With the recent release of the Traitor’s Hate supplement for CSM, it got me thinking about how the overall faction can be improved/brought up on par with top-tier factions in 40K.
While many have proposed creating “Chapter Tactics” equivelants (or more appropriately, “Legion Tactics”) for the different Chaos Space Marine Legions, and this is definitely one possible way to approach the problem, I thought about how the different Marks of Chaos/Chaos Gods are really the defining aspect of this entire faction. I also thought it would be neat to introduce unique options for Marks of Chaos on vehicles and all Independent Characters/Monstrous Creatures.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, in this proposal, no CSM units (vehicles or troops or MCs) would pay for their Marks… rather, they would choose which ones they get and have them for “free” at their current base points cost, basically taking the place of the “free” Chapter Tactics that Loyalist Marines have. CSM with no alignment to any God (i.e. “Mark of Chaos Undivided” forces) would get their own bonuses for free instead of what the units with a Mark of a specific Chaos God gets, to make sure everything is even in terms of competitiveness on the tabletop.
Based on that, here is my idea on how to revamp the Marks of Chaos (and even Chaos Undivided) to improve the faction without otherwise changing any points costs or rules/wargear in the Codex as it currently exists:
–MARK OF SLAANESH–
**Troops and Walkers — +1 Initiative and Weapon Skill
**Non-Walker Vehicles — Gain “Fast Vehicle” status
**ICs/Monstrous Creatures — +1 Initiative/Weapon Skill and “Hit and Run” USR
**Icon of Excess — Grants FNP to unit
**Changes to Noise Marines — +1 Weapon Skill, plus replace their Bolters with Sonic Blaster for free and have an extra CCW included in their Wargear for free.
**Changes to Lucius — Gains “Hit and Run” USR
–MARK OF KHORNE–
**Troops and Walkers — +1 Attack (loses Rage/Counterattack)
**Non-Walker Vehicles — Gain “Scout” USR
**ICs/Monstrous Creatures — +1 A (loses Rage/Counterattack) and Rampage USR
**Icon of Wrath — Grants Furious Charge and Fleet to unit
**Changes to Khorne Bezerkers — +1 A (loses Rage/Counterattack), Get Chain Axe for free, Chain Axe now S: User AP4 Rending
**Changes to Kharn — Gains “Rampage” USR
–MARK OF NURGLE–
**Troops and Walkers — +1 Toughness (or +1 HP if a Walker)
**Non-Walker Vehicles — Gain “Shrouded” USR
**ICs/Monstrous Creatures — Gain +1 Toughness and IWND (4+)
**Icon of Despair — All enemy units within 12″ of the Icon have -1 Ld
**Changes to Plague Marines — Can take 1 Special Weapon OR Heavy Weapon for each 5 models in the squad.
**Changes to Typhus — Gains IWND (4+)
–MARK OF TZEENTCH–
**Troops and Walkers — +1 Invul save (or 5++ if no save)
**Non-Walker Vehicles — Gain “Psychic Pilot” and the Boon of the Iron Beast power automatically
**ICs/Monstrous Creatures — +1 Invul save (or 5++ if no save) and can harness Warp Charges on a 3+
**Icon of Flame — Grants “Shred” USR to unit’s shooting
**Changes to Thousand Sons — Inferno Bolts changed to S5 AP2 Armourbane
**Changes to Ahriman — Gains ability to harness Warp Charges on a 3+
–MARK OF CHAOS UNDIVIDED–
**Troops and Walkers — Once per game, may choose to either shoot twice or double their attacks for a single player turn
**Non-Walker Vehicles — Once per game, may choose to shoot twice for a single player turn
**ICs/Monstrous Creatures — Once per game, may choose to either shoot twice or double their attacks for a single player turn; also, gains “Preferred Enemy” USR
**Icon of Vengeance — Grants unit “Stubborn” USR and the ability to use its “double attacks or double shooting” a second time during the game.
**Chosen — Once per game, may choose to either shoot twice or double their attacks for a single player turn; also, gains “Preferred Enemy” USR
**Changes to Huron Blackheart and Fabius Bile — Once per game, may choose to either shoot twice or double their attacks for a single player turn; also, gains “Preferred Enemy” USR
**Changes to Abbadon — Becomes a LORD OF WAR Choice; gains “Hit and Run,” “Rampage,” “Preferred Enemy,” “IWND(4+)” USRs; once per game, may choose to either shoot twice or double his attacks for a single player turn
While this would not solve everything, or provide a perfect solution, I think it would make Chaos Space Marines significantly more competitive on the tabletop, still preserve the authenticity of their fluff, and also make them unique from other factions (i.e. not just “Marines, but with spikes and worse rules”).
I especially like having Marks for Vehicles, as I think this would make them more enjoyable to use and more effective as well (e.g. imagine “Fast” Land Raiders due to the Mark of Slaanesh, or Helbrutes with +1A because of the Mark of Khorne, or Maulerfiends with Shrouded because of the Mark of Nurgle, or Rhinos that generate “free” Warp Charges because of the Mark of Tzeentch, or Vindicator Squadrons with the ability to shoot twice, once per game, because of Mark of Chaos Undivided).
I also like how even “basic” Chaos Space Marines would be a lot better, since they are getting their Mark for free… while CSM would still lack the ATSKNF and Chapter Tactics of their Loyalist brethren, they would be cheaper overall (13 points/model, compared to 14 points/model for most Loyalist Marines) and would be able to have real advantages of their own built into that cheaper price (i.e. double shots/attacks once a game, or +1WS/I, or +1A, or a free 5++ Invul save, or +1T).
Finally, I think the new versions of the Icons of Chaos are significantly better, with Icon of Despair (-1 Ld aura for enemies), Icon of Flame (Shred for shooting attacks), and Icon of Vengeance (Stubborn, plus ability to use the “double attacks or double shooting” ability a second time during the game) in particular being more competitive than they used to be, I think (even Icon of Wrath got a little better, with Fleet replacing re-rolls of charge distance)