Warhammer 40k has long been Games Workshop’s most iconic title, supported by a rich and popular body of lore and some incredible miniature sculpts. So the recent announcement that it was getting a brand new 10th edition this summer, supported by an all-new ruleset and starter box, was a bombshell of Volcano Cannon proportions. It’s an extensive reinvention, aimed at speeding and streamlining a game that many players feel has become bloated and over-complex with years of additional material. In a further surprise, Games Workshop revealed that the core rules and indexes for all the major factions in the game will be available to download for free.
In yet another twist, everything old was new again: Hive Fleet Leviathan, the scourge of the Blood Angels and Ultramarines chapters of the Space Marines from editions past, lend their name to the core box. “We wanted to use Leviathan as they have become the iconic Tyranids image,” explained Stu Black, the Warhammer 40,000 Studio Manager. “It’s also a color scheme that really shows off all the cool details of the new Tyranids miniatures. Although we have kept the classic Leviathan scheme, the 'Eavy Metal team have subtly updated it and introduced some variety with the color palette, slightly shifting from the smaller creatures to the large monsters.”
There are a lot of alterations, aimed at making the game faster and more accessible. So many that Stu found it hard to choose which he felt was the most impactful. “It’s like asking which is my favourite child,” he said. But in the end, he chose the changes to army construction. “It’s super simple,” he enthused. “Which returns the emphasis to the miniatures and their datasheets.” He also couldn’t resist picking another. “I am also really pleased with what the team has done with Battle-shock,” he continued. “This new mechanic really helps represent morale, combat readiness, pinning, and all sorts of other effects and really introduces some new challenges for players to engage with.”
The “super simple” army-building rules bring a new meaning to the editions-old concept of detachments. Instead of additional factions that you can add to your army, a detachment is now more like bag of special abilities you can use. “It gives players lots of choice and options but in a more contained way,” Stu explains. “This allows us to better control the various interactions and make sure we focus on the ones that create the right experiences for players.” This should also help address another long-standing issue with the game, which is how the complex interactions between factions made it possible for players to game the system and create unbalanced forces with the same points cost.
There are a lot of alterations, aimed at making the game faster and more accessible.
Simplifying the process should improve things, but veteran players had a lot of fun messing around with the flexible rules for force creation in the current edition to customise their troops. According to Stu, the tenth edition will cater for them in different ways. “A big part of the Warhammer hobby is the creative painting, modelling and personalizing of your own army,” he agreed. “Some of the changes we have made have been designed to help with that, like consolidating certain wargear options means players can just pick the weapon load-outs they think are the coolest and not worry too much about it being an optimal pick. The Detachments that will come in Codexes will give players a variety of ways to field their army and lean into the various themes and archetypes within that faction, including characterful Enhancements and Stratagems.”
Given that Games Workshop has promised the army lists will be free to download, you might think this would do away with the need for Codexes at all. But while they’re no longer strictly necessary, they’ll still be available for hardcore fans. “We wanted to make the step into the new edition really easy for players, so the rules for all your models are free at launch,” Stu explained. “But we are still going to be expanding and adding to this, so there will be Codexes for each faction, and once your Codex is released that will be where your datasheets are found.”
Of course, that implies there are going to be new toys to play with alongside each new Codex. After all, Warhammer 40k wouldn’t be what it is without its iconic range of sci-fi figures. But Stu wasn’t letting anything slip on what might be coming down the road. “That would be telling,” he grinned. “There is plenty of cool stuff on the way, some filling much-asked fan requests and some wild stuff that no one is expecting. But he did rule out all-new factions for the time being. “Our focus is on getting the Codexes out for existing armies, and giving fans new units to add to their collections.”
He was, however, happy to reveal that Games Workshop will be continuing its ongoing commitment to making a diverse model range. “This is an ongoing part of the miniatures design process,” he said. “We'll continue to diversify the cast of characters we portray, so fans and future fans can find representation and heroes they can relate to.”
The core rules and indexes for all the major factions in the game will be available to download for free.
Another new aspect to the tenth edition rules is another mode of play, Combat Patrol, which allows players to fight much smaller battles. Stu was keen to stress that this isn’t intruding on 40k’s small-scale sister game Kill Team. “That’s a very quick-paced action skirmish game with five to ten miniatures,” he explained. “Think of it as the last 10 minutes of an action movie. Whereas Combat Patrol is a genuine game of Warhammer 40k with three or four squads, a character and maybe a bigger thing. We have great plans for Kill Team over the coming years and it will increasingly focus on those more detailed, granular encounters between elite operatives.”
In the past, new editions of flagship titles from Games Workshop have been supported by organized play events and Leviathan is no exception. “There is actually going to be a self-contained campaign specifically for players who pick up the Leviathan box,” Stu revealed. “It’s called The Battle for Oghram and will be between the Tyranids and Space Marines. Oghram is one of the key planets in the path of the Leviathan swarm, and each person with the box set will be able to report the result of their first game with it, help decide the fate of that pivotal planet, and become part of 40k history.”
You’ll also find the kind of support you’d expect in Games Workshop stores, for new and experienced players alike, Stu added. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s long been tempted by the bleak militaristic sci-fi that the game’s models and lore bring to life on the tabletop. Sounds like the grim darkness of the 41st millennium has a bright future.
Where to Buy
- Get it at Amazon – $249
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