The Ultramarines run away, the Imperial Fists build a wall; chapter tactics are the signature way a chapter of Space Marines makes war in Warhammer 40k. When a friend recently told me he’d lost interest in playing his Raven Guard, we found that the reason came down to the way they play being at odds with the character of the chapter. We decided to create some home brew options that we could easily swap with the official rule.
Rules as Written
The Raven Guard chapter tactics state that your opponent must subtract 1 from hit rolls against Raven Guard units that are more than 12 inches away.
That’s a strong rule and easy to see why it’s there. Raven Guard are stealthy so they’re harder to hit unless you’re close to them. Makes sense. And in terms of power in comparison to other chapter tactics, it’s great. No issues with it as a game mechanic whatsoever.
The problem is the style of play it promotes. Why would you ever go within 12 inches of your opponent? Is it not better to stand behind a wall on the far end of the battlefield and engage your opponent at range? It would seem so, but that sounds more like the behaviour of the Imperial Fists. The player must then decide between playing to the narrative of their chapter or using the mechanics of the game to their advantage.
Home Brew Options
To solve this dilemma, we drafted the following replacement chapter tactic options which may promote behaviour more becoming of the stealthy masters of ambush, i.e. to get the Raven Guard playing like Raven Guard:
- Reroll 1s to hit when charging from cover.
- +1 to save rolls or reroll 1s on save rolls when in cover.
- After deployment, D3 units may set up anywhere more than 9 inches away from enemy units.
- Reserve units may arrive from any board edge, provided units are set up more than 9 inches away from enemy units.
- Infiltrating units may set up 6 inches away from enemy units rather than 9.
- Assault squads may retreat from combat at the end of the combat phase if they charged in the same turn.
- Reroll failed charges on units with jump packs.
These are just a few quick options. Perhaps a combination of more than one of these rules may provide something as powerful as the existing chapter tactics. While some of the above may be achieved through stratagems or special character buffs, the idea was to reward playing to the chapter’s characteristics of stealth, ambush, close combat and jump pack assaults rather than rewarding another gun line army.
These options are by no means tournament legal but open and narrative play support this kind of thing, and if it gets an unused army back on the table, what’s the harm?
Have you changed around any 40k rules? How’s that worked out? Are there any others you’d add to the list?