Warhammer 40K: Building A Gunline Army

Building and executing a Warhammer 40K gunline army: tools, tactics, and execution.

The simplest definition of a gunline army is where I line my units up on the table, and just shoot away every turn with lots of dice blasting your army off the table.

Gunlines are easy to build, and have a reputation of being easy to play, but as always any list requires a bit of planning- especially if your opponent has a way or plan to crack your list.

The first is building your list of a mix of the following three units/groups. Just what those are depends on your army faction/codex, models, and point level that you are playing at.

The bulk of your points is going to be the most powerful shooty that you have in your list. You need both long range and volume of dice that can reach into the mid field of the table, or into your opponent’s deployment zone.

Second to that you are going to need a few good shooty elements that have mobility- stuff that can move fast either on its own, or meched up in vehicles.

Third element is going to be either one of two close combat units- not all jacked up, just good enough, or if you don’t have something that passes for that in your ‘dex a cheap blob or trash mob of units.


Ideally you want to use a castle deployment- you deploy either on the right or left corner of the board as this limits the angles and approach your opponent can attack from. If you are on the right side of the table as an example they can only approach directly on or from the left.

Considerations for terrain and your army size also need to be factored in- sometimes you can’t castle up- BUT keep the bulk of your army together as best you can.

Naturally your shooty elements are going to be in the back of your deployment zone and are, well, going to just blast away each turn.

The fast moving elements in your list are going to zoom to the mid field and hang out there shooting. The primary reason for this is so your opponent is delayed from crashing into your shooty elements in your deployment zone. They will be forced to engage with your mid field units, which are also shooting causing as much damage as they can also.

Your assault elements or blob/tash mob unit(s) are held back to counter anything that your opponent moves around your mid field units, or tries to suddenly appear/move in to attack your back gunline elements with.

List ideas?

Check out THE LIST section on The Warmaster 40K forum HERE.

Emperor Protects!

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2 Replies to “Warhammer 40K: Building A Gunline Army”

  1. You left something out that I think is really important for gunlines. Deepstrikers! The reason you want some or even lots of these is not to alpha strike anything but to delay the positioning of your really high power shooting. The best example of this is Tempestus Scions. I few months ago I watched a game at the local club where a Guard player got to setup his entire army on the table after his opponent finished deploying because he had so many deepstrikers. He basically got to setup as optimally as possible.

    This is obviously an extreme example but any gunline army can apply this concept. Have cheap/cost efficient deepstrikers to delay deploying your really heavy hitters. Really important.

    1. Agreed, this could either be in the second or third group. 40K is certainly more interesting now that every army faction has access to deepstriking units and its no longer mainly Space Marines.

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