Not so long ago we were treated to one of the truly head scratching additions to the Warhammer 40k universe: Codex Legion of the Damned. Maybe it was Games Workshop prepping us for the Imperial Knights Codex, because this new trend of a codex for a single unit is kinda strange, but fits with Tom Kirby dividend portfolio.
As it is, the Legion of Damned has a long history and decent enough background, so GW attempting to milk some more pennies out of Legion fanatics isn't too crazy.
This supplement really shines in the fluff department and like the Cypher Dataslate has missions and rules that focus on the narrative GW wants players to forge. This biggest complaint though for the Legion of the Damned Codex is the price point, ($16.99) for 71 pages worth of content and sadly, a good amount is summary of rules any Marine player will have.
How about the non-rehashed content?
The Legion of the Damned Codex is broken-down into about five sections. The first of which is titled Vengeance and Flame, and for about 20 pages is the fragmented history of the Legion of the Damned, this is a well-organized and enjoyable. The focus is on the various theories about who and what the Legion of the Damned are. You get the Ordo Chronos or as I like to call them Department of Temporal Investigations, trying to harness the temporal power of the Legion, thinking a simple five-minute interview with a Día de Muertos Marine would do the trick.
The key though, and runs throughout the entire book, is the Legion of the Damned always arrives the last-minute to turn the tide of battle; this is important to keep in mind when I get to the big whine fest about Deep Striking. The other theories for the legion are imaginative. You have the zeitgeist theory where the legion is a mass hallucination brought by the latent human psychic energy around a dire situation. Another one is the Emperor himself is manifesting these marines the same way the Chaos Gods spawn daemons. The oddest theory is the legion is a reimagined lost Space Marine chapter, with some mad case of Warp Herpies, and would rather play the martyr then infect others.
Intertwined in these theories are stories of the Legion of the Damned exploits and the section ends with the customary time line of their great deeds.
They are creatures born from the Warp; that much even a child could divine. That they wear the shape of Mankind's vaunted defenders is a matter immaterial as the warriors themselves. They are Daemons and they must be brought low, just as with all their malefic kind.
-Autarch Eluinne Starshaper
Like all these digital products the production and art is without question. Here is a sample of what I am talking about.
The next section is titled: Forces of the Damned (clever I know). This details the same rules you can find in the Space Marine Codex, with some additional Warlord Traits and one Relic. The Force Org for the Legion of Damned is similar to the Inquisition Codex, minus Henchmen, more relics, and you know options.
Legion of the Damned Force Org
The biggest drawback with Legion of the Damned rules isn't the amount of them, but the fact you cannot take some burning skull HQ badass with more than one wound. If you take them as a primary detachment you are looking at giving up Warlord pretty fast from anyone who snipes out the Warlord Sergeant. The one relic the Animus Malorum is pretty nice; giving a unit Feel No Pain and if your opponent fails a Fear, Pinning, or Morale you remove a model, at the same time boosting the Feel No Pain bonus for a turn. Too bad it can so easily be removed from the board as well.
You can take Legion of the Damned as Battle Brothers for any Imperial army, which has some utility if your force lacks instant attention magnets.
Then we get rules for the Apocalypse Formation.
Legion of the Damned Apoc Formation
The Apoc formation is actually pretty nasty because of Spectral Horrors: All enemy models within 12" suffer -3 to Leadership! Unless your facing up against Destroyer weapons, Legion of the Damned are better than most for survival on large-scale battlefields.
After the rules is the Showcase, with images you can find on the GW webpage, making it complete filler. The next part of the codex is the Missions called Echoes of War. The three missions here are very specific and look fun, and you can adopt ideas for use in other narrative adventures.
Deliverance of Andraxes has Tigurius needing some spectral help from rampaging Orks. Orks have to kill the Ultramarines, the Legion of the Damned have to keep them alive. The important part in this missions is the special rule Aid from Beyond for the Legion of the Damned, allowing the Legion to Deep Strike on turn one.
It means GW actually gave some thought to this. They just didn't forget to give it to all Legion of the Damned using the codex all the time. Frankly, it makes fluff sense that they don't have it; the legion comes in the final moments to turn the tide of battle. They're supporting fragments from other forces, so having a small allied detachment the Legion comes to the rescue for makes complete sense.
The second mission is Hunter or Hunted has the Damned saving Black Templars, this time from a super-sized Lelith. The great thing about this mission (unlike many army specific missions) is the opposing faction has fun stuff. Lelith gets poison 2+ and special slaves with Outflanking.
The third missions is a showcase of many digital materials, with you fielding Sentinels of Terra, Legion of the Damned, Daemons, Chaos Space Marines, and Be'lakor. The battle is dramatic, taking place on the flagship of the Imperial Fists above Terra. Mysterious Objectives are used, but only reveal the useful bonuses.
The final section to the book is the Glossary, which by now has you feeling like you already read it a few times.
The Legion of the Damned Codex isn't what most people hoped for, but if you have a love affair with the Legion you could do worse. The highlights are the missions and fluff, but that doesn't make a codex. It instead makes this product for collectors only, and if you can afford the Finecast Legion models I am sure you can splurge for the codex.
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