Alright kiddie-winks, for this review we are going to be playing a little game. Whenever you read any praise for the new 7th edition of Warhammer 40,000, however grudging, I want you to mentally add the caveat: ‘But it doesn’t excuse Games Workshop for putting out a new edition before the last one has even cooled.’ This should save me a lot of needless repetition and the pilot I had booked to write it in 100ft tall letters in the sky was too expensive.
Anyway, the new edition of Warhammer 40k is actually rather good –
…well done for remembering – by which I mean that 6th edition was pretty good and this one is almost exactly the same save for one big change and a couple of very minor ones. The usual worry that your current army book will become cripplingly obsolete after the first of the new edition books congeals from the great teats of GW’s malformed mammaries probably won’t be an issue.
The 7th edition rulebook dispenses with previous editions’ problem of being large enough to affect the tides and pervert the laws of gravity by splitting into three slightly smaller books with large print and even larger pictures. There’s the fluff bible ‘Dark Millennium’, the appropriately named ‘The Rules’ and ‘A Galaxy at War’ which comprises all the rejected white dwarf articles and photo galleries you’ll look at once and never open again. All three are full colour and hardbound to easily settle arguments as you snap them shut with an air of finality or slam them down with a boom of frustration.
Of course the rules are the really important part, open up the book and you’ll find them neatly set out with clear headings in a way that anyone who has never tried to read the Infinity rule books will take for granted. Each section is set out as you would probably come across them while playing and the most important points are emboldened for ease of reference. The section on Universal Special Rules has also been moved from the middle to the back of the book with the rest of the reference pages.
The Big Change of this edition is the (re)introduction of a dedicated Psychic Phase. Psychic units are now firmly a thing and unlike the flyers of last edition they are not an essential feature. ‘Psykers’ are now far closer to their wizardly Warhammer Fantasy counterparts than before with a wide selection of powers available to them and two new specialisations: Sanctic and Malefic Daemonology. The method of casting these powers has moved in the direction of 40ks sister game with the introduction of a power dice pool – each phase both sides get D6 dice in the pool plus some extras generated by their psykers. These power dice are then used to cast psychic powers or nullify them. Miscasts (or ‘Perils of the Warp’ as GW calls them in their grim determination to use 100 words when only one is necessary) only occur if two power dice roll a 6 which makes the bigger spells a greater risk to cast. The effects of the miscasts are also much nastier than the old instant nosebleeds so the dangers of cocking things up should always be a niggle should you dare use too many power dice at once.
There are other additions to the rules of course, not even the fantastic arrogance of Games Workshop is quite ready to become the EA of the miniatures world. Last years Escalation and Stronghold Assault supplement books have had vast swathes of their rules transplanted into the main rulebook. The Force Organisation Chart – a staple of the game since the sepia toned days of 3rd edition and ensured you’d never come across an opponent with 14 giant mecha-spiders – has become more of a suggestion than a solid rule. An ‘Unbound’ army doesn’t have to conform to your rules, man. All that matters is points value and so it is now entirely possible to have that Tyranid Hive Tyrant you bought for the pretty model swaggering into battle with your Imperial Guard, presumably after promising not to snack on the Ratlings again. There are some bonuses if you stick to the old ways, but in all honesty they don’t really seem worth getting 7 Tau Riptide Battlesuits in the face.
There are quite a few minor changes to some old rules that could have a big effect on your play style, for example a unit can only use a single grenade per phase, which neatly stops whole squads armed with anti-tank bombs charging at the tanks – a tactic I have always found more effective than conventional shooting.
Now lets boil this review down to the big question: ‘Should you buy it?’ Its a question I don’t think I can answer easily. If you are part of a games club and everybody else is buying then yes I suppose so. If, however, everybody you know is wisely on the fence and just waiting for someone else to buy. If you don’t have huge amounts of excess cash to throw at an overpriced book. And if you have a problem with a games company on whose products you have already spent hundreds, even thousands, of pounds/dollars/shiny pebbles, shown nothing, but brand loyalty and dreamed of becoming a small part of, deciding that less than two years is a perfectly reasonable shelf life for an unnecessarily expensive pamphlet then no. Don’t buy this book. Put it down on the ground and walk away.
Find another miniatures game, there are plenty of them of varying scales to choose from. Look into Warmachine, Infinity or Malifaux – they’ll all cost you far less than a GW game to start collecting and none of them are suffering from increasingly dreary and humourless fluff.
I used to be a great fan of Warhammer 40,000 but in the last few years they have descended from the classic ‘made for players, by players’ mindset into the depths of taking the piss with more gusto than a ports-loo sewage truck. The rulebook itself is pretty nice and the rules inside are alright, but the company behind it who will be taking your money are going to drive the entire hobby into the ground at the same rate as they jack their prices into orbit.
So upon the day, in a couple of years, when the 18th edition of Warhammer 40,000 is prematurely ejaculated as a sticky mess into stores and a single Space Marine Captain model costs enough to feed your family for a year, the Sisters of Battle still won’t have had a proper army book. When that day comes I just want you to remember that I fucking called it.