Chaos Space Marine Formation Review: Kakophoni

Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio today I bring you the somewhat new and upcoming Chaos Space Marine formation, Kakophoni! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


The Space Marines of the III Legion Astartes were some of the Emperor’s finest warriors. Named the Emperor’s Children they were also the only Legion granted the honor of being able to bear the Emperor’s Aquila upon their armor in the Pre-Heresy era of the Great Crusade. They strove for perfection in all things, this obsessions with perfection and beauty eventually led to their seduction by the Chaos power of Slaanesh. In their falling to Slaanesh some of the Emperor’s Children created units based around weapons of great sonic power. Their corruption by Chaos making them seek out ever greater sources of Cacophonous noise, created units that could purge enemies through noise imbued with the powers of the warp. They formed these powerful units of Noise Marines into formations called the Kakophoni. How do these formations of voluminous power stack up on the table to though?



The Kakophoni formation is the cheapest of the new formations from Traitor Legions that centers around cult troops; Berzerkers, Plague Marines, and Noise Marines. The Kakophoni uses Noise Marines as it’s base and adds in some special rules that make them even better. When used as part of an Emperor’s Children Rapture Battalion detachment the formation becomes even better. Like all of the Cult Troop formations, even those found in Wrath of Magnus, the devil is in the details. Where getting the best benefits of the formation requires you to take the maximum number of units allowed in the formation. This is a near impossible task for Thousand Sons but is much more manageable for the Emperor’s Children.



  • 1 Chaos Lord or Lucius the Eternal.
  • 3-6 Units of Noise Marines
  • Minimum load out costs 365 points, bare bones full load out costs 650 points.


Special Rules:

  • Split Fire
  • Sonic Overload: All sonic weapons used by units from a Kakophoni have the Shred Special rule. If this formation includes the maximum number of units then all attacks made by Sonic Weapons are resolved at +1 Strength as well.


Those special rules don’t suck. Even if you aren’t taking the full load out to get the +1 strength to the sonic weaponry the addition of Shred is a big deal. This iteration of 40k has made armies nearly dependent on the ability to get re-rolls. If you’re running an army that can’t access the ability to re-roll to hit and/or wound on at least 30% of your army, I would argue 50%, then you’re far behind in the 40k arms race. So just taking them as a Cheap Core choice in an Emperor’s Children detachment isn’t a bad option. Although you get the same problem you run into with both the Plague Colony and Maelstrom of Gore; which is a Warband is more often than not going to be the better Core choice. Then how to run this formation to make it effective?

Well, if you run it with Max units to get the most benefit from Sonic Overload and use it in a Rapture Battalion to get the benefits of the Fueled by Sensation rule you’re starting off right. This detachment is the one that gives units within the detachment with VotLW the Fearless and Feel No Pain (6+) special rule, with the Icon of Excess you get FNP 4+. You also get to roll on the Combat Drugs table for all the units in the Kakophoni which can get you some cool things like +1 BS or +1T.  So what would a fully loaded Kakophoni look like points wise, and damage output wise?

The way I would run it is min-maxed. For 1145 points you get 31 models, 6 squads of 5 Noise Marines plus Lord. Give them 3 Sonic Blasters, Doom Siren, and Blastmaster with an Icon of Excess. With Shred and +1 strength all those weapons become just a tad bit better. They’re getting better by the way against the most prolific models in the game, models in Power Armor. They’re also becoming very resilient with the addition of a 4+ FNP. If you throw these guys in cover, with their long range, higher strength, Shred weapons you can chew through the soft underbelly of a Battle Company quickly. The Doom Siren is probably a maybe check in the include column. For 15 points it is great for killing off marines close up; with the formation rules it is a template, s6, AP3, Shred weapon. That melts ceramite plate to slag! In terms of actual game use I can imagine entire games where you get to use 1 or 2 of the 6 Doom Sirens only once or twice. Without the Doom Siren on each Champion the formation drops to 1064 points. The Blastmaster however is a totally different thing.

The units in the Kakophoni formation have the Split rule. This means one model in the unit can fire at a different target than the rest. This means you can sit your units of Noise Marines in cover and plunk away with your Salvo 2/3 Sonic Blasters at 24″ range and still fire your 48″ range small blast, S9, AP3, Ignores Cover, Pinning, Shred weapon at a different target. While it may feel weird to not be advancing a unit with a higher initiative than Vanilla Marines across the board to get into combat; the Kakophoni actually makes for one of the more resilient gun lines that the new Traitor Legions book provides for. Perhaps only the Death Guard Warband in their Detachment can rival this formation for sheer resiliency and firepower.

noise-marinesThe bottom line with the Kakophoni formation is; if you’re an Emperor’s Children player who loves all his Noise Marine models you have a formation that while not the quote, unquote, best in the new Traitors Legion book certainly makes it a viable option to play Noise Marines again. That is truly the best part about this new release. It may not have the “ZOMG OP, I’m going to wreck face! GG Noob!” feeling of the Eldar codex but it is solid, and it breathes new life into an entire range of models that had been rotting on the vine for several years.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

10 Responses to “Chaos Space Marine Formation Review: Kakophoni”

  1. Threllen January 18, 2017 7:02 am #

    I’m not sure I’d splurge for the Icon of Excess or Doom Siren running minimum-sized ranged squads because points tend to be at a premium, but I think the kakophoni has potential.

    I also think it’d be fun to run squads of 10+ regular Marines in a warband. Replace their boltgun w/ a CCW for free and give them an icon of excess. Now you have a giant ball of fearless ObSec marines with 3+ / 4+ FnP. They’re hitting at I5 and get the additional bonus of combat drugs. Would definitely be interesting for board control purposes.

    • SaltyJohn January 18, 2017 7:39 am #

      Yeah, it’s a good point on the Doom Siren, one I touched on. The Icon gives the gun line the added resiliency it needs. Large squads of CSM with BP/CCW and Icon aren’t bad. They’re still just Marines with I5, unless you get a good Combat Drug roll as well.

      • Threllen January 18, 2017 8:44 am #

        The trouble I have with the icon on min-sized squads is that it costs you an additional 180 points over the 6 squads. That’s enough points to buy an additional 9 Marines (or 1.5 per squad). I guess I haven’t done the math to see how the survivability compares but it would seem to me that having those extra guys (who still get a 6+ FnP) is just about as good as a better FnP roll.

        And, yeah, I’m under no illusions those big squads are going to kill everything in assault but it’s a points-efficient way to use the icon and puts some good board control down.

    • AbusePuppy January 18, 2017 8:58 am #

      I’m with him on the Doom Siren- it’s one of those things that will occasionally be great, but most of the time it’s just 90pts that you could’ve spent on another squad or something. And given that Noise Marines are hardly cheap to begin with, I don’t think that it’s worth it overall, although it’s a different matter if you’re running them in Rhinos where you’re likely to get more use out of it.

      The issue with the Icon isn’t its numerical efficiency; if you could spend 30pts per squad to just give them FNP(4+) then it would be baller. But since the Icon can be picked off, you’re actually getting way less than that many times, and that’s the problem. (There’s also the fact that it doesn’t help you at all against S8+ weapons, of course, but that’s a given.)

      • Threllen January 18, 2017 10:13 am #

        I did a little exploring on the math and the Icon on a 5 man squad is a 28% increase in survivability over just putting that extra 1.5 guys in each squad (knowing that some squads would have 6 and some would have 7). That’s definitely nothing to sneeze at even though you’re giving up extra offensive firepower to get the defense.

        But, you bring up a good point with the sniping. You need to be dang careful not to expose the icon or your big investment could go right down the drain.

        • Dakkath January 18, 2017 12:13 pm #

          Which model would be the best one to carry the icon; the champ, the guy with the blastmaster, or one of the 3 sonic blaster guys?

          • Beau January 18, 2017 12:34 pm

            Can a champ carry an icon?? Then he would get look out sirs but I think it’s just a regular slaanesh marine that can carry it?

          • Threllen January 18, 2017 1:21 pm

            Beau – Yes, a champion can carry the icon. It just says “one model in the unit” it does not specify “One Noise Marine.”

            Dakkath – It’s a tough choice. They all have up-and-downs.

            Champion: (+) his shooting doesn’t matter so you can hide him anywhere in the squad. He can also look out sir away from himself. (-) if the squad gets assaulted he can get challenged and singled-out no problem.

            Blastmaster marine: (+) long range means he can be hidden effectively. You’re already trying to hide him given his cost and it leaves the others as ablative wounds. (-) This gives opponent’s another reason to go after him when he’s already expensive.

            Sonic blaster marine: (+) Normally the least attractive member of the squad. Can’t be challenged and doesn’t have the blastmaster. If the opponent tries to single him out that’s less focus on the champ/blastmaster. (-) Just another body to hide. Now you have even less ablative wounds because you have at least 2 guys you don’t want to lose. Leaving only 3 body-bags (if you don’t care about the champ).

            I have 20 FW marines and I modelled the two icons on the guys with sonic blasters but I don’t think it’s a huge difference who you put it on (I would stick to the marines, not the champion, though).

  2. Beau January 18, 2017 12:39 pm #

    After having played plague colony and TSons, I would happily run both cores + single spawn aux for slaanesh. I think they are cheap. Your slanesh lord really needs to be on a bike with bikers anyways. He is backed up by a hell of alot of salvo shooting with split firing blastmasters. Stick the 2 troops in rhinos, have some chosen with powerweapons maybe?

    What I am contemplating is a horde of havocs because they are cheap too, the icon would give them a 4+ fnp? give them 4 lascannons I’m sure they would survive with all those ablative wounds.

    • Threllen January 18, 2017 1:24 pm #

      What’s the point of hording the Havocs? They’re marginally effective normally. 155pts for 5 guys with 4 lascannons.

      Bare minimum in an EC detachment w/ an icon they would be 40 points more. Any more bodies on top of that and you’ve got upwards of 250pts invested in a blob that can’t move otherwise their 4 cannons are useless and can be assaulted easily since they aren’t all that proficient in assault with 1 attack each.

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