Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition

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Officially announced on May 23rd 2020 and released (kind of) on July 25th, 2020, Warhammer 40,000 9th edition is the up and coming new batch of everyone's favourite plastic crack addiction (with a price hike on whole bunch of models to correspond with the increased point costs in the succeeding month; thanks GW). It comes with a new logo, but is also the departure from the corny 80's aesthetic. Fare thee well, old friend...

Lore wise, 9th shifts the angle from Imperium vs Chaos to Imperium vs Xenos. The Necrons specifically. Why this shift in focus? Well, while officially unconfirmed, the Necron's Silent King (the OG Necrontyr leader) "NOPE's!" back into the galaxy after encountering the Tyranids and the resulting bone-rattling has got the Imperium well and truly spooked. What better way to show of the dramatic shift in power than with a new set of rules?

Well, not a completely new set of rules; don't fix what ain't broken. Thanks to the drip-feed of updates and leaks to tide us over during COVID-19 still going on, we can tell 9th seems less like a complete re-write of the rules and more of a 8th edition 2.0 (or a D&D 3.5 edition). Pete Foley (book and box game designer) says:

"The new edition works seamlessly with all existing codices and Psychic Awakening books, which is particularly important as we still have three more Psychic Awakening books to go! They were all written with the new rules in mind, so you can explore these dark new events knowing all your existing rules will work when the new edition finally arrives."

Well, that statement turned out to be bullshit.

Major Updates[edit]

Since 9th is basically an extension of 8th Edition, there are few fundamental changes to the game's playstyle. Shooting, wounding, movement, and model profiles remained generally the same or similar to what they were before. However, there were some significant changes:

  • New Crusade mode, a new workup for narrative games, which gives experience points, battle honours (buffs), battle scars (debuffs) and new rules for the army. The core rulebook will have the Crusade system, and future codexes will each have their own additions, such as a Blood Angels character falling to the Black Rage as a result of a game.
  • Command point overhaul - rather than being generated by detachments, both players get a set amount based on the points level of the game you're playing. Taking more detachments actually costs you CP this time around (representing the political and tactical resources which must be used to acquire reinforcements), so it's better to take one big detachment instead of many small ones (especially since there's a cap on the number of detachments you can take, based on the size of the game). Additionally, being Battle-Forged gives you a single CP at the start of each Command Phase so you'll never run completely dry of CP.
    • Of course, there are some ways to avoid the detachment costs. The core detachments (i.e. Patrol, Battalion, or Brigade), for example, refund their cost if the Warlord is in one. The Super-Heavy Detachment can as well if you play one of the Knight flavours.
  • Four recommended game sizes are provided, based on the points costs of each army as usual: Combat Patrol (up to 500 points), Incursion (501-1000 points), Strike Force (1001-2000 points), and Onslaught (2001-3000 points).
  • Tanks and monsters can shoot in combat. Holy crap, that is a hell of a change. Land Raider Redeemer players are crying tears of joy while lascan Predators beat the shit out of TEQ vehiclelockers. They say you can shoot enemies at at point blank range in the video, but regardless expect more vehicle spam in the future (IG eat your heart out...).
    • What this means is that Tanks and Monsters gain the Big Guns Never Tire rule which allows them to shoot within 1" of them if enemy units are in that distance, however they can't attack anything outside of 1" unless those units are destroyed and they get a -1 to hit with Heavy weapons. Rejoice 'Nids! Your Dakkafexes are now less useless in melee.
    • Heavy weapons have a slight rework, now only Infantry suffer from the hit penalty if they moved.
  • Reworked terrain. Terrain is now classified into four distinct categories: Hills, Obstacles, Area Terrain, and Buildings. Apparently the reason for this is that the designers wanted the battlefield to feel like the third player in a game, each piece of terrain feeling fun and being interesting, with woods functioning differently to a bunker, a swamp, a ruin, etc.
      • Hills are just part of the terrain, so they can block LoS in theory if you're on either side of one but that's it.
      • Obstacles are your barricade etc. giving standard +1 cover against ranged weapons to Infantry, Beast and Swarms
    • Terrain pieces have traits you ascribe to them when setting up the board with your opponent; examples include Light Cover (+1 save against ranged weapons), Heavy Cover (+1 save in melee unless the attacking model charged), Dense Cover (If the terrain is at least 3" high, ranged attacks suffer a -1 to hit though it unless the target is an Aircraft or has over 18 wounds), Obscuring (If the terrain is over 5" tall, models can't see through it or over it unless they're Aircraft or have over 18 wounds), Scalable, Breachable, Unstable, Defensible (Occupying unit can either hit Overwatch on a 5+ or be unable to fire overwatch but gain +1 to hit in melee), Exposed Position.
  • Balanced the scales of battle. Each mission is now designed specifically for one of the recommended game sizes, so you won't be playing a mission that had a 1000pt army in mind with a 500pt army.
    • Points adjustment: virtually everything has received a slightly higher points cost, making battles marginally smaller point-for-point. This is especially important since there are now four different levels of game to consider.
  • Reserves have been changed. Now units can outflank which costs 1CP per 10PL. The turn number changes where they can come in from (no coming in on turn 1; 6" from a battlefield edge but not the enemy edge or in their deployment zone on turn 2; 6" from a battlefield edge but not the enemy edge on turn 3 onward).
  • There is a new weapon type, "Blast" (the 9th edition rulebook has an appendix telling us which guns are now Blast). These weapons always deal a minimum number of shots when dealing with randomized attacks When firing on a unit with 6-10 models, you deal at least 3 shots when rolling the dice. When firing at a unit with 11+ models, then it deals the maximum number of shots per dice without rolling. That said, you still have to roll for the actual hits, and Blast weapons can never be fired in melee even if they also have the Pistol type. Oh, well- those dreams of dropping Deathstrikes on charging Hormagaunts were fun while they lasted, but would it really be a good idea to fire one at point blank range?
  • Aircraft changes. Aircraft can enter strategic reserves when they move off the battlefield, but rather than coming on within 6" of a board edge they can now DS in 9" from enemy models, facing any direction.
    • Other models now interact with aircraft sensibly, able to move within 1", over them and their bases, can move/advance even if within 1" of an Aircraft (and vice versa).
  • Close combat is getting a lot of benefits, addressing the shooting dominance in 8e's metagame.
    • Overwatch has now become one of the 7 core Stratagems. This means that it can only be used once per turn, costs 1 CP to trigger, and it only works on unmodified 6s. Gone is the absolute dominance of Overwatch-dependent armies like Dark Angels, as they absolutely will take casualties while knocking out one charging enemy (unless they get something to give them an alternative way to Overwatch, see below).
      • There will however be other ways of accessing Overwatch. For example, T'au can fire Overwatch with multiple units 8th edition style, there's a Battle Honour in Crusade that gives re-rolls on Morale and a free Overwatch on an unmodified 5 or 6, etc.
    • They're fixing little things like, a Hive Tyrant being unable to attack a model in CC because they're 2 steps up in a ruin while the HT is on the ground floor.
    • A second Stratagem, "Desperate Breakout", allows you to easily break out of combat with 2 CP. This allows a unit to roll 1d6 for each model in it - every 1 is a casualty. After seeing who makes it out, it then allows the unit to fall back. However, any models that still remain within engagement range of the enemy will count as more casualties.
  • Hit and wound modifiers are now capped to a maximum of +1 or -1. Goodbye Eldar flyer spam. You won't be missed.
    • Modifiers can still cancel each other out, though. So in theory while a -2 to hit would only act as a -1 on its own, it would cancel out a +1 modifier to retain the -1 to hit.
  • The morale phase has been reworked a little to be less "all or nothing". A failed morale check automatically causes one model to flee and forces all other models in that unit to do a Combat Attrition check: Roll d6 for each model in the unit, -1 to the roll if it's under half strength. For each 1, a model flees.
  • A Command Phase is now taking place at the top of the turn. From what we know, this is going to be where you decide to throw in your Stratagems as well as generating new CP if your army's Battle-Forged.
  • Secondary Objectives that can be achieved alongside the main ones, which can are selected by each player. Objectives now give a maximum of 15 VP for each objective, so alpha striking isn't necessarily going to make victory certain anymore.
  • 7 core stratagems instead of 3, as mentioned above. They haven't confirmed it 100% yet, but assumedly the original 3 (command re-roll, insane bravery and counter-defensive) will remain. Then there's Fire Overwatch (duh), Cut Them Down (sweeping advance 2.0), Desperate Breakout (fuck your bubblewrap), and Emergency Disembarkation (get out of a transport without exploding, but models die on a 1 or 2 instead of just 1).
  • Tightened up unit coherency rules. Every model has to be within 2" horizontally and 5" vertically of at least one other model in the unit, and in units with 6 or more models they need to be in range of at least TWO other models. As part of the morale phase, there is also a check to perform for any models that have fallen out of coherency, removing them.
  • Also we're getting official digital rule support in the form of an app. It only took an entire edition, but it's here! On top of that, physical copies of the codices now come with codes to their digital versions. You have to pay a monthly subscription to use the app though. Typical GeeDubs.
  • All Space Marines, including Chaos, get 2 wounds minimum. Holy shit.
  • All those tasty buff auras are going to get some serious nerfs. Some units are now gaining the CORE keyword, which makes them the sole beneficiaries of any buffs that a hero of their faction (such as Vanguard Lieutenants boosting Vanguard troops) may provide. This comes with some serious takeaways: most vehicles (and likely monsters) will no longer be able to benefit from these buffs, though something like Dreadnoughts or Iyanden Wraithlords might be an exception. Second, and likely more powerful, is that characters will no longer be able to benefit from auras given by either themselves or any fellow characters. While it's yet to be seen just how far these limits run, rest assured that some really soupy builds will get thrown out.
  • Dawn of war "like" edition: as seen first in the Space Marine codex, there can only be one QG per type usually (ex: one chaplain, one apothecary, one techmarine but 2 lieutenants); Chaos warbands can only have one chaos lord but multiple sorcerers available (as seen in the Death Guard Codex), lots of upgrades for the characters and the troops, "fewer relics" but more usable, characters in the elite slots more viable via "grouping them", fewer units but more powerful across the board. I hope this won't transform into Dawn of Eldar...

The official FAQ answers a couple of notable questions (and a lot of PR chaff). Notably:

  • Your codices will all still work, but expect new ones to come out with adjustments and new rules for Crusade.
    • First to get their codices are the Necrons and Space Marines, with the Space Marine codex becoming the "core" codex for all chapters, with all first founding chapters (including Blood Angels, Dark Angels and Space Wolves) and Deathwatch getting their own supplements, except the Grey Knights. Kinda overdue, to be honest.
  • Psychic Awakening books all still (mostly) work, except in those odd cases where unit ignores to hit penalties with certain stratagems, abilities, etc. (Except now it has been confirmed that if your faction's 9th Ed. codex comes out, your PA book is now obsolete. So all that 'keep your books' schtick? Yeah...At the very least, all the goodies that PA had are baked in.)
  • Forge World indexes have been compiled into one single Compendium that holds all the datasheets for the entire Forge World Range. It's also been handled by the regular Codex rule writers, so while a lot of the more unique rules and abilities many FW units had have been either removed or reworked, everything is a lot more streamlined. Any non-exclusive standard weapon or equipment options many FW units have access to require players to refer to their respective Codex entries for their rules. While that's a touch less convenient, it does help reduce potential confusion as updated Codexes and FAQs alter weapon profiles change over the course of the edition. As a final touch, the Death Korps of Krieg received their own special rules (of debatable quality).
    • The bad news, many FW units have been squatted to Warhammer Legends. The entire Renegades and Heretics line and what remained of the Corsairs are completely removed while the DKoK lost a significant number of their unique units and loadout options. Most of the other factions lost a few units here and there as well. At the very least, though most of the units that were moved to Legends are no longer in production or supported for official tournament play, they at least have rules for casual use so players with those models aren't completely screwed.
  • Expect point changes to a lot of units with the new rules coming in. In what way is uncertain, but tanks and explosive weapon-bearing models are prime candidates. And as mentioned earlier, the vast majority of units will cost more points in order to make smaller armies more viable.
  • Chapter Approved will remain, though it's now split into the "Munitorum Field Manual" (for all the adjusted points costs and other errata) and the "Grand Tournament" (for extra missions, objectives, and tournament rules).
  • To note: the FAQ says you can still ‘use your army in the new edition’. Yes, you can still use your INDIVIDUAL models but the Death Guard codex has created a scary precedent: VERY strict limits on what you can take in each unit now. That squad of Blightlord Termies with all combi-plasmas? Illegal now. That unit of all melee Plague Marines? Illegal. Seems GW is moving towards a policy of ‘what is in the box is your unit loadout’ as well as ‘milk competitive players until they’re dry’.
  • Yes new models.
    • If you're a Necron player, expect some cool shit (more than the Silent King and new warriors, which look great by the way).
    • Primaris Space Marines finally get Assault versions of Intercessors who wield Astartes Chainswords (Chainswords with -1 AP), Lieutenants being shown with a NEO-Volkite Pistol ( 15" S5 D2 Pistol 2 that deals a mortal wound for each unmodded 6 to-wound roll), Bladeguard Veterans, and most of all: Primaris Outriders, Primaris Space Marines on bikes. In general it seems that Primaris are getting more toys, especially toys that finally give them assault options.
    • Outside of the Indomitus set, Primaris Space Marines also get a Firestrike Servo-Turret (Stationary turret that can have either twin-linked accelerator Autocannons or Las-talons), Primaris Techmarines, a biker Chaplain, and the Invader ATV (A large ATV mounted with a heavy weapon that's basically the Outrider equivalent to the Attack Bikes. Just imagine a Primaris version of Ork Warbuggy.) They're also getting the Hammerfall Bunker, a Fortification with a big missile launcher and side-mounted Heavy Bolters/Heavy Flamers, and the Gladiator, the Primaris version of the Predator on the Impulsor chassis, and comes with 3 loadouts, short and long range anti-armour, and anti-infantry.
    • Necrons are also set to receive at least five new models not included in the box. These are the Canoptek Doomstalker (A more beefy, attack-oriented reanimator armed with a massive Doomsday Blaster and twin auxillary gauss flayers); the Lokhust Heavy Destroyer (A revamped Heavy Destroyer fitted with advanced optics and armed with either a Gauss Destructor or Enmitic Exterminator); a new C'Tan shard now confirmed to be Mag'ladroth, the Void Dragon; and an updated Monolith with two weapon options for its corner guns: the traditional Gauss Flux Arcs, and something that looks similar to the Doom Scythe's Death Ray in miniature form; plus the Convergence of Dominion, a stunning set of 3 models that form a Fortification that seems to have weapons called Transdimensional Abductors. Oh, and of course there's the Silent King himself.
    • The other factions are also slated for some new models, SoB gets a Palatine (Lieutenant-tier HQ), Dark Eldar a new Lelith Hesperax, and a Mechanicus, an Ork and a Death Guard model (referred to as the "Lord of Virulence").

Box Sets[edit]

  • The Dark Imperium boxed set went out of production soon with the new focus of 9th, so if you wanted (different) space marines and death guard, you had your chance...
    • Because once it finished, there was a new boxed set called "Indomitus". As with everything else, it's set to be Marines vs. Necrons. (N.B. it's a limited edition "launch" set. Expect new starter sets later on)
      • Marine Models: Sword+Shield Captain, new Chaplain, Lieutenant with neo-volkite pistol+shield, Judiciar (A sort of loyalist Master of Executions that carries some kind of relic that messes with time) Bladeguard Veterans and Ancient (Primaris Sword+Board vets), Eradicators (Gravis-armored Primaris with Melta Rifles - basically a multi-melta with Assault rather than Heavy rule), Assault Intercessors, Outriders.
      • Necron Models: New Overlord with a Hyperphase Glaive and Tachyon Arrow, a Royal Warden (Lieutenant-tier Immortal with a relic Gauss Blaster), Plasmancer (Cryptek specializations are returning! YES!), Cryptothralls (Disposable mob units with special benefits when near a Cryptek), Skorpekh Lord, Skorpekh Destroyers, Plasmacyte (A walking energy emitter for Skorpekhs), Canoptek Reanimator (Seemingly able to resurrect things), Scarabs, and 20 new Warriors.
    • Regular boxed set confirmed, basically a lite version of Indomitus. Command Edition features the Captain, 5 Intercessors, 3 outriders, the Overlord, 10 Necron Warriors, 3 Scarabs and 3 Skorpekh Destroyers; Elite Edition is the same but it's missing the full rule book and the plastic scenery; Recruit Edition is the Lieutenant, 5 Intercessors, the Royal Warden, 10 Warriors and 3 Scarabs.
  • Early 2021 gives the new release of "Piety and Pain", showing Sisters of Battle vs Dark Eldar. The new Lelith and SoB Palatine that were teased at the beginning of 9E are going to finally arrive here alongside some more new Dark Eldar Kits. While it was released after the Dark Eldar codex, it did give a minor glimpse into how the Sisters would fare in their new codex.
  • Later 2021 is set to be the release of "Hexfire", the teased-about boxset for the Grey Knights and Thousand Sons. Incidentally, this is where the new model of Castellan Crowe will be packaged, while it's only assumed that the newly-revealed Infernal Magister will be leading the traitors in blue.

Codices[edit]

  • Necrons: Adds the Szarekhan Dynasty along with rules for custom Dynasties, Command Protocols, and features for Crusade. Cryptek specializations are making a comeback, and they can take special relics on top of the faction's basic relics.
  • Space Marines: Adds Crusade features and consolidates rules introduced in Psychic Awakening (e.g. upgrading a Chaplain to a Master of Sanctity now costs points instead of requiring a Stratagem). Also of note is that in the first time in a very long time (if ever), all space marine chapters have been made to remain at a standard by merging the various first founding chapters who had variant armies into just supplements.
    • Blood Angels: Includes all the unique bloody units (alongside a big buff for Death Company Intercessors) as well as providing new benefits for marking your HQs to the Death Company. Oh, and there's some stuff for the Flesh Tearers as well since they were there.
    • Dark Angels: Includes all the unique secret-y units as well as providing a means to make any Monowing army viable. Deathwing in particular are now almost as tanky as the Death Guard.
    • Space Wolves: Includes all the unique wolfy units (including a new Reiver variant) as well as merging the sagas into mini-objectives that are tied to Warlord traits.
    • Deathwatch: Now as an add-on to the Space Marine codex, the Deathwatch saw a lot of changes, two of the most important being the massive reworking nerf to the Special Issue Ammunition, the changes for kill team formation and the addition to a ton of units from the regular SM codex that they couldn't take before for some reason.
    • Black Templars: A bit of a surprise to see them released so late after the other Codex Chapters. So far they've announced a new model for the Emperor's Champion, but hopefully Helbrecht and Grimaldus will get theirs too.
  • Death Guard: It's uncertain how much this will be tied to the main CSM codex, as there's no solid release date for the core CSM. Includes rules for contagions (debuff auras in a new wrapper) that your army can now spread around, as well as a rework on how your forces are tanky.
  • Dark Eldar: Consolidates the massive rework made by Psychic Awakening by integrating the custom factions and obsessions.
  • Adeptus Mechanicus: Presumed to follow up with the Warzone Charadon funtimes. Sadly, the Book of Rust didn't provide much aside from the gifts provided to Forge World Metalica. Confirmed for a new model is the Skitarius Marshal, a leader-type unit for the Skitarii, while the Technoarchaeologist is a generic version of a Blackstone Fortress character. Also making a return from 7E are the Doctrina Imperatives that the Skitarii used to rely upon.
  • Adepta Sororitas: Somewhat to be expected after seeing the new stuff 9E teased for the Sisters. So far, the new units are slated to be the ever-memeable Paragon Warsuit (including a unique character), the Palatine, a sister carrying a special banner (a unique character), the shield-bearing Celestian Sacresants, and the Predator Castigator battletank. Also included after getting the shaft in Psychic Awakening is rules for custom orders.
  • Orks: Having been teased here and there, the Orks are looking to get another hefty buff with boyz getting T5 and AP-1 choppas. The Beast Snaggas are also looking to be a powerful new addition, granting a 6+ invuln of swoleness and having an edge vs monsters and tanks as well - they've effectively become their own mini-faction like the Speed Freeks before them considering how they got their own boxset upon the codex's release. In its unquestionable wisdom, the glorious overlord GW has also decided to make a version of the new Orks codex with unique cover art exclusive to the extremely limited Beast Snaggas boxset at launch...before releasing it again a month later, after everyone's already seen the obvious flaws of the codex.
  • Grey Knights: Because of their unique organization, it's pretty obvious as to why they weren't grouped into the rest of the loyalist marines. Mostly unchanged from last edition, though Castellan Crowe got a fancy new model. Incidentally, there was also that teaser for them...
  • Thousand Sons: The other half of that teaser abovementioned. Apparently generic Chaos is getting btfo, with the Sons of Magnus getting their codex before the general army as well. There's already talk of a new HQ called the Infernal Master. Unlike the Death Guard, they got to keep the Dark Hereticus discipline (But with a few new spells and some renames).
  • Chaos Space Marines: Another hotly-anticipated codex, especially due to the massive treatment given to their loyalist brethren. The second Warzone Charadon book was supposed to make CSM-Daemon armies more tenable, but the huge caveat of requiring Be'lakor to lead as well as limiting the effectiveness of the various marks hampers any hopes the chaos-addicted had. Also not helping is how the only real CSM updates the Charadon book gave was simply errata from the various supplements last edition showed.

Fluff Updates[edit]

Imperium[edit]

  • The Indomitus Crusade introduced last edition got retconned slightly. You know how Bobby G called it over after the Raukos Rift? That was rewritten (including new re-releases of the Dark Imperium novels) into being merely the end of phase 1 of the crusade, and several other stages ongoing. Its other effects are still completely canon.
    • It should be noted that this wasn't entirely new, as Psychic Awakening: Pariah was also set during the crusade - which would be weird to set some years in the past without any repercussions spreading while the rest of that series' events were playing out.
    • The Plague Wars now have become part of the first stage of the Indomitus Crusade, with Guilliman reaching Ultramar and fighting back the Death Guard onslaught across Ultramar, the conflict ends with a fateful duel between Bobby G and Morty, where the former literally gets a Deus Ex Machina in the form of the Emperor reversing the effects of the Godblight disease used by Mortarion (imagine the Anathame on steroids).
    • The Emperor then proceeds to wound Nurgle and tell him he is coming for him and his brothers, while Nurgle snatches Mortarion to have a little chat for not obeying him from retreating as the Scourge Stars are under siege by Tzeentch forces, the whole thing ending in a decimation and routing of the Death Guard from Ultramar.
    • While some people didn't like what they felt a forced resolution many fans actually cheered the fact the Emperor finally, FINALLY made a clear statement he is done being subtle, a few readers have even pointed out it was curious the final part of the Plague Wars trilogy just coincided with the beginning of worldwide mass deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines, perhaps as a thumbs up to the huge effort done by everyone to fight the latest of Nurgle's shenanigans. So yeah, no more allegories, maybe-maybe-nots and hints, the Emperor is truly coming back babe!
  • The Octarius War seems to finally be ending its tie. Though how is uncertain, it's clear that that one side is finally looking to break free between mutating Tyranid strains, angrier Orks, and not even the Kriegers might be able to handle this.

Chaos[edit]

  • Typhus decides to get off his lazy ass and tries to conquer the Charadon Sector, home of both the Forge World Metalica as well as central HQ for the Imperial Knight House Raven. Of course, Metalica and Raven have poised themselves to repel the invaders with full force.
    • Book 2 not only sees the imperium get some reinforcements (including Abbess Movenn Vahl - yes an actual High Lord is getting involved with this shit), but Be'lakor also reveals that he has his grubby mitts in this mess as well with an army of heretics and daemons. In the end, the first prince accomplishes in doing something, sinking Kolossi into the warp and screwing over Typhus' plans of dedicating Charadon to his patron deity. Metalica is essentially dead now.

Xenos[edit]

Basic Rules

Here's the FAQ for Codex changes