Horus Heresy: 7th or 8th Edition?

Games Workshop has a huge decision to make – will the Horus Heresy use the 40k 7th or 8th edition ruleset?

Let’s pretend you’re the CEO of GW. You’ve got a decision to make and it’s going to be a big one that could impact a lot of the loyal player base. Change is coming for your “main” 40k game and you have to choose what will happen with the smaller, but popular (and very profitable due to Forge World) Horus Hersey Age of Darkness setting. Do you keep the rules as is, with one foot firmly planted in 7th, or do you press on, bite the bullet and swap to 8th?

Before you answer that, let’s talk about those two options. Option 1 is to stay with the 7th edition ruleset. We wrote up a few ideas on how we think that could work – and it could work! The rules are done, the books are mostly out, and the players seems to enjoy it already – so why else would you keep it? It comes down to two big things: rules continuity and keeping those loyal players happy. I feel like these reasons to keep 7th are pretty obvious so I won’t harp on those too much more. However, staying with 7th might not be the smartest move as a company…

Why Move to 8th?

As a company, moving to 8th might be a wiser move in the long run. It does a couple of things for them at high-level strategic perspective:

  • It supports 8th Edition as the “Flagship” game – The Hersey Era has always looked to 40k for it’s core mechanics it would make sense that if the “core” game is updated then the sub-genre would update, too.


  • It makes the swap between the two games easier for new players – One of the big goals for 8th was to re-engage existing players and capture new players. 8th Edition is a faster, lighter, and tighter ruleset (from what we’ve seen so far). For most of the fans of The Age of Darkness setting, they started in 40k and then shifted over. Keeping the ruleset consistent makes that transition much easier.


  • As a business, it’s all about getting players to “upgrade” to 8th – like it or not, GW is a company and they want to stay in business. To stay in business, they need people to keep buying their products. If you already have an existing army with all the books that means you’re not buying any new stuff. Sure, there are folks out there that will keep adding to their army or start new ones, those folks continue to remain customers. But for a lot of people, they make a huge one time investment in rules and their forces…and that’s it. One way for GW to keep them coming back to make those smaller purchases is to release new books or units. And nothing sells books like a new edition of a game…


  • Historically, it’s what Games Workshop has always done – Going back as far as the company has been producing games, every time there has been a new edition, eventually everything gets replaced. Sure, there were some “transition” books, things that worked as the “bridge” between editions. However, there have also been those painful transitions where GW just ripped the band-aid off completely and started over. If GW kept 7th as a ruleset for Horus Heresy, then it would be the outlier and not the norm. Again, that could work…but it’s not what they have done in the past.


  • Converting to 8th is not actually hard, it’s just a lot of work – If you look at the 18 legions, they all use the same basic army list. Individually, they each have their own special rules (usually a page or so), a Primarch, a couple special characters, and a few special units. Breaking that down, it’s really only 5 pages per legion…that’s really not that much. And for all the non-marine legion army lists that are out there, they might have a dozen or so units for each. If Games Workshop really wanted to, they could go over each unit and convert them over to an 8th Edition ruleset, crank out some PDF updates and be ready to go. It would take some work for sure, but I wouldn’t consider that super difficult design work.

It’s not like GW is ever going to get to “The End” of the BL series, AMIRITE?!

Personally, I have a legion army already and I bring it out for special occasions. Right now, I’m more interested getting the full 8th edition ruleset than anything else. And from talking to the Heresy Era players, they feel like the 7th edition ruleset currently works fine for them but they are also eager to look at 8th. Would it suck to have to replace all those fancy HH books? Yes. Absolutely! But it’s not like your models are going to suddenly burst into flame if the edition switches…

Whatever GW decides to do, it’s a big decision with a lot of ripple effects down the line. I could see GW sticking with 7th but I could also see a business reason to move forward. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what GW chooses.


So what would you do as the GW CEO? Would you make the move that would keep the short term status quo or would you want to shake things up for the long term gains?

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    You missed out a third option. Rewrite 7th specifically for HH games, so the rules include all the HH special rules, FOCs etc and perhaps correct a few of 7ths flaws. This would be the best of all worlds as far as I can tell.

    • Chuck

      If they doggedly keep it in 7th, I think that’d be somewhat inevitable.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        It would fulfil the need to sell people stuff too.

      • Chad Morrison

        Forge world already said that HH is going to 8th

        • Till the product is announced though they could easily change their minds

          • Matthew Hoag

            Very true.

        • Matthew Hoag

          Actually they did not. They have said they are staying with 7th and not planning to change anytime soon.

          • Hussein Alobaidi

            So which is it? Any references to back either claim ?

          • Matthew Hoag

            They said back at the weekender that they planned to stick with 7th for some time even if 40k got an update. Plus their own website says in several places that they are staying with 7th.

          • Walter Vining

            actually Pete Foley confirmed that it will go to 8th. Just not right away.

          • Matthew Hoag

            He made no official statement to that effect, he simple voiced that the game will eventually update, but there is no timeline for when or how that will happen, it might not even be to 8th.

    • AnomanderRake

      Given the amount of core-rulebook stuff FW ignores (piles of USRs), re-writes (Slow and Purposeful/Cataphractii, all the mission rules), or assumes they’re using before GW’s FAQ team pulls the rug out from under them (meltabomb cost per model) already just letting FW write their own core rulebook would certainly cut out the middleman.

    • Shawn

      Well, then you’d have to create 2 separate profiles for a large portion of the HH just so 40k players could use their HH era FW models.

      • Matthew Hoag

        That will be taken care of as they rewrite the Imperial Armor books, which they already said is happening.

        • Shawn

          That figures. I’m not surprised. It would be easier and simpler to just use one system for both games. I guess this way, they can justify selling more books for people to buy.

          • Matthew Hoag

            Yes, I could easily see them work a way to get us buying 2 sets of rules and books.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        The 8th ed FAQ said there would be rules for FW models in 8th on release, so that work is already done.

        • Shawn

          Ahh, yes. I’d forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder Knight. I don’t see why GW couldn’t keep 7th for HH, at least for the time being, but I am betting at some point they’d want to phase 7th out.

  • uatu13

    I know several people that run HH armies in 40K because the faction rules are more varied and interesting than what you get in 40K. It would be a huge mistake for FW not to upgrade to the current rules used by 40K, and would relegate the game to history.

  • Ravingbantha

    If 7th edition is so messed up, that a new rule set is needed to fix the game, then that same logic would apply to HH.

    • orionburn

      I think many would say it isn’t the actual rules of 7th that made this edition rough to play but the issues with codices and abuse of formations. That being said that may be why many HH players feel the system works fine for them. I can’t honestly say since I don’t play HH, but going by what I’ve heard a lot of others say that’s their opinion on it.

      • Ravingbantha

        It’s not really a matter of what ‘people’ think, it’s an issue of what GW thinks. Apparently they think the rules need a change, so much so, they need to invalidate all the current codexs. If they are going to try and make that sell, they better stick to their guns.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      7th is a clunky ruleset for sure but it is not wholly awful. What made 7th bad was the complete lack of balance between the armies and the obscene amount of formations.

    • Matthew Hoag

      HH is much better balanced than 40k in 7th. Never met a HH player who felt it needed an update the way 40k players do.

      • Ravingbantha

        Not the point, I’m not concerned with what people are saying. You can find people that will hold any viewpoint on a game, some will say this edition is perfect, while others will claim it’s a blight on the face of wargaming. The fact is GW is making the point that the rules need to be changed. The game designers are making this point. And lets not forget that HH is not a separate game, it is an expansion of 40K and according to the HH books, can be played in 40K games. HH is only ‘balanced’ because every army is a slight variation of the other.

        • GnomesForge

          They like to make this point every couple of years. Its been over 25 years, are we there yet?

  • Chuck

    Option 3: Release 8th edition profiles for all HH models, continue to release new models with 7th edition profiles in fancy HH books because people with lots of fancy HH books don’t want their fancy HH books to be outdated even though they know in their hearts one day all their fancy HH books will be outdated.

    • Michael Bradbury

      Aren’t the early black books already outdated?

      • Matthew Hoag

        Only the first on which was released during 6th edition, and it was not updated until late in 7th.

    • Matthew Hoag

      The models will all have 8th edition profiles in the Imperial Armor books as they update those

  • Evil_Adam

    According to Forgeworld (on each of their books for the HH) “Games set during The Horus Heresy using Forge World’s Battles in the Age of Darkness expansion will continue to use the rules set out in the current edition of Warhammer 40,000. Please check our Facebook page for further information”

    Looks like they’re staying 7th for the time being, they had a different note up previously, stating the books would no longer be good except for fluff, so it would appear to be a recent change.

    • MarcoT

      I’m guessing they’ll keep 7th for at least a year, and jump over when 8th 2.0 hits. It’d be a nice and easy thing to get people excited with too, without requiring any new models to be made.

  • Dimitri Harkov

    And what people here at BOLS seem to have missed: FW have already stated that they will switch to 8th edition rules for Horus Heresy quite a while ago.

    They even announced that the black books will no longer be printed because they are outdated.

    • Farseerer

      You leave your facts out of this. They’re not welcome here in the land of wild speculation

      • ZeeLobby


        • Matthew Pomeroy

          Quite sir, Quite.

        • GnomesForge

          But it says on the FW website this. So legit, I have no idea. Anyone know for sure?

          Games set during The Horus Heresy using Forge World’s Battles in the Age of Darkness expansion will continue to use the rules set out in the current edition of Warhammer 40,000. Please check our Facebook page for further information”

    • backoos

      I was wondering when someone would mention this, now someone should tell the guy that wrote a 10 paragraph article speculating on what edition HH will use…

    • Matthew Hoag

      They did not say that anywhere! They have only ever said that they are sticking with 7th edition for the time being. I am sure they will eventually change but with FW there is no way to know yet when that will be. It could be 6 months from now, or it could be in 3 years considering the pace they normally move at.

      • Dimitri Harkov

        Sorry but they did.

        There was a warning on the black and red book pages of both FW and WH Digital for a few days before being pulled.
        It read:

        ”Warhammer 40.000 is being updated soon and we’ll be releasing updated rules for playing games set during The Horus Heresy shortly after. Though the rules in this tile won’t be compatible with the updated version of Warhammer 40.000 or the upcoming Horus Heresy rules, all of the great hobby content and background narrative will be as valid es ever. […]”

        If you skim the net you can still find screenshots.

        I guess they rather want to turn that into a large announcement at warhammer fest now.

        • Matthew Hoag

          I saw those images, and it never says that 30k is updating to 8th. It says the Red books will get an update, which was going to happen no matter what. That announcement actually mentions new Horus Heresy rule-set in such a way that it is as much proof that 30k will be its own game as it is proof of 8th edition update. Besides, it has already been revealed that was a mistake by someone at Warhammer Digital, one which they rushed to fix and match FW’s own site which specifically says they are staying with 7th. It is amazing to me how many people will take a vage statement that was retracted as proof of what they want to happen.

          • Dimitri Harkov

            Na, that’s just not true. I don’t ‘wish’ it to be 8th edition. I just don’t care. Will/Would be great either way.

            But it will be 8th none the less.

            FW stated numerous times that HH will always remain a wh40k supplement and that they will not maintain their own core ruleset.

  • Mitchell

    i feel like these authors are just taking the piss from me at this point. HH in 8th sounds garbage.

    • MarcoT

      Why? It’s just the core rules. Smooth gameplay while maintaining all the flavour? Yes please.

  • “It’s not like GW is ever going to get to “The End” of the BL series, AMIRITE?!”

    Only if we ignore that all the books before the Siege are already planned out and slotted in. You may joke now, but at the current release schedule of 6 books a year, with wiggle-room, we might be done with the series by 2020. That’s about the time it takes for any SFF trilogy to be out in the wild and wrapped up.

    We know what is coming up until book 48 (The Crimson King and Tallarn are on the horizon, followed by Ruinstorm and Old Earth and a Death Guard novel is inevitable), but all the plotlines currently dangling are being wrapped up right now, with these books. There will likely be a Salamanders anthology including the novellas and Sons of the Forge, one collection for Mars (Cybernetica, Myriad, The Binary Succession and a final piece on the Red Planet) and one for the remaining stragglers. The Wolf Cull story will likely be combined with Wolf King.

    That’s about all they have to take care of and put a nice little bow on before the Siege can begin. And pretty much all of it was already discussed with the editors, who know exactly how the series is supposed to continue and wrap up from here.

    • MarcoT

      Cool where’d you get all this?

    • Shawn

      The HH series should have bee a standard trilogy, or at best a 12 book series like the Wheel of Time Everything else is unnecessary. It’s like the Never Ending Story right now.

      • That’s a pretty stupid idea and I wouldn’t subscribe to it. There are too many plotlines involved that are absolutely worth being told to do the series any good by trimming it down to that level.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    I imagine FW will stick with 7th for now. Give it a few months and see how 8th does. If it is a mondo success, start the transition. If it is only so, so, stay the course and release a Horus Heresy ruleset based off of 7th.

    • Matthew Hoag

      They need time to update the Imperial Armor series first anyway.

  • SilentPony

    Well, if they want HH to die, move it to 8th. But its selling like hotcakes these days, with entire armies based around templates, terminators, deep striking, and a whole host of rules that are being dropped or completely changed in 8th.

    But ultimately its their product. If they think HH is selling too much and making AoS look bad, then yeah they’ll probably take the 8th ed cheese grater to HH and try to sell the bloody little strips at a premium, claiming its what the fans always wanted, and how its so simpler and ‘easier to play’

    • Admiral Raptor

      Will kill HH the same way AoS killed fantasy? By making it sell better than it had in years. If that’s the case I think the game will be fine.

      • SilentPony

        AoS DID kill fantasy. That’s why its so hated and dead outside of GW stores.

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          They killed fantasy for AoS, I dont think AoS could have killed fantasy had they been at the same time. That and them being completely different games, AoS had little to nothing to offer to warhammer players.

        • Munn

          Was hated and WAS dead. It’s FAR outselling fantasy now.

  • Nick Vaughn

    I can’t see them sticking with 7th since it would require they continue to use/sell a rulebook that will likely be out of production. They would then have to start producing their own rulebook for a game and system that is not in line with their core/flagship game, which HH has always been a spinoff of.

    Either way, they should probably announce their intentions early on since not saying a thing will kill their bottom line. HH books are very expensive and I know I don’t plan on buying any now that there’s a chance they’ll be invalidated shortly.

    • SilentPony

      Yeah but they’re 8 black leather books, and what 18 legions into HH. Its not a rewrite. It’d be an entirely new game system. Every unit needs new rules, every character, legion and tactic needs to be rebalanced.
      Entire legions would be worthless without templates(Salamanders, Death Guard, arguably Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists), being able to disengage from combat on a whim would seriously nerf World Eaters, Angels, Wolves, and a bunch other.

      It’d be the end of Horus Heresy as we know it, with a not guaranteed to be better version that’ll take months, if not years, to rebalance with FAQs and new books.

      • Nathaniel Wright

        The sky isn’t falling, Chicken Little.

        Horus Heresy would be just fine in 8th. It might even be better.

        • SilentPony

          You can’t guarantee that. And it’ll be years of rebalancing before they’re even back to where they are now with 7th.
          So at best it’ll be years before anyone can say if its better.

          • Nathaniel Wright

            The sky isn’t falling, Chickendash Littlehoof.

          • SilentPony

            You can’t guarantee that. And it’ll be years of rebalancing before they’re even back to where they are now with 7th.
            So at best it’ll be years before anyone can say if its better.

        • Mira Bella

          How do you know that?

          • Nathaniel Wright

            Because this isn’t the first rules shift that happened in 40k’s history. It survived, it’ll survive again, just like Fantasy did.

            You -do- know that AoS is doing pretty well, right?

      • Admiral Raptor

        Games change, otherwise they get stale and die. If you want books that stand the test of time, check out the classics section of your local library. Anyone who buys a GW rulebook and expects it to last is either brand new to the company or entirely incapable of pattern recognition.

        • Games may change, but the whole problem with the last two editions of 40k was that they changed halfway through editions. Once design philosophies change drastically, as they did with 6th and 7th, things go to hell and become less and less popular.

          Horus Heresy isn’t stale at this point. If anything, there’s huge demand for things to stay as stable as they are now, with the only real demands beyond that being a slightly faster release schedule.

          The worst thing they could do right now is alienate people on all sides of the spectrum by invalidating a host of books and armies midway.

  • Farseerer

    Just because 30k is good, it doesn’t mean it can’t be better.

    IF 8th lives up to the hype, I have full faith that the FW team will be able to continue too write great unit and faction rules that keep the flavour and complexity of HH games for an updated and improved core system.

  • Koonitz

    I had thought I read that FW will be sticking with 7th, but I believe that was read in a rumour page, so I will discount that.

    With that being said, I would, personally, prefer they move to 8th with 30k. Mainly for two reasons:

    1) HH armies should, with proper play-testing, become relatively balanced to all of the 40k armies, giving the game, as a whole, a whole suite of new armies to play as a general rule. It’d become like WarMachine/Hordes, where armies for the two games were meant to be separate, but have completely compatible rules and play very well with each other.

    2) In a meta where few, if any, other players have 30k armies, it would still encourage people to make the rather significant Forge World investment to collect a 30k army that might, otherwise, do nothing but collect dust. Myself, I am starting a 30k Thousand Sons army and I am not aware of anyone else in the local meta that is currently collecting a 30k army. There are a bunch of people about 2.5 hours away, but that’s it. Which means my investment in time and money is largely wasted. It’s a labour of love for me, so it doesn’t matter if they just collect dust, but I’d love if they made them balanced so I can bring a 30k Thousand Sons army to a 40k game.

    Sticking with 7th Edition will reduce the playerbase significantly. The transition to 8th isn’t as difficult as many people are making it out to be. Forge World is ALREADY committed to updating the 40k rules for every model in their range that has them. Adding in the update to 30k rules wouldn’t be a terribly significant increase in workload.

  • Keith Wilson

    i guarantee they have a couple of people converting the rules over to 8th ed and will sell a book or a free pdf to make the changes official.

  • kingcobra668

    We all know it’s going to be 8th “eventually.”

    • Matthew Hoag

      Lol, considering the speed at which FW normally moves that could be years down the line.

  • AEZ

    Delay that and see how 8th works out?

  • Talos2

    We already know the answer to this, it’s just stirring

  • pokemastercube .

    there are more armies then the 18 legions in HH. we also have the mechanicum (loyal and dark), solar auxilia, knight houses, imperial/chaos cult’s, tallons of the emperor

  • Nyyppä

    Just to balance the game out there is a need for some sort of game wide update.

    • Matthew Hoag

      Unlike 40k 7th, 30k is very well balanced.

      • Nyyppä

        That’s not even remotely true. Look at the first legions. They are very underpowered compared to the newest.

        So no, not well balanced. Not as bad as 40k but still very bad.

        • Matthew Hoag

          LOL, you do realize that they got updated right? They are all just as effective as the other legions. The Deathguard in particular are very powerful.

          • Nyyppä

            Yes. I ihave the red books. They did nothing worth mentioning to my legion. The things that did change were almost only generic units and adjustments no convert 6th edition rules to 7th edition.

  • onlyonepinman

    I would wait and see whether 40k 8 was well received and make a decision in 6 months with a view to a new release in 12 months if the decision is to switch to 8th.

  • Frostasche

    The answer is option 3 (=1+2), stay now, switch later.

    Why should HH adapt the 8th edition rules now, if the 8th edition is not even released?
    GW also has no unlimited resources and production capacities. They are planning to release a new edition of their core game with new rules and all factions directly updated.
    Temporary combine armies in books, instead of codices for each one, reasonable the workload to write all codices new at the same time would be way too high.
    And still people think GW can or would want to work on a HH at the same time?

    In my opinion they should concentrate their effort on the 8th edition and reduce unnecesarry work on other projects, and as it sounds that is what they are doing.

    And another big reason for switching to 8th edition is updates to HH, if you stay with 7th edition rules, you also need to keep the knowledge of 7th edition in the company. So switching to 8th reduces the knowledgebase GW needs to maintain.

  • markdawg

    An even better option create a brand new rule set that abandons the outdated relic that is IGUGO and make a modern game that’s fun to play. Forge world has been making better rules than GW for a while now if GW would get out of there way I bet the could make something awesome.

  • Agent OfBolas

    I hope HH is going to get 8th edition rules just because of they seems so far – perfect.