Monday, 12 October 2009

Codex Fluff Wolves - A Review of Sorts

I don't want to do a standard review of Codex: Space Wolves, I'd probably have little new to add to that format and seeing as I'm not a 40k gamer (at the minute) I'd probably be wrong! Furthermore, we've heard all about it now. Instead I want to have a look at the thing that struck me about Phil Kelly's book the most.
Now as anyone familiar with my blog will know, I'm a fluff-junkie. I love the background to the GW games and the opportunities we're given as hobbyists to explore and expand on that. My armies are always built around a story and a theme and I love the plots that develop over the course of a battle. Most of all though, I love developing a plot myself as I build the army and the models. That's the part of the hobby I find most rewarding.
When I first started batting ideas around for the Angels Exemplar I'd been torn whether to go for all out chaos marines or to use the old Space Wolves Codex to build a force as the organisation of the Space Wolves matched how I imagined the Angels Exemplar and the ferocity of the Wolves was also a nice match. Back then as well you could have a Venerable Dread lead an army without it having to be Bjorn and the original concept for Sikandar was that he was a fallen hero of the Angels Exemplar who'd fallen from the grace of the Emperor. Instead though, I'd gone for the chaos space marines. My old loyalties were hard to put aside. However, when I saw rumours of a new Space Wolves codex and I began to flesh out the background more I felt myself getting drawn to it more and more. So that brings us to where we are right now. Now to stop waffling and get to the point!
The one thing that I love about this Codex is that it seems to make an extra effort with something that Games Workshop have been overlooking a little lately in my opinion. It tries to tie together the fluff and the game a lot more and to immerse the player into the game through the characters they create to lead their army. I think in 5th edition 40k there's been an effort to create this immersing effect more, that's one of the selling points of true line of sight. Space Wolves characters are another step in this direction in my mind.
The first thing Phil Kelly has done is to put in a rule where you can't give characters the same wargear loadouts. It's such a simple little rule that stops the spammers and instantly creates unique characters in even a cheesy-power-list-army. I really like this rule, it doesn't detract anything at all but means you have to put that little bit more thought into the characters, your representatives on the battlefield.
The second, and more obvious way in which this fluff-focus has been added is the Saga list. These sort of upgrades are nothing new, we've had Chaos/Daemonic Gifts, Vampiric Powers, Oaths, Big Names etc in a lot of GW army books/codices. What is different with them is the oath associated with them. Sure it's not a game rule, but it's a brilliant concept to put this sub-mission in the mind of the player. I'm sure there will be plenty of players that ignore the oaths and good luck to them but for those of us that like this sort of thing they're such a wonderful concept. I will not play a game with the Angels Exemplar once I'm started on them where the oaths of my characters won't be a personal mission! The only downside to the sagas is that there are so few of them but this is a positive review and I'm sure there can be plenty discussion about what could have been added in but not right now.
Next, I want to mention the Lone Wolf. Another brilliant concept. How many times when we've played our games of 40k or Fantasy etc have we had one of these present themselves from the rank and file. Many a time now the Champion in my Fantasy Chaos Warriors with Great Weapons unit has outlived his comrades and gone on solo missions of self-sacrifice. It's the sort of plot I mentioned before that unfolds as a battle goes on. The Lone Wolf represents a brilliant opportunity to start with one of these guys! There will most definitely be one of these in my army, to me they represent something a bit like the Emperor's Champion idea. Mine shall have a sword and a shield and charge forth to meet the monstrous enemies of the Angels Exemplar in combat. I can't wait! The fluff-junkie in me is thinking I'll wait to introduce one of these guys in my army until a unit gets so battered in a battle and I'm left with a genuine Lone Wolf rank and file guy. Then his legend will continue on!
Anyway, I'm going to finish on that note. A lot has been written, ranted and raved about the new codex and everything that's wrong with it and how it'll wreck the game. I just wanted to bring attention to the subtle focus change within the codex and what it can represent to the rest of us that enjoy the spectacle of the game instead of the power-gaming.
Comments etc will be greatly appreciated. I have another post about army fluff planned soon as it's a subject I'm quite keen on exploring further!


Anonymous said...

Nicely observed. I'd love to see this style continue for future Codexes, and dearly hope we get to see it applied to the next Chaos Codex, whenever it appears.

Rogue Pom said...

Nice write up Elazar, I just received my copy today - I ordered it late. I always love the release of a new codex, no matter the army, simply for the expansion to the background that you are sure to find within.

I have flicked through the store copy enough times to know that Phil really did a lot to build on the fluff and tie it in closely to the models and units. The fluff and the models really resound with one another - the Lone Wolf being a great example and now dead simple to produce with the upgrade kits they have released. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

MANCHU said...

Your review is really quite refreshing. There isn't enough attention to the fluff on the blogs much less brought to the table. Maybe C:SW is a hint that GW thinks so, too.

Hudson said...

Great review Elazar, you're right on the money as far as the rules and fluff coming together. I also like the fact that the psychic powers have a common theme of manipulating the environment (Njal of course being the master). Rune Priests would fit into a WHFB army as Sorcerors with Lore of the Heavens.

The Lone Wolf also was a nice touch (he's a Slayer!). Also a great excuse to build a really cool one-off model without thinking about how he fits into a unit.