Saturday, May 14, 2011

6 Unlocking the Chaos Gene (Codex)

"There is no gene for faith.
When for one reason or another we attempted to change these hard times,
Our own genetic identity became our only true ally...
To finally survive." 

Telepopmusik  - Genetic World

Whether you are a Chaos Lord in one of the Legions or a Renegade Space Marine if you are to survive you must recognize what you are.  You are not an Ultra Marine, a Dark Angel, a Blood Angel, a Black Templar or a Space Wolf, you are a Chaos Space Marine (CSM).  You might share a few characteristics with these power armoured loyalist scum but if the Gods of Chaos are to smile upon you, you must embrace the warp and become one with it.  In gaming terms this means acknowledging the CSM Codex for what makes it stand apart from all the other power armoured Codices.  By identifying the qualities of the CSM Codex you are empowered with the knowledge that is needed to build an army that reflects the distinct genetic code of the Codex; both in terms of fluff and competitiveness.  Some of these qualities are an advantage, some are a disadvantage and others are a souble edge sword, like that of a daemon weapon.  Regardless though, this is what sets the CSM Codex apart from the rest of the pack.

To help unlock this genetic code it is best to compare the CSM Codex to that of the Space Marine Codex.  The Space Marine Codex is the base line for which all power armoured Codices are derived from.  There are three major differences between the Codices, Independent Characters, War Gear Options and Unique Units.

Independent Characters (ICs)
In the Space Marine Codex the majority of their ICs are force enablers as they can change the Force Organization Chart (FOC) and or provide a boost to shooting.  The effects can be applied to a single squad or across the entire army,  Vulkan Hestan is a prime example of this as he allows the entire army to re-roll their roll to hit on flamers, meltas and thunder hammers.  Other ICs grant various special rules with the majority of them providing a boost to shooting.  For Chaos Space Marines though their ICs only care about themselves thus they cannot change the FOC or enable units with special rules.  What they do bring to the table though is sheer close combat prowess.  This is especially true when you look at the likes of their Daemon Princes (DPs) which are Monstrous Creatures, Eternal Warriors, high stats across the board and the majority of them can take a psychic power.  They generally lack the ability to lend a hand in the shooting phase as they are geared towards close combat and then some.  Even though Chaos ICs cannot affect the FOC, the CSM codex has six options for troops to make up for this.  Four of these choices, the Cult Marines, are essentially Elite choices.

War Gear Options
For the majority of units in the Space Marine Codex they are equipped with a bolter and a close combat weapon.  Where a CSM come with a bolter, a bolt pistol and a close combat weapon.  This enables the CSM units to be better situated for close combat as they have an additional close combat weapon thus an extra attack.  We can see that the CSM Codex is geared towards close combat but every advantage comes with a disadvantage.  For the Chaos player it comes in the form of shooting.  Sure the CSM Codex has some great unit like that of an Obliterator, Thousand Sons or Noise Marines when it comes to shooting but when you compare how many shooting orientated units/vehicles that the Space Marine Codex has it becomes evident that Chaos got the short end of the bang stick.  This is not to say we are horrible at shooting but rather we are not as good at it as Space Marines are.  To help make up for this weakness the majority of CSM units can take two special weapons instead of a special and a heavy special weapon.  This is a huge advantage for mobile infantry units as they are not slowed down by the heavy weapon like a Space Marine Tactical squad is.

Unique Units
The last major difference is the biggest one of them all, in that this what truly sets the CSM Codex apart from the Vanilla Marine Codex.  If you can identify the unique units only found in the CSM Codex you have just unlocked the greatest tool in building a fluffy and or a competitive CSM army.  If we look at the CSM Codex it is easy to pull out the one of kind units:

Daemon Princes
Greater Daemons
Lesser Daemons
Cult Marines

These models cannto be replicated by the Space Marine Codex, where as the following units can be:

Chaos Terminator Lords
Chaos Terminators
Chaos Bikers
Land Raiders

If you were to build an army solely around units that are all found in the Space Marine Codex you might as well paint yourself blue and serve the loyalist scum's rotting corpse of an emperor.  Do not get me wrong though as some  of these units are valuable and or have a purpose in a CSM army.  You do not want them to be the core of your army though.

I have shined the light of the warp on what sets the CSM Codex apart from other Marine Codices but in the end this is not enough to simple survive.  Throwing together a random unique units with out thought or reason will make the Chaos Gods smile as your army will be fluffy but chances are it will not bring the Chaos Gods victory.  To achieve this though one must mutate the Chaos gene, but that is a BLOG post for another time...


  1. The Independent CharactersFebruary 28, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    I'm following you consistantly.. and I had already read your post before you messaged me. I really like the writing style you are taking with these blog posts.

    At the moment I'm on a losing streak with my 1850 list (the one with Typhus in it). It's not the list failing me - but me failing the list. I think that more wins will come with more practice.

    An interesting side note is that I feel my inclusion of Typhus in the list.. and indeed the lists hammer & anvil approach has changed my groups meta game somewhat... so at least The Chaos Gods have had THAT influence!

  2. Typhus now there is a unique Character. One that is not only tougher than nails but a potent psyker. I love the fact that he auto passes his psychic test.

    Ron ( just through p an article about playing the list that you truly want to play. I feel that your Typhus one is exactly that.

    Way to change the meta game in your area as its always nice to shake things up once in a while. Keeps things from getting dry.

  3. I think you're onto something with using units that are unique to your Codex.
    Nice post.

  4. Each codex has it's unique flavor and one that should be fully embraced. This article may have been directed at my CSM army however I have used the same philosophy when building my Space Wolve Army.

    Some of the difference like wargear are so small that they sometimes go unnoticed. With the Space Wolves the fact that you can attach wolf pack leaders via Wolf Guard enables your squads to have 2 power based weapons. On top of this they can have a mark of the wulfen as well. That is a unique unique in that they have a 2 solid power based weapons and a some rending attacks.

    Regardless of the how blatant the difference is the fact remains that the codices are all unique.

  5. No Possessed or Spawn in the CSM unique list?

  6. The reason for not including the Possessed or Spawn as unique is that they are just beyond unique due to their randomness. Possessed are and can be an excellent unit and spawn can be as well but the common thing they have is that you do not want to revolve an army around either of them. The downsides of these units negate the positives.