Gaming League '89 - '90

In 1989 – 1990, GW ran some gaming leagues in their stores. They included a few different games, but I’m going to focus on the Warhammer 40,000 league. I didn’t play, since I was too far from a participating shop, but I have the rules.

Army List

At the time, only a few armies had lists, and they weren’t very consistent. So for the league they made the interesting decision of providing one specific list for everyone to use. Not surprisingly, it was Space Marines, and was a cut-down version of the Space Marine list of the time.

The only units which appeared were the Captain plus Tactical, Assault and Devastator squads. There was also the option of mounting one combat squad already purchased, on bikes, but otherwise there were no vehicles.

Game Size

The points value for the original league was 1000 points, but Marines had higher values back then. There was a maximum of 3 squads allowed, plus a leader. Using the current Codex: Space Marines we should allow about 600-800 points. (Need to work out some sample lists to decide on this.)


The army should be chosen from Codex: Space Marines. The normal Force Organisation Chart is not used; instead, simply allow up to 3 squads total of any type from the below list, plus the optional Captain.

  • 0 – 1 Captain. May not have Terminator or Artificer armour.
  • 0 – 3 Tactical Squad
  • 0 – 3 Assault Squad
  • 0 – 1 Bike Squad
  • 0 – 2 Devastator Squad

Debate: should we require at least one Tactical Squad?


The original league list had no vehicles allowed, except for a small number of bikes. My gut feeling is that allowing squads their normal transports is not going to break the game though.


The original rules give a single ‘line up and fight’ scenario. The current rulebook scenarios are better, so stick with them. The only change is that in the Annihilation mission, each individual Marine counts as a kill point. A Marine biker counts as two. An Attack Bike or Captain count as three.

Campaign System

This should be regarded as optional, since it affects the type of competition you will have. You’ll need to keep a careful record of models, casualties and equipment.


After the end of each battle, the winning side may loot one weapon or item of equipment from one enemy casualty. Even if the casualty recovers, he may no longer use the item. The looting player may give the item to any model in his force.

You will need to use some common sense about what constitutes an ‘item’ here.


After the battle, and after any looting, roll a D6 for every model that was a casualty. On a 3-6 they make a complete recovery and will fight again. On a 1-2 they were killed or injured and must be removed from the army roster.

League Days

Every four weeks (adjust as appropriate) there is a ‘League Day’. Reinforcements arrive, so the player can replace all losses. Alternatively, players can change their roster if they want at this point.

‘Counts As’

The most important feature of this as a competition is that everyone uses the same fairly limited list. Space Marines are popular, so many people should be able to take part. But what about people who don’t have Space Marines? There are some other similar armies which can be used as standins, as long as they have recognisable weapons.

Just rememeber to stick to the standard Space Marine rules!

Blood Angels and Dark Angels

These are only minor variants to the Space Marines list, so can probably field several units as-is.

Black Templars and Space Wolves

They will need a bit more reorganising, and may be limited by what models they have available, but they have a lot of models with the same equipment so can probably field some of the above squad types.

Chaos Space Marines

Standard Chaos Marines have a lot of the same equipment so should be able to stand in. They’ll miss out on multi-meltas and plasma cannons, and can’t use Autocannons. Make sure to use models with bolters for Tactical marines. Berzerkers could be used for Assault marines without jump packs. Plague marines and Thousand Sons can be used as Tactical marines but will have limited weapon choices. Noise Marines don’t really work since they have unique weapons.

Sisters of Battle

This is a bit more of a stretch, but they wear power armour and carry bolters, so they could work. They’ll be very limited for heavy and special weapon choices, but have a few. If using Seraphim as Assault marines, count twin bolt pistols as bolt pistol and CCW, and count twin hand flamers as a single flamer.

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