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Dark Millennium: First Impressions

I do a mini-review of the Dark Millennium 40K CCG. How does it compare to the original?

Printed from 2005-2007, Dark Millennium was the final version of Sabertooth’s Warhammer 40,000 CCG series. Thanks to a very avid Dark Millennium collector, I was able to get my hands on some cards and play some solitaire games to learn the rules.

So, what’s different in Dark Millennium compared to the original 40K CCG?

Round 1 – Fight!

Three Sectors:

You fight over 3 sectors instead of 5, which means less guesswork about your opponent’s deployment strategies and lower risk of spreading yourself out too thin. You still need a majority of sectors or a victory point advantage to win the game.

Three sectors also means potentially faster games, as a captured sector on turn 1 can snowball into a rout at the second sector.

No More Fleet Cards:

Each army gets to make a First Wave deployment to each sector at the beginning of a turn. There are no First Wave differences between armies; everyone is on equal footing.

Assault is Stronger:

Although assaults may now be blocked (by an opponent’s charging unit), they have the ability to Sweeping Advance. If you’re familiar with Magic, it’s like trample: if you assault and destroy a unit, you may choose to use the remaining assault damage to assault a second unit. With Sweeping Advances, you can potentially destroy 2 units with 1 BA.

No More Extra BAs (mostly):

Extra BAs, aside from a few cards, are a thing of the past. It looks like Sabertooth didn’t want to deal with the headaches of extra BAs from the original 40K CCG…with good reason. 

Die Rolls are Conservative:

You will be quite hard-pressed to find many 5 and 6-die cards for your deck. I’ve found most of my decks consist of 3s and 4s. You’ll also find it harder to pass 5+ and 6+ tests (tests of 7+ and higher are also more common in Dark Millennium, strangely). 

Assets & Ships:

Assets are cards that only have armor values, but can provide utility at sector battles. Ships are cards that function outside of sectors to give you additional advantages in battles on the planet surface.

What I like:

Faster games:

Fewer sectors means potentially fewer drawn-out games. While I love the original 40K CCG, games can run a little long compared to other CCGs (usually between 30-45 minutes in my experience).

Beautiful art:

The artwork for this game is amazing. The overall quality is much, much higher than in the original 40K CCG, and as an Eldar player I am in love with so many of the pieces they used.

Sabertooth also went out of their way to include a lot of lesser-known factions in the game, such as Craftworld Kaelor, Hammers of Dorn, and Dark Mechanicus. If you like 40K art and fluff, Dark Millennium has a lot for you.

Creative game mechanics:

A lot of interesting new mechanics were added, such as: dual-use command lines, multi-test abilities, removing cards from the game, returning cards from your discard pile or putting cards on top of your deck.

What I don’t like:

Muddled card layouts:

With the exception of Eldar, I find cards much harder to read than the original 40K CCG. This is exacerbated by the fact that cards in general have a lot more card text on them.

This could be an awesome unit but I’m not reading all of that.

Loss of Army Flavour

I feel like a lot of the army “flavour” has been stripped out of the game. It’s difficult trying to associate themes or mechanics with the different armies, because every army seems to have everything available to them (e.g., firepower boosting, assault boosting, armor boosting, and die mods).

The removal of fleet cards also makes deployment same-y and predictable. And, while many cards are interesting and effective, their stat values and abilities are inconsistent with the 40K characters they represent. For example, there are Titan units with 2 armor, Swooping Hawk units with 6 firepower, and so on. I think this decision was made in the interest of gameplay balance, but as a 40K fluff nerd I found it jarring.

This kind of “standardization” also extends to the card artwork, which, while very visually appealing, has a near-universal, almost overbearing grimdark feel. The artwork in general is heavily reliant on shadows and dark tones regardless of the army, which again makes the game look a little same-y. 

Missing armies:

Many races are missing from the game, such as Tyranids, Necrons, Dark Eldar, and Tau. While Dark Millennium consolidates all the Imperium forces into one army, it still leaves out a lot of Xenos races. Tau and Necrons especially get the short end of the stick, as they were not featured in any Sabertooth card game.

Overall Impressions

I think Dark Millennium does a lot of things right. It really expands on the 40K mythos in card form, and adds complexity to game mechanics introduced in the original CCG. I just wish the card layouts were a little clearer, as the game is mechanically much denser than the first 40K CCG. I also hoped, gameplay-wise, that the armies would be a little more distinctive from one another. Despite this, collecting and building has been pretty fun so I hope to grow my little collection over time.

Interested in learning more about Dark Millennium? Download the rules here!

3 replies on “Dark Millennium: First Impressions”

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