8th edition 40k, First Impression

First Impression – Welcome to the new 40k!

I have been fortunate enough to get a game in of the new Warhammer 40,000 8th edition in the last couple of days using a combination of Eldar and Harlequins against an Astra Militarum/Knight/Assassin force and felt it was important to share my first impression of the new game. It’s certainly a huge departure from what you are familiar with for 7th edition! While this game took ages to play as we were constantly looking things up (like any brand new game), I can say it was a great FUN game to play! This won’t be an exhaustive list of things to be aware of but it’s a start based on the first game. I am sure more will become apparent in the coming weeks! Enough of that – this first impression post is going to be a long one, get comfy… its finally here!


Let’s start with the missions themselves and deployment.

  • Reserves are not a thing. You can’t place units into reserve as you please – they have to have a rule allowing it. Infiltrators typically fit in here as well as things like drop pods and some of the units that used to deep strike, swooping hawks and so on.
  • Following on from this – flyers start on the table as none of them seem to have a rule starting them in reserves!
  • Deploying transports can drastically change who gets to go first – as you declare who is embarked when you deploy the transport. Since the player who finishes setting up first typically decides who goes first, taking at least 1 more choice out of your deployable units by starting them in a transport can really make a difference in getting this choice! Characters are also a separate unit and can be deployed at the same time embarked and this only helps reduce your deployment steps.


  • Most things are not getting a cover save if they are not infantry. Nearly every piece of terrain rules specifies infantry and on top of that specifies entirely on or within. Terrain saves are actually quite hard to get. Hills specify you get nothing from them! The key is that regardless – the unit has to be wholly on or within a terrain piece to even have a chance at getting a cover save. Then you need at least 50% obscured on top of that for most unit types!
  • Difficult terrain is not a factor in movement – no more being slowed on the one piece of terrain for a whole game of bad rolls!
  • Ruins stop a number of units from ending their move on anything but the ground floor but nothing seems to stop these units from charging up in the later phases.
  • Unless you are infantry, terrain is solid if it’s modelled that way! You have to go around!


  • The different move rates are a big deal – especially for vehicles. Things cover ground much quicker and continuously keep up a decent rate of fire with every weapon!
  • Advancing (Running in 7th) in the move phase makes you take that gamble early. It’s an interesting risk for players to take unlike other editions where you could assess things on the fly. You can also fire some weapons when you advance as well!
  • Fall back is a huge game changer – potentially stopping enemy units firing in future turns by charging them – even if you have little chance of harming them – is a big deal. Beware of some units who can fall back and fire with no penalty and the even rarer unit who can fall back and act normally!

Psychic Phase

  • Smite is a great power to have on hand and it’s basically free damage. Expect ‘smite spam’ to be a thing for some armies. It is limited by having to be the closest enemy unit but a super mobile caster (like Magnus the Red for example) could easily get lined up on a juicy target!
  • The powers are far from reliable to cast. Most require a 6+/7+/8+ on 2d6 to go off. This usually means around a 50/50 chance of success for the majority of casters. Combined with the matched play rules only allowing you to attempt each power once per phase means you can’t rely on psychic support in most cases like you previously did.
  • Perils hurts! It’s only on a double 1 and double 6 but it’s a flat d3 mortal wounds. This is significant since it ignores most defences models have.
  • Picking powers is great – you can build tactics around powers when list making, not on the fly on the spot!
  • Deny the witch requires a psyker in most cases – no psyker means no deny!


  • Splitting fire is not going to be a huge big deal most of the time for anything but specialist weapons. Yes it could take more time but I expect that in most cases you will end up splitting any specialist weapons and MAYBE half the regular shots into a different target. Late game when you have stragglers left from squads (though morale means this is less likely) it might be beneficial.
  • Models with multiple weapons can shoot all of them (except pistols) so things like techmarines with multiple weapons and a thunderfire cannon are hugely better at shooting. Vehicles, monsters – everything can shoot every weapon it has (basically – pistols don’t count for this).
  • Wounding things has changed. With all models now in the same boat of Toughness, Wounds and Saves – light vehicles got a whole lot more durable for the most part. Similarly, heavy vehicles are now significantly harder to kill. With wound rolls now being simplified to a single chart you will find plenty of instances where a weapon got better and worse. For example, a las cannon against a land raider now wounds on a 3+ where it would have glanced on a 5 in the past. Similarly the same las cannon wounds on a 3+ against a dark eldar venom where it would glance on a 1 in 7th edition!
  • Multiple wounds and multiple damage is a big deal. With even basic unit sergeant models having 2+ wounds and heroes having 5-10 and then bigger models having 20 or more wounds, multi wound weapons are a near necessity to bring down these targets. Yeah you can kill a knight with las guns but when it takes 800+ las gun shots to do it – you fast appreciate the d6 damage of the las cannon!

Charge phase

  • When you charge, you only need to get within 1 inch of the target – essentially giving you a slightly shorter charge range
  • Overwatch can be done an unlimited amount of times if you don’t successfully lock an enemy unit in combat.
  • You can now charge regardless of weapons you fired!
  • You don’t have to charge a unit you shot at – you can charge whatever you please so long as the enemy is within 12” – this can lead to you putting enemies out of range for certain weapons for overwatch if you start far enough away!


  • Getting the charge is massive – the ability to strike first cannot be understated. This means previously poor assault units (due to low initiative) will now be able to lay down hurt on units that otherwise would have wiped them out before they strike!
  • Interrupting the charge attackers with command point abilities is a big deal as well – it won’t let you strike before and of your opponents units but it can let you go after his first charged unit. This can help mitigate the damage you suffer from a unit that had charged you.
  • You can split your attacks between weapons if you so choose and between enemy units as well. This means you can potentially benefit from fighting with 2 different weapons as required.
  • Consolidate is now towards the nearest enemy model and more importantly, can be used to engage another enemy unit in combat… which is something of a double edged sword given they can now strike you!


  • Losing a model or 2 from most units won’t be a big deal as you will likely auto pass the test with a half decent LD stat.
  • It’s by model so multi wound stuff is very hard to get fail a morale test
  • Morale definitely felt more ‘all or nothing’ with a unit being crippled and then failing and being wiped out or taking a casualty or 2 and then nothing happening.

Command Points

  • Game changers. I am expecting matched play lists to maximise these where possible.
  • Rerolling a single dice per phase can be huge – just ask Fateweaver! Need that shot to hit? Need to make that save? Need 2 wounds with this d6 damage weapon and roll a 1? You get the idea
  • Interrupt charge sequence I mentioned above – this is a great power for when you take multiple charges and need to break up the momentum of the enemy assault
  • Auto pass moral might be the biggest power of the 3 – especially for big units that take a bunch of wounds. Conscripts for the guard spring to mind – auto passing the test after taking a bunch of losses means that meat shield holds out longer!

There are so many changes to the game – it might as well be considered a new game! Hopefully this first impression spot light was useful to you and you can expect more of these posts in the weeks to come as I get more games and discover new things… as well as an army returning to my playing rotation…

2 thoughts on “8th edition 40k, First Impression

  1. Thanks for the break down!

    I’m going to be running some demos for my FLGS and haven’t really poured through the rules yet.

    Compared to how you were playing before, did you find that you felt overly restricted with HOW you wanted to play your army? I’m actually very hopeful for the new system, but I know that some people in the community are concerned that they wont have flexibility or control they used to.

    Thanks again!!!

    1. Hey Ben! Thanks for your feedback! The way you build armies (even in matched play) has only really stopped the super combo stuff – Taudar, riptide+anything… that sort of thing. Every formation and detachment is playable that I have checked so far so its a really positive place for existing armies for the most part. If its not matched play, all of the super combo armies are still playable as well if that’s your poison.

      As for HOW – with all the different detachments you can build it to play how you like – want tonnes of bikes? Outrider detachment. Want lots of heroes? Supreme command is your thing. Honestly, I think the loss of formations and the flexibility of the new formations should be great for matched play.

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