Games Workshop has strongly indicated the classic Warhammer 40k Adeptus Arbites units are joining the game with new models in the Arks of Omen expansions. In a blog post published on the Warhammer Community website on Tuesday, GW outlined how players can construct forces in the new play mode, and included solid evidence the classic Adeptus Arbites – Judge Dredd-style, hard-jawed Imperial lawmen – are on their way. In an accompanying PDF of army selection rules, GW lists ‘Adeptus Arbites’ as an option for Agents of the Imperium detachments – despite them not currently having models.
The WarCom article mostly glosses over the list-building rules for Boarding Actions. The game mode uses a new Warhammer 40k detachment, the Boarding Patrol detachment, which can contain up to one HQ, up to three troops, and up to three elites, though “nothing is compulsory”, according to designer Rich Butler. Vehicles, bikes, cavalry, monsters, jump pack troops and troops that can fly are all barred, and you’re capped to a single character model.
The article notes that “several factions get special dispensation to bend these rules”, allowing them to select thematically appropriate fast attack or heavy support units, or which would otherwise be barred – the T’au Empire can field their Crisis battle suits provided they disable their ability to fly, while Space Marines can take Eradicators or Hellblasters despite these being heavy support choices. The Boarding Actions Mustering Rules PDF, attached to Tuesday’s WarCom article, lists these exceptions. It also reveals that Adeptus Arbites, the enforcers of Imperial law, can be used in the game mode – despite not having any current models.
The Arbites are listed as a troop choice in the Agents of the Imperium entry in the Mustering Rules document. Agents of the Imperium is a catch-all for the subfactions of the Imperium of Man that can have a few models, but don’t warrant full armies of their own; up to now this has included Assassins, Inquisitors, Rogue Traders, and the Imperial Navy. The PDF also lists an Exaction Squad led by a Proctor Exactant, a new unit name.
It’s possible that we’ve already seen the silhouette of a new Arbites model in a WarCom article on December 30. The preview video hints at unreleased models for the coming year, including (at the 0:50 mark) a human figure wearing a basin helmet and carrying a shield – classic elements of Arbites design.
The Adeptus Arbites have been part of Warhammer 40k since the first edition, Rogue Trader. Though they’re rarely central characters in 40k stories, the Arbites Chastener Godwyn Fischig plays a key role in the Eisenhorn novels, which we rate among the best Warhammer 40k books.
The Arbites haven’t had official models since the early 2000s. Their aesthetic is heavily inspired by Judge Dredd, partly because every member of GW’s early design team was a massive fan of the 2000 AD comic that Dredd hails from, partly because GW sculptors had already made a range of Dredd models when the firm produced licenced RPG miniatures in the 80s.
The Palanite Enforcers gang for Necromunda look superficially similar to Arbites, but are actually very distinct in the lore; Enforcers are agents of planetary law, while Arbites uphold the ‘Lex Imperialis’, galactic law that binds the Imperium together.
As a unit without a natural home in any of the Warhammer 40k factions, if an Arbites squad is coming, we expect it to appear in a Kill Team box set, just as Imperial Navy Breachers appeared in Kill Team: Into the Dark.