Games Workshop has announced a board game based on Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, but, uh, maybe don't get too excited

Image for Games Workshop has announced a board game based on Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, but, uh, maybe don't get too excited
(Image credit: Fatshark)

If you've ever been playing Warhammer 40,000: Darktide and thought "I wish there was a tabletop version of this", it's possible there was a monkey's paw in the vicinity. Games Workshop has granted your wish with the newly announced Darktide board game, but whatever you're imagining in your head right now is probably cooler than what's on offer here.

To get it out of the way early: there are no new miniatures in this box. The models are simply recycled from other Warhammer releases, rather than being custom sculpts based on the videogame, which gives it all a bit of an uncanny valley feel. Sure, those are traitor guardsmen, but they're not quite the Moebian 21st. 

The worst offenders are the four heroes, who while technically embodying the roles of Ogryn, Psyker, Veteran, and Zealot, don't match the game at all and don't look remotely cohesive with each other. Half of them are even holding weapons that aren't in the game. More appropriate paint jobs would go a long way, but I can't help but feel like it's a disappointing offering. 

The game itself looks like a modest little combat game, played on a small pair of boards with cards describing the stats and abilities of each character. Though there are 20 miniatures included, it's not the kind of elaborate box you might expect from Games Workshop—but this likely isn't going to be something you find in its stores. 

GW frequently put out small, relatively cheap board games like this to be stocked by other companies, particularly Barnes & Noble in the US, as gateway games to catch the eyes of the uninitiated. Releases like Space Marine Adventures, Lost Relics, and Combat Arena tend to fly under the radar of more dedicated Warhammer players because… well, that's not really who they're aimed at. This is likely to be no different. GW already took this approach to a board game adaptation of the Space Marine videogame which was exclusive to Target, though that one at least included a whole new miniature for series protagonist Titus.

(Image credit: Games Workshop)

So taken for what it is, rather than what fans might have hoped for, do I think the Darktide board game will be worth a go? Well… if you like the miniatures included, this'll be a cheap way of getting them, and though they aren't faithful to the videogame, they're still lovely in their own right. 

The game itself, however, I would expect to be pretty lightweight and unremarkable—none of these smaller releases have really set the world on fire so far. A more accessible alternative to the complex mainline games of Warhammer is a fine idea in theory, but these days there are so many really good board games out there you could be buying instead, and it's unlikely there'll be much to recommend about this one outside of the IP. 

The icing on the cake is that it may also be difficult to get hold of in certain territories depending on what stores it's set to be stocked in. Many of these releases so far have been exclusive to the US and/or Germany, which has players in Games Workshop's homeland of the UK unable to buy them. Is that enough moaning about a pretty throwaway board game? Probably. Let's end on a more positive note with some recommendations. 

If you want an accessible board game with some miniatures to have a go at painting, give excellent card-based battler Unmatched a try. If you're keen for it to be Warhammer specifically, Warhammer Underworlds in the main range is a great board game disguised as a miniatures game—grab the current core set and you'll have everything you need in one box. Or if you're trying to find a cheap and easy way into wargaming, just buy a set of plastic fantasy minis and a simple skirmish game like Song of Blades and Heroes (or sci-fi minis and Mutants and Death Ray Guns) and you'll be having epic battles in no time. 

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.