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40K: My First Steps Into The Grimdark

5 Minute Read
Sep 16 2017

Matt talks about his return to the Grim Dark with Warhammer 8th Edition.

(Editor’s Note: Matt Sall is one of regular players on the BoLS Twitch Stream. He’s one of the most versatile players here at BoLS who can pick-up and play just about anything we can throw at him. That includes numerous tabletop games, board games and multiple 40k armies. He’s been tasked with documenting his return to the Grim-Dark and below are his experiences after a couple months of playing 40k roughly 3 times a week.)

From an outsider’s perspective, Warhammer 40k can be daunting. Each game looks intimidating with all the rule books and the miniatures and both players throwing as many statistics as they are throwing dice. That’s how I felt when I got started again, but I’ve come to realize Warhammer 40k is much simpler than it looks.


Warhammer 40k 8th edition has done an excellent job of simplifying things to encourage new players to join. The basic rules are a mere “4” pages, which explain everything a brand new player will need to understand to begin playing.

To be fair, it’s 4 double-sided pages. But still, 4 pages is 4 pages. Admittedly, there are other rules a player should know before getting into playing. However, the core rules explain how the players get to killing each other’s army, which is often pretty important in Warhammer. When I got started playing 8th edition, I already had a basic understanding of how Warhammer worked. However, I had not played 40k in about a decade and a lot had changed.

Ghazghkull has really grown up over the years.



The core rules (D6s, Movement with a tape measure, models cost points, WS/BS/S/T/etc…) remained mostly untouched, but there were a lot of race specific rules to learn. In Warhammer 40k 8th Edition most of the complexity comes from each race’s specific rules. Games Workshop does a great job of make sure each race plays and feels different. In doing so, every race has a lot of rules that apply only to them.

Beyond that there are also tons of different weapons within each army. Some are universally used by all races and some are specific to that race. Some are limited to only certain factions within that race… There are a lot of different bits and pieces to learn if you want to succeed in Warhammer; you really have to know each race’s strengths and weaknesses.

Pictured: Strengths and Weaknesses – I think we all know who’s who…

In my time playing Warhammer 40k 8th Edition, there have been a few things I’ve noticed are my own weaknesses.

  • Knowing what each race does and how their units and weapons function

  • Good positioning

  • Knowing where and when to focus fire

  • Rolling really, REALLY badly

Pictured: Typical Matt Roll

One thing that really helped me was setting a goal each turn. Every time it was my turn, I would ask myself “What do I want to achieve this turn and what do I need to do to make that happen?” The answers were usually either to kill a certain unit or to reach a certain game objective. Getting a better handle on that greatly improved my ability to make sure I stayed focused on what was important within the victory conditions of the game and also knowing which units to focus fire on.

Pop Quiz – Who do you shoot first?

The other main thing I needed to learn was knowing your enemy’s army and their units and each unit’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Getting a better grasp on that greatly improved my positioning and ability to think a turn ahead.  In one of my first games against Tyranids, I let Genestealers get too close and they assaulted my army and shredded it to ribbons. If I had known that capabilities of Genestealers and how brutal they are in close combat, I would have made them a higher priority target. More importantly though, knowing their threat range and always thinking a turn ahead would have let me move tactically to stay out of charge range and avoid being assaulted at all.

They just want to hug…don’t mind the claws

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed getting back into Warhammer. The game has evolved a lot over the years since I played as a kid and everything I’ve seen so far as been a huge improvement over how it used to be. I like to think that with each game I play my tactics and strategy improve. There are an awful lot of things to remember if you want to survive the Grimdark, but that’s what reference sheets are for!

Download the 40k Rules HERE

We look forward to hearing more from Matt as he continues to play games of 40k. If you want to see him in action (and maybe offer some words of encouragement) be sure to hop by out Twitch Channel and let him know you’re rooting for him!


Author: Matt Sall
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