Competitive Innovations Editorial: 10 Things I Like About 10th Edition

Today’s column is intended to highlight some of the things that I really like about the new Edition of Warhammer 40K, because I don’t feel like there’s been enough positivity in the community this past week. I’ve enjoyed every game of tenth I’ve played, and am looking forward to doing a lot more of it, and I also don’t want to write about 9th Edition lists any more. With that in mind, this week’s events are covered in Best of the Rest style later on, and the main content of the article is a rundown of the things that I think really stand out as positive features of 10th Edition.

Weird pivot, I hear you say. Why are you writing this? Well I started on an intro explaining that, but uh, let’s say I have some pretty strong feelings, and it started detracting from the positive tone this article is meant to strike. As a compromise, I have hidden it in the magic expando-text below, so if you want grumpy Wings look at that, and if you want to blissfully cruise on to some positive takes on Tenth Edition and the summary of the week’s results, simply do not click the button. It’s probably for the best.

Oh and as ever – what is within the expando-tags is my opinion, not some sort of official Goonhammer position, or anything.

The Rant Zone - Click to Expand

Last week was a big one, huh? The vast majority of the rules for 10th Edition are now out in the wild, along with the truly upsetting number of words we wrote about them, and players have started to really dig in and get some games under their belts. I think it’s fair to say that emotions have been running high among segments of the playerbase, and that reactions have been mixed at best among the competitive scene. Plenty of people have positive things to say about the game, but the Indexes and Munitorum Field Manual in particular have created quite a bit of blowback, with some extremely alarmist takes about the edition being dead on arrival or unfixable, and some serious grumbling about some factions, which our own team have not been immune from.

Bluntly, the net result of this is that last week sucked as a content creator, because everyone wanted to laser focus in on excuses to get big mad online, all competing to have the most doom-laden take about 40K or their army, often in our comments section. This does not make the absurd amount of hours it takes to produce that volume of material feel particularly rewarding, and I can only imagine what it’s like for the design team. I’m not looking for pity here – I’ve been in online ecosystems a long time, I know how this works – but I do think the extent to which the community seems determined to have the most hostile or negative take on anything that happens has been ballooning in the last year, and this feels like it’s coming to a head in an incredibly negative fashion.

Because here’s the thing: Tenth Edition is fun! It’s really good fun! I have been privileged enough to play quite a few games of it now, and I’ve enjoyed all of them, coming away each time with new aspects I want to tinker with or try out. I’m also not alone in this – the reaction I’ve seen to Tenth among casual players has been wildly more positive than in the competitive scene, and if you’re outside the competitive ecosystem, the vitriol must look completely baffling. Part of that is, of course, that in the information age the speed at which competitive players can identify and start pushing the extremes of a new set of rules is orders of magnitude faster than it used to be. I imagine that if every game of tenth you’ve played is against the most nightmarish Aeldari list you can concoct, it probably doesn’t seem that great, so here’s an idea: Maybe don’t?

No one is saying that there won’t need to be some balance changes – there obviously will,  probably sooner rather than later. We have, as a community, pretty conclusively demonstrated that the Aeldari Index is busted in about three days. Go us, new record etc. Now get some new material, because there’s really only two outcomes here.

Either you think Games Workshop will make improvements or you don’t. If you do, there’s a whole bunch of stuff you can explore while you wait, a lot of it great. If you don’t, and you’re online screaming about how GW can’t or won’t fix this, and Tenth Edition is doomed, then I’ve got a couple of questions. One – which Games Workshop have you been looking at for the last six years? It’s clearly a different one than I have. Throughout 9th edition Games Workshop demonstrated a commitment to improving the game quality through balance dataslates, a new rules glossary, and the return of its own tournament circuit in the US and (more recently) in the UK. It’s not an organisation that strikes me as particularly likely to let these problems hang around if they are as bad as some people think. I understand that people want feedback and changes at the speed of a Discord ping, but also we have literally already had the first emergency balance tweak for this edition, and it’s not even out yet!

The second question is honestly the more important one: What’s your endgame? Let’s say you’re right, and that for some reason Games Workshop is locked in to not course correcting this for six months or whatever. What is blasting out hyperbole after wildly incorrect hyperbole about how this is the worst that things have ever been and that the game sucks now going to accomplish? Make you look smart and sophisticated? Convince people that this community is not worth their time? Somehow get them to adopt your personal dream comp pack that definitely, 100% fixes every faction except the one you play?

Take an honest step back and listen to yourselves, because what you’re really pushing for is driving this community into total irrelevance. Competitive 40k has grown spectacularly over the last few years, but it’s still dwarfed by the greater 40k hobby, and if all the vocal parts of our community spend their time doing is screaming about how terrible everything is, that growth can reverse fast. That goes double if all the casual players are having the time of their lives, because why on earth would anyone choose to get involved in a toxic, seething mass of furious Reddit/Facebook/Twitter/Discord posts?

Either way, play games, get some practice in, and then when the hammer drops on Aeldari/Towering/Indirect fire (delete as applicable), your experience will still matter and the meta-chasers’ will be out of date. To be clear, I’m 100% putting my money (quite a bit of it, US hotel prices are wild) where my mouth is on both fronts on this one. I’m flying over to the US Open Tacoma in July and I’m bringing my Necrons rather than my beloved Wraithknight, because I’m vastly more interested in playing them than an Aeldari list that’ll be legal for months at most. Are some games at events going to suck? Yeah, but that’s always a risk if you attend an event however good the balance is – bad dice or bad opponents can still ruin a game for you. My least enjoyable tournament game ever was one that I won by a healthy margin, but it was still such a soul-destroying experience that I was angry for days afterwards. 40K is an imperfect game played by imperfect people. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is bad, and that’s life. If the competitive community means anything to you, focus on finding the bits that are good, and trust that the game’s designers want to do that as well.

My assumption is that this intro is going to make people a lot of people very mad and get me called a GW shill or whatever and sure, go nuts, there’s a queue. To be very clear, no one at GW has asked me to write this, and no one told us what to put in our Index reviews. People seem to think that the only possible reason we would choose to say anything nice about the Indexes is because Big GW is breathing down our necks, and that just bluntly isn’t true – we look for the positives because we all like this game and want it to be good! Pointing at something and saying it’s bad is much easier than digging into what’s good, and the latter is much more useful in the long run for building up the game. Also, plenty of our readers are never going to go anywhere near a tournament, and I guarantee you that the majority of them are going to find that their Indexes are just fine, and we’re writing for them as well.

This column, however, remains aimed firmly at the competitive community, and the driving purpose of it has always been to build positivity. If people go looking for competitive 40K content, I want them to find something focused on the creativeness and ingenuity that underpins so much of it, to see players from their local scene get a moment in the sun when they have a breakout performance, and to see their pet unit show up in the finals of a supermajor. I don’t want them to find a giant screed about the latest community drama, the latest prediction of the game’s death or people getting furiously angry that anyone would consider playing a non-optimal list.

Tenth Edition has the potential to be a great time for the game – so let’s focus on that, and not the teething issues. We know they’re there, I’ll wager the design team knows about them too, and shouting won’t get them fixed faster. I’m a software architect in my day job, and I know full well that launching a complex, technical project into the wild can sometimes be a bumpy ride, no matter how hard the team has worked, and that figuring out the causes of problems generally happens very quickly, but properly resolving them can, with the best will in the world, take a bit of time. Also, unlike a software project, you cannot simply roll back a release involving shipping spectacular numbers of physical boxes across the entire globe.

I’ll be at the Bristol GT playing pickup games of 10th this weekend (9th has exited my brain at this point), so if there’s something you like about the new edition, or even some constructive thoughts you have about what could be improved, do come and say hi and let me know. Or eradicate my Necrons with a Wraithknight to teach me a lesson, I guess. I technically cannot stop you doing that. I can even provide the Wraithknight, but as above I will be shaking my head in disapproval the whole time.

Events-wise this week, I’ll be blasting through:

  • The Atlantic City Open (supermajor)
  • ARDKORE GT (major)
  • Battle Brothers
  • Iberian Open

Ten Things I Like About Tenth Edition

1.) Leaders

Chronomancer. Credit: Wings

Leaders rule, fundamentally redefining how Characters interact with the game in a way that adds depth to list building, and succeeding where CORE failed in shifting the magnitude of impact that (most) buff Characters can have on the game. The thing I have enjoyed most about building army lists for every faction I’ve looked at is tinkering with how I can shift the roles of units by including the right Leader, whether there are ways to select Leaders to give myself options of how they get attached in different matchups, and whether I can squeeze in that last Enhancement I really want.

I also enjoy their impact on how the game gets played on the table. On an aesthetic level, my Overlord with the big scythe stands at the front of the Lychguard brick now, and that’s cool. Practically, when I’m playing an army with fairly complex layers of buffs, all those things get locked in at Declare Battle Formations, at which point I can give my opponent one clear explanation of exactly what my units have going on, and mostly leave it at that.

2.) The Detachment System

Detachments represent another big change to how complexity is managed in the game, cutting down the amount of rules that are in play for a faction at any given time, and again shifting some of the crunch to list building and preparation. Six Stratagems didn’t sound like very much, but the quality, flexibility and power of the Stratagems is generally significantly higher, and Enhancements are similarly high in utility and power. This is going to really come into its own once Codexes start coming out – this isn’t going to be like the start of 8th where factions that hadn’t received their Codex yet were either garbage or tied in to a few skew builds. It also means you don’t have to know the entire game back to front to play an event – your opponent’s rules are short enough that you can read them at game start.

In addition to this, it makes it much easier for the designers to tweak or change things down the line, simply because the blast radius of any changes they make to a Detachment is reduced. In previous editions, a nerf could unpick an overpowered build, but also invalidate a bunch of cool stuff in the army. Now, it only affects armies using that one detachment, leaving all the other options untouched, so players who weren’t abusing the extreme builds are less likely to feel like they’re paying for the sins of others. It also means that any such tweaks are much easier to tune.

3.) Battle-shock

Primaris Chapter Master Dante. Credit: Jack Hunter

Battle-shock has already exceeded my expectations in how much it can matter on the table, and opens up a tonne of design space that the team have already dived into. Morale was a weird all or nothing affair in 8th, and so random that when it mattered it felt like you were robbed in 9th, but now it interacts with the game in ways that are interesting and that are going to take a while to get a handle on – the big surprise for me was that I’ve found switching off Stratagems to be much more important than reducing the OC stat, especially when it impacts on units with access to free Universal Stratagems (which we’ll discuss momentarily).

Years of playing this game have trained me to just ignore any rule that references morale when evaluating a unit, but I quickly discovered in one of our test games that Dante’s ability to throw out AoE battleshock every turn can be gamechanging, and is scary enough to make you really think twice about going near him.

4.) Universal Stratagems

The Universal Stratagems are really good this time around, providing more tactical depth than in 9th, and also consolidating a bunch of stuff that got printed in half the codexes like Smoke into a single place. I’m also a huge fan of the rules across various Indexes that let a unit use a specific Universal Stratagem for free – it’s another really sharp use of design space, and is also a great teaching tool for newer players, as it helps signpost what their units are for.

5.) The Rules Commentary

I mean go check out my review of it, but it’s easily the best FAQ document Games Workshop have ever put out for 40K, and we got it before release day. If that’s the starting point, I’m going to go ahead and be optimistic that we’re going to be on a solid rules footing this edition.

6.) Tactical Objectives

Nexos. Credit: Soggy

Tactical objectives spent their years in the wilderness after the worst excesses of Maelstrom in 8th. Real heads who’ve ever had to play Tactical Cascade in a tournament setting will know what I’m talking about. 9th’s Tempest of War brought an improved version of this mode that was quietly one of the best ways to play it, and the Leviathan Mission pack does a great job of building on these refinements, creating something that’s approachable but still engaging. I’m also a big fan of not having to contort every list I build to the sensibilities of Secondaries – I think some of that can be good, but the later stages of 9th took it way too far in a way that was just a bit boring.

7.) Hills (and Battlefield Debris)

Low key, I think one of the biggest issues with terrain in the last few editions of 40K is that hills and battlefield debris like statues and mechanicum terrain have been almost worthless. These are some of the things that are easiest for players to get some of onto tables quickly, but unless hills were big enough to completely hide large models (at which point, why not just use a ruin) they contributed almost nothing to gameplay. Providing Cover when they partially obscure stuff completely changes that, and I’ve already found that dropping some pieces of this in big firing lanes does a lot more to change the game than Dense did.

8.) Fast Dice Support

So this one is more subtle, because it’s not actually spelled out anywhere, but one of the big things that a bunch of small changes to the rules combine to do is ensure that you can now almost always roll attacks with fast dice – situations where you might need to CP re-roll or use a dice manipulation trick being the only real exclusions. Conditional effects locking-in at target time does a lot of the lift here, but also important are the ways in which Cover is established, and the consolidation of a lot of effects that triggered under Devastating Wounds removes most situations where the order of wound rolls could matter. The reason I like this so much is that this is, overwhelmingly, how casual players have always played the game, so making an effort to ensure that this is also correct is great for building the community.

9.) The Changes to FLY (no, really)

Night Spinner
Night Spinner. Credit: Wings

It is good for the health and balance of the game if units of similar weight classes interact with terrain in broadly the same fashion. The value of FLY oscilated wildly depending on terrain density, making it very tricky to balance for all boards, and fast flying shooting was one of the most consistently broken categories of unit in 8th and 9th. Also, I have to think about the battlefield now? I cannot believe you pedestrians have been doing this the whole time.

10.) The Thrill of Discovery

As you might have guessed, I am a bit bored of writing about 9th Edition. We are about to enter an exciting world where 2000 new datasheets roam free, and I am extremely hyped to see what the community comes up with.

Event Results

Atlantic City Open

199-player, 9-round Supermajor in Atlantic City, NJ US on June 15 2023. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

The following covers the top eight (plus Sean Nayden, who went 6-0 then dropped).

  • 1st – David Adelman – Ynnari: Ynnari with lots of Aspect MSUs, two big stacks of D-Cannons and Shroud Runners/Harlequins for utility. Also has the fun combo of Storm of Whispers and the Phoenix Gem on a Farseer, letting them get an extra round of AoE damage in after getting punked the first time.
  • 2nd – Tyler Principio – Astra Militarum: Born Soldiers goodstuff with an extra infantry focus, maxing out on Kasrkin, taking some Scions and packing Gaunt’s Ghosts.
  • 3rd – Sascha Edelkraut – Black Templars: A horde melee infantry list with a bunch of herohammer alongside it.
  • 4th – Matt Lorah – Craftworlds: Ulthwe Aspect goodstuff with a unit of Wraithguard as a tarpit.
  • 5th – Jesse Melvin – Astra Militarum: Russ-heavy Born Soldiers Goodstuff.
  • 6th – Derek Apsche – Black Legion: Abaddon with a big brick each of Terminators and Bikers, plus a Noctilith Crown for protection.
  • 7th – Isaac Scharp – Death Guard: Comedy Harbingers horde – 100 Poxwalkers, 70 Plague Marines, zero fucks given.
  • 8th – Anthony Birdsong – Space Wolves: Upgrade/Wulfen spam, just as actual Space Wolves.


68-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in Putrajaya, Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya MY on June 17 2023. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

The following covers all 4-1+ players. 1st and 2nd were undefeated, 3rd was undefeated with a draw.

Rogal Dorn Battle Tank. Credit: Scott Horras “Heresy”

  • 1st – Pichayut Prasertwit – Astra Militarum: Double Dorn Soldiers.
  • 2nd – Victor Koh – Iron Hands: Hands hull spam, sporting a mighty six Gladiators and a couple of Redemptors.
  • 3rd – Peter Cheah – Iron Hands: A more mixed Hands list, going for some Redemptors and a Reaper, but also lots of Infantry with Feirros for the invulnerable save.
  • 4th – Joel Ong – World Eaters: Invocatus with loads of Eightbound and Jakhals.
  • 5th – Benjamin Chia – Space Wolves Successors: Infantry/upgrade/Wulfen spam.
  • 6th – Brandon Fam – World Eaters: Angron and the boys (the boys are Eightbound).
  • 7th – Clement Lee – Genestealer Cult: Horde/Mechanised hybrid Industrial Cult.
  • 8th – Jean-Marc Lablache D.C – Black Templars: A big Primaris Crusader brick backed by lots of Gladiators and herohammer.
  • 9th – Mohamed Shazmiq Yong – Tzeentch Daemons: Be’lakor, Big Bird and the usual Tzeentch suspects.
  • 10th – Koe Yao Dong – Tyranids: Monster-mashy Leviathan backed by a couple of units of Hormagaunts for emergency board control.
  • 11th – Kian Tan – Slaanesh Daemons:  Max Fiends, a couple of Enrapturesses, two Tormentbringers and Daemonettes to fill. Literally, nine units of them.
  • 12th – Mohd Abdul Kadir Darail – Chaos Daemons: Be’lakor/Bird/Bloodthirster monster mash.
  • 13th – Felix Darrel – Blood Angels: Blood Angels with a bunch of melee stuff and also Bobby G riding shotgun, providing 7″ Deep Strike charges in combination with the Chapter Tactic.

Battle Brothers

36-player, 6-round Grand Tournament in Bray Park, QLD AU on June 16 2023. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

The following covers all 4.5-1.5+ players, as there were an inexplicable number of draws. Only the winner was undefeated.

Imperial Knight Armiger Helverin
Imperial Knight Armiger Helverin. Credit: Pendulin

  • 1st – Will Milton – Imperial Knights: Freeblade Lance with a Herald Errant and a bunch of Armigers, skewed a bit more shooty than normal.
  • 2nd – Simon Gojkovic – Drukhari: Skew Covens, packing lots of Talos and a couple of Tantali packed with Grotesques.
  • 3rd – Jacob O’Donnell – Necrons: Aggro Novokh horde with 50 Warriors, max Flayed Ones and a big Lychguard brick, plus a Night Scythe to put something in position.
  • 4th – Jacon Warn – Tyranids: Double Tervigon Termagant horde. Hell yeah.
  • 5th – Nick Argent – Craftworlds: Ulthwe goodstuff with lots of Shroud Runners and a full Wraithguard brick.

Iberian Open 2023

32-player, 5-round Grand Tournament in Les Fonts, CT ES on June 17 2023. All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

The following covers all 4-1+ players. Only the winner was undefeated.

Desolation Squad in the scheme of the Rainbow Warriors
Desolation Squad by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

  • 1st – Manel Tulla – Space Wolves Successors: Infantry/Upgrade/Wulfen spam with the full Desolation brick.
  • 2nd – Roger Boira – Astra Militarum: Born Soldiers with a Dorn and some Scion Backup.
  • 3rd – Dave Schäfer – Chaos Knights: All-dog Herpetrax/Dreadblade Knights.
  • 4th – Tkila RR – Ynnari: Melee Troupe/Shroud Runner ynnari with Twilight backup.

Wrap Up

That’s it for this week, and I will repeat my exhortation to go play some games of 10th, it’s fun. Join us next week for the last time anyone can make me write about 9th Edition.

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