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?