The New Chaos Codex Is Good, But Feels Just Short of Perfect.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or a planet isolated by vicious warpstorms, for the past few weeks, Chaos Space Marines just got a new updated Codex. Along side their fancy book they’ve gotten a host of new models and additional rules in Vigilus 2: This Time It’s Personal. All of these news rules have led to a vastly better C:SM force, both in overall powerful level and flavor. It’s a needed update with a lot of good in it. And yet when reading though all the changes, I can’t be feel like the Codex wasn’t totally finished. Vigilus feels like it’s, to borrow video game terms, Day One DLC for the game. Lets talk about why.
First off lets start off by acknowledging that between Vigilus and C:CSM 2.0 this was a big update with a lot of good. Overall Chaos Marines are in a much better place. They got several new units, with the Lord Discordant in particular being an amazing and very powerful addition to the lineup. Demon Engine Focused lists are not just viable for once, they are good. In addition to the new units a handful of old units got some good updates. The new rules for Dark Apostle are absolutely inspired (divinely? ruinously?) and are a great update. Subtle reworks to Havoks and Terminators improve their viability. Adding in Vigilus and Renegades got a host of rules, and even basic units like Chaos Space Marines and Possessed might have be rehabilitated. This is a good release.
Day One DLC
The main reason C:CSM feels unfinished is due to Vigilus. Simply put it feels like a lot of things that should have been in the new Codex were put in Vigilus instead. Now I get that GW’s gotta give you a reason to buy the book, beyond just fluff, but it dilutes the power of CSM Codex. The fact is however that you can’t take the two books on their own, they have to be considered together. Take basic Chaos Space Marines for instance. I said that they’ve been rehabilitated. That’s thanks to new rules for the Red Corsairs, found in Vigilus, these actually give you a good reason to take units of CSM on the table. Its a great idea and good rules. It just feels weird that the rules that make you want to take CSM aren’t in their Codex, but in a supplement book.
It’s not the first time Chaos has been Day One DLC
The same is true of Black Legion. Black Legion got a lot of updates in Vigilus, but this has the effect of making the rules in the Chaos Codex feel incomplete. You know there are more rules for your guys out there, they just aren’t in your book. It feels a lot like a video game company cutting content out of a new game to release as Day One DLC. Which is what Vigilus is for the CSM book. Coming out at the same time it’s odd to see rules for the same army released in two parts. And I don’t think there are many CSM players who can get away with not buying Vigilus 2. It adds a lot of really useful stuff to the book, from specialist detachments to the new renegade rules. Even if you buy the new C:CSM (which you should) you’ll still need Vigilus, or you’ll be fighting at a disadvantage. But maybe I shouldn’t worry too much, after all I hear there is a new patch for the gaming coming out in a few weeks, maybe that’ll address some stuff.
A Solid if Uneven Book?
Aside from the stuff cut to be put in the Vigilus DLC there is a part to the new Codex that feels oddly left out. Remember when Shadowspear came out and the Demonkin Codex didn’t have any new relics or stratagems? We thought that was kind of weird and assumed they’d be in the new C:CSM book or Viglius. It turns out they aren’t really. Now Vigilus did give CSM new stratagems and relics, but those are all tied to the new chapters or the specialist detachments, not the new units. In the Codex itself there are no new stratagems or relics.
It feels like a bit of hole…
The lack of new stratagems, feels weird. Stratagems are a pretty big part of 8th edition and they’ve been quite willing to add more into the game. So it’s odd that none of the new units get any stratagems to specifically buff them. The updated Dark Apostle for instance feels like he should have some stratagem that either lets him pray twice or lets his prayers affect more units. The Venomcrawler also, as a big new addition, feels like it should have a cool stratagem to go with it.
I asked for a stratagem – and they took my helmet and gave me a GIANT axe.
Overall the new stuff just feels out of sync with older units, similar to how Primaris Marines have a different unit vibe than classic marines. Units like the Master of Executions, Greater Possessed and Venomcrawler have been added to to codex, but none of them have any options or customization. They are cool models with some cool abilities, but they have a lack of inter-unit-stragagem synergies.
The Lord Discordant is an AMAZING exception, but then again, he has practically every keyword in the Codex and affects a lot of units. His combos will be nuts!
Back in 2017 I wrote about some Video Game Pitfalls that I felt GW needed to take care to avoid. With this release it feels very much like they hit a couple of them. Perhaps I’m being too much of a Debby Downer. As I said, overall the release is good and Chaos Marines are in a much better place. Some of the new rules are down right inspired, and if GW succeeds in getting players to put actual Chaos Marines on the table again then a hope they’ll have a pint on me. (Feel free to fly me over to England to make good on that!). So maybe I should just enjoy the good and not worry that it’s a tad short of the ruinous perfection it could have been. And maybe I shouldn’t worry that all the rules aren’t in one place, that does seem to be the name of the game these days.
At the end of the line, it’s a good day to be a Chaos Marine players, and maybe that’s what matters.
Let us know what you think about the new release, down in the comments!