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Warhammer Warhammer 40k

9th Edition Game Sizes

One of the features of 9th edition Warhammer 40,000 that I like is the scale of game sizes that it supports.

In previous editions, the game broadly assumed a game on a 6′ × 4′ table with armies at about 2,000 points each. With different table sizes, the battle maps for missions could break down so that deployment zones or objective placements ended up not working correctly. Similarly, the mission rules worked best with a certain size army so that smaller or larger armies would skew things. For example, with a small army you cannot really contest as many objectives as you can with larger armies just due to having a limited number of units to work with.

With 9th edition, the game now has different missions for four different game sizes. This allows for the missions to be tailored for different sizes of tables and different sizes of armies.

Game SizeMinimum Table SizePoints Limit
Combat Patrol44″ × 30″500
Incursion44″ × 30″1,000
Strike Force60″ × 44″2,000
Onslaught90″ × 44″3,000

Here’s that progression of table sizes with a 30″ × 22″ Kill Team board added in as the first step:

The middle two sizes seem to be where Games Workshop expects the most games. In the core book, Incursion and Strike Force have 6 missions each while Combat Patrol and Onslaught have only 3 missions each. The Grand Tournament 2020 Mission Pack has 9 missions each for Incursion and Strike Force (some that overlap with missions from the core book), and no support for Combat Patrol or Onslaught.

One of the unexpected changes in 9th edition was the shift from recommending 6′ × 4′ (72″ × 48″) tables to the new table sizes. Warhammer has used the old table size for pretty much its whole existence.

According to Games Workshop, they think that most dining room tables can accommodate the new size of a Strike Force game, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Most dining room tables I’ve seen could do a 3′ wide game, but they don’t make it to 44″. With my current furniture, my kitchen table is 74″ × 40″ and my dining room table is 78″ × 38″. I feel like both of those are fairly large tables, but neither could fit the minimum Strike Force width. I think the Incursion game size though is great for a kitchen table game and I’d expect most houses to have a table that will work for those.

I think the new sizes are good for proving a clear scale up from Kill Team to Onslaught though. Warhammer 40,000 is a big game to get into and needing to aim for a 6′ × 4′ playing area and a 2000 point army was a big hurdle for newcomers. Kill Team and Combat Patrol seem much more approachable since they involve fewer miniatures and can be played on normal kitchen tables. With the new sizes, the game sizes can be expressed in a number of Kill Team game boards needed.

Game SizeKill Team Boards
Kill Team1
Combat Patrol2
Incursion2
Strike Force4
Onslaught6

I think this scaling is useful to give new players a growth path. This will be especially true if Games Workshop can produce products like the Kill Zones that came with a 30″ × 22″ board plus a selection of terrain and then keep them in stock longer than the short-lived Kill Zone products. It looks like the upcoming Battlezone: Manufactorum – Vertigus is in the same style, so hopefully it will enjoy a longer print run than the Kill Zone boxes did. If these products stay on shelves, then it is easy for a player to start out with one box then pick up another and combine the two when they are ready to try out a larger game.

It is also important to keep in mind that the new table sizes are minimums. The missions in 9th edition make all of their measurements from the center of the table, so no extra work is needed to scale up the table size. A bigger table could skew balance a bit (an enemy Basilisk can be further away), but I think for casual games continuing to play on whichever table size you used in 8th edition will be just fine.

As an example, here’s how the Ransack mission looks on a few different table sizes. The distance between deployment zones and spread of the objectives stay the same no matter the table size. Deployment areas and the perimeter of the battlefield just stretch out as a table grows.

44″ × 30″
48″ × 48″
72″ × 48″

Overall I’m pretty happy with the different game sizes. I do hope that Games Workshop releases more Combat Patrol missions over time so that it can be a well-supported first step when new people join the hobby. I’m also crossing my fingers for a range of interesting Battlezones that stay available for a long time.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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