What is a Battleforged Army?

Adam fro mover at the Dice Abide blog, sheds some light on a question that comes up a lot: how do you make a Battleforged army in 7th ed 40K? Check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

So despite the new edition having been out for a couple months now, I’m still shocked that people still seem to have no idea how to build an army in 7th edition!  I’m only talking about Battleforged armies, as Unbound is just whatever you want.

The Basics

So first up, lets talk general construction, and because I’m a designer, I’ve made a handy little infographic:



So to begin with, what is that graphic telling us?  First of all, you can make an army of pretty much any combination of factions that you like, though they’ll treat each other’s units as allies as per the allies section of the rulebook.  That means you could have Space Marines with Imperial Guard with Chaos Daemons.  The Space Marines and Guard will treat each other as Battle Brothers, but will both treat the Chaos Daemons as Come the Apocalypse.

Also, just for clarity, Formations are a special type of Detachment, but are a Detachment none the less.

Primary Detachment

Your Primary Detachment is simply whatever Detachment contains your Warlord.  If your Warlord is in a Formation, congratulations, that Formation is your Primary Detachment (and thus cannot have an Allied Detachment of the same faction, though may use other types of Detachments of that same faction).

Your Primary Detachment is not necessarily your Combined Arms Detachment, though there is a bonus if your Warlord indeed comes from a Combined Arms Detachment.

Detachment Bonuses and Restrictions

Different Detachments have different bonuses and restrictions.  These bonuses and restrictions generally only apply to the models within that detachment (any of the darker grey circles above is a Detachment).  This means if you take a Combined Arms Detachment and a Formation, the Troops in the Combined Arms Detachment will benefit from Objective Secured, while any Troops in the Formation will not.


When there were rumors of 7th edition, people got the idea that ALL Troops in a Battleforged army were Objective Secured.  That is just plain incorrect.  Only troops that are given the Objective Secured rule through the Faction Bonus (or some other means) will be Objective Secured, Troops are NOT intrinsically Objective Secured.

Your Primary Detachment can be ANY detachment other than an Allied Detachment.  It can be from a Formation, Combined Arms, or any other faction specific detachment type.

Your Allied Detachment may NOT be the same faction as your PRIMARY Detachment.  That means if your Warlord comes from a Formation (Space Marines for example), your army may also contain a Combined Arms detachment of Space Marines, but it may not contain any Allied Detachments of the Space Marines faction.


An Unbound army is simply an army where some of the models do not come from a specific detachment.


There are always exceptions to the rule, Space Marines are allowed to self-ally, and the Sky Blight formation gives Objective Secured to Gargoyles.  This article is just meant to address the general rules of the game.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

36 Responses to “What is a Battleforged Army?”

  1. Avatar
    Snotling Swarm August 13, 2014 10:28 am #

    This is pretty helpful. For a long time I thought if your combined arms detachment just happened to contain the requirements for a formation, then they got those rules in addition to the CAD bonus.
    Hopefully this will clear up some debates.

  2. Avatar
    Greggles August 13, 2014 11:05 am #

    Super helpful! Please tell games workshop to put this in the appendix. Thanks. 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius August 13, 2014 12:48 pm #

      Yeah, we thought this would help!

  3. Avatar
    fleetofclaw August 13, 2014 11:35 am #

    Warhammer 40k List Building: “Because the Learning Curve Wasn’t Steep Enough!”

    I weep for new players coming in to this game.

    • Adam
      Adam August 13, 2014 12:25 pm #

      Actually, the new players I’ve talked to often are able to figure out list building quicker than veterans! They don’t have their mind clouded by all the previous editions, then the boat load of inaccurate rumors that we all read like gospel.

      The easiest way to describe it is that an army is a collection of detachments. Once people manage to wrap their heads around that concept, it’s actually quite easy. 🙂

      • Avatar
        winterman August 13, 2014 2:08 pm #

        Yeah I agree here. The removal of the FOC concept throws a lot of vets for a loop, especially when it is still sort of there, but not. Leads to assumptions instead of readings. A new player will read the book rather than assume.

      • Avatar
        fleetofclaw August 15, 2014 1:16 pm #

        I guess, it seems like when new players are trying to figure out list building their eyes glaze over. I suppose the thing that muddies the waters the most is all the restrictions we (as a competitive community) put on it in hopes of toning down the crazy.

  4. Avatar
    Smellofwetdog August 13, 2014 2:05 pm #

    Thanks for this breakdown Adam AKA Fro Mover

    • Adam
      Adam August 13, 2014 2:13 pm #

      Any time, better watch your afros, I’m going to be moving them!

  5. Avatar
    winterman August 13, 2014 2:06 pm #

    “Your Allied Detachment may NOT be the same faction as your PRIMARY Detachment. That means if your Warlord comes from a Formation (Space Marines for example), your army may also contain a Combined Arms detachment of Space Marines, but it may not contain any Allied Detachments of the Space Marines faction.”

    While I get the intent, its a bad example because Space Marines have an exception as long the chapter tactics are the same. Might confuse some folks.

    • Adam
      Adam August 13, 2014 3:14 pm #

      Yeah, bad example, go figure I use the army that’s the exception to the rule…

  6. Avatar
    rexscarlet August 13, 2014 3:18 pm #

    Sooo Helpful, thanks!
    Almost there… (Formations; this one I am not quite grasping where it goes?)
    So, as it stands now with current definitions and language trying to stay the same?;
    Combined Arms Faction Specific Primary Detachment; IG
    Secondary “Must Be” Faction Specific Detachment; IG
    Allied Detachment; From Any Codex
    (Battle Brothers, Allies of Convenience, Desperate Allies, and Come the Apocalypse “does not matter, as all are allowed here”)
    Fortification; Aegis
    Lord of War; Knight
    Inquisition Unit; Inquisition (special Inquisition Unit rule here)
    An archive/list (Graphic) of what goes where would still be very helpful.
    Thanks again.

    • Avatar
      rexscarlet August 13, 2014 3:20 pm #

      oops, forgot
      Secondary “Must Be” “Same as Primary” Faction Specific Detachment; IG

    • Avatar
      Jural August 13, 2014 3:57 pm #

      Not exactly. Lord of War is a Force Org Slot that some detachments give. So in your example, your CAD has a Lord of War Slot, and it’s possible your Secondary, Faction Specific detachment also has a Lord of War slot.

      However, a Knight is not a Lord of War option for any army. They can either be taken as a formation, an ally, or (I think) a CAD of their own.

      Fortifications are the same thing.

      Don’t have a rulebook in front of me, but I believe no matter how you construct your list, you can only have one fortificattion and one Lord or War…

      • Avatar
        vonvilkee August 13, 2014 4:16 pm #

        Knights have their own detachment in their book. They actually can not be formed into a CAD or book allied detachment as there are not specific hq, elite, troop etc specific knights.

        Knights are just knights, and their specific detachment takes this into account. The warlord rules even work well with it!

        • Avatar
          rexscarlet August 13, 2014 4:21 pm #

          whaaaa… kidding, again, crazy and thanks, but a Knight “is” or “is not” a Lord of War?
          So in theory both the Primary CAD and the Secondary CAD can have a LoW for a total of two?
          thanks, I will have to get the RB out, but really with all the books, how are people to know what is what…

          • Adam
            Adam August 13, 2014 4:31 pm

            A Knight is not a Lord of War, with the exception being a Lancer taken by a non-knight detachment, since the FW rules allow them to be taken as a LOW for all Imperial Armies (though they are not a LOW when taken in a Knight detachment)

      • Avatar
        rexscarlet August 13, 2014 4:17 pm #

        crazy, thanks, how close was I on the rest?

    • Adam
      Adam August 13, 2014 4:38 pm #

      Kind of having a hard time figuring out what you’re saying, but I’ll give it a try.

      Combined Arms Detachment – Just a type of Detachment

      “secondary” detachment – doesn’t exist

      Inquisition Detachment – an example of a Faction Specific Detachment, along with Knight detachments, Legion of the Damned, Wolves Unleashed, Great Waaagh!, etc.

      Allied Detachment – a type of detachment, restricted from being the same faction as your primary detachment

      Primary Detachment – The detachment containing your warlord, this can be literally any detachment except an Allied Detachment

      Fortification – a Force org slot found in the Combined Arms detachment (and some other detachments)

      Lord of War – a Force org slot found in the Combined Arms detachment (and some other detachments)

      Just think of your army as literally a group of detachments and you’ll be a lot less confused. The old convoluted FOC of yesteryear is gone, long live the much simpler detachment system!

      • Avatar
        rexscarlet August 13, 2014 5:01 pm #

        Best explanation, thanks ( I added below before your post, edit is impossible)
        I think the graphic above confused me…
        I will get out the RB. (especially to see how many LoW and Fortifications are allowed)
        “Secondary” I should use the words “additional” CAD instead?
        Thanks again…

  7. Avatar
    rexscarlet August 13, 2014 4:51 pm #

    Ok, so;
    Primary CAD Faction Specific; IG
    Secondary CAD “Must be Same Faction as Primary CAD”; IG
    (additional/multiple CADs same Faction as Primary CAD are allowed here)
    Allied Detachment; From Any Codex
    (Battle Brothers, Allies of Convenience, Desperate Allies, and Come the Apocalypse “does not matter, as all are allowed here”)
    One only Fortification; Aegis
    (“still need to check RB?”)
    One only Lord of War “same Faction as Primary CAD; Baneblade for IG
    (“still need to check RB?”)
    Formation; Knight
    (“possibly more than one?” Depending on number of CADs “or “One only” Formation. still need to check RB?”)
    Inquisition Unit; Inquisition (special Inquisition Unit rule here)
    whew, could it be any easier… lol…

    • Avatar
      droozy August 14, 2014 5:08 am #

      A knight is not a formation either. There is a formation from ‘the red waaagh!’ That composes of three knights but I am not aware of any formation of one. Imperial knights have their own codex, so if you wanted to take a single knight it would be your allied detachment. If you took three knights the option is open for them to be your primary detachment. This allows you to have a knight be your warlord but does not grant the knights objective secured.

      Also there is a forge world unit called the cerastus knight lancer(this is the one Adam was mentioning) which is a variant of the imperial knight that can be chosen as part of an imperial knight detachment OR be a Lord of war to any imperial faction(space marines, am, sisters of battle, etc). Important to note that when the knight lancer is chosen as part of a knight detachment(since they are not considered a Lord of war in this instance) they don’t give the victory points for losing hull points, nor will your opponent get a bonus to those seize the initiative roll if they have no Lord of war in their army.

      • Adam
        Adam August 14, 2014 8:33 am #

        There are Knight Detachments in the Knight codex, which is 1-3 knights, there is also the Adamantine Lance formation, which is a formation of Knights. Finally, yeah, there’s the Lancer, who is a Lord of War for Imperial Armies, or just another Knight in a Knight Detachment.

        • Avatar
          droozy August 14, 2014 9:20 am #

          Thank you for putting that so succinctly, my long winded nature has muddied up yet another simple explanation. I need to take primary detachment out of my vocabulary.

          • Reecius
            Reecius August 14, 2014 9:39 am

            Yeah, it is confusing. Primary detachment is just the detachment with your Warlord in it.

    • Adam
      Adam August 14, 2014 8:44 am #

      Still not quite, I think you’re over thinking it.

      A Battle Forged army is just an army that is made up entirely of Detachments. This can be ANY NUMBER of detachments, of ANY FACTION.

      • If you take a CAD, it is NOT automatically your Primary Detachment.
      • If you take a second CAD, it does NOT need to be the same faction as your Primary Detachment, it can be ANY Faction.
      •Lord of War is a Force Org slot, just like Heavy Support, absolutely no different! It’s literally just a slot that is currently found in Combined Arms Detachments, as well as a few Faction specific detachments.

      For Example:

      CAD of Chaos Daemons
      CAD of Space Marines
      Knight Detachment (3 Knights)
      Allied Detachment of Eldar
      Inquisition Detachment

      That’s a legal army, your Primary Detachment can be either the Daemons, Space Marines, Knights or the Inquisition (since Allied Detachments may not contain the Warlord, the Eldar may not be the Primary Detachment). The Space Marines and Inquisition would treat each other as Battle Brothers, though the Space Marines would treat the Daemons as Come the Apocalypse. Each Detachment treats each other detachment as per the rules in the Allies section.

      To recap:
      Battle Forged = Detachments
      • Primary Detachment is ANY DETACHMENT that contains your Warlord.
      • Allied Detachment may not be the same faction as your primary detachment.
      • You can use ANY NUMBER of Detachments.
      • You can use ANY TYPE of Detachments.
      • Detachments may be ANY FACTION.

  8. Avatar
    Tom August 14, 2014 3:19 am #

    So no troops in a formation benefits from Objective secured? Am I reading that right?

    • Avatar
      DCannon4Life August 14, 2014 6:12 am #

      No: The rules for the Formation will stipulate whether or not (and which!) units in that formation are ObSec.

    • Adam
      Adam August 14, 2014 8:46 am #

      Currently, I believe the only Formation that has the Objective Secured rule on any of the units is the Tyranid Skyblight Formation.

  9. Avatar
    Jural August 14, 2014 10:04 am #

    So kinda related note- At the BAO I had a Tervigon in my HQ slot of a CAD (I used the Living Artillery Node as my “second source.”)

    When that Tervigon spawned gaunts, it was ruled that they were not objective secured because the Tervigon was an HQ (or maybe because they were spawned?) However, I can’t see from the rules why this would be. The Tyranid codex states that the spawned unit is treated exactly as if it were a troop from the codex.

    Honestly this has never decided a game for me or anything, but it does seriously beg the question “why use a Tervigon in the HQ slot!” Anyone have a clear understanding of why the guys at the BAO were right?

    • Adam
      Adam August 14, 2014 10:10 am #

      Actually, all spawned/summoned troops don’t get Objective Secured because they are not bought with the detachment. This applies to Termagants, but also applies to summoned daemons as well as anything else that generates new units.

      Being troops from a Codex is different the being troops from the same Detachment, you don’t get Objective Secured just for being Troops.

      • Avatar
        Jural August 14, 2014 1:17 pm #

        I understand the general application in the case of summoned creatures. In the case of the Tervigon though, the wording is different

        ‘A unit spawned by a Tervigon is identical in every way to a Termagant unit chosen from the Troops section of the force organisation chart, and is treated as such for all scenario special rules.’

        I can’t see it mattering if the Tervigon is an HQ, and since the rule says it is identical in every way to a unit chosen from the troop section, and units chosen from the troop section get OS…

        I’m just not seeing it. Does the Main rulebook have a section that directly mentions summonned models don’t get OS? Is it somewhere else?

        • Avatar
          Jural August 14, 2014 1:31 pm #

          on second thought, nm… just found pages of people arguing about this online and don’t need it repeated on Frontline!

          I will just say that the debate really only covers whether something is summoned or not, and has nothing to do with if the Tervigon is an HQ or not.

          • Adam
            Adam August 14, 2014 2:57 pm

            Haha, yeah, it’s been debated to death, I think the LVO just said they’re not obsec as a blanket answer to all summoned units

          • Avatar
            Jural August 15, 2014 2:35 pm

            After revieweing the rulebook, I’d have to agree with the LVO. I would say spawning gaunts is the most gray of the gray areas, but a strict RAW interpretation should still deny spawned gaunts OS.

            One less reason to take a Tervigon!

  10. Avatar
    Castellan Zor November 14, 2014 12:28 pm #

    Thanks for the graphic, it really helps my mind get around this new structure… and hey, look…. FOC entries!

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