40K 8th Edition

How Is 40K 8th Edition Holding Up?

I feel by this point that 40K 8th edition has had time to air. It no longer has the airtight cellophane wrapper on it, the pages are getting worn, and that new book smell has vanished. So, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on 8th so far and see what you all think.

As always, this is the opinion of a non-competitive fluffy type. I’m not up on the netlists rocking the ITC scene or anything, only what I’ve seen and experienced.

The Core Rules

I really don’t have any major gripes with the core rules. In fact, the rules are damn near perfect in my opinion. Gone is the clutter of special rules, grey areas, exception after exception, etc. The rules are neat and tight under 8th and I like it.

There are, however, some problems I have.


Smite Psychic PowerGames Workshop is having us play test beta rules for Smite, so the issue is being addressed. The issue being nothing new to anyone playing 8th, just that Smite spam is a thing and it’s terribly dull.

What GW is testing is introducing a penalty of -1 to cast for each successive cast of Smite. So, first cast works on a 5, then 6, 7, 8, etc.

It’s something, but I’m not sure it goes far enough though. However, I will reserve judgement until I see it in action more. At least GW is trying to eliminate the abuse, and I commend them for it.

Deep Strike

While Deep Strike as a universal special rule no longer exists, any veteran of 40K knows what I’m talking about. The ability to leave a unit off the table at deployment to be brought in later, and more than 9″ from an enemy unit goes by many names now, but Deep Strike is what I’ll call it.

Deep Striking has become such a powerful feature that it’s used by most. I like the changes to how it works now, but it can be devastatingly brutal. A good list with lots of Deep Striking that gets first turn can lay down some serious pain. Like, so much hurt that their opponent is utterly crippled and the game all but concluded.

I feel that Deep Strike needs a similar penalty to what Games Workshop is testing with Smite. So, your first unit that Deep Strikes has to be more than 9″, the next more than 10″, then 11″, etc. Maybe instead of a 1″ penalty for each successive unit it’s 2″; just something that keeps half the enemy’s army from being on top of you first turn.

Which leads us to…

First Turn

A game of 8th, as mentioned above, can be over in the first turn. Between Deep Striking, powerful shooting in general, and first turn charges, going second can be defeat before you moved. That’s not fun.

Now, this has no easy answer but there is an answer. My solution wouldn’t happen in 8th, but it’s something I would love to see for 9th edition. My answer? Unit activations.

Unit by unit activation systems aren’t new, and anyone who plays anything other than a GW game will probably know it. So, instead of the whole “you go, I go” system that GW uses, a player performs their actions with a unit, then their opponent does a unit, then back to the first player, etc.

Doing an activation system would remove the potential pounding someone takes without recourse. It allows players to be more active in the game, no waiting 20 minutes for your turn, and allows players to play reactively in the moment. This would also make 40K more tactical than it is.

I could rattle on for a while about how awesome an activation system would be in 40K, but I’ll leave it at that.

The Codices

This is where things begin to get a bit sideways. As usual, the codices begin nice and smooth then BAM! A codex drops that changes the entire meta of the game. This edition has been no exception, though I’m not going to point fingers to sources as that’s not my intent.


My point here is more of a generalization about codices. I feel that GW really put down some great groundwork with 8th edition. It’s my favorite edition yet. However, I don’t want to see that shit over with codex creep.

I feel that powerful codices are far more easily spotted now that the core rules are so simple. All that complexity removed from the core rules has seemingly been pumped into each codex. While formations and decurions may be gone, between detachments, chapter/legion/hive fleet/whatever rules, unit special rules, relics, and stratagems there’s no shortage for abuse potential.

See, I feel like the GW said, “OK, let’s do a reset,” and they gave us 8th. However, they had second thoughts about it. To me this is most apparent with indexes and codices. I feel that once a codex comes out that whatever that army had in an index is now invalid. If it’s not in the codex then it’s no longer an option, period. I also feel that GW was going to take tow that line too until the community went up in arms about missing stuff. So, they backed down and let us run index options not available in a codex. They chickened out.

Codices are also a sign of their second thoughts on the reset. In short, there’s just some stuff we could do without in the face of the simplified rules of 8th. Instead, stuff has been crammed in, power levels jacked up, and the unbalance is well on its way – in my humble opinion.


Despite what it may sound like, I do like 8th edition. My first handful of games were amazingly fun. It felt like 40K. Yet, lately I’m having a hard time finding the motivation to play it. I’ve never been great at 40K, but I could usually hold my own. At the very least I could have fun. Now though, any slight mistake on my part tends to see my army torn apart and the game wrapped up by turn #3. I’m not enjoying it. Mostly I’ve been playing Blood Bowl and Shadespire.

I have hope though. With Games Workshop’s responsiveness in the community, and willingness to appease the masses, it may just be a matter of time before things get back on track.

Who knows? Maybe it’s just me that’s the problem, not the game?


How are you liking 8th edition at this point?

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40K Today
40K Today

Well we are about half way through the Codices, and I’d say the reigning Power Creep champ is still Chaos Space Marines, and they were like the 2nd Dex released. Next is IG and they were maybe 3rd? I don’t think GW has any 2nd thoughts about the reset, they’ve released a flood of books and their Stock Market numbers reflect enormous sales.

Combos were part of the game by design, however I do think there is a possible design flaw that can be exploited in the form of Stratagems from one codex being applied to units in detachments outside that codex. For example Aliatoc Guardians in a Ynarri detachment, alongside an Aliatoc Detachment, the player can use Aliatoc Stratagems on that Ynarri Aliatoc Guardians. Its situations like that where GW could get burned.


They have via FAQ been addressing some of those cross codes Steategem issues. For example Tyranids all were keyed to TYRANID keyword shared with all of Genestealer cult. They FAQ’d them to apply to (Hive Fleet) Tyranids only.

40K Today
40K Today

Just thinking on 40k 8e, and your “activations” idea. In the Combat phase, after a player handles all their charging units, it does seem like GW did give players a softball version of Activations. Could be a precursor to introducing it to other phases


Overall I am still really happy with 8th. There are a couple of frustrating things, but really the game is going to stay fresh and we are going to be finding combos for a long time. Right from the beginning I did feel like 8th was going to expand the gap between casuals and “students” of the game in a way that previous editions did not. But as any experienced MtG player would tell you that’s not a bad thing. Magic has been that way for over 20 years and is still going strong. I think the key is finding ways to play that fit more with what you want from the game. If, as a casual player, all you do is constantly play to the monthly tournament, you are of course going to have to deal with others trying to be competetive, who try to run armies that crush their opponents and/or maximize points. More then ever I think it might be time to set up narrative and campaign games. My son and I have started doing that, even playing with handicaps, it is a lot of fun!


I’ve gotten way more into it since more of my Armies got Codexes. It was pretty slow around here over the summer, but it’s picked up since then. Nids can be so much fun now, and I’m really looking forward to diving into combined CSM/Daemon lists. Really hoping Tau, Crons, SW, and DE get similar boosts.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Index/Codex decision. I’ve been playing for long enough that I have a *lot* of Models that are not currently buildable from a single kit, and thus left out of the new Codexes. I’m very happy that they let me continue doing things like giving my Plague Marine Champions Combi-Weapons, and using my JuggerLord in my Khorne lists, and using all those Dreadnaught Autocannon Arms I got from Forgeworld, and the dual Flamer Speeders I converted.

Honestly, my biggest problem* with 8th is that I can’t play as often as I’d like. 40K is really hard on my back, and it’s been giving me a lot of trouble over the past few months.

*Not the only one. I would really prefer a lower damage:durability ratio across the board, for instance. But my back is the only problem big enough that it actually stops me from playing.


I think we are on fairly well trodden ground here, but here goes… again…

Whats wrong with 8th for me is the loss of many elements that gave tactical depth, cinematic gameplay, or both.

Templates really felt like an explosion/flamethrower, and had a lot of tactical depth. you could force people to bunch up through tank strike, through combat and hit them with templates plus they’d have to chose whether to spread out or shoot after deep striking, whether to park vehicles too close together or bunch up infantry. It made positioning far more important.

The vehicle damage chart and the old AV/S system made weapons feel much more different to each other. Some weapons were more likely to cause an explosion and that changed your target priority. It also made for some tactical depth, suicide attacking with a meltagun could blow up a vehicle in one hit, that made looking after your vehicles with infantry screens more important and made the game more cinematic. Target priority and shooting order is much less important now.

Scatter and deep strike meant you could, if you wanted, try some really tight deep strikes that were risky but could be game changing. You had to make calculations and judge the risk, now its just automatic. Boring. Also when shooting template weapons scatter meant there was a risk you might hit your own troops, made for some great fun moments but also again added tactical depth as you had to think about the risk.

The old armour facings really gave you a reason to outflank or try to get rear shots on vehicles. Also made vehicles feel different to each other. Likewise vehicle fire arcs added realism but also opened up tactics, you could hide behind a vindicator in a tight space and it couldn’t shoot you (just like the great scenes in Kelly’s Heroes where Oddball’s sherman gets behind the Tiger). Casualty removal from closest to the firer added tactics as you had to think about where your minis were and also you could use flanking or rear shots to kill important members of an opposition squad.

Then there are all the silly rules that make 8th feel dumb, like shooting at/from banners, plasma weapons being more likely to explode when firing at a hard to hit target/in the dark etc, being behind a building not giving you cover, flamers being good Anti Aircraft weapons, not being able to shoot at a character stood right out in the open in front of you if a concealed target is 1mm closer behind you…

8th is so killy that missions have become irrelevant, everyone just plays to wipe out their opponent. More games end in a wipe out now which isn’t fun, and the Alpha Strike issue is just huge with many games decided on the roll for first turn. Army building rules in 8th are ludicrous and just lead to rock/paper/scissor games where the lists decide who wins before the first dice is rolled. I remember the days of 5th and 6th whre ‘take all comers’ armies were viable because spamming was so much harder. Because 8th is all about bubbles people just build bubble stars and clump their whole army into a 12″ circle!

I could just go on and on to be honest.

7th had issues, formations that gave free stuff, invisibility, death stars etc. Some things were over complicated. But if you talked to your opponent you could have a great game, the core rules were really fun and the army building rules allowed fluffy forces.

8th on the other hand feels unfun however much talking you do before the game, So many fun rules and cinematic things taken out and so much stupidity put in. Bah. I hate it.


you won’t regret going HH. Its so much better.

Kenneth Raymond

I am generally enjoying playing 8th edition, however speaking of criminally undercosted and overly powerful models we have Forgeworlds sicaran battle tank. (which was given a frigging points cut in chapter approved. It needed an increase not a cut.)
We have a guy in our group who uses a 30k derived list (he used the SM codex to use them in 8th edition) and this damned thing chews through anything he points it at.
Comparing it to a predator destructor with lascanon sponsons its 25 pts more for the sicaran with the same sponsons, it has an 8 shot main weapon (Assault 8 mind with D2 same str and ap as pred autocannon, with pseudo rending as a bonus), a heavy bolter, 3 more wounds and its faster…

Dave Weston

My issue relates to the first turn issues. Games are now bigger with 2,000pts standard, sure we can play smaller games but preparing for tournaments means you have to go with the standard. So after you paint all these models, take them to your mates house/FLG, remove them from their transport cases, set them up on the battlefield and half of them can be dead by the end of the first turn and that usually takes 30-45 minutes.


Nice list of your thoughts on 8th edition.

I agree with you on Smite spam. I’ve played it twice so far in 8th edition and it was the most obnoxious and un-fun games of 40k so far. I’m not sure the beta rules go far enough, but at least it is better than nothing.

The first turn alpha-strike can be brutal and quite demoralising in some games. I think the type of mission helps with this. I’ve not tried the new ITC missions, but apparently they do benefit from going second in a lot of them, as it allows you to counteract your opponent and try to maximise your score.

The reserves issue can be pretty tough as well, especially if your army does not have access to cheap screening units. In one of my first games of tournament 8th editon, I had four units of Scions with Plasma guns come in on turn 1 and pretty much decimate my Deathwatch army. The game was over turn 1 and was not a lot of fun.


I wholly agree with most points, though I think the First Turn problem can be ameliorated by a 50% increase to all weapons. People keep saying LoS-blockers, which helps, but that shifts the advantage to mobile forces, like Eldar, rather than the IG.

I don’t think Deep Striking is such a problem either. My experience is probably different as I play a unit of 40 Cultists which infiltrates and wrecks any decent Deep Strike. I once forced a GK player to Deep Strike in his own DZ doing that, and totally wrecked my Tyranid opponent’s deployment as well in my last game. If you have cheap units that can take up space, it should not be a problem.

The Burning Eye

Of you want to avoid stuff getting hammered first turn, use more scenery to block line of sight, it’s a big factor! If you can’t see something you can’t kill it, more restricted firing lanes = more tactical movement and less stuff dying.

Spectre Senence

Another great article. I agree with a lot of your points. It’s been GW model for so long they seem afraid to try something new. I see from codices the command point retrieval after using. I loved them before knowing it was limited effect and was depending on good army builds with structure. But being able to reuse they same command point, pretty lame. I see a lot of replies about GW small games and they have recaptured that old magic with them. I play Necromunda, Blood Bowl, and Shadespire and they have hit that niche.
But if you ever what to try another game system let me know!


I’m enjoying 8th in general. The faster, simpler rule set makes the games more enjoyable. I sort of like the mystery of not knowing every single Stratagem.

My only frustration is that the meta has shifted to piling on as many AP -3 shots as possible on every model and unit that you can. That means the only weapon options you see now are plasma and lascannon. Or you just throw fifty billion small shots. Melta is dead, power fists are dead, etc. Armies are very bland now.

Don’t get me started on every army now regenerating CP at the drop of a hat. That’s the broken shit right there.


I agree with all your points on 8th ed. I was super excited when it was released as I was fed up of 7th and had pretty much stopped playing. Pretty rapidly though I had a nasty shock as the glamour wore off.
I have played quite a few games now, and have got to the stage of enjoying it again, but there were a lot of swings in the middle. Luckily I play quite a few other systems so I switch around alot, which means my games of 40k are more of a pick up, so I am not so invested in it anymore

Stealthy Stealth

Hey Thor,

I will throw in my 2 cents. What I always like about this is statement is people always follow it with “for what its worth”. 2 cents really? How about something with value.

Okay my experience with 8th. When 8th launched I was on the edge of putting the dice down for awhile. I really disliked 7th edition. So when 8th dropped I heard it was “balanced” so I got out my orks. And found out they sucked. At least the models I wanted to play with, really didn’t make work.

So Walls actually talked me into playing guard. I already had the army and I was on the edge of selling it. So before selling it, I thought I will get in a couple of games. I had a blast. I really enjoyed the codex, the fluff and preparing for the standoff. After the standoff I started working on Eldar. Not what you would think of as a power dex right now. However I always wanted to build an Ulthway force. Guardian spam was one of my favorite builds in the DOW video game. So I wanted to rebuild that.

Once again I am having a blast. So what changed? When I was playing my Orks I was playing my game. However I really wasn’t enteracting with 8th edition. I honestly don’t think I can make an army with Index Orks and enjoy 8th. I think I will spend the whole game being frustrated.

Now with the mindset of playing 8th. I don’t expect my Eldar to be the beat stick the IG was. However if I can win 1/2 my games ish. I will be happy. I don’t like to always lose. I don’t think anyone does.

I recommend hitting the reset button. XRG has a build up league coming. That could be a good chance to start something new. Even if that new is a fresh look at the chaos. Your builds haven’t changed to much since 6th. Little tweaks here or there. I know that you have a standard for painting and that slows your roll. Maybe just table top quality some stuff. Then tweak overtime.

Also I will throw this out there. If you want to borrow my guard for awhile, I don’t have a problem with it.

Hit the reset button.

Tim De Freitas
Tim De Freitas

Smite: I agree that smite is boring but nerfing smite is tackling the symptom not the problem. The problem is invulnerable saves which are GW’s lazy way of making bad units good. Only reason I smite spam is to overcome my opponent spamming invuln saves.

Deep Strike: Nothing wrong with these rules at the moment. Making a 9″ charge on 2D6 is difficult. Making this more difficult would further hurt melee armies. Why should at trygon be penalised but blobs of tanks with lascannons sitting 48″ away raining down hell is acceptable. I think the real problem is ranged weapons’ ranges are too big. If i didn’t have to soak up 3 turns of running into T’au basic infantry that for some reason can shoot 32-40″, perhaps I would be less inclined to deep strike.

Power Creep: This is something that is getting worse. Old GW may be on the rise.

Alternate activations: Agree. This would solve the above issues.


bring back armour facings