How To Create Your Own Campaign

Campaigns are a great aspect of wargaming. What I would like to do now is expand on this. All you’ll need to do is grab a few mates, block out a few weekends in your diary, and check back with TalkWargaming on how it’s done. 

If I’m feeling really generous, I’ll even share one I’ve written myself.

So a campaign is essentially a series of games where they all contribute to an overall winner. This means you can lose a game, but still go on to be the champ. 
Each battle will also have varying minor consequences from game to game, mostly additional minor rules that aren’t game changing, but are a bit of fun and something different. All those Warlord Traits you’ve been rolling in 6th? Those kind of minor changes.

As a campaign requires a series of games to be played, it’s also a great chance to work on a story and build some background. 

You can carve out a tale with your favourite models and share it with the other players.

So first things first, grab someone to play with. It could be a 2 player campaign, 4 player, 7 player, whoever’s a keen bean.

Now keen is key. If you want to start one, just bare in mind that it will ideally be going on over quite a few games, so make sure everyone is game and won’t drop out halfway through. I would also recommend that less is more

Sure, 4677 players might sound pretty epic, but you’d need the Cern computer system and 7000 cans of Relentless to run that thing. 

I suggest you keep it smaller.

Once you’ve got yourself a banded together group, start chatting things through with them and collect some ideas together. Find out who’s playing what army, what different teams and factions to create, and come up with an overall image for the campaign. 

If your playing with more than 2 people, it can be great fun (but by no means compulsory) to have different factions for each player to fight for. That way they can work together to win. 

The obvious start would be Imperials in the blue corner. All those Space Marines, Guard, sistersSororitas, Grey Knights etc, group them together so they can spew their bile about the corpse on his throne. 

Then in the red corner, you could have the cool guys who murder and pillage their way across the galaxy for varying reasons of evilness awesomeness!

With this in mind, I would recommend picking an army and sticking with it for the duration of the campaign, as it keeps things consistent. Sure, you can change your list from game to game, add in allies if you really want to, but keep the core force as is.

Once everyone has picked their sides, bring out your inner Shakespeare and come up with some background. The sissy Imperials trying to defend from a Chaos/Xenos invasion is the usual 40k bread and butter, but change this up if you want to. 

Maybe the roles could be reversed in a holy crusade? Or perhaps the Eldar are assisting the Communist Republic of Tau Land to fight back a Necron invasion? 

Whatever you choose, this bit is really important. It gives the campaign some worth, and shows it as a journey that players will buy into, rather than just a random game from week to week. 

By all means use existing 40k sources, and ask the other players for ideas, so they can contribute.

If your really keen and particularly enjoy the fluff side of 40k, write out some short stories to accompany the campaign. These stories could be about a planet where the battles will be fought, a particular event that started things off, each faction’s role in the campaign, or about individual armies taking part. 

When you start the campaign, you could send a copy of these stories to each player as part of a campaign pack.

So far then: you’ve got yourself a bunch of dice-rolling generals, they’ve all picked their preference of toy soldier, and they’ve pledged allegiance to a chosen faction (unless your going for a wild free for all). 

You’ve come up with an overall theme for the story, and written some extra fluff to go with it (if you wish). If you’ve got this far without Tzeentch ruining your awesome ideas, then you can start planning the details. 

That means a campaign map for everyone to fight over, and some rules to stop it descending into this:

A campaign map is something I would highly recommend for a host of reasons:

Offers a mini-game that adds another tactical dimension to your miniature  wargames.

A visual tool to represent what’s happening in your campaign - who’s where, who’s doing well, what resources or places of significance everyone holds etc.

Adds to the narrative.

So the main purpose of this  is to give you some tips on how to construct a campaign map that’s cheap and easy. 

By all means add stages to this to make the map even better (and I’ll talk about a few of these ways) but the priority will be to show you how to build a really easy map that will hopefully encourage some of you who have never attempted a campaign to give it a try.

What you will need

  • Base of thin wood or very thick card (4mm plus) that’s at least 12x12 inches
  • 1 sheet of regular A4 card
  • Toothpicks
  • Sand
  • PVA glue
  • Old/cheap brush
  • Paint
  • Gloss varnish/‘Ardcoat
  • Pencil and compass
  • Your bits box


The wood or card is the base of your map. If your going for wood, make sure it has a clear surface that will take pencil markings. If it’s card, make sure it’s not too thin else it will warp and curl over time. 

The first stage is to mark out the planet onto the base. Set your compass to 5.5 inches, and use it to create a perfect 11 inch circle.

Within this circle, you will then be looking to add 19 different territories. Each territory will be a hexagon (a 6 sided shape), so that territories will fit seamlessly together and divide a round planet pretty equally.

To draw your hexagons, you have 2 options. Do what I did, and spend 45 minutes failing to remember anything useful I learnt in Maths in order to draw a perfect, equal set of hexagons, or swallow your pride and look up this guide.

When drawing your hexagon, you want it to measure 2 inches edge to edge. I drew my hexagon onto a separate piece of card, then used this as a template and drew around it to create the 19 territories on the map. 

At the widest point of your map, you want 5 hexagons running across in a row. Then fit 4 hexagons above and below in a row, followed by a final row of 3 at the top and bottom. You should end up with something like this:

With your map plotted out, cut up some toothpicks (or anything similar) and glue them in place along the edges of each hexagon as seen above to create borders. 

This will keep your territories visible when you come to basing and painting. Don’t worry if 1 toothpick ends up a tiny bit longer than another, once it’s based it won’t be that noticeable.

Now at this point you want to leave the borders to dry, and I really mean leave it! I built my map over a few days, leaving the PVA glue to dry overnight. If you jump the gun then you’ll end up having parts falling off and a map that’s a mess. This applies to all PVA glue drying stages.

When dry, squirt some PVA glue into a few territories and use an old/cheap brush to spread it around, being careful not to get any on the toothpicks (if you do, just wipe it off with a damp cloth). 

Then scatter some sand (or whatever you like to base with) into each territory so that the entire hexagon is covered. Repeat this process until the whole map is covered, including the very edges of the circle outside the territories so the whole planet is based.

If you want to add some variety to your map, you can experiment here too. For instance, trim some polystyrene and glue it in place before you apply the sand for some simple hills and mountains. 

You could also leave certain sections free from sand to create rivers and coastlines later on. If you’re creating a number of maps for a large campaign, some variety here will go a long way.

Once the sand is completely dry, you can start adding different features to your map to represent buildings and places of interest. The best advice I can give here is to get creative. Have a rifle through your bits box and pull out whatever you can find. Here are some examples:

Used plastic sprues - all those borders that the parts were attached to. If you trim a load of them really small, they work as generic buildings no problem.

Cool looking gun barrels such as Disintegrator Cannon ends as power plant silos.

Burner end of a flamer can be missile silos when side on.

A bumper off an old Land Speeder as Manufactorums/Factories.

Houses and hotels from a Monopoly set as a Hive City.

Plasma pistol with a bit of sand to create an arm from a submerged Titan.

Ornate parts from an icon or banner (Chaos symbols, an Imperial Aquila etc) and a bit of sand to create the ruins of a site of significance.

Flat surface such as card as a runway for an airfield or space port.

I would recommend a few layers of varnish/‘Ardcoat to stop it bending or tearing

These are just a few examples, but the sky really is the limit. I can’t tell you exactly what to do because everyone’s bits box is different, but there is always a bunch of stuff that’s great to use. Don’t be afraid to cut up your bits either. Trimming up a flamer would give you a cannister for a fuel dump, burner end for a missile silo, and a barrel for a power plant…

A few notes; I glued my features in place, but if you would prefer the option of moving them around for future campaigns, feel free to glue them onto a tile or base to fit in each territory. Also, you don’t have to glue something on every territory! 

A plain territory is perfectly ok to battle on! In the next article, I’ll discuss the rules for different features like Manufactorums, power plants, airfields etc, so use that as a guide when you come to buildings your features. Finally, don't worry massively about the scale of the buildings. 

The map isn't really supposed to be a photograph or accurate representation of the planet. Instead, imagine it as an interactive feature on your general's data slate that highlights important features on the planet's surface.

With everything based and your features in place, you’ll be here:


After leaving this to dry (remember, overnight!), it’s on to painting. Now you can put as much effort into this as you like, detailing all the different parts of the cities and features, but I kept mine really simple so I could get gaming with it. To keep cost down, you could use different paint rather than the standard model acrylics. 

I went to a DIY store and picked up a bunch of wall paint testers and used these. They are thicker, so you will lose detail on the buildings etc, but for sand they work fine. Start with a base colour, thinking about the type of terrain and planet your fighting on. The usual earthy brown, sand, snow etc. Slap it on everywhere, bar the actual features in a territory like buildings etc.

Then you're onto the cities and buildings. I painted them and all and the ground surrounding them in a medium grey. 

Again, be generous with this. Paint the area around your buildings in the same grey as it would represent streets and smaller buildings, and as the city gradually disappears into a rural type environment.

Finally, the drybrushing stage. Choose a lighter grey and drybrush your buildings. Then choose a lighter earth colour from your original brown/sand/snow colour and drybrush EVERYTHING bar the actual buildings themselves. You want good paint coverage on your toothpick borders in particular as this will frame each territory really well. 

Drybrush this colour over your grey ground around your buildings too, as the snow/sand/earth would cover here, but it still shows the urban grey underneath.

If you're going for a typical fertile planet, use PVA glue and flock as you would on your base to create the grasslands and greenery. For the rest of the base wood/card that isn’t covered by the planet, just use black.

With that, the map is finished. Really simple, fast paint job that serves its purpose. By all means pay more attention to the paint job if you wish. You could use some of the water effects available from companies such as Vallejo to create the rivers and sea mentioned earlier. You could also create dense jungles and forests with Lichen and other similar foliage. 

If you have any spare wood/card that isn’t covered by the planet, why not add a small moon or space station that consists of 1-3 hexagon territories? Or you could add a key for the map and a score area to keep track of who’s winning.

Here’s the finished example of an Armageddon Desert type map I made.

Finally, you’ll want to create some army specific claim markers to keep track of each player’s captured territory. Again, these are really simple and cheap. Get some thick card and cut out a load of half an inch squares. Coat them in the base colour of your army. Once the paint has dried, take a secondary colour and paint your army’s motif or initial(s). Alternatively you could use transfers from the 40k transfer sheets. 

Once it’s all dry, use some gloss varnish or ‘Ardcoat to reinforce the card. Apply numerous layers; the more you do, the stronger it is. If your playing a 2 player campaign, paint the opposing player’s design on the reverse. That way, if a territory changes hands, you simply flip it over.

Here are some really simple examples I made for a 2 player campaign. A for Alpha Legion, N for Nihilakh Necrons.

With that, everything is built! You’ve got all the physical tools you need to run a campaign. 

So far, we’ve covered the planning and background stage of your campaign, and shown you how to create your own campaign map to play with. Now it’s time to bring all this together with a rules set to allow you to play this thing.

Before I start, it’s important to remember that a campaign is a mini-game that adds a bit of fun and narrative, and gives you something else to think about. 

However, the true challenge is still in the actual games of 40k you will be playing. Therefore, feel free to get creative with your rules. If you don’t like some of my rules, change them! If you want to add more rules, or take some away, go for it!

But don’t let balance, fairness of tile locations etc take away from the experience; it’s not a tournament! 

So these rules were written with smaller campaigns in mind (2 to 4 people) based on a single campaign map, but will work for larger campaigns with just a few changes. 

If you have any experience with campaigns, you’ll be familiar with a lot of what you see here.

The main purpose is to use the campaign map to capture territory and control the planet for your faction/army. By doing this, you generate conquest points

The faction with the most conquest points at the end of the campaign is the winner.

Set Up

Each player begins the campaign with a hexagon territory as their headquarters (HQ), a base of operations from which their attack is planned. Each player may then move out to claim two territories on the planet with faction specific claim markers. Each territory claimed must be adjacent to one another.

Players take it in turns to claim one territory, then the next player, repeating the process. For campaigns with a larger map or numerous maps, feel free to allow players to claim extra territories here, or spread their territories across different planets. With positions established, turn one begins…

A campaign turn is split into three phases; the challenge phaseconsolidation phase, and score phase.

Challenge Phase

Each player is able to invade one enemy territory in an attempt to capture it from them. The player simply declares which territory they would like to attack, how many points to use for that battle, and a standard game of 40k begins. 

For the first campaign turn, roll off to decide who attacks first. Alternatively, you could have a quick kill team game to decide who goes first, much like a scouting mission ahead of the main force. For turns thereafter, the player with the most conquest points attacks first. 

In the event of a tie, roll-off. If you are playing with factions, the winning faction may choose which player attacks first. The second player must then be a member of the opposing faction.

The invader must be able to draw a clear straight line to their target territory through their own territory or neutral territory. Consider this the frontline rule. 

The exception to this rule is an enemy HQ, where you must already hold an adjacent territory to attack through. Assume that the enemy has set up a defensive perimeter around their HQ which must be breached first.

If the attack is successful and the enemy is defeated, the territory is claimed and you may replace the existing claim marker with one of your own. If the game results in either a loss or draw for the attacker, then there is no change.

Once the first player has completed their attack, the next player may do the same. They may select a territory as above, including any territories they might have lost this turn, if eligible. 

Once all players have completed their attacks, the consolidation phase begins.

Consolidation Phase

Each player may claim one free territory on the map. Imagine other companies or battalions spreading out across the planet to find resources, scout, or whatever objectives they may have been given by their Warlord. 

This territory must be adjacent to an existing territory under their control, and must not be contested by other players attempting to consolidate onto the same territory. 

If a territory is attempting to be claimed in this way, both players must select a different territory to consolidate into.

If at any point a player cannot consolidate (for instance, there are no free adjacent territories, or all territories have been claimed), OR chooses not to, they may then choose what order they attack in the following turn's challenge phase. 

They've focused their efforts on planning their next invasion instead.

Score Phase

Each player adds up how many territories they currently hold (plus any bonuses), and adds this many conquest points to their running total, or their faction's total if appropriate. 

This concludes a campaign turn.

The Map

Holding certain territories will have particular effects for 40k games, as well as the campaign map mini-game. Again, feel free to get creative here. 

I will give you some ideas, but there are so many options available to you. Many of these options can be found in the rulebook (pages 102-107), and in other 40k publications such as Stronghold Assault e.g. a power plant could provide a player with a free Void Shield. 

Headquarters (HQ)

Campaign Effects
- If your faction holds a HQ, then it earns you two conquest points per score phase, instead of the usual one.

Gaming Effects
- If defending a HQ, the player may take a free bastion with a comms relay and either an Icarus Lascannon or Quad gun.

Hive City

Campaign Effects
- The Hive City will generate three conquest points per score phase.

Gaming Effects
- Bolster/Shatter defenses - The defending player may nominate one piece of terrain that will either +1 to its cover save or -1 to its cover save.
- When placing objectives, the defending player must always place the odd objective. For example, if there are 5 objectives, then the defending player would place 3.

Power Station

Gaming Effects
- A player who controls a power station may add +1 to their dice roll when determining who goes first.


Campaign Effects
- Any enemy territory is eligible for attack, not just the frontline. The only exception to this rule is the enemy HQ.

Gaming Effects
- Player may +1 or -1 to reserve rolls.

Fuel Depot

Gaming Effects
- Player may nominate one unit to have the Scout special rule.
- Whilst defending this territory, that player may take free Promethium Relay Pipes (Stronghold Assault)


Gaming Effects
- Player may take an extra elite, fast attack or heavy support choice OR may place an Ammunition Dump (rulebook page 104) in their table half.

Imperial/Chaos Temple Ruins

Campaign Effects
- The player that controls this territory at the end of the campaign earns 5 conquest points to their total

Gaming Effects
- Defending player may place a free Shrine to Chaos (rulebook page 105)/Honored Imperium (Stronghold Assault) depending on which Temple you have chosen for the campaign (Imperial/Chaos)

Grand Warlord

Each player's force is lead by a Grand Warlord, an experienced adversary who has orchestrated combat across the galaxy. At the start of the campaign, each player nominates a valid Warlord model to be the Grand Warlord to lead their campaign. 

The Grand Warlord may roll three dice when choosing Warlord traits, and choose which result applies. This result is applied for the rest of the campaign. If the Grand Warlord is present for a battle, he is automatically the Warlord (for purposes of Slay The Warlord). 

However, if the Grand Warlord is not present and another Warlord is chosen, follow the usual rules for Warlords instead.

Winning The Campaign

Players will agree a suitable number of campaign turns for the campaign to last. 

The player or factions with the most conquest points at the end of the campaign is the winner.

That completes the rules. 

  • - There are a good amount of options for you to add into your games of miniatures by capturing territories that offer different benefits.
  • - Conquest points will mean that you can lose a battle, but still go on to win the campaign.
  • - Tactical decisions on where and when to invade will add another dimension to your games.

Go out and give it a go.

Image by Zen Master

Hot On The Wire.

Tutorial: Painting Warlord's Plastic Roman Legionaries

My friend Scott got very excited by my 28mm Roman project. So excited he's been amassing an army of his own. I have to paint them though...