Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Codex Review: Chaosgerbil's 'Lost and the Damned'
Part of the 40k rules design process is being aware of other designers' projects and endeavors. Recently Chaosgerbil came by and announced his first custom codex effort, Codex: Lost and the Damned. Today I had some free time and so I decided to review this excellent piece of work. Here are some of my thoughts:
Chaosgerbil has obviously put a great deal of work into the Codex's presentation. A colorful, original cover as well as sporadic decoration throughout the codex itself immediately distinguishes the document as a product of exceptional effort. Details such as clear, uncluttered Header/Footer formats, Table of Contents and effective Stat Tables makes reading the document far easier to read than less developed custom rules efforts.
I will say that I wish Chaosgerbil had put just a little more effort into mimicking GW's 5th edition style. It would have taken relatively little time to put a Warhammer 40k logo and codex border on the cover for instance - a small change that could have an enormous impact on a skeptical player's first impression.
I cringed when I first saw an Allies section in this book but was somewhat relieved when I saw that the section was not without limitations. The additions are all quite relevant and characterful and they have the added benefit of making otherwise poor choices (such as Penal Legionnaires) a little bit better. However, the combinations that are possible through Chaosgerbil's Allies format are staggeringly powerful. The mixture of special units such as Psyker Battle Squads, Veterans, Obliterators, Daemon Princes and IG Artillery can make an army far more powerful than the sum of its parts. It's all theoryhammer of course but I would see this list further limited before I considered it balanced.
The Allies section also leaves the question of Upgrade Characters unanswered. Can I take Bastonne or Harker with my mercernary Vets?
Interesting but, at times, poorly written. Ambition needs to be re-written and Possession is incomplete. Still Chaosgerbil shows his ability to be comprehensive with his rules with excellent equalizers such as 'Scavengers' and remembering to add a consolidation rule to his Spawns' movement format.
Imaginative, colorful and engaging Chaosgerbil's entries are everything I could ask for from a codex with such a wide variety of source material. From Mercenaries to Mutants Chaosgerbil's flexible HQ-dependent FOC's means that no two Lost and the Damned armies will ever be alike. Indeed, these units are precisely what I would like from a GW print - competitive and interesting.
I wish Chaosgerbil had added descriptions to his entries. Some small points changes are needed (Big Mutants can get 3 Heavy Flamers for 30 pts?) but overall the entries seem fairly well considered. Due to the Allies rules and within the codex itself many units exhibit overlapping roles. It's hard to see why so many cheap poorly armored humans are needed in the same list. In addition the list has an overwhelming amount of close-combat choices without denying itself any firepower. In general the list lacks a clear identity, it attempts to piece together pieces of other codecies rather than forging it's own identity.
A great idea and a noteworthy addition to the codex. This makes starting a Lost and the Damned army a more realistic proposition. Many homebrew efforts overlook the fact that WYSIWYG models are required to play the game but not so in this document. You can realistically build and paint this army within a reasonable amount of time and investment. Once Chaosgerbil adds pictures this part of the codex will be even more impressive.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
I'd rate Chaogerbil's codex higher but it still feels incomplete. Given some more time and more updates the score could easily rise to an 8.5. I hope to see more projects like this one in the future. It would be a joy to play with and against this army list.