40K: Units With The Biggest Impact On The Game – 2017

With the year drawing to a close it time to look at the units that really impacted 40K in 2017.

2017 was a big year for Warhammer 40,000. Along with a whole new edition, we got unprecedented amounts of new releases – 10 Codecs,  9 Indexes (counting Forge World) and Chapter Approved. And all that was just in the 2nd half of the year. Looking back it’s hard to really even think of what came out before 8th. With all that coming out there been so many massive shake ups that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Despite that certain units have shone brighter than the rest. Throughout 8th Edtion, there have been a number of units that really got people talking. Maybe it was because how they dominated the meta, or maybe it was just their potential. So for better or worse, here are the units that had the biggest impact on the game this year.

Note: Just to be clear, by this year I mean post 8th edition, since that is what is really relevant. 

5. Conscripts

Possibly one of the most talked about units in 8th edition that never really did much. Conscripts had TONS of people worried about their potential for several months after 8th Edition came out. People were majorly worried about some of the worst troops in the game used en masse and backed up by Commissars. Despite pages of theory hammer, which I myself was not immune to, they never really materialized as key parts of major event winning lists. Even though they failed to dominate the meta much, the worry about them was great enough that GW nerfed them three times. First by making them harder to give orders to, second by changing Commissars, and thirdly by increasing their points cost. I can’t think of a recent unit that has undergone so many nerfs in such a short time. For all their failings they sure did dominate a lot of discussion this year and earned a place on this list.

4. Brimstone Horrors

One of the major staples of Chaos lists all year long, these tiny horrors have drawn many comments. Early on under the Index they ran amok as cheap troops with smite abilities. They’ve slowly been dialed back with various changes. Despite some nerfs, they remain a common sight on tables, serving as a very cheap troop choice that gets a nice invulnerable save and can deal out mortal wounds. They’ve often found themselves on the leading edge of smite spam, and just spam, debates. Many people hate them, but just as many use them.

3. Leman Russ Battle Tank


The Leman Russ probably should get a trophy for being the most improved unit of the year. For years, and editions, Leman Russes, a supposed mainstay of the Astra Miliatrum, have been an under-powered and under-used unit. While this was true at the start of 8th, the AM Codex changed everything. The combination of getting to shoot main weapons twice, cost reductions and new army wide abilities significantly increased the viabliity of this unit.  A useless unit has now become a high useful one. However the change has also had a profound effect on the Astra Miliatrum as a whole, returning them to an army built around big battle tanks.

2. Intercessors

In general Primaris Marines were the biggest event of the new Edition, and the most polarizing. While the models themselves have generally been favorably received, the rules and fluff is a different story.  Many, many, fans have resisted the inclusion of them into the fluff and background. Others resent perceived attempts to replace old marines. Still others have attacked their rules, simply arguing they are over costed, under powered, and just weak. At the forefront of this has been the Intercessors. As the posterboys of the Primaris they have gotten the most flak. It doesn’t help that many deem them to have the worst rules out of the new units, and feel they are pretty redundant. While units like Hellblasters have found a place, many players still struggle with using Intercessors, and argue that they don’t really work.

For such a big new unit they’ve have only minor effect on the meta and how people play. Yet few units have ever effected the lore and background of 40K as much, nor been as divisive among the community. In many ways 8th Edition is the edition of the Intercessors.

1. Primarches

Yes this is a bit of a cop out, but no units or models have dominated the game like the three brother Primarches. If I didn’t combine them into one entry they would still be 1, 2 and 3 on this list. So lets save time and space and put them together. From dominating the meta to looming over the fluff, they have been running the show all year. A huge number of top tier lists run one or two of these guys, and its not uncommon to go to events where the majority of armies have one. For the massive role these guys have had on shaping not just the present state of the game and universe, but peoples hopes for the future they are truly the unit(s) that have had the most impact on the game this year.

Alright folks, let us know what we missed, and units you think had the biggest impact this year, down in the comments! 

  • Abe Killian

    Nothing on Eldar Dark Reapers?

    • Adam Richard Corrigan

      They are god but very easy to deal with.

      • KingAceNumber1

        Depends on your army, I think. 500 pts of reapers split into 3-4 man squads camped in a bunker can be tough to handle since you can only target 3 at a time =|

        • Simon Chatterley

          Heat 2 was of the GW grand Tournament was won by 10 Ynarri Reapers (with farseer to shoot when arrive from reinforcements) and then double shoot in there turn. He then had 8 units of 3.

          Smashed every list he played

  • Valeli

    I just really really wish that if primaries had to be included they could have been clearly side-lined as “opponent’s consent necessary” units. … like special characters in general were way back when.

    I’m still not a huge fan of special characters, though I’ve sort of come to appreciate how they can help customize a list.

    The primaries were so mythical and out there though. It’s just a downer to see them killed again. And again. And Again.


    I get that they’re cool and GW wanted to move the plot and sell new kit. But the plot could have been moved without making them playable, and plenty of other new kit could have been sold (New Eldar, plastic sisters, primary whatever).

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Everything in the game is “opponent’s consent necessary”. No one can force you to play against a primarch, ever. If anyone tries, especially at gunpoint, flee and call the police. I learn more towards ‘your opponent spent a hundred bucks and several hours on this miniature… let the poor guy roll some dice with it’, personally.

    • defensive

      The 30k solution is quite a simple and easy one. No LoW choices in games below 2,000pts, only one (Up until however many points, where you can take more), and never more than 1/4th of your army.

      A few people at my local shop were talking about command point debuffs for taking them. Like, you lose 2 command points if you put Rowboat in your list, because he’s down fighting, instead of actually commanding.
      It at least moves them away from being auto-includes in UM/TS/DG lists.

      • Simon Chatterley

        Rowboat gets 3 more already so taking 2 back isn’t really going to hit hard.

        The issue with Morty and Magnus is you either hide them miles at the back or you risk it. If you risk it and lose the first turn both are much easier to bring down. I recently killed Magnus turn 1 with 3 obliterators and a Lord. I rolled lucky I agree but in our next game I didn’t get the first turn and Magnus got his invul to 3+ and it was a different game.

        Rowboat suffers none of these issues and whilst he stays at 9 wounds he is a clear head and shoulders above (below on the field?) his Deamon brothers

        • defensive

          I assumed it would be implied that his 3 bonus points would be taken away.

        • Jooster

          Excuse you, his name is Robootay

      • Tushan

        morty in under 1500p lists as a broken piece of autowin anyone?

    • Opponent’s consent only units don’t sell at all because no one will buy a model that they need to ask permission to use.

      It’ll never be something GW goes back to.

  • somewhatdamaged

    The plural of Primarch is Primarchs. Primarches sounds like a terrible architectural choice.

    • euansmith

      Primarches sounds like a cheap brand of processed cheese. 😉

      • Sonic tooth

        Cheap tesco insoles for hiking boots

  • Simon Chatterley

    I can’t help but think that Brimstones and the Changling are going to get a nerf of some sort in the new book. GW reacts to complaining and man do people complain about that combo. It’s understandable given the 4+ with a -1 to hit. They punch well above their points costs.

  • Jason Anderson

    No Genestealers?

    • KingAceNumber1

      I think the difference is that Stealers are traditionally a sh!tkicker unit. People EXPECT them to clear 30 inches and then charge and flatten something, so when it happens nobody complains. A lot of this is perception of power vs actual useability. The perception of power of scripts and brims is fairly low, but they have an outsized effect on the game for their intended role. Stealers fit better into the niche they belong in.

  • Bootneck

    No Xenos units which just shows the bias.

    Tyranids have some of the most improved units this codex release but its all down to perception a majority players as per usual.

    • davepak

      the nids have some of the most improved units, because they had large number of really bad units.

      The nids will do well over time, but still – they don’t have a primarch (was hoping swarmlord would be primarch level, but oh well).

      • Bootneck

        Swarmy can go toe to toe with Girlyman now since the codex, and I have beaten him on more than one occasion in melee.

        Obviously the other two aren’t really on the same level but then they are more points so its not a fair comparison.

  • OctopusVolcano

    So basically anything that was spammed or abused?

  • Conscripts certainly had a large impact on how I view the game, as GW’s handling of them really lowered my expectations for 40k for the foreseeable future. Certainly not what I expect from the industry leader and frankly embarrassing for a company of GW’s stature.

    • KingAceNumber1

      Why? It’s not like they nerfed the army into unuseability. It’s one barebones troop unit in a codex full of amazing options. Guard are still one of the best dexes released to date. Genuine question, I’m curious as to why the Guard community seems SO up in arms over the script nerf.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        I will only say the end result is why I’m unhappy. The unit was nerfed multiple times and still people complained. As is now there is no reason for me to use Commissars or Conscripts as they are both points sinks that can be used better. Basic Infantry unit cost the same and are better all around, they can blob up with a command point expenditure so why take conscripts? I’ve used Conscripts for several editions and was usually mocked for taking “garbage troops” but now that Imperial Soup lists can use them a fodder they are good… None of this would be an issue if GW had kept platoons and made it mandatory to buy multiple units of regular troops and a command unit to unlock a conscript unit.

        • KingAceNumber1

          Fair enough. So it’s more the principle of it than the actual unit performance. I always saw the Commissar nerf as much wider ranging and having a more heavy-handed application than the script nerf, but I suppose people sort of roll it together into one. IMHO the Commissar execution should have been optional.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            If the execution was optional then they would be worth thinking about. Still not good but better than they are now. The bigger issue as I see it is that hordes are now running roughshod over elite armies and people are upset. Templates were (IMO) the best way to deal with hordes but without them there isn’t enough damage being dealt. Is that an “end all” fix? Doubtful but it would help address the issues of not being able to chew through a horde.

        • Bootneck

          Tbh i’ve never bothered with conscripts no matter how good or bad, my IG list is Mech based.

          Can’t stand hoard armies or big blogs of nothing which don’t do much other than soak up wounds – a very dull way to play.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I started off with mech IG but sadly the last few editions made that a poor choice. When a min squad of grav dev in a drop pod see off my tank commander and his two squadmates in a turn of shooting… Now I am putting vehicles back in my lists and they are doing better.

      • ellobouk

        They’re probably up in arms because they just got done painting 120 conscripts I suspect.

        Personally, I never really rated them, I’d rather spend the points on a unit that does… well… anything other than sit there menacingly.

        I mean, if you want tough survivable ObSec units, then a Spearhead with tank commander and Russes isn’t shabby, if you want bubblewrap… well… they’re still only 4 points… and just take some guardsmen instead…

      • When you nerf something multiple times in rapid succession, you are either being reactive, are incompetent, or some combination of the two. I could care less about the unit itself, although I don’t think any unit in any army should be at a level where there really is no reason to take it. That’s just my opinion on game design though.

  • Tushan

    Intercessors? Impact?

    Overpriced, weak pile of crap that nobody ever takes for a good reason.

    Even crap like bikes are more seen in tournaments then intercessors..meaning never!

    • Bootneck

      You missed Stable Ables actual reason why they made an impact:-

      “Yet few units have ever effected the lore and background of 40K as much,”

      Tbh can’t really disagree with that – although it probably should just be headed Primaris Marines.

      Its the first time that marines have moved on in years in the galactic story and also in the form they take on the field.

  • pokemastercube .

    9 index’s? i am looking at myshelf and can only see 8

  • The Plural of Primarch if Primarchs, not Primarches.

  • J Mad

    You missed a big old one, Razorwing Flocks lol