Friday, 18 February 2011

Feedback: Codex: Adeptus Arbites v1.6



Crazy work hours have kept me from really contributing to The Codex Project in the capacity I would like to but periodic visits to the forums have brought this gem to my attention. I really love the Adeptus Arbites. They are the most blatant rip-off GW has ever stooped to (and they've got some light fingers when it comes to sci-fi IP) - a Judge Dredd clone transplanted to the 40k universe. Ruthless, uncompromising, just - the Arbites are a beacon in the fog of corruption that roils across the Imperium.


Now with most homebrew efforts you can get an idea of how the army works after a quick perusal. However, this was not at all the case with the Overlord's version of the Adeptus Arbites. After about 20 minutes of reading I began to feel overwhelmed by the volume of material in front of me. Where I expected to find a rough-shod amalgamation of special rules cherry picked from other races what I got was a set of totally original special rules and equipment. What really helped my digest the ruleset was the topical podcast interview with the design team. The podcast really broke the unit entries down and gave a "big picture" view of how the various rules were meant to work together.


What I quickly realized is just how much thought had gone into this document. When compared to the more well-known FlyLord's Arbites mini-dex it does feel much more like a full sized codex and one that stands independently even from its Imperial sibling races. This codex really does excite the imagination and gets you in the mood to create crazy conversions and intricate, well-balanced army lists. 


I don't have the time to get into the details the way I'd like to. There are so many unit types that going through them all one by one just wouldn't be possible (at six in the morning). That means that my feedback will fall short of a complete review.


Aesthetically speaking there isn't much to say. The codex is incomplete in terms of fluff or artwork in that it is just a bare skeleton meant to communicate the rules and nothing else. Sad if you ask me but probably necessary at this stage in the codex's development. Even in terms of simple layout the codex can be a bit frustrating lacking even page numbers, a table of contents or anything at all that makes using the codex easier. Some allowances can be made given the it's still in development but I would like to, at least, not have to scroll through massive blank spaces. 


That's more or less it as far a negative remarks go. Being a codex designer myself I am biased and I'm hesitant to criticize any design decision too heavily. I'll wait for the first impression to wear off and see what turns up.


A unit that really sets the tone for the codex is the Mobile Command HQ. A heavily armored but lightly armed buffer unit that lumbers across the table radiating special rules for nearby units to take advantage of and for the owning player to build strategies around. A converter's dream you can easily imagine a land raider with a bastion added to the flat roof replete with comms arrays and turret weapons. A strong dystopian Icon of the Law. 


The rest of the codex follows suit pretty closely. Units are designed to support one another to the extent that they are almost useless when used independently of another. They capture well the feel of upholding the law in a future torn with strife and unrest. Special weapons, special rules and a force organization that reflects the brutal nature of the far future. 


There is only one unit that forces that "must-have" feel (stingers) and you really see the difference between a codex created by a bunch of guys that love the fluff and a bunch of guys that have model sales in mind. Unfortunately this also leaves me feeling like the codex doesn't have any units that I can really rely on to fulfill their roles. Listening to the podcast I caught the defensive posture the designers adopted when questioned about their heavy support section and was a little let down. "Overcharged Lascannons" might sound totally ridiculous in an Imperial Guard army but in this document it's clear that it's a tool that addresses (albeit unimaginatively) a glaring weakness in the rest of the list - that of long range firepower. 


And this is really the tragedy of the of the whole codex: it's (IMO) completely unplayable. How on earth am I going to tackle 12 AV 12 vehicle chassis lists? Or any army with more than one AV 14 vehicle? 2 "Stingers" definitely won't cut it and my other options are... hope I can glance them with my Containment Team which only goes up to six guys. There's a couple of other melta options miserly sprinkled throughout the list but the bottom line is clear - this codex is not tournament capable. 


Perhaps this is what the designers felt was best. I won't get into the topic of standing by your work and being resolute in the face of scorching criticism. If we lived in a world without Lash, Nob Bikers or Razorspam I could condone a balanced designed effort such as this one. But in a world of scoring Terminators and cheap fast skimmers with 6 Lascannons strapped to them I need more options before I can invest in buying and learning a custom army such as this one.


The designers asked for a list and so I'll close with the build I find most appealing. I'm still unfamiliar with most rules and so it may contain some errors but hopefully it will also illustrate the final point I made above.


1750 Adeptus Arbites


Mobile Command Center            120 
4 HK Missiles                               40 - Why must I pay for these? 
T. Int. Array                                  20
2 T. Protection Arrays                   40 - Overcosted! 


Mobile Command Center             220 - I need 2 since one AV 14 vehicle on the table is suicide
                                                           - plus they're cool 




10 Enforcers                                 210 - !!! They don't even come with Krak grenades, compare to Vets!
Heavy Flamer                                   5 - No AT options :(
Rhino                                              35


Operative                                        30 - why 0-1? "Operative" needs to be changed to "hammer"
Bloodhound                                     15 


10 Arbites                                       105 - Trying to shove more subjugators in forces me to copy/paste
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35


10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35

10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35

10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35 - 1415 and haven't even touched the Heavies or Fast Attack

I would take Restrictors if the Mesh Carbines did something against vehicles. Or if I could give them all subjugators. 

2 Stingers                                        100 - 
Autocannon                                       40

2 Crowdbreakers                            100
TL AC                                              80 - 

Total: 1735 :(

The Heavies are overpriced - which is to say they're fairly priced but when they're a 'must have' you have to give me room to make their mandatory addition. The designers have kept a conservative stance throughout the codex in terms of points cost but it's clear to me that they have not understood the opportunity cost theory - the design theory that proves you must undercost in order to make up for all the choices you don't have because you chose to play this codex rather than another. A debate for another time.

Now I must retire. The sun is up and I have some much to do today it's inconceivable. I hope my input has helped at least to some degree and I rush to add that I would love the opportunity to furnish this codex with some background material and more feedback in the future. Good luck to the designers and I'll be looking forward to their next version. 

-Atrotos




4 comments:

Master Bryss said...

I have to agree with you on the Stingers point- I did something very similar with the AoS Heavy Razorbacks which cost the same as a regular Razor because I swapped capacity for slightly better armour. Considering a Rhino has more capacity, it should be cut a bit more. 40 seems OK, considering it also gets Extra Armour.

MCC should start with 2 HKMs built in.

I like the way you annotated the army list. It looked a bit off on the iPhone but from here it works well. You couldn't do something similar for the AoS if you get a bit of free time could you?

Atrotos said...

Sure Bryss, where have you posted the most up to date version of the dex?

Master Bryss said...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/27398478/Angels-of-Secrecy-Codex

There you are. Note that I'm only gradually getting more competitively savvy and only just realised how easy it is to Razorspam with this army. Nothing much that can be done about that really, although I wonder if it would be affected in a small way if the plas-las was removed...

Atrotos said...

Sure Bryss, where have you posted the most up to date version of the dex?