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If you haven’t lived under a rock the last couple of weeks, you know the buzz that is Warhammer 40k 6th Edition. So welcome to our epic two-part review of the mighty tome that is the new rulebook. We’ll have a look not only at each part of the book, but also at the production quality and the presentation that defines the 41st millenia for the next couple of years. Finally, each member of Tale of Painters will have his say and give his personal judgement.

First thing you notice is that this new rulebook is hardback, full color and has a whopping page count of 452 pages. It’s big step up from the 300 pages that were the 5th edition book. It’s pretty much everything you expect when you’ve seen the 8th edition Fantasy book, though it must be said that the Fantasy book has 532 pages, almost 80 pages more for the same price tag. Writing credits go to Mat Ward, Adam Troke and Jeremy Vetock.


When you look at the cover you have a pretty new artwork by Alex Boyd that focuses on a Dark Angels Captain, fighting with his battle brothers against Chaos Space Marines. Unlike the last couple of GW rulebooks the artwork doesn’t feature a hammer but a generic battle scene, which I think is a rather strange decision as it is a pretty specific motif, but at least the hammer isn’t gone, you’ll find a new illustrated war hammer with all sorts of imperial gothicness and cherubims on the half-title. After the index of contents comes a couple of pages of introduction to the game and to the hobby in general to get especially those newcomers in the mood.

The rules

The rules section is of course the most essential part of the book, even though with about 120 pages it makes up only a forth. We won’t go into details here what changed or what not, we feel there are other blogs and websites out there who do this better. On Tale of Painters, we focus on the hobby and not on gaming, so we’ll just comment on the overal look and feel. The first question that comes to our mind is: Will the game be more balanced? No, the balance will just be shifting. For example, in 5th edition, tanks and especially transports were huge. In 6th edition, GW introduced hull points. One glancing hit will simply remove a hull point, and with most vehicles only having 3 HP it’s pretty easy to glance vehicles to death (especially with gauss weapons). Likewise, shooting got a big boost with attacked units getting a chance to fire at the attackers at BS1, the ability to move and shoot rapid fire weapons up to their full range and the ability to move troopers with heavy weapons and fire at BS1.

There are some other additions to the rules as well. Apart from fully fledged flyer rules, they added a lot of new game mechanics for characters (like the “Look out Sir” rule) and a new system for wound allocation that is based on proximity to the shooter. It didn’t take two days since we found an article how to abuse the new allocation system. Basically, when you are a character and have a wound allocated you can make a dice role, if successful you can allocate the wound to another model in the unit. Now here is the deal: in some units, look Ork Nobz or Nob bikers, every model counts as a character. With multiple characters with multiple wounds you can allocate and “Look out Sir” all day… it’s so obvious, I wonder why GW doesn’t see such things. All in all you can say that the new rules add a lot more complexity to the game. I don’t know if this suits GW’s trend of pushing army and point sizes to new highs but for the casual gamer a lot of the new rule mechanics like challenges or being finally able to throw grenades again promise a lot of fun. The presentation of the rules is more structured than ever, even though we would have liked some more illustrations for the more complex rules.

A great thing for the painters and collectors are the new rules for allies, which are part of the core rules. They really add a lot of potential of creating a strong and unusual theme for an army. You are finally able to create that Imperial Guard renegade army supported by Chaos Daemons or Marines or that Eldar corsairs army backed up by some Kabalite Warriors. Granted, some of the combinations in the allies matrix seem a bit off and beardy gamers will abuse the cheese out of it, but for the serious hobbyist it opens up endless possibilies. What I don’t like on the other hand are fortifications, which are basically GW terrain kits that you can buy as part of your army and force organisation chart. This seems like a cheap ploy of selling more terrain kits and most Xenos armies are left out at the moment. Hopefully future codices will have a better integration of their own, unique fortifications so this feature makes more sense.

Garfy says:

“This is a big book. No seriously, it’s huge! It’s the biggest 40k rule book Games Workshop has produced and it’s in full colour throughout.

The book is packed with photography and Illustrations that really creates that atmosphere of the dark millennium. Even the photography is more stooped down and darker so you get that perspective of being a part of it. Some of the art and the miniature photography is existing, but a lot of it is new. I really like the illustrations of the weapons, especially the Tyranid ones.

The rules are laid out in a very cool way. The basic rules are exactly that, they’ve kept the mechanics of the game at the front, but rather then clutter those basic mechanics with the odd special rule like putting pinning rules in the shooting section, they’ve instead placed those rules in their own section called Special Rules (formerly Universal rules). The special rules section is a whopping 12 pages long but it makes the book so much easier to read. It feels more concise and should make finding rules even easier.”

There is no filler, all of the content is genuinely interesting and useful. I haven’t even finished reading it yet and I can tell you that this is already my favourite edition of Warhammer 40,000.”

The 41st Millenium

This is the fluff part of the book and it is about 100 pages long. Here you find most of the new artworks (and fold out pages). Some really great new pieces in there, I especially liked the fold out panorama view of the Imperial Palace. Of course there is a lot of old artwork recycled, too, as well as some recolorings of former black and white pieces. What I didn’t liked was that some of the artworks clearly look digitally painted and that doesn’t sit too well beside the other more analogue artworks that define the GW style for me.

In terms of fluff, the narrative focus of 6th edition has shifted (a little bit). It’s now mankind vs. Chaos. Dubbed “the time of the ending”, it’s hinted several times that mankind and the Imperium is going to collapse as it is beeing attacked from all sides and from within by the threat that is Chaos and yeah, Xenos armies are attacking as well.

The background section starts with talking about the Emperor and the Golden Throne, the Imperium with all it’s hierarchies and offices, the immaterium and warp travels and the worlds of the Imperium. Here we found some great details and point of views we haven’t read before. Next is the Horus Heresy and an illustrated time bar of the age of mankind, spanning lots of pages. Then we’re already at introducing the various races, first are the Imperial forces, Marines, Guard and Sisters of Battle. Next is “the alien menace”, Orks, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Necrons, Tau and Tyranids. Again, everything is written very much from the Imperial point of view. Next is “the biggest threat”, Chaos, and this section is as long as the whole xenos section, which is speaking volumes. So 6th edition is really about mankind (and marines!) and it’s struggle against Chaos. We were disappointed that the presentation of the fluff is so Imperium-centric. Personally I hoped for a more complete history of 40k like they did in the Fantasy book, starting with the Old Ones and the rise and fall of the Necrons and Eldar.

Rev says:

“I was asked to write with my views on the new 40k rule set. The only problem is, I won’t be buying 6th edition. I think in all editions of the game I’ve probably only ever played as many games of 40k as I’ve painted armies. The truth is – I just don’t enjoy the game. I enjoy the idea of the game, but every time I’ve thrown down and played I’ve come away flat. The rulebook is a lot of money for someone who will only look at the pictures.

You know me. You know how many 40k miniatures I paint, how many armies I produce. So why?

Well, I find the inherent ambiguity in the rules conducive to falling out with people. I love blood bowl, because if you can move 7 squares then, unless you’re a blatant cheat, you move 7 squares. In 40k you seem to be able to get away with moving 6.25 inches with a smile on your face. It’s these areas that really drive me to distraction, do people not understand it’s still cheating? These grey areas, ‘forgetting’ rules and pushing movement combined with endless turns due to precise positioning of troops equate to a wasted afternoon for me. It’s made worse when I think how many games of Blood Bowl or AI in the same time.

I love miniatures, painting, modelling, being a veteran and army building. But there is where I stop. I’ll happily build an army which is competitive in game terms, I just won’t go as far as to play a game with it. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one, surely there are more people like me out there…? Please?!”

So, what do you think of the new book and specifically the new rules and background section? What do you think of Garfy’s and Rev’s opinions? Have you even already played a game with 6th edition? Drop us a comment and share your experiences and views. Also stay tuned for part two of our mighty review, where we have a look at the miniature showcase and the hobby and battles section and where Stahly and Sigur have their say.

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