Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chaos Codex Review Part 1

I thought I'd start this out with a History lesson.

I started playing 40k in 1998.  I had been collecting and painting GW miniatures and buying White Dwarf since 1993 or possibly earlier I cannot remember.  I got started with HeroQuest and then BattleMasters.  This introduced me to the GW universe.

No one I knew, including myself, had the money to buy an entire army.  What I would do is buy a box here and a blister there and I saved up money at one point to buy the Fantasy Battle 4th edition box set.  I was into fantasy at the time and I built a small Dwarf force and then started buying some Chaos stuff.

By 1998 I had gone off to college and there was a game store just a few blocks away from campus.  I decided to hit it up and see what was happening there.  I also decided that I would buy the 3rd edition rulebook for 40k because it just came out and I figured what better time to get into a new game then when its newest edition of the rules came out?  I also found out that every Tuesday there was a 40k night at the store.  This began me on my journey into 40k, one which today found me walking into my local gaming store and purchasing the newest Chaos Codex.

Chaos had fascinated me since I was young.  I loved the Chaos Warriors and the Sorceror and the 'Gargoyle' in the HeroQuest box and whenever my Dwarf character rounded a corner and bumped into one I would always be scared to take him on.

I started with a Dwarf army as I said earlier and then switched to Chaos for Fantasy Battle.  When the new edition of 40k came out I figured I stick with Chaos because I already knew about the 4 gods and the daemons and such.

In the 3rd edition rulebook there were rules for all of the 40k armies including Chaos Space Marines.  They had to reboot the army rules and throw out the 2nd edition Codexes because 3rd edition was such a huge change to the rules.  2nd edition was really more of a skirmish game.  If you played a game of 2,000 points in 2nd edition it could go all day long.  Necromunda was based off of 2nd edition rules.

Third edition was really the beginning of 40k, the miniatures war game.  The rules allowed you to field an entire army and actually play a game in under 3 hours, many games I played were under 2 hours.  This was the environment I was walking into.

The rules in the Big Black Book(BBB) of 3rd edition were OK.  They were quite basic but they had a lord and sorceror and daemon prince and all of the greater daemons and lesser daemons for ALL 4 chaos gods.  Great I thought, I will play Black Legion because I thought the Horus Heresy fluff was awesome and that The Black Legion were the best of all the bad guys.

Shortly after the BBB came out GW released the 3rd ed Chaos Codex.  This codex fleshed out alot of the rules and added new stuff which I can't remember all of it right now and I don't feel like finding the codex.  But it was a nice bump from the BBB rules.

Over the next several years White Dwarf started adding new units like Cult Terminators.  For those of you who don't know what those are, they are Terminators which are basically Plague Marines, Berzerkers, Thousand Sons, and Noise Marines but in Terminator armour.  They added Minor Psychic powers for every Psyker in the game.  And they started their Index Astartes(I:A) series.  This was an article in White Dwarf each month with background fluff and rules to play each of the original founding legions in order from 1st to 20th legion (but as they were currently in 40k).

When the issue with the Iron Warriors I:A article came out, I read the fluff and was hooked.  This was also around the same time that Graham McNeill's novel Storm Of Iron was released.  I started buying more models and building the army using the rules in the White Dwarf.  It was the first time (since 2nd ed) that any chaos army (but only if you were Iron Warriors) could take a vindicator (or a basilisk).  I loved the idea of Space Marines running around with servo arms and big guns and tearing down the fortresses of the False Emperor just because they were bitter and angry.

Rumors then began swirling about a new Chaos Codex and I was so excited!  It looked like it would have all the rules for all the legions in the codex itself and I couldn't wait.

When I bought that book I thought it was the best thing GW had ever created!  There were so many options and so much wargear and so many ways of building your list it was mind-boggling!  There were rules for all 9 of the Legions.  Daemon Weapons were first introduced.  This codex had everything you could easily build a warband or renegades or a legion of 10,000 year old bitter veterans of the long war.  You could lean heavily on daemons or on psykers or just marines and guns (which is what I did).

After Tuesday night gaming sessions at the game store me and my buddies would head out to a local greasy spoon and order breakfast at 1am and talk for hours about this codex.  There were so many combinations and combos that we never got tired of trying to find new things to do with it.

My Iron Warriors began expanding as my gaming group started making our Big Game an annual event.  I scratch built dreadclaw assault pods and a titan as well as a flyer.  My army quickly reached 10,000 points of fully painted 10,000 year old bitter and angry Iron Warriors.  And it was a golden time to be a chaos player.

This codex lasted through part of 3rd and most of 4th edition.  It did well and you could adapt it and your tactics as the main rules changed.  Near the end of 4th edition rumors of a 5th edition were out there on the internets.  But right before 5th edition hit, we chaos players got blind-sided.

GW released the above codex.  This codex was supposed to herald a new age of codex and rules writing which 5th edition would carry on.  It was streamlined and simple, not a whole lot of flipping back and forth and trying to find fiddly rules.  It moved Dreadnoughts to Elites (They used to be heavy support and in the previous codex IW could take 4 heavy slots.)  which seemed ok until I read their new fire frenzy rules which made them almost unplayable.  Now they shot at the nearest unit friend or foe.  It removed the god-specific daemons and gave us generic 'lesser' and 'greater' daemons.  There were no legion rules anymore.  They barely mentioned the Iron Warriors.

I was initially a bit perturbed. and thought well I can still kinda build my army.  I can take marines and tanks a vindicator so its not so bad.  Then they released Codex Chaos Daemons and Orks.  These two codexes seemed to have a bit more options in them then my codex did.   And then 5th edition hit.  I loved the new objective based missions and tanks were actually pretty good, so my army was ok.  I was miffed about no legion rules, but it could be worse.

Then the current Space Marine codex was released.  It had a bunch of chapter-specific characters in it which allowed you to play that chapter if you took them.  I was not happy.  They took away my special rules for my army and gave the loyalists a bunch of new armies in one book.  They also added a ton of new units and new options for customization.  All of the things they removed from the chaos codex they gave to the loyalists and thus began a new age of Cdex writing for GW where each codex got more and more options and ways to build multiple armies from the same book.

All of 5th edition was codexes that got more and more customisable while my codex remained incredibly static and boring.  I moved on to Forgeworld buying the Vraks books because of the new chaos army lists that were in there.  I built a traitor guard army based off of those rules.  I even built an Apostles of Contagion Nurgle warband from them.  I then went Imperial with the Minotaurs Chapter from the Badab War Forgeworld books because they had special rules for fighting Space Marines and were pretty dark.

Rumors of 6th edition began sprouting up and I began getting excited for some new rules that might lend my chaos army a new life.  6th ed came and I like it a lot!  It makes everything fresh and interesting and adds more story elements into the game.  And now after waiting for 5 years for GW to do something with my beloved Iron Warriors a new book was released at midnight.

I ran out a bought it just a few hours ago.

I have been looking through it and coming up with new army lists.  It is a very nice book full color and hard bound.  There are a lot of options that are new in it including cultists!

In part two I will go through my thoughts on the new codex.....


  1. Great review Jay, looking forward to part2.

  2. Nice story so far. Those were the days.