I tried to play Warriors of Chaos a while back. It, um, wasn’t a successful experience.
In part, that was down to my own decision to construct a battalion army with a bit of everything in it.
In part, that was down to the local environment being centred entirely around tourney prep (big games, hard lists) rather than the smaller fluffy games I prefer while I’m learning to use an army (and I think we all know that I can’t afford to buy 2000 points in one go, especially if I’m converting everything, which means buying kits new rather than second-hand minis like I usually do), which meant borrowing figures to make wobbly lists rather than building something appropriate.
In part, that was down to the army being a boring, easily-denied trudge-a-thon with some very obvious weaknesses that make it much less scary than it should be.
The thing with the Warriors of Chaos is that they don’t have mid-range shooting, meaning that all their mid-range threat projection comes from expensive Sorcerers. They don’t have much in the way of Magic Resistance, and what they do have frequently comes with downsides (frenzied mount, no magic items), so that makes them more dependent on expensive Sorcerers (who bring precious Dispel dice, but have to manage both defending the Chaos army from missiles and shutting down enemy buff spells – oh, and they’re also your primary source of mid-ranged threat, so they need to cover that as well – kind of hard to build for two-and-a-half different roles in a Hero slot). Melee characters, who the Rule of Cool Eye of the Gods thing is built around, don’t really get a look-in, and that’s sad in a Chaos army.
They also don’t skirmish. Most of the Warriors of Chaos army is bound by line of sight restrictions, and what isn’t has key drawbacks (Chaos characters on foot have limited threat range and can have survivability issues, although they’re pretty good; Spawn move randomly and can’t be trusted to be where they’re needed; Marauder Horsemen can at least shoot all round but they have a pimpsy short range and still have to charge in LoS), so they’re very easy to stay out of the way of, marchblock, turn around and basically board control into failure.
Finally, they suffer from some counter-intuitive silliness – like Eye of the Gods seemingly encouraging more challenges (yay!) but then saying most of them don’t count (boo!), or Daemon Princes fighting their way to the top of the pile only to give up all their magic loot and their armour and drop a point of Leadership and basically somehow manage to combine key elements of the Lord and Sorcerer and still suck balls. Some Marks have no place whatsoever on some units, and some options are flat-out inferior to others. Mono-god builds are gimped and mixed-God builds are bitty and don’t hold together properly.
Join your Uncle Von over the next [insert time taken to actually make posts] as he plays armchair developer and has a crack at addressing these issues, starting with the first offenders – the army-wide special rules!
Army-Wide Special Rules
Extend Will of the Gods to provide a re-roll of all failed Psychology tests.
Rationale here is to make the units less dependent on the Marks of Khorne or Slaanesh to resist fear and terror, so that people can take Tzeentch, Nurgle or Unmarked units and not feel like they’ve gimped themselves by leaving a key weakness totally unaddressed. Break Tests are still covered by the Battle Standard – got to leave that boy something to do.
Extend Eye of the Gods to trigger on: killing an enemy in a challenge; personally dealing the final wound to a Large Target; casting a spell on Irresistible Force. Extend Eye of the Gods to cover unit champions from Special and Rare units too. Reword table or insert clarificatory Rules For The Hard of Reading Tactical Tips a la Warmachine to cover how particular results work on unit champions.
Rationale here is to make Eye of the Gods a bigger part of the army and give Sorcerers a chance to roll on the table now and again (since Chaos Sorcerers can cast spells and kill Large Targets at range, while Chaos Champions can win challenges against proper characters and kill Large Targets in melee, and they can both kill unit champions; equal access to the table for all!).
I was tempted by ’cause an enemy unit to flee off the board or run down a fleeing enemy in combat’ option too, but that could get complex, with arguments about whether the character caused a unit to flee or a friendly unit did and ARGH. Best leave it alone, I think.
Giving the rule to unit champions is, to my mind, a nice way of helping the Chaos Ogres become more distinct from Ogre Kingdoms Ogres: it also makes the unit champions for Ogre and Dragon Ogre units a more attractive option, and really hammers home the point that Chaos Knights and Chosen are on their way to becoming heroes in their own right.
Marks of Chaos
Mark of Nurgle: all models with the Mark of Nurgle are Stubborn and immune to Poisoned Attacks. Characters with the Mark of Nurgle gain Poisoned Attacks.
Mark of Slaanesh: all models with the Mark of Slaanesh Hate all enemies. Characters with the Mark of Slaanesh also have Killing Blow.
Mark of Tzeentch: all models with the Mark of Tzeentch may re-roll failed saving throws (both armour and Ward). Characters with the Mark of Tzeentch may also re-roll casting rolls and Dispel rolls.
Mark of Khorne: all models with the Mark of Khorne are Frenzied. Characters with the Mark of Khorne also have Magic Resistance 1.
I wanted to take the marks back to the concepts that their Gods represent, make them all valid-ish choices on all units, and also show how the mightier Chaos followers gain more benefits from the Dark Gods without depending entirely on Gifts. This last point is very important as it allows me to use Marks to address tactical deficiencies in the army, without giving out a blanket buff that would make a particular Mark too overpowered if the buff worked on infantry too.
Nurgle is the god of despair: he’s about plugging grimly on with a big scurvy grin, even though your legs are falling off, hence Stubborn. The strength Nurgle brings to the army is a refusal to give ground. The heroes and sorcerers of Nurgle are probably more contagious than the troops, so they get Poisoned Attacks.
Slaanesh is the god of passion: he’s about being the best you can be, but also about losing control in the heat of the moment. Hatred helps Slaaneshi fight better but it also means they run off and keep killing instead of holding their place in the line. The Slaaneshi characters get Killing Blow because… well, if you’re a Champion of Slaanesh, your passion is fighting, and fighting well. All that sex and drugs and rock and roll stuff is better represented in other incarnations of the Warhammer world, like the roleplaying game and the fiction, where it actually fits in with what’s going on.
Tzeentch is the god of false hope and deceit: he’s about frustrating the enemy’s attempts to hurt you, defying the laws of probability and laughing as he does it. He’s also closely associated with magic, hence the extension of the reroll into casting/dispel on his characters.
Khorne is the god of carnage, slaughter and martial pride – hence the extra attack and no running away from Frenzy. He also hates magic, hence the magic resistance on his characters. It’s worth adding that Khorne will be getting some more options in the characters section to really play up that magic-hating angle and make mono-Khorne armies without even a token wizard much more viable.