The Dreadclaw and You!

Among the many delightful toys that Imperial Armour 13 brought, none is more influential to the Chaos Space Marine army than the Dreadclaw.  Other units in the book are good, and might even be taken more frequently, but only the Dreadclaw has the power to totally change the way you construct an army.


What is the Dreadclaw?

Don’t let the name fool you, the Dreadclaw is an armoured flying assault vehicle, not just a Drop Pod.  Half of them arrive turn 1, in hover mode, allowing them the ability to move 18″ after landing, as well as increase it’s own survivability though jinking.  Units have the option of deploying after landing, but can also choose to stay inside their AV12 shell, until the following turn when they can launch an assault.

You can purchase the Dreadclaw as a Dedicated Transport for all of the Helbrute/Dreadnought variants, Chaos Space Marine and Chaos Chosen squads, or you can take them as single Fast Attack choice and transport whatever you please.  There are two unfortunate downsides to the Dreadclaw though, it’s fairly expensive, nearly the price of 3 Space Marine Drop Pods, and it has a 1/6 chance of eating a random model inside.  If you have a Warpsmith, Sorcerer with Malefic Daemonology, or Abaddon inside the pod however, you can choose to have a model eaten or not, and select the unfortunate victim.

When you take Dreadclaws, remember that they are expensive, you will not be running 5-7 of them like a regular Space Marine army, nor should you. 1-3 is probably the most ideal number, remembering that half of them will be showing up on turn 1.  Be sure that whatever you put inside of them can take advantage of being on the board right away, or at the very least, should be ready to charge into combat on turn 2.

That’s the Dreadclaw in a nut shell, now lets talk about some units that you could put inside and why you should or shouldn’t.


Chaos Space Marines

First up are the basic troops in the army, with a squad of 10 being able to take 2 special weapons plus a combi-weapon, as well as pistol/ccw if they so choose.  They can take a mark and/or icons to increase their combat capabilities.  They do have a problem with leadership however, which is bad news for a combat unit.  Without the Icon of Vengeance, or a Fearless character, they do have the risk of losing a round of combat and being wiped out.  Generally, I consider the Dreadclaw to be too expensive to transport Chaos Space Marines, just due to their unreliability.  The only redeeming value of transporting Chaos Space Marines is that the Dreadclaw then becomes Objective Secured, which can be pretty interesting.  If I were to transport them however, it would almost certainly be a squad with 2 meltaguns and a combi-melta, trying to take out an armoured target.

Chaos Chosen

I think that Chaos Chosen can potentially make the most use of a Dreadclaw.  Being able to take a whopping 5 special weapons, plus a combi-weapon, a squad of 6 chosen can really cause some serious damage to a vehicle in an alpha strike.  They’re also quite effective in combat, each having with an extra attack, as well as pistol and close combat weapon.  Due to their advantages in assault, I’d only consider taking squads with Meltaguns or Flamers, since you can’t assault after firing plasma guns.  If you’re taking a full squad of meltas, it’ll be up to your discretion (and where you land) if you get out right away and shoot something, or if you stay inside a turn before you get out so that you can pop a transport and charge the squad inside. Chosen really do have the opportunity to use all of the advantages of a Dreadclaw, you can alpha-strike, or you can stay inside, you can deliver a bunch of special weapons, and they can fight in assault as well.  If you play Black Legion, then you also have the added bonus of them being Objective Secured!

Helbrutes, Contemptors, Dreadnoughts, etc.

I wont go into too much here, right off the bat having a 1/6 chance to eat the model inside just means I can’t even consider transporting one of these vehicles.  If you want deep striking walkers, take the Mayhem Pack instead.

Chaos Possessed

Finally, there is a way to deliver Possessed directly into combat!  Unfortunately, possessed are still quite expensive, but taking a full unit of 10 of them with Mark of Khorne or Mark of Slaanesh, could really end up being a devastating punch.  If you take them as Crimson Slaughter, they’ll also be objective secured for extra laughs.  The downside naturally is their cost, Possessed are still quite over priced, and 10 with marks, an icon and a pod is going to run you over 400 points.

Chaos Mutilators

Another unit meant for combat without any reliable delivery method, Mutilators hit like a truck when they ever make it into a fight.  A fully upgraded squad of them comes in under 200 points, and is quite survivable, they do suffer from Leadership issues like the Chaos Marines, but are far less likely to lose a round of combat. Putting them in a Dread Claw definitely gives them a means to make it into combat, where before they would deep strike and just hang out in the open, hoping to survive a round.  Their low model count and expensive cost per model does make being eaten a real threat though. If you take them with a Warpsmith, you create quite a nice little deathstar, nobody will get eaten, but you’re again back up to about 400 points like the Possessed, though far more effective.

Chaos Terminators

Unfortunately, I think that putting terminators in a pod is still not that spectacular or interesting, they could deep strike before, and they’re outclassed by Mutilators in combat, or by Chosen and Havocs for alpha striking meltaguns.

Khorne Berserkers

I think that this is a pretty obvious combination, the ability to get Berserkers into combat safely might be one of the greatest things Khorne could have asked for. They’re naturally fearless, so you wont need to worry about about them losing combat, and they’re devastating on a charge, so losing that combat wasn’t likely anyhow. They’re moderately expensive, but nothing near the price of Possessed, a full squad of 10 with champion, power weapon and Icon of Wrath, in a Drop Pod is still well under 350 points. They do lack special weapons to shoot with, so you’ll probably always remain inside your pod after you land, then the next turn dish out a devastating charge. I’ll have to experiment with this a bit to see if the Berserkers are finally viable.

Thousand Sons

Quite the opposite of the Khorne Berserkers, transporting a squad of Thousand Sons is quite expensive, but it can end up delivering a ton of AP3 firepower to a vulnerable location.  Like the Berserkers, I’ll be experimenting with this to see if it works, but the idea of a fairly resilient unit that can devastate a marine squad being delivered into the enemy backfield is intriguing at the very least.

Plague Marines

Plague Marines are never a bad choice, though I’m afraid that now that they don’t re-roll to wound against T4, that they’re outclassed (as they should be) by Berserkers in close combat. Plague Marines are also an expensive source of special weapons when compared to Chosen, and since their Dreadclaw would be taking up a Fast Attack choices, I’m thinking that Rhinos will still be the transport of choice for them.

Noise Marines

The servants of Slaanesh are often overlooked as close combat units, though it’s a shame to do so. They are only about 1 point per model more than a loyalist space marine, but come with I5 and Fearless.  Their special weaponry doesn’t really benefit assaulting, except on the champion who can get an amazing Ap3 flamer. You could potentially also put in a lord with a Burning Brand of Skalathrax and deliver 2 AP3 flamers deep in the enemy line, before assaulting the following turn.  Their Icon gives them Feel No Pain, so noise marines can also be surprisingly resilient.  As far as taking the most advantage of a Dreadclaw goes, I’m not too sure, I think that more specialized units might still be better off with them instead.

Chaos Havocs

Like Chosen on a budget, you can get 4 special weapons and a combi-weapon on a squad of 5 Havocs.  Though they wont have the close-combat advantages as the Chosen, you will save about 25 points on a squad of 5, and if you’re just using it as a suicide melta delivery system, then you may as well save the points. The obvious downside is that it means your Havoc Squad is taking up 2 slots in your army, but that’s not all doom and gloom if you make use of Allied Detachments, or a second CAD.


The new face of the Dreadclaw


About Adam

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

28 Responses to “The Dreadclaw and You!”

  1. masos November 10, 2014 12:46 am #

    Love it. Solid article. Tell me if you or anyone sells conversion kits for a drop pod.

    I might pick up chaos again. hell drakes, oblits with div, and some chosen with massive amounts fists and power weapons with a lord.

    • Adam November 10, 2014 3:49 pm #

      Thank you very much!

  2. AbusePuppy November 10, 2014 4:30 am #

    The big problem is that the Dreadclaw, unlike the Drop Pod, relies on its Flat Out move to get into a “good” position a lot of the time (since it doesn’t have protection from mishaps), so shooting units often won’t be able to do anything the turn they come down. A Dreadclaw full of Chosen is simply worse than a Drop Pod with Sternguard/etc at arriving an nuking a target out of existence, and is more expensive to boot.

    And that’s not bringing up the fact that 1/6 of the time it will eat one of your models- Mutilators and other highly-expensive models in particular have to worry about this, because losing 1/3 of your 300pt squad because you rolled a ‘1’ is NOT okay.

    • Nehekh November 10, 2014 5:57 am #

      I don’t think disembarking from a hovering flyer even after deep strike and moving flat out does prevent units from firing, they just count as moved. 9 chosen with 5 meltaguns plus a warpsmith (prevents getting eaten) with another one should level a knight.

      • droozy November 10, 2014 6:42 am #

        I disagree. You drop 5 meltas next to a knight they will likely raise their shields on that side. You will hit with 2/3 of the shots (most likely 3 but for the sake of argument lets say 4), you will need at you will likely penetrate with all but the knight will save half. That’s two penetrating hits going through. Of those two you only have a 1/3 chance of inflicting additional hull points. Let’s say you get lucky and both get a 7+. Still only a 1/3 chance each will cause enough hull points to destroy the knight. You would need at least two units of chosen maxed out on meltas with pods to reliable kill a knight in one turn. Not very points effective, looking at nearly twice the cost of the knight to take it out.

        • Adam November 10, 2014 10:36 am #

          Yeah, Knights are less than ideal targets. If you are going to do melta chosen on a pod, don’t bother with a knight, you’re far better off getting next to a transport, popping it and charging what comes out, killing 2 units.

          I’m not a terribly huge fan of the chosen in pod in general, too many things it doesn’t work well against. Knight will shield, serpent/raider will jink… Pretty much useful against something in a rhino or chimera, or trying to pop some other lord of war.

        • DarkLink November 10, 2014 6:59 pm #

          Which means you drop 3 melta on the side armor and 2 on the front. You won’t one-shot it, probably, but it’ll hurt.

        • TinBane November 10, 2014 9:02 pm #

          If you ally in drop-pod chosen, then use the rules for Crimson Slaughter, and you can pay to give them preferred enemy (your opponent). So you reroll 1s on those melta shots to hit.

          • Reecius November 11, 2014 10:00 am

            Yeah, or plasma, too. So good, but pricey.

          • TinBane November 11, 2014 4:32 pm

            Closest thing chaos can come to deep striking stern-guard.

            They really need to dark-eldar the chaos roster. As in, go back and work out what the chaos theme is. Chosen are just expensive space marines who can take lots of expensive upgrades.

            You spend 10 thousand years in the warp, and you can bind daemons into the mechanic bodies of giant turkeys, but you can’t put corrupting warp juice in your bolters, for your boss man’s squad of elite guards?

            Man, give them the option to take combi bolters on any chosen, at the very least.

          • Adam November 11, 2014 5:18 pm

            5 of them can take combi-bolters (6 including the champ), but why take combi-bolters when you can take full blown special weapons?

          • TinBane November 11, 2014 10:33 pm

            Yeah, i meant without using up your special weapon option slots 🙂

      • AbusePuppy November 11, 2014 7:05 am #

        I’m not quite what you’re saying here- do you mean that the unit can disembark after arrival and still shoot? Because yes, they can, but since the Dreadclaw doesn’t have immunity to mishapping on a Deep Strike, the chances of you arriving right next to your target (such as in Melta range) are far, far lower.

        Also, I’m not sure where you’re getting that putting a Warpsmith in the unit prevents anyone from being eaten.

        • Adam ( November 11, 2014 7:10 am #

          Warpsmith is a technomancer. The rules for technomancer allow you to control if and who gets eaten when a technomancer enters a Daemonicly possessed vehicle.

          • AbusePuppy November 11, 2014 5:03 pm

            I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. It’s not part of the Demonic Possession rule in the CSM book or in the Dreadclaw entry?

          • dr.insanotron November 11, 2014 5:09 pm

            its under the technomancer rule at the back of the IA13 book

          • Adam November 11, 2014 5:16 pm

            It’s all in the rules for the Technomancers, which include Abaddon, Warpsmiths and Malefic Sorcerers. They also allow you to take more than 1 relic.

          • AbusePuppy November 11, 2014 7:55 pm

            Huh, I must’ve missed that. That’s… a rather weird addition considering that both those rules are from different books.

    • dr.insanotron November 11, 2014 5:12 pm #

      That depends on how the deep striking skimmer rule is FAQ’d. if scattering counts as moving then they are very similar to a pod

  3. bridges60 November 10, 2014 5:30 am #

    CSM are a pretty good choice if you target soft units and units you know you will win combat against (space marine tac squads, Tau, small squishy units) but otherwise i would put zerkers in one but, they suck for not allowing them to take it as a dedicated transport lol

    • Adam November 10, 2014 10:37 am #

      Yeah, non dedicated for Berserkers is kind of a pain, but I think you can build around it with double CAD, or even allies to get another Fast Attack, it’s not like you’re going to take more than 2-3 pods in an army.

  4. Dash2021 November 10, 2014 9:21 am #

    Got to say, think the answer is CC transport. It really is the one thing chaos lack that the dread claw gives them. Dropping in melta is cute and all, but without guidance you’re risking mishapping to be in melta range. So best case they’re not comming on, worst you just lost 300+ pts in a low model count army.

    Zerkers/mutilators don’t care where you land, since you can flat out to setup next turn. So land safe and minimize your risk (or Out of LOS of interceptor even) then flat out to set up that T2 charge. Alt. bring khorn marines with abandon/kharn. Takes care of your fearless issue, puts a beat stick down that HAS to be dealt with, and the pod is now OS. That plus a squad of mutilators comming down T1 means the rest of your army can be pretty ballsy.

    • Adam November 10, 2014 10:40 am #

      The problem with Mutilators is that they kind of need a babysitter, it’s not likely that they’ll lose combat, but if they do, they could get swept, also as I mentioned, the risk of losing 1/3 of the unit is kind of a pain.

      The pod is only going to be objective secured for CSM squads, or chosen with Abaddon (or in a Black Legion list).

      • Dash2021 November 10, 2014 12:35 pm #

        Sorry, was referring to using CSM/Chosen with MoK to get pods w/out blowing all your FA slots. Not super familiar with the CSM book/terminology, so worded it a bit awkwardly. Main point was you can use those units as meat shields for Abby/Kharn to go in and do their thing, while still leaving your FA slots mostly free. If you’re not using your FA slots, then there’s not a great reason to not just use zerkers.

        As far as Mutilators go, I’m assuming a warpsmith goes with them. He compliments their mission well, so isn’t a giant tax. And as you mentioned, they’re a bit to dear to chance having one get destroyed. I’m pretty sure Warpsmith is auto take with this unit for all the above mentioned reasons,

  5. Nathan November 10, 2014 2:11 pm #

    I have been wanting them to fix the Dreadclaw for a long time, and with the inertial guidance and drop pod assault, they finally did! Yeah 100 points is steep, but it will look cool on the table, and let my typically slow pokes get to the other side of the table much faster.

    However I really look forward to building my own Kharybdis, which is the Dreadclaw on steroids. Getting a giant 20 man unit of anything into the enemy zone on turn 1, and then having it potentially fly around with a bunch of Str 6 shots, that’s pretty neat.

    Either one will be welcomed by old Abaddon, who pretty much never gets used anymore. But I think I will indeed need a 2nd Dreadclaw, so then I can drop 1 and the Kharybdis Turn 1.

  6. Black Blow Fly November 10, 2014 5:39 pm #

    Good article – I’ve got three Dreadclaws and plan to use them.

  7. Bob November 11, 2014 6:43 am #

    How about 19 Deamonettes + Herald in the big one ?

  8. Matous January 20, 2015 7:08 am #

    I think this is wrong: “If you have a Warpsmith, Sorcerer with Malefic Daemonology, or Abaddon inside the pod however, you can choose to have a model eaten or not, and select the unfortunate victim.”

    That would only aply if DreadClaw is a Infernal Relic. But it is not. Only the bigger version Kharybdis pod has it.

    In that case pretty bad that 1/6 chance to eat model. Will not cry for chosen but wont attach costy IC…unfortunately

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