Let's Read: Codex Space Marines Part 1


Well, after having some time to digest the new Space Marine codex, I've decided that it's value can best be ascertained by looking backward to the 5th edition book first. To better see where we're going, it's important to know where we've been. So, with that said, let's jump in and have a look.

I'm gonna run down through some key points that interested me as I did in Let's Read Sixth Edition and I'll probably be even more direct than I had been there. These are just observations that I've made, myself. How useful they may be to you, if at all, may vary. With that in mind, let's have a look at the outside of the book.

I love the cover of this book. Seeing a super human, super soldier laying out an ass whooping is super satisfying. Top that off with a dynamic background of battle and you've got something fun to look at each time you open it. I love how dynamic it is. The back is nothing to write home about, however, and all of the books are notorious for horrible issues with the binding. I had mine spiral bound at a local Kinko's, now FedEx Office. This took care of the issue and made it so staying on an important page was a breeze. You can't do that anymore, though the improved reference pages in the hardback books make up for it. I'll cover that more at a later date.

On page two, we see that Mat Ward is the author. A well known fact at this point, but notice the special thanks to Jeremy Vetock at the bottom. Seems pretty suggestive of a a close working relationship to the author of new Tau. Curious. :) Another puzzling feature is that the authors of previous editions are mentioned. Credit to all the folks' whose stories have been carried on through the editions.

On page three, we get the now standard rundown of the book. But take a look at the second paragraph under the why collect section. Space Marines' description as an elite army is kind of funny in retrospect as we've seen so many xenos armies boosted and even more elite armies redone like Grey Knights. Why collect, indeed?

On page five we get a true introduction to the background of the army. I really miss these in the newer versions. These should be on the back cover as they're great inspiration to play. And note that this one is exceptionally well written.

On the following page, we're introduced the the Horus Heresy. It's astonishing how much of the details have altered since the series of novels has begun. We're even given the old number of 10,000 marines in a legion, rather than Black Library's retconned 100,000. Maybe 10 was the starting number?

Heading to page eight, we learn that the reason for corruption of the gene stocks was the rapid pace of production for Space Marines before the Horus Heresy. I've not really seen this brought up in the series or read it anywhere outside the codex. I hope we see it explored more in the novels as they progress through the timeline.

Page nine also tells us that the Codex Astartes has been added to over the course of time by various authors, an odd parallel to real life, and not entirely hammered out by Guilliman as the novels have indicated. We also learn here that over 50% of the Space Marine chapters that exist by M41 are descendants of the Ultramarines. Sounds like legion building to me! :P

Some interesting changes have happened to the information on page twelve. Here we read about the primarchs being scattered for hundreds of years as 'genetic material' in their pods. We now know that they were semi self aware fetuses and scattered for decades at most. A small, but profound change.

Opposite of that, we see that the Ultramarines were the largest legion. With a larger supply of recruits and less casualties, it's no wonder. Though we know now that they may have absorbed one of the lost legions as hinted at in the HH series, swelling in numbers to nearly 200,000. There's also some more retconned information about how they came through the Horus Heresy unscathed. It's now been established that the Word Bearers bloodied them up with a bunch of attacks.

On page fourteen, we learn that the Ultramarines had a hell of an empty nest after the second founding. The fortress on Macragge went from nearly 200 thousand marines to one thousand. Holy moly. We also see the Kindom of Ultramar apparently split into pieces as it goes from 500 worlds to 8. Lots of big changes with the second founding.

There's also some intentional contradiction in the state of Guilliman after he's mortally wounded on page fifteen.. We read in one portion that he's preserved in death, while yet another part says his wound is healing. I'm not sure what to think.

 From there, it's a few pages until I found anything interesting. So onto page twenty-four. Here, if one is paying attention, you can find that Iron Hands are the hated chapter in this codex. We see they're not even listed in the codex adherent chapters. The Salamanders aren't here either, but they're not a whipping boy like the Iron Hands. I'll get to that shortly. We also see here that codex divergent chapters like the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Dark Angels strive to be as good as the Ultramarines, but will never live up to their standard. It all seems a tad petty for super humans.

Moving on to page twenty-seven, we see the Iron Hands shafted, again. Here they receive a tiny description, unlike any of the other founding legions. I'm not into Iron Hands, but I think that sucks. As a side note, Dorn is definitively listed as being dead here, as well.

Reaching page twenty-nine, we see the power fist of Captain Cortez. This is the character from the Space Marine Battles novel Rynn's World. Anyone who has read the book knows he's also the character that the twenty-fifth anniversary model is based on. Cool! However, I've always wondered, why can't the Crimson Fists just bum some gene seed from the Imperial Fists or Black Templars? Eh, moving on.

Again, we jump a forward a few more pages before finding anything of note. On page forty-five we learn that the Imperial Fists have the two oldest Battle Barges. It's a cool tidbit, but why are they not pictured on the page?

At page forty-eight there's a brief mention of the Imperial Tarot. This is one of the elements of classic 40k that I miss. Opposite of this, we learn that all of the Ymgarl Genestealers are entirely destroyed by the Salamanders. So why the hell are we still fighting them?

Well, that's the end of part 1. As I said, these were just the small things I noticed that were of an interest to me. What did you think of them? Keep an eye out for part 2, Units and Wargear, shortly.

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