Games Workshop are trying a new strategy with 8th Editon - they have split the Rules over one book, then the datasheets and faction specific rules over a collection of Indexes. They say they will release Codex for the factions later, which you certainly hope they will because the background and fluff for anything but the Imperium in the rule book is so scant it almost seems like an after thought.
So - lets dive inside and break down what you get...
++ Index & Fluff ++
The Index is broken up into chapters, then sub-chapters after that.
There's a very cool Ultramarines diorama splash page as you get passed the index, and if you look closely you get your first big clue to one of the things missing from this book - there are no hints or previews of any new miniatures apart from the Primaris Marines and the Plague Marines - all from the starter box! There is one small panel that seems to show the multi-part Nurgle Marines, but they actually look like conversions not the multi-part set we are all waiting for. There's no hover tank, no new dreadnought - NOTHING!
Dark Millenium is where this all kicks off and is basically the same fluff from the last Editions. The sense of humour from 1st and 2nd Edition is still missing, and we're pretty much introduced to factions inside the Imperium we all know. No surprises. If you are not an Imperial player, this entire section is not for you. You know it, we all know it. Was hoping for some interesting surprises, but none were forthcoming!
Dark Imperium is four pages of catch up to where we are today - post-Girlyman waking up. If you read gathering Storm then you know all this. There is a reference to an attempt to wake Angron and bring him froth through the Warp though, so that was cool.
Armies of the Imperium takes you through the various Imperial forces, interestingly including the old Imperial Guard regiments from Tallarn and others. Plastic of these regiments would be amazing, especially the Vostroyans and Valhallans.
This is followed by The Forces of Chaos which goes through their ranks, including interestingly Renegades, which in 1st Edition was a force against the Imperium but not necessarily fully Chaos. Interesting to see goes back to 1st Edition and nice to see this carried on, especially with references to Red Corsairs etc.
++ Other Faction Background ++
Each of the factions gets a very brief overview, with the sub-factions (as seen here with Dark Eldar) also illustrated. Interestingly the Tau only have one entry, so not a separate one for their breakaway faction.
This is all very brief which really is a shame, because now you have to get any faction specific rules in the Indexes, this isn't much a a sell I have to tell you!
++ Promises of Codexes ++
"Each codex is also filled with a wealth of inspirational background material, organisational information, stunning art and miniatures photography, colour guides and heraldry, all of which provide context for how a Faction works in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Head over to games-workshop.com to find out more."
Frankly holding off on these while also selling Indexes for those factions seems illogical to us and the sooner they are released the better. The look and feel of this whole background section is horribly reminiscent of the awful Dark Angels Codex which is so boring and lacks any points of interest at all!
++The Playable Universe ++
There Is Only War - this is the rules. I might add at this point that this picture with the man and woman playing is not the only image of women in the rule book. It's actually refreshing to see more female players in the 8th Edition book - and no it's not political correctness - this is just a visual cue that women do play, women to hobby. Hit up Twitter some time and see the amazing armies some female player turn out. If this encourages more women to turn up to stores and kick people's butts, then bring it on!
The basic rule set is short - 15 pages in all and sadly a day after release of this expensive book, is now available online for free... no comment! The rules are well set out and quite reminiscent of the old Rogue Trader layout - which to an old Beardy like me is refreshing.
Here we also get the Open Play, Narrative Play and Matched Play over view with their respective Crucible of War missions, Eternal War missions and Maelstrom of War missions. There are also the Advance Rules, including the use of terrain, Battlezones, Planetstrike, Cities of Death, Stronghold Assault and Death From The Skies. There's also a section on campaigns and how to run them.
To get any weapon stats at all you needs to buy the Indexes.
To get any real fluff you need the Codex for your designated faction which aren't even on the radar yet.
The background we get is heavily recycled and we don't really get a great idea of a big leap ahead. This seems very same old same old in terms of the universe. The rue extent of the mass destruction of the Imperium is not stated. The apparent massive losses amongst Space Marine Chapters is glossed over - there is only one reference to one Chapter. Th supposed dire state of the Imperium and humanity is on the brink is not evident here and how they will communicate that narrative will be interesting, because frankly I expected to read this and get so hyped up I was going to spend today building my army up to join the fight. Well that's not happening, so the narrative is failing. If they are going to communicate the dire threat through the novels, then that's a mistake because not many people buy them and from what I am told the quality is pretty sporadic. THIS is where the agenda needed to be set. THIS is where the threat, the body count, the feeling that you WANT to join the fight and have to win needs to be put in place. Alas, it is not.
This book is $100 AUD - and nothing in here is necessary to play the game.
Here, go and download the free rules and start playing, the rest you already know.
From here the Codexes will either make or break this Edition. They had better do a good job, because that initial buzz is sadly going away as this book heads to the book shelf to sit with the others.
Incidentally if you want a good deal - have a look at this Black Library bundle.
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