RETRO REVIEW: SECRETS OF THE BLACK CODEX!
By Kid Kyoto
All art is copyright GW and used only for review and historical purposes.
In 1993 Second Edition 40K came out. For the first time since the first Rogue Trader book came out, all of 40K's rules, fluff and army lists were in one place.
Well, OK, two places cause you had to buy a supplement called 'Dark Millennium' if you wanted to have things like psychic powers, or missions, or vehicles. But if you've been reading my other Retro Reviews (or Gawd forbid are old enough to remember those LONG GONE DAYS 15 years ago) you know it was a great improvement.
Today we'll be looking at the Codex Imperialis and the black and white pamphlet that came with it, the so called 'black codex' with stats and points for ever unit then in 40K, including several that were never seen again!
This was of course a total mess since you had to look in one book for fluff, a second for points and rules, a third for war-gear and little bits of cardboard for vehicles. But it was still better than RT.
Teh Spase Marinez
Things kick off, as they always do, with some guys called 'Teh Spase Marinez"
and honestly what's there to say? I note this army list does not have scout bikers but that's about it for Marine changes in the last 15 years.
Oh I should point out that this was the last time you could give your marine characters plasma guns. Ah... the good old days when you didn't have to bring a knife to a gun fight.
Next up are the mighty Imperial Guard
These were the days when GW was moving away from the 2000AD look but before the Perry Brothers did their historicals with las guns regiments. So at the time GW did not really know what Second Edition Imperial Guard would look like. This Jes Goodwin design shows the direction they were thinking of. It finally saw life years later as the Krieg but we're still waiting for it in plastic.
Study that image for 10 seconds, then guess how many skulls the commissar is wearing. If you guess right you can have a 5+ armor save instead of the IG's 6+.
This book was the last time anyone saw IG assault squads and Penal Legions:
We miss you guys! Come back soon!
I have no idea what that guy is, but he's in the IG section and I want to know why GW didn't make one of him! I'd buy two!
We then go, logically enough, to Imperial Agents.
Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Mechanus, Adeptus Ministrorum, Adeptus Astra Telepathica, Inquisition and Officio Assassinorium all together again for the last time. Their rules took up 3 whole pages. Now they need 3 or more codexes...
There's quite a bit of evidence that GW planned an Adeptus Mech book. There are units like Electro Priests and servitor squads that were never seen again
Plus there's the unproduced Skullz AM units and electropriest at Stuff of Legends
Who knows? In some parallel world maybe everyone's playing Adeptus Mech and Squats while grey-haired fans mourn the loss of Orks and Nids.
These were also the days you could give an assassin poly-morphine, a displacer field, terminator armor and a vortex grenade. I think he could get a bike too.
I of course never went for that kind of cheese.
My assassin only had power armor.
And then we had the first rules for the battle sisters
As you can see they were BS4 from the start
The Most Awesome Army that was ever AWESOME
Then we have a largely forgotten, little missed army called the Squats.
Rest in piece my little brothers, may you fight Kroot and Lost and Damned for all eternity in GW's Valhalla.
The Orks are next!
At that time each clan had its own rules, paint scheme and point cost, what a mess. Most Orks were BS3, WS3, A1 but T4, basically they were tougher Imperial Guard rather than the current stats.
The Space Elfs were next but since they'd just been updated in WD and got one of the first Codexes I really have nothing to say about them. I'll have to review them one of these days.
Enjoy some John Blanche art of the graceful and elegant Eldar!
Ah, they don't make them like that anymore huh?
To cleanse the pallet, here's an Eldar Yuppie cruising for chicks.
Then came Chaos and out last glimpse of some long forgotten fluffy units.
I mean really, how many complaints would GW have stopped if they'd included these 2 paragraphs in the CSM or Daemon Codex? Really? Guys what was the thinking here?
Tyranids and Genestealers
'Nids were next
including the entire Genestealer Cult army.
Patriarch vs. Terminator!
Again... if GW had found room in the Nid codex (HALF A PAGE!) how many armies would they have inspired, how many extra sales?
And now for some more Blanchey goodness!
The original thread for this article can be found here:
And contains many amusing recollections of grey-bearded Dakkites.