Warhammer 40k 8th Edition retrospective

Hey everybody!
Indomitus goes on pre-order tomorrow – a two week preorder window, which seems a little silly given that the box is likely to sell out in a couple of minutes. Anyway, we’re not too far away from having a new edition, even if it doesn’t seem like five minutes since 8th Edition, and I thought it would be nice to look back on the old edition before it fades into memory!

I think the best thing about 8th Edition was the fact that it launched with these books. Being a completely new style of game from 7th Edition, the Indexes were of course necessary for the game, but they functioned quite like mini-Codexes, with the rules for (I think) pretty much every model made for each faction, and army-specific rules.

I started playing pretty regularly in 8th with my Necrons, followed quickly by my Dark Eldar, so it was quite good to have all of the rules for these factions in the same book. It was also useful if you were going to play against an army included in the same book, as you basically had their Codex as well, allowing you to see what you could be coming up against.

My Dark Eldar were the the army that I had been building up for this edition, of course, so it was nice to get them to the table.

One of the best aspects of 8th Edition was the addition of “chapter tactics” for each faction, allowing for a great deal of customization for your army. Relics, Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers were all given out with specifics for these sub-divisions within each faction, as well as Stratagems:

Stratagems were, I think, among the biggest game-changers for the edition. Many of the army rules, unit rules, or even weapon rules from the previous edition were re-created via Stratagems, which could be used for a cost that was generated by how you’d built your army. There have been pages and pages written about Stratagems and their use, of course, so I’m not going to labour the point on this one, but there have been quite a few shenanigans though the generation and re-generation of command points.

In the main, I’ve quite liked them, of course, although I do tend to forget about them… and end games with almost as many points as I’d started!

8th Edition 40k was certainly an improvement on 7th Edition, although very quickly we started to get the same kind of bloat as had been seen in the previous edition. Both Space Marines and Chaos Marines had two editions of their codexes, as the factions had seen an influx of new models. Let’s not talk about Primaris Marines here, because even more pages have been written about this topic, but suffice it to say, the range has exploded to take over the older marines. Only a matter of time before the old marines are phased out entirely, I think.

While we saw campaign boxes such as Shadowspear and campaign books such as the Vigilus two-parter, Psychic Awakening has really caused some issues for gamers wanting to play their armies and requiring a couple of books to get all the relevant rules. In three years, we’ve had a load of books to support this edition, which just seems crazy!

However, let’s turn back to the successes of the edition – let’s talk about Kill Team! The skirmish variant of regular 40k was completely re-imagined this time around, and I think it was quite a hit when it launched. It helped, of course, that it came out in a box set that launched an entirely updated terrain range – “updating things” seems to have been quite a theme of 8th edition! I’ve played a few games of Kill Team, and I do quite like it. The game feels, to me, very much like the sort of game you play with friends at your house, and run through a campaign with it. As the sort of game that you play in pick-up games down at the local store, however, I’ve not really had the sort of experience that I’d have liked.

The increased line of support for the game – bringing Elites, Commanders and so on – has turned it into something of a monster, and I think the almost RPG-like quality of things has made for that kind of sandbox feel that would be great with a consistent group. However, the product line did include perhaps one of the most incredible box-sets GW has actually produced:

Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Bringing Rogue Traders to 40k is a ridiculously ballsy move, and I’ve talked about this box at length here. I think this box helped to set the scene for another roaring success for Games Workshop, Blackstone Fortress. While it isn’t really part of 8th Edition, I have really appreciated the fact that a lot of these ancillary products have brought us additional options for 40k. Rogue Traders and Navigators have all come to 40k, as well as Traitor Guard and Dark Mechanicum models. It’s been an absolutely insane time for fans of the lore of this universe, as we see so many wonderful minis for this game coming out. The 40k rules are maybe a bit… strange… and you really have to work to include them in a regular army if you wanted to do so. I suppose it’s perhaps their way of saying these models belong in these side games. Maybe. But it’s nice that the game has been supported with this stuff as well.


8th Edition has definitely been my busiest time for playing 40k – I’ve made some really good friends by being more present at my local store during this edition. I’m not a competitive gamer, so I’ve not has cause to complain too much about things that have been abused over the course of the three years. I’ve come up against some awkward games where I’ve been shut out of actually playing the game, but on the whole, this is not an edition I’m going to think badly about – it’s no 7th edition confuse-fest where you need a scientific calculator in order to work out a damage roll!

I’ve enjoyed 8th a lot, so let’s see what 9th is going to bring!