When I was talking about the lore section on the show, I found it difficult to articulate exactly what it was about this codex that felt different from its predecessors. After I had a bit more leisure time to sit down and really go through both books I think I have been able to formulate a more accurate response to my original thoughts on the background and lore section. The biggest difference between the new Astra Militarum codex and the previous IG book is that the formers composition and tone seems to focus more on the here and the now and the future of the universe, rather than weigh the reader down with the details of the past. True, there are a fair number of articles in the new book that are taken from the last codex (there’s entries in the 5th dex that go all the way back to 3rd) but they compose and preface it in such a manner that it tends to drive the narrative forward, rather than just let the details hang in the middle surrounded by the inevitable grim dark future of emptiness and death that awaits humanity.
It feels like GW has turned back the clock from two minutes to five, the 13th black crusade is just now happening, and while the overall theme is still an empire in decline, they have given themselves a little more wiggle room when it comes to future editions, and the expanded universe, some aspects of which they have subtly woven into this new edition. The first couple of pages reads like the extended version of the back cover of a Black Library novel, there’s a much heavier focus on narrative in this codex than in 5th and it shows, in 5th it was more “yeah you command a lot of guys and tanks, so use a lot of guys and tanks if you want, it’s cool” Whereas this time round they have such gems as “Squads of desperate men battle impossible odds , with nothing but faith and courage driving them to hold the line” and prefacing that section with a paragraph that focuses heavily on the grandiose dehumanizing scale on which the organization operates. They pulled the campaign map from this edition as well, effectively removing most of those events that were not noted elsewhere from the record, this was an odd move, while it did allude to battles of other non Cadian regiments, it did not really detract much from the main story, it did however show dates that went beyond the new timeline, so rather than re write it they just scrubbed it all together. The real shame in this is that new players will loose that quick and easy glance at the universe that most of us older players have grown accustomed to (I think it is still in the rule book though)
Other than that though, the fluff area is pretty much a copy paste affair from the last two books, with a few subtle entries removed, or re shuffled out of the first twenty pages or so. Over all I think GW did a good job with the codex, there could have been a bit more don to update the background, and yet again I see the same art work that I have been seeing for the last ten plus years (now in color!) I think in this edition you are getting a lot less to build on, a few pictures, no camo scheme guides (in the print edition anyways) and the same model photos we got from 5th. After all that though, I can still say I was pleased with this edition and even though it was very subtle I do like the new emphasis on narrative that the new codices seem to be leaning towards, and now with the supplements that are supposedly in the works, we might get to see some of the gaps in this codex filled in later by future mini dex releases. I do hope that this is the case, and GW will release some more flavor back into the army, but I’ll reserve my thoughts on that matter until I get the product in hand, for more thorough review before lambasting any perceived money grab by GW.
BH Senior Jam Master