Epic 40,000, like its predecessor Space Marine (2nd Edition), was a tabletop game played with armies of miniatures. The gameplay was, however, dramatically changed from the earlier version.
- The armies were no longer based fixed army sheets (companies or detachments). Larger armies now had much wider choice of unit selection.
- On the other hand, the units lost a lot of their individual character. The complexities of the weapons were replaced with a single fire power and range statistic.
- In order to increase the speed of games, the fire power values where checked against a table. Hits are then assigned to opposing units if the fire power value beats the armour value.
- Early bombardment markers were introduced, which affected the moral of enemy units.
The aim of Epic 40,000 was to simplify and speed up game play. Instead of learning hundreds of different stats for individual units, they were each given basic values. New play elements introduced included: bombardment markers, rules for fire fights and fate cards, which made the battle more interesting but without complicating it too much.
However, the immediate player reviews were negative. Many thought the simplification was over-the-top, despite what the designers thought. Also, many of the armies available in earlier versions were no longer usable, only the Imperial Guard, Space Marines and Orks (various prototypes never went to production, for example Chaos). Epic 40,000 quickly disappeared from the shelves and White Dwarf due to poor sales. It was with this edition that Epic lost its status of one of the three top Games Workshop games, which was later taken up by Lord of the Rings.
- Epic 40,000 Battle Book
- Epic 40,000 Rulebook
- Epic 40,000 Armies Book
- A quick guide
- Pad of unit cards
- 2 reference sheets
- 2 centimetre staffs
- Dice (10 white, 6 small green, 6 command)
- Plastic ruins by Owen Branham
- Plastic miniatures