The Glory of Chaos

Woah! Thank you to everyone who has joined the discussion about Chaos armies in 40K. To say that my previous post sparked some interest would be like saying the Atlantic Ocean is ‘a bit wet’… To put things in perspective, here are a few stats from the last few days. My previous ‘best day’ came about from the Dark Elves Q&A, which generated about 800 visits in its best day. The day I posted ‘Differences of Opinion‘ brought in more than 1200 visits and I thought ‘That was busy!’. The next day that went up to 1400+ and I thought we’d peaked. Then last Sunday, there were more than 8,300 visits to Mechanical Hamster. Clearly 40K players like to do their web surfing on the weekend! Up until then, the most popular post on the site was Realism is Fake, an essay about dialogue that benefits from a link on TVTropes. It’s been up more than a year and has been  beaten into second place in just four days!

Enough of the numbers, thank you all for the comments as well. Some of them are quite lengthy and detailed, but I have read them all. It isn’t practical to write a response to each and every one, so I’m going to pick up on the main themes raised and address them here.

Not My Job, Guv

First off, as some of you pointed out, I left the GW Design Studio and this discussion is purely as a former games developer not a current one. I have no influence in any way on the direction of future Codexes, this is just a debate on theory not a consumer feedback exercise. As such, I am also not privy to GW’s current thinking about Chaos, this is all hypothetical.

Ice Cream!

HBMC used the analogy of the ice cream store to represent the many different Chaos armies. I like ice cream, so let’s run with it. He described a store in which you could only buy vanilla ice cream. Well, vanilla is certainly the finest of the flavours (bonus points for knowing where that lyric is from) and one of its biggest strengths is its versatility. You can have it on its own, you can put sprinkles on it, or many flavoured syrups, or serve it with pie, or with cake (mm, cake). The problem with your cookie doughs and phish food flavours is that they’re ready-made. The shop is offering only the flavours they’ve created and not giving you any information about the cool stuff they’ve used to make them up. What if there were, say, five different ice cream shops, each one a flavour specialist? There’s the vanilla shop with all its versatility, but there’s also a shop dedicated totally to rocky road, with special rocky road-themed extra toppings, and it also served different types of rocky road, so that you can have it with extra marshmallow, or no nuts, or… I’m running out of things you can out into rocky road ice cream, but I’m sure you get my point. And next door is a special cookie dough shop that does the same with its ice cream. The other good thing about the multiple shops is that they don’t charge you for looking at other flavours of ice cream that you aren’t interested in. If you like all flavours of ice cream (as HBMC clearly does judging from his ice cream collection – er, I mean different armies!) you can visit as many shops as you like. If you’re all about the rocky road, the vanilla, cookie dough and tutti-frutti boys aren’t going to hit you up for some extra cash just to disinterestedly peruse over their wares.

Practical Issue

Er, this analogy is creaking, so let’s talk reality. The background and diversity of Chaos is big. As big as the Imperium almost. Let’s say we want to create the ‘perfect’ codex, that covers everything anyone would want. That means giving people proper amounts of background about the different types of armies, all of the troop types, pictures of models and so on. An army is more than just a few rules and an extra option or two of wargear, and if you’re just coming into the hobby there’s a lot of information to absorb which we can’t just skip over like the last Codex did.

Let’s start by combining the contents of Codex: Chaos Space Marines and Codex: Daemons. 192 pages of cool Chaos stuff. But we don’t have any god- or Legion-specific stuff yet. This is where any potential developer faces the first big decision, and there’s no right or wrong answer. The background of Chaos is divided along two separate yet overlapping themes.

You have the Traitor Legions on one hand, some of which are dedicated to a specific god, some of which aren’t. Like those loyalist scum, each Legion has a slightly different way of fighting. Are these presented as sub-lists (as they were in Index Astartes) or is everything rolled into one big list and players are given the background info to shape their armies for themselves? Let’s take Night Lords as a random example. Infiltration and terror tactics. Should Chaos Space Marine squads have an upgrade that represents the Night Lords? Or, should there be a separate army list entry, perhaps called Night Lords Squad? Or, should there be a separate entry for an infiltrating, terror-causing squad that could represent Night Lords but could equally be used for other infiltrating, terrorising squads devised by the players’ imaginations?

The end result in rules terms could be exactly the same, but the presentation of those rules has a profound effect on the way some players perceive them. Is it better to call them Night Lords and then have players change the names for themselves (such as using the Dark Angels for one of the other Unforgiven), or is it better to keep the presentation generic and let players know that using ‘Infiltrating Chaos Marines’ is how they can represent Night Lords on the table?

And just how flexible do we want players’ armies to be? Do we say that the Night Lords can’t have Khorne Berzerkers and leave it up to players to ‘break the rules’ if they want to represent a combined force of Night Lords and World Eaters? If the army list functionally allows you to represent forces from different Legions and Chapters, there’s nothing to stop someone (by the rules) painting their Khorne Berzerkers in Night Lords colours. At what point do the Codexes force players to adhere to the background and when do they inform them of that background and leave it to their discretion?

[I prefer the approach of informed freedom, the encompassing of many ‘what if?’ situations, since the purpose of the Codex is to allow players to collect a load of toy soldiers, paint them however they see fit, and then play a game with them if they want to. Is important whether a Chaos Space Marine is painted red or blue? It’s an unanswerable question except with reference to our personal tolerances and preferences. One might say an WWII German army has too many Tiger tanks because there is historical fact. With 40K, everything is a) fictional, and b) deliberately written to allow hobbyists to come up with their own ideas and form their own opinions. World War II happened and is documented, 40K is a vast sandbox for players to create and explore.]

With regard to our physical Codex and its length,  both ways of doing things will add about the same number of pages. Rules-driven guidance means more army list entries (and more pages in the Forces section), a flexible list might mean more options for generic troop types but more required in the form of background and sample armies to inform players choices if they want to pick a Legion-themed force.

For the sake of argument, lets say it take about 8 pages per Legion to do this justice – origins of the Legion and how they’re organised, extra or extended Forces pages to describe their troop types, additional army list entries and colour pages. That’s another 72 pages, bringing our book up to 264 pages. If there were actual full sub-lists for each I would expect this to be even longer.

The Gods Issue

The Legions are one of the two strands that Chaos players like to theme along; the other are the four Chaos gods. We come back to presentation issues. You want to collect Khorne, but not paint them in World Eaters colours? Should you be allowed Berzerkers or only Khorne-marked units (since Berzerker technology is known only to the World Eaters supposedly)? What about non-Emperor’s Children Noise Marines? The odd one in the mix are the Thousand Sons, who are not just ‘super marked’ Marines but something entirely unique to that Legion thanks to Rubric and his hi-jinks. So, there’s an argument that there should also be some form of ‘super-marked’ magic Marine for Tzeentch, in addition to Rubric Marines, like anti-Grey Knights or something. And then there’s all the Terminator Berzerkers, World Eater war engines, tank variants, Defiler types and whatever else we would need to make a proper World Eaters army. How much of that is transferable and how do we differentiate in the army list?

And then we get to the issue of cross-god armies. Have Thousand Sons and Khorne Berzerkers ever appeared on the same battlefield? Plague Marines and Emperor’s Children? We have the hardline view that such a thing would never, ever, ever happen. Or there’s the realistic view that the chances are at some point the goals of warbands and personalities dedicated to different gods have found common cause. We come back to the grey area of whether the separations are hard-wired into the rules (in which case players can play ‘outside the Codex’ if their opponents are happy with it), or if the army list allows it but the background makes a point of demonstrating how this might come about to give the army its proper context.

Let us assume that we’re going to allow non-named forces to be represented by some of the named troop types. This requires further information to be put in the book – examples of named ‘historical’ Khornate forces that weren’t part of the World Eaters, more examples of toy soldiers and armies. Let’s make it neat and tidy and say four pages for each god, a nice 16-page complete section to bring up our total page count to 280. Thats about two dozen pages short of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

All The Small Things

But wait! This isn’t Codex: Chaos, so far it’s only be Codex: Chaos Space Marines. We need mutants, renegade guardsmen, daemon-possessed psykers and cultists. I’m sure folks can see where I’m going next, so let’s just cut to the chase. To do this justice (that means more background, more Forces pages, more army list entries), let’s add a very conservative 32 pages.

So our awesome Codex: Chaos runs to roughly 312 pages (a little more than the rulebook). It contains everything every player would ever want out of Chaos. Okay, it’ll be a few quid more than a regular Codex, but look at everything you’re getting, right? Let’s not even worry about how long that would take the write, or issues caused by one book supporting a huge swathe of the miniatures range (cos we need miniatures for most of this cool stuff too, because they’re in the Official Rules now and you can’t expect people to convert everything).

A Many-splendored Thing

Or we can go back to our five different ice cream shops, by which I of course mean our five separate Codexes. Actually, maybe six if we did one regular Chaos Marine, one Daemon and one for each Chaos God (remember, not a definite plan, just discussion). A Codex is usually 80 pages long, sometimes 96 and for a few special cases more than that. Let’s just keep to that basic 80 pages. Over the course of six different Codexes, that means a whopping 480 pages of Chaos goodness, more even than our super-Codex.

But we know there are issues with multi-Codex armies from much of the discussions that arise around the Imperial Space Marines. Why does the Reaper Autocannon have different rules for Khorne’s armies than for Slaanesh ones? Why does an Emperor’s Children Daemon Prince not have the psychic powers allowed to a generic Slaaneshi one? And so forth. The benefit of the one book solution is that at least it’s all in one place and gets updated in one swoop.

Another question comes back to the flexibility issue. Do we allow Chaos Space Marines to take units from the other books, particularly Daemons, or are they (as now) completely separate? Even if every single unit was perfectly fair and balanced within its own list, what are implications for cross-lists and game balance? Actually, this applies to any multiple-list format whether in one book or several.

Every entry has to serve not just one purpose (and on the evidence of some of the dislike for Dreadnoughts, Spawn and Possessed some feel even that hasn’t been achieved), but multiple purposes. At a fundamental level, an army that contains so much diversity, the ability to pick-and-mix from such a plethora of different troop types is going to have as many optimal, cookie-cutter builds as any other. Mixing cheap cultists with deep-striking Daemons, rockhard Terminators, and so on, will create an army that doesn’t have any weaknesses, and from that point of view it doesn’t have much gameplay character either because an army is as much about what it can’t do on the tabletop as what it can.

Yet another problem with multi-volume armies is that the information is not self-contained. Where, for example, does Codex: Space Marines tell you that they can be included in a Witch Hunters force? Having faced exactly this issue with Hordes of Chaos and Beasts of Chaos in Warhammer (not to mention ongoing issues with the Dogs of War), I can safely say that multi-volume armies are a pain in the arse. The purpose of a Codex is to contain everything you need to collect and game with the toy soldiers it covers. Imagine you’ve been collecting your Chaos army for a few months and then go to your first club night or tournament, only to find out the guy or gal on the other side of the table has got Daemons in their army.

‘How do you get those?’

‘They’re in this book.’

‘Another book?’

‘Actually, three other books, and there’s another one coming out in a few months’ time.’


So all the books have to be planned at once, because the first book in the series has to make reference to the future books (which I did in the Hordes of Chaos intro). Which is a commitment. Commitments are fine right until circumstances changes, or you have a better idea, and then they become a binding oath. What if the books are so great and so successful, there’s scope to do another one? You have to change all the references in the ones already published to make it clear there are now seven books tied together, not six.

Another problem is simple finances. Without getting into a discussion about pricing, nobody wants to feel that they have to buy all six books to keep their edge. With self-contained books buying more than one Codex is a choice players can make, out of interest, to collect mutiple armies or to get the lowdown on the opposition.  Little Johnny walks into his gaming store of choice, says he likes the look of the Marines with spikes on and then is promptly told by the learned staff member that he has to read this, and this, and this, etc. Urk. Maybe those pointy ears with the flying tanks are cooler…

Lastly, there’s the time factor. You can’t release them all as a block (because all the non-Chaos players want some love now and then) so it would take years for the set to be complete. At least if each book is self-contained, it lives and dies by its own merits rather than simply being seen as part of an as-yet incomplete work.

In Summary

There ain’t no single foolproof answer to the questions posed. No easy-fix. Compromises will always have to be made due to the diversity of demands placed on a Codex by the many different hobbyists that will use it. Make it a cornucopia of Chaosness and the competitive players will complain that Chaos is broken; make it too restrictive and the more hobby-driven players will feel that they’re vision and creativity is being compromised. Put it in one book and depth and detail will suffer; spread it over a lot of books and it becomes complicated and hard to access.

The developers cannot legislate for every eventuality, though Pete made a valiant effort with his Codex on the rules front. This is where the choice and responsibility passes over to the players. Remember that for every player who sees 40K as a tactical challenge, there’s a collector who wants to theme an army around an obscure reference in the timeline. For every ‘fluff nazi’ (miaow-splat!) there’s the ‘what if?’ creator dreaming about the time Angron asked Fulgrim to repay that favour he did during the Flange IX Burning.

Wargaming isn’t ice cream; we get to make up whatever flavours we like; some of them follow specific recipes, others just throw a bunch of stuff into the freezer to see if it works. It’s usually worth giving them a taste to see what they’re like, because otherwise we might miss out on a great new flavour.

And Finally…

Again, thanks for the comments and discussion. However, this is a blog not a forum and isn’t really set up for ongoing debates between commentators. Please post your comments and your thoughts, I enjoy reading them (even the negative ones). Please also use the many fantastic community discussion boards for responding to each other, they are a far better place for it (incidentally, Bell of Lost Souls is winning with the redirects at the moment, with Warseer and Dakkadakka trailing in their dust).

Rules questions and debate. As with the Dark Elves Q&A, I’m not going to enter into detailed rules discussions or provide answers to specific questions. With the first, Codex: Chaos Space Marines was jointly written with Alessio and I’m not going to do him a disservice by second-guessing decisions he made whilst writing the rules or put words in his mouth. On the second point, I am not a games developer any more and answers I give may well end up being different to the FAQs issued by Games Workshop. Let’s not even get into the manbane thing again!

Thank you all for lasting this long. Have fun and happy gaming.

[Addendum – Daemons in the 2nd edition Codex. This was my poor memory playing tricks on me, but the point stands that not everything in the Daemonworld army list (including Trolls and beastmen! :-)) was also available to the Chaos Space Marines. Sorry for the confusion.]

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109 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Might be worth setting up a discussion thread on a forum (if the relevant boards are happy for you to do so) and posting a link in your blog post ready for the inevitable ‘yeah but…’ responses.

    It might not work but worth a try.

    Kudos for explaining the issues surrounding the codex process though Gav.

    (I’ve actually been quite tempted to give the CSM book a try-out after playing against so many different builds at the DWS)


  2. Gav, I agree with what you are saying and feel that it is tournament gaming that is ruining the mentalities of gamers. More people aproach games as if they are legalistic court room arugements rather than fun games.

    Legalistic mind sets try to set ideas in stone rather than use rules asguidlines for having fun. Legalism has also created a state of hyper critical gamers who are not satisfied with anything other than what they individually perceive as perfect.

    I actually liked the changes in the your CSM codex, because of creative focus off of the mono god legions. It expanded chaos beyond just the focus of the four gods and fleshed out interesting renegade chapters like the red corsairs.

    I have personally found that many gamers flock from one abusive list to another. For them playing either warhammer fantasy or 40k is not about having a good time but rather throttling someone on the tabletop.

    My ideal gaming experience has always been center on having a good time in a competative game, in which I have a chance of losing.

    Anyway, i have read a lot of the criticism directly against you in various forms and think it is wrong and completely unfair. I was sad when you left the games development team because you had favorably shaped the warhammer world I knew. In time, even the naysayers will come to appreciate how you helped shape the warhammer world.

    Best regards,Luis


  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Gav, for the record they make a lot of sense to me.

    Oh and I read Project Ssh! the other day, really liked it, especially the bit where the Sergeant gets seperated from his squad in the bowels of the SH. 🙂


  4. Just wanted to say it was Codex:CSM that I started gaming with, and despite my love of Tau I still bring out the Chaos lads every now and then when I feel like assaulting something 🙂



  5. Epic post, and thanks for taking the time to give a ‘retired professional’ perspective 🙂


  6. Daemon Codex is good because we get to see non-marine Chaos represented in 40K. Although not happy with their rules, I’ve come around to “generic daemons” in CSM lists because giving them the ones from the Daemon codex would be very overpowered, plus make the Daemon list itself a bit useless.
    Though I do think Cult armies should get the daemons of their god, and possibly Word Bearers too.

    It’s too bad we now have to have “one codex, one list”, especially as GW is taking longer than ever to get codexes released. I miss the IA variant lists.
    And every list has to be self contained, so no nabbing stuff from other books.

    If you have to abide by Jervis rules, then I guess the old Special Character thing might have to do. Make a Night Lords character, and give him rules to change the list into a Nigh Lords army.
    Not perfect, but better than nothing.

    And if someone wants to use “Night Lords with Berzerkers”, it’s easy. Just use the vanilla list and paint your guys as NL. Just like you could always do.


    • People want Cultist armies and LatD, not Demons though. Unless you’re a WB player, then yeah, they could use something more powerful.


  7. so your argument is, “it was hard, so we didn’t do it.”

    the bottom line is, the current CSM codex is either worse than the last, or at least didn’t improve on it. therefore it was a waste of resources. if you can’t cop to that, then there’s no sense in having a discussion.

    yes, it would be awesome, totally, totally awesome, to have several chaos codices. but first GW will have to update the core chaos codex in line with 5th edition, and then by the time it gets around to one or two it will have changed course.

    let this be a wakeup call to you and yours: there are thousands of people all around the world who love this hobby and spend days at a time just thinking about ways to make it better. they don’t want money, they don’t even want acknowledgement. they just want to make a better game, and GW is shutting them out. by not taking advantage of the internet, by abusing white dwarf, and by putting out product which is no better than the best fan fiction, GW is shutting them out.

    realistically, GW could put the whole development process on an internet forum and reduce the developers’ role to that of a moderator. it’s not a new concept. realistically, GW could change the format to a card-based one like some of your competitors use, that would make it a lot less resource-intensive to update your products. realistically, GW could do a lot of things to make its core constituency happier, but as long as it can point to rising share prices as a sign of success it will probably stay the (inconsistent) course and spend its energy talking down to us in the form of long-winded analogies and assuming that we “don’t understand”.


    • The Truth.


    • @ holydiver Ever heard the saying a camel is a horse designed by comity. What would a horse designed by the internet look like? What would a rule book designed by such a massive comity look like?

      @ Gav. Well done Gav for the work you did and the work others are still doing. There re many answers to every question, not every answer will make everyone happy, like you said people come at this hobby from different angles. Just because some people like the ideas by one company or another doesn’t men we all want that.

      Warhammer 40k is a great system, it not perfect but none is, not everyone sees that, but no system would prompt universal adoration. I like it, thousands of others do to. There will always be those who don’t see what you did as an improvement, that, as you have said impossible to avoid.

      As long as GW continues to develop for these good reasons then I’ll be happy. If investors and Hedge funds start to have major influence on the developers trade then and only then will I start to worry.

      NOt thats any of that is your problem ay more, you write books and damn good ones, keep on going!


      • @ Matus ever heard of a democracy?


      • Horse designed by the internet that’s actually moderated by people who know what they’re doing, not /b/tards or 12 year olds who get dropped off at a store and play unfinished lists..should be a damn good horse.

        I have seen it work, and I’ve seen the forums (cept Warseer, they just bullshit and argue) where they spend days coming up with the tactics, the flaws, and tearing apart what they’ve just got. Honestly, I want to know why we only have 2-3 army lists that everyone uses in one Race, as apposed to the 6-8 Army lists we used to have, and anyone who complains about balancing now should play more of the cheezing variants of IG or Orks.

        Personally I’m thinking Battletech, Epic, and Fantasy Battle are becoming better systems, or in actuality, have been. Even Fantasy doesn’t get this much backwards pain. Hell, Vasal was a wonderful program, I didn’t have to spend a dime, could’ve played it, then figured out an army to buy. But then GW gets pissed off and had the 40k mod shut down.


      • I agree that the community is a good way to assist developers, I just think that at the end of the day there needs to be some formal organization controlling it. Bringing in the forum community for play testing and feedback would be a good thing, having something designed totally by that community would never, in my opinion, be as good.

        To take holydiver’s example of democracy is a fine idea. What we all thankfully have is a representational democracy, not a true democracy in the purest sense of the word. The sovereign power of the electorate is delegated to a much smaller body of people. This body may ask for advice from time to time, but makes most of the decisions themselves. Thus decisions can be made on a day to day basis without asking everyones permission first. To use this for an analogy for games development is doable. GW’s developers (government) voted in by our votes (ie wallets) make decisions at times based on a referendum/ focus groups (forums, other channels of feedback) spurred on by the pressure of rival political parties (privateer press).

        While people are generally quite good at adapting small parts of GWs rule sets on forums, if the community as a whole tried to design a whole system without having someone with the final word not consensus would ever be reached.

        My vote for best system has to go to Necromunda by the way, but then I just love the campaign side.


  8. Wow that was a long entry! It is great that you have a blog I was unaware of it until the last post was on BOLS.

    Nail on the head really, You cannot encapsulate all the possible armies and diversity of Chaos or even CSM in 40k for all the reasons you mentioned.

    The current CSM codex does a good job and allowing for player imagination to take hold and seems to be focussed on the idea of renegades and subsets of the traitor legions (nice idea kinda like loyalist successor chapters).

    The marks system is a nice idea in making a unit or two diverse in this regard of them favouring a specific God.

    So in this vain you have say:
    The Deciples of Change, A warband originally from the Word bearers who’s Lord gets gifted by Tzeentch and subsquently his doctrine changes and the warband breaks away as their own legion in the worship of Tzeentch, as such they have the Mark of Tzeentch ‘in-game’ and say the original Word Bearer’s colour scheme but with dark blue helmets.

    I just made the above up as I went along but this is the kinda thing the chaos codex does well owing to the somewhat generic free nature of the rules.

    The problem comes that the above isn’t the most effective army. The cult troops in the codex d$%k over anything you mark.

    To have an effective army on the table top any competitive chaos player knows you just take the following:

    mounted plague marines
    2x daemon princes
    mounted vanilla marines
    maybe bezerkers in a LR

    Thats where the problem lies, you can make a fairly creative army from the book but it wont win you many games. The above units just out shine any of the other options so anyone with a ‘gamers’ streak knows what to take and its a bit of a shame.

    There would be no need for legion books the only changes needed are:

    – The marks system to be more worth while when compared to cult troops.

    – Cult troops to have the option of terminator armour (in the same entry to make cult terminators)

    – Someway to make lord/sorcerers culty

    – Make possessed etc not suck

    – a traits system much like the old guard one and the current loyalist marines chapter tactics to allow for the other legions but this has some kinda restriction.

    Last point would be a nice-to-have but all in all the above in my opinion is all that wrong with the Codex and to be honest there is more wrong with the imaginations of a lot of gamers out there.


    • I am not sure I wholly agree with the “any competitive chaos player knows you just take the following” line. Any given unit can be competitive, it depends on hte player that uses tham, there ae other units that “shine”. such as Thousand Sons marines, Emperor’s Children with SOnic Weaponry, and a few others…but like your line, that’s my opinion and just that, not dogma:)


      • His opinion happens to be the same as the hundred and 50 anonymous and various users I’ve seen on 3 forums.

        Problem is people now use less tactical and more list based gaming ways.


  9. Thanks for the thoughts which truly make me think about the codex and it’s future (as well as the past).

    Acutally I have been playing CSM (combined with Daemons) mainly lists dedicated to Khorne since 2nd edition … last year I stopped and put my models into the display case. To be honest I mourned the loss of the Daemons on the CSM side.

    What is a Khorne Berzerker without a Bloodletter on his side? There is a Greater Daemon but he is not answering to the name of Khorne?

    Not to say it stoppped me playing that way … it rather killed the motivation temporarly … I’ll take some time off to spend time on my other army.

    However, Chaos will still be no. 1 for me.


    • This was much of the same for me too… Except I came to this sad realization with the last tournament I played in. Technically Gav is right, Tournament play mentality has damaged this game…But its only because Tournament play shows the inherent weaknesses in a codex.

      I found this out: Most new books can run a fluffy army and be competitive.

      I tried to run a fluffy Word Bearers list…no Lash, summoned daemons, squad of possessed… And the previous night before the tournament I lost two two players who did very poorly the following day. I revamped my list, including the lash and obliterators just like every other tournament list, and found myself winning best general…but at the cost of fun for both me and my opponent.


      • That’s one of the reasons why I am not showing up on tournaments … I play for the fun of it and if the other player is winning thats fine for me, too.


  10. I don’t buy this ‘it would be too long’ argument. The old Chaos Codex was around 65 pages and yours is over a hundred. Many many pages in the current Codex are taken up by the silly ‘fluff and rules over on this page, point cost and options on this page’ structure that codexes have used ever since Eldar. If you thought you were cramped for space, maybe you could have gone to your bosses and said: ‘hey, this structure is killing trees and wasting ink.’

    It would not be hard to write a codex where Legion-rules are present. The old codex did it in one to two pages in a pretty straightforward way (I don’t buy your stuff about errors, is it really so hard to follow some bulletpoints on a Legion page?)

    But okay, even accepting your point about it being too long for that stuff to appear in one codex, let’s go on to your point about Night Lords. Should stealthy rules for the Night Lords been included in the main list? *Of course* they should have been included! Including something like that wouldn’t have just benefited Night Lord players, but gone a long way towards satisfying Alpha Legion as well AND helped that creative lad who wants to make his own special stealthy Chaos Warband.

    If you had put in Cultists you would have made Alpha Legion AND Word Bearers happy, along with any Warband player who wanted to make a cult angle for his fluff

    If you had put in a Warsmith HQ, you would have made Iron Warriors ecstatic AND given an interesting option for all Chaos players.

    Why is it that such a hard thing to understand? If you give options you open doors for the players. If you don’t give options, you’re shutting them. And we’re only talking about three or four pages extra here.

    And what is this nonsense about Thousand Sons and Berserkers not working together? You could always do that in 3.5. All it required for you to take every single god’s units was an Undivided Chaos Lord (which, quite frankly, made sense. The cult troops are *religious fanatics*. Khorne worshippers shouldn’t just turn to a Slaaneshi Lord who represents all the decadence that they hate and say ‘lead the way’ as if it’s the most common thing in the world). And hell, you could still mix two gods to some extent so long as they weren’t in direct opposition. So what problem did you solve exactly?

    And in any case, complaining that the World Eaters players didn’t use Thousand Sons is really silly. Some people like yelling “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD” as they throw their dice and want to play an all-Khorne army. That isn’t possible now (or at least not if the player wants to win any games for said Blood God). So the ‘what if?’ player who wanted to see some Slaanesh Lash Lord-on-Nurgle/Khorne Troops action can do that now whereas the Khorne player is left impaled on his own poorly-designed daemon weapon.

    Is that good design? Is that play-friendly?

    This movement started with someone asking for an apology. I still agree with that sentiment.


    • Yea, that daemon weapon is pretty sad. When the book first came out Myself and another Khorne player went at it.. our lords stared at eachother for three turns.


    • Or you could play Black Legion and take any of the troops choices.


  11. I haven’t read the new Chaos Space Marines codex so I can’t comment on it.

    I really enjoyed reading the articles as well as the comments, they were informative and entertaining.

    Personally I do not like the concept of dividing a single faction up into multiple codices, but I can see the reasoning behind it.

    I’m not a tabletop gamer and mostly just in it for the odd BL story, so this might sound daft:

    If you are a power player or competitive player, isn’t there some fun in “cracking” a new codex to find out how to maximize your chances of winning? Is having to rethink your strategy/army makeup a bad thing?
    I’m a casual videogamer and one the biggest joys of playing a new game is to find out how I optimize my profit/skills etc. within the given boundaries.


  12. Greenman speaks the truth. Seriously, the new chaos codex is, compared to the last one an utter, utter failure. It’s less impressive, less dark, less chaotic, in fact, than it’s predecessor, with less options, less charatcer, less in the way of interesting units. Oh, and it breaks the fluff. Severely.

    Sorry Gav, but you dropped the ball here so hard it went through the starship’s deck plating, ruptured the Geller field and sucked us all into the warp.


    • Whats worse is that they turned around and gave MORE options to Space marine and Space wolf characters… In fact Space wolf characters have sagas now, which serve the same function as mutations! (To a certain extent.)


      • Go get a counter ready for the amount of New Wolf players and Chaos players using Wolf dex.


  13. I must be one of the few who thought the latest chaos codex was superior to it’s predecessor in almost every way. I dislike the approach where the background dictates your army construction.

    I can’t help but feel the majority of complaints regarding the new codex are from those players who have only used the 3.5 codex. In my experience these players were only interested in chaos due to the extreme abuse 3.5 was subject too. I was the only chaos player at my local gaming club. When the 3.5 codex came out chaos was the most popular army.

    Myself, I hated the fact that my army composition was so severely limited. I had several squads of cult troops but the only way to run them together was to have a Black Legion army. I felt like the codex was judging me if I did it any other way!

    So all hail 4th/5th edition chaos codex. All my troops are back together and I don’t feel like I’m committing background heresy for doing so.


    • As a player who played Slaanesh and Emperor’s children since RT, I have to say power gaming isn’t what I want.

      [quote]Myself, I hated the fact that my army composition was so severely limited. I had several squads of cult troops but the only way to run them together was to have a Black Legion army. I felt like the codex was judging me if I did it any other way![/quote]
      Not sure how that is?
      The only limitation that you mention is that you couldn’t have Khorne with Slaanesh, nor nurlge with Tzeentch if the lord worshipped the opposite god.
      SO if you had a Slaanesh Lord, you could have unmarked, chaos undivided, Slaanesh, Nurgle, and Tzeentch Troops. The only thing you couldn’t have is Khorne troops. Limiting? Now they let you have Khorne (who hates Slaanesh) report to a Slaanesh Lord!

      If you wanted to gain additional benefits, you had to have restrictions. Same as if I want daemons, I couldn’t take loyalist equipment, if I wanted Dark Angels, I lost things that Marines got. If I wanted Witch Hunters, I couldn’t (by default) take heavy IG equipment, or if I did, I limited what Witch Hunter things I could take. So if you wanted Tau ships, you had to play Tau. The argument of restrictiveness is enforced across codecies.

      Seriously, the argument falls apart if you look at the actual rules.


    • “I dislike the approach where the background dictates your army construction.”

      Unfortunately, I despise any rules where the background *doesn’t* dictate the army construction. The sole reason I play 40K or any other miniatures game is because of that background. If all I wanted was a game I’d just play Risk.


  14. I think the lesson to be learned here is simple – know what your consumer wants.

    Tournament players don’t care how the army is represented as long as the rules are tight.

    Fluff bunnies, such as myself, want to be able to build their dream army within the normal rules.

    40K’s diverse and well respected fluff requires rules with a great deal of depth… or efficiency in design. I can see why you chose the simplistic route, but minimal design is not what many of your consumers were looking for.


    • Exactly.


  15. And keeping the fluff bunnies, the casual gamers, the tournament heroes and the armchair generals all happy at the same time is impossible, but thanks for trying 🙂

    We do it pretty simply – 40k by codex is for tournaments – Apoc (even at small scale) is for fluff bunnies. I wanna play Tzeentch- I get Silver Towers from BOLS, I get 1k sons and Tzeentch blessed regular CSM from CSM codex, I get Horrors and stuff from Demons Codex, and get Legions of the Damned from either Codex:IG or the GW sheet.


    • No, it isn’t. It just appears impossible for Games Workshop to do it.

      I realize that it’s tough, but speaking as an engineer the basic needs of every group can be met with compromise and efficiency.


  16. I still cant cope with the whole: People did not use many of the options able in the last list so we decided to cut most of them out. This is thinking backwards imho.

    Some people did play mixed god armies back then, aka black legion, and some people chose to limit themselves voluntarily by making a god specific list, and others went the way of one of the undivided legions. All of these choices had boons and flaws. These choices are not here any more. You can still play, in fact thats the only thing you can do, play mixed lists in black legion style.

    Giving units marks in the current list is a sad joke. You dont give the unit marks any more. You give trooper Johnny Boy a mark in the form of a silly Icon. And the other guys in the unit has a mark a while, until Johnny Boy gets killed and thus the effect is gone.
    Giving models marks in the last books unlocked options only available to that mark, and disabled others, but most importantly the whole unit had the mark, and it stayed there until the whole unit was dead.
    Now the mark only gives some half assed wannabe version of a mark and nothing else. Cant you see the fact that people are annoyed by that detail? Every single god specific army got their models, and ass, handed back to them with the introduction of the current Codex with a huge “not legal any more” notice on it. Of course people get upset.

    Sure its one thing to modify options for friendly games in gaming comunities that likes to bend the rules. These are however not a vast majority, and they are definitely NOT accepted on tournament scenes.

    A Space Wolf player would not be happy if he had to play a normal SM army with his Wolfs. Likewise an Emperors Children player wont be happy to be forced to play a random renegade CSM army.
    This is the point a lot of players try to get through and the only response is silence, denial, what feels like empty promises of legion specific codices and bad excuses like “but you can make it” which we all know is far from true since only the troops are real Cult specific units. An Emperors Children Havoc is as much CSM Havoc as a Long Fang is a SM Devastator…


  17. Gav, I understood what HBMC meant when he talked about Icecream but you kinda lost me there.

    Fact is, while 3.5 was indeed overly complicated it did serve all the normal players, the legion players and had several top tier tournament builds. I played Death Guard. I can no longer play Death Guard. I can field Death Guard troops lead and supported by a bunch of smelling guys with the same paintjob. I could live without demons, but I can not live with those stupid Icon rules.

    Giving the players the possibilty to talk/listen to you about this issue is real nice of you. But CSM 4.0 is simple not nearly as good as a book as 3.5 was.


  18. Oh Gav. All those words and you still dodge most of the specific complaints leveled against the book.

    You can dance around the issues all day long but we can see right through you. I respect you as a person bringing this forward as a topic, but I can’t respect your arguments, few as they are.

    A good codex does not need to be 300+ pages or over several volumes. The fluff and art of books are well established. White Dwarf, novels, and supplements like the Index Astartes can contain all the extra detail you want. What players want is a good set of rules, a flexible set of rules, rules that match the fluff.

    It seems like you didn’t try to make an encompassing codex, it seems like you and Alessio followed a brief from management and produced a streamlined book with no restrictions. Well it is streamlined, but you left out most of the fun, and most of what makes for an interesting army list.

    I like that the cult troops each have their own entry: it is clean and they have specific special rules that make sense. Except for plague marines they are overpriced but they are decent entries. But… where are the cult terminators, bikers, raptors, havocs? I bet you know the icon system is awful, but you won’t explain it, defend it, or apologize for it. Like so many other points you gloss over it in a wall of words.

    Where are the veteran skills? Where are the special rules and options for basic CSM troops? Where are the god-specific vehicle upgrades? Where are the actual daemons? Where are the cultitst? They’re gone. It wouldn’t have taken antoher 200 pages to add those missing parts. You say it would take 8 pages to cover each legion, and yet it took about one page in the old book.

    Daemons, mutants, and cultists? Yes please. You say it can’t be done? The Lost and the Damned codex did it just fine, it was a but clunky but it did the job and was never overpowered. It should have been included as a variant in the main book, I see your point about multiple ‘dexes being cumbersome but I don’t see how adding some other options takes a minimum of 32 pages. That’s just false. I’m working on my own version of LATD, the latest is at , stay tuned for another update soon at

    Haine’s book was too hard to navigate, but in cleaning it up you threw the mutated baby out with the bathwater. The old book worked. It was faithful to the fluff and provided for a diversity of armies. You say you are concerned broken combos but your book still has them, so you didn’t solve that problem… it just means that to get the most effective list you have to take a hodgepodge of units from different legions. That’s clumsy. If you are really concerned about overpowered units or abilities there are ways to restrict them, for example having Lash or Slaanesh special characters only available to a pure Slaanesh force. Was that too difficult?

    I tried to build a Tzeentch list today, only to find that any time I tried to make it fluffy it crippled its effectiveness. 9 man squad? Can’t take a second meltagun. A 40 point icon on one model just isn’t cost effective, so that has to go. Ok, I can add some Tzeentch Daemons, I mean no I can’t since they’re gone. Tzeentch Sorceror? Taking a Mark and Bolt Of Change costs 55 points. For what? +1 to my invulnerable save and a good but not great shooting attack. Mark of Slaanesh + Lash costs less than half that, and for way more effective options. There’s no Tzeentch daemons I don’t think a good codex makes you sacrifice your theme to get a competitive list.

    Here’s two more absurd examples. How about a super killy Khorne Lord with a Daemon Weapon? 1/3 of the time he does no damage in assaults and hurts himself. Great! Chaos Spawn. 40 points for a model I can’t control, with no save, with a maximum unit size of 3. Wow.

    You can say “play whatever combos you want” but that just doesn’t work in practice. There are no GW published alliance rules (barring Inquisition-specific ones) and most players do not want to use homebrew systems.

    We’ll probably never see legion codexes and if we do they will be years apart from each other (knowing GW’s glacial release schedule) and so probably inconsistent or unbalanced.

    Dude, you dropped the ball. Please just admit it, or actually counter these points and the points made by the other critics. Obviously you are an intelligent and creative guy, but this book just failed. Let’s see some intellectual honesty. Continuing with the ice cream analogy, you’re shitting in our mouth and calling it a sundae.

    Thanks for your time.


    • hey dude, i definitely agree with you pretty much 100%, i just wanted to defend the author on a few points:

      1. veteran skills: iirc they’re gone from every army so you can’t hold him accountable for that.
      2. including legion army lists: yeah, the last codex covered them in a page or 2 each, but he’s talking about “doing them justice”, which he takes to mean giving each one its own book. your point about it not taking 200+ pages to do so still stands however.
      3. cult raptors: fluff-wise, they are their own cult, just like obliterators. thus, no cult raptors. (weren’t in the last codex either, cult chosen with daemonic flight on the other hand…)

      reading through your latd codex now.


      • 2. 8 pages would be great but it’s impractical as Gav pointed out. I would always prefer some content over no content, and a picture of painted models with a one sentence blurb is next to nothing. I can see a slim chance of seeing god specific codexes some day but not ones for stuff like Alpha Legion, Word Bearers, etc., so the basic CSM book is their chance to shine.

        The Ork book has a decent paragraph for each clan. It is less detail than I like but they got the basics covered. They don’t have specific units or army builds for the klans but the book is flexible enough to make effective klan themed lists (lootas for deff skulls; trukks, bikes, and buggies for evil sunz, slugga boyz horde for goffs, etc. It works for Orks in a way it doesn’t work for Chaos because the fluff is different.

        3. I guess that’s true about raptors, but they could have had hit and run, morale effects or something to set them apart from vanilla assault marines (I think they might have been the first unit to have hit and run originally).

        I’d love to hear your feedback on LATD, I will be making some changes and posting a new version in the next day or two.



    • I think what really speaks for itself is that the majority of comments go something like: “Thanks for responding! Love the background! Used to love playing my army! Now my army is either bland and boring or so uncompetitive that it’s nothing like playing my army!”

      Look at the new Space Wolf codex and how many options it gives with arguably much more limited background material:

      Grimnar: Erebus
      Ragnar: Faith-borne Berzerker
      Wolf Priest: Dark Apostle
      Njal/Rune Priest: Kor Phaeron/”Real” Chaos Sorceror Lord
      Generic options: Any generic Chaos leader

      Blood Claws: Possessed CSM
      Grey Hunters: CSM, and the limitations with number/transport option plus the addition or not of Wolf Guard make them feel more like a “real” Word Bearers coterie.
      Allied Stormtroopers: Cultists

      Lone Wolves: Chaos Spawn
      Wolf Guard: The Annointed; and not only can I have a lot of annointed with the option to make them scoring to reflect a glorious retinue of Chaos, I also have the option to take just a few but make them really expensive/good and attach them to other squads as “real” Aspiring Champions.

      Thunderwulf Cav: Summoned Bloodcrushers
      Fenrisian Wolves: Summoned Seekers of Slaanesh or Flesh Hounds
      Land Speeders: Summoned Disks of Tzeentch

      How come I can (and will) make a far better, more characterful, fluffy, competitive, and fun army for my Word Bearers with the Space Wolf codex than I can with the Chaos Codex? I wouldn’t have half of these options, especially regarding Daemons and counts-as Daemons, if I did the same with C:CSM.

      Word Bearers:
      Chaos Lord!
      CSM, Icon of Chaos Glory!
      Lesser Summoned Daemons!

      You’re Word Bearers now, go have fun! Next army!

      Iron Warriors:
      Chaos Lord!
      CSM, random icons!
      Iron Priest! Er, wait, wrong codex!

      You’re Iron Warriors now, go have fun! Next army!


      • My thoughts exactly… SW is the new Chaos proxy codex.


      • Proxy Coden?? That makes no sense whatsoever when there is one already in play


      • I think all the previous posters where either people who got their ass handed to them by Chaos players, and they couldn’t play well in the previous edition, or they play as Orks and Loyalists now.

        You left out Demon princes, since everyone has 1, or two, with Lash, and Plague Marines, and Obliterators. Or Berserkers.

        Or how I can legally field 6 Land Raiders in a non apoc game.

        Yeah, I’ve aleady seen 20 people say they are or are thinking about using the new Wolf Codex, it seems to be that much better.


      • I feel bad for not answering the question.

        Proxy codex is when you use another codex to counts as for another army.

        It’s most common with LatD and Genestealer Cults who actually want to play in tournaments, so they use counts as units in the IG to play something Legal.

        What people are trying to say is they want to use the new Wolf codex to proxy counts as Chaos Marines, because they feel the new Wolf Codex shoots the Chaos codex out of the water.


  19. Ok, after that rambling defence I really must comment.

    Bluntly, was this codex too much for you and Alessio to handle?

    It sure sounds like it. The idea that we would need 6, 100 page+ codexs to cover all the legions is patent nonsense. Why? Because we covered it in under 200+ pages in both 2nd & 3rd Edition. The work was already out there in the 3.5 codex – you only had to build upon it and balance out the most broken units.

    The plight of Chaos in this edition is a truly a sorry sight. Lost and the Damned (one of the fluffiest and colourful lists in 40k) are relegated to Forgeworld or apocalypse, the unnecessary Daemon codex based on a cheap tactical trick and, worst of the lot, the bland CSM, breaking 20+ years of established fluff with impunity and littered with unbalanced units.

    You say the new CSM was designed to encourage diversity – it did the opposite. The twin-lash, Plague marine, obliterator army is all I see nowadays. I am very glad that GW decided to change course with the newer codexs.


    • Unbalanced or utterly broken in a useless way?


  20. Meh, If your that disgruntled about something missing, make a statline, give it a points value and play test it yourself. Anything the codex lacks you can make up rules for on your own. Dont want to because you wont be able to use it in tournaments? Well at that point you have to ask yourself if your gripe is really with a bland codex or your atempt to win said tournament. Stop bitching and man up.


    • Except for the fact that we already paid GW for a useful product, only to have that travesty dropped on us.

      Yay, house rules are a fine thing… but they mean nothing when you’re in another house. The point of having the design studio do the rules is so that they are house independent.

      The complaints are NOT tournament specific, nor are they aimed at making the codex a tournament killer. These complaints really ARE about a bland, lackluster product that did it outright best to kill any theme armies that would actually behave true to their theme.

      Stop dismissing every criticism you don’t like as “bitching” and man up.


  21. Great post, Gav. Sadly it won’t do anything to prevent people from blithely assuming they can do better. This has ever been the great gift of the spectator.


    • We don’t have to do better, we’ve had 4 previous codexes and a major Chaos RT book that’s done better.

      Hell I’m sure I could find better differences in the 3.0 book for Chaos, as that was a failure as well, and we did complain about it, and GW did rewrite it.


  22. Just thought I’d comment that while you may have disliked the multi-volume nature of the old Hordes/Beasts/whatever of chaos I actually thought it was one of the best ideas ever. The idea that a generic general determines troops/special slots in an army was one I wished all other armies had followed (Miner Lord for a Dwarf mining clan, etc.). Instead they did away with the idea and now use Special Characters to do that which is another discussion, but I have to say it’s one I hate. I’ve never liked playing someone else’s characters and the idea that to get the army style I prefer that’s the only way I can do it is pathetic. Sorry, Belial can’t lead every Deathwing sortie by himself and the idea that he does is just wrong IMO. Ah well.


  23. Why cant White Dwarf go back to the glory days where non-tourney rules were played around with and great concepts poped up.

    Chapter Approved could reappear catering to Chaos, Elder and even dare I say Zoat fans out there.


    • Agreed. White Dwarf used to be a lot more interesting and useful for gaming. I miss the optional rules.


      • Totally. I used to be excited to buy White Dwarf every month.


  24. Again I ask, what was the thought process behind the concept of eliminating the possibility of a player using your new list to create a background fluffy army list of any of the 4 major legions without having a specific nearby date for when they would be remade? Last message you implied that it was because you felt that there might be a followup codex or whatever the multiple of the word codex is. This message it sounds like you admit that you realized that if a follow up codex did occur it might be it would be at least years in the future. Since this codex decided to take the major 4 legion members to a new level of being separate from all other models, and made them only troop options, there are no other non-vehicle, non-named choices to pick from in the army list. This is restrictive to the point of being nearly incapable of constructing a legal list at all, let alone playing a semi-reasonable game in a non-competitive setting.

    Trivial changes could have been made to make to make the options available in a flexible list like you are describing. New background would NOT be needed to have an option for other existing squads to have the option of being members of one of the major 4. Where as new background IS needed for the new icon effect that got added to the army list, but there is no background for it…. heck as a writer for GW, could you sneak in some fluff about it into some book… seriously… it needs some!

    At some point a decision was made to make being one of the major 4 more than just a different paint scheme. Admittedly that was started in a previous codex, but it was taken to a new level in this codex, instead of backing off to make a more flexible list like you were suggesting was the point. Point balancing wouldn’t seem to be a reason because that’s an aspect of making the codex. Either make them cost more, or reduce the benefits of making them one of the major 4. All I’d like to know is the thought process behind deciding to make it impossible to build an army of the major 4? At least all the other legions can at least field their space marine models and still call their army by the same name. I can’t. Its now a fubar army led by a commander (or two) who conscripted a bunch of people from different legions. Sure it could happen occasionally, but being forced to play that way every game seems ridiculous in my mind.

    Note that even the Eldar codex (released before the Chaos one), which was described as an example of how all the codex-es to come, allowed (nearly) all the spin off armies and made them an option that you could still use with the standard list.

    I have over 10000 or so points of Deathguard that I have collected in the last 15 years. I had every intention of buying all the new chaos related releases (or at least anything that could be DeathGuard related). I have friends who got the new big boxed set eager to play with the new codex. Everything is now stashed away waiting for the next codex to come out. This isn’t wining or some stupid attempt at threats.. this is all things that have occurred in the past, and as you say your not even in the business anymore. It even comes out once a year for an apocalypse game. Unfortunately as a DeathGuard player since before the introduction of the first boxed edition of 40k, I’ve gotten very used to waiting many years. I don’t really believe that there will be any new codex-es for it until the next cycle where they all get remade, I’ve heard the rumor of separate codex-es for a decade. At least in this post you admit to a realistic perspective of additional codex-es. My biggest fear is that this codex will be received so poorly marketing will decide there is no interest in further releases of the Chaos Codex in later cycles.

    Unlike what you suggest, I can’t eat every flavor of ice cream, there isn’t enough time to taste every single flavor there will ever exist. I’d get fat and get sick just from seeing ice cream after a while. That is why its a good idea to pick a flavor you like, make sure its popular enough that no body decides not to sell it anymore, and enjoy it in moderation.

    Unfortunately after many years of tweaks to the recipe you’ve decided not to sell my ice-cream unless you premix it with peanut butter making it completely different. Now I have to either find a new flavor of ice cream that I want, go with another vendor, find another type of desert, or wait and see if at some point the ice cream I like is allowed to be served without premixing in the peanut butter.

    Note if you didn’t like the ice-cream analogy… you shouldn’t have continued it…. But it is amusing 🙂

    Further side note… beastmen were available as a Chaos choice in the ‘white-list’ first box set edition 🙂



  25. Gav,

    Thanx for those posts, it is surelly something Warhammer fans want to read. And I never thought you will read all those comments 🙂

    As for me you missing the main reasons why so many people are disappointed with that CSM Codex. There is effect of something stolen from you when you read old codex and then open new one. I’m fine with new rules or with structure changes, but when you read old codex CSM – you’re diving deep into Chaos itself. You see the history of all those legions, someone is closer to your soul than others, someone you will admire and someone you will hate. It made Chaos different. When you talked with other guys it was like “I am Tau” – “And I am Space Wolves” – “And I am Chaos!” – “eeee, but Chaos who?…”. Currently you’re just Chaos. In older codexes you had some benefits and some restrictions, you had a name of your legion, you were not “just chaos”. It was “the feature”, every force had it’s style and rules made you keep that style. Currently anyone will call you “black legion” and he will be right. Previously I could say “I am not using any Nurglish features, I am Night Lord”. Currently I can of course say that, but everyone will ask “but why, plagues rules!”. From glorious legions and 9 faces of chaos you just made anarchic punks or gangs of traitors. You just cut off 8/9 of Chaos away, making ALL chaos in ONE your way. Yes, of course currently we can try to keep some style in legion, but it will not make our armies different, it will just make us freaks for other races. And of course your arguments about how flexible you as player are a bit wrong 🙂 if you’re so flexible – why don’t you play 2 armies from older codex instead of making all the chaos one big warband?


  26. Oh god I cannot believe how much this blew up the 40k Internets. Anyway I posted my two cents on my blog for anyone that wants to check it out.


  27. There are really a couple things I want to know.

    1) Were the 5th Ed main rules (ie, the BRB) in development by the stage you started/finished the Dex, and if so, roughly what stage?

    2) Given the Dex is out and everything, is it possible to furnish either the public, or me, with design notes or somesuch? Unlikely, but still…

    3) When you were in the Studio, was there ever a desire to return Beastmen to the Forces of Chaos in 40k? Ie, in LatD, perhaps?

    4) Why no Doomrider? lol
    He was frankly the worst character ever.

    5) Ahriman. Did the playtesters have ANY impact (not even how)on his rules before release?

    6) Was Icons > Marks a modelling decision? After all, they were both in the 3.5, and still important for Daemons.

    7) Infernal Device. Accidental omission, or design?

    8) Did you PERSONALLY playtest the ‘uber’ list cited by many, the Double-Lash, 9 Oblit, Plague Marines list?

    That will do for now, I suppose. 😉



  28. Was looking through forgeworld’s new products and such and have noticed a few things. Khorne gets the brass Scorpion, blood slaguhterer, deamon prince, lord zhufor, and world eaters conversion set. Nurgle gets a deamon prince and herald, a blight drone, a sorceror, and terminator conversion set.
    My question is this: why are there no new releases for anything Slaanesh or conversion sets, no demon princes, this deliberate or shortsightedness???


    • Forgeworld is its own beast, and they generally do models to go with a themed companion book. For example, currently they are doing Elysians vs. Orks. I’m sure they will get around to Slaanesh and Tzeentch models eventually.


      • You mean Elysians vs. Raven Guard. Oh wait.. there’s the Megadread, so I guess Orks will be a footnote in the book.


  29. Gav,

    While I appreciate your concern and your effort in trying to address the issues with the Chaos Codex as it stands, I feel like you are spinning your wheels. You are a great fiction writer and I love your work, but I own two armies that you made either bland (chaos) or non-competitive (Dark Angels). Having spent my hard earned money on those armies and having taken the time to paint them very well, I would like to either win some times (Dark Angels) or win without taking a bland list (Chaos). Please stick to the fiction as you are awesome at it, but leave the codices and the talk of future codices to folks like Phil Kelley and the like who have a history of developing excellent codices. Please do not take this as a personal insult or an attack, it’s just that I feel given your history that you have a different mind set (not a wrong one, just different) when you write a codex than the other developers do.


    • I know that comment wasn’t supposed to be insulting, but I can’t stop laughing.

      “Please never touch another Codex again.”


  30. Why is my comment still in moderation?


    • Because I was out watching the cricket yesterday! 🙂


      • Ah, fair enough. I hope you enjoyed the match!


  31. Thanks for posting a response, and initial thoughts on this Gav.

    I may not agree with what you say, I may not even like some of the codex’s or rules you gave us, but what I like more than anything is hearing your thoughts on the matter and getting to discuss it. It’s really fun to have this conversation and I appreciate you using your blog about writing to converse with us wargamers.

    Now, I certainly don’t agree with the argument you provided here. You say it would take a huge number of pages to accomplish the task of an all encompassing Chaos Codex, but the 3.5 book clearly gave players far more choices. There are tons of people who loved that book and subsequently loathe the new one.

    The removal of specific demons, with their own individual rules hurts the most, as are the limited options for characters in the current book. I do agree that the 3.5 Character system required huge changes and nerfs as much was over powered and many were completely over looked. That said, these could have been nerfed rather than removed.

    Also, I’m always bewildered how such useless or universally terrible units get put into codex’s. Spawn, Chaos Dreads, Possessed, all of them absolutely terrible game wise. Khorne Demon weapons, you have to ask WHY it would ever be taken other than as something for fluff/model reasons. It’d be one thing if all Demon weapons were that way, but that’s not the case.

    Things like this make me question how in tune the Design Studio and specific designers actually are with the games they’re writing rules for. Do you intentionally make horribly ineffective or over-costed units? Do these things just miss significant play testing? Do you even DO any playtesting?

    One thing I am always staggered by is that mere hours after seeing a new set of rules for an army, be it WHFB or 40k, I can immediately pick out clear cut game-breaking options that are clearly undercosted (Lash in 40k, Pendent of Khaelth in WHFB).

    I don’t see how this kind of thing can pass through the development studio without being caught or fixed. Is there someone who at the end of development just gets to make random changes without your knowledge/approval? I’ve heard that rumored in the past.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks again for the posts!


  32. I see your point now Gave, but obviously GW has the time to make slightly different Codexes for Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Black Templars and Spave Marines, which are – all togeher – also as thick as the rulebook. Loyalists simply do get more attention due to their commercial potential. We all know that Space Marines is the army with the vast majority of Warhamer 40k Players…


  33. One Week


    • Add a point to your interwebz total!


  34. My primary question is: Who provided the brief for this Chaos Codex? If it was somebody other than you, then I would agree that you were just doing the job you were asked to do, and criticism for the particulars would be better directed toward the GW Studio and the folks behind the wheel over there. It’s just unfortunate that you’re name comes up in big fonts, so you get all the flying crap directed at you.

    However, if you dreamed up the brief yourself, the fact you’re no longer with the Studio can’t defend you from dropping the ball in the first place. What the Studio does now with Chaos is irrelevant to the situation this codex deliberately created. Whether the Studio decides to fix the mess or not doesn’t erase the fact of the mess.


  35. I’ve not been a 40K player since 3rd ed came out so I cannot overly comment on the particulars of the chaos codex. I find the thought process of the games designer very interesting. I’ve generally found all Gav’s work since the early days of the citadel journal to now to be very good.

    What I find interesting is the general desire of players to have all the rules laid out for them:
    “We need rules for this”
    “This is pointed incorrectly”
    “Why can I not use this?”
    When I first got into the hobby I didn’t even have the old RT book for two years and we just made up a ruleset based on what we remembered from playing with some friends and what we could deduce from white dwarf. It was fun. The army lists were bring every model you owned. As the years progressed frequently we would decide something was overpowered and ban it or change a rule to improve the game. To me that is the hobby.

    Really Games Workshop’s job should be to provide a setting, models and rules to inspire us to play the games we enjoy not to enforce how we play them.


  36. Chocolate Vienna is the best mate.


  37. Honestly speaking, my biggest complaints with the Chaos:SM codex was with the loss of the Legions, and inclusion an excessively unenjoyable and all-too commonly seen psychic power. In the latter case, I’ve lost count of the ‘themed’ Death-Guard or 1k Sons that include 2 sore-thumb lash sorcerors just so they can stay ‘competitive.’ Otherwise my only other grumblings are very minor and involve the post-deployment ability roll for Possessed, the dreadnaught fire-frenzy reverting back to 3rd Ed, and lack of Dreadclaw (which really should have been included).

    But as for the loss of the Legions, I think the biggest problem to that is with GW’s current stance on variant army-lists. During 3rd Ed, the only variant lists were the 3 secondary SM chapter ‘add-on’ codices. Then the Craftworld codex was released, and the Index Astartes articles began seeing their way into WD. Eventually the Pete Haines monstrosity Chaos codex was released, and it gave the few ‘true’ Iron Warrior players a bad name (like myself, back then). Then the Ork Clans were released in WD, Kroot Mercs, Lost and the Damned, and so forth.

    With late 4th to current 5th Ed, GW’s mantra has been ‘They Shall Know No Variable Army Lists’. This would be fine… if it applied to everyone. So Legions went away, Clans are gone (I miss my Deathskullz), and the latest Panzee… er, Eldar codex can ‘make-do’ by representing the different Craftworlds.

    Meanwhile the Space Wolves codex is being released shortly, Blood Angels got a WD article (still more than any other army), and there’s also Black Templar and Dark Angels (getting the shaft is still something). Next up will likely be Space Sharks, Howling Griffons, and possibly an Iron Hands codex. And if seperate codices to represent the major chapters weren’t enough, there’s also the ‘this Special-Character changes your army’ setup in the latest SM codex. But before such excuses as ‘more popular’ or ‘larger fanbase = more support’ even get mentioned, I know firsthand the power of Marketing and how it will drive sales. Beakies… er, Loyalist Marines and their sub-chapters got to the point they are today through such marketing. Both in storefronts, WD, and rulebooks (here’s a rules-diagram of a rhino ramming a trukk…).

    Now I wouldn’t ever expect any given Legion, Craftworld or Clan to ever earn enough love to wind up with their own pristine codex. But it would have been nice if something (anything) was done to represent the variant armies that aren’t ‘special’ enough to have their own codex and go to school with football helmets on. Even a small WD article outlining a few boons and limitations would be nice to see. As it is now, some of my favorite variant lists can’t even be given justice with the current codices. Alpha Legion without their traitors, and the 0-1 ‘Ard-Boy Bad Moons being the prime examples.

    Aside from that, the rest of the Chaos Marine codex looks fine to me. Each of the cult-marines are good in their own way with none of them specifically outshining the others. And as bland as the ‘generic daemons’ are, they’re still scoring units that can be summoned onto objectives. While there’s a lot that people have to complain about, at least they weren’t left largely unchanged and subsequently dropped 3 points instead of actually being fixed. All in all, it seemed like you actually approached the Chaos Beakie Codex with an honest to god effort.


    • Chaos generic demons are less than average to terrible.

      Rubric Marines are terrible unless you use half the codex’s major CC units to help, and even then you’ve got the worst Cult Choice.

      Pete Haines Monstrosity Codex is still regarded as the best Chaos dex written, and probably will be better than the next codex.

      Then Space Wolves gets released, and chaos players either use counts as to play as those rules, or feel left out even more, because another Variant army gets spotlight and their fluff and rules appeals more than what we currently have.


      • The Rubric Marines have been doing fine around the area I’m in. The only real problem to them is the same problem with the Storm Troopers. Giving an entire unit AP3 focuses that unit’s potential worth against 1 specific type of enemy (namely MEQ). The cost associated with that unit makes them nigh-useless against lighter adversaries that rely more upon cover, or who bring their own (thank you KFF). Otherwise, the 1k Sons theme armies have been tearing up MEQ lists to good effect. It’s just a shame they all seem to take a Lash Sorc or 2.

        As for the Pete Haines mess. Yeah… it was good. Too good. At one time I was an Iron Warrior player. I was inspired to build my IWs back during the WD Index Astartes article, before they became so common just prior to 4th ed. I built my modest army true to their theme with Siege Warfare in mind, focusing on lots of manpower. Heavies consisted of 2 Preators and a Basilisk, with an occasional Dread thrown in. I gave the army to the local GW in utter disgust after dealing with all the stigmas attached to Iron Warrior. Worst of wall were the newcomers that would always demand to know why I wasn’t running 3 Defilers, a Basilisk, and 6+ Obliterators.


  38. Another point to consider which Gav won’t point out himself is that no single person is solely responsible for product. It isn’t the case that Gav gave GW a manuscript to publish for Codex:CSM which they then printed without looking through first.

    Gav is too nice a guy to palm off responsibility like that but the point remains that, although he’s listed as the author, a whole bunch of people would have looked carefully at the work he did at many different stages of development and declared themselves happy with it. A lot of those people care as deeply about the lore and fluff as the most rabid respondent here.

    Gav gets the flak because his name is in the front however it’s not fair to assume that he’s single-handedly responsible for the end result.


    • I think most of us know that, even us rabid types. It does make it more difficult to get points addressed by anyone.


      • I guess I should have been a bit clearer. The main takeaway from my earlier comment wasn’t so much ‘It’s not Gav’s fault so stop picking on him you meanies’ but rather ‘The final product was signed off by a bunch of people who were happy for it to go out the door.’ As such, while Gav can give some perspective on the design decisions that informed the final product, he’s not going to throw his former colleagues under a bus by publicly discussing other people’s decisions on the codex.


  39. As a fellow professional game designer (although a considerably less important one), I SO understand what you are talking about! It is really refreshing to hear the point of view of someone who has seen it from inside the “big one”.

    The main thing for me has always been that gaming product customers are “fans”. It means fanatic. Not “slightly interested’, or “concerned”. It means its nearly an obsession. Once you’ve established that fact, you then realize how dealing with that customer base is going to be a tad more complex than if you were selling plumbing fixtures.

    Game design is seldom done in a vacuum. Most of the time, there are things that were there before. “Legacy Rules” from former editions, a certain gamer culture (which vary between all game product, with most company occupying a specific niche) and whatnot. Often times you cannot even implement a new, better rule, because its too this or that (simulationist VS gamist, fluff VS competitivity, etc), or that it create retroactivities, etc.

    Table-top game design is, if you allow my neologism, “bio-analogue programing”. You need to create a program that will run in the gamer’s head. If I only take my head as a reference, its easy to see how this can go in all sort of weird directions! As game designers, you always strive to try and satisfy the greatest amount of people while creating a system that will be understandable for everyone.

    My point is this job is ten time more complex than anyone wants to believe. I was not always the greatest fan of your work when I was younger, but having been through the looking glass, I can at least appreciate the vastness of the undertaking 🙂

    You keep blogging Gav! This has nothing to do with justifying your work: its game design 101 😀


    • The problem at hand is that alot of the fanatic Chaos players either had to restart an army from the ground up, or put their army’s on the shelves and either quit or start a different race.


  40. Thanks writing your post, Gav! It is an interesting read and echos some aquaintances of mine that have done playtesting and such in regards to the philosophy of design.

    However, the problem with Codex Chaos space marines and many of the WHFB books coming out is a generic problem in the GW design.
    It´s that you are assumed to play with a large crowd of other gamers in one club where everyone agrees on how a game should be played.
    That is not the normal case.

    House rules are usually brought up as a catch-all solution when you feel something is lacking or one army is too strong for the other.
    That does work for the majority of players, only for the exclusive bunch who plays at clubs.

    If I agree about some house rules with one friend, and it all works out, but another friend, who does not play or know the first one might not like said house rules. So I will have to agree on a different set of them.
    To me, this is a liability, cause it means I will never gain any expirience and my development of skills will not match the core game, plus expirience gained against one player are not worth anything against a second player.

    That is why house rules are only of very limited use. I claim that unless the said House rules are not embraced by a sizeable group, they become a shackle to you, since as soon as you leave the world of those House rules, your skill and expirience will count for nothing anymore.

    Now, I belive 40K is way better balanced as a game than WHFB, so in regards to that, it is less of a problem.
    But army list problems are still the same on a deeper level.

    I understand the idea of making an army list that allows lots of variations and then giving information guidance towards what is considered “realistic” backgroundwise.
    However, to me this creates a very keen dilemma. Namely that the person making a fluffy army list will almost always have a weaker armylist than a person making a freak list.

    Infact, it´s almost always the case. You have to choose between making a backgroundwise true army, or stretch the background to make a good army. It goes for both game systems.

    Personally, I play for fun, but as armchair general I am, I love to win aswell. So when get trounced for the 5th time in a row I will loose my faith in both my army and my ability as a gamer.
    And the answer is not the most important rule, cause it is actively bended by competitive gamers in such a way that they point out that since challenge is mentioned first, providing a challenge is your most important duty.
    And if you do not max out and go for hard stuff, your army will fail to be a challenge. And then, you are robbing the other gamer of his fun, cause the fun lies in having a challenge.

    I would subscribe to that reasoning, but it is not less valid than what you are proposing. The problem is that just saying “Have fun!” means very different things for different persons. Why should I ask an opponent who is fiercely competitive to make a weaker army, just because my background army is not that hard?
    I have no right to do it. Infact, we both have the same amount of rights.
    The only way would be to compromise, but that would any way lead to both of us having to break our principles, maybe he the most since he would have to make something he know is a foolish decision when he changes his list.

    So we end up with to less than satisfied players. However, with codexs that are more stringet and more playtested the differences between the fluff player and the competitive player will lessen and the need for both to compromise their fun with not be as great.

    Oh, I hear many her replying…”Don´t play with such people, play with such and such!”
    That is not a good answer! It only works in a gamer heavy enviorment. If you got 3 regulary persons to game with, each not really connected visavi each other, and then will have to pick up any stray game that comes along, you can´t be picky about who you game and who you don´t.

    I firmly belive that this situation, my situation, is the common situation for most gamers. And can´t sit down and have a 2-hour diplomatic conversation about what house rules to have and what not to have.

    Another reason for avoiding house rules in my case is that I at least like to think that when I have played enough I want to make use of my assembled expirience at a tournament. Using houserules means losing valuable expirience.

    I am a background player at heart, but that does not stop me from dreaming about winning a tournament with my hallowed army, with characters and units with long histories of glories and cowardly flights.
    Maybe it is my army fluff that is too restrictive, but then, if the system even within the codexes where not so open, fluffy armies would not be hurt.

    But the truth is that people following background have to skip on making really good armies, and those doing the “what if” themed armies are usually hobbyists that also think around tournament lines, using their “What if” ideas to also make a themed army.

    Many say tournament level play have destroyed the game, but why is that? If you can´t be serious when you play the game, it will not be as appealling to many persons. I want to be both funny, in character and serious at the same time, not having to choose what to be.

    Giving free reign in a list means that a-typical forces will be more powerful.

    And it´s strange how ineffective the typical force are on the tabletop, but how awesome they sound in the fluff.
    It´s a bit like Empire halberds. Crappy on the tabletop yet Karl Franz belive they are so awesome everyone must have them and they are the most common statetroop!
    The reality is that swordsmen are the only Empire core infantry fielded in a competitive enviorment, spears second, and if you field halberdiers you are either a lunatic Empire fan or really manly since you obviously handicap yourself.

    Same trying to make a backgroundwise cool CSM list.
    I wanted to make Alpha legion, I got dissapointed. Sure, you can go over the top in “count as” but I have limits. If you go to far, the count as becomes more of a joke. Nothing wrong with some humour on the table, but Chaos Marines does not strike me as humouristic. That is the realm of the Orkz.

    Now, since I have Aspergers syndrome I know this might create problems for me breaking to many precived rules, but still, if people should be happy with “count as” you can turn it the other way around and say…
    “No need for making lots of army books. Just make one for Good guys and then Bad guys with some random units and then let people use “count as” to represent all the different variants backgroundwise!

    Where does it say that the level of the Codexes now has the right balance in that direction? Nowhere.

    The customer economy is of course an issue, but then, it is a false issue. GW of course use economical arguements when constructing the game and the armylist. GW lives on selling models, not books. Hence, what sells more models will be seen as important from the top brass, regardless of what playtesters and Games developers say. And as long as the customers shuts up and keep on “counting as”, that is the policy that will run the show.

    Little Timmy might be horrified by having to buy a book and a Chapter Approved, but that is change money in comparission to how much he must spend on the miniatures anyway.

    And since Space Marines gets all their Chapter specific codexes and not Chaos marines, it is clear that since Space Marines sells the most, money do matter the most in the design process. Then, bring out a Codex: Alpha legion, and this staunch loyalists and Ork player might very well turn to the dark powers.
    But I am not starting and pouring money into a project that I cannot use in all possible settings, aka, a project that is 100% legal in regards to the GW publications.
    Might sound restrictive, but that is the reality among the silent gamer majority.

    Now, I would be happy if you could try and make some personal replys cause many got very specific issues.

    If you don´t want to reply here, I would not mind a short e-mail reply from a fellow author (even if you got way more published than I do!).


  41. Hey Thorpe, doubt you’ll answer this so anyone else will do. Whats this rumor I keep hearing about that GW wanted to abolish the old Legions because someone thought that they wouldn’t exist after 10k years of warfare in the eye.

    Just a rumor I heard, personally I think it would be bs because the same would be said about all the Loyalist legions and chapters.


    • A rumour is just that; a rumour, or perhaps idle speculation.

      I think some people are getting confused by a subtle concept and taking it as an absolute. In the ten thousand years since the Horus Heresy, much has happened to the Traitor Legions. Some have maintained their structure and purpose – The Black Legion being the epitome of this – while other like the World Eaters have fractured entirely.

      Chaos is about individuals pursuing their own goals and agendas. Some parts of the Legions will have splintered from their traditions and formed new warbands and forces – examples of these are included in the colour schemes from the current Codex. Some may have physically broken away from their parent Legion but still adhere to the beliefs and aims that turned them to Chaos.

      It had also been established that Angron, Fulgrim, Magnus and Mortarion are now more concerned with the part they can play in the Great Game between the Chaos Gods than the material goals of many of their followers. A good example is Fabius Bile. While still one of the Emperor’s Children, he has very little connection to his old Legion and is definitely pursuing his own plans. Ahriman and the other scattered Sorcerers and their Thousand Sons cabals are another example.

      So, the message isn’t that Legions are being done away with, but rather that the Legions do not exist exactly as they did during the Horus Heresy.

      Hope that clears things up.

      On a side note, I’m neither a sportsman nor a statesman, so I would prefer not to be addressed just by my surname, especially when ‘Gav’ is so much quicker to type.


      • Habit of mine that has not died since being discharged, hope you don’t mind.

        Anywho, thank you for addressing that.


      • No problem, at least it wasn’t ‘sir’. I can never get used to that at U.S. events!


      • I tought being called sir was sort of what made one wanna get a bit famous? :p

        Sorry, just kidding, but I must confess it I would feel strangely happy if people started adressing me like that. Hmm… must be the old Napoleon complex setting in.

        Back to Chaos though, it was neat to get some insight into how the legions have turned over the millenias, since that do leave some interesting options for creating a legionbased force that still have amalgated never elements into it.
        My son is pestering me now and then to get me too start an Iron Warrior force so we can have real grudge matches with his Imperial Fists.

        Since one can expect the original legions to have changed over the years, I take it that they would also be willing to incorporate units wearing the modern patterns they might have had as they where still loyalists.

        I take it that the Black legion is more or less the extreme example of maintaining structure, while other legions have fractured along warband lines, even if they carry some common iconographics and ideals. If one can speak of ideals when it comes to Chaos…


      • Actually, Word Bearers are the most organized. Black Legion has many Warbands which attributes to them having so many different cult troops, but their general orders come strait out of Failbaddon.

        Night Lords are not unified but not divided, they have an internal problem with the Raptor and the Demon Prince.

        Alpha Legion has so many sects it’s not even funny, thanks to “Legion” we can’t even determine if they’re Chaos, Traitor unaligned, or Loyalists.

        Death Guard uses many Plague Fleets, but only a small portion of them even went Rogue, and the majority went with Typhus.

        Thousand Sons are mostly unified with the exception of Ahriman’s Cabal.

        World Eaters and Emperor’s Children are the most fractured, being the other Legions tore the Emperor’s Children apart during the inner Legion Wars in the Eye, and Kharn ripped the World Eaters up on Skalathrax.

        Iron Warriors have many Warsmiths who still follow Perturabo’s orders but have their own agendas, they dislike each other.

        Also, the sir thing is the military for calling Civilians and officers Sir or Maam.


      • Thanks a lot!
        Hmm… maybe I should read some of those Horus Heresy novels, at least Legion.
        Something I miss in 40K are an unaligned fraction of humans, who neither follow Chaos but are against the oppressive regime of the Empire.
        A fraction that don´t just end with their Homeworld getting plasterred by the Imperial Navy and invaded by the Guards.


      • There was a book like that, it was about someone on a Chaos world that wasn’t KILLKILLKILLRAPEPILAGE.

        I never read Legion. While many of it’s author’s fanbase love it, I do not like how the Alpha Legion got rag dolled into something so unusual.


      • Sorry for double posting, but

        “It had also been established that Angron, Fulgrim, Magnus and Mortarion are now more concerned with the part they can play in the Great Game between the Chaos Gods than the material goals of many of their followers.”

        So far no indication from any new source is saying the Demon Primarchs are remotely doing anything noticeable, and we can speculate all we want they are drawing orders and grand schemes. Magnus lost to the Wolves, Anrgon was banished at Armageddon, Fulgrim killed Rowboat by slashing his throat with a poisoned knife and then the Demon possessing him was elevated to prince, and Mortarion is not doing that much.

        Speculation is great when no one is confirmed doing anything useful to the Chaos warmachine, where they have left their Legions to follow and to let mortals take the reigns when they’re the most suited to lead their Legions and hole armies of Demons on their campaigns.

        One last Question, who came up with the 50,000 Berzerkers during the Reign of Fire? Thinking that the World Eaters took the most casualties during the heresy, where would Angron have gotten 50,000 Khornate Astartes, seeing as of now there have only been 50 renegade chapters in total, within the spectrum of Rogue individuals to companies, and the entire Chapter. Not to mention, the Legions we’re ruffly around 10,000 men to 25,000 if you were being generous to say that.


  42. I personally think your brief, the guidelines in which you and Aleisso were forced to write the chaos codex are why its now an abortion.

    3.5 was too complicated (it wasnt by the way, use the brain you were given people)

    And it was too powerful (some things were I agree)

    Daemons are getting a new dex, give them little to no attention.

    Major focus on Renegades.

    A chaos version of Jervis’ Dark Angels dex is what we(GW) want.

    With those factors in mind I think you suceeded in following the brief.

    If the brief had said balance 3.5 and add a couple new units, I think you would have done it, and the chaos fans would like it and the space marine players would be weeping (cause something cheesy would of got through).

    If I had been you with such a terrible brief, I would of bashed a codex together minus the Randomness crap (spawn possessed), retarded dreadnoughts, icons (marks are better) and daemons without marks.

    However instead you wax lyrical about how it would take too many pages, and freedom of choice. I wish I was at the pub with you hearing your thoughts because this cant be it, its too polite and blames no one.

    If however these were just you an aleisso’s choices, and you guys determined most of the direction of the codex (doubtful, theres always a flithy manager) then you have utterly failed in every way.

    Hope you read this (84 comments right now I doubt it)



  43. […] to make it the best possible publication. As it generated an enormous load of reactions, he wrote a reply to that, too, and finally rounded everything off with a general post on […]


  44. Hey Gav thanks for taking the time to write these things about Codex: Chaos Space Marines, I appreciate the in-depth answers! 😀

    I started playing Chaos Space Marines with the 3.5 Codex and like a lot of people I liked the variety, it was a major trump card we Chaos Marine players had and I liked that each Legion had its own sort of “rules corner” to be a bit different, but unlike quite a lot of people on the internet I like the latest version of the Codex and whilst I don’t want to offend or blame people, I think some are taking this issue a bit too seriously (c’mon guys they’re plastic soldiers, not a way of life). 😛

    Now one thing I will wholeheartedly admit is that I abused the 3.5 Codex and exploited its complicated nature, in-fact a lot of what I did was blatant cheating and this was because the previous Codex required a degree in hieroglyphics to understand properly (no offense to Pete, he did a good job for the current time). The amount of wargear was seriously unnecessary and whilst all of those nice, fluffy options where there nobody took them realistically, a lot of those options wouldn’t be touched with a barge pole and now that some (again I want to avoid throwing petrol over an already raging fire) people want all of these options back I find that hypocritical, if we had them again they wouldn’t be used and all though some people may disagree with that, deep down most people know re-introducing those options would be wasteful and only the most powerful options would be taken (again).

    One argument I see played out again and again is that the latest codex offers only “cookie-cutter” army lists, which is fair enough considering the changes, but with a truthful answer how many people did not follow Siren bomb, Daemon bomb, Infiltrating Speed Lord, 4 Autocannon Havocs with Tank Hunters or Obliterator Spammed Iron Warriors? Whilst there were a lot more options for background related armies then, very few people used those options and clung to the pre-made lists like the ones I mentioned above, which are in essence “cookie-cutter.” Which brings me to the fact that with the Legion rules it was as equally as difficult as now to differentiate two armies of the same Legion, as I said above the majority of people stayed with the same options that were “powerful.” I’m not criticising those people, because I was one of them myself! 😉

    I know that my argument cannot change the minds of the masses and that in comparison to the debates that rage across the internet my meagre words are but a drop in the ocean, but guys don’t go nerdraging at Gav or any of the other GW guys because after all being abusive or rude too as many people as possible won’t get you what you want and in the real world a lot of the people I know are satisfied with the latest Codex as am I, debating is cool but nerdrage is just unnecessary really, except in WoW where it is an obligatory character trait! 😛 (Sorry I had to slip that in there…)

    (P.S Gav I applaud the inclusion of Renegade Marines in the Codex, really helped me develop my Chaos Space Marine army into the manic, murdering mad-men they are today! Also kudos to everyone else here for not succumbing to the nerdrage I see on so many 40k forums today 😦 ).

    A thumbs up and fingers crossed you read this. 🙂


    • Oops I forgot to add this to the bottom of the page, guess I forgot! Sorry. 😛


  45. Hi All
    Been pondering the whole discussion about the new Chaos Codex, and have a thought or two. While I miss the sperate identities and rules associated with some of the Legions, some of said rules appear in the new codex, as well as some of their abilities have been tweaked. One thing I do like is the trasition from the old codex where some group could not have specific troop types can now include them in their Emperors children can have associated Obliterators if I so want. In the end all and be all of troops and such…it’s Chaos folks, have fun with all the things you can do.


  46. This was a nice, positive read (even though it was pretty long!) I’ll input my opinion without blowing the same trumpet (if anybody reading understands what I mean :P). I have been a Chaos Space Marine player for six years since I started the Hobby and I essentially ‘grew-up’ with the previous Codex and yes it had its blatant faults, its unnecessary wargear section and somewhat difficult to grasp rules, in my eyes this doesn’t make the Codex ‘bad’ it just made the process of playing a game more intricate, where mistakes could be made.

    The latest version of Codex Chaos Space Marines is something I do like, I am pleased that the rules flow together easily which allows for more time-efficient games and creates fewer complications for newer hobbyists. Whilst I do admit that I miss the individualistic rules and wargear the nine Legions could access, I do not feel discontented that these unique rules were not duplicated and that the limelight was moved away from the big nine. The background and stories of the Renegade Warbands have inspired me, in particular the story about Sergeant Constantinus and Adrastus the Chosen, which I have read many times over and still do!

    Something which Jervis touched on in one of his Standard Bearer articles in 2007 (before the release of the Codex) is what basically sums up my opinion of these changes, Chaos is a big topic to cover and has as rich a background as the Imperium, you could design numerous rules for the different Chaos factions out there (which is what the previous Codex and Eye of Terror tried to do) but as Games Workshop is a business (a standpoint I understand as a business student) there are simply not enough people out there who collect any of the nine legions or the Chaos sub-factions to warrant a new Codex and new line of models (which would be a pretty big investment even for a company as large as Games Workshop).

    I know on some of the other Forums there is talk of a ‘Legions’ book but I honestly think this is a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to a frenzied debate, in essence I believe people are just being ‘thrown a bone.’ If I see concrete evidence (photographs of models, rules) then maybe I will be swayed, regardless I would probably never buy this ‘Legion’ book simply because I’m quite happy with the one we have.


  47. […] (an army supplement for one of the popular Warhammer 40,000 factions) which launched to mixed reactions amongst the notoriously passionate fans of Warhammer 40k. Nowadays he earns a crust by writing […]


  48. Gav,

    I for one welcomed your departure. Your work lacked inspiration, especially your Druchii work. I worked behind the scenes play testing, writing etc for the revision that came. The revision was welcomed, even if you and GW didn’t give the customers (you know, the folks who supported your habit) what we asked for. Changes can be welcomed, but when you agree to sign your name to a book, please understand you are thereby held guilty for its content.


  49. I decided that I would not be buying any models until a proper CSM codex is presented to us .

    Not that it matters of course , I’m just one of the many many customers .

    It’s just that I am not “inspired” by the current product to spend any cash on it .

    I might have thought differently if I saw that the newer codices continued on the “Spartan” style of C:CSM .

    It is not the case , I’m afraid .

    Right now I am stuck with a medium ( at best ) quality codex and presently feel I got the short end of the stick . Hell , I would probably field a more fun IW list with C:SM ( which would come with a much more convincing “Warsmith” too ).

    This is why I will not be spending any money on 40k until a new – better – C:CSM will come .

    Until then , there are other games ( such as the Squad Leader of old ) that will cover my “wargaming needs”.

    (You could actually care less . It is understandable . )

    P.S. : I am absolutely *not* interested in starting a new army . I got into the hobby “for the glory of chaos” .
    P.P.S : What were you guys thinking when designing the chaos dreadnought rules ?
    P.P.P.S. : Back in the days of the previous ( glorious ) codex , I had plans of starting at least another two Chaos armies , how’s *that* for sales potential ?


  50. The issues with the codex come from player habits not the codex itself. When many younger players choose an army they don’t have a theme in mind they just cherry pick “the best” units and combinations for the task. So it’s not one Khorne/Slanesh army working together it’s always Khorne,Nurgle,Tzneech, And Slanesh all working together all the time.

    The “Mark of X” rules just allow them the ammo to tailor each and every squad to suit their needs and minimize any inherent weakness any of the chaos “chapters” had before.

    for the non pointy variety imagine a normal space marine list. It’s already a swiss army knife army as it is. now for a few points per model you can make all your assault units blood angels, all of your HW teams can now be Raven guard and infiltrate 12inches from your front lines oh and their tank hunters. and your massed infantry squads can be from some chapter that inexplicably have feel no pain to soak up wounds as a screen for other troops.

    That is the problem with grab bag codex’s not the fluff itself but the players and “Tournament” mindsets.


  51. Hey Gav,

    Just wanted to thank you for your “great” insight into the Chaos Codex issue. And accordingly, I have done the only rational thing. 6 armies worth of Chaos Space Marines have gone into storage because I no longer play Chaos in Warhammer 40K.

    In fact. I no longer play 40K.



    • Yes, well done on your ‘rational’ approach. I’m sure the 40K community will miss your dedication, enthusiasm and creativity. I’m missing you already.


  52. Well I have continued to read comments about he new Codex, and all this while I have been playing my Chaos army in the mean time against wide and varied opponents, discovering it isn’t anything wrong with the codex..for all intents and purposes it works rather well, all you have to do is know how to build an army…simple really. It would seem that previous edition Chaos players are whining away, upset that this or that isn’t there anymore..words of the wise for those players…suck it up buttercup Each resepctive Chaos troop complements another in the army, if you can’t figure that out, continue your whining and pass the earplugs….lol
    I find it funny that some people are saying that they are retiring so many chaos armies and such in protest of the new codex..that’s sad, instead of learning something new or trying to figure out the new codex, the stomp off and don’t want to play anymore. Well if ignorance is bliss, they must be the happiest people around.


  53. I have noticed a trend in the responses on this form were a large percentage of individuals gravitate towards one or the other extreme. Either they say the Codex is completely useless, and attack the designer or the company, or they rush head long to the defense of the author/company, and blame the players for not seeing how good the codex is, however like most arguments the truth is found in between these to extremes.

    Is the Codex a master piece…well no matter of fact it is really starting to show its age and simplicity when compared to newer codex’s. Is it horrible, and unplayable. No in that you can play fairly generic armies that still can win, and can do so with a fairly decent range/selection of options (Possessed, and spawn not included). In all honesty the codex its self is fairly standard, its just CSM was one of the most expansive armies in the game (Even more so then SM or Tyranids) so one could expect any type of reduction would be met with hostility considering that most players gravitated to CSM because of the insane level of complication, and variety. In closing the book is fine for what it is, but it is hardly a masterwork, and in 10 years it will probably be forgotten in light of a new codex redesign.


  54. Wow…the latest codex is not chaos…but thats ok, they’ll get it next time. I pulled my bloodletters out and had to make only a few purchases to make a daemons list.

    I would just leave it at you did the best you could and by your own judgement, imho this codex failed, but its not a reflection of you as a person…just an opinion on this product.


  55. […] 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 […]


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