40K: 8th Edition’s Digital Future

GW’s been knocking out a lot of very interesting technologies that make sense for 40K’s future.


GW has been going down the digital road for many years. In recent weeks however it looks like they are laying down a pretty good framework for how the next edition of 40K might work.

Dealing with the Codex Problem

First of all, ditching the codex system and putting all the unit stats into an app addresses a lot of issues. If you look at Age of Sigmar, you see the 4 monster grand alliance books and their warscroll contents available in the Age of Sigmar app.  Having the option to carry ALL the game’s unit rules on your phone is a concept that is here to stay, with both AoS and Warmachine embracing it with both hands.  I think it’s a no brainer that whatever the next edition of 40K is going to look like, GW is planning on rolling out an app just as functional as the Age of Sigmar one. They did already put up the money to build the platform, why wouldn’t they reuse it?

Army Construction

I think we can all agree that army construction is a serious problem in current 40K.  Maybe THE problem.  WAR ROOM has been letting Warmahordes players knock out lists for years now and Age of Sigmar just got it this week!  I think we can all see the writing on the wall.

A more interesting question is what this means for overall complexity of units, unit options and the allies-formation-detachment system. Both Warmachine and 40K have units with very simplified unit options, and allies/faction rules. These in turn make programming army construction into an easy technical challenge, compared to the “my army is pulled from 9 codices, and Forge World” mess 40K is now.  I would expect a matching GW 40K army builder for the new edition and think that you shouldn’t be surprised to see things really get cleaned up in the overall army construction rules department.

Rules & FAQs

Now Age of Sigmar has 4 pages of rules. Their inclusion in the app is trivial. 40K is much more complex, but if GW wanted to, they could have the rules in a unified app.  Better yet, imagine if the purple-text FAQs got automatically included in app updates.  How awesome would that be?

Odds & Ends

We’ve seen GW jump into the digital app world with both feet.  When not only Age of Sigmar but new product lines like Warhammer Quest and Blood Bowl get their own apps, I think it’s only a matter of time until GW’s REAL CASH COW, 40K gets it’s own digital apps.  In a way, I can see the entire current line of GW apps as tests to get everything worked out before 40K new edition hits the road later this year.

Still we run into the double edge sword of moving our beloved physical games into the digital world.  We all love an play our games for a reason.

  • We LIKE the very physicality of the hobby.
  • We LIKE playing with actual miniatures.
  • We LIKE playing against actual people in person.

Tabletop gaming is distinct from video gaming.

It will interesting to see just how attached players are to all those paper books we buy and lug around with our beloved armies.

~What would you want to see for a 40K digital app, and how readily would you give up physical paper game books?


  • Cynical me immediately thinks microtransactions for units and formations.

    Also is this gonna be on more than just apple devices?

    • DJ860

      Well the AoS app isn’t iOS exclusive, so I don’t see why future 40k core apps would be.

      • Mathew G. Smith

        The 40k “enhanced” codexes are exclusive.

        • Walter Vining

          only the “enhanced” but the ebook format goes on almost anything.

    • BrianDavion

      cynical you forgets GW’s done that already with dataslates. although the lack of them lately makes me suspect they’ve not sold as well as GW hoped.

  • Tshiva keln

    Physical all the way. Have a few digital codexes and I personally hate using them so much I seldom play those armies. I think I you hit the nail on the head with the remark about us choosing physical models over computer games – it’s probably more ingrained in us to enjoy the physical. That said, as we know this hobby is so vast it encompasses all sorts and there really is no reason GW can’t successfully support both physical and digital and cover everyone’s personal preference.

    • William Jameson

      Agreed, I prefer physical over the digital versions I have as well. Also books don’t run out of power in the middle of a game. 🙂

  • Mathew G. Smith

    The 40K core rules aren’t really that complicated. There are ten page versions floating around.

    • Walter Vining

      you are so right, they aren’t that complicated. its the people who don’t have critical reading skills, or read only for their advantage that cause the most problems. then there are also the people who were taught to play the game by someone from memory instead of teaching them and making them look the rules up along the way…..
      and people wonder why we end up with a 40 page FAQ

  • Erik Giersdorf

    Yeah I remember when Age of Sigmar stopped doing hard copy codex publications. Wait.

    • ZeeLobby

      To be fair, their hard copy releases have been kind of a mess. How many books have the Stormcast rules been spread across? At least their latest has them all in one book (I think).

      • Jon Barnes

        It’s an interesting contrast, though. AoS’ electronic releases are more usable than the enhanced print versions but GW’s digital stuff for 40k is worse than the printed Codices.

  • BloodAngel
    • BloodAngel

      This is nothing new.

    • Walter Vining

      loved this. so much better than army builder at the time.

      • ZeeLobby

        Really? I heard it was pretty bad, had all kinds of issues, and that most GW staff still used army builder at the time.

        • Walter Vining

          I don’t remember having that many issues. What I loved over it from AB was the format when you printed it out.

          • ZeeLobby

            Ah. K. Yeah. I mean it seemed pretty accepted that GW abandoned it because of the poor state it ended up in, but that’s cool that it worked for you. Maybe it was only certain armies. I never used it but maybe i’ll dig up a rip somewhere, haha.

  • Adam Wright

    I’m all for digital. It’s so much easier than carrying multiple books. I have pdfs and digital downloads galore of Warhammer stuff on my tablet. Physical books are cool for those that want them though. They could take the cost savings of not having to print so many books into lower cost for digital customers though lol.

    • NNextremNN

      Wait you expect things to get cheaper just because they are no longer physical? This is madness!

      (Not) funny sidenote this would actually be illegal in Germany as a book has to be sold for the same price everywhere. Yes we have laws for something like this and this includes digital version of books.

    • Walter Vining

      I thought the same thing until my Curse of the Wulfen edition had so many errors GW had to give me a refund, and I hate the digital edition of the BRB. my life is a pain.

      • Shawn

        Do you mean to say that your Curse of the Wulfen was a digitial version that had errors? And if so, what kind of errors are we talking aobut?

        • Walter Vining

          Missing sky claws entry, and had two swift claw entries. The summary page was wrong and missing information. I emailed them three times about when they would update.

          • Shawn

            That is kind of crazy. How do you make that kind of error on a digital codex? You make one original and then copy it a bazillion times over.
            I wonder if anyone else got that bugged edition.

          • Walter Vining

            I couldn’t have been the only one. It was on the ebook format but not sure about the other ones

      • Adam Wright

        I only use the enhanced editions for codexes and supplements on my iPad. They are much easier to use than the normal digital editions. I know that not everyone uses Apple technology though.

        • Walter Vining

          you need to come over to the Andriod Master race

  • Loki Nahat

    Digital editions are fine and dandy until a scene shift renders all devices either unsupported or incompatible, physical will always be #1 method of delivery with regards to games and rules

    Vedros aka 40k lite may turn into a page rule sheet for the kids, say rules for big model, small model and tank, that’s enough complications for the lower tier set, waac and 8 year olds

    40k will remain 40k as is

    they’re not revamping or dumbing down their main bread winner, (this also reflects onto 30k)

    • mac40k

      Hah! You’re more likely to see 9th ed before a scene shift renders all devices unsupported or incompatible with 8th.

  • TenDM

    I don’t think they’ll go all in with digital for 8th Edition. I suspect they’re going to try to keep the comparisons to Age of Sigmar to a minimum with 8th and slowly introduce things like this over time. Rapidly changing gears is a mistake.

    Honestly I think given all their changes in attitude over the past year or so they’re going to focus more on restoring consumer confidence than shaking things up. These things might appear as options, but they’ll be optional like the Dugout until people stop screaming the sky is falling any time something remotely AoS-like comes up.

  • Hendrik Booraem VI

    I agree with the statement below: Physical data much preferred over digital, even if it does cost more. Even if it does mean I necessarily don’t buy as many codexes.

    Because I can play when my cell phone is dead. Or even if I forgot my tablet. You? If your phone gets stolen on the way to the tournament, you might as well drop out, you tool.

    • euansmith

      What, you don’t use a burner phone to keep your tournament list secret? N00b error! 😉

      • Commissar Molotov

        “This codex will self-destruct in ten seconds.”

    • DJ860

      How exactly is that any different from a book getting stolen on the way to a tournament or a bag containing your phone and codex?

      As much as I love physical books, you know what you can’t do with a physical codex or rulebook, update it to a new version, for free, without leaving your sofa.

      There’s a place for both depending on a persons preference so to suggest environmental factors like battery running our or theft makes physical books better is frankly, ridiculous.

      What if you slip into a puddle and your book gets wet? What if the lights go out in the room and you can’t read the pages anymore? There statements are as ridiculous as yours.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        Yes but a book is much easier to use in way more scenarios. Frankly phones and tablets have limited power, and venues don’t always have ways of charging them, let alone the amount of players that may need to do so. Also Technology changes at a rapid pace, older versions stop receiving updates, or multiple versions can be floating around that were not updated. A book, aside from official FAQ documents does not keep changing for better or worse.

        • Viktor Julian

          There is something very handy now called ultra portatble powerbanks with 10.000 mHA batteries. Problem solved.

          • Severius_Tolluck

            Yes which also need charging, which also are easy to lose. You are quick to defend technology but technology changes. Phones change cords, and those rechargable blocks lose capacity along with your phone after time. I can keep looking at book so long as it is not trashed for decades. Also one or two books does not weigh more than your phone or cables. Also Easier and safer to pack unless again I am taking 9 which if you are building an army that does that .. well whole nother conversation. Plus its just faster for some of us old fuddy duddies to find something in a physical book then swiping and tapping around on a touch screen.
            The likelihood of problems occurring with something digital are way higher than physical. Just saying.

  • SirDavideo

    Start a subscription system, but on a rules/codex level.

    Lowest level – access to one codex and rules
    Middle tier – access to multiple different codex’s and rules
    Highest tier – all rules

    Includes old codex versions and automatic updates to the newest.

    • WhenDidVicesBecomeVirtues

      If they ever did this I could see unreasonable pricing – not netflix for ~$10 a month but instead crazy $90 a month pricing.

  • NNextremNN

    I don’t want them to digitize Codices I want a app like Battlescribe with pictures and maybe a way to access rules outside of lists.

    All the other fluff/stories/pictures I’d rather have as actual physical book.

    Maybe a gamephase helper which reminds you to do things. This could also be helpful for new players to show them what they can do in what phase.

  • Nyyppä

    Just as a note, the Azyr is horrible. It’s needlessly clunky and it does not offer even the basic rules for the units (unless it’s updated to do that now).

  • ZeeLobby

    Really wish colored e-readers existed. All day events or even a night of play after work just kills battery life. Nothing is more frustrating than looking something up mid game only to watch your screen fade to black.

    I do wish they’d separate rules from fluff. Even if it cost extra, I’d gladly take pure rules books which were the size of the older slim codexes. And then larger illustrated fluff books. Replacing a $10 rule book each year would be totally acceptable.

    • Shawn

      I like the fluff and rules together, even with painted art. It’s the endless pages of painted miniatures I can do without. Show case them in a separate magazine and/or place them into how to paint tutorials.

  • stinkoman

    I’ll keep my books and enjoy my hobby as is. Modelling, painting, list creating and gaming all take time, and I enjoy each piece. There are plenty of board games out there with a few pages and enough complexity that pick up and play faster when im not in the mood to put the time into a tabletop war game. But i like the vastness that is the 40k universe.

  • Agent of Change

    A note on the current implementation of digital management a la Blood Bowl.

    They’ll have to do a lot better than the My Dugout app.

    The idea is sound, and in initially i was excited about it and this is what i liked:

    – Creating teams was a snap, math was done for me.
    – Quick reference on stats and abilities
    – quick reference on the how to learnt he game section really helps when teaching a new player or doing demos

    But here are the things that ended up bothering me to the point I won’t use it any more in favor of pen and paper or other simpler digital solutions:

    – I have to re-buy rule books i already own to be able to reference them in the app and to have access to the teams included in those books.
    – I cannot manually edit teams or correct errors with stats, spp, etc…
    – the play a game is way to rigid there is no way to go back, if the app crashes or freezes or closes you’ll lose all progress/logs/spp recorded in the open session (so you have to track it all on paper anyway)
    – The actual tracking is clunky.
    – The focus seems more on making it look slick than functional
    – The teams released in faqs aren’t available in the app.

    Honestly digital tools are the bees knees but when I can and have just gone to simple free third party tools for everything i need/want for more than a decade GW needs to step up and offer tools that are inferior in all functional ways and only excel in provided a shiny GUI and more ways to pay.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Yeah you hit the nail on the head, all the same issues I had with it. The biggest being I couldn’t edit or view my team unless I was playing a game, which it wants me to input all values. It also does not allow for a tie breaker. Which I am sorry it is just faster for me to input data on a piece of paper than punch all my die rolls into the phone constantly.

    • Viktor Julian

      Valid points. Thumbs up.

  • Bergh

    microtransactions for better units and formations.
    Pay-to-win model. The Fanboyz will love it.

  • Roughneck

    More wishlisting presented as fact I see

  • Keith Wilson

    buy out battlescribe and do it right !!

  • SacTownBrian

    After 30 years in the hobby I’ve run out of room for the physical books and they hurt my back lugging around. Now it’s just the odd collectors edition or rare purchase that ends up on my book shelf. Everything else is digital. In fact i need more memory on my iPad…

  • Personally I would like to see an initial run in digital. Have the community get back to them with all the kinks and wording issues worked out so that when the physical gets printed it is not as big of an issue and is up to date.

  • The push to digital-only rules is exactly what’s driving me OUT of Warnachine. It sure as hell ain’t gonna drag me back into 40k.

  • Commissar Molotov

    Isn’t the AoS army-building app a “monthly subscription” thing?

    Yeah, naw, no effing way.

  • Ravingbantha

    I’ve got a lot of digital books for 40k and a few other games, but nothing will ever replace a hard copy. Despite all my digital copies I rely on my hard copies for every game I play.

    WOTC tried something like this with 4th edition D&Doctor, and it failed. Trying to digitize a physical game just doesn’t work.

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    Gork, bring on a 40k version of the AoS app. Having all the units and their rules at my fingertips would be super helpful pretty much all the time. I’m not quite sold on a subscription service for an army builder, but if it’s good, then I’ll at least consider it.

  • Viktor Julian

    Rules and dataslates will in the future be digital only. There are so many rules and FaQ updates constantly being made, and people demand answers and changes as soon as possible. The only way GW can do that is by having “living digital rules system” where people don`t have to wait for new codexes to be printed and then released. Ork, Tyranid and Dark Eldar players probably won`t have to wait for years to get rules updates that way. The future will see fluff separated from the rules and the background lore will be released in physical books for people who want to enjoy that, as it`s one of the codex contents that will very rarely need updates.

  • Witch Beatrice

    If only GW had say a code in the physical book for a free digital version. It would go a long way to offset the costs of printing a few books while maximizing sales of digital. To play nids which does not even have a decurion chart i need Codex tyranids, shield of baal, leviathan rising dataslates part 1 2 and 3 and forgeworld’s anphelion project as well as the main rule book and sometimes the apocalypse rulebook and Valedor campaign book for apoc formations. Oh yeah and stronghold or planetary strike and skies of death because the game should feel like college.

  • Carl James

    I always thought they should go down the whole Skylanders route with NFC slottabases. The NFC bases could go on the leader models and be written via an app to contain that units data: options and so forth.
    All one would then need to do it scan a bunch of units with your phone and it would automatically add up your army based on your own stock units.

  • Mr.psyker

    Has anyone here ever considered the 3DS and the VR cards? Being able to paint models and play against VR daemons would be neat. This isn’t new technology https://youtu.be/08Vv0TUPe0k