Night Lords Review: Special Rules and Detachment

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.


Coolest MFing Primarch

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.
Don't forget those Special Rules!

Fear is definitely not your friend…

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

Command Benefits:

  • 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.

The Formations:


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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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

25 Responses to “Night Lords Review: Special Rules and Detachment”

  1. Avatar
    Horton December 22, 2016 4:28 am #

    Having the Raptor Talon as a core choice makes this detachment very good.

    • Avatar
      Tr8tors8 December 22, 2016 4:46 am #

      No, not ‘very good’ at all. Raptors are still meh. The formation/faction has no reserve manipulation and no deepstrike scatter mitigation. And the benefit of charging from deepstike, when you actually arrive from reserves and assuming you don’t misshap, is hampered with the disadvantage of disordered charge.

    • Danny Ruiz
      Danny Ruiz December 22, 2016 6:31 am #

      I think I’d rather have Warband for the Obsec, but I do like Raptor Talon, just as an Aux choice to act as backfield disruptions. As I’ve tried to build Night Lords listw, using Raptor Talon as my core has left me feeling like the list won’t be able to hang in the mission as well as I’d like. You can of course take Warband and Raptor Talon, but that limits your points for other auxiliary choices.

      • Avatar
        beau December 22, 2016 8:48 am #

        I agree. I would probably go with some sort of NL bikerstar and attach a cabal to them for invis and shrieking.They could enjoy a 2+ jink on turn 1. 1 unit of termicide, 2 marines holding objectives in cover, havocs shooting on an objective in cover, then either cultist, heldrake, or single spawn aux.

    • Avatar
      beau December 22, 2016 8:40 am #

      I think the raptor talon seems very cool, but not with nightlord bonuses. You don’t even get to enjoy any of the night fight 2+ cover bonuses or anything. All they get is the -l fear test thing, and reroll charges. I like them with BL or WE more.

      Like stated in the article, we have all had those games where we failed a 3″ charge. I remember one shop tournie I was using a csm biker star in 1500 points. Was at the final table (6th edition), $200 prizes on the line. I just needed to charge this last dark eldar beaststar blob to win. Failed that 3″ charge. Wish I had this formation bonus there… also the fear bonus would have won me the game to because I lost some units to incubi early on(again this was 6th).

      Also remember they get 2+ cover on first turn with nightfight, and Nightlords are not fearless so in subsequent turns they can go to ground for 2+ cover all game. MSU seems necessary so that while one unit is getting pinned and focused down the others can do something. Stealth also helps those biker jink saves (kit them for melee). Cultists can go to ground for 2+ cover all game too right?

    • Avatar
      Threllen December 22, 2016 9:22 am #

      Not entirely. Raptors are still Raptors. They have very little actual CC capabilities. Standard marine lines just with 2 attacks thanks to CCW+pistol. No charge bonuses because the formation forces a disordered charge. Maybe if it gave them a way to get in turn one or reduce the scatter or something.

      If anything, Warp Talons get the biggest boost from this formation. They’re still entirely too expensive but at least you’re almost guaranteed you can jump in with a pair of LCs on each guy and charge someone the first turn they drop (assuming you don’t max scatter in the wrong direction).

      Still you’re taking a formation with 2 sub-par units and just allowing them to make disordered charges. It helps but it’s not suddenly going to turn them into tournament-winning units.

  2. Avatar
    Tr8tors8 December 22, 2016 4:40 am #

    ‘very good’…how so? Raptors are still average to below average unit at best and the formation comes with 3 glaring flaws – no reserve manipulation, no scatter mitigation and disordered charge…balls!

  3. Avatar
    beau December 22, 2016 8:44 am #

    I think I saw that nightlords actually have a couple bonuses that subtract leadership within 6″ as well. I would think this stacks for a -4 fear test maybe if you get charged by a WAAAGH?

    They would do well with psychic shriek. DP with 2+ relic flies up close shrieking at lowered leadership targets. There is also alot of slaanesh powers that reduce leadership. Heck with a forgeworld daemon chaos knight of slanesh I bet you could get models down to 1 leadership (depending on how modifiers are applied).

  4. Avatar
    Chaos Reigns December 22, 2016 8:52 am #

    No mention of the best thing NL’s have to offer? It’s all about that Stormplate Tzeentch prince for the 2+ armor/2+ jink rerollable.

    • Danny Ruiz
      Danny Ruiz December 22, 2016 9:35 am #

      Stormplate Tzeentch Prince is pretty sweet, and I imagine we’ll see that pop up quite a bit. I built a list with it of course.

  5. Avatar
    MagicJuggler December 22, 2016 9:06 am #

    Night Lords are about Bikers, Psykers, and bullying stuff with cruel Relics. Stealth works if at least one model in the unit has it, so Spawn become even more of a pain to kill off. Having Bikes with a 2+ Jink on turn 1, and 3+ in subsequent turns is nice. If you’re feeling cheeky, you could ally in a small Necron ally detachment and bring a Solar Pulse Cryptek to the party, as the detachment bonus states that it applies to any turn with Night Fight. I’m sure there’s some nasty edgecase combo involving Night Lords, two turns of guaranteed Nightfight, fast-moving onsec, and a Sentstar…

    They get a decent Warlord table, as Hit&Run, pseudo-shred, and re-rollable cover saves, and Hammer of Wrath/better Hammer of Wrath are all nice to have.

    They have at least two good Relics to play with. A Daemon Prince of Tzeentch with Stormbolt plate is obscenely hard to kill without Ignore Cover, and Curze’s Orb is useful both for a Sorcerer or if you’re feeling cheeky and want to play with a big fortification. I’m sure you all remember last year’s ITC where Maugan Ra manned an Aquila Macro-Cannon.

    I feel Night Lords can work, but the sad thing is that their Legion bonuses don’t actually do a whole lot for Raptors themselves, the same way I feel Word Bearers can work but you have no incentive to field Possessed. Or World Eaters and Berzerkers, and arguably Death Guard with Plague Marines.

  6. Avatar
    Threllen December 22, 2016 9:30 am #

    In general one of the better aspects of the Night Lords is their artefacts table.

    Claws of the black hunt – for a mere 10 pts more than a normal pair of LC you get +1 S, master-crafted, and shred. Those are some huge upgrades. A Lord with these claws in a Raptor Talon is only 105 pts since he gets his jump pack free (besides any other upgrades you may want to give him). He can drop in with some raptors and do quite a bit of damage.

    Stormbolt Plate – Would give a Tzeentch DP a 2+ armour and 2+ cover (re-rollable) for only 20 points (same as putting normal power armour on them). That’s a pretty strong bonus as there are not a ton of units with both ignores cover AND AP2.

    Even Scourging Chains, Talons of the Night Terror, and Curze’s orb are decent melee boons if you’ve given the other relics out to different characters.

    And Vox Daemonicus can be a pretty effective deterrent for some reserve armies although it’s usefulness is much more of a corner case.

    Unlike most of the other tables, there are few absolute stinkers for Night Lords artefacts and some are quite, quite strong.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 22, 2016 10:08 pm #

      Yeah, the NL relics are actually quite strong. I rank Vox Daemonicus as one of the best, even if it’s situational- denying the enemy critical units (e.g. Scatter Bikes when going first, flyers, additional Drop Pods) can be quite huge. It won’t always be useful, but when it does it will be incredibly clutch.

      Stormbolt Plate is also very underrated. Prince of Tzeentch with it on is very difficult to get rid of.

  7. Avatar
    Venkarel December 22, 2016 11:28 am #

    Would these two rules lead to a +3 cover save on the first turn and a +1 on every other turn? 1st turn: +1 for stealth,+1 for Nocturnal Warfare, and +1 for night fight itself.
    Turn 2+: +1 for stealth.
    In Midnight Clad: Units with VotLW gain Fear, Night Vision, and Stealth special rules.

    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.

    • Avatar
      CJ December 22, 2016 11:49 am #

      Night fight IS stealth, so it doesn’t stack :(.
      But the whole army gets the night fight stealth (and the enemy army, but,… meh) , and non vehicles get the extra one on top. It’s pretty good (except vs ignores cover- boo)

      VOTLW should get their full cover save against night vision guns, as neither of their bonuses comes from night fight (directly, anyway) .

      • Avatar
        Beau December 22, 2016 12:05 pm #

        I was noticing their nightlight rule gives them +1 to cover save… I think that means turn 1 it is impossible for a nurgles DP to fail a cover save roll? Or it improves the bonus?

        • Avatar
          CJ December 22, 2016 12:13 pm #

          Close, but a 1 always fails.

          tzeentch prince gets it better,

          Jink for a 4+, then stealth and +1 for a 2 up, rerolling 1’s.

          And the stormbolt plate, which, gives you a 2 up armour, and Another +1 to cover, for turns other than the first.

      • Avatar
        Threllen December 22, 2016 1:01 pm #

        Well, considering Night Lords get Night Vision across anything with VotLW it’s less of a downside that the opponents are going to get Stealth during turn 1. Not that Night Lords are typically going to have a ton of gunlines anyway.

        But it is something to think about if you bring a NL primary and something else as your secondary.

  8. Avatar
    Desc440 December 22, 2016 12:00 pm #

    What about running NL in a CAD? Tzeentch DP with the relic armour, Raptor troops screened by bike squads and some havocs sitting in ruins. Not DG good, obv, but worth thinking about perhaps.

    • Avatar
      beau December 22, 2016 6:36 pm #

      Depends on the points. I think if you ran that in 750 point game you would simply win.

      • Avatar
        desc440 December 22, 2016 8:37 pm #

        ’bout this for a 1850 pts list:

        +++ 1850 NL CAD (Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition v2012) (1850pts) +++

        ++ Combined Arms Detachment (Chaos Space Marines: Codex (2012) v2007) ++

        + Night Lords Detachment +

        + HQ +

        ········Daemon Prince [Close Combat Weapon, Mastery Level 3, Stormbolt Plate, Spell familiar, Tzeentch, Wings]

        ········Sorcerer [2x Additional Mastery Level, Bike, Vox Daemonicus, Power Armour, Spell familiar]

        + Troops +

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        ········Raptors [2x Meltagun, 4x Raptor, Raptor Champion]

        + Fast Attack +

        ········Chaos Bikers [2x Chaos Biker, 2x Plasma Gun]
        ············Chaos Biker Champion [Combi-plasma]

        ········Chaos Bikers [2x Chaos Biker, 2x Plasma Gun]
        ············Chaos Biker Champion [Combi-plasma]

        ········Chaos Bikers [2x Chaos Biker, 2x Plasma Gun]
        ············Chaos Biker Champion [Combi-plasma]

        + Heavy Support +

        ········Havocs [Aspiring Champion, 4x Autocannon, 4x Havoc]

        ········Havocs [Aspiring Champion, 4x Autocannon, 4x Havoc]

        ········Havocs [Aspiring Champion, 4x Autocannon, 4x Havoc]

        • Avatar
          MagicJuggler December 23, 2016 1:56 am #

          I think you could even split it up into 2 CADs, and get more Bike units that way, and arguably a 4th Havoc unit or so, as well as a Spawn Bunker for your Sorcerer.

          • Avatar
            Desc440 December 23, 2016 6:24 am

            That’s not a bad idea

        • Danny Ruiz
          Danny Ruiz December 23, 2016 9:45 am #

          I like that list, but I think I tend to favor Obsec Bikers over Obsec Raptors. The Murder Talon with a Warband might be a better choice just cause you get Obsec Bikers and Obsec Havocs and the first turn Super Night Fight.

  9. Avatar
    ryan bridges December 22, 2016 9:26 pm #

    Word bearers are the most meh imo. I actually like the Night Lords a lot. They are very solid on first turn and have awesome assault options (not World Eaters but good). Are they world eaters, emperor’s children or Death Guard? no but by no means are they bad.

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