Warhammer 40k 9th Edition: What We Know (And what we’re Hype for)

Welcome Goonhammer readers and 40k enthusiasts! If you’re like us, you’ve been absolutely giddy with excitement since the announcement on Saturday, ready for an entirely new edition of Warhammer 40k. Games Workshop followed up a stellar reveal on Saturday with a community team Q&A yesterday that saw the team fielding questions from Twitch chat, giving us loads of new information about the upcoming edition. 

While we’re not huge on speculative posts, and as we said previously we won’t be covering every new tidbit to see release on the new edition, we did feel it was a good time to sit down and summarize what we’ve seen so far for the new edition and talk about what we’re excited about. If you just want to jump to the big list of what we know, scroll down. Otherwise, jump in. 


What We’re Hype For

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones: All of it’s great but I’m most hype for Crusades. It sounds like exactly the kind of thing that I want to base the next round of my campaign around. Having four named game sizes – Combat Patrol / Onslaught / Strike Force / Incursion – that give different levels of starting CP, plus having missions dedicated to each size is a massive step up from a game that is ostensibly balanced at 2,000 points and broken the further away you get from that. It’s great news for escalation leagues and narrative play as a whole. I also like that they’ll be changing power levels, but I’m still not gonna use it.

Getting new terrain rules will also be great. Terrain in 8th edition is fundamentally broken and I’m eager to see things improve. The way terrain rules currently work just don’t mesh well or account for the realities of actual terrain on the table and it leads to terrain only really having value when it blocks Line of Sight.

Jack Hunter: This whole thing is great, but I think I’m most excited for updated terrain rules. Right now they’re probably the worst part of 8th – a huge mountain of rules for specific GW kits that nobody actually uses (who do you know that plays with the Thermic Plasma Conduit rules?) and at least at the tournament level highly house-ruled stuff for what we do use. I’m hopeful that we’ll no longer need to map out what counts as LOS blocking and what doesn’t on a ruin full of holes, and will be able to get playing more easily. The included example terrain maps will be a huge boon to everyone getting into the game. When I’m playing at my FLGS I see a ton of boards with the terrain around the edges and nothing blocking LOS, so being able to point out what GW actually expects the game to be balanced around will be a huge boon.

Liam “Corrode” Royle: Yeah definitely terrain. It’s been a huge sore point throughout 8th edition and seeing it updated to be a bit more sensible is great. I think the chief problem with 8th edition terrain isn’t even so much that the rules are bad (although they are) but that they’re not really reflective of what people’s terrain collections look like. Completely true line of sight is simply not compatible with the terrain GW themselves sell, let alone anything people custom-built to very different expectations, and stuff like the “obscuring” rule that they talked about will go a long way towards making the terrain that is actually on people’s tables more impactful instead of the old “snipe a Carnifex through three lined-up windows” business. Being able to do things like make woods obscuring instead of them being completely pointless will help them be relevant instead of dead space. Real-world guides to how much terrain is meant to be on the table will also be a big deal.

Other than that, I’m not excited for any one thing in particular so much as I am for the type and direction of the changes – they seem to have been developed thoughtfully, with a lot of consideration for making the game play better and have more meaningful choices involved. Whether that’s marketing talk or borne out by play experience is an open question, but at least the process seems to have been directed by an intentional approach instead of a reactive one. Looking at the Harlequins and Ad Mech rules from Psychic Awakening gives me hope here – there’s a few little things which seem to be directly taken from experience with previous rules being unclear which suggests they’re starting to proactively look for issues and make sure to cover them in the text, and that kind of systematic approach is one I’ve advocated for in the past and hopefully will prove to inform the whole of 9th.

James “One_Wing” Grover: I think the thoughtfulness is what I zeroed in on as well. One of the issues I’ve sometimes had with sections of 8th edition rules is that they seem to be written without consideration for how they’ll actually impact the game. This swings both ways – at one extreme you get Alaitoc flyers operating at -3 to hit, incredibly powerful but no fun for anyone, while at the other you get the Necron codex, full of redundant effects that have limited synergy with the rest of the book. I got a very strong sense from the stream that they’re now putting more effort into thinking through the impacts of what they do, and the +1/-1 modifier cap is a good recognition that they’re never going to catch everything when writing rules, and it’s better to put safety valves in than try and prevent every occurrence. It also opens up design space – you can hand out +1/-1 to more things without having to worry about how they stack, and makes alternative defences that can be combined with a modifier (like the modifier to the S of incoming attacks seen in yesterday’s AdMech preview) more valuable.

I’m also very excited to hear more about army construction. I don’t feel like we know enough to properly evaluate it just yet, but goodness knows I’ve run enough lists where trying to fill out a second Battalion has been a complete pain, and anything that gives players more space to be creative in is a big plus in my book. All in all, I liked pretty much everything I heard, and am extremely hyped for more details.

“Primaris” Kevin Genson: I’m particularly excited about the changes to the Command Point system and how that will impact army composition and pre-game decisions. If that makes vehicles more viable then we could see a massive shift in how the game looks and plays. The idea that Command Points are a resource to be spent on strategic and tactical decisions, instead of a commodity to be harvested by fielding certain detachments, is a major shift. The addition of new universal Stratagems will also be very interesting to see.

As others have said the overall attitude displayed by Stu and Pete regarding 9th is extremely encouraging. Removing “gamey” interactions that take the player out of the game, changing the focus from units you have to bring to units you want to bring, bringing in Forgeworld units into the 40K “ecosystem”, making melee more rewarding, giving monsters and vehicles a boost to reflect their immense size, all of these indicate how important the 40K team views their flagship product and the need to cultivate a quality experience. Having played this game on and off since 2nd edition, that philosophy has not always been a priority in GW and I appreciate their approach.

Rob “Vrekais” Chilton: Lots of positive changes to remove “bad taste” moments that might be more fun for one side than the other, like -3 to hit, doing a trick shot through 2 windows of a ruin and a small shrub or preventing a whole tank from shooting by charging with a grot. Terrain changes I hope will play a big part in that obviously and I’m happy to see them acknowledge that perhaps they went too far when they simplified those rules. 

I’m enthused by the upcoming inclusion of more guidance and examples in the written rules, though I’m sure my diagrams will still be superior. Hoping that the app allows a far more streamlined FAQ distribution, but that’s going to become apparent over time.

Very intrigued by the changes to Detachments and not being forced into taking Troops as much. I imagine they’ll still be important but looks like 9th might be the edition where I can finally build my ideal Tau Stealth Suit army, as it’s my favourite model (though maybe 8th made it so by being really fun to use).


New Necron Warrior. Credit: Games Workshop

9th Edition: What We Know (So Far)

What follows here is what we either know definitively or can deduce with comfortable levels of certainty from what has been revealed. The bulk of this comes from Tuesday’s Q&A session and the transcript we made of that, while other bits come from Saturday’s big reveal, plus a few things that have shown up on message boards (comments from Reece) or in leaked images.

Terrain Changes

  • Terrain rules have been overhauled, with every piece of terrain on the board given specific tags that provide different rules.
  • One example is the Obscured tag – a piece of terrain with this blocks all LOS that passes over the base of the terrain piece. 
  • The use of tags means terrain is more abstracted than 8th; true LOS no longer applies in all situations.
  • Games to have a “define terrain” step where players specify what each piece of terrain is and what tags it has
  • Games Workshop will provide examples showing an appropriate level of terrain that the game is balanced around.
  • Terrain will have a major impact and become a “third player” that affects the game. “Terrain will matter beyond just blocking LOS.”
  • Ruins, buildings, bunkers, and swamps have all been mentioned.
  • More tools to be able to interact with the terrain in different ways.
  • “Gamey” things like a Carnifex not being able to reach targets higher up will be addressed.

Core Rules Changes

  • The fundamental turn system will not change. 9th Edition is not an overhaul, it is an update to 8th. 
  • Power Level will still be available, but will be updated over time to ensure balance.
  • Still keeping Open, Narrative, and Matched play modes.
  • Vehicles and Monsters will be able to shoot while in melee.
  • New core stratagems, some aimed at hordes and close combat armies
  • Everyone always hits on (unmodified) 6s
  • Modifiers locked to +/- 1
  • Random shot weapons are staying
  • “Blast” is being added to existing weapons via a big table in the core book.
  • The Morale phase will be more impactful, and more things interact with it (though light on the detail).
  • New combat attrition mechanic (no details yet)
  • All Forgeworld rules will now be handled by Games Workshop rules team. All part of “the same ecosystem”.
  • Flyers will change significantly. Planes are intended to be fun to fly and shoot at. Can leave the board and return, will interact differently than ground units. Less “gamey” interactions like blocking movement.
  • Mortal wounds unchanged.

Melee Changes

  • Overwatch and Falling Back will both see changes. 
  • New core Stratagems will give all armies a boost and make it more rewarding to get into assault.

Strategic Reserves

  • CP will be spent to do things like putting units into reserves and having them outflank (arriving from another table edge)
  • As the game progresses units will be able to come onto the battlefield closer and closer to the enemy, representing maneuvers off the table.
  • Intent is to provide a benefit to mid-range shooting and melee armies.

Command Points

  • Command points based on four army sizes. Smallest is 500 points / 25 PL (Combat Patrol). Other scales are Onslaught, Strike Force, and Incursion.
  • Intent is to build upon the idea that CP are to be spent as a General would, providing a strategic as well as tactical benefit.
  • Emphasis on more thoughtful decisions. 
  • CP can be spent to add additional factions (soup), change deployment (reserves), as well as the usual Stratagems. 
    • Note: Because 8th edition codexes will still be legal in 9th, this means that rules like Raiding Party (Dark Eldar) and Knight Detachments (Imperial Knights, Chaos Knights) will either still generate additional CP or will need errata on day 1 to bring them in line with the new rules.

Army Composition

  • No longer forced to take blocks of units you don’t like because you “have” to.
  • No more CP batteries or detachment-derived CP bonuses.
  • Detachments still exist, but we don’t know what they will do.
  • Additional detachments will cost you CP, meaning adding more factions through additional detachments is going to be taxed.
    • This may leave some flexibility on souping “within” a detachment via keywords like ADEPTUS ASTARTES or NURGLE

New Primaris Lieutenant. Credit: Games Workshop

Faction-Specific Information

There’s a new starter box in the works that apparently has Space Marines vs. Necrons. The Dark Imperium boxed set is being retired soon.

Space Marines

  • All Space Marine chapters will be able to use all of the new Marines.
  • Deathwatch will get a major update “pretty soon” after 9th drops.
  • Old Space Marines are still supported.
  • Astartes chainswords will have a different statline than regular chainswords.
  • New units including new Primaris bikes, melee units (assault Intercessors and a new unit that sport swords and shields), some kind of gravis units with melta weapons, and a “Justicar” which looks like a Chaplain with a giant sword.
  • The new Primaris bike unit are called Primaris Outriders
  • New primaris lieutenant to be released, this one holding a shield and volkite pistol


  • Necrons getting a new codex, will be among the first of 9th edition
  • Necrons getting an entirely new model range, with updates to all of the old kits. Already spotted: New Warriors, Destroyer, Monolith, Scarabs
  • There’s a new weapon option for Necron Warriors
  • The Silent King is coming back, with new model that’s massive
  • One of the models we’ve seen in a preview image is likely to be a new C’Tan
  • Tons of all-new units, including the Skorpekh Lord and Canoptek Plasmacyte

Other Factions

  • Death Korps will be put in line with the rest of Astra Militarum.
  • FW Indexes getting a full rewrite
  • Some units/models will be added to Legends in the future, but in small bits, not a big update like we got last time

New Game Mode: Crusades

  • Crusades are a massive narrative feature that will encompass a wide variety of scales and options.
  • Capable of handling everything from a single player to a 50-player weekend event like the NOVA Narrative.
  • Way to capture all of the epic stories that happen with units and models over the course of gameplay.
  • You can inter a character in a Dreadnought.
  • Even in defeat you can get bonuses like Requisition Points.
  • Will be balanced so that players can use a Crusade army against anyone they wish.
  • Core rulebook will include “nuts and bolts” of Crusade system that will then be expanded on by codices.
  • Faction-specific Crusades written around core fluff, such as Thousand Sons looking for artifacts or Dark Angels looking for Fallen.
  • Can start a Combat Patrol and steadily increase in size, spending Requisition Points to grow army.
  • Different missions will reflect different sizes, for example a Combat Patrol will get a specific mission dedicated to them.
  • Specific missions can provide a particular benefit, like assassinating a target may make a unit better once they become a Veteran.
  • We’ve seen Agenda cards that reflect specific goals in games of Crusade – these help you earn more XP by accomplishing specific goals in-game, such as killing a character.

Skorpech Lord. Credit: Games Workshop


  • New codexes are being worked on
  • New codexes will take the “best of” PA content, but may not transfer everything.
  • Rules in boxes initially
  • Extra Crusade rules in codexes
  • More units moving to legends over time, but it sounded like very slowly
  • Core rules are “slightly more” than the 8 pages of 8th edition, with lots of examples.
  • Appendix will be provided to handle edge cases.


  • Missions intended to more specifically target their game modes.
  • Competitive play is about balance and player agency.
  • Narrative is aimed to be immersive.
  • Related: Missions developed with input from both Reece and Mike, and the ITC plans to adopt them – this means a “unified ruleset”
    • Per Reece: “If you are a regular tournament player, the new missions will be familiar to you”


  • Astartes chainswords are better than other chainswords, apparently have better AP, are larger and therefore both cooler and gooder
    • Coda note: this is the best release GW has ever done. Finally they have realised that swords are the best weapons. All they need to do is slap some jump packs on them sword and shield duders and we will be gold. 


  • The body of an Imperial Guardsman used as a bludgeon has been confirmed to have less AP than an Astartes chainsword.


That wraps up our review of what we’ve seen around 9th edition! There’s a lot to be excited about, and a lot more to come. While we won’t be covering every single piece of new information, we will periodically be discussing big reveals and releases like yesterday’s Q&A, so be sure to check back for more on 9th and the upcoming 8th-edition-but-also-9th releases like Engine War, War of the Spider, and Pariah. And if you have any questions or comments, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.