This isn’t a huge surprise, however! We have seen recent issues with Codex releases with huge errors or errata after errata and the commentary around that. We see this specifically with the Leagues of Votann Codex released in the Limited Edition Army Box, showing so many key errors in points and balancing that the book was completely redone and those who were early adopters to that faction soon abandoned it in frustration.
Many believe the issues with the multiple versions of rules, errata and updates is due to Games Workshop contracting games and rules writers for specific assignments rather than having them on staff. There have been comments from these writers in the past about how they were given very short deadlines, the beta testers were not always as knowledgeable as they could be, and when it came time to revisions their contracts were over and the product was already rolling out. Obviously having rules writers on staff is expensive, and this move by GW makes economic sense, but Games Workshop are missing the very real fact that gamers are just using older rule sets and not adopting the new ones that are purportedly full of holes. A great example of this is Horus Heresy.
When 8th Edition came out, many Horus Heresy gamers were reticent to change – Games Workshop had all but abandoned supporting the system after the death of Alan Bligh and 8th Edition was a big leap away for a community who had been self-sufficient for years. The Community at large stuck with 7th Edition, with the very strong podcast scene (Eye of Horus being the prime example, with Age of Darkness also being a rallying point for a while) supporting a burgeoning tournament and social scene, also developing rules that Games Workshop themselves would later adopt. The existing rules system could, and did, exist completely without Games Workshop – and if they believe it or not – this should cause a major concern for them. It’s not unprecedented though, with various camps in the Dungeons and Dragons Community also only playing certain editions. The big difference here is that Dungeons and Dragons does not rely economically on Edition updates every 2 years or so to keep sales going. They rely on supplements and mission packs, something Games Workshop is trying with Necromunda and Adeptus Titanicus, but their short attention span and divided priorities in terms of supporting not one but multiple games systems means they loose momentum, and therefore the interest of their Community.
The danger with this for Games Workshop goes deeper than 10th Edition Warhammer 40,000. At the recent Adepticon 2023 the largest crowd reaction was for Horus Heresy and the upcoming Warhammer - The Old World, a relaunch of the pre-Age of $igmar Fantasy world. Interestingly, and worryingly, when the live crowd were asked who was excited for new Age of $igmar content, there was very little enthusiasm – in fact both Horus Heresy and Warhammer - The Old World gained even louder reactions than Warhammer 40,000. I digress, the issue is that with Warhammer - The Old World being a existing games system that has been played for well over 20 years (in the current state anyway, 30 if you want to go back to a darker age), the rules are already out there and if Games Workshop don’t get the rules correct for this new version, then people will use the miniatures and ignore the system. In fact with some units being simply remanufactured, the second hand miniatures market may even threaten Games Workshop’s miniature sales for this new incarnation.
So with that as background, what is happening with Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition? Great question!
Games Workshop have done something they haven’t’ done before – they have effectively given away a lot of the content that would previously been a paid item.
Not only did they release the core rules, but also points costs, well-produced Faction Focus information and Index Cards for all existing units in the game. This is a lot of information, and unfortunately for Games Workshop there seem to be inconsistencies and errors, which of course have raised questions on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Here are a few just in cursory reading:
- There’s a Data Sheet for the Venerable Dreadnought (which is discontinued from sale) but not one for the Dreadnought that they do sell.
- There is now no way to take the cheapest weapon options in a squad as the squad has one cost, despite the loadout. You are effectively paying for the most expensive loadout even if you take a less weighty combination of arms.
- The rule about attaching characters to units – something that’s very common in Horus Heresy – has caused confusion as some can, some can’t, some buff, some don’t.
Now sure, you can say that this is just quibbling and the usual social media grumbles, but the reality is that releasing this information early is meant to make people feel better, more secure and ready to play, not annoyed and confused.
Games Workshop have also released an interesting Games Commentary (v1) document that goes over some decisions, adds context and clarifies – but in reality if you need an 18 page document to explain this simplified rules system, a document that doesn’t come anywhere but from a website download, then already there has to be a fundamental flaw. Maybe the Games Commentary will make it’s way into the soon-to-be-published 10th Edition Rulebook, but for now it is an orphan – ready by some, but not part of the main rule set.
As we all know, nothing is perfect, and things will be ironed out in errata, in v1.1 and v1.2 etc, but there seems to be something fundamentally flawed in the execution if there’s this much confusion. Even if it is confusion and not errors – let’s be generous – the most important part of this game has been left out, the Community.
Do Games Workshop have a flaw in their game design? Is it too many cooks in the kitchen? Is too much information too soon a mistake? Are the rules too complicated?
When Games Workshop first released the guides to the changes in 10th Edition our little group were excited to learn more. But even the explanations of the changes seemed to need explaining, obviously written by someone with a lot of assumed knowledge and understanding. Good for them, but to assume makes an “as” of “u” and “me”.
With the new rulebook only available in the boxed Leviathan set, or in various downloads off the Games Workshop website, this current mess will continue. In editions past, the rulebook would be released outside the boxed set on Day 1, giving the Community time to sit and digest the book all at once. Now, with this strategy of having bits and pieces and no clear idea when we can get the book in store, the Community could potentially lose interest, spirit, drive, or they will buy into the commentary online and decide it’s all too hard.
As much as knowledge is power and having the information early is generous and helpful, that’s only if the information is a. correct and b. digestible and interesting. It seems for 10th Edition, the Community have ruled that it’s neither – at least so far!