Faction Focus: Chaos Space Marines

Take a look at the new Chaos Space Marines preview for 9th ed 40k courtesy of the Warhammer-community team!

Yesterday, we saw a glimpse of how the Space Marines are looking in the new edition, so we reckon it’s only fair we investigate their dark brethren, the Chaos Space Marines, next. To help out, the Dark Gods graced us with their herald, Justin Curtis, who divides his time between playtesting Warhammer 40,000 and making the galaxy burn. So without further ado, let’s learn more about the Heretic Astartes…

Who Are They?

The Chaos Space Marines were once loyal, superhuman warriors of the Emperor, but turned their backs on the Master of Mankind when his foremost son and Primarch, the Warmaster Horus, was corrupted by the Chaos Gods. Now, as champions of the Dark Gods infused with the infernal power of the warp, they seek only to destroy the very empire they once fought to build more than 10 thousand years ago.

How they Play in the New Edition

It’s time we heard from Justin Curtis, who’ll be stepping in to bring you up to speed on how the Chaos Space Marines can make the most of the rules changes in the new edition. First up, we can confirm that he isn’t actually a herald of the Dark Gods (well, not as far as we’re aware, anyway), but he is really good at killing stuff with his rightly feared armies of Heretic Astartes and Chaos Daemons…

Justin: Good news, heretics! The new edition is on the way and it’s bringing with it quality of life upgrades for some of our finest Legions, as well as some notable enhancements for many of our lesser-used units.

Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury brought us plenty of amazing new Stratagems, but we’ve still found ourselves feeling obligated to bring along an endless sea of Chaos Cultists (a Tide of Traitors, you could say) to pay for them. While that may feel appropriate for the Alpha Legion or Word Bearers, it’s definitely less so for the Night Lords or Emperor’s Children. This also meant you were putting yourself at a disadvantage by not choosing to mix and match your Chaos army – after all, if you’re bringing three Battalion Detachments to the party, why not bring three different Legions and gain additional options?

The updated Battle-forged rules in the new edition are spectacular news for the Command point-thirsty Chaos Lord committed to a single Legion. You’ll now find yourself with plenty of points to spend on all those powerful Stratagems and will, in fact, be rewarded for not choosing to spread out into additional Detachments – more Daemonforge for everyone!

Many of our units will see immediate upgrades in the new edition as well – in particular, things are looking up for Daemon Engines, even without Daemonforge! The updated Blast weapons rules will breathe new life into many of their weapon options by making them far more reliable when targeting larger units. We won’t even have to wait for a new codex as the rules kick in from Day 1!

Beyond that, some Daemon Engines made the choice between melee and ranged weaponry a difficult one – your Forgefiend may have a set of Daemon Jaws, but who wants to waste all those nice guns by getting stuck in combat? And your Defiler may be bristling with Claws and Scourges to lay waste to all who come near… but you’re still risking never getting to fire the half-dozen terrifying guns on your daemonic war engine if you spend all game slaying up close. The newest edition will give your Vehicles a chance to keep firing away even while smashing Imperials to bits with their metallic hands and/or teeth – this will make the shooting/assault versatility of most Daemon Engines feel like an asset rather than a missed opportunity.

You’re also going to be hearing a lot about updated terrain rules, but it’s honestly better to say “overhauled” rather than “updated”. I’m sure the Imperium and xenos armies will have their own reasons to love the new terrain rules, but let’s focus on what’s best for Chaos Space Marines players, who traditionally prefer to do their killing at the end of a chainaxe. It will be much, much harder for an enemy player to hide from your wrath in the new edition. No longer can your opponent’s units cower behind walls they think you can’t clamber over, or try to fill the floor of a ruined building so you can’t climb up. The new terrain rules are much friendlier to aggressive assaults – which, in turn, allows us to be very unfriendly to our opponents’ armies!

Key Units

Thanks, Justin! So, now that we know what the Chaos Space Marines can look forward to in the new edition, which units in their roster are potential game-changers? Let’s take a look at some of our favourites…

Khorne Berzerkers

With their ability to fight twice in each Fight phase by violent virtue of their Blood for the Blood God ability, Khorne Berzerkers are rightly feared as one of the deadliest melee units in the 41st Millennium. And with all the additional Command points flying around, you can even channel the Fury of Khorne to fight with them a third time! Last year saw them gain an additional ability, Hateful Assault, granting them a bonus Attack in the first round of combat, making them even better (and angrier). Now with the freedom to sweep even the most heavily defended positions clear with their devastating assaults, Khorne Berzerkers are set to dominate the Fight phase like never before.


It’s big, it’s tough, and a Defiler can dish out a world of pain, especially when juiced up by the Daemonforge Stratagem! If you stick with the Defiler claws as your melee weapon of choice, you can kit it out with twin heavy flamers for some improvised barbecue even during combat! While you’re at it, give it a combi-flamer to make sure your victims go from medium-rare to well done.

Lord Discordant on Helstalker

This one-model army is a devastating all-round addition to any Heretic Astartes force. For starters, it has the Vehicle and Daemon Engine keywords, meaning that it benefits from similar advantages as the Defiler (such as being able to use its baleflamer at point-blank range). However, it can also hamper those same newfound abilities of enemy vehicles with his Aura of Discord. They’re called the Traitor Legions for a reason, so why fight fair?!

Thanks again for your input, Justin! Which of the Dark Gods do you serve, and what new units will you be adding to your Traitor Legions in preparation of the new edition? Let us know on the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page, Instagram and on Twitter using #New40K.

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One Response to “Faction Focus: Chaos Space Marines”

  1. Spera June 22, 2020 8:48 am #

    Makes me wonder if Night lords will be playable(or to be precise, competitive playable). I realy would like to make that army and i have great conversion ideas, but man it would suck if all that work would be just for them to land on shelf and wait for better times. Well, need to se what morale phase will look like.

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