One veteran BoLS alum lays down the conventional wisdom on what’s really wrong with the CSM Codex and how to fix it.
via York Necromancer (BoLS Lounge)
I think the problem you’ve got with the Chaos Space Marine codex is twofold.
The Twofold Problem
It’s Hard to Nail Down Chaos: Firstly, Chaos is so many things to so many people; every Chaos fan has their specific thing about Chaos that they love beyond all others, and unless that thing is viable, they’re going to feel cheated.
Memories of the Fall: The second problem is the older Chaos players who remember codex 3.5, which was the Grey Knights 5th edition of its day, and through the nostalgia goggles, they kind of want the new Codex to be as powerful as that one was. They’ll never admit as much, claiming merely to want an army that can hold its own (which is actually a fair point at the moment, as the current CSM codex can’t), but unless the CSM codex is stomping all and sundry with its PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, they simply won’t be happy.
If I was in charge of the CSM book, I would aim to design it so that there were four core builds, each of which would be viable:
1 – Veterans Of The Long War: this would be the Legion build, made up of the ancient survivors of the Heresy. It would be a very low model count army, roughly comparable in power levels to a GK Paladin-themed list, only with the flavour of Chaotic mutations and relic weaponry. Cult marines would be the core of this build (with Black Legion as the ‘generic’, non-affiliated build). This army wouldn’t run away, would be high toughness, and absolutely brutal in melee – probably the best elite melee force in the metagame – with a maximum shooting range of about 24″ and multiple non-vehicle methods of delivering its troops into combat.
2 – Traitor Marines: this would be the ‘generic’ list. It would be roughly comparable to loyalist marines, but with weaker morale (because now the marines are fighting for themselves, not a cause), and a ‘horde’ style of play. Special and heavy weapons would be limited, because the Veterans of the Long War keep them for themselves, meaning this army would be forced to rely on higher numbers of men and bolters/bolt pistol/ccw to win – they’re generally better at melee than shooting as a result. It would basically be very similar to the current codex, only with lower points costs for generic Chaos Marines. It would also have access to a scout equivalent troop unit – this would represent ‘new recruits’, forcibly kidnapped and modified to be the next generation of the chapter. This unit would be basically terrible at everything but melee, and would function like a slightly better version of cultists – a middle ground between the two, largely included for fluff purposes. A critical part of this army would be the ‘meat grinder’ aspect – that most Chaos Marines die quickly, because the faction is so much more Darwinian than the Imperium; it would be clear that this is why the ones that do survive are so dangerous.
3 – Chaos Cults: traitor humans. It would work by drowning the enemy in bodies, and be like a melee-centric Imperial Guard force. I’d include rules meaning that any CSM within a certain distance gained bonuses to their stats relative to the number of cultists nearby, as the cultists’ faith fuels the Chaos Marines the cultists worship. So a standard CSM squad near twenty cultists suddenly becomes terrifying, and a Veterans squad becomes a Deathstar. The enemy strategy would be all about killing the cultists to depower the marines, kind of like the inverse of Tyranids (where you kill the synapse creatures)
4 – Daemonic Ascension: this would be a ‘trick’ list designed to represent CSMs who have fully embraced the darkness. It would be super random, fluffy, and very much ‘win/lose big’. This would be the list most unlikely to be played at tournaments, but it needs to be in the codex, because it’s kind of the purest incarnation of the CSM army.
Odds & Ends
Obviously, the 5th build is the combined arms one that mixes and matches a little of all four other builds. I’d also include rules for each Chaos Power:
- Khorne troopers wouldn’t be better at melee; they’d be better at getting into melee, so rules to make them faster (Crusader, or Assault Transport Rhinos maybe?), as well as ways to counteract Overwatch.
- Tzeentch would be better at Psykers, so maybe an upgrade to make any Marine unit a level 1 Brotherhood of Psykers, or to attach a CSM Sorceror to a human cult (who would then become terrifying as their faith fuelled his spells).
- Nurgle would just get the higher Toughness.
- Slaanesh would be the trick faction, so there’d be lots of distraction techniques and the like. Not quite sure how I’d implement that, but something to keep the enemy guessing.
~I agree with a LOT of what York is saying – how about you?