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Warhammer 40K: State of the Bloat – 2019 Edition

5 Minute Read
Nov 14 2019

Let’s take a look at how bad 40K’s bloat has gotten at the end of 2019.

GW has been putting out a lot of books lately. Between campaign supplements, new Codexes and Codex Supplements 8th has had an unprecedented number of releases.  While there are good things to be said about this, it does lead to issues. Primary among the major issues is the problem of bloat. Back I’ve looked at the problem before, here and here, but with the new Marine Codex it’s only gotten worse. So I figured it’d be a good time, as the year starts to wrap up, to take a look at where we are with bloat, and what we have to look forward too.

Worst Case Scenario

To start off lets take a look at pretty much the worst case scenario we can think of, an Imperial soup list, featuring Space Marines, Astra Miliatrium and Adeptus Mechanicus Forces. For this legal battle-forged army I could need the following books:

  • Codex Space Marines
  • My Codex Supplement of Choice (say Raven Guard)
  • Codex Astra Militarium
  • Codex Adeptus Mechanicus
  • Index Imperial 1
  • Index Imperial 2
  • Index Imperial Armour Forces of the Adeptus Astartes
  • Index Imperial Armour Forces of the Astra Militarium
  • Vigilus Defiant
  • Psychic Awakening Faith and Fury
  • White Dwarf Index Assassins
  • White Dwarf Index Inquisition
  • Main Rulebook
  • Latest edition of Chapter Approved

…and possibly random datasheets for models from Black Stone Fortress or other splash releases  not found in a codex (such as Sly Marbo).  On top of that I should have the needed FAQs, which come out to something like 13 FAQ/Erratas.

That brings us to a grand total of 15 Books/magazines, 13 addition documents and some number of assorted individual datasheets. Potentiality this means you could need up to 30 documents of various sizes and costs to run a single army (Once PA’s that buff the two AMs come out you might have to add 2 more books to the list). That’s frankly kind of insane. Now admittedly this a worst case scenario, and its pretty unlikely that you would ever actually build an army using ALL of those documents books at once, it would be a pretty eclectic collection of models indeed. However this example does help to highlight just how bloated things have gotten. Moreover, even if you don’t plan on using all those books in the actual army you end up fielding, you would still need access to all 30ish documents when building your army, just to know all your options and what everything did.

A More Moderate Scenario

So that was the worst case, lets take a look at a more moderate and pretty common scenario, building a mono-faction Space Marine list. These are all the rage right now, and getting a lot of play, so what does it take to run one? Well you’ll start with: Codex Space MarinesCodex Supplement of choice (you could pick 3 and still technically be Mono-faction,and a lot of lists are using two, but for us will stick with just one) say Imperial Fists.Now on top of that we still need Vigilus Defiant, for that sweet specialist detachment, and we are likely using Imperial Armour for maybe a dreadnought or Rapier, ah and then we’ll need Faith and Fury I’m sure, maybe Index Imperial 1, of course the Rulebook and Chapter Approved. We could include the White Dwarf Index Inquisition and still be “mono-faction”, but I’ll leave that out for now. Lastly we need 6-8 FAQs.


So here we can see that even a mono-Codex army, of a popular type, needs around 8 books and a similar number of FAQs, and if we pushed it we could get up to 11 books. Even looking at the low end, not using all the books you could, this mono-faction army likely needs at least 6 books. That’s still a lot.

“Good” Scenarios

Hey guess who doesn’t need a lot of books, Xenos factions! I mean, Eldar use a bunch, but Necrons? You could be good with 3-4 books, same with Nids if you aren’t using GSC as well. T’au also only really need 4 books, and they’ve even have a list that wins. And that there is the rub, while these Xenos lists do keep the bloat down, they are generally considered to be under-preforming and bad armies. Simply put it seems the more boated your army, the better it is, and the parts of the game that have escaped bloat are forgotten and suffering.

Final Thoughts

Overall it’s pretty clear 8th Edition is a bloated edition, extremely so in some places. Now on it’s own bloat, or the causes of it aren’t all bad. The rash of new books and supplements means more options, variety and customization in the game. I’ve got more options on how to build an army than ever before. The massive numbers of FAQs and updates also means that issues get addressed faster and less things stay broken for long periods. Both of these are objectively good. At some point however there has to be a balance, and at some point you slide into a hole of bloat where it is impossible to keep up with all the options and stuff just turns into clutter and noise. Lets all admit 30 documents is too much for one army. Heck, 10 books is too much for one army. The game is getting bogged down, and I suspect it turned people off from actually buying, or at least bringing, books to play. No one wants to lug around 5-15 large hardback books. Overall bloat continues to be an issues as and we get into Psychic Awakening it looks to only be continuing.



Let us know what you think of 8th Edition’s bloat, down in the comments! 

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