Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Chaos-giving!

In honor of our American holiday celebrating unintended consequences, I bring you a guest article written by Arch-Heretic Pete:

Five Step Chaos Program

            Let me be clear right up front.  I love the Ruinous Powers.  I’m dedicated to them.  I first got into this game with the old Tyranid snap-together models (back in the late ‘90s), but the minute Marcus showed me the Chaos codex and I read the descriptions of the Legions, I was hooked.  I had an Alpha Legion army back when they weren’t cool.  And that army grew and fractured, so now I have over 4000 points of Legionnaires, but also a solid Thousand Sons force, a Death Guard army, a fair chunk of World Eaters, and enough Emperor’s Children for a very nice Allied force.
            I’m with Chaos.  I’m invested.  I’m here to stay.
            That being said...
            Chaos has been getting screwed for a while now.
            I don’t say this out of anger or nerdrage, just as an honest fact.  The past two Chaos codexes have been very weak.  They’ve been weak compared to what came before them.  They’ve been weak compared to other contemporary codexes.  There are lots of folks who will pound their math hammers and tell you the current Chaos codex is perfectly fine as long as you take this and this and this and use them like that... but I’ve always felt that any codex that only offers one viable build is kind of a failure.  A big aspect of this game is the variety, and what little variety the Chaos Marine Codex has is... well, pretty useless.  Hands up, anyone who’s seen a lot of Mutilators out on the battlefield...
            But I digress.  Just a little.
            While talking with our host here the other week, it struck me that the Chaos Marine codex could be improved drastically with just a handful of tiny tweaks.  I’m not going to talk about stat lines or wargear or pricing (okay, maybe once about pricing).  These are much simpler tweaks which would let Chaos feel like a more viable army.
            So, here are my suggestions and the reasoning behind them.  If anyone happens to be a major stockholder in Games Workshop, please feel free to pass them on.  Even if it’s just for a good laugh...

1)  Force Organization Chart
            An army with a Chaos Lord on a Bike may take Bike Squads of 5 or more models as troops.
            An army with a Chaos Lord with a Jump Pack may take Raptor squads as troops
            An army with a Warpsmith may take one Helbrute as a troops choice.
            An army with a Daemon Prince may take one Possessed squad as troops if they share the same Chaos god.
            The only character in the Chaos Marine codex who truly unlocks/alters the FOC is Abaddon.  If you think about it, Kharn, Ahriman, Typhus, and Lucius don’t do anything to the chart that any Lord or Sorcerer with a 5 point mark of Chaos couldn’t do.  This rules tweak gives Chaos armies the same flexibility that loyalist Marines do, able to have an army that reflects the sometimes wild structural and tactical decisions a Chaos Lord may make.
            Plus... Doomrider!  Think about it.

2) Retinues
            Any Chaos Lord, Chaos Sorcerer, or Dark Apostle (including Huron Blackheart, Kharn, Ahriman, Lucius, and Fabius Bile) may take one Chosen squad as a personal retinue.  This unit does not use up any HQ or Elites slots.  All options and prices remain the same.
            Any Chaos Lord or Sorcerer in Terminator Armor (including Abaddon and Typhus) may take one Chaos Terminator squad as a personal retinue.  This unit does not use up any HQ or Elites slots.  All options and prices remain the same.
            Slightly related to the first rule.  Loyalist Marines get numerous “free” units in the form of Honor Guard, Command Squads, Techmarines, and so on, which means they have a lot more flexibility when filling out their force organization chart.  Not to mention Imperial Guard, Dark Eldar, Necrons, et al...  Giving Chaos Lords a retinue just puts them on the same footing as pretty much every other Codex.  Plus, a Terminator retinue is exactly the kind of brute force thing to clearly separate Chaos from loyalists.

3) Veterans of the Long War
            For all of the original legions (Black Legion, Emperor’s Children, Iron Warriors, World Eaters, Word Bearers, Death Guard, Thousand Sons, or Alpha Legion), Veterans of the Long War is free for any unit it applies to.  Non-legion Chaos armies may purchase the Veterans of the Long War rule at the listed cost per model.
            Now that Space Marine Chapters are getting free bonus rules just for their paint scheme, it seems unfair not to give the Legions the same advantage.  Especially when it should’ve been a given rule for them from the start.
            Yes, this means the Red Corsairs or anyone’s favorite home-brew army have to pay a few extra points.  But the original legions need to be distinguished somehow, and this is the easiest way.  Plus at least a third of the players out there will just argue “counts as” anyway and say their Red Corsairs army is using Black Templars rules, sooooo...

4) No more Havocs
            The entry for Havocs is removed from the army list.
            Pretty straightforward.  Havocs are, in my opinion, a weird holdover from when Chaos Marines were just Space Marines with horns and spikes.  They don’t really fit the idea of a wild, unrestricted army when their squad size and weapons options are almost a dead ringer for Devastator squads (without the ability to split fire).  Besides, the last rule kind of makes up for this...

5) Chaos Marines
            On page 95  remove bullet points three of the Chaos Space Marine entry.  Replace the first sentence of bullet point four as follows...
            For every five models in the squad, one Chaos Space Marine may replace his bolt pistol with a plasma pistol....................................15pts
            Or replace his boltgun with one of the following:

            Under the past two codexes, Space Marines can build lots of very flexible, five-man tactical squads using the Combat Squads rule.  Chaos Marines, on the other hand, have been forced to take a ten man squad just to have a heavy bolter. 
            This new rule reflects the “warband” nature of Chaos Marines in two ways.  One is that it allows for a huge amount of special or heavy weapons in one squad (very un-codex).  Two is that it keeps the idea of one champion having absolute control and not letting those under him out of his sight.  So it’s possible to create a massive troops squad of twenty Chaos Marines with four flamers, or four meltaguns, or four lascannons... but they won’t be allowed too far from their champion.
            This also means siege/firepower-centric armies can field lots of heavy weapons and still have all their heavy slots open for tanks or daemon vehicles.  Good news for Iron Warriors or Word Bearers.

            And there you have it.  Feel free to correct, debate, or mock down in the comments.  Now let’s all give thanks to the Ruinous Powers.  And have stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Let the Galaxy Burn
Just not Dinner


  1. Many, many good points here. And nothing that is overly complicated or hard to implement. I look forward to trying it out.

  2. I can't believe I forgot the Night Lords. When my bloody corpse is found in the back alleys of the city, now you'll know why...

  3. Typical Alpha Legion trickery. Your body will not be found at all.

  4. A lot of very cool ideas and good points! I don't do much comparison of the codices anymore but i hear this again and again how Chaos is getting a raw deal and I have to agree -- compared to all the new codeices where every army gets all thes ebonuses and special crap... well, chaos got pretty much none of that. what you propose is all easy, simple stuff. No superweapons, just allowing for more flexibility, and really, shouldn't a chaos warband be the most variable army in the game?
    I also had some ideas along these lines if you're interested:

    Down with the False Emperor!

  5. J.D.--Damn, Chaos Theory is such a brilliant name for a blog. Very jealous...

    I like your legion-specific rules. I thought of going that way, but chickened out and felt the simpler ideas would gain more acceptance.

  6. "I’m not going to talk about stat lines or wargear or pricing (okay, maybe once about pricing)".

    I'm glad you used the word "pricing" instead of "costing". Every time I see a 40k article that uses the word "cost" instead of "price", a piece of me dies. And I don't have many pieces left.

  7. yeah, wee bit late to this particular party so not gonna say much. Just gonna mention that I like what you said about the Chaos Space Marine Codex, and that I agree with your thoughts on it.

    Also.... just gonna leave this here for anyone that wants to check it out:

  8. I would add one more thing: if your Warlord is marked to a specific god, those marked Elite units (Zerks, Plaguers, 1k Sons, Noise) are unlocked as troops. Really tired of paying the Chaos Lord tax to field a Nurgle DP and Plague Marines as troops.

    The guys that run the BAO and LVO are thinking of giving Chaos Marines (the unit) ATSKNF in their tournaments. Also, they may change Champ of Chaos so you don't have to challenge.

    Aside from the addition above, you hit all of the issues I had with the codex right on the head. Excellent work!

  9. Personally I'm against removing the Havocs. They're the only grandfathered unit that actually has viability and sense. We don't need more Obliterators, we need more useful Heavy Supports when our Heavy Taxis and Defilers suck.

    I've been contemplating for a long time on homebrewing an HQ to make up to two Havoc Squads troops. Personally I think more than two could be unjustifiable, but I don't see any viable HQs to unlock them as Gunslinger is pointless without Cypher, and we don't have any ranged weapons to justify a Lord (Brand doesn't count) or a special HQ to do it.