Tuesday 5 December 2017

Codex: Astra militarum - closing thought

So, we come to the end of a (very) long review of the new Astra Militarum codex. While I have given my thoughts on the various bits and pieces as I have been through them, but I have not given my overall thoughts on the whole thing. Now I have been through it all, I have a very different impression of the codex.

When i first started writing this post, i thought that it would be simple, just a case of sticking down a few opinions and then moving on, but in reality there is so much to this book, that it's actually quite hard to sum it all up. The book has some really powerful combinations, as evident by tournament results and also the big need bat that GW keep swinging. Then there is Chapter Approved to add in to the mix as well. I real do like this book, it has finally added in the extra flavour that i remember from 2nd and 3rd editions of the codex, although i do wish they had brought back some of the special characters. However, there are a few things that aren't so great as well but I'll get to them in due course.

First up though are the good things and there really is only one place to start, Regimental Doctrines. I have been wishing for these since i got back in to 40k at the very end of 5th. To return and find that there was but one choice of guard was a little disappointing. Granted since my time playing 2nd and a bit of 3rd, i had watched models disappear, save Catachans and Cadians but realising that there was no difference in play style was a let down. With the introduction of chapter tactics, hope grew and now we have the reality and it's everything i hoped for, apart from the models. They really have put some effort in to getting the fluff to match up with the tabletop as well, with the benefits of the doctrines roughly matching up with the stories. There are a couple that are a little odd but on the whole i think its a job well done.

Of all the doctrines, whilst there is choice, there also isn't any. Bare with me on this and I'll explain. Look at it this way, if you want to run a MechVet style list, then the only real option is the Armageddon doctrine, if you want to run a gun line, then it's Cadian or Mordian. tank heavy Valhallan, scions? Well Militarum Tempestus. Combat? Catachan. You get the picture. Each doctrine is geared towards a specific type of warfare and there is no one size fits all doctrine. Yes, each doctrine does have something for both vehicles and infantry, but some are clearly better than others, is this a bad thing? No, not at all. It just means that your going to have to run multiple detachments to get the most out of things. I think this is how things should be, the guard after all are not a true combined arms force, everything is split up and segregated.

Of all the doctrines my favourite has to be so far is, rather surprisingly, the Vostroyan doctrine. At first, i didn't really think that this would be any good at all, but having thought about it and played around with the numbers in my head, i have come to this rather surprising conclusion. The while regiment works, from the extra range you get, through to the order, Repel the Enemy, and the stratagem, First Born Pride. Ok, so the warlord trait, Honoured Duelist, isn't great but the relic is awesome. The Armour of Graf Tuschenko is an excellent relic and will make quite a difference to your warlords survivability. I really didn't think that the Vostroyans would be something i would look towards but it really is.

The other regiment that i think works well is the Mordians. Again, a surprise, as it's not one of the first regiments i would have thought off but with the doctrines bonus and the abilities of the orders and stratagems, plus the relic's abilities means that they are a very good option for most armies. Having said that, the other regiments are still good and i do like the Armageddon and Cadian regiments as well, both of which have good options for orders, stratagems and relics. Although the Armageddon warlord trait is not one of my favourites.

However, i have to say that despite the book getting a great big thumbs up from me, there are some glaringly obvious issues. There are two really big ones that stick out, the first being the nerf to commissars. It seems like a massive knee jerk reaction and a poorly thought out one at that but it's not the end of the world. There are other options that can do the same thing, so we'll just have to try them for the moment. The real big one though is "Send in the Next Wave". Wow, what a cock up that is. I don't think anyone at GW really thought this through properly. I can understand having to pay for this ability, but paying twice, if not three times for it is just stupid. You have to spend command points for the ability and reinforcement points for the respawned unit, which means your at a disadvantage to start with. I mean, what if you enemy never actually finished off a unit? No, it was a stupid way to run it. It should have been a 3cp stratagem or a one use army rule, not a combination. I don't think it will stop people playing Valhallan's, simply because the rest of the doctrine is so good, but it definitely leaves a taste in the mouth.

Now, one thing i have to mention is that of all the regiments, there is one regiment that i think really got the short straw in almost every respect and it's not the Militarum Tempestus, no it's the Catachans. Now, i can complain to much as they really are true to the fluff but on the table top I think that they have taken a bit of a hit. Now, Catachans are my favourite guard models and pretty much all my models are Catachans, mostly as pretty much everyone seems to have Cadians. Unfortunately the Catachans have drawn the short straw in terms of doctrines, orders, stratagems and relics. The doctrine grants an extra point of strength, not a bad bonus for combat. The order gives a bonus to flamers, with there 8 inch range. The stratagem inflicts mortal wounds if your charged in terrain, and the relic is a power sword, but useful if your charged or in combat. Sensing a theme here? To make the most of the catachan regiment you need to be in charge range or in combat. They do get re-rolls for randon / Xd6 shot weapons and a +1 leadership bonus as well, but these are secondary to the other traits really. I get that there needs to be a close combat orientated army and it makes a lot of sense that the Catachans are that army, but, as they are my army of choice, I feel that it will push them further to the margins of the guard and we will see even less of them on the table than we did before. I well probably not be using the Catachan regiment at all, as I don't run a combat orientated army and I don't know anyone who really does and I haven't seen any on any of the YouTube batreps that I occasionally watch. Its a shame that they have gone this way, but I do understand why they have, but I still don't like it.

Overall, I have to say that I think they this codex is great, it has all the options we need to really put together both strong and fluffy forces. We have seen that the Guard are not a top table army, something they haven't been for years, not since the Leaf Blower lists of early 5th edition. There has been a lot of take about Conscripts and Commissars, but there are a whole lot of other really good units in the book and pretty much everything is playable these days. I am really looking forward to getting some games under my belt and really getting to grips with all the new doctrines and stratagems. Next up, I will be looking at they various guard armies that I currently own and seeing how the new book is going to change the way they are formed and fight.

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