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.