Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio today I’m bringing you yet another unit that’s benefiting greatly from the Renaissance of Chaos in 40k, the Chaos Space Marine! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!
The Chaos Space Marine is the elite soldier of the powers of Chaos in the realm of men. With all the benefits provided to them by their Progenitor Primarchs in their gene seed these warriors of the dark powers of Chaos are often bolstered by the power of a patron god or by the Pantheon of Chaos. These additional blessings make them superior in many respects to those Astartes who remained loyal to the cadaver on the Throne of Terra. Does this superiority in print translate to superiority on the table top though…
Prior to the release of Cultists as a Troop Choice in the 6th Edition Chaos Space Marine Codex the Chaos Space Marine, CSM, squad formed the back bone of CSM lists. They are versatile in armament, blessings, and size but were often viewed as over costed and rarely taken. The advent of the Traitors Hate and Traitor Legion detachments and formations however have changed the landscape of the Chaos players list meta, as covered extensively in my other articles, and the CSM squad is no different. With Veterans of the Long War for free in many of the detachments, with additional free benefits from having VotLW the CSM squad got huge boosts to their abilities without needing a massive codex re-write. Their addition as a mandatory 2-6 choice in the Chaos Warband means they will be seen a lot more on the table tops of the 41st millennium. Starting out at just 75 points a piece the unit is cheap enough.
- Power Armor
- Boltgun/Bolt Pistol
- Frag/Krak Grenades
- May Replace the Boltgun for CCW, may take a CCW for an additional 2pts each.
- May take: Flamer/Meltagun/Plasmagun
- If 10 or more may take an additional weapon above or; Heavy Bolter, Missile Launcher, Autocannon, Lascannon.
- May include up to 15 additional CSMs.
- May take VotLW for 1 pt each (This is unnecessary unless you’re running and actual CSM CAD)
- May take a Mark of Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, Slaanesh. (Usually this is demanded by one of the Traitor Legions detachments)
- May take an Icon.
- Champion of Chaos
- Additional Special Rules will probably be added through detachments and Marks of Chaos.
Like many of the other units being reviewed on Frontline Gaming for the Chaos Space Marines the CSM squad is benefiting a lot from the two newest releases for Chaos. Traitors Hate, but mostly Traitor Legions. Prior to these releases there just wasn’t enough gas in the tank for the CSM squad to be used over the less costly Cultists. The lack of any real formations/detachments of note for CSM prior to Legions and Hate meant that most players were building CADs to take just the best stuff from the book. Nurgle Lords on bikes, Heldrakes, etc. They weren’t using the CSM dex to take Chaos Space Marine squads, building a squad that worked cost too many points.
If you’re interested in running Chaos Space Marine squads you aren’t going to want to run a CAD, unless it’s a CAD using the Legion rules. Making them good usually requires VotLW, a Mark of Chaos, of some type and an additional rule or two. Until recently you weren’t going to get that at all, but now with Traitor Legions you can. The best option for CSMs is running them via the Chaos Warband Formation but I am going to break this down into the Legions I think provide the best bang for your buck while taking the generic Chaos Space Marine squad.
Alpha Legion– The best part about Alpha Legion CSM squads is infiltrate. Chosen, Chaos Space Marines, and Cultists in an Alpha Legion Insurgency Force have the infiltrate special rule and have Shrouded on the first turn of the game. This can be doubly beneficial. If you have them loaded up in Rhinos you can outflank a large number of units, or infiltrate a large number of shrouded units after deployment. When using this in conjunction with the Chaos Warband you can easily, and relatively cheaply, get 3 min/max Chosen outflanking in Rhinos, and up to 6 CSM squads outlfanking. It’s important to remember that CSM squads can be taken in squads of 20 so the ability to outflank/Infiltrate a few large blobs of CSMs, who have VotLW for free, is pretty decent. The Alpha Legion don’t have many of the extra tricks that the next 3 examples do but their ability to Outflank and Infiltrate large numbers of units brimming with Special Weapons can’t be overlooked.
Death Guard– The Death Guard may be the biggest winners in the Chaos Renaissance. When taking the Vectorium detachment your units of CSMs must take the Mark of Nurgle but the benefits gained in this formation far out strips that of a unit of Nurgle marked CSMs in a CAD of old. Yes, they get +1 Toughness as before, but in the Vectorium they get VotLW for free, Feel No Pain (with a -1 to initiative) and Relentless. Furthermore they get Stealth from shooting attacks made from over 18 inches away and re-roll FNP rolls of1! Now you have CSM squads that are super resilient, that can move and shoot heavy/rapid fire weapons at full BS. A unit of 10 CSMs can take an Autocannon, Plasmagun, and Combi-Plasmagun and move and still fire all of it at full BS. This also means you can unload all your bolters, Heavy Weapons, and Special Weapons and still charge into combat. Units of 10 or 5 Death Guard Chaos Space Marines can form the core of a list using the Vectorium detachment that simply isn’t going to die easily and can put out a large amount of mobile fire power. The only thing that could make this go from great to amazing would be letting CSM squads take Grav Cannons.
World Eaters– The appropriately named Butcherhorde detachment for the World Eaters makes for a pretty amazing way to run some Chaos Space Marine squads. Again, the most common way you’ll find CSM squads in any of these detachments is via a Chaos Warband and this one is no different. As part of the Butcherhorde your lowly CSMs get VotLW for free, but must buy the Mark of Khorne. However when you combine that with the other special rules of the Butcherhorde you get a unit that has Rage, Counter-attack, Fearless, Furious Charge, and Adamantium Will. Not to mention more than likely they’ll be benefiting from Blood Mad and gain an additional movement of 2d6 inches before the game begins. Two units of 10-20 of these guys can be terrifying to most regular units in 40k. Replace their bolters with CCW for free, and run them at the enemy behind a squad or three of Bikes from the detachment with Lords and you have a great follow up punch to a potentially massive turn 1 charge. For more on that, you should read the other tactics article about the World Eaters and Chaos Bikers. Used in concert with other Assault elements and loaded out to do well in Combat the World Eaters CSMs of the Butcherhorde can be a great unit to take.
Emperors Children– The Emperor’s Children Rapture Battalion detachment is the only one from Traitor Legions that potentially gives Death Guard a run for their money in the resiliency department. This is also arguably the weakest of the 4 discussed in this article, which may seem odd at first but a lot of it hinges on the fact that you this detachment has an element of luck involved. CSM units form the Rapture Battalion must take the Mark of Slaanesh and VotLW (this is free). For this they have +1 Initiative, a 6+ FNP, and they can make a single attack in close combat if they are slain prior to getting to attack. If you take an Icon of Excess that 6+ FNP becomes a 4+ FNP, which is none to shabby. Large blocks of CSMs running around with 3+ Armor and 4+ FNP is pretty good on it’s own but the Icon is a bit expensive at 30 points. If you’re going to invest 30 points in a unit to give them the 4+FNP you’ll want to make sure the unit is survivable in terms of model numbers and potent in terms of ability to deal out damage. For CSMs this probably means either an immobile Firebase, perhaps in an Imperial Bunker, within a Void Shield Generate, a Shrine of the Aquila, Aegis Defense Line or something of that nature. Alternatively if you trust the dice gods you could take larger blocks of CSMs with icon, CCW, and hope to get a good roll on the Combat Drugs table. 4,5,6 are probably the results to hope for. +1 Toughness, +1 Strength, or +1 Attack would be good to have on a unit that is already I5 with 4+FNP.
A Special Note on the Dreadclaw– CSMs, Chosen, and Helbrutes can all take Dreadclaws as dedicated Transports. For 100 points the Dreadclaw is more expensive than a regular Drop Pod but the Heat Blast, not having to disembark the occupants upon entry, and ability to fly this Objective Secured Drop Pod around the battle field even after it deep strikes; makes it much better than the vanilla version. Many CSM players aren’t sold on the Dreadlcaw for whatever reason, but if you’re running Chaos Space Marine Squads, or even Chosen, I would suggest taking 1 or 2 of these in your lists wouldn’t be a bad call.
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