After months of teasing its fans mercilessly, Games Workshop finally announces the 10th edition of Warhammer 40,000, are marquee miniatures wargame. On Wednesday, at its annual AdeptiCon convention, it also unveiled its two star factions – the heroic Ultramarines and the Alien-like Tyranids – with a lavish CGI trailer.
Among a host of new models — including a revision of the iconic Terminator Space Marines, among others — came details of a massive shift in how the popular tabletop game will be structured going forward. The 10th edition of 40K will be more streamlined than ever before, and there will also be a new format tailored for collectors and new players.
Here’s what we know, with additional details shared only in person with AdeptiCon attendees in Schaumburg, Illinois.
A new approach to rules
Earlier players of Warhammer 40,000The 9th edition ruleset had to lug around multiple bound books, sometimes requiring three or four such books on each side of the table to play just one game. That kind of proliferation of rules not only has the complexity of 40K, but also the cost of getting into the hobby in the first place. The tenth edition hopes to get rid of that kind of excess.
At the heart of this transition is something called a “datasheet” – basically a big note card – that contains all the rules needed to run a single unit of miniatures at the table. The format must be known to players of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, which has been using similar cards for years. More importantly, all of the additional rules governing how a player’s army (now called a “detachment”) behaves fit on a single two-page spread from a single book.
“It works in a one-in-one-out system,” said Games Workshop global events executive Michael Brandt. “If you want to run a Space Marine Scout Company or a Space Marine Battle Company, take one of those pages as a spread. You’re not going to mix a lot of things and end up with pages, and pages, and pages of rules. It also makes it very easy to share your rules with your opponent before you start the game.”
The consolidation of these rules has required a paradigm shift internally at Games Workshop. Brandt said Universal Special Rules, known as USRs, are returning to the format. Like keywords in Magic: The Gathering, USRs can be applied to any army in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. That generally means fewer lines to memorize, and fewer late-game “gotcha” moments that turn the tide at the table.
A new format
While rule changes will improve the quality of life for veteran players, Games Workshop has also come up with a new way to entice new players to jump into the hobby. A new play format called Combat Patrol was announced on Wednesday and it could prove to be the best introduction Warhammer 40,000 yet.
For years, Games Workshop has littered stores around the world with Combat Patrol boxes – usually several dozen units, including a vehicle, packaged in a single box for less than $150. Fans have traditionally used them to start larger army projects or to restore older ones. replenish armies with newer units.
During the AdeptiCon event, Games Workshop revealed that each of those boxes is secretly designed as a small army of its own. Using Combat Patrol rules – a subset of the larger, full-fat ones 40K ruleset – those boxes will be similar to pre-constructed ones Magic: The Gathering Cover Commander. Free rules, available online, give each box a set of datasheets and posting rules to make it a powerful fighting force, but balanced with all other Combat Patrol boxes. The result should be a lighter, more beginner-friendly way to get into the hobby – and a way for dedicated fans to collect a wide variety of different models, rather than simply investing in a large collection for a single army .
“It’s also somewhat simplified from the regular game, but not overly simplified,” said Brandt. “It’s largely been limited to the number of bespoke different rules a datasheet could have, but it’s architecturally the same game. So it is very easy to translate from Combat Patrol to the full version of Warhammer 40,000as opposed to shifting from (Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team), which is really a different game, in something like Combat Patrol.”
“We’ll also be supporting Combat Patrol with organized play and other activities,” Brandt continued, “so it’s easier to buy a Combat Patrol box and you’re good to go. Period. Forever.”
The Arks of Omen are the bridge to the 10th edition
In addition to announcing Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition and the new Combat Patrol format, Games Workshop also brought to an end one of the longest standing mysteries in 40K lore. And it did so in a way that bridges from 9th edition to 10th edition, and beyond.
The carrot on this stick is called Lion El’Jonson, and he is the founder of the Dark Angels division of Space Marines. His beautiful new model shows that even after 10,000 years of hibernation in his floating space fortress, he is still a dashing war daddy.
But while his reintroduction to the timeline pushes the overarching storyline of the universe forward in seismic ways, the Arks of Omen book series that led to his introduction also introduced a new way to play – a format called Boarding Action. During the AdeptiCon event, Games Workshop revealed that all of these Boarding Action rules are fully compatible with both editions of the game. Thus, the five-book Arks of Omen series is not only one of the last to be published before the 9th edition, it is also the first to be published before the 10th.
Expect more on the 10th edition of Warhammer: 40,000 will be revealed in the months leading up to its release this summer.