Monday, 6 March 2017


 And now to begin this blog with what is fast becoming my favourite part of the tabletop hobby - reminiscing about old books.

 I actually got most of the above books for Christmas, but in typical me fashion I completely forgot about them when I came to write the last post. Once again, the nearby second-hand bookstore proved a goldmine, yielding two (well ok, 1.5 really) Warhammer 40,000 codexes and a 6th edition Warhammer Army Book.

The 3rd edition Codex: Eldar represents the first 'true' early 3rd edition codex in my possession (as opposed to the Tyranid codex, which is really closer to a 3.5 edition book in most regards), though not the first one I have encountered at that store - that title belongs to the 3rd edition Ork codex I was never able to get. Interestingly, the 3rd edition Eldar Codex was also the first codex outside of the 3rd edition Tau codex that I ever looked through, making it the second codex I ever looked through, ever.

At the time, I was very impressed by it, considering it a truly worthy gamebook that any Eldar player should be proud to use. It certainly seemed a lot larger and more comprehensive then, but overall my opinion about it hasn't changed, and it's probably my favourite Eldar book I've encountered so far. It still has what I think is one of the best cover art for a 40k codex, a piece that does a brilliant job of reflecting both the wondrous sprawling space fantasy epic and the more sinister and malevolent sides of the Craftworld Eldar, and the book itself is full of amazing artwork, including a number of suitably bizzare Blanche pieces (incidentally I've also noticed a lot of John Blanche artwork in the other early 3rd edition 40k books I've come across - it seems that there was a particular drive to promote that style of 40k at the time). There's also some fantastic background material (I think my favourite is a long speech from a captured Ranger that starts out praising Eldrad Ulthran but slowly devolves into a venomous screed against his/her human captors) and a colour section giving collecting advice and painting tips.

Early 3rd edition 40k books often get a bad reputation, with many people considering them too short and bare-bones ('pamphlets' is a common derogatory slur levelled their way), but really I honestly don't see what the problem is. Yes, the early 3rd edition 45-pagers are a little short, and I certainly wouldn't say no to more little short stories and what not (after all, my favourite 40k codexes, the 3.5 generation, are full of that stuff), but really they're small but perfectly formed, and I can't think of anything more that I'd really need from one. Maybe I'm not greedy?

Perhaps most importantly of all however, this book and its companion supplement managed to do something that no other book has ever done before - get me excited about starting an Eldar army. Reading through these two books finally made me 'click' and understand the appeal of the Eldar, in much the same way that the Witchhunters codex made me click and get the Imperium. If it were not for the current circumstances regarding 40k and GW, I know exactly what kind of Eldar army I'd build and would hardly be able to wait to get started on it. However, at present I will never end up building it, or any of the other 40k armies I had planned. GW (and pretty much the entire Tabletop industry, for that matter) just seems to be going in a direction I can't follow or enjoy.

Oh well, it's not like I would have been able to afford it at any rate.

I think I mentioned it before in an earlier post, but the supplement Codex: Craftworld Eldar was one of those 40k books I never really understood the purpose of when I first got into 40k - the Craftworld Eldar already had a codex, why do they need a second one? The answer only came years later through internet readings and a closer inspection. It provides some extra background information and hobby advice for Eldar players, as well as 5 variant army lists for major important Craftworlds (Iynaden, Saim-Hann, Alaitoc, Biel-Tan and Ulthwe), and is best viewed as an extension and part of the 3rd edition Eldar codex (funnily enough, if you were to combine the two you would get roughly the same page length as a 3.5 edition codex). What's most striking about it though, is the model photographs. The Craftworld supplement was clearly published at least a few years after the Eldar codex, as it shows the Eldar model range as it was during the later part of 3rd edition, when it had finished maturing into the 3rd edition model range that I remember. Gone are the 2nd edition Guardians, with their chain-mail undersuits. Gone are the 2nd edition Dark Reapers with their conical helmets. In their place are a new wave of Eldar models that would define the Eldar aesthetic for the rest of 40k's lifespan. The Eldar range at this point in time is probably my favourite, with a good blend of both old and 'new'. Indeed, most of my favourite Eldar models come from this period (with the rest coming slightly before).

This one came as a pleasant surprise to me. It is the 6th edition Lizardmen army book for Warhammer, and in very good condition. The Lizardmen have always been somewhat intriguing to me, and I flirted with the idea of starting with them in Warhammer from time to time, but ultimately settled on Wood Elves in the end. I still find them a fascinating part of Warhammer, and this book still has my curiosity piqued. It is the first Lizardmen army book I have been able to really get to grips with, but it certainly does not disappoint, especially with all the characterful 6th edition trimmings in it such as variant army lists for Southlands Lizardmen and the legendary Sacred Spawnings. Like other 6th edition books, I've found its magic item selection somewhat lacking, in that nothing really resonates with me like the magic items in the 6th edition Wood Elf and Bretonnian books, though like the other 6th edition books I've found the magic item selection is nonetheless perfectly serviceable. There's also a whole bunch of fun lore, including a schematic of a Temple City.

The crown jewel in the lineup, however, is this.

That is, of course, a copy of the 3rd edition Warhammer 40,000 core rulebook. I thought I had lost my chance to own one forever when the copy in the Second Hand Bookstore vanished, but either they had a second copy brought in or the one I found was never bought at all and simply went into storage, because there it was when I walked in, nestled discretely amongst a shelf of sci fi and horror art books. It is a softcover, version, which lines up with what I have heard, as it would appear it never received a hardcover print run, unlike the later rulebooks that are its direct descendants. It is an open question as to whether this one came from a starter box or not - from what I have read it would appear that the 3rd edition core rules were never sold outside of the starter box, and yet I swear I can distantly recall seeing 3rd edition core rulebooks being sold on their own at multiple legitimate locations. It bears a strong resemblance to the 6th edition Warhammer Fantasy rulebook that is its direct contemporary, with a largely identical content layout and the same display of complete 2nd edition model ranges, with no sign of the glorious Silver Age models that would be destined to follow it.

The important thing though, is that it is the crucial piece I needed in order to play games of Warhammer 40,000 in one of my two favourite editions, the legendary 3.5 era. It seems that it is missing some later rules additions, the most egregious one to me being a total lack of access points on transport vehicles (they are essentially all open-topped for the purposes of disembarking passengers, regardless of how impossible it would be to exit them from a given direction), so I will likely have to hunt down some Chapter Approved annual collections as well for the full 3.5 experience, but it is a big step forward nonetheless. And in the meantime I still have the 4th edition core rules to use...

As well as all this fun with the best years of GW, I also painted up these Glade Guard for my Wood Elf army.

This is the fourth and final regiment of Glade Guard in the army, Forever Autumn, proving that I don't just shamelessly rip my unit names from Symphonic and Folk metal - I rip them from funkitronic 70's sci-fi rock operas too. Not only is it the last Glade Guard unit for the army, it's also the last core unit - all of the core choices in the main Wood Elf force I envisioned are now finished (always a good thing when building an army). It's also the last plastic kit for my Wood Elves - from here on out, everything left to do is in glorious, glorious metal.

It's been fun relaxing in the Enchanted Forrest and roaming the lands of fantasy this last month, but now I find myself looking up at the night sky again. War calls in the future, and I'm now gearing up for one of the big projects I have for this year (actually last year, but then 2016 happened). With the tabletop hobby crashing down in flames all around me, I'm going back to where it all began.

I have work to do...


  1. They definitely sold the 3rd Edition rulebook separately, I bought a copy not long before I stopped playing. I'm pretty sure it was softcover but in a slip cover.

    1. Brilliant, I'm not going totally insane then. I thought I remembered seeing just the rulebook for sale (and even flicking through one in a store) but couldn't find anything online to prove it.