Supplementary Thinking: Beyond The Basic Codex

August 23, 2013 by crew

It is an exciting time to be participating in the Warhammer 40,000 hobby. If you can look past all the negativity and controversy attached to the game there are a lot of positive things happening. For those of us that still hold earlier versions of Warhammer 40,000 close to our dark hearts we find sixth edition to be a game as close to the spirit of those games as it is possible to be without returning to to-hit modifiers and parries. With the unprecedented release schedule that has seen a new Codex appear every other month since sixth’s appearance less than a year ago we are spoilt for choice as far as models, rules, and scenery are concerned. Has it really been fifteen years since the dawn of third edition when it was not at all unusual for entire editions of a game to pass with certain Codex entries never receiving a model?

The most recent ‘big thing’ to happen with Warhammer 40,000 has been the announcement and subsequent release of Codex supplements. Supplements are not new. Even as far back as Rogue Trader, Freebooterz was the first proper Codex supplement being an accompanying tome to ‘Ere We Go!, the Ork army book. In third edition supplements were common practice with Codex Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Space Wolves being supplements to Codex Space Marines. The campaign books Codex Armageddon and Codex Eye of Terror offered supplemental army lists for several races. The Eldar also received a supplemental Codex with Codex Craftworld Eldar allowing you to tailor your Eldar army to play as a force drawn from a specific Craftworld.

Eye of Terror Codex

It is in the spirit of this book that we find the first of a new series of Codex supplements. Codex Iyanden is not like previous supplements. It is a meatier piece of work that is packed full of ‘fluff’. This fluff isn’t simply copied and pasted over from older books either. The standard Doom of Iyanden story plays a central role in what is presented but we are given a greater insight into the personalities and events that led to the mistakes that saw the greatest of the Craftworlds, from whence came the technology that adapted the Infinity Circuit into a safe haven from She Who Thirsts, fall into the tendrils of Hive Fleet Kraken. The story does not end there however as the aftermath of those events shape how Iyanden exists today and culminates in revelation, offering two very different routes of salvation for the Eldar race.

Rules wise there is very little in the book. There are no new units, though given that the majority of the Wraith units that Iyanden will field in numbers were rolled into the main Codex release not an awful lot is required. A new Warlord traits table, some wargear and adjustments to Spirit Seers and Wraithknights are about all you will find. What is included is a dearth of supplementary gaming material, stratagems for Apocalypse and Cities of Death and missions, lots and lots of missions. These missions are tailored to allow you to field a Wraith army as its background suggests it should be played. In particular the introduction of the Altar of War missions suggest that these will be a regular feature in future books.

13th Company Wulfen

Supplements are an interesting addition to the Warhammer 40,000 line up. It frees up mainline Codices to focus on armies as a whole rather than attempting to build in specific traits particular to the idiosyncrasies of a particular force that represents a narrow or specific army type taken from that list. These can now be represented by supplements that will be able to tweak an existing army structure and bend it sufficiently to create a force which is unique to that theme.

The potential for these supplements is enormous. Though there were no model releases specific to Iyanden when the supplement was released there is no reason why future supplements are not accompanied by models in the future. Indeed, with the lack of secondary releases for older army books supplements could be the excuse needed to release any missing units or newer versions of those that require updating six, nine or twelve months after its initial release. From there it offers the ability to release models which are specific to supplements. On top of this there is the opportunity to cross over between two books. Probably one of my most anticipated supplements would be Codex Genestealer Cults. Though a Tyranid supplement using the rules for Genestealers and Broodlords the majority of units would be taken from Codex Imperial Guard.

Genestealer Cult

They are also extremely good news for the narrative gamer. The missions presented in the book are geared to aiding the player in crafting a game experience that follows objectives based on the armies taking part and their subsequent agendas. Though the Craftworld Eldar do not gain access to webway portals in their new books Iyanden has a mission that requires them to make use of webway portals as part of the mission special rules. I can only imagine what future books may contain.

Of course while this is all good news for people who want to be able to field these sorts of forces ‘officially’ if you are a diehard narrative gamer there is no real need to wait for your desired supplement to be released.

Join me in my next article when I discuss how you can create your own supplement with a healthy dose of imagination and a modicum of common sense.

Lee Trayler

Conclave of Har

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