Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio today I bring you the somewhat new and upcoming Chaos Space Marine formation, the Chaos Warband! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!
Space Marines of the traitor legions and those fallen to Chaos since the time of the Heresy are referred to as Chaos Space Marines by the followers of the false Emperor. Having seen the power of Chaos and the lies of the cadaverous false god of the corrupt Imperium of Man the legions of Chaos wage war across the galaxy in the name of the true gods of the warp. When they go to war the Chaos Space Marines do so not as “Chapters” or “Companies” organized in a rigid manner of a false prophet like Roboute Guilliman, instead they go to war in Warbands organized under a powerful Lord of Chaos who marshals the forces he needs for the task at hand. In game terms this is represented by the Chaos Warband Formation.
Those of you who know me are probably surprised to see me writing an article about CSMs. I am definitely more of a Loyalist at heart. My last foray into Chaos was with my 6th edition Nurgle Daemon flying circus. I haven’t played CSMs since the heyday of the 1 trick pony double Lash Sorcerers plus Obliterators. The new rules coming out for Chaos Space Marines though have me excited to start my first full new army in over 3 years, and I am doing two of them. Death Guard and Alpha Legion, the thing these two have in common is they are both going to use the Chaos Warband Formation as the Core of their respective detachments. That’s how good this formation is. In a nutshell it the Chaos version of the Vanilla Marines demi-Battle Company but better in many ways in my opinion.
- 1 Chaos Lord
- 0-1 Sorcerer
- 1-3 Units of the following: Chosen, Chaos Terminators, Possessed
- 2-6 Units of Chaos Space Marines
- 1-3 Units of the following: Raptors, Warp Talons, Chaos Bikers
- 1-3 Units of the following: Havocs, Helbrute
- Favoured Scion: When a character from this formation earns a roll on the Chaos Boon table, as a result of Champion of Chaos rule, roll twice and choose either or both of the results.
- Objective Secured
At first glance the formation looks fairly normal. Perhaps a bit bare bones compared to what you can take, or are forced to take, as part of a Demi-Battle Company. On it’s own this formation would be lackluster. Everything gaining Objective Secured is phenomenal but still what’s to be expected. What makes this a great formation is when you start to take it as part of the different Chaos detachments, especially those in Traitor Legions. The benefits of each of the Legions in that book are covered extensively elsewhere on this site. When you start to pair things like Veterans of the Long War for free, with other benefits like Outflank, boost to the Boon Table, Relentelss, Feel No Pain, and the list goes on. A list that can take solid units, cheaper than they could before, and have them all be Objective Secured is a very versatile and powerful formation. It is also highly adaptable. Capable of becoming both a horde list or MSU list easily.
Several of the units are must takes, so lets cover how to use those ones most effectively. If you want to see a good way to run Chaos Warband out of Traitors Hate check out this battle report from TFG Radio. The Chaos Lord is the first must take item in a Chaos Warband. Much like the Space Marine Captain in a Demi-Battle company. The difference here is the CSM Lord is a far better choice in the new books. If you aren’t aware the new detachments/formations are big on letting you get extra rolls on the Chaos Boon Table and building in a mechanism for either re-rolling bad results or choosing results to mitigate the chance of becoming a Spawn or being forced to become a Daemon Prince. What this means is you can, in these formations, take a very basic lord at 150-165 points and have him become a real tank of a character with a few rolls on the Boon Chart turns 1 and 2. Again, if you need evidence of this you can watch some TFG Radio battle reports on YouTube, Adam plays Warband. A lot. So how best to run this Lord? On a Bike of course! Even in the doldrums of the last Chaos Space Marine book the Nurgle Lord on Bike with either Spawn or other Nurgle Bikers was a good unit. Now that is more true because of Warband. If you take a simple Khorne Lord on Bike, with Melta Bomb, and Axe of Blind Fury you’re looking at a potential Close Combat beast who can stand toe to toe with Magnus and scythe through units of Marines with no issue. Not to mention he is Obsec. The same will hold true for a Nurgle Lord. The best part is taking either of those as part of the World Eaters or Death Guard detachments respectively is a huge bonus to them. If you plan to play Alpha Legion with a bunch of Outflanking units then a foot lord may be more appropriate. The great this about Warband Lords v SM Captains in a Battle Company is you can get yourself a Close Combat beast at almost 1/3-1/2 discount in points because of the Boon Chart.
Next up are Chosen/Terminators/Possessed. Honestly the only real choice here is Chosen, unless you just love Terminators. Don’t take Possessed. Chosen are a great choice here, being forced to take a unit that has access to 4 special weapons isn’t terrible. Yes, they cost the same amount with a Rhino as a SM Command Squad. However they have greater flexibility, especially with Traitor Legions, in terms of what they can do through Marks and Legion “traits”. Taken in any of the detachments Chosen are a great unit, they shine in an Alpha Legion detachment where they have the ability to outflank 4 meltaguns, or flamers, or plasmaguns into the enemies back field. Terminators are an interesting must take option for Death Guard, or Emperors Children as they will be more resilient. Terminators are a much better choice in the Terminator formation so probably don’t take them here.
Chaos Space Marines, CSM, squads are the bread and butter of the traitorous Astartes and they only have to take 2 units. Whereas their loayalist brothers must take 3 and they can’t get Marks of Chaos which when coupled with the Traitor Legions book can make them quite a bit more formidable, flexible, and resilient, than the loyalist Tactical Squads. Noticing a theme yet? If you want to play Warband you’re best off with a Traitor Legion detachment. Taking them in minimum squads with special weapons or bumping them up to 10 so you can get a second special or a heavy weapon will be fairly situational. I like 10 man squads with Plasma Gun and Autocannon in Death Guard Warbands. For Alpha Legion I like either 5 man in Rhinos with Meltaguns or a 10 man with double meltaguns in Rhinos. With Emperors Children you can do something that is normally overlooked for CSMs. You could take two 20 man squads with the Icon of Excess for 20 CSMs that also have a 4+ Feel No Pain.
1-3 units of either Raptors, Warp Talons, or Chaos Bikers is also required to field a Warband. Unless you’re a fluff bunny, which is cool it’s not contagious so none of us mind, I can’t see why you would run anything but the Chaos Bikers. If you’re running a Bike Lord, as you probably are, then you want the Bikers. Cheaper than Command Squads on Bikes and in many cases better due to the Marks and various detachment benefits they fit well into the Warband as a must take that is also good. Unlike the loyalist counterpart the Battle Company where it is often seen as a Tax slot to have to take Assault Marines, Assault Centurions (LOL I know right?), Land Speeder, Attack Bike, or Bike squad, all of which are lackluster choices in most Battle Company lists. The CSM Warband bikers fit naturally into almost any iteration you could imagine. A small minimum squad with max meltaguns makes for good tank hunters. In a Death Guard list a squad of 5 or 6 with a fist, double melta, and a Lord of Nurgle thrown in is a great mini-star. For World Eaters a full 10 man Bike Squad accompanied by a Khorne Lord will be a monster unit with all the extra movement bonuses the World Eaters get.
Finally you must take 1-3 Havoc squads or Helbrutes. Again, we’re left with an obvious choice here. The Helbrute is a steaming pile whereas Havocs, with their access to Autocannons, and perhaps Relentless Death Guard players (?), are a much better choice. At 115 points for 5 with 4 Autocannons it is a price that can’t be beat for 8 Strength 7 shots. In a Death Guard list 4 Relentless Las Cannons or Missile Launchers aren’t bad either but I feel the autocannon wins out for sheer points efficiency.
One of the often overlooked benefits of running a Chaos Warband is the Chaos Dreadclaw Drop Pod. Units of Chosen and Chaos Space Marines can take the Dreadclaw as a Dedicated Transport for 100 points. It is 65 points more than a Drop Pod but it can be well worth it. Unlike a regular Drop Pod a Dreadclaw doesn’t have to disembark the unit when it comes in. Unlike a Drop Pod the Dreadclaw can move the turn after is drops as a Flyer with Hover Mode. It can also use it’s Heat Blast to damage units it passes over in game. While 100 points for a dedicated Transport may be steep a flyer that’s also a transport that can do decent damage and only costs 100 points is good. Just ask 6th edition Necrons.
All things considered if you’re running a Chaos Warband you’re going to be running it as part of a Chaos Detachment. More than Likely from the Traitor Legions book. If you are doing this I make 4 humble suggestions in order of most powerful to least powerful. Death Guard, World Eaters, Alpha Legion, and Emperors Children. Take a look at those detachments and their Special Rules. How the marks, or lack of marks, fit into how their respective Warbands would run, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.