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Warhammer 40k Boarding Actions

warhammer 40k

Space hulks have long been part of the Warhammer 40k universe. They are amalgamated wrecks of hundreds, if not thousands, of old ships, transformed into twisted hulks that drift through the warp. They break through into realspace, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Sometimes they stay for days, weeks or months, other times mere hours. There is no way to tell. But now, the forces of Chaos have transformed some of these hulks into the dreaded Arks of Omen and have begun using them to wage war on the galaxy. While these ships are formidable, they are vulnerable to boarding actions. That's where we come in…

It's 40k, But Not As You Know It...

So what is a boarding action? Put simply it's when two or more forces clash inside the cramped confines of an Ark of Omen (or any space hulk really). What it means in game terms however is quite unique.

While it follows most of the same rules as Warhammer 40k, there are a few key differences:

There is a 500pt army limit. 0-1 HQs, 0-3 Troops, 0-3 Elite. No MONSTER, VEHICLE, JUMP PACK, CAVALRY, BIKER, or FLY keywords. There are certain exceptions to these rules, you can find those here.

  • There are no warlord traits or relics. Characters get to pick 1 of several enhancements.
  • Officially you need to use the GW terrain box (which if you already have them, is just two sets of Kill Team Gallowdark walls). This is a good set and matches up with their mission diagram, however in the end it is just walls and doors, so if you have something else that will work, you can use that.
  • You start with 1 CP, then gain 1 CP each command phase. You can only use the general stratagems (command re-roll etc), nothing army specific.
  • There are a few changes to measuring and visibility, essentially, you can't measure through walls in any circumstances and you can't shoot or charge anything you can't see. You can find additional information here.
  • There are some additional actions available. Secure Site, Set Overwatch, Set to Defend and Operate Hatchway.

So when you put all this together what does it give you? It gives you a robust way of playing 40k on a small scale (but not quite as small as Kill Team). The rules are simplified and you don't have to worry about stratagems too much, which can often be confusing. If you have an existing army, all you'll need to do is get the book and some terrain and away you go.

Where I think it really shines through is for new players. 40k can be a lot to take in, so a simpler way to play is always welcome, especially the removal of most stratagems, traits, relics etc. It keeps things simple. It's also relatively easy to start, depending on the army you likely won't need too many troops to be able to make 500pts. GW have announced two 'Boarding Patrol' boxes (Marines and Chaos) and there may be more to come, but in the meantime the Combat Patrols and individual boxes are still a good option.

Am I diving back into Warhammer 40k and starting a new army to join the boarding action fun? You'll have to wait and see…