Chaos: The Riddle of Troops Continued

Hey everyone, Reecius  here to continue

our conversation from last week about Chaos builds and the troops section.

Last week we talked about how to best utilize troops in a

Chaos list and the conundrum I was in as to what units to take. And also, I

agree that you cannot take a Blastmaster until you have a full 10 Noise Marines

in a unit. Thanks for pointing that out, I misread the rule initially.

Judging by the comments (and sorry I wasn’t able to respond

to any comments last week, it was too busy in the shop) I think that I either

didn’t communicate the point well enough or some folks were missing it.

The issue I was and am having—and that quite a few folks I

have talked to are also experiencing—is that Chaos troops are either too

expensive for what you get, or too unreliable for a competitive build. What do

I mean by that?

Am I complaining about the book? Not at all, I really like

it! I think Phil Kelly did a great job establishing internal balance within the

book, captured a lot of flavor of Chaos and in general gave us a really good

product. From a competitive standpoint though, the troops give me trouble. I am

not at all saying they’re bad, just not optimal. I would like to hear your

feedback as well, though as it always makes me happy to hear folks finding a

way to win with a unit I had thought was not good.

So, here’s what I am driving at. In order to stay

competitive in 6th ed, you need to be able to do the following

things in a true take all comers list:

1.)

Reliably score objectives. 5 of 6 missions are

about taking objectives.

2.)

Take on light mech spam. MSU shooty mech lists

are alive and well.

3.)

Take on hordes. You need to be able to fight

Horde Orks, Gant Farms and horde infantry lists. We’re seeing a lot of

no-vehicle lists doing quite well and they’ve always been great spoiler armies.

4.)

Take on heavy infantry. You also need a plan for

dealing with Terminators, etc.

5.)

Counter Flyers. Air Force armies are everywhere

right now, plan for them or be run over by them.

6.)

Counter Deathstars (yes, they still exist).

Harliestar is still brutal, and Paladins, while diminished, are still a very

real threat amongst some of the other crazy units out there.

7.)

Take on heavy vehicles. Leman Russes and similar

beastly tanks are back in a big way, and if all you’ve got are Auto Cannons and

Plasma Guns, kiss your butt goodbye.

That is a lot to accomplish in a list. That requires a lot

of points to do. Chaos troops are pricey and suck away your points from accomplishing

the above tasks.

So troops. Let’s talk about them and why I have issues with

chaos troops. I have 2 strategies with troops in general in 6th ed.

I either want them cheap and numerous or very durable and/or reliable if they

are pricey.

If you have cheap troops that you can take lots of, then you

can reserve them, hide them, or just flood the field with them and survive

through safety in numbers. If they have some decent offensive punch, great!

That is just icing on the cake, really.

A great example of this is a unit of 10 Dark Eldar Warriors

with a Shredder and Splinter Cannon. 105 points, mobile, shooty, and with

enough bodies to soak some casualties, but not a big enough threat to rank high

on your opponent’s target priority list. In a vacuum the unit doesn’t look like

much, but when you have 2-4 of those units you have a TON of points left over

to pour into pure offensive punch. Another good example is 10 IG Vets with 3

Plasma Guns. Mobile, great firepower and only 115pts. You can take a lot of

them for a low points investment. Lastly, for my Orks, a unit of 20 Shoota Boys

with no upgrades weighs in at 120pts. Excellent objective holding unit that

also serves quite well for attacking other infantry if you need them to. Plus,

until they take a lot of damage, they’re fearless. Often, my opponent’s won’t

even bother shooting them as they sit on an objective quietly and have too many

bodies to really warrant anything other than serious attention. We’ve been

having great success with these style units in 6th ed book missions,

or missions that are very similar to them.

If a unit costs more than say 150pts, I want it to be very

durable and/or very reliable. A perfect example is a squad of Tactical Marines

with a Multi Melta and a Plasma Gun. 180pts, and such a flexible unit. They can

shoot quite well on the move, have an answer for light and heavy infantry and

mech, are scoring, can split into two squads with Combat Squads, are very

slippery and reliable with ATSKNF and Combat Tactics and in general, are a

great scoring unit.

Now, compare that to a unit of Chaos Space Marines. 10 CSMs

with 2 Plasma Guns runs you 170pts. Roughly equivalent in price and firepower

to the Tactical Marines. However, they are not even close to comparable in

application. For that extra 10 points, Tactical Marines get ATSKNF, Combat

Tactics and Combat Squads. They are infinitely more survivable and reliable

than the CSMs. Why? They will always recover from broken morale where CSMs will

not. One bad combat and your CSMs are run down where your Tac marines fall back

on purpose, auto-rally and then blast their attackers, even counter charging if

needs be. That means the points invested in the Tac Marines are safe, that unit

is reliable to the last man. CSMs on the other hand, can be gone and dead with

one flubbed morale check, and in a close game, that is game.

That is such a big advantage to the Tac marines. When your

troops need to go upfield and take an objective, you need to rely on them to

not lose you the game on a single morale check. With Vets of the Long War, CSMs

get better for sure, and it mitigates the problem, but it sure doesn’t fix it.

The problem is exacerbated when you start pouring points into the unit. They

become more and more of a risk the more you give them. And, if you gear them

for assault, you will often find yourself in combat with a superior assault

army that just guts you. MEQ stat lines really aren’t geared for being good in

assault unless they’re getting stat boosts somehow, or rocking a Storm Shield

and Thunder Hammer or something similar. Too many dedicated assault units in

the game will shred MEQs to justify building an army around them.

So what about Cult troops, you might be asking?
They are Fearless, which helps a ton to create very reliable

scoring units. However, they are so expensive! Again, remember all of the

things your list needs to do to be a true take all comers list in 6th.

You need a lot of points free to take units to counter the popular builds out

there, or go into a tournament trusting to just get lucky match-ups and not draw

a hard counter.

If you take 4 geared up units of Cult Troops, you’re going

to blow 1,000pts, easy…..for 30- 40 MEQ bodies? They die just like Marines

despite weighing in at such a heftier price point. Compare that to 4 units of

Tactical Marines at 720pts. You get as many or more bodies, plus all the extra

points to put into firepower. There really isn’t much of a comparison. Plague

Marines are the obvious exception to this though, and can be quite good in

small units which we’ll get to.

Now, again, I am not saying these units are bad at all, just

that the cost vs. damage output ratio is usually not worth it, IMO. Berzerkers

for example, cost a boatload, and do have some good abilities, but they will

get obliterated by Harlequins, Daemons, Incubi, etc. Anything that ignores

armor and swings first will make them a total waste of points. Noise Marines

are the best value of the lot, IMO, but again, they cost a ton and die like

Marines. Thousand Sons, the poor guys, have a nifty 4++, but who is ever going

to shoot anything but volume of fire weapons into these guys unless they have

no choice? Bolters kill them just as well as normal Marines with the added

benefit of taking more points away with every kill.

Plague Marines are the exception to this, as I believe that

taking a unit of 5 with 2 Plasma Guns is a really solid troops choice. 150pts,

Fearless, good firepower and not at all bad assault with their poison weapons. These

to me, are the best choice as you can take 2-4 of them and have a nice, solid

base of scoring units. A larger unit with a support character(s) would also

make a great aggressive troop to go upfield and take objectives. Still pricey,

but the increased durability helps mitigate that a lot.

Chosen are solid, but they suffer from the same lack of

leadership control that CSMs do. Again, Vets of the Long War Helps, but doesn’t

solve it. As with CSMs, character support mitigates this, but it is really

reducing your ability to build a well rounded list as these units, if you put

any points into them, need character support to babysit them and ensure they

don’t fail you at a critical moment and see all the points invested gone.

So now we’re down the most humble of the lot: Cultists.
I think these may be the best Troop choice in the book. Why?

Cheap as chips. 50pts gets you 10. Take 4 units of them and for only 200pts,

you have 4 scoring options that will be totally sufficient in most games to

satisfy mission criteria. You can reserve them, hide them, or toss them in the

way of oncoming Deathstars if needs be. Taking a large blob of them with a

choppy character is not at all bad either, and as their leader has the Champion

of Chaos rule, he can jump on the grenade and make or accept a challenge to

allow your support characters to do their thing.

Now, 40 Cultists hits like a wet paper bag. They are easily

killed, right? They can’t stay off the board all game, and they’re easy targets

once they are so what do you do? In order to mitigate this weakness you need to

focus on presenting your opponent with so many, and such deadly threats that

they MUST focus on them or be destroyed. You are dictating his target priority

choices. That is the value of Cultists, they free up the rest of your points

for pure offense.

Helldrakes (take 2, Double Dragon!), Hellbrutes, Havocs,

Nurgle Oblits, Nurgle Spawn, Daemon Princes, Raptors, Bikers, Lords and

Maulerfiends are all good at chopping or shooting things into bits. If you are

coming down on your opponent with the fury of the Warp, your Cultists should be

free to do their thing relatively unmolested.

And, further I would like to look at one more option: Daemon

allies. Daemons and CSMs go together like PB&J, and really complement each

other well. Plague Bearers are absolutely great scoring units. For 75pts, you

get 5, Fearless, 5++, FnP scoring beasties that can be dropped anywhere on the

table. That is a great tool. 1-2 units of these, and 2-4 units of Cultists and

you have an excellent base of scoring units to build an army around for a very

low points investment. Plus, the addition of Daemon units who are still

premiere assaulters, combined with the firepower of CSMs and their Choppy

Characters equates to a very good all around army. Plop Blood Thirster or a

Great Unclean One in the enemy backfield along with a unit of Flamers or

Fiends, etc. and you create a really potent combination of units and axis of

attack that will often overwhelm many opponents.

So, I hope that clarifies both my argument, and helps some

of you to make good choices when building your next Chaos tournament list! I

think this book will be tons of fun to play.

As for me? I decided to make my Night Lords a fluffy army,

and am building it to resemble Talos and Co. from the Night Lords books, which

are excellent if you ever want to read them. My World Eaters I am stubbornly

trying to make work, but it’s slow going!

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About Reecius

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

16 Responses to “Chaos: The Riddle of Troops Continued”

  1. benji October 17, 2012 4:47 am #

    They may not be battle brothers but I feel necron and IG allies can really help add some consistency to CSM. I normally take guard for Marbo who I use to drop a bomb on one of their back field objective holders just to put more pressure on their more aggressive troops.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:56 am #

      Marbo is the man! I am glad you use him too, he is too good not to take!

      And yes, Cron allies are great, really the best army in the game right now, IMO.

  2. xzandrate October 17, 2012 5:05 am #

    This does a great comparison in pointing out how the Chaos book is all about the none Troop choices. Unfortunately, in 6th more than ever before, Troops are needed.

    Also can I just point out, where the heck are my Chaos Drop Pods? A 10 man Chaos Marine squad in a drop pod would absolutely balance off against a Tac squad. Or better yet, Chosen sporting 5 meltas from a drop pod.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:55 am #

      I totally agree! I was hoping for some more variety in transports and such, at least a new Land Raider, but we may yet get those in WD updates. Gah, CSM’s with MoK in a pod and the extra CCW would have been tits!

  3. Hippesthippo October 17, 2012 5:49 am #

    4×5 PM with 2 PG is the core of my army. Feast of Blade missions have forced me to fiddle tho.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:53 am #

      I think that is a rock solid core to an army. You really can’t go wrong with that.

  4. Douglas October 17, 2012 5:54 am #

    Awesome.

    That my friend is a Tactica or at least part x of x. No useless list of units with the likes and dislikes and what ifs. Thanks, it deserves a follow-up. Lets see your breakdown of jabs crosses and hooks from the codex.

    Thanks again!

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:53 am #

      Glad you liked it. I agree, just looking at units in a vacuum and saying if you like it or not really doesn’t do much.

  5. Kralizak October 17, 2012 8:06 am #

    I like the idea of running some offense cult troops (Thousand Sons because I like a fluffy Tzeentch army) for the punch, with Pink Horrors to hold objectives and provide some support. Because I’m not relying on my Thousand Sons to hold objectives I can put them Ahriman or a Sorcerer and make a good offense unit.

    Mostly speculation, and it will be a long time before I can start a Chaos army, but there’s the basic idea of my “good-enough!” fluff army 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:51 am #

      Then go for it! I think that army would look super cool! And Horrors are a great Troop unit, mixed in with the expensive Thousand Sons, they are a good choice.

  6. BBF October 17, 2012 8:32 am #

    Great article Reecius! You are right on the money.

  7. mercutioh October 17, 2012 11:21 am #

    I think the thing Chaos gives you is the flexibility to address issues with different stratagems, Chaos has Viable MSU AND Deathstar builds as well as some cool combos that aren’t making the rounds yet. A Claaneshi Chaos Lord on a bike with the black Mace is no joke to deal with. nor is a Daemon Prince with wings and a Dimensional Key. Layering in things like dirge casters to ensure full units get to charge w/o overwatch allows for an interesting puzzle for your oppponent to have to try and solve. do I take out the maulerfiend that is barreling down on me? the heldrake that can slaughter my troops? the pesky but sneaky good unit of CSM in a rhino with a Dirge Caster Just waiting to pop out and assault me? it’s a different ballgame that is for sure.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 11:47 am #

      I agree that Chaos has a lot to offer, and brings a lot to the table. I am sure there is a ton of things we aren’t seeing yet, but that is good! It means this Codex will yield surprises for a long time.

  8. Vidar October 17, 2012 12:11 pm #

    One o the guys on BoLs made an excellent point. CSM is an aggressive OBJ-taking book. I think Phil wrote it with the fluff of the Crusade-style army in mind. These are the warriors that crushed planetary governments and then left some IG General in charge of holding it while they moved on. With this in mind, I am seeing the book differently. I want to take the fight to the enemyand hove them off those OBJs, really play the denial game with them. Everything except the cultsts are geared towards taking OBJs with this mindset. The warpsmith is an excellent example of this. He is designed to screw with dug in troops.

    Theipsychic powers are geared towards shooting and breaking down your enemy rather than bolstering your resiience. Its also a very warmachin-esque book. Order of Operations are much more important as synergies exist between units and psychic powers. The primaris power for Slaanesh is an amazingly debiitative power that sets up a unit to be assaulted. Warp Talons (w/out grenades) can charge a unit in cover that has taken 1 Sensory Overload wound and they are hitting at the same Initiative.

    I think this is much more of an Eldar-style Army where units are meant to compliment each other to achieve goals.

    The SM codex is filled with resiliant stand-alone troops. That supports the fluff. The CSM are crusaders, soldiers on the attack require a greater degree support and coordination than whe on the defensive.

    Thinking about the Codex in these terms has really helped me at list building.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 17, 2012 12:44 pm #

      I agree with that to a point, but my issue is that they aren’t that good at taking the objectives without support. CSMs for example, hit like a wet towel. If you give them the CCW it gets a lot better, but they still bounce off of most units. And if the assault goes poorly, they get run down.

      Now, with a Character, they can certainly smash some heads, but now you are limited to two units that can do this, and what kind of units.

      I agree that there are a lot of synergies in the book, and that a lot of them we probably don’t event see yet. The Warp Talon/Psyker Combo sounds great until you fail your psychic check, they deny the witch, or you are playing Wolves/Eldar/Nids/Etc. Those combos are too risky for tournament play where in a 6 round event, you are almost assured to flub it at least once, which could cost you the event. For casual play though, go crazy! I bet it is a lot of fun to try and pull it off.

      I do agree though, that Chaos is a lot more offensively geared than other armies. They are pretty clearly designed to smash face, IMO. They just don’t do it that well! Haha. Zerkers aren’t getting it done, I tell you that much.

      I am no poo pooing it though, at all. I like the book a lot and I believe some very powerful armies will come out of it, I am just not seeing it getting down using many actual Marines! haha

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