Epic (game)

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Epic game
Cover of Current Epic rulebook, showing a Lucius-Pattern Warlord Titan and Space Marines
Designer(s)Jervis Johnson
Publisher(s)Games Workshop
Setup time5 - 30 minutes
Playing time30 minutes - 3 hours
Random chanceDice rolling
Age range12+
WebsiteNet Epic:Armageddon Website

Epic is a tabletop wargame set in the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe. Whereas Warhammer 40,000 involves small battles between forces of a few squads of troops and two or three vehicles, Epic features battles between armies consisting of dozens of tanks and hundreds of soldiers.[1] Due to the comparatively larger size of the battles, Epic miniatures are smaller than those in Warhammer 40,000, with a typical human being represented with a 6mm high figure, as opposed to the 28mm minis used in Warhammer 40,000.

In the Warhammer Fantasy universe, Warmaster fills much the same "large-scale battle" role as Epic does in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, though the two systems do not share rules.

Gameplay overview[edit]

A game of Epic Armageddon between Imperial Guard and Eldar forces.

A standard game of Epic: Armageddon will normally take around two to three hours to play.

The major difference between Epic and other Games Workshop games is that instead of a player moving and firing all of his forces at once, players take turns moving one or two formations at a time using a variety of different "orders", giving the feeling of a battlefield developing in real-time, and also resulting in a game that is more tactically complex than Warhammer 40,000.

The comparatively smaller size of the miniatures also allows players to use many of the larger vehicles and creatures of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, such as Titans and Super-Heavy Tanks, even in small games, whilst also allowing longer ranged weapons such as artillery to be more realistically portrayed.

Also of note is the introduction of blast markers: a simple system representing each formations degree of morale and suppression under fire which, again, adds another dimension of realism over some wargames.

Epic's rule system incorporates Aircraft as well as ground units, and allows players to utilise many aircraft at once. Epic-scale aircraft are also used in the game Aeronautica Imperialis.

The monetary commitment needed to play Epic can be relatively small when compared with other Games Workshop products.[2] Epic is comparable to W40K: Apocalypse in the sense that they both center around larger battlefields with a larger number of troops and vehicles in command, but the monetary investment is much smaller with Epic. Although Games Workshop and Forge World no longer offer a suitable line of troops and vehicles several companies and a thriving eBay trade have taken their place instead.

Miniature availability and community support[edit]

Plastic and metal Epic miniatures were previously available through the Specialist Games section of Games Workshop's online store.[3] with an additional lineup of resin models available via GW's Forge World subsidiary.[2] However, as of September 2013 Games Workshop confirmed that further casting and support for Epic along with all other Specialist Games would cease with miniatures being no longer available as stocks ran out: during this time Forgeworld also ceased producing suitable miniatures much to the dismay and anger of many fans of the game.[4]

Despite this decline in "official" support Epic retains a loyal, strong and passionate fanbase[5] with much development still taking place across the world. The Tactical Command Forums are a hub for a worldwide support including hobby advice and painting blogs which has in turn spawned the Net Epic:Armageddon (NetEA) organisation and rules committee. MiniWars provides a centralised website for all Epic Players to locate opponents, gain information on miniatures past and present as well as look up statlines for each unit. Additionally EpicUK provides a well run tournament scene within the United Kingdom as well as testing and releasing their own in house balanced army lists often based on those of the wider NetEA .

Playing a game kept alive by its popularity after the demise of official support and miniature production, Epic fans have found many suitable proxies in the ranges of other up and running miniatures companies that bear a suitable resemblance to the desired units.[6] Of particular note are the Exodus Wars line from Steel Crown Productions who are also set to distribute Onslaught Miniatures for the UK and European Market. Additionally Troublemaker Games successfully crowdfunded a whole new line of miniatures[7] in late 2013 that make suitable proxies for many epic forces including some of the first plastic 6mm sci-fi miniatures produced since Games Workshops last offerings.[8]

Current (4th) edition[edit]

Unlike previous editions of the game and other games produced by Games Workshop, the development of the game was conducted in an open way with 'trial' rules published on the Epic 'Playtest Vault' and feedback solicited from gamers via the associated playtesters forum.

The current, fourth edition of Epic is often referred to as Epic: Armageddon after the first hard copy rulebook released for this edition.[9] This includes the core game rules needed to play Epic:Armageddon as well as Army Lists of Space Marines, Imperial Guard and Orks.

The second rulebook released for the fourth edition was Epic: Swordwind, which was released both as hardcopy and as a downloadable PDF from the game's official website.[9] Epic: Swordwind contains army lists for the Biel-Tan Eldar, the Baran Siegemasters, Imperial Guard Army and Warlord Snagga-Snagga's Feral Ork Horde. There has been active involvement of players with playtesting the new armies for the game on the epic forums, with "army champions" co-ordinating playtesting and revision of the army lists. Unlike other Games Workshop games that use a generic army list for all deployments involving that army, Epic uses specific army lists that represent how an army was fielded in a specific military campaign. There have also been officially released army lists for Da Kult of Speed, an Ork army favouring bikes, the White Scars Space Marines, the Black Legion Chaos Space Marines, and The Lost and the Damned Chaos Cultist army.

The 4th edition also includes rules and charts for the classic lines of Titan, including the Ork Mega-Gargant and the Imperator Titan. These were previously omitted from intermediate rulebook editions and their use made difficult given the deliberate absence of a points value befitting units of such scale. With work continuing on several community forums these units have once again been brought into use via some of the army lists.

Both "official" and "wider community sanctioned" versions of the rules are available as free download from Games Workshop [10] and the newer Net Epic:Armageddon website as the 'NetEA Tournament Pack'[11] which brings together all current community endorsed rules changed as well as new and experimental army lists. This collaboration with the community has continued to this day with the development of further army lists and races now playable (see below).

Playable armies[edit]

Games Workshops "official" armies[edit]

These armies are featured in releases made by Games Workshop:

Net EA approved armies[edit]

In addition to changes to the above GW lists these armies have currently been "Approved" for play by the Net EA Rules Committee; a stamp of approval and balance:

Net EA experimental and other regional armies[edit]

In addition to the above forces many other armies are available and suitable for play by both newcomers and veteran Epic players. These are currently headed as "Experimental". Some of these are:

  • Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Imperial Fists, Raven Guard and Space Wolves Space Marines
  • Cadian, Catachan, Elysian, Harkoni and Penal Legion Imperial Guard Regiments
  • Skitarii Adetus Mechanicus Ground Forces
  • Grey Knights, Imperial Inquisition and Adeptus Soritas (Sisters of Battle)
  • Knightworlds
  • Blood Axe and Rebel Grot Ork Armies
  • Iyanden, Mynameara and Ulthwe Eldar Craftworlds
  • Iron Warriors and Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marines
  • Squats

Both the UK and French communities have developed their own additional lists for tournament play.

Future editions[edit]

Games Workshop has a new edition of Adeptus Titanicus under development. Designer James Hewitt says "While the game was clearly inspired by previous editions of Titanicus, as well as Epic, it's very much its own new thing. We tried to make it so that it has lots of detail, but still plays quickly. The overall gist is that it puts you in the command throne of an individual Titan, so you are directing the action as shields and limbs take damage and crew succumb to the rigors of battle."[12]

Previous versions and game history[edit]

1st edition[edit]

The rules for the first edition of Epic came in two parts.

The Adeptus Titanicus (1988) rules and miniatures set, which dealt with battles between opposing Imperial Titans, was published first. Rules for infantry and vehicles (the troops and vehicles of the Heresy era Space Marines) followed in White Dwarf 109. At the time of its release Adeptus Titanicus was GW's way to counter the increasing popularity of FASA's Battletech, a tabletop game based around mecha warfare (which eventually expanded to infantry and vehicular combat, and even to an aerospace fighters supplement). GW was able to benefit from its savviness in the miniatures business, and integrating "Titanicus" in the popular WH40K universe proved a winning move.

Space Marine, another miniatures and rules set (for two opposing Space Marine armies), followed after (in 1989). The two could be played as individual games or as a combined game.

Where Adeptus Titanicus included six plastic Titan models with swappable weapons and styrofoam buildings, Space Marine included folded card buildings with styrene roofs alongside its sprues of infantry and vehicles.

Numerous articles supporting the Adeptus Titanicus/Space Marine game were released in White Dwarf magazine including a variety of optional rules, army lists and organizational charts. The biggest supplement for the game was called Codex Titanicus, which provided a medium for linking the Titan-based (giant robot) combat of Adeptus Titanicus with the conventional units (vehicles and infantry) of Space Marine 1st Edition. The codex also properly introduced Eldar Titans.

As months passed by, Adeptus Titanicus more or less stagnated apart from the introduction of smaller war machines called "Knights" (both Imperial and Exodite Eldar ones) and, later, the appearance of the mutated Chaos Titans. Space Marine, however, prospered with the release of a new army list system heavily based in semi-realistic orders of battle with support attachment, multi-tiered command structure and regimental/battalion levels. Imperial Guard, Ork, Eldar, Squat, Chaos, and Tyranid sprues of 6mm figures, artillery and support weapons were released while vehicles came in white metal and were sold in blisters containing, most often, two units apiece (single units appearing only in the case of larger models such as Shadowsword or Baneblade tanks).

2nd edition[edit]

The second edition of Epic was again released as two compatible but stand-alone games, Space Marine which consisted of the core rules, and Titan Legions (1994) which contained enhanced rules for Titans.

Various supplements were produced, including Armies of the Imperium (1991), which gave rules for the Space Marines and Imperial Guard, Renegades (1992) which had rules for the forces of Chaos and the Eldar, Ork and Squat Warlords (1992), which featured the Orks and Squats,[13] Hive War (1995), which featured the Tyranids [14] and White Dwarf Presents Space Marine Battles (1993) which was mostly reprints of Epic-related articles from White Dwarf.

The Space Marine boxed game included three armies; the Space Marines (with their Land Raiders MkI and Rhinos), Orks (with their Battlewagons), and Eldar (with their Falcon Grav-Tanks). The Marines were depicted the same as their Warhammer 40,000 Second Edition counterparts. There was also the plastic Imperial Warlord Titan MkI (nicknamed the "Beetle" due to its curves, while later Warlord Titans have a more angular design) with interchangeable weapons. The Games Workshop studio army was the Blood Angels Space Marines and Eldar from the Alaitoc Craftworld.

Titan Legions was notable for introducing the Imperial Emperor-class Imperator Titan and the Ork Mega-Gargants, all of which were immensely powerful and could constitute small armies in their own right. These 'Mega' class vehicles could only be used in large games and none of the other races had such an equivalent. They were gradually phased out in later editions, though the current 4th edition has optional rules for them. The Imperator and Mega-Gargant are considered collectors' items today (the only other time that Games Workshop released them was as a "reward" in return for getting a yearly subscription to White Dwarf in the November 1997 issue). Besides one Imperator and two Mega-Gargants, the boxed set also contained ten Imperial Knights (these "mini-Titans" are also collectors' items) and twelve Ork Battlewagons.

The second edition of Epic was vastly popular and supported a huge range of miniatures.

A series of sculpts of Eldar Exodites, a Space Marine drop ship and other designs were made around the time of the Titan Legions debut, but were never officially released.

3rd edition[edit]

The third edition of Epic was released as Epic 40,000 in 1997. In contrast to previous editions, this was released as just one set of rules. The game had a very short period of support (six months) from the company before it was withdrawn. Epic 40,000 never enjoyed the popularity of the previous two editions, and after support was reduced many of the miniatures planned for Epic 40,000 were never released.

Though it was a failure for the company, designers Jervis Johnson and Andy Chambers still maintain that it was the best set of rules they ever conceived, as it was the game that most rewarded good tactics over luck and special abilities.[15] This was achieved by streamlining the game mechanics and abstracting many of the areas which the previous editions had dealt with in specific detail. The current 4th edition of Epic still retains some of the third edition's streamlined game mechanics.

As noted above, Epic became more streamlined during the third edition, in order to fit entirely within three (relatively thin) A5 rulebooks (the Rulebook, the Armies Book and the Battles Book). Army and Company Cards were eliminated and detachments were picked from largely unrestricted detachment rosters of a very general type (Imperial Guard Infantry, Space Marine Armour and so on, in the case of the Imperial army list). Titans and Super-Heavies (now collectively War Engines) were simplified to the point that their rules were contained entirely within six pages of the new small-format rulebook.[1]

Collectively, this increased the speed of gameplay significantly, which was Games Workshop's stated aim, but it received a mixed reaction, in part because it was considered too abstract and no longer accounted for unique features of certain units.

The boxed set contained the armies of Space Marines (including Rhinos, Land Raiders MkII, and Whirlwinds) and Orks (with their Battlewagons and Stompas). The cover art showed a Blood Angels Space Marine advance pushing away the Orks. Games Workshop's 'studio' army during this period was the Imperial Fists chapter, a departure from previous feature armies which usually depicted the Ultramarines or Blood Angels. Armies for other races included the Imperial Guard, Eldar (studio armies are the Biel-Tan and Iyanden Craftworlds), and Tyranids. Imperial players had a choice of Space Marines or Imperial Guard (not both), with support from Titan Legions. There were two distinct designs of Titan Legions, either Games Workshop's Mars-Pattern Titans which appear more traditional and ornamental with rounded shoulder pads (similar to a scaled-up Imperial Knight walker), or Forge World's Lucius-Pattern Titans which are more modern and angular (inspired by bipedal mechs in BattleTech).[2][3]

Although miniatures from early editions were still playable and interchangeable, it was at this time they changed the basic base/stand size for infantry from square 20x20 to a longer version 10x40 which although they could be played or fielded in battle together it changed a lot for those who already had square based armies.

Computer Games[edit]

Final Liberation: Warhammer 40,000 Epic, a turn-based strategy game for the PC, was released in 1997.

Slitherine released a full Armageddon version of the game in 2015 called Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon. The game primarily puts you in charge of Imperial command mixed with various Space Marine Chapters. The game has a lot of DLC and features easily over 1,000 unit types. It boasts that no other game has gone into as much detail as it has. Due to its success it had a sequel shortly after featuring an Orc campaign featuring over 400 units. Although the game does not feature animated graphics and it uses an old tried and tested turn based strategy formula, the game is a hit with the community.


Spin-offs from this edition included the Epic Firepower magazine, an A5 magazine started in 1998 which ran for four issues (the first of which contained reprints from Citadel Journal and White Dwarf), the Epic 40,000 Magazine, an A4 magazine which picked up where Epic Firepower left off for 10 issues.

An additional rule set called Adeptus Titanicus II (AT-II) came out as a free download on the Fanatic website, which is now the Specialist Games web site, and was included in the Epic 40,000 Magazine. AT-II put a new twist on the original Adeptus Titanicus game and articles for it were also printed in the various Epic magazines until they were cancelled and later became a free webzine on the Specialist Games web site.

Other Fan editions[edit]


NetEpic is an unofficial fan version of the game derived from the 2nd Edition rules, started originally because many players did not like the changes made for the third edition. NetEpic is a collaborative effort, with work being coordinated through the NetEpic website. It includes a broad range of armies based on models from all the other editions, as well as some created especially for NetEpic itself. As of March 2006, the NetEpic rules are currently at version 5.0.


In the context of Epic, Heresy can refer to either a Games Workshop in-house game that was abandoned before the first edition of Epic was created but later used as a basis for the third edition, or to a more "gritty" game mechanics version of Epic which was produced by Peter Ramos, co-ordinator of the NetEpic project (Ramos, 2005).


  1. ^ "Specialist Games". Games Workshop. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  2. ^ a b Forge World 2007 Catalogue. Nottingham: Forge World, Games Workshop. 2006. ISBN 1-84154-650-X.
  3. ^ "Specialist Games". Games Workshop. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  4. ^ "Specialist Games Going, Going, Gone... - Bell of Lost Souls". 3 May 2013.
  5. ^ "SA Tribute to Epic". The Shell Case. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  6. ^ "Tactical Command - View topic - Epic Proxy List Mk II".
  7. ^ "6mm Scale Armies - Wave 2".
  8. ^ "6mm Scale Armies".
  9. ^ a b "Rulebook". Games Workshop. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  10. ^ "Epic:Armageddon Rulebook". Games Workshop. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  11. ^ "Net EA Tournament Pack". Net Epic: Armageddon Community. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  12. ^ "Warhammer Community Team Liveblog – Warhammer Community".
  13. ^ http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/15355
  14. ^ http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/15351
  15. ^ "#71: Gamification with Andy Chambers and Tuomas Pirinen". Darker Days Radio. May 2, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2019. Interview with Andy Chambers and Tuomas Pirinen.


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