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Saying “No” to the New Codex  by Kenton Kilgore
So recently, Games Workshop released the latest version of Codex: Space Marines, which, if my math is correct, is the sixth version of this work, if you include 2nd Edition’s Codex: Ultramarines.  As a long-time SM player, of course I purchased C: Ultra back in the day, as well as all the others along the way. The 4th Edition version was my favorite because I could put two special weapons in each Tactical Squad, but the 6e one was pretty good, too. 



"Wait--do I know you?  You seem...familiar..."

However, I will not be purchasing the latest book. 

“Why not?” you may ask.  “Does it suck?”

From everything I’ve seen on sites like Bell of Lost Souls and Spikey Bits, the new book does NOT suck, not at all.  But I’m still not inclined to get it.

“But Formations! More grav weapons! Did we mention the free special rules with the Formations?”

Yeah, I’m sure it’s all wonderful. But I’m not buying.

“WHUT?”

It’s like this: for openers, the previous SM codex came out in September 2013, which (for you liberal arts majors, like me) is not even two years ago.  I remember waiting 12 years for a new Dark Eldar codex (but I was VERY happy when it arrived), and while I certainly wouldn’t want to wait that long, less than two years is just ridiculous.  The old book is still perfectly good. 

Or at least it should be, but maybe it’s not.  And why not?  Formations.  I noted in my review of the latest Necron book that the designers had gone completely off the chain with Formations and special rules that grant all kinds of free abilities that could destroy game balance.  My friend Pat tells me that Codex: Craftworld Eldar is no less generous than the Book of the ‘Bots.



Shocked--SHOCKED--I am that you would imagine this book might be unbalanced

I’m not automatically against Formations just because I’m an old dog who doesn’t want to learn new tricks, and that if it wasn’t in Rogue Trader, it’s crap (and while you’re at it, get off my lawn).  I like what the latest Ork and Dark Eldar codices did with Formations: they’re useful, interesting, in character, and not game-breakers.

But I worry that with the plethora of Formations and the entailing ratcheting up of power levels, 40K is becoming like Magic: The Gathering circa late 1990’s, where if you didn’t have the special, rare, limited edition, uber-expensive Cards o’ Doooooom, you didn’t stand a chance.  The many new Formations seem to be very popular, but to paraphrase the late, great E. Gary Gygax (who forgot more about game design and balance than all of GW put together knows), “If you introduce something new into a game and everyone rushes to do it, you can be pretty sure you’ve blown it.”

Furthermore, I’m convinced that if GW has “blown it,” they’ve done it on purpose.  How else do you get gamers to cough up $60 for a new version of a book they sank $50 on 21 months ago?  I’ve bitched before about “codex creep,” but it’s just blatant now.

Caveat: I don’t get to play a lot, so maybe I’m talking out of my rectum.  And if so, then someone please set me straight.  But while you’re at it, you can also tell me why--if I’m wrong about GW deliberately overpowering the latest books to persuade gamers to purchase them--is a new Dark Angel codex coming out soon, two years after the last one?



So, pardon me while I say “no” to the new tome.  The previous SM version still works fine for me, and with the overabundance of codices out there, it’s not like it’s that weird to be using a different book.  If the new one is much better, then the only person I’m hurting is me.   


Kenton Kilgore is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. Kenton also wrote Dragontamer's Daughters, a young adult fantasy novel based on Navajo culture and belief.  His latest work (with Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel) is Our Wild Place, a children's book about discovering the fun to found exploring Nature.  Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.

Posted June 2015. All images are copyright 2015 by Games Workshop and are used for review purposes. 


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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle