Goonhammer Previews Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition at Warhammer Fest 2023

One of the more popular attractions at Warhammer Fest this weekend was the 10th Edition preview booth, which offered attendees the opportunity to be one of the first to try out the next edition of Warhammer: 40,000. The preview games were so popular, in fact, that wait times for a game were nearly always in excess of 3 hours. Thankfully, Goonhammer contributor Mike Bettle-Shaffer was daring enough to brave the lines, and came back with some insights from his game to share.

While I’d done plenty of research before heading to Warhammer Fest on where to eat and what to see while I wasn’t at the convention I hadn’t put much thought in to what I was actually going to do, outside of meeting some of the Goonhammer crew and other pocket friends.

Having not played since eighth edition, I was feeling pretty excited for tenth. My Phobos Kill Team had me itching for Marines and what better way to start a new army than with a new edition.

The demo games were proving incredibly popular, and with only five tables the wait was around three hours. This did give me plenty of time to play some Tacticus and chat Warhammer with folks in the line. Having some of the event team check in on people in the line as time went on was really nice and it actually happened that I had the same person taking us through a round of tenth edition.

40K 10th edition demo game. Credit: Mike Bettle-Shaffer

We took a unit each, with two squads of Hormagaunts and two Screamer-Killers making up the Tyranid side and two squads of Primaris Infernus Marines and two Ballistus Dreadnoughts making up the marine side. This made for a streamlined round and Paul, our demo host, did a great job setting the scene. The Marines forces made planetfall to protect Biolab Sicarus from the Tyranid forces, with a single central objective marker defining the battle to come.

The new cards made keeping track of everything really simple, and having all the profiles in one place is a great aid. It hadn’t occurred to me until I spent some time talking to more current players about how much the cards help to keep things moving. Coming over from Star Wars: Legion and Age of Sigmar where cards are either the norm, or a handy upgrade, them finally making it over to 40K is great to see.

There was a mix of experience levels at the table from seasoned veterans through to those like myself who either haven’t played for a while, or in some cases at all. Even with all of the simplifications, it still felt like 40K at its core and there’s plenty of more familiar touch points. For this particular demo, we didn’t get to see how psychic powers or overwatch were handled, but with the new turn structure things were brisk.

As for the units, it was easy to help one of the newer players at the table pick which of his missile profiles to use when firing the Ballistus at the ‘gaunts. With the target unit at greater than half strength, it meant he was also rerolling any misses making it feel even deadlier. The new Infernus Marines are going to be great at clearing chaff and screens with their pyreblasters, and forcing battleshock tests on a hit will boost that effectiveness even further. The Screamer-Killer across the table from me did some serious work with its Bio-plasmic scream, then charged in to try finishing the job with its talons. Thankfully Marines are fairly sturdy and the squad only lost a couple on the charge.

While it’s hard to know what’s on the back of the cards since they were stuck to the table, if they’re taking design cues from Age of Sigmar you’ll likely to have a great shot of the unit, together with some useful info to help play the game. If I could put anything on a wish list for what ends up on the back of the cards it’d be great to have some of the keywords from the units or factions located there. But even just looking at the front of them, being able to find everything you need in a clean lay out makes evaluating units easy, and some of the more complicated bits from earlier editions like wound brackets have also been simplified. The Objective Control characteristic made it really easy to immediately tell what each force needed to secure the central objective, and we needed it with the tug of war between an early rush of Hormagaunts followed by the withering fire and a final charge from the Infernus Marines swinging control.

Between the eight players at the table we managed to get through a full battle round in about thirty minutes and I would’ve gladly played on given the chance. I’m hopeful that lower points value games will allow for some reasonably balanced matches that can be easily contained in an evening, and with the changes I’ve seen so far this seems likely to be the case. These changes and the new datasheet cards are also going to make for an easier sell to new players, which is going to be great for the hobby. This whole weekend has left me with renewed energy for the hobby and I’m already excited to get home and put a dent in the backlog.

Thanks to Mike for his thoughts on the new edition. Check back later this week for more impressions from fellow contributor Kevin Stillman’s game.

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