What if Games Workshop had a different Poster-boy army for 8th Edition Warhammer 40,000?
The Rumormill has been spinning up that 8th Edition Warhammer 40,000 is coming out soon – probably next year. And we’ve seen the rumors that the Sisters of Battle are getting their own, stand-alone codex in physical form again.
Well that got me thinking about the state of the game and what Games Workshop could do to shake-up the game. I think one of the biggest things GW could do to get folks excited about 40k would be to swap out the “Poster-boy” Ultramarine Army.
Now before I bring down the Wrath of Ultramar, hear me out. I get why Ultramarines are the prime army – they are Space Marines, only “Ultra” so it fits. Plus blue is a pretty forgiving color to paint – unlike those “Yellow Imperial Fists or those Red Blood Angels” (which aren’t sooo bad with foundations paints, kids theses days are so lucky). Blue is also a little more flashy than the “Dark Green Dark Angels” and more complex than “Black Black Templars.” And from a model point of view I can understand why the Ultras work vs Space Wolves, too: They are clean and simple vs the more Ornate Space Wolves (and even Blood Angels).
Now, all of those Space Marine armies could easily slot in to a new “Starter Set” and many of them have also been featured in one! But when you walk up to someone who’s vaguely familiar with Warhammer 40,000 and ask them what color Space Marines are they are pretty likely to say, “Those are the big blue guys in armor, right?”
Basically, 40k is synonymous with Space Marines, specifically Ultramarines, and that’s how John Q. Public at large identifies them. That’s the power of branding! Unfortunately after years and years of promoting Space Marines as their “Poster-boy” army, it’s had one unfortunate impact – Everyone plays Space Marines.
If you don’t play some flavor of Space Marines you’re in the minority. And I’m willing to bet that you probably either 1) Had a Space Marines army at some point or 2) you split a starter box with a friend and you went with the “other” option while your friend took the Marines. Option 3) is that you just put your Space Marines in storage waiting for the right time to bust them out again.
That’s the issue and the idea behind this post. If GW really wants to shake things up for 8th then launch the game with a different starter army!
But that leads us to another question – Which Army?
Games Workshop has lots of contenders. In the starters sets Second Edition had Orks, Third Edition had Dark Eldar, Fourth had Tyranids, Fifth had Orks again, Sixth had Chaos Marines, and Seventh has had a couple different version to choose from. Now, for the most part, these armies were all paired with some flavor of Marine army.
What if Games Workshop went a different route and did a Xenos vs Xenos starter set? You could pit the “Good Xenos” (Tau or Eldar) vs the “Bad Xenos” (Orks, Necrons, Dark Eldar, Tyranids) and have an entire campaign system off that. I’ve talked about it before and I think we do need one – but you have to ask, “Do any of these scream ‘Poster-boy’ army to you?”
What about the humble
Imperial Guard Astra Militarum? Name change/branding issues aside, I think they could be a fantastic fit! Everyone can identify with a Guardsmen – everyone that plays is human, too! Plus they seem like the underdog. Especially with all these Aliens running around shooting lightning and having metal bodies or really sharp claws. The Guard could be great for 40k:
Solar Mecharius knows what I’m talkin’ ’bout!
I think if they paired them with a Xenos race like Orks or Tyranids you could have a very balanced starter set packed with a ton of models to build and paint. Plus that will get folks in to the big tanks and planes of the Imperium – this could be a hit… Until the reality hits the player in the face. “Man, I sure do need a lot of Guardsmen to have an actual army. And with all those vehicle kits, that’s a pretty big investment. Plus that’s a lot of time to build and paint all these guys that die to a stiff breeze.”
Maybe the Guard aren’t the best choice…But what other options do we have? We need an army with the appeal of “humanity” and the durability of Space Marine…
And they need to be available in plastic.
…Back to the drawing board.
So what do you think? What army would you pick as the next “Poster-boy” army for Warhammer 40,000? What qualifications would you use?