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Combat Patrol Rules for Warhammer 40k: How to Play

The Combat Patrol game mode is a new way in which players can take part in Warhammer 40k. But what 40k Combat Patrol? Why would you be interested in this game mode? And, if you were keen to try it, how would you go about getting started?

It is a good job that I, your ever-faithful servant in the navigation of the new 10th Edition world that we live in, am here to answer all the questions.

Before we get started, if you are unfamiliar with the changes and rule updates for the 10th Edition, we have got an article on the new Core Rulebook that will explain the whole thing for you! If you are familiar, however, let’s press on to the juicy stuff.

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What is the 40k Combat Patrol Game Mode?

The Combat Patrol game mode is based around the Combat Patrol starter boxes (we got an article covering all Comat Patrol Boxes)

While each Combat Patrol box is ideal for starting your 40k collection, they have now been adapted to work as stand-alone armies that players can use to get straight into playing. Not only has the selection of models in each box been updated, but Games Workshop has also made free PDFs for each Combat Patrol that includes data sheets, stratagems, enhancements, and a whole bunch of extra stuff.

That’s quite a list of Combat Patrols to choose from! So basicly you buy a Combat Patrol box and that is what you need to play.

Do note, however, the data cards in these PDFs are different from the ones that you can find in the faction’s Codex. Things like equipment loadouts, abilities, and other such information have been streamlined to help you get on with playing the game and also to ensure that all the Combat Patrols are balanced (or as balanced as you can make so many Combat Patrols in relation to each other).

The Combat Patrol game mode also comes with its own set of missions to choose from. These missions are designed specifically for this game mode, though the setup is extremely similar to the base game explained in the article linked above. The only difference is in the selection of determining your secondary objectives and your enhancement – which we will go into detail about later.

But that’s it! Sounds very simple when it’s all laid out. But with this simplicity comes a lot of extremely useful ways you can apply this game mode to your tabletop experience.


The rules for 40k Combat Patrol and what a Combat Patrol is

As mentioned before, a Combat Patrol Army is much like a standard army for Warhammer 40k, but all the models come from the Combat Patrol starter set, and they make use of a ruleset specific to that setup. To help you understand, what we will do is that we will briefly breakdown the structure of these rule sets, before looking closely at a specific Combat Patrol so you can get a better look at what makes each ruleset unique.

An overview of the Space Marines 40k Combat Patrol Box

Overview:

  • The first two pages outline the names of individual models and units, what weapons and equipment they have, and provide pictures to help you identify which models are which. This is great for players who may be playing a faction they are unfamiliar with, or armies who have models that look very similar to each other.
  • The third and fourth page details an ability unique to the faction in question, explaining how the ability is used and what effects it has on the battlefield.
  • Following this, there is a section about two different enhancements you may give to your warlord, allowing you to customise the leader of your Combat Patrol to suit your play style.
  • Then we get shown the 2 choices for a secondary objective – again, allowing you to customise how you play.
  • Lastly, on these two pages, we have got a list of all the stratagems the combat patrol has access to.

For the remaining pages, we can see a collection of streamlined datasheets for each model and unit within the combat patrol. You’ll notice that these cards will be different from the standard cards of their respective factions in a few subtle ways. The most obvious one is that their wargear has been simplified to just show the weapon they have equipped, rather than all potential weapons they could potentially have, avoiding confusion.

You will also notice that the abilities have been simplified into CORE, FACTION, and any abilities unique to that specific model. The faction abilities you can find specifically in the PDF are relevant to the combat patrol, whereas the core rules you can find in the Core Rulebook.

One slight thing that may go unnoticed is the little piece of flavour text in the top right of each card. It provides a little bit of lore about each unit and model as well as hints into how they should be used on the battlefield. The Warlord for each Combat Patrol is also a named character, allowing for some thematic storytelling should you choose.

Combat Patrol: Genestealer Cults example

So, let’s delve a little deeper and have a look at a specific Combat Patrol army to give us some context as to what these rule sets look like.

On the first page of the Genestealer Cults PDF, we are greeted by their army roster which is as follows:

  • Magus Veridielle – A warlord equipped with a strong psychic melee weapon who has an ability that provides a +5 Feel No Pain roll against psychic attacks for any models in a unit she is leading.
  • Neophyte Hybrids (2 squads of 10 models) – The core units of the Combat Patrol, armed with a diverse selection of weapons that will help them whittle away at any type of enemy they come across.
  • Acolyte Hybrids (1 squad of 5 models) – Deadly close-combat units who have access to demolition charges, as well as the ability to re-roll 1s when hitting (and wounding if the target is within range of an objective marker), making them perfect for control objectives.
  • Aberrants (1 squad of 5 models) – A strong close combat unit whose objective is simply to smash tough opponents with high attack/high damage melee weapons.
  • Goliath Rockgrinder – Durable, fast, and with a range of different weapons, this vehicle can fulfil many different roles that may be required to support the advancing cultists.
Genestealer Cults Combat Patrol
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As you can see, simply from looking at the roster, this army list has both a balance and a theme. Balance in the fact that it has units to hold the line, capture objectives, and break enemy lines – but themed in the sense that there is a slight focus towards close combat with these units.

Another useful added to these PDFs is a few labeled images that further illustrate specific weapons.

This theme is further expanded upon when you look at the Faction Rule for this Combat Patrol: The Cult Ambush. Putting it simply, when a unit of Neophyte or Acolyte Hybrids gets wiped out, there is a good chance that they can be redeployed somewhere else on the battlefield. Personally, I think this rule is great for the Genestealers as it encourages the player to be aggressive with their units while also giving the Combat Patrol a horde feeling to it even though there are a limited number of units on the battlefield.

The Enhancements you can give to your Magus further reflect this aggressive style of play. She has the choice of being equipped with either a Psionic Shield or a Resonance Stave. The first option allows her to provide the unit she is leading with a +1 to saving throws against ranged attacks while the second choice allows her to bonk enemy infantry with extra damage and fury – which synergies well with the Combat Patrol as a whole. A player could choose to have her lead the Aberrants with her Psionic Shield to keep them alive long enough so that they can get into melee. Or a player could decide for her to wield the Resonance Stave and group up with the Acolyte Hybrids to help give them a little extra punch when they get into melee.

Moving onto the secondary objectives, we see that the default choice, Rise Up, allows the Genestealer Cultists to gain Victory Points simply by having one or more Neophyte Hybrid units within range – regardless of who else is there! Combined with the Faction ability to basically respawn these units when they are wiped out, this makes hyper aggressive playstyles absolutely viable even when facing enemy armies that come with a lot of firepower or close combat prowess.

The Will of the Patriarch is the optional secondary objective which (while some would say is a little cheeky) allows you to ignore the objective markers somewhat and decide to turn your Magus into a makeshift one if she is in 3” of the centre of the battlefield. Though a bit more defensive than the previous secondary objective, it’s a great one to choose if you are up against an enemy that prefers to be well entrenched, and you want to force them out of their position.

The last thing to cover with the Genestealer Cults is the Stratagems, all of which continue to expand on the aggressive nature of their faction. Defend the Magus allows friendly units to reroll hit and wound rolls of one against enemy units in the Engagement Range of the Magus unit. Lurking Killers subtracts a 1 to hit rolls during enemy shooting attacks against one of the infantry squads. Then finally, Return to the Shadows, allows infantry to move 1d6 should an enemy get too close.

All these Stratagems combined create a strategic choice for the player, encouraging them to hit hard, fall back, or advance towards firing lines depending on what tactics are required for that turn.

Overall, it is my personal opinion that the combat patrol for the Genestealer Cult works well on both a mechanical I-want-to-win-the-game side of things as well as scratching that thematic itch that is common among a lot of players.

What’s really cool is that this focus on mechanical and thematic themes is present in varying degrees to all the combat patrols – so there is a good chance that whatever faction you want to play will be well represented!


Why would you play the 40k Combat Patrol Game mode?

Some of you reading this may have had a question pop up in your mind from time to time. If Combat Patrol is essentially a slightly streamlined version of the standard tabletop game of Warhammer 40k, why even bother with it?

That is a fair question to ask, especially if you have been in the hobby a long time and already have a good understanding of the rules, factions, and have an army or two yourself.

While Combat Patrol may struggle to tickle the fancy of some experienced players, there are many reasons why individuals both seasoned and new to the hobby may find this mode interesting.

Combat Patrol is a great way to try different factions without committing too much time and resources to collecting and painting. The Warhammer universe has so many interesting factions, each with its own compelling lore and all bringing something different to the tabletop experience.  For a lot of players, they may have one army they spend the majority of their time playing and a secondary but smaller army they play as a change of pace.

No matter how you split it, keeping an army up to date by buying a new Codex and supplements, maintaining its competitive edge by buying new models and painting everything to an appropriate standard is a heavy drain on time and resources. While part and parcel of the hobby, this ultimately discourages players from branching out and trying to add a new army to their roster. The Combat Patrol box sets effectively cut out a lot of this, requiring a player to only assemble, paint, and stick in the back pocket to bring out whenever it takes their fancy.

Combat Patrol can be introduced at clubs to engage new players or by parents to get their kids involved. This point may not be applicable for the majority of players but let me explain.

My day job, when I’m not using my spectacular penmanship to bring you these lovely articles, I work in a school. During dinner times (or lunchtime if you’re from a part of the world that speaks “proper” English) at school, I run a little Warhammer 40k club. It’s a fun club to run and it’s nice to see the kids come in with their armies and enjoy their time. The only issue is, when a new child joins in and they have no army, I have to loan them some of my models so they can play.

Thankfully I have a lot of old space marine models from a while ago that I don’t use anymore, so it’s not a major problem. But what if I didn’t? What if I only had my wonderfully purple-painted Ork Kommandoz, or my snazzy pink World Eaters (I exclusively paint most things pink and purple) for them to play with? Teaching a child to play Warhammer is a wonderful experience, having them break a model that’s part of your main army, however, is not.

And I imagine for those of you who run clubs for adults, or you parents who want to introduce your hobby to your children, it may be very similar. Stick a couple of Combat Patrols into the mix however, and you’ve got a few armies that are ready to go without the emotional trauma that comes with watching someone think your carefully painted Shoota Boys are toys and so treat them as such. They are NOT toys! They are miniatures. Thank you very much.

Combat Patrol is an excellent choice for players with a hectic schedule. A lot of emphasis in the Combat Patrol game mode and 10th Edition at large is the streamlining of rules to make the game easier to engage with and less of a headache for new and old players alike.

But there is one type of player that often gets forgotten about in these overhauls. The 9-5 working man, the student doctor who is up to her eyeballs in work and study, the recovering alcoholic who puts a lot of effort into maintaining a dry lifestyle. If you’ve read my article on how to get ready for matched play, you’ll be familiar with the fact that playing Warhammer 40k is more than just collecting, painting, and playing. There’s planning your army composition, there’s taking the opponent’s army into consideration, there’s the tweaking of your forces with new units, and reflecting on your previous gameplay.

For a lot of people in the world, Warhammer is hard to access because, at the end of the day, we are just too tired to do all this extra stuff that comes with the game. Some people just want to play, and really who can blame them? I’m sure we’ve all felt like this from time to time (lord knows I’m in a constant state of “I just want to play, for goodness’s sake”) and if this game mode can allow these kinds of players to get some action on the tabletop, then I’m here for it.

Genestealer Cults Combat Patrol
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Adeptus Mechanicus Combat Patrol
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Space Wolves Combat Patrol
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Blood Angels Combat Patrol
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Adepta Sororitas Combat Patrol
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Necrons Combat Patrol
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T'au Empire Combat Patrol


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Leagues of Votann Combat Patrol
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Dark Angels Combat Patrol
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Black Templars Combat Patrol
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Tyranids Combat Patrol
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Chaos Daemons Combat Patrol
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Drukhari Combat Patrol
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Grey Knights Combat Patrol
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Aeldari Combat Patrol


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Deathwatch Combat Patrol
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Chaos Space Marines Combat Patrol
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Space Marines Combat Patrol
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Death Guard Combat Patrol
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Adeptus Custodes Combat Patrol
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Orks Combat Patrol
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Thousand Sons Combat Patrol
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Astra Militarum Combat Patrol
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World Eaters Combat Patrol
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Other great resources: