With free rules and a new game mode, Warhammer 40,000 is looking a lot cheaper to get into in its new edition

A huge battle between Space Marine and Tyranid miniatures.
(Image credit: Games Workshop)

 Back in March, Games Workshop announced a new, 10th edition of its long-running flagship game Warhammer 40,000. With streamlined rules, less books to reference, and more readable unit profiles, GW is hoping to make the complicated wargame much more accessible this time around—and that extends to its cost, too.

Playing Warhammer has never exactly been cheap—in recent years falling somewhere between golf and collecting black market human organs—but 10th edition looks to be making it much cheaper to take your first steps into the grim darkness of the far future. GW has released the 10th edition rules for free, where previously players have had to buy expensive core rulebooks. In the coming weeks, rules for the game's many different playable factions will also be released free, and the plan is for those to remain usable for the lifetime of the edition. While new codexes (army books) will be released, they won't replace the free rules, but instead add new options and rules for other modes—so they won't be mandatory.

So basically, it sounds like you won't need to buy any books at all to play full games of Warhammer 40,000 in 10th edition—a pretty significant change when you consider that in 9th you needed a £42.50 / $70 core book and a £32.50 / $55 codex at a minimum.

Further reducing the barrier to entry is a new game mode called Combat Patrol. Combat Patrol boxes are sets of miniatures for each army that are sold at a discounted price—currently £95 / $160. For example, the Aeldari box contains a Farseer leader model, a towering robotic Wraithlord, six Windrider jetbikes, and 10 Guardian soldiers. Normally, these boxes would only be a building block of an army, with many more purchases needed to reach the standard size for a game—but in the Combat Patrol mode, everyone will play with simply the contents of one of these boxes. 

Normally, that wouldn't be well balanced, but GW plan to put out custom rules for each box that allow them to be played against each other fairly. That's not necessarily an easy task—given that these boxes were originally put together more as a sales tool than a gameplay concept, some of them have pretty random forces inside—but if GW can pull it off, it'll mean just one Combat Patrol box really is all you need to start playing. Well, as long as you've already got assembly tools and paint to build the minis and make them look pretty. Look, I never said it would make it cheap, just cheaper

If you're more of a big spender, however, next weekend will see the new Leviathan boxed set go up for preorder. This massive bundle of Space Marines and Tyranids also includes a special edition printed rulebook and a load of other goodies, and though the price isn't yet announced, you can bet it'll be a significant blow to the wallet. If you do want to nab it, make sure you're on the ball on Saturday 10th June—based on what's happened with other recent releases, stock is likely to go fast. Like, all gone a minute after it goes on sale fast.  

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.