As you might have seen, a new Chaos Space Marine Codex will be put on pre-order this Saturday. Naturally, I would have preferred one focusing on one of the original Traitor Legions, but at least it is something I guess. On the whole, I am reasonably happy with the ‘vanilla’ Chaos Space Marine book, but there are some points that drag it down a bit. So assuming the Crimson Slaughter stays similar to the basic one, two simple changes could improve the overall power level without raising it to Tau or Eldar levels.
1) Get rid of the Champion tax
I guess that it makes sense from a fluff perspective that Chaos units are depicted as gangs of warriors led by an Alpha male who has established dominance over his unit, but why do all of them have to be Champions? Imperial Marines are also said to be led by the most heroic among them, but they don’t have to automatically upgrade one to the Veteran profile anymore. It might just be 10 points for most units, but it adds up quickly.
Furthermore, there seems to be no reason or rhyme to how much this upgrade is. Most units pay 10 points, which might be OK if they are all Marines, but why is a weedy Cultist Champion as expensive as a Skull Champion? On the other hand, Plague Marines and Chosen get a free upgrade, which might make sense for the latter as the Chosen Champion shares his stats with the regular ones, but why is the Plague Champion free but not the other cult ones? Funnily enough, Plague Marines are already significantly better than other cult troops, so this just seems like an additional boost for a unit that didn’t need it. More curiously, Terminators only pay 2 points for the upgrade, but he then has to pay a higher price for upgrades so he turns out to be more expensive after all.
So either it should become a free upgrade if it is not optional or it should become an optional choice at the same points as now. Especially Cultists would benefit from a 10 points reduction.
2) Don’t force Sergeant-level characters to challenge or accept challenges
One of the factors adding to 1) is that unit champions become a liability as soon as a unit is charged by a single character or monster with the Character USR. The Champion has to challenge them, will most likely be cut down and then the unit has to take an Ld-check at Ld 7 and run away in 40 per cent of all cases. Without this rule, you can at least refuse the challenge and try to kill them with the attacks of the remaining dudes.
This cannot be reasonably counteracted, as even giving each Champion a power weapon won’t help them against higher initiative characters. And each rule that forces you to do something takes away a tactical option and should thus be avoided or at least be reflected in a unit’s cost.
But it is just wishful thinking. What about you? What would you change in the Chaos Codex?