I may be out of the loop, but this morning I seem to have woken up to the latest round of rumours about the tenth edition of Warhammer 40k. Now, I talked about this a while back, and it’s interesting to see how some of these rumours are different, yet others seem to be an elaboration upon the earlier set. What I think is a pretty safe bet is that tenth edition is coming this summer – 40k itself reaches the grand old age of 40 in 2023, and in the UK we even have a commemorative set of stamps being released to mark the occasion (how very British). 40k appears to be on a three-year cycle for releases, and given that ninth edition landed in July 2020, after eighth edition was launched in July 2017, that certainly lines up for a summer 2023 date. It’s disappointing that the edition was launched during a period of international lockdown, which continued off-and-on for almost two years. Given the restrictions on meeting with people, you’d think that the edition would have been given a longer life to compensate, but clearly the shareholders need their dividends.
We’ve also got the ongoing Arks of Omen narrative, a series of books accompanied by major model releases. Eighth edition had the Gathering Storm books released in the lead-up, which included such models as Belisarius Cawl and Roboute Guilliman, and eighth-into-ninth had the Psychic Awakening phenomenon, which saw, among other things, the AdMech range get a huge injection of models.
I think it’s pretty clear that the writing is on the wall, and tenth edition is coming over the hill. So let’s see what these rumours are saying this time!
To begin with, Lion el’Jonson is going to have a model. Well, a plastic loyalist primarch has been expected pretty much since 2017’s Guilliman came out, and especially now that we’ve got three plastic traitor primarchs on the loose, it makes sense to bolster the loyalist ranks. The Lion also makes the most sense because the Dark Angels are the loyalist legion with a distinct model range and a plausible reason in the lore for him to come back. Much like Guilliman was merely in stasis, so is the Lion, although there have been significant hints dropped in the last 3-4 years that he has also woken up. Unfortunately for the Blood Angels, Sanguinius is very much dead, and the fact that the legion was afflicted by the Black Rage because of his death, I don’t see how they can feasibly retcon the fact that Sanguinius died so that the Emperor could defeat Horus. Of course, we’re seeing the Heresy series brought to a close now that the Siege of Terra books are getting closer and closer to these pivotal moments in the lore, so things may well change, but even so. Sanguinius has been dead forever, really, and I think it cheapens the lore to miraculously bring him back.
The Space Wolves are the only other range-specific marines, but Leman Russ is off doing his King Arthur impression, and will nebulously return at the Wolf Time, or whatever. Unlike the Lion, we don’t have the lead-in within the lore for Russ to come back, I would say. Other legions like the Raven Guard and White Scars have their primarchs off brooding or fighting in the webway, and could well be brought back but they don’t perhaps have the same cache as the primarch of a legion with dedicated models. I would love to have Jaghatai Khan come back, covered in glory from spending 10,000 years fighting Dark Eldar, but unfortunately I think he’s more of an outlier.
But you never know!
The most persistent rumour has been that the starter box will be marines vs Tyranids, with the bugs getting a range refresh to rival the Necrons from the last edition. I do like the idea that GW are using an edition launch box to refresh a range, and while it has always been a toss-up between the bugs and the eldar needing a range refresh, it should be interesting to see what they come out with. Indomitus gave us a lot of new Necron units without really replacing or retiring many of the old ones, though I suppose that’s partly because the Necron plastics still hold up very well. The big plastic kit for the Tyranids is being called an Apex Swarmlord, which is interesting – there were all sorts of rumours about big bugs coming out, whether these will still hold true will remain to be seen, though. It does make me wonder what might be getting refreshed from the range – many people are expecting new Genestealers, for example, and I think some of the finecast stuff can be expected to be either replaced or re-imagined as plastic.
In terms of the rules, we’ve had some fairly controversial news today as regards the Toughness attribute being removed from regular infantry, only remaining on the heavy stuff and vehicles. It seems an Age of Sigmar style mechanic will be adopted, with models rolling to hit, rolling to wound, then the target rolling to save. Of course, it doesn’t practically change how things work now – that’s still what you do, after all. But given that the to-wound mechanic was simplified in eighth edition and, I feel, works really well, I don’t see why this is being done. It’s also a bit odd because it’s how other games like Necromunda work, but I suppose that isn’t very important in the scheme of things.
So while I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s going to really break the game or anything.
Another big thing is how stratagems, objectives and army building is going to be re-worked. Now, I’ve talked about this before as well, but I’m not a big fan of the insane rules bloat of ninth edition. When JP and I play a game, it’s using the codex of our armies, and the rulebook. Stuff like the grand tournament packs, the narrative supplements, even the balance dataslate, all gets ignored in favour of just a streamlined version of the game. It’s still a deep game, with a lot of moving parts, but it’s a lot easier to track because we know what we’re doing. I also think it helps that we’re not stupid people trying to destroy each other’s toy soldiers, though JP just happens to do that anyway!
The scoring system for the game can be very confusing, and I’ve read a lot online about this stuff recently, particularly after the challenges at the Las Vegas Open. I tend to agree that having the mission objective, plus three secondary objectives each, potentially all of which get scored at various intervals, can be a bit silly to keep track of. To add to that, though, I read a very interesting and valid point that it doesn’t make sense that your army has four separate objectives to track during a battle. Why can’t you just play a game and have a clear objective in mind? Or just one secondary objective to deal with, as well? And why are army specific secondary objectives so uneven? They should all give the same number of points – if it’s a physical impossibility to win against marines because their objectives give 5 victory points per round, but mine only give 2 or less, how am I going to win? I have to deny the opponent while also trying to secure my own, which gives me yet more to do during the game. It feels too imbalanced. Balance is probably a myth, of course, but if I simply can’t win, why am I even turning up to play?
I saw something about re-working command points a few weeks ago that made me think. The idea is that you still get a pool of points to work with, but these are spent on upgrades for your army, such as additional relics or warlord traits, then upgrading units (the example used was a space marine captain to a chapter master, but I could see it as kabalite warriors to kabalite trueborn, as well), and then for triggering effects based on your chapter/whatever. So each “chapter tactic” has an army-wide effect, then you can pay to buff it, or use a super-effect, or to issue leadership buffs a bit like a command aura. So stratagems are broken down into upgrades, leadership, and strategy. It was quite interesting, I thought, because it really makes them live up to the name of command points, like you’re paying for a command, or something. It makes sense, although part of me does think this is perhaps how the idea started out in eighth edition, and it became a monster because GW felt under pressure to provide increasingly new and interesting things upon which to lavish your command points.
I have had the whinge before about units whose special ability has been removed and turned into a stratagem, almost as if the designers couldn’t think of enough stratagems for the army so started pruning the datasheets to get inspiration. Makes no sense to me – command points should be more flexible. I would rather have a single page, with stratagems that I could use no matter how my army had been built, than to have half a dozen “dead” stratagems because I don’t own a Monolith, for example. (And no, GW, I’m not going to buy one just to use those special effects. Put the rules back on the datasheet and be done with!)
In principle, I don’t really have much of an issue with supplemental books like the War Zone: wherever books that have come out during ninth edition, and I think it’s nice to see the designers explore things in these books like units in reserve doing shadow ops stuff, or whatever. I am opposed to the fact they were used as a balancing tool to give some armies a buff through their codex supplements, when the books themselves were then not available to buy despite GW saying their content was still legal for use in games. I would like to have a book that has missions to play through, maybe even some special rules specific to the warzone we’re fighting in, like atmospherics and stuff. By all means put warzone specific stratagems in there, if it makes sense, but make sure people can buy that book! This whole situation created such an imbalance in what different players were trying to do, and it is the principal reason why JP and I have retreated to just using the codex, and forgetting about pretty much everything else. I realise that I’m doing myself down on that front, as I believe the Cult of Stife codex supplement made Drukhari Wych Cults an amazing addition to the game, but given that I couldn’t actually buy the book to make that judgment for myself, what else could be done?
It all seems to boil down to matched play being tailored specifically for the tournament chasing crowd, whereas in reality the game doesn’t need official updates all of the time. Why not let the TO deal with some of this stuff, rather than making everybody who plays 40k feel like they need to get all this additional stuff? Ah yes, money. Well, I guess it’s moot, because I can’t buy the books anyway!
I realise I’m beginning to sound super salty here, and need to calm down! I suppose I’m just really disappointed that the more casual-regular players like myself, who might only get in a handful of games in a year due to the responsibilities of real life among other things, can’t actually play about two-thirds of this game because of the way things are being handled.
No matter what happens to toughness, or the Lion and his plastic model, and whatever they decide to do with command points and stratagems, I just hope that tenth edition is an enjoyable game that can actually be played, without forever chasing after stuff.