A Different Time, A Different Colour Palette

Codex Ultramarines was the first codex I ever owned and was such a treasured possession, it's bright pages filled with characterful visuals and interesting backstory. Looking back through my nostalgia influenced eyes its hard to not still be fond and of the style Games Workshop used back then. It lures you in with it's vivid colours and then captures you with grim dark tales and evocative drawings.

I do love the way they phrase the screenshot captions:

'An Ultramarine and Ork dreadnought clash in savage close combat'
'A Dark Angel patrol encounters a fowl Chaos outpost'
'An Imperial Guard force is ambushed by Orks amongst some ruins'

The non specific language and casual reference to each encounter seems to give the impression that there are thousands of these skirmishes happening all over the galaxy. Nothing special here, just another ambush, patrol, massacre in the 41st millennium. It happens everyday.

When you compare this to the above screenshot from the 2013 Codex I find that although it's clearly a stunning army on a fantastic battlefield, it's lost a bit of personality and character. It all feels a bit vague. Beautiful but vague.

It's interesting looking at the army shot in the Ultramarine codex since you get the impression this is the entire studio collection at the time. With such a small army by todays standards everything receives a lot more attention. The dreadnought is far more impressive when there is just one of them rather than lost in a group of six.

Each unit receives a lot of individual attention as the amount of kits was vastly smaller back then. They still had the awesome lasplas Razorback variant though!

Art and Detail

What the newer codex loses in personality it more than makes up for in production quality and sheer level of content and detail. The art surrounding the chapters and history of the space marines is jaw dropping and although I miss the John Blanche work you can't fault the new art direction either, it's just stunning.

I have little to say on the rules for the army back then as I did not play. Whatever your complaints are for the current edition of Warhammer 40k and Space Marines it's clear that we have far more choice in the armies we build today then ever before. A Tactical Marine may not be as potent as he once was (they used to be 30 points each!) but there is a myriad of interesting ways to put power armour on the table.

Overall I still love the old codex but the 2013 Space Marine codex is a fantastic edition in it's own right too. I enjoy them both for different reasons. Codex: Ultramarines has a characterful art style that we just don't see today from the illustrations to the miniatures to the way the photos are composed. The newer codex is a high quality premium product that has more detail than ever and renders the 40k universe with stunning art, photography and design.

Let me know what you think, do you still hark back to old editions or much prefer the new standard Games Workshop has established? Leave a comment below!

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