Wednesday, June 14, 2017

REVEIW: The Warhammer 40,000 Indexes

Largely equivalent to the Grand Alliance books for AoS, the new 40k released a series of five Indexes to cover all of the rules for every existing army and currently in production model for the system on day of launch. So what exactly do these books cover and how much do they have for each faction?

Games Workshop was kind enough to send me all five of the new Indexes for Warhammer 40,000 to look over. Where as AoS broke the forces down into four grand alliance whose units could freely intermingle, 40k still kept things a little more separate. The factions in 40k are still pretty self sufficient, although some can intermingle more than others, like all of the Imperium stuff with each other, all the Chaos stuff, the Eldar stuff, and so on. There isn't a Grand Alliance Xenos or anything though. Instead, these five indexes are more just the most logical way to gather together all of the rules and present them in a cohesive and thematic way.

This is why we have Imperium 1, which contains all of the forces of the Adeptus Astartes, including Grey Knights and Death Watch; Imperium 2, which has every other Imperial faction from Imperial Guard, to Sister of Battle, to the brand new Adeptus Custodes; Chaos, which has every Chaos army; Xenos 1, with all of the Eldar factions and their eternal nemesis the Necrons; and finally Xenos 2, with the Orks, Tau, Tyranids, and Genestealer Cults. As you can see the Xenos ones show how this is more a collection of armies than any type of alliance. Orks, Tau, and Tyranids don't have much to do with each other except for when they are killing each other. I think they did a good job at breaking these apart into separate books though.

The first one I took a look at was of course the Imperium 1 with all of the Space Marine armies. Each faction in each book gets it's own introduction with a page or two of background lore, as well as any faction wide special rules. The Space Marines for example have Know No Fear, which allows them to re-roll failed morale tests. Any unit in the faction that uses this rule will have it listed on its Datasheet. For the most part each Datasheet is pretty much self contained with its rules, but a few rules that apply to a large swathe of units are collected at the front of the faction like Know No Fear, I'm assuming to save room on the Datasheets themselves. Factions that contain psykers will also have their own unique psychic powers here, usually three different ones, or other special rules, like the Ambush table for Genestealer Cults army or the Canticles of the Omnissiah for the Mechanicum forces.

The background lore for each army is more or less a recap of existing lore if you're familiar with 40k already. They have taken the most important aspects of the army and its history and distilled it down into a page or two to give you a taste of what the army is. This is the same thing they did with the Grand Alliance books, and undoubtably it will be expanded upon again once Codexes start getting released, just like they did with the Battletomes. Although most of the history is treading familiar ground, some of the factions have a bit of the new storyline worked in like a little snippet on the Primaris Marines and Guilliman, or the new Expansions for the Tau. So even if you're pretty sure you already know everything there is to know about your army, I would definitely still read it over. There is a bit of artwork for each faction as well. Like I said, for existing players this will mostly be familiar, but for new players it's an essential taster of each army as they decide on how to model, paint, and collect their army until their Codex comes out.

Before we move onto the Datasheets themselves most armies also have a small armory. This will just list the available weapon options, usually under headings like Heavy Weapons, or Melee Weapons. On the Datasheets if a unit can take additional weapons it will say something along the lines of "You may choose one weapon from the Melee Weapons list." The actual weapon stats and points aren't listed here though. You then get all of the Datasheets for your entire army. Every unit that has a current model as well as some that don't but are fairly recent all have rules. For example, the special edition Marine from the 30th anniversary has a Datasheet here. Any rules specific to your unit will be on the Datasheet. In the case of Space Marines, the only rule that won't be listed in full on the Datasheet is Know No Fear, which is written out at the front of the faction. It will list that the rule is used for the unit though, and give you the page number to look at.

Something I think is rather cool, is that if there is a Special Character or unit specific to a particular army within your faction, then it get's its own little sub-faction. For instance, the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists, Salamanders, White Scars, Raven Guard, Legion of the Damned, and yes, Black Templars, all get their own faction introduction with a page or two of lore and artwork. These don't have any special rules and still just use the rules, psychic powers, and weapon options listed at the front for Space Marines, but it does make them feel a little more unique. Generally they just have the Special Character Datasheets for that army, like all of the Ultramarine characters, including Guilliman. In the case of some it's literally just one character, like Pedro Kantor or Lysander. The Black Templars get a bit more with several characters and the Crusader Squads. It would have been cool if some of the major Chapters that don't have special characters got a call out too, but I still really like this. Now if you want to collect Salamanders you can still read up a bit on their history.

The Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Dark Angels all get their own unique rules, but even the Blood Angels have a sub-faction with the Flesh Tearers and Gaberial Seth's Datasheet. Other armies are also broken down in this way. The Adeptus Mechanicus has special rules for the faction as a whole, but the Skitarii get's its own introduction lore as well. The Astra Militarum are broken down into a few sub-factions including the Cadians, Catachans, Militarum Tempestus, Auxillary units, and more.

The Datasheets are all pretty easy to understand, and any weapons which are a mainstay of the unit have their stats included on there as well. A Space Marine Tactical Squad for example has the Bolter's stats listed there, as well as a few of their more common choices for special weaponry, but you'll have to look elsewhere for the stats on all of their many choices. I understand why they didn't list every weapon's stats on every unit. There just wouldn't be the space for it and it would look extremely cluttered. Each Datasheet also has its Power Level listed on it, which is the alternative points system used for Narrative games. It also tells you how much to increase the power level by if you add in more models. You can read more about Power Levels and how the new Datasheets work in my review of the new rulebook here.

All of the points for every model as well as the stats for every weapon option for the armies are listed at the back of each book. The points sections will have the points per model for each unit, and then the points for each weapon seperately. You will notice that most points charts for the units say "Wargear not Included" at the top. This means you need to make sure you add in the points for any weapon it carries, even if it comes with the weapon by default. Some weapons, usually the most common ones, like Bolters or Lasguns, cost 0 points though. This is definitely different from how we were used to points in the past, so make sure you add in every weapon option when tallying your points totals. Some points charts do say the cost of the wargear is included, but this is mostly just Special Characters who don't have the option of taking anything different.

The weapon stats are broken down into two charts for each faction, ranged and melee. These are in alphabetical order, so it should be pretty easy to find what you are looking for. Each faction has all of its points listed, then all of its weapon stats listed, before moving onto the next faction in the book to keep it a bit tidier. While it may seem a bit inconvenient at first to flip all the way to the back for the points, you'll only need to do this when making your list. Games Workshop has also said they will be coming out with an Army Builder app or software soon, so once you're using that it'll be even easier. By keeping the points off of the Datasheets like this they are also able to adjust them in the future if stuff needs to be rebalanced without having to redo the entire Datasheet. This is what they did for AoS and it works great. As for the weapon stats being in the back, you'll learn the ones you use in your games fairly quickly.

At just $25 a book these are a fantastic deal. You are getting the equivalent of several Codexes worth of rules in each book for the half the cost of a Codex. Even if you only play one army, it doesn't hurt to have access to the other ones in your book, it may even inspire you. If I hadn't been sent these I probably would have bought all five anyway. I've already read all of the background lore in most of them, and have been checking out the rules for different armies and units. The Necrons and Tau look very interesting to me. While GW plans on rolling the individual Codexes back out for each army, there are fantastic stopgaps until they do. They look great, give you all of your rules, and have some cool art and background lore in them to boot. I imagine the faction special rules we see here are just a taster of what we get once each army gets its own Codex. I can't imagine the Space Marines won't have a bit more to them and I definitely think the Psychic Power charts will get expanded out as well. If we're looking at AoS as a precursor to what to expect here too, then I think new wargear and warlord traits are a logical assumption.

I would definitely recommend you at least pick up the Index for any army you play, and if you can, any others you may be interested in. Imperial players wouldn't be hurt by having both of the Imperium books since then you can add Inquisitors, Knights, and Custodes into your Marine armies, or vice versa. These all look great, and although I've only played the Death Guard so far, from what I have seen from GW I expect all of these rules to be some of their most balanced and fun rules yet. By releasing them at the launch date they are giving everyone that chance to start playing with a fully formed army right away instead of having to wait for their Codex. This is a great start to what promises to be a fantastic edition of 40k.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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