Friday, June 24, 2011

What I want in a Chaos Marine Codex.

There is a lot of talk going around the interwebs about 6th ed, Sisters WD codices, 6th ed Starter sets, Necrons, Chaos Marines, and Black Templars.  Of all those the only one that truly interests me is Chaos Space Marines.  With that being said there is also only one real form the codex could take that would interest me; which is a bit of a misnomer because I would want two Chaos Marine codices.  I don't want a codex that encompasses all aspects of the Chaos Space Marines, I want a Traitor Legions, and their successors, codex and a Chaos Renegade codex.  The reasons for this are many fold but the most important would be Traitor Marines and Renegade Marines would be exceptionally different from each other, so much so that their rules/wargear could/should be in their own codices.  For Example: Traitor Marines would have Reaper Autocannons on their Terminators where as Renegades would have Assault Cannons or Cyclone Missile Launchers.  Traitor Legions would have access to extensive psychic powers and Ensorceled/Daemonic weapons, Renegades would have Psychic Hoods and access to limited types of Daemonic/Ensorceled weaponry.  These are just two quick and easy examples of how a Renegade force of Space Marines would differ from a full blown Traitor Legion.  There are many ideas I have which I will go into detail with after the break.

In a Chaos Renegade Space Marines codex you would have armament more similar to "modern" Space Marines but be able to gain, buy, Chaos type upgrades based upon how deeply your chapter has fallen into heresy.  Sound complicated?  Not really, 5th ed codices have had more and more options be unlockable by HQ choices, with a Renegade book you wouldn't even need Named Characters.  I know this system wouldn't be perfect but thankfully I don't write rules for GW, even if sometimes I could write tighter ones than they do!  Think of an escalating Chaos Renegade army list like this.

Level 1 Renegades:
HQ: Captain/Chapter Master/Librarian/Chaplain
This army may take 0-1 basic lesser daemons as troops and Chaos Undivided Icons.  Units in this army are Fearless as long as the Sergeant is alive.  Either the Librarian or Chaplain can summon Daemons as if they are icons.  Chaplains in level 1 Renegade chapters may take 1 Psychic power, Librarians may choose 2 powers from C:SM or one power from C:CSM.

Level 2 Renegades:
HQ: Captain/Chapter Master/Librarian/Chaplain, these choices may take a Mark but all units, including other HQ choices, in the army must be unmarked or have the same mark as the HQ choice.  Librarians may take 1 power from C:CSM in addition to their normal powers.  Chaplains and Librarians act as icons for summoning Daemons, Chaplains may take a psychic power from either C:SM or C:CSM.
Units in this army may take any of the 5 marks for 10 point per unit.  Khorne +1 Attack, Slaanesh +1 Initiative, Nurgle Feel No Pain on a 5+, Tzeentch 5+ Invul save or +1 to Invuls better than 5 with a Maximum of 3, Mark of Chaos Undivided Units are Fearless.  This army may also take 0-3 Daemons from the Troops section of C:Chaos Daemons.

Level 3 Renegades:
Hey, I thought about Khorne, now I am a World Eater!
HQ: Chaos Lord/Sorcerer these choices may take a Mark but all units, including other HQ choices, in the army must be unmarked or have the same mark as the HQ choice.  Units have Aspiring Champions, not Sergeants.  While the Aspiring Champion is alive all non-fearless units have the And They Shall Know No Fear USR.
Units in this army with marks benefit from the following Gifts for 10 points.  Khorne Furious Charge, Slaanesh +1 Initiative and Rending, Nurgle Feel No Pain on a 4+ and Defensive Grenades, Tzeentch 5+, or 1 better, Invul save and Aspiring Champions may choose one psychic power from either C:CSM or C:SM, Mark of Chaos Undivided grants Fearless and Aspiring Champions have the Winds of Chaos power.  This army may take 0-3 Troops and/or 0-1 Elite/Fast Attack/Heavy Support units from C: Chaos Daemons

Level 4 Renegades:
HQ: Chaos Lord/Sorcerer/Daemon Prince.  These choices, except the Daemon Prince, may take a Mark but all units, including other HQ choices, in the army must be unmarked or have the same mark as the HQ choice.  Units have Aspiring Champions, not Sergeants.  Armies that take a Daemon Prince must choose one of the marks and all units must have that mark.
Units in this army with marks have the same benefits as level 3 Renegades.  Armies that include a Daemon Prince may choose 1 of the Traitor specific Units that fits the mark of the Daemon Prince.  These armies may take 0-2 units of Daemons from the Elite/Fast Attack/Heavy Support choices in C:Chaos Daemons, and 0-4 choices from the Troops choices.  Obliterators and Defilers may be taken.

Obviously I don't write codices for GW nor do I think I would write the best codex ever.  I do however think the idea of Codex: Renegade Chaos Marines has merit.  I really don't understand why my Renegade chapter who has recently turned to Chaos would suddenly go from having Land Raider Crusaders, Drop Pods. and Assault Cannons to having none of those.  Do the Chaos gods steal all the chapters modern weapons, armor, and vehicles and replace them with Heresy era equipment the moment the Chapter leadership turns to Chaos?  Does Slaanesh magically replace the the Thunderhammers and Stormshields in my Terminator Squads with Lightning Claws when they take the mark of Slaanesh?  Does Tzeentch suddenly transfigure all the Librarians into Sorcerers and remove their Psychic Hoods and all knowledge of former psychic powers the moment they turn to Tzeentch the first time?  I doubt it.  The slide into Chaos is a gradual one, or so we are led to believe, so why wouldn't a recently turned Space Marine Chapter resemble "modern" chapters more than the Traitor Legions?  I doubt all Renegade Chapters that turn to Nurgle are instantly granted Plague Marines.

I have some major gripes with the current Chaos Space Marine codex.  The top two are this:

1. The Traitor Legions take a huge back seat.
2. The Renegade Chapters take a huge back seat.

It is a codex that doesn't do justice to the Chaos Space Marines, of any type.  Overly simple and sweepingly benign, C:CSM is utterly underwhelming at every turn.  By splitting the codices into two types, Legions and Renegades, we can benefit from diversity in game terms and bring a bit of the diverse reality of Chaos Marines in the fluff to actuality on the table top.  There is nothing I would enjoy more than being able to customize my Renegades based upon the level of corruption of their leaders, after all isn't that how it would truly be?  Think about the Soul Drinkers, or Dark Angels, or even the Traitor Legions; how did Chaos spread through those Space Marines?  The corruption of Chaos spread slowly, it didn't happen overnight.  That's what I want to see in my Renegade army.

So what do you think, should the next Chaos Space Marine codex be one book or two?  Do you think Renegades and Traitor Legions can each be given a fair shake if they are in the same codex?


  1. At least the rumors I've seen of late indicate one of the first codexes w/ v6 will be Chaos Legions, which won't invalidate the current C:CSM (which itself will get an extensive tweek via WD).

    I like your ideas, and pretty much agree; the one exception being I don't think chaplains should have access to psychic powers. I see the SM codex as one end of the spectrum and a forthcoming Chaos Legions codex at the other end. In that sense, I think a Renegade Marine book should strike for the middle ground. Being a good mix of both sides without including extreme things from either (so no Chaplains and no Daemon Princes in the HQ choices). It should represent that point along the trajectory where the army "has been chaos for some time, and in that time, lost many of their imperial-only weaponry, vehicles, and ideologies, and have replaced them with battlefield salvage; yet still haven't mastered the whole Greater Daemon, Daemon Engine side of things."

    With that, if *your* renegade army just fell yesterday, you could use the SM codex; if it fell a few centuries ago (a la Huron Blackheart), it could use the Renegade book, and if they are an "as old as the heresy" splinter cell of one of the original Chaos Legions, then use the Legion book.

    Everyone = happy.

  2. I like where you're going but it may be a little too complicated. I don't think Renegades needs to be a separate codex (just like I didn't think Daemons needed to be a separate codex...) Give me something like the 3rd ed. Codex that had EVERYTHING and update and streamline it with unlockable units that better represent how long your force has been traitorous scum.

  3. I agree it could get complicated fast but I really think a Renegade Space Marine book should be able to depict the multiple levels and varying degrees of corruption and heresy. I doubt any of this will be in the actual codex/codices that come out but it would be really nice to have the sort of variety in the Chaos line that we have in the Loyalist line.

    It's an imperfect system with an imperfect set of books, I just really want to play Chaos lately but can't bring myself to actually use the CSM codex.