Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition
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Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition is rather unlike those after it. The first edition to have codexes proper, it attempted to streamline a lot from Rogue Trader but was still known for a lot of oddities. TBD.
Notable Things about 2nd Edition
- Generally Smaller Scale: In 2nd, the "standard" game was 1500 points, the humble Guardsman was 10 points, and the Space Marine was 30 (!) points; as a result, games had a lot less models compared to contemporary 40k. Seeing as there was a metric fuckton of tables, special rules and scatter rolls and close combat was fought between individual miniatures, that was probably for the best.
- Army Percentages/no FOC: Unlike 3rd Edition onward, 2nd does not have a normal Force Organization Chart of HQs/Troops/etc. Rather, units are organized as Heroes, Core or Support. A minimum percentage of your points must be spent on Core while you are not allowed to spend more than a certain percentage of your points on Supports or HQs. This system was retained and modified for Warhammer fantasy.
- Standardized Weaponry: Compared with later editions that add unique variations what are ultimately similar weapons, there are relatively less "unique" faction weapons in 2nd. Rather than Mega Kannons, Starcannons, Plasma Calivers, etc. a Heavy Plasma Gun is a Heavy Plasma Gun, whether wielded by an Eldar, Ork, or Imperial. However, the unique faction weapons that did exist came with very detailed special rules. The D-cannon, for example, had two pages of rules, scattered twice and you had to roll if the guys you hit (not necessarily the guys you were shooting at) would end up destroyed, flipped, inside the ground or teleported across the table. Good times.
- Standardized Crunch: In a similar vein, armies built from the same Codex were pretty uniform and there were only very few special rules for armies or units. Blood Angels were basically Ultramarines with a Death Company, all the Guard regiments/Eldar craftworlds played exactly the same etc. Army customization would only become a thing with 3.5E.
- Active Overwatch: In 2nd edition, Overwatch is a choice made during your movement phase; you forfeit moving (note that vehicles can move and overwatch) and shooting in your turn in order to be able to interrupt the opponent's movement phase to shoot at a -1 penalty.
- Wargear Cards: Wargear Cards are similar to Relics in more recent editions of 40k though arguably more sophisticated; certain models have a certain number of slots for Wargear Cards; a lowly unit champion may only be allowed to take 1 Wargear Card, while a Lord of Chaos could take up to 4 Wargear Cards. A lot of Wargear are "common" and not tied to any specific faction, while others are more like standard Relics.
- Vehicles: Vehicles had 3 specific speeds: Slow, combat, and fast. They could only move directly forward; a slow vehicle could turn at will, a combat vehicle could make two 45-degree turns (or one 90-degree) and a fast one could only make a single 45-degree turn. Notably, you could only change range bands by one step per turn, so watch out for sharp turns if you go too fast! (Crash!)
- Vehicle Crew: Each vehicle had a crew rating. Unlike later editions of 40k, they could be killed off, or could disembark from their vehicle. In theory, if the tank crew from one Leman Russ survived their tank being disabled, they could board another one that lost its crew and re-commandeer it. Instead of Tank Commanders, certain characters (Meks, Techpriests, Techmarines) could replace a crew member while having access to their normal options.
- Base for other games 2nd Edition based rules are used in other GW games like Gorkamorka, old Necromunda and Shadow War: Armageddon - another 40k skirmish game before the new Necromunda showed up.
- Fluff: 2nd Edition established 40k's basic lore as we recognize it today. It took all the random bits and characters from Rogue Trader, surgically removed everything that was even remotely funny and turned the remains into GRIMDARK. Gone were the days of soda popping psycho-convicts, exploding beastmen convicts and Zoats. It was pretty skubtastic at the time.
2nd edition had the following armies:
- Space Marines (duh); with "Codex: Ultramarines" serving as the template for codex-reliant chapter, "Codex: Angel of Death" giving rules for Blood Angels and Dark Angels and "Codex: Space Wolves" for everyone's favorite vikings.
- Imperial Guard: Became today's historical regiments with lasguns, Leman Russes, commissars and balls of steel. Oh, and the Guard could shoot your shit up before the game had even started. Just because.
- Sisters of Battle: Pretty much the same as modern Sisters, without the promotions, Inquisition and torture fetish.
- Assassins: We got the four temples.
- Eldar: Notably, the Eldar codex also included rules for Harlequins, Exodites, and Eldar Corsairs.
- Chaos: The Chaos Codex was primarily for the main traitor Legions. This was the first time where models purchased marks separately (in contrast to the Slaves to Darkness books); unlike later editions, a character could purchase multiple Marks. The book mostly focused on Chaos Marines with Daemon Support proper, but had rules for playing Chaos Cults and armies from full-fledged Daemon Worlds.
- Tyranids: Also included rules for Genestealer Cults.
Squats never got their Codex, Necrons made a guest appearance near the very end but only really became "Oldcrons" in 3rd edition. Tau, AdMech, Knights (both Imperial and Grey), Deathwatch and Chaos Daemons as a separate army from CSM were not yet playable in 40k.