How “3” > “10”

IF YOU’RE ALREADY SOURING on Games Workshop’s 10th Edition of Warhammer 40K, may I suggest that you download OnePageRules’ brand-new 3rd Edition of Grimdark Future? It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s tidier than previous versions, and best of all, it remains absolutely free.

That’s right, while GW is charging you $65 for the core book (or $25 for just the rules), $25 for each pack of Index cards (some of which just got wrecked by the latest adjustments), and $60 for each new codex, OPR still charges nothing for its basic rules and army lists. And it’s a better game.

How so? Because it’s a tighter rule set, with fewer units, fewer special rules, less wargear, and no Stratagems. Grimdark Future is much easier to learn and use, and takes less time to play. There aren’t as many bells and whistles, so your armies are not going to have all the whiz-bangy abilities that their 40K counterparts do, but if you’re tired of outrageous prices, recurring costs, poorly-tested rules, and bloat, I think you’ll be okay with the trade-off.

And did I mention that you can use all your existing 40K models? OPR offers many very fine miniatures for sale, but their games are designed for you to use what you currently own. What’s not to like?

(For those of you who don’t know, I dropped 40K last year and started playing Grimdark Future. I talk about my frustration with 40K here; why I went with Grimdark Future here; and the armies of GDF here).

3rd Edition Changes

If were already playing Grimdark Future, you will find that the third edition is a cleaning up rather than a major overhaul. The core rules still fit on one sheet of paper: they couldn’t very well have done otherwise and still call themselves “OnePageRules,” now, could they?

For the most part, changes are minimal. For example:

  • Unit coherence is now 1″ between models (as opposed to 2″, before), with all models needing to be within 9″ of each other (as opposed to within 6″, as was previously);
  • Units with multiple weapon types can fire at up to two different targets, using different weapon types; previously, the rules were a little looser on how many units you could shoot at, with what.
  • Units that fail Morale checks are now “Shaken” instead of “Pinned,” but are otherwise unable to do anything on their next turn except get their act together.

Two areas where Grimdark Future 3.0 differs from previous versions is that it includes rules for line of sight, and force organization. Players can choose whether they want to use “true” or basic line of sight (based on the models’ point of view); top-down line of sight (where models’ height is more of a factor); or the more complicated “volumetric” line of sight (which goes off of base size).

Force organization is an optional rule familiar to most 40k players. In the case of Grimdark 3.0, armies may have only one Hero and one “Caster” (aka Psyker) per 500 points; are limited to a certain number of units and copies of a unit (to curtail spamming); and single units that cost more than 35% of the army’s total are prohibited. Previous versions of the game had no such restrictions, and again, this is optional.

Special Rules

The Special Rules, which apply to some units, have had the most changes, but again, most of them are minimal. You’ll find that Fear, Fearless, Furious, Hero, Impact, etc. are not much different than before.

Some, however, have changed quite a bit: Aircraft, for example, must move at least 30″ in an activation, up from 18″. Apparently, under the old rules, there was an issue with endgame shenanigans, because now, units that Ambush on the last turn can no longer seize or contest objective markers.

There are also some new Special Rules:

  • Caster (which replaces “Psychic,” but is similar);
  • Counter (units being charged get to strike before the attackers do);
  • Entrenched (opponents get -2 to hit targets with this rule who are dug in);
  • Lance (better armor piercing for this weapon); and,
  • Reliable (these weapons hit on a 2+).

Pretty straightforward, and nothing that seems “cheesy,” “unbalanced,” or otherwise out of whack to me.

Army Lists

Unlike GW, OPR has released all the 3e “army books” at once. I put “army books” in quotes because, as before, each is as a stripped-down list, two or three pages at most, giving units, wargear options, and point costs. If you want fluff or photos of beautifully painted miniatures, you’re out of luck. But hey, you don’t have to wait for the army lists, and they’re free.

How do they compare with what came before? A quick look at the lists for the 8 armies I use shows that points usually went up—sometimes quite a bit—for HQ-type units and vehicles. Points often went down or stayed the same for basic Troop types. A few units changed size, like, say, going from 5 members to 3, but other than that, there weren’t any other changes that jumped out at me regarding existing units.

It looks like OPR added some new units to some forces, particularly the “Alien Hives,” their version of Tyranids. “Dwarf Guilds” still seem more like the old Rogue Trader/2nd Edition Squats than they do the newer Leagues of Votann, but that just may be my unfamiliarity with the latter. I suspect that players of Space Dwarves will do just fine under the new rules.

Moving Ahead

I haven’t played a game of 3e Grimdark Future yet, but it looks very much like the previous version, so I don’t anticipate any problems or glitches. This is another nice change from 40K, which often has big rule changes from one edition to another, some of which can nerf one’s carefully-constructed army (long-time Necron players will remember the dark days of 5th Edition).

OPR seems to intend for Grimdark Future to be played with 30-50 models a side, seemingly with no more than 2000 points. I usually build larger army lists than that, so I don’t know how GDF is going to hold up at higher point values. Nevertheless, I’m keen to find out, and I’ll share what I learn here on the Jungle.

I can’t stress enough how “done” I was with 40K after laboring with it for 35 years, ever since its debut in the United States in 1987. Grimdark Future is a breath of fresh air, and it rejuvenated my love of gaming. If you’re not finding 10e 40K to be to your liking, I urge you to give OPR and Grimdark Future a try.

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