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Warhammer 40K: How To Differentiate Xenos Races

4 Minute Read
Jun 8 2021

Let’s talk about how GW is working to make the different races stand out. Perhaps Orks are only the beginning.

Last week GW broke the news that they were shaking up the basic stat line of Orcs by moving basic units up to T5. This move opens up a lot of possibilities in the game and helps really set Orks apart from other races.

While in the past they shared a lot of stats, with say Space Marines, they’ve now morphed into a very different group. You can look at the statline of a basic human, a Space Marine, and an Ork and they are all significantly different. This got us thinking, how can they revamp some of the other races to feel more distinct? Let’s take a look.

Craftworld Eldar

The Eldar are an old and wise race of near immortals, but take a look at their stat line and it’s almost identical to that of a basic human. While all Eldar have this problem to a degree, Craftworld have it the worst (with Drukhari for instance having a lot of alternate options like Wracks to break it up). These guys and gals just don’t feel much different, with a mere point of movement not really setting them aside. So how do you make the Craftworlders feel more different?

Well first off I’d go and up their movement some more, really make it stand out. Then I’d up their WS and BS. They are after all near immortal beings who have spent centuries or millennia perfecting the art of war. Even the basic Guardians have likely spent more time training than most humans have been alive, they should be better than humans, even than Space Marines. I’d bump Guardians defenders up to BS 2+, Storm Guardians up to WS 2+ and the rest of the Eldar lineup to WS and BS 2+. Make them a race that might not hit the hardest but excels at getting where they need to be and hitting with accuracy once they get there.


T’au are another race that currently have just a very similar feel to many other factions and don’t really have a stat thing that sets them apart much. T’au are however in kind of a weird place because so many of their units are suits (or non-T’au) you can’t get as much change out of affecting their base statline as you could with other factions. I do think it would be interesting to give base T’au a lower movement, play up the physically weak aspect, but I don’t think that’s the real fix. 


After all, the T’au are a very technological race, so I think the fix for them is a wargrear one. I’d up the S of basically all their weapons by at least 1. This puts them back where they were when they first came out, with a really scary high powered shooting gun. Many modern 40K players don’t remember how shocking a race with a base S5 weapon was when they first arrived on the scene. Every T’au having at least base S6 guns would be very interesting (there are a lot more S5 around these days, Marines can field a whole army of them). I think putting them as a high S but overall low AP army would make them stand out.

Other Ideas

Changing these races, along with the changes to Marines and Orks takes care of a large swath of the game. Nids already do a decent job of standing out with their massive line up. GSC don’t need much change, as they should be close to base line human. While Necrons might seem too mid-ground, once you’ve changed Orks and Marines they really stand out as the T4 1 Wound army. Concept wise a couple of big picture ideas that could be adapted to other factions are:

  • A T3 army with a base 2+ save. We’ve got the high toughness army (Orks), the high wound army (Marines) The high everything (Custodes) but not an army that purely relies on a high armor save (Sister are the closest).
  • As a counter, a low S/high AP army. Great at taking down armor but hard to get wounds.
  • The strong but not tough army, Something with S5 but T3.

These are just a few ideas, but I think with some of them GW will be going a long way to really make the game’s various factions and races stand out.

Let us know how you’d set the factions apart, down in the comments! 


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