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40K Deep Thought – Is 40K Too Big to Master?

3 Minute Read
Jul 14 2014

The game is getting ever bigger –  is the fun getting ever smaller?

We are standing at an interesting place with 40K.  7th Edition is only a couple of months old, and we have seen the non-stop codex and supplemental codex releases just keep on coming.  With the supplemental codices, we are well into the 20s and probably nearing 50 publications with rules in them once you throw in all the Black Library ePubs. Heck, Space Wolves are said to only be a handful of weeks away.

The craziest thing about all of this rules sprawl is we are the very start of a new edition.  Who can say how many different 40K rules publications we could see out there 2-3 years from now.

What Does It Mean For Players?

I think we are headed into the realm of factionalization.

Back in the days of yore (2 years ago), you would still regularly see players who owned every book.  Even if they only played a single army, the love of the 40K fluff and a desire to stay on top of the game would lead many to go out and buy each and every codex when they came out.  Of course back then, that would be 2-3 times a year.  It seems so quaint now a days…

In the current 40K era, staying current will run you thousands on rules alone, and it appears that only the most hardcore of competitive players still do this.  There are some folks who run in those circles, and yes they do indeed have to stay right on top of each and every last book.  These are the boys and girls who snagged a copy of Clan:Raukaan just for The Gorgon’s Chain.

But really, how many of those folks are there out there?  There may be a very good reason GW only printed a thousand or so of each of those hardcover supplemental books.

For the vast majority of the player base we are becoming niche players.  By that I mean players who own everything that has to do with your own army, which could still be 2-5 publications counting various ePubs, and our minis.


Into the Niche
Beyond that the game is a hazy ever-growing expanse.  When these niche players go out to play, they will over time, know less and less about the other armies, and especially the rarer armies and their supplemental materials.

Come tabletop-battle time, this will lead to more surprises, mystery, and plain not-knowing the rules. That can be both good or bad based on what type of player you are.

-If you are the type of person who likes a challenge and can roll with the punches, its all good.  You will regularly encounter things you’ve never seen before, or encounter subtle combos that you were unaware of.

-If you are the type of player who wants to go into a situation roughly knowing what to expect, expect to have a tougher time, or have to shell out your cash to stay current.

-If you are the type of player who has no issue taking advantage of players who are only hazy about your own codex – expect a field-day.

40K has been here before, but it’s been a long time. Towards the end of 3rd, we saw such a large amount of White Dwarf supplements, that you would often have two competing stacks of rules on both sides of the table to keep track of what was going on.  Anyone remember Enslaver, Captain Invictus, and the VDR rules?

My own personal reaction is to want to flee into the safe arms of Forgeworld and the Horus Heresy.  One set of (pricy) books that pretty much all the players have access to makes things nice and simple.  That leaves me more time for hobby and army-building and less time and cash chasing the meta.


Call me old-fashioned but I like I like my biggest game-playing challenge to be the other human being across the table from me – not incomplete knowledge of the rules themselves.

Where do you draw the line on what rules you buy?

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