Attacking in 40k – You Might Be Doing It Wrong

Edit: I have done a poor job explaining my position in this piece. At no point was this intended to imply that you should be the only person making sequential attacks for important rolls – your opponent should be doing the same.

Further, I am also not trying to say that every attack sequence should be rolled like this – far from it. However, when it is a small (sub 20 ish) number of critical attacks that won’t happen more than a couple times per game, this is absolutely the correct way to be approaching it.

Finally, this piece isn’t intended to tell you what you should do in your games of Warhammer – please don’t feel that it is. All the article is trying to do is bring to light a piece of the game that I personally feel has been overlooked.

Or what I mean by that is, you’re definitely giving your opponent too much information.

Let me explain.

The Norm is the Exception

Units in Warhammer 40,000 make a lot of attacks. This is such a feature of the game that most of the memes about the game involve “buckets” of dice.

One of the ways players handle this is by rolling all of their hits at once, followed by all of their wound rolls, and then passing off to their opponent to roll their saves and assign damage.

This is so deeply ingrained in player culture, that I suspect most of us forget that being able to make the attack sequence like this is the exception to the rule.

The baseline rules indicate that one attack roll is made, then its wound roll, and then the armor/invulnerable/daemon save after that, with a note that players can choose to make all of their attacks at once if they wish.

In most cases, this shortcut is perfectly serviceable and doesn’t affect the game at all.

But it can, and when it does the defending player is advantaged 100% of the time.

The Example

I play Chaos Knights, so I’m going to use an example with a Chaos Knight model. That said, this applies to any model with a smallish number of very high impact attacks when it attacks any model with access to:

  1. Ways to make the save into an auto 6.
  2. Ways to ignore a damage roll.
  3. Access to rerolling defense rolls (special rules or even CP rerolls)
  4. Specific rules that mess with damage values of single attacks.

In this example, we have a Knight Desecrator making attacks with its Chainsword against the Avatar of Khaine.

The Knight makes 5 attacks on the charge (Iconoclast), hitting on 2s, wounding on 3s and putting the Avatar onto its 4+ Invulnerable saves.

The Eldar player has an auto 6 save from Strands of Fate and access to a CP reroll. The Avatar has 6 health left after the shooting phase, so the Knight needs two attacks to go through thanks to the innate damage reduction on the Avatar.

When the Knight swings in, it hits all 5 of its attacks, and then makes 4 successful wounds.

The Eldar player declares they’re going to slow roll their save rolls – in other words roll them one at a time so they can choose which ones to mess with.

They save the first naturally. They fail the second one and let it go through, leaving the Avatar on three. They then fail the third save and choose to use a CP reroll on it, which does succeed. With only one save left to make, they choose to use their auto six from Strands of Fate, and the Avatar lives on 3 wounds.


Good question! In this scenario, the Eldar player got to know exactly how many wound rolls they had to account for when allocating their resources. Knowing you’re facing down 4 wounds in this instance means you need to make one natural save, one CP assisted save, and then you’re completely safe.

Because you, the attacker, gave your opponent all of the information in advance, they can choose the entirely optimal path forward while you get to have no agency whatsoever.

Let’s look at a slightly different scenario.

The Counter Example

Assume the exact same setup.

In this situation, the Knight player decides to roll their attacks one at a time. The first attack hits and wounds, and the Eldar player fails their first save.

Now given this situation, they have a reroll and an auto six, but they don’t know how many more wounds the Avatar is going to take. It could be as many as four more.

Is it safe to take this one on the chin? What if they fail the next one and have to use their reroll? Then they’ll potentially have three more attacks and only one auto save.

Let’s say they let it through.

Next attack hits and wounds, and they pass their save.

Third attack hits and wounds, they fail and reroll to a success.

Fourth attack hits and wounds, and the Eldar player uses an auto six.

Fifth attack hits, and fails to wound. Normally, the Knight player would not know that this wound roll is as critical as it is, but because of the order of attacks now being dictated by the attacker, they can spend a CP to reroll the wound roll and now it wounds.

The Eldar player has exactly zero control over this save now, and whether or not they make the save, the Knights player has now taken control over the combat and given themselves the maximum chance to succeed in their goal while minimizing their opponents chances of survival.

When Does This Not Matter

If your opponent has already used their CP reroll for the phase, if they have no defensive dice trickery, and if they have the same kinds of saves for the entire unit, you can just roll all of your attacks like normal without any downsides whatsoever.

However, when allocating high impact and high resource attacks, I highly recommend giving this method a try.

Wargames are all about mitigating resources and dealing with opposing abilities. Things like Miracle Dice (Sisters of Battle), Strands of Fate (Eldar), Luck of the Laughing God (Harlequins), or Moment Shackle (Trajan Valorus) are all extremely strong defensive abilities with very little counterplay aside from taking away your opponents information about what else they will have to account for every turn.


Most of the attacks made in a game can be made in the traditional “bucket of dice” manner that 40k is famous for and be completely fine. However, on important sets of attacks, particularly when the opponent has any form of defensive dice manipulation, the attacking player should strongly consider rolling them as the core rules describe – one at a time, from beginning to end of the attack sequence.

As always, if you want to read more content about Conquest, Marvel: Crisis Protocol, or Warhammer: 40,000, there are many articles to be found on this very website! Consider subscribing to the Line of Sight Youtube Channel, and joining the discord! Finally, if you want to support this content directly, check out the Line of Sight Patreon where you can help influence the very course of the podcasts! Thanks for reading, we’ll see you next time!

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