Warhammer 40k 10th edition guide

Our complete breakdown of the new Warhammer 40k 10th Edition - download your index cards, check the new rules, and catch up on 10th Edition lore.

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition guide - GW Battle Report screenshot showing an Ultramarines Space Marine terminator captain and Terminators surrounded by Tyranids models

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition is the brand new version of Games Workshop’s ever-growing sci-fi tabletop wargame. Revealed at Adepticon on March 23, 2023, 10th Edition overhauls the game’s core rules, aiming to make games simpler and quicker, as well as reduce the number of rulebooks players need to play.

If your playgroup has seen a surge in interest in 40k because of 10th edition, hit up our guide on how to get your friends into Warhammer 40k. Otherwise, here’s everything you need to know about Warhammer 40k 10th edition.

Interview with Warhammer 40k studio manager Stuart Black about Warhammer 40k 10th edition - product photo by Games Workshop of the contents of the Leviathan box set, a force of Space Marines battling alien Tyranids

Warhammer 40k 10th edition release date

The Warhammer 40k 10th edition release date was Saturday, June 24, though Games Workshop let most of the rules and army lists trickle out in a free digital edition over the two weeks previously.

This continues GW’s tradition of releasing new editions of its big tabletop wargames during the Summer.

Is Warhammer 40k 10th edition good?

The new edition of the game has been out for several months now, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you might be wondering: is Warhammer 40k 10th edition good?

The answer depends a lot on who is asking. You need to be onboard with the core features of Warhammer 40k to enjoy it. That means fairly long games, fairly crunchy rules, lots of dice, and lots of information. If those aren’t for you, then 10th edition won’t appeal any more than a previous edition.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition combat patrol T'au Empire - product photograph by Games Workshop, a rectangular box advertising robots and alien soldiers in white armor

Games Workshop has done a very good job making 10th edition more approachable for new players. There’s a dedicated starter mode in Combat Patrol, which allows you to play games with just one box of models. The rules are fairly tightly written, and are also fairly easy for a layman to read. The core rules are short enough to read in one sitting, without being vague and imprecise.

Ninth edition 40k had big problems with the organisation of information. Rules could be scattered through multiple sections of multiple books. 10th edition compresses the information down into a much smaller space: you can play games using just the 40k app for reference quite happily.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition datacard for a Space Marine Primaris captain

10th edition is still a deep game with lots of tactical options, but some systems have been greatly simplified. The options open to a unit will be written on its datacard, on the single page of rules for its army, or the single page of stratagems that you can activate during a battle. Ninth edition had so many options that it was, frankly, a miserable and confusing experience unless you played very regularly.

One area where 10th edition missed the mark at launch was the balance for competitive players. Late in its lifespan, ninth edition was fairly well balanced for tournament games. 10th edition completely overhauled the entire game, and threw that balance into disarray.

Some tournament organisers produced immediate house-rules to fix perceived problems, as they considered 10th edition was “clearly not balanced”. Games Workshop then implemented a balance patch, but data from tournaments suggested the Eldar and Genestealer Cults were grossly overpowered in tournament games, while Leagues of Votann continued to suffer. Snice then there’s been a major balance overhaul with the first Balance Dataslate.

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Warhammer 40k 10th edition Balance Dataslate

Games Workshop published the first Balance Dataslate and Munitorum Field Manual points update on September 7 2023. These adjust several core rules, and seek to redress the balance between factions. We’ve recapped the biggest changes to the core rules, and the winners and losers among the factions.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition index cards - product photography by Games Workshop of four packs of index cards, each one advertising a different Warhammer 40k faction

Warhammer 40k 10th edition index cards

10th Edition rules are so different from the previous version of the game that they’re completely incompatible with all the Warhammer 40k Codex books from ninth edition. These have been replaced with free Warhammer 40k 10th edition index cards, which include army rules for every faction.

It means you’re now able to play Warhammer 40k 10th Edition with all your existing models from any army. You can buy physical copies of the cards, but – for the first time ever – GW has published all the Index cards as free PDFs, and they’re available in the free Warhammer 40k app.

Unfortunately, Games Workshop is removing these Indexes as they are superseded by Codexes, though the links for the Space Marine and Tyranids Index cards, below, still seem to be live – though we note that these rules are not current or up to date.

You can download your army’s 10th Edition rules PDF for free by clicking these links:

This is just the second time GW has released full rules for every faction all at the same time. For 8th edition, GW redesigned 40k from the ground up, creating a new framework and releasing new Indexes for all the models (but that time, they were printed books you had to buy).

Before that, you have to look to the 3rd edition of 40k in 1998 for a complete overhaul. Those rules (and army lists) were iterated on until the end of 7th edition in 2017, and you can still find a version of that rules engine powering The Horus Heresy wargame.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition codexes

Will there be Warhammer 40k 10th edition codexes, if all the army rules are going to be available for free in indexes? Yes. Codexes update the datasheets for each unit, and add new 40k Detachment rules (as well as all the lore and advice on painting miniatures we expect). So far the Codexes for Tyranids and Space Marines are available.

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Warhammer 40k 10th edition rules changes

GW gradually revealed Warhammer 40k 10th edition rules changes in the run-up to its launch and, since the full 10th edition core rules are now public, we can dig deep into the biggest differences from its 2020-2023 predecessor.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition army rules

Warhammer 40k 10th edition army rules fit onto one card in each Index. One side has the units stats and weapon abilities, while the other side lists your options for weapons and wargear when assembling the unit. This is a massive shift, but it doesn’t mean that the game has lost complexity.

Lots of abilities that were tied to a Stratagem, Relic, subfaction, or Warlord Trait in ninth edition have now been added to unit Datasheets. The options are still there, but they’re stapled to the units you’re currently using, rather than distributed throughout one (or more) rulebooks.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition points - illustration from the RPG Imperium Maledictum, a bionically augmented Imperial Scribe pores over a dataslate

Warhammer 40k 10th edition points costs

Warhammer 40k 10th edition points costs are a lot less granular than in previous editions of the game. In 10th edition, every weapon option a vehicle can be equipped with is free. Units containing more than one model can only be bought with fixed numbers of troops that correspond to the number of models in the squad.

The points costs of units aren’t part of their rules, but are listed separately in the Munitorum Field Manual.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition sub-factions

Warhammer 40k 10th edition sub-factions have been streamlined that your choice of sub-faction doesn’t add new army rules and stratagems – instead, it swaps out one set for another in a new system called Warhammer 40k detachments.

In 8th and 9th Editions, Detachments were pre-set army templates for creating Matched Play lists. But, since 10th Edition jettisons all those limitations on list-building, GW has re-purposed the name for its shiny new plug-and-play system.

We actually saw a similar system in Codex World Eaters, the final Codex book in 9th edition. Check out our World Eaters codex review for details – we were complimentary about that system there.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition - a Tyranid Screamer Killer

Warhammer 40k 10th edition battle-shock

There’s no morale phase in Warhammer 40k 10th edition. Instead, units that come under strain need to make a Battle-shock test by rolling 2d6 and trying to equal or beat their Leadership value. If they fail they can’t use Stratagems, have no ability to hold objectives, and risk being torn apart if they fall back from melee.

Units must test for Battle-shock if they’re below half strength in their controller’s Command Phase. That includes single-model units like tanks and monsters, though in that case you’re counting wounds, not models. Some weapons can inflict Battle-shock tests, like the lethal bioplasma of the Tyranid Carnifex, or foul toxins of the Death Guard Plague Mortar, as can some abilities and Stratagems.

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition - Warhammer Community image showing the new Lion El Jonson model, Primarch of the Dark Angels Space Marines

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition lore

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition lore takes over where 9th Edition’s Arks of Omen book series left off. Across those four books, arch-traitor Abaddon the Despoiler launched deadly assaults across the Imperium of Man aboard Space Hulks, the Daemon Primarch Angron returned to reality in a storm of gore, the new Daemon Prince Vashtorr the Arkifane invaded the Dark Angels’ fortress monastery, and the T’au separatist Farsight reaching new levels of influence.

The fifth and final book, Arks of Omen: The Lion brings an end to the narrative in a momentous event – the re-awakening of the Dark Angels Primarch Lion El’Jonson.

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The Imperium definitely needs that help, because at the start of 10th edition the extra-galactic Tyranids have launched a surprise invasion in the Western galactic rim, the soft underbelly of the Imperium and the route to Holly Tera.

Using narrative books to bring an end to the story (and sometimes rules) of a game edition is a familiar pattern from Games Workshop. 7th edition 40k ended with the Gathering Storm supplements, which gave rules and narrative for the fall of Cadia, the opening of the great rift, the birth of the Eldar god Ynnead, and the resurrection of the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman.

8th edition 40k ended with the Psychic Awakening supplements, which brought updated rules for the Warhammer 40k factions and explored the psychic impact of the great rift across the Imperium of Man.

Likewise,  the Broken Realms books ushered in the leap from second to third edition for Warhammer Age of Sigmar armies.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition Leviathan launch box set Terminator captain, full photo

Warhammer 40k Leviathan starter set

Warhammer 40k 10th edition Leviathan is the bumper launch box set for 10th edition, and its title fighters are the Space Marines – of course – and the Tyranid Hive Fleets, whose tendrils have spread around the galaxy as they never have before. The box packed in 25 Space Marines and 47 Tyranids, plus a massive hardback rulebook, and mission cards.

Check out our rundown of the Leviathan starter set contents to discover the oodles of awesome new models inside. If you’d like to see what Team Wargamer got up to with the minis, you can check our Leviathan review or editor Alex’s personal account of falling in love with Tyranids and Contrast Paint.

Warhammer 40k Leviathan price

The Warhammer 40k Leviathan recommended retail price was $250 (£150). This is the price when buying direct from Games Workshop, but most third party retailers offered it for less. Leviathan is sold out at Games Workshop, but you may be able to find stock at independent stores without webstores.

How to get your friends into Warhammer 40k 10th edition - Games Workshop image showing the front box art for the Leviathan box, featuring a face that's half Space Marine, half Tyranid

Warhammer 40k 10th edition starter set

Many of the models from the Leviathan launch box have made their way into the Warhammer 40k 10th edition starter sets.

There are three Warhammer 40k starter sets for 10th edition. The cheapest Introductory set comes with only a few minis and starter rules, but packs in the tools you need to get started building and painting miniatures; the regular Starter Set has more substantial forces; and the Ultimate Starter Set comes with terrain and two complete Combat Patrol forces for the Space Marines and Tyranids.

There’s also Space Marine the board game, which – despite its pretensions of adapting Space Marine 2 into a board game – is really just a Warhammer 40k starter set with a funny name.