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Warhammer 40k Space Marine the board game isn’t a board game

Why has a Warhammer 40k starter set, that ties in with the upcoming videogame Warhammer 40k Space Marine 2, been marketed as a board game?

Warhammer 40k Space Marine the Board Game - closeup of the Lt. Titus miniature

Games Workshop provided Wargamer with a free review sample of Warhammer 40k Space marine: The Board Game, the latest in its series of spin-off Warhammer 40k and Age of Sigmar board games. Except it’s not really a board game.

We don’t mean that it’s a bad board game – though it certainly won’t make it onto our list of the best board games any time soon. We mean that it’s not a board game, period. It’s a Warhammer 40k starter set with the words “board game” on the box.

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The box contains 20 clip-together Tyranid termagant models, two Tyranid ripper swarms, and a unique Lieutenant Titus Space Marine model based on the protagonist of upcoming videogame Space Marine 2. A fold-out board represents an industrial battle-zone. The box contains dice, a 12″ measuring ruler, and tokens that must be cut out from a cardboard insert.

The color rules pamphlet includes model building instructions and a short lore section introducing newcomers to the two Warhammer 40k factions represented in the box. The game itself is a 1v1 battler between the powerful Space Marine Titus and the Tyranid hordes. Two training missions introduce the rules, with two scenarios for you to pit the forces against one another.

Warhammer 40k Space Marine the Board Game - ma measuring stick is used to check the distance between the Space Marine Lt. Titus and the alien Tyranids

Players spend their turn moving, shooting, then charging into melee combat with their figures, in a simplified variant of the Warhammer 40k rules.

The rules summary printed with each scenario has a minor discrepancy from the training missions, making it ambiguous whether Titus is allowed to charge out of one combat and into another. Our time playing the Warhammer 40k Space Marine 2 preview makes us think he’s allowed to stampede between punch ups.

Warhammer 40k Space Marine the Board Game - Lt. Titus battles Tryanids

At $39.99, Space Marine The Board Game is actually cheaper than any of the other 40k starter sets. For a total newcomer it seems a reasonable alternative to the Warhammer 40k Introductory set, offering a more minis and a bit more game, but without any hobby supplies. As an on-ramp for beginners to the hobby, this might work well.

But customers expecting a self-contained board game are likely to be disappointed. Existing 40k players will find a couple of scenarios for a simplified version of a game they already know. Newcomers attracted by the Warhammer 40k video game license may find the tone too childish.

For dedicated board gamers, we have guides to the best two player board games and couples board games that we can confidently refer you to – not to mention all the great Warhammer board games that already exist.