Challenging the Champion Of Chaos

The Chaos Codex is almost a week old. Which means it's high time I dragged out what I dislike about it. Namely the Champion Of Chaos rule.

Those of you who have the codex and/or know what I'm talking about feel free to skip ahead, anyone else, read on for an explanation.

Any model with the Champion Of Chaos rule "must always issue and accept a challenge whenever possible". Should you model kill the enemy character the "you must immediately check to see if the Dark Gods reward him... roll a D66 on the Chaos Boon table". We'll come to the table in a moment, but the boon lasts the rest of the game, and you need to keep track of it, being aware that multiples of the same boon are ignored. The boon table offers 29 possible results, varying in possibility. These range from doing nothing, to turning into a Chaos Spawn, to a range of useful and useless (but not detrimental) boons, culminating in a chance of becoming a Daemon Prince.  There is also the option to buy characters a free roll on the table (Gift of Mutation pg. 67) re rolling Spawn or Daemon Prince results. So far, so wacky. The problem comes with the army list, where almost every character, from Abaddon, to the auto included Aspiring Champions, built into squads, to the lowliest Cultist Champion all have the rule.

Anyone skipping ahead can come back in here....

In an army list that gives the player such huge freedoms to build their force as they wish this mechanic puts a spanner in the works.

It adds to the amount of paperwork/tracking needed on the table. With 26 possible results playing with a character's stats and special rules (with the other three doing nothing, or resulting in spwandom/daemonhood), keeping track with tokens isn't an option, especially as you could end up with a good number of models with various boons. If it's difficult in a normal game, Apocalypse will make it nightmarish.

It also messes with the background in a number of ways. The sheer numbers of models either becoming spawn or princes across the battlefields, means there should hardly be any Chaos Space Marines left. Unless they take turns as Champion, to avoid their bodies becoming a mess of mutations as they rack up a kill count stretching back over 10,000 years. It also derailed the idea of the quest for Daemonhood taking countless years and sacrifices, when it happens to anyone who wins a challenge every 1 in 18 times.

Players who like building a narrative and background around their army and characters are going to find themselves writing off a lot of what happens on the board (as well as their Warlord traits I suppose). Even the Special Characters fall victim to Champion Of Chaos rule. I look forward to seeing the Chaos Spawn or Daemon Princes representing Abaddon, Khârn, Ahriman, Huron,  Lucius, Fabius and Typhus as they take their chances with the table.

There are also big issues for players who like the less chaotic Alpha Legion (being covertly dotted across the Imperium is going to get a lot harder if you might suddenly become a Daemon Prince when you kill someone). Night Lords (who look down on the Gods, and one suspects vice versa), or have allied Chaos Marines to a Traitor Guard force, as their models are randomly blessed by Chaos (with the Traitor Guardsmen looking on confused as the dirty cultist turns into a Daemon Prince, but their leaders don't even get a single tentacle).

I have nothing against the Boons table, and I like the idea of buying a Champion a roll on it,up to a point. I really dislike the fact it's forced upon players as an in game mechanic though, as it feels like a bad add on to make Chaos stand out a bit more, rather than to any particular benefit, or to balance out the enforced challenges. Given that you can do as you like to a huge degree in the rest of the army list it seems this choice doesn't quite stretch to the tabletop.

It's worth noting that in Fantasy the Warriors Of Chaos have a similar table, but only roll 2D6, and get less radical results (certainly not to the extremes of model swapping) and that it works quite well.

That's enough from me. I throw this open to anyone wanting to comment. What do you think of the Champion Of Chaos rule? How are you arming your Champions to deal with the challenges they'll be locked in? And would you let someone call all the Boon results as blanks when playing them, or at least ignore the model changing extremes?

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