[-- =][= TRANSMISSION TERMINATED BY ORDER OF THE INQUISITION =][= --]
All joking aside, this weekend is a big one for Warhammer 40,000, for it marks the official1 release of the 8th edition of the core rules. As I write this, I'm at one of my local game stores, where they've been doing a midnight release event, followed by an 8th edition tournament tomorrow.
Why am I at the release event? To pick up my copy of the Dark Imperium boxed set, and then take a look at it in detail2. I'm going to be looking at the box as a product, rather than looking at the rules in too much depth - I've had one demo game, so need to get more games under my belt before I can comment on whether this is the edition that saves the franchise, or dooms it...
With the preamble out of the way, let's take a look at this set:
|New box, new art...|
In case you've been living in a cave since Dark Imperium was announced, the set contains two monopose plastic starter forces to learn the new game - the Death Guard for Chaos Space Marines, and an expansion to the Space Marine line in the form of the Primaris Marines, a new generation of larger Space Marines.
|Once you remove the sleeve from the box, there's even more new art to appreciate.|
Once you remove the outer sleeve of the box, you'll find a removable upper box, with more materials below it. A careful shake gives off the rattle of plastic sprues - but we'll come back to that later.
|As you can see, there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.|
As a bit of a change in tack from recent sets, this box contains the full hardback rulebook for this edition. In contrast, Death Masque had a small softback rulebook, which cut out most of the art and background material.
To be honest, this is a change I'm not sure about. The rulebook is a £35 purchase on its own, so makes up a significant chunk of a £95 boxed set - and that is a lot of money for the product which is meant to be the hook to get people into your system. While it is nice to get the full book, I think I'd've preferred a smaller paperback.
|Wait, there's more!|
Hiding under the rulebook is even more reading material, as well as a sheet of Imperial transfers - interestingly, there aren't any transfers for the Death Guard side of the box. The pack to the right of the above picture contains three smaller books - a construction guide for the figures3, and mini-Codex equivalents for the Primaris Space Marines and Death Guard units included in the starter. There's also a reference sheet for the rules, which seems to replicate in full a number of the core rules pages.
Given the rulebook is the standard one for this edition, this gives prospective players all the information they need to understand the forces they're using - and to use similar forces in normal games outside of the starter set.
|Life in the bilges|
Under the card insert which is holding the books in place, you'll find a variety of little bits that you'll need if you're new to the game - and some things you'll need even if you're not (namely the bases). There is also a floppy plastic ruler4, and a set of dice. Sticking them down in the base of the box makes good use of what would otherwise be wasted space.
|This box is sealed by order of the Inquisition|
A quick note on one design choice regarding the upper box, which I said earlier that we'd be coming back to. While you might want to dive straight in, you need to breach an Inquisitorial seal in order to do so. And those familiar with the lore know what the likely outcome of that choice will be...
|All the brand-new plastic crack...|
For existing players, the above picture is probably the highlight of the set - eight sprues of new models, four for each faction. All the sprues feature the inventive cutting Games Workshop have been utilising for the last several years, allowing for models in plastic that weren't really possible when 3rd edition launched, for example.
While I haven't yet started to assemble anything5, I find that I'm looking forwards to putting them together, once I decide how I'm going to base them. Having looked at the figures my LGS has assembled and painted, I'm not keen on the jump pack Primaris, but the rest of the models are pretty good. For once, I even find that I'm going to enjoy painting Chaos, and I normally loathe that faction.
ConclusionWhat do I think of this set? Well, I'm divided on the issue - everything in the set is well executed6, and shows excellent design values. On the other hand, £95 is a lot for an introductory product, and will generate a lot of sticker shock on the shelf.
If you're already an active 40k player, then you're going to pick up the box anyway. And if you do, I think you're going to be happy with it. However, I don't see it working to get new blood into the game - but it might bring back some lapsed players.
1 - As opposed to all the unofficial leaking. Seriously, people, can't you lot wait for a release date?
2 - And to paint a Lizardmen Blood Bowl team, but I'm guessing you're not bothered about that.
3 - As, despite these being monopose figures, they're not Blood-Bowl-esque snap-fit figures. Ploy cement will be required.
4 - Unfortunately, it seems that the day of the red whippy stick has passed. I call upon you for a moment's silence in memory of the red whippy stick...
5 - Mainly as I've been trying to write this post since I got the box, and I'm finding it hard to concentrate...< br/> 6 - Especially the heretics...