Saturday, 18 January 2014

023. Nostaligic look back - Space Marine Codices through the ages...

I mentioned in the comment section of a previous post that given the week long 44+ degree Celsius heat here in Southern Australia, I have not done anything by way of painting.

Instead I have spent my non family/work time reading - reading books, reading blogs, and more lately reading codices and rule books.

I've been a collector more than a gamer and painter for much of my time in the hobby scene, and I have a bit of a compulsion to pick up old things to fill in gaps in my collections - I am on a constant drive to find good deals on old codices and rules/supplements and the like.

Colonel Scipio over at Palladian Guard recently posted about a fantastic deal he picked up on eBay - a complete second edition 40K set, with all the booklets and minis etc, plus a copy of the third ed book.  He plans on trying out games using older rule sets which I am all for - I've never understood the whinging that goes with updates to core rules and codices - simply keep using what you like!

So to fill in my week while I avoided the heat and keep my current posting trend rolling, I've pulled out my old material, scanned the and uploaded them here in this iteration of my nostalgic look back posts (its now a thing I'm doing - 2 posts on a topic totally makes it a thing).

Army books started out in Second Ed with Codex Imperials.  I'll save it for another post in the future to show of the contents of this and some of the other books, but what it contained inside were the unit summaries for all the various factions in existence in the game at that time - much like what the 3rd Ed rule book sought to do as a transition between eras.  The book came only in the boxed starter game along with the Wargear book, a ton of cards, the Rule Book itself and the Black Codex, as well as a snazzy little flier that I must have read about 100 times before I finally understood what the different colour Marines symbolised.
The book that started it all - 2nd Ed
Companion book to Imperialis - 2nd Ed
The Wargear book essentially gave you the stats for all the varied weapons in use across the races at the time including such delights as Plasma-Missile shooting Missile Launchers, Hand Bows, Squat Exo-Armour and Thudd Guns.

During 2nd ed, GW started to slowly put out Codices as we would know them today, oriented on specific races and factions.  I believe the Space Wolf one came first, and then Ultramarines and Angels of Death (a combined Blood Angel and Dark Angel book).

What I liked about these books were they expanded on the fluff for Marines in general, but the specific Chapter in particular, as wel as including artwork, wargear cards to upgrade those found in the Wargear book, lots of detail about unit and army markings, and at the end displayed in exploded bit form (just like the older White Dwarfs would) the entire range of miniatures available for the book.
The Smurfs own book - 2nd Ed
Angels of all kinds - 2nd Ed
Wolves in space - 2nd Ed
With the launch of 3rd came a book that incorporated into a Generic Marine book, all the Codex Chapter characters (ie the Imperial Fists, Black Templars, Crimson Fists - not Wolves or the Angels though).

This was the book I started with and treasured for a number of years.  At 48 pages it was the smallest Codex out of the series I'm showing here, and included hobby content as well as unit entries (a whole 9 pages of unit entries!!).  This was my most prolific gaming point in my hobby career as I had a stable of school friends I would play with at least 3 times a week.  I only have fond (if hazy) memories of this time of my hobby life.  I've added a few pictures of my favourite parts of the codex.
Sharing rights with all Codex Chapters - 3rd Ed
The whole chapter - simply brilliant
How to lose battles and have fun - No matter how hard I followed these tactics, I still got trounced
As this goes to post (1420 hours) I should be deep into my Tactical Indoctrination class
I'm not actually sure I was active in the hobby for much of 4th as I took a hiatus following my last years of high school and opening years of university study.  If I came back to the hobby during this period, it was at the end of the run.  Similarly, I didn't play much during 5th as my GW fatigue slowly took hold.  While I went on a prolific collection expansion throughout this time, my productivity and game play went right down.

I did game a bit in my local (now closed) store - even playing once against Col. Ackland towards the end of my 'active' gaming period.  The books of this era stayed true to the 'Codex' chapter focus, expanding on the range of Chapter characters included.  Somewhere in there a lowly Veteran Sergeant of the Imperial Fists became the First Company (and Chapter Master nominee) Lysander!

The 4th ed codex included a Chapter Traits section to allow you to customise your chosen (including home brew) Chapters play style - I stayed vanilla.  This was dropped in the 5th ed codex in favour of Chapter specific special characters imposing army wide rules.
The Honour Guard figures couldn't live up to that awesome artwork - 4th Ed
Don't know what to say here - this book saw anger only once or twice with me - 5th Ed
The 6th ed codex has returned from a cover perspective, to where it started with Codex Imperialis - A Power Fist and Bolter waving Marine in the thick of battle.  Like the later edition codices, this is packed with more Codex Chapter detail, modifying the 5th ed character imposed rules to a more general specified Chapter Tactics set - you don't need to buy a character to gain the rules now.  So now instead of playing vanilla (which is still an option) Marines (which would have been what Ultramaines were considered in the past),  I can now choose to take special rules relating to the Ultramarine Chapter!

This book is huge, with oads of fantastic fluff detail, fantatstic artwork from across the years, most of it now in colour for the first time, with awesome mini showcases, and a much expanded unit listing.  For all that, some of the older codices are closer to my heart, for sheer nostalia reasons more than anything.
A stomping big codex at over 170 pages - 6th Ed
So that was my quick look back through the history of Space Marine codices (without exploring all the 3rd ed+ non Codex specific Chapters who between them nearly have another 10 or so books).

In later posts in this series I'll open some of the books up and pull out some of my favourite parts - the old 2nd ed Ork book always makes me laugh - has anyone ever wondered where Orks get their topknots from?!!!

Cheers all - its starting to cool down somewhat now so painting will be back on the cards soon.



  1. Fantastic walk down memory lane! I loved (love) those old books. I started with the 2nd edition boxed game and spent hours pouring over the Codex Imperialis and Wargear book; good times. It is amazing all the stuff that was still in the game back then; Grey Knights and Assassins, etc. Everything was a lot more veiled in mystery in the 2nd and 3rd editions, an aspect that has been partially lost over the years (although some of this is probably because I am looking though rose tinted glasses).

    The 3rd edition Codex books were certainly the worst, but despite this, I probably spent the most time with them. The Dark Angels and Blood Angels codex books were like 5 pages long, he he. The newer books certainly have come a long way. The biggest thing I do not like about them is how they colour old pictures. When they do this, they tend to smudge out detail and often make the piece look worse then it had originally. And they do not even credit the artists anymore. For such a critical aspect of the hobby, I find it appalling how little respect they seem to give their fantastic artists. The stuff by Karl Kopinski has come to define the best aspects of the 40k unniverse, and it pains me to see his work (and others) hastily changed in photoshop to look more like new kits they are releasing (Dark Angel Ravenwing/Dark Knight image in the 6th edition codex is particularly bad).

    Anyway, thanks for all the pictures, and I cannot wait to see more!

    1. Cheers Eric. The old Imperialis book is full of a great range of goodies that I'm looking forward to showing off in a future post. Definitely a highlight in the sreies of Marine Codices.

      Yep - the old Dark Angel/Blood Angel books were a tad light on in 3rd - I gues they didn't feel the need to repeat a lot of the same material from the vanilla Marine codex which I find they do a lot nowadays.

      I quite like some of the new colour plate versions of the artwork - moreso when you realise some of them were always colour jobs that were made monoshramtic for printing purposes in the days pre colour codices. I agree though when they make changes to old art to re-brand or re -mark an image it doesn't seem right not to remain true to the original artist.

      I also agree they should have stuck with crediting the artists, of both the artwork itself, as well as the miniatures. In the 3rd ed book, a lot of the images have a blurb saying who painted it.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

    2. Ah pure nostalgia, fantastic post sir. I re-purchased the Codex Imperialis last year mostly for the fluff snippets but also in case I could manage to convince anyone to try 2nd ed...

      As for the Orks, I always wondered why fungus had hair... Wasn't there a piece about them being "hair squigs" a while back - unless I've been having rather strange dreams.

    3. Hair Squigs indeed Kieran!

      Love the stuff on Judges and Arbitrators in Imperialis - its a real gem of a book.

  2. Well, as you know I normally just sneer at spaze muhreens. But with them, we wouldn't have the rest of the game, would we ? So hurrah for them all; the over powered gene-freak psychos.

    1. I'll dig out my Guard books for a future run so the Imperiums Hammer gets its time in the sun too Zzzzzz.

  3. Thanks for the shout out, and a cracking post! I think I have all the Guard codices now, and as I went back to do a Third Edition list I kept finding rules I really missed - Trademark Items, the Veteran Officer (with three wounds) for the Hardened Veterans, Sergeants with access to the armoury... if/when Guard are re-released I think I'll get the new codex, if just for completeness.

    An interesting post! Looking forward to that Guard one...

    1. Cheers for prompting my thought process for this post Colonel - its definitely worth it every now and then to look back at where we used to be and see what we are missing.