Over the last year or so I've put together the following vehicle design system to allow players to include scratch-built and converted vehicles in their games of Warhammer 40,000. I must admit that I do this with trepidation, as my experience in the past is that some players see such systems as an opportunity to field the most beardy vehicles it is possible to imagine, just to give themselves some advantage in the games that they play. On the other hand, one thing I miss are the entertaining scratch-built and converted models we used to see in the old Rogue Trader days. This is understandable, as back when Rogue Trader was released (Rogue Trader being the title of the original version of the Warhammer 40,000 rules) there were very few models in the Citadel range, and so you were pretty much forced to use scratch-builds and conversions in order to be able to play at all. Now that there are so many models a player can use "off the shelf", as it were, it's no surprise that this is what most players choose to do. The situation wasn't helped by the fact that the Rogue Trader vehicle design rules simply didn't work all that well and were subject to beardy excesses, and that the 2nd edition vehicle rules were so complex that it was impossible for us to come up with a vehicle design system that worked at all, let alone one that was fair!
However, the advent of the new rules with their much cleaner vehicle rules has meant that I've once again been able to get on my old hobby-horse and have a go at coming up with a set of vehicle design rules that can really work.
I think you'll find that the rules, if used intelligently (i.e., not just to try and win games), will offer you all kinds of opportunities to increase the score, colour and character of your Warhammer 40,000 games. It will also, I hope, herald a return to those heady days when White Dwarf featured articles showing you how to scratch-build and convert new models for your army, and where most players had a vehicle or two that had started life as a Transformer, World War Two tank, or even a deodorant bottle (see below). So, have fun with the rules, and please, use them in the spirit in which they are intended.
THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE
As I've already mentioned, one of the primary aims of this article is to allow players to use models that they have scratch-built or converted themselves. They are not designed to allow players to plonk down a cardboard box and say something along the lines of "this box represents this vehicle what I came up wiv' last night." So, the most important rule of all is that a vehicle a player has designed must be represented by a painted, WYSIWYG model ('wysiwyg'=what you see is what you get), or it cannot be used at all!
'WYSIWYG' means that the model must be of the right type and size, and have the correct number of weapons on it. Weapons that are of a new design or appearance (i.e., are not GW weapon models) can 'count as' another type, but you must tell your opponent about this at the start of the battle, and you must be consistent about it. For example, if you say, "this gun counts as a lascannon", then another weapon that is identical must count as a lascannon. Basically, if you think to yourself, "Will this confuse another player?" and the answer is "Yes", then you shouldn't do it!
One last point - in normal games of Warhammer 40,000 it's quite common to use 'stand-in' models to try out a new troop type and see if you want to include them in an army. This is perfectly acceptable for units that are included in a Codex, but not for a 'do it yourself' vehicle. These rules are designed to allow you to use a model you have in a game, not to provide you with a way of designing a new 'uber-machine' for your army. If you want to test something out, you have to build it!
Basically, there are eight steps you need to follow in order to add a new vehicle to a game of Warhammer 40,000, which are listed below. The rest of the article takes each of these steps and describeds them in detail, and explains what you need to do. You should follow each step in turn, going back to adjust previous entries if the need arises. Record the details on the Vehicle Design Datafax sheet that we've included with the article. Please note that you will need the completed model before you can start working out the rules for it, as in some of the steps you'll need to look at the model to work out the rule that applies. The eight steps are:
VEHICLE TYPE SUMMARY
The first step in working out the rules for your new vehicle model is to pick what type of vehicle it is. A summary of the different types of vehicle is printed right. All you need to do is assign the vehicle to the appropriate category!
All vehicles in Warhammer 40,000 have a type; for example, a Land Raider is a tank, a Dreadnought is a walker, and so on. Each of these categories is described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, and you should refer to that for a fuller description of them. In addition, I've added in two new categories you can use: flyers and immobile.
Flyers: A flyer is basically an aircraft - i.e., something that can fly along very fast in pretty much a straight line - as opposed to a skimmer which is more like a modern day helicopter. The rules for fliers are included in a special section at the very end of the vehicle design rules to avoid cluttering up the core rules with special exceptions that will only apply to a very few models.
Immobile: Immobile vehicles are, as their name implies, a vehicle that can't move, like for example, an anti-aircraft battery, or a defense laser site. They can have turrets and have a crew to operate them, but unlike other vehicles they can't move from their starting location.
The next step in designing the rules for your new vehicle is to assign it a size. A vehicle's size has a number of effects on the rest of the rules that follower, like for example, deterning how many weapons it can carry.
Vehicles must be allocated on of the following sizes:
War Machines: Anything larger than 'normal' sized is a special type of vehicle known as a War Machines (i.e., Baneblade sized and up). A number of special rules apply to war machines. Rather than clutter up the main vehicle design rules with lots of 'ifs and buts' about war machines, I've included all of the special rules that apply to them in a separate section later on.
Size Guidelines: Playtesting has shown that some players can be a bit, erm, 'creative' in allocating sizes to their models, for example calling a small model a super-heavy vehicle. Please remember that the size you allocate should be reflected in the physical size of the model itself - in other words a small vehicle should be small, whicle super-heavy vehicles and larger should be really big! To help, here are some guidelines for you to use:
Small vehicles: Should be smaller that a Rhino model, about 3-4 inches square or less.
War Machines: Should be larger than a Land Raider, in other words larger than 5-6 inches square.
Vehicles that are converted from an existing Citadel model should be the same size as the prototype, unless you glue several models together.
For example, if you converted a Chimera into the 'Super Zappy Chimera' armed with an unfeasibly large gun, then it should remain a 'normal' sized vehicle. On the other hand, if you glued four Chimera hulls together in order to make a vehicle, then you could count it as a war machine.
All vehicles in Warhammer 40,000 have a set of armor values, even if they are not actually 'armored vehicles' as such. In this step you must decide how much armor your vehicle has on each of its facings. Cross reference the size and type above to find out how much armor the vehicle can have. The combined total of the Vehicle's front, left, right, and rear armor may not exceed this value. The number in brackers is the highest value a single facing may have. The minimum value a facing may have is 9. For example, a normal tank can have an armor value of up to 14, but the total of all it's armor facings can't exceed 54.
|TOTAL ARMOR CHART|
Armor Value Guidelines: Just as with size allocation, you should base the amount of armor you give a vehicle on its appearance; if a vehicle is clearly lightly armored, or indeed not armored at all, then you should not give it a high armor value. On the other hand, if it's dovered in thick armor plate it should be well-armored. Here are some guidelines as to what armor values you should allocate:
Armor 9: This should be reserved for non-military vehicles with no protection whatsoever, for example a car or a truck.
Be aware that vehicles with this armor value are horribly vulnerable to enemy shooting.
Armor 10: Unarmored or very lightly armored military vehicles can have this armor value on any facing, and other armored vehcles will have it for lightly armored rear and side facings.
In addition, strongly built civilian vehicles can have this armor value. For example a bull-dozer could be armor 10 rather than armor 9 on most facings.
Armor 11-12: Lightly armored vehicles will have this armor value on their front and side facings, while more heavily armored vehicles may have side and rear armor facings with this value.
Armor 13-14: Only heavily armored vehicles will have armor values this high, and then only of their front and side facings. Only incredibly tough and well-armored vehicles should have an armor rating this high on their rear facing.
Eldar vehicles should not be given armor values of 13 or 14 as they rely on more sophisticated forms of protection than thick armor plate.
Existing Models: If your model is a converted Citadel vehicle, then it should generally have the same armor values as the model it was converted from.
You can add +1 to a value if you've added lots of extra armour, and knock a point off if you've significantly reduced the armor on a facing. As a rule of thumb, though, it's best the leave the values as they are.
Next you need to record the speed of the vehicle on its datafax. This is very straight-forward; just look it up by cross-referencing the vehicle's size and type on the chart above to see what speed it normally has. Note you can upgrade you're vehicle's starting speed to your own choice by paying the additional points for it (see later on - Cost of Speed table).
Normal vehicles, walkers and fast vehicles follow the rules in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, while agile, lumbering, immobile and flyers are new categories.
Agile Vehicle: Agile vehicles are quite fast and maneuverable, but don't have the straight-line speed of a fast vehicle. They can move up to 6" and fire all weapons, or up to 12" and fire one. They may not move more than 12". They can turn freely as they move, like most other vehicles.
Fast. The vehicle follows the rules for fast vehicles in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook; i.e., it can move up to 6" and shoot all weapons, up to 12" and shoot one weapon, or up to 24" and not shoot at all, and it may turn freely as it moves.
Flyers: Flyers, like War Machines, require rather a lot of special rules. Rather than print them here I've put them all together in their own section at the end of the rules.
Immobile Vehicles: Immobile vehicles may not move!
Lumbering Vehicles: Lumbering vehicles grind along at a slow and steady pace. These vehicles can move up to 6" a turn. They must always move straight ahead, and at the end of the move they can pivot up to 90 degrees. Lumbering vehicles can fire all of their weapons even if they move.
Normal: These vehicles follow the standard Warhammer 40,000 vehicle movement rules; i.e., they can move up to 6" and fire one weapon, or up to 12" and not shoot any weapons, and may turn freely as they move.
Walker. The vehicle follows the movement rules for walkers in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook; i.e. it can move up to to 6" and fire up to two weapons. If stationary you can fire all weapons.
Now for the bit you've all been waiting for - arming the vehicle you've created. Weapons are picked from the list of weapons opposite.
If you're using a converted Citadel model then it will be easy to decide what each weapon on the vehicle counts as. If you're using anything else, or have scratch-built a new weapon for a Citadel model, then you should pick the weapon from the list opposite that the model's weapon most closely resembles.
This isn't actually quite as hard as it sounds, and as long as you are consistent and fair, I doubt you'll have any problem deciding 'what counts as what'. It goes without saying that all weapons you take for a vehicle must be represented by a weapon on the model, and by the same token any weapons shown on the model mu must be included on the datafax.
Weapon Options: Now, although the weapon lists includes suitable 'standins' for most weapons that can be mounted on a vehicle model, it has to be said that there are some weapons which aren't well represented.
I've included the points values her as it saves me from having to repeat the list in the 'Points Cost' step of designing the vehicle later on.
Rather than come up with a huge new list of weapons in a bid to cover everything that could be conjured up by the imaginations of some of the madder modelers out there (a thankless and nearly impossible task), I have instead come up with a set of weapon options which can be used to upgrade weapons from the list below.
It has to be said that these options are rather generic and lack some of the character of a 'unique' special weapon such as those we are able to create when writing a Codex, but have the benefit of being flexible and very easy to use.
The options that are available are listed below, along with the effect they have on a weapon's points value.
WEAPON UPGRADE CHART
|WEAPON OPTION||COST INCREASE|
|CO-AXIAL||Add cost of co-axial weapon|
Any options can be combined (i.e., you can have a twin-linked gatling mega lascannon if you really feel you have to!), but options may not be doubled up (ie you cannot have a mega mega lascannon).
Add together the costs of the multiple upgrades. For example, a twin-linked, gatling, mega, blast weapon would cost 50+100+100+150=+400%, or five times its normal cost!
Blast: The weapon gets a Blast marker if it doesn't normally have one. If it has a Blast marker, then the Blast marker is upgraded to an ordnance blast. If it already has an ordnance blast, then you've wasted the points! This option may only be used for weapons that are mounted on immobile vehicles or war machines.
Co-Axial Weapons: A 'co-axial' weapon is one that is fixed beside another weapon of a different type, a bit like a twin-linked weapon but where two different types of weapon are used. For example, a tank might have a turret mounted autocannon with a co-axial heavy bolter mounted beside it. Any type of weapons may be fitted into a 'co-axial' mount, Both weapons must fire at the same target unit, even if fitted to a war machine. If a co-axial mount includes an ordnance weapon, then if it fires any other co-axial weapons cannot be used (including other ordnance).
Twin-Linked Weapon: Twin-linked weapons, as their name implies, are basically two weapons mounted side by side. They are quite common in Warhammer 40,000, and the rules for them can be found in the rulebook (they allow a re-roll of the To Hit dice). Any weapons can be twin-linked if desired, but the model representing the weapon must have two or three gun barrels.
Gatling Weapon: Gatling weapons are basically an even bigger version of a twin-linked weapon, with even more gun barrels. Any weapons may put in a gatling mount. This allows them to take D3 shots for each shot they would normally fire (ie, a gatling heavy bolter would get 31D3 shots per attack). Weapons with a template must place additional templates touching the first using the rules for mortars and other Guess range weapons. The model representing a gatling weapon must have four or more gun barrels.
Long Barrel: Long barreled weapons, as their name implies, are much longer than a normal version of the weapon. This allows them to shoot further than the normal version, adding 50% to their range. For example a long-barreled autocannon would have a 72" range rather than its normal 48" range. Long barreled weapons must be at least twice as long as the normal length for a weapon of their type.
Mega-Weapons: Mega-weapons are simply huge versions of the weapons from the standard weapon lists, for example a mega-lascannon (for some reason mega-weapons proved an extremely popular option with the
testers of these rules!). Only weapons fitted to war machines or an immobile vehicle may be upgraded to megaweapons. Mega weapons increase their strength and armor penetration by one point each, so the mega-lascannon mentioned above would have a Strength of 10 and an AP of 1 (ouch!). Note that Strength cannot be increased to higher than 10, or AP to better than 1 .
|CLOSE COMBAT WEAPON CHART|
|CLOSE COMBAT WEAPON||+1 pts x WS x A|
|DREADNOUGHT CLOSE COMBAT WEAPON||+5 pts x WS x A|
|WAR MACHINE CLOSE COMBAT WEAPON||+10 pts x WS x A|
Close Combat Options: If you wish, vehicles can be armed with a close combat weapon of some kind or another. In Warhammer 40,000 the only vehicles that really have close combat weapons are walkers, but as this may not be the case with scratchbuilt or converted models, we'll just assume any vehicle can have them.
Vehicles armed with close combat weapons follow the rules for walkers in the rulebook. The WS of the vehicle is shown on the chart in the next section of rules, and is used for working out its chance to hit and the cost of the weapon.
Small and Normal sized vehicles may be given close combat weapons, power weapons, or Dreadnought close combat weapons. War Machines may only be given war machine close combat weapons (see the appendix on war machines).
The cost of the weapons carried is based on the Weapon Skill of the vehicle, and the number of attacks it can make.
For example, Graham Davey's Chaos Dreadnought (see below) has two Dreadnought close combat weapons and also has the 'ferocious' special option which gives it +1 Attack. Looking in the following section on working out characteristics, we can see that a Chaos vehicle gets a WS of 4, and I attack + 1 for each close combat weapon. This gives Graham's dreadnought 1 attack, +2 for having two close combat weapons, and + 1 for being ferocious, for a total of 4 attacks. The cost of the close combat weapons it has is based on the best available, namely its Dreadnought close combat weapons. These cost 5 times the Dreadnought's WS of 4, which equals 20. times the number of attacks, which makes a total of 80 points.
|RACE CHARACTERISTICS CHART|
|Space Marine||4||4||5||4||1+1 per CCW|
|Dark Eldar||4||4||4||5||1+1 per CCW|
|Eldar Guardian||3||3||4||4||1+1 per CCW|
|Ork||4||2||5||2||1+1 per CCW|
|Adeptus Titanicus||4||4||5||3||1+1 per CCW|
|Human||3||3||4||3||1+1 per CCW|
|Necron||4||4||5||2||1+1 per CCW|
The next thing you need to do is record the race of the vehicles crew and their characteristics on the datafax. With the exception of vehicles armed with close combat weapons, all you need to record is the vehicle's Ballistic Skill.
For a vehicle armed with close combat weapons you need to write down the vehicle's Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Initiative, Strength and Attacks. The characteristics depend on the race of the crew and are listed on the chart above.
The penultimate thing to record on your vehicle's datafax are any special options. These are 'special abilities' that have not been covered by the options taken so far, such as being able to transport troops, being opentopped, having protective energy fields and so on.
The options that are available are described below. As with all the rules so far, anything you pick should 'fit' with the vehicle model you have made; for example, you shouldn't give it a transport capability unless the model you have made is clearly capable of transporting troops.
By the same token, a vehicle that clearly has one of these options should have it recorded on it's datafax, so if you have a model that is clearly an open-topped vehicle, then you must take that option for it. Enough waffling, especially about such common-sense issues - here are thee special options.
Amphibious Craft: Amphibious craft are designed to work on water, or what passes for water on alien planets. Amphibious craft treat water (or its equivalent) as clear terrain when they move. Amphibious craft that can't leave the water (i.e., boats or ships) may ignore the extra points normally charged for this upgrade.
Codex Vehicle Upgrades: The vehicle may be given appropriate vehicle upgrades from the Codex of the army it has been designed to join. Note the word 'appropriate', and remember that all vehicles must be WYSIWYG. See the appropriate Codex for descriptions and special rules.
Eldar Fields: The Eldar are a sophisticated and technologically advanced race, and their vehicles are often protected by energy or holo fields.
Eldar vehicles can have a field which provides a 4+ invulnerable save against any glancing or penetrating hits. They can be fitted to any Eldar vehicle that is at least of normal size. Eldar energy fields don't work against close combat attacks and no more than one may be fitted per vehicle.
Ferocious: This option may only be used for vehicles with close combat weapons. In close combat the vehicle becomes a whirling maelstrom of destruction.
To represent this, add +1 to the vehicle's Attacks characteristic. This option does not cost any extra points per se, but the extra attack must be taken into account when working out the cost of the vehicle's close combat weapons.
Imperial Shields: Imperial Titans and some other vehicles or fixed defense sites are protected by a form of energy field called a void shield. These can't be fitted to most vehicles as they require large plasma reactors to power them.
Imperial Fields absorb the damage from one glancing or penetrating hit and then 'go down' as they dissipate the energy that was absorbed. The Imperial player can roll to repair downed fields at the start of each of his turns. Roll 1 D6 per field, and it comes back on line on a roll of 6+. Fields can only be fitted to War Machines.
Open-Topped: An 'open-topped' vehicle is one where the crew are exposed to enemy fire, rather than being fully enclosed behind armor plate. This is actually a bad special option, in that it makes the vehicle more vulnerable to enemy fire. Opponents get to add +1 to damage rolls.
Orbital Lander: This vehicle is dropped from orbit to land on the battlefield. Such units may always be placed in reserve, even if reserves are not normally allowed by the scenario being played, and enter in the player's turn using the Deep Strike rules.
Ork Fields: Ork Mekboyz seem to have an innate ability to construct energy fields in a bewildering variety of types and forms.
For the purposes of these rules, and to keep things simple, they all work in the same way as Imperial Fields, but can't be repaired. They can be fitted to any Ork vehicle that is at least of normal size. Vehicles with more than one structure point (see the war machine rules later on) may have up to one field for each structure point.
Recovery Vehicles: It's not uncommon to see vehicles that have been converted into armored recovery vehicles (or ARVs) of some type or another. ARVs are used to take damaged vehicles back to a repair depot where they can be fixed and sent back into action. They can also be used to move a completely destroyed vehicle out of the way if it is blocking movement.
An ARV can drag any destroyed or immobilized vehicle (friend or foe) that they start the turn in base contact with. Both vehicles may move up to D6" and must remain in base contact at the end of the move (please use common sense here when moving the vehicles!). Neither vehicle may shoot in the same turn that they are towing or being towed, except that the vehicle being dragged can fire one weapon at the ARV if it's able to.
Skimmer: This vehicle is a skimmer.
Souped Up Engine: Some vehicle engines can be souped-up to make them faster. This option may only be taken for vehicles with no more than 50 points of armor.
Lumbering vehicles and walkers with souped-up engines count as being agile (see the section on Agile vehicles), and any other type of vehicle becomes fast. War machines with more than 5 structure points may not take this upgrade.
Transport: This option allows the vehicle to transport 11 normal sized models. Small vehicles may carry up to six normal-sized models. Vehicles with more than 1 structure point (see the war machine rules later on) may transport an extra five models for each structure point in excess of 1. Models that are Terminator sized or larger count as two models against the limit that may be carried.
Walkers or other vehicles of up to normal size may be carried, taking up five spaces if small and ten if normal sized, but only it the transport vehicle is large enough to carry them and they could fit through the entry hatch.
Vehicles being transported in another vehicle which is destroyed will suffer a glancing hit on a D6 roll of 4+ (rather than having to make an armor save as transported models do).
Tunnellers: Tunnellers, as their name implies, are capable of burrowing through the ground. They are generally used to transport troops and launch surprise attacks by suddenly surfacing where the enemy least expects them.
Any tanks or light vehicles may be given a 'tunneller' option. Such units may always be placed in reserve, even if reserves are not normally allowed by the scenario being played, and enter play using the Deep Strike rules.
Wreckers: Some vehicles are fitted with things like wrecking balls, big grabby claws, enormous drills etc. These may only be used to attack terrain features or immobilized vehicles that are in base contact with the wrecker vehicle.
Targets that will fit completely under an Ordnance template are destroyed on a roll of 6 on 1 D6. Larger targets cannot be affected in the time frame of the game.
Targeter: Vehicles often have a targeting matrix, optical enhancement system or other device to increase the chance of their guns hitting. This must be represented with some sort of radar dish, sensor or gun-sight on your model.
A targeter increases the crew's BS by +1. All guns on the vehicle now cost the corresponding higher price for the new BS. Races that already have BS4 are deemed to have such devices built into their vehicles and may not chose this option.
The final thing you need to do in order to get your vehicle ready for its tabletop debut is to work out how many points it costs and what category it belongs to with regard to using up 'slots' on the Force Organization chart (i.e., does it count as heavy support, fast attack, etc).
It has to be said that working out the points cost is a somewhat arcane process, and really requires the use of a calculator and paper, but having come this far I'm sure you'll muddle through somehow!
Before getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of how you actually calculate the points, I should point out that I've tried to create a system where you pay over the odds in terms of points for vehicles you design yourself. So, if you run an 'off the shelf' model
through the points cost procedure, you should find that it comes in at more than the points listed for it in the army ts. This compensates for the fact at vehicles you design yourself can be made exactly to suit the role you plan to use them for in a game.
To work out the vehicle's points cost, just follow and add together the costs listed on the summary sheet overleaf to find out the total cost of the vehicle.
Well, what are you waiting for? Work out your vehicle, write down its details on your datafax, and get playing! After the summary are appendices covering extra rules for War Machines and Flyers. Have fun!