11 Jun 20

Terrain Rules and Line of Sight

So, we’ve told you how Vehicles and big Monsters are going to be even more frightening in the new edition, and how Blast weapons will offer many weapons a formidable advantage against more numerous enemies, but what about their would-be victims? Well, in line with feedback from our elite team of playtesters and you, the Warhammer 40,000 community, the terrain rules have undergone a radical overhaul, aimed at providing a more balanced and immersive gaming experience. Here’s the low-down on some of the key changes…

Terrain Categories

All terrain types now fit into one of four categories – Hill, Obstacles, Area Terrain and Buildings. How units interact with them depends not just on the nature of the terrain itself, but on the unit’s own size and what type of unit they are.

For example, Hills are essentially a part of the battlefield for all intents and purposes, so are treated as open ground and offer no form of protection. Obstacles, on the other hand, are a footslogger’s best friend, as they offer the benefit of cover (which, for the most part, means +1 to your saving throws against ranged weapons) to Infantry, Beast or Swarm units if the obstacle is in the way of the firing unit.

Terrain Traits

When setting up a battlefield, you and your opponent(s) decide which terrain traits will be applied to each piece of scenery. The traits are designed to be stackable, so a single terrain piece can actually be given as many different traits as you wish. For example, you may decide to count a bunker as both Light Cover AND Heavy Cover, offering the benefits of cover at every range.

You can pick traits that will have more specific effects on the game, clarifying details such as whether or not the terrain is Scalable, Breachable or even Unstable. One of the real game changers is the Obscuring trait – not only does it offer an area of the battlefield that blocks line of sight, but the largest models can still be targeted! After all, an Imperial Knight towers over all but the largest buildings, making its bulky carapace an easy target, yet it would be all but impossible for its guns to match the same firing angles in return.

Another important point to note is that, even though Obscuring terrain blocks line of sight from one side to the other, a unit that’s INSIDE the terrain can still be freely targeted (though they will receive the benefit of cover if the terrain also has the Light Cover trait) and can give fire in return. However, the days of drawing line of sight through a gap in the wall and three consecutive windows to a unit on the opposite side of a huge building are over!

To make life easy, the Warhammer 40,000 Core Book includes some handy guidelines for which terrain traits to apply to the most common pieces of terrain.

At the end of the terrain section, there are a number of example battlefields presented, each explaining the thought processes behind the terrain selection and their positioning. This is really useful advice, as getting the quantity and density of terrain right is a key factor in playing a balanced game of Warhammer 40,000 – after all, too little terrain and shooting armies will have a massive advantage, too much and melee armies will likely dominate.

A Word on Battlefield Sizes…

A number of you have been getting in touch regarding the minimum size battlefield measurements we introduced in last week’s article. We’re happy to confirm that, yes, you can still use your 6′x4′ (or larger) gaming tables, be they gorgeously detailed Realm of Battle boards or lovingly created battlefields of your own design.

The minimum size battlefield guidelines for Combat Patrol, Incursion, Strike Force and Onslaught battles are just that – minimum sizes. They’ve been specifically designed to make the game more accessible and compact at smaller sizes (and fit on most dining room tables), but they can just as easily be played on larger battlefields as you see fit. The minimum sizes also ensure that armies in bigger games won’t be cramped on a battlefield that’s too small for them, so will still have plenty of room to manoeuvre.

So, that’s the scoop on new terrain rules, and tomorrow, we’ll be discussing units that casually soar straight over it – Flyers! Until then, let us know your thoughts on the future of terrain on the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page.