It feels like it’s been forever, but last night we had what many of us have been waiting for and received the pre-order dates for Legions Imperialis along with an almost overwhelming amount of additional tiny tanks. In this post I go through the rocky start this game has had so far and if this game still has a chance of being a success.
On the off-chance you’ve missed the news, Epic is coming back to the Games Workshop range of games in the form of Legions Imperialis. This updated game uses miniatures that are the same scale as both Aeronautica Imperialis and Adeptus Titanicus and the miniatures from both those game systems are being repackaged and brought into the new Legions game. If we’re brutal, Aeronautica is basically being ditched in all but name and Titanicus feels like it’s being shoved onto the back burner. You’ll still be able to pick up everything you need to play, but I can’t see much coming out new. As you probably guessed by now, the setting for Legions Imperialis is the Horus Heresy era.
If we’re being honest, despite not even being launched, things haven’t gone right for Legions Imperialis. There was a huge amount of hype starting July and we expected it to appear around August time, but it was pushed back an unknown amount of time for “some reason”. There’s been various rumours and speculation why this was, from warehouse and stock problems, through to a reprint of the rulebook needed due to it containing an inappropriate quote or a load of mistakes. The important bit was that we were told there was a delay in a Warhammer Community article, something that hasn’t happened on more than one occasion in the past – yes it was almost a footnote, but it was there. The implication was it was a small delay and since that article we’ve had almost weekly updates on Heresy Thursday (much to the annoyance of 28mm purists) showing snippets of rules and reveals of new miniatures that are going to be added, from Leviathan Dreadnoughts through to Drop Pods all with an underlying “it’s coming soon” or “sooner than you think”.
However “soon” stretched on endlessly and people were starting to question if the game would even appear this year. A lot of people’s enthusiasm started to wobble a bit and then we got a White Dwarf article in Octobers White Dwarf (493) which generated more questions than it answered… Now first off, it was clear to me that the magazine had gone to the printers prior to Legions Imperialis begin delayed – it wasn’t meant to come out for a couple of months until after the launch of the game. What we received was a battle report which contained what we have been told are two fairly standard sized armies and included some of those lovely new models we’ve been being tempted with during the delay. The armies were much larger in miniature count than some expected, which raised the question on the cost of getting into the game – don’t forget nobody knew any prices (and we still don’t). Additionally, alongside the picture of the drop pods was a note saying that the rules for the drop pods and bikes would be in a supplement rather than in the rulebook.
It’s not unusual for starter boxes to only contain rules for the miniatures in the box – in fact it’s the standard practice. Most of us know that we need to pick up a Codex or Battletome to gain access to the full range of rules for the miniature range, but it’s typically a single volume for your chosen force. None of the Warhammer Community articles had mentioned a supplement and as far as we were aware the starter box rules would contain the rules for Titans and Flyers why would they not also include rules for Drop Pods – one of the most iconic space marine vehicles in the game? Why release these rules in a supplement too, why not in an army book? How many supplements are you expecting us to purchase? As the list of questions went on, the enthusiasm for the game died little by little. People who had planned to recreate their 28mm army or scratch that itch to collect a different force had this horrible feeling in the pit of their stomach that they could be sinking hundreds into this new game and it was destined to become yet another library exercise where you need to cart a bookshelf in order to play.
During the last week we had a new Warhammer Community article where some of the Community team painted up a variety of tanks, it’s a great little article. Many people suspected this was suggestive of an imminent release date, but along with everything else it felt (unintentionally I’m positive) a little nose-rubbing being shown painted version of models that we had no idea when we’d have in our hands.
That said, last night after a three and a half month wait, we finally got the pre-order date of the 18th for the starter box. Not only that but we’re getting additional boxes of tanks, reboxed miniatures (titans, knights, tiny planes and scenery), plastic tiles, reference cards and packs of bases. That’s a crazy amount of releases. The article states the following:
You’ll also get the full, unabridged rulebook for Legions Imperialis, containing the core rules, scenarios, unit profiles for Legiones Astartes and Solar Auxilia armies
Either the rules for drop pods and bikes are in the book and you don’t need a supplement or somebody has fed the community team duff information and this sentence is wrong or misleading. No mention of Titans or Knights either – will we need another supplement for those too? Even more weirdly, the box contents image contained a random pair of Kratos tanks that aren’t part of the box, adding even more confusion into the mix because to all intent and purposes, it looks like they are included (even though it would exceed the quoted model count). It’s an oversight that was been corrected first thing this morning and in all honesty the earlier images didn’t show them.
The sad bit is that I’ve seen a lot of people who were planning on picking up the box change their mind. The lack of clarity on what unit rules are included in the box has certainly contributed to this, but so has the decision to carry on showing new things, it’s overloaded hobbyists coming into the Christmas period when money is even more stretched than normal.
My own view is when the delay was announced, everything should have been delayed, including articles and previews. People would have griped and moaned (this is part of the hobby after all), but it would have been a better option. You only need to look at The Old World to see that this approach works, people are really keen to get their hands on TOW despite it taking almost four years and not having a huge number of articles until recently. Instead with Legions we’re in a situation where people are almost suffering burn out before it’s arrived – this is only going to feel worse when next weekend when we start seeing people who have early release copies showing what they’ve been painting.
I believe the next couple of weeks are fairly key for the success of Legions Imperialis. Get it right and players will have confidence in the system and Games Workshop’s support. Get it wrong and you could be looking at it lasting three or four years before vanishing from stores. The first step is that we absolutely need a clean and successful pre-order – so no website crashes and stock lasting more than thirty seconds. We then need proper support – if the army lists don’t contain rules for drop pods or whatever and they’re not in the miniature boxes, then release those rules electronically. Alongside this, some strong how to play videos to highlight the game system will be super welcome – make it easy to pick up and more people will.
Putting my cards on the table, it is still my intention to pick up a box next weekend. I’d already put some money aside for it and genuinely fancy playing the game, having never played previous incarnations. From a hobby perspective, it couldn’t have arrived at a worse time, as I have a half assembled Mk III boxed set from a few weeks back and also have a Christmas Battleforce World Eaters box coming – although the plan with that has always to put Angron on a shelf for a future date. The Mk III marines (and the rest of that box) may simply need to be assembled and put ready to paint next year. Thankfully I do have a week’s holiday booked in early December, so even if it has a 2 week pre-order window (which is becoming more common) I should be able to at least assemble tiny tanks that week. Certainly first world problems I’ll grant you that!
So what are your opinions? Are you looking forward to Legions Imperialis or do any of my comments ring true and you’re feeling a little despondent?