Here’s something that’s been bugging me about 40k for a while. Well, I say “bugging”; it’s not like I’ve been kept up in the wee hours of the night, clutching my pillow to my head and wailing. But still, it’s something that feels a bit untidy.

In 40k, intact buildings act like immobile transport vehicles. That’s fine up to a point, but it gets a bit silly when you start playing a game, and realise that your only way of getting to the troops inside that bunker is to literally bring it to the ground. This feels weird for a couple of reasons:

  1. Blowing up a building seems like overkill – surely it would be easier to bust the door down and charge in screaming?
  2. Several armies lack anti-tank capabilities, for various reasons. Should that mean they’re useless at storming buildings?
  3. Most importantly of all, assaulting a well-defended enemy building is such a classic action trope, it’s a crim that it’s not covered by the 40k rules!

Weirdly enough, Warhammer has had a decent set of rules for assaulting buildings for two editions now. I’ve taken a look at them and used them as an inspiration for the main part of the rules below.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a brand spanking new (and as a result, untested!) way of using buildings in 40k. It adds a little bit of complexity, but not a massive amount, so I can’t see it bogging things down. If anyone wants to try them out and post your thoughts in the comments section, it would be much appreciated!

Buildings in 40k

When discussing terrain with your opponent at the start of the game, any buildings on the board should be categorised into one of four categories:

  • Impassable Buildings are ones with no obvious points of entrance; these count as impassable terrain.
  • Ruins are treated exactly as they already are in the 40k rules.
  • Defensible Buildings are regular, non-military buildings that are intact enough to have four walls and a roof, with at least one door. (E.g. intact buildings made using the Cities of Death kits)
  • Strongholds are military buildings with armoured walls, reinforced shutters, and maybe even weapons. (E.g. Bastions or other buildings made to look “solid”.) [Note that Strongholds are not as sturdy as Bastions if you’re using the rules from Planetstrike; this is to stop them being too much of an advantage in-game.]

Intact Buildings (Defendable and Stronghold) use aspects of the transport vehicle rules, as in the 40k rulebook. When identifying buildings at the start of the game, it is important to determine how many access points and firing points each has, as well as the capacity of each building. (For a random factor, or if the players cannot agree, give the building a capacity of D3x5 models – if you roll a 6, roll another D3 and add it to the total, perhaps repesenting an underground level or similar.) Each building has an armour value, which is randomly determined the first time a unit occupies the building. Defensible buildings have an armour value of D3+8; Strongholds have an armour value of D3+10.

If a building has weapons on it, you must decide at the start of the game what the weapons are. Models occupying buildings can choose to fire from a firing point as normal, or to use one of the mounted weapons. Normal line of sight rules apply, and they must still fire at the same target as the rest of their squad.

Storming Buildings

An infantry or jump infantry unit may choose to storm a building, attempting to attack the occupants and drive them out, instead of attacking a building directly. When you charge an enemy-occupied building, declare whether you are attacking or storming the building. Only a single squad may storm a given building.

When storming a building, the attacking player must work out how many access points are within 2″ of a model in the attacking squad. For each viable access point, the attacker may choose five models from the squad to be the Fireteam – the models that will directly enter the building. The remainder of the squad is in support, and will be helping out by covering exits and throwing grenades through vision slits. Jump Infantry and models on 40mm bases (Terminators etc.) count as two models when working out Fireteams. Place the Fireteam to one side to represent the fact that they are in the building.

Next, before any fighting takes place, supporting models from the attacking squad get to take part. Every supporting model may attack with assault grenades or a template weapon. Each model attacking with assault grenades causes D3 automatic hits at strength 3, AP-; defending models may take a cover save against these (4+ for a stronghold, or 5+ for a defensible building). Each model attacking with a template weapon causes D3 automatic hits using the strength and AP of the weapon in question; cover saves may not be taken.

Now the combat is fought. Initiative plays no role; defenders go first, followed by Fireteam models. Any wounds caused by the defenders must be allocated to Fireteam members first before they are allocated to models in support.  Count up the number of wounds caused in the combat (not including grenades and template weapons) to work out which side has won the assault. Take morale checks as normal.

If the attacking side fails a morale check, surviving Fireteam members are placed back in squad coherency within 2″ of an access point (any models that cannot fit are destroyed), after which the squad falls back 2D6″ as normal.

If the defending side fails a morale check, surviving defenders must be placed within 2″ of any access point, but not within 1″ of a supporting attacker. Any models that cannot do this are destroyed. If there is anyone left, the unit then falls back 2D6″ as normal. The attacking side may choose to occupy the building, or consolidate as normal.

If neither side fails a morale check, surviving Fireteam members are returned to their squad as above; the attackers immediately make a D6″ consolidation move, which must end more than 1″ from the building.