Chaos Space Marines Formation Review: Maelstrom of Gore

Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio today I bring you a bloody mess of a formation, the Maelstrom of Gore! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


The World Eaters, the Emperor’s XII Legion Astartes, known throughout the Great Crusade as one of the most violent Legions, whose martial savagery was enhanced by the Butcher’s Nails. These implants turned the already gladiatorial level violent Space Marines into near mindless whirlwinds of death. The Butchers’ Nails were implemented into the Legion after their Primarch Angron took control of the World Eaters. The World Eaters would be among the first Legions to fall to Chaos and devote themselves, unsurprisingly, to Khorne. The Khorne Berzerkers still rampage across the Galaxy sowing death and destruction in their wake.


The Maelstrom of Gore is a wonderful formation for a World Eaters detachment using the Traitor Legions book. I see no reason why anyone would use the Maelstrom of Gore outside of a World Eaters Butcherhorde. The two go hand in had with one another rule wise, if you want to know more about the Butcherhorde check out this article by fellow TFGRadio contributor Danny. The Maelstrom of Gore has some distinct advantages in game that really require it to work as a part of a Butcherhorde so for the remainder of this article you’ll notice I am assuming it is taken as a Core choice for a World Eaters detachment.


Formation Requirements:

  • 1 Chaos Lord or Kharn the Betrayer.
  • 4-8 units of Khorne Berzerkers
  • Restrictions: Chaos Lord must be given the Mark of Khorne at no additional cost.

Special Rules:

  • Blood Crazed: Units from Maelstrom of Gore have Fleet and add 3″ to their charge distances.
  • Red Rain: Once per battle at the start of your movement phase a Maelstrom can summon the Red Rain. When it does so all units locked in combat are allowed to pile in and fight as if it were a Fight sub-phase but enemy units may not strike back. Using this ability does not preclude the units from fighting in the subsequent Assault phase of the same turn. You get a free round of combat.



The World Eaters Butcherhorde has a special rule Blood Mad!: After deployment and Infiltrate but before the first turn begins, all non-vehicle models may immediately move 2d6 inches (roll for each individual unit). Also, all non-vehicles (except for Walkers) get to reroll failed charges. This means if you have the Maelstrom of Gore you will be moving all those units of Berzerkers an extra 2-12″ before the game begins. Combine that with their Fleet and additional 3″ of charge range you have multiple units that can threaten a charge of 16 inches.  If you add in a Talisman of Burning Blood you’re piling on an additonal 3″ of movement in each phase for the unit the bearer is a part of.



The foundation of the Formation is the Khorne Berzerker.  Weapon Skill 5 base, 2 Attacks (BP/CCW), Fearless, Furious Charge, Rage, and Counter Attack all standard. The only thing Berzerkers lack in terms of special rules was a way to get to grips with the enemy. That is taken care of by the Formation and Detachment rules where you have units that could potentially be in the enemies face turn 1, they have a potential 32″ of movement turn 1, and if you build the list right this formation will have back up following close behind. The Maelstrom of Gore is 420 points for the 4 5 man units and a stock Khorne Lord. Doing the formation up correctly is going to be rather expensive but it will be worth it.


This is a Formation and Detachment that is dying to get into Close Combat with the enemy. As such they get a lot of movement bonuses. The way to get there is to survive to get there so you’ll need larger units. The best part of this formation is it lacks the nerf built into the other “Cult” specific formations. Unlike Plague Colony, Kakophoni, or the 1k sons formations, you don’t have to take the maximum number of units to gain any additional benefits. So rather than spending points on a lot of small units you could spend points on a few rather large units. Let’s take a look at some list potential.

  • Khorne Lord (remember you don’t pay for the mark) Fist, Lightning Claw, Sigil, Talisman of Burning Blood
  • 3x 10 Khorne Berzerkers with Power Axe on the Champ
  • 20 Khorne Berzerkers with Power Axe on the Champ.
  • 1205 points.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for other things in an 1850 list so perhaps you dial things back. 4 10 man units instead of the above. Or a few 5 man squads and a few 10. Fitting in a Chaos Warband and the obligatory single Spawn Auxiliary isn’t impossible.

  • Maelstrom of Gore:
    • Lord: Bike, Sigil, Claw/Fist, Talisman of Burning Blood.
    • 3x 10 Berzerkers with Axe and Meltabomb on Champ
    • 1x 5 Berzerkers with Axe on Champ
  • World Eaters Chaos Warband
    • Lord: Bike, Sigil, Claw/Fist
    • Chosen with 4 meltaguns, MoK
    • 2x 5 CSM squads meltagun, MoK
    • 9 Bikers, 2 meltaguns, MoK, Axe and meltabomb on Champ
    • Havocs 4 Autocannons MoK
  • 1 Spawn MoK
  • 1850 points.

While this list isn’t crazy over the top OP take a moment to think about what it can do. All the units get to move 2d6 inches before the battle begins (this is not an infiltrate or scout move and canot be blocked by servo skulls etc.), they’re all Fearless and have Furious Charge and they all have Adamantium Will. (Spawn don’t have VotLW so they’re an exception here). This army will be in your face fast, if you have the first turn your Bike squad can get you a first turn charge easily. Assuming averages here. 7 inch Blood Mad movement. Move 15 in the movement phase, due to Talisman. Charge 13 inches due to 7 inch average + Talisman + 3 from Blood-Crazed (assuming it confers from the Lord to the Bikers). That’s 35 inches of charge range threat turn one on average, 32 if Blood Craze doesn’t confer. The rest of the army is right behind that unit too. A couple of lucky rolls plus first turn and you can be into your opponents line and deployment zone before they know what hit them. Don’t forget all those units from the Warband are also Objective secured. Those Berzerkers from the Maelstrom of Gore will easily clear off objectives and mop up survivors from the Bike Star, and they provide a good number of units that must be dealt with because if they aren’t in your face turn 1 they will be on turn 2. Don’t forget to use the Red Rain either. A well timed Red Rain on a turn of yours when most of your Maelstrom of Gore is locked in combat could free up a few that need freeing up or give that little edge to some in the ensuing Assault phase that might need it. Adding additional phases to your turn that other players don’t get is a really good mechanic. Just ask Eldar.

khornemarkThe Maelstrom of Gore, like the Plague Colony and Kakophoni formations, isn’t game shattering on the level of Eldar, Tau, or Battle Company. What it is, like the other two, is a great and solid platform from which to build a list that is both flavorful and viable in many situations. The current meta is not an Assault oriented one, and while many Death Stars use the assault phase to get their work done an army relying on the assault phase, that can reliably get into assault will give many armies fits. If you love playing assault armies or you love the World Eaters you now have the formation and detachment that will let you do what you need in game while also remaining competitive if you want to.

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.

7 Responses to “Chaos Space Marines Formation Review: Maelstrom of Gore”

  1. Avatar
    Vercingatorix March 8, 2017 10:37 am #

    It would be cool if you could fit all that in with a fist of khorne. That would be a whole lot of first turn assault options but I’m not sure how well it would all fit.

    Talk about a fluffy but also a matchup dependent competitive army. It’s just a big pile of berzerkers running around chopping stuff up!

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn March 8, 2017 10:42 am #

      Yeah I am not sure if you could fit it with a Fist of Khorne. It honestly didn’t occur to me to try that. It is matchup and 1st turn dependent but the formation, and detachment, also seem very fun.

    • Avatar
      Juggernut March 9, 2017 7:28 am #

      My thoughts exactly, with the Fist. I play larger games than 1850 so I’ve been looking forward to trying this combo out.

  2. Avatar
    Horton March 9, 2017 3:10 am #

    Great article!!!

  3. Avatar
    Threllen March 9, 2017 7:35 am #

    Probably not a competitive list by any means, but bare-bones you can run a World Eaters detachment with maelstrom and the obligatory spawn for 517 points. And you can grab a Curse of the Wulfen Morderhorde for 740 (putting the herald on a jugger). That leaves you with ~600 points to fill out the daemon secondary and to grab upgrades/beef up your squads. Hit some of your opponent’s units turn 1 with the berserkers and soften them up for a turn 2 charge by all the hounds.

    • Avatar
      Dakkath March 9, 2017 8:26 am #

      What benefit are the wulfen giving here? You’re going to have some serious One Eye Open problems with everything trying to crash into melee.

      • Avatar
        Threllen March 9, 2017 9:51 am #

        One Eye Open?

        I’m talking about the Chaos Daemons Murderhorde from the Curse of theWulfen supplement.

        It’s a detachment with 8 units of Khorne (in this case flesh hounds).

        Their speed synergizes well with Khorne marines. And they hold all the objectives they’ve ran past since your entire army wants to move. Plus you get the warpstorm table if you consider them your primary.

        It’s a fluffy and somewhat decent khorne CSM+daemons list.

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