40K: How Gathering Storm Sets Up 8th Edition

The Gathering Storm’s story just set the stage for 8th Edition perfectly. Let’s talk about how.

We all know that Warhammer 8th Edition is going to be an edition of big changes. To do that properly Games Workshop has been planting seeds and hints all over the place. But they still had a huge obstacle to overcome: Inertia. Warhammer 40k has over 30 years of backstory/lore/fluff to deal with! So, as a writer, how do you deal with it with out just hitting the reset button again? You work with it instead of fighting it, again. Gathering Storm did just that.

Reset the Board, Not the Lore

Gathering Storm has done something I haven’t seen GW do in a long time – they reset the “State of the Board” so to speak. What do I mean by this? Well if you’ve ever played a CCG like Magic, you might be familiar with this tactic. When you wipe the board of all creatures/lands/resources. This is resetting the board back to zero. It’s the nuclear option and it something you only do if you have a plan to come back. Well, Games Workshop has done this from a narrative perspective. Look at what we have now:

  • An Expanding Eye of Terror
  • A Unified Imperium
  • A New “United” Eldar faction

Three of the biggest super powers of 40k have just consolidated power and redrawn the battle lines. Now the writers have a clean slate to work with…or maybe I should say a “clear” slate to work with. It’s easy to see who’s-who and what each faction’s goals are. It’s easy to point to the “leaders and key players” now. That’s where you want to be when you launch a new leg of a story.

All Sides Are Ready to Rumble

As I mentioned before the battle lines are drawn and the enemy is known. With the death of Cadia, the Eye of Terror is not contained – it’s easy to point to it as “Chaos Turf” and go from there. We still don’t know what all the consequences will be from that. And don’t forget all the damage that was done to the Fenris Sector. It’s not like the Space Wolves hold grudges or anything…

I play the “Long Game” too…

With Guilliman is also back and he’s got the full weight of the Imperium behind him. For the first time in almost 10,000 years the Imperium has a true leader they can point towards. And, love him or hate him, Guilliman knows how to get things done. Both sides are posturing from a position of strength. And it’s about to go down…

And Then There Were Xenos

Aside form the Eldar, the other Xenos factions didn’t seem to get a lot of attention. At first, I was a little ticked off because of this, however, now I’m kind of glad. Why? Because now the writers can go in when 8th comes out and talk about all the craziness the Xenos have been up to while the “adults” were fighting. And I’m willing to bet those “kids” have gone bonkers. You can’t ignore the Tyranids, Orks, and Necrons forever. The Tau can only do so much to maintain order…eventually fights start up then things get broken. If you’re a parent or teacher you know when you leave the room the kids will play…

I think this leaves a nice third option for the writers as well. If we’re buying into the Age of Sigmar style, that gives us an Order Faction, a Chaos Faction, and now a Xenos Faction. I think this is exactly what Games Workshop is shooting for, at least on some level. Re-structuring the factions into these big groups allows them to consolidate and get updates out en masse. We saw this at the start of AoS with the Grand Alliance Battletomes. I don’t think they will keep them consolidated forever, but it’s a good place holder until the new books can come out. If you look at AoS’s releases you can see that trend play out. It’s like Ravening Hordes, but for 40k’s 8th edition!

Gathering Storm has the story in a great starting point right now. It’s not the end of the story, it’s only the end of the beginning of the story. It’s up to the Games Workshop writers to take it to the next act of this galactic play. I can’t wait to see where they go from here!


How do you think the story will progress with the launch of 8th edition?

  • Christie Bryden

    slight problem with the idea of a xenos faction, none of them really like the other one, eldar wouldnt work with necrons for example. Tau may be more willing, but orks and nids, nope.

    • Parthis

      The Eldar are already setup to be their own faction, there are three types on the table top anyway.

      As for the other Xenos races, especially nids, it’s a tough sell.

      I don’t think it has to be an alliance though; it could be one race enslaving others in your army, with rules to support that?

      I guess the point i’m scrambling for is that while the imperium is an obvious alliance, there are opportunities for murkier, grimdark rules with the Xenos races.

    • Badruk

      I think the Xenos faction is more to Sub-categorize them.

      But it should be:
      Trying to survive Xenos (Necrons, Tau)
      Dangerous Xenos (Orkz and Tyrandis/Genestealers Cult)

      But yeah, I dont see a Tau high-5 a Tyranids… Unless you are call Matt Ward!

      • allheilstormcrow

        Trying to survive necrons?

      • Walter Vining

        and yeah the tau aren’t really trying to survive either. they are expanding always.

        • Guillermo Cordido

          and making bigger and more powerfull weapons

          • Nilok

            O’Fio: “Okay, I have a great idea. Let’s build a nova reactor facility on a moon and have it power a rail gun to test the energy limit. There is some risk that the recoil would cancel all the momentum from the moon and cause it to crash into the planet, but what are the chances that will happen?”

      • Or lump it “destruction” like in AoS but renamed. Something like “threats to the imperium” or whatever name GW can protect under an IP

    • Sam Nolton

      Yeah the rest of the xenos races shouldn’t ever become allies. If they’re going to do another “xenos triumvirate” maybe the Tau Empire unified at last? Or at least a truce drawn between the Empire and Farsight Enclaves?

      • Moonsaves

        Orkimedes and a brand new Ghazghkull and Nazdreg.

    • rtheom

      Easy solution: Tyranids eat all of the other factions and produce strains based off of them. 🙂 Problem solved. Technically that was actually already the case, but GW decided that was too weird or something. But in 3rd edition nids, Biovore = ork, Zoanthrope = eldar, Tyrant Guard = space marine. 🙂

    • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

      Sisters regularly gun down Guardsmen at the drop of a hat, Loyalist Marine Chapters nurse millennia-long grudges between each other, and half the Imperium thinks that the Cult Mechanicus is Heresy, and yet they’re all Battle Bros, so I fail to see having 3 factions known for contracting out or hiring warriors or engaging in piracy working together being a bad thing, fluffwise.

      • af

        I’m not an expert in 40K lore, but don’t all those factions nominally work for mankind (or the Imperium), even if there is infighting? If so, that’s different.

        A xenos alliance wouldn’t work for Orks (who just want to kill you for the sport of it) and *especially* not for Tyranids: they share no common goal with you, even nominally — they just want to consume you. I can see temporary alliances working only for “rational” aliens such as Eldar or Tau.

        • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

          Agree with you on Nids (very specific fluff instances excepted), but Blood Axes exist, so mercenary action on their part is not unheard of. Nids are a kind of Fire and Forget ally, where by the time your enemy has dealt with them, they’ve been too busy to thwart your plans.

          • af

            Out of curiosity, can the Tyranids be reasoned with, a pre requisite for even ‘fire and forget’ allies? I thought the Great Devourer was a force of nature; to borrow a term from Ender’s Game, I thought they were ‘varelse’: so alien that communication is impossible. Also like xenomorphs from the Aliens franchise: you cannot ally with them, at most you can deploy them as bio weapons, but for that you need to be able to contain them… and is that at all possible with Tyranids?

            I’m ready to stand corrected if my interpretation of Nids is mistaken.

          • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

            You don’t really need to reason with Tyranids; you just need to not be standing anywhere out in the open when you set them loose. Most of the time in the fluff, they get unleashed upon the enemy, either by capturing vanguard organisms that call the swarm, or by Psychic/sorcerous manipulation bringing tendrils of the swarm onto a world that their hive fleets are nowhere near. The Aliens comparison is apt, as usually, the people trying to use them invariably get eaten.

          • af

            Right. Now I see it, luring the Tyranids to your enemy would work. But that’s still not an ally you can fight shoulder to shoulder with, right? (Unless you want to lose a shoulder, I guess) How do allies work in 40K?

          • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

            Nids ally at the “Come the Apocalypse…” level with most armies, save Genestealer Cults as Allies of Convenience, meaning that their units can’t be joined by Characters from other Factions, can’t benefit from their ally’s special rules, unless those rules affect the game as a whole (i.e.: reserves manipulation, rerolling Seize Initiative, etc), and, with the exception of Genestealer Cults, cannot begin the game within 12″ of an allied unit, and force a test to see if either unit acts in a turn if they begin a turn within 6″ of an allied unit. Luckily, Nids have lots of alternative deployment methods, so the deployment restrictions aren’t too difficult to work around.

  • John Rufi

    Just fix orks. Please, that’s one thing I want real bad. Maybe give them toughness 5. If ghazghkull calls a waaagh they should get feel no pain. #makewaaaghsgreatagain

    • V0iddrgn

      How great would it be to get Preferred Enemy when a Waaagh! is called?! Then our shooty units can get a buff too.

      • John Rufi

        Maybe give lootas a gitfinda

    • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

      Igo-Ugo assaults will help. Killing Initiative will help. Assaulting from debarkation (which they sort of already do, but would now be able to do with ‘Ardcase’d Trukkz and Wagonz) will help. Point-blank shooting will hurt against Tau, Guard, and Necrons, but will keep them relevant in a more assault-friendly ruleset. Fixing Leadership will likewise help, but they likely won’t fix everything with the reboot.

  • Karru

    Nothing good nor interesting will actually be waiting for us in the future I’m afraid. The future of 40k lore is just a scratched record repeating. Threat befalls on the Imperium from one threat, worlds are lost and suddenly Imperium pulls a miracle and the day is saved once again. It won’t be anything devious or genius, it will literally be a miracle. GW likes to do its thing of “THIS SITUATION IS REALLY, REALLY BAD! THIS TIME IMPERIUM WON’T SURVI… Oh wait, what’s that? IT’S GUILLIMAN WITH A STEEL CHAIR!! ABADDON IS OUT COLD!! SOMEONE STOP THIS MATCH!!”

    I might have gotten of the rails towards the end there, but you get the gist of it.

    • Oggthrok

      WHAT? GULLIMAN’S NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TONIGHT! I guess this grudge match won’t be settled tonight after all, we’ll have to tune in for the Pay Per View “SUMMER APOCALYPSE” in June.

    • deris87

      BUH GAWD!

    • af

      Isn’t a scratched record repeating exactly what the hopeless future of 40K is all about? Why would fans want the story to evolve?

      • Karru

        You are partially right. The difference in this situation and why its bad is thanks to the inability of GW to write good stories in their books.

        The stories are all the same, bad guys come with some bloodthirsty goal in which they slaughter through Imperial defences like they are nothing. Then comes the Emperor’s own Spahs Mahreens with their metal bawkes to defeat the enemy. Then happens the “twist” in which the Space Marines somehow fail to do the thing they are supposed to and all seems “hopeless”. Then comes the miracle which saves the day.

        The characters from both sides are extremely bland and boring. Chaos forces are these bloodthirsty maniacs who only care about skulls, blood and entrails. They are no longer devious and cunning warlords that outwit their opponents into traps they’ve set up in order to succeed with their plan, no matter how many of his own he has to sacrifice. Basically they are the stereotypical Chaos leaders taken to the extremes.

        Same thing goes with Xenos. Tau Commanders are these strategic geniuses who can outmanoeuvre Imperials and their foes at every turn. Nothing can stop them and their amazing technology. Ork Warbosses are brutal and stomp their way through countless Imperial armies with their massive WAAAAGH!! “the size Imperium has never seen”. Eldar leaders are these “as the prophecy told” people that do nothing but rely on their farseers and their visions. They do nothing for themselves and constantly moan about their “small numbers” and their loath towards the “mon-keigh”.

        And then comes the best part. All those “unstoppable forces of destruction” that rampage through the Imperium certainly have no one that can beat them. I mean, time and time again they are “unbeatable” and lead massive armies that just sweep across Imperial defenders like they are nothing but thin air.


        Space Marines are the answer. Somehow Space Marines always are the answer. Of course, they are not answer right out of the gate, because GW needs to false drama seep into the reader. In the end though, it will always end up as Imperium winning the battle, most likely led by Space Marines.

        The problem is the extremely bland characters and stories GW does now. The hopelessness is gone from the game. You always know that the Imperium will succeed in the end. They might lose some random worlds, but none of them are extremely important or they somehow just rebuild.

        • *** Spoilers ***
          Cadia fell… and from the looks of it isn’t coming back.

          Guilliman didnt make it to earth be cause of Space Marines, he did it because of Fallen & Eldar

          Not sure what there showed that Space Marines are the Answer to everything

          What has happened before isnt likely to be what happens again, Age of Sigmar proved that they will shake up the lore and change where its going.

          • Karru

            Cadia fell, yes, but the heroes critical to the story miraculously survived to continue their journey. Also, wasn’t it the Phalanx that made sure Cadia wasn’t destroyed from orbit by the World Killer?

            Guilliman is the Space Marine in this story. He is the “miracle” that the Imperium needed to continue fighting. Also, the Fallen are Space Marines.

            Starting to see a pattern?

            I worded it somewhat poorly, but its the annoying “miracles” that GW keeps pulling off at key moments. Especially since they like to release new characters alongside these “new story developments”. You know they aren’t going to kill them so why make that fake atmosphere like they are in some sort of trouble or danger? Just make them outwit the enemy right out of the gate and get on with it. No need for the “will they survive this trap? Find out next time on Dark Millennium Z”.

            And they keep getting more and more ridiculous. Sure, no one bats an eye that the Eldar suddenly want to resurrect the Ultramarine Primarch. Adeptus Mechanicus would absolutely LOVE to help Xenos in that. Same thing with the Space Marines. Grey Knights also surely absolutely adore the Fallen and the most mysterious man in the galaxy, Cypher.

            That’s why I literally see nothing good for the future of 40k. Absolutely nothing will happen but utter bs.

            That’s why I call the Gathering Storm the End Times of 40k. While it didn’t destroy the galaxy like End Times did to the Old World, it had a similar effect. That effect was writing off the old lore so the writers can replace it with their own without doing something that could be considered “lore-breaking”.

          • AX_472

            you could apply that same logic to any franchise or even genre. there are no original stories. its all in the details not the over all structure. when you’re writing about the grim dark future where there is only war there’s not a lot of room for variety. gathering storm had some great details and continued the current plot of “the destined time when the imperium is on the brink of disaster and the legends of old return as promised to defend it or enact revenge”

          • Karru

            You seem to miss the point here.

            The key to a good story is to have an interesting thing between the start and finish. This is what GW isn’t doing well. The stories are basically all the same. Bad guys beat the good guys to the verge of defeat and boom, they are miraculously saved.

            The entire story right out of the gate always feels so dumb. Especially since they do it so badly. The bad guys are always described as these unstoppable forces of destruction that for some reason get stopped at a key moment. It’s like a sandbox fight between kids. “My guy has invincibility armour so you can’t harm him!”, “Oh yeah? Well my guy has a gun that can kill your guy so take that!”, “You can’t do that, I’m invincible!”, “I just did.”

            Then there is the lack of character. All the new characters literally feel like “Generic Dude A, B and C”. They have so generic backstories or they border on the fanfic territory that would make Matt Ward proud.

            That’s the problem. They lost all their good writers and refuse to hire new good ones. The current writers are so childish and dull in their writing that it just makes one sad to read that stuff and then look back at the old fluff and see all that character, backstory and setting go to waste.

            Look at all the Chaos Lords we’ve been getting recently. Khorne, Khorne, Khorne, Khorne and more Khorne. Either that or just generic bloodthirsty murderers who only care about the number of heads they get to remove that day. Even Abaddon has been turned into that, slowly but surely. Gone are the days of cunning Chaos Lords that made the Imperium play right into their hands.

          • stinkoman

            there is also a fine balance between fluff and rules and keeping the precious plastic you bought from them, valid. I know AoS shook up the fluff to a point where the game was not the same and pissed off a lot of fantasy players. they have to be careful to align the fluff to the crack they sell us. it’s not like they get free reign to write whatever they want. they are tied to the merchandise.

          • Karru

            Actually, they kinda do have a free reign when it comes to this stuff. Gathering Storm proved that real hard. They can design a character and then come up with a reason they thought during a bathroom break why this character suddenly exists and who he is aligned with.

            Same goes with the factions. They can basically do whatever they please because they can just write some bs explanation. That’s why I wouldn’t even me surprised if the next expansion kicked off with Imperium and Eldar being super friends with each other. I mean, Guilliman basically treats them like old friends at this point, same thing with Celestine and Cawl.

  • Sz

    Prologue: Sorry for the long post– I got rolling, and have had a lot on my mind re: this kind of topic.

    This is all a great idea (save the ‘xenos’ faction)…

    …until GW only thinks about it halfway through, leaves gaping holes in the list-building rules, and every shameless min-maxer figures out ways to assemble armies with no weaknesses whatsoever. So until GW shows they can walk and chew gum at the same time (something they have never really been good at doing,) I hope things stay as divided as possible. I hope we see an end to allies, and everybody has to stay in their lane. GW just can’t pull it off any other way, and we have decades of evidence here.

    I love the models, and the games (at times,) but they are just not up to the task of thinking beyond the ‘oooh that sounds kewl!’ when it comes to innovation. I hate to say it, but less is more for us. The less choice they offer the more fairness and balance we are likely to get… …or do you think ‘soulburst’ was a well-conceived mechanic and adds enjoyment to the overall game? I am optimistic about the 8th over the potential of what we gain by losing. I sound like a jerk, but this crew isn’t terribly good at coming up with big new ideas that improve the game. I think about what has excited me lately, and it’s all recycled GW past. Good past mind you, and I’m glad it’s coming back, but still not new.

    I am just hoping after a raft of terrible prequels, we get a; maybe somewhat uninspired yet competent, ‘Force Awakens’ 8th Edition that gets the game on some decent footing.

  • Nyyppä

    I hope not. Nothing related to this stuff is balanced and I’d like to play the game again when 8th comes.

  • ZeeLobby

    So some people think we might have another year of storms gathering until 8th. That’d be really disappointing :(.

  • Ravingbantha

    Just like AoS, we get all the current armies lumped together into large parent factions, only to see them further broken down into even small factions later on.

    • ZeeLobby

      Thereby completing the cycle of god only knows what!

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        the cycle of endless battletomes

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Keep the Nids and their cultists in their own faction, and I’ll be alright with Orks, Tau, and Crons working together.

  • SWISSchris

    Repeat until the heat death of the universe: It’s a setting not a story.

  • Herkamer63

    Here’s how, I think, it’ll all breakdown from an armybook perspective. First off, codices are NOT going away! With that said, I can see reduction of the amount of armybook out there. Like all Imperial SM books in one (or 2) big codices, with Coded Adeptus Astartes on it, Codex Eldar with all 4 armies (CW, Harl DE, and Ynari) all in 1 book, Codex Chaos and all of it’s armies, and so on and so forth. The supplements would probably evolve into the equivalent of current codices with their own set of special rules, formations, detachments, and relics.

    I don’t know if I agree with the “reset” statement per se because much of it, I think, will stay the same, but changes are coming, no doubt.

  • Donovan Palmer

    GW has said several times that they aren’t going to AOS 40k. Now obviously they are taking inspiration from some of the most successful parts of AOS, but to assume that 40k is going to consolidate down to 4 “Grand Factions” is a little presumptive. Not to say that it is impossible, I just think it is unlikely based on what we have been told, and seen.

    I think it is far more likely we will see several consolidated books bringing together and reorginizing the existing armies to make things more streamlined.

  • Nightwalker

    side note… would it kill you to proof read at least once before posting? Mistakes such as ” So, as a writer, how do you deal with it with out just hitting the reset button again? You work with it instead of fighting it, again” and

    “Well if you’ve ever played a CCG like Magic, you might be familiar with this tactic. When you wipe the board of all creatures/lands/resources.”

    really detract from the otherwise nicely written article you have here. Makes it look like you aren’t willing to put in the effort, coming across as you don’t have as strong of a passion for this like you probably have.

    I hope you take this as constructive criticism and not a blatant attack. You’re also (un)fortunate as this is the second article in a row to just have errors that really stand out for me.

  • While I understand the parallels, much like in AoS each faction is it’s own and it’s only roughly aligned ideologically with others, so is 40k and that’s not going to change.

    Looking at it another way, we have for now 3 clear factions, Chaos (CSM, Demons etc…), Imperium (SM, AM, Inq, etc…) and Eldar (Craftworlds, Dark Eldar, exodites?).

    The rest of the 40k factions don;t fall under any of these three categories and with the exception of the Tau (big exception there) would not align with any other faction for any length of time.

    Orks don’t care about the state of the galaxy, so long as they get a good fight and with the current state, they are very happy indeed. Thus they are as always their own faction (call it destruction for lack of a better term)

    Necrons seek to subjugate all the races and once again become the supreme power in the galaxy, they will only ever rarely join with other factions, but only rarely and temporarily to serve their own agenda (again for lack of a better term and because thematically it fits, call them death)

    The Nids are only here to consume, it doesn’t matter who gets in their way, they are all equal targets (yes, even Necrons and chaos) because of this as always they make their own little faction, because I like the name and it fits, call them Annihilation.

    Then, there are the Tau, this one would fit nicely within the Imperium faction, mostly because despite the enmity and with Guilliman at its head, they are sort of aligned. however the current state of affairs favors the Tau.

    With the Imperium completely consumed by the need to contain the ascendant forces of Chaos, they cannot really spare the resources to trully contain the Tau. The Eldar care very little about the Tau, so safe on that front and the other races don;t look that way, so the Tau are once gain given a literal free hand to expand almost at will. This will of course bring the Tau into conflict with every race out there, so it fits thematically with the current times of all out war.

    And once again in the far future (less grim than usual) there is only war.

  • Kostas Pap Gus

    Gathering Storm has many similarities with the The End Times. Cadia fell like Aldorf, Eldar unified like Elves, great heroes appeared again in the story in both stories.
    The evolution of the Gathering Storm’s story was a little predictable.
    I wont be surprised if they resurrect the Emperor and make him something like a God like they did with Sigmar.

  • Erber

    I think the tau and necron factions could be combined, but orks and tyranids would likely be their own seperate factions and the eldar factions will most likely be their own seperate faction.

    I can see 40k having 7 factions:
    Radical imperium – the parts of the imperium that follow Guilliman in stop worshipping the emperor and sets out to form their new empire where humanity is it’s own master. Likely including several space marine chapters, guardsmen, the mechanicus, assassins etc.
    Fantical imperium – the parts of the imperium that stay devoted to the emperor’s holy will. Including sisters of battle, the custodes, sisters of silence, a few space marine chapters, as well as guardsmen etc.
    Chaos – all the chaos stuff just like before. Just this time combined into one codex. The nature of chaos hardly changed from fantasy to aos and I don’t think it will be different for 40k.
    Eldar – Simply all the eldar factions forced into co-existance after the events of the end times.
    Orks – Still doing what orks do best. Just drifting around the galaxy starting fights.
    Tyranids – still trying to eat everything. This time combined as one codex with the genestealer cult because that makes a lot of narrative sense. The cult as the vanguard and the tyranids as the greater force arriving later.
    Taucrons – The tau ally with the ancient necrons to survive the cataclysmic events. Maybe sharing eachothers technology in some fashion. The necrons might have some use for advanced tau pulse technology or simply save the tau as long as they serve them in exchange.

    In the end my predictions could be completely wrong and the ultramarines end up joining the orks or something banal like that, you never know with gw… but this seems like a reasonable way to narrow down the exessive amount of armies currently in 40k.

  • NNextremNN

    Seriously??? You call Xenos “kids”??? Okay Tau yes but all the other Xenos are far older than humanity. Necrons, Eldar and Orks were already fighting each other when the old ones were still around. And tyranids already ate galaxies.

    And just because the imperium classifies them all as xenos you shouldn’t do that too it make just as much sense as calling them kids.

  • A fine article then you had to ruin it with xenos …

    :’ (