasn’t been updated but it’s also pretty clear that for the units inside you should measure from the hull, because the rule specifically tells you to do so.

Using Monoliths as a Transport

Monoliths have changed in 9th and aren’t quite as transporty as they were. I still felt it worth bringing this Q&A answer into this article though as it is relevant.

Eternity Gate: In your Movement Phase, if this model Remains Stationary, then in the Reinforcement step of that Phase it can summon a unit. If it does, selection one <DYNASTY> CORE INFANTRY unit from your army that is in Strategic Reserves: set up that unit anywhere on the battlefield that is wholly within 3” of this model and not within Engagement Range of any Enemy models. Models in units that are set up using this ability count as having moved a distance equal to their Move Characteristics in the Movement Phase.

So this changes a lot of things about Eternity gate.

  1. It no longer allows you to set up any number of units in reserve, in fact it allows you to set up none itself. It now requires that you have some units in Strategic Reserves to come in.
  2. It no longer counts as “disembarking” least not rules as written in the book. So these units are fair game for anti reserve abilities or Stratagems like Auspex scan (arguably some disembarking units are already see the next question).
  3. The Monolith has to remain stationary to do this, it can’t move after the unit gets out like it used to.

All this adds up to a pretty significant change, and it’s worth noting that if the Monolith uses Death Descending to arrive on the board then it can actually only use Eternity Gate once in a GT2020 game. This is because the Monolith itself can only arrive in Turn 2, and when it doesn’t meet the criteria of having Remained Stationary. On turn 3 it finally can Gate a single unit in, but it can’t gate any more in in turns 4 and 5 because by that point any units that are still in reserves are destroyed.

Wings Note: you do have one way round this, which is to use the Prismatic Dimensional Breach stratagem. This lets you set up a unit in the same way as above in your reinforcements step – but crucially it doesn’t have the requirement that the Monolith remained stationary. This means that as it currently stands you can use it to bring a unit in straight after the Monolith itself deep strikes. It wouldn’t shock me to see this errataed so that the Monolith has to have been on the battlefield at the start of the phase, as it essentially lets you deep strike a unit from Strategic Reserves only 6″ away from the enemy, something usually reserved for very specific and telegraphed stratagems, but it works for now.

Strategically Reserved Transports and their Contents

So what was I talking about when I mentioned Auspex scan and units inside Transports? Well… 8th edition had quantum teleporting  turrets… 9th edition has Schrödinger’s reinforcements. Here’s the issue. You take a transport, let’s say a Rhino and you put a squad of Tactical Marines inside. You pay the CP required to put this Rhino and it’s contents into Strategic reserves. Here’s where the first rule of this mess kicks in.

Reinforcement Unit: Any unit that starts the battle in a location other than on the battlefield, and is not embarked within a TRANSPORT unit that does start the battle on the battlefield, is considered to be a Reinforcement unit. Any Reinforcement units that have not been set up on the battlefield by the end of the battle count as destroyed.

If the transport started on the board there would be no issue but by putting the unit in strategic reserves inside a transport you have made that unit also a Reinforcement unit. Here’s why that matters.

Any strategic reserves or Reinforcement Units that has not arrived on the battlefield by the end of the third battle round counts as having been destroyed, as do any units embarked within them (this does not apply to units that are placed into strategic Reserves after the first battle round has started). – GT2020 Pg6

So the transport is deployed in turn 2 using the strategic reserves rules, it has moved as per the reinforcement rules so the unit inside can’t disembark in that turn. If you decide not to disembark the unit in turn 3. What happens to it? It’s a reinforcement unit, so is it dead? Is it on the board or does being in a transport not count? So many questions. Rules as Written I think it might actually count as destroyed if you leave it in there, that is however very silly.  So I am once again suggesting a fix.

The other part of this issue is does the unit count as setting up a reinforcement unit when it disembarks? There was an FAQ in 8th edition for Drop Pods that said that the stratagems such as Auspex Scan allowed you to shoot at the drop pod but would not allow you to shoot at the occupants. Let’s check the wording for the new Auspex Scan to see if that clears things up.

Auspex Scan: Use this Stratagem at the end of the Reinforcements step of your opponent’s Movement phase. Select on ADEPTUS ASTARTES INFANTRY unit from your arm that is not within Engagement Range of any enemy units. That unit can shoot as if were your shoot ing phase. Its models can only target a single eligible enemy unit that was set up as Reinforcements this turn and that is within 12” of their unit when doing so.

In 9th the  trigger for this is units set up as Reinforcements, rather than a Reinforcement units setting up. There is a subtle difference. Disembarking from a Transport does not usually take place during the reinforcement step, it happens in the first step of the Movement phase. Therefore disembarking is not being set up as reinforcements even if the units doing it technically are Reinforcement units, and the units getting out are not eligible targets for Auspex scan.

That does leave the Drop Pod in a sort of limbo though, the units getting out are reinforcements, they are being set up in the reinforcement step, but they are also disembarking. There’s not even really a call for consistency to be made with the Monolith because that model can’t have a unit deploy out of it on the turn it arrived, though the units it does bring in definitely count as eligible targets for Auspex scan when they are deployed.

Fire And Fade into a Vehicle

Do rules like Eldar stratagem Fire and Fade, or psychic power Quicken, allow a unit to embark in a transport? – Brandon

Yes, currently this stratagem does allow you to embark as the rules for embarking only require that you end a Normal, Advance or Fall Back move with the unit wholly within 3”. This relies on the assumption that “move as if it were the movement phase” includes choosing which kind of move you are making, but a wide variety of things break down if that isn’t the case, so for now this works. If the move made isn’t assumed to be a Normal Move it would allow units to use it to get out of combat or move within Engagement range which is not ideal either.

Wings Note: I’m honestly surprised this one hasn’t been clarified either way yet, as it’s a notable change from 8th that’s theoretically very good for my beloved Space Elves. The fact that they are performing like garbage on competitive tables is probably why no one’s cared enough to do anything about it.