The new Chaos Codex, tentatively called “Codex Chaos Legions”, has been looming on the horizon for quite a while now. And while all the augurs and soothsayers in our wonderful blogosphere cannot yet decide whether it’s a new 4ok edition first, then CSM, then DA or the other way around, it seems reasonably safe to assume that a new book is on its way sooner rather than later. So what better time to discuss my anticipation as well as my misgivings about the whole affair?
Right, to get this out of my system first: The prospect of a new Chaos Codex fills me with equal parts of anticipation and dread. Why is that, you ask? Well, there’s much to consider. Let’s call it: the good, the bad and the (potentially) ugly:
New stuff: I think one thing we can all agree upon is that one reason for looking forward to a new book is the fact that it will be accompanied by a slew of new models and kits. Seeing the amount of care given to some of the more recent releases (with each army getting multiple “waves” of great plastic kits and Finecast models), it seems a fair assumption that Chaos will get all that and more. After all, it is without a doubt one of Games Workshop’s most loved and most interesting properties. There are many rumours about what will or will not get a redesign, rerelease or new plastic kit, and while I have my own wish list (new Khorne Berzerkers would be great, legion – or at least god – specific upgrade sprues would be even better, a plastic Dread is almost a no-brainer, and Cultists or Traitor Guard as a new troop choice would be glorious), the bottom line is that it’s probably going to be a huge release with a couple of spectacular new (plastic) kits. In my experience, most Chaos players are also avid converters and kitbashers, so even those kits not immediately useful for your actual army will probably get taken for a ride in all kinds of crazy conversion projects. The new models are really something to look forward to.
New ideas: Speaking as someone relentlessly devoted to cutting up little plastic men, the new models are only half of the fun. The other half is seeing what all those crazy converters on the Internet come up with. Some of those people can take a twenty year old kit and still really make it sing. Imagine what they can do with brand new models and bits! Once the new book hits, Dakka and other forums will be awash with hundreds of new Chaos army projects. Some of them will, of course, be fairly bland or even rubbish. But I am already looking forward to the crazy stuff some of the more talented converters will come up with!
New rules: While I am also a little afraid about possible changes to the rules (We’ll get to that in a minute), the world just needs some changes once in a while. Even as someone who usually doesn’t give a hoot about the rules, I think it’s cool that a new book will help in mixing things up a bit – at least until the new “undefeatable” lists have been universally agreed upon…
New rules: Like I said, a bit of change is nice every once in a while. Here’s the catch, though: I have to be honest with you, I do quite like the current Codex. While that will probably devalue anything I have to say on the matter for many, let’s take a look:
Say about the old book what you want (for example that it thoroughly lacks flavour), but Gav Thorpe makes an excellent case on his blog (here and here) that the main design paradigm behind the Codex was to emphasise flexibility: Where the (oft-lauded) 3.5 Codex tried to achieve character by adding limits and restrictions to what you could add to your army, the 4th edition codex did a very good job in giving you a lot of flexibility.
For example, I love my World Eaters. I love the fact that they are best when fighting at close quarters and usually cannot hit the side of a barn when shooting at anything. However, I already voiced my dislike for the fact that the recent fluff only ever portrays the World Eaters as nothing but raving lunatics who are always angry all the time and need to kill something every five seconds. I think that this is not very interesting (and not very realistic, but let’s not get started on realism). Often enough, it was also not a lot of fun:
The 3.5 codex forced me to play an army of guys who sometimes just disembarked from their tanks and started running towards the enemey, even if those tanks would get them into the fray much faster than their feet. The codex also didn’t allow me to use jump infantry in my World Eaters army, even though using a jump pack is something that every frenzied berzerker should find very appealing. Let’s face it: All that equipment was great and full of flavour, but the rules sometimes just didn’t add up. I don’t want to play an army that always wins. I want to play an army that conforms to my aesthetic whims and that “feels right” to me. That’s far more important than winning.
The current book made that possible. It allowed me to field a wide array of units. Most of those could be given the mark of Khorne without immediately turning into imbeciles. I was even allowed to use small traces of tactical finesse, like giving my jump infantry melters, you know, so they could actually fulfil more than one role on the battlefield. Oh, and all my berzerkers knew at all times that their dedicated transport was a pretty good bet when it came to getting them across the table in one piece. That was nice, too.
To tell you the truth, I am a little afraid that the new book will take that away from me again and instead create flavour by enforcing all kinds of restrictions. It’s also a valid strategy. It’s just not something that I find interesting or inspiring. I think a good book should let me play the army I like, not the one everyone thinks I should be playing.
New players: I really don’t want to hate on bandwagon players too much here, the more the merrier, I say. What I am really not looking forward to though are the countless articles about “totally radical, unbeatable lists that you really have to play, bro”, if that makes any sense. But there’s an easy remedy to that – don’t read the stuff in the first place 😉
THE (POTENTIALLY) UGLY:
New fluff: I know, I know. How can new fluff be bad? It’s awesome to get cool new vignettes about our favourite armies and characters, right? I wholeheartedly agree to that! However, like with the rules, I am a little nervous that the fluff could not live up to the standard people tend to expect from Chaos. I am quite aware that it’s an enormous task to live up to the fans’ expectations, and there definitely is such a thing as an unpleasable fanbase, but here’s the thing: What I am wishing for with all my heart is the kind of well-written, evocative fluff that offers an overall outline but invites you to be creative and tell your own story in the context of the universe. A good example of what I mean is the fluff in the new Dark Eldar book. It gives a great and detailed overwiev of the Dark City and its inhabitants with their factions and feuds, but it also adds enough narrative leeway to make sure that basically any Kabal and faction you can conceivably come up with may be painlessly attached to the existing fluff. That’s the kind of fluff I love: It inspires you, gives you a good idea of the army and its characteristics, but it doesn’t prevent you from having your own ideas.
Whereas, for example, specifying all the names for every Sergeant and officer in a Space Marine Chapter (or company) is really very stupid, because you are telling people that there’s a definite version of the truth. Granted, it’s GW’s intellectual property in the first place, but it’s the fans’ creativity that made it what it is today.
So while I hope that the new fluff will be just as good as the new models, I don’t have high hopes on that front. After all, for me the best version of the Chaos Space Marine fluff is still that found in the 2nd edition Codex. And that was a looong time ago.
One last thing: If you’ve been reading this carefully, you might be able to hazard a guess as to which GW-author I would or would not prefer to write the new book. And while I really don’t want to participate in the relentless bashing of certain authors, some things are indeed just silly.
So, there you have it. That’s my two cents on the new Codex, whenever it may hit. I’d like to hear what you think! Let me know in the comments section!
As always, thanks for reading, everyone! Have a nice weekend and stay tuned for more!