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Warhammer 40,000 (14430 views - Game & Play & Gamification)

Warhammer 40,000 is a miniature wargame created by Rick Priestley and produced by Games Workshop. The first edition of the rulebook was published in October 1987; the latest edition is the eighth, which was published in June 2017. As in other miniature wargames, players enact a battle between opposing forces using miniature figurines of warriors and models of fighting vehicles. The playing area is a tabletop model of a battlefield, comprising models of buildings, hills, trees, and other terrain features. Players take turns moving their model warriors and vehicles around the battlefield and pretend the models are fighting each other. The outcome of each fight between the models is resolved through a combination of dice rolls and simple arithmetic. Warhammer 40,000 is set in the distant future, where a stagnant human civilization is beset by hostile aliens and malevolent supernatural creatures. The models in the game are a mixture of humans, aliens, and supernatural monsters, wielding futuristic weaponry and magical powers. Warhammer 40,000 is one of the most popular miniature wargames in the world. It has spawned a number of spin-off tabletop games. These include Battlefleet Gothic, which simulates spaceship combat; and Space Hulk, which simulates indoors combat. It has also spawned a large number of video games, such as the Dawn of War series. Finally, it has spawned a large body of novels and comic books, which develop the fictional setting in detail.
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Warhammer 40,000

Warhammer 40,000

Warhammer 40,000
Manufacturer(s)Games Workshop, Citadel Miniatures, Forge World
Years active1987–present
Setup time5–30+ minutes
Playing time1–6+ hours
Random chanceMedium (dice rolling)
Skill(s) requiredStrategic thinking, arithmetic, miniature painting

Warhammer 40,000[a] is a miniature wargame created by Rick Priestley and produced by Games Workshop. The first edition of the rulebook was published in October 1987; the latest edition is the eighth, which was published in June 2017.

As in other miniature wargames, players enact a battle between opposing forces using miniature figurines of warriors and models of fighting vehicles. The playing area is a tabletop model of a battlefield, comprising models of buildings, hills, trees, and other terrain features. Players take turns moving their model warriors and vehicles around the battlefield and pretend the models are fighting each other. The outcome of each fight between the models is resolved through a combination of dice rolls and simple arithmetic.

Warhammer 40,000 is set in the distant future, where a stagnant human civilization is beset by hostile aliens and malevolent supernatural creatures. The models in the game are a mixture of humans, aliens, and supernatural monsters, wielding futuristic weaponry and magical powers.

Warhammer 40,000 is one of the most popular miniature wargames in the world.[1][2] It has spawned a number of spin-off tabletop games. These include Battlefleet Gothic, which simulates spaceship combat; and Space Hulk, which simulates indoors combat. It has also spawned a large number of video games, such as the Dawn of War series. Finally, it has spawned a large body of novels and comic books, which develop the fictional setting in detail.


The rulebooks and models required to play Warhammer 40,000 are copyrighted and sold exclusively by Games Workshop and its subsidiaries. These and other materials (dice, measuring tools, glue, paints, etc.) all make Warhammer 40,000 expensive as far as gaming hobbies go. A new player can expect to spend at least $500 to assemble enough materials for a "proper" game.[3][4]

Playing field

Warhammer 40,000 is meant to be played on a tabletop. In contrast to board games, Warhammer 40,000 does not have a fixed playing field. Players are expected to construct their own custom-made playing field using modular terrain models. Games Workshop sells a variety of proprietary terrain models, but players often use generic or homemade ones too. The table should be about four feet by six feet.[5] Unlike certain other miniature wargames (such as Battletech), Warhammer 40,000 does not use a grid system. Players must use measuring tape (and templates in older versions) to measure distances. Distances are measured in inches.

Miniature models

Games Workshop sells a large variety of plastic and resin models for Warhammer 40,000. Games Workshop doesn't sell ready-to-play models. Rather, it sells boxes of model parts. Players are expected to assemble and paint the miniatures themselves. Games Workshop also sells glue, tools, and acrylic paints for this purpose.

Each miniature model represents an individual warrior or vehicle. In the rulebooks, there is an entry for every type of model in the game that describes its capabilities. For instance, a model of a Tactical Space Marine has a "Move characteristic" of 6 inches, a "Toughness characteristic" of 4, and is armed with a "boltgun" with a range of 24 inches.


Officially, Warhammer 40,000 does not have a fixed scale, but the models approximate to a scale ratio of 1:60 (ie 1 inch represents 60 inches).[6] For instance, a Land Raider tank model is 17cm long but conceptually 10.3m long. A Space Marine model is about 34mm tall.


Note: The overview here references the 8th edition of the core rulebook, published June 2017

Assembling armies

Models are classified into "factions". In a matched game, a player can only use warrior models that are all loyal to a common faction, such as "Imperium" or "Chaos".[7] Thus, a player cannot, for example, use a mixture of Eldar and Ork models. Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses due to the warriors and weapons it has access to. For instance, the Tau faction favors ranged combat because its army does not have many melee units.

The players must agree as to what "points limit" they will play at, which roughly determines how big and powerful their respective armies will be. Each model has a "point value" which roughly corresponds to how powerful the model is, e.g. a Tactical Space Marine is valued at 13 points, whereas a Land Raider tank is valued at 239 points.[8] The sum of the point values of a player's models must not exceed his agreed limit. 1,000 to 2,000 points are common point limits.

At the start of a game, each player places his models in starting zones at opposite ends of the playing field.

Moving and attacking

At the start of his turn, a player moves each model in his army by hand across the field. A model can be moved no farther than its listed "Move characteristic". For instance, a model of a Space Marine can be moved no farther than six inches per turn. If a model cannot fly, it must go around obstacles such as walls and trees.

Models are grouped into "units". They move, attack, and suffer damage as a unit. All models in a unit must stay close to each other; each model in a unit must finish a turn within two inches horizontally and six inches vertically of another model from the unit.

After moving, each unit can attack any enemy unit within range and line-of-fire of whatever weapons and psychic powers its models have. For instance, a unit of Space Marines armed with boltguns can shoot any enemy unit within 24 inches. The attacking player rolls dice to determine how much imaginary damage his models inflicted on the enemy unit. The attacking player cannot target individual models within an enemy unit; if an enemy unit suffers damage, the enemy player decides which models in the unit suffered injury.[9] Damage is measured in points, and if a model suffers more points of damage than its "Wound characteristic" permits, it dies. A model of a "dead" infantry unit is removed from the playing field. Disabled vehicles are left on the field (and turned upside down), and serve as obstacles for surviving models.

Victory conditions

Victory depends on what kind of "mission" the players choose for their game. It might involve exterminating the enemy, or holding a location on the field for a certain length of time, or retaining possession of a "relic" for a certain length of time.


Warhammer 40,000 is set mostly in the 41st millennium (roughly 38,000 years in the future). Although Warhammer 40,000 is mostly a science-fiction setting, it also adapts a number of tropes from Tolkien-esque fantasy fiction, such as magic, supernatural beings, daemonic possession, and races such as Orks and Elves; "psykers" fill the role of wizards in the setting.

The setting of Warhammer 40,000 is violent and pessimistic. It depicts a future where human scientific and social progress have ceased, and human civilization is close to being destroyed due to war with hostile alien races and occult forces. It is a setting where the supernatural is usually untrustworthy if not downright malevolent. There are no benevolent gods or spirits in the cosmos, only daemons and evil gods, and the cults dedicated to them are growing.

Because the setting of Warhammer 40,000 is based on a wargame, the spin-off novels and comic books are mostly war dramas, and the protagonists are usually warriors of some sort (the most popular are the Space Marines). A key theme of the setting is that the galaxy is overwhelmed by war. Every planet in the Imperium of Man is either a warzone or heavily burdened by wartime taxation, and civil liberties are heavily curtailed in the name of security.

The setting is, by the admission of its own writers, deliberately absurd and hyperbolic. This, for instance, applies to the scale. The Imperium of Man has lasted 10,000 years (older than any historical human civilization), controls roughly a million planets, and has a population that likely numbers in the quadrillions. The armaments and tactics seen in the setting are equally nonsensical, such as the heavy usage of melee weaponry, war machines that tower hundreds of feet above the ground (and thus make easy targets for artillery), and magic-users who place curses on their foes.

The source of magic in the setting is a parallel dimension of psychic energy known as "the Warp". All living creatures have a psychic link to this place, but certain individuals called "psykers" have an especially strong link and can manipulate its energy to work magic. Psykers are generally feared and mistrusted by humans, and with good reason. Firstly, psykers can possess many dangerous abilities such as mind control, clairvoyance, and pyrokinesis, and thus they need to be policed carefully. Secondly, the Warp is full of predatory creatures who might use a psyker as a conduit by which to invade realspace. Because of this, psykers must be trained to control their abilities and resist Warp predators. Those who fail or reject this training are executed for the safety of all. Those who pass their training are pressed into life-long servitude to the state and are closely monitored for corruption and misconduct. However, psykers also perform critical services for humanity: their powers permit faster-than-light travel and communication, which are impossible under the "normal" laws of physics. A key theme of the setting is that for all the difficulties that psykers pose, human civilization cannot do without them.[10]


Rick Priestley cites J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Dune, Paradise Lost, and 2000 AD as major influences on the setting. Priestley felt that Warhammer's concept of Chaos, as detailed by his colleague Bryan Ansell in the supplement Realms of Chaos, was too simplistic and too similar to the works of Michael Moorcock, so he developed it further, taking inspiration from Paradise Lost.[11] The story of the Emperor's favored sons succumbing to the temptations of Chaos deliberately parallels the fall of Satan in Paradise Lost. The religious themes are primarily inspired by the early history of Christianity and Catholicism.

To me the background to 40K was always intended to be ironic. [...] The fact that the Space Marines were lauded as heroes within Games Workshop always amused me, because they're brutal, but they're also completely self-deceiving. The whole idea of the Emperor is that you don't know whether he's alive or dead. The whole Imperium might be running on superstition. There's no guarantee that the Emperor is anything other than a corpse with a residual mental ability to direct spacecraft. It's got some parallels with religious beliefs and principles, and I think a lot of that got missed and overwritten.

— Rick Priestley, in a December 2015 interview with Unplugged Games[12]

Factions or armies

The myriad models available for play in Warhammer 40,000 are divided into "factions" or "armies". Under typical circumstances, a player can only use units from the same faction within a single army. For instance, an army cannot include both Ork and Eldar models because Orks and Eldar are enemies in the setting.

The Imperium of Man

The Imperium of Man is a despotic human empire that spans most of the galaxy and has existed for over 10,000 years. The Imperium is mired in a prolonged dark age. Although it has access to technology which is highly advanced by our present standards, scientific progress has ceased and its technologies typically date back thousands of years. Imperial society is deeply religious and superstitious, centered on the worship of the God Emperor of Mankind, the Imperium's founder and nominal ruler. Those who do not worship the Emperor, including alien species and human followers of Chaos, are mercilessly persecuted as heretics.

Of all the factions, the Imperium has the largest catalog of models, which gives Imperial players great flexibility in designing their army.


Within the parallel dimension known as the Warp dwell the Chaos Gods, who are monomaniacal and depraved entities formed from the emotions and souls of mortals. The Chaos Gods have the ability to twist the minds of mortals, amplifying certain emotional traits and inspiring reverence, like a supernatural form of brainwashing. Worshippers of Chaos (most of whom depicted in the game are human) tend to be insane, violent, and depraved, and they often exhibit grotesque physical mutations such as extra mouths or limbs replaced with tentacles.

Like the Imperium, the forces of Chaos have access to a large variety of models, meaning a Chaos army can be designed for any style of play.


The Eldar are derived from the Elves of Warhammer Fantasy. They are an ancient species of aliens who view humans and other non-Eldar species as vermin. In the distant past, they ruled an empire that dominated the galaxy, but it was destroyed in a magical cataclysm, along with most of the population. The surviving Eldar are divided into the ascetic inhabitants (known simply as "Eldar") of the Craftworlds, massive spacecraft scattered across the galaxy, and the Dark Eldar, or Drukhari, a race of sadistic space pirates who inhabit a massive port city hidden within the Warp.

Eldar infantry tend to be highly specialised and relatively frail "glass cannons." Because of their lack of staying power, Eldar armies can suffer severe losses after a bad tactical decision or even unlucky dice rolls, while successful gameplay can involve outnumbered Eldar units which outmaneuver the opponent and kill entire squads before they have a chance to retaliate.


The Tyranids are a mysterious alien race from beyond the Milky Way. They migrate from planet to planet, devouring all life in their path. Tyranids are linked by a psychic hive mind; individual Tyranids become feral when separated from it. Their "technology" is entirely biological: their ships are living creatures, and their weapons are living components of their bodies.

Tyranids have a preference for melee combat; their infantry units tend to be fast and hard-hitting but frail. They also have low point values, meaning Tyranid armies in the game are typically fairly large to compensate. Tyranids have the most powerful counter-measures against enemies with psychic powers: many Tyranid units possess the "Shadow in the Warp" trait, which makes it harder for nearby enemy psykers to use their psychic powers.[13]


The Tau, or T'au, are a race of blue-skinned aliens inhabiting a small but growing empire located on the fringes of the Imperium of Man. The Tau Empire is the only faction in the setting that actively integrates alien species into their society. They seek to subjugate all other races for the benefit of all, under an ideology they call "the Greater Good." Some human worlds have willingly defected from the Imperium to the Tau Empire. Although humans are effectively second-class citizens in Tau society, they still tend to have a better quality of life than Imperium citizens.

Tau armies have a strong preference for ranged combat. The Tau do not have any psykers nor units that specialise in countering psykers, which makes them somewhat more vulnerable to psychic attacks. Most Tau vehicles are classified as flyers, skimmers, or jet pack infantry, meaning they can move swiftly over difficult terrain.


The Necrons are an ancient race of skeleton-like robots. Millions of years ago, they were flesh-and-blood beings, and they transferred their minds into robot bodies to achieve immortality. However, the transference process was flawed, and all but most high-ranking Necrons became mindless automatons. They are waking up from millions of years of hibernation in underground vaults, and seek to rebuild their old empire.

Necron infantry are characterised by strong ranged firepower, tough armor, and slow movement. They are known primarily for their trademark "gauss flayer" weapons and reanimation abilities. As robots made of quasi-living metal, many Necron units possess the ability to reassemble themselves after being slain and fight on. As machines, Necrons possess maximum leadership across all units but are also relatively slow moving outside of some transports. Necrons do not have any psykers, which makes them vulnerable to psychic attacks.


The Orks are green-skinned aliens based on the traditional orcs of high fantasy fiction. Their culture revolves around war for its own sake, periodically erupting into massive crusades against Imperial planets or other species. Orks are a comical species, having crude personalities, wielding ramshackle weaponry, and speaking with Cockney accents.

In the tabletop game, Ork infantry units are typically slow-moving, tough, and numerous. They have a preference for melee combat, as their ranged units are weak.


In 1982, Rick Priestley joined Citadel Miniatures, a subsidiary of Games Workshop that produced miniature figurines for use in Dungeons and Dragons. Bryan Ansell (the manager of Citadel) asked Priestley to develop a medieval-fantasy miniature wargame that would be given away for free to customers so as to encourage them to buy more miniatures (Dungeons and Dragons, at the time, did not require players to use miniature figurines).[14] The result was Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which was released in 1983 to great success.

Since before working for Games Workshop, Rick Priestley had been developing a miniature wargame/RPG hybrid called "Rogue Trader", which mixed science-fiction with classic fantasy elements. Priestley showed his bosses his outline for "Rogue Trader", but they were hesitant because they thought that a science-fiction game wouldn't sell well. His bosses floated the idea of selling cheap kits with which players could convert their Warhammer Fantasy models into science-fiction models — e.g. by replacing swords with laser-pistols — but as time passed, their enthusiasm for "Rogue Trader" grew, and they finally agreed to produce a dedicated line of models for it.

Sometime before "Rogue Trader" was released, Games Workshop signed a contract with 2000 AD to develop a board game based on the comic book Rogue Trooper. So as not to confuse customers, Games Workshop renamed Priestley's game "Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader" and marketed it as a spin-off of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was released in October 1987.

Rulebook editions

Rogue Trader (1987)

The first edition of the game, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, was published in 1987.[15] Game designer Rick Priestley created the original rules set (based on the contemporary second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle) alongside the Warhammer 40,000 gameworld. The gameplay of Rogue Trader was heavily oriented toward role-playing rather than strict wargaming. This original version came as a very detailed, though rather jumbled, rulebook, which made it most suitable for fighting small skirmishes.[16] Much of the composition of the units was determined randomly, by rolling dice. A few elements of the setting (bolters, lasguns, frag grenades, Terminator armour) can be seen in a set of earlier wargaming rules called Laserburn (produced by the now defunct company Tabletop Games) written by Bryan Ansell. These rules were later expanded by both Ansell and Richard Halliwell (both of whom ended up working for Games Workshop), although the rules were not a precursor to Rogue Trader.[17]

In addition, supplemental material was continually published in White Dwarf magazine, which provided rules for new units and models. Eventually, White Dwarf provided proper "army lists" that could be used to create larger and more coherent forces than were possible in the main rulebook. These articles were from time to time released in expansion books along with new rules, background materials and illustrations. All in all ten books were released for the original edition of Warhammer 40,000: "Chapter Approved – Book of the Astronomican", "Compendium", "Warhammer 40,000 Compilation", "Waaagh – Orks", two "Realm of Chaos" ("Slaves to Darkness" and "The Lost and the Damned"), "'Ere we Go", "Freebooterz", "Battle Manual", and "Vehicle Manual". The "Battle Manual" changed and codified the combat rules and provided updated stats for most of the weapons in the game. The "Vehicle Manual" contained a new system for vehicle management on the tabletop which was intended to supersede the clunky rules given in the base hardback manual and in the red softback compendium, it had an inventive target location system which used acetate crosshairs to simulate weapon hits on the vehicle silhouettes with different armour values for different locations (such as tracks, engine compartment, ammo store, and so on). "Waaagh – Orks" was an introductory manual to Orkish culture and physiology. It contained no rules, but background material. Other Ork-themed books instead were replete with army lists for major Ork clans and also for greenskin pirate and mercenary outfits. The "Realm of Chaos" books were hefty hardback tomes, which included rules for Chaos in Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Warhammer Fantasy Battle (3rd edition).

Second edition (1993)

The second edition of Warhammer 40,000 was published in late 1993. This new course for the game was forged under the direction of editor Andy Chambers. The second edition came in a boxed set that included Space Marine and Ork miniatures, scenery, dice, and the main rules. An expansion box set titled Dark Millennium was later released, which included rules for psychic powers. Another trait of the game was the attention given to "special characters" representing specific individuals from the background, who had access to equipment and abilities beyond those of others; the earlier edition only had three generic "heroic" profiles for each army: "champion", "minor hero" and "major hero".

Third edition (1998)

The third edition of the game was released in 1998 and, like the second edition, concentrated on streamlining the rules for larger battles.[18] Third-edition rules were notably simpler.[19] The rulebook was available alone, or as a boxed set with miniatures of Space Marines and the newly introduced Dark Eldar. The system of army 'codexes' continued in third edition.

Towards the end of the third edition, four new army codexes were introduced: the xeno (that is, alien) races of the Necron and the Tau and two armies of the Inquisition: the Ordo Malleus (called Daemonhunters), and the Ordo Hereticus (called Witchhunters); elements of the latter two armies had appeared before in supplementary material (such as Realm of Chaos and Codex: Sisters of Battle). At the end of the third edition, these armies were re-released with all-new artwork and army lists. The release of the Tau coincided with a rise in popularity for the game in the United States.[20]

Fourth edition (2004)

The fourth edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released in 2004.[21] This edition did not feature as many major changes as prior editions, and was "backwards compatible" with each army's third-edition codex. The fourth edition was released in three forms: the first was a standalone hardcover version, with additional information on painting, scenery building, and background information about the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The second was a boxed set, called Battle for Macragge, which included a compact softcover version of the rules, scenery, dice, templates, and Space Marines and Tyranid miniatures. The third was a limited collector's edition. Battle for Macragge was a 'game in a box', targeted primarily at beginners. Battle for Macragge was based on the Tyranid invasion of the Ultramarines' homeworld, Macragge. An expansion to this was released called The Battle Rages On!, which featured new scenarios and units, like the Tyranid Warrior.

Fifth edition (2008)

The fifth edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released on July 12, 2008. While there are some differences between the fourth and fifth editions, the general rule set shares numerous similarities. Codex books designed prior to the fifth edition are still compatible with only some changes to how those armies function.[22] The replacement for the previous edition's Battle for Macragge starter set is called Assault on Black Reach, which features a pocket-sized rulebook (containing the full ruleset but omitting the background and hobby sections of the full-sized rulebook), and starter Ork and Space Marine armies. Each army contains a HQ choice, either an Ork Warboss or a Space Marine Captain.

New additions to the rules include the ability for infantry models to "Go to Ground" when under fire, providing additional protection at the cost of mobility and shooting as they dive for cover. Actual line of sight is needed to fire at enemy models. Also introduced is the ability to run, whereby units may forgo shooting to cover more ground. In addition, cover has been changed so that it is now easier for a unit to get a cover save. Damage to vehicles has been simplified and significantly reduced, and tanks may now ram other vehicles.[22] Some of these rules are modeled after rules that existed in the Second Edition, but were removed in the Third. Likewise, 5th edition codexes have seen a return of many units previously cut out in the previous edition for having unwieldy rules. These units have largely been brought back with most of their old rules streamlined for the new edition. Fifth edition releases focused largely on Space Marine forces, including the abolishment of the Daemonhunters in favour of an army composed of Grey Knights, a special chapter of Space Marines, which, in previous editions, had provided the elite choices of the Daemonhunter's army list. Another major change was the shift from metal figures to Resin kits.

Sixth edition (2012)

Sixth edition was released on June 23, 2012. Changes to this edition include the adoption of an optional Psychic Power card system similar to that of the game's sister product Warhammer Fantasy Battle as well as the inclusion of full rules for flying vehicles and monsters and a major reworking of the manner in which damage is resolved against vehicles. It also includes expanded rules for greater interaction with scenery and more dynamic close-combat.[23] In addition to updating existing rules and adding new ones, 6th Edition introduced several other large changes: the Alliance system, in which players can bring units from other armies to work with their own, with varying levels of trust; the choice to take one fortification as part of your force; and Warlord traits, which will allow a player's Commander to gain a categorically randomised trait that can aid their forces in different situations. Replacing the "Assault on Black Reach" box set is the "Dark Vengeance" box set which includes Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marine models. Some of the early release box sets of Dark Vengeance contained a limited edition Interrogator-Chaplain for the Dark Angels.

Seventh edition (2014)

Announced in White Dwarf issue 15, pre-orders for May 17 and release date of May 24, 2014.[24]

The 7th edition saw several major changes to the game, including a dedicated Psychic Phase, as well as the way Psychic powers worked overall,[25] and changeable mid-game Tactical Objectives. Tactical Objectives would give the players alternate ways to score Victory Points, and thus win games. These objectives could change at different points during the game.[26][27]

As well as these additions, the 7th edition provided a new way to organise Army lists. Players could play as either Battle-Forged, making a list in the same way as 6th edition, or Unbound, which allowed the player to use any models they desired, disregarding the Force Organisation Chart.[28] Bonuses are given to Battle-Forged armies. Additionally, Lord of War units, which are powerful units previously only allowed in large-scale ("Apocalypse") games, are now included in the standard rulebook, and are a normal part of the Force Organisation Chart.

Eighth edition (2017)

Announced on April 22, 2017[29], pre-orders for June 3[30] and release date of June 17, 2017.[31]

The 8th edition was a major revision, intended to make it easier for new players to enter the hobby. In this respect, the game introduced the Three Ways to Play concept: Open, Matched, and Narrative.[32] The core ruleset was simplified down to 14 pages, as a free PDF booklet available on the Games Workshop website.[33] The more complex rules are retained in the updated hardcover Rulebook. The narrative of the setting has also been updated: an enlarged Eye of Terror has split the galaxy in half,[34] while the Primarch Roboute Guilliman returns to lead the Imperium as its Lord Commander, beginning with reclaiming devastated worlds through the Indomitus Crusade.[35]

The 8th Edition also introduced a new box set called "Dark Imperium", which featured a new Imperial-aligned faction, the Primaris Space Marines, as well as introducing new characters and rules to the Death Guard Chaos Space Marines.

Supplements and expansions

There are many variations to the rules and army lists that are available for use, typically with an opponent's consent.[36] These rules are found in the Games Workshop publication White Dwarf, on the Games Workshop website, or in the Forge World Imperial Armour publications.

The rules of Warhammer 40,000 are designed for games between 500 and 2500 points, with the limits of a compositional framework called the Force Organisation Chart making games with larger point values difficult to play. In response to player comments, the Apocalypse rules expansion was introduced to allow 3000+ point games to be played. Players might field an entire 1000-man Chapter of Space Marines rather than the smaller detachment of around 30–40 typically employed in a standard game. Apocalypse also contains rules for using larger war machines such as Titans.

Cities of Death (the revamp of Codex Battlezone: Cityfight) introduces rules for urban warfare and guerrilla warfare, and so-called "stratagems", including traps and fortifications. It also has sections on modeling city terrain and provides examples of armies and army lists modeled around the theme of urban combat. This work was updated to 7th Edition with the release of Shield of Baal: Leviathan.[37]

Planetstrike, released 2009, sets rules allowing players to represent the early stages of a planetary invasion. It introduces new game dynamics, such as dividing the players into an attacker and a defender, each having various tactical benefits tailored to their role; for example, the attacker may deep strike all infantry, jump infantry and monstrous creatures onto the battlefield, while the defender may set up all the terrain on the battlefield.

Planetary Empires, released August 2009, allows players to coordinate full-scale campaigns containing multiple battles, each using standard rules or approved supplements such as Planetstrike, Cities of Death or Apocalypse. Progress through the campaign is tracked using hexagonal tiles to represent the current control of territories within the campaign. The structure is similar to Warhammer Fantasy's Mighty Empires.

Battle Missions, released March 2010, this expansion contains a series of 'missions' with specific objectives, each 'race' has three specific missions which can be played, these missions are determined by a dice roll and are usually chosen from the two armies being used. They still use the standard rules from the Warhammer 40,000 rule book.

Spearhead, released May 2010, allows players to play games with a greater emphasis on armoured and mechanised forces. The most notable change to the game is the inclusion of special "Spearhead Formations;" and greater flexibility in force organisation. "Spearhead Formations" represent a new and altogether optional addition to the force organisation system standard to Warhammer 40,000. Players now have the ability to use all, part or none of the standard force organisation. Spearhead also includes new deployment options and game scenarios. This expansion is being released jointly through the Games Workshop website, as a free download, and through the company's monthly hobby magazine White Dwarf.

Death from the Skies, released February 2013, contains rules for playing games with an emphasis on aircraft. There are specific rules for each race's aircraft, as well as playable missions. A notable inclusion in this release is "warlord traits" for each race that deal specifically with aircraft. This supplement still uses the same rules as the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. Got updated to 7th Edition with Shield of Baal: Leviathan.

Stronghold Assault, released in December 2013, is a 48-page expansion that contains more rules for fortifications in the game, as well as rules for more fortifications that listed in the main 6th Edition Rulebook.

Escalation, released December 2013, contains rules for playing games with super heavy vehicles, normally restricted to Apocalypse events, in normal events.

Spin-off games, novels, and other media

Games Workshop has expanded the Warhammer 40,000 universe over the years to include several spin-off games and fictional works. This expansion began in 1987, when Games Workshop asked Scott Rohan to write the first series of "literary tie-ins". This eventually led to the creation of Black Library, the publishing arm of Games Workshop, in 1997. The books published relate centrally to the backstory in the Warhammer universe. Black Library also publishes Warhammer 40,000 graphic novels.[38]

Several popular miniature game spin-offs were also created, including Space Crusade, Space Hulk, Kill Team, Battlefleet Gothic, Epic 40,000, Inquisitor, Gorkamorka, Necromunda and Assassinorum: Execution Force. A collectible card game, Dark Millennium, was launched in October 2005 by Games Workshop subsidiary, Sabertooth Games. The story behind the card game begins at the end of the Horus Heresy arc in the game storyline and contains four factions: the Imperium, Orks, Eldar and Chaos.[39]


The album Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness by British death metal band Bolt Thrower features lyrics as well as artwork based on the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 brands, with the album's title design being identical to that of the eponymous Games Workshop books.


Following the 1987 initial release of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 wargame the company began publishing background literature that expands previous material, adds new material, and describes the universe, its characters, and its events in detail. Since 1997 the bulk of background literature has been published by the affiliated imprint Black Library.

The increasing number of fiction works by an expanding list of authors is published in several formats and media, including audio, digital and print. Most of the works, which include full-length novels, novellas, short stories, graphic novels, and audio dramas, are parts of named book series. In 2018, a line of novels for readers aged 8 to 12 was announced, which led to some confusion among fans given the ultra-violent and grimdark nature of the setting.[40]

Video games

Games Workshop first licensed Electronic Arts to produce Warhammer 40,000 video-games, and EA published two games based on Space Hulk in 1993 and 1995. Games Workshop then passed the license to Strategic Simulations, which published three games in the late 1990s. After Strategic Simulations went defunct in 1994, Games Workshop then gave the license to THQ, and between 2003 and 2011 THQ published 13 games, which include the Dawn of War series. After 2011, Games Workshop changed its licensing strategy: instead of an exclusive license to a single publisher, it now broadly licenses a variety of publishers.[41]

Board games and roleplaying games

Games Workshop have produced a number of standalone "boxed games" set within the Warhammer 40,000 setting; they have also licensed the IP to 3rd party game companies such as Fantasy flight Games. The GW-produced boxed games tend to be sold under the aegis of GW's "Specialist Games" division. Titles include:

  • Battle for Armageddon
    • Chaos Attack (Expansion for Battle for Armageddon)
  • Doom of the Eldar
  • Oi! Dat's My Leg!
  • Space Hulk (Three editions were published; expansions are listed below.)
    • Deathwing (An expansion boxed set adding new Terminator weapons and a new campaign.)
    • Genestealer (An expansion boxed set adding rules for Genestealer hybrids and psychic powers.)
    • Space Hulk Campaigns (An expansion book released in both soft and hard-cover collecting reprinted four campaigns previously printed in White Dwarf.)
  • Advanced Space Crusade
  • Assassinorum: Execution Force
  • Bommerz over da Sulphur River (Board game using Epic miniatures.)
  • Gorkamorka (A vehicle skirmish game set on a desert world, revolving principally around rival Ork factions.)
    • Digganob (An expansion for Gorkamorka, adding rebel gretchin and feral human factions.)
  • Lost Patrol
  • Space Fleet (A simple spaceship combat game, later greatly expanded via White Dwarf magazine with material intended for the aborted 'Battleship Gothic', itself later relaunched as Battlefleet Gothic.)
  • Tyranid Attack (An introductory game reusing the boards from Advanced Space Crusade.)
  • Ultra Marines (An introductory game reusing the boards from Space Hulk.)

Although there were plans to create a full-fledged Warhammer 40,000 "pen and paper" role-playing game from the beginning,[42] these did not come to fruition for many years, until an official Warhammer 40,000 role-playing game was published only in 2008, with the release of Dark Heresy by Black Industries, a GW subsidiary. This system was later licensed to Fantasy Flight Games for continued support and expansion.

Formerly Games Workshop licensed a number of Warhammer 40K themed products to Fantasy Flight Games. Fantasy Flight Games specialises in board, card and role-play games. Included in the licensed product were:

  • Horus Heresy – a board game focusing on the final battle of the Horus Heresy the battle for the Emperor's Palace; this game is a re-imagining of a game by the same name created by Jervis Johnson in the 1990s.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel – a game with a merge of board and card game mechanics, based on the popular "Space Hulk" board game, featuring Space Marines against Genestealers.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel, The Card Game – the card game version of Space Hulk. Players cooperate as Space Marines in order to clear out the infestation of Genestealers on a derelict spaceship.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Conquest – a Living Card Game where players control various factions of the Warhammer 40,000 setting in order to rule the sector.
  • Forbidden Stars – a board game that pits 4 popular Warhammer 40,000 races against one another to control objectives and secure the sector for themselves.
  • Relic – an adaptation of the board game Talisman to the Warhammer: 40,000 setting.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay series of tabletop roleplaying games, which share many core mechanics as well as the setting:
    • Dark Heresy – players may assume the roles of a cell of Inquisitorial acolytes, or assume a different and equally small-scale scenario following the game's rules. The recommended scenarios and ruleset present a balance between investigation and combat encounters.
    • Rogue Trader – players assume the roles of Explorers, whose rank and escalated privileges allow for travelling outside the Imperium's borders. Due to extensive expansions for Rogue Trader, campaigns can be largely different and altered by game masters. Its most significant difference from any of the other Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay titles is that it contains rules for capital spaceship design and space combat.
    • Deathwatch – the game allows players to role-play the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes, who are the gene-enhanced superhuman elite combat units of the Imperium of Man. In light of this, its ruleset heavily emphasises combat against difficult or numerically superior enemies, rather than negotiation and investigation, compared to Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader.
    • Black CrusadeBlack Crusade allows players to role-play Chaos-corrupted characters. This installment will be concluded with supplements. It is notably different in that it allows much more free-form character development, with experience costs being determined by affiliation with a Chaos God.
    • Only WarOnly War puts players in the boots of the Imperial Guard, the foot soldiers of the Imperium of Man. Despite the human-level capabilities of the characters, it also emphasises combat over interaction, much like Deathwatch.


On December 13, 2010,[43] Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie was released directly to DVD. The movie is a CGI sci-fi based around the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines. The screenplay for the movie was written by Dan Abnett, a Games Workshop Black Library author. The movie was produced by Codex Pictures, a UK-based company, under license from Games Workshop. The movie utilised animated facial capture technology from Image Metrics.

  1. ^ Sometimes referred to colloquially as Warhammer 40K or WH40K
  1. ^ "Top 5 Non-Collectible Miniature Games - Spring 2018". icv2.com. 30 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Top 5 Non-Collectible Miniature Games - Fall 2017". icv2.com. 9 March 2018.
  3. ^ Ahmed, Samira (13 March 2012). "Why are adults still launching tabletop war?". www.bbc.com. BBC News. Retrieved 2018-10-12. The prices for essential models, paints and books are "eyewatering", he says. [...] "You need at least £200 just to set up a half-decent legal army for a game, and if you want a board and scenery to go to play with friends you're looking at least £200 on top of that," says Craig Lowdon, 25, of Crewe.
  4. ^ "Britons are increasingly turning to tabletop games for entertainment". www.economist.com. 4 Oct 2018. Retrieved 2018-10-12. For years, Games Workshop was known primarily for two things: pricey products (a Warhammer army can cost well over £300, or $390)
  5. ^ Warhammer 40,000 (core rulebook, 8th edition), p 214
  6. ^ Scale Model Kits for 40K - www.dakkadakka.com
  7. ^ Warhammer 40,000 (core rulebook, 8th ed.), p 214
  8. ^ Warhammer 40,000: Index: Imperium 1 (8th ed.), p 202
  9. ^ Warhammer 40,000 (core rulebook, 8th ed.), p 181
  10. ^ Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987). pg 146.
  11. ^ Owen Duffy (11 December 2015). "Blood, dice and darkness: how Warhammer defined gaming for a generation". Archived from the original on 18 May 2016. “Bryan’s idea of Chaos was very much derived from [science fiction and fantasy author] Michael Moorcock,” he said. “I always thought it was a little too close for comfort, it looked like we were just copying.”
    “But I’d always had this sense of Chaos existing as described in Paradise Lost. I’d tried to bring elements of that into the background and gradually change it from a description of demons into a kind of force out of which came realities, a kind of literal primal chaos.”
    “Unless you’ve read Paradise Lost you don’t get it. The whole Horus Heresy is just a parody of the fall of Lucifer as described by Milton.”
  12. ^ Owen Duffy (11 December 2015). "Blood, dice and darkness: how Warhammer defined gaming for a generation". Archived from the original on 18 May 2016.
  13. ^ Warhammer 40,000: Index: Xenos 2 p 85
  14. ^ "Interview with Rick Priestley". juegosydados.com. 26 August 2016.
  15. ^ Priestley, Rick (1987) [1992]. Rogue Trader. Eastwood: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-27-9.
  16. ^ "The High Lords Speak". White Dwarf (UK edition). Games Workshop (343): 35–36. June 2008.
  17. ^ White Dwarf (June, 2008) pp. 34–35
  18. ^ Priestley, Rick; et al. (1998). Warhammer 40,000 (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-000-5.
  19. ^ Driver, Jason. "Warhammer 40K, 3rd edition". RPGnet. Skotos Tech. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  20. ^ Guthrie, Jonathon (July 31, 2002). "Games Workshop runs rings around its rivals". Financial Times. p. 20. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  21. ^ Chambers, Andy; Priestley, Rick; Haines, Pete (2004). Warhammer 40,000 (4th ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-468-X.
  22. ^ a b "in the Pipeline" (343). White Dwarf (UK) [editor Mark Latham]. July 2008.
  23. ^ "Games Workshop".
  24. ^ Harden, Dan. "White Dwarf, the herald of things to come…". Games Workshop. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  25. ^ NEW! Warhammer 40,000: The Psychic Phase. 16 May 2014 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ NEW! Warhammer 40,000: Maelstrom of War Missions. 16 May 2014 – via YouTube.
  27. ^ "Warhammer 40,000: Tactical Objectives - Games Workshop Webstore". Games Workshop Webstore. Archived from the original on 2014-06-07.
  28. ^ NEW! Warhammer 40,000: New army organisation options. 16 May 2014 – via YouTube.
  29. ^ "Breaking News! – Warhammer Community". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  30. ^ "Dark Imperium Pre-orders – Warhammer Community". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  31. ^ "New Edition Now Available – Read the Rules, Get the T-Shirt! – Warhammer Community". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  32. ^ "New Warhammer 40,000: Three Ways to Play – Warhammer Community". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  33. ^ "Rules | Games Workshop Webstore". www.games-workshop.com. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  34. ^ "New Warhammer 40,000: The Galaxy Map – Warhammer Community". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  35. ^ GUY., HALEY, (2018). DARK IMPERIUM. [S.l.]: GAMES WORKSHOP LTD. ISBN 9781784966645. OCLC 989984121.
  36. ^ Priestley, Rick; et al. (1998) pp. 270-272
  37. ^ Hoare, Andy. Cities of Death. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-749-2.
  38. ^ Baxter, Stephen (2006). "Freedom in an Owned World:Warhammer Fiction and the Interzone Generation". Vector: the Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association. The British Science Fiction Association. 229. Archived from the original on 2012-11-09.
  39. ^ Kaufeld, John; Smith, Jeremy (2006). Trading Card Games For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-471-75416-9.
  40. ^ Hall, Charlie (22 May 2018). "Warhammer 40,000 is launching a line of young adult fiction and fans are confused". Polygon. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  41. ^ Extra Credits (June 2016). The Warhammer 40k License - A Total Change of Strategy
  42. ^ Edwards, Darren (1988). "Interview with Rick Priestley". Making Movies (3): 17.
  43. ^ "Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie (2010) - Preview - Sci-Fi Movie Page".

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Game & Play & Gamification

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