Rule Changes in 6th Edition Warhammer 40k (Part 2)

Updated on November 16, 2016


In my last article, we explored how 6th edition Warhammer 40k has dramatically changed the pre-game set up. If you haven't read it yet, I highly suggest you read the article as there are too many important changes to list again here. You can find Part 1 of my Rules Changes in 6th Edition by clicking here: Rule Changes in 6th Edition Warhammer 40k (Part 1).

For Part 2, I'm going to start working through the different phases of a game turn and highlight rules and changes that will affect the game most dramatically. We'll start with the Movement Phase, take a peek at the new Mysterious Terrain (modeled by Citadel Woods or similar forest), and then move on to Shooting and Assault.

Movement Phase

The general rules for the movement phase haven't changed in 6th edition. Models in a unit still have to maintain 2" cohesion, infantry moves 6", etc. What has changed, however, is how movement is affected by the battlefield terrain and how you want to use movement to set up the other phases of the game (Shooting and Assault). Let's look at the most immediate impact on your Movement Phase, and that would be terrain and the new Mysterious Terrain.


There are four terrain classifications in 6th edition: open ground, difficult terrain, dangerous terrain, and lethal terrain. Everything works about the same as it does in the old 5th edition, with a couple exceptions listed below:

Dangerous Terrain changed in 6th edition! Every model entering dangerous terrain must roll a d6 and on a 1, it takes a wound. However, in 6th edition, the model can now take an armor or invulnerable save! Also, the Skilled Rider special rule makes models 100% immune to dangerous terrain tests!

Lethal Terrain is new (I think), but I expect it wont come into play very often. It's basically Impassible Terrain that can't be moved into voluntarily . . . however, if a model ever ends its move in lethal terrain involuntarily (psychic power, deep strike scatter, etc) then the model is instantly removed from play. I can imagine volcanic craters or such might be lethal terrain.

Area Terrain is difficult terrain that is defined by a clear border. You are either in it or not. Models in area terrain automatically gain a 5+ cover save when being shot at, even if the model isn't specifically obscured. This allows us to move rocks and trees around without it affecting the line of sight.

Let's look at some different unit types and see how they move through terrain.

Vehicles act just as they did in 5th edition.

Bikes and Jetbikes act just as in the old edition, but they can make an armor save for Dangerous Terrain failures. Bikes and Jetbikes also have the Jink special rule, which gives them a 5+ cover save if they moved in their movement phase and a 4+ cover save if they Turbo-boosted. The skilled rider special rule also increases these saves by +1, so a 4+ cover save if they moved and 3+ if Turbo-boosting!

Turbo-boosting has also had some changes. First, it takes place in your Shooting Phase now. This means you can move your 12" in the Movement Phase, and then instead of shooting, you can Turbo-boost to move another 12" for Bikes, 24" for Jetbikes, and 36" for Eldar/DarkEldar Jetbikes!

Jump and Jetpack troops follow the same rules as Jetbikes above, although they can choose to move as normal infantry rather than use their jump/jetpacks. If you wanted to enter difficult terrain, you could elect to "walk" there (roll 2d6 and choose the highest number) to avoid making dangerous terrain test. With the ability to get an armor save upon failing a dangerous terrain test, I don't image too many people will do this.

Monstrous Creatures roll 3d6 when entering difficult terrain, and they choose the highest two dice. They also ignore all Dangerous Terrain tests. Interestingly, though, this special rule specifically does NOT include charging through difficult terrain in the Assault Phase!

Beasts are incredible! They move 12" normally and are not slowed by Difficult Terrain at all . . . even when charging! They also ignore Dangerous Terrain tests. Beasts also have the Fleet special rule, which now allows them to re-roll one or both dice during a charge move in the Assault Phase. Since their charge move isn't slowed by Difficult Terrain, their Initiative is not reduced to 1 either!

Calvary move 12" and are not slowed by Difficult Terrain, however they always treat difficult terrain as dangerous! Their benefit is that they also have the Fleet special rule and now the Hammer of Wrath special rule that affects Assaults (we'll cover that in the Assault section later)

Mysterious Terrain

Now the good stuff! We now have Mysterious Terrain in 6th edition. Really there are two types, Mysterious Woods and Mysterious Rivers.

All woods/forests/jungles in 6th edition are now "mysterious". The first time a model enters them (or at the start of the game if a model starts in the woods), you must roll on a chart to determine the effect. These effects can be good or bad. Games Workshop sells a model kit for woods (the Citadel Woods picture to the right), which should serve as a guide for at least how large an area of woods should be. The 6th edition rulebook gives us some flexibility on the randomness of these woods, telling us it's okay if all the woods are the same random effect (instead of each separate woods model being a different roll) or that players can agree to just pick an option at the beginning of the game.

The random results are about 50/50 good or bad. Notice that you will always at least get a 5+ cover save from enemy shooting, so woods are nice, but risky. Also, any line of sight that is drawn through woods grants a 5+ cover save to models behind it, so you can hide vehicles behind a woods without having to enter and risk that dangerous terrain roll.

What about Rivers? Honestly, I've never played a 40k game with a river in it, but maybe we will start doing so. Rivers are a mix of random results that can be both good and bad. One result gives models Feel No Pain, but requires them to take a Leadership test to act. Another result acts as Dangerous Terrain, but allows models to re-roll failed armor saves! As rivers are not as common as woods, I wont spend any more words describing them. Check out the book when you get one!

Thoughts on Terrain

At over 1,000 words so far, I'm running out of room! Let me wrap up my thoughts on movement and terrain by giving some strategies to look out for. Then I'll link to the next page to start the amazing changes to the Shooting Phase of 6th edition Warhammer 40k.

First, I love many of the subtle changes to how different units types move. I love that bikes/jetbikes and skimmers get the Jink rule (5+ or 4+ cover save). I also love how beasts can totally ignore terrain and don't suffer from a lack of grenades when assaulting. The change to Jump troops is a little frustrating, but I actually think it makes them more interesting. Do they use their Jump packs to move 12" in the Movement phase, or just walk 6" and then use their packs to re-roll their charge range and gain the Hammer of Wrath ability?

I also like that models only need to be 25% obscured to gain a cover save of 5+. I think people will be hugging terrain a little more now and that creates more tactical play and maneuvering. I often play weak-armor armies, so more cover saves can only help!

I am less keen on the Mysterious Terrain. I've played many dozens of games of Warhammer Fantasy where the Mysterious Forests first debuted more than a year ago. While there are some positive effects that can be rolled, the negatives usually outweighed the benefits. I found that most players eventually just avoided the woods rather than be bogged down and taking extra hits and penalties every round. I do like that the 6th edition rulebook suggests that both players can agree on a type of woods ahead of time. Why not just choose "normal" woods and get on with the battle?

Alright, to continue reading my breakdown of the 6th edition Warhammer 40k rules, click here to continue to Rule Changes in 6th Edition (Part 3) - The Shooting Phase!

Mysterious Terrain

How do you feel about Mysterious Terrain in 6th edition?

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