Allies in 6th edition Warhammer 40k
June 2012 witnessed the release of Warhammer 40k 6th Edition. This new edition of the popular miniatures combat game has promised to re-balance gameplay, add new twists, and create cinematic battles of unlimited scope. In general, fans have been excited for the change, but also wary about what the new rules will mean for their armies and the tactics they've developed over the last five years.
In this article, I am going to cover one of the biggest rule changes in 6th edition: allies! These new ally rules will bring a whole new layer of tactics to the 40k universe, so I want to devote a whole article to this one big change. After we talk about the new ally rules, I will link to another article that covers many of the "pre-game" elements of 6th edition 40k. In addition to allies, these new elements include rules for fortifications, double force organization charts, and a new unit type: flyers!
After the pre-game changes have discussed, I will link to my next article which will focus on the changes happening through the different phases of each game turn (movement, shooting, assault). There are many changes; some major and some subtle. Please note, I am not writing the rules out as a poor man's rulebook! Rather, I am discussing the changes to the rules, so prior knowledge of 5th edition rules will be mandatory.
One of the biggest changes in 6th edition 40k is that now (most) everyone can take allies! These are for normal games and you do not need your opponent's permission. The new allies rule is built right into the core of the game. It's important to note, however, that the points you spend on allies MUST come from your general pool for your army. So if you plan to include allies, you are sacrificing points to spend on your standard army.
So how do you get allies? You take an allied force as a second detachment for your normal force. You must take a compulsory 1 HQ and 1 Troops choice from your allied army (if you choose to take an ally). Once you have filled out thee compulsory choices, you may then take 1 Elite, 1 additional Troop, 1 Fast Attack, and 1 Heavy Support. You MAY take independent Special Characters such as Mephiston for the Blood Angels. The only downside of taking special characters is that they take away points from your Primary Detachment.
I like this set up because it avoids some of the "cheese" people might have been dreaming up. Since you MUST take an HQ and 1 Troop before anything else, you are going to have to sink some heavy points into an allied list before you can pick up any of the Elites or Heavy Support options that typically make a list shine.
So why might you take allies? There are two ways to look at allies: aesthetically or tactically.
You might add some new allied troops to your army because you think they look cool! Half of this hobby is all about the modeling, so why not fill out your space marine army with some cool kroot mercenaries? They aren't statistically any better than your tactical marines (they might even be worse!) but their organic bodies create a real contrast to your armored marines and might provide you with some new painting/modeling challenges.
Also, most of us in the hobby collect more than one army. This is your chance to combine elements of your armies together to create new and interesting opportunities on the battlefield. Since you already own the models, there's no cost to start experimenting. I own a small Dark Eldar army, but I also have a large Ork army. Why not combine the two and create a larger Dark Eldar army with an Ork Warboss and a huge mob of boyz to soak up all those bolter shots? Story-wise, these could be ork slaves that have been press-ganged into battle by their dark eldar overlords!
So apart from allies looking cool, they can be a real boon tactically. We can use allies to plug holes in our army lists where we have obvious weaknesses. Let's look at my example with the dark eldar and the orks above. Dark eldar armies are fast moving, hard hitting, but very fragile. If my own models get hit before they can get into combat, it's hard for me to come back and win. If I could bring a cheap Ork Warboss and a mob of 25+ boyz, I now have a powerful melee unit that can take up a lot of table space and absorb a lot of shooting attacks. I have now presented my opponent with a difficult choice: do they shoot up my dark eldar units, but ignore that horde of incoming orks . . . or do they focus on the green tide of orks and hope that my dark eldar can be slowed down with some pot shots?
So before you go crazy with the possibilities, let's make a couple of key points very clear:
- Not every army can ally with every army. There is a nice chart in the book that explains your options. Tyranids cannot ally with anyone!
- Your allies come out of your normal points allocation. If you are playing a 1850 point game and you want to spend 400 pts on allies, you now only have 1450 to spend on your main force.
Let's look at that first point in more detail. There are four categories of allies available to you. Each of the categories describe how your factions get a long and explains how they can interact on the battlefield. Some allies may be more trouble than they are worth! The 40k rulebook gives you the chart of what allies are available. So the four categories are:
Battle Brothers - Your two forces benefit from each others universal special rules, psychic powers, and everything. They are essentially the same force.
Allies of Convenience - These two forces are joining to fight a common foe, but are not the best of friends. They do not benefit from each others Universal Special Rules or any psychic powers. You will treat each force as being separate.
Desperate Allies - Only the most dire of circumstances will bring these two forces together on the same side. If any Desperate Allies start their turn within 6" of your normal units.you must roll a d6. If a 1 is rolled then the unit does nothing for the turn as they refuse to act. They are either betraying your or watching you for betrayal.
Not Before the Apocalypse - these armies can never be allies.
I wish I could post every possible ally combination in the game, but there has to be some reason to check out the rulebook, right? I will give you just one example, using my Dark Eldar. According to the rulebook, only Eldar are battle brothers, I have NO allies of convenience, I can NEVER ally with Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Necron, or Tyranids, and everyone else is a Desperate Ally. So there are lots of options available!
What do you think of Allies?
Will Allies in 40k will make the game more or less fun?
So there you have it. The new allies rule for 6th edition 40k are going to change the battlefield as we know it. Expect to see experienced players using a mix of their armies to plug tactical holes in their standard lists. You will never know what you're going to be up against! Why not take the poll (to the right) and voice your opinion about the new Allies rule in 40k.
I will leave you with a couple of "builds" that are already building chatter around the internet.
- Imperial Guard with Grey Knight allies (strong shooty army strengthened by elite melee)
- Astra Militarum News - Imperial Guard
- Grey Knights with Imperial Guard allies (strong melee strengthened by mass shooting and tanks squadrons!)
- Tau with Space Marine allies (strong shooting army strengthened by troops with better armor and strong melee)
- Orks . . . we don't need no steenk'n allies! Waaaagghh!
For more 6th edition coverage, please check out some of my other Warhammer 40k articles:
- 7th Edition Warhammer 40k Rules!
- New Legion of the Damned Allies
- New Imperial Knights News
- Space Marine Codex Review 6th Edition
- Apocalypse 40k Review
- New! Eldar Codex Review 6th Edition
- New! Tau Codex Review 6th Edition
- NEW! Apocalypse Formations (Warhammer 40k) - List and Rules
- Dark Angels Codex Review 6th Edition
- Chaos Space Marine Codex Overview (6th edition) - New codex review!
- Rule Changes in 6th edition Warhammer 40k - Part 1: Setup and Missions
- Character Rules in 6th edition Warhammer 40k - (new!) Rules and tactics
- Orks in 6th edition 40k - General strategies and awesome comments from readers!
- New Fortifications Rules in 6th edition 40k - A rundown of rules and options.
- New Flyers Rules in 6th edition - How they move, shoot, and die! Strategies included.