“You accuse me of being a madman. What right have you to judge what is sane and what is not?
I have fought with the shadows on the edge of your vision. I have seen the faces that laugh at you in your nightmares.
I have smelt the foetid breath that issues from the mouth of hell itself. I have heard the silent voices that make your spine tingle with dread.
I have entered the realms between worlds where there is no time or place. I have clashed with creatures the sight of which would sear your soul to the core.
I have bested horrors that chill with a gaze and tempt unreasoning terror. I have faced death eye to eye and blade to blade.
I have stared into the eyes of insanity and met their all-consuming stare. I have done all this for you; for your protection and the guarantee of a future for Mankind.
And yet you accuse me of being a madman, you who have never had your sanity tested so sorely. What right have you to call me heretic and blasphemer, who have not heard the whisper of dark gods in your ear?
You are weak. Vulnerable. Human in your frailty. I am strong, and yet still you judge me. And yet you still judge me for my sins, you who art most sinful to the heart?
Only the insane have strength enough to prosper; only those that prosper truly judge what is sane.”
The Codex: Inquisition starts with this fantastic piece written by Gav Thorpe for GW’s 54mm scale game Inquisitor. It expertly captures the gravity of an Inquisitor’s mission without actually explicitly revealing what that is (very much in character!); it reveals a very personal war that is being waged by individuals (one at odds with the massive armies of the standard Warhammer 40,000), and in doing so you are drawn into their personal struggles and turmoil. It is in passages like the one above, and those presented in the Inquisitor rulebook that we see a human element in 40k that is so often absent. Somehow in all the grim and dark, it seems almost relatable, even when it is dealing with the most unrelatable circumstances.
It is this mystery and nuance that makes the Warhammer 40,000 universe so compelling, and if the rest of the new Codex: Inquisition followed this, it would have been spectacular indeed. Unfortunately, the codex falls quite short of this, but it is far from a complete loss. The digital codex is quite an odd product, doing a few things very well, while coming up short in many others. It clearly accomplishes its goal by allowing people use inquisitors in their armies, but it only really does the bare minimum, copying the Inquisitor entry from the Grey Knight Codex and pasting it into the new book. It is unmistakably lazy, but even this has huge implications on the game as a whole and is very likely to completely shift the current competitive meta (here is looking at you White Scars!). The background material follows this trend too, feeling rushed and at times oddly pedestrian. Fortunately, it does reprint a selection of great material from previous publications (notably from Inquisitor). It is fantastic that some of this material is easily available to newer audiences, but even it is truncated and incomplete compared to previous publications.
|I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Digital Codex cover art.|
Far and above the most interesting element of the book is the section on the Philosophies of the Inquisition. It offers a lot more insight into what motivates and drives each of these enigmatic individuals. Refreshingly, it is substantially more interesting than the standard portrayal of: KILL ALL DAEMONS, HERETICS, and ALIENS! The Thorians for example think that the Emperor still walks among his people, instilling power into those chosen. Ultimately, they seek to find a host that can permanently contain the Emperor’s spirit, so that he can again lead the Imperium at the fore, rather than from a rotting husk trapped in a Golden Throne. The Xanthites realize that Chaos cannot be defeated because it is simply a reflection of humanity and instead seek to bend it to their will, using Chaos to fight Chaos. A few take this belief to the extreme, branding themselves as Horusians. They see wasted potential in the Primarch Horus, and feel that if a new Horus could be created, one that harnesses the immense powers of the Warp without being enslaved to Chaos, they could lead the Imperium into a new golden age. These are just a few of the exciting ideas presented in this section, ones that make the 40k universe seem much less stale and boring. Unfortunately, even these sections are only reprints of material Gav wrote for Inquisitor, and they are not even transcribed in their entirety. In all honesty, if you are interested in this sort of thing, I would encourage you to just read the background material in Inquisitor and the Thorian Sourcebook, which you can find on GW’s site of all places.
|A depressing image of a man too long cut off from normal human affairs, haunted yet still filled with a determination that moves worlds.|
|The Inquisitor rulebook was filled with spectacular images like this one, so infused with creativity and passion that it is hard not to be inspired...|
|The new Inquisitor Codex is filled (actually there are very few images) with images like this one, so insipid you are enticed to page past it without more than a glance.|
While on the subject of the Grey Knights codex, it needs to be stated that the Inquisitor and henchmen entries in the new codex are virtually identical to those in the Grey Knights book. They have all the statlines and wargear options. The Inquisitors are still broken into the 3 major Ordos, differing only in the unique wargear items they can take. While this is not the end of the world and still offers a wide variety of interesting characters, it would have been neat if their was only one entry, allowing full access to the entire wargear list rather than the seemingly random distribution that it is currently. They did add 3 new Inquisitorial relics, each a mighty tome of knowledge that confers different special rules to the bearer. Although small, they add some additional character to an otherwise familiar unit. Notably, the dedicated transport options for Inquisitors expanded with the book, including both Land Raiders and Valkyries. It is hard to scoff at a new use for the reliable Valkyrie!
|I can only hope my future games of Warhammer 40,000 will be this awesome!|
When all is said and done, I am excited about the Codex: Inquisition. I can finally easily include colorful and enigmatic Inquisitors in many of my 40k armies (legally) without making major changes to lists I already run. It provides an excellent opportunity to add more narrative elements to my games. I am already pondering all manner of conversions to do. What’s more, they are actually good, and are certain to transform the current competitive meta. Having said all of this, virtually every element of the book could have been done much better, and it is clear that the codex was rushed and underdeveloped. If it had gotten full codex treatment, with new models, background material, and wargear, it could have easily been the most exciting release in the 40k universe in recent years (at least in my opinion). But as it is, it is superficial and incomplete, adding nothing to their rich history. In the end, it only really works because Inquisitors are so awesome in their own right (and can take servo skulls!), making it hard for GW to completely screw it up.