One Year Of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition – A Retrospection

One Year of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition

Oddly unnoticed (at least by me), June saw the 1st anniversary of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition!!

It’s been (only? alreadly?) a year since Games Workshop released the latest new edition of their most successful miniatures wargame, which arguably happens to be the most successful miniature wargame worldwide: Warhammer 40K.

Even though I am late, I thought it’s still well worth it to take the time and do a little retrospection.

How the Game of 40K Changed

It’s been a hectic year for Warhammer 40K, and the game is – for better or worse – a very different beast than it was in the spring of 2012. Here are a few of the more obvious changes to Warhammer 40K that come out of 6th Edition.

#1 – Allies

Allies was one of those ideas that were heavily criticised one year back.Prediction of game-breaking power-combinations were everywhere. Yet, overall, Allies appear to have worked out surprisingly well for Warhammer 40K (at least from my end of things).

Today, allies rarely see are the centre of “this is broken!” debates, yet they do make collecting 40K miniatures much easier, allowing people to add smaller detachments without committing to a full new army. Moreover, a well-executed, allies-compatible complementary colour-schemes is nice thing to see on the table. And some combos (e.g. Tau + Eldar) do perform nicely on the table.

Are allies a blessing or a curse to the game?

Do you enjoy playing with allies in 40K? Do you loathe them? Ignore them?

#2 – Randomness

Random distances. Random Psychic Powers. Random Terrain (anyone using these on a regular basis?).Random army elements (hello Daemons!).

6th Edition worships the dice gods like no edition of Warhammer 40K before.

Like allies, the decision to introduce more random elements was a change a lot of people really seemed to hate last year. Unlike allies, there still seem to be larger group of people who hold the grudge against 40K’s love affair with random tables until today.

At its best, more randomness (slightly) reduces 40K’s front-loading on list-building, throwing unexpected twists into the game itself and force players to think on their feet. At worst, they nullify the input of players in determining the outcome of a match.

Are there, in your opinion, good sides to the new randomness in 40K, or is it all bad?

#3 – Flyers

No game of Warhammer 40K without Flyers these days. No 6th Edition list that doesn’t (have to) consider anti-flyer weaponry.

The first few months of 6th Edition really drove home the point of how much Flyers will change the game. Necron Scythes and Heldrakes ruled the skies.

Ironically, the recent Flyers were all far less disruptive, both because they weren’t quite as good (in my opinion) and because most 40K players (I believe) have by now “adapted” to the omnipresence of flyers in the game, accepting them as inevitable part of Warhammer 40K.

But are Flyers a good addition to the game? Do they make the game more fun? Do they add tactical depth to 40K? Or are flyers merely a further complication that bog the game down?

#4 – Hyper-fast Codex releases

Four years of Warhammer 5th Edition (2008 to 2012) saw a total of eight new Codexes (not including the Sisters of Battle White Dwarf update).

In only one year of Warhammer 6th Edition, we’ve already seen five new Codexes (not counting the Iyanden Supplement).

The advantage, obviously, is that the existing armies in Warhammer 40K get updated much faster. Black Templars – the oldest book at the moment – have now gone 8 years without an update. Orks – the second-oldest after Templars – have gone only 5. That’s clearly an improvement from the ~ 10 year gaps we saw for Space Wolves or Dark Eldar before their respective updates.

On the other hand, the rapid codex releases obliterated the idea of an established, known meta-game. Gone are the times when the armies had time to “settle in”, and a certain degree of common knowledge of how armies interacted could take root among 40K players before a new Codex gave the game a new jolt.

Curiously enough, I have seen people recently that said GW is going at it just a little bit too fast!

Do you enjoy Games Workshop’s fast release of Codexes? Would you like them to slow down again? Or speed it up even more?

#5 – Codex Supplements

The latest new arrival on the scene, Codex Supplement – with Iyanden being the first – have arrived on the scene. More are sure to follow, with a (possibly eBook-only) Farsight supplement announced in the latest White Dwarf.

Being the most recent development, its difficult to “judge” Codex Supplements at this point. They appear to be a highly divisive topic. Some people seem to truly loathe them, as they add new “rule books” with very little rules to the game. Other love them, seeing how they expand the background for certain factions in the 40K universe (with a few flavourful rules added for good measure).

Either way, Codex Supplements are likely here to stay.

Do you think Codex Supplement are a good way to expand the current Codex-range? Do you think they are redundant? Which Codex Supplement, if any, would you like to see in the future?

#2 – 6th Edition One Year On – Your Thoughts?

Writing this retrospective-article, it somehow morphed from a summary to a collection of discussion points, which may be for the best. What is your opinion of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition after one year, compared not to an “ideal” of 40K, but to the edition(s) we had before?

  • What aspect of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition do you like best?
  • What aspect of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition do you like the least?
  • Do you feel Warhammer 40K has, overall, improved over 5th Edition?
  • Do you feel 6th Edition is a step backwards from the game it was before?

I am looking forward to your thoughts!




I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at
To Fire the New Astra Militarum Wyvern... Overtly Tedious? #40k #wargaming #madness - 4 hours ago
  • Test

    Guest Comment Test

  • Michael Dudek

    I would say a lot of the moaning and groaning over what the 6th edition has wrought (things like randomness and rapid pace of releases) is coming from one source – tournament players. Although vastly in the minority of 40K overall, the tournament obsessed pretty much rule 40K internet and podcasting.

    They don’t like things that don’t allow them to construct a stable army of death to bring to tournaments year after year, without a new codex or the fact they might not get the psychic power/warlord trait/deployment, etc. that their killer list relies on.

    GW has made pretty clear that the direction they’re going in right now is for casual over tournament players, evidenced by their withdrawal of prize support, and scaling back their own events, for example. Those who feel ‘forsaken’ by GW are doing most of the complaining out there. Which is their right, but GW has decided to move away from that kind of gaming. And while vocal about things they don’t like, I don’t feel that the tournament focus that dominates most of the 40K discussion on the internet is where most gamers are.

    • Zweischneid


      Even though – in theory at least – Allies and Random Powers in particular would mitigate (potential, inevitable?) imbalances in the system/lists and strengthen the competition of “player skill” at the table (thinking on your feet, adapting to events as they unfold) vs. the competition of finding the best combo pre-game / pre-tournament.

      • Michael Dudek

        And I think that’s exactly why tournament players don’t like them. Almost all of the ones I’ve met like to do their thinking before the game creating a killer list, not at the table of the actual game. In general, I’ve found tourney players to be obsessive over list building and exploiting whatever they can in the rules. Random rolls, like not being guaranteed of getting the fortune power now if you’re an Eldar player, is like Kryptonite to a tournament player.

        • Wolfgard

          I think player’s loathing of the randomness has less to do with being able to create a ‘reliably uber army’ and more to do with the fact that games are won based on one or two random rolls rather than how well both players played. I’ve seen multiple games won/lost based on one random dice roll that aren’t cinematic but frustrating instead.

          One game I’ve seen has the last SM of his squad grab an objective to tie the game (Because the player was good at keeping him alive, and some luck) only to open the mysterious objective box and blow himself up, losing the game. Nothing to do with army lists, or player skill, just one random dice roll lost the game and neither play feels good about the win/loss

          Several games I’ve seen lost due to one or two failed charges from really close ranges. The player slogs all the way across the board, skilfully gets his army into position to charge from a reliable distance(<5"), and proceeds get his army wiped out because he failed a couple random charge rolls. Here neither player feels good about the win/loss either.

          • Jeff Martin

            I hear what you’re saying, but sorry really not seeing how that isn’t cinematic, /shrug… crap happens on the Battlefield, personally I have always hated the whole “I have the correct” (IE cookie cutter build I pulled off the internet) army ergo I win. The random elements makes “should win” meaningless short range charges have failed many times in military history…it just happens sometimes.

            And honestly if one player loses out over a random roll I just don’t see that as both players playing well but….I see it as both players playing about the same and fate stepping in.

    • Jeff Martin

      I would have to say I completely agree with you Michael, the Tournament players have long been a very vocal minority and sometimes their word being law (and lets face it guys for several editions it has been that way) has negatively impacted the vast majority of people who are playing 40K.

      I’m sorta glad it has gone the other direction, I have played since the old Rogue trader days and I am honestly enjoying sixth edition more than any other edition, not that I’m crazy about everything (like the limitations of certain flyers to certain SM Chapters) but overall I’m very happy.

  • silverdragon

    What aspect of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition do you like best?

    Flyers and the new would allocation rules
    What aspect of Warhammer 40K 6th Edition do you like the least?

    How vulnerable and flimsy vehicles feel now and random psychic powers. I think vehicles have been nerfed a little too hard, especially the av 10 ones. It feels like vehicles should now get an armor save against infantry weapons so they stand a chance.
    Do you feel Warhammer 40K has, overall, improved over 5th Edition?

  • wibbling

    I admit I do like 6th edition. However, we take a lot of the randomness out fo the game deliberately. It’s just hard work to remember what you’re rolling for this time.

    It’s also not cinematic – you want to play a gung-ho commisar or calculating captain and find out he gets you stealth. Daft.

    I play Daemons, so yes, it’s infuriating. You then take kit to mitigate the results which is counter productive. The warpstorm table is hogwash. Daemon players are left fighting their own book yet again. To those who disagree, ask yourself how you’d feel if your hammerhead gunship/fire prism were make on a chance of what you’re shooting at become *better* because of your shots? or if your troops suddenly had to roll to see if they could shoot, then to see if the enemy ignored it, then got 2d6 shots per unit, then had ot hit… and so on.

    The utter lack of a flyer is also obnoxious, the 6+ save silly, really, really silly, your elite troops not really very elite, and, worst of all that your units simply didn’t fit their fluff.

    ‘…small arms fire patters of their armoured hides…’ Well, no, it actually nobbles them completely. Or ‘mighty thews could smash a tank in bits’ except other greater daemons and princes are the same strength. You feel as if statistics are the wrong way around, as if a thirster should be S10 BS6.

    An utter lack of flyers borks us as well and while 6th opens up allies and foritifications, there’s no fluff of Daemons arriving and building castles, let alone a herald manning guns. In a close up shooting game we’re cannon fodder.

    • C AJ Segger

      I also play Daemons and I actually like the randomness of the rewards and warpstorm table, it gives a better chaotic feel to the army. I agree that the lack of flyers is a disadvantage, having a couple of flying montrous creatures leaping about does offset this.

  • wookieegunner

    I find it very interesting that you didn’t include one of the biggest chaanges, double FoC at 2000 points. Is that because you rarely play at that level?

    • Zweischneid

      Good point.

      Yeah, I tend to play 1000 to 1500 pts (and 200 pts. Battle Patrols).

      IMO, IGO-UGO systems work better for small games (less “down-time” between turns, and larger games should probably use some form of alternating unit-activation ala Infinity, etc..).

      Funny enough, the 1999 +1 pts. format seems to be in vogue in some parts (but not in others).

  • belverker

    i am loving 6th ed, i hated 5th, love the fast release schedule, love the flyers, haven’t had any issues with allies, love the randomness, and everyone who plays at the club seems to be having more fun with 40k, hell it has even lured back some jaded ex 40k players which i never thought would happen

  • Craig

    @ Michael – I’m certainly not a tournie player – but I still loathe this edition more than any I’ve played since the Rogue Trader days. So much of the randomness actually makes the whole sci-fi fluff redundant. Taking a librarian who has no idea what his psychic abilities are? Is that likely? Random charge distances make a mockery of the “futures” technical ability to judge the short distance between you and the enemy, or that the super-human, no-fear SM would not charge in to a small group of greenskins. Flyers have meant everyone has had to spend money on AA, lots of missile launchers or a flyer themselves to even hold their own against most armies they will face (all good for GW). Warlord traits have, in my experience, been pointless when random and awesome when the right named character and specific trait have been carefully incorporated. I don’t even bother to roll anymore. And the game now seems so much slower. Especially the long-drawn-out melee phase. Right, one Initiative 10, then nothing moves until one initiative 5, then 8 fours, then your ten threes, then my one powerfist at one. Bored now. . . . I could go on, but frankly, I can’t be bothered. GW has lost me, as I have recently given up 40K and will soon give up fantasy. I won’t even bother to renew my WD subscription, as it’s no longer interesting to read. It’s a shame, but the accountants have taken over GW, and quality has been sacrificed for quality.
    Flames of War is my new game, and I hope they learn from GWs mistakes.

  • Steve

    I like the way GW have tried to make the game cinematic, but some aspects just seem flawed. The idea of challenges for example is great on paper, but too open to abuse. I had a warboss tying up a couple of squads for several turns to stop capture of an objective because he kept challenging and the rest of the enemy units in assault could only watch (unless the one guy with a high chance of causing wounds wanted to sit out). Similarly saw a destroyer Lord challenge when charged by a squad of terminators to reduce the effective number of attacks the marine player could make, or a imperial guard squad sergeant challenge against a daemon Prince to give the remaining 9 guard a chance to survive. The concept is cinematic and I love it, but in some situations too open to abuse.

    I believe options like flyers are awesome, but like a lot of factors in the game, once they start being played by some players in a group, escalate the game to a point where everyone needs them, hurting the players who do not have a large disposable income to afford all the new things.