Detachments not Sources


Knowledge is Power!

Knowledge is Power!


Hey everyone, Reecius here with a friendly PSA.

So, in the past we referred to building lists from multiple different books/e-books as writing a list with X number of sources. However, in the shift to 7th ed, that description no longer holds water and is actually misleading.

In 7th ed we had the advent of detachments. We had them in 6th of a different type, but the switch to 7th ed really defined it further while simultaneously opening it up. Now to be fair, the way it is presented in the BRB is a bit confusing, and the way the idea interacted with older books got really confusing with “blended detachments,” what was or was not a faction, etc. However, as 7th rolled along, it all came into focus with the books that were released.

That said, I still get emails almost daily from folks that are confused about how to write a list in 7th ed 40K. So, here is a quick and dirty guideline for writing a non-unbound 40K list in 7th ed.

Faction: what we used to think of as an “army” in 40K: Orks, Tyranids, etc. It is comprised of units with the same faction type. The list of factions in the BRB does not include all of those found in the game, but gives you an idea of the general idea.

Unit: a model or group of models that are the same faction: Tactical Marines, Dreadknight, etc. You can find rules for units across a multitude of rules sources such as in a codex, codex supplement, expansion book, Black Library digital section, Forge World Imperial Armor books, the White Dwarf, etc. A unit fills a specified battlefield role within a detachment. A unit can only ever be in a single detachment at a time.

Detachment: an organizational tool for using your units. It will require that all units in said detachment must be the same faction but can be drawn from any rules source (typically). A detachment can be a CAD, allied detachment, formation (and yes, a Formation IS a detachment, not a part of another detachment), or codex specific detachment such as the Dark Eldar “Raiders from Realspace” detachment, or the Haemonculus Codex Supplement “Covenite Coterie Detachment.” A detachment will have command benefits, and restrictions on how many of any type of unit can be taken. They can be as small as a single model (Assassin detachment, or a single Inquisitor) or include multiple other detachments as with a formation of formations such as the “Champions of Fenris” formation. Only the CAD, allied detachment and Skyblight formation have the Objective Secured special rule.

Dataslate: the dataslates provide rules for a specific unit that may belong to one or more Factions, such as Be’Lakor and Cypher. These are not detachments, but unique units with rules for how to play them and will fit into their battlefield roll within a detachment.

Therefore, the use of the term sources in the context of list writing in 7th ed 40k is a bit off the mark. It leads to the idea that you can only use a certain number of rules sources in a list when that is no longer the case. Using the idea of detachments is the better way to define list building in 7th ed because it is more accurate to the way we are given information by GW.

For example, you could write a list with a single detachment, but 4 or more different rules sources in that detachment: An Ork Faction army built using the Ghaz supplement detachment, the Grukk Face Rippa data slate from Da Red WAAGH! sourcebook and a Forge World unit.

So, it is in our best interest as a community to alter our verbiage to avoid confusion. When setting guidelines for how you want to play a game of 40K, stating how many detachments you would like to use, perhaps of what type, and then perhaps even limiting from which rules sources you draw your units, would be more specific and clearer.

I love the new system as we are always getting new stuff, it just takes a bit more defining to keep up with. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!



About Reecius

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

46 Responses to “Detachments not Sources”

  1. T2-Keks October 22, 2014 12:35 am #

    Really good write up!
    Sadly most places still are very limiting on the number of allowed detachments.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 8:41 am #

      Glad you liked it. We limit the amount of detachments too, actually, because if you do not (for competitive play) you quickly descend into death-star 40K again.

  2. Stainless Steel Rat October 22, 2014 3:24 am #

    Thanks for the clarification. Unfortunately the writers and editors of the BRB did a lousy job explaining these fundamentals this time. While the new edition has opened up play styles, sorting out the terms has become as appealing (and confusing) as reading the boiler plate in a legal document. This article should result in a lot less head scratching for many.

    • Adam
      Adam October 22, 2014 8:28 am #

      What’s funny is that new players seem to figure this out right away. In my experience, it’s older veterans that seem to be stuck in the mentality that everything fits into a single force org chart.

      “A player using the Battle-forged method must organise all the units they want to use into Detachments. Detachments are made up of units that conform to various requirements. For example, one common type of Detachment requires the use of at least one HQ unit and two Troops units; another might require that only units from Codex: Orks be included. As a reward for adhering to these requirements, each Detachment grants its own Command Benefits to the units within it, which can really enhance their effectiveness in battle.”

      It’s actually pretty clear, it’s just when people put their own expectations into it, or what they heard when 7e was just rumors, it totally screws up everything… Some people STILL think that all troops in a battle forged army gain Objective Secured. 🙁

      • rexscarlet October 23, 2014 3:29 am #

        I find everyone is confused equally.
        New players do not have the resources of multiple books and multiple models, so are fielding an Interwebs list (death star) right away. (only limited purchases)
        Veteran players with multiple resources of books and models are shelving units and fielding Interwebs lists (death star) in order to be PAR with new players. (only limited purchases)

        That is my observation.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 8:41 am #

      I hope it helps!

  3. Wisdomls October 22, 2014 3:42 am #

    A Good and needed write up.
    I’ve found that the thing most people get wrong is not understanding that formations are a type of detachment.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 8:42 am #

      All the time! I get asked at least 3 times a week if a formation fits in a CAD, which it does not, it IS a detachment of it’s own.

  4. Adam
    Adam October 22, 2014 8:24 am #

    I think it’s easiest to describe a Dataslate as a mini rules expansion. It’s not a formation or detachment, just like a codex or supplement isn’t, though it may contain them.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 8:46 am #

      Essentially, ALL units are now dataslates. That is why in 7th ed everything you need rules wise for a unit is on one page of info and you can find them anywhere.

      • winterman October 23, 2014 10:19 am #

        All units are Datasheets — not dataslates. Dataslates are online content. Datasheets are the units themselves.

        Not trying to be pedantic, its just one more nomenclature hurdle when discussing this stuff.

  5. fluger October 22, 2014 8:32 am #

    Just so we’re clear, BAO/LVO standard is still a limit of two detachments/formations per list, correct?

    So, I could make an Ork list that was CAD+Bully Boyz+Grukk, but I couldn’t do a list that was CAD+Green Tide+Bully Boyz, correct?

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 8:45 am #


      And no reason to distinguish between detachments/formations, a formation is a detachment.

      • fluger October 22, 2014 8:50 am #

        Gah! I never cared about this restriction until the new Covens book dropped. I WANT ALL THE DETACHMENTS.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 22, 2014 9:11 am #

          That is a formation of formations, so it breaks the rule and gives you all the different detachments in one.

          Confusing, I know, but hey. It’s worth it, IMO, as 7th gives you nearly infinite variety.

          • fluger October 22, 2014 9:35 am

            Are you talking about that “one of every formation” formation?

            I thought about it, and started making a list with it, and, even pared down, it was like 2600 pts. 🙁

            The Corpsethief Claw is just too pricey to fit in with everything else.

          • Reecius
            Reecius October 22, 2014 9:46 am

            Yeah, there are a lot of those “one formation to rule them all” type of formations.

  6. iNcontroL October 22, 2014 8:41 am #

    Well… said… 😉

  7. Timatron October 22, 2014 8:50 am #

    Sure you won’t mind me leaving this here Reecius, as it’s basically my video saying exactly the same thing as you do in your article!

    Sure you wouldn’t begrudge me trying to get a few views off the back of your article. 😉

  8. droozy October 22, 2014 9:48 am #

    Damn. I thought I had it. So, for example, the stormwing formation is considered its own detachment even if brought with a detachment of space marines? So space marines with stormwing would be two detachments. But the same models without the rules for the formation is considered one detachment. I want to call shenanigans but I know there are other examples that make more sense and once you start making exceptions it’s a slippery slope. It felt like, from reading the book, that this scenario would be a single CAD but I suppose that’s an incorrect assessment on my part.

    • droozy October 22, 2014 9:54 am #

      But then I thought the formation came in the form of a dataslate… How does that work?

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 22, 2014 10:08 am #

        A dataslate is really just a set of rules, that is all. Every unit in 7th ed essentially is a dataslate. Every Formation is essentially a dataslate.

        It is confusing I know, but just think of detachments, and units fitting into those detachments and that simplifies it.

        • winterman October 23, 2014 10:21 am #

          Dataslates are online content, and are the same category as a codex or supplement. Datasheets are the rules. Datasheets can be found in codexes, supplements, white dwarf and dataslates.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 10:06 am #

      Yeah, that is the most common mistake people make in writing lists in 7th ed, but, it is actually 100% explicit in the BRB.

      A unit can only ever be in 1 detachment.

      A CAD is a Detachment.

      A Formation is a detachment.

      Therefore, you cannot be in both at the same time.

      • droozy October 22, 2014 10:09 am #

        Gotcha. Since the formation was released as a dataslate, is that just to be considered a formation that is added to the codex? Cuz it is a dataslate.

        • droozy October 22, 2014 10:13 am #

          You answered my question above but it wasn’t loaded on my screen. Sorry for being redundant.

          • Reecius
            Reecius October 22, 2014 1:13 pm

            No worries.

  9. DCannon4Life October 22, 2014 10:47 am #

    Illegal lists (unintentional or otherwise) will be more prevalent and harder to detect. Good times!

    • vonvilkee October 24, 2014 11:04 am #

      While this is true it is much easier to “fix” on the fly. Points are right and the list is just unbound… sorry dude you made an “illegal” list you lose your rules, carry on and play!

  10. Weidekuh October 22, 2014 11:46 am #

    I was just researching this today and came to the same conclusion. Good to see I figured it out right.
    I was really struggling to build an Iyanden MC list without the ghost warrior formation until today. Now my 1750 army can finally field all my 6 MC. 1 Wraithseer, 3 Wraithlords, 2 Wraithknights. 25 T8 wounds to chew through. And my Wraithguards are still objsec. Yay!

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 22, 2014 1:14 pm #

      That sounds pretty brutal!

    • rexscarlet October 23, 2014 3:42 am #

      yep I was having issues just last week as I built my ghost warriors formation.
      formation detachment; ghost warriors
      15 wraithguard
      2 wraithlords
      1 wraithknight (WARLORD)
      eldar and Iyanden detachment;
      Farseer jetbike
      3 jetbikes
      3 jetbikes
      3 warwalkers
      3 warwalkers
      3 warwalkers
      something like that…
      all built, based, and primed yesterday…
      Thanks Reecius!

  11. TinBane October 22, 2014 1:48 pm #

    Just to add to the confusion, there are some dataslates that add a formation, rather than units (such as hellbrutes). Obviously anything marked as a formation in a dataslate, is treated as a formation. While units that are given a slot, are additions to the choices for a CAD or allied detachment, as noted in the rules for that dataslate (ie Cypher).

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 23, 2014 10:02 am #

      Pretty much any unit/formation is a data slate now.

  12. C4PTUR3 October 22, 2014 2:56 pm #

    Just to clarify, are you (and the majority of larger US events) of the opinion that detachments such as “Company of the Great Wolf” can be used in addition to a CAD in competitive play? (i.e. Space Marine CAD + Company of the Great Wolf Detachment) Because in the UK the presiding opinion seems to be that you take a CAD OR the CotGW Detachment, not both. I see the merits and draw backs of both decisions, I’m just interested to know how you see this being ruled moving forwards.

    • TinBane October 22, 2014 3:09 pm #

      I can’t speak for Reece, but my understanding is that it’s as simple as two detachments. So yes, you can take both. However you have to fulfil the requirements for both, and if your warlord is in your great wolf detachment, you don’t get obsec on your CAD troops.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 23, 2014 10:03 am #

      It varies but we’re sort of settling into a 2 detachment limit, no repeated detachments. So, you could go CotGW and CAD, but not two of the same.

      • BetrayTheWorld November 3, 2014 10:29 am #

        See, I still dislike the 2 detachment limit in an 1850 game, because it unfairly punishes books that get small formations/detachments. Things like the scalpal squadron formation from DE will be unlikely to be used simply because it handicaps you too much when limited to 2 detachments.

        I think the detachment/formation requirements themselves are designed to have inherent limits, and we shoud stop trying to limit them so much, especially as more, smaller formations come out that are obviously intended to be played with more than 2 detachments. You can’t even HIT 1850 with a scalpal squadron and dark artisan formation, even if you took every upgrade.

        • Reecius
          Reecius November 3, 2014 10:33 am #

          Yeah, good point, but the converse to that is that more than 2 detachments unfairly punishes armies that don’t get access to cheap, small detachments, which is all non-Imperial armies.

          • BetrayTheWorld November 3, 2014 12:42 pm

            Well, not exactly. DE are a non-imperial army that has cheap, small detachments available to them now. And as we move forward, GW has show that they’re embracing the idea of creating detachments that weren’t designed to fit within the constraints of the “2 detachment” system.

            And allowing more than 2 detachments, just following the rules out of the book, while disallowing unbound provides enough restrictions for things to not get TOO out of hand, while providing plenty of flexibility for pretty much every army, since they have the ability to take multiple CADs at that point. I don’t see the downside of allowing more than 2 detachments as a downside, so much. Fine, bring 5 riptides, but let me use the formations in my codex/supplements.

  13. xTHExCLINCHERx October 23, 2014 2:41 am #

    So would it be safe to say that the way you can identify if something is a Detachment is if it has a Force Organization Chart? I think all Formations show a FOC, a Dataslate of one model does NOT show a FOC (it just shows the unit type and what slot they would fit into), and a Detachment shows a FOC… Right?

    So by that logic, it’s pretty easy to determine how many Detachments you’re using.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 23, 2014 10:03 am #

      Yes, that is a good way to look at it. Even single model detachments like the Assassin detachment has an FOC.

  14. rexscarlet October 23, 2014 3:49 am #

    Great thank you Reecius, I was having issues just last week as I built my ghost warriors formation models. (Note; I build a wraithseer with a big Gundam shield!!!, all your fault)
    formation detachment; ghost warriors
    15 wraithguard (I built with weapons on their shoulders, just like their big bros, lol)
    2 wraithlords (I built one as a wraithseer, because it looks hell-a-cool)
    1 wraithknight (WARLORD) (again, weapons on shoulders)
    eldar and Iyanden detachment;
    Farseer jetbike (had to scratch build what a mess, I am used to big fat SM in power armor, not skinny puny…)
    3 jetbikes
    3 jetbikes
    3 warwalkers
    3 warwalkers
    3 warwalkers (I really wish GW would supply enough weapons for all load-out options, really GW only one of each weapon?)
    something like that…
    all built, based, and primed yesterday…
    Thanks again Reecius!

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