Astra Militarum Codex – a review

Taking a break from FW army list series, let me share few thoughts on new Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) Codex. Long awaited codex which was surrounded by many speculations. For me, as a fan of Imperial Guard (although not an active IG player myself – I have just few models and never deployed them to battle), the codex contains few little surprises and a lot of disappointments.

astra

I’m not disappointed by power level. I’m certain, that new book will be competitive and there is likely more than one powerbuild possible, but content (variety of available options) of new book leaves a lot to be asked for.

Winners: HQ and troops

Generic HQs and troops sections are clear winners here. With more orders available and 0-3 IC psykers/enginseers/priests HQs can provide serious boost to the army. Creed can have up to two warlord traits, Straken got smash and Yarrick has orders.

Armoured battlegroup veterans will be happy to see tank commander (with LR squadron) as a HQ choice for up to 15 Leman Russ within limitations of standard FOC. To make it better Tank Commanders have tank orders (similar to those found in IA1).

Special mention for knight commander Pask who is doubly awesome, for his tank gets additional weapon profile and his warlord trait grants preferred enemy against one codex.

With troops we have conscripts who are one point cheaper than they used to be meaning that age of horde-guard is ahead of us. Prepare for witnessing humongous hordes (and let us hope, it will be unprimmered plastic rather than just empty bases for that matter).

Winners: Fast attack and Heavy support

In terms of fast attack almost everything went up in price with notable exception of a humble Armoured Sentinel, which, at cost of a smurf terminator, is at least playable even if not competitive.

In heavy support section there are majority of winners are. Cheaper Leman Russ is great (most variants are dropped in price rather significantly) and will surely be common on our battlefields. Similarly Deathstrike Missile with bigger blast radius and higher probability of T2-launch is rather scary. New Wyvern tank is a cost-effective anti-infantry barrage option.

Losers: Disappearing special characters

Not only Sly Marbo, whose removal was widely commented over internet, but many other funny characters got *BLAM* treatment. Among them: Al’Rahem, guy from Tallarn that could outflank his platoon, Chenkov who could bring more conscripts (quite redundant with their absurd price drop), Bastonne (stubborn sergeant from Cadia) and Mogul Kamir (attilian rough rider commander).

While most of the times these characters weren’t used competitively, they were characterful parts of the codex and from this point of view, their lose is rather sad.

Losers: Disappearing units

Penal legionaries is gone (apparently sent back to jail). Also weren’t used competitively, so not a terrible lose for powergamers out there.

Ordnance battery is gone. Or at least replaced with Basilisk Battery. which is bullshit because there are models for Medusa and Griffon, directly orderable from Forge World. Happily there is good old ordnance battery in Imperial Armour volume 1 so you can use it if you want. Unless some tournament organizer says, that FW is verboten.

verboten

If you really want to use them, you may argue that GW removed them from your codex specifically because it now treats Imperial Armour books as valid expansions for codex and sees no need to duplicate their contents (as it was once when Hydras alongside with lot of other good stuff was transferred from IA to Codex).

Why nerfed?

Hydras. They have not only lost their rapid tracking rule (which was both awesome and realistic), but they didn’t get buff expected by many IG players: they still can’t hit ground targets. There was speculation that they will either get interceptor special rule or something like Tau’s Velocity Tracker (ability to engage both aerial and ground based targets at full BS but without ability to intercept the reserves). This would not only be reasonable, but also would be realistic: many heavy AA guns were occasionally (in absence of air-based threats) turned against enemy AFVs (it was even mentioned in old Hydra’s fluff).

Stormtroopers (now renamed to Tempestum Scions) got better and worse at the same time. Better, because they now come in platoons. Worse, because they can’t infiltrate (but still can deep strike)

Sergeant Harker no longer can infiltrate with his unit (he’s just a sarge with increased S/WS, being relentless and armed with his trademark Heavy Bolter (this time with Rending).

So how do you play Catachans as sneaky elite infantry?

Lost chances

Many gossip blogs (most notably Faeit 212 and BoLS) repeated reports about few cool things that could have been included in codex but were abandoned for some reasons. Two of them which I am missing most are:

Army-wide doctrines. That is making your regiment “Armoured”/”Airborne”/”Siege”/etc. with significant effect on either army-wide special rules or even shaping of army-list (i.e. dedicated Valkyries for airborne regiments, or extra tanks but compulsory IFVs for armoured). I have actually considered this one to be very credible given overwhelmingly positive reception of Chapter Tactics mechanics in recent SM Codex. It didn’t happen.

Lords of War slot in codex. IG has currently 9 choices of Lords of War that can be assembled in plastic. Given all gossip that Escalation rules would be integrated into new (6.5 edition, as Internet calls it) rulebook it would make sense. Additionally, for many (both veteran and new) players the Baneblade is one of the most iconic tanks of entire 40k (I bet, more players know what Baneblade is than what Stalker Antiaircraft tank is). It didn’t happen.

Even more than for Baneblade, I have hoped for Malcador or any other super-heavy tank of its size, for 6HP AV13 superheavy armed with battlecannon isn’t so scary and therefore it’s good way to make players accustomed to new SH rules.

Final word

The codex is a big disappointment for me. Not as bad as Dark Angel or Chaos Space Marine one, but certainly under expectations. For sure it will probably be very competitive, for I have already seen some interesting power-armylists built with it, but it lost more options than it gained. It lost lots of character fulness and diversity, it had, and this is main reason why I don’t like it.

I must admit, I don’t even like its altered title, for unlike Sisters of Battle (whose high gothic name of Adepta Sororitas was well established in preexisting fluff) it is rather new name for Imperial Guard. Also: may I ask, when will Codex:SM be renamed to Codex: Adeptus Astartes?

The only redeeming feature of the new codex is overwhelming wealth of Forge World options supplementing it (including hundred of additional models and FIVE alternative army lists), but this is rather feature of Imperial Guard as an army, not the new Astra Militarum codex which is bad.

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6 Responses to “Astra Militarum Codex – a review”

  1. Deval says:

    In fact you can not properly value any 6 ed codex before publication of connected to it dataslates and moves of forgeworld’s authors.

    • maciek says:

      That’s true. Maybe something will be fixed by a supplement. although I don’t really expect one soon – GW have stopped publishing supplements since it’s last (bad) financial report in December. Maybe we’ll at least get dataslates for lost special characters. Also I actually like price change of Valk/Vend – if it will be applied to IA3 Elysians, they won’t be bullshit-OP and will become just a fun army to play with :)

  2. Bestyj says:

    ” it now treats Imperial Armour books as valid expansions for codex and sees no need to duplicate their contents ”

    A good joke :)

    You know, that there is “greater brass scorpion of Khorne” both in IA apocalipse (2013), and “warzone pandorax” – added as extra to limited edition Apocalipse (2013), few weeks erlier. Both with different rules. Your argument is invalid. You think of GW as wise, planning ahead organization.

    True is much simplier. They removed everything non-GW (likeFW) from mainstream codices, because of Intelectual Property issues. Any third party companny could sell officialy everything, that GW has in codex, but without an official model.

    • maciek says:

      Yes. andd alternative Necron Pylon in Warzone:Damnos.
      Still: Vendetta is in the codex, but no plastic model for it (only FW conversion kit).

      No logic in here.

  3. Bestyj says:

    Missing Characters will probably get dataslates each. Maybe suplements :) The pay again policy of GW….

    • maciek says:

      Maybe. Dubious really. Unlike Doom of Malan’tai (who is removed from rules, but at least mentioned in fluff part of Tyranid codex) they aren’t even mentioned in new book.

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