40K: Mind the Gap – Indexes Armies vs Codex Armies

The Gap between the Haves and the Have-nots is growing with the release of another codex. How long can they hold out?

After the preview we saw of the Tyranids earlier today it’s getting really hard to argue that Index armies are going to stand a chance against an army with a Codex. This year we’re supposed to see 10 codexes and with the 8th on the horizon the gap between armies that have a Codex and the armies that don’t is starting to get stretched pretty far. Think about it – every army that has a Codex has the follow advantages over the Index armies:

 

  • Unique Army Attributes/Tactics/Traits/etc.
  • Unique Stratagems
  • Relics/Artifacts
  • Warlord Traits
  • Additional Psychic Powers
  • Any Other Army Specific Special Rules

“Oh that’s not that bad – the new codexes are on the way…” Sure. Time will fix it. But in the interim it IS that big of a deal. The Stratagems alone give the Codex armies a MASSIVE advantage. Having a toolbox with (in most cases) 20+ options to use creates a massive disparity between the armies. And let’s not downplay the Army Traits which can make one versions of the same army list play like a completely different army altogether.

What’s an Index To Do?

Should players with Index armies just shelve their armies until they get a codex? In all honesty…maybe. It’s rough! Then again, maybe you can take pride in knowing you’re basically playing on Hard Mode until your army gets a Codex. And there are quite a few that need one:

  • Orks
  • T’au
  • Genestealer Cult
  • Dark Eldar (Drukhari)
  • Ynnari
  • Harlequins
  • Necrons
  • Imperial Knights
  • Imperial Agents
  • Talons of the Emperor
  • Blood Angels
  • Dark Angels
  • Space Wolves
  • Deathwatch
  • Legion of the Damned (hey, they got their own Index section…)
  • Chaos Daemons (All Four of them – Tzeentch, Nugle, Khorne, Slaanesh)
  • Thousand Sons
  • Sisters of Battle

Depending on if you’re counting Chaos Daemons as 1 book or 4 (and if you’re including Legion of the Damned), that’s somewhere between 18-22 codexes. At the rate of 10 per year, that means it’s two years until all the Armies get a codex. “But GW only started putting books out for 8th in July!” True – that’s a very good point. At that rate we’re expecting 20 books in a year? But GW has been moving at a pretty breakneck pace – so you have to ask if that’s sustainable. And you also need to ask if that’s even healthy for the game.

If books come out too quick, you really have to wonder if they even got to play test them. Without the proper testing things like the Ogryn Hyperloop slip through have have to be quickly fixed. “But they are dropping FAQs quickly to fix those things!” Very true again! And it’s been fantastic. But I’d like them to pump the breaks just enough to make sure everything is where it should be before it get’s to the printers.

 

Realistically, all the armies in that list probably don’t need a codex – but the big ones certainly do. So what do you do if you’re on the waiting list while everyone around you starts to get awesome codexes? That’s a tough call. What is a Tournament Organizer supposed to do as well? Do they just roll with the stuff that’s out and say “sorry Index armies, you’re just playing at a disadvantage.” Do they try to artificially balance them vs Codex armies? Maybe you just spot them some Command Points and call it a day. I don’t have a good answer, but this is something that’s going to need to be talked about for next year.

 

If you don’t have a book, my only words of encouragement are to be patient. Don’t sell your army off unless you just really want to – if you hang on to it long enough, it might just be king of the hill on the next go around.

 

What do you think of the every growing gap between the Codex armies and the Index armies? Would you allow house rules to keep them “balanced” or are you a “by-the-book” person? What about Index only Tournaments? Let us know in the comments!

  • tau4eva

    Yup, both my armies shelved for now.

    • Richard Mitchell

      Ya, it is a tough call but, honestly I think collectively we can just admit that the real tournament season for 8th doesn’t start until next year. In the meantime there are so many great games out there, its pretty easy to just play those until 8th drops. I think at this point most people have 1 main game and 1-2 side games that they also enjoy but don’t fill the big army niche. I think the days of everyone one playing one game and from one company only are getting rarer and rarer. Which is good because this allows companies to do a solid release but still have a waiting consumer base.

    • LankTank

      Um why? My orks still play for blood, my daemons still dance with csm/dg allies and ive run across plenty puppy and blood angel players with a space marine ally detachment to open some stratagems

  • Agent of Change

    The glib answer is obviously:

    “You got Space Marines don’t you?”

  • Davis Centis

    For a tournament I’m hosting, armies made exclusively of forces without a codex can use some tournament-specific stratagems that allow them to play better against the big boys! Almost every stratagem has already been spotted once before in the codexes, and while not every army gets all of the, they’ve all gotten some of them. It doesn’t completely close the gap (still no faction-wide buffs, no relics, no warlord traits, no expanded psychic powers), but it does help!

    • 40KstillRulesTheTT

      Great idea ! Do you have a hyperlink towards these ? I’d like to suggest that sort of gap closing idea to both clubs I play at. I could give you feedback on them if ur interested

  • I_am_Alpharius

    I’ve said this before and I say it again:

    It is fairly evident that GW intends to publish all the Codex’s as fast as is reasonable. There are something like 30 different army factions. With 10 we know are coming. That leaves roughly 18 other books or so that will to be done (undoubtedly some armies will double up). Current codex’s have been coming roughly every two weeks. If GW keeps that pace from now, which in my opinion they will, then that’s only another 9ish months until they are all done! So around Aug/Sep 2018; thats also assuming some Codex release won’t be doubled up like the CSM and GK were – which I imagine some will be happening (Thousand Sons and Demons comes to mind or Dark Eldar and Ynnari).

    • stinkoman

      yeah, i dont mind the rush. especially with a chapter approved book each year to keep things in check.

  • Heinz Fiction

    Best solution would be to forego faction traits and stratagems when you’re playing with a codex army vs. an index army. You’ll still have the upper hand as 75% of your units will be cheaper and/or better compared to the respective index entries…

    • FCBullsht

      Because Index Astra Militarum is vastly inferior to Codex Grey Knights, right?

      • Heinz Fiction

        The only thing I know about Grey Knights is that they have halberds, so I can’t comment on this.

  • pokemastercube .

    wasnt thre something about the chapter approved book containing fraction rules for those who wont have a codex by the end of the year?

    • I_am_Alpharius

      100% YES – just like the studio did in the General Handbook for all the AoS lacking artifacts and personalised Warlord Traits etc…As highlighted in this article on WH-Com months back:

      https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/08/09/new-matched-play-rules-in-chapter-approved-aug-9gw-homepage-post-1/

      • Navaren

        Wow, looking at that I feel its clear that DE, Necs, and Orks WON’T be out before Xmas.since they got name dropped as factions that get a preview in CA. I was really guessing Orks to be one of the last 2

        • I_am_Alpharius

          I had Orks on the card until that article went up. I’m erring towards the final two for the year being one of these combinations:
          – T’au Empires and Genestealer Cults
          – T’au Empires and Imperial Knights
          – Imperial Knights and Renegade Knights (although they could be a dual combined book)

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            They could do a combined Knight book. You just pick your allegiance and get the proper keywords.

          • pokemastercube .

            really knights should have got their bits in the ad-mech book as thay all in there, otherwise i would go with a new “imperial agents” type book of knights, tallons of the emperor, inquisition, assassins, ect (aka: all the small fractions in the imperium)

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            Knights are not only mechanicum. It makes sense to pull them out.

        • I’m fine waiting till next year this index is still better than the last codex…and the one before that.

    • Dulahan

      Yeah, that’s my guess. Hopefully at least one Doctrine, a few generic
      stratagems, and a Relic or three that each faction can use. Or
      something like that.

      As for what’s next, I’d say it’s pretty likely to be one of the missing Marine Chapters, if not both of the remainders. And Thousand Sons the other most likely candidate.

    • NNextremNN

      Only some very basic stuff like Objective Secured. For the really faction specific rest you still have to wait for the real codices.

  • Randy Randalman

    Gosh BOLS is toxic for the game. GW has done virtually nothing but good for two years now, from saving the second main like with AoS and the General’s Handbook, to bringing back specialist games with full support. Opening the doors to communication with the players and fans, taking feedback, attending the events and now finally giving us an edition of 40k where every army will have a codex at the same time. We’re seeing the results spin positively in conversation, and in the highest Financials they’ve ever enjoyed.

    Yet BOLS tries its darndest to keep the negativity high. Every week there’s an article about “is this the end of GW as we know it?” or “stop releasing codices and give us some models!”

    No. Just no. I would rather we never see another model for 40k again and have all rules for all armies in the same edition than going back to one book with models every 6-8 months. It’s better for balance, parity, and tournaments.

    As to this article: the indexes won’t be around much longer. Every army has a codex slated not far away. Stop whining that you have to wait a few months. Would you rather go back to literally any previous edition where 2/3 of the armies don’t even get rules and have to use 7 year old books?

    Seriously. People have it great right now and they’re acting like it was somehow ever anything except FAR worse than this.

    P.S. Chapter Approved will provide temporary updates to every army that doesn’t yet have a codex. That’s in December. You have to wait until December to be better than you are now. And then only a few more months until your codex.

    Anything to keep whining, I guess. Criticism is one thing. Concerns or acceptable, but online they are typically extreme and prematurely raised.

    • ZeeLobby

      Oh man, actually agree to a degree with Randy here (scary when that happens XD). GW has definitely made leaps and bounds over where it was 2 years ago. They still do a ton of head scratchers, and I’m not gonna sign off on 8th being the best edition ever til it settles down, but they’ve been doing much better than normal. The biggest difference is honestly the sheer number of alternatives out there these days. But they’ve even learned from them: communicating with their communities, active FAQing, embracing digital tools, etc.

      I’m really hoping they take it one step further, and every faction starts getting one or two off releases several times a year. If there’s any big issue with GW games right now, it’s the favoritism it shows their poster boy factions. It creates imbalanced games, and honestly disheartens those who don’t play them.

    • LankTank

      Dont forget you will get a temp in december, then the codex a few months later just so bols can write a page of how gw is MAKING you buy 2 books months apart. I can already see it now. “But didnt you write 2 months ago we need rules now or you would set your army on fire?” “Ummm…. no?”

    • To put the “nothing but good” into perspective, within the past two years they have:

      * Stopped doing Age of Sigmar limited editions for Campaign Books
      * Stopped Limited Editions for Age of Sigmar Battletomes
      * Stopped recording Age of Sigmar audiobooks while still advertising them in WD, with the authors still thinking there’d be audios
      * Still went on for almost a year publishing mostly glorified marketing brochures via Black Library while clamping down on anything original being written, before reverting control back to BL as its own entity
      * Canned multiple ongoing series they’ve been publishing and not published a bunch of works already submitted to them
      * Driven away authors like Dan Abnett with their shift in policy, resulting in years of delays for ongoing series
      * Handed the 40k and WHFB licenses to awful mobile developers, resulting in plenty of cashgrabs like 40k’s Carnage, Storm of Vengeance and similar, while bankrupting multiple studios via licensing costs if they dared to make proper games
      * Released another resin Thunderhawk
      * Gotten rid of a ton of fantastic models across the board, including entire factions
      * Hamstrung their own On Demand model for classic models
      * Published poorly-written and contrived campaign books
      * Introduced Super Space Marines
      * Still haven’t gotten over Stormcast Eternals vs Khorne Dudebros for anything Age of Sigmar
      * Have faltered in their support for Blood Bowl, with many essential resin kits only available through ForgeWorld, while continuing to delay Titanicus
      * Have handled releases like Shadow War: Armageddon extremely poorly, with Necromunda shaping up to have issues of its own

      I mean, they’ve done a lot of things *right* since Kirby buggered off, but they’ve also done a lot of dumb stuff over the past “2 years”. Narrowing it down to 1 would be less problematic, but still not without issues, so “nothing but good” is proven to be false anyway.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        An awful lot of frivolous gripes and nit picking in there chief. Got to disagree with the vast majority.

        • ZeeLobby

          eh, i wouldn’t call half frivolous. I agree with most of them. The fact that this is the better GW even with all this is the crazy part, haha. It’ll be a constant struggle to continue playing through the rather poor fluff both systems are currently mired in. Good thing the models are solid.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        * Stopped doing Age of Sigmar limited editions for Campaign Books -> Because most limited editions were not selling

        * Stopped Limited Editions for Age of Sigmar Battletomes -> Not selling.

        * Stopped recording Age of Sigmar audiobooks while still advertising them in WD, with the authors still thinking there’d be audios -> Audio is expensive and thus a cutthroat business.

        * Still went on for almost a year publishing mostly glorified marketing brochures via Black Library while clamping down on anything original being written, before reverting control back to BL as its own entity -> They wanted to use White Dwarf as a vehicle for hyping releases. It was a good idea, if it were 2005. You don’t need that kind of advertising when you have the Warhammer Community site. Even still, magazines are a dying business. I would not be surprised if White Dwarf goes all digital

        * Canned multiple ongoing series they’ve been publishing and not published a bunch of works already submitted to them -> Every company does this kind of stuff. Comics companies sit on completed comics for years some times.

        * Driven away authors like Dan Abnett with their shift in policy, resulting in years of delays for ongoing series -> They seemed to have patched everything up. Plus, this let Dan make some great comics over at DC. So I can’t complain.

        * Handed the 40k and WHFB licenses to awful mobile developers, resulting in plenty of cashgrabs like 40k’s Carnage, Storm of Vengeance and similar, while bankrupting multiple studios via licensing costs if they dared to make proper games. -> This literally saved the company from imploding. Plus, it is fascinating to see how it will pan out. Extra Credits did a great video on the topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOVrmfXolQg

        * Released another resin Thunderhawk -> Plastic models costs a lot of money to create. The Thunderhawk is very large. Much larger than a bane blade or a stompa (two of the largest non-terrain plastic kits). Ever wonder why terrain costs so much? Because plastic is expensive and GW does not sell enough models to make dilute the cost per unit across a large volume of sales. If GW made the Thunderhawk out of Resin, it means they do not believe it will sell enough to justify switching it to plastic.

        * Gotten rid of a ton of fantastic models across the board, including entire factions -> Some sculptors had good deals with GW, which allowed them to receive royalties for years after the model was released. That was not acceptable for GW, hence why many models were end dated. Many models are “too generic” and had to be eliminated post-Chapter House.

        * Hamstrung their own On Demand model for classic models -> You should be happy the even bother to give us access to these old models. Most companies would have washed their hands of these relics.

        * Published poorly-written and contrived campaign books -> Can’t please everyone

        * Introduced Super Space Marines -> They released new models? For shame!

        * Still haven’t gotten over Stormcast Eternals vs Khorne Dudebros for anything Age of Sigmar -> they have the models made. They already earned their profit back. Putting them into cheap start sets is just a good business strategy.

        * Have faltered in their support for Blood Bowl, with many essential resin kits only available through ForgeWorld, while continuing to delay Titanicus -> Blood Bowl is a Specialist Game. It is managed by Forge World. They released several teams in plastic to help propel the game back into the public consciousness.

        * Have handled releases like Shadow War: Armageddon extremely poorly, with Necromunda shaping up to have issues of its own -> Shadow War was a test. It worked well enough but ultimately was a failure.

        • I_am_Alpharius

          I would also add that FW choose to re-do the Thunderhawk as they wanted to improve the overall model by utilising the all the innovation in design and manufacture they have learned since the kits first release – which is a lot! They wanted the kits to be far easier to cast for them, easier to build for customers and bring some of the design elements into it from other SM flyers.

          As for Adeptus Titanicus, FW has said they choose to delay the release of that after how well BB performed (far beyond expectations). They wished to have more time to prep the longer support for it and they’ve been working hard to make sure the models are top notch – they’ve alluded plastic Titans were now on the cards, were as it was going be all resin.

          Finally BB has had loads of support since its re-launch. FW have produced products every month up until around 8 weeks back. Andy Hoare was on twitch the other week and talked about how there has been a gap in release to allow FW to get a whole load of products ready for release (they wish to give every team the same treatment, which means, plastics, dice, pitches, team cards and special plays). In what they are describing as Wave 2 is going to start with the Elven Union team in November.

      • Rob brown

        Definitely agree with DarkChaplain that not all was roses. Canning the Old World has made me angrier than anything else having invested a hell of a lot of money in Warhammer and loving the setting. They’ve lost a customer for half their product line and led to me undercutting sales by selling on ebay. Lose lose.

        Totally agree that the way the Bequin Trilogy has been treated was a joke… Dan Abnett (the best writer for 40k IMHO) isn’t going to pander to GW like their in house writers when Hollywood is beating a path to his door. (There is a reason they are… he’s awesome!)

        On the other hand, the licencing has been a mixed bag, because some of the spin offs have been awesome – eg. Total War

      • kobalt60

        I will never tire of the phrase ‘Khorne dudebros’

    • NNextremNN

      “but online they are typically extreme and prematurely raised.” your comment just proves this.

      Why do you even come here if this site is so bad? Why even read the article when you already know what it’s about? Why do you even comment?

      Because you want to post your other extreme!

      Not anything GW does is gold and perfect. Yes they have improved but that does not mean they can’t improve further. And they haven’t changed their behaviour from late 7th to 8th edition.

      Just look at how they treat rules. They easily could have made the Index books more complete. But then they couldn’t have sold a new Codex for each faction with nothing new. They could have made the rules actually free. This would have removed one entry barrier and could have attracted more customers for their models and painting supplies. This would also allow for completely updated rules instead of the patchwork that their FAQs and Erratas are. Yes it is better to get fast updates but this does not mean this is the best way. This is not even the best way to treat paid rules.

      A few months to go + a few months already without a codex quickly add up to a year that is not “quick”. Yes they are trying to catch up. Yes these things need time to make and print. But do you really think they didn’t spread these to push their sales? It’s also why every Codex and Index have some exclusives. If all armies would get updated once people with more than one army would have to decide and wait but spreading it makes it much more likely for those to buy more over a longer period. Yes they are an enterprise and want to make money. I do understand this and from business perspective they are brilliant which is why they financial situation improved. But this does not mean it’s in the best interest for the players.

      Some armies still need a handful of books. That’s no improvement.

      Why can’t Primaris enter normal SM vehicles? To enforce sales for their new transports.

      They still show clear favouritism for certain factions and some of their tournament experienced playtesters added their hatred for others into rules.

      And if you truly believe that the chapter approved will put index armies to the same level of codex armies you haven’t paid attention to what GW does.

  • Rob brown

    I think it’s fair to point out the differences between the indexes and the codices because that gap is substantial in most of the ones I’ve seen. However criticising the speed of release using the Hyperloop as an example is ridiculous… partly because it was a nonsense piece of a smokery and secondly because GW successfully FAQ’d it within a few weeks of release.

    Keep goin GW. You’re making models viable that haven’t been for a long time and I love the fact that I now have a good reason to paint my Haruspex and Tyrannofex.

    • LankTank

      I love it right? They codexes need to be fsster, write an article. The codexes are coming out fast, write another article about rushing

  • FCBullsht

    “it’s getting really hard to argue that Index armies are going to stand a chance against an army with a Codex.”

    What a ret*rded pseudo-argument… AM was top notch before having a Codex, Orks is competitive without a Codex, Grey Knights isnt with a Codex

    But jeah, “arguing” about the very limited time span in where some armies already got a Codex while others are still waiting is so typically “BOLS-style”

    • Drpx

      An index army won a tournament near me and it was one of the “weak” ones to boot. The guy played smart and built against the common meta.

  • benn grimm

    Just keep on inventing problems that don’t exist…

    • FCBullsht

      its BOLS!

      • benn grimm

        I’d love to say it wasn’t always this way but…

    • ZeeLobby

      Haha. Too true.

    • Drpx

      I wouldn’t say there aren’t issues. I asked at a store event if the marine players were allowed to use chapter tactics and cue the DG players whining that their codex wasn’t out yet. They already had the CSM codex. Meanwhile, the Taudar team said nothing and won anyway which made me happy.

      • benn grimm

        I’m sure there are and I’m equally sure that some people will always find something to whine about regardless.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Kind of a non-issue. GW has been releasing 2 codexes a month. All of the major codexes will be out early next year. All armies without codexes will get content in the Chapter Approved book.

    Also, is it really that bad? I mean everyone is basically on the same power scale now. Some are better (usually those with Codexes) but it is nothing like playing 5th edition with a 3rd edition codex.

    • LankTank

      Agreed. Yes there is a disparity but its not a YEARS apart disparity like in the past

  • Drpx

    The sad thing is, GW had the opportunity to end the Codex cycle and have all the factions in the same level that would have been easier to adjust, but they chose selling books over giving people incentive to buy and build multiple armies.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      GW was never going to get rid of Codexes.

      • Drpx

        Yeah and Isildore was never gonna chuck that ring into the volcano.

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          he might have…with a “nudge” from Eyebrows

  • grim_dork

    When I play my Guard or CSM against my friend who loves and plays his Orks, I use the appropriate Index for my army list and we have fun, competitive games.
    Here’s the real story here, there are solutions to fix anything in a 40k game because. . . it’s a game. Consistently treating the disparity inherent in the hobby as unnavigable does not serve the community. At all.

  • Go ahead shelve you army if you want to.
    If the Ork codex isn’t any good, I think it probably will be, I’ll just keep using the index. It’s win win for me.

  • kobalt60

    Ermagherd, waiting a year for a codex? Maybe longer? But I’m a millennial, and if I don’t get what I want instantly, I’m going to ragequit and then post about it constantly. There was a time when we would have been grateful that a full run of codexs was published a mere 2 years after a new edition dropped, and that was when there were only 15 or 20 in total. Now we moan about 24 months because entitled. Guess that’s progress

  • Kyle Stetson

    From a resource allocation standpoint, Codex Armies > Index Armies, especially if you are using Power Points instead of regular point costs. That said, just get gud.

  • stinkoman

    you still think they playtest? lol

  • Danny Janevski

    It’s why GW have been behind when they started getting behind. They pump out new box sets of crappy not very well thought out board games that have a shelf life of ah let’s see 2 months or so if that because their motto is still “we’re a miniatures company” .

    Let’s see.. just in the span/spam of 1 year or so we have seen so many board games that have had no continued love from GW why should 40k be any different.

    Don’t get me wrong they have great ideas !! But where’s the upkeep. Remember shadow war Armageddon or wait was that necromunda or hold on what happened to silver tower of harrenhal? Oh yeah gorechosen and now shadespire and gangs of commgrah… So much blood bowl and then no blood bowl.. I feel like i should have ADD if I don’t already have it.

    I don’t trust new board games from gw even if they are rehashed and why I will not be getting into necromunda or watch my word “the new insert cool board game title here” next thing for Christmas release… Or after

    It’s why game companies like corvus belli have got it right !!!

    Awesome and continued support for all the many factions with new sculpts and updated sculpts monthly. About 4 a monthas well as updated rules online !! FOR FREE !!

    Oh you want army builder sure that’s what you want I’ll make you a web and Tablet/phone version for free.why cause I care about the game ,rules and ofcourse the players.

    So rant over but it’s same old GW . At least seems like they are learning but at a very very slow pace.

    Rant over.

  • Magnus

    I expect 15-20 codices next year if they keep up the same pace as in 2017.
    Keep in mind the 10 this year was from summer and till now.

    • That would assume that 2018 is almost entirely devoted to 40k with nothing given to AOS or any other project.

      • Magnus

        Not at all. There have been quite a lot of other releases this year. And they can do more than one cpdex at a time too.

  • piglette

    When you mainly play narrative campaign games, none of this matters. Feels comfy