In Praise of the “Microdex”

The rumors of new Harlequin models and rules have gone from “rampant speculation” to the usual sketchy photos of models that look like they were taken with a Cold War-era pen camera to an actual Games Workshop preview, which means it’s time to take them seriously.

And I’m really excited. But more than that, I’m pleased about a trend that a lot of people seem to dislike – Games Workshop removing niche elements from core codexes and pushing them into supplemental material. The Imperial Knights. Tempestus Scions. The inquisitors disappearing from the Grey Knights codex, etc. And now, the Deadly Space Clowns are presumably their own thing, be it a supplement or a data slate, rather than being in the most recent of the two codexes that previously had them.

I call these releases a “Microdex” and I love them.

I can see why people don’t. I’ll admit, when I read through my copy of Tempestus Scions (still a dumb name), my first thought was “That’s it?”

But I’ve come around to this way of thinking. Why?

Because I’m old.

Because I remember.

I remember the serious rules-drift of 3rd and 4th editions. When some people had better Storm Shields than other people. When I’d look at my Witch Hunters codex and try to figure out if the Inducted Allies I could take were still legal units per the codex it referenced.

The ability to easily ally in units in 6th and 7th editions made this worse. For example, for awhile, there were several types of Valkyries spread between different codexes, nerfed and un-nerfed. It wasn’t clear why you’d take a Inquisition Codex inquisitor over a Grey Knights Codex inquisitor.

Screw that nonsense.

7th Edition has ushered in what I consider a pretty awesome amount of list building flexibility, and with that, you can either start breaking down codexes into modular components, or you can be tied up in a nightmare of “Why is a Unit Smasher 1000 from Codex X so much worse than the one from Codex Y?”, made worse by allies letting you pick the “best” one, and the rapid release cycle meaning something is always out of sync.

Thankfully, Games Workshop went with the former approach. The Imperial Knight Codex, or Grey Knights, or Imperial Assassins, or Inquisition, or Tempestus Scions are all parts of a larger potential force that can be swapped out as needed, and have a single, definitive source for each unit. And that’s the way it ought to be.

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