Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader - Beginners Combat Guide

Warhammer 40K is a series that prides itself on strategy, preparation, and the grit to take advantage of every possible angle.

By SkulD, Posted 07 Jan 2024

One of the most critical aspects of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is the combat and mechanics behind it. To that end, the player will be given access to a vast amount of options and ways to attack their opponents. From commands and Psyker actions to ranged and melee attacks, you'll be given several ways to succeed. Mixed with healing, dashes, buffs, and other unique abilities, there's a lot for a beginner to take in when picking up the game. Luckily, once you can navigate some of the essential options when you start, you should have a good scope of the gameplay itself.

Charge attacks in Warhammer 40k Rogue trader can be a powerful tool to outmaneuvering your enemies!

A few starting tips are to always keep a character on hand who is able to field out commands to your allies. Innately, this may come from your resident navigator; however, you have other options. For one, if you start as an officer, you should be able to command your forces right off the bat. Additionally, Abelard and Argenta can both learn field commands, though to a limited extent, through their class features. In both cases, you'll be able to keep your forces moving more fluently, ensuring more versatility. Mobility and attack power are key to combat throughout Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, so take advantage of it.

The second major piece of advice to give is to diversify what each character can do. For one, never just build straight psykers or ranged fighters. These may work in some scenarios, but you will be overwhelmed incredibly quickly. Having a character who can accomplish a small task list of activities more in-depth is better than a jack of all trades. It's not that you can't build these jack-of-all-trades characters, but they will overall be mulled over quickly. Instead, Rogue Trader is a game that prides itself on commanding a group of specialists.

The last piece of advice is to learn what each ability you choose will give you. Each ability interacts with the battlefield differently, from weapon masteries to new Psyker powers. Some of the suggested abilities may be nice but may not suit your play style. To this end, if you have a downfall, you can make up for it with simple feat building. What gives the player an upper hand in this degree is that you can always rebuild a character if they aren't doing especially well for you. Overall, though, taking advantage of new abilities and what they do to change the battle is key to the adaptability of enemies.

Grenades, especially ones like krags, and fire explosives can be especially handy against things like nurglite demons in Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader!

Once you've gotten your character set up, you may find yourself wondering how combat itself works. As a turn-based combat game, it's pretty straightforward in terms of moving pieces forward and attacking things that are in sight/ range of your weapons. However, where the intricacies lie is in how you operate your units in comparison to the enemy. Like chess, it's easy to learn and hard to master as skill is mixed with dice-rolling luck. Therefore, when influenced by items and abilities, you get an interactive system where anything can happen so long as a character is capable of it.

So what should you do with your turns? Well, that all depends on your play style and if you prefer to be up close and personal or at a range. Either way, you'll want to have a mix of the two character-wise, but it's okay to have a preference on which one you like better. Another aspect of combat to consider is that every character can have two sets of weapons, so mixing ranged and melee can make the best of both worlds. In this regard, you should strive to dash to cover or towards enemies, depending on how you want to interact.

Cover is an integral aspect of combat as it mitigates the chance of damage coming toward both yourself and your enemies. By staying in cover, you sacrifice a level of accuracy for the ability not to get hit, and it works exceedingly well for ranged characters. Against aggressive enemies that wouldn't be pleasant to fight at close range, cover can be especially important. It's also great to keep in mind that you should have a firm awareness of the cover available to your targets so you can restrict access to it. Restricting access to cover comes in the form of items, abilities, or just environmental hazards that can be used to your advantage to stop someone from hiding behind said cover. 

Despite all the fancy abilities you might get, sometimes the best answer in Warhammer 40k Rogue trader is to hit something with a hammer!

Optimal positioning can turn a long, drawn-out battle into a very easy victory, so always survey the initial battle. Try to enter situations with an advantage of surprise, and always move your forces into a key position. You will have two main solutions to this end, one being to group up your troops or to spread them out. Depending on your combatants and your own overall appeal for ranged and melee fighting, either strategy might work for you. Remember that each character, in their own way, has a means of becoming incredibly powerful, from the soldier to the Psyker. So make sure to utilize these specializations and always take the best ground possible.

While melee combatants will want to move from cover to cover to break their opponents' lines, ranged has another problem. Widely, there is a problem for ranged combatants where the obstacles around them suppress the volume of their fire. From walls, cover, obstructions, and other combatants to explosive barrels and environmental hazards, guns will always have a problem. This is why finding the optimal position for a good angle of fire can make all the difference in any situation. 

Orders and commands will be the next level of actions you'll want to take full mastery of. Characters like officers and psykers are capable of enhancing your own bonuses by inspiring troops. For instance, your navigator will have an easy time getting your troops across the field and into battle via the rally commands. If you choose the officer archetype when you build a character, this can be a powerful means of outmaneuvering battles early on. However, the most important thing about these commands is that you can follow them up with your own attacks. This means you can give your other characters extra turns without giving up your attack actions. 

The Adeptus Mechanicus are capable of using a smash that deals damage with electricity as well as physical damage.

Movement in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is defined by the agility of the character being used. Sometimes, this can be decreased by factors such as heavy armor and weapons or terrain and obstacles. In general, movement can be broken down into two distinct groups. Natural movement and ability-based movement. The first is the natural movement you can take at the beginning of your turn, allowing you to get to an advantageous position. Meanwhile, ability-based movement is anything that comes from another character or that individual spending points for additional movement. This can be costly, however, in cases like Abelard allow him to charge into opponents for an extra attack.

Lastly, Psyker abilities are one of the most risky means of providing bonuses on the battlefield. While they can be powerful early on, the longer they intermingle with the warp in a battle, the more likely they are to cause problems. See every time a warp ability is used a little bit of saturation will take place, causing strange new effects to happen. In this way, it's very difficult for new players to utilize the Psyker abilities given to them to their fullest, especially when you go unsanctioned. However, in battle, they can grant powerful enemy debuffs, along with just using broken attacks like chain lightning and vampiric essence. These do count as attacks in their own right, but in certain cases, you can use them to boost the abilities of your allies, especially when paired with commands. 

It's important to note that all of these actions have one thing in common with one another, which is that they require ability points to do. Everything from movement to attacks and commands will use a certain amount of ability points that your character will build. In this way, you're also limited by the fact some characters are locked out of using certain abilities twice in a row. This creates an experience that differs from dungeons and dragons in the way that one soldier with a high AP could just dump an entire bolter on a single demon. This is one of the main reasons Argenta continues to be one of the most overpowered characters on the roster with her custom bolter.

Flamethrowers in Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader are an effective tool for dealing with heretics.

In combat, eliminating as many smaller targets in the opening rounds as possible is generally the best-case scenario. Typically, unless you are stuck in a boss interaction or challenge, you want to eliminate as much of the enemy action economy as possible. There are a few factors that can help with this, such as taking advantage of some of the various attacks available to Rogue Traders. Some of these include charging strikes, cleaves, bursts of machine gun fire, grenades, and even warp attacks. In that way, anything that can deal splash damage will be better in the long run unless it can kill something in one shot.

Besides splash damage, any action that can do multiple attacks in one action is great for anything close or grouped together. The main problem with this strategy continues to be that your character's accuracy will reduce every shot that's fired outwards. This has a chance to allow for some devastating damage, but more often than not, because of this drawback, it ends up wasting ammunition. Now, you can significantly lessen this drawback through character building and proper building. However, if they're close or tanky in the long run, this is a great strategy with your heavy gunners. Another important aspect to remember when dealing with this approach is that every weapon has a maximum number of shots per action. For instance, the standard bolter can fire three rounds, whereas Argenta's special variety fires four.

For situations where you don't want to get close to your opponents, snipers and other accurate weapons deal high critical damage. These are especially great in the hands of officers and psykers since they easily make up for the lack of martial or heavy weapons training. Some of the best officer combinations in the game can be a plasma pistol and a chain sword with a sniper secondary weapon. Precision fire can also be a great option for melee combatants like Abelard in situations where fighting with a sword is a certain death. Because of this, they are one of the more versatile weapons that don't require much in the way of character building to take advantage of.

Figuring out which target you want to fire at, or use volleys of automatic fire to hit multiple enemies in Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader.

Melee combat is honestly best saved for those who are trying to use distance to their advantage. Enemy officers and snipers are often incredibly weak to melee attacks, which is why they prefer to disengage. Using your charge movements and battle commands to move melee forward, you can easily stomp out these ranged opponents. Of course, no matter how powerful the melee combatant is, they will need to keep in mind that enemies that deal high damage will wipe out small units like yours. That's why it's almost best to maintain melee as a last resort unless you know you can one-shot the opponent. Having drawn-out melee conflicts will quickly widdle your forces down and leave your ground to dust. 

Psyker actions are probably the most widely diverse and hard-to-master aspects of Rogue Trader. In this regard, even when trying to implement the actions properly, you still have a chance of failure. This is why it's so important to build yourself up on the idea that Psyker attacks should be a last resort or opening barrage over anything else. In both cases, it depends heavily on what kind of Psyker you use and how they interact with the battlefield. For instance, your diviner and your navigator have vastly different Psyker abilities available to them.

In this regard, it's important to remember that things like healing, items, and weapon abilities really make all the difference. It's not just how good of a character you build but how well you optimize it with items. Things like unique weapons, armor, and accessories can make sure that you outperform even some of the most difficult challenges ahead of you. Ultimately, though, this optimization will come down to yourself and how you want to approach the battlefield. That's why there's only one other real piece of advice that can help you get far as a Rogue Trader. 

Cover in Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader will be your best friend!

Throughout your journey, no matter how you choose to play and approach it, take time to prepare yourself for the coming battles. Observe the enemies, learn how they interact with the battlefield, and exploit the weaknesses in their designs. When doing this, you'll be able to adapt and overcome any number of demonic threats or Xenos technology that might get thrown at you. Warhammer 40,000 is a series that prides itself on strategy, preparation, and the grit to take advantage of every possible angle. So don't be afraid to get creative and think outside the box, so long as you're having fun in this Grimdark universe!

Also, check Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader - Character Creation Guide.

Michael VanDine
Editor, Noobfeed

comments powered by Disqus

Related Feature


General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Owlcat Games
Developer(s): Owlcat Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Strategy, Role-Playing
Release Date: 2023-12-07

View All

Popular Articles