I’ve got the new Codex: Space Marines and you haven’t!
So, the 8th edition Codex: Space Marines has plopped onto my desk and, as we have done so many times before, we must ask ourselves the deep, moral question – is it any good?
First things first – this book is jam-packed full of stuff. Jam-packed. Rules, datasheets, background… you name it, they probably squeezed it in.
Second, the artwork is continuing in GW’s current rise in quality and is fairly fantastic.
So, this Codex: Space Marines covers all the ‘general’ chapters (Ultramarines and their successors), along with some of the more esoteric ones, including the White Scars, Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists, Black Templars, Salamanders, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands – and their successors. If you are a die-hard Dark Angels Blood Angels, or Space Woofs player, I am afraid you are going to have to wait your turn, but there is still plenty of new things to get your teeth into (which we will get to soon enough!
This book assumes only base-level knowledge, so you have an introduction to the Space Marines themselves, how they are built (with differences for the new Primaris guys), chapter organisation, and the Indomitus Crusade.
Take a closer look at the Ultramarines 2nd company above – at first glance, it is the same organisation as we have seen before, but on closer inspection, you can see the Primaris Marines are riddling the company, and there are now 12 squads.
The Ultramarines get a fair few pages to themselves (of course), but the other chapters get a whack at the Grot too, with squad markings, banners, major battles, and successors.
There is even a section for ‘other’. It is good to see the Mentor Legion back and representing (yes, I am old enough to remember when they first appeared in White Dwarf), though there is no mention of their special gear (I have a feeling GW does not really know what to do with them yet – there were discussions about revisiting them during the Paul Sawyer-era of White Dwarf, but nothing came of it then either).
As is usual for Codexes (and Battletomes, for that matter), each unit gets its own write up to place it within the context of the army, starting with heroes, and going through to squads and vehicles. You will notice that squads are now grouped together, such as with the Close Support squads above – Inceptors, Reivers, Assault, Centurion Assault, Bikers, Attack Bikes, Land Speeders, and Land Speeder Storms… all Close Support now. Other squads are divided into Battleline, Fire Support, and Veteran.
All the special characters are also covered, from Mr Guillman himself to Chaplain Grimaldus, who proceeds the Black Templars specific Emperor’s Champion and Crusader Squads.
There are plenty of photographs of Space Marines in the ‘hobby’ section, as you would expect and while I have not yet gone over all of them with a magnifying glass to spot new models, there are some that leap to the eye, such as the Primaris Chaplain and Apothecary.
You will also notice some new equipment fits as you flick… OMG, Inceptors with Plasma Exterminators, Inceptors with frigging plasma weapons!!!
Ahem. Do excuse me. But I think I have spotted a new favourite unit for some people…
All those goodies aside, it is the rules you want to know about, eh? Just what does the army list have that is new and exciting?
Well, for a start, little has changed in the ‘core’ army rules. And They Shall Know No Fear is the same as the Index, and Black Templars don’t get psykers. Of course.
Once again, I have not gone through the Datasheets yet with a fine toothcomb but, oh my, some things have already leapt out at me.
Aggressors and Reivers get lots of new options. Of course they do, the three-pack of Reivers was only ever going to be representative of the unit. The Flamestorm option on the Aggressors could be a lot of fun, though I suspect the Auto Boltsorm Gauntlets and Fragstorm Grenade Launcher (sorry, they are not Krak Missiles!) combo will be the preferred option. Unless you play Salamanders.
The Redemptor Dreadnought is looking sweet, with the Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon (Heavy 12) or the Macro Plasma Incinerator (Heavy D6 and can be supercharged) leading the way for me at the moment.
Inceptors, as we saw earlier, can be equipped with dual (two of ’em!) Plasma Exterminators, each Assault D3 with normal plasma damage which can, naturally, be supercharged.
And the Hellblasters are not forgotten either, and they very much retain the plasma theme – you have seen the Plasma Incinerator already, but has Sir considered the merits of the Assault Plasma Incinerator? Not enough oomph for Sir? Then might I suggest the Heavy Plasma Incinerator? For the entire squad?
And there is what may soon become everyone’s favourite new tank, the Repulsor, which is… just bedecked with weapons. It is a fairly short-ranged attack and, once you move beyond the twin-Lascannon, the longest ranged weapon is only 36″ and that is a heavy stubber designed to take down flyers. You’ll be closer and more personal with this tank which, considering it deducts from enemy charge rolls against it, may not be a huge issue (it has the same Wounds as a Land Raider anyway).
Beyond the Datasheets, we have the reference section, which includes all weapon stats, and Stratagems unique to Space Marines and a few for specific chapters. White Scars, for example, can spend 1 CP for Born in the Saddle, which lets a Biker unit shoot and charge in the turn. Minor things, but very characterful, and way better than formation rules hat kick in all the time.
Relics are back, again with some chapter-specific choices, to be given to any Space Marine Warlord.
A nice surprise was an expanded Librarius Discipline, now bumped up to six powers. You get the three from the Index, plus Psychic Scourge (roll off against an enemy unit to deal mortal wounds), Fury of the Ancients (mortals wounds to every enemy unit in a straight line), and Psychic Fortress (auto pass Morale tests, and save against mortal wounds from psychic sources).
At the start of this review, I asked whether the book was any good. In a sense, that is irrelevant, because if you play 40k and have Space Marines, you are going to buy this book anyway (I presume you are only here to get a peek at it before it appears on shop shelves proper). This is one of the easiest sells GW has on their hands.
However, ignoring any rules issues that will need some games on the table to unearth, my opinion is a good one. The art and layout is top notch, the background comprehensive, and there were enough surprise ‘goodies’ to get the attention of even a hoary old veteran like myself.
If I absolutely had to level a criticism or two… well, all the points values are separated from the unit entries as they are in the Index. However, a) this is not an issue for me as I am one of those freaks using Power Levels (!) and b) I would be amazed if GW did not change this format in Codexes down the road – they have been very responsive to this kind of thing with the Age of Sigmar Battletomes, which now look very different from their first appearance, though I think the four already-announced Codexes will all follow the current pattern.
Second, there is no real hobby section, which is a shame. They have gradually been adding hobbiest bits and pieces to the Battletomes, and the latest (Kharadron Overlords) had full painting guides and even a little conversion section. It would have been nice to see that here but, on the other hand, they did have a lot of ground to cover with this book.
So, I picked up the new Datacards as well.
First impressions – this is a very ‘deep’ box, meaning it has a lot of cards inside. Second, while the box itself is not as durable as the (frankly bullet-proof) sets we had in the last edition, the ‘cigarette packet’ format somehow feels a bit more upmarket. Your mileage may vary on that one.
Inside, there are three types of cards – the Tactical Objectives (which I never use – never really got round to that style of play), Stratagems (useful, because they are just the thing that can be forgotten during a game), and all six of the new psychic powers, plus Smite.
Overall assessment – there is nothing wrong with these cards which, for a game accessory like this, is going to be all you can ask for. They are not going to shake your games to their foundations, just make playing a little bit easier.
Job accomplished on that one.
Now… where is my Codex: Death Guard, eh?