Warhammer 40,000/5th Edition Tactics/Chaos Space Marines
Why Play Chaos Space Marines
- Cool models - The Cult squads look badass, it has to be said. Likewise a lot of the Sorcerer and Lord models, and the special characters. Personally, I always found Obliterators and Raptors way cooler than Devastators and Assault Mehreens too, but that's just me. Plus damn near any vehicle looks sexier when it's bristling with spikes, blades, and severed heads on trophy racks.
- Pretty good choppa and dakka options. All Chaos Marines except for Thousand Sons boast an additional Melee attack over their loyalist counterparts (check their wargear lists), and it takes little (a Mark for the most part) to turn it into a solid assault unit. Though they lack Plasma Cannons, Chaos Marines boast a ton of units with Autocannons, which gives them better overall utility against light vehicles and heavy infantry units (such as IG Stormtroopers). Putting it simply, you have a lot of options.
- Cult squads offer even more options. Khorne Berserkers are rape-tastic close-combat units, even though they're no longer the unstoppable murder machines they were in editions past. Noise Marines can drown enemies in mid-range firepower, with access to an improved Plasma Cannon in the Blastmaster as part of the bargain (this is, however, pricey). Plague Marines and Thousand Sons, whilst both extremely expensive (especially the latter) offer tough-as-balls units for holding objectives and soaking up enemy fire, with the Plague Marines laughing off antipersonnel fire, and the Thousand Sons capable of ignoring your average Battle Cannon shot - and both of them offer good firepower, either in the conventional Bolter/Special Weapon flavor (Plague Marines) or with AP3 Bolter and Sorcery flavor (Sons).
- Marks - Marks of Chaos give a good choice of customization for your squads. For a relatively small investment of points (though the Nurgle/Tzeentch marks can get pricey), they allow a quick retooling of a squad, giving it additional Initiative (Slaanesh), Attacks (Khorne), Toughness (Nurgle), or an improvement to their invulnerable saves - or a 6+ Invuln save, if the unit didn't already have one (Tzeentch). Most of these are cheaper than investing in a cult squad, or can customize units to make them better in specific combat situations. This means you can have T4(6) bikes racing around ignoring infantry fire or racing in and hitting units with four attacks each, Raptors with high Initiative killing whole units without retaliation or simply drowning them in forty attacks, and Possessed tooled to be even better assaulters than they already are. Marks make already-good Chaos units very, very scary.
- Lash of Submission - Flying Lash Princes make a mockery of all cover. Why? Because cover doesn't count when your opponent is literally dictating where your units move on his turns. Games Workshop even admitted that they didn't count on how players would use this.
- Gift of Chaos - because turning your opponent's Farseer into that which must never be mentioned is hilarious.
- You're better than the loyalists in Apocalypse games because you get fucking Titans and lots of sweet Forgeworld loving in the form of flyers and Daemon Engines. You're part of the Apocalypse Quintet along with the Imperial Guard, Eldar, Orks, and Tyranids, to which all other apocalypse armies are measured against. Be warned, you are comparatively lacking in long ranged heavy artillery, so even in Apocalypse, you are best served by getting close to RIP AND TEAR.
- You're likely to be next in line to get a codex in 6th ed, after four years of having an increasingly less potent codex that has by now become virtually useless.
Marks of Chaos
Marks of Chaos are a key facet of improving the majority of Chaos Infantry, from Chaos Terminators and Raptors, to Chaos Lords and Sorcerers, to Possessed, standard-issue Chaos Marines, and even Daemon Princes. There are four different marks - one for each Chaos God, and each one provides an intrinsic benefit to the model(s) it's applied to. A general listing of the marks of Chaos and their effects is below:
- Khorne: Models or Squads with the Mark of Khorne gain +1 attack. Simple but useful, this upgrade is best-applied towards units that will be in the thick of things when the fighting starts, such as Raptors and Terminators, though its benefits on a Lord is obvious. It can also be applied to individual Chaos Marine squads; on their own, Chaos Marines are already tougher than a majority of the other factions and with three melee attacks (4 for the champion), no enemy is going to want to get too close to them - so whilst it's not as cost-effective as kitting out say, a squad of Berserkers, it's something to consider. Note that Sorcerers cannot get the Mark of Khorne.
- Nurgle: Highly effective at reducing casualties, Models or squads with the Mark of Nurgle benefit from +1 toughness. This won't prevent instant death (from Lascannon shots par example), but it will reduce the number of wounding hits the squad takes by about 30% on average, making them that much tougher to kill. It works best on guys you will expect to take lots of small-arms fire, rather than the ones who are going to receive hits from the biggest guns (T4 is the same as T5 versus a S7 attack, for example). Unlike a lot of the other marks on this list, the Mark of Nurgle, much like the Plaguefather himself, is friendly and is effective just about everywhere. Unfortunately, you pay the price for it in points; it's the most expensive mark by far.
- Slaanesh: Curiously the least-expensive Mark, models and squads with the Mark of Slaanesh get +1 Initiative. In theory this is only useful on assault-oriented units like Raptors and Possessed, but in practice is pretty ubiquitous; you would be surprised how many enemies will not want to assault a squad of standard Slaaneshi Chaos Marines if they know that they will strike first due to their meaty 5 Initiative (and extra attack). Terminators tend to benefit from it a lot less - the usual MO for players is to issue Terminators Powerfists or Chainfists, which completely eliminates the entire damned point of taking the Mark of Slaanesh. Overall, you'll have the least use for this, seeing as you'll find most armies will either have lower initiative than you to start with, or higher, even with this mark.
- Tzeentch: Tzeentch has one of the more-expensive marks, and one of the more unique ones - if given to a model or squad that does not possess an invulnerable save, the Mark of Tzeentch gives them an Invulnerable save of 5+ (equal to an Imperial Guard Refractor Field). The secondary benefit is if it is applied to models that already have an Invulnerable save, in which case the save is improved to 4+. Naturally, this means that the Mark of Tzeentch is best for models and squads that already have such a save, such as Terminators, Possessed (if you should want to use them for some insane reason, possibly because you yourself are possessed), Chaos Lords, Chaos Sorcerers, and the Daemon Prince. It can be useful (if less so) on other units; Raptors benefit nicely from having an invulnerable save in close-combat (even if it is a +5), and the save can help out if other means of keeping your units with their best saves forward (I.E. being in cover) are not viable for whatever reason. As a secondary benefit, Sorcerers with this Mark can take one more power than normal (for a total of three with a Familiar).
- Chaos Glory: The cheapest Icon to equip your squads with, the Icon of Chaos Glory lets them reroll failed Morale checks, and... That's it. Don't knock it until you try it, however. It may not look like much, but it doesn't cost much, is better than no Icon at all, and can mean the difference between another combat round or a Sweeping Advance.
Note that Icons issued to squads (other than those issued to Independent Characters like the Sorcerer, Chaos Lord, and Daemon Prince) are expensive, but the cost is flat, regardless of what the squad numbers - so the more models in the squad, the better the deal a given Mark of Chaos is. At 50 points, for example, a Chaos Marine squad of 5 marines is paying 10 points each for the Icon of Nurgle. With a capped-out 20-man squad, that same mark evens out to about 2.5 points per Marine. This is true for all the Icons, but is especially noticeable with the two most expensive ones (Nurgle and Tzeentch).
Also worth considering, aside from the (obvious) decision based on what you need to squad to do, is basing your Icon on what you expect the squad to face. Basic Marines, for example, are more likely to face small arms fire and thus will benefit more from Nurgle than Tzeentch. Havocs, on the other hand are more likely to face heavy weapons and tank based fire, and will probably benefit more from Tzeentch.
- Chaos Lord - A Nasty, inexpensive close-combat character, with tons of options. Even fully-kitted out will usually run you under 150 points - quite impressive in and of itself. Is Fearless by default and has decent starting saves (3+ Armor, 5+ Invuln). Stick him in with a Fearless unit of any kind and he's going to make shit dead. Each of the aligned lords gets their own unique Daemon Weapon if they invest the points - this is a 2-handed power weapon (so no point in grabbing a pistol alongside) that grants +1d6 attacks in close-combat and has some nifty-swell secondary feature. Curiously, all of them are solid choices in their own right. All of them, however, will inflict a wound you can't armor save against (but you can still take an Invuln save) and forfeit your attacks for the round if you roll a one on the bonus attack roll - so be prepared if things do not go as planned.
- Undivided - Your Daemon Weapon is the simple-but-effective basic Daemon Weapon with +1 Str. It's quite similar to the Dark Blade of 4th Edition, but with +1 Str instead of +2 and a bunch of bonus attacks. The weakest of the four overall, but the cheapest (no need for a Mark) and an incredibly solid choice in its own right.
- Slaanesh - Your Daemon Weapon is the Blissgiver, which causes instant death if it scores a successful wound. On most conventional models this isn't much use (since they have one wound anyway), but this makes a Chaos Lord the bane of multi-wound models like commanders, Nobz, and large Tyranid organisms. Widely considered one of the better choices.
- Nurgle - Your Daemon Weapon is the Plaguespreader, which is poisoned and ergo wounds on a 4+ (and lets you re-roll failed rolls against T4 or lower targets). Basically a 4th edition Dreadaxe minus the Invulnerability-prevention (but with the ability to bypass armor). A damned good choice, good for killing high-Toughness beasties.
- Khorne - Your Daemon Weapon is the Bloodfeeder, which gives +2d6 attacks instead of +1d6, but you will take the wound as normal if you roll a 1 on either (thankfully, if you roll snake eyes, it's only one wound). Risky, but can lead to 16+ attacks on a charge, which kind of speaks for itself. If you have the blessings of Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome, prepare yourself, because a Lord with this weapon will make virtually any enemy model irrelevant through sheer volume of attacks if it gets in close.
- Tzeentch - Your Daemon Weapon is the Deathscreamer, which can be fired as a projectile weapon that's S4, AP3, 24" Range and Assault d6 - functionally a variable-fire-rate Doombolt on call with no need for a psychic test that can fire double the number of shots given a good roll. It still does the usual Daemon Weapon thing in close-combat, too. It can be extremely devastating if you go the shooty route, and is the safest of the Daemon Weapons (since Tzeentch's mark on a lord gives a +4 Invuln save).
Chaos Lords in general love to accompany other units; most do best in (ideally) Fearless close-combat units (such as Khorne Berzerkers), though the Tzeenchian Lord is pretty much good wherever (drop him in a Termie Squad or IC him into a team with heavy/special weapons and watch the fireworks). There are other non-Daemon Weapon options too; a pair of Lightning Claws is an old favorite that persists and remains reasonably viable with a Mark of Khorne (or even the Mark of Slaanesh). They have a few options for giving them additional mobility (such as steeds); most of these are of questionable value, though the Juggernaut of Khorne and Palanquin of Nurgle are both purportedly fairly useful. The Bike is a good option if you wish to field Doomrider, due to him not being relevant to the Codex anymore. Another is Wings or a Jump Pack - the former is preferred since a model with wings can still use a transport (but otherwise has the benefits of a jump pack). He can also grab Terminator Armor as one last option; whilst this is kind of a questionable choice for defense (it really only gives a 2+ armor save now since the Lord has a +5 Invuln save by default), it has the upside of making all the good weapons a bit less expensive and lets the Lord teleport in. (Oh, and he can fire his bolter and assault in the same turn.) For maximum effectiveness, give him an Icon and pair him with a Terminator squad, laughing as the entire goddamned thing drops exactly where you want it to. Fun times.
- Chaos Sorcerer - A Chaos Lord with 1 fewer WS, a slightly higher cost, and a Force Weapon. New Force Weapon rules means he can psychic test twice a round, so this can actually get some use now. His main use is to make use of his unique powers Gift of Chaos (wildly unpredictable and generally sucks but oh sweet Jesus is it hilarious if you pull it off on say Marneus Calgar), Wind of Chaos (Cover/Armor Save Destroying Flamer) and Warptime (so help me I am fucking your shit up this turn with my attacks this round) - but Sorcerers are infinitely more-commonly taken for their aligned powers: Bolt of Change (S8, AP1, 24" range Assault 1 rape-ray), Nurgle's Rot (bane of Tarpits), and most notably, Lash of Submission (which lets you move enemy units around - which is exactly as awesome as it sounds). Generally, not a great choice - Daemon Princes generally do it better, after all - but far from a horrid one.
- Daemon Prince -
A favorite of the current Codex - and with good reason.A painful downgrade from the 210 point bane of anything below WS7/T7 of 3rd edition, it still has it's uses. Reasonably-priced, high stats, immune to instant death, and with tons of wargear options. Wings give him serious mobility and he can take a mark as well - and regardless of which he takes, he is going to be a complete pain in the ass to get rid of. Slaaneshi Princes almost invariably take Lash of Submission, so as to fuck up enemies' attempts to take cover; other abilities are to be grabbed on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if you aren't a Slaaneshi or Khornate Prince(never fucking ever give your Prince the Mark of Khorne, +1 attack isn't worth shit, especially so since if you take it you can't take any psychic powers, this isn't 3rd edition.) You should grab Warptime (may as well guarantee you always hit and wound), though Nurgle Princes can benefit from Nurgle's Rot (tarpit removal) and Tzeentchian Princes can make some use of Bolt of Change and/or Wind of Chaos (Skimmer-busting and/or a hit of damage as you close in). Warptime is the favorite though, for obvious reasons.As of January 2012, Games Workshop released an FAQ for Chaos that buffed Wings and Dreads but screwed over Warptime in a big way (instead of re-rolling all failed hits and wounds, like most people played it, you have to choose to re-roll everything or nothing). Thus, Wind of Chaos is a much better option now. Thanks, GW. Fags.
- Greater Daemon - Not technically an HQ unit as it does not, in fact, take up one of your HQ slots. Starts off the table, enters play by making one of your aspiring champions explode. He's cheap, in and of himself, but he kills a model that's typically carrying a Power Fist (and costing ~ 60 points) He's a nasty Monstrous Creature, and tends to draw a lot of fire. You could take one in an army with 2 daemon princes, and hope drowning your foe in Monstrous Creatures works. Generally advisable to avoid it, though.
The following are special characters:
- Typhus - Good god, Typhus. A Fearless Chaos Sorcerer in Terminator Armor with Feel No Pain and Fearless, on top of his Mark of Nurgle. 2 useful anti-swarm Psy powers (Wind of Chaos, Nurgle's Rot) that he auto-passes the psychic tests for, access to Frag and Blight grenades due to his Destroyer Hive rule, and a Manreaper, which is, functionally, a poisoned Force Weapon with the usual +1d6 attacks (and chance of rebellion if you roll a one). He also has FOUR wounds, as opposed to three, and improved toughness from being a Nurgle Lord. Typhus flat-out rocks, to put it simply; he can rape swarms and Tarpits through his Psy Powers, whilst his Manreaper allows him to absolutely rape enemy monstrous creatures and commanders. Throw in his grenade access (rare for a Terminator) and he's quite versatile, especially given his sheer balls-out toughness. Typhus is, however, liberally peppered with drawbacks; he's fucking expensive, he can't do a goddamned thing to enemy vehicles, his Invulnerable Save is only a 5+, he lacks Eternal Warrior, and he has WS 5 as opposed to WS 6, like most Chaos Lords (because he's a Sorcerer). Great unit, but keep him the fuck away from enemy walkers and enemies with Force Weapons.
- Lucius The Eternal - Lucius is a bit of an odd duck out, as well as the obligatory Slaaneshi Special Character. As a Chaos Lord, he's largely typical, but his abilities and weapons load make him a much nastier close-combat unit than he appears to be at a glance. For starters, he's WS 7, as opposed to the typical Chaos Lord WS 6, and he boasts Initiative 6 due to his Mark of Slaanesh. He lacks a traditional Daemon Weapon - but what he has in return makes this almost not matter. Lucius boasts a Doom Siren (AP3 Heavy Flamer), a Power Sword, and a unique Weapon in the Lash of Torment, which reduces the number of attacks enemy models get by 1. Because he dual-wields his Power Sword and Lash, he actually has one more attack than is readily apparent on his profile, much like Khorne Berserkers, Noise Marines, Plague Marines, and Chaos Space Marine squads. He also has Krak Grenades and Frag Grenades. What truly makes Lucius useful though, on top of all the above, is his unique ability stemming from his Armor of Shrieking Souls - any close combat attack Lucius saves against (Armor Save OR Invulnerable Save) causes an automatic S4 hit on the unit that attacked him, with no armor saves allowed. Suffice to say, Lucius butt-fucks Tarpits and big swarms of units that aren't packing power weapons better than most. It's not all good news, however: Lucius positively sucks against vehicles and his 5+ Invulnerable save, whilst useful, isn't exactly a stellar defensive feature. He also lacks Eternal Warrior, which means he's actually quite vulnerable against things like Force Weapons and heavy weapon sniping attempts. Lucius is extremely specialized for infantry-busting - and whilst he excels at it, he can't really do much else. A decent commander if used correctly.
- Khârn The Betrayer - A real fun guy to be around. Okay, unlike a lot of other stuff, Kharn, who wasn't cheese in the previous rulebook, has been upgraded, with his weapon improved and his cost decreased. Khârn is the only unit in all of 40K that hits, in close combat, on a 2+. Then again, if you do actually roll a 1, he hits a random member of any squad he happens to be in - so sometimes it's best to send him out on his own. Kharn boasts a suite of useful traits and equipment, including Gorechild (A power weapon that gives +1d6 to armor penetration rolls), Frag and Krak grenades (the latter of which will never see use), a Plasma Pistol (like you're ever going to use it), Furious Charge, and perhaps most importantly, a complete immunity to Force Weapon instant death effects and Psy Powers. Khârn can demolish damned-near-anything in close-combat, from enemy vehicles to enemy infantry when on the charge - an advantage primarily offset by the fact that he's completely fucking useless if he can't get close, and rather easy to isolate and tear down due to a relatively weak (5+) Invulnerable save. He is best-used either with Berserkers or Regular Chaos Marines - the latter loaded up to the fucking gills with Flamers, the squads shoved in a Metal Box or BIG METAL BOX, and thrown directly at the enemy's face. Like Lucius and Huron Blackheart, Khârn has one more attack than is listed in his profile due to his weapon loadout - for a total of six. Generally, if a player doesn't use a daemon prince with this army, their either using Kharn or Abaddon. Whichever one you want to use depends on how many points you want to spend.
- Huron Blackheart - What in the Dark Gods' names is it with this Codex and units in it having more attacks than is actually listed in their profile? Much as was the case for Lucius and Khârn, Huron has an additional attack than his profile lists, for a total of 4. An undivided Chaos Lord for those who don't like armless failures, Huron boasts Warptime despite not actually being a Psyker (due to a pet that is one), access to both a Power Weapon and Power Fist (for dealing with faster or slower foes as appropriate), and a Heavy Flamer. In many respects, Huron is kind of like Lucius, in that he's a heavy close-combat unit that can put serious hurt on groups of units he engages; unlike Lucius he's less of an infantry eraser and more of a general-combat unit, since his Power Fist is more than capable of busting open a tank or taking out a pesky Commander unit (and it WILL put a dent in that commander unit out due to Warptime). The thing is, whilst flavorful - especially if you want your Chaos army to be a band of fuckawesome space pirates (and who the fuck doesn't?) - he really does little that a competently-built Vanilla Chaos Lord or Sorcerer can't do just as well. No Eternal Warrior, no ranged capability outside of his flamer, and a weak (5+) Invuln save round out his downsides.
Also, before he got his famous BOOM HEADSHOT to like half of his body, his stats were better. Seriously - you can check the Badab War Imperial Armor books, back when he was still the Tyrant of Badab. He was just all around better.
- Fabulous Bile - The grand bull mother moose of mixed bags. On one hand, Bile has good stats and wargear: Toughness 5 and Feel No Pain through his Chirugeron, A weapon that causes instant death (Rod of Torment), five attacks, and a particularly nasty poisoned weapon in the Xyclos Needler. On the other hand, his Rod of Torment does not ignore armor saves (unlike, say, the Slaaneshi Blissgiver), his Xyclos Needler has really bad AP and sub-par range, and perhaps most damning of all, no Invulnerable save, unlike literally every other Chaos Lord and Sorcerer in the codex. So... Sucks, Right? Not quite. The reason Fabius Bile is taken, ironically, isn't for Bile himself; it's for his Enhanced Warriors trait, which can potentially turn a squad of Chaos Marines into murderous close-combat machines for +3 points a model. Whilst risky (It has a 66% chance of giving +1 Strength and Fearless to the unit, a 16.5% chance of making them attack one another (the survivors still get the benefit), and a 16.5% of making them get +2 Strength and Fearless but making them lose a squad member each turn. This advantage cannot be underestimated - Enhanced Warriors are considerably more cost-effective than Khorne Berserkers and cost notably less. To compare, a 10-man Berserker Squad with a Fist-equipped Champion is 250 points; That same unit with Enhanced Warriors is 220 points, making it an extremely thrifty alternative (since the squad can then cram on a pair of flamers and an Icon of Khorne for only 10 points more than the kitted-out Berserker squad - in essence, for only 10 points more, it's fielding a unit with the same stats and Flamers for additional Infantry destruction. Suffice to say, this is quite flexible and potentially very useful - provided you get good rolls when it's time to roll on the Enhanced Warrior table. Players who enjoy randomness will often find them remarkably effective, so Bile does have a place in some armies, even though Bile himself kind of sucks. A far cry from how he was in the previous edition, to be sure.
- Ahriman - He's a Sorcerer that costs as much as a Land Raider; that's seldom a good sign. On the other hand he has every Psy Power that isn't Nurgle or Slaanesh-specific and boasts a unique piece of gear in the Black Staff, which is a Force Weapon that lets Ahriman fire off THREE psy powers a turn (or use one of them for his Staff's Force Weapon Psychic Test). His firepower is absolutely insane; he can smash open vehicles with Bolt of Change, gun down infantry with Doombolt and Wind of Chaos, and bust up units with Warptime and Gift of Chaos. Making him even better, he boasts a Pistol with Inferno Bolts (so he has an S4 AP3 Pistol) and the standard Tzeentch Marine 4+ invulnerable save, which makes him remarkably tough to kill (and ironically, also gives him a measure of protection against his own powers, since he's primarily used to spam spells). Devastating if used right, but makes for a huge and high-priority target. Unlike a lot of other units with this price-tag, such as Old One-Eye, he tends to actually be worth it if carefully managed, mostly due to the fact that he drops a Touhou-esque barrage of firepower out in short order. Just remember that he's a gigantic fire magnet.
- Abaddon The Despoiler - Don't be fooled by jokes regarding his lack of arms - he may suck a mountain of dicks at leading troops past Cadia, but Abaddon is bad news. He's expensive as hell - more than a Land Raider - but he is, perhaps, the single most dangerous thing in all of Warhammer 40K tabletop should he get into close-combat. Seriously. Kaldor Draigo, Matt Ward's infamous Special Snowflake will lose to Abaddon about 80% of the time assuming average dice rolls. Suffice to say, not many units can reliably go toe-to-toe with the Despoiler and survive for more than a round or two, most will die before they even get a chance to hit him, and many armies lack squads that can do more than offer him more than a token resistance. He has a Daemonblade that gives +4 strength and re-rolls all failed to-wound rolls (in addition to the usual +1d6 attacks), every single Chaos Mark (For +1 Attack, +1 Initiative, a 4+ Invulnerable Save, and +1 Toughness), and Eternal Warrior. Just fielding this unit has been known to make other players break out in hives. On the other hand, the drawbacks are obvious - he costs a fuckton of points, more so than anything else in the codex, he's a huge fire-magnet (fortunately he can be deep-striked) he's extremely vulnerable to being Tarpitted or bogged down, he sucks at shooting (only has a Twin-Linked Bolter). Do anything you fucking can to get him into close combat, and Try to not let him lose his arms. He will maintain his title of undefeatable at melee all the way up to the exact moment where he runs into an apocalypse melee unit like a Heirodule, a Titan, or An'ggrath, at which point he goes down like a little bitch. But hey, every turn they spend anal raping Lord Topknot is a turn they don't spend fucking over your army.
Fluffy the utter bane of anything that isn't WS7/T7- Whoever wrote this codex, fuck you.
While many armies are spoiled for Elite choices (Space Marines, I'm looking at you), Chaos can get by just fine without ever using this section of their codex. It's not even that the options are horrible - rather, it's that if you still have slots open in other sections, your points are probably better-spent there.
- Chaos Terminators - Of all the options Chaos has for this slot, these are probably the best. Cheaper than a Loyalist Terminator, and with better LD (10). They lack the cool Loyalist special rules though, and have worse starting gear (power weapons as opposed to power fists), but buying power fists for all of them makes them cost the same as loyalist Terminators, so... yeah. They have access to Icons, like most generic squads, and can be further enhanced through them. Their strength comes from the ability to give every single member of the squad a Combi-Weapon. This allows you to take small "Suicide" squads of terminators with Combi-Meltas to deep-strike in, eat a tank, and then possibly threaten/charge some isolated units with should they survive to subsequent turns. This is typically referred to as a "termicide" squad. Alternatively, tool them up in a Land Raider (or deep striking) with a nasty Chaos Lord in Terminator armor for a close-combat anvil; Lightning Claws and Power/Chainfists are best. The Heavy Flamer is cheap and drops a nice S5 AP4 template; generally more useful than the combi-flamer, which costs the same. The Reaper Autocannon, while expensive, does offer accurate, long-range S7 AP4 fire support on the move, something that Havocs can't really do. Pretty much every Mark of Chaos will work for these guys (except for Slaanesh if you like power fists), but of particular note is the pricey (but devastating) choice of a mark of Tzeentch for them; 4+ invuln save on a +2 armor save means these fucking things just will not fucking die no matter how much heavy firepower you throw at them.
- Chosen Chaos Space Marines - They're generic Chaos Space Marines, with Infiltrate, who cost more points, so read their entry. Now, you get to take FIVE special weapons, at no minimum squad size. Outflanking 5 flamers/meltaguns/plasmaguns and maybe an Autocannon seriously has its uses, but you're paying points for infiltrating Chaos Marines that don't score, which many consider a waste. They can also take up to four power weapons/fists/pairs of lightning claws for an infiltrating close-combat unit, but Terminators are usually better for that role. Either use them for their ability to infiltrate and gank or annoy things, or avoid them altogether.
- Chaos Dreadnought - The Chaos Dreadnought looks like crap on paper. Same stats compared to the loyalist Dread with one more attack - and the Crazed rule. This gives him a roughly 33% chance of tarding out, either firing on the closest thing (friendly or otherwise) or charging at the closest foe. In spite of its drawbacks the Chaos Dreadnought isn't actually all that bad unless you wind up Fire Frenzying early on - it's a cheap way to get some heavy weapons on the table with solid melee to boot. If Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome are on your side, this thing is absurdly, pants-destroyingly effective. If you're also really good at getting these guys just where you need them, such as making sure that your enemies are just closer than your own guys, you can negate many of the problems that the Crazed rule has. If not, it's inefficient or worse, actively hostile towards your guys with a bad roll. Players that thrive on randomness love this thing though, especially since it's an Elite now and not a Heavy Support choice. Best choice generally is either Plasma Cannon or Twin-Linked Autocannon; the former for the price and the latter because it both minimizes the risk if you get an unlucky crazed roll and because it offers some pretty decent dakka.
- IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION REGARDING FIRE FRENZY: Due to the wording of the fire frenzy rules versus the movement rules and line of sight rules for vehicle weapons in the 5th edition rulebook, the Chaos Dreadnought cannot legally pivot to fire at anything due to the fact that you can only pivot in the movement phase in 5th edition, it can only target units that in its forward firing arc as its line of sight is determined by its weapon's orientation, so it can only fire frenzy on units already in front of it, this does mean it will not turn to face enemies that are directly behind it. This means that yes, rolling fire frenzy is a good thing provided you pay attention to its firing arcs and keep it in front of your forces. Also if you run 3 of them in a line they will not be able to target each other. Anyone who tells you that you must turn around and shoot your own models is forcing you to take an illegal action, that is pivoting in the shooting phase, pivoting is explicitly written as being only possible during the movement phase thus you cannot turn the dreadnought, and must fire on the closest target that is within your weapon's line of sight at the start of the shooting phase. Additionally because pivoting is a move action it cannot pivot because it may not "move" due to the first sentence for fire frenzy that forbids it from moving this turn.
- Slaaneshi Sonic Dreadnought: - See below, under Forgeworld.
- Possessed Marines - As random as the Dreadnought is, it's not a terrible choice. No, that award goes to Possessed Marines. Fair close-combat troops at a glance, they have S5, are Fearless, and have a 5+ Invulnerable save... And then you read the drawbacks: 26 points a pop, and their biggest advantage - their Daemonkin ability - is a random roll. These units have a lot of potential (Feel No Pain S5 Marines would be incredible, as is the "all attacks count as power weapons" variant), but half of what they can roll is either outdone by another ability (Rending) or flat-out sucks (Scouts).
- The part that makes them just fall apart is that even regular Chaos Marines set up for close-combat can be more effective for cost (same number of attacks, only one Strength less, ability to pack a power weapon or power fist). It's even worse when you compare them to Chaos Terminators, which cost negligibly more, have deep strike, built-in power weapons, decent heavy/special weapons, and better armor as part of the bargain and Raptors and Khorne Berserkers, which are cheaper, better in close-combat, and have access to Champions. They're pretty much for flavor only at this point - which is a damned shame because the new possessed models are really nice.
- The only thing that makes them worth a damn is that the Mark of Tzeentch can push them to have 4+ Invuln saves for pretty cheap, which is nice on a dedicated close-combat unit. They still, however, cost way too much for a unit that's much too random unless you can routinely get the blessings of Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome. To be fair, though, if you do use them and do consistently get the power weapon, furious charge, or rending ability, these things will shock you with how quickly they make shit dead. Few armies have counters to entire swarms of 4+ invuln save kitted out screaming power weapon loaded S5 Space Marines.
- The Possessed Marines can make a pretty decent CC option if you buy a rhino for them and accept the fact that they may never even use it. Fleet and Rending aren't great, but a large-ish group with the Mark of Tzeentch can withstand withering fire while footslogging, taking firepower away from your main army. Feel No Pain added to 3+/4++ is cruel, while the benefits of Furious Charge and Power Weapons are obvious. One of the best results is Scouts, which allows you to out-flank some S5 units that can poke holes in rear armor or tie up dedicated ranged units, letting your other Marines advance relatively unmolested. You can even give the Rhino to another unit that needs a transport, or just use the empty METAL BAWKS to screen units. Or they would be, except that you roll for the special rule after deployment and therefore cannot choose to outflank.
General advice: Rhinos are amazing for cost and are a great advantage that all Space Marines, Loyalist or Chaos, have. It's a 35-point upgrade for any Chaos Space Marine troops choice (and Chosen/Possessed/Havocs), so it's pretty much always worth it. Chaos improves their Rhinos greatly via access to Havoc Launchers; this small upgrade boosts the cost to 50 but basically adds a stronger Frag Missile launcher to the thing so it can fire off twin-linked blast templates when it's not actively doing its METAL BOX thing and ferrying your troops into the heart of a battle.
Again, heed the words of the Angry Marines: TAKE RHINOS. ALWAYS. METAL BOXES ARE EMPEROR/CHAOS GOD OF CHOICE'S GIFT TO ALL MARINES EVERYWHERE, LOYAL OR OTHERWISE.
You should take their word for it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All Chaos Troops except Thousand Sons list either a bolt pistol and CCW or a bolter, bolt pistol and CCW - meaning that all of them should have an extra attack which isn't listed in their entries. Berserkers should have three, everyone else should have two. Except Thousand Sons Marines. Always keep this in mind, because it makes all CSMs better in assault than most non-assault loyalist Marine equivalents, and it's an important advantage when loyalists have so many other abilities we don't get. Don't forget about it!
- Chaos Space Marines - The basic Troops choice. You'll get a lot of mileage out of these guys. 15 points each, two cheaper than loyalists, 5-20 per squad, Aspiring Champ costs another 15. To contrast, Marine Sergeants are free. Leadership 9, one higher than loyalists, but And They Shall Know No Fear mitigates this a lot. Champ ups it to Ld10, so take one. Similar weapon choices to loyalists, but our flamers and heavy bolters cost five points (theirs are free) and our plasma guns, meltaguns, multimeltas and missile launchers are all five points higher than loyalist equivalents. The Champ can take a power weapon or fist, a plasma pistol, meltabombs and/or a personal icon for deepstriking Daemons. We lack Combat Tactics and Combat Squads, but the CSM has tricks of its own. For one, the CSM has a bolter, a bolt pistol, and a close combat weapon - this means that it gets two attacks base, making CSMs better at assault. Another thing is the inclusion of icons - for 20-50 points, a squad can be given an Icon of one of the four gods. Slaanesh grants +1 Initiative, Khorne +1 Attack, Tzeentch a 5+ Invulnerable save, and Nurgle +1 Toughness. If you're not taking one of those, take a 10-point icon of Chaos Glory, which lets you reroll failed Morale checks (which is actually more useful than it sounds). You can make a strong CSM unit given all these variables, but the Cult squads tend to be better choices because most of them positively excel at one role more than a generic CSM squad with certain wargear and an icon can.
- One area where Chaos Marines flat-out beat the Cult Marines is in cost-effectiveness. 8 Marines with a Plasma Gun and an Aspiring Champion with a Power Weapon, Melta Bombs, and Bolt Pistol, and a Rhino equipped with a Havoc Launcher is ready for just about any fight for about 220 points. For the same cost, A similar unit of Noise Marines with a Blastmaster would cost almost that much without any secondary wargear, Sonic Blasters, or a Metal Box to ride around in! Suffice to say, Chaos Marines are cheaper and more efficient for when you need general-combat troops.
- Conversely loading them up for melee is also cost-effective, though less so due to the fact that melee Marines need less to be effective. A squad with a Mark of Khorne, Champ with meltabombs, and a Rhino to guarantee they get there in one piece will cost about 225 points and have three attacks (4 for the champ). A similar squad of Berserkers will cost nearly 20 points more, but will give you additional attacks, Furious Charge, and Fearless as part of the bargain, so it's not quite as much of a slam-dunk. On the other hand, the Marines can still shoot like normal during the shooting phase if they have to, something the Khorne Berserkers can't really do (though this is not much of a consolation).
- Far and away, the biggest advantage Chaos Marines have is their versatility. With a solid armor save, 2 attacks in close-combat, strength and toughness 4, and bolters as their main weapon (and access to heavy/special weapons), Just a squad of them can be used differently as circumstances merit, enabling them to go shooty against foes, or switch to melee against foes that are particularly vulnerable in close-combat but threatening inside their "power range" (such as Guardsmen or Fire Warriors).
- Needless to say they're as versatile as hell and wicked cost-effective, and they make for great scoring units. If you have a few points left to blow once all your choices are made, you rarely can go wrong with throwing a few more Marines on the table.
- Worth considering is Bile's upgrades, which can turn a standard CSM squad into a unit at least as good as one of the aligned chaos squads for about the same points-cost.
- Noise Marines - These guys are 20 points apiece and are ideally taken as squads of 8-12. If you're taking these guys, take sonic blasters for five points a model - they're bolters that fire at either Assault 2 or Heavy 3 as needed. Beyond that, they can also take great special weapons - a Doom Siren, which is an S5 AP3 template weapon, and a Blastmaster, which fires at either S5 AP4 Assault 2/Pinning or S8 AP3 Heavy 1/Blast/Pinning. Besides gun choices, they also have I5 to a regular Marine's I4 and, having bolters (or sonic blasters) and bolt pistols/CCWs, they each get two attacks. They aren't pure assaulters, but the higher Initiative means they can be used for it quite well after a softening volley from their blasters and special weapons. Champion upgrade is fifteen points and gives one additional attack and point of Leadership and the ability to take the same options as the regular CSM Champion. If you're doing it, may as well get a power weapon. Don't bother with the fist, you have I5 and it's better on a Skull Champ anyway.
- Khorne Berserkers - These guys aren't quite the unstoppable murder machines of 3rd Edition, but Emperor help anyone you get the charge on. For 21 points a model, you get WS5 Marines with three attacks each and Furious Charge. The Champion, should you upgrade to one, is identical to the rest in gear, profile and cost changes. In this case, like with Noise Champions, the power weapon or fist is actually quite useful - the fist more so because the Skull Champ is only I4 otherwise anyway, and he gets four S8 attacks - five on the charge (and at S9). A word for the wise - a Land Raider actually makes a good transport for these guys. AV14 is a wonderful thing. Plunge it into the centre of a soft formation, unload Berserkers. Laugh maniacally.
- Special Note: again, these guys have bolt pistols and CCWs in addition to the Mark of Khorne - a net of +2A for what *should* be listed as three. Don't just look at a CSM unit entry, read the attacks value and assume that's all they get. These guys all get one more than is listed, and for a pure assault unit, that's utterly critical to keep in mind.
- Plague Marines - These guys are the favorites of many a player, and it's not hard to see why. 23 points each. Pricey. But they get: Feel No Pain, T4(5) and have frag, krak, AND defensive grenades. Players have seen seven of these guys hold thirty Orks in assault for three rounds, contesting an objective with only three losses. They are terrifyingly hard to kill without Battle Cannons, Plasma Weapons, Power Fists, or aggressive close-combat squads with power weapons (which FNP doesn't apply against). In short: these guys can take huge abuse from just about anything, and will require very strong weapons or very specific units to remove. They double on offense, too - with no minimum unit size for weapons and the ability to take a transport, they can be thrown in a METAL BOX and hurled directly at enemy formations with twin meltaguns. FNP means you're going to get those off and possibly more whilst drawing lots of enemy fire away from other units. Beware, however, the unit's low initiative count; most enemies will strike first, and a Power Weapon or two on a fast unit is one of the few things that can fuck up this unit's shit.
- Thousand Sons - Another tough-as-nails unit, and one that can seriously put the hurt on enemies in a big way. They're pricey (23 points each), and have Slow and Purposeful, but they boast AP3 Bolters and a 4+ invulnerable save. Suffice to say they can chew apart virtually any infantry that happens to be in range, barring things like Terminators. They absolutely ream Orks, Necrons, Sisters of Battle, and Tyranids,
and though they strike last in a fight, engaging them in close combat isn't generally a good idea for enemies, since - even though they strike (except for their Sorcerer) at Initiative 1,(actually, they strike in initiative order because SaP doesn't affect this anymore, but due to new FAQ'es if they assault enemy, they still strike at initiative 1 for charging through difficult terrain without assault grenades (any attached IC would solve this problem) their sergeant is still a Sorcerer (with all the Force Weapony goodness that entails) and their 4+ invulnerable save means that a lot of units that otherwise would have an easy time with Chaos Marines, such as Eldar Howling Banshees, will wind up accomplishing little against them. The fact that they can fire then assault due to slow and purposeful only improves their lot. They are dependent on their Sorcerer; if the squad loses him, they will move even slower (though they revert to normal if a Lord/Sorcerer with the Mark of Tzeentch joins 'em). Whilst not quite as tough as Plague Marines (they're only a little less durable), they do better than them against heavy-firepower weapons (such as Starcannons). Like Plagues, they excel at taking and holding objective markers, and ideally are placed 8 or so in a METAL BAWKS. You can give the Mini-Sorcerer a psy power (or even two due to his Mark of Tzeentch); Bolt of Change is generally favored since it gives him the ability to pop enemy transports and allows the Sorcerer to contribute to shooting.
- Lesser Daemons - 13 points. Marine stat-line (but 2 attacks). Have to deep strike. Don't count against your force-organization chart (and, as such, don't count as your minimum 2 troops) but they DO score. They have a special ability hidden in the fine print of the codex, pg. 61 "They can assault in the same turn they enter the game". That being said, Daemons require you to have Icons (either personal, or a squad's Icon of Chaos) on the table or they count as destroyed when they enter play. But they enter within 6" of an icon, and get to charge right away, so they work great as "second wave" units to bail out your assault units if they bite off more than they can chew, or if they're simply more targets than you can engage at once. They lack armor saves (but do have 5+ invulnerable saves) so it's often a good idea to throw them at units that make a mockery of armor (Terminators, Howling Banshees etc) to soften them up for your real units. If nothing else, they provide a cheap scoring unit that your foes are unlikely to divert many resources to disposing of. I personally use them (as my daemonette models go nicely with my noise marines) but they're certainly not for everyone.
- Chaos Bikers - Chaos Bikes have always been iffy, from their inception back in 3rd. Nice to have, but way too expensive in general for what they accomplish. Thankfully, 5th edition improves on them considerably. They're still expensive (and fast), but they can boost their number of attacks with Icon of Khorne, become even tougher (frighteningly so) with Icon of Nurgle, or just be a pain in the ass with Icons of Slaanesh or Tzeentch. They're great for rapid assaults, perfect when you need to deliver a Power Fist or daemon squad/greater daemon directly to an enemy's rear armor, but they're incredibly expensive (and more so with Marks).
- Chaos Raptors - Chaos' Assault Marines. Reasonably priced. Icons and double-special weapons make them respectable. The best out of your FA options. Icon of Slaanesh makes for three I5 attacks each (on the charge), Icon of Khorne gives 4 I4, Icon of Nurgle makes them T5 (and thus harder to kill), and Tzeentch gives them Invulnerable saves; they'll be in close combat, where said save matters most. Whilst Slaanesh and Khorne are easily the best (and cheapest) options, the other two are good too. Flamers are excellent for softening up infantry before a charge and for dealing with cover-camping shits, and Meltaguns will take care of any tank-related problems you have, but
both come at the cost of the bonus Pistol+CCW attackthey still get to keep their pistols and chainswords, unlike their lesser Loyalist counterparts! Don't take a Plasma Gun unless you absolutely KNOW you're going to be occupying buildings or defensible terrain - both of which make doing so worth it; Plasma Guns are moderately expensive and you can't shoot them and charge on the same turn (and for a mobile assault unit that's a pretty nasty drawback). Plasma pistols are a more balanced choice, though their range can be a serious issue. A solid unit, through and through; you can't really go wrong with Raptors.
- Chaos Spawn - A sick joke. No one takes that which must never be named. Not even in funny lists. Not even for flavor. No one sane takes them. They are a strong contender for "Worst unit in all of 40k," which is a hell of an accomplishment. If you take a Sorcerer with the Gift of Chaos power, then - and only then - you might want to keep a couple of these guys around to replace transformed enemy models, but it's not a particularly good power anyway unless you're fucking up tarpits or causing inadvertent friendly fire casualties. Again though, watching Marneus Calgar or the Deceiver getting turned into a Chaos Spawn is absolutely fucking hilarious.
Note from an insane player: They can actually be worth the 40 points. About as tough as a standard Nurgle unit, with a technicality that makes them faster than you'd think. Slow and Purposeful units treat movement as going through difficult terrain; when Beasts go through difficult terrain tests, they double the highest result. With the regular aid of Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome, you can charge headlong into an enemy with what is essentially a miniature Monstrous Creature, deal some serious damage, and tarpit the fuck out of people with serious toughness and wounds value. Of course, this is assuming you can keep it safe from gunfire, but hey; who's gonna suspect that which must not be named to actually do something worth while? Insane player, over and out.
- Defiler - So here's this giant enemy crab-Dreadnought. Your Swiss-army vehicle; can do anything to some degree or another - and do it well. Has better hand-to-hand capability than a Dreadnought (boasting both more attacks and Fleet), better shooting than a Dreadnought (with access to more long-range weaponry, including a Battle Cannon) and it comes Possessed by default. This unit is amazingly flexible; you can have it shoot off plenty of firepower when stationary (It has a Reaper Autocannon, Battle Cannon, and Heavy Flamer by default), can be upgraded to be even more shooty (You can replace the Reaper Autocannon with a Twin-Linked Lascannon or Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter, and the Heavy Flamer can be replaced with a Havoc Launcher). If you want to go shooty, you can fire your arm-guns OR your Battle Cannon. It's Ordnance and even bound Daemons can't handle firing Ordnance as well as a Heavy Flamer. You can go the full Monty for the Assault route, and replace the Autocannon and Flamer for Close-Combat weapons, giving +1 attack each. With its ability to fire off tons of firepower OR rush forward and rape things with its giant crab-claws, this thing is as versatile as units come. Its main drawbacks are that its melee and firing accuracy are average (BS/WS/I3) meaning that Power Fists smack you around and all the other Dreadnoughts except Orks go before you, and they can buy two Deff Dreads to your one Defiler. It's also an extremely large vehicle, and one that will attract a lot of enemy fire, causing enemies to put a lot of resources into attacking its weak point for massive damage.
- Havocs - The cheapest choice, but the worst one. They're the exact same as your Chaos Space Marine troops, except they can take 4 special/heavy weapons at any squad size. Unlike Devastators, you can take special weapons instead of heavies, and at the same cost as generic CSMs - up to four regardless of squad size. These can be used for
relatively cheaphorrendously expensive tank-, MEQ- or horde-hunting units depending on special weapon of choice, and you gain the advantage of being able to move and fire. Chosen can do this too, and they're only paying three points for Infiltrate, Outflank and LD10, as well as being able to take 5 Special Weapons per squad instead of 4. As far as Marks go, avoid Slaanesh and Khorne; those two only really benefit melee units, and generally speaking Havocs aren't supposed to be in melee. Chaos Glory is cheap and gives them a morale boost (useful if they take lots of return fire), but Nurgle and Tzeentch tend to be best, because they give them some much-needed staying power. Mark of Nurgle + good piece of cover = pain in the ass to kill. A havoc squad with four autocannons is pretty much your best bet against forgeworld aircraft in apocalypse games bar hell blade interceptors and hell talon fighter bombers since the Chaos Gods in all their infinite wisdom never gave their servants a single fucking dedicated ground based anti-aircraft unit.
- Land Raider - It's the classic Land Raider pattern (aka, schizophrenic). The Chaos one is slightly
moreless useful than the Loyalist version because Gav decided to knock off the Machine Spirit for a 20pt discount. Fuck you, Gav. It usually serves one of two major roles - as a heavy offensive vehicle (it's expensive but dear Tzeentch does it get the job done whilst being a giant fire magnet in the process) and to insert your huge, nasty, pulsating close combat squad deep into the soft moist folds of your opposition. If you use it for the latter, load it up with Extra Armor, and keep it rolling forward. Never, never take Daemonic Possession - paying points to give your big ass tank a debuff is retarded. You'll miss the BS4 more than missing one turn of firing from a Crew Shaken.Don't be such a pussy - ALL the guns on that bitch are twin-linked! Slam a Havoc Launcher on that bitch and start dropping templates. It's also possible to combine the two roles, by having it transport a Havoc Squad or the like and/or acting as a mobile strongpoint in defense.
- Obliterators - A long time Chaos army favorite with plenty of Dakka fitted in a small, deadly package. Formerly the Techmarines of their chapters, Obliterators have contracted a warp-contagion that sears their flesh to their armor and causes their weaponry, likewise, to be subsumed. In time they have become enormous arcano-cyborgs, not quite marine, not quite machine, not quite daemon. They're tough as hell and can take phenomenal punishment. For 75 points, you get a model with 2 wounds, a 2+ armor save, 5+ invulnerable save, Fearless, and the ability to Deep Strike. Suffice to say, they can find a role in damned near any army, since they can soak up damage and demolish squads in pretty short order. Timing is everything with an Obliterator drop, and you need to know when to drop them to deal with a problem unit, be it a cover-camping squad of Fire Warriors or a big squad of Space Marine tacticals. Getting them into heavy cover basically turns them into a strongpoint. They're also decent in assaults, but make sure you keep them away from faster units with power weapons (Howling Banshees come to mind), as Obliterators use Power Fists, ergo giving them Initiative 1. You likewise want to avoid getting them tarpitted, because they will lose their purpose for the bulk of the game because it takes them forever to kill anything not a vehicle or small squad in close-combat.
The Oblit's list of usable weaponry(They all come in a single model):
- Plasma Cannon
- Twin-linked Flamer
- Twin-linked Plasma Gun
- Twin-linked Melta gun
- Power Fist
- Chaos Predator - Pretty much the same as the loyalist version except the Chaos version gets the traditional Chaos-only upgrades. In addition, Gav slapped on an extra 15pts over the Loyalists for no reason. Fuck you Gav. The Predator is a good overall vehicle, whose main drawback is that it's not quite the all-in-one package as some of the other heavy support choices Chaos can field - and those slots are absolutely critical. That said, the Predator is mighty cost-effective and can be extremely solid on both offense and defense. The preferred loadout is a Predator Destructor (Autocannon turret) with Lascannon Sponsons and a Havoc Launcher - hell of a solid offensive vehicle for 150 points that can handle most situations as-needed. Still, it fights for the slot against stiff competition from the Defiler, which fills several of the same roles for about the same cost. On the other hand, the Predator is a hell of a lot more durable. If all else fails, you can get a no-frills Autocannon/Heavy Bolter Pred for 100 points, which is pretty damned efficient. Overall, it's one of the better choices available to Chaos as far as close support goes, but it does use up an all-too-precious heavy support slot in an army that needs to make use of every single one they've got.
- Chaos Vindicator - No longer is the Chaos Vindicator the sole property of the Iron Warriors! Dozer Blade included, but no Siege Shield option. Better than the loyalist version for several reasons, not the least of which is that it
can mount a Havoc Launcher so it can fire whilst moving in to close the gaps between the enemyit's moving 12" every turn until it's in range, and Daemonic Possession helps with this. and its Demolisher Cannon, which will basically win back its points the second it fires. Heavy front armor and intense firepower means that this thing will draw huge amounts of abuse. If you throw Daemonic Possession on this thing, you will have a field day watching players go to obscene lengths to kill/get away from it.
- Chaos Storm Eagle: 20 pts. cheaper than a loyalist Storm Eagle, still a fast attack, can't take a Typhoon Missile Launcher instead of its Heavy Bolter, but can upgrade to a Reaper Autocannon for free. It also loses the Power of the Machine Spirit rule, like every other Chaos unit, but everything else is otherwise the same. You can buy Possession for this thing, which is recommended. Take a MASSIVE squad of marines (20!) or a full squad of termies and away you go!
- Chaos Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought: Similar to the loyalist version, in that it has a WS5, S7, FA13 and Fleet all in one death-slinging package. However, they cost 20 points more than a loyalist Contemptor since they replace Atomantic Shielding with a Hellfire Reactor, which allows the Chaos Contemptor a 4+ save against glancing hits and a 6+ save against pens. Oh, and he deals a S2 AP2 I10 autohit to any enemy psyker in base contact, in case you face Gey Knights. The Contemptor also has the advantage over the regular Chaos Dreadnoughts in that it isn't totally insane and gets access to weapons like Heavy Conversion Beamers, Chainfists, and Plasma Blasters (an assault 2, 18" Plasma Gun). In addition to those, they can also mount Butcher Cannons (36", S8, AP4, Heavy 4), Havoc Launchers and Soul Burners (a half-range Havoc Launcher with Rending that Ignores Cover). Oh, and they can be dedicated to chaos gods - you remember how cool that was in 3rd edition right?
- Khorne: Your Contemptor gets the Rage USR and +d3 Attacks on the charge instead of +1. Slap a DCW or chainfist on this mother and run at shit.
- Tzeentch: Bolt and flame weapons become AP3 and the Contemptor re-rolls 1's in close combat. Double up on Heavy Flamers and chase spess muhrines out of cover.
- Nurgle: Glancing and penetrating hits suffer an additional -1 on the vehicle damage chart against the Contemptor. Trollolololol!
- Slaanesh: No, you don't get your sonic weapons back, but you do get +1 initiative and count as having assault grenades.
- Decimator Daemon Engine: It's the Chaos Contemptor's retarded brother, taking up an Elites slot. Costs a little less, not as well armoured (12/12/11) and not as fighty (WS/BS/I 3) at first. But after reading its rules, you'll notice that it's immune to shaken/stunned because of possession, and has "Unholy Vigour" which means it can regrow weapons and legs on 5+, nullify any weapon destroyed/immobilized roll on a 5+, AND can revive itself from a Wrecked result on a 6+ ON ANY TURN! The only downside is that rolling a 1 once it's wrecked means it stays dead for good, but why look a gift horse in the mouth? The Decimator can give up one or both of its claws to mount the following weapons:
- Decimator Siege Claws: your Decimator comes stock with two of these, providing a total of 4 S8 Lightning Claw attacks that get 2D6 (select the highest) for armor penetration. They also have built-in Heavy Flamers, which allow you to make D6 flame attacks against anyone inside a building or transport.
- Butcher Cannon: Identical to the Contemptor's, and helpful against things like Dreadnoughts and medium armor. When bought as a pair, can lay down withering, high-strength fire support.
- Storm Laser: 36" S6 AP3 Heavy D3+2. The laser is best purchased as a pair like the Butcher Cannon. Most effective on Tyranid Monstrous Creatures, Necron heavy infantry, Eldar Aspect Warriors and Blood Angels. Regular Spess Muhrines and MEQ troops will more often than not just cower in cover, taking pot shots with Krak missiles and the like, but the aforementioned might be more willing to run out of cover, making them laser bait!
- Soul Burner Petard: Like the Contemptor's, only it doesn't Ignore Cover and does drop a pie plate. What this weapon will do though is smash Orks/Bugs/Guard and all other manner of tarpits to dust. You only need to buy one of these (Ordnance weapon), retaining a Siege Claw for the fighty bastards that get too close.
- Heavy Conversion Beamer: The camper's delight (can't move and shoot), most expensive at +35 pts., and you can only have one per Decimator. This is the only anti-tank weapon the Decimator gets yet it's only useful at the longest ranges against the largest tanks/TEQ units. Not particularly useful save for extremely large boards. And given the Decimator's relatively low BS (and steep loss of AP for enemies within 42"), you're probably better off with Storm Lasers (against Marines/MEQs) or Butcher Cannons (against Eldar, Tau, Guard, etc).
- The Decimator can be dedicated to one of the Gods (Note: you require an independent character with that same mark in order to do so) for +15 pts. as follows:
- Khorne: +2 attacks for charging, rather than +1.
Not a bad choice at all, especially if you're going the double claw route.Okay if you can't fit an IC with a different Mark into your army, but Nurgle and Tzeentch are easily better for exactly the same price, while Slaanesh at least lets you strike simultaneously with Marines and MEQs.
- Nurgle: Can re-roll ALL Unholy Vigour tests! Arguably the best, no matter what the load-out. In higher-point games, think of it like a Possessed Vindicator: send it barreling towards enemy lines, wreak havoc until dead, and then watch with delight as it likely ends up with a 1/3 chance of getting back up for more once your enemy thinks it's dead. If Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome are with you, your enemy's armor will have advanced just far enough for you to introduce their rear armor to Mr. and Mrs. Siege Claws.
- Slaanesh: Counts as armed with assault and defensive grenades. Better than Khorne against Orks/Nids, but you can do better.
- Tzeentch: Re-roll to-hits of 1's for shooting attacks and counts Heavy Flamers (if any) as S6. A solid choice that plays to the Decimator's strengths while boosting one of its weaknesses.
- Khorne: +2 attacks for charging, rather than +1.
- Slaaneshi Sonic Dreadnought: It's really easy to miss since It's just a footnote in Apocalypse II. While they are presented as an Apoc formation, the page's footnote clearly states you can upgrade any Dread in a regular Chaos Space Marine army, as long as it includes a unit of Noise Marines. You basically pay 20 points for a Dirge Caster and assault grenades and the option to take a Doom Siren in place of a Heavy Flamer (a nice upgrade from AP4 to AP 3), a pair of Sonic Blasters instead of a twin-linked Heavy Bolter and a Blastmaster instead of a twin-linked Autocannon. It suffers from all the shortcomings of a regular Chaos Dread (which are fewer in number since the FAQ that improved the results of a Fire Frenzy roll), but it may be a good choice in a fluffy Emperor's Children list. Also, how can you say no to more sonic goodness?
- Blood Slaughterer: Yes, it really is called a Blood Slaughterer. Yes, that's the stupidest name for anything EVER, but it fits. Raging, possessed, WS5/BS1 dreadnought with 2 dread CCW's and gets +D3 attacks on the charge. They also get the option to take a ranged weapon called an impaler, which
you should flat out ignore because they are BS1anyway hits on 4+ regardless of BS, end act exactly as Blood Angels magna-graple, except it allows you to drag monstrous creatures too. They can be taken in vehicle squadrons of 3, cost a scant 130 points but do require a squad of Berserkers to field.
- Hellblade: Chaos' own fast skimmer with super sonic and aerial assault (because everyone else has one now), comes with two AND ONLY TWO EVER reaper autocannons, which is nice because it's only BS3. Can be possessed for +20 points bringing the whole thing in at 150 points. If you can't fit raptors or havocs into your list, you could always settle for one of these in your fast attack slots, but don't expect it to survive: AV10 all around makes it thin skinned. In Apocalypse this becomes a fully fledged flyer, allowing it to hate on heavy infantry and light vehicles with impunity, while it's high volume of decent strength shots make it deadly against other flyers. Be warned, even a Fighta-Bommer's defensive big shootas or a fucking Pintle mounted Stormbolter can blow this thing out of the sky due to it's shitty armour.
- Hell Talon (Apocalypse Only): Oh, you thought 'Blood Slaughterer' was a stupid name? A fighter bomber, with it's single autocannon it can put holes in heavy infantry, light vehicles, and aircraft, with it's bombs it can blow apart blobs in a glorious inferno, and with its twin linked lascannon it can put holes in enemy tanks, making Mech Guard and Nidzilla cry. Another nice feature is that if the enemy army is light in MEQ units, you can swap out the autocannon for a havoc launcher instead to really get some pie plate hate on things.
- Harbinger (Apocalypse Only): A big ass bomber that carries death from above in an durable and retardedly well armed package. It has enough bombs to pretty much cover smaller boards in pieplates, and it's gun underside mounted autocannons to get some more hate on the suckers down below. However, for a flyer it is slow, and it is an oh so juicy target for your enemy's anti-air. This thing NEEDS escort if there are enemy fighters in the skies or it WILL be blown out of the sky.
- Dreadclaw Assault Pod: The Chaos Space Marine version of the loyalist drop pod, the Dreadclaw has the nifty advantage of NOT being immobile. Unfortunately, it eats a fast attack slot but it can deep strike a squad of marines (DON'T use this for terminators, it's a waste of points) or a dreadnought AND it has better armour than a rhino.
- Giant Chaos Spawn: Instead of being terminally useless like basic spawns, Giant Chaos Spawns OHHH EMPEROR SAVE ME NOOOOOOHHHHGGRRRAAAARRRRGGHHSSSSHHHKKKRRRR have some nifty advantages: they're monstrous creatures with S/T6 and 4 wounds, they feel no pain and they have a 4+ armour save. The downside is that they're still slow and purposeful, cost 3 times more than a regular spawn and take up an elites slot.
Oh and autocannons and heavy bolters ignore it's armour saves.That's why it has FnP!
- Spined Chaos Beast: Technically a daemonic construct like the other daemon engines, but made from flesh instead of metal. It's a monstrous creature with WS5, S7, T6, 4 wounds and a 5+ invulnerable save - why other chaos vehicles don't get at least some of these perks will remain a mystery. Taken as a heavy support choice and can also be aligned with one of the dark gods for even more goodies!
- Khorne: +15 pts., rage and furious charge. It's alright, but for 15 points, there are better.
- Slaanesh: +10 pts., +1 initiative (for a total of 5). The cheapest and worst of them all; man the fuck up and get the Mark of Khorne already.
- Nurgle: +20 pts., feel no pain! One of the two better choices for this guy.
- Tzeentch: +15 pts, 5++ gets buffed to 4++. The other better choice.
- Plague Hulk: Essentially a soulgrinder of Nurgle with a poisoned 3+ S5 AP3 flamer and a rending, half-range battle cannon with 2 fewer strength. It also gets a 5+ cover save. It is costly at 205 pts. and requires a squad of plague marines to field.
- Plague Ogryns: a 50 pts./model ogryn with S6, FnP and D6 poisoned 2+ attacks. Just like everything Nurgle here, they require you to take a squad of plague marines to field these as elites. Unfortunately, they are slow and purposeful, so your call.
- Blight Drone: Possessed fast skimmer with a reaper autocannon and a mawcannon. At 120 pts., it's a nifty fast attack vehicle so long as your army has a squad of Plague Marines.
- Feral Titan: A chaos Warhound Titan, what works for the Warhound works for this thing.
- Chaos Reaver Titan: Like the Feral, this doesn't differ from the Imperial version much, use it like you'd use it's loyalist counterpart.
Building your Army
The same fucking advice /tg/ gives for everyone: Start with 2 troops and an HQ choice.
Recommendations include a Chaos Lord and 2 basic Marine squads with Rhinos.
The Chaos Marine Battleforce Box is a good start, giving you a Rhino, Khorne Berserker Squad, enough bitz for 2 Chaos Marine Squads, and a 5-strong Possessed Squad for about 90 bucks (You can find it much cheaper on eBay, and have the satisfaction of not sponsoring Games Workshop's rampant price inflation).
You'll still need a commander (and you have a shitton of options for even a basic Chaos Lord), but it's a good starting force for a newcomer.
Other than the Possessed, of course. But even they can be used to make nifty conversions, so it's not all bad.
How the fuck did I end up on this page from a google search for CSM battleforce?
- The Drop-and-Spray: (Tzeentch-Only) This tactic involves the use of a Chaos Lord with Terminator Armor, a Mark of Tzeentch, and a Deathscreamer and, ideally, a Combi-Melta. Just pair him with a squad of Terminators (preferably with combi-meltas/combi-flamers and either a Reaper Autocannon Terminator or a Heavy Flamer terminator). Then have a team with an Icon charge (using a METAL BOX) into range (they can deep-strike with pinpoint accuracy within 6" of the Rhino) and deep-strike the entire formation of Terminators right into rapid-fire range - and then unload their weaponry. Between the Bolters and special weapons of the Terminators and Deathscreamer of the Lord, this will drop an armor-shredding volume of firepower right into the enemy ranks. Mark of Tzeentch will ensure this squad survives to continue to be a pain in the ass for the rest of the game, one that enemies will devote a truly ridiculous amount of firepower to destroying (especially in the case of the Terminators) - to very limited avail. Just as planned. For even more Dakka, keep a few icons on your termies to drop in some obliterators.
- Maximum Fuck: (Khorne-Only) Coined for the name of an Angry Marines battle barge, this attack solves the problem of getting squads into close-combat in the least efficient way possible; grab a fully-kitted-out Berserker squad (Lord optional but recommended), and shove the lot of them into a possessed Land Raider. Be sure that the squad has an Icon. Zoom into close range, using the Land Raider's assault vehicle trait to ensure your troops arrive to thrust deep into the soft moist folds of your opposition. Now that you're in combat, use the icon to call down a Daemon Pack or two to help out.
- Cut and Thrust: (Slaanesh-Only) Simple, simple, simple. Grab a 10-strong squad of standard Chaos Marines, load them up with a pair of flamers, an Icon of Slaanesh, and give their Aspiring Champion a Power Weapon and (optionally) Melta Bombs. Give them a Metal Box. With Initiative 5, they will strike before the vast majority of enemy troops, and their access to Flamers will add a shitton of hits to the shooting phase as they rush in. When they arrive, you should have precious little trouble dispatching most enemies that aren't dedicated close combat troops, and it's fairly frightening just how cost-effective this can be if exploited correctly. Bile them up and they're even more insane.
- Anthrax, Bane of Tarpits: (Nurgle-Only) An ongoing problem with Chaos Marine armies is that, due to the cost per-unit of their troops, they are easily Tarpitted. There is, however, a way around this, and it involves the use of a Nurgle Sorcerer with Nurgle's Rot and optionally Wind of Chaos - ideally paired with a small group of Plague Marines and a Metal Box. Press forward, and use Nurgle's Rot and Wind to deal with the Tarpit the old-fashioned way, optionally separating the Sorcerer from the Plague Marines whilst the Marines get stuck in on-purpose. Wind can deal with the enemy being cover-camping shits on the opening turn, whilst Nurgle's Rot can be used even when the Sorcerer is in close-combat - or when his targets are! Approach during the movement phase (whilst the Plague Marines have the tarpit tied) and drop this thing to splatter every model within 6 inches with an automatic Strength 3 hit. Between the Plague Marines' natural resilience and the sheer volume of hits this adds to the mix, even a fuckhuge blob of Kroot will be bled dry within a turn or two!
- Breaker-Bunker: (Universal/Tzeentch) An untested formation designed to maximize survivability in high-point games. Designed to get your troops where they need to go (usually straight into enemy lines, hence Breaker). Focuses on four vehicles: two Rhinos, a Vindicator, and a Land Raider. Two Troops, one for each Rhino, Termies in the Raider, and a Sorcerer or Lord with the Termies. Everything should have Possession except the Raider (for accuracy), and all vehicles have Havoc Launchers. Dirge Caster the Raider and Vindicator, and give the Raider Dozer Blade. Set up the Vindicator with the Rhinos to either side and Raider directly behind, in tight formation (hence Bunker). Send this pain-train right towards points or gunlines. Get as close as possible to the enemy, then dump a Demolisher shot onto the enemy lines and move the Raider (and possibly Rhinos) past the Vindicator and Tank Shock/disembark everything. Watch chaos ensue. I chose to put Thousand Sons and a Sorcerer in for a shooting and invo boost to the army; and because leaving enemy units far-flung and transportless with two Bolt of Change-sniping Rhinos is great fun. The Sorcerer drops out with Warptime, Gift and Wind of Chaos to deal with tarpits and ICs alike, and comes with four wound-allocating Termie Champions. Three Chainfists, a pair of Lightning Claws, a combi-Melta, a Heavy Flamer, and a Mark of Tzeentch between the four of them. Versatile, but still good at chewing up general close combatants. Melta-bombs in all core squads just for dealing with tanks.
- Tank-Tics - Just because Chaos tanks aren't quite on level with the greats of the Imperium doesn't mean they're slouches - they cost little and have lots of armor. For big lulz, load up three Predator Tanks with all the trimmings and bring them into a 1500-point game. Unless the opponent plays Dark Eldar or is loaded with anti-tank weapons, they'll have precious little that can deal with 450 points of AV13 front armor making a pain in the ass of itself. If points is an issue, drag in the default versions instead, which give you a lot of dakka to throw around for 300 points.
- Plasma/Flamer Drop - One humorous advantages Raptors have over their loyalist counterparts is that they don't lose their close-combat weapons and chainswords when upgrading with a special weapon. One criminally-underused but potentially effective tactic involves exploiting their deep-strike capabilities to seize an objective. Load the squad up with Plasma weaponry, hot-drop it near the target, and either occupy the immediate area (especially with a building handy) or bunker down. Raptors may not be quite as effective at this as say, certain other factions' jump troops, but it can catch a lot of players by surprise, which can come in handy. You can get more mileage, however, out of the opposite of this technique; if you're dealing with cover-camping enemies, load a Raptor squad with Flamers and drop them right on the enemy's head. 2 templates later, that Guardian Squad, Warrior Squad, or Guardsman Unit that was giving your forces a headache is now on fire, and a few rounds of CQC later, is either dead or a non-issue.
- Daemon Engine Rampage - This is a Forgeworld-only tactic, so it will require that you have the dough to one of these setups. Anyway, here's what you do: take a full squad of blood slaughterers (3) and back them up with a decimator, defiler or plague hulk. If taking a decimator, load it up with two guns, dedication to Nurgle and smoke launchers; if you're rolling with a defiler, you may want to roll with ranged-weapon upgrades like reaper autocannons, lascannons, etc. March the bloodslaughterers forward under the cover of the ranged-weapon daemon engines; the decimator works best for this because of its Unholy Vigour special rule.
- The Blitz(Apoc Only) - Flyers. NOTHING but flyers. Harbingers raining fire and death down on the enemy while lascannon-carrying Hell Talons zoom around breaking things like Hydras and Lightnings and Hellblades mop up the survivors. Much like the Dark Eldar, this tactic is pure undiluted rape if used correctly but you are going down in flames if you make even a single mistake.