New Codex Chaos Space Marines 2022 Review – Warhammer 40k 9th Edition
Waging war for 10,000 years, the forces of Chaos battle their way through the galaxy leaving devastation in their wake. Under the command of the Warmaster Abaddon, the Chaos Space Marines are a grotesque and twisted reflection of the Adeptus Astartes and ultimately want nothing more than to let the galaxy burn.
In the new Codex Chaos Space Marines, up for pre order today, you can lead the traitors to new glory with improved profiles, abilities and rules! In our review of Codec Chaos Space Marines we’ll be looking at what’s changed and see how the army can complete in the 9th edition of Warhammer 40k!
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a free review copy of the book a little early to review and share with you all. If you would like to help support the site then why not order your copy through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too?
If you would rather watch this review than read it I have also put together a full video review , you can check that out below or over on YouTube
Still with us? Then let’s see what has changed in the new Chaos Space Marines codex!
Codex Chaos Space Marines Review
It’s safe to say that for a while Chaos Space Marines have become somewhat of a meme in recent times. While all the other Space Marines got their extra wounds and abilities, the Chaos Space Marines were stuck with their single wound and old book – and with each passing book the glimmer of hope that we might just be the next one grew.
But now thankfully there is no more waiting – The Chaos Space Marines have their new Codex, and they look really good too! In this review we’ll be taking a look at what they now have, reviewing the profiles and checking out their Crusade content!
Firstly, this is a pretty chunky book! With 184 pages this is a hefty tome. The first 50 or so pages are dedicated to lore, and I have to say that Games Workshop continue to put out some absolutely gorgeous artwork in their books. From the stylised front cover with evocative reds blacks and blues, to some stunning pieces throughout, the book is a real treat for the eyes. From a lore perspective we also get updated lore on the forces of the traitor marines, each of the Legions, info on the renegade warbands and even old favourites such as Fabius Bile and Huron Blackheart. We also get some great stories and narrative interspersed between these. I always find that the lore section is something that always gets me excited to start exploring a new army, and this book is no different! As ever we also get a full gallery of miniatures including the new units (Sadly these kits are not up for pre order at the same time as this book, but hopefully they will be available soon!) with the new Possessed and Accursed Mutants being the real starts of the show!
So let’s take a look at what makes the army tick with their core rules. Units in a Battle-Forged army get access to some new abilities and restrictions. As we have seen in other recent codexes, we have a couple of rules that dictate how the army can be constructed. Firstly each detachment can only include a single Chaos Lord, Dark Commune and Daemon Prince. Staking on this further is the rule that you cannot include any more Cultist than Traitoris Astartes Core Infantry – which sadly means you cannot do a pure cultist army (However it wouldn’t surprise me if we get a way to do this in a narrative book later down the line).
Slaves to Darkness means that Khrone Berzerkers, Rubric Marines, Plague Marines and Noise Marines can be taken in Chaos Space Marine armies without breaking the detachment, however they must take their god’s mark and any faction abilities and keywords are replaced with those suited to the new CSM Codex.
Speaking of god marks, each non cultist Core or Character unit added to your army can be given a Mark of Chaos, these cost 15 points each and offer a range of benefits – it’s worth pointing out that Priests and Psykers also get an additional prayer or power based on the mark too!
Khorne – +1 S to melee attacks if you charge, get charged or Heroically Intervene – if the unit has the Icon keyword they also improve AP of melee attacks by 1
Nurgle – Subtract 1 from the wound roll of attacks with a strength that are equal or at least double your toughness – Essentially making wounds of 4+ instead wound of 5’s and wounds of 2+ on 3’s – For units with Icon ranged hits of 6 auto wound their target
Tzeentch – This is really good, the first unsaved wound each turn becomes damage 0, Icon units add 1ap to ranged attacks
Slaanesh -Always fight first in combat, and Icons give a unit +1 to hit in melee
Daemon engines get a little love with them getting a 5+ invulnerable save and also healing a wound back every command phase!
Like with Loyalist Space Marines, the Traitors also get their Rapid Fire bolt weapon benefits under the name of Malicious Volleys – allowing them to use them at full effectiveness if at half range, stationary or on a bike/in terminator armour. With the recent Balance Dataslate too, all of our Heretic Astartes units gain the Armour of Contempt rule too making them lessen the effects of AP by 1 – this is massive as it applies to the majority of units in the book including vehicles and Daemon Engines!
Let The Galaxy Burn is a new take on Death to the False Emperor – For starters this increases the fits from all flame weapons by 2 (Essentially making flamers D6+2 hits) and also still generating “exploding hits” on 6s depending on the battle round and weapon – Battle Round 1 is Wanton Destruction which applies to Heavy, Rapid and Grenades, Battle Round 2 is Wanton Massacre applying to Rapid and Pistol, in the 3rd battle round you have the option of switching to Wanton Slaughter triggered on Assault. Pistol and Melee, and then in the final 2 battle rounds Wanton Slaughter applies. There are a couple of abilities in the book that cause units to count as being in different battle rounds for the purposes of this rule.
When creating your army you can choose for it to be one of 8 Legions – each granting it not only a Legion Trait and exclusive Secondary Objective, but also legion specific relics, warlord traits and even stratagems. This makes Chaos Space Marines one of the most varied armies in terms of sub factions in that you get a lot of unique stuff based on what sub-faction you select. What’s really nice is that units with the Agent of Chaos keyword do not break these sub-factions, meaning you can happily take Abaddon, Cypher and Fabius Bile in any army!
There’s a lot of stuff here, but we’ll take a look at the Legions and their relevant traits!
Black Legion – May ignore modifiers to Combat Attrition tests. This is pretty good, but the Black Legion get really good with the other half of their trait – They get to add 1 to hits if it is a melee attack on the turn they charged, or if it is a ranged attack targeting the closest enemy unit. This is massive and makes units very effective if you can position them correctly for shooting!
Word Bearers – Can re-roll hits when they charge, get charged or heroically intervene – and in addition they get a 5+ shrug against Mortal Wounds. Also worth pointing out they get a strat that can change the damage of an attack to 0!
Night Lords – Have a 9″ -2 Leadership/-1 combat attrition aura, and also get +1 to hit against below half strength units
Iron Warriors – These get to deny the opponent the effects of cover, and as of the balance data slate they now also deny rerolls of armour saves too!
Alpha Legion – The Alpha Legion are -1 to hit when more than 12″ away and also can charge after falling back.
Emperor’s Children – Can choose to ignore any hit modifiers for melee or ranged attacks, and any wound of 6 increases the AP by 1
Red Corsairs – These are pretty cool, they can advance and charge and also count as 2 models for the purposes of objectives (Or 5 models with they have a wounds characteristic of 10 or more)
Creations of Bile – Another nice one, gives every unit in your army +1 movement and +1 Strength – with this you can have movement 10, strength 6 Possessed! Models can also fight before they are removed as casualties in melee too!
I love the range of flavour we have here, and this is boosted further with the unique relics, warlord traits and stratagems in addition to a suite of generic strats, traits and relics too giving us a massive assortment of things to play with – I would say however that without the datacards you might be flicking back and forth a little between legion strats and standard ones however.
In the new book we get a total of 15 psychic powers split across 2 different disciplines and 3 god specific powers.
Tzeentch casters get “Skeins of Fate” which grants a target unit a 4+ invulnerable save
Nurgle casters get “Putrid Miasma” which makes a target unit -1 to hit
Slaanesh casters get “Delightful Agonies” which gives a target unit a 5+ wound shrug
In addition to these we have the Dark Hereticus and Malefic Disciplines
Infernal Gaze – Causes mortal wounds to a target unit based on a dice roll (roll 3, for each 4+ cause a mortal wound, you roll 6 dice if it goes off on a 10)
Prescience – gives a target unit +1 to hit
Diabolic Strength – Gives a target infantry unit +2 S and +2 attacks – use this on a Creations of Bile unit of Possessed to make them Movement 10, Strength 8 and 7 attacks each!
Death Hex – Stops a unit from using Invulnerable saves
Gift of Chaos – Causes mortal wounds to the nearest unit with the chance of splash damage on nearby units
Warptime – Allows a unit to make a normal move, but cannot charge
Warp marked – Makes Daemonkin and Daemon Engines +1 to hit a target unit
Pact of Flesh – Causes a model to heal D3 wounds, or a core or Daemonkin unit to regain a dead model
Cursed Earth – Gives a Daemonkin or Daemon Engine unit a 4+ ward save and also dishes out mortal wounds to units that charge them
Possession – This is a great spell – select a unit, if you roll over their toughness then a single model is slain, if not they take D3 mortal wounds
Infernal Power – Allows Daemonkin and Daemon Engines to auto wound on hits of 6
Mutated Invigoration – Gives a target unit +1 strength or toughness, and if the spell goes off on a 10+ and the target is Daemonkin or Daemon Engine they get both strength and toughness! Remember those heavily buffed possessed from earlier? Get this on them too and they are now movement 10, strength 9, toughness 6 and 7 attacks!
We also get 10 Prayers – one for each god, and 6 generic ones
Wrathful Entreaty – Makes a Khorne Unit count as being in every type of Let the Galaxy Burn rule
Mutating Involcation – Gives a Tzeentch unit a g6 wound shrug
Feculent Beseechment – Gives a Nurgle unit +1 toughness
Blissful Devotion – Allows a Slaanesh unit to advance and charge
Benediction of Darkness – Counts a core unit as being in light cover
Litany of Despair – stops a unit from doing actions and firing overwatch
Omen of Potency – Gives the priest 3 extra attacks and improves AP by 2
Warp-Sight Plea – Allows a core unit to reroll 1s to hit and ignore the benefits of cover
Soultearer Portent – Allows a core unit to add 1 to wound rolls
Illusory Supplication – makes hits of 1-3 fail and hits cannot be rerolled
So on to the data sheets themselves, and we have some decent changes across the army – one thing I feel I need to point out though is a lot of options are now limited to the contents of boxes, so for example Terminators and Chosen can now take gear based on the numbers of those options in the box. This does make things easier for people wanting to pick up a box and build a legal unit, though I understand it will be a little frustrating for those with existing forces that may no longer have valid loadouts. We do get some really amazing stuff here though – With the number of datasheets I’ll be focusing on my stand out units along with all the new ones added in the book.
Across the profiles we see extra wounds as we have long wanted, with Chaos Marines on 2 and Terminators and Chosen on 3 wounds a piece! Though we do pay the points for this increase in survivability, it is however a much welcome change to the book
For a start Abaddon is now incredible – he has the 4 marks of chaos, a 4+ invulnerable save and cannot suffer more than 3 wounds in a phase – this makes him very resilient, as not only is he getting that great save and damage limit, but he also counts the first unsaved wound as damage 0 and also gets a modifier to wound rolls against him with the Nurgle mark! He also has an aura that affects nearby core units increasing their charges and letting them reroll 1s to hit (Which is great considering most black legion will be hitting on 2s on the charge!) He is also terrifying in close combat with 9 attacks and striking at strength 9, AP -4, Damage 3 with Drach’nyen (And wounds of 6 do an extra 3 mortal wounds on top!) – If he is the warlord he gains Agent of Chaos, so there is really no down side to taking him
The Dark Commune is a new Cultist HQ option that consists of a character and an entourage of supporting models. The Cult Demagogue is a Priest who knows a prayer, but is also accompanied by a Mindwitch who knows a power from the Dark Hereticus discipline, an Iconarch who increases the leadership of nearby cultists and allows them to reroll 1s to hit, and a pair of Blessed Blades armed with a pretty decent sword that strikes at AP-3 and Ap2
Accursed Cultists are another new unit added to the book, and they look pretty fun – its basically a mixed unit of big and little mutants, the main mechanic for these guys is the fact that either 3 little mutants or 1 big mutant are returned at the start of your command phase, making this quite a tar pit – this is improved further by the fact that they have a 6+ wound shrug. I feel these will be a fun unit to use, just keep in mind you need to bring a core heretic astartes unit for every cultist unit you bring.
The stand out unit in the book is the 3rd new kit however, the Possessed. This is a reimagining of both the possessed and greater possessed combined, and they are insanely good. Let’s start with the down sides, they don’t have the core keyword – however this is more than likely in order to stop these guys racking up every buff in the book – but as we saw from our example earlier there is a lot you can do to improve these guys to amazing levels. Even base however they are boasting strength and toughness 5 with 3 wounds each and 5 Ap-2 damage 2 attacks and a 5+ inv save. I feel we will be seeing a lot of these guys in the near future!
Across the book Daemon Engines are greatly improved with them now hitting on 3s, Landraiders are much tougher now at toughness 9, Warp Talons look good with 5 attacks a piece, and the Lord of Skulls is looking pretty formidable with 30 wounds(regaining one every turn) a 2+ save that benefits from Armour of Contempt to reduce ap by 1 and a 5+ ward save. It’s stats do drop off pretty quickly however, so you’ll quickly drop in effectiveness as it falls to low wounds (Though hilariously it gets more attacks as it gets battered!)
The Noctolith Crown is an interesting one – it projects a 4+ invulnerable save that starts at 6″ but increases by 3 inches each turn, which is pretty nice! Though it is an investment at 100 points to do this!
One of our favourite things about the 9th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 is the Crusade system. This is the narrative system that let’s you chronicle the rise of your collection from a small force through to a mighty army, with your units “levelling up” and getting bonuses, but also battle scars along the way.
Codex Chaos Space Marines has a great Crusade section that has you balancing three power tracks that have to be managed over the course of a campaign. The first of these is your warlord’s personal glory, how he is seen in the eyes of his followers and peers. The second is Dark God glory, representing how much sway you have over the fickle Chaos Gods. Finally we have the Warfleet glory, this represents the resources, supplies and ships that your warlord has access to him.
Now the Chaos warbands don’t really have the same resources as the Imperium, and so after a battle you will have to decide how you distribute your resources between influencing these 3 tracks – you could split your resources equally between all 3 – alternatively you could specialise in one area. But here’s where the twist comes in, each of these 3 glory tracks depletes at the end of every game, if you focus on just one area then the other two drop to unacceptable areas. But that might be a risk you are willing to take in order to swing your influence with the dark gods!
When a track is high you are rewarded with bonus – for example get your Warlord Glory high enough and you can earn free warlord traits or even have your lord ascend to Daemonhood, however let it drop too low and a rival member might challenge your warlord for command of the warband! If you play it safe you can maintain the status quo and give sit at the mid point on the trackers, to get the bonuses you are going to have to focus on one area while another drops – giving you a nice risk/reward element into focusing on a particular area!
In addition to the usual requisitions, agendas and battle traits, you also have access to Chaos Boons which are essentially chaos gifts that can be given to your characters – you could for example have your character grow a scorpion tail increasing their attacks, or grow multiple eyes allowing them to reroll dice! This is a nice call back to some of the old Chaos books and offers a great opportunity for converting up some leader models.
Just like with the Legion traits, we also get a full page of Crusade content for each of the Legions – with unique Agendas, Requisitions, Traits and Relics available to each of them, which is a brilliant touch and something I hope we see in future Codex releases.
All in all this looks like a fun Crusade section and I’m looking forward to having to balance the demands of my Warlord’s attention!
So what do I think of the new Chaos Space Marines Codex? waiting for that 2nd wound has been a long time coming, but we are finally here and I feel there’s a decent codex here with some very strong units. Abaddon and Possessed in particular look like clear winners, and players will have fun with the range of options available to them through the various Legions. I understand existing players may be disappointed in existing unit builds that they have not being valid any more, and some weapons have been consolidated to generic profiles – but I still think there is a lot to love in this book and the Chaos Space Marines should be able to put up a fight against other 9th Edition books. One question mark we still have is how Daemons will interact with them, and I wonder if we will even get a new Daemon book this edition, or if perhaps they are one of the early releases when we get to 10th edition.
Either way, I’ve enjoyed this book and look forward to getting the Chaos Space Marines onto the Battlefield again.
Codex Chaos Space Marines is up for pre order today and is released Saturday 2nd July
Games Workshop sent Sprues & Brews a free copy for review purposes.