Thursday, 5 August 2010
Codex Review: Forgeworld's Renegades and Heretics Update
Moving right along with Forgeworld's recent offerings today we're going to discuss their latest armylist update: The Renegades and Heretics from the Siege of Vraks. Cutting straight to the chase I'm not happy with it. At all. Here's why:
To begin I don't think anyone expected a return to the previous Imperial Guard codex. Using the 3rd edition codex for the Vraksian armylist was puzzling the first time FW published it in Imperial Armour some years back. Even then the armylist felt stagnant and dead (perhaps this was appropriate given the inclusion of Nurgle specific units). The entries were all overcosted compared to more modern codecies, there were far too few genuinely 'new' units (most are simply renamed) and there was no 'theme' to the list despite the fact that there was little in the way of variety.
All of these issues are propagated in the update. Sure points were tweaked to improve internal balance but there's simply no real inspiration in the armylist at all. No builds leap out at you as you read it and there's no motivation to put pen to paper and start crunching numbers. This is due, I believe, to unenthusiastic rules design which has led to boring unit entries. Many of the units are old Imperial Guard entries which, let's be honest, nobody missed and the overall 'structure' of the list just reeks of codex recycling. Let's talk about some units in detail:
A glance at the Special Rules tells us a lot about this armylist. All of them are old, most of them are from 3rd edition. Not a single one of them is actually attractive in terms of competitive play and they are so far beneath the quality of modern special rules such as Orders, Combat Tactics, Counter-Attack, and Descent of Angels that any new codex would ignite due to atmospheric friction if they tried to reach them.
Company Command Squad: So the leader of your army, an Exalted Champion no less, might have Ld 7 because, even though he's had the favor of the Dark Gods for who knows how long the mouth grown on the back of his hand might talk him into going on strike. 'Fluffy' rules are great but if you start fluffy you have to end fluffy. Sure the rebels are unreliable but the Exalted Champion is not - less copy/paste please.
Advisors: no effort at all to modernize these guys. The Commis... - excuse me "Enforcer", the psyker and the priest are all straddling the 'overpriced' line. Still there are some good options for these characters to balance the plethora of killpoints. Enforcers can take a demo charge and priests can be attached to the souped-up version of Ogryn for some enhanced efficiency (and have their special rule actually work). The psykers will likely only be fielded by those who have the model and are determined to use it - that seems to be a reoccurring theme in this list.
No Veterans as Troops really guts this list. The Desciples of Xaphan are Elites, most probably because the studio decided to give them the infiltrate special rules that the old Hardened Veterans had. Pointless really since it just doesn't compare to the conventional Guard codex. It's understandable that the designers are interested in maintaining differences between the renegades list and the guard codex but there's no reason why new units and rules could not have replaced old, tired entries. More effort was required than simply rehashing old entries and sprinkling Space Marines. Chaos Space Marines no less - more recycling of tired material.
The plat- excuse me... "militia" did pick up the Combine Squad special rule and 55 point Chimeras. This is important as it's a vital, part of this list's competitive edge. It's important to note that this list is competitive despite its flaws - it's just not very fun. Special, unique choices exist (minefields, Ogryn Berzerkers, Dreadclaws etc.) but where this list could have gone the extra mile the designers have decided not to stray too far from their comfort zone. Perhaps this is for the sake of balance but my instinct tells me there simply weren't time or resources enough to spare on making this list what Blood Angels are to Space Marines.
It's hard to complain about things when they're given to you for free so I'll quit bad-mouthing this list. FW is making a good move here giving back to the people that have supported them. It's nice to know that the books us Forgeworld enthusiasts spend all that money on will continue to hold practical value. Swing and a miss on this one FW, but I'll be eagerly anticipating the next one.