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Warhmamer 40K Wrath & Glory (Cubicle 7 Re-Release) Review

While it has its quirks and complications, the simple fact that Wrath & Glory works at all is strangely impressive. For the first time, it allows you to play out almost any story you could imagine in the war-torn future of Warhammer 40K with just one rulebook and just one ruleset.

CB72600-Wrath-and-Glory-Core-Rulebook.jpg

That may not sound too impressive to folks unfamiliar with the sheer madness that is the grim, dark future of 40K. However, once you get a foothold in the lore you should soon appreciate how tricky it must be to make a game that can handle the adventures of a squad of Imperial Guardsmen—essentially normal humans armed with lasguns, numbers and little else—and horrifyingly powerful psychic alien ninjas all at the same time.

Much of this is down to a rather clever tier system that allows you to pick a power-level for your campaign, dictating what kinds of characters the players can choose and what kinds of threats they might face. At tier one you might play common soldiers or low-ranking ork boyz just looking to survive until your next meal, while all the way up at tier four you get inquisitors debating the fates of entire planets and towering primaris marines wading through battlefields without a scrap of fear. On a superficial level this isn't too dissimilar to the pitch of many more conventional RPGs, where you might watch heroes grow from low-level nobodies to world-shattering gods over the course of a campaign, but in Wrath & Glory characters tend to stick in the tier where they're created. Instead, you experience the different levels and modes of play by creating new games and hopping into fresh campaigns, rather than slowly climbing up the tier ladder.

This feeling of scope and scale isn’t just supported by the campaign formats, either, but also by the rules. The core of these are handled by a fairly standard d6-based dice pool system that feels superficially similar to that found in Alien RPG and other Free League titles, with the amount of dice you're throwing depending on a combination of raw stats and skill training. Any roll above a four counts as a success, but the GM gets to decide exactly how many of those you might need to pass, which can mean that some truly challenging tasks might require a number of successes that are virtually impossible for low-tier characters to roll. It's a functional enough system, but things beging to get really interesting when you enter combat and start trying to resolve damage.

Like many other systems Wrath & Glory makes use of soak rules—essentially, your attacks need to deal a certain amount of damage before you actually cause any injuries—but where it stands out is in the sheer resilience of many iconic foes and the incredibly limited emphasis placed on damage rolls. A conventional lasgun, for example, deals just seven damage on a hit, with the potential to go up to nine on a really good roll. A chaos space marine, meanwhile, has a resiliance of ten.

This means that if you choose to drop even a single one of them onto a tier-one party of guardsmen packing standard-issue gear, the only way their weapons can ever cause so much as a scratch is by using special abilities or aiming for the eye-slits on their helmet. Finding the right gear or engineering a situation where they can take it down without being blown to shreds might be the focus of an entire mission, or maybe even a short campaign if the GM keeps resources scarce. At the same time, though, you can throw the same enemy at a band of heroes in the third or fourth tier, and the addition of only a few numbers to their kit and their abilities reduces it to a tough but entirely reasonable challenge, all without having to inflate or shrink numbers to an absurd degree

It’s an interesting design decision, and one that tends to provoke instant hatred among those who don’t like it. However, it certainly does a great job of making adventures feel grounded in the 40K universe, where invulnerable god-monsters are all in a day’s work.

Beyond this, the ruleset is a solid example of action-heavy roleplaying, with the heaviest and crunchiest elements revolving around combat. The list of ranged weapons alone runs to more than 60 entries, for example, all of which have their own stats and special abilities. Combined with a wealth of combat options and a trio of different meta-currencies that players and GMs alike can spend on everything from re-rolls to speed boosts, it can be a game that demands a fair amount of attention and system skill from its players. Knowing the right weapons and armour to pick, and what choices give you access to them, feels even more important than in most combat-heavy RPGs, and if you aren't clued up on what's useful in a firefight it’s pretty easy to accidentally build a character that feels weak.

Honestly, Wrath & Glory feels like a system designed to appeal to the wargamers that are 40K’s main player base, where the aim is to get as much fun from rolling dice and planning attacks as playing your characters. Whether this is a good thing or not is going to depend heavily on your table.

One final thing to note is that this review has been written for the latest release of Wrath & Glory, published by Cubicle 7 in Spring 2020. This is less of a second edition of the game, and more of a 1.1 release; one with a much more user-friendly layout and where most of the major mistakes that made reading the initial version of the game an absolute slog have been excised. The changes that have been made are mostly small edits and rules clarifications rather than sweeping re-writes, and generally the quality has shot right up. The book is entirely playable, which feels like a strange kind of compliment but is something worth flagging up to those put off by the first release. Still, despite the massive increase in readability the latest version of the book (at time of writing) is still riddled with a fair few typos. It’s nowhere near as bad as the first release—they’re annoying, not game-breaking—and Cubicle 7 have promised updates somewhere down the line, but it’s still worse than you’d like to see in a PDF currently selling for $30 a pop.
 
Last edited:
Richard Jansen-Parkes

Richard Jansen-Parkes

imagineGod

Adventurer
It is a solid game for the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium, but as a product has been plagued by several bad decisions during its stewardship by Ulisses North America. For example the name "Wrath and Glory" would have been better "Wrath and Ruin" shortened to WAR, since Ruin is an actually game mechanic in this game when you roll the one pip on the Wrath die.

Anyway, Cubicle7 Entertainment has done an excellent job on this product, so I would recommend this Wrath and Glory Revised Edition to everyone, including those who, sadly, purchased the original special edition leather cover versions at GenCon 2018.


Pity that GenCon 2020 is cancelled so this revised edition will miss the fanfare that accompanies such major product launches. :-(
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
I was actually just talking about this system with a friend yesterday. Was debating picking it up, but was put off due to quality issues. If the Revised version is mostly typo fixes and minor rules corrections, I might actually pick it up. Granted, I'll be getting the PDF version, so theoretically if I had bought it earlier I wouldn't be missing out on anything.
 

univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
Warhammer was one of those IPs I ignored in the past. It is a gaming giant certainly. Going into a game shop I would always look at the shelves packed with Warhammer things and wonder just what the hell it was all about. I have played quite a lot of WFRP 4e over the last year so now understand the appeal and how it is different from other properties. I was happy to see Cubicle 7 pick up Wrath and Glory. Despite their seemingly recent reputation for slow production (earned or not), they produce a fantastic product and turned around this new version rather quick. If I already did not have so many new games to play I would pick this up. I still have The One Ring on my shelf that has never been used and that books sits lonely among many other disused tomes.
 

ugavine

Villager
I invested a LOT into the FFG 40K games, but this still interests me.

Still have a couple of queries though;
1. Can it be played without those extra card packs?
2. Does the Core Rulebook contain plenty of NPC stats?
 

Winghorn

Explorer
I invested a LOT into the FFG 40K games, but this still interests me.

Still have a couple of queries though;
1. Can it be played without those extra card packs?
2. Does the Core Rulebook contain plenty of NPC stats?

1. You do not need any card packs or other accessories.

2. Honestly, the array of NPCs is okay but not especially impressive. You're generally looking at maybe 4-5 stat blocks per faction you might be fighting.
 

imagineGod

Adventurer
I invested a LOT into the FFG 40K games, but this still interests me.

Still have a couple of queries though;
1. Can it be played without those extra card packs?
2. Does the Core Rulebook contain plenty of NPC stats?
Having purchased the Ulissess Spiel version, I can answer both questions.

1. You do not need those card packs. The only one that was a bit useful was the Wrath deck since here was nothing equivalent in the core book. You could play without it though, it was mostly to add flavor.

2. There are several NPC stats in the core rulebook equivalent in number to any single book of the FFG WH40K product line. The reason FFG WH40K looks so complete is that each product line focused on just one big part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, while Wrath and Glory tries to do all
 

If I played W40K as TTRPG I would alter the lore because it's too grimdark. I would allow multi-racial alliances, for example eldars and tau with humans against chaos, tyranids and necrons. And the human empire wouldn't be so silly "we have destroy all it's different because we hate all we can't understand, and we can't defeat the within corruption". Of course the high-tech would be "updated".
 

If you're going to call this a "review" could we get some details on the game?

"Most tests are handled by a fairly standard d6-based dice pool system"

What does this mean? Is there a standard out there? Standard like a White Wolf game? Standard like old school or new school Shadowrun? Standard like the d6 System from WEG Star Wars?

Do higher tier characters roll more dice? Does their target number change?

Are characters point-buy? Does it use templates modifying a base set of stats and skills?

"Combined with a wealth of combat options and a handful of meta-currencies that can be used for various benefits and complications ..."

It would be great to see some examples of these. Anything that stands out? Anything that looks a lot like some other game?

Specifics. Examples. Comparisons to other systems. These would all be useful in forming an opinion about this game.
 

Winghorn

Explorer
If you're going to call this a "review" could we get some details on the game?

"Most tests are handled by a fairly standard d6-based dice pool system"

What does this mean? Is there a standard out there? Standard like a White Wolf game? Standard like old school or new school Shadowrun? Standard like the d6 System from WEG Star Wars?

Do higher tier characters roll more dice? Does their target number change?

Are characters point-buy? Does it use templates modifying a base set of stats and skills?

"Combined with a wealth of combat options and a handful of meta-currencies that can be used for various benefits and complications ..."

It would be great to see some examples of these. Anything that stands out? Anything that looks a lot like some other game?

Specifics. Examples. Comparisons to other systems. These would all be useful in forming an opinion about this game.

You know, this is mostly fair. Reading it back I could have probably provided a few more examples. Trying to squeeze all the info into a pretty limited word-count can be tricky, and in hindsight I probably could have covered the core of it a shade more.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
I invested a LOT into the FFG 40K games, but this still interests me.

Still have a couple of queries though;
1. Can it be played without those extra card packs?
2. Does the Core Rulebook contain plenty of NPC stats?
There is a Discord server and a large homebrew community to boosts the statblocks.
 

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