A Warhammer battle is packed with fantastic creatures and skilled warriors whose abilities are so incredible and varied that the basic rules cannot possibly cover them all. For such circumstances we have special rules - uncommon rules to govern uncommon circumstances. When a creature has an ability that breaks or bends one of the main game rules, it is often represented by a special rule. A special rule can boost a model's chances of causing damage, such as by granting poisoned weapons, or enhance its Strength. Alternatively, a special rule can improve a model's survivability, by granting it a better armour save or the ability to regrow damaged flesh. It is through the use of the special rules that Dragons breathe fire, Assassins strike with lightning speed and Giants cause bowel-loosening terror in their enemies.
Special RulesURL Copied!
Unless stated otherwise, a model does not have a special rule. Most special rules are given to a model by the relevant entry in its Warhammer Armies book. In addition, a model's attacks can gain special rules because of the equipment it is using. Similarly, a model might get special rules as the result of a spell that has been cast upon it or perhaps even as the result of it being in a particular type of terrain. Where this is the case, the rule that governs the equipment, spell or terrain feature in question will make this clear.
Most of the more commonly used special rules in Warhammer are listed here, but many troop types have their own unique abilities laid out in their Warhammer Armies book. Certain special rules partly consist of other special rules, all mentioned in the following pages.
Unless otherwise noted, the effects of different special rules are cumulative. However, unless otherwise stated, a model gains no additional benefit from having the same special rule multiple times. This also applies to unique special rules in the various Warhammer Armies books that might contain special rules that are normally cumulative.
Some special rules have an effect at the beginning of the battle, or before the game starts. These effects take place after both armies are deployed and any Deployment special rules have occurred but before the roll for first turn.
Some special rules, especially in the Army Books, will affect models of a certain type. Note that special rules and spells such as this only ever affect friendly units from their own army, and will not affect enemy or allied units that happen to be in range.
Eventually you are likely to come upon situations where two opposing special rules are in play. In these cases, the two special rules will simply cancel each other out either partially or completely, and neither will have an effect.
Always Strikes First
Some warriors are fast beyond belief and can strike with supernatural speed. Whether this ability is innate or the result of enchantment matters little to the foe, who is often slain before they have a chance to acknowledge the attack.
Models with this special rule always strike first in close combat, regardless of Initiative. If a model with this rule is fighting an enemy with the same ability, the model with the higher Initiative will strike first.
In addition, if the model's Initiative is higher than their enemy's when it is their turn to attack, they can re-roll failed To Hit rolls when striking in close combat – they move so fast that they can land their blows with incredible precision.
Always Strikes Last
Some warriors are incredibly ponderous by nature, or else encumbered by magic that slow them down.
A model with this special rule always strikes last in close combat, regardless of Initiative. If a model with this rule is fighting an enemy with the same ability, the model with the higher Initiative will strike first. If a model has both this rule and Always Strikes First, the two cancel out and neither applies so use the model's Initiative.
In addition, if the model's Initiative is lower than their enemy's when it is their turn to attack, they must re-roll successful To Hit rolls when striking in close combat – they move so slowly that the foe can easily deflect their blows.
There are those troops who specialise in outflanking the foe, appearing from an unexpected quarter to wreak maximum damage.
Before starting deployment, a unit with the Ambushers special rule can choose to not deploy at the start of the battle. Instead, from Turn 2 onwards, the controlling player rolls a dice at the start of their turn for each unit of their Ambushers that have yet to arrive. On a 1 or 2, the Ambushers have been delayed - roll for them again next turn. On a 3 or more, the unit of Ambushers arrives, and will enter the board during the Remaining Moves sub-phase. If the Ambushers do not turn up for the entire game, they are assumed to have got lost, and are treated as having fled the battle for the purposes of determining the victor.
Arriving Ambushers enter the battlefield from any point on any battlefield edge, and move on using the rules for reinforcements. Note that a character may only join a unit deploying with the Ambushers special rule if they also have the same rule.
In addition, for every Core unit that deploys as Ambushers in your army, you are required to include at least one other Core Unit that is not Expendable (described later in this chapter) and that does not deploy using the Ambushers rule (for more information, see the Choosing Your Army chapter).
Some creatures are not living beings, but constructs come to life through the use of powerful magic.
Animated Constructs have the Immunity (Poisoned Attacks) and Unbreakable special rules. However, they may not march.
Where other creatures struggle to fight and move in water, aquatic creatures excel.
Models with the Aquatic special rule can move within any area of water on the battlefield, including rivers and even deep water that players may have deemed impassable to other models, as if it were open ground. However, they are still subject to any special effects that specific terrain may have (e.g. we don't exempt Aquatic models from the dangers of marshes).
In addition, models with this special rule can march, claim rank bonus and be steadfast even when in water. Furthermore, if every model in a unit has the Aquatic special rule, and the majority of the unit is within water terrain, enemies shooting at that unit suffer an additional -1 To Hit penalty.
Armour Piercing (*)
Some attacks can penetrate armour with an ease that belies their meagre strength.
Wounds caused by a model with this special rule (or who is attacking with a weapon that has this special rule) inflict a further negative armour save modifier as indicated by the number in the brackets, in addition to those for Strength. Unless specified, Armour Piercing only applies to close combat attacks. This rule is cumulative with other sources of Armour Piercing.
If a model has a weapon with the Armour Piercing special rule, only attacks made or shots fired with the weapon are Armour Piercing.
Some creatures have the ability to belch clouds of flame or noxious choking fumes at their foes. Dragons are the most famous of such beasts, but they are by no means alone.
A model with a Breath Weapon can use it to make a special attack once per shooting or close combat phase. A model with two or more different Breath Weapons must choose which one they want to use. The form that this special attack takes depends on whether or not the creature is in close combat. In the event that a model has more than one Breath Weapon attack, it is permitted to attempt to use only one in a single turn.
However, after each Breath Weapon has been used the first time, roll a D6 before attempting to use it again in later rounds. On 4+, it may be used as normal. On a 1-3, the model is literally out of breath, and cannot use its Breath Weapon this round. It may choose to attack normally in close combat instead.
Note that Breath Weapons are not physical attacks, and certain models may be Immune to the effects of some Breath Weapons. However, all Breath weapons have the Ignores Cover special rule.
Breath Weapon Shooting Attack
Provided the model is not in close combat, it can use its Breath Weapon during its Shooting phase. A Breath Weapon shooting attack can be made even if the model marched or reformed during the same turn, but it cannot be used as a Stand and Shoot charge reaction.
To perform the attack, place the flame template so that it lies entirely within the model's forward arc, with the narrow end touching the model's base, and so that it is not touching any friendly units or enemy units that are in close combat. All models that are even partially under the template are automatically hit, following the normal rules for the flame template. The Strength and any special effects of the creature's Breath Weapon will be covered in its rules.
Breath Weapon Close Combat Attack
If the model with this special rule is in close combat, it can use the Breath Weapon instead of using its normal attacks. A model that makes a breath weapon attack in this way inflicts 2D6 automatic hits (resolved like shooting) on a single enemy unit in base contact – if there is more than one enemy unit in base contact with the model, the controlling player chooses which enemy unit suffers the hits. Note that no single model in the target unit may be Hit more than once from the same breath weapon attack – any excess hits are ignored. As with breath weapon attacks made in the Shooting phase, the Strength and any special effects of the creature's Breath Weapon will be covered in its rules, any other special rules do not apply. Wounds caused by a Breath Weapon in close combat count towards combat resolution.
Some creatures charge home with such fury that the very ground shakes beneath their feet.
Models with this special rule have +1 Attack during a turn in which they charge into combat.
Some creatures are naturally quick and agile, allowing them to avoid dangers by dodging out of harm's way.
Models with this rule gain a Ward save against attacks in their front arc (including templates, Stomp and Impact Hits) as indicated in the brackets. This is cumulative with other sources of Dodge. This cannot be used against Magical Attacks that Hit automatically (such as spells or certain special rules), or that have the Always Strikes First special rule, nor can it be used if the model is subject to the Always Strikes Last special rule. Finally, Dodge cannot be used by mounted models, unless specified.
There are creatures whose physical bodies have long since rotted away, if indeed they ever existed. Such beings are immune to normal weapons – only magic can harm them.
Ethereal creatures treat all terrain as open terrain for the purposes of movement. They may not finish their movement inside impassable terrain. They are also never slowed by any special rule, spell or item that would otherwise reduce their movement or stop them from moving completely.
Models with this special rule have both the Magical Attacks and Unstable special rules. Ethereal models have a 2+ Ward Save against mundane attacks. However, they only have a 5+ Ward Save against Magical Attacks. Ethereal creatures block line of sight normally and cannot see through anything that would block the line of sight of normal units. Characters that are not themselves Ethereal are not permitted to join units that are (even if they become temporarily Ethereal for some reason).
Some units are practically considered worthless by the rest of the army, either due to their low status or being simple beasts, and no heed is paid to their demise.
Models with this special rule do not cause Panic to friendly units that are not Expendable themselves. Characters may not join a unit with this rule, unless specified. Likewise, an Expendable character may not join a unit that is not Expendable.
For every Core unit with the Expendable special rule in your army, you are required to include at least one other Core Unit without the Expendable rule. For more information on this, see the Choosing Your Army chapter.
Fast cavalry (sometimes called light cavalry) are riders of exceptional prowess, trained in lightning-fast manoeuvres and flank attacks. They are more lightly armed and armoured than other cavalry, but make up for this with their flexibility. In battle, they act as scouts and outriders for the army, and harry the flanks of enemy formations.
Fast Cavalry are inevitably at the forefront of any advance – Fast Cavalry automatically have the Vanguard deployment special rule (described later in this chapter).
Unless it charges, a Fast Cavalry unit is allowed to reform twice during its move without losing any Movement; once before they move, and at the end of their move. The unit may do this even if it marches, provided that no model ends up moving a number of inches higher than double its Movement value.
Fire & Flee
A unit of Fast Cavalry armed with missile weapons can choose Fire & Flee as a charge reaction. If it chooses to do so, the unit will first fire upon the target following the rules for Stand & Shoot (this also counts as moving and shooting). After this, the unit makes a flee move. However, it may not use its Swiftstride special rule if it does so.
A unit of Fast Cavalry that chooses Flee or Fire & Flee as a charge reaction does not cause Panic from fleeing through friendly units and may re-roll failed rally tests in its next Compulsory Movement Phase (unless it is forced to Flee again from another source). In addition, it is then also free to move during the remaining moves part of the Movement phase. The unit is also free to shoot as normal (but always counts as having moved). Note that if the flee move of the Fast Cavalry does not take them beyond the charge reach of their enemies, the unit suffers casualties as normal.
Fire on the March
Fast Cavalry armed with missile weapons are experts at shooting from horseback and can therefore shoot during a turn in which they marched or reformed (providing their weapon doesn't have the Move or Fire special rule). However, the normal -1 To Hit penalty for moving and shooting still applies.
A character model that joins a unit of Fast Cavalry gains the Fast Cavalry special rule as long as they stay with the unit. Characters may only join Fast Cavalry with the same Troop Type (explained in the Troop Types chapter) as them.
Units containing one or more models with an unmodified close combat armour save better than 4+ cannot use the Fast Cavalry special rule.
Some creatures are so large or disturbing that they provoke an irrational fear in the foe.
A unit containing one or more Fear-causing models gains +1 to its Combat Resolution score. If the Unit Strength of all Fear-causing models is double or more, the Combat Resolution score is increased by +2. Note that the bonus from Fear is otherwise not cumulative for having multiple units with the Fear special rule involved in the same combat.
If the majority of the models in a unit cause Fear, they also gain the Immunity (Fear) special rule (described later), and thus the Combat Resolution bonus of their Fear-causing enemies is ignored for that unit.
Fight in Extra Ranks (*)
These troops can fight in extra ranks, perhaps because they have been trained to do so, or because their sheer ferocity means they willingly trample their comrades in order to reach the foe.
If a unit has this special rule then supporting attacks can be made by one more rank than normal for each number indicated in the bracket. This rule is cumulative with other sources of Fight in Extra Ranks.
Fire is a fearsome thing on the battlefield, but some creatures are more vulnerable to it than others.
Models with Flaming Attacks cause Fear in War Beasts, Cavalry, Chariots and Flammable creatures. Any Panic test taken by any of these Troop Types from a Flaming Attack suffer -1 to their Leadership when taking the test.
Unless otherwise stated, a model with this special rule has both Flaming shooting and close combat attacks (though any spells cast by the model or special attacks are unaffected).
Some creatures are naturally vulnerable to fire. Once flame has been set amongst such a beast's flesh, it will run rampant, causing terrible harm.
If a model with the Flammable rule is attacked with a Flaming Attack, all failed To Wound rolls made by the attackers may be re-rolled.
Some creatures of the Warhammer world have wings and can fly, soaring quickly from one side of the battlefield to the other. Such creatures are often potent forces on the battlefield, able as they are to easily outmanoeuvre clumsier, ground-bound troops.
Because of their loose fighting style, flying models follow the rules for Skirmishers (explained later in this chapter). However, they cannot use Feigned Flight (already described in Fast Cavalry), and if they have a Unit Strength above 2 and/or a close combat armour save better than 4+, they cannot use the Vanguard special rule (explained later in this chapter).
In Warhammer, flight is represented by a swoop or glide equal to the number in the brackets instead of using the model's normal Movement value. Note that any equipment or special rules that affect the model's regular Movement will also affect its Fly move, unless specified. The flyer starts off on the ground, takes off, flies to where it wishes to go, and then lands. Flyers, therefore, begin and end their movement on the ground. This is chiefly because it's impractical to suspend models over the battlefield, so we use the
'glide' for the sake of simplicity.
Units made up entirely of models that can fly can move or charge normally on the ground, using their Movement value, or instead choose to fly. A unit that flies can move over other units and terrain as it does so, treating the entire move as taking place over open ground. It may not finish the move on top of another unit or in impassable terrain. Models that Fly can make a flying charge over intervening units and terrain as long as they can draw Line of Sight to their target as normal. A unit that makes a flying charge does so using its Fly move as its Movement characteristic, using the Swiftstride special rule (explained later in this chapter).
A unit that is flying can march as normal, doubling its flying move, representing a particularly long swoop or glide.
Flee and Pursue
Flyers always move on the ground when attempting to flee or pursue – there simply is no time for them to take off properly.
Certain warriors can work themselves up into a fighting frenzy, a whirlwind of destruction in which all concern for personal safety is overridden in favour of mindless violence.
To represent their fighting fury and lack of self-preservation instincts, Frenzied troops gain +1 Attack and the Immunity (Psychology) special rule.
A unit that includes one or more Frenzied models can only choose Hold or Stand & Shoot as a charge reaction.
If, during the Charge sub-phase, a unit that includes one or more Frenzied models could declare a charge, then it must do so unless a Leadership test is passed. If the Leadership test is failed, the Frenzied unit must declare a charge against the nearest viable enemy.
A unit that includes one or more Frenzied models that attempts to restrain pursuit if it beats a foe in close combat suffer a Leadership modifier equal to the result they won the combat against that unit by. For example, if the Frenzied unit won the combat by 3 and the enemy unit flees, the Frenzied unit suffers -3 to its Leadership if it attempts to restrain from pursuing.
Unlike other special rules, Frenzy can be lost as the game goes on. Models retain their Frenzy for the entire game unless beaten in combat, at which point the enemy have succeeded in knocking them into a less fanatical state and the Frenzy (together with all associated rules) is lost.
Enmity is rife in the Warhammer world, where many races have nurtured grudges and animosities against others for thousands of years, and overwhelming hatred is a potent force in battle.
A model striking a hated foe in close combat re-rolls all failed To Hit rolls during the first round of combat – this represents the unit venting its pent-up hatred upon the foe. After this initial blood-mad hacking, the impetus is considered to be spent – the rest of the combat is fought normally. Sometimes a model will only Hate a specific foe. Where this is the case, the type of foe will be expressed in the special rule. In the case an enemy hates a certain faction, they have the Hatred rule against all models from that army book. In addition, they must also re-roll successful rolls to restrain from pursuit against enemies they have Hatred against. If a unit would gain Hatred in a round of close combat after the first for any reason, treat this as the first round of combat for that purpose.
Heroic Killing Blow
Heroic Killing Blow functions exactly like a normal Killing Blow, except it works on any Troop type except for Swarms.
Some creatures use stealth and secrecy to hide among the ranks of their allies, ready to strike at the unsuspecting foe.
Hidden models can choose to deploy ‘hidden’ within another friendly ranked unit, either the unit it belongs to (determined in each army list) or in other separate units (the army book in question will state which units) – make a note of which unit is concealing the hidden model(s).
A hidden model is not placed on the table during deployment, but is revealed later during the game. If the concealing unit is wiped out or flees from the battlefield before the hidden model is revealed, the hidden model counts as a casualty. There is no other way a hidden model can be harmed before they are revealed.
Hidden models may be revealed at the beginning of any of your Movement phases, or at the start of any Close Combat phase. Declare that the unit contains a hidden model and place the model in the front rank of that unit, displacing models as you normally would if a character had joined the unit (see Characters chapter).
A model with this special rule cannot be your army General. Furthermore, other units can never use their Leadership value.
Ice attacks slows down the foe and weaken them, making them easier targets.
Models with the Ice Attacks special rule cause all enemy models in base contact with them to be subject to the Always Strikes Last special rule. Spells or missile attacks that are Ice Attacks cause the enemy to be subject to the Always Strikes Last special rule until the start of your next turn if they are successfully cast or Hit. Models with Ice Attacks have Immunity (Ice Attacks).
Unless otherwise stated, a model with this special rule has Ice Attacks for both shooting and close combat, (though any spells cast by the model or special attacks are unaffected).
Ignores Armour Saves
Some attacks are able to bypass armour completely, be it due to Troll Vomit, boiling liquid or magical spells.
If a model has this special rule, no armour saves may be taken at all, unless otherwise noted. Ward saves may be taken as normal.
Some shooting attacks are incredibly precise, whether because they are magically guided, blanket the area with roiling flame or are merely aimed with impossible skill.
If a model's shooting attacks have the Ignores Cover special rule, they ignore To Hit penalties imposed by soft cover, hard cover and obstacles (other To Hit penalties apply as normal).
Some warriors and creatures in the Warhammer world are almost completely fearless, or are such grizzled veterans that situations that would make lesser troops panic have no effect on them. Others have an immunity to certain elements, either by a natural mutation or by magic.
Models with the Immunity rule ignore the effects of the rule(s) in the brackets. Examples include Killing Blow, Poisoned Attacks, Flaming Attacks, Ice Attacks, Lightning Attacks and so on. Note that the model only ignores the effects of the rule itself unless the attack is also listed as being non-physical. The physical attack still causes damage as normal.
Immunity can also include Panic, Fear and Terror. If the majority of the models in a unit have the Immunity (Panic, Fear or Fear) rule, the unit ignores the effects of Panic, Fear or Terror and any such tests it would otherwise had to take.
Models that are Immune to all three above effects have the Immunity (Psychology) rule. This also includes automatically passing any Psychology tests they might need to take (such as many spell effects or special rules that would otherwise force a unit to take a Psychology test).
Impact Hits (*)
The impact of a charge can itself sometimes cause severe casualties amongst the foe.
The number of Impact Hits caused varies from creature to creature, or troop type to troop type, but is shown in brackets after the special rule. If a creature is granted two sets of Impact Hits, normally because its troop type and special rules both bestow Impact Hits, use the highest set, rather than a total, before rolling. If a unit contains more than one model that inflicts a random amount of Impact Hits (such as D6), always roll separately for each model.
Impact Hits are only made on the turn the model makes a successful charge into close combat, and only against the unit the model has charged. Impact Hits are resolved at the very beginning of the close combat, before challenges are issued and attacks of any other kind are made. They hit a unit in base contact and are randomised as Automatic Hits. If the model is in base contact with more than one unit, randomise the Impact Hits between them as evenly as possible. If the model with Impact Hits is not in base contact with the enemy, no Impact Hits are inflicted.
Impact Hits roll to wound using the Strength of the model making the Impact Hits. Any armour saves taken are done using the close combat value of the armour, and Parry saves may not be taken (see Weapons and Armour). Any Wounds caused by Impact Hits are counted towards combat resolution.
Unless specified, any special rules that apply to the model's normal attacks do not apply to its Impact Hits.
Tales are told of warriors who can slay their opponents with but a single strike of a blade that seeks an armour's merest gap. Whether such an attack is wrought by skill or sorcery matters not – the target is just as dead.
If a model with the Killing Blow special rule rolls a 6 to wound, they automatically slay their opponent – regardless of the number of wounds on the victim's profile. Armour saves and Regeneration saves cannot be taken against a Killing Blow. Ward saves may be taken as normal.
Killing Blow is only effective against Infantry, Cavalry and War beasts. Against other troop types, a successful Killing Blow only inflicts one Wound which Ignores Armour Saves and Regeneration.
Note that if a Killing Blow attack wounds automatically, then the Killing Blow special rule does not come into play. Unless otherwise specified, Killing Blow only applies to close combat attacks.
For the purposes of combat resolution, successful Killing Blows score the same amount of Wounds as the slain model had remaining until the point of the Killing Blow was inflicted.