Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at the announcement of Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition, and ways it might have been done to ease the transition cost for retailers.

Games Workshop sure knows how to kick off ICV2’s Miniatures Week with a bang, because how better to celebrate it then by announcing the 10th edition of Warhammer 40,000 on the first day of AdeptiCon, then putting icing on that cake by saying the new edition will release this summer, which (looking at calendar) is about three months away (see "New Edition of Warhammer 40,000").

Given that 9th Edition Warhammer 40,000 "only" released back in 2020 (see "Warhammer 40,000 9E"), that’s less than three years  between editions.  However, given that Warhammer 40,000 originally released back in 1987 and we are on edition 10, by my figuring, that averages out to a new edition of rules for the game releasing just under every 5 years or 2 editions a decade.

Releasing a new edition means that, per GW’s announcement, "The rules in the current range of Codexes are not compatible with the new edition, so they will be retired."  In other words, every 9th Edition Codex, except for the Arks of Omen books and Boarding Party rules, is now obsolete.  It would have certainly been nice if someone at Games Workshop could have mentioned that when we put in a reorder for a Death Guard Codex last week.  Of course, if someone at Games Workshop had mentioned that there was a new edition of the rules coming out later this year, and you might not want to invest your inventory dollars in a rulebook getting retired in a couple of months, we probably would have held off restocking it.

Mentioning that Codexes would become obsolete, however, would have put the news of the new edition out in advance and in today’s "have to spread the news first" world, GW would not have been able to make the big reveal at AdeptiCon.  I still remember the Helvault event back in 2012 (see "All About the Helvault").  Unfortunately, a couple of retailers, wanting views on YouTube, opened the Helvault ahead of time, spoiling the event.  I can see GW wanting to avoid this.  Their choice though, leaves stores with a shelf full of obsolete Codexes and rulebooks.  Ninth Edition was not greeted favorably, and while 40K players adopted it because it was the edition available, I expect few if any players to continue to want to play it once 10th hits the shelves, and most stores will likely grit their teeth and let new players know that a new edition of the game will arrive this summer, meaning dead sales of rulebooks for the second quarter.  GW has in the past given stores some credit for dead rules when a new edition comes out, so we will see what happens this time.

From a store’s point of view, there are a couple of ways GW could have handled this better:

  1. Announce the new edition but give it a release date of summer of 2024.  That gives stores and year and a half to clear out 9th Edition rule books.  Warhammer 40K players are not going to stop playing for a year and a half.
  2. Adopt the model Wizards of the Coast used for the introduction of Dungeons & Dragons 3.0.  Stop reprinting 9th Edition materials in 2022, sell out the remaining stock and ignore the complaints of retailers when they continually reorder the out-of-stock Codexes.  GW would have cleared much of its back stock of 9th Edition material, along with stores, who would greet the announcement of 10th Edition with, "Thank goodness I don’t have much 9th Edition product on the shelves," instead of "What am I going to do with all this 9th Edition product?"

I would bet the GW sales representatives get an earful from the stores they sell to this upcoming week and, unless GW has a plan for dealing with the stock of 9th Edition currently on the shelves, the company will deserve it.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of