Monday, December 15, 2008

Codex Calamity

After, literally, twenty years of playing Dark Angels, one gets used to changes that happen to their favorite chapter along the way. Above is their original appearance in Rogue Trader (still in pre-Heresy black armor) and next is their first 'official' codex with real estate shared by another Angel chapter; the Blood Angels. This second edition book was actually a very cool codex, and had a ton of fluff and pretty pictures to accompany a pretty sweet army list; it was great all around.

On the left is the pamphlet, err, codex from third edition. This was, maybe, twenty pages and still cost fifteen bucks or so. Unfortunately, the whole bit torrent thing hadn't really taken off at that point, or I could've saved myself money and heartache. The 3rd edition codex, much like 3rd edition game itself, seemed to take a nosedive. On the right is the fourth edition codex, which ain't bad, but it ain't great either. It certainly has flavor and character, and it was written by GW veteran Jervis himself, but that shouldn't give him a free ride. If the fourth edition rules were all there were to this day, the codex would still be adequate, however now it shows many, many inconsistencies. Hence this rant, err, post.

Above are the third and fifth edition Space Marines codices respectively. They're here because all deviant chapters (Black Templars, Dark/Blood Angels, Space Wolves, etc.) still use them as their 'base' templates. Other mainstream chapters (or Codex chapters) like the Ultramarines, Salamanders, Imperial Fists, and the like use these codices solely on their own without the 'nutty' flair others have.

Herein lies the problem; the 4th edition Dark Angels codex falls so incredibly short in light of the newer 5th edition Space Marine codex, one truly wonders what the mindset is back at the ranch. Sure, one is written for an older version of the rules, but they would've fixed all of these inconsistencies with a simple FAQ, right? Wrong.

The FAQ that came out about a month ago (11/08) addressed none of these glaring issues. I understand some of the new goodies would be off-limits to current DA armies, but I didn't think that NONE of the new stuff would be available. Yes, there are at least a dozen items of equipment, and almost as many unit selections, that are off-limits. Not only that, but major changes have occurred to the exact same wargear with the exact same name. For example, a standard Land Raider now holds twelve troops, yet the DA Land Raider (same stats, mind you) holds only ten troopers. Storm Shields and Combat shields all offer different saves depending on what book you have in your hands. Cyclone missile launchers fire more (or less) shots too, again depending on the book.

In an interview with the writer, Calvatore, it was said that non-Codex chapters don't have access to the same forges as the ones on Mars, therefore their equipment is inferior and tech-priests not as knowledgeable. Really? The Dark Angels are the first chapter ever created by the Emperor, period. Their tech-priests maintain the only jetbikes left in any human hands anywhere in the universe, but they can't figure out how to put heavy flamers on the side of a Land Raider instead of Lascannons? Ludicrous. I understand it's an old codex just barely trying to tread water in light of the new rules, but stubbornly not giving any flexibility to even attempt to reconcile it into a more modern version is eyebrow raising at best, frustrating at worst.

I have no choice really, I will be fielding my Dark Angels army from now on as a fifth edition codex army. It's the little things, and it's the big things, and add them all up together, it makes for a mess. The above examples barely scratch the surface, literally. Remember my Veteran Troops? Well, there's no such unit in the new codex, so I may have to get creative with them and do another route. If that's my only 'casualty' of codex crossover though, the benefits will be well worth the hassle of retooling/re-purposing them.


  1. Seems like a pretty standard response. If you are not running Deathwing, Ravenwing, or Doublewing with the Unique characters most people would play Dark Angels out of the New Codex.

    Ofcourse some might consider that an act of the Fallen.

    Do not worry about your veterans both the vanguard and sternguard veteran units are excellent upgrades to the crappy super expensive veterans of the 4th edition Codex marines.

  2. Speaking of the Fallen, I do happen to have a boxed Daemon Prince laying around, my boys in green might be able to double as bad guys from time to time.

    I'm finding I like the sound of both the new marine 'guard' units too, so they're going in the overall army for sure.