Goonhammer Reviews – Darktide: The Miniatures Game

The frantic battles of Imperium rejects versus chaos hordes come to the tabletop in Darktide: The Miniatures Game. Many thanks to Games Workshop for providing us with an advanced copy of the game for review.

Darktide (the video game) is Fatshark’s third co-op, “4 dudes versus a gazillion chaos guys” outing. The first two – Vermintide 1 and 2 – were based in the Old World fantasy setting. Darktide brought the formula to the 40k universe, and we loved it. Each of the four playable classes felt significantly different and all had clear roles in a crew. The settings were dripping with 40k details, and the AI director keeps the tension up throwing bodies at you.

Shout out to all the Oryn mains.

So how does it translate to the tabletop?


Credit: Games Workshop

The Darktide box contains a surprising (if somewhat disparate) variety of stuff:

  • One “frankensprue” containing the bits to make an Ogryn and a Kasrkin
  • Pious Vorne (formerly of Blackstone Fortress)
  • Primaris Psyker (formerly of Blackstone Fortress: Escalation)
  • The 6-man Poxwalker sprue from the launch of the 8th Edition of 40k
  • A full, multi-part Traitor Guard kit (no commissar or Ogryn)
  • A staggering amount of tokens
  • A troubling amount of cards for equipment, initiative, and combatants
  • Rule book, dice, line-of-sight tools, and double-sided game boards

The vibes here are absolutely not cohesive, and not always… Darktidey. The Primaris Psyker feels a bit beyond the level of the one from the game; Pious Vorne is essentially carrying one weapon that encompasses two in the game. The vet has a hot-shot lasgun, which you don’t have access to in the game. I completely understand why (possibly?), but the Kasrkin included in the box does not have the iconic rebreather mask that essentially IS the Darktide aesthetic. The two part mask heads are exceptionally fiddly to put together, maybe too spicy for a boxed game… but feels like a big miss. The Ogryn’s got his iconic rippergun, but the goofy head included is so, so far from anything approaching Darktide vibes. If you have the bits handy, a couple of headswaps will certainly help to set the right tone.

The selection of enemy models here is nice. I am biased – I think the traitor guard kit is the best modern multipart GW set. The instructions included only cover a subset of builds, but you could customize to your heart’s content. The old 6-man Poxwalker sprue is nice to see again, and are very characterful models. The issue with all of the above is that the vibes are all over the place. We wouldn’t expect a pile of new heroes for a sort-of-intro box like this, but the protagonist models don’t really feel cohesive, and you can really tell the difference in age between all of the kits.

Darktide Operatives. Credit: Fowler


Darktide is a Kill Team spin-off game. While it is incredibly simplified, the bones are there. Shooting, wounds, and saves are reminiscent of full KT. The big differences here are that Darktide is played on a grid, and one of the gangs is controlled by rudimentary “AI”. Enemy actions are goverened by simple rules, but the notion of Threat Principle is called out – essentially meaning that you should always take the best available action with the antagonists. If a Poxwalker could attack an Ogryn at full health or a veteran about to die, it should choose to go after the vet.

Missions are split up into rounds, which work like setpiece skirmishes against groups of foes in the video game. After each round, the board is cleared and the rejects move along to the next encounter. If the crew can satisfy the win conditions for the final round, their mission will be a success. In addition to skirmish play, there is also a campaign system. Operatives have a slew of upgrade available, and can really beef up between missions.

These days I play a whole lot more AI-enemy co-op games (especially Mansions of Madness), and Darktide definitely scratched that itch. That said, it is not a complex game. There are only two broad categories of enemies; troopers and Poxwalkers, as well as only 6 missions. Having chatted with some of the Goonhammer Kill Team hive mind; the consensus seems to be that it’s a fun game, but mostly as a game night curiosity – or as a super-simplified way to get someone on the path to playing KT. We would have liked to have seen an end boss, and maybe some chaos hounds!


So who is this box for? The rules are relatively simple, but some of the models included are more advanced (in terms of assembly) than you would expect to see in a traditional starter. The protagonists don’t really have a consistent visual style to them, and the character classes don’t feel particularly distinct on the tabletop – not until you start snagging loot and upgrades in a campaign. If you are interested in some light co-op or solo play, showing friends how to play in the Kill Team sandbox, or already have a pile of traitors and poxwalkers; maybe this game is for you! Your mileage may vary.

I’m certainly going to be pressganging some friends and loved ones into giving Darktide a shot.

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