The Failed History of Warhammer 40k 10th Edition…so far

by | Jun 28, 2023

Warning: Mega Rant Incoming! Don’t read if you feel like your inner GW White Knight will come out…

By now, everyone should have in their hands, all the new goodies that the release of Warhammer 40k 10th edition has had to offer so far. The excitement and hope for the new edition when it was announced can now finally be put to the test in the harsh cold of reality. It is safe to say that reality has so far been a punk-ass trick, at least when it comes to the competitive community’s reaction to the launch. It is safe to say that Games Workshop, unfortunately, created a monster thanks to a hype train that careened into a cavern of chutzpah.

Leaving us today where Games Workshop has released a broken game, thanks to the constant design idiocy that lacks even a LeapFrog level of game design comprehension, coupled with the short-term memory of a lemming faced with a cliff. Now we live in a world where Titanic units can see everything, Indirect Fire is broken again, Mortal Wounds are a problem again, turning off saves might be an issue, cover and line of sight interactions are confusing, how does Assault work again, Anti-x counting as Critical Wounds, half the Battleshock abilities don’t function, tears of Overwatch, Lone Operative shenanigans, and so on. That doesn’t even begin to discuss other related issues like Forge World Legends units or the mistakes/obsolescence of the new Datasheet Cards. Then we have GW marketing, who, if they didn’t promote Warhammer 40k 10th edition like a ChatGPT Verhoeven ad agency, might have a better shot at dealing with there current doom spiral.

Let’s start by looking at where the seeds of sanctimony began…

Our first hint came back on March 23rd when we got the official tagline for the new edition, which was playtested to be “simplified – but it’s not simple”. I can imagine the team’s vainglory when they came up with the line, straight out of Mad Men, but replace the 60s nostalgia for, plastic glue, back hair, and cheap polo shirts. As it turns out, while we seem to have fewer rules, still if you don’t proofread or apply the lessons you’ve learned over the last few years, you can quickly go from simplified to simping in a matter of seconds. It is also really damn easy to say you’ve made things simplified when you do a full reset without the pearl necklace of codexes tied around your neck. Speaking of codexes? Well, guess what? Thanks to interviews like this one we should expect more rules bloat, with more strategies, enhancements, and detachments in no time.

Next we come to April 7th and the now-infamous statement that “Re-rolls are significantly less common,” while talking about Space Marines getting all the re-rolls. Quickly, this turned into a sad panda self-parody, as every new reveal progressively showcased units or armies with more and more re-rolls. I guess you can ask, “What does GW really mean by ‘significantly’ or ‘less’?” but I’d rather not play the game of semantic patty-cake with the current Warhammer Community word generator.

Moving on to May 5th, the one shred of hope that the game will be fixed soon has become this lie: “There will be a digital and routinely updated GT pack from Day 1 of the new edition.” We all know time moves slower for Games Workshop, but we are well past the Day 1 GT pack release that never came. I suggest no one hold out hope for this as some sort of panacea. The packet appears to provide instructions for tournament organizers on how to improve events through predefined missions and deployments only. Perhaps we haven’t received this packet because Games Workshop is currently scrambling to fix everything and incorporate it into the game to make it playable. This maybe, is a maybe like Taylor Swift will make a song about me when we date and break up.

Then, on May 18th we received a forewarning of things to come with the announcement of which old models for 10th edition will be crucified for match play. To be honest, most players, including myself, don’t have an issue with Games Workshop’s decision not to support unproduced models with rules. It can create confusion, and they want us to focus on the new and currently available stuff anyway. However, on June 1st, a cry that could light a thousand Meido Kissatens was unleashed when it became apparent almost all wonderful new Horus Heresy vehicles and nonsensically Chaos Space Marine units that aren’t even from the Horus Heresy would not have match play rules in Warhammer 40k 10th edition.

The reason for this was…

Balance is really important for many players, and us too – especially for competitive events. You’ve probably noticed that the Warhammer: The Horus Heresy range has been expanding recently, and will continue to do so. This means that Space Marines armies in Warhammer 40,000 (who are already, let’s be honest, spoiled for choice) have been receiving even MORE options to pick from, and balancing this ever increasing range of miniatures for competitive games has become unwieldy.

Yes, Space Marines have too many units we get it, but no that is not why they are not providing rules for match play. They are doing it for “balance”?! This has to be some James Franco Disaster Artist-level satire that has been flattened by a space-time anomaly into a dimension of stupidity. Firstly, as Warhammer 40k 10th edition has already demonstrated, balance isn’t really a priority; incompetence is. Secondly, this excuse doesn’t address the exclusion of non-Horus Heresy Chaos Space Marine units. Chaos Marines have only a fraction of the units that Space Marines have, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to copy and paste the Space Marine Drop Pod rules onto say the Dreadclaw, or the Brutalis Dreadnought rules onto Decimators. And why is it that Space Marines get Thunderhawks while Chaos doesn’t?

Games Workshop would have been better off simply providing no rules without giving a reason. I suspect that once the bean counters start noticing a decline in Heresy model sales, the rules team might be compelled to stop being lazy and actually create some match play rules. Continuing, on June 16th, GW attempted a pitiful clarification with the Rules Commentary, an 18-page endeavor that completes the circle of shame when it comes to the simplification, though far from being simple trope. I’m sure soon enough, we’ll be back to the “Forge the Narrative” tagline, presented as the new and improved solution.

This brings us to the present day, where the competitive community is struggling to make Warhammer 40k 10th edition playable. Games Workshop, as the miniature monopoly, can afford to ignore the situation. Leaving events left to reverting to the Dark Ages of 6th-7th edition, relying on house rules and hoping for the best. The current Games Workshop rules team has been listening to playtesters and the community since as early as 2016. However, despite their efforts, 10th edition has taken several significant steps backward. Although there is potential for a great game, the ambition they aimed for lacked the basic proofreading skills to avoid many of the problems we see today.

I urge you to revisit the video interview I linked above to gain a sense of one possible reason behind this dumpster fire. They have been working on 10th edition for two years, which means they started moving on from 9th edition after just one year into release. This partially explains why they decided to stick with outdated interactions for certain units and factions. It’s as if they didn’t even glance at the balance dataslates released in the past two years to prevent interactions that should never happen again. It’s clear that the rules team doesn’t check each other’s work either thoroughly. You can easily imagine how each member gets certain parts, factions, and rules without a good peer review system in place to fix problems. This leads to people like Stu Black running around in interviews, talking out the side of his mouth, while plausibly having no clue how broken parts of Warhammer 40k 10th edition are. Then, there’s the issue of the printing press. Things like codexes and rules have to be put to print at least half a year in advance, which means a rules lag is commonplace and almost every release becomes obsolete by the time you get it in your hands.

Making games and rules is tough, but this is Games Workshop’s 10th attempt at it, and you would think they would be just a tad bit better by this point. I’m sure everyone worked their asses off, but if it’s not the people making the rules themselves, it has to be management or the GW company structure that is failing them by allowing this abomination of an edition to be released. On the bright side, we do know that Games Workshop will eventually address the issues, but that might not be until everyone has already bought all those new soon-to-be useless Datacards. It just sucks to not have a playable match play game out of the box, and by the time it is fixed, the always “balanced” codexes will be just around the corner.

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