Charging For Dummys

Hello fellow nerds! I’m here today to teach you about one of the most important phases in the game, the second Movement Phase! I mean the Charge Phase… The Charge and Fight phases are easily some of the most intricate in all of 40k, and games are certainly won and lost in them, so learning how to be good at them is imperative to your success. Even for you Tau and Guard players that think you get a pass and get to ignore the hard parts of the game, it’s important that you understand how to keep your opponent from putting you in his pocket.

brown neckerchief
Photo by Tookapic on

So let’s get right into it, here’s basically what the rulebook says in regards to how to charge things.

  1. Pick your unit you want to charge with
  2. Declare all your charge targets
  3. Eat lots of overwatch
  4. Roll 2d6 for charge distance
  5. Move your first model so that it is within 1″ of an enemy you declared as a charge target
  6. Move the rest of your squad so that it finishes it’s move in coherency and not within 1″ of an enemy you did you not declare as a charge target.

So why did I just recite the rulebook to you? Because believe it or not there are a lot of nuances to find in there.

Step 1: Pick your unit you want to charge with- Ok there aren’t many nuances to this, you pick a unit and you charge with it. However, there is one thing: knowing which order to charge in. Before charging in with your genestealers into a wall of flamers, maybe charge your trygon in to soak the overwatch. This will eat most of the damage as shooting flamers at a trygon is a lot better for you than those same flamers roasting your genestealers. On the flipside, if you’re charging a unit with a bunch of plasma and las cannons maybe lead with your genestealers so you don’t accidentally lose your trygon to some lucky 6’s. Moral of the story is charge in an order that saves you the most damage from the overwatch.

That’s not all though, imagine charging a unit in a tight spot where only a few of your models or units will actually be able to swing or fight. Be sure, to charge in such a way where your damage dealing units actually get to attack. Charging a trygon into a wall of flamers sounds great, but remember his base is huge, so there may not be any room left for the stealers after he moves in there. Be sure to respect what the position will look like after each model moves, and try to use foresight to charge optimally.


Step 2: Declare all your charge targets- This is actually super important to get right for two reasons. 1- You can’t come within 1″ of an enemy you did not declare as your charge target during your charge move. 2- You cannot attack a unit you did not declare as a charge target.  So how does this matter? Well let’s say you have your sneaky assassin the solitaire who wants to blitz through a cultist blob to get to the nice juicy Ahriman in the back. You declare Ahriman as the charge target, roll 2d6 and roll enough to reach him! But you can’t place yourself within 1″ of Ahriman without being within an inch of the cultists you didn’t declare- guess you failed your charge. So the easy solution here is also charge the cultists! Well the problem with that is when the solitaire eats 80 overwatch shots with rerolls to hit he might have a bad day. But remember what I said about 1 paragraph ago about charging in correct orders to minimize overwatch damage? Step 1- charge a wave serpent into the cultist blob to eat the overwatch, step 2 charge solitaire into cultists that can no longer overwatch and Ahriman, step 3- kill Ahriman, step 4- win game.

Now, remember how you can only attack things that you declare as a charge target? When playing something where overwatch doesn’t matter for one reason or another (inconsequential amount of damage, the guys don’t have guns, etc…) you might as well just charge everything you can! That way you can go wherever you want when it comes time to move your models and you’re not restricted like in the above scenario.

But wait there’s more!

Here’s a theoretical scenario which demonstrates one of the things I like to do a lot. Let’s say I want to charge a unit 8″ away but I don’t want to just do nothing if I fail my charge, and there’s a unit right in front of me, even in the opposite direction occasionally. I declare both! If I roll the 8 I just go into the squad I want to, if I roll a 3 I just take my consolation prize, and if I roll a 7 I can go towards the unit I wanted with most of my squad while getting within 1″ of the nearby unit with 1 guy to make it legal, then use my lovely 3″ pile in to get closer to the squad I wanted to fight in the first place. That being said I’ll go into more depth about the proper way to pile in and consolidate in the assault phase in my next article. If you think charging is complicated just wait.

Well back to the charge phase

Step 3: Eat lots of overwatch- Believe it or not there are actually more tactics here than simply using things like rhinos to make your life easier. Imagine a scenario where you want to charge a unit of flamers with your genestealers but don’t have your handy dandy trygon nearby. Flamers have a measily range of 8″ so to shoot overwatch they actually have to be in range. Remember that whole trick I literally just described a minute ago? Do that. Finish your movement phase 8.1″ away from the flamer mans, and as close as possible to something inconsequential. Declare a charge on both. You’ve negated the flamer overwatch and if you roll high you can still just charge them. If you roll average just charge the other unit and then pile into the flamers to steal their jeans. Remember, you declared them as a charge target and even though you initially failed to make it to them you can still pile in and swing at them. A very similar trick you can do here is hide behind a wall or infamous Nova “L” to make your charge. The other guy can’t overwatch you if he can’t see you and then you can use your magical infantry powers to kool-aid man through the wall and charge everything.

Brown magic.

Step 4. Roll 2d6- OK there’s only 1 tactic here and it’s easily the most important tactic in all of 40k. Roll Better.

Moving on

Step 5. Move your first model so that it’s within 1″ of an enemy you declared as a charge target. Not much to this actually, basically just following rules. There are some tactics here that revolve around how you pile in, but that’s an article for another day. For now just follow this rule.

Step 6. Move the rest of your squad so that it finishes it’s move in coherency and not within 1″ of an enemy you did not declare as a charge target- A common misconception is that you have to move everyone closer to the stuff you’re charging. This is very untrue. You can move backwards, sideways, up, down, and in circles if you want. There are basically no rules here. You can actually get like 2 movement phases out of the assault phase if you’re crafty about it. Sometimes I like to leave little bits of squads alive just so I can charge them. Here’s an example, some guy gets all up in your face with a unit of drop plasma. Instead of shooting them away, get them down to a couple guys. Then charge them, engage them with a few of your models so you can ensure they die, but have the rest of your squad go towards an objective or piece of terrain or something. Then kill them. Then use your pile in at the end of that fight round to move even further towards the objective. If you do this right you can totally get like a free 12″ of movement.

There’s soooo much more to go into about the entire assault process, but that’s the basics of how to get the most out of the charge phase. Depending on how you guys respond to this article, I can continue with this article series and go into the the nuances of the fight phase, or I can pick a different topic to discuss next week.

Until next time mis amigos!


11 Comments on “Charging For Dummys

  1. Love it, now show me some pics or it didn’t happen

  2. 6 is wrong. You need to move torward your closer enemy miniature when you pile in and when u consolidate. Cant free move where you want

  3. Well you dont need to move straigth to your closer enemy mini. But you have to finish your move closer to him than on the begining. So you have some freedom on your pile in and consolidate but arent free moves and you cant move on the oposite way for sure.

    • I suggest you re-read the charge rules before questioning probably the best 40k player in the world.

      When piling in – you need to move closer to the closest model (which can be 3” sideways as long as you’re 0.00000000001” closer.

      When charging, you move 1 dude next to a charged target unit and then you move whatever you want with all other models.

      • I think its worth point out that Free Move indicates no restrictions, there are restrictions here so I think the previous comment was right

        You can’t just move where you want, (ie if you are 3″ from one model, and 4″ away from another model thats on the objective, you can’t just move 3″ towards that model 4″ away.

        It actually adds a huge layer of tactical depth as your opponent can use their own consolidate moves to force you to move towards something you dont want to (although of course you dont have to use the move).

        Hadn’t considered the objective move, although I think thats because generally my targets are between me and the objective, so I consolidate and pile in around them.

      • ????? Who cares if the best player in the world is wrong is wrong. Period.
        He said
        “You can move backwards, sideways, up, down, and in circles if you want. There are basically no rules here”

        Rulebook says
        That you MUST move torward your closest enemy miniature on both phases. So there are rules here and you cang never movd backwards for sure. I only pointed out an error in order to edit the guide to dont confuse unknowledge guys like you lol

      • This article does not cover piling in at all. Please reread it. Nothing in this article is illegal.

  4. Sick article btw. Can’t wait for more advanced things as I use this stuff already.

  5. Love the article, one of the best units in the game for this are the Allarus Custodians, as they can choose to consolidate towards the nearest enemy Character, this really increases your options for locking down enemy units as a Character is invariably further back. I once managed to lock out an entire gun line because of their deployment, Achilles, Hellblasters, Devastator squad through Allarus Pile in & Consolidation!

  6. Pingback: Who Said Combat Was About Killing Things? – The Brown Magic

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