40K: Start Playing 8th Today

The Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Pre-Orders are up – that means it’s time to grab a demo!

The day is finally here – 40k 8th pre-orders are live which means at your local GW store or FLGS! They probably have a demo copy out and available for you to look at…

Regardless of the demo models, you can still play a game using your current army – it’s just going to take some tweaks and we are here to talk you through it. But first things first: Rules.

Find this fold-out. It’s 8 pages total. Those are the core rules for the entire game of 40k. Read them, memorize them, love them – whatever. Just keep them handy for your first game! You can also track down a copy of the Big Rule Book:

The BRB is a really nice 280 hardback. I believe the actual rules start around page 168. Guess what, they are the same 8 page of rules from the 8 page fold-out. Beyond that, you’ll see things like examples, missions, and how to build you army. I’m getting ahead of myself – but really, if you’re going to play your first game, I’d recommend starting with something relatively simple. Build a 1000 point Battleforged list. But to do that, you’ll need one of these:

Find the appropriate book for your army and put together your list. For your first game try something simple like a Patrol Detachment:

You should be able to easily fit a 1000 points in this. Because it’s a Battleforged army, you’ll have 3 Command Points – remember that for later!

When you’re building your army please keep this in mind:

The base point cost does NOT include any wargear. You have to manually add that back in.

So if you take a Space Marine, don’t forget to add in the Bolter, Bolt Pistol, Frag & Krak grenades… Oh, and every model is assumed to have a close combat weapon. Keep that in mind, too – if for some reason you take a Carnifex with double-sets of Devourers, they still have a “basic” attack value using their stat line. Not that we did that or anything (I totally did that). It’s in the core rules under Close Combat.

The points are going to be in the back of the book – near their army wargear section. It’s a little time consuming to go back and forth when list building. The good news is you only have to pay for the options you take and not the options you replace!

Conversely, you could also try to do a quick build using the Power Level option. In case you’re wondering for a smaller game we recommend around 50 Power Level Points. We noticed that most 1000 armies we threw together using the Patrol Detachment were usually within 10 or so power level points of that. And for the sake of fun, compare your Power Levels to your opponent:

  • 1-10 difference = No bonus.
  • 11-20 difference = The army with the lower points gets +1 Command Point.
  • 21+ difference = Check your math. Seriously. If you still have that big of a gap, +3 Command Points to the army with the lower Power Level.

Great – now you’ve got your rules, your army, and hopefully someone to play against. For a 50ish Power Level/1000 point game you only need a 4×4 table. Now just grab some terrain (rules for that are in the BRB in the Advanced Rules section) and you’re good to go!

Fun things to try:

  • Shoot one unit, charge another
  • Consolidate from one combat to another
  • “Pull” in an enemy unit that thought it wasn’t going to have to fight this turn
  • Interrupt your opponent’s chargers by spending 2 Command Points to activate a unit to fight first – do remember that at least one charging unit still gets to swing first…
  • Remember Morale Test
  • Cast Smite with a Psyker or attempt to block an enemy from casting
  • Advance during the movement phase… and shoot with Assault Weapons!
  • Advance during the movement phase… and charge with Genestealers!
  • Weep with joy when The Tygon tunnel works like it should have for the past, what, 7 years?

Okay – those last two were for me. I dusted off my Tyranids and they worked surprisingly well! And that’s my last bit of advice: Try old units out. The game is different and units that you may have skipped might not be so terrible now. Conversely, auto-include units might not be “the best” option any more – in fact a lot of the options are all viable in the right circumstance.

So contact your FLGS or local GW store – ask them if they have the books available to look at. If they do, call a buddy and setup some game time and go play 8th. Give it a shot…who knows, you might actually have fun again.


The BoLS Crew is diving in to 8th this weekend – see you on the other side!

  • Heinz Fiction

    More fun things to try:
    – call in shock troops exactly where and when you need them
    – have your squishy character running around solo without getting shot to pieces
    – Put two units into a single transport

  • Chris Hilliard

    We couldn’t even get the rep to tell us the pre-order list until today. Our demos won’t be available until next month, assumning we get one at all.

  • More fun things to try:
    *Look on with happiness and nostalgia when your friend takes out the Dark Eldar army you pretty much forgot he had.
    *Give Celestine the “Hand of the Emperor” AoF, move 24″ then charge…first turn.
    *Forget Murderfang is a Character and let him get two-shot’d by a Ravager dark lance gunboat.
    *Just play the game. 8th Edition has made 40K FUN again.

    • UnpluggedBeta

      “*Just play the game. 8th Edition has made 40K FUN again.”
      Hallelujah. I’m getting hyped.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    If you have the Fly special rule, you can leave combat AND shoot your weapons that turn. Really useful for Tau when their suits get caught in melee.

    • Karru

      Don’t forget, they can assault Flyers as well! Something my Valkyrie learned the hard way! A Power Fist through the canopy works wonders for ventilation, but it does cause some problems with aerodynamics of the aircraft.

      • Lyca Atteneder

        Depends on the Flyer… some have special rules that limit which units can attack them.

        • Karru

          My pilot was trying to scream something about that as the Assault Sergeant was ripping him from the pilot seat. The Sergeant didn’t really care.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            yeah… those Storm Sargeants… tskstsk XD

      • William Jameson

        Something potentially fun to try for Necron players – Use your Monolith to assault a pesky flyer. Just because you can now as it has the Fly keyword.

        • Karru

          Thanks for the image, dude.

          “This is Skylancer 2, we just lost Skylancer 4, over.”

          “This command, what happened?”

          “Necron Monolith just smacked him out of the sky.”

          “Understood, we’ll inform ground forces to focus fire on them to get them to back off from firing.”

          “Sir, you misunderstood, the Monolith literally smacked Skylancer 4 out from the sky, it just rammed it.”


          “How low are you flying Skylancer 2?”

          “30 000 feet.”

          “…………. and the monolith rammed Skylander 4?”

          “Yes sir.”


          • ledha

            meanwhile, the monolith, in the sky : ” WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOO ! “

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Seems very silly, attacking aircraft in h2h.

        • Karru

          I mean, it did work well for Storm Boys in Space Marine.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Id understand if they had a special rule letting them do it. Very silly for normal infantry.

          • Karru

            Only units with the Keyword “Fly” can charge these units. So Stormboys, Assault Marines, Monoliths and so on. A unit of ‘Zerkers won’t be jumping 10 000ft in the air and smack a chain axe through the canopy.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Thats good to know, thank you.

  • Lyca Atteneder

    Daemon Summoning in a Mono Khorne Army

  • Karru

    I gave my first impression on this edition in the other article “GW: New Releases June 3 “First Looks” “, but I’m going to give a short summary here as well.

    It’s fun, a lot more fun than before. Seriously, try it. There are some more or less minor problems with the game, but those can be sorted out with house rules easily if they bother too much. Overall, the game goes much smoother, better, faster stronger.

    A word of warning though, the armies themselves can be very bland at times. Yes, even Marines are somewhat bland. Still, it is much better than 7th edition ever was, at least in my opinion.

    • Countdiscount

      I bet the blandness gets solved once the Codexes come out. The indexes seem to be there to hold us over until all they can get to all the Codexes

      • Karru

        That’s the plan clearly. GW had two options, push back the release of 8th edition by maybe year or two and give all armies their own codices OR release the Indexes and give everyone the chance to play the game with the cost of flavour.

        In my opinion, they did the best possible decision. While it will take a lot of time for people to get their own books, it is much better for those that are just starting out. If nothing else, people can just say that they want to play Index only, if they get left behind and other armies get release after release.

        This happened in AoS with Death, but in 40k at least, the chances are that, outside Death Guard and Guilmarines, everyone else can use the Index as their main book until all factions get an update.

        • Lyca Atteneder

          Yep. think so too. But I believe for matched play even DeathGuard and Primaris Marines will need the index. Or did I miss the point values in those mini Codices?

          • Karru

            There are values in the started set.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            ok cool. must have missed that

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          There is no way stores could support GW releasing every codex, a new start set, a new core rule book and all the peripherals.

          I mean stores were up in arms when D&D tried to release their core three books at the same time.

          • Karru

            There was that as well. This is the best solution, it gives people a nice base to start out with.

            Besides, it isn’t that hard to take the old codices and do some house rules with your friends to bring out some more flavour until the real books come out.

    • Crevab

      I’ve heard “blandness” a few times. What’s the problem?

      • Karru

        Basically all armies are now generic. For example, Space Marines no longer have Chapter Tactics and CSM Legion rules are gone.

        Most leader buffs that people are getting are re-roll 1’s to-hit or to-wound. There is 3 Powers per army usually with some exceptions, for example all CSM factions share the Dark Hereticus lore, which has worse Smite, a buff that allows CSM units to move a second time and another buff that gives you +1 to-hit.

        Basically all the “neat” stuff is gone. There are no Warlord Traits, Relics or Faction specific Stratagems. Some “unique” equipment no longer do anything really, such as the Marks of Chaos. Things like the KDK Bloodtithe table is no longer there.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          And another golden age for Chaos Space Marines is over, lasted even less time than 3.5 🙁

          • Karru

            For now, the amount of rumours and hints do seem to indicate that GW has a bunch of codices coming down the line in the near future.

            This is a temporary solution, a way to make sure that everyone gets to play their armies right out the gate.

            In other news, Death Guard and Thousand Sons are getting traction going within the book, but will still need some proper testing to be done before a final verdict can be given on them.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            A way to get another £15 out of people…

            The Traitor Legions book is so cool. Very very sad to see it go.

        • Crevab


        • Drpx

          So…it’s back to 5th ed marines? I remember that was a pretty bland time.

          • Karru

            That might be the best example, yes. You have special characters that might switch things out a bit, but mostly it is very generic no matter which army you play for now. Once they start releasing Codices for the armies, things get a lot more interesting.

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          The armies are generic because these indexes are there solely to tide us over until the codexes come out. That is where all the fluff and army wide rules will be.

          Look at AoS, if all you use is the app and the General’s Handbook then you have 4 generic armies with tons of models and units.

          Once you get the Battletomes, you get army specific rules and upgrades, along with pretty art and fluff.

          • Karru

            I know this, I was just answering Crevab’s question about the word “bland” being thrown around when it comes to 8th edition armies.

            The quality of the Battletomes in AoS is great, so once they get to releasing Codices in 40k, I can see a massive surge of players coming back to 40k.

  • wibbling

    If you weren’t having fun you weren’t playing the game right. Just desperate rules lawyering instead of just being a decent human being is just daft.

    • Karru

      There are some strange situations here and there, but it is much better written than 7th edition. It does seem that they did their proof reading this time though.

      • Frank Krifka

        Reading through all your comments these past few weeks you’ve seemed highly skeptical of the changes. Do you feel that your initial impressions were off? Or do you feel that your initial impressions were mostly correct but they weren’t as big a deal as you were expecting?

        • Karru

          Some were some weren’t. I feel like Blasts are still very bad, now having tested the Battle Cannon and seen how “effective” the Rapid-fire Battle Cannon was.

          Basically all weapons that now have random amount of shots, such as blasts and even Templates are hard to justify, especially on vehicles. The thing I was worried about was the pricing of stuff. There was some good and some bad.

          Horde armies got a lot more expensive in terms of money, just as I feared, because they made them a lot cheaper. My Infantry in my Guard army was over 700pts before, now they are 500pts. A Lascannon team is 24pts per base.

          Elites they nailed. SM armies and other “Elite” armies now look and feel like elite armies on the table. My opponent’s SM army had 47 Infantry Models (counting characters) and 5 Vehicles. It was 2000pts.

          If you already haven’t, go check out my first impression I gave over at the other article. I talked about most of the stuff I felt was good or bad in this edition. Overall, some of the stuff I was worried about happened and some of them were as big of a deal, at least to me, as I made them out to be. Blasts and Vehicles for example. The pricing was another, but I do admit that they did balance things out a bit by making Elite armies a lot more expensive as a whole, so even more elite focused horde armies can still be viable.

          • Vicent Martín Bonet

            On this I agree with you: blasts need a buff. Maybe 1+d3 for small blasts and 2+d6 for big ones…

          • Karru

            Personally, I would just make them hits. Increase the price where needed. They still have to roll to wound, so even against something like a Knight, the Battle Cannon is going to do half the wounds it was planning to do.

          • Heinz Fiction

            The tyranid barbed strangler has a rule that you add +1 to hit rolls vs units with 10 or more models. I think something like that would really help to define the role of former blast weapons…

          • Finn

            I’m super on board with increasing hits vs larger units. The new chaos leviathan rules from forgeworld utilise than on the grav flux bombard. I would be interested to see if games workshop has a way to edit things like blast weapons en mass for their yearly updates.

          • Spacefrisian

            Or…Use those good ol fashioned blasts again, with scatterdice, rules from gw are guidelines after all (says gw)

          • vebepede

            I’m still playing 5th ed. But have decided today to lay down the money for 8th ed.
            Regarding the the battle cannon.
            I had 1500 pt eldar army facing IG yesterday (5th ed). Mission was from battle missions (1st IG mission – i can’t remember the name, possibly determiined assault..?) which meant most of my army was camped around objectives, in a large rocky outcrop 8″ x 18″. My D cannon battery were killed on turn 1 (just the guns – the crew were unscathed), leaving me limited AT with a Leman Russ right in front. In 7 turns the LR failed to kill a single model with it’s battle cannon. Partly it was distracted by a wraithlord (which he either failed to hit, or failed to wound). Most attempts to shoot at the 40 or so eldar in tbe rocks failed to hit due bad scatter and no prescence at all of the ‘hit’ symbol. I do agree that the battle cannon rules don’t FEEL right though. It should be a roll to hit, which then results D6 hits scored. To handle the chance of more hits on on larger units i would give it an extra hit of 5+ for each full 5 models in the unit thta had been hit. e.g firing at a mob of 28 orks. A miss is a total miss. A hit scores a D6 hits and 5 possible extra hits depending on rolling 5+ for these. When i get my copy of 8ed I will be picking 5th ed armies and paying 1st game with 5th ed and then rematch using 8ed rules to see if this feels about right.

          • Karru

            There are just too many variables for Blasts right now to make them really worth anyone’s while.

            Roll the amount of shots,
            Roll to-hit,
            Roll to-wound,
            Enemy rolls for saves,
            Roll for Damage,
            Bonus round if the enemy has a rule that helps them negate damage, such as the Nurgle FNP rule.

            Before you get to roll for damage, you have to get through 4 different rolls. It’s just bonkers.

            That’s why making it a roll to hit which then generates D6 hits on the unit would be the way to go. Those that are worried about something like a Battle Cannon doing 18 wounds all of a sudden should look at the math. You still have to roll to wound, the enemy has to fail his saves and then you have to roll a lot of 5’s and 6’s to do that. Not really that “dangerous” if you ask me.

          • vebepede

            BattleBattle cannons in 5th ed are either hopeless or devastating. The current 8ed rules just seem a bit bland. I prefer a single to hit roll. On average this makes them no more effective than the current rule but flattens the probability curve to make them more similar to the way they work in 5th. The current 8th ed rule reminds mew of 3/4th ed scatter laser!
            I think hitting more models if large unit target helps to keep them as a threat to tanks and larger infantyr units, while keeping them relatively weak against small infantry units. Looking forward to playtesting this variant. I’ve never had problem weaking rules when the game doesn’t feel right.

  • Purple-Stater

    “The BRB is a really nice 280 hardback. I believe the actual rules start
    around page 168. Guess what, they are the same 8 page of rules from the 8
    page fold-out. ”

    Any reason that somebody who doesn’t care about fluff or missions would need the actual rulebook?

    • Karru

      If you don’t care about those, then go with the free core rules they are giving out.

      The “Advanced Rules” contain the following:

      – Battle-forged Armies and the Detachments.

      – Battlefield Terrain, in case you don’t have your own rules set in place

      – The old expansions, such as Cities of Death, Planetstrike and so on.

      In my opinion, the book is worth the 45€ they are asking for it. It contains all the old supplements I mentioned as well as a ton of missions. There are also all the “extra” stuff for Narrative Games and instructions on how to run campaigns. There is a lot more in the book compared to the old Rulebooks when it came to things other than the “core rules”.

      • Purple-Stater

        Thanks for the info. My group played only a dozen or so games of 6E and none of 7E, so I’m trying to evaluate the viability of returning to 40K with 8E.

        Many of the changes are very appealing to me but I’ve no interest in dropping $100 for a rulebook and a couple of indexes to check it out. I was unsure if trying to play without the “Advanced Rules” could give a realistic impression of the new game. Certainly, long term, the full rulebook is a must-have.

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          The new Starter Set comes with the hardback rulebook, so if you and a mate like the Primaris Marines and the Plague Marines, well your play group just earned itself a rulebook!

      • Heinz Fiction

        I’d say go with the free rules if they included the rules for matched play, especially for army composition and detachments. I consider them quite essential for anything but demo games. The rest rest is nice to have but one can do without. Inventing you own scenarios and missions isn’t very difficult after all…



  • Everet Balforthe

    Too bad the digital editions are only available on iTunes

  • Jay Barton

    How are orks and chaos holding up?

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Orks look really solid. The local Orks players are all jumping for joy.

      Chaos… Well, I think the Thousand Sons and Plague Marines will do well. Berserkers look sick. Everything else is kind of neither here nor there. It is not amazing but it is not terrible either. I imagine the Codexes will make Chaos shine.

      • Diagoras

        With how vehicles work now, I’m really looking forward to dusting off my Iron Warriors. God knows they didn’t get much play in 7th, even when they got legion rules.

  • DaveTycho

    That’s what ratlings, indeed all snipers, are supposed to do.

  • EvilCheesypoof

    I played my first 8th edition game at 2000pts and I had a lot of fun. Took 2 Storm Talons, a Storm Raven, 3 Thunderfire Cannons and a bunch of lascannons. (managed to fit it into 2 detachments and get 7CPs) It felt like so much more firepower than normal because it’s easier to shoot with everything now, no facing/arcs to worry about.

    I had a lot of fun, I even found myself worried that I didn’t kill a knight very quickly with all my firepower, but then I remembered I had left it smoking and limping along because the new system where big models get worse as they get wounded, it was very satisfying to see it try to shoot and miss because it was so damaged.