It’s 2016, and the chance of getting a “new” codex these days is slim to none. More to the point, why do you even need one?
What CSM Players Want
Face it Chaos Space Marine (CSM) fans, you aren’t going to get what you want. Nobody has received the blessing of a “new” codex for a while now. It’s just not what GDub does anymore in 40K. Most recently Tau; a few new units and some new formations. Otherwise, the same tome they had before. Of course they have received some beasty supplements with new rules, etc. This is your fate as well heretic scum. Let’s think about the future of your corner of the Grimdark (hint: it’s already here!).
Can we agree no new dex? A rhetorical question to be sure, since we already know the answer. Of course not. Why would GW change course for you? Already some supplements have hit the streets. Black Legion, Crimson Scum (just kidding). It’s the Imperial in me. I would expect, if we get one at all, the next CSM dex will be a retread with a few new units, formations…just like the Tau book. But now, think about how much those minimal changes (if you call adding Stormsurges and some beasty formations minimal) have affected the Tau meta. As usual, folks on the Interweb are already scoffing at some of the new CSM formations, but until they actually get played, who is to say. Bottom line is we will have to see what, if we actually get one, the new dex looks like before passing judgement on its long term affects.
The other issue I have with the cry for a “new” CSM dex is that, wait for it, you don’t need a new dex. I will agree that some of the ICs need a revamp and you could use a new unit or two. But I have also seen KDK, Undivided and Nurgle armies do well and be competitive at the local level. If it’s the power gamers who have an issue with needing a new dex, so be it. However, I think the previously mentioned “dex light” and some new units/formations (the GW M.O.) would be plenty for the local gaming scene. This is without the mention of additional “Kin” armies (Tzeentch, Nurgle, Slaneesh). You might say, “Dan, you don’t play CSM, so what the hell do you know about any of this?” OK smart guy, I don’t play CSM, but I DO play against them. And when played by experienced, competent gamers, they give anyone a good run.
The 800 Pound Chaos Gorilla
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Yes, 30K is what I speak of. Like it or not, Horus Heresy is sucking the life out of the 40K CSM scene. Did I actually say that? Damn right. And get this readers, you know it’s true. Take the recent rise of 30K at Adepticon. During an interview on The Long War podcast, the gentleman who is the grand poobah for the event stated that the number of players in this year’s Horus Heresy event was 150…last year it was 50! 200% growth in a single year. Are you telling me that a “new” CSM codex would drive that many Chaos players to rise from the proverbial grave and get back into the competitive scene? Highly doubtful. There has been a similar increase in 30K interest at other recent major events, such as LVO.
Anecdotally, I have seen a significant increase/crossover from 40K to 30K in my local meta. One of my friends was a 40K Iron Warriors guy forever. He is now all in for 30K; Perterabo is a regular in most lists I have seen him play. Another friend was (yes, there’s that past tense again) our local Eldar master for the longest time. He has now built a 5000 point Night Lords army…and before you ask, Curze makes frequent appearances. Others have talked seriously about starting other Traitor Legions; Alpha Legion seems to be a popular choice. Do we see a pattern here?
The real question is why the movement to, and overall growth of 30K? My thought is that one thing it gives Chaos/Traitor players is something they do not have in 40K; the chance to play a specific Legion (Chapter) in which they have a special interest in. The bonus is they also come with Legion specific rules. Things are different for loyalists. Say I want to play 40K Iron Hands. Their are specific Chapter Tactics as well as transfers that I can use to customize. They also have a Chapter specific supplement (Clan Raukaan). Same could be said for Raven Guard, who also have Chapter specific rules as part of the recent Tau campaign supplement. Most recently, the new Angels of Death supplement is the epitome of taking care of the loyalists in 40K, while essentially ignoring CSM by giving them Chapter specific rules, toys and formations (sorry, not counting Khorne; they are the one Chaos faction that has received some love).
The most specific 40K traitors can get is by specific Chaos god. Nurgle players can have a Nurgle army, but they really aren’t Death Guard. Slaneesh has their Noise Marines, but they are not really Emperor’s Children. And what about the traitors who don’t follow a specific Chaos god? Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion. There is no way for a hobbyist who has an interest one of these Chapters to really play to their narrative. 30K/Heresy opens the door for them. Now my friend who plays Nurgle can actually play as Death Guard. The guy who says he has a 40K Word Bearers army can actually play Word Bearers, complete with Chapter specific rules and characters. And finally, the bonus in Horus Heresy for both loyalists and traitors is that you get to play your Primarch! What Grimdark hobbyist wouldn’t want to throw down with a demi-god in the middle of a massive firefight and assault?
What Will You do?
So 40K Chaos players, the bottom line is I don’t think you are ever going to get a new dex (now that I have said this on the Interwebs, I am certain it will be announced next week!). Then there is this my traitor scum friends…why do you even need one? With the momentum shifting significantly in the Horus Heresy direction, isn’t it time to throw in and get started? Like it or not, the lines between 30K and 40K continue to blur, and expecting a new CSM codex is truly a proverbial pipe dream. In the words of the classic R&B singer Ruth Brown…”that train don’t stop here anymore.”
Have you 40K Chaos folks considered moving over to Horus Heresy?