Chaos: The Riddle of Troops

Reecius here to toss my two cents in the Chaos discussion.

We’ve got book summaries out the wazoo on Chaos right now, so I will skip that. Instead I want to talk about the limitations I’ve had and that others I have spoken to have had: deciding on a list.

The Chaos book is great, I am really enjoying it quite a bit and in my opinion, is a big step up from the previous book as I feel it has quite a few viable builds as opposed to essentially one. There is a lot of flexibility and customization in the book (and a beautiful book it is!) that will give both the hobbyist and tournament gamer a lot of material to work with.

However, where to start? Typically when I pick up a Codex, I see a list in it fairly quickly that really speaks to me as something I would enjoy playing. However in this case, it just isn’t happening. A number of folks I have talked to are saying the same thing. I love the Characters, the new Dinobot units, er, I mean Daemon Engines, and all the rest. I feel a bit spoiled for choice, actually!

So, what’s the issue?

What to do with your troops!

Much like Black Templars in 5th ed, I feel like this Codex has so much punch and cool combos, but I am stumped with the troops section. Typically, this is where my lists win or loses the game, particularly in 6th. However with Chaos, again much like last edition, I find myself scratching my head and not loving any of the choices.

Last edition you could plop Plague Marines down and you were good to go. Not a very exciting choice, but a solid one none-the-less. This edition you can do the same thing, but when you take away Rhinos from the mix, and the less mechanized environment, increase in the amount of objectives you need to hold and only being able to take a single objective with 1 unit, Plague Marines lose a little of what made them awesome before. They’re still great, don’t get me wrong, they just aren’t the clear standout, IMO.

Chaos Space Marines jumped out at me at first, but to give them any teeth, they start to rack up points. Not being fearless or having any ability to modify morale hurts a lot. I can see using little 5 man units strictly for taking objectives working, or naked 10 man units for the same purpose and a lot more endurance, but sinking points into them just increases the loss if they run away or get run down. When you look at them next to Tac Marines or especially Grey Hunters, they really compare badly. But then, what troops compare well to Grey Hunters? Haha. A 20 man unit with a Choppy Character is no joke, but pricey and requires that they be babysat by that precious HQ slot.

Chosen could be quite good in an MSU build (I mean, 30 plasma gun wielding troopers with 2 attacks base, and a BP/CCW is nothing to sneeze at) but they suffer 5 man marine squad syndrome: easy to kill. You come up against a list that can shrug off plasma (or melta, etc) and you’re goose is cooked. It is so easy to dump points into these guys, you have to discipline yourself or end up with 30pt models that die like Marines. I still like this option (I am thinking about doing this for my Night Lords and making the entire army with characters from the awesome Night Lords books) but it isn’t a clear winner to me, either.

Berzerkers are the same as last edition: a lack luster assault unit. I still love the bunny-eared psychos, but they just don’t do much but disappoint in most cases. They’re great against light infantry, but so is dang near everything else. They’re just too expensive for their hitting power in general, IMO. I want to be wrong as I have an entire Forgeworld Khorne army! Let me know if you all have had success with a Zerker based list.

1K Sons look like fun, but not being able to run, or overwatch is a bit of a bummer for a unit that is meant to take objectives and rely on their very awesome guns. Plus, again, the expense! They die like dogs to small arms fire. You need LOTS of scoring options this edition to be reliable in all the missions, and with loads of infantry on the table, 1K Sons will hit hard, but whither to volume of fire attacks where their high points cost will really hurt. If only transports didn’t stink so much right now…

Noise Marines definitely look like the stand-outs to me at this point. 130 points gets you 5 men and a Blast master. Not bad. 5, I5, Fearless marines with a great heavy weapon. Very good for holding back field objectives. You can kit them up a bit and send them up field as an aggressive objective taker and they do quite well. Add a Doom Siren, a Power Weapon and you have a nice combo. I am not sold on Sonic Weapons in this load out as if you move they only have 12″ range and you can’t assault after. Not bad at all, and ignoring cover is great, but not amazing. I think running them with Bolter, Bolt Pistol and CCW will be the sweet spot for most of my load outs.

Lastly, Cultists. A nice little scoring unit. As a 10 man unit, they are great for reserving, hiding, and jumping onto an objective late game to win it for their Chaos Masters. For anything else? Not so much! Like Chaos Space Marines, if you toss in a choppy lord (Kharn!) they can be quite good, but they require support if you are going to put any points into them and not see it run off the table.

The solution to a LOT of these issues is sticking a Lord in the unit to make them fearless. The only issue is that you only have 2 max, and that is if you don’t want to take any of other fun options in the book. I love the Lords, but Psychic powers in this edition are a blast, and I don’t want to skip out on them!

Now, I am not saying any of these units are bad at all, just that I am stumped as to how I want to build it out at this early stage. Frankie has been using two big blobs of Nurgle Marked Cultists led by Nurgle Lords on Palanquins in his Epidemus list and that is pretty dang good. I have been trying Khorne units and not been having the best results yet, although I am confident there is a way to make the angry boyz in red work in a competitive setting.

Ultimately I think a mix of units will be strongest. A mix of cheap, expendable dedicated scoring units, and tough, aggressive objective taking units. But then, again, you need a Lord to unlock most of those options as Troops, which limits your options. It is a bit of a puzzle, but one I am enjoying working through!

Here is a double header video bat rep of Frankie, Israel and I trying out some different lists and units. And guys, we’re still learning the rules too, so don’t be surprised if you see a couple goofs in there.

What are you all using for your troops choices and how are they working for you?


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

23 Responses to “Chaos: The Riddle of Troops”

  1. Avatar
    mercutioh October 10, 2012 6:55 am #

    I think you’re discounting the Icon of Excess on either the Noise Marines or even normal CSM with a mark of Slaanesh. Plague Marines from 5th have shown how versatile and resilient FNP can be. Mixing and matching Plague Marines with Excess Noise Marines (or slaaneshi CSM) Gives you both the ability to rush forward with the Slaanesh contingent while sitting back on objectives with the Nurgle boys. Add in Chaos’ overabundance of long range shooting solutions and Fast attack squads and you’ve got a recipe for board control and versatility. you can even counteract the spendy nature of the beast with the icons by taking large troop units in the slaaneshi contingent.

    Plus to get Plague Marines as troops you can take the ever Lovely Typhus and keep your Psyker sillyness.

    The only option that seems to be a non option to me is the Berzerkers and Khorne in general. 6th is a shooty edition at it’s height and punching people in the face without the ability to deep strike threats and assault the following turn is a real drag.

    P.S. Check your email for an Abbadon List I want your Opinion on when you get a minute.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:14 pm #

      The only issue I have with Icons is that they can be sniped out. They’re really expensive and really vulnerable. I won’t be using them much as I feel a canny opponent will just focus on dropping them.

  2. Avatar
    D-ManA October 10, 2012 7:39 am #

    I think Reecius you are missing out on the bigger picture with this codex. It is my oppinion that GW wants the game to expand and they are wanting us to go bigger point and make use of the duel force org. chart. Increase in HQ, elite, troop, fast and heavy options, plus the making some the older options more useful all point to this. If this codex is any indication on how the other ones are going to be then people need to get away from the 1500-1750pt mind frame imo.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:16 pm #

      Well, I agree and disagree. Frankie and I actually spoke to one of the developers of 6th ed and he said point blank the game was designed to be played at 1500pts and 2000pts with double FOC.

      The issue though, is that in tournament play, 2K is too long, people don’t finish games, and 1500pts turns people off. 1750 is logistically the only size game we’ve found that fits in a realistic time frame.

  3. Avatar
    Murphus October 10, 2012 8:15 am #

    For Khorne, I think you really need to get early pressure on the enemy to keep them off your zerks.

    Chaos Lord @ 145
    -Mark of Khorne, Jugg, Axe of Blind Fury

    15 Berzerkers @ 330
    -Icon of Wrath, MBomb, Power Sword
    15 Berzerkers @ 330
    -Icon of Wrath, MBomb, Power Sword

    10 Cultists @ 50
    10 Cultists @ 50

    5 Spawn @ 150
    5 Spawn @ 150

    Heldrake @ 170

    Maulerfiend @ 125
    Maulerfiend @ 125
    Maulerfiend @ 125


    This puts 5/6 Units up in your opponents face the first turn that are beyond hard to stop from reaching you by the second turn. The zerks are the mopping up units after your spawns and fiends are likely dead. Heldrake is to get rid of those units in say hammer and anvil deployment that are hard to get at.

    If you dont like being spammy, drop a mauler fiend and a spawn to add another lord on juggernaught with the black mace for some symmetry.

    • Avatar
      GiantKiller October 10, 2012 5:47 pm #

      Murphus, I love the Juggy Lord and Spawn so much I did a whole article about them:

      But I think you’re light on troops for 1750. 4 scoring units is low at that level to begin with, and two of yours are throwaways with no morale control. The other two are big zerker squads that would rather be killing than scoring objectives and can’t go to ground.

      I think the real problem with Zerkers as troops is the problem with virtually any melee unit as troops – they need to be where the enemy is to kill them, but they need to be on objectives to score. Assuming the enemy isn’t sitting right on the objectives, the unit often has to choose between contributing to the fight or scoring the objective. Its that difficulty/conflict in positioning the unit correctly that makes the unit less than ideal.

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 11, 2012 3:28 pm #

        I agree with your analysis. And, any melee troop based on Marine stats will always be sub par.

        You need reliable scoring units to be competitive in 6th ed, and non cult troops just aren’t. One bad assault and bye bye, birdie.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:18 pm #

      I’ll have to try that out. And I don’t mind spam, I prefer lots of variety, but if you can make it work with this list, you can make it work. My only issue is that those AV12 monsters get owned so fast. They really aren’t hard to kill.

      The Chaos Lord on Jugger is tits! Soooo good!

  4. Avatar
    mercitioh October 10, 2012 8:18 am #

    A. valid point man but regardless of GWs intent tourneys will still be played. and as such games will have time limitations. As such there needs to be a lower.limit to get

    a game in . Unless the intent of GW is to have us all played out squads with every option selected… in which case 2k will be just fine

    • Avatar
      D-ManA October 11, 2012 5:33 am #

      In my area our local gamestore runes two tournaments a month nothing fancy or big. We have been playing 2000pts for most of them since 6th ed came out at two hour time limits. I admit that at the beggening it was slow with players still learning the rules, but as we become more familiar with the rules our games move more quick. This past Saturday at one of our tournaments all three of my games went 5 or more turns. We are allowed to use allies, duel force org, and any fortifications. The winner of the event sets the points for the next months event for that time slot and for the most part we are keeping it at 2k.

      • Avatar
        mercitioh October 11, 2012 6:56 am #

        Where’s your area leant in!

        • Avatar
          mercitioh October 11, 2012 6:58 am #

          Err I want that is stupid auto correct

          • Avatar
            D-ManA October 11, 2012 8:08 am

            Lol we are located in Oklahoma north centralish :o)

  5. Avatar
    Mark October 10, 2012 8:30 am #

    Reecius, I believe you need 10 Noise marines to take a blastmaster. I’m becoming a big fan of two things in the book (but I need more play-testing proof), close combat noise marines, moving up in a Dirge Caster Rhino, probably with an FNP Icon.

    I also really like the Chaos Spawn, either plain, marked with Nurgle (T6 and 3 wounds O_O), or marked with Slaanesh (mmm I4 with a bunch of attacks). The Spawn are so fast, can get the assault on round 2 against a target of their choice (generally), and are fairly cheap for 15 T5 wounds.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:29 pm #

      I believe you are right, I misread it. I agree on the dirge caster, that thing is awesome! And yes, assault Noise Marines are what I think I will be using.

      Spawn are great! I love the models and now they’re good, too!

  6. Avatar
    David October 10, 2012 9:36 am #

    Maybe you should have thought about that before joining Horus.

    I get so sick of talking to Chaos Marines… “boo-hoo, waaah wahh. I want to ‘know-no-fear’ but I just don’t anymore”

    Sorry guys, you didn’t have to choose to rebel. You could have been an Ultra Marine.

    Just saying. =)

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:30 pm #

      Hahaha, but, but, Horus was cool!

  7. Avatar
    David October 10, 2012 9:41 am #

    In all seriousness, I think you were heading in the right direction with your last few comments. It looks like GW is promoting a more combined arms/diversified format where you have to make hard choices and you can’t get everything you want in one list. Maybe I am wrong, but I would be interested to see if this trend continues in future codexes.


    • Avatar
      J4ck_Fr0st October 11, 2012 11:54 am #

      I feel like people are having a remarkably hard time moving away from the “find an OP unit, spam et nauseum” of fifth edition into the balanced lists of sixth. Not everything is going to work in a vacuum like it did in the old rules.

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 11, 2012 3:33 pm #

        If that was directed at me, I think you mistook the point of my article, which was that I just couldn’t decide on a unit/combination of units that I wanted to use.

        I like variety and that is one of the things I enjoy most about 6th!

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:32 pm #

      I agree. I prefer having a diverse range of units in a list. Spam doesn’t bother me, but I think the game is more fun with variety.

      As I said in the article, my issue isn’t that there isn’t a clear winner, but that I can’t figure out which units I want to go with. It’s a good dilemma!

  8. Avatar
    Spiders October 10, 2012 1:42 pm #

    Perhaps a way to make non-cult marines feerless is to have a demon herald join the unit. You can buy 2 heralds for 1 HQ slot.

    Just a thought.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2012 3:31 pm #

      Heralds can only join units of Daemons I believe. I left my Daemon codex at home so I can’t double check that.

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