The Rules have leaked for some new shininess for my oldest faves, the Chaos Space Marines. It's not anything that's going to be catapulting them to top place at any GTs, but there are a number of tools in here that I'm pretty sure will help a lot in less competitive environments, and maybe even make actual Chaos Space Marines something that shows up on the table again.
First off, we've got some copypasta. Kharn has a new Datasheet, but I can't actually find any changes on it. Not sure what's up with that. Vindicators and Predators can be taken in Squadrons now, just like for everyone else. The Renegade Knights are in, but supposedly split up into multiple Datasheets, which will end up being a slight nerf, since they'll lose the option to double up on guns (specifically no double Gatling Cannon). The Psychic Powers are an exact copy of the ones from Angels of Death, just with different flavour text. This is a big buff, but not as big as they were for Imperials, since Chaos doesn't have anything like the same ability to drop in advance Units to swap with Electrodisplacement, can't build DeathStars on par with TW- or IH-based ones, and can't use them nearly as efficiently, reliably, or safely without the Librarius Conclave. Still a pretty big deal.
As expected, we've got a Decurion-class Detachment as well, the Black Crusade Detachment. As I said above, the benefits aren't enough to rescue the Dex for high-level Play, but they're still pretty good. 1 Core, 0-5 Command, 1+ Auxiliary. We get the usual Dex-specific re-roll on Warlord Traits, Hatred (Armies of the Imperium) for everyone, and free VotLW for everyone who can take it. On top of that, you get to pick a Character each Turn on roll on the Boon table for them, which is a nice little touch, especially in combination with the Chaos Warband Benefits.
Speaking of which, let's dig into the Core Choices a bit. I'm only going to talk about them in the context of the Decurion, because one of the Auxiliary Choices is available for only 30 Points, so there's really no reason at all to ever run the Core Choice outside of the Decurion.
First up is the aforementioned Chaos Warband. It's about as close as you'd expect CSM to come to a Demi-Company, with a Chaos Lord, optional Sorcerer, 1-3 of the basic CSM Elite choices, 2-6 CSM Squads, 1-3 FA (again, just the basic CSM ones), and 1-3 Havocs or Helbrutes. ObSec for everyone, and Characters from the Warband get to roll twice on the Boon table and pick either or both results, which, as I said, combos nicely with the Decurion benefit. With free VotLW to mitigate the usual Morale issues, this looks like a pretty nice option to me. Don't forget that ObSec also applies to Dedicated Transports, which can include Land Raiders from the Termies.
The one I'm seeing a lot of people get all excited about is the Maelstrom of Gore. Chaos Lord or Kharn, plus 4-8 Units of Berzerkers. They get Fleet and extra distance on their Charges, and once per Game, you can have them all make an extra round of CC Attacks at the start of your Movement Phase. Great benefits, but Berzerkers are still badly overpriced and don't have a good delivery system.
The last one, The Lost and the Damned, is possibly my fave. Dark Apostle plus 4-9 Units of Culties. When the Culties get wiped out, they come back on a 4+, with Outflank. Also, the Apostle's Zealot becomes an aura that affects any Culties from the Formation within 6". And if Typhus is in the same Army, he can make them all Zombies, which really appeals.
Command Choices are simple: Chaos Lord, Sorcerer, or Daemon Prince. I expect to mostly see Sorcerers and Daemon Princes here.
There are a couple of basic Auxiliary Choices with no Formation. Veterans of the Legions is a single Unit of Cult Marines, Spawn is (surprise!) 1-3 Units of Chaos Spawn. Always good to have available, and makes for the cheapest Auxiliary Choice in any Decurion yet if you want.
The Trinity of Blood, you're probably never going to see. Three Lords of Skulls. The benefits are cool, but really, they're never going to matter outside of Apoc-type Games, because 2700 Points, and who has 3 Lords of Skulls?
The Helldrake Terror Pack, on the other hand, you're going to see all the time. This is the one that will almost certainly show up on its own, outside the Decurion, probably even in most Chaos Armies. 2-4 Helldrakes, no tax Units. One of the bonuses is really weird, gives extra Hits when Vector Striking Units that are Falling Back or Gone to Ground, which is incredibly unlikely to be a thing during your Movement Phase. The other dishes out Ld penalties for Units close to more than one Helldrake, getting worse if they're near more Drakes.
The Helforged Warpack is where you get your MaulerFiends. Technically you can also get Helbrutes, Forge Fiends, and Defilers, but let's be real. 3-5 war engines, plus a WarpSmith. One gets designated the leader and becomes a Character and gets a 4+ Invul.
The Fist of the Gods is our second WarpSmith Formation. This time he brings along 3-5 Predators, Vindicators, or Land Raiders. They get a 6++ while within 12" of him, and he gets +1 to Repair them. Nothing to write home about, but it's how you get them in.
The Cult of Destruction fills out the WarpSmith trilogy. 1-3 WarpSmiths, 3-5 Units of Oblits or Mutilators. Each Turn, each Smith can buff a Unit from the Formation within 8", letting them shoot or make CC Attacks twice in that Turn, respectively. As usual, you can't use the same Weapon two Turns in a row, and you also can't use the same Weapon twice in the same Turn. Handy for Oblits, Muties are still too slow to matter.
The Raptor Talon is another that I think is really cool. One Chaos Lord (with a free Jump Pack), and 3-5 Units of Raptors or Warp Talons. They dish out a Ld Penalty during the Turn you Charge a single Unit with more than one Unit from the Formation, but the big deal is that they can Charge on the Turn they Deep Strike. As with so many of these things, it's not nearly as cool as it would be for Imperials, since Chaos doesn't have Locator Beacons or anything, but keep in mind that Warp Talons can use Chaos Daemon Icons to reduce their Scatter to d6".
The last two are kind of medicore. The Terminator Annihilation Force is a Chaos Lord or Sorcerer with free Terminator Armour, plus 3-5 Units of Chaos Termies. They pick a Target Unit before Deployment and whenever they finish off a previous Target, and get Hatred against that, plus, when they Deep Strike, they can take a free round of shots at that Target immediately after landing. Possibly useful against Interceptor-heavy Tau, but risky as hell, and Termies aren't exactly great.
Finally, we have the Favoured of Chaos, where GW again fails to realize the problem with Possessed. Daemon Prince and 3-5 Units of Possessed, the Possessed gain all three of their benefits instead of rolling on the table when close to the DP. Still doesn't help them actually make it into CC, tho.
I still haven't gotten round to working up Lists with it, but as I said, I see some substantial possibilities for more casual play. I've been frustrated by my CSM at even fairly low competitiveness levels for quite a while now, and I think this might at least let them hold on there while actually using Chaos Space Marines. Here's hoping, and y'all have a good one now, y'hear!