How make a Battle-Forged army in Warhammer 40,000 8th edition 

With the new 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000 building a Battle-Forged army is both similar and different from building one in 7th. It is infinitely easier than sorting out the whole detachments, formations and allies cacophony of the last edition. But the edition is brand new and I thought I would write a post on how you go about making a Battle-Forged Chaos Space Marines army. I think it’ll help sort out a few things, at least for me.

The key mechanics of building a Battle-Forged army are Detachments and Keywords. Let’s start off by looking at the Detachments.

Detachments are the framework of your army. They set the tone and feel of the force you’re bringing to the table top. There are 12 different detachments in the Advanced Rules section of 8th edition. They cater for all kinds of lists; from all Flyers to all HQ to Fast Attack lists and well-rounded take all comers FOC/CAD type Detachments. If you ever played 40k before you’ll understand this part intuitively.


Each Detachment share the same three features – minimum and maximum unit types, restrictions (all units must come from the same faction, i.e. share at least one faction keyword) and Command Benefits. A Battalion Detachment (the new CAD basically) requires you to bring 2 HQ and 3 Troops but you may bring 2-3 HQ, 3-6 Troops, 0-6 Elites, 0-3 Fast Attack,  0-3 Heavy Support and 0-2 Flyers. As long as you fulfill the requirements you can continue to add units, just don’t exceed the limits. You know this part.

Keywords is the new kid on the block and like most of the best changes to this edition the concept comes from Age of Sigmar. Each unit Datasheet have to sets of keywords – Faction Keyword and Keywords. Faction Keywords are used when you build your Battle-Forged army. All units in a Detachment need to share at least one Faction Keyword. The more Faction Keywords units in an army share the more synergetic the army will become. Buffs and abilities are shared between units that share specific keywords. So how does this work when you’re actually building an army? Let’s take a look!

I want to build a Battle Forged Thousand Sons army using the Battalion Detachment as a starting point. My first pick is an Exalted Sorcerer. That’s one of my HQ choices (I need two). For my second HQ I pick a Daemon Prince. Thousand Sons have the special ability to take Rubric Marines as Troops rather than Elites. Excellent I’ll take two squads of those automaton brothers.  To finish off the Battalion Detachment I need a third Troop choice – Tzaangors fill that role. With that final pick I have a Battle-Forged Thousand Sons army.

HQ – Exalted Sorcerer – <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

HQ – Daemon Prince – <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

Troops – Rubric Marines –  <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

Troops – Rubric Marines –  <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

Troops – Tzaangor –  <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

We still have a lot of space left in the Battalion Detachment to add extra units to the army. Thousand Sons are a bit restricted and can’t pick everything available to the Chaos Space Marines. There is a list of units that can be given the <Thousand Sons> keyword. If we want to keep the army fully synergetic we need to abide to the restrictions. To give the army a bit of long range punch we a Predator.

Heavy Support – Predator –  <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes>, <Thousand Sons>

It’s a solid little army but maybe we want to add something with a bit of plasma and melta magic. That’s hard to do for a Thousand Sons army. Helbrutes can help us out but let’s say we want Raptors and maybe Chaos Terminators. They can’t have the <Thousand Sons> Faction Keyword but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them in the Battle-Forged army we are building here. In order to do that we need to assign them a new <Legion> Faction Keyword. That can be one of the classic Traitor Legions or your own Chaos Renegade Warband. We’ll call them, I don’t know, something like <Prophets of Lies> to keep with the Tzeentchian theme.

When we add these two units to the Battalion Detachment it is no longer a Thousand Sons Detachment since all units no longer have the <Thousand Sons> Faction Keyword. And because the army isn’t <Thousand Sons> the Rubric Marines reverts back their original Elites Battlefield Role. So we need to add two Troops units.

Bring forth the Chaos Cultists (excellent bubble wrap, which you’ll need in an elite type army). The Chaos Cultist can have any <Legion> keyword so we’ll give them <Thousand Sons>. They will bubble wrap the Rubric Marines and the Predator. If we keep the Daemon Prince close they’ll benefit from its Prince of Chaos aura.

Finally we need a <Prophets of Lies> Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour to buff the units with the <Prophets of Lies> keyword since they get no help from the Exalted Sorcerer or the Daemon Prince. Now we have a <Chaos>, <Tzeentch>, <Heretic Astartes> army, which is cool too. If we would add say a unit of Khorne Berzerkers the army would loose the <Tzeentch> keyword since they have the <Khorne> Faction Keyword. And if we finally add a Soulgrinder the army would be reduced the <Chaos> Faction Keyword because the Soulgrinder doesn’t have the <Heretic Astartes> Faction Keyword. The army would still be Battle-Forged nonetheless since they all share one Faction Keyword.

I hope my ramblings can help sort thing a bit. It helped me at least.

Keep on burning.

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16 thoughts on “How make a Battle-Forged army in Warhammer 40,000 8th edition 

  1. Weirdly, I’d been mulling over making sense of the new army building process all afternoon as I prepare for my first 8th edition game. It was on my mind as I logged on to my Word Press and saw your article first. Spooky! And a helpful post! Thank you, sir! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah both options can work. I am enjoying flicking through the Chaos Index at the moment, even if it lacks the fluff of full on codices. But we will get those in time.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. As a heretic at heart it’s great to combine the traitors with their Daemon overlords again, in one army. However, for the Imperium, bloody hell. The sheer level of army builds is obscene! It’s been awesome for my Inquisition list. Good times.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t peeked at the Imperium books yet but I can imagine the myriad of builds hidden within. At the same time, true power will come from abiding to a more restrictive build with more overlapping keywords. I think this will be obvious once the codices are released. Good times ahead.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh, thanks for the thorough analysis. As someone who hasn’t played proper 40k since 3rd edition, this whole battle-forged concept is difficult for me to understand. I guess it is designed to reward you for playing themed armies? It seems that the closer you get to Chaos Undivided, the fewer synergies you get on the battlefield.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers! Glad you found it useful.

      I think we will see more buffs and abilities connected to themed armies. When the new codexes come I bet we’ll see warlord traits, stratagems and artefacts that can be unlocked if you run a proper for example.

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