8 Possible New Armies for Warhammer 40k
It might seem like Games Workshop is slow-moving and reluctant to make changes to its storyline, but the fact is that the Warhammer 40k game changes very frequently and often very suddenly. For example, it was only a few years ago that the Adeptus Custodes appeared as a fully fleshed-out army, and Games Workshop did it with little if any foreshadowing. Ten years ago we didn't have Death Guard, Thousand Sons, Adeptus Mechanicus or Genestealer Cults, but now they all have complete codices.
So what could be next for Warhammer 40k? Could they be preparing to drop another army on us, and, if so, which army will it be?
(And yes, we recognize that there are many players who have been waiting a LONG time for a refresh of their existing armies--Imperial Guard and Aeldari, for starters--but that hasn't stopped Games Workshop in the past from introducing something new rather than updating old models.)
What New Armies Could Come to Warhammer 40k?
To start with, it's only fair to go back all the way to the roots of Warhammer 40k, when it was officially called "Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader" and was focused on these interesting characters. Rogue Traders are sometimes merchants, sometimes explorers, and sometimes privateers. They remind us a lot of Inquisitors in that they have extremely varied backgrounds, motivations, entourages, and skills.
But how do you turn an explorer and merchant into the leader of an army? You have to understand how Rogue Traders are organized: they have legal authority called a Warrant of Trade which can date back thousands or tens of thousands of years--some of these Warrants of Trade have been signed by the Emperor himself--and that warrant gives the Rogue Trader command of Imperial Guard battalions or even Space Marines. When you think of a Rogue Trader, don't think of a Han Solo character, a lone rogue transporting goods with only one crew mate--think of someone who commands perhaps an entire fleet of ships.
There is really a wonderful variety of options that could be possible under a Rogue Trader Codex--Rogue Traders have not only the troops of the Imperium at their disposal but they often have Xenos working with them.
In the past, Games Workshop has made many Rogue Trader models, and, of course, in First Edition it was encouraged to create your own unique character. As recently as the Rogue Trader Kill Team box they have continued to tease the possibility of Rogue Traders as central characters. Blackstone Fortress had its own playable Rogue Trader.
It's easy to imagine a Rogue Trader Codex that includes units like Guardsmen, Space Marines, Ogryns, Ratlings (and other interesting Abhumans), as well as any number of Xenos or mutants. The options for customization in a Rogue Trader army are virtually limitless--they could have access to any Imperium tank (think of the vast array of Forge World vehicles that could spruce up an army) as well as Adeptus Mechanicus units, Administratum, Ecleisiarchy and more.
Independent and Renegade Zoats
This may sound like a strange one--aren't Zoats just those big lizard-like centaurish creatures? There's only been one Zoat model released by Games Workshop in the last 30 years, and that was in an expansion of Blackstone Fortress.
But Zoats are actually a fascinating race. Originally a slave race that are bio-constructs of the Tyranids, the Zoats are both strong enough to be combat units and smart enough to be ambassadors and liaisons. Many of them have psychic abilities that make them able to communicate with other races.
Though Zoats are part of the Tyranid Hive Fleet, some of them go rogue, and it's these independent and renegade Zoats that would be prime options for new armies. Zoats are highly intelligent, with primarily bio-weaponry in their arsenal, which would make them a unique army in the Warhammer 40k world.
Any army of Zoats could consist of a Zoat HQ with Zoat combat elites. Their troops would be creatures under their control, not unlike the genestealer cults, but possessing interesting and different weapons and vehicles. There's precedent, with the Colasssi of Hive Fleet Colossus, of Zoats settling and making peace with Imperium groups and it's possible to see them as leading an army of slaves that they have either manipulated with logic or trapped with psychic abilities. The Zoats themselves would be powerful psykers with a host of powers.
This seems like one of the biggest no-brainers, and in a way it seems inevitable. Players have begged Games Workshop for renegade Guardsmen, and we've even seen traitor guard models (which were remarkably good models) in the Blackstone Fortress set.
Imagine a force of Guardsmen (dressed, of course, in a total Chaos cultist sort of look) who are still skilled and disciplined enough to be an organized army, but fighting alongside daemons, mutants and beastmen.
Yes, players have already been modeling their own traitor guardsmen armies and just running them with the Astra Militarum rules, but this would be its own set of rules, with not just spike-covered Leman Russ tanks, but actual possessed guardsmen, a heavy dose of psychic powers, and daemonic units surrounding them. Again, it seems like a no-brainer for Games Workshop.
World Eaters and Emperor's Children
Speaking of no-brainers, how long have we been waiting for a World Eaters and Emperor's Children armies? We already have Death Guard and Thousand Sons, the two traitor legions who are devoted to Nurgle and Tzeentch respectively, but why don't we have the two legions who are devoted to Khorne and Slaanesh?
Yes, we have units that would belong to these armies, but they could really do with an update. Khorne Berserkers are one of the oldest plastic kits still in production and in dire need of a refresh, and on the Emperor's Children side the Noise Marines exist only as aging upgrade sprues, Forge World kits, or a single one-off model. It is, admittedly, an awesome model, but you wouldn't want an entire army based off one single sculpt.
For the World Eaters, Angron has been banished to the Warp, but it would be a great lore move for him to make a triumphant return, resuming leadership of the World Eaters. It's not that different for Fulgrim, who, it is said, has retreated to a pleasure planet given to him by Slaanesh. But according to the lore, the Emperor's Children are more united than they ever have been and an uprising and return to prominence seems to only make sense.\
We've written before about why the Squats were taken out of the lore: the designers felt that they didn't do justice to the dignity of fantasy dwarves, plus they were trying to get away from the fantasy-in-space that colored so much of First Edition. According to the lore, the Squat homeworlds were devoured by Tyranids.
But, Games Workshop has brought a few of them back. After almost refusing to acknowledge that Squats even existed for the better part of three decades, Games Workshop added new Squat miniatures to Necromunda, indicating that at least some Squats continue to exist (and, more importantly, they're *allowing* the concept of Squats to exist, which seems like the bigger issue).
Because if Squats can be allowed to exist, to be who they were, it's really a fantastic race. Yes, they are Space Dwarves, but they have a character all their own: they're not just miners, they're the blue-collar, working-class soldiers who do heavy labor at home and ride heavily-armed trikes into battle.
Even in the post from Jervis Johnson explaining why they were discontinued, he admits that they were selling well. It was an artistic choice to remove them, not a business choice. In the same post he says that some of the problem is in the name--"Squats" is either too silly or too inappropriate a name for dwarves. That hardly seems like a problem considering they changed Imperial Guard to Astra Militarum, Space Marines to Adeptus Astartes, and Sistes of Battle to Adepta Sororitas. Just give the Squats a different name and get them back on the game board.
Yes, I know what the problem with introducing Exodites is: that why would we be bringing in a new faction of Eldar before refreshing the existing Eldar? Ideally, we could get both. But that said, the Exodites make an enticing choice for a new army.
The Exodites abandoned the homeworlds before the Fall of the Eldar because they disagreed with the Eldar's descent into decadence and excess. They settled on distant worlds and seet up their own tribal organizations. They are much less advanced than the Craftworld brethren, but they do have one major piece of technology--the Infinity Circuit, which the Exodites call World Shrine, containing World Spirits. (This is the planetary entity that contains all the souls of dead Eldar and gives power to their psychic abilities and technology.)
But the primary reason why we need to see an army of Exodites is that the Exodites are Eldar who ride dinosaurs. Imagine an army that was not unlike the Age of Sigmar Seraphon, but with Shuriken Cannons and Wraithbone weapons.
The Adeptus Arbites are the police of the 40k universe. They are the arbiters of absolute law and order and exist on everry Imperium world. They may not make sense at first as an entire army, but honestly, if the Adeptus Custodes--who are tasked with defending the Emperor--can be reasoned to be fighting on distant worlds against Eldar and Orks, then there's no reason why Adeptus Arbites can't.
The worldbuilding is already in place for the faction, with the organization defined all the way from the high-ranking Lord Marshal to Justicar to Magistrates and Proctors to Troopers and Enforcers. The codex practically writes itself.
Cyber Mastiffs would be an awesome unit to model and run, and the Mortiurge is essentially an assassin who would be an elite killer on the tabletop. Arbitrator Squads can consist of as many as twenty Arbitrators and are armed with shotguns, suppression shields, power mauls, grenades and carapace armor. They are even known to ride combat bikes, Repressor APCs. Rhinos and even Leman Russes.
And this is just the beginning of potential new factions for Warhammer 40k. Think of The Fallen, Kroot, Legion fo the Damned or expansions of another Space Marine chapter.
What do you think? Which new Warhammer 40k faction should come next?