Traitor’s Hate Review – Maelstrom of Gore

We finally have new formations for Chaos Space Marines, including one for everyone’s favorite red butchers.  Is a new formation with bonuses finally make Khorne Berzerkers viable on the tabletop?  Find out in our review of Traitor’s Hate Maelstrom of Gore!

Ah, the Khorne Berzerker. Once feared throughout the tabletops of Warhammer 40k 4th edition, Khorne’s chosen warriors have since fallen out of favor with the Chaos Space Marine players.  Like the rest of the mono-patron Chaos Space Marines, the Khorne Berzerkers are overpriced for their underwhelming cost to benefit ratio.  With the release of Traitor’s Hate, the newest campaign book/codex update we see a new Black Crusade being unleashed upon the unsuspecting Imperium.  In the first installment we are also given updates for Codex Chaos Space Marines, which was released back in 2012 and has languished through two edition changes without updates.  Included in the book are new formations that CSM players can use when putting together their army lists and brings the codex more in line with the releases post-Necrons, including one for the Khorne Berzerkers.  Today we are going to take a closer look at this formation and see if it makes the Berzerkers more viable on the tabletop.


Let’s start with looking at the Berzerkers themselves.  For having some of the coolest back story and models of the entire Warhammer 40k universe, the mighty Khorne Berzerkers are unfortunately some of the worst choices for players to include in their armies.  Their stat line is that of a basic Space Marine, with the exception being a higher WS.  They come stock with 2 attacks base, and are armed with a bolt pistol and close combat weapon.  For 3 additional points you can give them chainaxes, which will give you an AP4, which is not all that bad with the S5 the Berzerkers have on the charge due to having the Furious Charge special rule.   Honestly though, they are already fairly hefty in point cost at 19 pts base and adding 12-15 pts more per 5 man squad adds up pretty quick. Anything they get into combat with will likely have an armor value of at least 3+ so I would leave that off.  On the charge they get an additional attack due to their Rage special rule (Mark of Khorne) which on a 5 man unit will give you 20 to hit rolls hitting and wounding on 3’s against other Space Marines, which isn’t all that bad.  Their issue is that they are very expensive for a model that has 1w and a 3+ armor save.  They are also slow, which can be mitigated by taking a Chaos Rhino, though the changes to assaulting out of a vehicle really hurts them.

So does the new formation make them worth taking?  Let’s take a look at the formation and the bonuses it gives.

The Maelstrom of Gore requires you to take a Chaos Lord with a Mark of Khorne or Kharn as well as 4-8 units of Khorne Berzerkers.  Right out of the gate this formation is fairly costly, coming in around 600 points for the minimum models and no upgrades to the Berzerkers or the Lord.  In an 1850 point game having close to 33% of your point allowance in anything is risky.  There are some fairly good bonuses that come with the formation, however. All models in the formation gain Fleet and add 3″ to their charge distances, which makes them a LOT faster in ability to get into assault and makes them more likely to land the assault when they make the attempt.  Remember, one of the biggest issues with Berzerkers is how slow they are for being a dedicated assault unit.  The other big bonus for taking this formation is the Red Rain special rule.  Once per game you can ‘summon the red rain’, which allows and units from the formation to make a pile in move during the movement phase and attack the enemy without being attacked back. This could be an extremely powerful ability and with power fists on Champions can turn the tide of battle, but it is also very situational.  The odds of having all or even most of the units involved in close combat at the same time is fairly unlikely and if you have multiple units in assault with the same enemy it is overkill.

So what are my thoughts on taking this formation?

This is a fun formation to run if you own a large amount of Berzerker models already and want to have a flavorful Khorne force to play against your friends with.  From a competitive standpoint, paying a base 600 pts for models that are T4 with 1W and a 3+ armor save on foot really isn’t going to be worth it.  Those points are much better spent on the units that are still good from the Chaos Space Marin codex, like Helldrakes and Obliterators, etc.  It really is a shame that the Khorne Berzerker doesn’t live up to their fluff background.  At the bare minimum these guys should come with Feel No Pain and a base 2 attacks.  I don’t mind paying the points for a chainax upgrade but why not have it give them rend like they used to have back in 4th edition?  The current assault rules also hamper them and at 19 pts base they really are an army choice for friendly games.

So what do you think of the Maelstrom of Gore formation from Traitor’s Hate?  Are you looking forward to using it?  What are some ways you make Khorne Berzerkers work?  What would you like to see to improve them? Let us know if the comments!


About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

10 Responses to “Traitor’s Hate Review – Maelstrom of Gore”

  1. westrider September 15, 2016 6:02 pm #

    I’ve seen a lot of people talking about this one, but I’m unimpressed. An extra 3″ on Charges ain’t gonna help if they don’t get close enough to even try the Charge in the first place. Even more so for the extra round of Attacks. They’re so expensive relative to what it takes to gun them down that they just won’t make it across the table in sufficient numbers.

  2. Duh_Ruckus September 15, 2016 9:52 pm #

    I want to believe I really do, but the strength is the red rain ability which requires you to be in combat for one turn before using it, and with berserkers most of the time you will wipe the other unit or be wiped yourself after one round, not to mention your Khorne berserkers got faster but not fast enough to catch the units it needs to.

    If you like bezerkers the fist of Khorne from kdk is expensive but you can truly fist your opponent for Khorne

  3. Blight1 September 16, 2016 2:37 am #

    Berserkers only have 1 attack base. They used to in the 4th edition codex but lost it when mark of khorne changed to rage and counter attack instead of the vastly superior +1 attack.
    So they are only as good as they used to be on the first turn of combat.

    • Jason September 16, 2016 12:55 pm #

      Well yes they have 1 base but they come with a ccw and pistol so it really is 2.

      • Blight1 September 16, 2016 6:11 pm #

        The article says two attacks base when describing the unit and also mentions the ccw and pistol.
        Believe it’s a typo

  4. Threllen September 16, 2016 5:15 am #

    This formation suffers from the same issue the Ork Painmob has, unfortunately. Have to be in combat for at least one round (likely two) before you can take advantage of the Red Rain rule. If you charge your opponent you have to be in combat for your turn and your opponents turn before you even have a chance to use it. Not exactly an ideal situation.

    The stock bonuses are much more useful (fleet and +3″ to charge range) but without assault transports, they’re still probably relegated to the dust pile. Slightly further movement still doesn’t justify the points sink for a fairly expensive unit that is ok in close combat but not game-breaking.

  5. Thomas September 16, 2016 7:06 am #

    The base cost is less than 500 points not 600 points (105 for zerkers and 65 for the Lord). While this probably doesn’t change anything in the end but it’s still 100 points.

    Getting into combat is way easier with the new spells and the easy access of sorcerers with the new detachment (where the Maelstorm of Gore is a Core choice). Looking at the Marlstorm of Gore without taking how you now can build a Chaos Space Marines army will leave it looking rather bland.

    • Threllen September 16, 2016 8:52 am #

      There are only a couple of powers in the new disciplines that really affect combat. And then you’re sinking in tons of points on sorcerers to fish for it. Is it really worth putting 500 points into the main formation for 5 man squads of ‘zerkers plus putting points into sorcerers just so one squad of five guys can get to combat quickly? After all… even when they get there they are just WS5 guys with a couple of attacks and furious charge (no power weapons).

  6. Fagerlund September 16, 2016 10:56 pm #

    I think this formation only helps Berzerkers against units which they’re already good against unfortunately.
    Having those rules on Kharn is nice though…

  7. Anggul September 17, 2016 2:23 pm #

    The fleet and +3″ are what matter. It helps them charge the turn after they disembark from their rhinos and hide behind said rhinos to avoid being shot at. The issue if that they can still only target units that aren’t fast enough to just move further away. Then again, heldrakes and the like can deal with those fast units.

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