One of our goals for Combat Cards was to try and ensure the game had several layers of complexity, meaning new players can just focus on the basics, but there’s depth for veteran players.

For example, new players may load their decks with only a few large, high Wound cards, but veterans can use tactics like including a few weak, but cheap cards. This lets them ‘feed’ these to high damage cards played by their opponent (because cards like Kharn the Betrayer can destroy anything they face, why not let them waste all their damage on a cheap card – after all, excess Wounds don’t spill over from one card to another).



Another area veteran players might consider is their deck’s initiative score. This isn’t something the game teaches you, as we think players who want to optimise like this will figure it out and discuss it with each other (also, the game doesn’t teach enough right now, so look for a post on tutorials soon).

So what does initiative do, how do we work it out, and why should you care about it?



Simply put, after both players have deployed their initial cards, the deck with the higher initiative gets to make the first attack choice.

Note that once your deck’s initiative has been worked out (more on that in a second), it doesn’t matter which cards you actually deploy or hold back – your initiative score remains the same.



Every Combat Card has two factors which determine its initiative ‘score’. Currently these are hidden, but one of our future plans is to let players flip cards over to see more details about them on their reverse. If we implement this, then it would include the stats below:

  • Move
    This is how quickly the individual character on the card can move and react. Some factions tend to be quicker (Aeldari) than others (T’au), but even within factions some characters are faster (Howling Banshees) than others (Wraithguard).
  • Body type
    Each character in Combat Cards is classified as a particular ‘body type’, representing their role on the Warhammer 40,000 battlefield. Generally, the larger the character, the heavier and therefore slower they are.

From fastest to slowest, the body types we currently have are – Fast, Infantry, Bulky, Monster and Walker. Who knows, maybe we’ll add the Super-heavy body type to this later…

Each card adds its’ move and body type to determine its’ initiative, and the average initiative of all the cards in your deck gives the score we use to decide who’s going first each battle.



Because cards from both sides fight every turn, going first in a battle isn’t necessarily as powerful in Combat Cards as it might be in other card games.

However, it still gives you an advantage, because you can see which of your cards will be facing each of your opponent’s, and know if you’ll be getting to make the first attack choice or not.

This means if you think your deck is fast enough to usually have the initiative, you can make it more ‘polarised’, with a mix of low-Wound, but powerful hitters and tough ‘tanks’. But if you don’t think you’ll get the initiative then you should go for a more balanced deck, where any of your cards can take a hit, minimising the advantage you give to your opponent.



As I mentioned earlier, our goal is to give Combat Cards several features like this – things that new players can ignore, but veterans can use to optimise their play.

Getting the balance of accessibility to depth right is a key area that we’ve been looking at throughout development and will continue to tweak once the game’s out, but hopefully you can see that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of the game, even if it’s not yet clear how they work.

I hope you found this interesting – if you have any questions or feedback you can get in touch via [email protected] or through the Combat Cards Facebook page.