40K Deep Thought: RPGs & Card Games?

The tabletop industry is growing – and GW has so many opportunities for growth – they just need to take them.

Once upon a time GW took their IP into all the big genres of the industry.

Back in the early 90s, we had this guy:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – A game revolutionary for it’s era – an RPG idiosyncratic to this day. It had a very unique career/class system and the dire threat of a grim death around every corner. Just look at this sample career and character sheet:

Burninating all the peoples…

GW had the original 40K RPG, Dark Heresy made by Black Industries, shortly before they started the lengthy deal with FFG.

FFG then ran with it and cranked out about 1001 different 40K RPGs for Inquisitors, Rogue Traders, Imperial Guard, Sisters, Marines, Chaos Marines, Servo Skulls, Sister Servo Skulls, Rogue Trader Servo Skulls, Cyber-mastiffs and 991 others – they do that…

Card Games

Anyone remember this guy?

Way back in the day Sabretooth made a 40K CCG. It’s where all the original awesome Horus Heresy Artwork came from like this:

It slid under the wave and years later FFG kicked out their LCG: 40,000 Conquest:

The Industry is Waiting

GW has changed it’s tune, and is cranking out great tabletop content full speed ahead. We’ve seen Black Library start rebooting classics like Blood Bowl and Shadow War Armageddon this past year. Adeptus Titanicus and Battlefleet Gothic are coming down the pipe. But If there is something you can learn from FFG – it’s to go BROAD…

Take a look at those products up there and then think of these as well:

A CHEAP simple game of fighter to fighter combat… (space or atmospheric would be fine)


A dice-based card/deckbuilding game that is collectible and playable within 10 mins of buying it. 

Would you Buy It?

GW knows how to do the miniatures and hobby side of things like no one else in the industry. But they have much less depth of experience and expertise as they leave that section of the industry. Now note that the tabletop miniatures sector of the industry is the smallest and the slowest growing. RPGs, Card Games, board games, and casual games all dwarf it in size and revenue.

I have a funny feeling that GW may wonder if the market is really there for their IP if they enter these markets.

If they build it – will they come?

So that’s the big question for you gamers – would you buy in?

If GW cranked out an Age of Sigmar RPG, or a 40K take on Dicemasters/Star Wars Destiny, or just a straight up CCG/LCG would you run for the hills, or give it a try?

As folks get into life and get married, have kids and life starts to take all your free time – there is something to be said for games that you can buy into and play easily. I’d be happy to get my Grimdark fix in a variety of shapes and sizes – some grad wargames that take a while to setup and play, and others I can play in 30 minutes.

~What about you?



  • Nerdazoid

    A 40K RPG would be awesome. I do think it would need to be built carefully. The galaxy is huge and there are countless adventures to be had. But let’s say I could play as an astartes. How fun would that really be?
    If I on the other hand could start as a nobody on a hive world, where legends told of warriors in the sky and so on. That could create a fantastic atmosphere and setting.
    Perhaps later (with expansions) my nobody from that hive world reaches space (perhaps crewing for a rogue trader) and actually meet astartes (and live to tell the tale), I think they could be great NPCs/deus ex machina.
    So yes, an RPG where the mighty table top characters are only backdrop for all those untold human tales to be experienced by the players. I’d love to play that!

    • RL

      You havent heard of deathwatch rpg?

      • Nerdazoid

        Sorry no, I have no experience with earlier RPGs in the 40K universe. I just posted my thoughts on the matter.

        • PGConley

          Yeah, I hate to be that guy, but the FFG line of RPGs pretty much had rules of place for everything that you mentioned, and the beautiful part of them is that they were all separate, but could interact seamlessly. ONly War focused on IG, Dark Heresy the =I=. Deathwatch..well the Deathwatch, Black Crusade Chaos, Rogue Trader..Well Rogu Trader. And if there was something else you wanted to focus on it was really easy to do. I’ve been in or seen campaigns that started as Only War, only for some of the Guardsmen to be recruited by the =I= for a Dark Heresy Game, or be corrupted and start a Black Crusade Game. I’ve had someone roll up a Deathwatch character for one of my Inquisitor’s that became very powerful.

          These are relatively recent, and if you’re comfortable with the fact that they will be unsupported and not expanded any more I highly encourage you to check them out, they are a great system and have great lore.

          Luckily GW has dropped hints about the future of 40k RPGs, I believe their is a link below, but I know for a long while the FFG ones will be played because they were that good.

          • Scatter 667

            wow, THX! haven’t heard about the FFG 40k rpgs. definetely have to look into them! Maybe the problem is, that they outsourced it and weren’t promoting them themselves. I hope they somehow start that thing by themselves and work with game designers. seems they did that for the AoS skirmish too. The guy who developed Hinterlands was playing the demo game on warhammer tv. i keep my fingers crossed;-)

          • Dr.Clock

            Yes. I’m a few months into getting to grips with the FFG system(s), which are pretty consistent. It works pretty darn well with my existing model collection and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to put together homebrew NPCs and enemies pretty rapidly.

            Just ran an encounter last night where I threw a bunch of zombies/pestigor and Nurgle Dark Mech rat-things at my party. Things got very filthy, very quickly.

            The party is 1) an AdMech ‘plumber’ from Necromunda, 2) his Goliath bodyguard, 3) a recent Sororitas Schola grad doing field training for the Hospitaler, and 4) her Schola ‘sister’ who ended up in the Arbites. They’re all on assignment to a clandestine Hospitaler research station, but the AdMech have shown up to run their own pretty secret ‘Titan recovery operation’ on the second continent that is dominated by a ruined Hive… First Act was basically figuring out ‘what the AdMech was doing’ and convincing them to align with the Sororitas mandate, and now the party’s in the mix investigating what’s apparently Dark Mech interference in the recovery effort. Good Times.

          • Scatter 667

            That sounds interesting! Would like to try that and explore the universe in a very different way;-) i thought its an rpg, so are you requiered to use miniatures or do you just like to make it more D&D-esque? For me the beauty of an rpg is the pen&paper approach with vague drawings and the rest is left to imagination. Felt always a bit wired to actually feel the character when there was a miniature on the table representing it.

          • Dr.Clock

            No minis req’d.

          • Scatter 667

            thats nice, so everyone can go her/his own way, nice!:-)

          • BrianDavion

            that did feel to be a problem, if they carried the core books in GW shops, and advertised how one could sue 40k minis with the RPGs. they coulda brought in a lot of gamers into 40k. the narrative appriuch GW seems to favor for their games is almost MORE RPG in mindset then war game

  • Luca Lacchini

    Oh gods, I have the Sabretooth CCG, with a couple extra faction exp, hidden somewhere in a box… such an awesome, characterful and needlessly complicated game!
    GW has a hidden mine of card and RPG gold to plunder, but it will be kind of hard pressed to be on par with the FFG products made on license; Rogue Trader+Only War+Dark Heresy made for the holy trinity of WH40K roleplaying, WHF 3rd edition was a much underestimated game with an impressive amount of innovation (and very true to the setting), and the various card and board games were ranging from good to excellent.

  • orionburn

    I’ve never been a fan of all the comparisons to games like X-wing. It isn’t to say the game system isn’t good, but come on – if it weren’t for the draw of a massive IP like Star Wars I’d walk right past it at my gaming store like I do with a ton of other games sitting on their shelf.

    I think GW has been doing really well (despite a few big blunders here in there) and heading in the right direction, and personally speaking I think that is largely due to focusing on their core products. The old days of throwing anything and everything out there to see what sticks didn’t work out so well for them, or us for that matter. I’d rather have 4-5 high quality games vs. 10 mediocre ones. Seeing a new game come out only to fail miserably doesn’t make that company look good. That’s the risk of business and taking chances, but as those failures pile up it causes people to lose faith in their other products.

    • VanosOfManos

      You’re correct about X-Wing sailing just on the laurels of it’s IP. We used to have it right next to Wings of Glory at the LGS I work at and even though we stressed to everyone who asked that it’s basically WW1/2 X-Wing, it never moved.

      As much as I’d love to see a 40K space combat game again, I’d hate to see it look at X-Wing for it’s inspiration. They already did it great once: just bring back Battlefleet Gothic!

      • orionburn

        Out of all the specialist games making a comeback Gothic is the one I’m most excited for. Between 8th edition of 40k, Adeptus Titanicus, and the return of Gothic it’s going to be a good couple of years of gaming. Not so much for my wallet, but I’ll be happy!

        • VanosOfManos

          I’ve still got to break down and pick up the Battlefleet Gothic video game. I love that game so much: I used to have so much of it before I was an idiot and sold it off. Do I ever regret that now! Same with Man O’ War!

          • orionburn

            I have the BFG: Leviathan game for my phone. The AI can be daft but it’s a fun way to relive the tabletop game on the cheap. My gaming group fell apart not long after BFG came out years ago so I never go to truly enjoy it. Been a long time coming to play it again.

          • BrianDavion

            BFG:A is pretty good, but it’s pretty much a single plkayer game at this point, the multiplayer community is non existant apparently

  • Scatter 667

    An RPG would be nice so one could play and flash out one of those bazillions of creatures out there and experience the universe in a different way. it wouldn’t be to much of an efford and would open up a different market.
    I’m not into card games and never was. i don’t see the point of buying paper when i can buy minis for close to the same money.
    I would like to see some kind of multiplayer board game, maybe tile based. With minis of different factions like small warbands in pre-colored plastic, snap fit and with different weapon and gear options to snap on. This would enable playability right out of the box. It would be 2d and wouldn’t requiere terrain but just tiles, like space hulk, hive, dungeon or ruined city. One could later add 3d objects and also maybe buy small faction boosters, 4 different minis, again snap fit with additional options to expand on. Maybe much like Necromunda back in the day. This would make it playable right out of the box and it could scale towards shadow war, then kill team and later full 40k. Might help to get people interested.
    Keep in mind they will release shadowspire, which is kind of a tile based, 1 vs 1 board game with competitive play in mind. not my cup of tea, but they try out new stuff!

  • sleeplessknight

    RPGs, board games and card games have all been done in the past to varying degrees of success. But I’m surprised GW hasn’t licensed action figures out of their properties yet. I’d buy the crap out of that. (non-posable mini statues don’t count)

    • euansmith

      1/6th Scale Space Marines; you gotta collect ’em all? Yes please.

      • Scatter 667

        but a 6′ by 4′ will be quiet small for a game than, wouldn’t it;-)

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Toy market is soooo much more revenue maker then our niche. People would love em. I know people were just so fascinated by THQ’s Space Marine and knew nothing of the tabletop but would have loved to buy busts pre painted.

  • Mathew G. Smith

    They discontinued the 40k RPG line less than a year ago. Why are people talking like it’s some obscure reference from decades past?

    • PGConley

      Yeah I’m not sure, I just wrote a bigger post up top, they were friggin amazing.

  • Wolfman UK
  • Matt Mo

    Personally, when I heard FFG was severing ties with GW I snatched up all the RPG books because A) I had always wanted to play and didn’t want to miss out forever and B) those books are gorgeous and loaded to the gills with good fluff.

    I even fired up a 40k rpg game night. Anyone interested in skype sessions?

    • Severius_Tolluck

      God, that is about the only way I can play these days! I nearly have every book ever printed!

  • Ronin

    Sad ffg and gw split ways. The games they made were fantastic and I was really looking forward to more expansions for Forbidden Stars.. Aka. Risk in speeessss

  • Old zogwort

    Rogue trader is fun, but the 40k setting is kinda off putting for most regular rpg players. Since it is just too grim dark. Most ship battles result in thousands of deaths and the game has an unusual obsession with uncontrolled vomiting, gore and social oppression.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      That is the setting, you could simply reskin the mechanics.

  • VanosOfManos

    I only have one request for potential future Age of Sigmar / 40K RPGs: please, for the love of the Emperor, go with a rules lighter system. The industry as a whole has moved away from clunky rules systems and while I’d never suggest bringing it down to a Fate or Apocalypse Engine game, there’s plenty of middle ground.

    I really enjoyed my time with both Dark Heresy and Deathwatch, and before that WHFRP, but it can be a real drag to teach to new players, and combat can be a real slog. Things like D&D 5th and Savage Worlds prove you can do all the action in a nice streamlined manner while still leaving plenty of room for horror and intrigue.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Id never play a new 40K RPG because i’ve been playing in FFG 40k RPGs for so long, they are so well loved and such solid rulesets with SO MUCH cross-play ability.

  • Pyrrhus of Epirus

    ive got zero interest in buying things like this, 40k IP or not. I dont play magic or other card games for a reason, having a picture of a space marine on one of them changes nothing for me.