So like many others I have now had a chance to look over the new CSM book, and will begin to present to you, dear reader, my half-baked thoughts about it.
The overview is that it's not really a radical departure from the last version. Things are different, points are different, but overall it has a very similar feel. For many of you, that may be disappointing. Some of the "flavor" issues remain, like no way to have true cult terminators/chosen etc., so your Plague Marines will always be more "Nurgley" than your Nurgle Terminators or Nurgle Lord, your Berzerkers have a higher WS than your Khorne Chosen or Khorne Terminators, etc.
There is some good, powerful stuff in there, certainly. There are a deceptive number of options - deceptive in that there are a lot of ways to do things, but some have limits and prerequisites, and the core function of things remains pretty much the same regardless. You have tweaks instead of major changes for the most part.
The army can be powerful, and there are a number of different builds available, though many probably won't be terribly effective (Whee, mass of cultists and spawn!). With few exceptions, it feels like a very straightforward army. Place mass down on table, engage, destroy or be destroyed. There are a few opportunities for synergy but not many, and few ways to really shake things up. More of the unusual stuff will have to come from Allies. You can have fun with the new book I think, but you have to wash away any expectations from past books and army lists. Start from scratch with this new book, 6th ed, and Allies in mind and it might serve you well. Simply try to translate your 5th ed 4.0 CSM army over and you will most likely be disappointed.
Warlord Traits - OK, and Warlord Traits in general seem to be the only way to get Infiltrate or Outflank in a CSM army. If that's important to you, you'll want to take Huron or Ahriman as your Warlord, as they get a trait that lets them infiltrate d3 infantry units as their automatic trait.
Champion of Chaos/Chaos Boon Table - You have to challenge and accept, but the enemy is under no such restriction (unless they're CSM too of course!). But, that's not the only way to get the boons. You can buy rolls pre-game, and the in-game rolls are dependent on killing an enemy character, not just in a challenge or even in assault. (Here's the other half of the reason for the removal of units of characters...can you imagine a Chaos Lord getting 2-3 rolls a turn going through a Nobz squad?) So remember those Precision Shots and consider how to resolve those wound groups if your champions have different APs...maybe plasma pistols will make a comeback - snipe the sergeant, get a boon, assault
Veterans of the Long War - +1 Ld and Hatred (Space Marines). Variable cost depending on unit. Ld boost can be nice if don't want to spring for Fearless units. Hatred OK, and helps not lose combat vs. Marines so your Ld doesn't have to come into play in the first place. Note that it applies to all units from the various loyalist marine books, so things like inquisitor henchmen are included. If you have the spare points, are really worried about breaking, or fight a lot of SM and variants, worthwhile.
Marks of Chaos - OK, and inherent instead of being icon-dependent, which is good. Open up a specific banner each (more on those another time). More things able to be marked, like Oblits and Spawn.
I'll give a quick opinion on the various HQs next time, and so on through the book in the days to come. Thanks for reading, and happy KILL! MAIM! BURN! -ing!