Battles in the 41st Millennium are often fought in some of the most hostile environments imaginable. From shattered ruins to desolate wastelands, the terrain is as much a part of the battlefield as the armies themselves.
At Arc40k every year you’ll see battlefields from across the galaxy - from ancient Titan Graveyards to Aeldari Craftworlds, or devastated Imperial Cities to Ork outposts. Some of the crazy but vastly different scenery has sometimes proved difficult for players to agree on how or what effect particularly bespoke pieces would have in game.
However, in the upcoming edition of Warhammer 40,000, the rules for terrain have been revised, allowing for even more dynamic gameplay on a wider range of tabletops.
Arc40k organiser DanTo notes that the new rules make it easier for players to incorporate a wider range of terrain in their games. ’At Arc40k, we have access to a wide variety of scenery, thanks to the generous support of clubs, gaming groups, and participants. The new terrain rules make it easier to use all of this very different terrain to create immersive and challenging environments for our players.’
The terrain rules in the latest edition of Warhammer 40,000 are simpler and more intuitive than ever before.
The rules for cover have been streamlined, making it easier to determine which units are affected by terrain. In previous editions, the Benefit of Cover rule added 1 to save rolls against ranged attacks.
However, in the new edition, this rule has an important caveat: having the Benefit of Cover will not improve saves of a 3+ or better against weapons with an Armour Penetration characteristic of 0. We’ve already seen more weapons are likely to be AP 0 in broad sweeping changes to rebalance every faction’s guns. So this will be significant for a wider range of units wielding them.
‘By simplifying the rules for cover, players can spend less time flipping through rulebooks and more time playing the game,’ says Dan. ‘It also means that we can incorporate a wider range of terrain features into our games without worrying about whether they fit into one of the twelve different Terrain Traits from the previous edition.’
The new rules for terrain are divided into six broad Terrain Categories: craters, barricades, debris, hills, woods, and ruins. Each category has its own rules for how it affects gameplay.
Craters are the most straightforward terrain category. They include small patches of terrain, such as rubble or blast craters, and grant cover to any INFANTRY model standing wholly inside them. Even if the models are fully visible to the attacker targeting them, they get cover.
Barricades, on the other hand, are a more versatile terrain category. They can include anything from ramshackle defense lines or fences to promethium pipelines. Any model within 3” of a barricade can claim cover so long as the object partially obscures them from at least one of their attackers.
This terrain type also modifies the Engagement Range rules to include models within 2”, provided they're attacking a unit on the other side of the barricade.
Dan noted that barricades are a particularly useful terrain type for creating dynamic firefights. "Barricades are great for creating interesting gameplay situations where units are shooting at each other through narrow gaps and over the tops of objects. It makes for some exciting gameplay, and it also helps to encourage players to think about their terrain placement in a more strategic way."
Debris includes any bits and pieces that a unit can't end their move on, such as barrels, statues, and piles of discarded Mek Workshop parts. These provide cover when they partially block a model from the attacking unit, regardless of range or size.
‘It’s the clearest definition ever - can’t see the whole model and it gets cover!’ says Dan.
Hills aren’t just earthen mounds in the new edition. This terrain type also encompass solid buildings that units can stand on, like the Battlezone: Fronteris Landing Pad, Munitorum Armoured Containers, or any number of solid structures that you’ll find on some of the tables loaned to us at Arc40K . Both models and other terrain features can sit on top of hills provided they don't overhang the edge, and the hill provides cover to anything it partially obscures.
‘Woods and forests are a little more involved than the other terrain types,’ says DanTO. ’Any model fully inside the wood, or viewed through an area of woodland terrain by a unit that is also not inside it, is never considered to be fully visible and receives the benefit of cover.’
Ruins are the final terrain category. These wrecked and damaged structures completely block visibility of all models through their footprint, regardless of how much you can see through their fancy gothic windows.
‘Models outside can shoot in, and models inside can shoot out of. I like that - deciding if you can see part or any of a model on the other side of ruins is always a matter of two opinions from two people who are both seeking the advantage,’ explained Dan. ‘This clarity will help more players have less stress across more games.’
Since particularly tall ruins can give attackers an advantageous position, they also come with the Plunging Fire rule. This rule improves the Armour Penetration characteristic of a ranged attack by 1 when the attacking model is more than 6” above ground level and shooting at a target on the ground – making it a great way to get around other units’ cover.
As we wrap up our conversation with DanTO, he expresses his excitement for the new rule changes and the opportunities they provide for players at events like Arc40k.
’I think the new terrain rules are a great improvement to the game,’ he says. ’They simplify things without sacrificing depth, and they make it easier for players to know exactly what kind of cover their units are getting. Plus, with the wide variety of terrain available at Arc40k, players will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of these rules and really immerse themselves in the battle.’
DanTO encourages players to get creative with their terrain choices and to experiment with different strategies using the new rules. ‘With the broader terrain categories, players can really mix and match terrain types to create unique battlefields that enhance the gaming experience’ he says. ’I'm excited to see what kind of crazy setups players come up with at Arc40k and other events.’