Warhammer 40,000 is getting a New Edition
By Ray Snyder
“Give me a hundred Space Marines. Or failing that give me a thousand other troops”
– Rogal Dorn
Warhammer 40,000 (40k for short) is about to receive its eighth edition. Here is an overview of most of the key changes and why I feel that they are good. First, the lore of 40K is finally moving forward, as an impossibly large Warp Storm has cut the Imperium of Man in half and a Space Marine Primarch has returned after 10,000 years spent in stasis, bringing forth a new breed of Space Marine and so much more…. Second, the rules are being rebuilt – streamlined and using the best parts of its previous seven editions, 8th Edition seems familiar but also very different than the 40K we have recently known. Finally, a big improvement is in how you can play, with no points cost, with a simplified causal power level system, or with a detailed points system designed with competitive play in mind. All of these changes are creating a fresh and exciting new game to dive into.
For the first time in decades, the 40K lore is advancing. For decades, the universe of 40K was both evergrowing but immutable, the stories set in the time of 40k added backstory and detail but never truly affected the lore, the time line never advanced, and the grim dark of the far future was perpetually embroiled in unending but ultimately insignificant warfare. In the last year or so, the timeline has started to move forward in preparation for the new editions. The Eldar, an ancient space faring race, resurrected a God, key planets to the defense of the Imperium of Man have been destroyed, and one of the Space Marine Primarchs, as super soldier from 10,000 years ago was restored from his stasis chamber deathbed. Now with the new edition, a warp storm has torn the Imperium of Man in half and allowed easy access to the raiding force of Chaos, while leaving the other half the Imperium cut off from supply, communication, and safe space travel. While this might seem like some interesting hand waving, it shows the forces of Chaos are winning and mankind is in it’s darkest hour, but a hero from the past has returned, bringing with him hope and, more importantly, Primaris Space Marines.
The rules for the new edition will feel familiar, but are very different from the current design, pulling ideas and mechanics from every edition of the venerable game and then polishing the presentation up with concepts and lessons learned from the recent Age of Sigmar rule set. With that in mind, the game will be much easier to learn and play, while offering veteran players plenty to sink their teeth into. Some of the biggest game changes are vehicles have Toughness and Wounds instead of Armor Value and a critical hit chart, but key stats degrade as the vehicle loses wounds. Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill are listed as target number you need to roll to hit on, such as 3+ or 4+ instead of a number that you needed to cross reference a chart to find your chance to hit. Any Strength attack can wound any Toughness. Weapons now can reduce the targets Armor Save and Cover adds to that saving throw. Models can now engage an enemy unit 1” away, instead of requiring the two models bases to touch. Additionally, a unit can retreat from a unit that has engaged it, but it must then forfeit it’s shooting attacks for that turn, making such a retreat wise if you have units to support you, but just a delaying tactic if you can’t stop the assaulting unit. This is just the tip of the iceberg too, as we still don’t know everything or how it all works out, but it appears to be very fun and positive changes.
A sample of the most common weapons in the new Edition. Lastly, the new edition really opens up options for how to play. You can easily play an “Open” game where everyone just uses their favorite figures with no limits or restrictions, or you can use the “Power levels” system for relatively balanced armies in casual games, or you can use a detailed “Points Cost” system and purchase each item of wargear your army has, just as most gamers have for all the previous editions. While I’m sure their are some guidelines for open play, what really has me interested is the “Power Levels” method of force creation, as each Datasheet has the rules for the unit and a power level, some options of the datasheet might increase that power level but most the options don’t. Power levels are usually a small single or double digit number that is easy to add up and not as fiddly as the full Points Cost system. However I’m sure serious players will prefer the fine tuning and balance of the Points Cost system. With these three systems, it will be easier than ever to play and much easier to teach to other people. I’m very excited to see how this all works in detail on June 17th, when the new edition releases.
Bonus Sample Stats!