Conscript Tactics - Getting The Most From Conscripts - WH40K Blog
Astra Militarum Tactics

Conscript Tactics – Getting The Most From Conscripts – WH40K Blog

Time for some more tactics, Conscript tactics this time!

Approximate Reading Time: 15 minutes

It’s tactics o’clock again! We’ve done the big boys now with Bullgryn Tactics. This time it’s the little guys – Conscript tactics for Warhammer 40K 8th edition. At present Conscripts are the closest thing us Astra Militarum commanders have to a blob.

Since the release of the new Astra Militarum Codex…

Update 1: Conscripts can now only be taken in groups of 30 max.

Update 2: Conscripts only receive orders on a roll of a 4+.

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Many thanks to Cadian Sergeant Steel on Instagram (check out the Cadians, great paint work) for their help on getting this article right. It seems I cannot multiple 4 by 50! Thanks again fellow Cadian Commander!

Base Unit of Conscripts

The basic make up and stat line of the Conscripts hasn’t changed all that much since 7th edition. You must take at least 20 and can take up to 50. They are hitting on a 5+ in shooting and melee. Once again watch out for morale issues as they are only Leadership 4. One slight boost is that moving from 7th edition’s WS to the new WS5+ means that they’ll be hitting everything on a 5+. In 7th edition it was perfectly possible to be hitting on a 6+.

20 to 50 guys is a lot of Guardsmen, check out this article about getting Guardsmen from eBay for a helping hand in bulking out your ranks. And here for batch painting.

With no possible war gear upgrades let’s move right onto buffing these guys and looking at some Conscript Tactics.

Conscript Tactics

Conscript Tactics versus the Dark Angels


The best and most obvious choice is the good old Priest. The Priest has been accompanying Conscripts for millennia and will continue to do so now in 8th edition.

Giving his bonus of +1 Attacks for friendly units within 6″ the Priest gives your 50 Conscripts 100 attacks. This is assuming they can all fight. More on this later. But a doubling of attacks is superb for 2 Power Level or 35 points.

Conscript Tactics and Orders

Ordering your Conscripts is going to take them from meh to yey! For me Fix Bayonets and First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire give the best benefits and as long as you’re moving up the battlefield you’ll find at least one of these useful. And if nothing is in range or your Conscripts are not in combat, use Move, Move, Move to get them closer! But don’t run them out of range of your ordering officer or other buffing characters (the Priest)!

Platoon Commander

The Platoon Commander is the most effective way of ordering your Conscripts.

The Conscripts have no way of getting a Vox-Caster for themselves. So you can never order them from afar using a Vox-Caster. Therefore they must be accompanied by an officer that can order them from 6″ away. The Platoon Commander is the cheapest way to give the Conscripts orders.

You could kit the Platoon Commander out to be a decent melee fighter on the charge. He is hitting on a 3+ in shooting and melee, plus has a respectable 3 attacks when fighting. But with such a huge blob you may run into issues of ensuring the Platoon Commander is in combat.

Whack on a Power Fist and a Plasma Pistol?

Fix Bayonets

This order lets your Conscripts fight immediately in the shooting phase as if it was the Fight phase. This assumes of course they are already within 1″ of an enemy unit and so are already locked in combat. Now your Conscripts can use those 100 attacks twice per turn.

Of course we have to assume they:

  1. Make it into combat
  2. Survive the combat
  3. Do not destroy the enemy and remain in combat
  4. Have someone able to give the order in your shooting phase

There are a few ifs there. But the potential is certain.

First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire

200 shots hitting on a 5+. That’s some las fire right there! You’re not going to be hitting the target as much as one would like though – but there are so many shots that you’re going to get some hits. Coupled with Yarrick you can get even more hits. More below.

While 200 shots at 12″ sounds incredible, this is how it stacks up against a Land Raider:

  • 200 shots
  • 66 hits
  • 11 wounds
  • 1 failed saves

You only actually cause 1 wound to the Land Raider, on average. OK, its a poor match up, because Land Raiders are tough cookies. How about against a Terminator Squad that is about to charge you:

  • 200 shots
  • 66 hits
  • 22 wounds
  • 3 failed saves

That is 1 (and a half) dead Terminators by the laws of rolling averages. Which you know, is not bad going for a 150 point blob of Conscripts. A stock Terminator Assault Squad is 220 points for five models.

A more likely target is a Tactical Squad:

  • 200 shots
  • 66 hits
  • 22 wounds
  • 7 failed saves

That is a 7 dead Marines, which is more likely. Although for the points cost you want to be doing this on at least two turns. 7 Tactical Marines are 91 points.

Take Aim

I’d always take FRFSRF over Take Aim. Simply because you’re better getting double the shots that hit on a 5+ than re-rolling your normal number of shots that re-roll a 1.

Unless you’re rolling a 2+ to Hit. Which is impossible under the current rules.

Bring it Down

I think the same applies here as with Take Aim. Bring it Down lets you re-roll 1s to wound. But given the choice of re-rolling 1s or getting double shots which hit on a 5+ – FRFSRF is better.

Unless you’re rolling a 2+ to Wound. Which will never happen.

Get Back In The Fight

This allows you to shoot even if you Fell Back in the movement phase. It doesn’t allow you to charge though. If you’re doing this then you need a good reason. I mean I’m playing Conscripts here to get them into melee to clog up the enemy, to stop them shooting, to gain additional attacks from a Priest, run interference, etc.

So if the Conscripts are falling back it’s because I have something in support that can blast, the enemy I’m falling back from, to death. Or because the Conscripts are really screwed and will all die in the next Fight phase. Or because my Priest is dead – so therefore falling back for some FRFSRF goodness is better than staying in combat.

A good scenario to do this though would be if the Conscripts were facing a deadly melee only enemy unit. By falling back and doing Get Back in the Fight, you deny the enemy the chance to kill additional Conscripts. What you hope for in this scenario is that the enemy charges you again in the following turn. This gives you another volley of Overwatch. By preventing the enemy from killing Conscripts in the prior Assault Phase and forcing them to endure Get Back in the Fight and Overwatch, you have scored more attacks, and hopefully more wounds, than if you had stuck around and done Fix Bayonets.

Move, Move, Move!

A handy order that will see your Conscripts move between 14″ and 24″ in a single turn. If they do not shoot.

A little circumstantial but could be handy to create a huge screen of men ~20″ out from your main gun line. Or useful to move to an objective quickly for Tactical Cards or in the late game. The mass of models is good for taking objectives as this is now how objectives are secured. Most models within 3″.


The classic big issue for Conscripts. The classic solution? A Priest. But no longer in 8th edition. A Priest now does nothing for morale or leadership.

A Commissar is the key now in 8th edition.
A Commissar will limit the number of models lost from a failed Morale Test to one. Just one. This is so powerful and mitigates one of the most effective removal methods of 8th edition. Just keep the Commissar hidden. He is character, but can still be sniped.

Guardsmen Blob from 7th edition - Conscript Tactics have changed since then!

Guardsmen Blob from 7th edition – Conscript Tactics have changed since then!

Yarrick (or Harker)

The boss of Commissars will boost your Conscripts morale because units within 6″ use his Ld9.  And he stops you from losing scores of men from a failed morale save just like a regular Commissar and Lord Commissar.

Yarrick has another added bonus. Re-roll ones to hit in shooting and melee. Or re-roll all to hit rolls versus Orks. That 5+ is still a poor 5+ but those ones can be be rolled again in the hope of getting more hits.

Note that Sergeant Harker has a similar effect for Catachans. Re-roll ones for friendly Catachan units shooting with 6″. There is one more difference here, in that Yarrick’s rules state to-hit rolls and Harker’s rules specifically state shooting to-hit rolls. Making Yarrick that little but better for our melee Conscript Tactics.

Psychic Powers

With the limited Psychic ability the Astra Militarum now have there is only one clear power to use. Psychic Barrier. This will give your Conscripts a 4+ save. One better than their base save of 5+. Or if you manage to get the whole lot into cover they’ll have a 3+ save!

But the 4+ save in the Fight phase will be so handy especially against enemies with no dedicated melee weapons.

It’s all about the inch

There is a slight trick in the way we can get our Conscripts into a fight. We know that;

Models can fight that are within 1″ of an enemy model. And that your other models in the unit can fight if they are within 1″ of a friendly model that is within 1″ of an enemy model.

Because a Conscript’s base is only an inch wide (25mm) we can position a lot of models within 1″ of the enemy. Some of those models will be just within the inch. Say 0.9″ away from the enemy model. These are eligible to fight themselves as they are within 1″.

This means our Conscripts that are 1.9″ can now fight too. This effectively gives you four ranks of fighting Conscripts.

Diagrams are best here I feel!

Conscript Tactics - its all about the inch

Conscript Tactics – its all about the inch

Multiple Blobs – Conscript Tactics

Taking multiple blobs of Conscripts is a real possibility. The 6″ bubbles of benefit offered up from Commissars, Yarrick, Officers and Priests can easily effect more than one unit of Conscripts. Two yes. Three probably. Four, at a real push and by daisy chaining the Conscripts back to the characters. Assuming you use terrain lavishly.

Although you would need Creed or a Company Commander to put out multiple sets of orders.


No regular dedicated transports can hold the minimum sized squad of 20 Conscripts. We have to move right onto the Super Heavies of the Astra Militarum. But in short Transports play little to no role for me when it comes to Conscript Tactics.

Astra Militarum Super Heavies

The usefulness of a Super Heavy a delivery mechanism for such a cheap unit – has to be seriously questioned. Is it worth spending 400 or 500 points on a transport for a unit only worth 150 points? Almost certainly not.

Astra Militarum Forge World Super Heavies

The same can be said here. The Super Heavy transport solutions offered up by Forge World are just too expensive in terms of points to be viable transport solutions for Conscripts. And of course expensive in terms of cash too.

But having a Gorgon transport up 50 Conscripts would be amazing to play and see.

Conscript Tactics

Let’s try and nail down some actual uses for the Conscripts now we have a clear understanding of how they can work on the battlefield and how they can be buffed/enhanced.

Tar Pit (ish)

With the new fall back rules in 8th clogging up a unit for a whole game with fearless Conscripts is a thing of the past. The best you can hope for now with this tactic is that your opponent just never leaves with their unit. It’s unlikely because they’ll want to leave in order to then hammer your Conscripts with lots of Bolter fire or similar shooting.

The most common case of a tar pit now in 8th edition will now see your Conscripts just deny an enemy unit a single turn of shooting and prevent them from charging – for a turn. Which is a bit meh. Because the same effect can be achieved with just one unit of infantry.

Tactical Genius Rating: 2/5

Gatling Lasgun

The 200 shots at 12″ Gatling Lasgun sounds way more impressive than it is on paper. Roll badly at any point during this 200 shot volley and you could see 50 hits diminished to only 5 wounds. Many of which will be saved by your enemy’s unmodified saving throw.

Picking the right target for this las volley is going to make all the difference. As we saw above by the law of dice rolling average you’ll do a few wounds to a Land Raider and maybe 7 to Tactical Marines. There is little you can do about improving the to hit roll (other than using Yarrick or Harker) and nothing you can do to give their Lasgun’s an AP value.

Ideally you want to be targeting units that are Toughness 3 and with as poor a save as possible. I’d make these targets are priority because you will be wounding them 4+

  • Cultists
  • Pox Walkers
  • Kroot
  • Fire Warriors / Pathfinders
  • Eldar (Dark)
  • Harlequins
  • Skitarii
  • Neophytes

Tactical Genius Rating: 3/5

Objective Holding

Now that objectives are held by who ever has the most models with 3″ a group of Conscripts with a Commissar makes for an excellent objective holder in your own deployment zone Hunker down and wait until the game ends. Throw Psychic Barrier on them too for a 4+ save and these lads are going no where fast.

Tactical Genius Rating: 3/5

Table Real Estate

Their main use is their huge size – the amount of table real estate they can take up. Placing them in a transport immediately removes this use though. Remember that before dropping £100 on a Super Heavy.

A blob of 50 can be used to deny the enemy deep striking areas around your main gun line or tanks. Ensuring the enemy cannot charge your precious tanks or get within Melta range. Or get within range at all if you’re clever.

By spreading a Conscript unit out properly you can deny deep striking units anywhere useful to set up. Scatter is gone now yes. But there is nearly a 9″ universal bubble rule for placing units they now deep strike. Or what ever name it’s called for a particular unit.

So you can safely leave holes in your Conscripts that are 17″ in diameter. No one can deep strike into those holes because they’d be within 9″.

The 2″ coherency rule still means you can spread out a lot and maintain a single blob of massed Conscripts.

Tactical Genius Rating: 4/5


Another take on the Table Real Estate idea. But this sees you using your Conscripts to actively block enemy charges and advances into your most prized units and objectives. Skimmers, flyers, jump infantry, etc can of course mitigate this and just go over you. But for vehicles and foot sloggers you can  become a real pain by just daisy chaining your Conscripts to give a good meat shield.

Coupled with the Move, Move, Move order (which will get them right out of the way too and in front of the enemy) you will have yourself a nice little speed bump. From there you can get the enemy up into melee and force them to fall back. Wasting a turn of charging and shooting. Falling back also forces the enemy to move away from your unit. So no sneaking forward as part of the fall back move.

Tactical Genius Rating: 4/5

Denying Disembarkation

In the Transport rules for 8th Edition, models than cannot disembark from a Transport if they can’t stay more than 1” away from enemy models. With Move, Move, Move, you could easily take a conscript blob and wrap it around an advancing enemy transport. You can even be clever about it and initially keep the Conscripts out of Assault range so they can still fire on other units.

Additionally, this can get risky, but if the enemy transport is destroyed while bubble wrapped by Conscripts and the vehicle doesn’t explode and kill enough Conscripts to create an opening, the units inside the transport are destroyed! Risky, but may be well worth it.

Tactical Genius Rating: 4/5

That’s all for now folks – let me hear your tales of successful (and failed) Conscript Tactics!