…But what about Chaos Marines?

sadmarine

Hey guys, it’s Adam from TheDiceAbide.com! With all the hubbub of Khorne Deamonkin being the new beloved Chaos glory boys, it’s easy to forget that there ever was once a regular Chaos Space Marine army. I too am totally guilty of this tunnel vision and haven’t even played a single game with my Undivided marines since the day the Khorne Daemonkin book hit.

Today however, I tasked myself to figure out what, if any advantage, you can get out of playing vanilla Chaos Marines, and more-so, how on earth would you make a list to survive this day’s era of War Convocations, Battle Companies, and well, Eldar. Additionally, I don’t just want to make a fast assault Chaos army, because frankly, KDK do it better with the same units.

First up was figuring out what Chaos Marines could get, that was decent in the game, that Khorne Daemonkin could not.

fire-raptor-battle-brush-studios

Chaos Fire Raptor by Battle Brush Studios

The Vanilla Advantage

First off, I really need to figure out what vanilla Chaos Space Marines can bring to the board that’s worth a damn, particularly focusing on units that Khorne Daemonkin don’t already focus on, because frankly, if you’re going to go fast assault, KDK will always beat out regular Chaos Marines. Looking through the core Chaos Space Marine book, I made a list of units that I think are worth taking a look at:

  • Abaddon – Kicking butt and taking names for 10,000 years, just need to actually get him into combat.
  • Kharn – Great for pissing off enemy KDK players! But like Abaddon, needs a form of combat delivery.
  • Chaos Sorcerers – Level 3, ’nuff said!
  • Warpsmiths – Comes with 2+ armour, a BS5 meltagun, a Power Axe and 5 attacks? Plus he can repair vehicles, or even better use Machine Curse (How many dice does that Knight Crusader roll?!).
  • Chosen – A bit spendy, but can bring a pile of special weapons and are still brutal in combat.
  • Cultists – always a staple, 50 points for 10 Objective Secured wounds.
  • Plague Marines – T5, FNP, fearless troops with bolter, pistol, ccw, defensive (and thus blinding) grenades, what’s not to love?
  • Noise Marines – Fearless, and can bring a lovely S8 AP3 ignores cover blast.
  • Chaos Spawn – KDK get these too, though not with Mark of Nurgle!
  • Havoc Squads – Budget Chosen, a cheap 5-man squad with 4 special weapons and a combi on the Aspiring Champion shouldn’t be ignored, however they do consume valuable Heavy Support slots.
  • Obliterators – deep striking twin-linked meltaguns, or multi-meltas on a T5 (MoN is practically mandatory) W2 2+ model packing a power fist… Yes please?

But that’s not all, Forgeworld has given us IA13, a great book we totally forgot about when we realized none of the units said they were available in KDK armies (until FW FAQ’s this in 2026). Even with a quick glance at the list, you’ll notice that Flyers are definitely where Forge World decided to bless Chaos Space Marines, it’s quite possible that with these units, combined with the Heldrake, that Chaos Marines rightful place may be in the sky.

  • Sonic Dreadnought – a little spendy, but packs 2 Blast Masters, plus a chainfist for fending off deep strikers, or a missile launcher for even more Dakka.
  • Hell Blade – A 115 point flyer with a 4 shot rending autocannon? This is our response to the Storm Talon, it’s fast and quite nasty at taking out it’s loyalist cousin.
  • Fire Raptor – With two reaper autocannons on either side firing at independent targets, plus being able to upgrade the worthless Hellstrike missiles to the totally usable Balefire missiles, this is one of the few things that Chaos gets that’s outright better than the Loyalist version.
  • Dread Claw – 100 point Chaos Drop pod, oh, I mean a 100 point AV12 HP3 flyer that transports 10, is an assault vehicle, and potentially objective secured… WHHAAAAAT?! I’ll get back to this…
  • Blight Drone – Another cheap flyer available in squadrons of up to 3 with a 2+ jink, annoying and deadly!
  • Sicaran Battle Tank – We get them too, Marines like them, we love them. Another weapon to add to the ignore cover arsenal of the Chaos Marines.
  • Rapier Destroyer – Yeah, Imperials get rapiers too, but do theirs fire off 4 S8 shots a turn? Or have an awesome super Conversion Beamer? Or maybe they have S8 plasma cannons? Nope? Weird, I thought loyalists got all the good toys.
  • Plague Hulk – The better in every way brother to the Soul Grinder, stick him behind some ruins for 2+ cover while you squirt out your S8 Ap3 pie plate for only 150 points.
Chaos Sicarian by Scrunty

Chaos Sicaran by Scrunty

What do I do with it all?

Right off the bat, looking to the strengths of the Chaos Marine units, and really only focusing on what is most effective, it’s pretty clear that FW should be a very present force in any Chaos Marine army if you intend to go toe-to-toe with the big kids in the yard. Chaos Marines bring a large variety of extremely cost effective flyers, as well as units with are either outright pains to kill due to having Shrouded, or are packing even more low AP Ignores Cover weaponry.

Plague Hulk by Third Eye Nuke

Plague Hulk by Third Eye Nuke

A Nurgle-heavy army will be fantastic at being obnoxious to kill, between their very hard to move ObSec troops, their 2+ jinking flyers, and Plague Hulks hiding behind some ruins. It wont kill a whole ton without some Heldrakes, Sicarans or other hard punching units, but being hard to kill and playing to the objectives isn’t all that bad. Just off the top of my head you could take a lord, 4×5 plague marines in rhinos, a couple Blight Drones, a pair of Plague Hulks, and maybe a Heldrake, Sicaran, or squad of Obliterators. Something like:

Chaos Lord: Mark of Nurgle; lightning claw; combi-melta; sigil of corruption 130

5 Plague Marines: 2× meltagun 140

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× meltagun 140

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× plasma gun 150

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× plasma gun 150

• Chaos Rhino 35

 

Heldrake 170

1 Blight Drone Of Nurgle 150

1 Blight Drone Of Nurgle 150

Plague Hulk Of Nurgle 150

Plague Hulk Of Nurgle 150

3 Obliterators: Mark of Nurgle 228

1,848 points

Sonic Dreadnought by Bale Eye

Sonic Dreadnought by Bale Eye

If smelling bad isn’t your thing, there’s also Slaanesh. In 1850 you can easily run 4 units of noise marines in rhinos giving you 8 ObSec units pumping out 4 S8 Ap3 ignore cover blasts a turn, on top of a couple Sonic Dreadnoughts, plus Rapiers and Hellblades, essentially making your whole army have high strength, good AP weaponry where much of it is going to ignore cover and make those Battle Companies just scoop up marines off the board. The list I’ve been toying with for my Slaanesh forces is:

Chaos Lord: Mark of Slaanesh, sigil of corruption 105

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125

• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125

• Chaos Rhino 35

Emperor’s Children Sonic Dreadnought: blastmaster; chainfist with heavy flamer; warp amp 195

Emperor’s Children Sonic Dreadnought: blastmaster; chainfist with heavy flamer; warp amp 195

Chaos Hell Blade: two Helstorm autocannon 115

Chaos Hell Blade: two Helstorm autocannon 115

Chaos Fire Raptor Gunship: Reaper autocannon battery; four Balefire incendiary missiles 225

2 Chaos Rapier Weapon Batteries: Hades Autocannon 130

2 Chaos Rapier Weapon Batteries: Hades Autocannon 130

1,850 points

Black Legionnaires by me!

Black Legionnaires by me!

Alternatively, if you’re into the whole undivided thing like I am, I have an interesting proposition. Focusing on a combination of Air Superiority, with last turn scoring shenanigans, as well as some incredibly hard hitting units. Looking at some of the relics, I’m liking the idea of the Eye of Knight from the Black Legion book, which is a 75 point, one-use weapon with unlimited range and a large blast that causes D3 automatic penetrating hits and ignores cover. It’s spendy, and you’re also paying a bit of tax for using the Black Legion rules, but it could potentially strip half the HP off of a Knight, so it’s worth considering at least. The other advantage of Black Legion are Chosen for Troops, but if you were to go with the straight CSM book, you could move them to Elites and drop the Eye of Night to free up 100 points.

Sorcerer: The Eye of Night; Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Veterans of the Long War 190

5 Chosen: 5× meltagun; Veterans of the Long War; Chosen Champion (melta bombs) 155

• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

5 Chaos Space Marines: flamer; Veterans of the Long War 85

• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

5 Chaos Space Marines: flamer; Veterans of the Long War 85

• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

10 Chaos Cultists 50

Heldrake 170

Heldrake 170

Chaos Fire Raptor Gunship: Reaper autocannon battery; four Balefire incendiary missiles 225

Chaos Relic Sicaran Battle Tank: two lascannons 175

Chaos Relic Sicaran Battle Tank: two lascannons 175

Aegis Defence Lines: Comms Relay 70

1,850 points

So what we have here is a Black Legion list (gasp!) sporting enough flyers to easily overwhelm the somewhat minimal AA you see in the meta these days. The Sorcerer (or alternatively a Warpsmith) in the squad of Chosen in pod can easily be delivered in a position where a Knight has to choose between shielding against a bunch of meltas, or against D3 automatic penetrating hits (plus probably a melta or 2 on the same side), or a couple Sicarans with lascannons. Against Battle Companies your Drakes and Fire Raptors will just obliterate their ground infantry, and finally we get to the Dread Claws. Hovering flyers can score objectives (measuring from the base in ITC events), so 3 Objective Secured AV12 flyers that can (and will) jink for a 4+ save, really gives you some options for last turn scoring, either contesting objectives from enemy ObSec units, or for stealing them out from under the opponent.

Chaos Space Marine by TheRyuOG

Chaos Space Marine by TheRyuOG

So what do you think? Can a well selected Chaos Marine list still put up a fight in a competitive environment?

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About Adam

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

23 Responses to “…But what about Chaos Marines?”

  1. aracerssx September 21, 2015 12:36 am
    #

    no

    • Adam
      Adam (thediceabide.com) September 21, 2015 8:49 am
      #

      Insightful as always… shouldn’t you be off stealing credit for other peoples rumors?

      • aracerssx September 21, 2015 5:15 pm
        #

        your passion for what I do cracks me up sometimes

  2. Markon September 21, 2015 3:25 am
    #

    You forgot the best unit though typhus and A BILLION ZOMBIES! :p
    On a different note I really cant wait for a brush up on the codex, because although I am a pretty casual chaos 40k player, I do love following the competitive scene and would love to see some more “vanilla” chaos there and see them wreck havoc.

    • Adam
      Adam (thediceabide.com) September 21, 2015 8:48 am
      #

      Yeah, I agree with you there, and I’m sure it’s coming eventually… but I think for the right now FW can help the army float enough to at least be decent, i.e. finishing above 50%, in an event.

    • JM September 21, 2015 8:51 am
      #

      Renegades do Zombies so much better in the siege of Vraks book. Zombies are only 3pts each, come with 4+ FNP and can have units sizes up to 50. They only require a 70pt command squad to unlock, instead of Typhus at 230.

      So you can take Typhus and 100 5+ FNP zombies for 670, or a command squad and 100 4+ FNP zombies for 370 points.

  3. JM September 21, 2015 8:03 am
    #

    I think Chaos Space Marines are wholly noncompetitive without forgeworld. Then they’re able to pull their weight. They make great allies to daemons or renegades. In almost all cases where I take csm, the only actual unit from the codex is a cultists unit or 2 and a sorcerer. Everything else is FW.

    Hell blades have 2x3shot rending autocannons for 6 shots total, twin-linked. It’s a good value and comes with a 5++ plus a few other nifty rules you’ll forget about half the time. At only AV10 with 2 hp it’s not that hard to kill though, even without anti-air. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of other threats on the board that this sneaks under the radar.

    It pairs perfectly with a Fire Raptor, which brings serious firepower. I think the malefic ammo isn’t worth it, just too pricey, but that’s my only complaint. The balefire missiles, bolt cannon, and reaper autocannons are incredible. It’s got 4 HP, strafing run, and can fire at 3 different targets. It is superior to the imperial version.

    The rapiers were superior to the imperial version, although FW just released the rapier quad mortar which craps on the hades autocannons. At 5 points cheaper they get the sunder special rule (re-roll armor pen) and bundle in a thudd gun for free (S5, AP5,heavy 4 blast, barrage. Not to mention they don’t have the hellish demise rule and the crew has ATSKNF.

    Nevertheless, the laser destroyer array is AP1 and the cyclothrathe beamer is large blast with more maneagable ranges (S10 AP1 at 24″-48″).

    I think the plague hulk is superior to the defiler, but not the soul grinder. It can’t run which makes its S10 klaw harder to bring to bear. You can’t fire both weapons the same turn because of ordnance. For 20pts more, I’d rather have my Slaneesh Soul Grinder with a torrent flamer that can run (3″+D6″) with fleet.

    I really like that black legion list. It’s vulnerable to drop pods blowing up the sicarans and cultists first turn though. An imperial bunker is only 5 points more and brings 4hp at AV14 all around.

    • Adam
      Adam (thediceabide.com) September 21, 2015 8:26 am
      #

      Oh, great advice on the bunker, didn’t even think of that! The 5 points is pretty easy to get, so consider it done.

      I agree about the Slaanesh Soulgrinder vs Plague Hulk, but not having to take daemon allies to unlock the Plague Hulk is quite nice (though it does require Plague Marines). But when you look at a Plague Hulk compared to a Nurgle Soul Grinder, you’re swapping the Harvester for Phlegm and the poisoned template weapon, so it’s a pretty solid bargain.

      Fortunately the marine quad mortar is Experimental, it’s pretty ridiculous.

    • droozy September 22, 2015 8:25 am
      #

      I don’t think the Chaos fire raptor has strafing run. I don’t see it in the profile, has it been FAQ’d? I know the loyalist version does but I’m pretty sure we got the shaft on that one.

      • Adam
        Adam (thediceabide.com) September 22, 2015 9:24 am
        #

        Nah, it has it, I totally forgot about it though! Damn it’s sexy.

  4. Glocknall September 21, 2015 11:09 am
    #

    Those are some great list ideas. Your flier heavy lists will have to take care against grav heavy battle companies. Devastator doctrine will give all those grav shots rerolls on snap shots and the amps rerolls on armor pen. If they immobilize your fliers you’ll have problems maneuvering them around the BCs huge footprint and not to mention the chance of crash and burn.

  5. WestRider September 21, 2015 3:44 pm
    #

    Don’t forget Spell Familiars on any Sorcerers you run. The way Psychic Powers work in 7th, re-rolls there are solid gold.

    • Adam
      Adam (thediceabide.com) September 21, 2015 3:56 pm
      #

      Yeah, unfortunately I just couldn’t get the points for it in that list!

      • AbusePuppy September 21, 2015 11:17 pm
        #

        I generally consider the Familiar to be worth more than the extra Mastery Level- rerolls are absolutely critical when you want something to succeed consistently and it lets you be much more frugal with your dice.

        • Adam
          Adam (thediceabide.com) September 22, 2015 9:11 am
          #

          Hmm, yeah, I think it’s a hard call… with 3 powers I can get my mandatory daemonology roll, plus Prescience and Psychic Shriek, but like you said, the re-roll is pretty fantastic.

  6. droozy September 22, 2015 9:08 am
    #

    Still no place for Abby… sigh

    • Adam
      Adam (thediceabide.com) September 22, 2015 9:22 am
      #

      He has a very special place… on my shelf. 🙂

      • WestRider September 22, 2015 10:55 am
        #

        My Abaddon is actually at the back of the shelf, facing the corner. He’s been on punishment since 6th Ed, when he twice in a row got Terrified, broke from Combat, and got run down. Maybe I should pull him out again at least for casual Games now that he can’t be de-Fearlessed anymore.

  7. WestRider September 22, 2015 10:57 am
    #

    Huron might also have some niche use. Less useful since he can’t just give Infiltrate to ICs and then have them pass it along to Units anymore, but he’s still the only reasonable option for CSM to get Infiltrate/Outflank.

  8. Luke September 22, 2015 2:16 pm
    #

    I am working on a list that I think is pretty competitve (but still am putting the finishing touches on some models). With a CSM primary CAD and an allied Daemons detachment at 1850, I can get the following:

    Kharn the Betrayer – 160
    Be’Lakor – 350

    8 Khorne Bezerkers, melta bombs on champion – 167
    5 Khorne Bezerkers – 110

    Dreadclaw Drop Pod – 100
    Heldrake – 170
    Heldrake – 170

    Fire Raptor w/balefire missiles – 215

    Allied Deamons:

    Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage (the D) w/grim – 305

    11 Pink Horrors – 99

    Sadly there’s a little bit of non-fluff with the horrors, but 2 WC and 2 rolls on malefic is just SO MUCH BETTER than our friends the bloodletters. A combo that I’ve found to be pretty effective is the Thirster with Be’Lakor. Be’Lakor shrouds the Thirster (or makes him invisible if need be) and the Thirster can Grim Be’Lakor to give him a 2++, which trust me goes a long way towards his durability, especially in combat where he can’t rely on his cover save if he doesn’t kill everything. Worth pointing out that a shrouded Dreadclaw Drop Pod is a Dreadclaw Drop Pod that WILL live to deliver Kharn and friends right where you want them since it can jink.

  9. iNcontroL September 23, 2015 8:26 pm
    #

    These lists look pretty ok imo

  10. Chaos Reigns October 18, 2015 11:17 am
    #

    I’ve had much fun and found success running this list for 1850

    Primary C:CSM
    Abaddon
    Be’lakor

    5x CSM w/ melta, combi melta, rhino
    5x CSM w/ melta, combi melta, rhino

    5x Chaos Spawn

    Obliterator w/ MoN
    Obliterator w/ MoN
    Fire Raptor w/ auto cannons, balefire

    Secondary S:BL
    Sorcerer w/ level 3, MoS, Steed, Quicksilver, Force Axe, Last Memory + more goodies

    10x Cultists
    10x Cultists

    Abby goes with the sorcerer into the spawn star since it all moves fast and can sling shot him into combat. Plus, it gets to run since no shooting of significance comes out of it. With invisibility from Be’lakor, it’s very resilient. Sorcerer rolls on Biomancy for further buffs and the unit is a power house. With fire support from the raptor and oblits, the list has proven quite fun. I feel Chaos has some tools, but you have to be cunning.

  11. Drachnyen February 11, 2016 6:09 pm
    #

    Hey Adam,

    Old post I know. I really like the last list with the dreadclaws.

    Have you considered using oblits instead of chosen for the alpha striking dreadclaw?

    My thinking is round 1, you can drop in and use the ideal weapon for the situation. (Mass flamers for troops, meltas for heavy armoured targets, plasma pies for a good mix)

    Oblits also have powerfists, so you are a threat in melee combat as well. (Which I find the already pricy chosen lacks)

    Any thoughts?