Obliterators have been a staple in Chaos Space Marines armies for many years now, and 8th edition is no exception. The unit hits hard, comes equipped with a ton of shots at a decent range, and can lay down even the biggest of nasties in the right circumstances. They can press a backfield or defend the middle of the board with their brutal shot volleys. For less than 200 points you’d be hard pressed to find a unit with more capable offensive output in the army.
Obliterators are versatile units with deadly mid-range firepower capable of blasting even the biggest Monsters and Vehicles away. But they are also good at tackling elite infantry and sometimes even pesky screen units. They put out an amazing volley of fire, and with their ability to teleport in, can avoid being hit by an alpha strike. Put these guys on a weak flank out of reserves and watch it start to crumble. With a 2+ save and a 5++ Invulnerable and 3 wounds each, they can hang in there for a while. Their Leadership of 8 effectively makes them immune to morale tests as long as there isn’t a negative modifier anywhere, which can go a long way in keeping them in the game. And while certainly not great combatants having 3 Attacks each at STR 5 gives them some decent output in combat against the right enemy. But you want to keep these guys out of combat if entirely possible. They shine most with their amazing shooting potential.
Obliterators are equipped with Fleshmetal Guns. These deadly weapons are Assault 4 with varying STR, AP and Damage, as they are rolled randomly when you select them to shoot in the shooting phase. STR is 6+d3, AP -d3, and Damage is d3, all of which you roll for before making the shooting attack. So, at worst you’re looking at STR 7, AP -1, and 1 Damage each. At best, STR 9, AP -3 and 3 Damage each. With a dozen shots coming per squad these guys can really deal some significant damage to the opponent.
Obliterators come with the Fleshmetal Guns special rule, as described above, as well as Death to the False Emperor, which allows them to trigger extra attacks in combat against armies of the Imperium on a to-hit roll of 6+. Not an amazing special rule for them, of course, as you want these guys to be shooting most of the game, not having to worry about the Fight phase and combat. They also have the Daemonic rule which gives them a 5++ invulnerable save. They also have Teleport Strike, allowing you to deploy them into reserves and pop them anywhere on the board more than 9″ away from an enemy unit at the end of your Movement phase. This is important as it allows you to really make use of their mediocre 24″ range by placing them where you want them to maximize their shooting while keeping them out of respectable charge range for a lot of your opponent’s units.
Obliterators are very versatile and with the right combination of Legion Traits, buffs and Stratagems can really cause your opponents issues. They are unique in that they can take both a Mark of Chaos and have the Daemon keyword along with Heretic Astartes. Of all the Legions, Obliterators probably benefit the most from being Alpha Legion. The Hidden in Plain Sight Legion Trait makes your opponent -1 to hit them when they are further than 12″ away which really increases their survivability. Combine this with the Mark of Tzeentch and throw them within 9″ of The Changeling and suddenly your opponent is at -2 to hit when targeting them! They can also make good use of Forward Operatives by placing them exactly where you want them at the start of the first turn, meaning they can get in range to use those Fleshmetal Guns right away on turn 1. Forward Operatives isn’t always necessary, however as their Teleport Strike ability lets them come in anywhere on your turn, and you’re often better off using that to avoid the unit getting hit with an alpha strike.
Running these guys with a Sorcerer with jump pack or in Terminator Armor can really increase their offensive output as well. He can deep strike in close by and cast Prescience on them letting them add 1 to their hit rolls, meaning they will hit on 2s most of the time. If you decide instead to go with Black Legion, you can use their Let the Galaxy Burn stratagem to allow them to hit on 2s re-rolling 1s with the Prescience buff. Death Hex also combos very well with Obliterators as often they will be hitting with a nice – AP modifier. Removing the invulnerable save of a target of Obliterators shooting, like an Imperial Knight for example, can be huge!
I talked about giving these guys a Mark of Tzeentch, but they also combo quite nicely with Mark of Slaanesh. For 2 Command Points you can throw down the Endless Cacaphony stratagem letting them fire twice in the shooting phase which can be absolutely brutal when the target is stripped of their invulnerable save! Stack on Veterans of the Long War and suddenly they are wounding most things on 2s and 3s.
Using them with Iron Warriors Legion Trait can also be beneficial as it allows you to strip your opponent’s units of the benefit of a cover save bonus if they are lurking in a ruin or some other terrain piece. Combined with the psychic buffs above this can make their firepower that much more devastating to your opponent.
While Obliterators can have some devastating firepower to drop on the enemy, they tend to be incredibly slow. With only a 4″ movement, they won’t be going very far. Luckily you can advance them and still fire their Fleshmetal Guns, albeit with a -1 to-hit penalty, of course. The 24″ range of their weapons can also be as much of a burden as a boon. They can’t afford to sit back very often in a castle as they have to get within mid-range to shoot. This leaves them very vulnerable to being charged by fast units and they are, at best, mediocre combatants. 3 Attacks each at STR 5 isn’t awful, but you definitely want to keep these guys out of combat for as long as possible. Falling back means they won’t be able to shoot in your next shooting phase, which for your opponent, can oftentimes be as good as killing them. Even if the opponent consolidates into your Obliterators from piling in or a consolidation move, it’s a win for them because you miss a turn of shooting. Keeping these guys out in space on the table is a good idea to avoid this.
Overall Obliterators are one of the best shooting units in the entire Chaos Space Marines army. Their weapons can bring down Monsters and Vehicles alike when combined with the right buffs and stratagems. Their ability to teleport in really gives you some strong alpha strike potential especially when you take 2-3 units of them. If you are running Chaos Space Marines then they are a must have unit.
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