[Dredging the Grimdark] Adeptus Arbites

This article is a part of a series called “Dredging the Grimdark” that reviews how you can use old, out of production (OOP) Citadel models or odd fluff armies in your games of 7th Edition Warhammer 40k. In this edition, we will be looking into how you can represent the Adeptus Arbites on the table top. Have a favorite mini or fluff concept you’d like to play with on the table? Let me know and it could be the focus of a post down the line.

I remember the first time I saw Judge Dredd. My parents wouldn’t let me watch R rated movies at home (I missed seeing Starship Troopers in theaters. THANKS, MOM!!!) so I would go over to my buddy Bobby’s house and we would pick them out of his parent’s crazy collection of VHS tapes. This is how I saw Aliens, Predator, and eventually Judge Dredd. Something about that movie stuck with me. Is this my future? Will Sylvester Stalone be some sci-fi cop chasing me down with a machine gun motorcycle while fighting his twin and a robot? Is that a real job? The answer, according to my terrified middle school guidance counselor, was no.
“I am the Facilities Manager!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Fast forward to the real future, and it’s not so exciting. No Mega-City One, no mutant hillbillies, and less Diane Lane. Luckily, we have Warhammer to distract us. Well, good news! You can relive all of your Judge Dredd fantasies while playing with toy soldiers. Wait, GW still has rules for the venerable Adeptus Arbites in 7th Edition, right? Lexicanum, help a brother out:

The Adeptus Arbites are one of the original components of the Warhammer 40,000 universe (although undoubtedly inspired by Judge Dredd). In the Ordo Malleus/Grey Knights army list in Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness Arbites squads could be used as an auxiliary force. In the basic Codex army lists included with Second Edition, taken as allies from the “Imperial Agents” army list, they could be used as part of Space Marine and Imperial Guard armies. In Third Edition the Adeptus Arbites had an official army list (Citadel Journal 29). In Fourth Edition they appear only in Witch Hunter armies, represented by Inquisition Storm Troopers using the option of replacing their Hellguns with shotguns. In Fifth Edition the best way to represent them remained the Witch Hunter army, until it was rewritten as Codex: Sisters of Battle. At the tail end of 5th and in Sixth Edition Codex: Grey Knights could be use Inquisitorial Henchman warbands, using Warrior Acolytes. The release of the Inquisitorial forces seperately meant that Codex: Inquisition could also be used. In Seventh Edition, Inquisitors were removed from the Grey Knights and so the only way remains to use Inquisition.

Lame. This is the type of stuff that annoys me about GW. Not D Weapons or Meta Lists, it’s how they kill the rules for important parts of their history because they don’t have new models to sell. They need to get over that. Imagine how popular a couple single pose plastic casts of OOP models would be. They could call them Games Workshop Relics and release them on a quarterly basis. I’d buy them, and I bet you would too. They could start with Sisters of Battle. No new models, just new plastic single casts. They would fly off the shelves, like so many Flyrants at the LVO.

Ok, pretend that someone at GW reads this blog post. They bring the idea to the war room and it gets the go-ahead. They put a poll up on their website and fancy new app (which is cool, by the way), and let people decide which OOP metals will be re-cast as single piece plastic models. Hell, they could just do a Kickstarter and offer up different kits for hitting different goals. You pay $100 and you get ten Sisters of Battle in three poses (including a flamer and heavy flamer, five Seraphim in three poses, and three characters of your choice. Who wouldn’t do that! And, that frees up designers to work on new projects. The best of both worlds.

I mean, this was a huge part of GW business early on (even today when you it think about their snap-fit starter boxes). My guess is that they assume that more hardcore hobbyists need/require a more complex kit. But, I really feel like this business model discounts your avid OOP fans. Thank goodness for Bartertown, eBay, and swap meets for still giving people like me access to these models. Don’t get me wrong, I love the extremely detailed new models, I just prefer the look of the originals. I’d be interested to hear what you all think about this. Do you prefer the older models or the newer models? Are there any OOP models you would buy if they were just snap-fit or single cast plastics?
Anyway. Rather than bitch and moan about a lack of official rules for the Adeptus Arbites, I decided to find some existing rules that I felt fit the fluff of these future space cops. In my searches, I found that this is still a really beloved army in 40k. So, if you decide to take this on know that there are a lot of good resources in the community. And, you can be one of the good guys fighting to bring the soul of this game we love back to the table top. One summary execution at a time.

The Rules

Option One: A Kickass Homebrew Codex
There are a lot of people that love this game. Then, there is Matthew Forish and his beautiful homebrew Adeptus Arbites codex. You can check it out here. Now, this isn’t in keeping with my own rules for Dredging the Grimdark. But, after reading through it I felt like I had to include it. You’ll need to pass this by your opponent, but you could build an entire list out of this book. And, the rules are great. My favorite is Maul Proficiency on the Arbites Judge. Also a really awesome collection of pictures and fluff. Check it out!
Option Two: The Inquisition Codex
Ah, old reliable. I am 99% positive that this codex was written for people like me so we wouldn’t show up in Nottingham with torches in bad Space Wolves cosplay. It is a real toolkit of rules that you can use to create nearly any Imperial army for games of 40k. They key to Arbites is shotguns and maces, and this codex has both. I would focus on Crusaders (Storm Shield and Power Maul) with some Acolytes in carapace with shotguns and some special weapons to represent your basic Arbitrator. Throw in some converted Rhinos and add 6s to taste.
Option Three: The Space Marine Codex
The biggest issue I have with using the Space Marine’s codex is T4. You should be using Scouts, with shotguns and maybe a bolter or two, but the Arbites are just good old fashioned humans. Granted, fudging the narrative a bit isn’t that big of a deal. I mean, Sly Stalone has got to be AT LEAST T5! Right? I’d call them an Execution Squad, due to their ability to infiltrate. And, it’s not too much of a stretch to run a Captain as a Judge. Just make sure to model him accordingly. Great if you are playing Space Marines, as you won’t need to ally.

The Models

The model line for Arbites is awesome. It perfectly captures what they represent in the game, along with that classic Oldhammer style. eBay is your friend here, and you can find some good deals on the original models. If you decided to convert them on your own, I’d start with Space Marine Scouts and just find some cool looking heads (I’d suggest the Forge World Elysians). There is also a Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, and I could see using some of these models for your forces. I assume the scale is 25mm, so they might be a bit short compared to more modern models. But, if you are using OOP Arbites, it should be a-ok.
Until next time!

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  • Ambience327

    Just wanted to give a heads up to anyone who might be following this discussion. I have just updated the homebrew Codex mentioned in the article above to bring it more in line with the latest 7th Edition Codex books. Below are the update notes, and I welcome any comments anyone may have!

    v1.4 Update Notes:

    – Added the new Precinct Task Force Detachment, updated the Riot Response and Rapid Pursit Delegations, and added several new Formations to allow for the new style of Detachment building (like the Space Marine Gladius Strike Force or the Necron Decurion.)

    – Combat Drills have been simplified a bit.

    – Removed the Suppressive rule, replacing all references to it with either Pinning or Concussive.

    – Changed the Crackdown special rule so that it causes 2 Wounds on successful To Wound rolls of 6. This should be simpler than the old version, without making them overpowered.

    – Increased the range of the Implacable Advance Warlord Trait from 3″ to 6″.

    – Removed all instances of units not taking up Force Org slots or multiple models/units making up a single Force Org slot. With multiple detachments and especially the new Precinct Task Force Detachment, such rules are no longer really necessary.

    – Removed Shock Maul as standard equipment for the Personal Staff. Bailiffs are now the only ones who may take Shock Mauls, Power Mauls, Boltguns and Combat Shotguns.

    – Gave the Garrison Preacher a Rosarius. Raised his cost accordingly.

    – Added the Barrister to the Personal Staff, giving him a rule granting re-rolls of failed Leadership tests for Combat Drills within 6″.

    – Raised the cost of the Book of Precepts from 15 to 20 points.

    – Removed the outdated reference to “heavy weapons” from the Combat Team’s background text.

    – Renamed the Executioner’s “Implacable Advance” Combat Drill to “Implacable March” to avoid confusion with the Warlord Trait. Also changed it from granting Relentless to granting Slow and Purposful, making it a bit more of a tradeoff to use. Lowered their upgrade cost from 5 points to 3 points to compensate.

    – Added the “Fire Port Array” to the list of Special Rules on the Arbites Chimera’s Dataslate

    – Added an option for the Arbites Taurox to be modified to be open-topped.

    – Updated Joseff Spartacus’ Demolition Man special rule to bring it in line with the 6th Edition damage table, including making it possible for him to cause an “Explodes” result with his Armour Piercing rounds or Breaching Charges.

    – Removed the ‘Pursuit of Justice’ special rule as it was no longer very meaningful with the new Precinct Task Force Detachment.

    – Added an option for Penal Legion Beastmen to replace their lasguns with laspistols and close combat weapons. I also made Frenzon a bit more lethal to help compensate – it now causes a single Wound rather than a single S3 hit for each 1 rolled.

    – Clarified Shroud Grenades so that they are always used before the unit does any other shooting, thus retaining the intended negative consequence of Snap Shots only for the rest of the unit. Also added a clause that the Shrouded rule is lost if the unit decides to Jink, thus preventing a combo whereby they were able to easily obtain a 2+ Cover Save by Jinking and being affected by Shroud Grenades, which was unintended. (Also, dodging around behind a smoke screen just doesn’t seem like it would add much protection.)

    – Updated the restriction for Fire Support Teams so that no more than one Team per Detachment may be given a Lascannon or Plasma Cannon.

    – Updated Judge Schindler’s Spacebourne Precinct rule to better mesh with 7th Edition Army Building philosopy.

    – Added a line to Detective Gotham’s A Law Unto Himself special rule stating that he may never be your army’s Warlord.

    – Reworded Detective Gotham’s Harlequin Enmity rule to reflect the release of Codex: Eldar Harlequins and to make it more clear that his removal as a casualty is simply not able to fulfill the requirements for any Objective.

    – Simplified the wording for Detective Gotham’s Grapnel Gun & Glide Cloak.