Sunday, June 30, 2013

Codex Eldar: Digital Edition Review

Finally a codex released on a device other than the iPad!
One cannot deny that Games Workshop has released a lot of Codex books since the release of 6th edition in June 2012.  Five released in a little under a year.  I, like most of you, have been thrilled that they are updating the armies so quickly.  But with this rapid release schedule, GW’s proof-reading and testing has taken a back seat.  Almost every book is released with an accompanying FAQ on day one, changing point costs and rule wording.  This makes the physical purchase of one of their books a bit frustrating.

This problem has been solved in some small capacity with the advent of their digital iBook versions of their new codex books.  These interactive versions of the books are digitized versions of the printed books, with the same full colour artwork and formating, but benefit from interactive miniature pictures, and quick-links for special rules and weapons.  The most appealing aspect of them, however, is the fact that they are updated with each FAQ, allowing all of your codex books to stay up-to-date, without having to print and cross-reference them with the out-of-date physical books.  Conveniently, this also allows you to easily carry around all of your codex books in one place.  This comes with a major caveat, however, in that they are only available on the iPad.  No Android tablets, Kindles, Nooks, smart phones, or computers.  Personally,  I do not want to pay this Apple tax, and have been sitting back, waiting for Games Workshop to expand the formats these digital codexes support. 

The book displays quite nicely on the Kindle, with clear images and adjustable text.
Games Workshop took its first step towards addressing this issue this week, with the Black Library releasing its first codex book as a part of their Digital Collection.  They recently started releasing digital content for other tablets and eReaders, as well as smartphones, but these were all small releases, only a few pages each, detailing weapons and special characters in the 40k universe.  This release is a full fledge codex book, mimicking the printed version as closely as possible.  In this review, I do not plan to review the content of the Eldar codex, as much as talk about how it translates to digital devices (specifically a Kindle Touch, my current eReader), and the care that went into optimizing it.

The first thing that you will notice about the new digital version is the price: $32.99, a substantial savings over the other two options (Print: $49.50, iPad: $49.99).  When purchased, the product is associated with your Black Library account, where you can download it in both Mobi (Kindle) and ePub (Android and iBooks) formats.  I downloaded the Mobi version and transferred it onto my Kindle without much hassle.  At almost 500 mb, it is a rather large file (my kindle that only has 3 gb of storage space, as the book files tend to be small), primarily due to all of the images it contains.

The text displays nicely on the Kindle and can be resized at a whim.  The statlines for each unit are contained within stylized rectangles, like in the printed version, but are images and therefore the text size can not be modified.  You can however zoom in on the images if you want a slightly larger view.  Each unit entry or section of the codex is separated into element that are linked to a table of contents that is accessible at any point, allowing for relatively easy navigation.  The search feature on the Kindle also works for locating things, although it is not prioritized, so you often have to scroll through a list every time the searched word appears throughout the entire book.  These things help make navigation functional, but not wonderful.  Unfortunately, there are not links within entries (like links to weapon statlines), a feature present in the iPad version (so I am told).  Also, while there are links from the table of contents to the different Force sections (HQ, Elites, etc.), they are not broken down any further, which often requires that you click through a sizable number of pages to reach the particular unit you are interested in.  This also applies to the armoury (Forge of Vaul) and Psykic Powers sections, forcing you to tap through a multitude of pages before you reach the wargear item or psykic power you want to read about.  While this is not difficult, it is more time consuming and annoying then it is to flip through the physical version of the book.

You are able to navigate through the codex using a serviceable menu system.
The most disappointing aspect of this digital release, however, is that it is not updated to reflect the FAQ that was released shortly after the physical version was released.  Currently there is only one thing changed in the Eldar book (one of the weapon profiles is misprinted in the reference section), so it does not hinder this particular release too much, but arguably the best feature of the iPad version was getting the updates as FAQs are released.  It was why I am interested in digital versions of the books in the first place.  The fact that this digital edition was not corrected, even though it was released weeks after the FAQ is unacceptable.  It just seems lazy and irresponsible of Games Workshop.  There is still every possibility that Game Workshop will fix this blatant lapse of judgement, but until that time,  I really cannot recommend the purchase of the Codex Eldar digital edition.  

Pure disappointment. There was only one thing to update
and even it was not (the Shadow weaver is  Blast weapon).
Being their first digital codex release, it is still really early in the Black Library’s foray into digital rulebooks, so I am still hopeful that they will listen to feedback and make improvements.  Time will tell I suppose.

-Godwyn Fischig

No comments:

Post a Comment