Although I’ve been a little quiet on the posting front, I’ve not been hobby idle! The five weeks or so has seen me working on tiny tanks and marines for Legions Imperialis. In this post I give a quick review and my own opinion of the state of things, I’ve then got a second post where I’m showing my progress.
I try to speak as I find, and have to say that the pre-order for Legions Imperialis wasn’t as horrendous as I anticipated. I lost track of the time on the pre-order Saturday and almost forgot to put my order in, but even using a third party I still didn’t have any problems securing a copy of the box set (though wouldn’t have wanted to leave it much longer). What I did forget was the packs of cards, however these appear to have only been available directly from Games Workshop and were in crazy limited supply – I’ve said this before, please can we have playing aids like cards be stock items or available to download! Things like the spare bases for flyers and titans also seemed to sell out instantly – I’m not surprised, it wasn’t a shock that people would want bases to swap their Aeronautica flyers over. Interestingly, the bases did come back into stock just before Christmas in the UK, which suggests there were already in production, just not ready quite yet.
With Christmas looming at that point, I had made the decision not to pick up any other boxes of models – I already had a load of flyers and couple of Knights, so had plenty to get on with, plus we know new releases will be dropping in the coming months (January as it turns out). As planned, the couple of weeks between pre-order and release was spent assembling and basing the MkIII marines and bits that I’d got for my Death Guard, which got put onto a shelf ready for undercoating and painting in the future.
The box set arrived Saturday morning and I eagerly opened it up, extracting the Solar Auxilia sprues for my brother. I’m not going to lie, but a part of me did feel a little disappointed when I looked at the remaining contents. For my marines I had four sprues in total giving me a decent number of infantry and five tanks. In a game that is known for it’s tiny tanks, it didn’t feel very generous. I also had three sprues containing two Warhound Titans which strikes me as a weird choice because if you follow the army building rules from the rulebook, you cannot field them in an army if you only use the contents of the box. In fact the marine side of things can’t even be fielded as a legitimate force without adding some extra items. Personally I’d rather have had some more tank sprues rather than Titans and possibly a sprue of knights.
There was also the usual brick of a rulebook that you could club somebody to death with, some decals, dice, templates, a pair of red range rules (aka whippy sticks) and an envelope containing two quick reference sheets and a sheet of pre-perforated tokens. When I say sheet of tokens I really do mean a sheet, we have zero thick card stock in this box and the tokens are instead printed on the same material as the quick reference sheet, so something not much thicker than paper. Bearing in mind we had plastic tokens for Adeptus Titanicus, and have thick card stock for Underworlds (and many other games), it feels like corner cutting – possibly for production reasons, but corner cutting nonetheless. What’s frustrating is order tokens are essential to play – each detachment gets an order every turn that has to be flipped over, so these risk getting wrecked with the amount of usage they’ll get – there are already a number of places offering Acrylic versions and a few 3d printable tokens too.
Unlike some games, there’s also no battle mat or scenery included and I think it’s a shame that we didn’t have some old school cardboard buildings or perhaps some that could be downloaded. I completely understand that Games Workshop want you to buy the (out of stock) buildings and the (expensive and out of stock) terrain tiles, but those are things that can always be picked up after you’ve got some games in. As it stands this starter set can’t be played out of the box without quite a few additional items. It’s a shame as the miniatures are great and from what I’ve seen the rules are pretty reasonable too.
I suppose as a summary I do still have is some reservations with how much longevity Legions Imperialis is going to have. The stock of the core box lasted long enough that not too many people missed out on that wave, which is positive. However as seems to be typical now, very few items have come back in stock, so you’ve not had people pick this up as a last minute Christmas present or spending their Christmas money on Legions Imperialis – with the rate that Games Workshop produce new releases this will have resulted in some people skipping this game to pick up the next one (which turns out to be the highly anticipated The Old World).
The composition of the box is simply odd. You cannot pick this up and play with a friend like other GW games because the contents don’t make legal armies, it’s a missed opportunity because Epic scale is a lot less daunting than highly detailed 28mm miniatures. The choice to include Warhounds but no battle mat or scenery just doesn’t work at any level and also means that the starter set is going to have a fairly limited appeal longer term as it doesn’t really contain enough to expand or start either army.
I generally avoid speaking about costs when it comes to miniature gaming, I’ve long been an advocate that Warhammer is a premium hobby and has a relatively high cost of entry. However I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about what I consider are the high pricing of some items when there are other much cheaper options easily available from established third-parties. For example, the Legions plastic tiles are £70 for six and you need a play area of 5×4 – that’s four boxes (not really, but twenty isn’t divisible by six so you need one box for just two tiles) at a whopping £280. You could pick up a neoprene battle mat for for £60, and although you can’t rearrange it, there’s no painting requirement and it costs a fraction of the price – you could even buy multiple if you wanted and have change left over. Personally, I’d rather Games Workshop had created plastic road terrain and a provided a paper/card battlemat. It would have given a very similar effect and offer a huge amount more variety at a fraction of the cost – having a central road diagonally across a battleground is far more interesting than the grid version the tiles provide.
It’s not solely about cost, it’s more that Games Workshop aren’t offering alternatives. There isn’t a better version of the tokens available – in fact you can’t even get the tokens outside of the version in the box or cutting out the back page of your rule book. Despite creating battle mats for Aeronautica Imperials, we don’t have something similar for Legions, just the plastic tiles, which though great are really static and quite bland. These things just encourage people to spend their money at third parties or print their own versions and that is a slippery slope because it’s a short step to sourcing everything from a third party – and the community has kept Epic going for quite a while so there’s already a lot of choice out there for it.
I realise that my summary doesn’t paint a particularly great picture and whilst I do stand by everything I’ve said, I equally have to say that I’m thoroughly enjoying putting together tiny tanks and am really looking forward to having a game. I am concerned that I’m going to drop a load of cash on releases and find the game gets pulled in a few years because choices made will push people into spending money elsewhere, however I am hopeful that as we see more people playing the game that might encourage more people to get into the game.