40K Deep Thought – How Digital Should 40K Get?


A new edition of 40K is coming, and competing wargames are going more digital by the day. What should 40K do?

Let’s admit it – 40K is a bit of a stick in the mud.  It’s really, really complex, requires a 18″ tall stack of books and supplements to play at a high level, and you better be good with math to have a fighting change out there on the tabletop. There are many popular, thriving games out there with a less steep hill to climb.

40K is certainly a prime candidate for a streamlined edition next year, but when that new edition comes, there is plenty of room for the game to get it’s own digital apps and aids to help us gamers out.

As an example take a look at Privateer Press’ new Warroom 2 app.

War Room 2 Top Screen Bell of Lost Souls Warmachine Hordes Privateer Press


war room 2 pic 2

War Room is completely optional, which is a big deal.  I think that us tabletop gamers have specifically made the choice to shun the video game side of things in our hobby, so I think these types of things should always be optional.  If some folks want a purely physical experience – the game should work for them as well.

That said, War Room is a superb tool.  Not only does it contain all the rules for every unit in the game (oh I’d love that for 40K), but is also a record keeper, army builder, and provides all manner of time-saving abilities to players as well as an automated vehicle for FAQs and erratas.  It is officially endorsed by Privateer Press and is sanctioned for use in competitive play, and heck there are even guidelines on exactly what happens mid-game if you have software issues.  That’s a tightly knitted physical to digital experience.


GW’s Options

We know the digital future is wide open for GW. They have been making dozens of digital rules expansions for years now, and recently have shown their hand a bit with not only the Age of Sigmar app, that includes every unit in the game, but Silver Tower app as well, that opened that game up to include dozens of characters who were not included in the default game.

I think the biggest issue 40K has right now is rules fragmentation and the current digital products only add onto that.  What is really needed is a new approach – a master Warhammer 40,000 app – JUST ONE


Rules/Unit App

This app would include a handful of core units for each faction for free – giving new players an avenue into the game at no cost, then include all the codexes and books and their contents – to be purchased a la carte.

Army Building App

The next step in player tools is the obvious choice of an army builder.  I could certainly see a new edition of 40K have a much simpler approach to building armies – and pulling a lot of the complexity and CAD/formation-allies nonsense down to a very simple level.  Not because it’s too difficult and obtuse for new players (even though it is)… No, the real reason to simplify 40K army construction is to you can easily get it working within an app.  Being able to quickly build, save and share army lists via an app would be fantastic and give players a new channel for sharing their favorite army creations.

Time Savers

The final category of digital products would be 40K time savers.  Things like mission randomizers, automated timers, dice rollers, and such.Heck GW even experimented with a sound effects app for psychic powers a bit back.   All of these could be worked into a core 40K app as baseline features – increasing it utility and adoption rate by players.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’m curious about how much you want to see 40K go in this direction and would you happily buy and use such an app at the tabletop, or shy away and stay firmly in the physical world.

~Just how digital should 40K get?



  • denzark

    I’ve yet to find anyone who can find something in a digital codex as quick as I can find it in a hardcopy. Also, the amount of people in a 2 day tournament who would go straight out on the lash after day 1 – you will find tablets/devices running out of batteries.

    Personally I don’t rate digital apps – I would rather single unit products like Cypher being in hard glossy paper – I’d pay the cost of a White Dwarf for a 4-page A4 minidex of Belakor/Cypher etc.

    Digital – over-rated for me – YMMV.

    • ZeeLobby

      War Rooms rule lookup is pretty awesome though. A tap on a unit brings up their card. A tap on the special rule or symbol of the card brings up the PDF page of the rulebook. Its pretty awesome.

      • Dongmaster


        Too bad the PP app still sucks (yes I am going to rant about that one for a millenia…).

        • ZeeLobby

          I’m with you on that one. I really wish they used iBooks or PDF downloads for that platform instead. I mean I know it’s to cut down on piracy, but still, it’s pretty lacklustre.

    • Djbz

      I too prefer to have an actual book, but I can see the benefits of digital.
      Digital has the benefit of not taking up as much physical space so can be better for events if you have limited carry space.
      And peoples devices batteries will last fine so long as they turn off the wi-fi (mine can last for hours on a low battery alert with it off)

    • TenDM

      But part of that is the way they approach digital editions right now. For the most part they just scan in a digital copy of their books. They do some minor improvements but for the most part it’s reference material being presented in an application designed specifically for linear page to page reading so naturally it’s slow and clumsy. It doesn’t hold a candle to having a real book.

      However if Games Workshop went out and made an app from the ground up they could easily make something much faster than your physical Codex. An app can be interactive in a way that lets you rethink everything about a Codex.
      Something where I can create/save/load an army list, hit a ‘Battle Mode’ button and have everything that’s not relevant to that list completely vanish from the book. Something that has a section in the back where I can turn updates/FAQs/supplements on and off at will.
      Right now a lot of that flipping around we do with physical books is the result of not being able to display the information in it’s entirety. We don’t include weapons stats, wargear, universal special rules, etc on the page because we’d end up flooded with information. With a digital Codex I can have literally everything related to a Hive Tyrant in the space of it’s stat line. Just tap the stat line and out comes all the info (tailored to my current configuration). Tap it again and it goes away.
      I could get the entire Tyranids army down to 6 easily navigated pages when I’m playing and return it to full size when I’m not (hell, it could be bigger, they can throw video painting tutorials from their YouTube channel right into the Codex).

      I’m a firm believer that lore and physical books help build the community, but when we’re talking about referencing rules mid-game there’s so much you can do with digital that you can’t in a physical book.

    • Inquisitor Valeria

      People don’t plug their phones in overnight where you play?

      I agree on the slowness of many digital options. My Scion codex takes about forever to skim through because every full-page picture for some reason won’t let me just swipe past it.

      BUT… there are some distinct advantages to digital. I never forget my AoS rules at home, because I always have my phone on me. I know what expansions are out there (unlike say… playing Tyranids in 40K right now), and have the ability to buy them at my fingertips (unlike 40K campaign books, where if you don’t buy them when they’re out, the totally valid rules can’t be bought in a store). I also just have the one device to lug around with me, as opposed to my husband having to bring his hardback rulebook, Space Wolves codex, Curse of the Wulfen campaign book, and Champions of Fenris expansion book to a single game.

      • denzark

        When I go to tournaments, I see lots of people, especially my gaming group, go straight from that often difficult game 3, into full drunken carnage mode. They either forget to charge devices that night, or creep back in the next morning to get an 8% in aeroplane mode in the 15 minutes between when their hangover lets them remember, and when they need to be out the door…

        • Inquisitor Valeria

          Sounds like a good time to invest in a battery backup thingy. ; )

  • Gordon Birchmore

    I love the apps related to aos, so 40k shouldn’t be much different. I already use battleacribe and gw has one of the best dice apps on the market already. Go for it I say.

    • ZeeLobby

      I’d love an actual accurate army builder from GW.

      • Sam

        I’m willing to bet they make one for Age of Sigmar.

  • Mr.psyker

    I think GW may be the pioneer on the fourth option. The Pokemon go option. With hardware like holo lens and even the cell phone market going for augmented reality we are about to see the warp rip a hole in the table top as daemons spill forth to take the souls of are toy soldiers. The future is being able to play a table top game with someone across the world using a fully rendered 3D AR representation of your own army to play games with people all over the world. It will let you play single player 40k or even co-op scenarios. Just look at Pokémon go it allows you to take Gyms, just in a galaxy map and being able to run global campaigns using the same software the Pokémon go uses… Just something I like to think about.

    The future is Now!

    • Mr.psyker

      Somebody has to kill the babysitter…

    • Guido Hockmann


  • Talos2

    Very imo. I’d like apps that used the camera to tell you exactly how many models got hit by a template for example. It’s probably the moment I see most often where players have to decide exactly how friendly they want the game to be. Do you just accept the blatant cheating or argue the point. Voice recognition in apps would be great too, just say the word terminator and up come the rules and unit compositions you are using, reduce all the time flicking through pages.

  • Admiral Raptor

    GW should get the most digital! I want my local store staffed by Techpriests. Not just any Techpriests either; the good ones from the admech codex. Don’t try to fool me with some Enigineseer GW, I know the difference!

  • Thokt

    Gotta go digital. Get with the times! Eventually, high quality apps for this stuff will be standard.

    • SYSTem050

      Great but not at the cost if a dead tree version. Afterall some of us still buy vinyl. 😀

  • OolonColluphid

    GW should make Dawn of War III 8th Edition. Of course it will take 40% of your hard drive space after you bought all the DLC.

  • David

    I love how “8th” has gone from a wild rumour to a certainty in 6 months with NO EVIDENCE.
    Digital Codexs are fine, as long as they’re at a discount. When there’s less than a $5 difference for digital and hardcopy, it’s hard to justify the price. But some serious effort into digital content and an ap to help out with 40k would be awesome.