“Warhammer 40,000” 8th Edition Preview: What’s in the Box?

If you’ve recently wandered anywhere near a Games Workshop store, FLGS that stocks Warhammer, or GW’s community pages (not to mention reading GeekDad!), you’ll know something big is coming. The time is nearly upon us; Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition is now available for pre-order.

GeekDad have been lucky enough to get an early view of the new set, and it’s very impressive. The way the box and game have been put together show great thought, and moreover, I think, consideration for its loyal fanbase. For our full thoughts, do take a look at the unboxing video above.

There is already a huge amount of content about the game on the internet, but I hope you’ll enjoy the coverage here on GeekDad too. Despite having been a Games Workshop customer for over 30 years (on and off), my exposure to the 40K strand is negligible. I’ll be approaching 8th edition through the eyes of a novice, and also try to bring you the experience through the eyes of my children.

We’ve been collecting 40K figures for over a year now (through the Battle for Vedros, and “Build and Paint” sets, as well as a number extra boxes to supplement the collection,) but such was the complexity of the game, we never actually made it to the table with our figures.

Warhammer 40K 8th Ed Internal Box Art
Interior box art. Everything in Dark Imperium is finished to the highest quality.

The thing that’s immediately obvious about the new edition is how much simpler it is. Following on from the rejuvenation of their Warhammer fanbase, and the success of Age of Sigmar, Games Workshop have applied what they’ve learned from that experience and ploughed it into their flagship game. Like AoS, the core rules will be free (and available for download from June 17th.) The new 40K core rules are slightly longer than the AoS rules and the basic turn sequence from the original game remains.

This is not the complete rules overhaul that the fantasy strand received, but more a simplification; a paring down of a rules system that had become bloated, with bolt-ons and addenda.

Datasheets rule the day. Much as AoS has its warscrolls, X-Wing has ship cards, and Batman Miniature Game has its hero cards, every unit or model has a datasheet. New boxes of miniatures will come with a datasheet to use in play.

It is, though, slightly disingenuous to say that the rules of the game are completely free, particularly if you are a legacy player. You’ll have to have datasheets for the models you want to use in play. Unlike AoS, these will not be free for existing models and units. They will be made available in five codexes (codices?), that will be released at the same time as the base game, priced $25 (£15) each. Games Workshop has promised that every existing model will be usable in the new system.

If you are completely new to the game, do not fear. You won’t have to buy anything else in order to start playing. The 8th Edition box is all you need (which as it’s $160 (£95), is probably a good job.)  The two opposing factions included in the box, have all their datasheets included. If you have no legacy figures, you don’t, at least for now, need to buy any other books.

Primaris Space Marines
Some of the new Primaris Marines. Assembled and ready for action. And Painting.

For those wondering, the box contains:

  • 53 Citadel Miniatures,
    • The new Primaris Space Marines:
      • 1 Captain.
      • 2 Lieutenants.
      • 1 Ancient.
      • 10 Intercessors.
      • 3 Inceptors.
      • 5 Hellblasters.
    • The Deathguard:
      • 1 Lord of Contagion.
      • 1 Noxious Brightbringer.
      • 1 Malignant Plaguecaster.
      • 7 Plague Marines.
      • 1 Foetid Bloat-drone.
      • 20 Poxwalkers.
  • 280-page Rulebook.
  • 24-page Primaris Space Marine booklet.
  • 24-page Death Guard booklet.
  • Range ruler.
  • 12 D6.
The Nurgle worshipping Death Guard.

On first impression, GW has perfectly balanced this box. The core rules are separate from the main rulebook, so you don’t have to worry about opening that before you play your first game (they are also included in the rulebook for completeness.) The instructions for putting the figures together are separate too and, on first glance, they are the clearest set of assembly instructions GW have produced.

The two armies included in the box, the new Primaris Space Marines and the Death Guard, each have their own books with some basic background about the forces, and those all important datasheets.

 

40k Primaris Marine size comparison
A new 8th Edition Primaris Marine, compared with a standard Marine from 7th ed.

The main rulebook, when you do open it, is a thing of beauty. Drawing on 30 years of world building, the rulebook and even the mini codex books are steeped in the lore and history of the Imperium. The book is filled with amazing artwork and breathtaking pictures of Citadel miniatures. It all inspires you to want to play. The first 170 pages of the 280-page book, is history and background. Read it, or don’t; it’s up to you.

The rule sections are devoted to GW’s “three ways to play;” Open, Narrative, or Matched. And after that, the rest of the book is essentially just missions and scenarios for you to use with whichever of the three ways you are using. There is one basic scenario, “Only War,” which is suggested for your first few games.  This isn’t included on the Core Rules card, which is perhaps an oversight as it does mean you’ll have to dig into the rule book to play your first game. (EDIT: The downloadable version of the core rules “Battle Primer” does include the Only War Mission)

One immediate improvement over Age of Sigmar is that each of new datasheets has a Power Rating. This is less specific than the traditional points values, that Warhammer games have used almost since its inception. Points values still exist for hardcore fans and matched play, but Power Rating is a soft approximation for games where players just bring a handful of units that they feel like playing that day. There are balance mechanisms in place to even out games where one player’s army is more powerful than another’s. This to me seems like the biggest things GW have learned from AoS. There was a huge railing against a lack of points when the game was introduced and something like a power rating would have greatly helped smooth the transition.

All in all, the game looks great. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be taking a look at it, to see if it fulfils its promise. Stay tuned both here and on our YouTube channel Agents of Sigmar. If you have any specific questions about the game, please ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Finally, for a bit of fun, here’s another of our unboxings that was unexpectedly hijacked…

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the came to preview and review. 

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