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Warhammer 40k 9th edition was too lethal, says studio boss

When Wargamer interviewed Warhammer 40k Studio Manager Stuart Black, he explained why the team dropped the “killiness” for 10th edition

Warhammer 40k 10th edition Tyranid Index released - product photo by Games Workshop of a Screamer Killer, a massive, armored, multi-clawed behemoth

The decision to make Warhammer 40k 10th edition less lethal came from a desire “to reward different styles of play”, according to Warhammer 40k Studio Manager Stuart Black. In an interview with Wargamer the Games Workshop (GW) boss explains that his team “knew that the lethality levels in the game had become very high, and we wanted to bring this killiness down some”.

A key point emphasised in GW’s previews for Warhammer 40k 10th edition has been the reduction of lethality, with lower armour penetration values on weapons and a far greater range of toughness values seen across every Warhammer 40k faction. It promises to be a game where pieces stay on the board for longer. Black says this is intentional, explaining that:

Interview with Warhammer 40k studio manager Stuart Black about Warhammer 40k 10th edition - product photo by Games Workshop of a heavily armoured Space Marine terminator squad

“A lethal game rewards certain play styles, strategies or techniques. For example, a key part of previous editions was the concept of trading – a unit moves onto an objective to score it, then the opponent kills it and takes the objective with a unit that then dies, and so on back and forth.”

He adds: “There is nothing wrong with this dynamic, but I think it is better if there are other ways to play. It is also more fun if your models get to be on the table for longer!”

There’s a practical aspect to this change as well: “A lethal game can also lead to players needing very dense terrain setups to provide a level of survivability, which again encourages certain play styles.” Operating around line of sight blocking terrain has been key to competitive 40k strategies for most of ninth edition, so it will be interesting to see if 10th edition can shake this up.

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You can read our interview with Black right now, where we talk about the whole design process for 10th edition, from goals, to methods, to challenges.