Vehicle Design Rules for Warhammer 40.000 3.rd edition.

Table of Contents


By Jervis Johnson

Over the last year or so I've put together the following vehicle design system to allow players to include scratch-built and converted vehicles in their games of Warhammer 40,000. I must admit that I do this with trepidation, as my experience in the past is that some players see such systems as an opportunity to field the most beardy vehicles it is possible to imagine, just to give themselves some advantage in the games that they play. On the other hand, one thing I miss are the entertaining scratch-built and converted models we used to see in the old Rogue Trader days. This is understandable, as back when Rogue Trader was released (Rogue Trader being the title of the original version of the Warhammer 40,000 rules) there were very few models in the Citadel range, and so you were pretty much forced to use scratch-builds and conversions in order to be able to play at all. Now that there are so many models a player can use 'off the shelf, as it were, it's no surprise that this is what most players choose to do. The situation wasn't helped by the fact that the Rogue Trader vehicle design rules simply didn't work all that well and were subject to beardy excesses, and that the second edition vehicle rules were so complex that it was impossible for us to come up with a vehicle design system that worked at all, let alone one that was fair!

However, the advent of the new rules with their much cleaner vehicle rules has meant that I've once again been able to get on my old hobby-horse and have a go at coming up with a set of vehicle design rules that can really work. I think you'll find that the rules, if used intelligently (ie, not just to try and win games), will offer you all kinds of opportunities to increase the scope, colour and character of your Warhammer 40,000 games. It will also, I hope, herald a return to those heady days when White Dwarf featured articles showing you how to scratch-build and convert new models for your army, and where most players had a vehicle or two that had started life as a Transformer, World War Two tank, or even a deodorant bottle. So, have fun with the rules, and please, use them in the spirit in which they are intended.


As I've already mentioned, one of the primary aims of this article is to allow players to use models that they have scratch-built or converted themselves. They are not designed to allow players to plonk down a cardboard box and say something along the lines of "this box represents this vehicle what I came up with last night." So, the most important rule of all is that a vehicle a player has designed himself must be represented by a painted, WYSIWYG model 'Wysiwyg' = what you see is what you get), or it cannot be used at all! 'WYSIWYG' means that the model must be of the right type and size, and have the correct number of weapons on it. Weapons that are of a new design or appearance (ie, are not GW weapon models) can 'count as' another type, but you must tell your opponent about this at the start of the battle, and you must be consistent about it. For example, if you say, "this gun counts as a lascannon" then another weapon that is identical must also count as a lascannon. Basically, if you think to yourself "Will this confuse another player?" and the answer is "Yes" then you shouldn't do it! One last point - in normal games of Warhammer 40,000 it's quite common to use ´stand-in' models to try out a new troop type and see if you want to include them in an army. This is perfectly acceptable for units that are included in a Codex, but not for a 'doit yourself´ vehicle. These rules are designed to allow you to use a model you have in a game, not to provide you with a way of designing a new 'uber-machine' for your army. If you want to test something out, you have to build it!


One thing that many players have asked about the VDR is 'When is it OK to use a vehicle designed with them?' Can you just turn up and use it in any game, or does it require an opponent's consent? And what about in tournaments? My current thinking on this is that you must let your opponent know in advance about any VDR vehicles you will be using in your army for a game - in other words you must 'show and tell' before you can use it. This limits the use of VDR vehicles to pre-arranged games where the opponents know each other, and means that you can't really use them in 'pick-up' games in a club or store. At tournaments, it would be up to the tournament organisers if they allowed VDR vehicles in the games, and if they did allow them in, what limitations are applied. Clearly, there are circumstances where the 'show and tell' rule might not apply. For example, amongst a close-knit gaming group you might decide to forgo the rule after a new vehicle has been used for a few times, while clubs or gaming stores may allow the use of certain VDR vehicles in their games.
However, these are the exception rather than the rule, and in most circumstances you will need to show and tell an opponent about any VDR vehicles in your army when you arrange to play a game, and (most importantly) before your opponent has picked their army.


Basically there are nine steps you need to follow in order to add a new vehicle to a game of Warhammer 40,000, which are listed below. The rest of the article takes each of these steps and describes them in detail, and explains what you need to do. You should follow each step in turn, going back to adjust previous entries if the need arises. Record the details on the Vehicle Design Datafax. Please note that you will need the completed vehicle model before you can start working out the rules for it, as in some of the steps you'll need to look at the model to work out the rule that applies.

The nine steps are:


The first step in working out the rules for your new vehicle model is to pick what type of vehicle it is. A summary of the different types of vehicle is printed right. All you need to do is assign the vehicle to the appropriate category!

All vehicles in Warhammer 40,000 have a type; for example a Land Raider is a tank, a Dreadnought is a walker, and so on. Each of these categories is described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, and you should refer to that for a fuller description of them. In addition, I've added in two new categories you can use; flyers and immobile.

Flyers: A flyer is basically an aircraft - ie, something that can fly along very fast in pretty much a straight line - as opposed to a skimmer which is more like a modern day helicopter. The rules for flyers are included in a special section at the very end of the vehicle design rules, to avoid cluttering up the core rules with special exceptions that will only apply to a very few models.

Immobile: Immobile vehicles are, as their name implies, vehicles that can't move, for example an anti-aircraft battery, or a defence laser site. They can have turrets and a crew to operate them, but unlike other vehicles they I can't move from their starting location.


The next step in designing the rules for your new vehicle is to assign it a size. A vehicle's size has a number of effects on the rest of the rules that follow, for example determining how many weapons it can carry. Vehicles must be allocated one of the following sizes:

Small (ie, buggies, Land Speeders, Vypers, etc)

Normal (ie, Rhinos, Leman Russ, Land Raiders, etc)

War machines

War machines: Anything larger than 'normal' sized is a special type of vehicle known as a war machine (ie, Baneblade sized and up). A number of special rules apply to war machines. Rather than clutter up the main Vehicle Design rules with lots of 'ifs and buts' about war machines I've included all of the special rules that apply to them in a separate section later on.

Size Guidelines: Playtesting has shown that some players can be a bit, erm, ´creative' in allocating sizes to their models, for example calling a small model a super-heavy vehicle. Please remember that the size you allocate should be reflected in the physical size of the model itself - in other words a small vehicle should be small, while super-heavy vehicles and larger should be really big! To help, here are some guidelines for you to use:

Small vehicles: Should be smaller than a Rhino model, about 3-4 inches square or less.

War machines: Should be larger than a Land Raider, in other words larger than 5-6 inches square.

Vehicles that are converted from an existing Citadel model should be the same size as the prototype, unless you glue several models together. For example, if you have converted a Chimera into the 'Super Zappy Chimera' armed with an unfeasibly large gun, then it should remain a 'normal' sized vehicle. On the other hand, if you glued four Chimera hulls together in order to make a vehicle, then you could count it as a war machine.


All vehicles in Warhammer 40,000 have a set of Armour Values, even if they are not actually 'armoured vehicles' as such. In this step you must decide how much armour your vehicle has on each of its facings. Cross-reference the size and type on the chart to find out how much armour the vehicle can have. The combined total of the vehicle's front, left, right and rear armour may not exceed this value. The number in brackets is the highest value a single facing may have. The minimum value a facing may have is 9. For example, a normal tank can have an Armour Value of up to 14, but the total of all it's armour facings can't exceed 56.

Armour Value Guidelines: Just as with size allocation, you should base the amount of armour you give a vehicle on its appearance; if a vehicle is clearly lightly armoured, or indeed not armoured at all, then you should not give it a high Armour Value. On the other hand, if it's covered in thick armour plate it should be well-armoured. Here are some guidelines as to what Armour Values you should allocate:

Armour 9: This should be reserved for non-military vehicles with no protection whatsoever, for example a car or truck. Be aware that vehicles with this Armour Value are horribly vulnerable to enemy shooting.

Armour 10: Unarmoured or very lightly armoured military vehicles can have this Armour Value on any facing, and other armoured vehicles will have it for lightly armoured rear and side facings. In addition, strongly built civilian vehicles can have this Armour Value. For example, a bulldozer could be Armour 10 rather than Armour 9 on most facings.

Armour 11-12: Lightly armoured vehicles will have this Armour Value on their front and side facings, while more heavily armoured vehicles may have side and rear armour facings with this value.

Armour 13-14: Only heavily armoured vehicles will have Armour Values this high, and then only on their front and side facings. Only incredibly tough and well-armoured vehicles have an value this high on their rear facing. Eldar vehicles should not be given Armour Values of 13 or 14 as they rely on more sophisticated forms of protection than thick armour plate.

Existing Models: If your model is a converted Citadel vehicle, then it should generally have the same Armour Values as the model it was converted from.

You can add +1 to an Armour Value if you've added lots of extra armour, and knock a point off if you've significantly reduced the armour on a facing. As a rule of thumb, though, it's best to leave the values as they are.


When designing a vehicle, you must decide whether it will be open-topped or fully armoured. When working out the pionts value of the vehicle, look up the total armour of all four facings on the Armoured/Open-topped Vehicles table and modify the points value appropiately. The points modifier is not used for flyers, which allways count as being fully armoured.


Next you need to record the speed of the vehicle on its datafax. This is very straightforward; just look it up by cross-referencing the vehicle´s size and type on the Speed chart to see what speed it normally has.

Normal vehicles, walkers and fast vehicles follow the rules in the Warhammer 40K rulebook, while agile, lumbering, immobile, and flyers are new categories.


... are quiet fast and manoeuverable, but don´t have the straight line speed of a fast vehicle. They can move up to 6" and fire all weapons, or up to 12" and fire one. They may not move more than 12". They can turn freely as they move, like most other vehicles.

5.2 FAST

The vehicle follows the rules for fast vehicles in the Warhammer 40K rulebook, ie, it can ove up to 6" and shoot all weapons. up to 12" and shoot one weapon, or up to 24" ans not shoot at all, and it may turn freely as it moves.


Like war machines, require rather a lot of special rules. These rules are in a special section at the end of the rules.


May not move.


Grind along at a slow and steady pace. These vehicles can move up to 6" a turn. They must allways move straight ahead, and at the end of the move they can pivot up to 90 degrees. Lumbering vehicles can fire all their weapons even if they move.


These vehicles follow the standard Warhammer 40K vehicle movement rules, ie, they can move up to 6" and fire one weapon, or up to 12" and not shoot any waepons, and may turn feely as they move.


The vehicle follows the movement rules for walkers in the Warhammer 40K rulebook, ie, it can move up to 6" and fire up to two weapons. If stationary, it can fire all its weapons.


Weapons are picked from the list of weapons. Weapons on a vehicle are limited to the weapons belonging to one race. In addition, you must use the weapons for the army´s race which the vehicle is been made for. Any race without a codex may yuse imperial vehicle upgrades until their own Codex comes out. Note that the Tyranids use the Bio-vehicle rules later in this book to design their "vehicles". Also, Orks may not use ´captured´ vehicles designed with the Vehicle Design rules for another race.
If you´re using a converted Citadel model then it will be easy to decide what each weapon on the vehicle counst as. If you´re using anything else, or have scratch-built a new weapon for a Ctadel model, then you should pick the weapon from the list that the model´s weapon most closely resembles.
This isn´t actually quiet as hard as it sounds, and as long as you are consistent and fair I doubt you will have any problems deciding ´what counts as what´. It goes without saying that any weapons you take for a model must be represented on the model, and, by the same token, any weapons shown on the model must be included on the datafax.


Now, although the weapons list includes siutable ´stand-ins´ for most weapons that can be mounted on a vehicle model, it has to be said that there are some weapons which aren´t well represented.
Rather than come up with a huge new list of weapons in a bid to cover everything that could be conjured up by the imaginations of some of the madder models out there, I have instead come up with a set of weapon options which can be used to upgrade weapons from the waepons list.
It has to be said that these options are rather generic and lack some of the character of a ´unique´ special weapon such as those we create when writing a Codex, but it have the benefit of being flexible and very easy to use.
Use the Weapon Upgrade Chart to determine what upgrades can be given to differnt sorts of weapons. The options that are available are listed in the Weapon Option chart, along the effect they may have on a weapon´s points value.
Most options can be combined (ie, you can have a twin-linked gatling mega lascannon if you really feel you have to!), but options may not be doubled up (ie, you can not have a mega, mega lascannon).
However, note that the gatling and the twin-linked upgrades may not be combined with the blast upgrade (a multi-barrelled blast weapon counts as a gun battery).
Add together the costs of the multipple upgrades. For example a twin-likned, long barrelled, gatling, mega weapon should cost 50+50+150+150 = +400%, or five times the weapons original cost.

BLAST: The weapon gets a Blast marker if it doesn´t normally have one. If it has a Blast marker, the Blast marker is upgraded to an Ordnance Blast.If it already has an Ordnance Blast you have wasted the points! This opyion may only be used for weapons on immobile vehicles or war marchines.

CO-AXIAL WEAPONS: A ´co-axial´ weapon is one that is fixed beside another weapon of a different type, a bit like a twin-linked weapon but where two different types of weapons are used. For example, a tank might have a turret mounted autocannon with a co-axial heavy bolter mounted beside it. Any type of weapons may be fittet into a ´co-axial´ mount. Both weapons must fire at the taget unit, even if fittet to a war machine. If a co-axial weapon includes an ordnance weapon, then if it fires any other co-axial weapons cannot be used (including aother ordnance).

TWIN-LINKED WEAPONS: As their name implies, are basically two weapons mounted side by side. The rules for them can be forund in the rulebook. Any weapom can be twin-linked if desired, but the model representing must have two or three gun barrels.

GATLING WEAPONS: are basically an even bigger version of a twin-linked weapon, with even more gun-barrels. Any weapons may put in a gatling mount. This allows them to take D3 shots for each shot they would normally fire (ie, a gatling heavy bolter would get 3D3 shots per attack). Weapons with a template must place additional templates touching the first using the rules for martars and other guess range weapons. The model representing a gatling weapon must have four or more gun-barrels.

GUN BATTERY: For barrage weapons only. The battery adds one extra template when firing a barrage. Batteries may be ´stacked´ , ie, ´Gun Battery (2)´ would add +2 templates. Each extra template requires an additional gun barrel on the model.

LONG BARREL: Long barrelled weapons, as their name implies, are much longer thar a normal version of the weapon. This allows them to shoot further than the normal version, adding 50% to their range. For example, a long barrelled autocannon would have a 72" range rather than it´s normal 48" range. Long barrelled weapons must be at least twice as the normal length for a weapon of their type.

MEGA WEAPONS: are simply huge versions of the weapons from the standard weapon lists, for example a mega lascannon (for some reason mega weapons proved an extremely popular option with the testers of these rules). Only weapons fittet to war machines or immobile vehicles may be upgraded to mega weapons. Mega weapons increas their streght and armour piercing by one point each, so the mega lascannon mentioned above would have a stregth og 10 and a AP of 1.

SHORTER BARREL: The waepons range is halved.

SLOWER RATE OF FIRE: The numbers of shots is reduced by 1 or more to a minimum of 1.

TITAN-KILLER: May be applied to mega-weapons only. Causes D3 structure points of damage per hit, rolling seperately on the damage table for each point. Each hit will knock down one shield.

CLOSE COMBAT OPTIONS: If you wish, vehicles can be armed with a close combat weapon of some kind or another. In Warhammer 40K the only vehicles that really have close combat weapons are walkers but, as this may not be the case with scratch-bulit or converted models, we´ll asume any vehicle can have them. Vehicles (apart from walkers) armed with close combat weapons can fight in close combat, but combat resluts are not worked out (ie, they get to fight but otherwise the rules for vehicles in close combat apply). The WS of the vehicle is shown a chart in a section of the rules, and is used for working out it´s chance to hit and the cost of the weapon.

Small an normal sized vehicles may be given close combat weapons, power weapons, or Dreadnought close combat weapons. War machines may only be given war machine close combat weapons.

The cost of weapons carried is based on the WS of the vehicle, and numbers of attacks it can make.


The next you need to do is record the race of the vehicles crew and their characteristics on the datafax. With the exception of vehicles armed with close combat weapons, all you need to record is the vehicles BS.

For a vehicle armed with close combat weapons you need to write down the vehicle´s WS, BS, I, S and A. The characteristics depend on the race of the crew and are listed on the chart.


The penultimate thing to record on your vehicle's datafax are any special options. These are ´special abilities' that have not been covered by the options taken so far, such as being able to transport troops, being open- topped, having protective energy fields and so on. The options that are available are described below. As with all the rules so far, anything you pick should 'fit' with the vehicle model you have made; for example, you shouldn't give it a transport capability unless the model you have made is clearly capable of transporting troops. By the same token, a vehicle which clearly has one of these options should have it recorded on its datafax, so if you have a model that is obviously an open-topped vehicle then you have to take that option for it. Enough waffling, especially about such common-sense issues - here are the special options.

Amphibious Craft: Amphibious craft are designed to work on water, or what passes for water on alien planets. Amphibious craft treat water (or its equivalent) as clear terrain when they move. Amphibious craft that can't leave the water (ie, boats or ships) may ignore the extra points normally charged for this upgrade.

Carriage: Allows vehicle to be towed (see the tow-bar special option). This option can only be given to immobile vehicles.

Codex Vehicle Upgrades: The vehicle may be given appropriate vehicle upgrades from the Codex of the army it has been designed to join. Note the word 'appropriate', and remember that all vehicles must be WYSIWYG. See the appropriate Codex for descriptions and special rules.

Eldar Fields: The Eldar race is sophisticated and technologically advanced, and their vehicles are often protected by energy or holo fields. Eldar vehicles can have a field which provides a 4+ invulnerable save against any glancing or penetrating hits (from shooting attacks only). They can be fitted to any Eldar vehicle that is at least of normal size. Eldar energy fields don't work against close combat attacks and no more than one may be fitted per facing.

Ferocious: This option may only be used for vehicles with close combat weapons. In close combat the vehicle becomes a whirling maelstrom of destruction. To represent this, add +1 to the vehicle's Attacks characteristic. This option doesn't cost any extra points per se, but the extra Attack must be taken into account when working out the cost of the vehicle's close combat weapons.

Imperial Fields: Imperial Titans and some other vehicles or fixed defence sites are protected by a form of energy field called a void shield. These can't be fitted to most vehicles as they need large plasma reactors to power them. Imperial Fields absorb the damage from one glancing or penetrating hit (from shooting attacks only) and then 'go down' as they dissipate the energy that was absorbed. The Imperial player can roll to repair downed fields at the start of each of his turns. Roll 1 D6 per field, and it comes back on line on a roll of 6+. Fields can only be fitted to war machines.

Orbital Lander: This vehicle is dropped from orbit to land on the battlefield. Such units may always be placed in reserve, even if reserves are not normally allowed by the scenario being played, and enter in the player's turn using the Deep Strike rules.

Ork Fields: Ork Mekboyz seem to have an innate ability to construct energy fields in a bewildering variety of types and forms. For the purposes of these rules they all work in the same way as Imperial Fields, but can't be repaired. They can be fitted to any Ork vehicle that is at least of normal size. Vehicles with more than one Structure point (see the War Machine rules later on) may have up to one field for each Structure point.

Recovery Vehicles: It's not uncommon to see vehicles that have been converted into armoured recovery vehicles (or ARVs) of some type or another. ARVs are used to take damaged vehicles back to a repair depot where they can be fixed and sent back into action. They can also be used to move a completely destroyed vehicle out of the way if it is blocking movement. An ARV can drag any destroyed or immobilised vehicle (friend or foe) that they start the turn in base contact with. Both vehicles may move up to D6" and must remain in base contact at the end of the move (please use common sense here when moving the vehicles!). Neither vehicle may shoot in the same turn that they are towing or being towed, except that the vehicle being dragged can fire one weapon at the ARV if it's able to.

Skimmer: This vehicle is a skimmer.

Souped-Up Engine: Some vehicle engines can be souped-up to make them faster. Flyers, immobile vehicles, and any vehicle with 51-56 points of armour may not be given souped-up engines. War machines and walkers with souped-up engines always count as being agile. Small and normal sized vehicles refer to the chart. Cross-reference the amount of armour the vehicle has with the 'Ground' or 'Skimmer' column, as appropriate, to find out the vehicle's speed. For example, a skimmer with 46 points of armour is fast, while a ground vehicle with 46 points of armour would be agile.

Targeter: Vehicles often have a targeting matrix, optical enhancement system or other device to increase the chance of their guns hitting. This must be represented with some sort of radar dish, sensor or gunsight on your model. This upgrade can only be given to Imperial and Eldar weapons with a BS of 3.A targeter increases the crew's BS by +1. All guns on the vehicle now cost the corresponding higher price for tie new BS.

Tow-Bar: Allows vehicle to tow other vehicles that have a 'carriage'. Whilst towing, a vehicle cannot move more than 6" a turn. To limber or unlimber a lowed vehicle takes a full turn. Neither vehicle may move or fire while limbering/unlimbering is taking place.

Transport: This option allows the vehicle to transport 11 normal sized models. Small vehicles may carry up to six normal sized models. Vehicles with more than 1 Structure point (see the War Machine rules later on) may transport an extra five models for each Structure point in excess of 1. Models that are Terminator sized or larger count as two models against the limit that may be carried. Walkers or other vehicles of up to normal size may be carried, taking up live spaces if small and ten if normal sized, but only if the transport vehicle is large enough to carry them and they could fit through the entry hatch. Vehicles being transported in another vehicle, which is destroyed will also be destroyed. In addition, infantry being transported in a flyer that is destroyed are killed in the crash.

Tunnellers: Tunnellers, as their name Implies, are capable of burrowing tough the ground. They are generally used to transport troops and launch surprise attacks by suddenly surfacing from below where the enemy least expects them. Any tanks or light vehicles may be given a 'tunneller' option. Such units may always be placed in reserve, even if reserves are not normally allowed by the scenario being played, and enter play using the Deep Strike rules.

Wreckers: Some vehicles are fitted with things like wrecking balls, big grabby claws, enormous drills etc. These may only be used to attack terrain features or immobilised vehicles that are in base contact with the wrecker vehicle. Targets that will fit completely under an Ordnance template are destroyed on a roll of 6 on 1D6. Larger targets cannot be affected in the time frame of the game.


The final thing you need to do in order to get your vehicle ready for its tabletop debut is to work out how many points it costs and what category it belongs to with regard to using up 'slots' on the Force Organisation chart (ie, does it count as Heavy Support, Fast Attack, and so on). Working out the points cost is a somewhat arcane process, and requires the use of a calculator, but I'm sure you'll muddle through somehow! Before getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of how you actually calculate the points, I should point out that I've tried to create a system where you pay over the odds in terms of points for vehicles you design yourself. So, if you run an 'off the shelf´ model through the points cost procedure, you should find that it comes in at more than the points listed for it in the army lists. This compensates for the fact that vehicles you design yourself can be made exactly to suit the role you plan to use them for in a game. To work out the vehicle's points cost, just follow and add together the costs listed on the summary sheet overleaf to find out the total cost of the vehicle.


Well, what are you waiting for? Work out your vehicle, write down its details on your datafax, and get playing! After the summary are appendices covering extra rules for war machines and flyers.


One thing that many players have tried to do with these rules is to use them to modify the characteristics of existing Warhammer 40,000 vehicles. This is fine in principle, just so long as it doesn't break the rule that all vehicles created using the Vehicle Design rules are ´Wysiwyg' models. What this means for variants of existing vehicles is that any and all changes you make need to be blatantly obvious, and the finished model must clearly be different from the 'standard model'. Although there are some examples of vehicle variants in the Codexes that have thicker armour which is not shown on the model per se (eg, the Leman Russ Demolisher), you are NOT allowed to do this when using the vehicle design rules to create your own vehicles, and any extra armour must be shown in some way on the finished model. For example, say you decided to design a new version of the Leman Russ, with a galling lascannon in the turret and a souped-up engine to make it agile. Such a model would need both modifications clearly shown upon it; it would need at least a triple-barrelled lascannon for the turret, and the rear engine casing would need to show the improved engine. Do both things and you'll clearly have a different Leman Russ variant, and the model would be legal as far as the Vehicle Design rules are concerned. Scrimp on either these things and you would be breaking both the letter and the spirit of the rules. If you really have trouble with this concept, then take a look at some of the Forge World vehicle variants, and note how all of the changes to the standard rules for the vehicle are 'driven' by changes to the appearance of the vehicle. This concept lies at the heart of the GW hobby; what we do is 'model driven', in that the rules come from the models, not the other way around. Bear this in mind when designing variants of existing vehicles and you won't go too far wrong. One final caveat to this section: if you find yourself designing a vehicle variant because of its effect in game terms rather than because you think it'll look great, then you still haven't quite understood the spirit in which these rules are written. 'Muff said, I hope. Have fun!


As noted at the start of the Vehicle Design rules, any extremely large vehicles are collectively known as war machines. The following special rules apply to them. War machines fight in their own 'army', fighting alongside another army as a separate detachment, as described on page 131 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. This limits their use to either fighting on their own, or in games of 2,000 points plus per side. War machine detachments consist of up to three war machines of (more or less) the same type. Structure Points: War machines are so large that they can absorb damage that would destroy another vehicle. To represent this they must be given 2 or more structure points, which equate roughly to wounds for other models. Basically, the more Structure points a vehicle has, the bigger it is. Here are some examples based on Imperial vehicles:

Energy Fields: Ork and Imperial war machines are often protected by two or more sets of energy fields. Epic 40,000 is a useful reference for the number and type of protective fields carried by war machines. A war machine can never have more than one protective field per Structure point.

War Machines and Difficult Terrain: War machines can ignore low walls, hedges, bushes and rubble - there's no need to test for these at all. Going through other difficult terrain they test as normal. However, if they roll a 1 instead of being immobilised, they lose D3" of movement, just as if they had suffered an 'Engines Damaged' result on the damage tables.

Tank Shock and War Machines Assaults: Enemy infantry must test at -1 to their Leadership value if they are Tank Shocked by a war machine.

Ordnance: War machines may fire Ordnance and still fire other weapons. They may fire Ordnance even if they move.

Targeting: War machines can engage more than one target unit if desired. Instead of picking a target for the war machine, pick a target for each weapon on the war machine.

Close Combat Attacks: War machines can tank shock an enemy in the Movement phase. If the enemy pass their Morale check then the war machine moves into contact with the enemy unit and must fight a close combat against it in the Assault phase. This is the only way that war machines can enter close combat though they can be assaulted by enemy units in their turn as normal). Being in close combat does not stop the war machine shooting, and it may fire at the unit it is assaulting if desired. War machines are allowed to 'barge into' enemy infantry units rather than stopping when they contact the first enemy model. Keep moving the war machine until it completes its move, moving enemy models out of the way as required. Any models moved out of the way should be placed back on the table so that they are touching the war machine. War machines can't barge other war machines out of the way. In the Assault phase a war machine that Tank Shocked the enemy receives a number of bonus close combat attacks. These represent the chance of the victim either getting stomped upon or crushed under the war machine's tracks, wheels, etc, and are only ever received in the war machine's turn; if the war machine is assaulted by the enemy in the enemy turn, it does not receive any bonus attacks. The number of bonus attacks is equal to the number of enemy models or vehicles that are in base contact with the war machine (ie, each enemy touching the war machine is attacked once). All bonus attacks count as having a WS of 1, no matter what the actual WS of the war machine, and have a Strength of 5 plus 1 for every 3 Structure points the war machine had at the start of the battle (round fractions of 3 down). Roll to hit and damage normally. All war machine close combat attacks ignore armour saves, and roll 2D6 for Armour Penetration. Opponents that fight a round of close combat against a war machine and fail to destroy the war machine (quite a likely occurrence!) automatically fall back unless they are a vehicle or another war machine. War machines may never pursue or consolidate - they remain stationary.

War Machine Close Combat Weapons: War machines that have close combat weapons may use them in addition to their bonus attacks. War machines with close combat weapons receive a number of attacks with them equal to the number of close combat weapons carried plus one. Look up the war machine's Weapons Skill and Initiative in section six of the Vehicle Design rules. War machine close combat weapons give the war machine a Strength of 10. Any glancing or penetrating hit causes an additional D3 Structure points of damage against an opponent, in addition to any damage rolled on the Damage table. War machine close combat weapons may only be used against enemy vehicles, war machines and monstrous models.


The Vehicle Design rules introduce a new 'type' of vehicle called a flyer. These are similar to skimmers in that they are capable of flight. The main difference between a skimmer and a flyer is that fliers have to make an 'attack run', flying on at one table edge and then hurtling in a straight line very fast over the table before zooming off another table edge, all in the course of less than a turn, while a skimmer can 'loiter' and stays in play. Some examples of Warhammer 40,000 flyers are included in Epic 40,000 and Battlefleet Gothic. As you might expect, flying vehicles require rather a lot of special rules to cover their movement. They start a long way off the table, and then basically carry out an 'attack run' by flying over the table in a straight line. The following rules explain how this works.

Starting The Attack Run: Flyers always start the game in reserve, even in scenarios that do not normally allow reserves to be used. Roll the dice for them each turn, starting with the second turn, as you would normally for a reserve unit. When the flyer appears, place it on any table edge, facing in the direction you wish it to fly. It will not actually move until your opponent's turn, but placing it like this equates to the opposing army hearing the flyer and seeing it appear on the horizon! Because it hasn't really reached the table yet the flyer may not shoot or be shot at until it makes its attack run.

Making The Attack Run: A flyer makes its attack run after the opposing player's Movement phase, but before their Shooting phase - in affect you 'interrupt' their turn to let the flyer make its move. (If several fliers all arrive at the same time, make their moves in any order you like and then move onto the Shooting phase.) Move the flyer in a straight line any distance you like across the table. The flyer will get to make its attack at the end of your opponent's Shooting phase, after the opponent has had a chance to fire at it. After making the move, play returns to your opponent's Shooting phase. Enemy units shoot normally, or can target the flyer if preferred. The flyer can be shot at by any weapons apart from ordnance and barrage weapons. Measure the range to the flyer's base, or to any position the flyer occupied during its move before it reached its final position (ie, the shots can be assumed to have taken place as the aircraft moved). However you must add 12" to the range measured, to represent the extra distance upwards. So a range measured at 3" would become 15", meaning a pistol, for example, would be out of range. Roll to hit the flyer, but because it is moving so fast it will only be hit on a roll of 6, no matter what the BS of the model making the attack. Then roll for damage normally, counting the flyer as a fast-moving skimmer (ie, all hits are glancing). Stunned and Shaken results on the normal Damage tables, and Driver Stunned and Engine Damaged results on the War Machine Damage tables stop the flyer from attacking but have no other effect. Immobilised results destroy the flyer. Note that the line of sight can never be blocked between a flyer and a target, either when it attacks or when it is shot at. Assuming the flyer isn't shot down or suffered a stunned or shaken result, then it can make its attacks after your opponent has finished his Shooting phase. The flyer may pivot up to 450 either before or after making the attack (but not both). A flyer may shoot all of its weapons, even though it has moved. All weapons must be fired directly forward in the direction that the flyer is pointing. Measure the range from the flyer's base to the target, but do not add 12" to the range this time (the flyer's attack doesn't have to work against gravity). Then make the attack using the normal shooting rules. After the flyer has made its attack, it flies in a straight line off the table.

Additional Attack Runs: The flyer can make further attack runs. Roll a D6 at the start of the next friendly player turn, and on the roll of a 2+ position the flyer on the table edge in the same manner as when it first appeared. On a roll of 1 the flyer doesn't return this turn, but you may roll again for it in your own next turn.


Many of the flyer models I've seen are armed with rockets or bombs that are carried under the wings. How these work in game terms is described below. These weapons may only be fitted to flyers.

Bombs: Bombs have the same effect as mortars (Guess 48", S4, AP6, Heavy 1 Blast, may pin). If a flyer releases several bombs at the same time, count each as a separate mortar in a 'battery'. Each bomb carried may be used once per battle. They cost 5 points each.

Big Bombs: These work in the same manner as a normal bomb, but it have the same effect as a Griffon Mortar (Guess 12-48", S6, AP4, Ordnance 1 Blast). They cost 20 points each.

Rockets: Rockets have exactly the same effect as hunter-killer missiles (unlimited range, S8, AP3, Heavy 1). Each rocket may be used once per battle, costing 10 points each.

Smart Bombs: A bomb or big bomb can be upgraded to a smart bomb for +50% cost. A Smart Bomb works in the same way as a normal bomb, except you may reroll the Scatter dice if you doesn't like the first result (you must accept the second roll though!).

Anti-Aircraft Mounts: An anti-aircraft mount, as its name implies, is a mount that allows a weapon to be fired at flyers more easily than would normally be the case. Any weapon may be fitted in an anti-aircraft mount at +50% to its normal cost. An anti-aircraft mount allows the weapon to shoot at flyers using its normal BS, rather than only hitting on a 6. It also allows ordnance and barrage weapons to fire at fliers (you hit if the flyer is over the marker, but can't hit ground targets as well). Weapons fitted in anti-aircraft mounts may not fire at all if the vehicle moved, and preclude the use of any other weapons on the vehicle in the turn that they fired, unless they are fitted to a war machine.

Orbital Landers: If a flyer is given the orbital lander upgrade then it will fly down from orbit to land on the battlefield, a bit like the space shuttle. When the flyer arrives it makes an attack run just like any other flyer. However, rather than firing its weapons it is allowed to land on the table. If it chooses to land then it may not shoot. While it is landed, a flyer can't move but may shoot like a normal vehicle. It may not use bombs or rockets while landed! Assuming it has a transport capacity, then any passengers may disembark, and new passengers may embark into the flyer using the normal rules. If the flyer is fired upon while landed then the enemy roll to hit normally; they don't have to roll a 6 to hit a landed flyer. A landed flyer may take off again in any enemy turn, after the enemy has had their Shooting phase. A landed flyer then takes off immediately and leaves the table in the same manner as if it were completing an attack run (ie, it flies off the table in a straight line).


By Gav Thorpe (based on ideas by several dark contributors).

Since Codex Dark Eldar was released, we've had a steady trickle of correspondence bemoaning the lack of vehicle upgrades in the Dark Eldar army list. Well, I've butchered and cannibalised the best ideas we've received into the following list. Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions.

A Raider can take any of the following vehicle upgrades. A Ravager may not take Scaling Nets, Slave Snares, Torture Amp or Trophy Racks. The points values are different for Raiders and Ravagers, as shown in the entries below, with the points values for Raiders first and for Ravagers second.

Horrorfex ............ 5 pts/5 pts
As the vehicle falls upon its foes, arcane grenades made from captured Eldar wraithbone sow discord and terror within the enemy's ranks. The vehicle is fitted with a larger version of a Terrorfex, which can be fired instead of another of the vehicle's weapons in the Dark Eldar Shooting phase. It has the same effect as a Terrorfex (see page 15 of Codex: Dark Eldar) except that is has an 18" range.

Night Shield ........15 pts/20 pts
The vehicle's open deck is covered by a wide-area shadow field, enveloping the vehicle in darkness and hiding its true location. This has the effect of adding 6" to the range from enemy units wishing to fire at a vehicle with a Night Shield. This may put the vehicle out of range, in which case the shooting automatically misses. The extra distance is also counted for working out if the vehicle is within Rapid Fire range. It has no effect on template, ordnance or barrage weapons. The Night Shield does affect whether the vehicle can be seen in a Night Fight.

Scaling nets .... .5 pts/unavailable
A web of netting hangs to the ground from the Raider, allowing its passengers to get on and off more swiftly. A unit may embark or disembark onto or from the Raider at any point during its move, rather than just at the beginning or the end. They may not do this if it will be moving over 12" in total that turn, and they cannot move before embarking or continue to move after disembarking as it is a moving vehicle. However, the nets also provide easier access for foes, and any enemy unit attacking the Raider in close combat hits on a straight 4+,
rather than the 6+ usually needed for skimmers. A Raider with Scaling Nets cannot have Scythes or Slave Snares.

Screaming Jets ......15 pts/10 pts
The vehicle is fitted with additional high-powered jet engines, which allow it to drop from the skies with a characteristic screaming wail. A vehicle fitted with Screaming Jets can Deep Strike if the scenario normally allows Deep Strike to be used. The vehicle counts as moving over 6" on the turn it arrives and troops on board may not disembark that turn.

Scythes ............10 pts/10 pts
The vehicle has been fitted with blades along its hull, making it a risky prospect to attack in an assault. Any enemy model that rolls a 1 to hit when attacking the vehicle in an assault suffers a Strength 5 hit, with normal armour saves allowed.

Slave Snares .. .15 pis/unavailable
The Raider trails numerous long chains and whips, each lined with barbs and hooks to pluck unwary foes from the battlefield as it swoops past. If the Raider passes over an enemy unit during the Movement phase, and does not move more than 12" in total, the unit takes D6 Strength 4 hits, with normal armour saves allowed. Models removed as casualties are treated as prisoners for Victory Points purposes. Slave Snares have no effect on vehicles. Any casualties lost by a unit in the Movement phase are added to casualties from the next Shooting phase for the purposes of working out if they have lost 25% casualties.

Torture Amp ... .10 pts/unavailable
During battle a Haemonculus tortures captured slaves and traps their screams in special voiceboxes. These cries of agony are filtered through complex ojectors to create a wave of terrifying sonic energy around the vehicle, which can scatter enemy units. A vehicle with a Torture Amp is able to Tank Shock, even though it is not a tank.

Trophy Racks .. .10 pts/unavailable
The Raider is adorned with skeletons and skulls impaled on staves, while prisoners taken in battle are tied to its decks with barbed filaments. The enemy troops find this immensely disturbing and threatening, so any enemy unit with a model within 6" of the Raider must subtract -1 from its Leadership value. Note that a unit suffers a maximum penalty of -1 to its Leadership regardless of the number of Raiders with Trophy Racks within 6".