Sometimes being first is great. But is being the first codex a race you don’t want to win?
Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition has been a fantastic launch for Games Workshop. The game is still less than 2 months old and we’ve seen a ton of content from Day One. Every army and model currently in the range got rules and we’ve already had the first round of FAQs go out. We’ve even seen the meta start to form, especially after the results of the ATC. It’s been a wild ride so far and I’m personally excited to see what else Games Workshop has in store for the rest of the year. They are cranking out things at a blistering pace with plans to drop 10 new Codexes before Christmas!
In fact, this Saturday Pre-orders are going up for the first codex to drop: Codex Adeptus Astartes Space Marines. Get ready for a literal game changer! But in the Grim-Dark, is being the first codex a good idea?
There are some advantages to being the first codex. You set the tone for the entire edition. Now, some can argue that the Indexes might have stole some of that thunder, and I agree to an extent. However, the first full fledged codex still helps define what a Codex will be. It helps shape the layout of the books, the content, the style and the format of the rules. It’s the standard that all other codexes are measured against in both terms of form as well as function. It also sets the base line for the “Power Level” of the game,
The Base Line
For better or worse every codex that comes out after will either be “better or worse” than the first codex. Every army should be able to say “Oh ya, I can deal with ‘X’ in Codex: Prime” or they might want to go back to the drawing board. If Codex is considered worse than the first one, then those books tend to be considered “lesser tier” books. And if the book is just plain better than the first, then it’s considered “Codex Creep” and the sky is falling.
Folks will argue “Codexes should be internally balanced” or “Codexes should be balanced against each other” and all those arguments will continue until 9th – but they will always circle back around to comparing it to the first one. The First Codex is the base line trail blazer and it sets the bar for the rest of the edition.
Now we get to cover the downsides of being the Codex: Prime. One of the biggest issues we see when the first codex drops is that, for a time at least, it completely upsets the balance of the game. Think about it – it’s the only book with “the full rules” in the edition. For example, the Space Marine book which is about to drop will (for a time) be the only book with more Stratagems, Warlord Traits, Chapter Relics, Psychic Powers (!), and ALL their special rules. The Imperium already has the largest toolbox and now the Space Marines are going to have a CLEAR advantage (until everyone catches up).
Being Codex: Prime also means that it won’t have the advantage of getting the same “cooking time” as everyone else – it’s already done! If there are rules issues in it, or oversights, or things that need to be changed, it’s too late. Sure, they can retro-actively issue an FAQ (which GW has been way better about lately) – but maybe if they had spent more time on it could have been *perfect before release.
Plus, things are moving at a very rapid rate. The game launched in June and (as mentioned above) we’ve seen a wave of FAQs & Errata and the Meta starting to shake itself out. The Indexes don’t even have DUST on them and gamers around the globe are still sorting out how their armies work. If you’ve played a game a week since launch that means you’ve gotten in 7, MAYBE 8 games in. I seriously doubt the majority of players have even gotten that many full games in. Sure, there are exceptions (the tournament crowd for one) but that’s the point – the game is still very new and things are moving relatively quickly. Everyone excited about the first codex but is it ready for the tabletop? I sure hope so! If not, we’re going to be stuck with it for many months to come.
Take the Plunge
At the end of the day, one Codex has to be first. How else can we get the ball rolling, right? While it will set the tone and power level of the edition, it’s also got a lot riding on it. There is a ton of external pressure on it to measure up and be able to support the strain of being first. It’s a tough job but based on what we’ve seen so far, I think Codex: Space Marines might just be up to the task. Besides, if Games Workshop does happen to get this codex wrong, it’s not like they can’t put out a new version. Wouldn’t be the first time a Space Marines got two codexes in one edition…
Are you glad you army isn’t getting the first codex or do you just want to get it as fast as possible? Is your Index “Good Enough” that you don’t mind waiting a tad longer for GW to “get it right” or do you want it “right now?”