So it's official. May will herald in the release of a new edition of 40k. I will refrain at this point from speculating on rules etc until more is known (which shouldn't take too long with releases lately) and will instead turn my speculating eye to the matter of the inevitable starter set that will replace the soon to be obsolete Dark Vengeance. Who knows whether it will come sooner or later with the way things are at GW lately, but it's almost certain to be with us within the next 4 months. There are a few possibilities that have
floated around in the past few months so I will look at each in turn. One thing I should mention first though is how impressed I've been with GWs release policy in the past 2 years. They've managed to update the edition, plus supplements, plus over half the armies with full model ranges in that space of time. 2 years from now all armies will be updated and I'm sure we'll have a plastic sisters army plus new factions and loads of supplements. It seems likely that GW are looking to update core rulebooks/starters more frequently to address issues/shake things up while giving the individual army books a longer shelf life.
1. Necron Vs Blood Angels
This rumour only floated around for a small amount of time and was likely based upon either falsehoods or misinterpretation of what was seen (see below). While it isn't entirely implausible, I think it is the least likely of the options available.
2. Blood Angels Vs Orks
This, however, I would say is the most likely option. It ticks all the boxes: power armour vs horde, second edition homage, two armies due updates in the immediate future. Blood Angels have a fairly comprehensive model range but then again beauty of the space hulk models made me want to buy the game. I think that awesome models to either start/add to a BA collection, especially if a Codex is released shortly after (with what new units in?) would be the main appeal here.
Orks, however, are a different story entirely. There are several gaps in need of plugging in the Ork range due mainly to old models and a starter set released shortly after the new Ork Codex release would build enthusiasm (and collections) as well as making people who were borderline on starting an Ork army take the plunge with a cheap way to start a collection. Ard boyz, a plastic warboss in mega armour, a buggy, meganobz etc etc. The possibilities are endless.
3. Eldar Vs Astra Militarum
The most recent starter set rumours mention these chaps and although there are a few things in favour of this set there are also several which make it unlikely. Eldar were released some time back and both they and AM are what I would consider to be difficult starter armies compared to say space marines. Speaking of which, the lack of power armour is pretty unprecedented with Starter sets.
In it's favour however is the fact that it would allow several old models to be updated and several cool models to be released - this in itself would provide tons of sales of the set. Eldar would benefit from storm guardians, a new warlock model, new jetbikes, some new aspect models (warp spiders with exarch would be great) and perhaps a new Vyper. AM could take the form of plastic Steel legion with enough variety to allow multiple sets to be fielded as an army. For variety, a set of platic rough riders and say a snap fit sentinel would make up the numbers.
This may sound fairly wishlisty, but I'm mainly going on what makes sense from a production point of view to use the kit to maximise sales and fill gaps in the product range. That way, 18 months later when you decide to release 8th edition, you can discontinue the set and release the same models as individual kits to allow players to continue expanding their new armies. Plus GW will have pretty much made every army comprehensive by then anyway.
4. Something else entirely
It's very possible that anything that has (or hasn't really) been seen at this stage is totally unrelated to the starter set and thus we really have no ideas about what will be included. There are a few things to consider here I think. Firstly, it will possibly be linked to the next few armies to be released, as Dark Vengeance was. Secondly, the kit may include models that are currently not produced or are severely outdated, such as many of the chaos elements in Dark vengeance. Thirdly, there will likely be a strong narrative to the set and there may be clues in the new rulebook background section as there were with DarkVengeance.
5. (my own personal wildcard) Armageddon.
This theory is part wishlisting, part reading between lines and part sensible. An armageddon themed starter with an Ork horde Vs a small Blood Angel contingent backed by Steel Legion would make for a great set with a good mixture of stats, variety and models. It would introduce more armies and the allies concept to new starters and thus would make good business sense too.
Well, that's my rambling out of the way once more. Good thing is that with GWs manic release schedule we likely won't have to wait long to find out. Cheers.