8th Edition 40K’s basic rules are streamlined enough so that anyone can play. Even me.
With 8th Edition on the horizon, it’s time to start looking at the rules. Now–full disclosure, I am not a big wargamer. I think I’ve played a grand total of 3 games in 4th Edition, shortly after the Tau were released. Most of my 40k knowledge comes from diving into the lore and being around certain corners of the internet. So when the BoLS crew press-ganged me into playing 8th Edition, saying that the rules were more accessible, and that even a n00blet like me could pick up the game, I had my doubt.
It’s got some riveting performances.
But, seeing as how I am going to be trounced in the office league otherwise, I have sat down with the basic set and am now determined to at the very least kill one of Adam Harry’s Tyranids with a Tau “shooty man with the long gun,” I believe they’re called. In the meantime, here’s a first impression of the rules from someone who’s approaching the game effectively for the first time.
So let’s dive in. First things first, the core rules are only 8 pages long. Fairly simple, straightforward rules that present a 6-phase turn over the course of 8 pages. Most phases get about a page of rules, with Shooting getting the most detail (it weighs in at about 3 pages of rules). But they’re presented in a handy foldable pamphlet (seen above) that you can reference pretty easy.
Tucked into the margins you’ll find a little bit on rerolls and what to do with models that can’t balance where they’re supposed to end up, etc., but for the most part, the flow of the rules is meant to match the flow of the game. You get a quick overview about coherency and what is a unit, then the pamphlet dives right into the turn sequence, taking you step by step through Movement, Psychic Powers, Shooting, Charging, Fighting, and Morale.
And there’s a secret, 7th phase known as the “Awesome Phase.”
Now as I mentioned, I didn’t come to this completely blind, but it feels incredibly new-player friendly. Sure there’s a lot of advanced rules (like stratagems, etc.) that are meant to broaden the game and offer new tactical options, but you get a lot of game out of those 8 pages. Of particular interest to me was seeing the breakdown of how combat is resolved. Shooting has the weapon/damage mechanics rolled into it as well–the new to-wound rules are super easy to get the hang of, as is the whole ballistic skill mechanic.
You don’t need to memorize a table anymore, or constantly look up a chart, it’s just a quick and easy formula. Did you roll equal to or higher than your BS? You hit! Is your weapon as strong as your opponent’s toughness? You wound on 4 and adjust it up or down depending on how much difference there is. The whole game (or at least its core rules) feel streamlined like this. So if you’ve got friends who maybe haven’t dipped their toes in the waters of 40K, this is the perfect opportunity to bring new players into the fold.
I mean, in 8 pages you’ve go what you need to start enjoying the game. The rest comes down to mastering your chosen army and knowing what they can or can’t do–which sounds easier than it likely is, but, the core rules are a great place to start.
So what are you waiting for? You can pre-order now, and if you’ve been thinking about getting into 40K, this is the time to do it!
Now if I could just figure out why Adam Harry keeps looking at my army list and laughing.