A Grimmer, Darker Future hits for Warhammer 40k
The universe of Warhammer 40K has always been over the top, but if Games Workshop are to be believed the grim darkness of the far future has gotten even grimmer and even darker than ever.
This may sound like the hype that comes along with every new version of the game, but eighth edition probably represents the biggest leap forward for the 40k universe since it started some three decades ago, both in lore and gameplay terms.
As far as the plot goes, everything is being shaken up as the entire galaxy trembles under the weight of invasions, crusades and psychic disasters. While this is definitely a significant shift, however, it’s not quite on the apocalyptic scale that completely reshaped the Warhammer Fantasy world. Things have been advanced, but not torn up.
“The advancement in the background and rules came along simultaneously,” says Games Workshop’s Book & Box Games Manager Pete Foley. “We agree with people that the 40k background had become a little stale, a little predictable, so we wanted to shake things up.”
Some of the most significant changes have come in with the movement phase of the game, which has been almost completely reworked. Each unit has its own movement values, representing a return to older editions.
Foley says that this is designed to make the myriad units of the game feel more distinct – it’s both tactically and thematically appropriate for heavily armoured terminator troops tromp their way across the battlefield at a glacial pace while nimble Eldar nip across it at a run.
Elsewhere, many of the biggest changes have been designed around removing ‘all or nothing mechanics.’ For example, armour saves are no longer a static value that you either get or you don’t. Instead, different weapons reduce a model’s save depending on their ability to cut through armour, so a basic bolter may simply chip away at the save while a plasma gun will force power-armoured Space Marines to save on a 6+.
Similarly, every unit in the game will be able to damage every other unit in the game. With a bit of luck, even the weak weapons of standard human troops will be able to grind down the most powerful of tanks if they pour enough firepower into it.
‘We think that all these changes mean that this is the most balanced version of the game that we have created,” says Foley.
One of the major changes to the new version of ‘Chapter Approved’. This is envisioned as the equivalent of the General’s Handbook introduced in Games Workshop’s Age of Sigmar game, and will allow the company to develop the game as time goes on. Everything from updated rules to new ways to play the game will be released through the Chapter Approved books.
“This is where you’ll see new ideas, as well as new versions of things like the Apocalypse system,” explains Smiley. “It will be released every year, though it we’ll be trying to keep it reasonably priced so it’ll be softback.
“One of the biggest lessons we took from Age of Sigmar was getting community feedback. We asked people throughout the community to contribute to the game, and that really helped us to hone it. That’s something we wanted to fold into 40k.”
The first test of the new Warhammer Community will come with the 2017 summer campaign – ‘Fate of Konor’. This sees a vital section of the galaxy be consumed by a war between the Imperium of Man and the forces of Chaos, with various alien races sticking their oar in where they can.
Each faction will able to fight over the worlds and decide the fate of various worlds when the campaign is launched on 27 July, while the 8th edition of Warhammer 40k is available for preorder now.