Chaos Space Marines Review: Elites: Chaos Terminators

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.

Special Rules:

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.

Black Legion:

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.

Alpha Legion:

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:

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.


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Chandler

Sometimes I play 40k. Sometimes I drink beer. Oftentimes I do both. I host an annual ITC Grand Tournament, Come the Apocalypse GT, as well as a podcast called Come the Apocalypse - a Warhammer 40k Podcast which you can find on iTunes or the Google Play Music store.

23 Responses to “Chaos Space Marines Review: Elites: Chaos Terminators”

  1. Reecius October 5, 2017 10:00 am #

    The Chaos Terminator squad has the ability to deal more damage than almost any unit I can think of in this edition. They are seriously terrifying.

    • Cephalobeard October 5, 2017 10:10 am #

      Found the guy writing all the chaos posts from the codex previews, lol



      • Reecius October 5, 2017 10:17 am #

        haha, guilty as charged!

    • Chandler October 5, 2017 10:54 am #

      Yes they hit soooo hard now. A squad of them with a couple of stratagems can knock down some of the heavier hitters in the game very quickly.

      • Reecius October 5, 2017 11:27 am #

        Yeah, the most potentially devastating unit in the game I have used, myself. it is scary how powerful they are.

  2. Dbiesto October 5, 2017 12:05 pm #

    I find the best strategy is teleporting them in as alpha legion or EC once the enemy spreads out. During deployment, the opponenets bubble wrap prevents them from getting in close with rapid fire/ melta weapons close range. One thing that is very effective if opponent cannot prevent is a unit of warptime combi flamers! Overall, they are a huge points sink but can turn the tide when deployed correctly. Endless Cacophony strategem would also allow them to double tap or alpha legion infiltration although a unit of infiltrated berserkers/ noise marines( objective camping infiltration) is another temptation.

    • Reecius October 5, 2017 12:46 pm #

      Yeah, all good tips, buddy. There is so much you can do with them!

    • WestRider October 7, 2017 2:17 pm #

      Yeah, Teleporting in a Warptime Sorcerer along with them can get absolutely brutal. I did that a couple of weeks ago, and it was great.

  3. Dbiesto October 5, 2017 12:23 pm #

    Keep in mind EC always fight first and switch off turns with inits that charged. People have been getting frustrated with my obliterators striking first lol.

    • Threllen October 5, 2017 1:00 pm #

      If only GW didn’t neuter their CC by removing their power-fists. It’s nice that they get to attack first but they’re only getting an average of 1 1/3 wounds on a MEQ unit or double that for a GEQ.

      • Reecius October 5, 2017 1:23 pm #

        I wouldn’t even bother with a Fist if your aim is to kill chaff. Give them a Lightening Claw, or just a Power Sword. Actually, against light infantry, you’re seriously better off with a Power Maul now that I think about it. Wounding on 2’s helps a ton vs. T3.

        • Dbiesto October 5, 2017 2:42 pm #

          I was just referencing an example. Lightning claw combi weapon terminators with prescience warp time sorceror as back up are well worth the points! Obliterators are different than they used to be but I would not label them as worse. I never really put them in CC previous editions

          • Threllen October 6, 2017 5:32 am

            I definitely didn’t try to put my oblits in CC but having a p-fist in your back pocket was kind of nice. Especially if they happened to be close to a vehicle they didn’t kill with their meltas.

          • abusepuppy October 6, 2017 6:06 am

            Yeah, when it was baked into your unit for free, it was a pretty good deal. I’m glad I don’t have to spend an extra 12+ pts on Oblits this time around, though.

            I’d much rather be getting four Autocannon+ shots per turn than have a backup melee weapon.

        • Threllen October 6, 2017 5:31 am #

          I was just talking about oblits, not termies! Since Dbiesto mentioned that he uses EC oblits and people get annoyed since they strike first.

          I was just lamenting the fact that they’re not as good at CC in this edition as they were previously. Although the ability to take out a couple guys before they strike even when you’re charged is nice.

  4. Cavalier October 5, 2017 1:27 pm #

    So happy Chaos Terminators are so good now. I started a World Eaters army at the end of 7th and couldnt be happier with that decision. I’m running mine with combi-meltas for hunting Knights

    • Dbiesto October 6, 2017 1:32 am #

      @Cavalier World eaters are a perfect way to field terminators also. I think they are one of the few things with +1 attack on the charge so I would recommend a dual lightning claw leader, and then either focus on high damage, high d6 attack output or a mixture. Most versatility would probably be dual lcs, with 1-2 combi weapons specs per loadout. Maybe 2-3 squads to exploit combi flamers in one, meltas in ones, and plasma in another. Champions would get 5 LCs on the charge.

  5. CallofDo0bie October 5, 2017 11:08 pm #

    I prefer Chosen for my Slaanesh/Combi-Plasma shenanigans, makes those rare overheats less painful than losing a two wound model too lol. Not hating on the tactica though, termies can definitely earn their points back quick.

  6. Horton October 6, 2017 3:57 am #

    I love Chaos Terminators. My only complaint is that the best mark by far for anything with a gun seems to be slaanesh. The fire twice stratagem is just bananas.

    • Chandler October 6, 2017 5:20 am #

      Yeah it seems like Endless Cacophony was designed with Noise Marines in mind, and they are certainly effective units to use it with, but some of these heavy hitting units like Terminators and Oblits benefit so much more from the stratagem with devastating firepower.

      • abusepuppy October 6, 2017 6:08 am #

        I use Cacophony with both Oblits and Noise Marines, depending on what I need to be killing; it’s for sure a very strong stratagem, but since that sort of thing encourages “pure” lists a lot more I think that’s not a completely terrible option. Be nice if more of the other god/legion-specific stratagems were more useful, though; it and the Alpha Legion ones are basically the only ones that matter.

        • Dbiesto October 7, 2017 12:02 am #

          Alpha legion for defense are so good plus infiltration. I have been thinking of maybe some alpha legion cultists and a noise marine horde and 1-2 obliterators dropping in moving upfield, with renegade terminators and raptors armed with meltas and flamers to maximize mobility. That extra movement to move advance shoot and then charge is such a brutal tactic, even if they dont get VOTLW strategem being renegades.

  7. David Alastair Hayden October 7, 2017 1:24 pm #

    I wasn’t going to get any Chaos Terminators, but they’re just too good. Leaving them out of my fluffy list. Taking them for competitive games.

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