Chaos Space Marines: 10,000 years of non-stop, balls to the wall action. Twisted by the Warp, these once proud warriors are now but parodies of their former selves. They have surrendered their honour in the pursuit of power. They are genetically enhanced super soldiers with the best gear a (sort-of) human could ask for in the 41st Millennium. Power Armour, Boltguns, Bolt Pistols, Chainswords and many of the bits and pieces their loyalist brothers have access to. Added to that is ten millennia of fighting aliens, humans, daemons and Space Marines as well as the enhancing powers of the Chaos Gods.
And yet, they just can't get a win on the table. Which brings me to my question: Is it all about winning, or can it be enough to have an army that is just cool?
"Biker's Bane!" - The best tanks have names
When I say 40k is a competitive game, what I mean is that it pits one player against the other with the objective being to defeat the opponent by achieving the mission objectives. Whether this be securing an objective, killing more than your opponent or any other type of mission requirement, there is always a means of winning any given game (even the strictly narrative games where one player has to survive insurmountable odds). It seems, however, that some armies have a harder time of it than others.
The merits or otherwise of power disparity between books/armies is not really in the scope of this article and frankly it has been slapped about so much online that I don't particularly want to engage with it here. What I want to ask is a little more nebulous. Basically, can a player of this fine game have fun just playing with the army they love?
I want to say, "yes." I love Chaos Marines. I love the fluff. I love the hopelessly outdated miniatures. I even love some of the newer miniatures; Forgefiends really grew on me and the Helbrute kit and the new Raptors and DV Marines are, IMHO, stunning. Particularly, I love the Iron Warriors. These guys are what Chaos Marines should be, in spirit if not in form (mutations are icky). They are paranoid and ruthless. No Iron Warrior trusts another, unless he has completely given up on life. Added to this, they are more than happy to send legions of squishy cultists and renegades to their deaths in the meat-grinder that is the front line. The Iron Warriors are brutal at close quarters, and powerful at range with daemon engines and artillery to bombard the enemy. Just writing about it now makes me want to switch off my computer and get back to painting and building my troops.
As I think about them, and think about the ways I can build a force that truly represents them, I get the itch to play. Once I have finished painting a unit, I just want to put it down on the table and see how it fares against my next opponent.
Unfortunately, whenever I do, I get stomped unceremoniously. Granted, sometimes I play stupid lists. The last list I played was "This is what I have fully painted." It was a disaster. It took 3 turns for my Eldar opponent (no Wraith Guard, no Wraith Knight and no Serpent Spam) to eliminate all of my effective units, and then it was a matter of waiting for him to mop up all that was left. But even when I build a list that is more competitive, it is always a slog. And that's just depressing. There is nothing worse than having your beautifully painted, lovingly converted models get blasted away.
I really enjoy Chaos Marines, but I don't particularly want to play Nurgle Sorcerers on bikes with Spawn bodyguards. This means I am resigned to losing more than I win, but how long can passion for an army be sustained while the losses pile-on?
My new Nurgle Rhino "Biker's Bane".
It got its name from a game in which some Khorne Berzerkers
hitched a ride and the destroyer blades took out a whole squad of Space Wolf bikes.
It's a simple paint job of Leadbelcher, with Shining Gold
and Hashut Copper trim. Then Ryza Rust to make the rust.
A wash of Agrax Earthshade and some Thrakka Green to finish it off.
Nurgle's Rot was used for the pus and ooze.