Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on the Codex Chaos Space Marines

We have had almost a month with the new Chaos Marine codex, I have been pouring over the codex and even tried out some games with it. Now it is time for me to share my honest assessment of the codex.

Let me start off by saying that I had high hopes the Phil Kelly would do the Traitorous sons of the Emperor justice. I will say that the codex has tons of options and you can build viable lists with it; with that said I think the codex is a huge missed opportunity.

It has some really glaring flaws. The Champions of Chaos special rule may extremely good from fluffy standpoint, but it totally screws up the effectiveness of squads, leading to a lot of dead aspiring champions. This rule should only be forced onto Independent Characters only, this way we could have a great fluff driven rule without screwing every unit in the codex.

I don’t understand why they stripped the teleport homers from the Icons: did I miss the memo where this was breaking the game? Also with the vast amount of ways to snipe specific models out of squads Icons are universally overpriced. Cause if you opponent wants them dead, they will usually die.

There is no free imbalanced army wide rule like ATSKNF. Hell Veterans of the Long War could have been free, and then it would at least have appeared that GW was throwing Chaos Marine players a bone. Now I am not complaining that CSM don’t have ATSKNF, I don’t think they should, but think about it, most of them live in warp anomalies and see hellish nightmares every day. So they should not easily brake from losing combat, they certainly should not be swept away by losing an assault. They could have easily made a rule that just stopped CSM units from being swept when falling back from an assault.

Two of the new “assault” units just don’t seem finished. Warp Talons and Mutilators feel very last minute, and dedicated assault units without frag grenades make them even worse, seriously.

There also should have been a more robust system for force organization shenanigans. Yes it is nice to be able to move the cult units from Elites to troops, but I think that Bike or Jump Pack Lords should move Bikes or Raptors from FA to Troops.

This codex should easily be twice as big as it is to properly represent Chaos Marines properly. Since GW seem dead set on keeping all the forces of Traitor Marines in one book. I know many with disagree with me and that’s fine, but let’s imagine if all Loyalists were represented in one codex.

Here is a list of the things that I believe should have been in the codex, but are not.

Chosen Terminators similar to GK Paladins, seriously Chaos should have a really elite yet expensive as hell Terminator unit to represent the best of the best that the traitors have to offer.

There should be a Cult terminators entry, please don’t tell me marked terminators are good enough, because they are not.

Where are the legion specific rules? How are we supposed to represent the Night Lords or Alpha Legion properly on the tabletop?

I see a severe lack of god specific Wargear and gifts, seriously each god would favor their followers in specific ways.

A Chaos version of the Whirlwind, it is a heresy era vehicle that does not seem all that hard to maintain since it is on a Rhino chassis.

An assault based Chaos Land Raider variant, for goodness sake most Chaos forces are assault based, you’d think they might strip out the Lascannons for some extra transport capacity since their loyalist brothers have shown that is can be done.

The codex is missing a proper Chaos Marine flyer; while the Heldrake has some great background, did it have to really look like a Fraking dragon?

A Chaos drop pod or mass integration of the Dread Claw. For Crap sake if they had just added this option the codex would have been 10 times better received than it is.

Let me wrap this up again by saying, it's not that I think the codex cannot be used to make some really diverse interesting list. It can and has the options to do so, but it still fails to properly cover the forces of Chaos in my eyes.


  1. I agree with everything you've said here Jim!

  2. Iron Warriors can easily be represented with the new Chaos Bible. By taking a counts as Abaddon you now have the ability to spam Chosen as Troop Choices. Chosen's ability to field a robust amount of special weapons and one heavy weapon make the perfect troop choice for Iron Warriors. Throw in a couple squads of Havocs and you have an iron clad fondation to work from. Ally with Imperial Guard and you now have the arcane ability to field a plethora of armoured units.

    For Alpha Legion you can field Huron as your HQ which now allows you to infiltrate three infantry based units. Throw in some cultist as your troops and you now have two of the three hydra heads covered. For the final head of this traitor legion you have a series of options at your disposal. YOu can align your Astartes with a traitor imperial guard legion or demons. Both of these option open the door way to employing units that have the ability to appear from out of no where.

    Yes the codex does not allow one to field an effective Night Lords but no codex has ever been perfect.

  3. I didn't say that you couldn't field any legion armies, I just would have preferred some more thought and better options created by the studio to do so.

    Like I said it's not a horrible book, it is solid and relatively balanced, but it just feels half arsed, when you look at all the codices out there to represent the Loyalists.

    Chaos gets one tome to cover factions/warbands from the original traitor legions and all the Chapters/warbands created from more recent falls from the Imperium.

    1. I'm curious if GW will actually enact that rumored plan to release new units (in the manor of the bomma or the Storm Talon) and put out things like cult terminators or legion HQ characters with force org shenanegans into the codex down the road.

      Honestly, I'm not sure what a Night Lords army would look like, beyond using infiltrate in the manor mentioned above to achieve a "fast" feeling, I'm not sure what game mechanics would work to represent their army, since they are a rapid strike terror based force, and fear is a crappy mechanic in the game as is. Maybe if they had a rule that overrode ATSKNF and could break SM squads, or even just an icon that caused that, you might have enough of a differentiation. I'm honestly somewhat glad we didn't get troop raptors or bikers, because we'd just wind up with evil blood angels or evil white scars, neither of which really fit the NL fluff, their jet pack units are elite and don't make up the backbone of their forces.

  4. Jim, I completely agree with you. I don't know much of the fluff but I'd say that compared to loyalist codexes, this one is rather limp. There ARE more options, but there is very little spice to this dish of Chaos. I was really hoping for soooo much more.

  5. GSI thanks for the comment! If you ever want to expand your knowledge on the fluff, check out the Deepstrike Radio podcast. I will admit to this being a shameless plug since I am on the show, but its focus is bringing the lore to life on the tabletop!

  6. I really don't like how the Dark Apostle cannot get a Bike or Jump Pack. I agree that Cult Terminators should have been included, and that generic "daemon weapons" like the last codex should have been included.

    I think the Maulerfiend will start to shine once the Fortification supplement comes out later next year - it's great, but only having the attacks of a dreadnought means it's going to get cut apart within short order by a monstrous creature.

  7. What you have to remember is this: new models for legion troops hit next summer. With GW already having made it plainly clear they plan to expand codexes with Chapter Approved mini-dexes as the wear on, would it not make perfect sense for them to expand legion units/rules when the new models hit for a boost in sales? ;)

  8. Agree with pretty much everything. Passable, but a missed opportunity.

    Challenges...ick. I was actually hoping for some rule like "No Honor among Traitors" where another CSM could backstab while the Champion engaged from the front. :-) As is makes CC vs. a single character very risky for any non-fearless unit.

    Icons - yeah, sniped too easily. Don't see why not homers anymore either, even if didn't work with allied daemons. Part of the appeal for the older books was the way Chaos operated on the table - one unit with an icon in the right place could suddenly become a doorway for your main attack. This was really key to the how CSM played differently to other marines to me - rush/infiltrate/outflank an icon into place, teleport/summon reinforcements. Paralleled nicely with the larger methods of bad seed could grow to doom a world...

    Agree that some better morale rules would have been welcome, something between bog standard Ld8 and Fearless to be available.

    Warp Talons without I'll still use them though.

    Again missed the boat a bit with cult non-troops. Even if they had to roll the troops' abilities back to enable terminators, etc. to match up better, it would have been nice. Why does the Death Guard in power armor get lowered I, Fearless and FNP while the Death Guard Chosen or Terminator doesn't? Problem with CSM where you should have Elites and Super Elites.

    Chaos Pod and assault Land Raider...while it furthers the narrative of being marines with some differences...well, that IS what they are! GW would have sold a bajillion pods and raiders.

    Missed opportunities. The main thing for me is trying to find a feel for CSM that is really different and deeper than "3+ save Orks".

    1. Don't forget, if your character isn't within 3" of combat at the start of their initiative step, they cannot make or accept a challenge, so its possible to avoid getting stuck in a challenge at least.

      I don't think GW is going to be doing a pod, since they are kinda leaving FW stuff to FW and there's already a CSM pod. Silly, perhaps, but at least there are rules for it and some tourneys have started allowing some FW. The Dreadclaw is even a flyer.

    2. Actually, while there is a requirement of being engaged to issue a challenge, there isn't one for accepting one.

    3. Pg. 64, under "Accepting A Challenge": Characters that cannot fight or strike blows (including those that are not engaged with an enemy model) cannot accept challenges.

    4. Whoops. You're most correct, Sir. I'd only made note of where it said that for the issuer of the challenge. haha

  9. While I agree with what your saying, your asking for things that other armies already have (drop pods, paladin equivalents, whirlwinds). I think gw is trying to keep the chaos book unique for the most part with its options. Im not a fan of the helldrake but The fact that it's our only flyer, and one with unique abilities, makes it stand out. I don't want another vendetta I want a chaos vehicle.

    The fact that csm's don't have some sort of fearless always puzzled me, you would figure after 10000 years Csm' s have seen the worst in the warp, yet they run away from space marines. And yes the legions should all have their own books just like the loyalIsts do. It just makes sense.

  10. I'm hoping that the trend of allowing some FW units in tournaments continues to grow, because when you consider the FW supplements, you have like 5 flyers, there's the Heldrake, the Blight Drone, the Dreadclaw Drop Pod, the Hell Talon and the Hell Blade. It at least opens up your options a bit. Personally I'm planning to run 1-2 heldrakes and either 2 units of 1 blight drones or a squadron of 2 blight drones, plus a vendetta or a flying daemon prince from allies (guard or Daemons)

  11. Jim

    I have written some rules for the traitor legions myself. Would you like me to email them to you? For example I wrote a rule for night lords called terror tactics which makes most if their shooting weapons pinning and gives the enemy negative modifiers to their leadership when taking morale tests against night lords.