Chapter Approved 2019 (CA) is fresh off the press and like every other CA release it’s shaken up the entire game. Today, we’re going to briefly talk about what changed for each Codex, and then go into what all of these changes did to the game. This won’t be a focus on the nitty and gritty for every point change in CA, but rather a break down of what the changes mean along with a discussion on where the game is going from here. There’s a lot to unpack, and we’re going to go in the same order that everything is found in CA. That means we’re kicking things off with Space Marines!
Ever since Space Marines have received their new Codex, they’ve been the most dominant force in the game on the competitive scene. Chapter Approved didn’t change much for Space Marines, which isn’t surprising when you consider how recent of an army Space Marines are and how far back CA had to be sent to the presses. Most of the changes that Space Marines saw were for Forgeworld entries, since those units wouldn’t be updated with a new Codex.
There’s no two ways about it, Space Marines are still one of, if not the best army in the game. The combination of Combat Doctrines and the various “Super Doctrines” that each Chapter gets along with their various other updated rules and Stratagems have combined to make them a dominating force on the table. The silver lining here is that Marines saw very few actual reductions while many other armies have had many units readjusted to bring them up to par. So, while Space Marines are still Top Dog, they have a lot more competition now. There is also a glimmer of hope that we will see changes to them in the FAQ that CA will get soon, but it’s pretty unlikely to happen.
Blood Angels saw a huge power boost thanks to Blood of Baal, which granted them a variety of new Stratagems, Relics, and improved rules. They also received points drops on a couple of their namesake units and characters. The most notable changes were Sanguinary Guard, which saw their price go down from 7 to 10 points per model (depending on gear). These changes combine to form a wicked shot of adrenaline for the Blood Angels army. The last time they were considered highly competitive was from their use of Smash Captains in the infamous Guard+ Smash Captains+ Castellan lists for the functionally infinite Command Points you got for combining Blood Angels with Imperial Guard, and that was about a year ago.
Today, Blood Angels are repositioned to be a dominant force on the table for both casual and competitive games. The competitive meta has shifted to be seriously gun focused due to Space Marines, and updates to armies like Blood Angels will hopefully push against that. Blood Angels have been given multiple tools to combat Overwatch and to help ensure their charges go off. In addition, they can actually fight against the popular Eldar flier builds since most of their threats can fly and they have some tools to prevent the planes from firing Overwatch. Although it’s true that the Sons of Sanguinius haven’t been that great on the table for a little while now, if you have an army you should dust them off and try them out. You won’t be disappointed.
Dark Angels had very few changes in CA outside of seeing the prices on all of their Named Characters readjusted. The heroes of the Chapter have seen points drops across the board, making more Character focused builds for Dark Angels viable. However, Dark Angels are largely still in the same place they were before hand since most of their units weren’t changed in any significant way. In addition, Dark Angels still don’t have access to Combat Doctrines or their own “Super Doctrine”, which also hurts them compared to other Marine armies. This all being said, Dark Angels are going to get their own book in Psychic Awakening at some point, and that will hopefully propel this army into the light once again.
Space Wolves are an army that have struggled to break into the limelight of 40K for most of 8th edition due to them being largely melee focused while not having great tools to actually let them close the distance on their opponents. CA has given them a sweeping set of reductions on their many Named Characters and their two namesake units, Wulfen and Thunderwolf Cavalry. Wulfen saw a 5 point reduction in cost and an additional drop on their Pack Leader’s weapon, and Thunderwolf Cavalry saw a reduction in price on their Storm Shields.
Wulfen were already a unit that were on the cusp of being genuinely competitive, and this points drop pushes them firmly into that category. The issue is that the rest of the Codex isn’t there, as Space Wolves still lack Combat Doctrines and their own Super Doctrine. Much like Dark Angels, Space Wolves are still waiting for their turn to go through Psychic Awakening. This is one army to keep an eye on. They just might bloom into a highly competitive force with the right update, and their release for Psychic Awakening is coming sooner or later.
Unfortunately, the Deathwatch haven’t received much in CA. They had some Character price adjustments, and the Corvus Blackstar did see a reasonable points drop. However, there’s almost no reason at all to play Deathwatch from a competitive standpoint, and even casually the army suffers as they’re essentially more expensive Marines without Doctrines. Hopefully, Psychic Awakening shows the Deathwatch plenty of love. They could definitely use it.
Grey Knights have been in competition for “Worst Army of 8th edition” for some time due to their egregiously overpriced units. The army actually has some very powerful abilities and rules, but everything in the book is so expensive that it felt like you were playing with half the models that you should have been. CA has given Grey Knights sweeping points reductions on both their units and their equipment. Although their Named Characters didn’t see any points reductions, most of the rest of the army did.
In addition, Grey Knights are confirmed to be in the next Psychic Awakening book along with Thousand Sons and Death Guard. CA has already provided this army with a size-able boost, and if Grey Knights get an update on a similar level of Blood Angels in the upcoming Ritual Of The Damned, we might just see Grey Knights also enter the realm of being a genuinely competitive army. Much like Space Wolves, this is a faction to keep your eye on as a competitive player.
Custodes have had a lot of smaller points reductions in CA, which isn’t a huge help when you’re paying hundreds of points for every unit you put on the table. The biggest change to Custodes is probably on the Forgeworld Calaidus Grav-Tank, as that has gone back down in points. For you competitive players out there, a Spearhead with Trajann and 3 Calaidus will provide plenty of firepower that can stay mobile while laying down some serious pain. Outside of that, Custodes are probably going to be in the same position they were before. They’re a novel army that plays a dramatically different game than most other factions which makes them great for fun and laid back games, but their competitive viability is still fairly narrow.
Astra Millitarum made it through CA without going through any major changes. Ogryn and Wyverns went up, but Leman Russes and many weapons went down. These changes will push Guard towards being more “lots of tanks and artillery” and less “Mortars+Bullgryn” hopefully. At the end of the day the Guard are still the way you remember them, just with an extra Leman Russ or two. Given that Guard usually end up being nerfed in CA, this should be a breath of fresh air by comparison.
Adeptus Mechanicus are probably one of the more underrated armies in the game. Although they aren’t top tier competitive, the army was perfectly reasonable before CA. Post CA 2019, they’re probably one of the biggest sleeper forces in the game. They’ve always had powerful Stratagem and unit interactions, but now a lot of their units are dirt cheap as well. They certainly aren’t Space Marine powerful, but they’re more than reasonable.
In particular note are Ruststalkers. At only 11 points per model, Ruststalkers are more than reasonable at 2 Wounds and a 4+ with a whopping 4 attacks and the ability to shower some Mortal Wounds on a target. Obviously you need a way to get them there, but this is a unit that has some genuinely serious potential post CA. If Adeptus Mechanicus get some love in Psychic Awakening, then this army is just one more Imperium faction to keep an eye out for.
Knights are definitely one of the most unusual armies in the game, since they’re a faction that’s almost designed to be allied in rather then taken by itself. Knights have seen some minor reductions on Armigers and Gallants have gone up 20 points, but for the most part Knights are unchanged. If you often ally in a Knight for your army, you won’t have much to adjust on this front. This is fine, as Knights were frankly in a perfectly reasonable place before CA and weren’t in need of much adjusting.
CHAOS SPACE MARINES
Almost without a doubt, Chaos Space Marines are the biggest winner in CA2019. Cultists went down to 4 points, regular Chaos Space Marines went down to 11, and almost every power armored model in the army saw some kind of similar 2-3 point reduction. In addition, many Daemon Engines and many pieces of wargear also saw reductions. Most Chaos lists will have 200-300 more points to play with.
When you combine this with the powerful rules update they got in Faith and Fury, Chaos Space Marines have moved from one of the more lackluster armies in the game to a flexible and dynamic army. Each Legion has a distinct playstyle with its own suite of Stratagems and Relics which in turn yields a much more varied experience than the typical Traits for a given army. Although it will take players some time to experiment, it’s almost certain that Chaos Space Marines will have at least one highly competitive build, most likely out of Alpha Legion or Night Lords.
Death Guard have received points reductions on many of their unique Units, like Malignant Plaguecasters and the Foetid Bloat Drones. Blightlord Terminators stayed the same so if you have a unit or two, they’re still excellent inclusions. Disappointingly, Plague Marines did not see a reduction in price. A 1 or 2 point reduction would have been great, but unfortunately they’re still 16 points per model. Death Guard are also up next for the incoming Psychic Awakening which makes gauging the exact power of the army a tad hard to judge. The changes in CA almost guarantee that a very Daemon Engine focused build will be a potent build regardless of what Psychic Awakening brings, so if you don’t have 3 Plagueburst Crawlers or Foetid Bloat Drones, it’s time to pick some up.
Thousand Sons saw many of their less utilized units, like Rubrics (ironic) or their Daemon Engines go down while Tzaangors and their Demon Princes went up. Tzaangors were frankly too good at 7 points per model, and Thousand Sons Demon Princes saw a variety of free improvements over the regular Chaos Space Marine Demon Princes at no cost. Now, they’re significantly more expensive to reflect these improvements. Thousand Sons players will generally be happy with the changes, while competitive players that were looking to ally in Thousand Sons will have to make cuts to continue to use the high quality Psykers that Thousand Sons bring.
Chaos Daemons were hit with the nerf bat in CA2019 with Plaguebearers moving up to 8 points per model and most Tzeentch Characters going up as well. The tried and true approach of drowning your opponent in Plaugebearers while you use Tzeentch/Thousand Sons psychic support is essentially dead at this point. However, many of the Greater Demons went down in price, and with Daemonettes still sitting at just 6 points per model, it’s likely that there’s a competitive build for Slaanesh Daemons. Otherwise, although there were a few small adjustments here and there, the army is otherwise largely unchanged.
Chaos Knights were almost completely unchanged. War Dogs saw a 15 point reduction, and Desecrators saw a large drop of 45 points. War Dogs now look like a far more appealing unit, but for the most part Chaos Knights are unchanged in CA2019. This isn’t surprising when you consider their Codex is still fairly recent.
Craftworlds have had their entire points readjusted. Many of their units have gone down, while the common competitive mainstays in Crimson Hunters and Eldrad have gone up. This means that the classic Eldar flier build will feel a bit of a pinch and have to downsize, while many other units are simultaneously becoming significantly more attractive. Shining Spears and Fire Prism’s have both seen reductions, and as those units were already appealing it’s likely that there will be competitive builds using those units.
Outside of the competitive scene, many other units and most Characters saw reductions as well. Many of the Phoenix Lords saw price reductions along with their associated units, so themed armies built around a Phoneix Lord leading their Aspect Warriors is actually reasonable now. There’s a lot of room to experiment in Craftworlds, and with these adjustments we should be seeing at least a couple more units on the ground instead of planes for days.
Drukhari saw lots of small changes in CA2019. Ravagers and Razorwing Jetfighters have both seen nerfs, a hardly surprising development given their prevalence in the competitive scene. Although Ravagers have fallen out of favor, Razorwing Jetfighters are still a common sight in Aeldari flier spam lists. To make up for these nerfs, some of the lesser played units saw some reductions. Drukhari will remain a perfectly reasonable army to play for both casual and competitive players with multiple options for competitive play.
Harlequins have really struggled to find their footing in the post Space Marine world, and Games Workshop have responded by giving Harlequins large points drops. Almost everything in the army went down in one fashion or another, which makes Harlequins in turn a far more attractive option. Skyweavers for example have seen a 5 point reduction in price, a significant drop for most lists as Skyweavers have been a mainstay in most Harlequin lists. Although the army is still poorly positioned competitively, casual players will have significantly better experiences on the table.
No two ways about it, Necrons are one of the most changed armies in CA2019. It’s debatable if Necrons or CSM saw more love in CA2019, but either way almost everything in the army has gone down. Historically in 8th edition Necrons have been more or less tied with Grey Knights for worst army in the game, as their main army mechanic can be completely negated by good play from your opponent. These changes are going to shift Necrons up several pegs by giving most lists around 150-200 points to play with, and with some love in Psychic Awakening it’s likely that Necrons might end up as a highly competitive faction. This is one army to keep your eye on if you’re a competitive player.
Orks went through CA2019 without receiving much in the way of changes. Smasha Guns took a nerf (frankly, too small of a nerf) by going from 31 to 33 points while many of their various buggies saw points drops. The biggest thing to impact Orks here is actually losing some of their HQ choices to Warhammer Legends, as Warbosses/Big Meks on Bikes were a popular mainstay. Orks are still another very powerful army, but they’re probably going to shift away a bit from giant hordes and more towards rugged vehicles and other fast moving models.
Tau have been a dominant force on the tabletop since their codex has released thanks to the overbearing power of Riptides in conjunction with Savior Protocols and Shield Drones. In CA 2019, these units saw no changes at all which means these styles of list won’t be going anywhere. Instead, a plethora of other options and units have seen points reductions. Stormsurges, Crisis Suits, Stealth Suits, you name it, it’s all gone down. These changes won’t dramatically affect most current competitive lists, and instead will open up other styles of list building. All in all, Tau are excellently positioned army, and now they have some room to experiment.
Tyranids got some reductions on a lot of their monsters, and a couple of other units like Genestealers and Rippers have seen reductions too. In conjunction with the recently released Blood of Baal, and Tyranids are in a much better place now than they were a month ago. The various updates aren’t enough to move Tyranids to a top tier army, but they should have some diversity beyond Kraken Genestealers and Kronos Hiveguard now.
Genestealer Cults got hit pretty bad in CA2019, probably more than any other army. Many of their key tools like Aberrants or Kellermorphs saw large points hikes, and while a couple of their underutilized units or options saw reductions, overall GSC saw a plethora of hits. This isn’t surprising given the history that GSC has had as a Codex in 8th edition, but the timing is a little awkward. GSC were knocked down a peg or three when Space Marines got their new codex, as that army has a lot of natural counters that shut GSC down. Given how prevalent Marines are, this makes GSC poorly positioned as an army after CA2019.
What It All Means
Chapter Approved is typically the biggest release for Warhammer 40K, and this year it’s placed in the middle of Psychic Awakening. This means it’s a little tougher to evaluate the changes of Chapter Approved, because a Psychic Awakening could boost an army up several pegs. Despite this fact, there are some general trends. First, you’re going to be seeing a lot of power armor on the table. Second, Games Workshop wisely opted to lower a lot of prices on things that weren’t seeing play, so you should have better unit variety on the table. Finally, there’s a lot of power creep and the general size of your games are going to be bigger.
Whether it’s Space Marines, Blood Angels, or Chaos Space Marines, a lot of the power armored armies in the game are the strongest they’ve been in years. Combat Doctrines have provided Loyalist Space Marines with an incredible power boost, and Psychic Awakening keeps pushing this higher while also catching up the other Loyalist Chapters. Eventually, every Loyalist Space Marine Chapter other than perhaps Deathwatch will get caught up to Space Marines, at which point everyone that wants to play one of these armies will be doing so with their shiny new Doctrines, points drops from Chapter Approved, and Stratagems. On the Chaos side of things, the Heretic Astartes have been given essentially mini codexes for each Legion, and coupled with the massive reductions they received, Chaos Space Marines are dramatically improved, and you can expect anyone you know that has a Chaos Space Marine army kicking around to drag it out. When you tie all of this together, both locally and at competitions you’re going to be seeing a ton of power armor on the table regardless of what you bring to the table.
Piggy backing off of this, Games Workshop had a very clear design philosophy for this Chapter Approved. They rarely nerfed the models or units in the more competitive armies, and typically if they did the nerfs were small. Instead of nerfing the competitive armies and lists into oblivion, they instead buffed practically everything in the game that wasn’t a mainstay competitive entry. The result of this is that most armies in the game are pulled much closer to each other in power level then they were before, and most of the armies that still feel left out are waiting on their Psychic Awakening release. Assuming the Psychic Awakening releases keep doing what they’ve been doing (dramatically buffing weaker armies while providing a few new options to stronger armies), then we might just end up playing some of the most balanced and fun 40K that we’ve ever had access to.
There is a catch to all of this though, and that’s the drastic size that all of your games are going to climb to. Now, you need a Codex, your Psychic Awakening, possibly Vigilus or Vigilus Ablaze, a Rulebook, your Chapter Approved 2019 book, in theory your FAQ’s or Erratas, and whatever source you’re using for your mission. And that’s if you’re just playing with a single army! In addition, the actual sizes of the games being played are huge. Most events and even many casual games are played at 2000 points, and when you consider the drastically lowered prices on a lot of models in the game, 2000 points ia ton of models. There’s an argument to be made that in the future we should move to a smaller game size, perhaps 1750 or even 1500 points. This would cut down on the raw size of the games involved and make the game less intimidating for beginners to get into.
Overall, CA2019 is probably the best set of points changes that we’ve gotten. It’s made a huge variety of armies and models reasonable inclusions in lists, which is always a good thing. It’s also made a lot of “fluffy” lists still pack some punch, and there’s lots of room to experiment in a given faction to push a certain army to it’s limit in the direction you want to take it. If you’ve been taking a break from 40K, debating trying out a second army, or thinking about buying into the game, there’s never been a better time to try the game out then today.
Painting Problems Solved
Painting miniatures can be the most exciting part of Warhammer 40k… and also the most tedious/annoying if you don’t know the right techniques. That’s exactly why in this article you are going to discover how I transformed my miniatures to have them looking beautiful enough to win medals at conventions (while saving time).
I remember a time when I had a bunch of grey, plastic minis laying around all over the house (it’s not hard to forget because I remember Eve complaining about it). It frustrated me because I loved Warhammer 40k so much but I absolutely hated the painting process.
Honestly, it’s why I stayed with the same army list for so long because I just didn’t have time to buy a new one and paint it all. There was no way I could justify taking hours upon hours a day just to paint an army when I already had a perfectly good one ready. It wasn’t until I learned from Aaron Lovejoy that I discovered the exact techniques to not only speed up my painting process significantly, but have my miniatures being worthy enough to win medals.
That’s why I decided to hire Aaron Lovejoy to create a 14 day painting challenge which will teach you everything you need to know to paint faster while having your miniatures still look beautiful. Don’t just hear it from me, see what others who have taken the challenge have to say!
Click here to join the others and discover how to make your miniatures look stunning as well: https://www.14daypaintingchallenge.com. See you on the challenge!
As always a big thanks to Games Workshop for allowing us to use photos from their website!