I do have to admit. My first impression of the codex announcement wasn't positive. I'm still cautiously pessimistic about codex's in the long term since editions have changed frequently in the past. It makes it so that the older books become obsolete and end up getting sold at garage sales or just lingering in an attic somewhere. I have also seen a ridiculous amount of Power Creep from codex to codex in previous editions. However, there are some positive points to keep in mind. Games Workshop has changed their stance around with the community in terms of communcation that gives us a bit of a bright spot in 8th Edition's future.
First things first, Games Workshop is finally publicly presenting information themselves before the release of their products. This accomplishes a few things positively for both the consumer and Games Workshop themselves. It makes it so that information doesn't have to boil down to rumors and here say shortly before release. It wasn't uncommon in previous editions to get your information about the new releases not from your Local Game Store or Games Workshop themselves, but by Bell of Lost Souls reporting on the latest rumor from various blogs that had credibility when it came to rumors. Even Codex pages with rules on them were leaked well in advance before it was announced in a White Dwarf, Games Workshop's official magazine. It was where Games Workshop relayed its information out of, hoping you'd buy a magazine every month from your Local Game Store to get the news. In theory it sounded like a solid plan. It was to entice customers to go to your Local Game Store in order to find out what was going on with new releases and product information. In practice, it was the main reason people went to websites like Bell of Lost Souls to gather their information and knew more before the White Dwarf launched. And Local Game Store owners that wanted to stay on top of what was going on had to rely on this information. Which meant that nine times out of ten, the customer knew far more about what was going on than the Local Game Store did.
It also builds up hype in the same was as the rumors did years ago, but far more controlled. The Dark Eldar got a huge overhaul back in 2011. It was the first army they remodeled entirely in plastic from the ground up. Kabalite Warriors, Wyches, Wracks, even the Talon was redone in plastic. It was a pretty major overhaul that cost Games Workshop quite a bit of money to do all in one sitting. It was also the product that sold the least at the time upon release. Why? Grey Knights were already accurately predicted to release their codex six months later. People were more excited for Grey Knights getting the overhaul than they were Dark Eldar, discouraging them from doing the same thing again to other factions that sorely need it like Sisters of Battle. Games Workshop now has more in control of what information gets leaked ahead of time by providing it themselves, protecting their IP and making the central focus be on what they have in the works this month instead of a year from now.
Second, it seems that Games Workshop is taking feedback from rules problems and inaccuracies far more seriously this time around. In previous editions, FAQs would be released silently by Games Workshop and never announced unless it was by a user that happened to stumble upon it. It was as if the company was afraid to announce anything and stand by their rules. And for the most part, they were right to be cautious. Games Workshop is, and always will be, a model company first and a rules company second. They focus on the miniatures themselves first and then the game after the miniature is made. Now, they have been quick to point to and release FAQs for the Indexes when they released. This is in part due to direct feedback from people on their Warhammer Community page on Facebook. It allows them to address questions and rule inaccuracies quickly and easily. Which leads me to point number three.
Wisely, they decided with this edition to let the community develop it alongside them since they have far more experience with the tabletop game. And it has paid off for the company if their list of models being sold out is any indication as to their sales figures. I swear, Orks have been sold out for awhile now. Previous editions were developed in house by Games Workshop with no direct feedback from outside sources at all until well after the edition was released. This in turn lead to high turnover rates when developing the various editions. So after looking at some previews of what the Space Marine Codex for 8th Edition holds, it seems like they are customizing armies by giving them a universal Tactic and Stratagems that can be spent using Command Points. One example they gave was of the Ultramarines Tactic shown below.
This is going to be a universal rule that applies to all Ultramarine models. Models. MODELS.
If I had to speculate, I am going to predict that armies in future codexes will follow this similar pattern to be unique from one another. Armies like the Astra Militarium (Imperial Guard!), Orks, Necrons, and Tau have multiple different variants that are possibilities to have into their own unique feel similar to Space Marine Chapters in the upcoming Codex. They already mentioned that Raven Guard will have their own Stratagems, Warlord Traits, Relics, and Tactic that will make them different from Ultramarines. It would not surprise me then to see Catachans have a different set of Orders than Cadians that are unique to them or Snakebitaz being able to do things that Bad Moon Orks wouldn't do like infiltrate units of Boyz. But it also opens up more possibilities for factions that may not have obvious differences like the Farsight Enclave or the different Necron Dynasties. It allows for no two armies to be on the field to play the exact same, which is great for all of us as we'll see a lot more diverse armies on the tabletop for people to try out.
It does lead to some pretty great possibilities later down the line. We will know more when the Codex releases later in the month.