A new edition of Warhammer 40K is coming next month. I never thought I’d see the day when I was truly excited about Games Workshop again. I love their minis, and I enjoy the simultaneously over-the-top and grimdark nature of the 40K universe. But I’ve always found the rules to be byzantine and clunky. And in terms of acting like a company that values its customers and fans by respecting and engaging with them, I’ve always found Games Workshop to be… lacking.
For the last several years, I’ve enjoyed their products almost exclusively as a collector, not actually playing any of their games. A few months ago I started gearing up to play again. While I did add quite a few new minis to my ork and ‘nid armies and even acquired some Blood Angels, I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t made the move from collecting to playing.
There are a few factors contributing to this, but the biggest obstacle to me actually playing 40K is the rules. I’m no slouch when it comes to learning games, even complicated ones. Between boardgames, RPGs, and various other miniatures games, I have quite a bit of experience with learning new games, even complex ones. I even did play 40K at one point several years ago. But despite my interest and desire to throw down with my 40K armies, the hurdle of trying to get back into it was something I haven’t been able to overcome. I simply didn’t feel like investing the time required to re-learn the rules to this game when there are so many better ones out there.
But I think this may change with the new edition, for several reasons. Contrary to what was a reasonable assumption, Games Workshop is not going the Age of Sigmar route, blowing up the 40K universe and starting over; but the storyline is advancing in significant ways. More importantly, the various previews of the upcoming rules indicate that some of the more egregious gameplay problems seen in recent editions are being fixed. On top of that, it seems that many of the mechanics are being streamlined and modernized. Finally, everything I’ve read about 8th edition has made me optimistic about the barrier to entry being lowered by simplifying (but not dumbing-down) the rules.
There have been many signs of positive changes with Games Workshop itself as well for the past several months to a year. The fact that there is even a buildup to the release of 8th edition is remarkable. They’re still being coy about the exact release date, but the fact that they announced it ahead of time rather than just having it show up the day of release after months of rumors and speculation represents a major change in how they operate. Games Workshop has also finally entered into the modern age, becoming more transparent and actively engaging with fans using social media. Everything they’re doing now would have been inconceivable two years ago.
The modernization of the 40K game mechanics and Games Workshop as a company is truly a momentous event for miniature gaming. The undeserved loyalty of longsuffering fans is being rewarded. The miniatures are still awesome and expensive, and the new game will have its flaws, but I’m excited and hopeful about what the future will bring — next month for 40K, and then beyond, not just for Games Workshop, but for the larger miniature and tabletop gaming community.
Oh, and I’m also feeling the desire to check out Age of Sigmar now as well.