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40K Tough Love: It’s Time to Let the Index Books Go

4 Minute Read
Oct 9 2018

The index books were a critical incubator to get 8th off its feet – but their time is past.

8th Edition was a giant leap into the unknown – just like Age of Sigmar was before it. In both cases GW had the difficult job of transferring over their entire decades long product line into a entirely new system.  Close to a thousand units would need rules overnight. So of course a stopgap was needed. For age of Sigmar it was the Grand Alliance books:

For the Grimdark it was the 5 Index Books.  I still remember how excited everyone was and the frenzy of buying and tearing apart of the datasheets in 8th Edition’s earliest weeks.

At first everyone was freaking out.  The index books contained EVERYTHING in there. It wasn’t just the standard units from 7th Edition codexes, but all the funky stuff too. Marines got HQs on bikes, rare items like the Land Raider Excelsior, and the 30th Anniversary Imperial Space Marine amongst others. Chaos got all manner of rare mounted Chaos Lords, Aeldari got mix and match Autarchs, and stuff like Roughriders reappeared after a long disappearance.

Then the Codexes Appeared

It was all a wonderland until the long line of codexes appeared. Slowly but surely as more and more armies got books, the issue of duplicate units showed up. Players were confused. Which ones would I use? What if the wargear options and  points were different.  GW came out with  Rube Goldberg flowchart that basically said “do whatever you want”, and to this day you will routinely see lists used from casual all the way to Matched Play with all manner of funky equipment options and units from the old index books. The problem of course is that this is all becoming unmanageable. Not only is is a giant pain in the ass to deal with these index-only-asterisks on the game, it makes it tricky to even find the rules, or verify that the armylists are correct down to the last point.

It’s time to take a rest old-timers

It’s OK for GW to Obsolete Some Minis

But the main reason for a lot of these ever more exotic rules to exist is the philosophy of “GW used to make minis for them”. I think it’s time to finally let the ancient past go. Over the past decades GW has made all kinds of crazy stuff. Remember these:

  • Slann
  • Zoats
  • Ork-Genestealer Hybrids
  • Roughriders
  • Khorne Blood Slaughterers
  • Marines Scouts with Shuriken Catapults
  • Medics on Bikes
  • Imperial Guard Land Speeders
  • Imperial Beastmen

The list goes on and on and on…

What I’m saying is that the GW hobby is larger than just playing the game. I bet a solid case can be made that there are more GW customers who buy the minis and NEVER play the game than those who do. The minis will always exist for them – on the hobby side of things. But for the game itself, it’s time for a solution.


Chapter Approved, Save Us

Just like in Magic The Gathering the Black Lotus and the Moxes are lost to time, it’s time for Chapter Approved to finally sunset the indexes (or most of them) for Matched Play. With almost 20 codexes out, it would be quite simple. All we need are:

  1. A list of the units that are still allowed. This will cover mostly Talons of the Emperor, and a handful of units that have not yet gotten their codexes. Codex Genestealer Cult should be along shortly.
  2. A translation Counts-as chart for any minis GW still thinks are somewhat useful. For example – Imperial Space Marine – counts as a Lieutenant.
  3. Everything else is sunsetted.

With the vast majority of the codexes out, and the game already bursting at the seams with complexity – we all as players can live without the Index Books.  The game is all grown up now. We’ll be just fine.

~Do you think it’s time for the Index Books to go?


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