Culture

Sgathaich: The Fall and Rise of the Chaos Legions – The Golden Age

sgathaich bannerMy friends and dear readers, when I last talked to you about this I spoke about how a long running series had been taken over, a show that had for a long time had strong empowering female characters from all walks of life. It had been turned into a self congratulatory mess that spoke down to its viewers and insulted those women that came before. I was hurt by what Dr Who had become and while writing it I realized, I should then tell you of an uplifting story. A story of a fall and a cling to hope of better days and was then uplifted, by a man coming out of a bin.

Fellow writer on this site Nephrite has been writing about the Horus Heresy and the tales of how half the Space Marine Legions turned against the Emperor of Mankind. So let’s skip 10000 years later. Games Workshop produces a number of games under the name Warhammer, these were back in the day Warhammer Fantasy Battle and its science fiction spin off Warhammer 40000 or 40k for short. There were many spin off games like Blood Bowl, Inquisitor, Battle Fleet Gothic etc that often expanded the lore of the main games. And these games as you will hear from my fellow writer had a lot of lore. In 40k it was a galaxy wide set of lore filled with eons of time. In 2002 a codex (the main books for people playing the game to have rules for their specific army) came out telling of the Necrons, basically terminator rip offs back then (there was a race called Tyranids that looks a decent amount like inspired by Xenomorphs too) this one actually covered time  long before any other 40k codex. But this isn’t a tale of the Necrons, later on that year a codex came out that was universally loved by its users. That codex is known as Chaos Space Marines 3.5 edition.

The Golden Age

Chaos is the main bad guys in Warhammer settings, and Chaos Space Marines were the main faction of them back in those days for 40k. As Nephrite will tell you half the Space Marine legions turned against the Emperor and turned to Chaos. In this tome all the legions had rules that allowed you to make your army be of one of these legions. It might be just 2 or 3 special rules, maybe they can take a unit the others can’t, or maybe the rules are so major that they get a whole mini book of extra info. The legions were here the men who 10000 years ago brought the Imperium to its knees. Death Guard, Thousand Sons, Emperors Children, World Eaters, Word Bearers,Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and the Black Legion (though they were more basic compared to the others, the normal version). Each felt different not just from the inception (which tales of the Heresy will tell you each did have their own skills) but that in the 10000 years of time they had developed differently. Combined this was the level of customization offered to your army. No two were the same.

As I made my army I read the White Dwarf (GW magazine). Their writers too were making armies of the legions, seeing examples of everyone’s Iron Warriors was jaw dropping. Not just painting but models converted to fit how the lore of the Iron Warriors was written. These were what I called the Golden Years of the legions but it was not to last, for a change was brewing, one that would last a decade and the game, the company would suffer in these dark times, games would die.

I would like to note I’m not saying this particular change caused the pain and suffering the company would endure but more it’s an example of the problems as a whole.

The Chaos Space Marine 3.5 codex lasted till 2007 but it was not without its flaws. Two were brought up. The first was that the sheer level of customization of the army meant that GW thought it was rather daunting and could take hours to work out your army. I didn’t personally agree with that as I liked that level of customization though I did agree with it on one aspect. One of the upgrades you could give characters were so called daemonic gifts and if you gave enough you could claim them to be a Daemon Prince, and a lot of people felt that blurred a bit too much the ascension to Daemonhood.

The other main complaint was that Daemons themselves had lost their identity. Daemons were the other main force of Chaos and all individuality to them had been lost as they felt little more than just extensions of the gods they worked for, which is partially true but they were also meant to be beings to themselves. With CSM they were just summoned into battle and had no real identity beyond that.

The solutions to these problems however would spell the end of the Golden Age, and the death of a game.

Next : The Fall

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