The open play rules provide a style of play that is as free-form and permissive as Warhammer 40,000 gets. In open play anything goes, whether it be deploying your armies without worrying about points of power, inventing your own missions, playing highly themed and entirely unbalanced games, or anything else that you think will prove enjoyable.
Perhaps you are looking to play your first few games of Warhammer 40,000 with whatever models you have to hand. Maybe you simply want to play with every tank you have in your collection, while your opponent has a swarm of huge monsters to send into battle against them. You and your opponent might have much larger or smaller collections than one another, and elect to play a battle where the smaller force must simply hold out for as long as it can from behind heavily fortified positions before it is finally overrun. Alternatively, maybe both of you have a handful of powerful heroes each and want to pit them against one another, or to send such a band of champions in against a horde of lesser foes and see how many they can slay. The limits of open play are few, and dictated only by your own imagination.
Open play mission packs provide a guide on how to dive into this sort of free-form wargaming. For example, Open War cards provide randomised cues for how to set up and fight different missions, giving near endless possibilities for different battle. But the quickest way to start playing is to use the Open Hostility mission pack on the following pages. It provides guidelines for approximate game sizes, several fun and straightforward missions that you can play, and explains how big of a battlefield you're going to want in order to enjoy a satisfying game depending on how big your armies are. Within the content of these few pages, there are dozens of potential games to be played and long hours of wargaming enjoyment to be had.
Once you have gotten a feel for open play gaming, you may well find that you want to start devising your own missions that fit the armies you want to use and the stories you want to tell. On the last page of this section you will find a raft of exciting suggestions to help you on your way and inspire exciting games that you and your opponents will remember for years to come. Whether it be stopping your enemy’s evil ritual (or completing your evil ritual before your foes can interfere), ambushing a convoy as it races through hostile territory, hunting down the enemy’s spies or any of a host of other exciting ideas, you will be sure to find inspiration for your own fun and engaging open play missions.
An Open Hostility battle is waged by following the sequence below:1. MUSTER ARMIES
You and your opponent must first each muster an army from the miniatures in your collection. Your armies can be as big as you like, and you can use as many models from your collection as you wish.
It is up to the players to agree how big their armies will be — there is no reason why the two armies need to be the same size, though if that is what the players want they should agree to this now. The table below gives a rough guide of how long the battle should take based on the size of the armies used (note that this is the combined Power Level
of both your and your opponent's army).
|BATTLE SIZE||SIZE OF ARMIES|
(Combined Power Levels)
|Combat Patrol||50||Up to 1 hour|
|Incursion||100||Up to 2 hour|
|Strike Force||200||Up to 3 hour|
|Onslaught||300||Up to 4 hour|
The missions in this mission pack have been designed to be used for armies that have certain relative Power Levels. As a result, you may wish to read on further before deciding what size armies to muster.
Once you have mustered your army, select one of your models to be your Warlord. This model gains the WARLORD
keyword. If your Warlord has the CHARACTER
keyword, they will have a Warlord Trait, which you choose now. Any WARLORD
can have the Inspiring Leader Warlord Trait:Inspiring Leader (Warlord Trait, Aura)
Add 1 to the Leadership characteristic of friendly units while they are within 6" of this WARLORD
Alternative Warlord Traits can be found in other publications.2. DETERMINE MISSION
The players determine which of the three Open Hostility missions will be used for the battle. This will determine the deployment map that the players use, as well as the specific mission briefing.
You can simply agree with your opponent which mission you will use. Alternatively, you can roll to randomly select a mission using the appropriate table below. Note, however, that the missions have been designed to be used with battles of certain relative Power Levels, as described in the table below:
3. READ MISSION BRIEFING
|D6||OPEN HOSTILITY MISSIONS|
This mission is designed for battles with two armies of roughly similar Power Level.
|3-4||Hold at All Costs|
This mission is designed for battles where the Power Level of one player's army is at least one third more than, but less than twice that of, the other.
|5-6||Death or Glory|
This mission is designed for battles where the Power Level of one player's army is at least twice that of the other.
Each mission has a mission briefing that will detail the mission objectives that award victory points to the players. Some mission briefings also list one or more mission rules that will apply for the duration of the battle. The players should read and familiarise themselves with these before proceeding.4. CREATE THE BATTLEFIELD
The players now create the battlefield and set up terrain features
. Missions are played on rectangular battlefields. The size of your battlefield depends on the battle size you have selected, as shown in the table below:
5. DETERMINE ATTACKER AND DEFENDER
|BATTLE SIZE||BATTLEFIELD SIZE (Minimum)|
|Combat Patrol/Incursion||44" x 30"|
|Strike Force||44" x 60"|
|Onslaught||44" x 90"|
If the Power Rating
of one player's army is greater than that of their opponent’, then that player is the Attacker and their opponent is the Defender. Otherwise, the players roll off
and the winner decides who will be the Attacker and who will be the Defender.6. DECLARE RESERVES AND TRANSPORTS
Both players now secretly note down which of their units will start the battle in a location other than the battlefield, and which of their units will start the battle embarked within TRANSPORT
models (they must declare what units are embarked on what models). When both players have done so, they declare their selections to their opponent.7. DEPLOY ARMIES
The deployment maps for each mission will tell you which deployment zone is the Attacker’s and which is the Defender’s.
The players alternate setting up their remaining units, one at a time, starting with the Attacker. These models must be set up wholly within their player’s deployment zone. If one player has finished deploying all their units, their opponent then deploys the remainder of their units.
If both players have units that have abilities that allow them to be set up ‘after both armies have deployed’, the players must roll-off
after all other units have been set-up and alternate setting up these units, starting with the winner.8. DETERMINE FIRST TURN
Unless the mission briefing says otherwise, the players roll-off and the winner declares whether they will take the first or second turn.9. RESOLVE PRE-BATTLE ABILITIES
Players alternate resolving any pre-battle abilities units in their army may have, starting with the player who will take the first turn.10. BEGIN THE BATTLE
The first battle round begins. Players continue to resolve battle rounds
until the battle ends.11. ENDING THE BATTLE
The battle ends when all of the models in one player's army have been destroyed, or once the fifth battle round has ended (whichever comes first).12. DETERMINE VICTOR
At the end of the battle, both players check their mission objectives to determine who is the victor.
MISSION BRIEFINGTwo warlords face each other, intent on destroying all who stand before them. Each must attempt to annihilate their opponent while minimising their own losses.MISSION OBJECTIVESNo Mercy
: If, at the end of the battle, one army has been destroyed, the player commanding the opposing army is the victor. Otherwise, the player with the most victory points is the victor (in the case of a tie, the battle is a draw). Victory points are awarded as follows:
Slay the Warlord: A player scores 1 victory point if the enemy WARLORD is destroyed at the end of the battle.Purge the Enemy
: At the end of the battle, each player adds up the Power Rating
of all enemy units that were destroyed during the battle and divides the total by 10 (rounding up) - this is the number of victory points that player scores. If a unit splits to form two or more individual units during the battle, then divide that unit’s Power Rating equally between the individual ‘split’ units (rounding up) when calculating this. Any units that are not on the battlefield at the end of the battle (other than units that are currently embarked within TRANSPORT
models that are on the battlefield) count as destroyed for this mission objective.
No form of war is unknown in the galaxy. Below you will find a few ideas below to spark your imagination for other open play missions; you should feel free to use these hooks as the basis of your battles, or simply create ones of your own.