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‘Fixing’ Chaos Space Marines

June 2, 2016


Or, this post happened so quickly because Gav fucking Thorpe shared my last piece.

Well that blew up a bit. As of this moment one post, which I made last week, has now generated more traffic than my humble blog sees in about six months. You can see here what the fuss was about here, but the short of it is that the Chaos Space Marine is a very emotive subject for many. So emotive that one poster decided to send me a vague death threat because of my views. Because that makes me consider your point legitimately.

Anyway, getting on from that, I have my own views on tweaking the Chaos Space Marine Codex without deviating massively from the state it is now and planned to one day type them up. So why not now eh, when the cup floweth over?

A preface; I have no real design experience outside of designing a few small scale skirmish games. I have no special insight into the GW Design Team and the specs they work to. I’m just another internet gibbon hooting into the void. But I’ll still try and do this as professionally as possible.

My tweaks will be based on the following assumptions (call it a spec if you will):

  • The new Chaos codex will land in the next edition of 40k.
  • That edition of 40k will still essentially be 8th edition with a bit of streamlining. So Titans, Formations and Flyers will still be a thing.
  • The codex itself needs to represent the current take on Chaos as mostly renegades, whilst having the ability to play ‘mono legion’ forces for those players who want to. And to give players the chance to play everything in between because, well, it’s Chaos.
  • Despite all of that contradiction, you need to try and carve out a specific identity for Chaos. An elevator pitch for what they do on the tabletop i. e.  Space Marines who are ‘Jack of all trades’, Dark Eldar are ‘A lethal Glass Cannon‘ and Sisters of Battle are ‘Faction GW will keep limping along for the next 10 years’

Never forget!

  • It cannot invalidate any of the existing supplements out for Chaos.
  • It will have a Big Kit as part of launch.
  • Large numbers of hobbyists will hate you whatever you do because:
  1. It’s not how CSM should work in their head…

So with that in mind, here are a few thoughts…

What is a Chaos Space Marine?

Having to try and cater to the weirdness of Chaos in one book is near to impossible. Trying would create this massive lumbering behemoth of a book that would be overpowered as hell* . GW in a way actually made this a bit easier by taking out Daemons, but it also handicapped CSM players a bit in that they no longer had reliable deep striking units with specific purposes.

So to that end (and keeping with the renegades theme) establish that they are the default. Those who have rebelled and have done so long enough that any semblance of what made them a force who selects from the Space Marine codex is now gone. So what makes a Chaos Space Marine? My take, boiled down and very reductionist yadda yadda is this:

An abandonment of their oaths to achieve their own power and a willingness to do anything to get it. 

So to this end, perhaps Chaos Space Marines need to reflect this. They are willing to climb over a mountain of corpses to achieve their aims, but differently from Space Marines, They Know Fear now.

Embrace Your Daemons

But with that new found knowledge has come both adversity and opportunity. You lose access to the structure and supply network the Imperium has, replaced by beg/borrow/stealing whatever you can find that will work for a long period of time in literal hell. But the very act of being in a ever shifting nightmare brings it own rewards. Arcane and bizarre weaponry. ‘Gifts’. Experiences brought about by a life of never ending conflict with almost no reprieve.

So should Chaos get a few more daemonic bits added to their weapons options. It doesn’t even involve a massive retooling of the models – just call a plasma cannon an ‘ectoplasm cannon’ (for example) and give it a different stat line – jobs a goodun!

Likewise, give the aspiring champions and units access to a bit more of a wider range of items. Jimbob’s Chainsword of Chopping needs to be an idea that is realised!!!!!!


Basically, bake into your standard non alighted units (CSM, Havocs, Bikers, Chosen, Terminators) access to a few more items and wargear that allows Chaos Space Marines to begin to get more of a identity that ‘Marines with spikes’. Hell, given Chosen the access to some Universal Special Rules just so they can feel special. They currently don’t really have a point to exist, other than to have 5 models with 4 special weapons.


Veterans of the Long War

Likewise, to those who want a mono legion force that represents a more seasoned warrior that has built some infamy for themselves, use the Veterans of the Long War upgrade. Keep the existing bonus, but with a catch – each unit member now has access to the wargear characters do. You can have your Nightlord  Terminators unit that are specialized infiltrators and demolition experts and surf fleshhounds to the daily grind of killing/pillaging/sacrificing a million souls to your dark lord – but be prepared to pay the points for it.

Expand wargear selections.

Not to 3.5 levels, but it would be nice to have a few more weapons options available for characters/units and not just one or two pieces that clearly stand out as better than the rest. Even throw in a few Universal Special Rules that are purchasable. Most importantly –don’t make any item mark unique, so players can create their own narrative instead of insisting that only Khorne players can wear fetish collars that stop magical attacks.


Remove the challenge table

It doesn’t really do anything and under the changes I’ve outlined would make models a bit too powerful. Can it.

Transport options.

For a mostly mid ranged shooting army that relies on close combat and superior durability to even the odds, its not the best atmosphere out there at the moment.

Now whilst allying in daemonic units helps alleviate this, it’s not a good answer – the book should stand on it’s own after all. To this end, introduce a few more transport options than Rhinos and Landraiders. One is too prone to being blown up and the other is far too expensive to justify inclusion in most games.

So go mad with the deamonic stuff that are designed to be Big Kits- have a giant metal beast that disgorges it’s passengers and can then assault what the passengers have charged, but could potentially eat them! Have monsters that materialize out of the warp and explode, leaving the (hopefully not dead) survivors standing in the middle of the devastation. Embrace the silliness** and surrealness of Chaos.

Just give them a few more movement options.

Just make possessed good.

The Crimson Slaughter formations helped. Please just make them the standard rules

Formations and supplements

Another option to what I outlined above. Like em or loathe them, they’re probably here to stay and they can be used to create forces that reflect factions that you don’t see on the tabletop. Given the reception the Khorne supplement was received, it makes sense to carry on the job for the followers of the other gods.

Release a few formations that aren’t specifically legion themed but that confer certain bonuses and drawbacks and it would allow for the list to be a lot more flexible.


There. Those are the ideas I thought of from just a few moments tinkering and are far more inventive than ‘Give CSM Legion tactics and everything Space Mareens have’.

What do you think?


*I’m starting from the assumption that this is a bad thing.

** Those who shudder at the though of a ‘serious’ Chaos force being depicted in that way, get over yourselves. You have a deamon who projectile vomits and farts disease at people, one that is a bird wizard, a flying killer pitbull and a god of excess that is just represented as ‘boobies and BDSM’. It’s already a little silly.




From → Projects, Rant, Writing

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