A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: Rescue the Prisoner

In Warhammer 40,000 there is never such thing as too many missions to play. I constantly try to come up with something unique and different from everything else, but, be warned, I do not care too much of balance. What I want from my games is mainly to create a good war story, and in the real world, war is never fair. Rare is the battle in which the opposing generals have roughly the same forces on the field and the same goals to reach. So I think that a wargame, even Warhammer 40,000, should represent this, and be a tactical challenge where both players must try to do their best to reach their objectives, regardless of the starting conditions.

This is an example of one of the last missions I wrote, followed by an alternative version with a different deployment map and some rules tweaking.

One of the high-ranking commanders of your force has been captured the enemies, and you cannot leave him in their hands. They might discover precious information analyzing or torturing him or, even worse, they might us him for strange experiments or sacrifice him to their dark gods. You cannot allow it. Save him, no matter the cost.

The armies

Both players choose their armies as described in the Prepare for Battle section of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. The army tasked to rescue the prisoner will be the Attacker, and the other army will be the Defender.


Use the deployment map included in this mission. Set up the terrains as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.


Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing a model or a marker to represent the Prisoner within 3″ from the center of its deployment area and attached to one of its units, but not embarked on a Transport Flyer or Super-heavy Flyer. The Attacker deploys second.

First turn

The Attacker goes first, unless the Defender manages to Seize the Initiative.

Game Length

The mission uses the Variable Game Length special rule.

Victory Condition

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points is the winner. If both players have the same number of Victory Points, then the game is a draw.

Primary Objective

At the end of the game, if the Prisoner is still on the table, the player that controls it gains 3 Victory Points. If the Defender manages to bring the Prisoner out of the table from the Attacker’s table edge(see below), instead, it automatically wins the game.

Secondary Objectives

Kill the Warlord, First Blood.

Mission Special Rules

Night Fight, Reserves.

Prisoner: At the beginning of the game, the players must choose an Infantry (Character) model from the Codex of the Attacker. The Prisoner follows all the normal rules of that model, but it cannot do anything but move, and it cannot move more than 4″ in the Movement Phase, as it has been drugged or is constrained by some xeno parasite, psychic powers or a strange archeotech device. The Prisoner is counted as having no faction. The Prisoner cannot voluntarily leave the unit it is attached to, and it is controlled by the player controlling that unit. If the Prisoner is not attached to a unit at the beginning of any Movement Phase, then the Attacker controls it; then if the Prisoner comes within 2″ from a unit (friend or enemy), in any moment, it is automatically attached to that unit (this means that its controlling player can change during a turn). No model can shoot to the Prisoner or attack it in an assault, and Wounds cannot be allocated to the Prisoner, but it can be normally Wounded and killed by scattering Blast weapons or the Vehicle it were in suffer an Explodes! result on the Vehicle damage table. If the Prisoner is attached to a Defender’s unit, that unit can leave the game from the Attacker’s table edge. To do so, the movement distance of all the models in the unit must be enough to cross that line. Rescue the Prisoner

Designer’s note

The Defender has many options on how to reach victory. Will it place a Fortification in the centre of its deployment area and defend the Prisoner with hard walls? Will it move as fast as it can to avoid the enemy attacks? Or will it bring to the field many pieces of ordnance to annihilate the enemy before it can come too near?

An alternative: armoured convoy

The enemy is transferring the prisoner to their HQ. Ambush its convoy and rescue our commander. The rules for this alternative version are the same as above, except for the following:

The armies

Players cannot add Fortifications to their armies. The attacker divides his army in two halves, with roughly the same number of units in each. The Defender’s army must include at least a Transport Vehicle and, possibly, as many Vehicles as possible.


Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing all his models in his deployment area. Only the models that must begin the game in reserve, like Flyers, can be kept in Reserve. The Prisoner, and the squad attached to it, must begin the game embarked on a Transport Vehicle. The Attacker must keep all his models in reserve. Half of the Attacker’s army (he chooses which) enters play from the Reserves at the beginning of the first turn. Each of his units can enter play from any Attacker’s table edges.

First turn

The Attacker goes first. The Defender cannot try to Seize the Initiative.

Victory Condition

In this alternative version, the Defender wins automatically if he can bring the Prisoner out of the “escape table edge”, instead of the Attacker’s table edge. Armored Convoy

An alternative special rule

In both of the variant mission above, you might decide that, when it is not attached to a Defender’s unit, the Prisoner may move and act normally, as he managed to break free to whatever was restraining it. In this case, enemy units must assault it and inflict it at least one “fictional” Wound to attach to it and make it their prisoner again; note that these wounds are not removed from its profile real, for the enemy is just trying to subdue it, and not kill it. To represent its enfeeblement, however, you might decide to apply a -1 modifier to all his characteristics (to a minimum of 1), or something more elaborate. If you think that it would be cool that the Prisoner lost a hand, you might reduce its WS, T and A without changing its BS or Ld, for example.


2 thoughts on “A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: Rescue the Prisoner

  1. what happend when the prisoner gets killed by a scattered blast? game simply loses its primary objective or there are some more consequences?

    very nice and interesting scenarios


    • I’m glad you like them. 🙂

      If the prisoner dies, the game simply loses its primary objective and the armies fight to drive the enemies away. It was intentional to not add any further consequence, for this is meant as a generic mission to play with any army, so it should be as simple as possible while at the same time conveying the sense of the story.

      However, when playing it as part of a campaign, with a friend who cares about the narrative or with a Games Master, a lot of special rules can be added to give it even more depth. Inspiration could be taken from the characteristics of the armies on the field or from the events that led to the imprisonment of the Character. An army of Space Marines might gain Zealot or Fearless while trying to recover the Prisoner’s corpse, for example, while the death of an Eldar prisoner might awaken some hidden psychic power in its twin (the Warlord of the Eldar army, maybe). Seeing their old Warboss dead, Orks could start fighting for supremacy, instead.

      It would be impossible to think of a specific consequence that would fit all the races in the galaxy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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