Sunday, 9 March 2014

Legion of the Damned: Part 2 - The Rules (Warhammer 40,000 Codex Supplement Review)

So onto the rules. We've covered the fluff, the good part, so now onto the not so good part.

The problem with trying to look at the rules and general crunch within this codex comes from one key failing: This isn’t a proper codex. It’s certainly good at what little it actually does, but when it comes down to it, the book does not consist of an army you can independently use so much as an expanded detachment. This is probably best explained by just showing you the codex’s force organisation chart:

Yes, you are looking at this correctly. The only unit you are given are basic Legion of the Damned squads, and the actual “chart” in question is just the ability to use up to four squads as a single detachment.

On the upside, this is fantastic for certain space marine armies.

On the downside, this is a complete con. Nothing on the selling page for this codex even begins to inform you of the fact this is a book of one single unit, with no variation or flexibility beyond that. In previous times the Legion of the Damned had access to bikers, dreadnoughts, tanks, and all that good stuff. Here? They don’t even take the time to give them a single captain, instead declaring that if the detachment is to take a Warlord it must be the squad sergeant. This is not only cheap, but insultingly lazy for something Games Workshop is expecting people to buy.

Every other codex in existence, no matter its quality, often has anything from ten to twenty separate units being available to the player. Here? It’s one. This is so bad it’s even managing to fail to meet the very low standards set by other supplements. People will no doubt argue this is likely something similar to the sudden removal of certain units from the previous Codex: Tyranids, to prevent Chapter House Studios or similar groups taking advantage of this. Turning in a model which could fill out this role and earn themselves money off of Games Workshop’s major hobby. My response is simple: Any efforts to solve that problem should not come at the cost of shafting their major customers, especially when it results in supposed armybooks of one single unit being acceptable.

Here’s the insulting bit though – The actual page where you buy this effectively lies about the book. Here’s what it says on their website without any alterations:

"Codex: Legion of the Damned allows you to add Legion of the Damned squads into your Warhammer 40,000 army, or field them as a detachment in their own right. It includes extensive background on the mysterious Legion of the Damned, detailing the times they have appeared to fight alongside the armies of the God-Emperor. Also inside you will find rules for Legion of the Damned units, as well as three new missions, an artefact and Warlord Traits and, all unique to these legendary warriors."

This description very carefully avoids something the book makes very clear within its pages. The fact that you need to use them as allies or a smaller part of a much bigger army. Taking the total number of squads, each maxed out with their upgrades, does not even reach the standard 1,500 points which seems to be standard these days. It also means you can’t get enough points (2,000) to earn a second detachment of them. Even were this not the case, every Legion of the Damned unit is forced to start in reserve meaning you cannot play them as an independent army.

In effect, the core part of this codex is broken without any warnings of any kind.

So that’s the significant flaw here, but what about the rest? Well, in fairness there are actually some decent parts here. Firstly is the durability and toughness of the average Legionary, along with their special rules and certain elements. While they cost 25 points per model, they have the same basic elements as normal marines (standard armament, LD 10 etc.) with the added bonus of having ranged attacks with ignore cover saves and retaining a permanent 3+ invulnerable save themselves. In addition to this they are Slow and Purposeful, are Fearless while causing Fear themselves, and capable of Deep Striking. This makes them perfect to kit out with heavy weapons, which they have plenty in abundance.

What’s better is that atop all of this, if those from this codex are taken as core detachments then they count as scoring units. This makes them extremely effective in taking and holding certain locations. So they’re very effective, but not so great as to not require skill and are still understandably expensive. One of the more interesting upgrades only improves this: The Animus Malorum. Returning from the days of second edition, unfortunately sans Sergeant Centurius, it works a little differently from before, where it brought Legionaries back to life. Here it grants the unit Feel No Pain. Whenever an enemy unit fails a Fear, Pinning or Morale test within 12”, it immediately loses a casualty; improving Feel No Pain rolls by +1.

While usually I would say that this item is somewhat overpowered, it is enhancing what they do best and it’s the only special item in their armoury. Combined with the short range of the +1 ability, it’s beastly but not utterly broken.

Unfortunately however, this is the full extent of the rules available. Instead it opts to follow the same structure set by the supplements, hence another reason why this one has been listed under that category. As such, rather than actual rules for an army, we have a ton of pointless scenarios and an Apocalypse formation. Joy.

The Apocalypse formation this time around isn’t especially good either. It’s just a zerg rush of Legion of the Damned marines to represent them arriving en-mass, with special rules such as forcing the player to take them in squads of ten.

The scenarios meanwhile repeat just about every mistake we have previously seen. They are overly specific, tailored only to certain armies, and are needlessly picky in certain details. While Deliverance on Andraxas is the least problematic of these, it still has special rules which specify that both orks and the Legion of the Damned be involved rather than any other army. The other two meanwhile are written not only to require very specific forces but also certain special characters meaning they are largely inaccessible. The Battle for the Phalanx also fails to even make any real use of its setting with no suggestions on how best to build a map for a massive vessel’s interior. Instead simply saying to use fortifications to represent this.

Really, there is some good stuff in here but you’re not getting much bang for your buck. It’s hardly without any uses and it is a definite step in the right direction, the allies list does not screw over the Sisters of Battle for once, but honestly it’s still below expected standards. If you want some great lore or are desperate to build an army around the Legion get this, but if you only have a passing interest spend your money on something else.


  1. Oh wow, they went the inquisition route I see (1 hq, 3 elites). I didn't expect that, that's a shame and I feel it doesn't work as well here as it did in Inquisition.

    In my opinion the Inquisition codex (because it is not a supplement) actually works, and is pretty neat with 2 major exceptions (I'll get to those later), the reason it works is due to the sheer amount of choice you can have when building your army, Inquisitors start at 25 points but it's pretty easy for their cost to skyrocket into more than a hundred (or sometimes 150+) fully kitted out, same with your units, you can pick models like acolytes (4 points each that can be increased to more than ten times their original cost) priests (they can approximately double) and Jokearo (who start at 35 points but cannot be upgraded), as well as upgrade how you want, give a unit Jokearo and crusaders and you have a long ranged unit with a 3++ save (balanced if only because it can get expensive and they're only BS3).

    It's also quite easy to reach the 2,000+ points mark if you get transport vehicles and special characters, so they don't have to be just a supplement to another army, whereas here the only way you are reaching that mark is if you take 2 Imperial Knights (in which case you've just collected what I'm pretty sure is the most expensive army in the game).

    Now for those two exceptions I mentioned, they are a huge problem in the Grey Knights book because you can field them as troops and not just elites (doubling the amounts of units you can take), and you can make an army entirely out of crusaders (15 points for a power weapon and storm shield which is absurd), or an army entirely out of Jokaero (everything in your entire army minus Coteaz (the guy who makes this possible) now has lascannons, multi-meltas, and heavy flamers so you are effective against literally everything), with lucky rolls you'll be BS4, but since the inquisition cannot take as many units like this you can no longer swarm the table with all of one choice and expect to win (it's still a small issue though).

    Conversely here, it doesn't really seem like there's any point to getting this codex at all besides a few new weapons and a new HQ, both of which could (or possibly should) have been in the 6th edition Space Marine book to start with (and why not considering the Black Templars are now in there), the only negative would be that we wouldn't get all of the lore in Part 1.

    "every Legion of the Damned unit is forced to start in reserve meaning you cannot play them as an independent army."
    This kind of makes me want to enter a tournament with only legion of the damned only to concede victory on the first turn just to show how stupid these rules are and how the back of the book lies to you. It's a shame, because in Part 1 it almost looked like this was going to be the first good supplement.

  2. I'm starting to get the impression that the supplements are getting a little carried away, they don't want to become codex's, and at the same time cannot quite be their own army so they're trying their best to mix and match and aren't quite working, and I'll bet that when 7th edition rolls around they won't even bother to update them at all, and they'll just be forgotten about.

    Maybe if the supplements had been released in one large book they might have worked, something on the level of apocalypse or the main rulebook where they could go over all of the fluff, the rules in detail for each army, as well as their own rules and missions that you can use instead of the regular ones (big rulebook missions I mean), have it be its own thing (call it 40k army supplements or something) instead of just these smaller books, at least that way they can clearly be the B-sides for each army (instead of Chaos Space marines we have Black Legion, instead of Tau we have Farsight Enclaves for example).

    Doing this won't make the books any better, but they'll give them more of a cohesive feel, and they'll be easier to update when the time comes, not to mention it shouldn't be too hard to do considering on average the pages containing the necessary army rules can be counted on one hand.

  3. So there's a few things I just realized after reading through the book myself:

    A) This isn't actually a supplement, they're trying to sell this as an actual codex, as in a fully functional codex that you can use without any other army (a complete lie), the book itself is never called a supplement.

    B) The proof-reading is horrible, you can take a "Datachment" of Legionnaires, who have the rule "Aid Unlooked For" which has two separate definitions, one which forces them to start in reserve, the other forces them to start on the table during turn one, even though the other description is obviously supposed to be for "Aid From Beyond", and lastly:

    C) They don't actually have an HQ choice, my mistake with an earlier comment, I thought they did, because you could almost justify making this into a cheaper supplement by adding in new rules for a HQ choice with new weapons/rules, but as it is now you can get just as much bang for your buck by just using the Space Marine entry for them.

    So after reading it I can safely say I agree, it's a complete disappointment rules-wise.

    1. Yes, sorry for not being clearer on a few points. I did answer in a previous comment that I was classing this as a supplement because, well, that's what it effectively is. Despite being called a completely separate codex, nearly everything from the structure to emphasis on lore and promoting specific units all align with what is usually found within suppments. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear with some of the points, i'll definitely try to make a bigger thing of it should it be repeated again in the future.

      That's something I definitely should have noticed. The proof reading on these works is bad enough to make my reviews look professionally done, but this is indeed an exceptionally bad case of it. To be honest, following the infamy of the Farsight Enclaves' problems (such as Farsight being able to take himself as his own bodyguard) i'd thought they had actually raised their standards to deal with such errors. Thank you indeed for bringing that to my attention

      Yes, if they had actually done something like bring back their special character then this would be a reasonable book for its price. However, it just seems to be yet another sign of corners being cut when it comes to the rules of these books, with them so low that even individual characters are being skipped now. I had thought I had made this clear with the opening image so I am once again sorry for not making this point clearer on just how little the book actually contains. The odd thing is that if they wanted to promote this sort of list there were a few obvious choices they could have made which would fit in with its structure. Adeptus Arbites response units and PDF militia are high up among them. All of who would have much more variety and choice which could easily be written in in terms of transports and equipment. The problem is that, while the Legion itself might be a largely faceless organisation, they don't work when it comes to this sort of book.

    2. You had made it clear with the opening image, somehow I didn't read ELITES I read HQ, that's entirely my fault because I've never seen any book with only one unit (mostly because it's a really stupid idea).

  4. New to this but I have a really good listbuilder that harpies rules error messages. It seems that the army I am building allows me to field a dreadnought and three Lotd. I mean an ultramarine dreadnought. Using three squads and taking them as primary detachment. Could be wrong I know but I am really a fan of the fluff/look/basic concept of the unit. Three 6 man squads lol.