Tuesday, 1 July 2014

7th Edition and Codex Orks.

So I got my hands on these Sunday...

I obviously haven't had time to read them both. Or even one of them. What I have done is flick through and get a first impression.

To break up the flow of Nurgley posts I thought I would put down some of my first impressions and thoughts on both of the new books.

Please note I am not going to give a review of the new 7th Ed rules, i'll leave that to people who have more time on their hands. This is more about my general feelings towards the way things have gone, about the new layouts, about changes in the direction of the Orks over the years.

I will apologise now as this will probably turn into a long winded, messy, bloated diatribe...

7th Edition...

So we start with the big one. A new Edition of 40k. Yay. I was just beginning to think 'it's been two whole years, surely that is long enough, i've got enough use out of this big book and these cards I bought already'.

Putting my thoughts aside of the speed in which 7th has arrived (the first print of 6th couldn't have been off the print line before they started writing 7th...) I think the idea of the separate books is a very good move, harking back to the old 2nd edition books (I still have those knocking around somewhere). Having one book for rules and one book for background is so much better than a massive tome.

But then we have this:

What a waste of trees.
Basically we have a book that contains pictures of models. Just models built straight out of the box.

What we used to have in 40k rulebooks was things to inspire you, yes you saw pictures showcasing the models you can buy but you got much more than that, you saw conversions and dioramas that inspire and make you go 'I want to do that'. Battle scenes showing armies clashing over great terrain and modelled scenery is only glimpsed on one or two pages - tantalising you with what could have been a great showcase for all aspects of the hobby.

All that has gone. It's like that side of the hobby no longer exists, you only have the models GW makes to play the game - everything else is irrelevant.

Conversions! Showcased in the 6th Edition book.

This comes through in the rule book itself. Flicking through the terrain and we get Datalates for GW terrain  (why do we need a full page dataslate for sodding craters? Difficult terrain, saving throw that's all we need to know). I don't want special rules for every little piece of terrain, terrain already adds a huge amount to a game without having to complicate things by every ruin giving a special rule (plus they are stupid rules, every manufactorum giving a bonus for 'Gets Hot', i'm sure a factory that used to make washing machines or clothes pegs really helps you when your plasma gun blows up in your face).

We get one paragraph about scratch built terrain. That's it. No examples of what can be built with the GW kits, no examples of Xenos terrain, no examples of scratch built terrain, nothing but pictures of GW kits. We didn't get a huge offering in the last rulebook, but we still got things like:

Examples of great gaming boards, some terrain built from GW kits, some not.

Mass armies in battles, again over great terrain. Fold out pages showcasing things to the max.
Am I the only one who mourns the loss of things like this?

If I want just a catalogue for models I'd buy White Dwarf or that Visions thing. Or spend time browsing the online store. I don't need a full page close up detail shot of a Marine Dreadnought for pity's sake, I want to see things that will inspire me, things to aim for, to push my own skills in trying to achieve something better.

Maybe it is me. Maybe I was spoiled growing up with Rogue Trader and everything that followed in the early and mid years of 40k.

But I forget. Games Workshop is a model company who happen to provide you rules to play with your models. I have to wonder if that is the case why do they make me spend so much money in buying the rule books and why they have to bring in a new edition after just two years. But as just a model company they only want you to buy their models, nothing else is relevant. As such there is no room in their books to show anything but stock models built straight out of the box and no room for rules for anything they don't make (after all why would anyone want that? people only want to buy models, the rules are only there so you can use the models you buy from them).

And now we have...

Codex Orks.

So after many years we have a new Ork Codex and some new models. Though alas not any new models for the old models that desperately needed replacing.

As with the rulebook I have not read the codex, new rules might be great, they might not. I haven't got an Ork army so I must be up front and honest and state that i'm not that invested in how the rules have changed/improved/got worse etc.

White Dwarf 123, one of the few I have kept.

But...I do love Orks. The first WD's I ever bought covered the very first Ork army list (WD 123 onwards) and introduced these fun loving thugs into my life. They had charm, with with a brutal edge.

So after a quick look through what are my initial thoughts on the new Codex? We now have a new Codex layout, gone is the bestiary and army list and instead we have the Dataslate layout combining the two.

You know what, in principle I am in favour of this set up. I would hate to imagine how much time I have spent flicking from one page to another while trying to put together an army list. Having all the options, points and unit rules together is great. Put in the background and you have the perfect set up.

However (you knew that was coming didn't you?) I do have a few small, niggling negatives with these Dataslates.

The rule seems to be if you have a Dataslate it has to be a full page. Again, justifiable if you have all the background a unit deserves. But look at that picture above. We have the Painboy and Grotsnik pages shown, both having a huge picture of the model. The background material is squeezed to a minimum just so we can see another photograph of a model. Drop the pictures and you could fit everything for those two entries freeing up a page for something else (I don't know what, maybe something there wasn't 'room' for and had to be then put into White Dwarf...?).

We still have pages of photographs showing the Ork model range. Every Codex should show off the armies models, I wouldn't deny this. But to miss out on so much artwork and background material for just another picture is in no way a worthy trade.

And above we have the Boyz and Grot entries. Do we really need to see photographs showing us what an Ork and Grot looks like? it's not like they aren't shown elsewhere in the book. It's not as if someone is going to pay £30 for a codex without knowing what an Ork or Grot is.

Looking back on the artwork from those early WD's (and from the books which were then released covering the army lists and background material) we get gems like these...

Top left to bottom right...
Painboy with assistant, a pipe smoking Mekaniak (such a better name than Mekboy), a Weirdboy and his Minderz (in the days when Weirdboyz had to be 'encouraged' to the battlefield and to use their powers) and finally a Madboy. God how I miss Madboyz.

Each incarnation of Orks seems to see them get a little more plain. And a little more homogenized. Each unit has lost some of it's individuality.

Don't get me wrong the models are awesome, the current range (bar the still ridiculously old Wartrakks etc) are so far beyond almost everything GW have done for Orks before that they are almost out of sight. Warbikes, Dreads, Stormboyz etc are outstanding in both looks and variety.

But the army? We have lost so much which seemed to make Orks Orks. The madcap nature and variety has been sucked out to make things easier to sell and play.

We cannot go back to the earliest days, the pages and pages of tables you had to roll for Madboyz or the SAG results were time consuming even then when you only had a fraction of the units and models you now field in a game. But that is no reason to lose some of the joy and creativity you could have with them.

The old Deathskull Lootas (before they became simply 'Lootas') actually fielded looted weapons, amazing. Each boy had his own weapon taken from a dead Marine or guardsman. Now we get a unit where every weapon is the same. Why? If a Guard Vet squad can take a mix of weapons (lasgun, plasma, melta, flamer, grenade launcher, not too mention the HW options...) why can't a Lootas mob whose individuals are far less structured and regimented than a Guard squad have more variety in the weapons they could field?

Similarly the Flash Gitz have a weapon each which is identical. What has happened to the Flash Gitz spending their teef to get the best, biggest, loudest weapon they could? Once you could upgrade at least the squad as a whole (e.g. more dakka) but even that has now gone.

The Trukk and Battlewagon kits are very nice kits, there is no denying that and we waited so long to get a vehicle for the Orks. I compare it to the original Battlewagon I bought oh so many years ago (it came with seven Ork boyz as well, the start of my first Mob). When an Ork force now goes to war we see identical (bar weapon changes) vehicles. Where is the Ork creativity? I do not say this to criticise Ork players who use the kits - as I say they are very nice and look great, what I find sad is the lack of options we are presented with that would allow those who want to to create and convert different trucks and battlewagons. But we will never get rules that would allow us to do this as GW will only provide rules for models they sell.

Orks used to have a huge range, just a small selection...

And we used to be able to build these. First we had rules and templates in WD (I still fondly remember the cardboard Gobsmasha I built. My first scratchbuild).

Then later we could bring these and others to the gaming table using the Vehicle Design Rules (we'll never see the like again...).

Yeah, VDR. It wasn't perfect but my god it was a joy to see the whole scope of vehicle building and converting open up for everyone regardless of the army you had.

The one thing we had left in the old Codex that gave us a little of that was the Looted Wagon. The rules were crap yes, but it brought something different and inherently Orky to an Ork army. Even as a pale shadow of the original Looted Wagon rules (where you know, you actually took an enemy vehicle and looted it) it at least gave you something of the original in the force.

So it goes and then we get the White Dwarf looted wagon, still crap rules but now if you want to use the Wagons you built you have to pay more on top of the codex. Thanks Games Workshop. Instead of filling the Codex with needless additional pictures they should have given the Wagon a page to itself full of options and fieldable as 1-3 in a unit, after all if the Guard can take three Leman Russ in a unit why can't the Orks field three Looted Russes in a unit?

Goodbye Looted Wagon. I will miss thee.

The fun is going out of Orks. Where are the funny one liners describing how the SAG has gone wrong? Or the little vignettes showing Orks and Grots being, well, just being Orks and Grots. I don't want to return to the past, but neither do I want the past to be wiped away for a more bland version of the Green Ladz we know and love.

(and I haven't even covered the Clans - oh please let us have the Clans back. If we can have umpteen different Marine Chapters each with special characters, units and vehicles can't we a little Clan action with some specific units?)

The End Bit.

Maybe I look at the past with rose tinted glasses.

Maybe I should just get on with it and pretend everything is ok.

Maybe I should stop being a miserable tosser and join in with the corporate GW.

I love 40k, I really do. It saddens me to see the path things have gone down of late. More than anything else the parts of the hobby I cherish is the background and the creativity. It seems GW does not believe the same. The models might be getting better and better but my enthusiasm for buying them is getting less and less. As GW goes further into its isolationist bubble becoming the only company nowadays that pulls away from embracing social interaction, social networks, forums, events, conventions etc rather than embracing it  the less they seem to care about the people who they sell their products to or the worlds and beings they have created.

I do not want to turn this into a rant about GW and my thoughts on them and their practices but unfortunately the new Rulebook and Codex seems to have brought it out of me somewhat.

I probably should stop here. There were other things I was mulling over after flicking through the books but to be honest I have gone on long enough already and I doubt many who started reading this will have got this far so to save them wasting more of their lives I shall bring this to a close.

Basically GW, you annoy the fuck out of me, you are letting yourself down, and you are letting everything you have built up over the last 30 years down. Pull your socks up.

Except for Forge World. For those guys I would offer up sacrifices, goat, chicken, homeless man, whatever their choice is. I would do this because they are now the GW I fell in love with 20 odd years ago, and even as I enjoy all that they do it also saddens me.


  1. All those old Epic Ork vehicles were awesome, it would have been a joy to see some of the make a return, but no as you pointed out a rather bland streamlined version of the last codex was what we got. And I really would not care about this if they at least has some conversions and illustrations filling up these gaps and showing all the creativity and imagination that has gone into the orks through the years.

    I have stopped looking at their model showcases for years. I simply do not care about seeing their stock models. We have all seen them so many times, why would I want to pay money to see them again? I wish the sections were just removed all together.

    I too like how they combined all the rules together, but am really disappointed that the usually excellent illustrations that accompany each unit (often the only reason I got the books to begin with when they stopped featuring conversions) where replaced with huge pictures of the same banal models. I loved how greats like Karl Kopinski would take the general designs and themes and make them their own, adding new details and ideas, rather then simply copying the models (why should their ideas of what an ork is be less qualified then the sculptor?).

    But I guess the individual artist has been belittled for years now. The 6th edition codex books stopped even crediting the artists. And they even took old illustrations and photoshopped over them to add color and change them to look more like new models (a Ravenwing picture comes to mind...). Truly a same. I guess I am glad there are so many sites like this one that still value the creative spirit that the hobby was started around!

    1. I hadn't noticed that (but I didn't pick up many codex books). That is a real shame to not even crediting artists, feels like relegating them to an unimportant role. Cheers for the comment and kind words.

  2. I think as an ork player you know perfectly well that the GW model range is only the basis for your modeling pleasure. There is no reason you can't make your own loota's or flash gitz, or create wonderful things, and just use the base battle wagon rules.

    Tons of ork players are already having an absolute field day kit bashing massive walkers now that we have our own imperial titans to play with. The greatest thing about orks, is that you don't HAVE TO use the GW kits if you don't want to. Like orks on boars? Use them as warbikes!

    Want to run a bunch of leman russ tanks? Use the new battle wagon formation (5 wagons, all get scout!!!) They don't have to be the GW model!

    I will def agree with you that it's sad to see some of the character leave the army...I personally was so upset that ramshackle was gone. I've already talked to my LGS and we are just going to keep playing with the old rule (just upping str to 4 on the explosion). It was stupid of them to remove it.

    1. I don't think you get what I meant.

      I was not saying at all that people will not be creative with their Ork conversions and scratchbuilds.

      But where once GW would encourage this people now do it in spite of what GW do with the range and rules. They take options away and limit what you can do.

      Building my own Lootas ot Flash Gitz would just be doing different models for exactly the same rules/options etc. I like the Loota and Flash Git models, no reason why I would want to build my own version. Any version I build would still follow the same, somewhat bland, rules we have been given in the Codex. My issue is where once we would get a GW model we would also get rules which would allow you to them expand on the GW model and bring it something new. Now a Flash Git whoever builds it will still be a Flash Git with the same weapon & options etc.

      I would not want to run a load of looted Leman Russ tanks as counts as Battlewagons, I want them to be Looted Leman Russ tanks.

      Likewise I want to be able to do something that simply isn't a trukk or battlewagon with a different look, those old Epic vehicles fulfilled different roles, have extra which set them apart from each other etc.

  3. Overall I am enjoying the codex for the streamlined datasheets, but loss of options and conversion opportunities is what really sucks. I was hoping some of the Forge World Dread Mob would make its way in the codex, stuff like Mekboy Junkaz (would sell some more of the overpriced Mek Gunz that way!), Big Trakkz and the hilarious Grot Tanks (and Mega-Tank.)

    Ah well, at least Freebooterz get more time in the limelight and a new Flash Git kit. :)

    I wonder if any fan rewrites have sprung up yet? :p

    1. Yeah FW have done a great job in bringing more to the Ork range.

      If only they could give us Clan rules and bring back some of the other concepts, vehicles etc. They did a Runt Bot for a show only figure so maybe they could bring them back properly...

  4. Maybe you ought come join the Oldhammer scene, Rictus old pal. I'm recruiting locals to do just that.

  5. I fully agree on pretty much everythin you have said. The miniatures book from the rules set was basically stock models and adverts for paints and wd...... as you say a waste of trees

    I hadn't realised they had taken most of the fluff and traditional artwork out of the ork codex, that just stinks of laziness. Hell one of the reasons I bought codexes was for the art.

    I know people have been saying it for years now but even I am beginning to believe GW is finished if they don't make some major major changes to their practises.

    1. I don't think they are finished. They are just looking for a different market than those of us from the early years. Maybe it is the right one for them, not something I like but i'm sure they could justify in their own minds every decision they have made as a good business one..

  6. I liked the new edition in some ways, but not in others. Here is a copy of the email I sent to GW customer services (as yet received no reply):

    Hi there,

    I just received my copy of the new rules, and I was moved to write to you. I have to say given the price tag I am very disappointed. Whilst I like the new format of three books, the content is really lacking.

    There is very little new artwork in the books I hadn't seen before. In fact the books are distinctly lacking even in recycled artwork, nowhere is there anything as impressive as the fold out sections of the 6th edition rules, or even the moody scene setting of the first few pages from 4th edition.

    The photographs are also poor in comparison to 6th. The photographer seems obsessed with detailed close ups, there are no pictures of inspiring table layouts or games in progress, which fill the 6th edition book and really inspire you to build a great table to play on yourself. Instead the photos are mostly of single armies or of diorama style arrangements which are not so inspiring.

    The fluff is recycled even down to the exact same appendix from 6th appearing at the end of Dark Millenium! Come on GW, you could have written something new, even been a bit daring and advanced the plot a little. Theres no need for Terra to fall, but the 13th Crusade could advance into the Imperium a little perhaps. Maybe a Primarch might return? Even a Daemon one!

    Lastly the rules. There is so little difference to the 6th edition rules it feels like this could have been issued as an FAQ. In fact I suspect that the FAQ released shortly after 6th actually made more rules changes to 6ths core rules that have been made by this new edition. A few years ago the new missions would have been a White Dwarf release, now they must justify the expense of an entire edition. There are still many unclear rules and rules open to manipulation, too many to list here, and the codex FAQs released to accompany 7th actually took away many answers to questions that they had previously contained!

    I think that everyone was expecting Escalation and Stronghold Assault to be folded into these new rules, but they are not (though to add to the confusion some, but not all of their rules are superseded). In fact in a step back from 6th the rules for individual fortifications have disappeared making Stronghold Assault essential for playing a game, unless I am happy to refer to both 6th and 7th editions whilst playing.

    All of this leaves a sour taste in the mouth, especially given that I have had to buy these rules only two years after the previous edition, and following on from the similarly disappointing Astra Militarum Codex which had less units and options and worse fluff than its predecessor.

    I have to say that despite playing since Rogue Trader days, owning every set of rules and many many codices and supplements, and having 10,000+ points of painted models, I have never been so disappointed by a purchase or an edition change. If another edition comes in a similar time frame, especially if the core rules remain so antiquated (the rest of the world has moved to various systems of alternate unit activation, so wake up and get with the programme GW), then I suspect the local community will lose even more players, possibly including me.


    Mr * *****

    Thinking about Orks, I reckon GW have become increasingly embarrassed by them over the last few years as they don't fit into their vision of Grimdark Grimdarkness in the Dark Grimness of the Grimey Darkly Grim future. They have just missed the point entirely that the 40K world was a super-heightened ridiculous space parody, capable of genuine horror and comedy at the same time. Oh well.

    1. They NEVER respond to any emails that include criticism...

    2. If only they had a way to interact with the people who actually partake in this hobby...something like a forum or a social network...oh no, it's GW. Silly me.

      Let me know if you ever hear anything...

  7. I am in complete agreement with everything you said in the article regarding the Ork codex. I picked it up on Saturday after 5 weeks of drawn out waiting! Finally it was here and finally, excited as a boy at Christmas, I tore off the cellophane and began to read through. Boy oh boy, imagine my disappointment when I flick straight to the hobby section (my favourite section) and find nothing but a few crappy 'mid-battle' images of the same Ork models I've already seen. Mix that in with the MASSIVE images of the Ork units in their dataslate and it just becomes repetitive and thoroughly boring. Oh look its a trukk, oh look it's the same trukk, and again, and over their in the background.....and so on. Where has the art work gone? Where is the brand new full colour art that all the other codexes have gotten so far?? It's so disappointing and I was severely underwhelmed. As a long time Ork played I can say the rules are ok'ish but I'm yet to play a game of 7th ed let alone Orks so I'll have to see what I think after a couple of games.

    Overall, I get the impression that GW don't want you to convert anything anymore outside of a bits bash. Orks have always been perfect for me because they allow me to create whatever I want and I will continue to do so. Luckily Im not restricted to playing in a GW so I can and do use third part miniatures and I often scratch build my vehicles so that won't change for me. It's more the attitude of GW that annoys and upsets me. The decision to leave the looted wagon out of the codex sets a precedent against individual creativity to me and it's also cheeky as hell!

    Anyway, I enjoyed this article if only that it reflected my own disgruntlement and I hope that Ork players out their have the energy to continue scratching/kitbashing/converting truly unique units :)

    1. Cheers for commenting.

      Yeah, not sure what else I could add in reply (though the article could have been longer I admit but I felt it was getting too long already).

  8. Here, here! I agree with all that you've said!

    Not sure if its reassuring or not that I'm not the only one becoming quite apathetic towards GW's direction that they've taken with 40k...

    1. Cheers.

      I think it is a feeling which is growing amongst many, especially those of a 'veteran' nature.

  9. Cheers for the comments everyone.

    This post have proved rather popular. Number f page views and comments is some of the highest I have ever had. Bar posts on Heresy Weekender, FW Open Day etc which obviously attract huge numbers of page views this post has seen about three times the usual footfall for a blog post on RD.

    I may do another post along the same lines in the near future. Possibly expand on some of the points above. But not just yet...I want to build some more models before then...

    I may also do a post on Orks, highlighting some of the things we have lost over the years, for good or ill.

  10. I miss the days when you could tell which clan a model was from before it was even painted. Now we just have the red ones or the blue ones or the yellow ones...

    1. Aye, shame we only have Rainbow Orks now, rather than clans that have distinct characteristics besides the colour scheme.

    2. Got to say I'm ok with the 'basic' ork - no different to the space marines and they can still be altered enough to give a specific feel - I have orc boar boys for bikers for example.
      It would be nice to see more conversions sets like the FW commando ones though, that would make a big difference (although a bit cheaper please!)

  11. You're right on, man. There's no personality, no charm, and no joy of creation about the hobby side of the game anymore. It's been turned into soulless, boring, buy-it-now crap.

    Don't even get me started on the unbalanced codexes and needlessly byzantine rules...

  12. I have to agree with most of your points guys. I've collected warhammer (mostly orks) for years and there had been a huge shift from creative gaming to flat out sales. The ork codex? No stories, no conversions, no painting assistance and almost no characters! (I mean really?) All for £30. Sad fact is that prices have risen loads while the soul had dropped out and those that enjoy the hobby are just pushed for cash (7th ed being a perfect example after GW got the rules wrong!). Sadly, until we stop buying for a bit nothing will change.

    I also miss the one offs - animosity orks, the goff rockers etc, stuff that was purely for fun and for painters/modellers. Or the articles on GW about painting, modelling and collecting? I'm never going to buy those ludicrous ebooks. (Or the SM Librarian at £18 for that matter!)

    I'm now a 'veteran' (28) and feel like whilst the models are great, GW is taking us for a ride. If nothing changes, I doubt I'll be getting any new Editions in the future and will probably just stop completely- although I rather hope it doesn't.


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