A Review of Codex Iyanden

The Iyanden Codex supplement is not easy to review.

On one hand, it was far better than I feared. The background section is simply brilliant, and the tie-in missions designed to bring this background to the table-top are a stroke of genius. It’s a template I’d love to see used again.

On the other hand, the Iyanden supplement is filled mostly with recycled artwork and miniature-pics, and a bit of padding (such as the Altar of War section). Even with padding, the total page-count falls well short of the regular 6th Edition  hardback Codexes for Warhammer 40K, with which the Iyanden book shares the GBP 30.- price-tag (GBP 24.99 for the iPad version).Iyanden – A Codex: Eldar Supplement for Warhammer 40K 6th : 3 / 5 stars      

The Good – Background & Missions

The Codex Iyanden really shines in providing brilliant in-depth background (“fluff”) for the Iyanden Craftworld and (!) providing a few interesting missions (and a handful of optional rules) that allow players to bring key-battles from the history of Iyanden to the table.

#1 – The Background

Iyanden, until today, hasn’t had much background written for it, and most of what was there dealt with Iyanden’s famous outcast Prince Yriel. Similar to the Crimson Fist, Iyanden defining character was to be the sub-faction that had taken a licking.

Unlike the Crimson Fists, who faced near-annihilation defending their home-world, Iyanden’s reason for almost being eaten by the Tyranids has been a slightly less satisfactory “they-were-in-the-way-and-too-slow-moving-out-of-the-way“. In essence, Iyanden was intergalactic road-kill.

Codex Iyanden takes this rather dry, text-book-style background and turns it into a riveting tale of the sometimes noble deeds, sometimes petty feuds, rivalries, disputes, and choice of a set of central characters: mainly Farseer Kelmon Firesight, Prince Yriel and Iyanna Arienal.

Codex Eldar tells you about events in the history of the Eldar, making notes of the people that participated in these events. Codex Iyanden – not unlike the (much larger) Horus Heresy actually – shines by telling 40K history through the choices, triumphs and defeats of  characters. Larger-than-life, perhaps, but still characters to relate to, emphasise with or – alternatively – pity or despise.

Thus the first 20-odd pages of Codex Iyanden are by far the most enjoyable 40K-background written in a 6th Edition Codex to date. Reading Codex Iyanden really makes me want to pick up an Iyanden army even though the yellow-blue scheme would not normally be my first choice.

Codex: Iyanden (p. 18)
From the bridge of theFlame of Asuryan, Yriel looked upon the ruin of Iyanden and know only anger; at Kelmon for not contacting him sooner and at Ethrael for his failure to protect the craftworld, but the better part of his rage Yriel spared only for himself. He should have been here; he would have been here but for the monstrous pride that had driven him away.

#2 – The Missions

Codex Iyanden Echos of War Missions

Among the best things, I think, about the Iyanden supplement is that it makes key events described in Iyanden’s history and background section “playable” with 5 “Echoes of War” missions.

  1. Dark Allies (an alliance of Dark Angels and Iyanden takes on Chaos Space Marines, historically among the first big battles fought in no small part by Iyanden’s Ghost Warriors).
  2. The Cleansing of Menimshemash (a fight against Chaos Daemons, representative of Iyanden’s pre-destruction vigilance against Chaos along the Galaxy’s Eastern Rim)
  3. The Battle of the Burning Moon (against Chaos Space Marines, the pyrrhic victory won by Prince Yriel, which ultimately led to his exile from Iyanden).
  4. Yriel’s Return (against Tyranids, obviously. The most iconic fight in Iyanden’s history).
  5. Rekkfist’s Downfall (against Orks, post-destruction Iyanden and Dark Eldar face one of the most dangerous Ork Warlords).

The Echoes of War is where this book feels the most like last year’s Crusade of Fire campaign book, but with two crucial differences.

  • First, where Crusade of Fire writes its campaign to an entirely “new” military campaign, that has no specific reference in the existing 40K lore, the “Echoes of War” missions in the Iyanden supplement but you right into the battles from the background section.
  • Second, where Crusade of Fire hawked all sorts of “advanced” Hobby-stuff (one Crusade of Fire mission, famously, asked you to have around GBP 1,000.- or more worth of Zone Mortalis terrain at hand), the Iyanden mission keep it simple and flavourful for a “regular” game of Warhammer 40K (though there is also a page of Strategems for Cities of Death and Planetstrike respectively).

Finally, as noted in an earlier blog-post on the Iyanden supplement, these missions are the place where the optional Iyanden-rules, such as the ability to field a full council of Spiritseers, come in. Obviously, the rules can be used without the missions if you chose, but the missions, for the most part, depend on these alternative rules to bring out the flavour of the battles they seek to emulate.

The Bad – Pictures, Padding & Page-Count

Codex Iyanden Recycled Art

Unfortunately, Games Workshop skimped on the visual side of things. As brilliant as the written parts of the Iyanden supplement are, as disappointing is the production value. It’s not “bad”. Iyanden is a pretty book, no doubt. But most of the art and miniatures was shown before.

70 pages with padding and recycled art do not, in my opinion, justify the same price-tag as a regular Warhammer 40K 6th Edition Codex (which clearly aren’t a bargain to begin with).

#1 – Pictures and Artwork

Most of the artwork is recycled (see picture above). Moreover, while there are some shots of GW’s Iyanden studio-army with the various missions, the central picture section re-prints a lot of what was already in the regular Eldar Codex (which you must own to make use of the Iyanden supplement). The picture below shows the Iyanden book on top and the new Eldar Codex below.

Iyanden Supplement compared with Eldar Codex

A bit more originality would’ve been appreciated.

#2 – Padding & Page-Count

The Iyanden supplement is only 70 pages. Truth be told, it is really only ~60 pages, including the picture-sections above, before filling the last 8 to 10 pages with a printed “Altar of War: Iyanden”.

It is a nice addition that gives you a few more missions and, as far as I can tell, it is not identical with the Altar of War: Eldar eBook. Yet it does feel tacked-on to add a bit of page-count.

In my opinion, if Games Workshop sells these Codex supplements at the same price as a regular Codex, more content to bring it in line with what you get in a Codex would be appreciated.

  • If GW prints Altar of War eBooks in this supplements, they could’ve also added a painting-guide or something along those lines. 
  • Better yet, they could’ve been a bit more economical with the Iyanden part (e.g. cut some duplicate pictures and art) to bring it down to around 50 pages, and add another 50 pages of background, missions, etc..  on second Craftworld (one can dream, right?).
  • They could’ve simply sold it for less.

What is and is not appropriate pricing is always a tricky subject. Since the comparison to the new 6th Edition hardback Codex-books is so apparent, the significantly lower page-count of the Iyanden book for the exact same price just feels off, even within GW’s product line.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed the Iyanden supplement and I really came around to the idea of Codex supplements.

The potential for spotlighting interesting sub-factions, with an emphasis on background and without launching a more or less full-fledged alternative line of miniatures, is exciting.

The campaign-book style with missions and a few rules that allow players to play key events from the expanded background material on the table is brilliant.

The execution of the Iyanden book however, is stretching it. It’s a good 50 page book, bloated to 70 pages with filler and sold for the price of a 104 page (Games Workshop) book.

That, in my opinion, isn’t good enough.

Indeed, a “double-expansion”, with the Iyanden-part as it is written now, and the exact same thing again for another craftworld, say Biel-Tan, in a 104 page Iyanden/Biel-Tan supplement, would’ve been as perfect a format for this kind of GBP 30.- supplements as I could think of.