Hey, everyone, Chandler here. Warhammer 40k has a rich history and background of amazing lore. One of the most iconic units in the game is the Terminator marine. For years this unit sat in mediocrity suffering from being too slow, too easy to kill and not worth the point investment for your army. But fear not as the Terminator has returned to the table top in 8th edition in full force! Today we’re going to be talking Chaos Terminators specifically. These twisted veterans of the Long War are ready to smash face on the table once again. For more reviews, strategy and tactics articles check out the Tactics Corner.
Chaos Terminators are one of the most fearsome units in the lore of 40k. These ancient veterans of long lost Legions are hell bent on crushing the Imperium at any opportunity. Unlike their loyal marine brothers, Chaos Terminators are twisted by millennia spent in the Eye of Terror subject to constant war and mutations.
Chaos Terminators occupy the Elites Battlefield Role in a Chaos Space Marines army. They come with a standard marine statline with 1 extra Attack and Wound as well as a 9 Leadership with their Champion. They are slightly slower than their standard marine brothers with only a 5″ move due to their heavy Terminator armor, which confers a 2+ save and 5++ Invulnerable. They are also capable of taking any Mark of Chaos and may be included in any of the Chaos Space Marine Legions in the codex. What makes this unit more flexible than any loyalist Terminator unit, however, is their available wargear options.
Chaos Terminators must be taken in units of at least 5 and can have as many as 10 models. They come stock with the trusty Combi-bolter and Power Axe. They can replace their Combi-bolter with any weapon on the Combi-weapons list including combi-melta, combi-plasma, and combi-flamer. Additionally, they can each replace their Power Axe with a Chainfist, Lightning Claw (or pair), Power Fist, Power Maul or Power Sword. Finally, for every 5 models in the unit, one can replace it’s combi-bolter with either a Heavy Flamer or a Reaper Autocannon.
The ability for these guys to take combi weapons in place of their combi-bolters really adds a lot of flexibility to this unit and makes them capable killers on the battlefield, which we will get into below. With the right wargear, buffs and stratagems, the Chaos Terminator squad can be devastating to an opponent’s forces.
Chaos Terminators come with the Death to the False Emperor special rule, which allows them to generate an additional attack in the Fight phase when they roll a 6 to-hit against any units with the Imperium keyword. They also come stock with the Terminator Armour rule, which as noted above, confers a 5++ Invulnerable save for the unit. Finally, they have the Teleport Strike special rule which allows you to teleport them to the battlefield more than 9″ away from any enemy unit at the end of any of your Movement Phases.
As noted above, the Chaos Terminators unit really shines with its versatile wargear options. This combined with Teleport Strike makes them a force to be reckoned with on the table capable of dealing brutal damage to the enemy when they teleport in. A squad of Chaos Terminators equipped with 4-5 Combi-plasmas or Combi-meltas can be devastating to the enemy. I personally recommend using Mark of Slaanesh on them as they always benefit from the Endless Cacophony Stratagem regardless of Legion affiliation. That said, all Legions can benefit from including this squad in their army, but let’s look at some specifically that can really turn this unit up a notch with the proper Stratagems and Legion traits.
The legion trait allows them to advance and shoot their plasmas as assault weapons, which is pretty good considering it compensates for their slow movement, although being -1 to hit you rarely want to overcharge when you do this. Being Black Legion also opens them up to using the Let the Galaxy Burn stratagem. For a single command point you get the same benefit as having a buff character aura near them letting you re-roll 1s to-hit. That is amazing when you drop a group of Combi-plasma loaded Chaos Terminators down as it allows you to safely overcharge those plasma shots. Dishing out 8-10 Plasma shots at STR 8, -3 AP and 2 Damage each can be incredibly scary. Combine this with Endless Cacophony and you can shoot the unit again, while still benefiting from the re-roll stratagem. For 3 Command Points, you’re talking 16-20 Plasma shots, overcharged, re-rolling 1st to hit. That is extremely devastating.
The legion trait here is the big winner for this unit, as hitting your opponent with a -1 to-hit penalty is huge, especially when faced with a unit as devastating as Chaos Terminators. These guys will draw a huge target when you drop them down on the opponent, and as such, having that -1 to-hit really helps keep them alive on the table. Running a Chaos Sorcerer with a jump pack nearby to jump in beside them can make their shooting pretty amazing. Throwing Prescience on this unit means they can safely overcharge without worrying about blowing up, even if they miss the shot with a 1, and increases their chances of hitting on a 2+. Combine this with Death Hex, which removes the Invulnerable saving throw from an enemy unit, and Chaos Terminators are now dealing some serious damage. Again, Endless Cacophony is great to use here, as is Veterans of the Long War as it means you’re usually going to be wounding any target you shoot at on 2s.
If you want to use Forward Operatives on them, it’s best to go with a melee setup, like 5 dual lightning claw terminators. If you go first, you still get the benefit of moving and charging putting you very close to the enemy. That said, while this unit is effective for that, there are probably cheaper options than Chaos Terminators for an alpha strike assault.
Iron Warriors can make good use of the Chaos Terminator bomb by removing the cover save bonus. Again, just as Alpha Legion, if you run them with a Sorcerer nearby stripping off an invulnerable save with Death Hex, as well as cover from the Legion trait, it can leave most units very vulnerable. Using the Iron Within, Iron Without stratagem can also really benefit Chaos Terminators in helping keep them alive when they start inevitably drawing mass fire from your opponent.
While the Chaos Terminator bomb can be absolutely crippling against most opponents, it does not come without a price. To run the unit with 4 Combi-Plasmas comes in just under 250 points, which is a huge price investment. The unit is just capable of dealing so much damage on the drop, however, that the pros outweight the cons in my opinion. And while they do have solid leadership at 9 (10 if Black Legion) I would rarely ever run this unit with more than 5 models. Being Black Legion really gives them some flexibility in terms of stratagems to use to make their shooting more effective, otherwise you’ll also be relying on a character buff to get the most out of them, which by no means is bad, just an additional cost you have to account for.
Also these guys will draw an enormous amount of firepower when they come in, especially once your opponent sees what they are capable of doing. The 2+ save can go a long way especially factoring in each model has 2 wounds, but it is probably not going to be enough to keep them around more than a turn or two. So, it’s best to maximize the damage you can with them the turn they come in. This unit should be targeting something huge like a Knight, Magnus, or some other big nasty Monster or Vehicle when they drop.
Overall, I think the Chaos Terminators are much improved over the last two editions. Certainly the unit is good enough to bring back to the table, which is nice to see as they have been absent for several years.
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