How To Read Warhammer 40k Data Sheet

How to Read Warhammer 40k Data Sheet

Warhammer 40,000, also known as Warhammer 40k or simply 40k, is a popular tabletop wargame set in a grim, dark future. It involves commanding armies of futuristic warriors in epic battles for supremacy. One of the essential tools for playing the game effectively is the data sheet, containing crucial information about each unit. In this article, we will guide you through how to read a Warhammer 40k data sheet, ensuring you can navigate the game with confidence.

Understanding the Basics

When you open a Warhammer 40k codex or supplement, you will find pages filled with beautifully illustrated lore and intricate descriptions of various units and factions. Each unit has its own data sheet, which holds critical information about its characteristics, weapons, abilities, and special rules. The data sheet provides game mechanics’ details so that you can make informed decisions during the course of the game.

Unit Characteristics

The first section you’ll encounter on a data sheet consists of a set of characteristics that define the capabilities of the unit. These characteristics include:

1. Movement (M): The unit’s speed, measured in inches.
2. Weapon Skill (WS): Represents the unit’s proficiency in close combat.
3. Ballistic Skill (BS): Reflects the unit’s ability to hit targets with ranged weapons.
4. Strength (S): Determines how powerful the unit’s attacks are.
5. Toughness (T): Measures the unit’s resilience to damage.
6. Wounds (W): Represents the number of times a unit can be hit before it is removed from play.
7. Attacks (A): The number of close combat attacks a unit can make.
8. Leadership (LD): Measures the unit’s morale and its ability to resist fleeing the battlefield.
9. Save (SV): Displays the unit’s armor save, indicating the chance to block incoming attacks.

These characteristics are crucial when determining how a unit interacts with other units on the battlefield.

Weapons and Abilities

A data sheet lists all the weapons a unit has access to, along with their respective profiles detailing their range, type, and strength. Understanding the weapons is essential for planning effective strategies and making tactical decisions during battles.

Additionally, each unit may possess unique abilities and special rules that provide advantages in specific situations or grant access to special actions. These abilities are often game-changers and can significantly influence the outcome of your battles. Make sure to carefully read and comprehend these special rules to maximize your unit’s potential.

Points Cost and Army Building

On the data sheet, you will find the points cost of a unit, usually indicated as the number of “power level” or points required to include it in your army. Understanding the cost of each unit is crucial for building balanced and competitive armies. By considering the points cost, you can gauge the value of a unit and its contribution to your overall strategy.

When designing your army list, you must ensure that the total power level or points spent does not exceed the agreed limit. This limit depends on the size of the game and the preferences of the players involved. Carefully selecting units and managing your resources is the key to creating a formidable force on the battlefield.

Special Detachments and Faction Keywords

Warhammer 40k encompasses various factions and sub-factions, each with its own unique playstyle and characteristics. Data sheets often include symbols indicating which detachment or faction a unit belongs to, allowing players to build cohesive armies from the same group.

These faction keywords are important for synergizing different units and unlocking certain abilities tied to specific factions. By combining units with compatible faction keywords, you can create thematic armies and employ powerful faction-specific strategies.


Mastering how to read a Warhammer 40k data sheet is an essential skill for any player aspiring to conquer the battlefields of the grim, dark future. By understanding the unit characteristics, weapons, abilities, and points cost, you will be able to build effective armies and make informed decisions during gameplay. Remember to read the data sheet carefully, as it contains invaluable information that can give you the upper hand when commanding your forces in the immersive world of Warhammer 40k.

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