Entering the Grimdark

This week, I was lucky enough to introduce a couple of people into the grimdark of 8th edition 40k. As it was my first proper game of 8th, we took it right back to basics because there are a few gotchas along the way, even for the experienced gamer. I’ll go into a few thoughts on how to introduce new people and make the transition less bumpy.

Keep it Simple

Though slicker and much more streamlined than 7th edition, there’s still a lot to remember. A good way to save some limited brain-space is to strip out a few extras. Two prime candidates to remove are the psychic phase and command points/stratagems. We can easily add them back in later because escalation is inevitable. Remember we’re going back to basics so by simply not having any psykers in the armies, that’s a whole phase we can forget about for now.

Command points, while not too intrusive if just being used for rerolls, open up a whole load of stratagem options, many of which will be meaningless to a new player until they have some experience of how the game works. Strip them out to get the basics down and add them in later.

Building it up like this means you’re more likely to get things right first time as you’ve less to remember. The Only War scenario from the main rule book is also a simple way to get started.

Read the Rules

Sounds obvious, right? How many times have you played a rule one way only to be told, months or years later, that it’s wrong? And the rule book was very clear about it. Think of the reboot as an opportunity to avoid that.

Fortunately there aren’t many pages of rules, and a few explanations are offered in the margins to deal with some of the obvious questions. A lot of the keywords and rules will be familiar but don’t think you know them right off the bat. They’re worth reading too, especially for the experienced player, as some have been tweaked.

So Much Power

The power system is simple. Definitely use the power system to “balance” armies for the first few games, at least. The competitive crowd will likely move to points quickly but I’ll probably use power as the standard for as long as I can. Building an army list is then a matter of a few minutes. Remember this is an introductory, learning game, so min-maxing your list to smash the newbie off the board is probably not good form.


Things change.

One thing that caught me out is being unable to drive a vehicle out of close combat and shoot. That’s now a no-go unless your tank can fly. Yes, a guardsman can tie up your land raider. Always the extreme example, isn’t it?


The new system is smooth and easy. It will be easy enough to add in the extra bits like psykers, command points and tactical objectives down the line when your group has the basics nailed.

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