In my experience one of the toughest things new players to 40K encounter is dealing with distances. Unless you’re a carpenter, or some other profession that uses measurements as part of a daily routine, you aren’t going to be intimately familiar with what 24″ looks like without measuring it first. Since 40K is a game that uses measurements in pretty much every aspect of it, well you need to learn and the quicker you learn the quicker you’ll get better at the game.
There’s a few common distances you should strive to learn ASAP. One of those distance is 6″. Most every infantry model moves 6″ a turn. Being able to look at where a unit of yours is and how many turns it will take to reach a destination by moving 6″ a turn (we’re excluding run moves here since it’s random), is invaluable information. Knowing if it will take two turns or three turns to get somewhere is the difference between having another round of shooting with that unit or not, assuming you don’t have assault weapons. Also, 6″ is the distance most units move to assault something. Knowing if you’re in range to charge something is crucial. You don’t get to measure ahead of time before declaring a charge.
That takes us to the 12″ measurement. With most infantry units moving 6″ a turn and having a 6″ charge range that means you have the potential to move a unit 12″ a turn if you can get off a charge. If you plan to charge another unit then you need to be able to evaluate the distance between the two units and decide if it’s 12″ or less. Falling short of a charge you planned on can really ruin your plans.
The other thing the 12″ range is used for often is rapid firing. Some armies rely on rapid firing weapons to do most of their damage. If you’re facing an army where that’s the case then knowing if you’re in rapid fire range of them is crucial. You don’t want to let the enemy double the amount of shots they get on you because you miscalculated. Likewise, if you’re using an army that utilizes rapid fire then you need to know exactly where that sweet spot is, the 12″ mark.
Now, to complicate this a little bit, you have to take into account 6″ of movement as well. Remember, you can move and fire a rapid fire weapon, thus giving you an 18″ threat range (6″ movement + 12″ rapid fire range). So, the true range of threat when dealing with rapid fire is 18″, which you can figure out easy enough once you’re aware of what 6″ looks like and 12″.
If you’re realizing that critical measurements seem to be multiples of 6 then you’re on point. Most vehicles can move at least 12″ a turn. Fast vehicles can move 18″ a turn. Turbo-boosting lets you move 24″ a turn. Pretty much any distance used in a game of 40K is a multiple of 6. If you can pick up what 6″ looks like without measuring then you’re well on your way with dealing with other distances.
Here are some tips on dealing with distances. A standard gaming board is 6′ x 4′, which is 72″ long by 48″ wide. So, if you wanted to see if something is in 24″ range of your bolter, or you wanted to turbo-boost, then realize that 24″ is half the width of the board. Easy enough if you’ve looking to shoot or move that way, across the width (IE: short edges), but what about length-wise? To gauge 24″ down the length of the board you should visually break the length into three sections, each is 24″. This also means half the length of the board is 36″, a relevant distance for some common weapons.
Bases for models use the following sizes: 25mm, 40mm and 60mm. The 25mm is used for almost all infantry models, the small base size, and is approximately 1″ in size. The 40mm, medium, is used for models like Terminators, and is approximately 1.5″. The largest round base, the 60mm, is used for things like monstrous creatures and dreadnoughts and is about 2.3″. Knowing these sizes will help you gauge small distances.
Some other things to keep in mind. Pay attention when it comes to deployment. Pitched battle and spearhead deployment puts both armies at least 24″ apart. If both of you deploy some units right up to the maximum distance allowed then you know you’re 24″ apart. Dawn of war deployment lets the first person deploy up to the 24″ mark. The second person has to deploy 18″ away. So, if you deploy at the 24″ mark and they deploy units as close to you as they can then those units 18″ from you.
Be sure to watch your opponent when he/she is measuring ranges. Not so much to be sure they aren’t cheating, though there is that, but it gives you the chance to get range on units. If your opponent is measuring 24″ range for shooting and finds he/she is short on range then pay attention to roughly how short he/she is. Does it look like 2″ short or 4″ short? Knowing that is another asset you have. You now know those units are about 26″ apart, for example. The same applies if the person has range, notice the distance between the units.
Lastly, the more you play the better you’ll get with ranges; goes without saying I suppose. Knowing ranges and being able to eye ball them accurately will let you better plan your strategies and reduce the chance of a plan falling short, no pun intended.