Hello everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here to take a look at the maligned, the forgotten, and the ridiculed Traitor Legion who are so badass in the fluff, The Night Lords. You can check out further articles on how to wield your army like a rapier over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
When Traitor Legions dropped, there was great rejoicing throughout the land as many 3.5 Chaos armies were suddenly ready to hit the table once more, and for the most part, each Legion received fluffy-rules that actually brought some heat to the table, but alas, not all that glitters is gold, and well, somebody had to pull up the rear.
The Special Rules:
- As with all the Legions, any Chaos Space Marine detachment or formation can be Night Lords assuming you follow these restrictions:
- No unique units of any variety
- No units with Marks of Chaos
- No unit can buy Marks of Chaos
- Everyone that can must buy Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) but as always, for free.
- Daemon Princes aligned to a specific God may take their powers from that God’s discipline
For doing all of this, you get the following bonuses:
- In Midnight Clad: Units with VotLW gain Fear, Night Vision, and Stealth special rules.
- Skyborne Horrors: Units of Raptors are Troops.
- Terror Tactics: Enemy units locked in combat with a Night Lords unit suffer a -2 penalty to Fear tests.
Ok, so it is easy to see why people get down on the Night Lords. Night Vision is very corner-case, and well, Chaos is primarily a melee army, so removing the cover save bonus on Turn 1 is not all that useful to the army, particularly since CSM doesn’t have a great Turn 1 shooting Alpha-Strike build that Night Lords can utilize. Fear is just…well…it’s Fear. Most units you’ll see on the tabletop are immune to it, and the few that aren’t are going to be hit on 3s anyway by most CSM units and probably won’t hit that hard back to begin with. Really, only Tau and some builds of Astra Militarum will care, and these armies are not exactly melee powerhouses. At its most ideal, it lets you target those 3 man Eldar scatbike units and hopefully drop them down to WS1 to ensure that you beat up on them enough to win. The one decent special rule is Stealth as an almost army-wide +1 to cover saves isn’t too bad at all for an army that wants to get into melee. Is it as awesome as Fearless? No. Is it as awesome as Relentless? No. It is something that will get used in most games? Yes.
Raptors as troops is definitely not all that great since they are expensive and can only bring one special melee weapon, and if you are going to use them, using them in the Raptor Talon is your best bet. So yah, the Night Lords definitely got the short end of the Legion rules stick.
The Murder Talon
Ok, that’s an awesome name for a band, and it is the Night Lords Decurion-style detachment.
- Core: Warband. Raptor Talon.
- Auxiliary: The Lost and the Damned. Helforged Warpack. Heldrake Terror Pack. Cult of Destruction. Fist of the Gods. Terminator Annihilation Force. Favoured of Chaos. Spawn.
- Command: Lord of the Legion
- Talon-Master: Reroll warlord trait.
- Strike Fast, Strike Hard: You re-roll failed charges for units from this Detachment
- Nocturnal Warfare: You may automatically choose Night Fighting to take place, and while Night Fighting is in effect, all non-vehicle units in this Detachment gain +1 to cover saves.
Ok, so the Command Benefits here aren’t as terrible as the general special rules for Night Lords. Everyone gets to reroll the warlord trait, so that’s not all that important, but with Strike Fast, Strike Hard, re-roll to charges for everything in the Detachment isn’t too bad, and we’ve all had games that suddenly went sideways because someone failed a 3 inch charge. Nocturnal Warfare is fluffy, and it stacks with the Night Lords’ stealth, so now all non-vehicle, VotLW units have a 5+ save in the open or 3+ in any terrain. If you can find ruins, then you get that nifty 2+. That’s not too bad at all. Even units that don’t have VotLW like Cultists at least get the Night Fighting stealth bonus. Granted, units that ignore cover like Tau negate this first turn bonus entirely, but hey, if fighting Tau, your Fear checks matter! <sad trombone>
What the Command Benefits really give you is some solid insulation from first turn Alpha Strikes like Drop Pods. Being able to to mostly guarantee that most of your units have a 3+ cover save really helps shrug off first turn hits. Of course, this is somewhat invalidated by the fact that a lot of Alpha Strikes bring toys that ignore cover whether it be Hunter’s Eye Centurions, massed flamer-template type weaponry, or just Tau marker-lights. Against some builds like say Renegade artillery spam, it helps.
As always, let’s look at what formations in the Detachment really work with what the Night Lords want to do: claw at you.
The Warband is just hands-down one of the best things to ever happen to CSM. Granting a lot of Obsec is so important in ITC missions, and even having the mitigation of the Chaos Boon Table helps quite a bit. What really goes well here are Bikers and Havocs. As Bikers gain stealth, they jink to a 3+ cover save, so 2 or 3 of these units became great Obsec objective stealers or melta-packing armor hunters. Havocs, again with stealth, get to camp in ruins and lay out some fire while having a 3+ cover save. Not too bad at all. Unfortunately, the standard CSM squad doesn’t get too much as the stealth is nice, but they are so slow, and if you take rhinos for them, well, you lose out on all the bonuses.
Raptor Talon is definitely fluffy, but is it better than taking Warband for Core? No, not really except that it is cheaper. Rapton Talon can do work here by being a Chaos Lord delivery system, and small 5-man squads can be useful for dropping in to take backfield objectives. They can drop in, maybe flamer down a small squad holding objectives, then charge in and hopefully win the day. Then, when your opponent has to dedicate firepower to remove them, they have stealth to maybe have a 4+ or 3+ cover besides their standard power-armor. Is it the foundation for a list? Probably not, but it can be used to success. Of course, the Skornergy is strong here as the Raptor Talon is best as a small auxiliary but since it is core, you end up having to maybe take a useless spawn to get your obligatory auxiliary choice. Just like giving Night Fight automatically to an army that already has stealth…
The Heldrake Terror Pack is an awesome choice for Night Lords because it is made up of two great units that you would want anyway, and the bonus penalty to leadership fits well with the Night Lords theme. It also gives you some legitimate ranged power as being able to blast units with an AP3, ignore cover template is awesome. Pretty much every Traitor Legion is going to want Heldrakes, and the Night Lords definitely are not an exception here.
The Terminator Annihilation Force could do some work here as well. 3 suicide terminator units with combi-meltas that drop in and get to shoot their melta at a target in the movement phase and then shoot their bolters into another unit during the shooting phase could give you some nice tactical flexibility. Plus, if they actually survive a turn, they can re-roll charges and then gain Hatred against their selected target in close combat. This isn’t terrible, and terminators with a 3+ cover save in ruins isn’t the easiest unit to kill off as most ignore cover weapons aren’t AP2.
Let’s forget Fist of the Gods since it gets no benefits at all from being Night Lords, and well, you could try Mutilators with Stealth, but um, I’d advise against that. The Lost and the Damned is a great formation its own, and while Night Lords give it nothing except for the first turn protection of Night Fight, the fact that you can get some recurring units to help play the mission is never bad, except maybe in Kill Points.
So overall, the Night Lords clearly don’t have the same power as the other Legions, and maybe I’m trying to make a dog who can’t smell hunt, but if you want some ultimate-40K-internet points and make the Night Lords work, well then you should be writing articles to show us all the way. I will say I enjoy the guaranteed Night Fighting and the Stealth. As always, check out TFG Radio and some of our newest Video Battle Reports.
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