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Reading Warhammer datasheets may seem like a daunting task for beginners. But don’t worry,  we’re here to help you navigate your way through the process so we can get you where you belong, on the battlefield!

What are Warhammer data sheets?

Salient to every dedicated Warhammer 40,000 player, datasheets are essentially the game’s DNA and learning how to read Warhammer datasheets in a core piece of knowledge for every player — they represent the core rules and statistics that determine how units perform in the midst of combat. Think of them as the tactical blueprints for your digital or physical miniatures, each one a detailed profile of characteristics, abilities, and equipment. 

What information can I find on a Warhammer datasheet?

Here are the key details that you can anticipate when parsing a datasheet: 

  • Movement Rate (M): Movement Rate, often abbreviated as ‘M will specify how far across the battle grid your unit can move during a gameplay turn.

  • Weapon Skill (WS) and Ballistic Skill (BS): WS stands for Weapon Skill, which represents a model’s proficiency in ranged or close combat. The higher the skill, the more skilled the model is in that style of combat. For example, a WS of 3+ means the model hits on a roll of 3 or higher on a six-sided dice (D6) in close combat.  BS, on the other hand represents a model’s accuracy with ranged weapons. Similar to WS, a BS of 4+ for example means that the miniature hits on a roll of 4 or higher on a D6 when using a ranged weapon.

  • Strength (S) and Toughness (T): The unit’s Strength (S) and Toughness (T) give you an idea of how potent your unit is in causing damage and how resilient it is when on the receiving end. Toughness is compared with the Strength of the attacking miniaturen during the ‘Wound Roll’ phase of an attack. This comparison determines the dice roll needed for the attack to potentially cause a wound. If the Strength of the attack is equal to the Toughness of the model being attacked, then a roll of 4 or more on a six-sided die (D6) will result in a successful wound. This is considered an evenly matched scenario. When the Strength of the attack is greater than the Toughness, the chances increase, for example a strength 5 attack against a toughness 4 unit will need a 3+ to wound, whilst a strenght 3 attach against a toughness 4 unit will need a 5+ to wound. The Strength will need to be double or more than the Toughness to wound on a roll of 2 however. 

  • Wounds (W), Attacks (A), and Armor Save (Sv): Look out for each unit’s Wounds, Attacks, and Armor Save, depicted with ‘W’, ‘A’, and ‘Sv’ respectively. This trio tells you how many injuries your unit can sustain before being eliminated (W), how many attack attempts they can make in close combat (A), and how likely they are to shrug off enemy damage (Sv).

  • Leadership (Ld): The Leadership parameter (Ld) hints at how steadfast or skittish your unit might be in a sticky situation. In the Morale Phase of each turn, you’ll need to test your units’ Leadership. This is done by rolling a six-sided die (D6) and adding the number of models from the unit that were slain that turn. If the total exceeds the unit’s Leadership characteristic, the unit suffers additional losses.

  • Special Abilities and Equipment: Lastly, don’t forget to read through your unit’s special abilities and equipment. These unique characteristics can heavily influence your strategic decisions during gameplay.

Only 10% of Warhammer players can play effectively without referring to datasheets

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The ‘Weapons’ section details the weaponry that the unit is equipped with and their respective abilities. Each weapon has its own range, type, strength, armor penetration (AP), and damage characteristics. Understanding these can help you utilize your unit’s weapons to their full potential.

The ‘Abilities’ section covers any special rules that apply to the unit, which may give them unique advantages or disadvantages in certain situations. 

The ‘Faction Keywords’ and ‘Keywords’ sections identify the unit’s faction and type, which can affect how it interacts with other units and rules. For example, some abilities may only affect units with certain keywords such as “Adeptus Astartes” which refers to any Space Marine units on the board.

Lastly, the ‘Power Level’ or ‘Points Value’ indicates the unit’s cost to include in your army, balancing its power and abilities against its cost. This is really only used when building and preparing your army list, as most games have a set points limit that both players agree to in order to have a balanced fight.

How do I use Warhammer datasheets in conjunction with the rulebook?

The Warhammer 40,000 rulebook is your ultimate guide to the game, offering detailed rules, scenarios, and lore of the Warhammer universe. 

To best utilize datasheets with the rulebook, start by checking the specific details about your unit on the datasheet. Understand what weapons they have, their armor, and specific abilities. Then refer back to the rulebook and read about how these stats apply in the game. The rulebook gives you the context for the datasheet’s numbers and terms. 

For instance, if a datasheet states a unit can move 6″ and has a shooting range of 24″, refer to the rulebook about how movement and shooting ranges work and how you can apply these abilities in the game. It also tells you about penalties units might suffer under certain conditions, which are not usually covered in the datasheets. 

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Evan Gale
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