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The BIG(ish) Warhammer 40K Preview

World of Warhammer?


There is no combat theatre in which the Space Marines cannot excel, no foe they cannot overcome, and no danger they dare not face. There are hundreds of different Space Marine Chapters with proud honour rolls and magnificent martial histories to call their own.

The lightning-fast campaigns of the Space Marines are conducted with such spectacular brutality that they have come to be known as the Angels of Death. If you want to field gene-enhanced living weapons who have undergone the best training, wear the finest armour and bear devastating weaponry, choose the Space Marines.

– Warhammer Community

OK… There is a Lot to Unpack Here.


First of all, I have LOVED (the idea of) 40K for about the last 30+ years. It’s the game setting that really hooked me into tabletop and wargames, in general. It’s this near-life long love affair with this world, which is why I am going to be come off as fairly critical in my response. Before I get into that though, let me say that I’ve dipped in and out from playing throughout that time and with the hype of the new edition, I have to ask myself the question, is this where I get back in?

Honestly, I’m Not Sure. And This is Why…


This is a fairly raw first reaction take, so keep that in mind. 8th edition feels like it just came out (to me anyways) and the introduction of the Primaris (true-scale) marines sounded great on paper, from a hobbyist’s point of view (new plastic crack and all), but from an actual player’s perspective – kind of a mixed bag. As many of you have experienced as well as heard via the interwebs, they don’t have the full options in terms of game mechanics your classic space marines had nor did they have the aesthetic range of options provided by years of development put into the classic space marines – AND they’re pricey in terms of point costs compared to classic space marines.

In short, 8th edition felt like a transition where older players are kind of left behind for a younger/newer audience. I get it, but not super excited about it. While I am excited to see Games Workshop embrace social media to build their brand and new technologies to create technically amazing looking models, the aesthetic has become increasingly less grim or dark, for that matter. We see this in their more child-friendly cartoon projects and less Blanche-ian (not a real word, but oldhammer folks know what I am saying here) aesthetic over-all. Frankly, this kind of treatment of “rounding the edges” to existing properties to make them (supposedly) more friendly and welcoming to a larger (new) audience is not something entirely new. We’ve seen this trend in other mediums like video games and comics the last few years. It is what it is, but it’s kind of a bummer at the same time. Adding to this issue, is when a company tries to over-correct to fix the problem. We saw this kind of this happen with the new Star Wars trilogy.

What I am Trying to Say Here is This…


The new 9th edition, again at first blush, is EXACTLY like what Return of Skywalker was for Star Wars. It’s got a great hype engine and huge budget going for it. It’s going to solve all the problems introduced in 8th edition (and all previous editions as it’s “perfect” according to James Workshop *facepalm*). To be fair, that is a drastic comparison as I don’t think 8th edition derailed 40K quite like the Last Jedi did for Star Wars. But in reality, it looks like it’s doubling down on changes brought on by 8th edition – more child-friendly content across the board in all media, softer imagery (less grimdark), and kind of pulling in a Warcraft aesthetic vibe – especially with Bladeguard Veterans – which is confusing as early Warcraft arguably borrowed heavily from Warhammer Fantasy – and it was kind of a sensitive issue, at least at the time. Admittedly, this is a pretty hyper-focused reaction that speaks mostly to just Primaris marines – or the new Adeptus Rey-startes (or World of Warhammer – take your pick). But I digress, this announcement was promoted as the biggest 40K announcement EVER! With the exception of over-correcting the generic-ness of the Primaris in 8th edition, to the new World of Warhammer versions with ornamentation befitting a classic Grey Knight or Black Templar, what are we really getting? A couple new Necrons and a barely noticeable refresh of its existing line? Instead of two armies in the new 9th edition starter box, maybe getting a third – Sisters of Battle (Adeptus Sororitas)? Don’t get me wrong though, three armies and mostly new sculpts IS amazing, but I’m speaking to the hype of the BIGGEST announcement EVER. Honestly, it just didn’t feel like it. Again, I know I’m being uncharacteristically critical (at least for my typical blog here) and opening myself to some serious push-back, but I felt mislead.

Putting On My Art Director’s Hat Here


This is a huge company with a ton of talent – seriously impressive and has been for years. But…and there is always a but…what is going on with all the different art styles happening with the announcements, the website, etc? Again, this speaks to that transition of old to new…but I’m trying to figure out if it’s really intentional or worse, accidental?

How Many Styles do We Need Here?


Cartoon Style A

Cartoon Style B

Caricature(ish) Style

Not-so Grimdark

That all said, an entire new website was created for this announcement/launch, but at launch it is mostly recycled artwork and some dramatic videos of literally the photo of the same sculpt right next to it (OK, that may just be on the article, but still). While forcing fans to hunt and peck around Facebook to find a number of different and unique model photos. Really!? Why double up on a video of the same model in a photo below it and not have some of those other model shots on the actual website you built exclusively for this launch? From a professional’s perspective, this doesn’t make sense. It would make sense if GW was a small or one-man show (like me lol), but it’s HUGE. My analogy for the site is that it’s all frosting and no cake. Frankly, it’s a landing page to buy existing miniatures – that’s it.

But John, What About the New Videos on the #NEW40K?


I know some guys posted they got “chills” …and that’s cool! Again, if GW was a smaller company, I would view the new 9th edition announcement video as epic. I mean, it is epic(ish), but when you compare it to features like the independently created Adeptus Astartes, it’s not really comparable. That said, it was clearly professionally done and created a narrative for the new edition and models to interact in – some of the particle effects and the narration and voice talent arguably being a high point. However, it felt too much like a video game trailer from the early to mid 2000s. A brief tangent, the old Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning was a video game trailer done in the early 2000s and it set a standard (for me) other GW videos need to hit or surpass.

40K IS supposed to be the grimdark. A trailer for its flagship game system needs to be next level theatrical. And then, instead of highlighting the model ranges in the new edition (I mean you built an entire website AND hyped this the BIGGEST announcement ever), we get James Workshop…I can’t lol…whenever I hear the phrase “polished to…” it translates to “no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd.” – maybe that’s just an American phrase, not sure? Oh, and the new models…literally one…ONE…from each of the factions and I’m not entirely sure the Sisters of Battle miniature was a new sculpt for this edition. And speaking of doubling down, ugh, you show a “dramatic” video of the same model you have a photo of right next to it (in the announcement article) – as compared to the website, it’s just a carousel of old art work below it and a shop now button to buy existing models. And as I mentioned previously, all the actual models you want to look at for the new edition, you have to hunt around Facebook’s Warhammer 40K page.

Anyways, I’m not really selling how pumped I am for the new edition am I? LOL

For more information on the NEW 9th Edition 40K, here is the link to the new website.

Was There Anything You Liked About the Announcement?


Of course, definitely! Even though it makes no sense that the Primaris went from a generic-clean line aesthetic with little to no ornamentation to World of Warhammer ornamentation in one generation, I do like the new look. As some other reviewers have stated, and I agree, this is probably the look they needed at launch in 8th edition. The only real challenge I see moving forward now, is how to diversify these models from Grey Knights and Black Templars – granted, that’s mostly in regards to the Bladeguard Veterans. You give those guys a halberd and psychic hood and there are your new Primaris Grey Knights. The Judicar is a sweet model too, but in our current pandemic situation, I can’t see it other than a Covid Space Marine with it’s wonky face mask. Assualt Primaris marines do look rad and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before classic space marines will seemingly be phased out. It’s funny what a little armor treatment like hip armor and an additional buckler shield on the chest will do. Now if only there was a way to transition out of that wonky lower leg armor deletions we see in the Reavers and Infiltrators line – everything below the knee feels off on those models, but I digress.

The new Necrons are OK, but I’m not really a Necron fan. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to update the Eldar, Orks, or the other non-Deathguard Chaos models. They all for the most part have way older lines that need a refresh over the Necrons. As of the time of this writing, I don’t know if Sisters come in the new starter box or not, but if they do, that would also be cool.

In addition to the models, I do like that the new stuff will come with a free app option too. Lastly, if the new edition does allow you to use your existing codexes, that will definitely be epic!

For more information, check out the official Warhammer Community announcement.

That’s it for now. I have more thoughts on how I think this may affect Kill Team with the new “balanced” patrol size army option.

In any event, until next time…

Cheers!

John Kimmel
John Kimmel

Artist. Designer. Educator.

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