40K: Campaign Play in 8th Edition

The new edition is out and one of the best ways to dive in is with a brand new Campaign with your Gaming Group!

Warhammer 40k 8th has been out for just under a week (officially) and folks everywhere have been playing games, asking questions and getting excited for the Hobby-side of things. If you’re new to the game or if you’re a seasoned vet it doesn’t matter because everyone is learning together. A great way to get your Gaming Group together and playing again is to run a Campaign and the 40K BRB has all the tools you need to get started.

40K Campaign Styles

In the Big Rule Book there are 3 basic campaigns you can start with: Tree Campaigns, Matrix Campaigns, and Map Campaigns.

The Tree Campaign is pretty straightforward. It’s great for a lower player count campaign, only lasts for 3 games, and is a perfect campaign to try out for your first go. If you’ve never run or played in a campaign before then I highly suggest giving the Tree Campaign a shot.

At it’s core, it’s just a simple flow chart. You play a mission and the outcome of the battle determines which one will be next. You also get exposure to some minor, yet flavorful, advantages/disadvantages. If you are planning on creating your own campaign those examples of advantages/disadvantages will come in handy. These minor tweaks are subtle enough to encourage players to want to win, but not so game breaking that the person who lost the last game will be hopelessly outclassed.

It’s not fun to play in a campaign where the winner just ends up “winning more” because the advantages are so stacked in their favor. That’s the steam-roller effect and you want to avoid that. Keep your custom advantages/disadvantages in line with these examples and you’ll be just fine!

Matrix Campaigns are probably the best to run as a follow-up campaign or for more advanced campaigns. If you’re looking for a longer campaign than 3 games like the Tree Campaign the Matrix Campaign will be a fantastic core to start with. The core concept is that each Player chooses a strategy before the game. Then they each reveal it and check the matrix to see what mission they are playing today. It’s simple and pretty straight-forward. This table can be used for a pretty wide variety of campaigns and games.

You can easily add those custom advantages/disadvantages to the game based on the previous battles. Maybe Warlord A has won the last engagement so they get an extra D3 Command Points. Simple things like that add some fun to the campaign and are easy to create on your own. Matrix Table is also great if you’re wanting to change-up how you decide what mission to play. Why roll a D6 every game when you can exercise your strategy (or bluffing) muscle a bit!

Map Campaigns are why things like the Planetary Empires tiles were created. I’m not going to lie, Map campaigns are probably the most “book-keeping” intensive campaigns to run. If you’re playing with experienced campaign players then sure – give it a go! It’s one of the most rewarding and narrative driven campaign styles out there. But, I would not run one of these as your first campaign.

The Map can be made from tiles, or even actual map-making tools or software. Or you could just draw your own map, break it up into zone, and then go to town. Map Campaigns are also great for larger groups to use. Are you wanting to play with everyone in your FLGS? Run a map campaign – get sign-ups going and get everyone involved.

I would also highly recommend a time limit on the campaign. Folks will start to drop out after a few weeks. Depending on how many players you have 4-6 weeks should be enough to get the battle lines moving. If you group is super hardcore, you can also let it go for as long as people want to play. I also recommend nominating a Force Commander (1 per side) that can help co-ordinate their side.

Again, Map Campaigns are the most intensive but the most rewarding campaigns in my opinion. If you can manage to complete one I guarantee that your Gaming Group will be talking about it for years to come. Just be aware of the steam roll effect when creating you missions and scenarios. Remember, it’s a game and people are looking to have fun and be challenged. It’s not fun to get monkey stomped every time you show up to play.

Campaigns are a fantastic way to get players of all skill levels and experience involved. It doesn’t matter if your Gaming Group is just you and a buddy or if you’re running a City-Wide league – campaigns are worth checking out. They are also the perfect way to kick-off a new edition and build excitement. Now is the perfect time to try the Tree Campaign out as well – you should hopefully wrap-up right as GW’s big summer campaign kicks off!

We’ve even been running weekly campaigns on the BoLS Twitch Channel. You can check out our first campaign The Battle of Tarvan HERE. We’re going to be wrapping up our second today so pop over and check it out. The game starts at 2pm CST – see you there!


Have you ever played in a Campaign? What tips do you have for playing in and/or running one?

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