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Warhammer 40,000 is a miniature wargame that simulates terrestrial battles between futuristic armies. It is one of the most popular miniature wargames in the world.[1][2]

Warhammer 40,000
Warhammer 40,000 logo
Manufacturer(s)Games Workshop & Citadel, Forge World
Years active1987–present
Setup time5–30 minutes
Playing time1–6 hours
Random chanceMedium (dice rolling)
Skill(s) requiredStrategic thinking, arithmetic, miniature painting
A game of Warhammer 40,000.

As in other miniature wargames, players use miniature models made of plastic or metal to represent warriors and fighting vehicles. The playing field is a tabletop model of a battlefield, comprising miniature models of buildings, hills, trees, and other landmarks. Players take turns to play through 4 basic game phases. The movement phase where a player can elect to move some or all of his models a set distance measured using tape measures, the psychic phase where any units with psychic ability can attempt to manifest their psychic powers, the shooting phase where the players roll a series of dice to resolve the outcome of any shots fired and the assault phase where the outcome of any physical or hand to hand attacks are determined by dice rolls. Once these 4 phases have been resolved then the second player takes his part of the turn and repeats the process. Usually a game of warhammer 40,000 consists of five turns. Depending on the size of game this can take anything from just a single hour to several days.

Whereas some other miniature wargames are recreations of historical warfare, Warhammer 40,000 has a fictional theme; a blend of science-fiction and fantasy. The models in the game are a mixture futuristic warriors, aliens, and supernatural monsters, with battles taking place on alien worlds. Warhammer 40,000 is set in the distant future, where a stagnant human civilization is beset by hostile aliens and malevolent supernatural creatures.

Warhammer 40,000 was developed by Rick Priestley as a science-fiction version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. The first edition of the rulebook was published in October 1987. The latest edition is the eighth, which was published in June 2017.

Warhammer 40,000 has spawned a number of spin-off tabletop games. These include Battlefleet Gothic, which simulates spaceship combat, and Space Hulk, which simulates indoors combat. It has also spawned a large number of computer games, such as the Dawn of War series.



The rulebooks and models required to play the game are copyrighted and sold exclusively by Games Workshop and its subsidiaries. These and other materials (dice, measuring tools, glue, paints, etc.) all make Warhammer 40,000 expensive as far as gaming hobbies go. A new player can expect to spend at least $500 to assemble enough materials for a "proper" game.[3][4]

Playing fieldEdit

Distances between models on the playing field must be measured with tools, as there is no grid.

Warhammer 40,000 is meant to be played on a tabletop. In contrast to board games, Warhammer 40,000 does not have a fixed playing field. Players are expected to construct their own custom-made playing field using modular terrain models. Games Workshop sells a variety of proprietary terrain models, but players often use generic or homemade ones too. The table can be of any size so long as the players can reach every part of it (the core rulebook recommends a width of four feet[5]). Unlike certain other miniature wargames (such as Battletech), Warhammer 40,000 does not use a grid system. Players must use measuring tape and templates to measure distances. Distances are measured in inches.

Miniature modelsEdit

Games Workshop sells a large variety of plastic and resin models for Warhammer 40,000. Games Workshop doesn't sell ready-to-play models. Rather, it sells boxes of model parts. Players are expected to assemble and paint the miniatures themselves. Games Workshop also sells glue, tools, and acrylic paints for this purpose.

Each miniature model represents an individual warrior or vehicle. In the rulebooks, there is an entry for every type of model in the game that describes its capabilities. For instance, a model of a Tactical Space Marine has a "Move characteristic" of 6 inches, a "Toughness characteristic" of 4, and is armed with a "boltgun" with a range of 24 inches.


Officially, Warhammer 40,000 doesn't have a fixed scale, but the models approximate to a scale ratio of 1:60 (ie 1 inch represents 60 inches).[6] For instance, a Land Raider tank model is 17cm long but conceptually 10.3m long. A Space Marine model is about 34mm tall.


Note: The overview here references the 8th edition of the core rulebook, published June 2017

Assembling armiesEdit

Models are classified into "factions". In a matched game, a player can only use warrior models that are all loyal to a common faction, such as "Imperium" or "Chaos".[7] Thus, a player cannot, for example, use a mixture of Eldar and Ork models. Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses due to the warriors and weapons it has access to. For instance, the Tau faction favors ranged combat because its melee warriors are weak.

The players must agree as to what "points limit" they will play at, which roughly determines how big and powerful their respective armies will be. Each model has a "point value" which roughly corresponds to how powerful the model is, e.g. a Tactical Space Marine is valued at 13 points, whereas a Land Raider tank is valued at 239 points.[8] The sum of the point values of a player's models must not exceed his agreed limit. 1,000 points is a common points limit.

At the start of a game, each player places his models in starting zones at opposite ends of the playing field.

Moving & attackingEdit

At the start of his turn, a player moves each model in his army by hand across the field. A model can be moved no farther than its listed "Move characteristic". For instance, a model of a Space Marine can be moved no farther than six inches per turn. If a model cannot fly, it must go around obstacles such as walls and trees.

Models are grouped into "units". They move, attack, and suffer damage as a unit. All models in a unit must stay close to each other; each model in a unit must finish a turn within two inches horizontally and six inches vertically of another model from the unit.

After moving, each unit can attack any enemy unit within range and line-of-fire of whatever weapons and psychic powers its models have. For instance, a unit of Space Marines armed with boltguns can shoot any enemy unit within 24 inches. The attacking player rolls dice to determine how much imaginary damage his models inflicted on the enemy unit. The attacking player cannot target individual models within an enemy unit; if an enemy unit suffers damage, the enemy player decides which models in the unit suffered injury.[9] If a model suffers more injury than its "Wound characteristic" permits, it dies. A dead model of an infantry is removed from the playing field. Disabled vehicles are left on the field (and turned upside down), and serve as obstacles for surviving models.

Victory conditionsEdit

Victory depends on what kind of "mission" the players choose for their game. It might involve exterminating the enemy, or holding a location on the field for a certain length of time, or retaining possession of a "relic" for a certain length of time.

Fictional settingEdit

Warhammer 40,000 is set mostly in the 41st millennium (roughly 38,000 years in the future). Although Warhammer 40,000 is mostly a science-fiction setting, it also adapts a number of tropes from fantasy fiction, such as magic, supernatural beings, daemonic possession, and races such as the Orks and Elves. "Psykers" fill the role of wizards in this setting.

The setting of Warhammer 40,000 is violent and pessimistic. It depicts a future where human scientific and social progress have ceased, and human civilization is close to being destroyed due to warfare with hostile alien races and occult forces. It is a setting where the supernatural is usually malevolent. There are no heavenly beings in the cosmos, only daemons and dark gods, and the cults dedicated to them are growing larger and more powerful.

The source of magic in the setting is a parallel dimension of psychic energy known as "the Warp". All living creatures have a psychic link to this place, but certain individuals called "psykers" have an especially strong link and can tap its energy to work magic. Humans and some alien races use psykers to circumvent the normal laws of physics, permitting faster-than-light travel and communication. But this power comes at a price: the Warp is full of daemons who use psykers as entrances into realspace. Because of this, psykers must be trained to control their psychic powers and resist Warp predators. Those who fail this training are executed for the safety of all. Those who pass their training are pressed into life-long servitude to the state.


Rick Priestley cites J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Dune, Paradise Lost, and 2000 AD as major influences on the setting. Priestley felt that Warhammer's concept of Chaos, as detailed by his colleague Bryan Ansell in the supplement Realms of Chaos, was too simplistic and too similar to the works of Michael Moorcock, so he developed it further, taking inspiration from Paradise Lost.[10] The story of the Emperor's favored sons succumbing to the temptations of Chaos deliberately parallels the fall of Satan in Paradise Lost. The religious themes are primarily inspired by the early history of Christianity and Catholicism.

The Imperium of Man is a critique of organised religion and authoritarian thinking:

To me the background to 40K was always intended to be ironic. [...] The fact that the Space Marines were lauded as heroes within Games Workshop always amused me, because they're brutal, but they're also completely self-deceiving. The whole idea of the Emperor is that you don't know whether he's alive or dead. The whole Imperium might be running on superstition. There's no guarantee that the Emperor is anything other than a corpse with a residual mental ability to direct spacecraft. It's got some parallels with religious beliefs and principles, and I think a lot of that got missed and overwritten.

— Rick Priestley, in a December 2015 interview with Unplugged Games[11]


The myriad models available for play in Warhammer 40,000 are divided into "factions." Under typical circumstances, a player can only use units from the same faction within a single army. For instance, an army cannot include both Ork and Eldar models because Orks and Eldar are enemies in the setting.

The Imperium of ManEdit

The Imperium of Man is a human empire that spans a majority of the galaxy and has existed for over 10,000 years. The Imperium is mired in a prolonged cultural dark age; although it has access to advanced technology, scientific progress has ceased and these technologies typically date back thousands of years. Imperial society is deeply superstitious, centred on the worship of the Emperor of Mankind, its founder and nominal ruler. Those who do not worship the Emperor, including alien species and human followers of Chaos, are mercilessly persecuted as heretics - with the exception of Mars's Machine Cult, which in the Imperium's early days forged an alliance with Earth and later syncrethized with the Imperial Cult. The irony of the Imperial religion is that the Emperor is not a god but an extremely powerful yet mortal psyker, who himself made severe attempts to establish an atheistic society; furthermore, since the early years of the Imperium, the Emperor survives in an unresponsive state in a life-support machine known as the "Golden Throne", so he rules in name only. However, some speculate the sheer amount of worship from his trillions of followers has caused him to truly ascend to something of a godhood, but this remains unclear.

Of all the factions, the Imperium has the largest catalog of models, which gives Imperial players great flexibility in designing their army.


Within the parallel dimension known as the Warp dwell the Chaos Gods, who are monomaniacal and depraved entities formed from the emotions and souls of mortals. The Chaos Gods have the ability to twist the minds of mortals, amplifying certain emotional traits and inspiring reverence, like a supernatural form of brainwashing. Worshippers of Chaos (most of whom depicted in the game are human) tend to be insane, violent, and depraved, and they often exhibit grotesque physical mutations such as extra mouths or limbs replaced with tentacles.

Like the Imperium, the forces of Chaos have access to a large variety of models, meaning a Chaos army can be designed for any style of play.


The Eldar are derived from the Elves of Warhammer Fantasy. They are an ancient species of aliens who view humans and other non-Eldar species as vermin. In the distant past, they ruled an empire that dominated the galaxy, but it was destroyed in a magical cataclysm, along with most of the population. The surviving Eldar are divided into the ascetic inhabitants (known simply as "Eldar") of the Craftworlds, massive spacecraft scattered across the galaxy, and the Dark Eldar, or Drukhari, a race of sadistic space pirates who inhabit a massive port city hidden within the Warp.

Eldar infantry tend to be highly specialised and relatively frail "glass cannons." Because of their lack of staying power, Eldar armies can suffer severe losses after a bad tactical decision or even unlucky dice rolls, while successful gameplay can involve outnumbered Eldar units which outmaneuver the opponent and kill entire squads before they have a chance to retaliate.


The Tyranids are a mysterious alien race from another galaxy. They migrate from planet to planet, devouring all life in their path. Tyranids are linked by a psychic hive mind in the Warp; individual Tyranid creatures become feral when separated from it. Their technology is entirely biological: their ships and weapons are living components of their bodies.

Tyranids have a preference for melee combat; their infantry units tend to be fast and hard-hitting but frail. They also have low point values, meaning Tyranid armies in the game are typically fairly large. Tyranids have the most powerful counter-measures against enemies with psychic powers: many Tyranid units possess the "Shadow in the Warp" trait, which makes it harder for nearby enemy psykers to use their psychic powers.[12]


The Tau, or T'au, are a progressive race of blue-skinned aliens inhabiting a small but growing empire located on the fringes of the Imperium of Man. The Tau Empire is the only faction in the setting that actively integrates alien species into their society; they seek to subjugate all other races for the benefit of all, under an ideology termed "the Greater Good." Though the Tau may appear self-righteous, they and their subjects do enjoy a better quality of life than Imperial citizens, and with the absence of the bigoted tendencies of many other factions, many Imperial worlds have willingly defected to the Tau Empire.

Tau armies have a strong preference for ranged combat. The Tau do not have any psykers nor units that specialise in countering psykers, which makes them somewhat more vulnerable to psychic attacks. Most Tau vehicles are classified as flyers, skimmers, or jet pack infantry, meaning they can move swiftly over difficult terrain.


The Necrons are an ancient race of skeleton-like robots. Millions of years ago, they were flesh-and-blood beings, and they transferred their minds into robot bodies to achieve immortality. However, the process was flawed, and most Necrons became mindless automatons. They are waking up from millions of years of hibernation in underground vaults, and seek to rebuild their old empire.

Necron infantry are characterised by strong ranged firepower, tough armor, and slow movement. They are known primarily for their trademark "gauss" and "reanimation" abilities. As robots made of "living metal," many Necron units possess the ability to reassemble themselves after being slain and fight on. As machines, Necrons possess maximum leadership across all units but are also relatively slow moving outside of some transports. Necrons do not have any psykers, which makes them vulnerable to psychic attacks.


The Orks (also called green skins) are green-skinned genetically-engineered aliens modeled after traditional orcs of high fantasy. Their culture revolves around war for its own sake, periodically erupting into massive crusades against Imperial planets or other species. However, gains from these wars are often negated due to the general instability of Ork states - it is heavily hinted that, if the Orks ever joined together as one force, they would be even more powerful than the Imperium. They even appear to be mostly impossible to exterminate: upon death, they release plantlike spores that allow them to reproduce, not unlike mushrooms.

In the tabletop game, Ork infantry units are typically slow-moving, tough, and numerous. They have a preference for melee combat, as their ranged units are weak. Thematically, their psyker units, known as "Weirdboyz," can pose as much of a threat to their own units as the enemy.


In 1982, Rick Priestley joined Citadel Miniatures, a subsidiary of Games Workshop that produced miniature figurines for use in Dungeons and Dragons. Bryan Ansell (the manager of Citadel) asked Priestley to develop a medieval-fantasy miniature wargame that would be given away for free to customers so as to encourage them to buy more miniatures (Dungeons and Dragons, at the time, did not require players to use miniature figurines).[13] The result was Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which was released in 1983 to great success.

Since before working for Games Workshop, Rick Priestley had been developing a miniature wargame/RPG hybrid called "Rogue Trader", which mixed science-fiction with classic fantasy elements. Priestley showed his bosses his outline for "Rogue Trader", but they were hesitant because they thought that a science-fiction game wouldn't sell well. His bosses floated the idea of selling cheap kits with which players could convert their Warhammer Fantasy models into science-fiction models — e.g. by replacing swords with laser-pistols — but as time passed, their enthusiasm for "Rogue Trader" grew, and they finally agreed to produce a dedicated line of models for it.

Sometime before "Rogue Trader" was released, Games Workshop signed a contract with 2000 AD to develop a board game based on Rogue Trooper. So as not to confuse customers, Games Workshop renamed Priestley's game "Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader" and marketed it as a spin-off of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was released in October 1987.

Rulebook editionsEdit

Rogue Trader (1987)Edit

Rogue Trader – the first edition of Warhammer 40,000

The first edition of the game, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, was published in 1987.[14] Game designer Rick Priestley created the original rules set (based on the contemporary second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle) alongside the Warhammer 40,000 gameworld. The gameplay of Rogue Trader was heavily oriented toward role-playing rather than strict wargaming. This original version came as a very detailed, though rather jumbled, rulebook, which made it most suitable for fighting small skirmishes.[15] Much of the composition of the units was determined randomly, by rolling dice. A few elements of the setting (bolters, lasguns, frag grenades, Terminator armour) can be seen in a set of earlier wargaming rules called Laserburn (produced by the now defunct company Tabletop Games) written by Bryan Ansell. These rules were later expanded by both Ansell and Richard Halliwell (both of whom ended up working for Games Workshop), although the rules were not a precursor to Rogue Trader.[16]

In addition, supplemental material was continually published in White Dwarf magazine, which provided rules for new units and models. Eventually, White Dwarf provided proper "army lists" that could be used to create larger and more coherent forces than were possible in the main rulebook. These articles were from time to time released in expansion books along with new rules, background materials and illustrations. All in all ten books were released for the original edition of Warhammer 40,000: "Chapter Approved – Book of the Astronomican", "Compendium", "Warhammer 40,000 Compilation", "Waaagh – Orks", two "Realm of Chaos" ("Slaves to Darkness" and "The Lost and the Damned"), "'Ere we Go", "Freebooterz", "Battle Manual", and "Vehicle Manual". The "Battle Manual" changed and codified the combat rules and provided updated stats for most of the weapons in the game. The "Vehicle Manual" contained a new system for vehicle management on the tabletop which was intended to supersede the clunky rules given in the base hardback manual and in the red softback compendium, it had an inventive target location system which used acetate crosshairs to simulate weapon hits on the vehicle silhouettes with different armour values for different locations (such as tracks, engine compartment, ammo store, and so on). "Waaagh – Orks" was an introductory manual to Orkish culture and physiology. It contained no rules, but background material. Other Ork-themed books instead were replete with army lists for major Ork clans and also for greenskin pirate and mercenary outfits. The "Realm of Chaos" books were hefty hardback tomes, which included rules for Chaos in Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Warhammer Fantasy Battle (3rd edition).

Second edition (1993)Edit

The second edition of Warhammer 40,000 was published in late 1993. This new course for the game was forged under the direction of editor Andy Chambers. The second edition came in a boxed set that included Space Marine and Ork miniatures, scenery, dice, and the main rules. An expansion box set titled Dark Millennium was later released, which included rules for psychic powers. Another trait of the game was the attention given to "special characters" representing specific individuals from the background, who had access to equipment and abilities beyond those of others; the earlier edition only had three generic "heroic" profiles for each army: "champion", "minor hero" and "major hero".

Third edition (1998)Edit

The third edition of the game was released in 1998 and, like the second edition, concentrated on streamlining the rules for larger battles.[17] Third-edition rules were notably simpler.[18] The rulebook was available alone, or as a boxed set with miniatures of Space Marines and the newly introduced Dark Eldar. The system of army 'codexes' continued in third edition.

Towards the end of the third edition, four new army codexes were introduced: the xeno (that is, alien) races of the Necron and the Tau and two armies of the Inquisition: the Ordo Malleus (called Daemonhunters), and the Ordo Hereticus (called Witchhunters); elements of the latter two armies had appeared before in supplementary material (such as Realm of Chaos and Codex: Sisters of Battle). At the end of the third edition, these armies were re-released with all-new artwork and army lists. The release of the Tau coincided with a rise in popularity for the game in the United States.[19]

Fourth edition (2004)Edit

The fourth edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released in 2004.[20] This edition did not feature as many major changes as prior editions, and was "backwards compatible" with each army's third-edition codex. The fourth edition was released in three forms: the first was a standalone hardcover version, with additional information on painting, scenery building, and background information about the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The second was a boxed set, called Battle for Macragge, which included a compact softcover version of the rules, scenery, dice, templates, and Space Marines and Tyranid miniatures. The third was a limited collector's edition. Battle for Macragge was a 'game in a box', targeted primarily at beginners. Battle for Macragge was based on the Tyranid invasion of the Ultramarines' homeworld, Macragge. An expansion to this was released called The Battle Rages On!, which featured new scenarios and units, like the Tyranid Warrior.

Fifth edition (2008)Edit

The fifth edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released on July 12, 2008. While there are some differences between the fourth and fifth editions, the general rule set shares numerous similarities. Codex books designed prior to the fifth edition are still compatible with only some changes to how those armies function.[21] The replacement for the previous edition's Battle for Macragge starter set is called Assault on Black Reach, which features a pocket-sized rulebook (containing the full ruleset but omitting the background and hobby sections of the full-sized rulebook), and starter Ork and Space Marine armies. Each army contains a HQ choice, either an Ork Warboss or a Space Marine Captain.

New additions to the rules include the ability for infantry models to "Go to Ground" when under fire, providing additional protection at the cost of mobility and shooting as they dive for cover. Actual line of sight is needed to fire at enemy models. Also introduced is the ability to run, whereby units may forgo shooting to cover more ground. In addition, cover has been changed so that it is now easier for a unit to get a cover save. Damage to vehicles has been simplified and significantly reduced, and tanks may now ram other vehicles.[21] Some of these rules are modeled after rules that existed in the Second Edition, but were removed in the Third. Likewise, 5th edition codexes have seen a return of many units previously cut out in the previous edition for having unwieldy rules. These units have largely been brought back with most of their old rules streamlined for the new edition. Fifth edition releases focused largely on Space Marine forces, including the abolishment of the Daemonhunters in favour of an army composed of Grey Knights, a special chapter of Space Marines, which, in previous editions, had provided the elite choices of the Daemonhunter's army list. Another major change was the shift from metal figures to Resin kits.

Sixth edition (2012)Edit

Sixth edition was released on June 23, 2012. Changes to this edition include the adoption of an optional Psychic Power card system similar to that of the game's sister product Warhammer Fantasy Battle as well as the inclusion of full rules for flying vehicles and monsters and a major reworking of the manner in which damage is resolved against vehicles. It also includes expanded rules for greater interaction with scenery and more dynamic close-combat.[22] In addition to updating existing rules and adding new ones, 6th Edition introduced several other large changes: the Alliance system, in which players can bring units from other armies to work with their own, with varying levels of trust; the choice to take one fortification as part of your force; and Warlord traits, which will allow a player's Commander to gain a categorically randomised trait that can aid their forces in different situations. Replacing the "Assault on Black Reach" box set is the "Dark Vengeance" box set which includes Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marine models. Some of the early release box sets of Dark Vengeance contained a limited edition Interrogator-Chaplain for the Dark Angels.

Seventh edition (2014)Edit

Announced in White Dwarf issue 15, pre-orders for May 17 and release date of May 24, 2014.[23]

The 7th edition saw several major changes to the game, including a dedicated Psychic Phase, as well as the way Psychic powers worked overall,[24] and changeable mid-game Tactical Objectives. Tactical Objectives would give the players alternate ways to score Victory Points, and thus win games. These objectives could change at different points during the game.[25][26]

As well as these additions, the 7th edition provided a new way to organise Army lists. Players could play as either Battle-Forged, making a list in the same way as 6th edition, or Unbound, which allowed the player to use any models they desired, disregarding the Force Organisation Chart.[27] Bonuses are given to Battle-Forged armies. Additionally, Lord of War units, which are powerful units previously only allowed in large-scale ("Apocalypse") games, are now included in the standard rulebook, and are a normal part of the Force Organisation Chart.

Eighth edition (2017)Edit

Core rulebook, 8th edition.

Announced on April 22, 2017[28], pre-orders for June 3[29] and release date of June 17, 2017.[30]

The 8th edition was a major revision of the previous edition to the game, making it easier for new players to enter the hobby and start playing. In this respect, the game introduced the Three Ways to Play concept: Open, Matched, and Narrative.[31] The core ruleset was simplified down to 14 pages, as a free PDF booklet available on the Games Workshop website.[32] The more complex rules still remain in the game mechanic, found in the updated hardcover Rulebook. The setting behind 8th Edition has also been updated, with the Galaxy having been split in half by the forces of Chaos[33] and the Primarch Roboute Guilliman returning to lead the Imperium as the Lord Commander, beginning with reclaiming devastated worlds through the Indomitus Crusade.[34]

The 8th Edition also introduced a new box set called "Dark Imperium", which featured a new faction, the Primaris Space Marines, as well as introducing new characters and rules to The Death Guard.

Supplements and expansionsEdit

There are many variations to the rules and army lists that are available for use, typically with an opponent's consent.[35] These rules are found in the Games Workshop publication White Dwarf, on the Games Workshop website, or in the Forge World Imperial Armour publications.

The rules of Warhammer 40,000 are designed for games between 500 and 2500 points, with the limits of a compositional framework called the Force Organisation Chart making games with larger point values difficult to play. In response to player comments, the Apocalypse rules expansion was introduced to allow 3000+ point games to be played. Players might field an entire 1000-man Chapter of Space Marines rather than the smaller detachment of around 30–40 typically employed in a standard game. Apocalypse also contains rules for using larger war machines such as Titans.

Cities of Death (the revamp of Codex Battlezone: Cityfight) introduces rules for urban warfare and guerrilla warfare, and so-called "stratagems", including traps and fortifications. It also has sections on modeling city terrain and provides examples of armies and army lists modeled around the theme of urban combat. This work was updated to 7th Edition with the release of Shield of Baal: Leviathan.[36]

Planetstrike, released 2009, sets rules allowing players to represent the early stages of a planetary invasion. It introduces new game dynamics, such as dividing the players into an attacker and a defender, each having various tactical benefits tailored to their role; for example, the attacker may deep strike all infantry, jump infantry and monstrous creatures onto the battlefield, while the defender may set up all the terrain on the battlefield.

Planetary Empires, released August 2009, allows players to coordinate full-scale campaigns containing multiple battles, each using standard rules or approved supplements such as Planetstrike, Cities of Death or Apocalypse. Progress through the campaign is tracked using hexagonal tiles to represent the current control of territories within the campaign. The structure is similar to Warhammer Fantasy's Mighty Empires.

Battle Missions, released March 2010, this expansion contains a series of 'missions' with specific objectives, each 'race' has three specific missions which can be played, these missions are determined by a dice roll and are usually chosen from the two armies being used. They still use the standard rules from the Warhammer 40,000 rule book.

Spearhead, released May 2010, allows players to play games with a greater emphasis on armoured and mechanised forces. The most notable change to the game is the inclusion of special "Spearhead Formations;" and greater flexibility in force organisation. "Spearhead Formations" represent a new and altogether optional addition to the force organisation system standard to Warhammer 40,000. Players now have the ability to use all, part or none of the standard force organisation. Spearhead also includes new deployment options and game scenarios. This expansion is being released jointly through the Games Workshop website, as a free download, and through the company's monthly hobby magazine White Dwarf.

Death from the Skies, released February 2013, contains rules for playing games with an emphasis on aircraft. There are specific rules for each race's aircraft, as well as playable missions. A notable inclusion in this release is "warlord traits" for each race that deal specifically with aircraft. This supplement still uses the same rules as the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. Got updated to 7th Edition with Shield of Baal: Leviathan.

Stronghold Assault, released in December 2013, is a 48-page expansion that contains more rules for fortifications in the game, as well as rules for more fortifications that listed in the main 6th Edition Rulebook.

Escalation, released December 2013, contains rules for playing games with super heavy vehicles, normally restricted to Apocalypse events, in normal events.

Spin-off games, novels and othersEdit

Games Workshop has expanded the Warhammer 40,000 universe over the years to include several spin-off games and fictional works. This expansion began in 1987, when Games Workshop asked Scott Rohan to write the first series of "literary tie-ins". This eventually led to the creation of Black Library, the publishing arm of Games Workshop, in 1997. The books published relate centrally to the backstory in the Warhammer universe. Black Library also publishes Warhammer 40,000 graphic novels.[37]

Several popular miniature game spin-offs were also created, including Space Crusade, Space Hulk, Kill Team, Battlefleet Gothic, Epic 40,000, Inquisitor, Gorkamorka, Necromunda and Assassinorum: Execution Force. A collectible card game, Dark Millennium, was launched in October 2005 by Games Workshop subsidiary, Sabertooth Games. The story behind the card game begins at the end of the Horus Heresy arc in the game storyline and contains four factions: the Imperium, Orks, Eldar and Chaos.[38]


The album Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness by British death metal band Bolt Thrower features lyrics as well as artwork based on the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 brands, with the album's title design being identical to that of the eponymous Games Workshop books.


Following the 1987 initial release of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 wargame the company began publishing background literature that expands previous material, adds new material, and describes the universe, its characters, and its events in detail. Since 1997 the bulk of background literature has been published by the affiliated imprint Black Library.

The increasing number of fiction works by an expanding list of authors is published in several formats and media, including audio, digital and print. Most of the works, which include full-length novels, novellas, short stories, graphic novels, and audio dramas, are parts of named book series. In 2018, a line of novels for readers aged 8 to 12 was announced, which led to some confusion among fans given the ultra-violent and grimdark nature of the setting.[39]

Video gamesEdit

Games Workshop first licensed Electronic Arts to produce Warhammer 40,000 video-games, and EA published two games based on Space Hulk in 1993 and 1995. Games Workshop then passed the license to Strategic Simulations, which published three games in the late 1990s. After Strategic Simulations went defunct in 1994, Games Workshop then gave the license to THQ, and between 2003 and 2011 THQ published 13 games, which include the Dawn of War series. After 2011, Games Workshop changed its licensing strategy: instead of an exclusive license to a single publisher, it now broadly licenses a variety of publishers.[40]

Board Games and Roleplaying GamesEdit

Although there were plans to create a full-fledged Warhammer 40,000 "pen and paper" role-playing game from the beginning,[41] these did not come to fruition for many years, until an official Warhammer 40,000 role-playing game was published only in 2008, with the release of Dark Heresy by Black Industries, a GW subsidiary. This system was later licensed to Fantasy Flight Games for continued support and expansion.

Formerly Games Workshop licensed a number of Warhammer 40K themed products to Fantasy Flight Games. Fantasy Flight Games specialises in board, card and role-play games. Included in the licensed product were:

  • Horus Heresy – a board game focusing on the final battle of the Horus Heresy the battle for the Emperor's Palace; this game is a re-imagining of a game by the same name created by Jervis Johnson in the 1990s.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel – a game with a merge of board and card game mechanics, based on the popular "Space Hulk" board game, featuring Space Marines against Genestealers.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel, The Card Game – the card game version of Space Hulk. Players cooperate as Space Marines in order to clear out the infestation of Genestealers on a derelict spaceship.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Conquest – a Living Card Game where players control various factions of the Warhammer 40,000 setting in order to rule the sector.
  • Forbidden Stars – a board game that pits 4 popular Warhammer 40,000 races against one another to control objectives and secure the sector for themselves.
  • Relic – an adaptation of the board game Talisman to the Warhammer: 40,000 setting.
  • Dark Heresy – a pen and paper role-playing game where players may assume the roles of a cell of Inquisitorial acolytes, or assume a different and equally small-scale scenario following the game's rules. The recommended scenarios and ruleset present a good balance between investigation and combat encounters.
  • Rogue Trader – a pen and paper role-playing game sharing many of its core mechanics with Dark Heresy, where players assume the roles of Explorers, whose rank and escalated privileges allow for travelling outside of Imperium's borders. Due to extensive expansions upon Rogue Trader, campaigns can be largely different and alternated by game masters. Its most significant difference from any of the other Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay titles is that it contains rules for capital spaceship design and space combat.
  • Deathwatch – a pen and paper role-playing game, also sharing many of its core mechanics with Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader, it allows players to role-play the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes, who are the gene-enhanced superhuman elite combat units of the Imperium of Man. In light of this, its ruleset heavily emphasises combat against difficult or numerically superior enemies, rather than negotiation and investigation, compared to Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader.
  • Black Crusade – a pen and paper role-playing game, also sharing many of its core mechanics with Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch, Black Crusade allows players to role-play Chaos-corrupted characters. This installment will be concluded with supplements. It is notably different in that it allows much more free-form character development, with experience costs being determined by affiliation with a Chaos God.
  • Only War – The newest installment of FFG's pen and paper Warhammer 40,000 role-play, Only War puts players in the boots of the Imperial Guard, the foot soldiers of the Imperium of Man. Despite the human-level capabilities of the characters, it also emphasises combat over interaction, much like Deathwatch.


On December 13, 2010,[42] Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie was released directly to DVD. The movie is a CGI sci-fi based around the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines. The screenplay for the movie was written by Dan Abnett, a Games Workshop Black Library author. The movie was produced by Codex Pictures, a UK-based company, under license from Games Workshop. The movie utilised animated facial capture technology from Image Metrics.


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