NewHammer 40,000: Characters


The following comes from the Warhammer-commuity site. 

Warhammer 40,000 is chock full of mighty heroes and powerful villains; from the humble Astra Millitarum officer to the Greater Daemons of Chaos, these Characters can profoundly affect the way their army’s troops work on the battlefield. For you gamers, using these Characters correctly can be the difference between victory and defeat.

The way Characters interact with the rest of your army changes fundamentally in this new edition.

Previously, Independent Characters would join units, and those units would benefit from the Character’s Leadership and certain special rules, while the unit offered protection from enemy fire. Broadly, this worked pretty well, but there was a tendency in more competitive games to see multiple Characters pooled into a single unit, resulting in an all-conquering unkillable mega-unit with a smorgasbord of special rules, a few psychic powers for good measure, and often, some very un-thematic pairings (we’re looking at you, Dark Angels and Space Wolves, running around in your Ravenwing/Thunderwolf units).

So here’s a big thing – Characters can’t join units anymore. The age of the <add prefix>-star is over.

Instead, you’ll tend to find that a lot of Characters will have an ability that affects nearby units with a certain Keyword within a radius of effect. For example, the mysterious Dark Eldar Character Drazhar lets you add 1 to the hit rolls of all friendly Incubi units that are within 6″ in the Fight phase, while the Kroot Shaper allows nearby Kroot to re-roll wound rolls of 1 and share his superior Leadership.


To counter the fact that these Characters cannot join units and “hide” from enemy fire, there is a rule in the Shooting phase that means you can’t target a Character unless they are the closest enemy model. This represents the difficulty in picking out individuals amidst the maelstrom of battle and applies to all Characters with a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less, including things that previously might not have benefited from any protection. For example, Roboute Guilliman, who has 9 Wounds, can now realistically advance in the centre of a disciplined Space Marines army, directing his troops while remaining relatively safe from incoming weapons fire. Really big heroes, like Magnus the Red, will still need to brave enemy fire, but with, in his case, over a dozen Wounds and a respectable invulnerable save, he holds his own just fine.


The final part of the Character ruleset is Heroic Intervention. This allows Characters near a combat to pile in and attack if the enemy comes close enough, even if they themselves aren’t charged (because your Chaplain’s not just gonna stand there and let your Assault Squad have all the fun now is he?)


These rules, together, mean that you’ll see Characters advancing in the midst of their armies surrounded by groups of units benefiting from their particular expertise – which looks great on the tabletop, reflects the background we all know of the 41st Millennium, and offers some interesting tactical challenges as players try to get the most from their army’s leaders while keeping them alive…

That’s your update for today.

Join us tomorrow when we look at a few more weapon profiles from the upcoming new edition.

What do you all think?


About Reecius

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

55 Responses to “NewHammer 40,000: Characters”

  1. Requizen
    Requizen May 9, 2017 8:01 am #

    Couldn’t be more happy with this. I really hope the “Can’t target Characters unless they’re the closest model” comes to AoS, would definitely help save Heroes against shooting armies.

    But this slow drag is just AGH. I WANT IT ALL.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 9, 2017 8:22 am #

      I’ve only played AoS a few times, but it does seem that characters are very easy to kill with shooting, unless they have a ton of wounds. Particularly a problem for my Death army, as I need those buffs!

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 9, 2017 8:26 am #

        Yeah, my Free peoples nuke support characters so fast, makes it easy for me to deal with the rest of the other person’s army.

  2. Reecius
    Reecius May 9, 2017 8:06 am #

    Ahhh, sweet, sweet tears of joy fill mine eyes as I read these beautiful words!

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 9, 2017 8:23 am #

      Admit it Reece, you’re really going to miss Deathstars once they’re gone 😉

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 9, 2017 8:25 am #

        Oh….oh no, no, not at all, lololol

        Ding dong, the witch is dead!!

        • Avatar
          Kevin Lantz May 9, 2017 11:39 am #

          Death stars are literally the only reason I allied culexus assassins/sisters with my tau. Without deathstars I’ll never have a reason to not be pure tau most likely.

          • Reecius
            Reecius May 9, 2017 12:02 pm

            Yeah, the hope is that every faction can play solo and feel like they have all the tools they need to kick butt and have fun!

          • Avatar
            Kevin Lantz May 9, 2017 12:26 pm

            That’ll probably happen as long as you don’t have problems of ultra durable units, and innate inequity between factions. Not having a psychic phase is fine if the army is not uncompetitive because of it.

  3. Avatar
    DeeJay May 9, 2017 8:06 am #

    Removing death stars from the game will completely change the way competitive 40k is played.

    I’m curious to know how ICs will interact with transports. Will they hog up all the transport capacity on a storm raven? Are they to good to share a drop pod with a squad of marines? Does an Ork Warboss want a battlewagon all for himself?

    Or do they form a separate unit when they leave the transport?

    • Requizen
      Requizen May 9, 2017 8:08 am #

      The only AoS transports aren’t limited to 1 unit at a time. I would imagine it will be the same for 40k.

      • Avatar
        DeeJay May 9, 2017 8:08 am #

        Does that mean that I can put a squad of burnas and a squad of nobs into one battlewagon?

        • Requizen
          Requizen May 9, 2017 8:13 am #

          Potentially, though it will not necessarily be the same. It might also be one unit + any number of Characters, or could change the capacity to like 9 so you can’t have two units of 5.

          Not guaranteed to be the same as AoS, but it’s a good baseline to work off of.

  4. Avatar
    DeeJay May 9, 2017 8:08 am #

    I think the best way to use ICs on foot is the following.

    This lets the IC ‘buff’ both units, and gives a set of coverage for the IC. It blocks the ‘drop pod assassination’. It keeps the IC from becoming the closest target until both units are whittled down to fairly significant levels.


    Of course, this all depends on how close units can be. This is assuming that they can be 2″ apart from each other. If they need to be 6″ apart from each other, this kind of formation would not be possible.

  5. Avatar
    Horton May 9, 2017 8:11 am #

    Soooooo HAPPY!!!

  6. Avatar
    Threllen May 9, 2017 8:19 am #

    As long as there is some way to get them in transports, I love all these changes to characters.

    Anything to remove the “fun and interactive” gameplay that deathstars represent. And hopefully they keep the keyword-specific buffs tight enough so you don’t get cross-army cheese like you have today.

    Also it’s going to be feelsbadman for any “character” with 11 wounds.

    • Avatar
      Kaintxu May 9, 2017 1:58 pm #

      What annoys me is that roboutte is going to walk uninterrupted while greater daemons are going to be shot to pieces. Then once RW gets into hand to hand he is going to also wreck face

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 9, 2017 2:21 pm #

        I would suggest waiting until you saw the rules in entirety before drawing conclusions as to what will be too good or too weak =)

      • Avatar
        Threllen May 9, 2017 6:09 pm #

        Rules and points, my friend – rules and points.

        Just in a hypothetical situation if Girlyman costs 400 points for his 9 wounds he has but greater daemons have like 12 a piece and only cost 200 are you going to complain about it then?

        We’re seeing one tiny piece of the puzzle with his profile. Not nearly enough to draw conclusions like that.

  7. Avatar
    HeavyPlate May 9, 2017 8:26 am #

    *Undertaker gong*
    The end of single mega unit Death-Stars is here. Woot woot!
    I nearly launched out of my chair when i read the “Unable to target a character” rule. That is amazing. So freaking simple to the conundrum we’ve had forever of “Well shooting is too strong so you can’t have them alone or they might as well be dead.”

    Now, Time to admit confusion. Is this for EVERY character? Cause that is what i’m leaning towards when they bring up the Shaper. What does that mean? A Vet Sergeant or Nob can’t be targeted but aren’t part of the unit? The upgrade separates them? Could be real wrong here, cause this makes perfect sense for IC’s but not as much for that.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 9, 2017 8:30 am #

      I imagine that squad leaders will lose “character” status, so it will only apply to what is now classed as Independent Characters.

      • Avatar
        Ytook May 9, 2017 8:34 am #

        I’m guessing we’ll also see some characters move to being like this rather than a unit upgrade like the Shaper they mentioned. Similar thing happened in AoS some previously unit upgrades became low level buffing or assassin style characters 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Ytook May 9, 2017 8:31 am #

    So good, again basically exactly what I was hoping for!

    For those who may not have seen it Reece’s article on the guard in newhammer reveals sniper type weapons can target characters even if they’re not closest, so snipers weapons are relevant and scary 😀

    • Reecius
      Reecius May 9, 2017 8:32 am #

      Hee hee hee, the plot thickens!

      • Avatar
        Ytook May 9, 2017 8:36 am #

        So good, imperial assassins will actually all be properly scary rather than one shots 😀

        • Reecius
          Reecius May 9, 2017 8:44 am #

          Indeed, they serve quite a useful function, now and are very much what you would expect them to be.

        • Avatar
          David Hayden May 9, 2017 1:03 pm #

          I have long wanted to field Illic Nightspear, but what was the point?

          He’ll be going into my 8th Edition lists now.

  9. Avatar
    Kaughnor May 9, 2017 8:34 am #

    I wonder if snipers might bypass the restriction on shooting characters. Would add another layer of checks and balances.

    • Avatar
      Ytook May 9, 2017 8:36 am #

      Already confirmed in Reece’s Guard article they do 😉

      • Avatar
        Kaughnor May 9, 2017 9:42 am #

        Nice! Think it’s time to finally paint up Illic Nightspear

  10. Avatar
    Ytook May 9, 2017 9:28 am #

    I’m hoping like in AoS that more mobile or tough versions of charters have less widely applicable or good abilities, so captains on bikes or with assault packs only benefit units like them rather than all units like the foot slogging fellah. Basically I’m hoping characters on bikes won’t be the best version you’ll always take by default.

  11. Avatar
    David Hayden May 9, 2017 9:30 am #

    Everyone is so focused on the end of death stars that they’re forgetting to celebrate another positive change…

    Look Out Sir rolls are gone!

    That’s got to speed things up by at least 10 minutes per game.

    (Assuming they’re indeed gone and we haven’t been told about a rule that allows a model from a nearby unit to do this.)

    • Avatar
      WestRider May 9, 2017 11:57 am #

      I can see some Characters having a special Rule that gives them a LOS-like ability, and/or some Units (e.g. Honour Guard) that can do that for nearby Characters, but I really doubt it will be a universal thing.

  12. Avatar
    Cephalobeard May 9, 2017 9:37 am #

    Well, on one hand I’m happy barkstars are gone.

    One the other I’m sad my Heralds can’t ride around with Screamers, but then I realize they can still ride around with Screamers.

    I feel fine.

    • Avatar
      Threllen May 9, 2017 10:06 am #

      My Herald can’t *join* a screamer unit and ride around in the middle of it like he used to.

      Instead he can just “separately” ride around in the middle of the unit 😉

      • Avatar
        Cephalobeard May 9, 2017 1:03 pm #

        Exactly! I’m totally fine with it! Haha.

  13. Avatar
    Jural May 9, 2017 10:19 am #

    Also dead- the end of tanking wounds with one super character. All in all, very positive. Just wondering how they will implement some of these concepts for units like the Swarmlord, or Ghaz, or Abaddon.

  14. Avatar
    Johnnykryptonite May 9, 2017 10:35 am #

    I have mixed feelings on this. Mostly because I’m not a competitive gamer or a star addict. Having you guys on board definitely lends a LOT of credit to GWs usual shenanigans so thank you Reecius and Frankie.

    I do have one major concern I wonder if you could elaborate on, will balance finally be considered between imperial forces and stepchilds like CSM, orks, DE and so on?

    I have huge concerns that the core rules will be great but if loyalists still get grav, drop pods, gladius and so on not to mention typical eldar that it won’t matter for traitor legions or orks. Please tell me the whole endless loser thing for the bad guys has been addressed?

    • Reecius
      Reecius May 9, 2017 10:58 am #

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. As for the bad guys being actually bad with rules, I think that largely varies based on your perspective. I mean, some of the most powerful armies are “bad” armies right now. There is no plot to make the evil armies actually not good rules-wise (and in 40k, who isn’t evil? haha). I think it has been just bad circumstance that some of the evil armies had crummy rules, I really doubt it was intent.

      But as we’ve been saying, everyone involved tried to make EVERY unit good. Seriously, we tried our best to make every unit appealing in some way. I am sure that there will be units that could have been a bit better or worse, but we sincerely did our best to try and balance all the units out and make them appealing and each faction powerful, characterful and fun.

      Ultimately, you will be the judge of that based on your own perspective and experiences but the effort was there.

      Time will tell!

      • Avatar
        Johnnykryptonite May 9, 2017 11:18 am #

        I’m confident you did good work. GW not yet confident in.
        I’m speaking mostly of disparity between factions on similar rules/units/items.. for example lets say X unit from C:SM gets assault from reserve, while X unit from CSM gets assault from reserve only with disordered charge. That sort of thing. Is that mostly gone this time?

        The core rules look awesome btw. Its the real and perceived favoritism that will impact the success of the rules. IMO only that is.

        thanks for what you do brothers. I haven’t played this game in a year but this may actually bring me back!

  15. Avatar
    Beau May 9, 2017 12:20 pm #

    I am glad that deathstars are dead. I think MSU can have a good balance to the game, but I very much do hope hordes armies get a perk for having a few blob units so they are not handicapped vs msu armies. Either way it sounds like characters will be able to support them all at once (range dependant of course).

  16. Avatar
    GeekmasterK May 9, 2017 12:39 pm #

    Honestly, Reece, I’ve always shared your view of deathstars. I understand why they’ve been a thing, but always felt it was bad for the health of the game that they were possible. People could find ways to exploit the character buff abilities, but with everything that’s been revealed so far with the core rules, I feel like it won’t be as bad as traditional deathstars. I can’t wait to find out what these buff abilities are! I considered the possibility that Sanguinary Priests might effectively get their Feel No Pain bubble back, if Feel No Pain is still a thing. Either way, I’m excited for Blood Angels to be naturally good again based on the core rules. They were my first faction when I got into the game back in 5th, and they haven’t been used in a while. I currently have a bunch of badly-painted assault squads soaking in Simple Green to be re-painted. My hope is to use them in the ITC. I enjoy playing my Eldar, but changing it up is good, and I really want to see more variety in the ITC, which 8th Edition looks like it will do.

    That got a bit off-topic, but, yeah, this is the first edition change I’ve been through where I haven’t had any doubts about the next edition being amazing!

  17. Avatar
    David Hayden May 9, 2017 1:06 pm #

    Everything I’ve seen of 8th so far has presented a well-considered and elegant rules set. So I’m a bit sad to see a breakpoint appear with the 10 wounds threshold. Breakpoints are always rough in game design, because units just over or just under will be considerably over or under powered.

    • Avatar
      Threllen May 9, 2017 1:25 pm #

      I do think it’s better to not have breakpoints where possible, but I don’t think a unit will necessarily have to be “overpowered” just because it has 10 wounds and “underpowered” if it had 11.

      First, I’m sure “character” will be a keyword indicator. So you can snipe out something like a dreadnought even though it only has 8 wounds.

      Second, they can choose to design characters based-off this built-in game mechanic. Given that 10 wounds is pretty dang high, they were probably very intentional in keeping things that were independent characters at or below that threshold. And anything they don’t want to be able to hide is either a) not a character or b) like Magnus the Red and has more than 10 wounds.

      • Avatar
        David Hayden May 9, 2017 7:18 pm #

        True. You make an excellent case. It may turn out perfectly okay if they came up with the rule then worked with it the right way. I have hope. It’s just one of those things that’s less likely to cause problems now and more likely to cause problems in the future. And of course it’s still better than what we have now.

  18. Avatar
    Crispy86 May 9, 2017 1:26 pm #

    I have a warboss in eavy armour that I’ve wanted to stick on the table for ages, looks like he’ll be seeing some table time :).

    Just gotta paint up some more boyz to tank the shots

  19. Avatar
    Spaceork May 9, 2017 1:32 pm #

    Deathstars are not dead, they just operate differently. Obviously we don’t know all the rules but we have enough to draw parallels to AoS. In AoS the army I’m currently running has a brick of Chaos Warriors. Chaos Warriors are a moderately killy/durable unit at 2w/4+sv/5+againts mortal wounds with 3+/4+ in combat. After some buffs applied from heroes and battalions (AoS formations) they become 2w, 3+sv with reroll 1’s, 5+ against mortal wounds, 5+ fnp, immune to moral tests, -1 to hit at all times and -2 to hit in the first turn So the rather mundane Warriors become a unkillable anvil. It can safe to assume that a unit of say, thunder hammer/ storm shield terminators could be turn into a similar deathstar but with added protection of not having your HQ’s sniped out. Deathstars are not dead, they are just not the go to option. Which is great.

    • Reecius
      Reecius May 9, 2017 2:21 pm #

      Well, I see your point but I would wait to see all the rules before drawing conclusions on if anything is in or out, etc. I mean, GW said flat out that stars are not going to function they way they did (which is nothing but a good thing, IMO) but we’ll see how things play out. It also depends on how you define “Deathstar.” For me, that is a unit that is almost impossible to destroy with conventional weapons, which is just no fun and puts people off on the game in the long run.

      So we shall see. But as for AoS, as you noted, you can make very tough units but the magic of Mortal Wounds also mitigates that a great deal, which is their function in that system. They are the equalizer.

      • Avatar
        punchymango May 9, 2017 7:30 pm #

        Mortal wounds are a good mechanic for keeping these kinds of things in check, yeah.

        I’m legit curious how 8e vehicles are going to shake out, personally. Infantry seem to be a bit more survivable, between a wound table that’s a bit nicer to them and armor mods making it less common for infantry to just take wounds with no saves allowed. Vehicles sound like they’ll take damage in more predictable ways, but it’s hard to say how much punishment they’ll actually be able to take in practice.

        I’m really hoping I can use my hellbrutes in 8e, I love that model.

    • Avatar
      TheRower May 9, 2017 2:28 pm #

      Why does that list sound so familiar? Haha. I have faith that 8th will be great. If they really adhered to the goal of making everything playable. There will still be strong units but it will be based on buff synergy like AOS which feels more tactical and you can in theory find ways to chip away at those buffs. Bring on Newhammer!

    • Avatar
      Dakkath May 9, 2017 10:36 pm #

      You’ve also got the potential for a large enough unit to simply bubble-wrap around a bunch of ICs to gain all their buffs. Not exactly like the stars of old, but similar.

  20. Avatar
    Dbiesto May 9, 2017 3:19 pm #

    If legendary characters actually are able to meet in the middle of a battle zone to duke it out, I’m instantly sold. I’m just waiting on how blast weapons work, but now non invulnerable saving characters can’t be targeted by ID barrage/ blasts sound like they have a bigger role just like the fluff made them to be.

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