Best ruleset for small games of 40k?


Apr 6, 2021
Hey all looking for opinions on the best ruleset for small almost skirmish level games of 40k. Me and my main opponent have first off stopped on 8th edition rules 9th just didn't seem worth it to us. We also largely play apocalypse battles (where a beer and pretzels ruleset helps. you have to much going on to try full optimization) but we are looking for something to scratch that smaller game itch. I do plan on getting into necromunda but is there something that has real rpg elements that will let my power armored opponent play some Marines? I know killteam exists and I have the books for it but isn't the campaign and growth we are looking for. Is Inqisimunda a solid option? SW:A? Just try to adapt killteam to be a real game? Surely I'm not the first person looking for this kind of experience. Any of you old guard have opinions on this?

El Torro

Jan 5, 2015
Have you tried / heard of Heralds of Ruin Kill Team? The way armies are built is certainly intriguing.

I’m not sure if it has a campaign system, I’ve never looked that deeply into it. Might be worth checking out though.


Hive Lord
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Honored Tribesman
Jul 26, 2015
Southampton, UK
I'm probably not best placed to answer, but what do you mean by small/skirmish here?

Do you want 10 models vs 10 models, with each activating individually?

Or do you want something more like 2nd edition, with a few squads against a few squads?


Apr 6, 2021
I honestly don't know bud I think either would work in theory tho there's alot of skirmish out there I guess. I could see smalls numbers of squad vrs squad but honestly don't want it to turn into the 500ot games we played when we started. Honestly I have no idea what 2nd Ed 40k looks like I haven't seen anything before 5th (my start to the hobby orks ftw) I honestly feel like the Inqisimunda ruleset seems like what I'm looking for but I worry a lack oh Marines will make it a hard sell. Maybe I just need to make some conversions to that set to allow marines


May 18, 2015
Houston, Texas
I will mention Rogue Trader 87, but it's hard to find. You can play a few squads against each other or even just play a group of characters against a referee created enemy. I like it because of all the random tables that book has. There are character rules in this edition that will allow you to advance your main character after an adventure. I apoligize for the length of this index, but I think it gives an idea of the scope of the original 40K.

Book 1

Warfare in the distant future 7
The field Of Battle 8
Troop Characteristics 11
Models For the Game 13
The Turn Sequence 14
Movement 14
Shooting 16
Hand-to-hand Combat 23
Rout and Persuit 32
Reserves 34
Psychology 35
Buildings 36
Vehicles 38
Dreadnought suits 40
Robots 42
Aerial Movement and Combat 43
Personalities 46
Psionics 48
Mutants 53
Points Values 58
The Battle at the Farm

An introductory scenario 61

Book 2

The technology of conflict 67
Weapon Profiles 68
1. Basic Weapons 69
2. Close Combat Weapons 76
3. Heavy Weapons 82
4. Very Heavy Weapons 87
5. Grenades and Missiles 89
6. Mines 97
7. Support Weapons 97
8. Summary of Weapons 99
Vehicle Profiles 100
Armour Profiles 114
Robot Profiles 116
Dreadnought Profiles 119
Bionics 120
Miscellaneous 120
Book 3
1. The Emperor 135
2. Humans 138
3. The Adeptus Terra 139
4. The Inquisition 142
5. Psykers 146
6. The Adeptus Astra Telepaticus 147
7. Navigators 150
8. The Legones Astartes 153
9. Warriors of the army 162
10. The Rogue Trader 166
11. The Assasins 169
12. Abhumans 174
13. The Eldar 177
14. Orks 185
15. Gretchins 191
16. The Ancient Slann 194
17. Jokaero 196
18. The Tyranids 200
19. Zoats 202
Warp Creatures 202
1. Astral Hound 203
2. Astral Spectre 203
3. Enslvers 204
4. Psyhneuien 205
5. Vampires 205
6. Warp Entities 206
7. Zombies 207
Alien Creatures 207
1. Ambull 207
2. Bouncers 207
3. Carnivorous Sand Clam 207
4. Catachan Devil 208
5. Catachan Face-Eater 208
6. Crawlers 209
7. Crotalid 209
8. Cthellean Cudbear 210
9. Dinosaurs 210
10. Ferro-Beast 210
11. Genestealer 211
12. Giant Insectoids 211
13. Giant Spiders 212
14. Grox 212
15. Gyrinx 213
16. Horse 213
17. Lashworm 214
18. Mimics 214
19. Pterasquirrel 215
20. Razorwing 215
21. Rippyfish 215
22. Swarm 215
23. Sunworm 216
Alien Plants 217
1. Catachan Brain Plant 217
2. Creepers 217
3. Floaters 217
4. Gasfungus 217
5. Rainspore 218
6. Rubbermoss 218
7. Spiker 218
8. Spinethorn 218
9. Sponge Weed 218
10. Tange Fungus 218
11. Thermotrophic Vine 218
12. Venus Man Trap 219
Death Worlds 219
Book 4
A Selection of rules and information 231
The Advanced Gamesmaster 232
Extended Battles and Campaings 237
Plot Generator 240
Collecting and Painting Your Forces 248
Modelling and Scenic Painting 256
Book 5
Playsheet 273
Radius Templates 275
GM's Handout 277
Marine Brief (Handout) 279
Ork Brief (Handout) 273
Counters 283


Hive Guilder
Tribe Council
Jul 12, 2011
South Wales, UK
My choice would be either Rogue Trader, Shadow War Armageddon / Necromunda 1995 version (they're basically the same rules) or 8th Edition.

Rogue Trader because it is a cool, retro, crunchy set of rules, built for smaller scale battles, with all sorts of cool details.

SW:A/Necromunda because it is a great campaign system with ongoing injuries etc. May take some work to fit in Space Marines.

8th Edition because you're used to it and it works. Just take small squads (even just single minis works ok) and leave out the Command Points mechanic (or use it for re-rolls only). Porting the injury mechanics from SW:A should be easy.

If you're struggling to find any of the ancient rules... sometimes all you need to do is cough hard enough.... cough!
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Gang Hero
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Oct 26, 2013
London E2
I use kill team for this (model count 15-25) and find it excellent. With just a few small house rules we have run a very enjoyable Inq28 style narrative campaign by selecting missions that make sense in the context of the last mission and the overall campaign story. And between the additional tactics cards and the extra abilities, the level of RPG-like advancement is all you need when you’ve got this many models to think about.

The house rules we use are documented here:


Jun 24, 2014
I recently started digging into onepagerules (OPR) because I'm fed up of GW's dicefest games – for 40K miniatures there is Grimdark Future: Firefight The Army Books clearly feature Not-40K factions ;) Even gangs are there, also a Not-Necromunda expansion.

My perfect 40K game would be one based on Warcry.
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Hive Lord
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Honored Tribesman
Jul 26, 2015
Southampton, UK
It was the basis for what became In Her Majesty's Name - but they switched the setting to Victorian sci-fi/steampunk.


Yakmarines 2nd Co. Word Priest
Yak Comp 2nd Place
Tribe Council
Jun 1, 2016
Ellon, United Kingdom
My go-to for using a few 40k miniatures is Rogue Trader (the original). RPG elements for characters, you can generate pretty much any creature you want, and it works pretty well for smaller battles.

Perhaps check out my small trial campaign that never became a campaign Stoof Goes Rogue to get a flavour of it.

I hear good things about SWA though, I have the rulebook but have never played it.
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Mar 12, 2011
You could use Necromunda as a base and just add kill team-like units. I'm not sure what you mean about RPG elements, but you can add those. Instead of just playing doinky doinky gang fights (where you just bang your models together until someone wins), try building actual objectives. Convince an informant to come with you, hack a computer for access to something, have an objective in a secure area that you literally need to Kool Aid Man into with a melta bomb and power fists, convince enemy fighters to side with you against a greater threat. Add a narrative. Personify your models. I saw the same thing ages ago when playing Warhammer Quest. You could add more skill-based and roleplay events to the game. We just didn't and kept it about the fighting.