Warhammer 40k points explained

The point system is a key element in Warhammer 40,000, allowing players to build balanced armies and compete on a level playing field. It adds an element of strategy to the game, as players must carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of each unit and how they can best be used to achieve victory.

To new players and experienced players alike, army points play a key role. They are one of the two available ways of determining game size, the other one being power levels. Power levels are rarely used aside from certain game stores which is why points always stay in focus.

Understanding how points work and how to spend them is key to a good army. Especially when playing bigger armies where usage of these points can add quite a few extra strategies.

How do Points work in Warhammer?

Points are determined before the game. Players will usually know them further ahead of game time so they can properly assemble a list for the match.

From that point on, you have the determined amount to use on your army and are only allowed to bring what fits within the point limits of the game.

The purpose of points in the game

Points dictate the size of armies for both players. The general game size changes as well, usually in increments of 500.

In Warhammer 40,000, the point system is used to balance the game and ensure that both players have an equal chance of winning.

Players must build their armies using a set number of points, which is determined by the agreed-upon size of the game. This means that players can only include a certain number of units in their army, and they must choose carefully which units to include in order to create a balanced force.

how the point cost for each unit is determined

The point cost for a unit is calculated based on the number of models in the unit and the equipment they have. 

For example, a unit of five Space Marine Intercessors with bolt rifles and a sergeant with a chainsword and bolt rifle will have a different point cost than a unit of five Intercessors with auto bolt rifles and a sergeant with a power sword and bolt pistol.

In some cases, units may have additional special abilities or equipment that can increase their point cost. 

Can you lose points?

No, both players get an even amount of points to buy units with and keep the same maximum. There are some extra limitations but none make you lose points, only buying units spends them.

Do both players get the same points?

Yes, the idea is to give an even playing ground for both players. Giving a roughly even strength to both armies.

How the number of points is determined for each game?

Before the game, players agree on the size of the game they’ll play. This number is the same for both players and is static, there won’t be any sudden adjustments to the numbers given.

The general game size typically changes in increments of 500 points, with smaller games typically played at 500 or 1000 points, and larger games played at 2000 or more. This allows players to tailor their armies to different game sizes and ensures that the game remains balanced, regardless of the size of the army.

How do you know how many points each unit

The faction codex contains all the point costs. The unit’s cost is calculated based on the number of models in it and their equipment. You add them together and get the full value.

How to build an army with points?

Making an army with points is pretty straightforward. It’s all about staying within the limit while spending as much as you need for a potent force.

Building an army with points is a crucial aspect of Warhammer 40k, as it determines the size and composition of your forces on the battlefield. Here are some steps to follow when building your army with points:

How many points is a Warhammer 40k army?

With the general games, Warhammer 40k army will be between 1,500 and 2,000 points. However, smaller games of 500 and 1,000 games still exist with their own limits.

How points are assigned to different units and models?

The price of each model and therefore each unit differs. However, they are usually roughly calculated based on their effectiveness in combat. Wargear, special rules, and stats can also contribute to all of these point values but there are outliers.

As far as amount points you can put into a unit goes, the only limit is the allowed loadout and size cap of the squad. Otherwise, you can pump in as many points into a single unit as you wish.

How to use points to build a balanced and competitive army?

The act of building a good army with points is one of budgeting. We have to make sure to get all the required tools without breaking the point limit. 

Troops, anti-tanks, fast units, and support all need to fit into this budget.

The general recommendation is to put in all the things you need without bothering with points initially. Pick out a few units for each role you’ll need on the battlefield, ignoring any extra equipment for now. Now that you have a first draft of the army, check the cost.

If it’s greatly under the point limit, get some more units in. Look at the current army, and check what can be reinforced or added. Usually, adding to your main strength is a good way to go especially with a chunk of points remaining.

When there’s only a handful of points left, use them to kit out the army with appropriate wargear. All the changes and boosts can come up with moderate costs unless a premium upgrade is in question.

Breaching the limit is where the approach to the list changes. We will now have to go back to the list, check each unit type, and decide whether to keep it. Sometimes, you needn’t remove it, just downgrade it to a cheaper unit in the faction roster. In dire circumstances where point cost is way up, removing entire units may be required.

Rules and Regulations for Points in Warhammer 40k

Aside from the regular point cost amounts, we get a few more rules that need to be taken care of. These will usually be present in competitive play but it pays to read them, regular play often adopts some of these rules as well.

As points heavily dictate an army’s power level, changes in point costs are used to shape the meta of the game. So expect those to affect you as well.

Points updates

Every once in a while, Games Workshop will release an update to point values of units. These values will greatly affect the army’s composition. The more a unit costs the more it needs to do to justify its price.

You can find these updates on official FAQs or using the Warhammer 40k phone app. Certain hobby sites also compile these changes and even compare them to previous ones.

Competitive Play and Points in Warhammer 40k

When competitive play is concerned, a lot more thought is given to points. Each one is worth more and is gauged based on optimal unit choice. If you aren’t getting the absolute maximum value out of a unit’s loadout, it immediately becomes less appealing.

Playing competitively also means doing Matched Play, which is technically the only mode of play that inherently uses points in 9th edition Warhammer 40k. Another limit you’ll have when using points is the rule of three.

Rule of three notes that an army cannot have more than three of the same unit. The only exception being if that unit is troop type, in which case any number of the same unit can exist.

Use points wisely

As with all other limited resources, your points shouldn’t be wasted. Doubly so when investing your points smarter could mean a difference between victory and loss.

Recommended point values for different units and army compositions

It’s generally recommended that you invest most of the points into your most powerful aspect of the army. For example, if an army can really do work with vehicles, infantry will be secondary, often there solely to capture objectives and fill up troop spots.

Pouring over half of your points into the army’s strength means truly capitalizing on the faction’s best features. This will allow us to get all the staples of the army as well as some oddball picks that mix things up.

Now the rest of the army will be there to fill in the gaps generally potent units of the faction don’t. This can be anti-tank capabilities, fast units, psychic support, or infantry chaff to soak up shots. With the extra functionality those provide, our main forces can be protected from any threats.

Tips and strategies for maximizing the value of your points

  • The best way to maximize point usage is by using all of them. Even the tiniest change brought on with point expenditure is welcome.

The dozen or so points we have remaining may not seem like much but they could give our sergeant a better pistol or melee weapon option. It’s a marginal improvement but an improvement nonetheless.

  • Another way to maximize value is by not wasting points on meaningless upgrades. For example, purchasing shooting-enhancing wargear for your charging units will rarely be fruitful enough to justify the point cost.

Unlike previously mentioned marginal improvements, these rarely come into play and that lack of consistent applicability makes them a waste of points.

  • Reinforcing a single unit can often be more worthwhile than getting multiple ones. Although splitting enemy fire is a valiant effort, a single unit armed to the teeth can better eliminate foes before they do any considerable damage.
  • Don’t get distracted by that shiny bigger unit when its worth may not be justified. It’s better, sure, but not good enough to warrant such a big investment.

Gauging how many points an upgrade is worth can be tough as a newbie, but you’ll get the hang of it as you go on.

  • The last tip is one that’s applied during the game instead. Your deployment will affect which units will be in danger of enemy fire. There’s no way to keep them all safe while also accomplishing objectives but it’s possible to minimize losses.

Keep your most expensive units away from enemy heavy hitters while cheaper units bait out their fire. This way you won’t lose as many points, in terms of models lost, in the first round and could hit the enemy for harsher losses.

Points calculator

To help you calculate the different point values, utilizing point calculators is preferred. However, the official one on the Warhammer Community site exclusively uses power levels.


So where can you calculate your army’s point value best? Well, there is sadly no consistently updated calculator. Rarely does any of them stick around for all the constant changes, especially because they are usually helmed by a single dev.

However, using BattleScribe can make army building even easier. BattleScribe compiles rules and datasheets along with point values. Similar can be achieved with the paid version of the Games Workshop’s phone app but BattleScribe does this all for free.

The downside of both is that you may need to double-check some point values. Recent changes are usually late by a few weeks. Another downside of BattleScribe is that you’ll need 10 or so minutes to figure out how it works, though there are tutorials for it.

Once those kinks have been worked out, you should be ready to go. No matter what army comes to mind, you’ll get it quickly made with these tools.


Points are a key part of an army’s composition. Even those modes that use power levels for army scaling will often be played using point values instead. The reason is just that the general community prefers them.

When using points it’s important to effectively spend them. A well-spent 1,000 points army is much stronger than one that’s just slapped together.