|The balding, beardy postgraduate’s occult power fantasy.|
Tzeentch has always been my favourite Chaos God, ever since I was a nerdy little lad projecting my fantasies of intellectual power and revenge onto the Thousand Sons in second edition 40K (who am I kidding? I’m a big nerdy lad and I still do that now!). I’ve always had a soft spot for Tzeentch models, too; the Lord of Change is directly responsible for luring me into the arms of Chaos and was the first really big metal kit I ever bought (and ruined with an appalling paintjob).
What’s strange and sad is that I’ve never managed to fit him into an army. Tzeentch Daemons might have tempted me, all those long years ago when the New Releases section first included a whacking great eagle-man with a rather silly staff, but for the need to purchase three times as many metal daemons in order to field Horrors over any other daemon unit. His Mark was somewhat lacking when applied to Warriors in those days, so my first Chaos army was all about the Great Undivided, until I learned about psychology tests (boo!) and board control (yaay!) and went for Slaanesh in sixth edition.
Similarly, I’ve never found much time for the grandpappy of plagues, papa Nurgle. While Khorne graced my Word Bearers with his Bloodletters on a regular basis, the flabby persomification of despair never really had the same appeal for me. Ironically, 40K Chaos seems to be pretty much all about the Plague Marines, to the exclusion of all else, and if I were going to go there again you can bet I’d jump on that bloated bandwagon like a red-hot needle to a boil.
In terms of tactical use of Marks, I lean mainly towards Tzeentch, although I do have time for the others. I’m very taken with the idea of stacking Ward Saves from shields and magic items, and even more so with +1 to cast on what is by and large a pretty good Lore of Magic (a benefit which I could also apply to Bound Spells on non-wizard units if the fancy took me). The Mark of Nurgle, meanwhile, seems made for a couple of units; backfield stuff like Warshrines and Spawn that can stack the -1 to hit onto other modifiers, and anything with WS5 could potentially have a giggle by reducing WS3 troops down to the point where they need 5s to hit the Marked model, assuming it wouldn’t rather have the Mark of Tzeentch. I’m not so keen on Nurgle when a model is actually moving toward the enemy and won’t have any other -1 modifiers to hide behind, but it has its niche. Khorne and Slaanesh appeal largely on the grounds of psychology protection; the idea of +1 A on some pieces and access to Vanguarding characters on Mounts of Slaanesh plus the decent board control afforded by that Lore of Magic has its attractions too.
This brings up a question which all Chaos players have to deal with sooner or later; to multi-God, or not to multi-God?
The current Chaos books take a fair bit of flak for presenting a world in which Tzeentch characters with Slaanesh items can join Nurgle units in an army led by a Khornate Lord (or whatever combination you choose), but (as Lexington reminds me at length every time the topic comes up) this idea that the Chaos Gods are somehow more opposed to one another than they are to everyone else is a bit wearying.
For one thing, the Gods have ‘all been mates’ before – right through second edition 40K and fourth/fifth edition WFB, in fact, which is where I came in. The notion that the Gods are somehow inimical to one another is a nasty hangover from the Realms of Chaos books which reared its head again in 40K4 and WFB6, in a rather restrictive and vexatious fashion. The idea that followers of the Chaos Powers can’t get over themselves for long enough to dispatch lesser beings frankly offends my senses somewhat; sure, there’d be tension, but tension builds character, and it’d do my army’s backstory wonders to imagine the feuding between various characters.
I’ll probably come back to this concept later, as I do think it’s important in thinking about Chaos, and I haven’t said all that I have to say on the matter, but suffice to say that I don’t see any problem in having supposedly ‘opposed’ Chaos minions in the same army. I might stop short of bunkering a Tzeentch model in a Nurgle unit, and my inherited fifth edition mindset demands that each character bring a retinue of similarly marked troops, but I’m not going to impose too many bizarre limitations in the name of adherence to a background element that isn’t anything like as carved in stone as some would have you believe.
This isn’t to say that I’m going to run off and try the ‘Four Horsemen’ concept again, at least not in 2000 points like I foolishly did last time, but I am going to try and explore the tension between various Powers and their followers – an army that expresses both ambition (Tzeentch) and despair (Nurgle) is strangely manic-depressive in nature, and (for various reasons) I rather like that as a concept.
What occurs to me is that the right kind of colourscheme – something Chaotic and ambiguous, not too uniform or tied down to studio schemes for specific Powers – could potentially allow the same collection to be pulled in different ways. I’m not talking about painting them all black with silver trims, either – that’s boring as all hell and frankly never looks finished to me, no matter how well executed it is. I’m talking Van Gogh swirls in purple and orange, burnished silver trims; turquoise lacquer beaten away to reveal dark tin beneath; murky bruises of purple and green set off with bright gold. A proper riot of colours, in other words; proper Chaos, none of this eighteen-Warriors-who-all-look-the-same nonsense.
There’ll be a Tzeentch character in charge, of course, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of; they’re sharp blighters, these Tzeentchians, and easily capable of drawing other Chaos minions to their cause. Even the smelly Nurgle types – or at least, models who could pull double duty as smelly Nurgle types if I happened to fancy a change of pace.
This entry is brought to you by the extraordinary bargain I’ve scored on eBay this week – sixty Chaos Warriors, all the Core I could ever want, for fifty pence a head. More on that on the Frugal blog, though…
I’ll be back to talk army lists and narratives later on; right now, there’s food to be had, and maybe a spot of Blood Bowl to be played (the blog entry about that is coming, I swear, just as soon as I stop having exciting things to say about other stuff).