So it has been a long time since Chaos Space Marines have received much love from the dark gods of GW, and the few rumors floating around the interwebz have been few and far between, with the bulk of which surrounding the idea of chaos in the 6th edition box set. In my opinion, the codex still has a few nifty tricks up it's sleeves here and there, but against the ever growing number of 5th ed. armies it's age begins to show through rather quickly.
With several options in their troops section, as well as unique units like the Obliterators (though the Grey Knights try to imitate them) and tricks like Daemonic Possession, the armies of Chaos Space Marines have ways to keep pumping pain and heresy throughout the galaxy. But are all these options enough? Or are they possibly too much? Unfortunately I find it to be a little of both.
In my opinion, the biggest change I see in the new armies that hit 5th is the points change. If you stop to look at units from 4th (or older) to 5th, their points generally lower, if only by a little bit. This "streamlining" often helps the army afford other things, be it entire units, more wargear, or a combo of the two... 5th armies can often bring much more to the table than the old expensive... and rather underwhelming units of old. I can attest to this with my Black Templar army. While I will still sing the praises of my one and only troop choice, it is somewhat disconcerting to pay 17 points a model for a marine who can be either duel armed or have a bolter, and only have frags... while wolves have both duel armed, bolters, frags, and kraks... for 15 points per. It's these points that are saved which quickly add up... and like other older armies, the CSM's feel it hard.
So what can be done? I have compiled a few things I scavenged from around the internet, as well as a few ideas of my own that may hep to improve the codex. Again, these are a gathering of ideas, and not all are great.. but I could see them improving the army.
As much as I enjoy the concept of Daemons fighting alone, the two codexes could really do for a re-unification. I'll get to it later, but the use of marks on HQ's could help to improve lesser daemons into a version (buffed or nerfed) from the current daemon codex. I personally feel like there is a lot of interesting uses for more potent daemon allies to the Chaos army, as the current daemons in the CSM army are limited severely in their uses. They aren't bad, but certainly not forgiving to bring in an army that is hurting for points as it is.
The Right Leadership
While I understand the reason for cult troops being placed in the... well Troop section... I think there is a way to bolster their cult troops in a unique way to allow while keeping things fair.
I like the 4 cult troops, but feel they could use a bit of a bolster... but if they become too much better than regular troops, they become OP. So make all cult troops in a non-troop section, placing Khorne and Nurge in Elites, Slaanesh in Fast Attack, and Tzeench in Heavy Support. Now before berating me here's the trick. An HQ with a mark (including unique characters) make that corresponding Cult Unit a troop choice.
This could also come into play for the dameons if they were to be incorporated into the same codex.
Free "Mark"et of Ideas.
I personally believe the way to make this army stand apart from others is the put a little more emphasis on the Marks. This means that the cost of many of the marks could use a reduction to make them more accessible. If I remember right, the mark of Nurgle on Terminators is 50 points. That's pretty darn steep for a buff that disappears if the bearer is killed.
On top of this... I feel the marks themselves could use a little improvement, at least where the cult troops are involved. I think plague marines could use true T5, and CSM with the mark would still only have the T4(5). Minor buffs to the cults would make them feel a little more bang for the buck like than simply running cheap CSM units with similar effect.
A last little trick I'd like to see is the inclusion of marks for vehicles. Each mark could have a unique buff to add to a vehicle.
Khorne- Makes the vehicle an assault vehicle.
Nurgle- ignores shaken and stunned (I know this replaces D.P., but I'll get back to this.)
Slaanesh- makes the vehicle fast
Tzeench- grants the vehicle a 5+ invulnerable save.
As for Daemonic Possession, this could allow daemons to be transported in the vehicle.
Pick your Poison
I look at the CSM codex as one of limited options. "But Loki," you ask, "The CSM army has so much to choose from!" Yes it does... but in a way it limits you. For instance... there are only two transports in the whole army... the rhino (which you can't assault from, and the Land Raider which is 220 points for the same 10 cap as the rhino. This hardly compares to the loyal marines who have 4 transport options (and the LR has variants).
I would love to see some new units as well as some nice new variants for existing units. Dreadnoughts could use for a bit of a tweak. Maybe a corrupted techmarine or something to keep the shenanigans to a low. We see this kind a thing already with the Dark Eldar Grotesques.
The big thing here I'd like to see is the inclusion of cultists. I think there could be much fun to be had with a sacrifice engine. These could be cheap little 6 or 8 point models that can access wargear to bolster their own power and make for a cheap horde like troop choice, or just spam them to sacrifice to bolster other units. When I see Chaos, I think sacrifice... and this little unit could answer that gap nicely.
I think these are just a few ways to add some flavor and power to the codex. There are some things that I haven't mentioned that would be nice to see back in the army. The inclusion of Legion characters (an Alpha Legion Raptor, Word Bearers possessed, or Night Lord Chosen upgrade character would be interesting). Not to mention the Holy Numbers. It was a nice way for fluff to interact with rules. I also think you could make the rule heralds of the Chaos Daemons where an HQ with a mark can not join units with a different mark would be a nice touch of fluff rules.
All in all, the codex works decently now. But if these addition/changes were made... I'd have to consider them as a next army. Any thoughts, or suggestions?