Monday, 26 May 2014

Warhammer 40k: Revenge of the Sixth or Seventh Heaven? Part Two.

Book 2: Dark Millennium

Welcome back to the ongoing review of the new 40k 7th edition. In this part we are going to look at the Background, or 'fluff' book, Dark Millennium. After the disappointment of A Galaxy of War can the 41st Millennium's impressive background level the playing field?

Well unfortunately there are certainly a few issues here as well. One problem is that 90% of the text in this book is a direct copy and paste from 6th edition with a few minor layout edits and a  font change. Now i suppose you might say 'if it's not broken don't fix it' but It doesn't really help against the preconception of many that this is a desperate cash grab by GW. They had been doing the same thing with their codexes too for the most part however so i guess it shouldn't really come as any great surprise that so much here is replicated. It does make this comparison review slightly problematic however in that there is little to compare.  






So, lets talk about the few things that HAVE been altered. Well first thing you might notice is that GWs new copyright friendly names are all present in the new edition, but only in the title. So the title of a section may read Astra Militarium but everywhere they are still referred to as the Imperial Guard. Now i hate the Astra Militarium term, (they will always be Guard to me) but it is just another indicator of GWs laziness when it comes to this book and further reinforces the impression this is a phoned in and rushed update. Knights also have their own section now which may have well been ripped straight out of the Imperial Knight Codex, i cant be sure. 

Astra Militarium, in title only. 

Aside from these minor edits there are a couple of other changes. The timeline section has been altered with a few bits being omitted all together in favour of pieces which reinforce the recent pieces of fluff in the Codexes. A few of the more esoteric entries have lost out, the ones that added a little more atmosphere to the universe such as 'The Emperors Tears.' Instead every entry is now about a battle of some kind. Now i know in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future there is only War, but i really liked the slightly more whimsical elements that the old timeline incorporated. It made the 41st Millennium seem a much more realised and palpable place. Now it is just army vs army ad infinatum. Still there are a few cool new entries within that make for good reading, i just feel its lost something in the process. 

Even the map of the Imperium is more boring now....

One of the other major syntax changes is a bit of an odd one really, The piece of text describing Waaagh Grax has been replaced by all new text detailing Waagh Gruuk. Could this actually be the first bit of content from the new Ork Codex? (The Ork Codex front cover is in here as well) i guess we will find out in a week or so. The section on the Armageddon War is also missing, presumably because Apocalypse Warzone Armageddon is now available.

which i guess makes it a little odd that the entire of the fluff section from Warzone Pandorax has been lifted from that book and placed here. Its a large section of the book and it feels a little misplaced, i would have much preferred a series of smaller sections which covered more of the Warzones but i guess that would have demanded that they actually write something new for this book and that's just not on the cards.

The fluff from Pandorax appears in its entirety, shoehorned in the middle of the book. 

There are a few other little bits that have been lost between editions, these are mainly the little extra bits of text in boxes that the design team clearly could not cram into the book anywhere else.  Again, these just added a little bit of extra depth that is sorely missed from this book. Thankfully one of the best bits of the 6th edition book HAS survived intact and that is the Appendices. Dark Millennium. GW don't bother renaming it so its title is the same as the entire books title, (which is a little odd) but i would have been really miffed if it had not made it across to 7th Ed.

Well that more or less covers the text so lets have a look at the artwork. Also available as a premium picture only version of Dark Millennium with extra art, a lot of the artwork is also recycled, though not as much as the text. some of it is cropped slightly different and on the whole a lot of it is harder to see than that in 6th due to a distress filter they seem to have overlaid on a lot of the pictures for Emperor only knows why. 

New: with totally not required filter
Overall the Artwork is fairly good, there are no awful pieces like i found with the Space Marine codex and it is comfortably described as a mixed bag. Some pieces are fantastic and some are not, thankfully we don't have anything that is as bad as the CCG art that has infested previous books although some pieces are a little more cartoony than i would like. Some of the pieces that have previously been included as greyscale also suffer from the translation to full colour as has previously been my experience with the full colour codexes. Unfortunately this can lead to some illustrations looking rushed or unfinished and the less said about the little page break designs that litter the pages the better. there is definitely a noticeable reduction in the amount of Blanche and a nearly all of Raymond Swanlons codex covers make an appearance. 

One of the highlights Art wise

a lot of the smaller pieces of art have been removed for a more unified and clean look to the book. Again these are sorely missed and overall i feel the book lacks character. The overall layout of the book is very crisp and clinical with a lot more white space same as A Galaxy of war. It is clear that the new books have been designed to tie in with the design lay out of the Codexes and i feel that they are diminished in the extreme in the process. It makes the book come across as slightly boring and large sections of pages are simply text on white background. There are also sections of the book that (like the Space Marine codex) copy the arrangement of text and pictures from 6th edition completely. This is likely to make it easier to produce as a digital product. 

These delightfully characterful illustrations didnt make the cut in the new edition unfortunately. 

Your new Ork Codex cover ladies and gentlemen. 

So overall Dark Millennium is again a disappointment. Firstly, it is 90% the same text that you have already read previously. Very little has actually changed and the minor edits that have occurred in my opinion diminish the character of the book. However it is more slick and professional looking than its predecessor and your own preference will vary. Dark Millennium certainly functions better as a background book than A Galaxy of War worked as an introduction to the hobby, it gives the reader a decent overview of the universe and some of the illustrations are wonderfully evocative though overall the amount of pictures used is reduced. The book also lacks the fold out pages of 6th Edition which added to the epic and sweeping nature of some of the works within. The little pictures that feature here and there and are also the design for the Psychic Cards are also abysmal, they look like they have been knocked up in 5 minutes. Its almost like the design team realised there was a little TOO much white space and ordered some last minute designs that didn't have time to be finished. 

WTF is this?!

As a separate background book Dark Millennium works just fine, it is STILL inferior in many ways to what has come before however and in its replication of the 6th edition background section adds further credence to this update being entirely unnecessary.

Still, 40k is at the end of the day a game, and what would a game be without rules? Keep an eye out for the 3rd part of our review series where i take an in depth look at Book 3: The Rules with a special guest.... 

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