Warhammer 40,000 – Codex: Space Marines First Look

Today is Space Marine Release Day. I’ve already given my thoughts about the miniatures (none of which I have in hand), so now it’s time to look at the Codex itself. Specifically, the Enhanced iPad Edition, which I had preordered.

First up, a warning, which I haven’t seen any official word1 about from Games Workshop, but have heard from a number of reliable sources: “technical difficulties” with the iBook Store have prevented several of the promoted features of the iPad Edition from being available at launch – namely, the narrated audio and the “Force Requisition” army builder. To say this was disappointing is a bit of an understatement, but I’m not sure what I’m more annoyed by: the missing features, or the poor communication from GW. A free update to the book is coming in the next week, apparently. I’m posting this up here just to let other hobbyists know.

So, with that out of the way, what about the Codex itself? There’s a lot to it, and a lot to like, so I’ll try and break it down into relevant sections:


By far the biggest part of the book, and one which sees many changes to the 5th Edition book. Gone is the focus on the Ultramarines. Instead, this book is really incredibly neutral. After a general history lesson, and a look at how Space Marines are created, the book covers all of the First Founding chapters who don’t have their own Codex: Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Salamanders, White Scars, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands. In addition, a number of successor Chapters get a large chunk of attention. As you may have heard, Black Templars are also part of the Codex now, and so there is a section just for them as well.

I’m a big lover of the 40K “fluff.” It’s what sets the game far apart from just about every other system out there. For me, this section was pretty awesome. My only critique would be be that some details seem purposefully vague; it’s as if they’re trying to lead you to the Black Library novels for more detail. For the most part you would anyway, if you’re a fan… but there’s just a few places in this section where it felt a little contrived.

Wargear/Army List/Rules

I’m the very definition of a “casual” gamer; I play a couple of times a year at most. That said, I do like to skim the rules, lists, and wargear sections for particularly interesting dynamics and combos. Take anything I say here with a pinch of salt due to lack of game time, but here’s some thoughts on what I’ve read:

  • Grav-weapons are nasty. AP2, wounding based on armour saves, cannons have salvo – which, with Centurions and their Slow & Purposeful, means 5 shots each. Grav Amps let you re-roll failed to-wound/the effect against vehicles.
  • Without the “assault from Deep-strike” element of the Heroic Intervention rule, Vanguard Veterans become simply a better equipped, more expensive, Assault Squad. Could be useful as a bodyguard unit, due to the ability for the sergeant to intervene in challenges, but I can’t see any immediate benefit to these guys.
  • Landspeeder Storms look pretty good now. Their jamming beacon has a 12″ radius, and doubles the number of dice an opponent rolls for Deep Strike scatter. Use them as a way to quickly deny areas of the board to the likes of Daemons, Deathwing, or other Deep-Strike happy armies.
  • The Hunter looks (to me) the better of the two anti-aircraft tanks
  • You can also fit an insane number of Flakk missiles into the army
  • Fighting Necrons with Imotekh? Take Centurions with Grav Cannons and an Omniscope.

Miniature Showcase

I’ve always liked this part of a codex; it’s always a source of inspiration. In this iPad version, the pictures are big (2 mini’s to a page) and there’s lots of them. A lot of the pictures are of Ultramarines, but there’s a lot of other chapters represented as well, which is always nice to see.

It would have been nice to showcase some of the great non-Studio miniatures we’ve seen recently, or otherwise had more conversions in there. One of the best parts of the hobby is getting to see stuff that breaks away from the “norm.” Obviously this is a gap that “Kit Bash” and other features in White Dwarf are trying to fill, but I’ve always thought it would be great to include some of this inspiration in the codexes.


  • As with all 6th Edition Codexes, the artwork is pretty amazing.
  • The linked rules pop-ups and glossary are so handy to have, it really makes the case for the digital format
  • Some of the “general” information about space marines is mixed into the Chapter-specific sections, so don’t skip them just because they’re not your favourite Chapter

Overall, I’d say this is the best codex of 6th Edition so far. As much as I enjoyed Codex: Tau, this just seemed to be a step above. As for how it plays… others will find out quicker than I will on that one, and no doubt there’s all manner of debate raging across forums already! I’m still a little bitter about the missing features/lack of communication, but I’ll get over that eventually. As I’d planned to with all the armies I collect, I’ll be picking up the hardback version in addition to this digital copy – the quality of this release makes it a lot easier to justify now!

If you’ve read the codex, what are your thoughts?

  1. It’s possible it was posted on the GW Digital Facebook page. In fact, I had a moan at the GWDigital Twitter account yesterday because their cross-posting from Facebook sucks. My view is they have multiple, more central, ways to communicate – either White Dwarf Daily blog, or the Black Library blog, for starters – that it should have been trivial to get this news out ahead of time to manage expectations.


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