Chaos Renegade Tactics: Who’s your Demagogue?

Imperial Armour 13 brought us Chaos players an incredible new army in the form of Chaos Renegades.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for their triumphant return ever since the Eye of Terror campaign rules disappeared, so it goes without saying that I’m quite excited for it.  The new army list for Renegades and Heretics brings an army much like Imperial Guard, though it does have some distinctive chaos flair.

The single most important model in the Renegades and Heretics army is going to be your Warlord, the Arch-demagogue.  Depending on what upgrades your Arch-demagogue has, you will have access to some units and not others.  These upgrades come in two varieties, your Demagogue Devotion, which is much like what you’d call his Class in RPG terms; the other upgrade is which Chaos Covenant your Arch-demagogue takes, so which god he follows.


Demagogue Devotions

There are 6 Demagogue Devotions that your warlord may have, taking any of them means that the Arch-demagogue MUST be your warlord, so that means you cannot take any of them in an Allied Detachment.

Primaris-rogue Witch

Taking this upgrade makes your warlord into a psyker, level 1 or 2, but you only have access to Malefic Daemonology, Biomancy, Pyromancy and Telekenesis.  In addition to this, it also makes him Fearless, which is pretty nice considering the leadership issues that the Renegades and Heretics frequently have.

Units Unlocked: The Primaris-rogue Witch allows you to take additional Rogue Psyker Covens as Elites (instead of just an HQ choice).  Unfortunately, as far as unit unlocks go, this one isn’t that spectacular since Rogue Psykers themselves aren’t that useful… If they could join squads, then I’d actually be far more impressed by this, but since the Aura of the Witch prevents that.

Lord of War: In addition to the standard choices, a Primaris-rogue Witch allows you to take the Daemon Lords, which would also be awesome, except now they cannot exceed 25% of your army… So that basically means nothing in games under 2500 points.

Mutant Overlord

The cheapest upgrade you can take, the Mutant Overlord gets 3 random boosts to his profile, and gives his command squad the Curse of Mutation special rule.  When you take a Mutant Overlord, you must take at least 2 units of Mutant Rabble, which isn’t bad considering they’re only 3 points per model.  Additionally, he allows you to upgrade your Renegade Ogryns to have the Curse of Mutation rule.

Unit Unlocks: The Mutant Overlord allows you to take a single unit of 3 spawn as a non-compulsory troops choice. If you’re running a Combined Arms Detachment, this means a unit of 3 T5, objective, secured beasts… Not too shabby.

Lord of War: You actually don’t get any additional super-heavy Lords of War, but you are allowed to take 1-3 Giant Chaos Spawn, or 1-3 Spined Beasts as a single Lord of War slot.  Neither of those units really impress me, but could be fun, and Giant Chaos Spawn are still quite inexpensive.

Master of the Horde

The Master of the Horde is potentially an extremely powerful option for your Demagogue.  Each unit of Renegade Infantry numbering 15+ models that is wiped out during the game, comes back on a 5+.  The downside to this guy is that he requires that you have at least 2 Renegade Infantry Platoons, which is a minimum of 60 models (90 if you want to use his rule on all of them), so he will strongly influence how you build a list.

Unit Unlocks: Renegade Infantry squads go up to 30 models, instead of the usual cap of 20.

Lord of War: None, only the standard ones available to all Renegade armies.

Arch-heretic Revolutionary

Arch-heretic Revolutionaries are your typical rabble rousers of the 41st millennium.  They have the Zealot rule, which means your command squad will be fearless (and slightly better in melee), and gets a free Covenant of Chaos, which will save you a few points.  That also means that you probably wont leave him without a Covenant, which means no Marauders.  For an additional 20 points, each of your Renegade Infantry or Veteran squads can also buy Fanatics, letting them roll 2 dice and pick the highest for Leadership, but I think that is far too expensive of an upgrade to bother with.

Unit Unlocks: Up to 10 Enforcers instead of 5.

Lord of War: Marcharius variants open up, allowing the standard Marcharius Heavy Tanks, Marcharius Vanquishers, Marcharius Vulcan and Marcharius Omega.  Of these, I only really care for the Marcharius Vulcan, which might be enough reason alone to take an Arch-heretic Revolutionary.

Heretek Magus

The most expensive upgrade for your Demagogue, the Heretek Magus makes him far more difficult to kill with power armour, T4 and FNP (6+).  For a fairly inexpensive upgrade, the Heretek Magus allows you to upgrade most squads of infantry in the army (all but Mutants) to have FNP (6+) as well.

Unit Unlocks: Being a master of infusing daemons with machines, the Heretek Magus allows you to also take Defilers and Decimators… neither of which are something I’d jump on right away.  They’re fluffy choices, but nothing that you can’t live without.

Lord of War: The Heretek Magus has by far the most powerful Lords of War, the Valdor Tank Hunter, Chaos Warhound, Chaos Reaver, and Greater Brass Scorpion.  Of those available the Greater Brass Scorpion is by far my favorite, and when backed up with a lot of artillery, can potentially be a very devastating addition to your Renegades.

Bloody-handed Reaver

Finally we have the Bloody-handed Reaver, who represents a fallen Imperial Guard captain, Rogue Trader or other well armed and trained soldier.  He comes with a refractor field, which basically means that his upgrade is only 5 points, he can also swap his pistol for a hot-shot laspistol or hot-shot lasgun.

Of any of the Demagogues, he has the most profound affect on your core army list… Allowing you to upgrade your Infantry Veteran Squads into basically Chaos Scions, carapace armour, hot-shot lasguns, and all.  The downside to this Demagogue is that every unit that can be upgraded with Militia Training, must, which can add up to a lot of points, especially on units like Wyverns that don’t need the extra point of BS.  Lastly, he allows the squads that are able up upgrade to Subflak to upgrade to real Flak instead for about the same points.

Unlocked Units: None, but modifies Renegade Veterans into Renegade Grenadiers.

Lords of War: While the name would imply otherwise, this guy doesn’t always need to take the Covenant of Khorne, which is even stranger when you realize that he opens up the Greater Brass Scorpion and the Khorne Lord of Skulls.  Both of which are actually pretty good this edition, though clearly I still prefer the Brass Scorpion.


Now that's a Bloody-handed Reaver!

Now that’s a Bloody-handed Reaver!

Master of Renegades

Okay, with all that out of the way, we have another variable to mess things up with:

No Covenant

Simply taking no covenant allows you to take Renegade Marauders.  They’re actually pretty good for their points, excelling in combat, plus they can have some nice special rules and some special weapons or power weapons, the huge downside being that if they ever break, they can NEVER regroup for ANY reason whatsoever.  If you’re trying to save points, or want some interesting veteran units, this isn’t a bad way to go, and it’s neat to get a bonus for nothing.

Covenant of Khorne

The Covenant of Khorne allows you to take a single unit of Blood Slaughterers as Elites, unfortunately they’re too unpredictable for my choice, as they must always move towards and charge the nearest visible enemy unit.  It could be kind of fun as a distraction unit, but it’s not really going to affect your army that much.

Covenant of Nurgle

The Covenant of Nurgle unlocks a couple really good options.  It allows you to take a single unit of Blight Drones, the only flyers besides Valkyries available to the Renegades.  Your’re also allowed to take a single unit of Plague Zombies, which are dirt cheap, FNP (4+), bodies that are fantastic for just sitting on an objective somewhere.

Covenant of Slaanesh

The Covenant of Slaanesh is the only way to get Chaos Marines in this list without allies, giving you access to a single unit of Noise Marines and/or a Sonic Dreadnought.  While both choices are pretty solid, with Wyverns in the army, you wont need much else for killing infantry in cover.

Covenant of Tzeentch

Definitely in the running with Nurgle for the best option, the Covenant of Tzeentch allows you to take up to 3 additional units of Chaos Spawn as non-compulsory troops.  If you combine this with Master of Mutants, you’re talking up to 4 units of 3 Chaos spawn, which isn’t much over 200 points… Definitely something to consider.


In Summary

Because I’m a visual person, here’s a little summary I made:



About Adam

Cofounder of RUMBL – player finder for Miniatures Wargames. I also run a little blog called TheDiceAbide, check it out.
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7 years ago

Great review! Don’t play any of the “evil” armies, but will definately tell my friends to read this post

7 years ago

So what options are people considering? I was thinking of the Spawn one but one of the things that I miss as a CSM player is board presence in big numbers and while Spawns are great I can grab those from the CSM codex. Master of the Horde is probably too big numbers though, lol.

Adam (
Reply to  Tom

I really like Tzeentch for Spawn, but if you do Tzeentch + Mutant Overlord to get 4 units, you basically have your 6 troop choices already picked for you (since Mutant Overlord requires 2 units of mutants).

I think that you could really build a good army around the Bloody Handed Reaver with Nurgle or Tzeentch, plus then you could make Chaos Scions, which would be awesome.

7 years ago

If I run Renegades as my primary detachment, I’ll use the Tzeentch covenant to unlock the OS spawn.

Right now I’m thinking of a demagogue with Master of the Horde and Covenant of Khorne though, to get some large infantry blobs. I think he will go well with Kharn, maybe with 50 mutants.

Adam (
Reply to  W

My problem with Master of the Horde is just having to buy so many Infantry, at the very least that’s 60, but you’ll probably want squads of 15-30 so that you can come back, get multiple special weapons and chaos icons…

Kharn with 50 mutants would be fun though, especially if you can get them infiltrating… If you want to get technical, you could even put Kharn in a unit of 50 Plague Zombies, since they lack the Mark of Nurgle.

7 years ago

Yeah I am thinking of either Mutants with Huron as my WL to Infiltrate or Zombies, but my arch-demagoge has to be my WL if I want zombies, right? (I don’t have my book with me right now so I can’t check) – It boils down to my choice of a Warlord

7 years ago

nice review! I love what this book did for chaos.

Adam (
Reply to  iNcontroL

Thanks dude, I love it too! Just have to finish painting 11 models and I can get back to my Chaos Marines, haha.

7 years ago

I’m pretty bummed out Demagogue devotions don’t work if the Renegades aren’t primary. I’d love to add some 30 man squads bristling with specials to my CSM! Or, let’s just say I’d really like it if squad size wasn’t restricted to 20 outside master of the horde. 20 feels iffy.

Overall I think the list offers some cool highlights though. ObSec spawn at that price? Hell yes. Heavy quad launchers at 30 points a pop? Ohhh yeah.

Adam (
Reply to  Aldaris

Yeah, as allies you’re not getting the bonus units from the Demagogue Devotions, nor are you getting them from the Master of Renegades rule, so that kind of limits your options…

That said you can still have blobs of 50 mutants with 6+ FNP for dirt cheap, as well as taking those sweet sweet quad launchers. 🙂

7 years ago

For Devotions, I think that Master of the Horde and Primaris-Rogue Witch have the most potential. MoH is just straight-up crazy, essentially giving you the chance of a free unit every time one of your existing units dies- and while the Renegades units may not be amazing, they can be strong enough to be quite relevant. Being able to take mobs of thirty rather than twenty is also interesting, although not as big a deal. The Witch, on the other hand, doesn’t really unlock anything particularly useful (as the Psykers are terrible) but being able to take Biomancy or, more likely, Maelific is a pretty decent boon.

No Covenant is probably the default choice. Marauders aren’t actually any good (although they’re not horrible, either), but the Command Squad generally wants to be as cheap as possible to avoid drawing too much fire and because most of its upgrades aren’t really worth the cost.

Covenant of Khorne is middling because Blood Slaughterers don’t really fit with what the rest of the army is doing and aren’t good enough on their own to make-or-break things. Interestingly, With Covenant of Khorne and Heretek Magus you can get access to three different walkers; when CSM gets revamped it might be worth keeping an eye on in case the Defiler becomes not terrible. The reroll ability of Khorne is good, but at 10pts per body, you can’t afford to make the squad huge like you can with most of their other units.

Covenant of Nurgle’s benefits are actually very weak, since 6+ FNP will almost never work and many weapons will ignore it, but it unlocks some very strong units. Plague Zombies are excellent in IA13 and even cheaper than the CSM version and Blight Drones are a pretty acceptable flyer, albeit not quite as good as the Heldrake. Still, both worthwhile options to consider.

Covenant of Slaanesh, like Khorne, suffers from its basic bonus being a bit weak on the unit (you aren’t that good in a fight, so getting there sooner isn’t amazing) and from its “bonus” units not fitting well with your basic plan nor being particularly great on their own.

Covenant of Tzeentch is interesting just for the uniqueness of the effect, though hardly game-breaking. Chaos Spawn as troops is cool, but without the ability to buy them Mark of Nurgle they aren’t as impressive. Still, a Spawn is a Spawn, so you could do a lot worse than this.

Oh, and here’s a rules conundrum for you all: an Arch-Demagogue who takes a Devotion is required to be your army’s warlord. Can a Devotion be taken for such a model that is part of an Allied detachment, presuming all other requirements are met? If so, does this rule override the standard “Allies can’t be warlords” command benefit rule?

Adam (
Reply to  AbusePuppy

My biggest problem with Master of the Horde is that he really makes you have to play an all out horde of the renegade guard. 60 at minimum, 90 to use his rule, you’ll probably want 120 for the extra weapons in squads.

7 years ago

Yeah, it definitely shoves you in a particular direction pretty hard. But given that blocks of cheap infantry with good guns are the best thing that Renegades have to offer, I don’t see that as a huge problem. 20 bodies with BS3, a sarge, three Meltaguns, Vox, and two Autocannons is… 130pts or so? Practically a pittance, basically.

7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I think with the Vox and Command Vox, the Icon isn’t necessarily needed. It’s not terrible, but with the same price I think that the Vox is going to be the better buy.

7 years ago

You only lose the ability to have your warlord from this book if you’re using the allied detachment on P122. There is no reason why you cant ‘ally’ a different detachment, such as another C.A.D or possibly a codex specific detachment. You just lose the ability to use the limited F.O.C. on P122. When you have more than one detachment, whatever kinds they may be, your primary detachment is determned only by which one your warlord is nominated as being in. Of course, you will end up with a human renegade technically outranking a CSM, but, whatever. It’s still do-able.

7 years ago

Thanks for the review. I’m still on the fence if I should spend the cash on the book or just buy more models.

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