Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:00 am

What to Do With This Soggy Mess (Or, Tactica: 6e CSM)

Table of Contents:

- Introduction
- Wargear
- HQ: Special Characters
- HQ: Normal Characters
- Troops
- Elites: Cult Troops
- Elites: Everything Else
- Fast Attack
- Heavy Support
- Allied Daemons
- Other Allies
- CSM as Allies
- Flyers and Anti-Air
- Building Army Lists
- Collecting Your Army
- Y/N: Dark Vengeance?
- Conclusion

Welcome to the Jungle

Thanks for reading this tactica of the "new" CSM codex. We've had it for a good number of months now, but there is still relatively little consensus about how to run it effectively--a measure, I suppose, of Phil Kelly's skill at balancing the codex. Sure, there are still a few sub-par units, but this edition, there are fewer units who disqualify themselves from consideration in casual-with-an-eye-to-win play.

This is a comprehensive review of the 6th edition Codex: Chaos Space Marines, wherein I intend to discuss not only the strengths and weaknesses of various units in the Codex, but also how they work together. I will discuss aspects of list-building with the codex and the codex's possible allies, wringing this sorry scrap of cardboard for all the synergy it's got.

This guide will be primarily competitive, though it does intend to branch out into fun gaming options as well, though to a lesser degree.

I've started things off here with the following (relatively self-indulgent) foreword to give the reader a sense of where Chaos is at, right now.

Cruel Gods

First, a hearing of the grievances we CSM players bear and a warning that things aren't all sunshine and daisies here in the Eye of Terror.

In the grim darkness of the present, there are only war-games and the cruel laughter of thirsting gods. Those gods? GW's design team, who saw fit to grace us with a steaming pile of over-expensive daemon engines and left Cult Troops virtually unchanged (just switching around where Zerkers and Noise Marines sit on the "desirability" totem pole).

The fundamental flaws of CSM in 6e were not addressed by this codex. We are still a close combat leaning codex that is stuck with shoddy, over-expensive Land Raiders and assault-crippling Rhinos; we rely on highly expensive specialist units that are often little harder to kill than normal MEQ; transports are capped at carrying 10 models so forget adding in an independent character to most units; we are starved for decent anti-air and must pay a ruinous number of points to mount even a semblance of reliable AA; etc...

The Parable of the Rhino and the Defiler

Look at the Defiler--GW wants to sell Forgefiends, so the Defiler is hiked 45 points. Sure, they have 4 hull points, get Daemon, Daemonforge, and IWND… but they also are a drunken-armed, AV 12 model starting at nearly 200 points.

The Rhino, too, has lost a great deal this edition. Sure, it can travel 6" more instead of smoking, but the inability to charge the turn you disembark (or turn after, if your enemy wrecked/exploded your ride) at all, plus the tendency of 3 hull points at AV11 to fold like soggy cardboard, mean that your Rhinos are going to die, and die quickly at that, leaving your troops exposed for two or more turns of enemy shooting--by the time the ragged remnants of your assault units hit home, they may well resemble little more than a light rain that Overwatch umbrellas against neatly.

Get used to removing many hundreds of points per enemy shooting phase, while killing relatively little by way of return until the later turns--if enough of your army hits home.

The FAQ Giveth, The FAQ Taketh Away (But Mostly Giveth)

All right, I'm overstating things. I don't want to scare you off--but nor do I want to sucker you in with false promises.

What has Chaos got going for it? The Axe of Blind Fury is stupidly powerful, the Heldrake is one of the hardest fliers to kill in the game right now and puts out a very respectable amount of Anti-MEQ firepower (especially after their LoS FAQ), and bikers are a very solid unit. Cultists offer a smidgen of cheap scoring units so you can get a good balance of back-field and offensive units (keeping with Chaos's definite offensive leanings) cheaply and without having to resort to allies.

Cult troops are by no means terrible, either. Plague Marines are tough as nails and quite versatile, and the FAQs have treated Noise Marines with a great deal of kindness.

Huron Blackheart offers fun, reliable infiltration to help close the distance to the enemy. There are some truly nasty HQs you can build and buy, and though they come at a premium, they will wreck nearly any unit in the game--a Khorne Lord on a Bike with the AoBF, a Daemon Prince with the Black Mace, Abaddon, Khârn, Typhus…

You Will Not Be King

In the end, after a few months of letting it all settle in, I'm left with the following conclusion: we were given a solidly mediocre codex with a few nuggets of gold that give us a fighting chance at winning reliably often. The top tier competitive armies of Necrons, Grey Knights, and Daemons will still give you a run for your money, mind you. Winning won't be easy, so don't trade in your list-building skills for a set of cookie cutters just yet.

Ask Not For Whom the Dice Roll, They Roll For Thee

With that, let's start looking at actual wargear, units, and gameplay!

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:05 am


Let's look at special rules and certain wargear options first, so I can clarify some of my preferences and make arguments for certain load-outs. Not going to go over everything on the wargear table, but hope to touch on some basics so I don't have to spend as much time covering them later for every single entry where they crop up.

Power Weapons

Because chaos character always have to challenge, you really don't want to give them an unwieldy weapon (a power axe or fist) unless you are a tough-as-nails character who is going to be able to take the best that the enemy characters throw at you and laugh in their face. I find that the absolute preponderance of MEQ armies out there make it so that the AP4 Power Maul rarely wins its user a challenge. That leaves us with the humble and reliable power sword--or does it?

Units with, say, the MoK and/or Hammer of Wrath might be so reliant on crippling the enemy on the first turn that the power lance is actually worth it. Give the champion the lance, and they'll be a monster the first round of combat. By way of example, a Khornate biker champion can fire a twin-linked bolter, then charge for Hammer of Wrath, then get 5 AP3 S6 attacks (with an IoW in the unit). Nasty!

The other competitor against the power sword is the lightning claw. You get one less attack with a lone claw than a power sword, true, but rerolling wounds is invaluable when the dice are going against you in that pivotal combat. How does the mathammer break down? Well, against a MEQ opponent, you're going to average about as many wounds in a stagnant combat. If you get the charge (as you intend), the lightning claw pulls ahead. Against high toughness opponents and monstrous creatures, the claw pulls ahead again, nearly doubling your chances of wounding. Only against lower toughness opponents does the claw fall behind the power sword in terms of wounds caused per average combat--and really, against lower toughness opponents, more often than not your squad isn't going to have much trouble winning the combat.

Also: do your champions really need to spend the points on an expensive power weapon? If your unit is focused on shooting, for instance, you don't want to spend those points you shouldn't need. Would a power weapon just be gratuitous overkill, inefficiently spent points in an already-deadly unit?

Some champions already come with useful weapons--do you want to squander the Plague Champion's plague knife he gets essentially free in order to buy him a fancy weapon…when you've given those plague marines, your objective campers, plasma guns? Do you want to spend a bunch of extra points on your terminator champion to give him a lightning claw when you can already give him a power axe (that he'll likely live long enough to swing) for free?

Much of this advice holds true to force weapons--but they can't get lances or claws, so there go my favorite choices. If the character is very tough (a sorc in terminator armor, for instance), sure, go with the force axe. Otherwise, stick to the force sword.

Consider what role the unit has, and whether a power weapon is really necessary. Then, usually, go with a lightning claw. Sometimes, go with a power lance if the situation calls for it. Really, though, go with the weapon the unit calls for, the list requires, and the points available allow for. Remember that three power weapons cost nearly as much as 10 cultists--a whole other scoring unit.


On particularly nasty combo available to the CSM codex is the ability to buy a power fist and a lightning claw. Both are specialist weapons, so the character gets their bonus attack back, and they can chose at their leisure between tearing apart MEQ or lighter with a blizzard of claw attacks and tearing TEQ or tanks apart with comfortable ease.

Unfortunately, fisticlaws often run second fiddle to giving a character one of the better chaos artifacts (ie the AoBF or the BBoS--nearly all your HQ should ever need), and is a decent pile of points. Still, it's a reliable combo, if the randomness of a daemon weapon doesn't appeal to you.


The downside of Icons is that they can be sniped out of the unit--a carefully positioned land speeder or flyer, a Vindicare assassin… these things are hard to defend against, while also keeping the icon bearer out of harm's way from the enemy gunline.

Icon of Vengeance - very expensive. Fearless is all well and good… but if you want a fearless unit, shouldn't you be sticking a Lord in the squad to make it Fearless or be taking a cult troop? Some minor utility in a themed Night Lords list, or something.

Icon of Fiery Flamey Stuff - Soul Blaze is terrible. Spend points for a 50% chance at 2-4 bolter shots next turn? Just don't bother. Buy two meltabombs for your champions instead.

Icon of Despairy Doomy Stuff - Fear is similarly useless. Except in a very specialized list as allies to Imperial Guard, I have yet to see a worthwhile usage.

Icon of Angry Wrathful Stuff - This one is nice. Decently costly, but boosts the squad a good deal, and gives you a reroll on charge range that will save your rump more times than you can credit it.

Icon of Ecstatic Excessive Stuff - Another nice one, but the most expensive. Giving FNP to the squad is always nice, though, and will improve survivability markedly. If you have the points to spare and if the squad is large enough to justify the number of points per model you'll spend on this Icon (dividing it all up), go for it!

Veterans of the Long War

I don't buy it. It's not too expensive, but it's too situational to be worth the cost. 100 points throughout the army spent on VotLW will be more effectively spent on Havocs or Cultists or some other unit. I never buy it on Fearless units. Still, it's a personal choice; take it if you you want a fluffy army, slightly more reliable soldiers, or your local FLGS is overwhelmed with flavors of loyalist SMs.


As much as I gripe about it, it's a turn of protection against your enemies and additional mobility. Its saving grace is the dirge caster; never leave home without one.

I don't buy dozer blades or havoc launchers too often, but different strokes for different folks and they have their specific applications.

Chaos Artefacts

Dimensional Key - Not worth it. You'll only unlock it after most of your deep striking units have come in, so don't bother buying it. The AOE difficult/dangerous terrain sounds like it could be a decent ally into the Necron Orikan/Writhing Worldscape combo, but apart from that, I don't know if it justifies the cost…

Burning Brand of Skalathrax - because Doom Sirens and Baleflamers weren't enough AP3 flamers. Great. The moderate strength is occasionally a trifle annoying, but the excellent range and AP make complaining about the first point like complaining that your triple-decker chocolate birthday cake doesn't have strawberries on top.

Axe of Blind Fury - Killiness in a can; take it out when you need to fill a crater with blood and corpses. Not as worth it on a Daemon Prince, who already has AP2, but the stuff of wonders on a Khornate Lord on a bike. The army list entry practically writes itself…

The Murder Sword - a very expensive power sword in nearly all cases, this one is under-impressive. If your character is highly mobile, you might be able to chase down the enemy character, and by all reports, seeing Mephiston or an Avatar of Khaine timidly tiptoeing around the edge of your character's threat radius is a heart-warming sight.

The Black Mace - very expensive, and only AP4. That sinks it from the competitive scene by itself, but it can be great fun on a Daemon Prince, whose Smash ability gives him AP2 and whose larger base size gives you a larger Aura of Doom(!). I definitely find that seeing whole swathes of the center of the enemy battle line disappearing beneath the Aura of Doom(!) is eminently satisfying.

The Scrolls of Magnus - No.

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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:08 am


Today, we talk about the first, essential building-block of any Chaos Space Marine army: its leaders.

The HQ characters in any CSM army are the single most important part of the army. They will shape the rest of your army selection.

CSM characters offer 2 real categories: murdernasty and synergy (highly technical terms, you can tell). Murdernasty can be broken down into survivability, close combat capability, ranged capability, while synergy is mostly how much the character affects and is affected by its fellow units, and you're going to build your list around the character's abilities--though the character's cost and mobility come into play, too. A single cheap character leaves lots of points for other toys. A character on a bike can zoom to wherever he's needed in a flash and help out there.

The HQ choices you make are essential to what sortie of army you're going to play. Are you going to only get one Lord and focus on having a massive horde? Are you going to get Fabius and Huron to infiltrate big squads of enhanced warriors into the heart of the enemy battle line? Are you going to buy two daemon princes, fully kitted out, for more than 500 points of high threat value nasty? Are you going to run one melee slaughterer and one support character whose abilities help form the strategy around which you design your list? So many choices, so few HQ slots in the Force Org Chart!

Chaos has 2 types of HQ characters, by and large: murdernasties and synergizers. Huron, with his Warlord Trait, is a synergizer (though he's no combat slouch). A Lord with the AoBF is definitely a murdernasty. Having one of each benefits your army greatly, I feel.

Examples of murdernasties include Khârn, a Khorne Lord with the AoBF, and a Daemon Prince with the Black Mace and wings. Synergizers include Huron for his infiltrating Warlord Trait, an unmarked ML3 Sorc with Biomancy or Telepathy, or any Lord with the MoN or MoS for the cult troops they bring over from Elites. Typhus is rare in that he's both a highly effective murdernasty and a uniquely effective synergizer. Of course, the flip side is that he is costly, slow, and comes with a dud Warlord Trait.

We'll now go through the options you have available, the pluses and minuses of each of option, and (when customizable), what builds of that model are the most effective ways to run it. Each character will be rated on their cost, survivability, combat capability, ranged capability, strategic value, and mobility.

Special Characters

>>> Abaddon the Despoiler: A nasty piece of work, but comes at a hefty price to counter-balance that. Note that, having two Specialist Weapons, he gains back a bonus attack. When you want to kill MeQ, use the Talon to shred your opponents to ribbons. When facing hordes or TeQ, use Drach'nyen for its bonus attacks or AP2 at initiative value, respectively. What does this guy have to offer?
(-) Cost: Expensive.
(+) Survivability: Eternal Warrior, T5, W4, 2+/4++ save--this guy is not going down easily.
(++) Combat capability: Can slaughter units on his own. When in a retinue of, say, Terminators, nigh unstoppable.
(-) Ranged capability: Doesn't have much to offer besides a combi-bolter--but doesn't need to if he gets into hand-to-hand.
(/) Strategic value: He allows Chosen to be troops, which is an interesting, albeit non-competitive, way to make a points-expensive, elite force. On the downside, though, he must be your Warlord and has relatively little to offer in terms of his Trait (though nearby plasma benefits from the rerolls).
(-) Mobility: He's in terminator armor, so he's not all that fast. You can stick him in a Land Raider and nearly double his cost; you can Deep Strike him in and risk scatter, mishap or concentrated enemy fire taking its toll. He can probably survive the third, or at least distract the enemy army long enough for the rest of your army to arrive relatively unharmed.
>Verdict? A one-man death star unit who is vicious but not too competitive. He should probably be relegated to Apocalypse games and the like.

>>> Huron Blackheart: Fun and versatile, with a Warlord Trait that complements his abilities nicely. Random psychic powers from the Hamadrya can provide a boost.
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: A 4++ save is decent, but often not going to save your hide.
(+) Combat capability: No monster, but nicely versatile with AP3 and AP2 options available, plus some combat familiar attacks every turn. Can be boosted by a good psychic power.
(/) Ranged capability: Moderate, in the form of a heavy flamer and/or a psychic power. Still, not the reason you're taking him.
(+) Strategic value: Master of Deception. The best of the CSM Warlord Traits, guaranteed, in a decent package.
(-) Mobility: Poor. Infantry. Slightly mitigated if you infiltrate him, but still no guarantee that you'll get the charge.
> Verdict? Possibly the most competitive Special Character available. He might not get the charge, but that's what Overwatch is for, and his heavy flamer is nasty there--especially if he's in a squad with more flamers. He can handle himself better in combat than most MeQ characters, Special or otherwise, and he adds the aspect of Infiltration around which you can build your army list. Since he can only infiltrate infantry, this lends the other special characters (Lucius, Khârn, and Typhus) a bit more of a luster.

>>> Khârn the Betrayer: Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! KILL! MAIM! BURN!
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: Very easy to kill.
(++) Combat capability: Will tear holes in whatever he's near, especially if he gets the charge. Unless he goes against Mephiston, a kitted out Destroyer Lord, Fortuned Eldrad, or something in that vein, it's not going to live very long.
(/) Ranged capability: A Joker pistol. I guess it's better than a bolt pistol?
(-) Strategic value: Berzerkers as troops. Cool, I don't care.
(-) Mobility: Infantry. Poor.
> Verdict? A cheap slaughterer of foes, and occasionally friends. Less survivable than a Juggerlord w/ AoBF, and less mobile than a Bikelord w/ AoBF. Not too competitive, then, unless you're playing 2 FoC charts and have a spare HQ slot or something (having already taken a Khornate Bikelord and a Daemon Prince with the Black Mace, and still not being sated in terms of melee monsters). Okay, yeah, that's quite a long shot.

>>> Ahriman:
(-) Cost: Too damn expensive, for a glass "cannon" whose cannoning skills leave a rather lot to be desired.
(-) Survivability: A 4++ save does not a survivable character make.
(-) Combat capability: A force weapon, sure, but it's a staff.
(+) Ranged capability: Slightly broader range of choice than a standard Sorc, but bound within the lore of Tzeentch and with no psychic familiar to save his fumbles. Can shoot three different witchfire powers, which is… decent, though the lack of spell familiar means he'll be frying his own brain pretty often. Also, you probably aren't taking a Sorc for witchfire nearly as much as you are for the neat support powers.
(+) Strategic value: Thousand Sons as Troops! Hah, who cares in the slightest? The Master of Deception Warlord Trait is useful, as previously mentioned. Slightly less so with a ranged character than with a melee character, but… the option is still there.
(-) Mobility: Infantry, so poor.
> Verdict? I'd rather take an unmarked Sorc and save ~70 points, or Huron if I value the sneaky-sneaky.

>>> Typhus, Herald of Nurgle: Slowly, methodically slicing and dicing your entire army into rotting mincmeat.
(-) Cost: Expensive.
(+) Survivability: Termi armor, FNP, T5, W4. Most of the same stuff as Abaddon, actually. Hard to Instant Death, though a stray force weapon still might do it.
(++) Combat capability: Tough enough to live long enough to swing Manreaper, and deadly enough with it to sip the floor with pretty much anything he faces. Naaaasty.
(/) Ranged capability: Nurgle powers/Destroyer Hive.
(+) Strategic value: Plague Marines as Troops, AND zombies? Oh joy! Kinda meh Warlord Trait, but whatever.
(-) Mobility: Terminator-armored Infantry, so slow and cumbersome. Can Deep Strike, but loses out on Sweeping Advances.
> Verdict? Pretty nasty and fairly competitive. More useful than Abaddon thanks to his strategic value, and can be used effectively in a Typhus/Epidemus Tally list, with Typhus nuking zombies to raise the tally. If Huron's the Warlord, you can get him stuck in far faster, which is nice.

(*yeah, that might be intentional in a Tally list, but at all other times… not so much)

>>> Lucius the Eternal: I quite like this character. He's not eminently competitive, but most people sell him short of his potential, I find.
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: As easy to kill as Kharn.
(+) Combat capability: No slouch, especially in a challenge with bonus attacks. No AP2, which is a shame, but his Armor of Shrieking Souls and Lash of Torment make for a slightly… different character to play than most others, you'll find. Mind you, he's awful against enemies with 2+ saves and vehicles.
(+) Ranged capability: Better than you'd expect, thanks to his Doom Siren. Stick him in a squad of Noise Marines and you can dual-Doom Siren just about anything MeQ to death. Overwatch, too, is just plain nasty.
(+) Strategic value: Noise Marines as Troops. Not quite as good as Plague Marines as Troops, but still something around which you can build a list.
(-) Mobility: Infantry. It can work with Huron (big surprise there), but otherwise pretty poor.
> Verdict? Semi-competitive, in my eyes. The undeserved black sheep of the CSM family. Good fun to play, though, in perfect honesty, not going to make the cut at the top levels of play.

>>> Fabius Bile: Not a Warpsmith so much as a Fleshsmith, and just plain shoddy.
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: FNP isn't enough to rescue this guy from poor survival skills.
(/) Combat capability: Decent stats are boosted by the Chirurgeon, but the total lack of AP on his magic wand leave him relatively impotent.
(-) Ranged capability: A funny-looking pistol.
(/) Strategic value: Moderate to low. I mean, you're buying him for his buff to other troops, right?
(-) Mobility: Poor, Infantry.
> Verdict? Not competitive; perhaps enjoyable in a fluffy list or vs Tyranids.

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:14 am

Standard HQ Choices:

These are somewhat different. I will address each entry and discuss the options available, then present the option(s) I feel is/are the most competitive.

>>> Lord:
If you aren't going to take this guy as cheaply as possible (a Lord with MoN as a tax to enable Plague Marine troops/babysit a quad-gun, or a Lord with the MoS and BBoS in a melee Noise Marine squad), there are a few builds I find to be best:

> Khornate Biker/Juggernaut Lord
(+) Cost: Cheap. 5 points more than Kharn, when fully kitted out? Gimme! Now!
(/) Survivability: T5 and a 4++ save is nice, and the +1 Wound for a JuggerLord is pretty nifty as well (though it won't stop your character from being Smashed into Instant Death)
(++) Combat capability: Blood for the Blood God! Mountains of Skulls for His Throne! AoBF is the obvious choice, though if you have one of those already, fisticlaws aren't bad.
(-) Ranged capability: Hah. Hah. Hah. You can throw on a combi-melta if it makes you feel better, all right?
(-) Strategic value: Leave a field of decapitated corpses is his strategy.
(+) Mobility: Better on the bike. If you stick a JuggerLord in a bike retinue he'll slow them down and can be focus-fired out ("I'll shoot at only the model that doesn't have a cover save") so you're forced to stick with a Spawn, Raptor or Infantry retinue.
> Verdict? Oh, you better believe this is competitive. Deadly, cheap, and fast--the trifecta of glory. Brutally efficient.

> Slaaneshi/Nurglish Biker Lord
(/) Cost: Moderately high. If you want to kit him out the whole way, you're going to need to spend a bit more than you might be comfortable with. Not quite in the range of Typhus or Abby, but getting there.
(+) Survivability: 4++ is a must, plus either T6 or T5 with FNP (if you're kitting out the Bike retinue right). That, I believe, is what the orkoid races call (in their technical parlance) "ded 'ard."
(+) Combat capability: With Fisticlaws and Hammer of Wrath, you're doing better than Huron. Nowhere near what you could accomplish with the AoBR, but that isn't needed. On a budget, even just a power fist or axe ain't that bad on this tough old wart.
(+) Ranged capability: With the Burning Brand, delicious. Throw in some flamers on your biker retinue, why don't you! Char-broil time….
(+) Strategic value: Either Plague Marines or Noise Marines as Troops. Glorious.
(+) Mobility: High.
> Verdict? Just as competitive, if not moreso, than the Khornate version. It sacrifices the über-killiness for strategic value, a tougher character, and the ability to barbecue MeQ and hordes with glee.

>>> Sorcerer:

> Unmarked Sorc
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: Poor--2 wounds.
(/) Combat capability: Meh. Unimpressive stats, but a force weapon. Can get some decent buff powers.
(+) Ranged capability: Go Telepathy for cruel abilities (Invisibility and Puppet Master) or Biomancy for buffs and debuffs (Endurance and Enfeeble), and generally wreck faces. A very good support character.
(-) Strategic value: Apart from being a good support character, not much.
(-) Mobility: Infantry. Much faster when put on a bike to support a Biker squad with his powers.
> Verdict? A good support character. Borderline competitive, though will almost certainly be edged out by more killy characters.

>Slaaneshi Sorc
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: Poor--2 wounds.
(/) Combat capability: Unimpressive stats, but a force weapon. Can get some decent buff powers.
(+) Ranged capability: Try to get Symphony of Pain (2/3rds chance on a Lvl 3 Sorc), then go for Biomancy or Telepathy and stick him in a Noise Marine unit: S5 sonic blasters, whee!
(/) Strategic value: Steed? Symphony of Slaanesh? You'll probably get some good synergy, here.
(/) Mobility: Steed of Slaanesh. With the latter, you can Infiltrate or Outflank with with unit of Noise Marines and show up in just the right place to rat-a-tat-tat your foes to pieces. If need be he can hop out and take on his own targets/run interception, but it's not wholly advised.
> Verdict? You need a Slaaneshi Lord or Lucius to make Noise Marines Troops, so you've pretty much relegated yourself to a themed Slaaneshi list. Not to competitive, all told, but fun and very fluffy.

>>> Daemon Prince: Nasty at killing things, but expensive and can be one-shotted by S10--an Achilles Heel that removes them from much of the competitive scene. Never leave home without power armor and wings if you take this guy, for all that they cost a pretty penny. The added mobility and survivability will justify themselves far more often than not.

Picking a God as a patron is mandatory for some silly, contra-fluffy reason (I mean hey, you can make an unmarked Prince over the course of a battle, but can't buy one? Weak), so lets go over the choices:
- Daemon of Khorne. Furious Charge. On a Daemon Prince. …really? Atrocious, especially for 15 points.
- Daemon of Tzeentch. Makes him more survivable. Decent, but still a bit expensive. Also, 3/4s poor psychic powers.
- Daemon of Slaanesh. Cheaper than the others, and it gives a whole bevy of abilities slightly increasing mobility? Me gusta!
- Daemon of Nurgle. Shrouded? With wings and evading, or in/behind any sort of terrain, you can have a 3+ cover save--delicious, especially given the amount of high strength/low AP fire that's going to be thrown your way. Still, a bit expensive for a model who already has an inv. save and should have an armor save.

I'd go with Nurgle or Slaanesh, myself. Tzeentch if I'm feeling contrary.

If you want a force multiplier in the form of an offensive boost, you're in for another pretty chunk of points, but who cares about another few handfuls of cultists, anyways? The points look prettier on your Prince's sexy hide, you have to agree. This fellow will become not a Daemon Prince, but Daemon Prince Charming, here to sweep you off your feet and sweep the opponent from the board. As I see it, you have several choices:

- The Black Mace. Fleshbane, +D6 Attacks, Toughness tests in a 3" Doom-Aura, etc. The best part is that the Mace's major weakness--AP4--is negated by the Smash rule giving him a constant AP2 on all attacks. Joy!
- The Burning Brand of Skalathrax. AP3 flamers are no laughing matter… for your MeQ opponent. For you? Feel free to giggle away as you roast 2/3 of a squad then charge the survivors and rip them limb from bloody limb.
- Psychic Mastery Level(s). Expensive for the whole kit, sure, but with Biomancy you can make your Prince nearly unkillable (after getting over the one god-related power tax), and even more a melee/ranged monster. If he's firing off 2 or 3 powers per turn, you may well want to consider a spell familiar for him--it'll save your bacon time and time again, for what is (by this point) chump change.

I would NOT buy the Axe of Blind Fury: you already have AP2 at Initiative, which is much of what you're paying for. The Black Mace is so very much better for so very little more. In addition, Blinded will make it so enemies at WS4 no longer hit you on 5+. I would say that buying (or at least maxing out) Psychic powers plus a Chaos Artefact would bump your points cost up to a rather unfeasibly high amount for a comparatively fragile model, so I wouldn't rely on that dual load-out either, unless you really want to push your luck.

> Daemon Prince w/ the Black Mace, Daemon type, Wings, Power Armor
(+) Cost: Expensive.
(+) Survivability: 4 T5 wounds. Don't let him get stranded on his own and watch out for cruel Overwatch, but you should be able to survive most stuff. As a DoN, he can get 3+ cover save with ease (especially when swooping).
(++) Combat capability: I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.
(-) Ranged capability: Ranged is for wimps.
(-) Strategic value: Leaving the center of the enemy battle line as a series of smoking craters is a strategy, right?
(+) Mobility. Wings: Slaanesh can improve.
> Verdict? Crunch. Only borderline competitive due to his high cost, but generally a badass and oh-so-fun to play with (except when he isn't because he dies early). Watching the center of an enemy horde army vanish beneath his aura of doom is satisfying in an intensely sexual manner. I may only be kind of joking with that statement.

> Daemon Prince w/ the Burning Brand, Daemon type, Wings, Power Armor
(+) Cost: Expensive.
(+) Survivability: Solid, as long as you don't leave him in front of a firing squad.
(+) Combat capability: A mere destroyer of cities in combat, by comparison.
(+) Ranged capability: Don't you love the smell of roast MeQ in the morning?
(-) Strategic value: I laugh in the face of your "strategy."
(+) Mobility: Swoop and Glide and generally saunter around. Can be buffed by a Slaaneshi Prince.
> Verdict? A lower strength Heldrake equivalent (Vector Strike, AP3 Torrent flamer) that can hide behind cover easily, and can flame a squad then charge it if it wants, or tear a tank apart with relative ease. Least competitive of the 3 Prince builds I present here by a hairsbreadth, but still fun on the playground. Will get to actually do kill things more often than a melee prince, since the 20.5" range of a Torrent flamer is pretty decent.

> Daemon Prince w/ Mastery Level 3 (1 mark-specific power, 2 Biomancy), Daemon type, Wings, Power Armor
(+) Cost: Expensive.
(+) Survivability: Most survivable of the Princes. Biomancy will make him a rock that can regenerate wounds/have FNP/boost his toughness/lower the enemy S/whatever. It will make him more than a rock; it will make him an iron rock… yeah, that sounded more impressive in my head.
(+) Combat capability: No slouch. Stronger by far than a normal Prince, if not quite at the level as a bearer of the Black Mace.
(+) Ranged capability: Maledictions and blessings and witchfire aplenty.
(-) Strategic value: Baby Gods don't need strategy.
(+) Mobility: Faster than a Harlequin at a break-dancing competition, all right? What more need I tell you?
> Verdict? Most balanced of the 3 Prince options I've presented here. Versatile and flexible. I see a future for this guy.

>>> Warpsmith: An unsung hero of mid-ranged support when given the BBoS, I feel. Add an Aura of Dark Glory and you're set. I don't think he quite justifies the points to sit back and keep things repaired if you're running a gunline, though: no Conversion Beamer equivalent option hurts him, when compared to his loyalist opposite number.
(+) Cost: Cheap.
(-) Survivability: A 2+ save is nice, but counter-balanced by the loss of a Wound and a generally poor stat line.
(/) Combat capability: Again, poor stat line. The AP2 of a power axe, coupled with the bonus attacks from his mechatendrils, haul him back from desolate decrepitude to mere mediocrity.
(+) Ranged capability: Very flexible at mid to close range, especially if you throw on the Burning Brand of Skalathrax--then you can have 2 flamers (that you can Overwatch with!) or a meltagun, as need be.
(/) Strategic value: A bevy of odd abilities like Shatter Defenses, Machine Curse, and the ability to sit in a gunline and repair glanced vehicles, if need be. Nothing earth-shattering (well, literally yes, but tactically no), but still a character whose presence can shape the building of your army.
(-) Mobility: Infantry. Poor. We've been over this a few times by now.
> Verdict? Surprisingly useful, though much like the Sorc it often gets crowded out in favor of the flashier special characters, Lords or Daemon Princes.

>>> Dark Apostle:
(/) Cost: Cheap… but you're still paying too much for what you get.
(-) Survivability: Dead easy to splatter.
(-) Combat capability: Power maul? Hah, don't make me laugh. And any Daemon Weapon you could care to equip him with would be better given to a different character.
(-) Ranged capability: ...
(/) Strategic value: You can make a unit Fearless and give it Hatred. If you squeeze, you might make another unit Fearless too. Good grief, I'd so much rather a Fearless Lord whose Mark gives me beautiful cult troops and isn't a 2 Wound, AP4, Attack 2 louse.
(-) Mobility. Infantry.
> Verdict? Worst character in the book, bottoming out beneath even Fabulous Billy or Airyman.

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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby exitus_10 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:31 pm

I want my 3rd Edition CSM back. Why are CSM so nerfed? Is it because of the armless failure?
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:48 pm

Huh. Could have sworn I put this in the Worlds of Warhammer forum. Did a mod move it, or something? Or was it just a straight-up blunder on my part? The world may never know. I certainly don't.

The 3.5e codex was crazy as hell, sure, but it was also crazy imbalanced. It was hard not to cheat accidentally while using that codex. Plus the whole confusing apparatus of Daemonic gifts—giving a Lord the Daemonic Stature buff so your Lord has a Daemon Prince model, or giving him enough upgrades that he's a Prince but doesn't have Daemonic Stature. Then there's an Iron Warriors army with 4 Basilisks, or…

The 4e codex wasn't bad, for all that people gripe and moan. It was just… unimaginative, with basically only one competitive build (Dual Lash Princes, Oblits, Plague Bearers, and maybe Zerkers). All told, this codex is basically the same as that one but with a few much needed tweaks to drag a few more units from uselessness, plus adding in the Heldrake. For all that I gripe near the beginning, things really aren't that dark—especially with the addition of allies. Wait and read as I post up more segments, I suppose.
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:53 pm


Troops are the backbone of any 6th Edition army, and vital to their success. Seeing as 5/6ths of the missions you will play are reliant upon your scoring units--AKA your Troops, and occasionally another choice--capturing objectives, you absolutely need a solid contingent of Troops in order to win a game. Unless, of course, you're relying on wiping out your enemy army so quickly that scoring units don't matter, but MTO isn't something we're going to go into here.

In 5th edition, the general rule of thumb was to attempt to have 1 Troops choice per 500 points in your army. I would tweak that slightly for 6th edition, saying it's pretty much vital that you have at least 1 Troops choice per 500-or-smaller chunk of your army, preferably with one more than that number.

1,500 point army? At least 3 scoring units, and try for 4. 1,750 or 1,850? 4 at least, and try for 5. And so on.

Naturally, armies like Guard (with many-squad platoons) and Space Marines (who can combat squad their units) are happy with this state of affairs: they can lump their squads together to deny kill points if that's the mission, but for everything else, they can split up their army into as many scoring chunks as possible.

Chaos, with its expensive units, is hit especially hard by this (fairly vital) rule of thumb--when a solid troops choice costs in the neighborhood of 250 points, it's fairly easy to spend half of your points on drudge soldiers rather than being able to play with all the fun toys. That's one more reason why a tiny gobbet of cultists are an excellent investment. They are a small scoring unit to hold in reserve then hide on your side, while only decimating that 500 point block and therefore letting you to buy plenty of fun toys; toys your opponent cannot afford to ignore, and so is distracted by, while those cultists win you the game by capturing your home objective (be careful not to over-invest in cultists, though, as your opponent can still splatter them with ease, should he or she really try--and a good opponent will really try).

But enough with the general theory. Let's look at the basic Troops units in Codex: Chaos Space Marines!

>>> Chaos Space Marines: Quail, servants of the Carrion Throne, for this is the age of Darkness Ascendant.

Perhaps the single most versatile unit in the game. From spending 80 points on a tiny squad of 5 with one flamer and some CCWs to spending ~350 points on a squad of 20 with the MoN, 2 plasma guns, VotLW and a kitted-out champion, the sheer number of roles and loadouts for these humble scrubs borders on overwhelming.

Some people complain that they have lowish LD and no ATSKNF--aren't these supposed to be badasses from the dawn of the Imperium and millennia of combat experience; the chosen of the dark gods? Well, sure they are, if you give them Veteran of the Long War and a mark. The standard Chaos Marine, though, is the flawed metal; the failed tempering; the Space Marine who knows fear and so fell from glory. They are the arrogant, the self-absorbed, the venal, the cowardly, the renegade: these are the resentful dregs of the Space Marines that have turned to darkness and had their flaws magnified thereby. Ruleswise, it might mean they start out a fraction worse than a standard SM, but the sheer degree of customizability available more than fleshes out the spectrum of "scum to unholy harbingers of destruction"--a spectrum neatly capped off by the cult troops choices, the epitome of worship to each god.

I run CSM most often in squads of 10. Honestly, I find that squads smaller than 10 models just aren't worth it: sure, you can't fit the an attached character into the rhino with them anymore, but you get that second special weapon, and if you want a tiny, super cheap squad to hold your home objective, cultists should be your go-to choice there.

Most of the time, I run my squads with a pair of the same special weapons. That way, rather than wasting much of their fire on targets they can't touch, so you get less utility out of the squad, they can excel at a set role: cracking tanks with melta, searing Termis, MEQ and light tanks with plasma, chasing guard blobs with flamers. Consider what the rest of your list is lacking when picking your CSM, and fit them to fill that role. The typical squad, once you give them the default Rhino with dirge casters, should run you in the neighborhood of 200-260 points.

I'm a fan of quantity over quality, myself: give the enemy 4 bare-bones squads to shoot at rather than 3 expensive squads who will accomplish roughly the same amount. That in mind, I dislike what I see as superfluous upgrades: VotLW, power weapons on most champions, etc. It's purely a personal choice, and there are always exceptions to this rule, but it's done me relatively well, all told.

Let's look at a selection of viable builds for basic CSM:

> 220 - 10x CSM w/ Mark of Khorne, CCWs instead of bolters, 2 meltas, and a Rhino with a dirge caster.

This unit is best run in parallel with several others like it, as well as another threatening melee unit or two: say, Khornate Bikers acting as a delivery mechanism for a Lord w/ AoBF. Move up with the Rhinos, hugging cover and staggering flat out/smoke, keeping your bikers in cover behind the rhinos for a T2 charge… wonderful. Bucketloads of attacks make crunching infantry a cinch, while two meltas should be useful for popping tanks. You can give them the IoW if you like, to help ensure they make that charge and to buff that bucketload of attacks.

> 217 - 10x CSM w/ plasma gun, missile launcher, and a Rhino with a havoc launcher.

A solid backfield objective holder, which won't piss itself and scramble off like a cultist unit does if anyone so much as glances at it. The choice of plasma+krak or frag+havoc make the unit capable of a surprising amount of flexibility.

You can sacrifice some durability and firepower by dropping the rhino and swapping the missile launcher for an autocannon to make the unit a dirt cheap 165 points. Alternately, you can boost the unit with the MoN, if you want, but the point here is to secure the backfield inexpensively so the rest of your expensive soldiers can surge forward with enough strength that the enemy shooting won't be enough to stop it.

> 265 - 10x CSM w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, CCWs instead of bolters, 2 meltas, a champion with a lightning claw, and a Rhino with a dirge caster.

More expensive than the others, but with good measure! I5 FNP marines who will cut and tear, cut and tear, cut and tear your jive ass, honky.

> 223 - 10x CSM w/ 9 additional CCWs, 2 meltas, champion with meltabombs, and a Rhino with a dirge caster.

A unit solidly capable of whooping normal SM in combat, but equally at home in a bolter duel while closing the distance. Great objective capturers, great at anti-tank, solid at mid-range, will beat most non-melee specialists (and some of those, if they get the charge) in combat--probably my all-around favorite build for CSM, to be honest.

> 370 - 20x CSM w/ MoN, 2 plasmas, and a champion with meltabombs and a lightning claw.

A hefty points cost, but that's a lot of bodies. Consider dropping a few bolters in favor of a few CCWs for a nice mix of melee and ranged. Synergizes excellently when being buffed by Fabuis Bile (fearless and +1S), infiltrated by Huron, and/or given Endurance/Invisibility by a friendly Sorc.

>>> Cultists: the villainous scum; the fallen Guardsmen and corrupted PDF; the underhive gangs who have revealed their true allegiance; and the daemon world-grown madmen who worshipfully follow their dark masters…

Dead cheap scoring units with nothing else going for them. Mere expendable worms. Their lives are as nothing to us cruel overlords (expect for the part where they win us the game by capturing the vital objective while us cruel overlords are off getting blown to bits by Leman Russes).

There are a few different ways to run these guys. The obvious one is to take a bare bones basic tiny squad of these squishes and hold them in reserve, so they can come on late game and grab your home objective (hopefully behind an ADL, so they can suck dirt whenever they get sneezed at). Another is in a large blob as an expendable, many-wound escort for a melee slaughterer character like Khârn, who in turn gives them Fearless.

I would say a massive blob with outguns and heavy stabbers, while tempting, isn't worth it in most cases. At that point, you might as well ally in a platoon of Guardsmen who cost about the same, but get orders and special weapons to boot. And if you have that many cultist models with autoguns, you might as well use them as lasgun-toting traitor guardsmen allies anyways! I don't think expensive marks are worth it on such squishy models, either.

> 50 - 10x cultists

Stick em in reserve, then come up and hide behind an ADL on the home objective. Simple as.

> 150 - 35x cultists

Stick in Khârn, Typhus, a Lord with an AoBF, a Slaaneshi Lord with Fisticlaws and a Steed of Slaanesh (to Outflank them to the board edge of your choice), whatever, and go. If they're getting gunned down too rapidly, the character can always hop into a nearby squad of power-armored bodies (who have probably been forcibly dismounted from their Rhino by now).

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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:54 pm


Other Resources:
- Blessed by the Dark Gods, by MaidenManiac

Ah, cult troops. Recall that complaint that you couldn't spend points on shiny toys and on scoring units? Well, with the right HQ choices, turns out you can, actually. Cult troops are Fearless scoring units that specialize in all manner of nasty.

Now, these guys are technically Elites, but you should basically never take them as such. Through acquisition of the properly marked HQ choice, you should always be able to take these guys as scoring units.

Not all cult units are made equally, however...

>>> Khorne Berzerkers: Blood for the Blood God!

Khorne Berzerkers are have suffered, this edition, with a slight downgrade in stats and the revised rules for Rhinos. Compare them to standard CSMs with the Mark of Khorne and an Icon of Wrath: they are Fearless and WS5, sure, but are still rather more expensive and, quite importantly, cannot buy special weapons--locking them into a purely close combat anti-infantry role, at which they aren't that spectacular. Compare them to Death Company, Assault Terminators, Incubi--other armies' designated assault troops--and they fall flat. They can buy an overpriced chainaxe to be able to inflict more unsaved wounds on units they will already beat by a large margin in combat, but they really aren't worth it.

They're the tragic cousin of the cult troops that nobody likes to refer to. All the more unfortunate is the fact that the best CC monsters are Khorne-marked lords, so there's no real synergy benefit to the army if you don't want to buy their associated cult troop.

How to run them--stick them in a similarly over-priced, drunken-weaponed Chaos Land Raider? I guess?

All right, perhaps I'm selling Berzerkers short. Still, they're going to be much less effective in this edition as long as shooting is king and chaos transports suck.

>>> Thousand Sons: All is dust!

AP3 bolters, a psyker in every squad, and a 4++ save? What's not to like!

Quite a bit, actually. Slow and Purposeful means that Thousands Sons have no Overwatch (so they gain little from the 6e tweaks), and low mobility overall. They are very expensive models, and die to enemy dakka juuuust as easily as a normal Marine would. They are absolutely terrible in close combat, except as a tarpit to high-strength, few attack monstrous creatures and walkers (where Fearless and the 4++ are very nice, and it's possible to get a hail mary force weapon or meltabomb attack in)--and they are a very expensive tarpit, at that. Soul blaze? Ooooh, a 50% chance of about 3 bolter shots next turn (that doesn't stack). My enemies must be quaking in their boots.

The Tzeentchi powers are generally under-impressive--Boon has a decent chance to kill any one-wound model in your unit, and witchfire powers… you have to successfully pass the test, pass deny the witch, and that's all before rolling to hit, wound/penetrate, and saves. Special weapons are so much less of a hassle, with so many fewer chances to fail…and are less expensive than the mandatory purchase of the source. Meanwhile, you're paying a large premium for the force weapon on the psyker character with a terrible statline who must challenge.

I dislike Thousand Sons. They need to be baby sat to keep out of trouble, the range of bolters means that in order to get into rapid fire range, they have to get easily into the threat range of that enemy unit--you'd better be prepared to wipe that unit out entirely.

So we return to those AP3 bolters. Are they really worth it? Chaos has a lot of anti-MEQ available: Baleflamers, BBoS and Doom Sirens cover only the AP3 flamers available, let alone the special weapons and low AP templates. Thousand Sons work best, I think, in tandem with another CSM squad: a baby-sitter, if you will, to shield them from/counter-attack enemy assault units, to assist in focusing fire to help mop up wipe an enemy unit, etc.

Yes, if you're running an all-Tzeentch list and cast Hallucinate to pin/bedazzle your opponent or turn the Thousand Sons invisible, the 1ksons function beautifully. Of course, any unit functions beautifully when the enemy is striking at BS and WS 1 against a unit with Stealth and Shrouded, and/or is pinned. If the Aspiring Sorc could roll on Telepathy or another more synergistic power table, I would like 1ksons quite a bit more…

How to run them? In tandem with another squad. The fluffy way is to have 8 Rubric Marines and the Sorc for a sacred 9, the number of Tzeentch, and that many of inferno bolts will make enemy MEQ feel the pain, all right. Giving them a Rhino helps them get away from Slow and Purposeful, even if it puts a severe choker on how many inferno bolts you'll be throwing into the air (until they disembark/are forcibly disembarked). Don't bother with a dirge caster, unless you want the Rhino to zoom off to support your assault troops after it's dropped the 1ksons on an objective. A combi-melta or havoc launcher wouldn't go amiss, though.

>>> Noise Marines: Pleasure is pain is pleasure is pain is pain is pleasure is pain is...

All right, all right. I start off by gushing how good cult troops are, then slag two of the units right off the bat. Let's get into the good units, shall we?

Noise Marines are a bit odd. To start out, you pay a significantly higher cost than a normal marine for a model whose only differences are that it's I5 and Fearless. That's barely enough to get an edge over standard MEQ in combat, but really not enough to justify the cost. What's the fuss, then?

Well, they can really be built two different ways: into ranged or melee units. Ranged units pay for sonic blasters and Blastmasters (1 at 5 models or 2 at 10, thanks to that glorious FAQ) to put out, when stationary, a tremendous amount of heavy and salvo dakka that all ignores cover. Guard, Nids, Eldar, squishes hiding behind an ADL--all of you are to be crushed like insects. Marines hiding in a ruin? I will blastmaster you to oblivion in no time. I will stand on this objective and you will be forced to kill every last member of my squad before I will no longer be claiming it (all the harder if I've bought the [admittedly rather expensive] Icon of Excess).

Keep in mind that the Noise Champ technically isn't a "Noise Marine" as per the book entry, so can't buy a sonic blaster for himself. As a purely ranged unit, upgrades on the champ really aren't worth it.

> 261 - 10x Noise Marines with 7x sonic blasters and 2x blastmasters. You can buy the unit an IoE if you have the points to spare in the list for an even more durable shooting block. Positioning is key with this unit: the more turns it can shoot while standing still, the better.

> 134 - 5x Noise Marines with a Blastmaster, 3x sonic blasters. Cut-price version of the former, if you feel like spamming small units. Small units who still fire AP3 blast templates.

> 287 - 10x Noise Marines with 2x blastmasters and a Rhino with a havoc launcher. A good number of templates, and a solid-sized marine scoring unit that, say, a large unit of Havocs couldn't quite match. Not quite worth the points, In my eyes, but still a consideration.

Melee Noise Marines? Not as effective, admittedly. They don't have quite as many attacks as Khornate marines and are quite a bit more expensive, but still, they take advantage of the Noise Marine I5. Always get the Noise Champ his lovely Doom Siren (I mean, that's why you're running melee Noise Marines, isn't it?) for even more AP3 goodness. Give him a lightning claw as well, so he can pull his weight in a challenge, then add in an Icon of Excess for Feel No Pain, and you have a very nice (and somewhat anti-MEQ focused) assault squad.

Throwing Lucius or a Lord with the BBoS into this squad is even better--think of that AP3 dual flamer Overwatch! The squad's main real trouble is that, even in a Rhino (with a dirge caster, of course), it suffers when trying to get the charge/close the distance to the enemy for such an expensive unit.

> 251 - 8 Noise Marines with CCWs instead of bolters, Icon of Excess, Champion with doom siren, meltabombs and a lightning claw, and a Rhino with a dirge caster

>>> Plague Marines: Rejoice, for these are the last days!

And now we have the real jewel of the cult troops; one of the absolute toughest scoring units in the game, who put out a solid package of ranged and close combat damage to boot. FNP, T5, plague knifes, 2 special weapons even in undersized squads--glorious. The only downsides are the (expected) high associated cost--more than worth it--and, uh. A crappy icon? Okay, their low I3 is sometimes a drag--but it also means you can throw a power axe or power fist on that champion without caring about the mandatory challenge.

Best way to run them? 5-8 marines with 2 special weapons, be they melta or plasma, in a Rhino. A power weapon isn't vital, thanks to the fact that the plague champion already has a plague knife, but can be useful.

> 228 - 7x Plague Marines with 2 meltas and a Rhino with a Dirge Caster

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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:00 am



Elites. Well then. These guys... aren't fantastic, once you remove the cult troops. Termis are pretty good (I daresay borderline competitive), but apart from that... well. Yeah. Just keep reading, I guess. I'd rather buy a unit that is nearly as good/fills the same role as most of these choices, but is scoring and rather cheaper. The entries get a resounding "meh," really.

I mean, if you want to run a fluffy list focused around Possessed and Warp Talons, don't let me stop you. Really. I just cringe at the thought of all of those assault units who aren't scoring and don't have so much as a frag grenade.

>>> Chosen:

I considered including these fine fellows in the "Cult Troops" post, on account of Abaddon's special ability to make them Troops, but Abbaddon is a rare enough purchase not to, in my eyes, justify their inclusion in the other post.

Please don't add a unit of melee Chosen to your army. Please. I know that Dark Vengeance presents that false dilemma as somewhat alluring, but really. As an even somewhat semi-competitive player, I promise that every time a list includes a Marine with a power weapon who costs more than a Terminator with a power weapon, I will personally punch a kitten. Okay, I won't do that; I'll outsource the punching to India, where costs can be cut because kittens can be freely picked up off the street. More on what to do with Dark Vengeance models soon, in the "What to Do With This Soggy Vengeance" post.

Anyways, shooty Chosen. Shooty Chosen are pretty nice. You can give them the MoK(+IoW)/MoS(+IoE) if you want to have them be flexible enough to take on enemies in melee, or MoN to boost survivability, but these really push up the cost of the unit a significant amount. The real nice part is taking 5 special weapons (plus the opportunity for a combi-weapon).

Unless you take Abaddon (for the bubble of preferred enemy rerolls), I would advise against going full plasma. Sure, 10 rapid fire plasma shots sounds nice, but those are, again, marines that cost more than Termis. If you really feel likes spoiling yourself, throw on the MoS and IoE. Between Abaddon's rerolls and the icon's FNP, you should practically never lose a marine to melting off his own face. Still, this is all highly hypothetical. The cost of such a unit (counting Abaddon, who'll probably be in a nearby Land Raider with Termis or the like) is insane.

The real way to run Chosen, I feel, is with several meltas (3, perhaps, to give a highly probable chance of melting a tank) and a few other weapons; an anti-tank unit who is no slouch in combat. Either flamers, to boost the short-ranged nasty, or plasma, for some long range bite at a slightly discounted cost to going full plasma.

> 249 - 8 Chosen with 3 meltas, 2 plasmas, a champion with a combi-plasma, and a Rhino

Want a somewhat silly deathstar unit? (fragile, as far as deathstars go, but capable of putting out a tremendous amount of anti-tank, anti-infantry, or melee damage).

> 260 - 9 Chosen with the MoK, an IoW, 2 meltas, 3 flamers, and a champion with a combi-flamer and a lightning claw.
> 165 - Warpsmith with MoK, AoDG, BBoS
> 235 - Land Raider with a dirge caster (can be replaced for a fragile Rhino easily, to save on points, but that limits the effectiveness of the squad massively, seeing as they all have assault weapons).

6 flamers, including one that is AP3 and torrent. Thanks to the Warpsmith, they still have 3 meltas (though the Land Raider could well bolster their anti-tank with its lascannons, cracking whatever transport they want to charge so that they can flamer the juicy interior many times over). The Warpsmith puts out a somewhat silly 7 AP2 attacks on the charge, as well; sacrifice the champion to the challenge, and you could be chopping up a termi squad with this guy alone.

The largest problem I could see with this unit (apart from its exorbitant cost) is it being too effective in terms of shooting, getting themselves out of charge range of or perhaps even wiping out the unit they're torching, and being left out in the lurch to get shot up during the enemy shooting phase. Still, anyone that tries to charge them has to face that ridiculous Overwatch…

The downside? You could be buying a larger squad of CSMs for rather cheaper who, sure, only have 2 special weapons, but at the same time have the all-important distinction of being scoring… and who die just as easily as the rather more expensive Chosen.

Chosen are fun, but not terribly competitive. If you want to go with Abaddon and have a full-on Chosen list, you'll find yourself outperformed in terms of "elite marines" by Grey Knights, who cost about as much and all have, oh yeah, bucketloads of psycannons and power weapons. A fitting case study, I feel, was the example of Filch's trials and tribulations with an all-Chosen list. It's just too fragile and can't counter enough types of different enemy to be considered a serious competitive choice, unfortunately.

Keep in mind that Havocs can fill the role of shooty Chosen nearly as well, for slightly less expensive. Sure, they get one less special weapon and have less attacks in combat, but still, they're nearly as effective.

>>> Terminators

Termis remain effective--in fact, they could be considered even more so with the modern nerf of power swords. Their downside? Again, expensive and not scoring infantry. Plague Marines might be slightly easier to kill, but are significantly cheaper and, yup, scoring.

Anyways, Termis as a whole. I don't have Termis models, so haven't been able to playlets them, but right away one option jumps out at me: taking the MoT for a 4++. as well as a bunch of paired LCs (though you sacrifice combi-weapon capability). Excellent anti-MEQ, anti-horde, and anti-MC. You probably ought to take a few models with power axes and/or chainfists/power fists for anti-TEQ and anti-tank, though, if you want a big nasty deathblob unit. The MoS and IoE are also a viable way to run the unit, making you strike before and practically invulnerable to MEQ, though at the cost of leaving you still vulnerable to the low-AP, high-strength shots that are the Achilles heel of Termis, and that the MoT helps counter.

> 369 - 8x Termis with MoT, 5 with 2LCs, 2 with a chainfist and combi-melta, and a champion with a power axe and a combi-melta.

Are Land Raiders worth it? Well, discounting cover and assuming the enemy is BS4 and within melta range, every melta shot has a roughly 20% chance to kill your Land Raider outright. Gauss will glance you to death in a turn (or two, at most) of shooting. Your weapons are that horrifying combo of lascannon and heavy bolter. It puts a cap of 5 Termis on the squad, or 4 if you want to include a character. More on this later (in the, you guessed it, Heavy Support post), but you might be better off spending all that massive points investment on… more Termis, all of which deep striking.

MoT is obviously the go-to choice for Termis, boosting their survivability as it does so dramatically. What about other marks, though? I really think MoN isn't worth it; sure, you'll be taking less armor saves due to low strength small arms fire, but nearly all weapons that have AP2 have a high enough strength to laugh at the exorbitant cost of the MoN. If you want to run Typhus in a Termi bodyguard, just run them unmarked, I say (unless you're dead-set on using the Destroyer Hive and don't want to hurt your preciouses--meh). MoK is nice because it gives you so many more power weapon attacks, though is slightly marked up to reflect that. MoS is similarly attractive (to non Unwieldy folks), but I've been over this already. The only real AP2 weapons that the IoE would offer protection against are plasma, rending, and power axes, leaving a whoooole bunch of AP2 weapons that would double-tap such Termis out of the ring. And, hey, it's not like Termis have much difficulty with Marines already.

Apart from 2LC MoT? Massed combi-weapon plasma and/or melta fire is always nasty when deep striking right behind the enemy line. Termicide is no less viable an option than it used to be.

> 262 - 5x Termis with MoT, 2 with combi-plasma and chainfists, 1 with reaper autocannon and lightning claw, 1 with combi-plasma and lightning claw, and a champ with combi-plasma and power axe (and one could cut MoT and one chainfist quite easily to save on points).

> 127 - 3x Termis, 2 with combi-melta and power axe (including champion), and 1 with combi-melta and chainfist.

One thing to keep in mind when buying Termi equipment: much like the Noise Champion, the Terminator Champion has a lot of wargear he'd like to buy from the his unit entry, but unfortunately cannot. "Chaos Terminators" are a separate statline to his entry, and are offered much cheaper wargear than him, since he has to buy all of his equipment off of the wargear chart. It really isn't worth it, in my eyes, to pay full price for a lightning claw or two or a power fist when his brethren can get them so much cheaper; leave him with a power axe, I say, and only buy him a merely slightly up-costed (read: double-costed) combi-weapon.

>>> Helbrute

A non-competitive distraction unit. Jeeze, what a way to sum up the entire Elites section, after subtracting Cult Troops, eh?

Seriously, though. Consider leaving it with the default multi-melta or upgrading to reaper autocannon for a handful of points (for a nastier Fire Frenzy) if you're going to run it. The unpredictability of Crazed results means that you can't rely on having a melee Brute with 2 fists get into combat (oh look, I was immobilized by a Fire Frenzy for this turn!) or a ranged Brute (hi there, Blood Rage). All right, the chance of rolling the wrong choice is only 1/3 after being glanced or whatnot, but still, would not buy.

I'm under-selling the 'Brute due to personal distaste, perhaps, and sure, he makes a cheap way to spam AV12 walkers (alongside, say, Maulerfiends and [almost-walker] Heldrakes), but he's really not for me. Low number of attacks in melee means he'll be glanced to death by krak grenades before he squishes his opponents. Poor choices available means he can't go with the optimal loyalist Rifleman Dread configuration; the nearest approximation is a RAC and ML.

Unfortunately, it doesn't say anywhere that the 'Brute can take items off the Vehicles Equipment chart. How fun would that be, though? A melee 'Brute with a dirge caster anchoring your line of melee assaulters…

The best that can be said of the 'Brute is that he makes an effective distraction to soak up enemy fire and protect your real threat units. Thanks, but I'd rather just take more real threat units.

>>> Possessed

I'll let fellow Chaos player LukeValantine field this one, why don't I?

[quote=LukeValantine;1314811]Possessed still suck, but are more reliable now. Why do they suck? Well they suffer playing second fiddle to units that fill your dedicated combat roles a lot better. Khorne chosen and khorne bikers are far far better at killing GeCk and even MeQ in many situations (At a lower price to). While possessed will still flail around like angry children fighting MeQ and TeQ most of the time. Possesssed also lack any shooting, and type of grenades, and are generally very inflexible. These limitations mean that they A) are int 0 when charging through any cover B) need a upgraded champ to even touch av12 walkers C) Are useless for the turns that they have to walk slowly towards the enemy being shot.

40k is about shooting this edition, and the few units worth taking for CC are those that are guaranteed to maul the enemy when they reach them to make up for the extra shooting enemies get and the chances of failing charges. Possessed only have CC, and aren't even the best unit in the codex for it. So I will ask you this what will you do when you fail a charge with your 26-29pt marines (T4 3+ armor)? The answer is obvious you will end up giving 260-300pts of kills to you opponent without the satisfaction knowing that you got to kill something on the way in (I have lost chosen to the same failed charges, but often this loss is mitigated by the walkers I explode or the 20 or so gaurdsmen I annihilated with flamers).

In a gun fight only a idiot brings a knife that can randomly become dull.[/quote]

By and large a succinct, accurate summary. There are better, cheaper, and/or tougher ways to fill this role in your army, especially if you can get a scoring unit rather than a never-scoring Elite. No assault grenades hurts them. They have no way of getting any anti-tank whatsoever. They die as easily as normal marines (ok, they have a 5+ inv save), which seems to be a common complaint about about the super-expensive CSM elites. I liken Possessed to being the "melee Thousand Sons" of the codex, personally. Just, perhaps, less effective.

Possessed are much better than they were last edition, with a much more viable random roll option.

They still aren't competitive.

>>> Mutilators

Much the same boat as the Possessed. Essentially super-assault Termis for a distastefully high cost, stuck with Slow & Purposeful, no grenades, etc. Deep Striking is pretty much vital (you want me to what, buy a Land Raider and attach a Termi-armored IC to the squad? …maybe, if… but no), but is made a pain by Slow and Purposeful; they can't run to spread out the turn they come in (despite having no guns to shoot and make sticking together worthwhile), and a bad scatter will see them helpless for an additional turn as they slowly, slowly trudge across the field.

The variety of melee weapons they have available is respectable, and you should be able to alternate between a good pairing no matter your foe, but this respectability is canceled out by: a) the a low number of attacks and b) the tiny squad size.

Marks cost a laughably high amount. In this case, only MoK or MoN look really worth it to me; MoK for the counter-balancing of that whole "few attacks" thing, and MoN for the very attractive dual benefit of making it much harder for the Mutilator to be ID doubled out while simultaneously making them tougher against small arms fire. These guys are one of the few instances where VotLW might be worth it, except for the exorbitant cost.

Well, they have Fleshmetal and Daemon rather than just plain old Termi armor, so at least they get Sweeping Advances, right? Nope, Slow & Purposeful. Seriously, I wish they'd just folded S&P into Relentless and had done with it, since Relentless confers the only bonus of S&P but none of the (many) downsides.

Finally, terrible models. I could kitbash better, were the statline tempting. I may yet, and run them for the Spawn produced by my Spawnhood rolls on the Boon chart and my Tzeentchi Daemons.

Would not run.*



* Okay, there is one exception, but I'll just sweep that under the rug as a list I would only play with proxied models, and just for the fun of it.
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:03 am



Fast Attack is… where some of the pretty things live. Some of the prettiest things, in fact. It should weigh on your mind (along with Cult Troops possibilities) when selecting HQs and be your next stop, after picking your HQs, in building your list.

Other Resources:
- Fast Attack: Choices Choices, by returnoftheclown.

>>> Raptors

Raptors are pretty decent. Not all that expensive for squads that are rather more mobile than normal infantry, and who (if they walk in the movement phase) can get a jump-assault with Hammer of Wrath attacks. Small squads can still get 2 special weapons. They have assault grenades, so that bumps them up a ways along the CSM assault troop totem pole (along with their relative inexpensiveness and base CCW+BP).

MoK leaves them with a bunch of attacks (especially when they get the charge, which jump-assaults plus the IoW would get them pretty regularly), MoN leaves them tougher, MoS makes it so that they bash up MEQ before the enemy gets to fight back.

Not bad, not bad. Nothing to write home about in a hurry, but a solidly attractive unit. Mobile, lots of attacks.

I don't ever take them, just because Bikers outperform them in so many ways for only 3 points more per model.

>>> Bikers

What makes Bikers so much better than Raptors? Well, how about we take those Raptors, give them twin-linked bolters in addition to their CCW+BP, as well as Relentless so they can shoot it and still charge. Make it so that even if they move 12" during their movement phase, they still basically ignore difficult terrain when charging* and still get Hammer of Wrath. Give them the option of going another 12" turbo-boost during the shooting phase, rather than a paltry D6" run roll. Oh, and did I mention that the Bikers get a 5+ cover save at all times due to moving, which the aforementioned turbo-boosting bumps up to a 4+? Yeah, there is that. They still get 2 special weapons in a (smaller, cheaper) minimum squad size. They still have assault grenades. Not to mention, oh yeah, the fact that Bikers also automatically get +1 Toughness!

The downsides? They can no longer deep strike (though they still have a 43" average charge radius by turn 2 from where they start [with 24" T1 and 12"+7" average charge T2]). They have to take dangerous terrain tests when moving through difficult terrain, rather than ignoring it (though, this edition, power-armored soldiers can pretty much laugh at dangerous terrain tests).

I daresay that incredible upgrade is worth shelling out a few miserly handfuls of points. I will run out of Fast Attack slots from taking additional Biker squads before I buy a single Raptor. Or, uh, before I buy five Raptors, since that's the minimum squad size.

How do I run these beautiful, inexpensive wonders of the Fast Attack choice? Well, Ravenwing are going to beat you up in terms of special rules (Hit & Run and Skilled Rider, all of them, plus the option to get squads with twin-linked plasma… grrr), so you're going to need to stack on marks and special abilities in order to shame their fancy robes.

First off, which special weapons do you want to give your Bikers before you sic them on an unsuspecting enemy? All three options are even more tempting than usual, this time around, thanks to the special strengths of Bikers.
- flamers: cheap, and Bikers have the mobility to get them right in the enemy's face for maximum hits.
- meltas: short-ranged anti-tank? Well, with twin-linked bolters and bucketloads of attacks, anti-horde really isn't a concern of Bikers, so these add a lot of flexibility to a Biker squad. Bikers are generally the forward assault force of an army, so they're going to be the first units to close on enemy--making them excellent candidates for cracking the transports the enemy are hunkering down in. I typically take meltas myself, for all that 6e has made it easier for other weapons to glance a tank to death.
- plasma: good anti-light-tank, great anti-TEQ and -MEQ, and what's more, thanks to the fact that Bikers have Relentless, they can be fired and the squad can still charge. Very tempting (especially on slaaneshi Bikers with an IoE, for the Gets Hot! protection).

So, what builds are viable for a squad of Bikers? Bikercide, the equivalent of Termicide, is always cheap when you have a few spare points:

> 95 - 3x Bikers with 2 meltas and a champion with meltabombs

2 melta shots, a meltabomb and 2 krak grenades into rear armor should be able to wreck any tank's day. The only real issue is these guys are a bit easy to splatter. Still, if you have enough high threat value targets on the board, these guys should be able to slip in to deliver their vicious knife blow. Still, this squad uses up a precious Fast Attack slot, so I'd say only use it when you're investing many, many points in, say, Daemon Princes and Havocs and such. Feel free to throw on the MoN or another biker (as an ablative wound), or something, if you have the points.

> 226 - 7x Bikers w/ MoN, 2x melta, and a champion with a power lance and meltabombs

Nurgle Bikers. Gotta love T6! This squad would be neatly buffed by an unmarked ML3 sorc on a bike, who could go for biomancy (Endurance for FNP) or Telepathy (mmm, Invisibility…). Also, a Lord w/ MoN on a bike in this squad (with Fisticlaws or the BBoS) buffs its combat capability a bunch… and adds the synergy of Plague Marines as Troops. See what I mean about your HQ choices really determining how you're going to build your army?

The problem with Nurgle Bikers is that there are certain nasty high strength, low AP weapons that splatter them outright. Large biker bases mean you should be able to space your boys so that templates can't hurt them too badly, but still: lascannons and battle cannons wound 'em on 2s and there's not a lot you can do to counter that. Except, well, taking Slaaneshi Bikers with an IoE for FNP, and another roll on top of their cover save to try to save them.

> 264 - 8x Bikers w/ MoS, IoE, 2 plasma, and a champion with a power lance

Yeah, I'm a sucker for that power lance. With all the other charge bonuses Bikers get, and with them nearly always getting the charge, you might as well stack the odds in your favor, eh? These guys still splatter beneath S10 shots, but then what doesn't? They do, however, have a markedly better survival rate against S7-9 weapons than Nurgle Bikers, thanks to FNP. The Icon bearer can get sniped, which is a pain, but whatever. And let's not forget that these guys attack at I5 as well, after their I10 HoW attacks. Nasty.

The more Bikers in the squad, the more cost-effective the fixed-price icon is, though beyond a certain point, the size of the squad is a bit excessive and is degrees of overkill. Strike the balance of squad size and points cost for optimum list-building.

Very useful when joined by a Lord with the MoS (for Noise Marine Troops) on a bike and with the BBoS.

> - 6x Bikers w/ MoK, IoW, and 2 meltas

What, exactly, does this squad do? Well, it provides an all-important retinue for the Khornate Lord with the AoBF on a bike. The power lance might just be overkill with the number of attacks being unleashed (and besides, the champion is just a shill to shuffle off into the challenge so the Lord can chop up the entirety of the rest of the enemy squad with a fistful of AP2 S6/7 attacks), but you can buy it anyways if you like. Furious Charge and rerolled charge ranges are very nice indeed, saving this squad's bacon quite often.

The real issue, here, is deciding who to stick to the front of the unit/remove in combat, since every model has such high utility. The 2 naked models can die first, then the meltagunners, then the champ, and the icon bearer last…as long as the Lord is still with them.

TL;DR: I <3 Bikers.

>>> Warp Talons

Take Raptors, remove their assault grenades, make as expensive as Termis, and make them expert MEQ-killers. These guys are… delicate little flowers, to a degree. They die about as easily as marines--sure, like Possessed, they have a 5++ (which can be upgraded to a 4++ with MoT for an understandably high points cost), but the enemy just has to throw lasguns and autocannons at them to see them crumple.

The special deep striking ability is worse than useless; it's misleading. If you thread the needle, you might force one or (at a stretch) two enemy unit(s) to take a Blind check, endangering your Warp Talons to the slightest scatter deviation and/or enemy counter-assaults. No, far better to Deep Strike behind cover or a quick hop, skip and a jump away from the enemy line to allow for (a) scatter and (b) the unit's relative fragility (for how much it costs).

MoS is nice because it helps avoid casualties (by slaughtering everyone you're up against before they can strike back) while buffing combat capability. MoT is hideously expensive, but the improved inv save is also quite attractive. MoN is expensive as well but boosts survivability, and MoK just gives the prototypical, somewhat unnecessary, bucketloads of attacks (useful against, say, a massive blob of neurons, but not so much against the squads of 5-10 SMs you'll usually be charging and wiping out).

These guys suffer from much the same problem as Possessed, albeit being slightly more mobile and less random, but for a slightly higher cost. They still are rigidly inflexible in terms to the role they can fill (no anti-tank or weapons options, f'rinstance).

I'm just sick and tired of "expensive, but die easily" choices, really. All Chaos's AV12 walkers; all their super elite infantry that splatter like bugs on a windshield…

Let's move on before I get too maudlin. Sure, Warp Talons can be made to work in a fun list. No, they are not competitive.

>>> Spawn

All right, let's very from the non-competitive (though not utter crap, to be fair) to the borderline competitive.

Spawn are fast and ignore cover. They are tough (especially with the MoN), have several wounds each, and have a goodly number of attacks, plus their random ability. The big downside, in my eyes, is the total lack of a save (unless you roll properly in close combat). Enemy shooting is going to do a number on these guys, unfortunately.

Why include them, then? Why take these guys over Bikers? Well, cheaper and more wounds, really. They're a more durable distraction unit. Still, my complaint with the Helbrute crops up again, here: why buy a distraction unit at all, rather than another real, versatile threat? Bikers, at least, can threaten tanks with melta or plasma, and have armor/cover saves. Still, here you go:

> 144 - 4 Spawn with MoN

The best use for Spawn that I can think of as the retinue for a Lord with the MoK and the AoBF on a Juggernaut--now the enemy won't be able to Focus Fire your lord out of the unit, since unlike Bikers, Spawn don't get a cover save just for moving. Not quite as mobile as a biker squad, but nearly, and having rather more wounds. Forced as he is to challenge, the Lord will probably waste the first round of combat killing an enemy sergeant, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it means that the enemy unit is more likely to stick around in combat during the enemy shooting phase, and the Lord can mop up whatever remains of the enemy during their assault phase (provided he gets a decent number of bonus attacks).

In this instance, probably run the Spawn unmarked, since A) you want the enemy to survive that first turn, and B) the MoK isn't fantastic on the Spawn anyways.

> 150 - 5 Spawn

You can also run Spawn with a Lord with MoS, a Steed of Slaanesh, and the BBoS. Similarly to the Khorne Lord, this guy can no longer be Focus Fired to death, and he can Outflank with Acute Senses to turn up right where the enemy wants him least. With an AP3 torrent flamer, to boot.


>>> Heldrake

Quite possibly the best unit in the Chaos Space Marine codex. What else comes close? The Khorne Lord on a bike with the AoBF comes to mind, but pretty much nothing else.

I know that some people have an aversion to fliers, what with them being the big new addition this edition. If you don't want to field a Heldrake, more power to you. It frees you up to go hog wild on Bikers for your precious FA slots.

Still, the Heldrake is arguably the most durable flier in the game (though the Ceramite Plating and rear AV12 of a certain Space Marine flier makes a strong argument as well; good thing meltas don't have Skyfire): AV12 front and sides, a 5++ save, and IWND make it one tough mother.

Then there's its gun. The Baleflamer is the way to go: a torrent AP3 S6 flamer that can be measured from any side of the drake's base? Hells yes! Coupled with a Vector Strike for another D3+1 S7, AP3 hits, you'll be wiping out whole squads of MEQ with this little shagnasty. If your enemy is in a transport, have other units wreck/explode it (or, hell, Vector Strike it during the movement phase), then you can ruin basically the entire squad in one go. The first game I played with a 'drake, he personally killed 21 Purifiers this way--talk about a return on the investment!

> 170 - Heldrake with Baleflamer

The HAC is worthy of consideration, thanks to the fact that the Heldrake has Skyfire, so it provides another way besides Vector Striking to take out enemy fliers (and, for that matter, tanks). The real downsides are that it cripples your anti-infantry capabilities badly, which is where the Drake would otherwise excel, and BS3 means you're only going to average 2 hits. Okay, 2 S8 hits are enough to make nearly any flier or tank flinch a bit, and that terrible BS can be mitigated by an (admittedly situational) allied Herald of Tzeentch with Divination giving the Drake rerolls to hit. Finally, the Daemonforge special ability is more suited to the HAC taking out tanks/fliers than on the already S6 Baleflamer wounding infantry.

> 170 - Heldrake with HAC

I advise the Baleflamer. If you're really starved in terms of AA, you can consider the HAC, but the Baleflamer is just so fantastic at what it does that I consider it easily superior.

A word of warning: fliers that can go into hover mode (or the Stormraven, who can keep flying and turn so that its lascannon turret has a clear shot) can hit the Heldrake in its flimsy rear armor with ease if you choose to Vector Strike that flier, so you'd better have enough backup AA to take out that flier if the Vector Strike is ineffectual, or you'll be taking a pretty big gamble.

The only real question, competitively, is do you want one Heldrake in your list, or up to three?

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:06 am


Other Resources:
- 6th Edition CSM Heavy, by ckcrawford

>>> Defiler

Ah, the clumsy old fumble-armed, over-expensive model whose price has been hiked dramatically to sell the shiny new Daemon Engines. Here, have a Leman Russ who is a walker and whose front armor is 2 points lower than a real Leman Russ, but costs 45 points more. Thanks… no.

All right, the Defiler gets IWND, Daemonforge, Daemon and a 4th hull point, but frankly, in a crowded Heavy Support section there's little to no reason to buy it… especially with the delicious possibilities embodied by the new Soul Grinder in the Daemon's codex. I mean, the Defiler can't even fire its battle cannon and heavy flamer/havoc launcher on the same turn, for the Warp's sake. Or, yeah, it can buy a power flail for an obscene amount of points—why not just swap for a power fist for free like last edition, GW? Please? C'mon.

There are enough over-expensive Daemon Engines available to you, these days, that you don't have to put up with this crap. If you want a large blast template, buy a Vindi. I've already converted my Defilers into Soul Grinders (with a little help from their friends Mr. Helbrute and Mr. Necrosphinx), and put the Defiler cannons onto Rhinos to make them into those aforementioned Vindis. The kitbashing wheel spins, and who can tell where Tzeentch's mutating influence will end?

>>> Forgefiend

All right. Slightly less expensive, and still AV 12, but not as drunken-armed. Still only BS3, but this just makes the ectoplasma cannons look more tempting. S8 Plasma that can instant death MEQ or TEQ? 3 blast templates worth of it? Yes please! Of course, there is the danger of glancing oneself to death at that rate, but… hey. IWND and all that. Plus, on the off chance that you have a Warpsmith in your army, you can work on repairs, too (admittedly, a rare inclusion—unless you're specifically building a gunline army, so have included the Warpsmith with this in mind. Synergy, build units on each other, etc).

Are the HACs worth it? They're not stellar for anti-air, since they'll only be snapping fire, and there is that BS3 issue, but—yeah, 8 S8 shots that can (if you choose to Daemonforge) can reroll penetration results. Mmf. Ally in a Tzherald with Divination for Prescience rerolls to hit (making him a viable anti-air threat, as well) and you're going to be unleashing some serious pain with this bad boy. You can consider throwing on a maw ectoplasma cannon, though I'd advise considering it carefully: if this guy's going to be focusing on fliers and tanks, that cannon is going to be less effective than tripling up EPC templates. Sure, it provides some very useful anti-infantry to the 8 S8 shots that can still wreck pretty much anybody's day, but just one template at a low BS is kinda likely to scatter off course.

> 175 - Forgefiend with 2 HAC
(in an army with an allied Tzherald, or in an allied contingent attached to Daemons)

Kind of a glass cannon thanks to AV12 (for all that IWND and Daemon are helpful), but if you get a few turns of shooting in with him, he should be able to make back his points, in either load-out. All in all: fun and borderline competitive, though a trifle too fragile for my tastes.

>>> Maulerfiend

Much cheaper than the Forgefiend and much faster. Great at ripping tanks to bits with magma clamps or tarpitting infantry with lacers, right? Well, not so much the tarpitting, since most MEQ enemies will just krak grenade you to death, regardless of how many of their normal attacks you would prevent, and with so damn few attacks (at lowish WS), you're not going to be killing very many of them per turn. It's a trifle better in the former role, as anti-tank, since it's a threat that will get in the enemy's face fast and force them to address it pronto.

Still, it's the same case as the Helbrute. Why take it if it's a throw-away distraction unit? Hell, this unit practically is the Helbrute, just swapping a multi-melta for the ability to move faster (and a few other little rules/points tweaks). I'm decidedly lukewarm on this guy.

>>> Vindicator

Ah, the Vindi. Something of a gamble, since opponents tend to have such a great fear of that dreaded S10 AP2 large blast template that they'll throw everything into killing this as soon as they can. In that case… why not take 2 of them? They would cost about as much as one Troops choice, together, and you'd have the power to dictate a whole lot of enemy shooting/movement with how you deploy and move them. Downside: you only get one other HS slot. A small one, all things considered.

The front armor of 13 is a Dark Godsend, but it's important to keep in mind what direction the enemy will be firing their big guns from. That's part of the reason it's nice to deploy one Vindi on each of your flanks: easy to keep most of the enemy on the front armor facing, and the overlapping fields of fire mean that there's virtually nowhere on the board that can escape their threat range doom-bubble.

The advent of fliers hurts these guys a little—it's easier for your opponent to sweep around to a lesser armor facing, and any units up in the air are safe from your super-super-bang-bang gun.

One more downside to the mere 24" range of the demolisher cannon worth noting: it makes it quite hard to stay outside of melta range, especially against mobile enemies. There's a 6" sweet spot against infantry (that you can move back to stay in, if they haven't run), but it's still a trifle hard to stay in, when considering the entire enemy army.

Should you buy any upgrades for the Vindi? I pretty much always buy the twin-linked bolter, since the randomized "weapon destroyed" results this edition means you reduce the enemy's chance of destroying your demolisher cannon by half for a pittance of points, but that's about it.

Fun. Not min-maxed for competitiveness, but fun, and designed to give your opponent a scare. Here's a fire-sink for your enemies and a distraction that I can get behind, since it has such deadly fangs—and for the same cost, practically, as a Maulerfiend apiece.

> 125 - Vindi with twin-linked bolter
> 125 - Vindi with twin-linked bolter

>>> Predator

Ah, the good old Predator. Another AV13 front armor tank, but geared to long range dakka rather than short range large blasts—and so, honestly, a bit more effective. And a bit less likely to get it shot to death by a terrified enemy player.

First up, sponsons. Which type are you going to get? Sure, the naked Pred might be dirt cheap, but it has no staying power. You're going to want to buy some sponsons.

If your list doesn't have enough anti-tank in it, I'd advise just going for a pair of lascannon sponsons and leaving the turret alone.

> 115 - Predator with lascannon sponsons

Sure, you could spend a pretty penny upgrading the turret to a twin-linked lascannon, but then the Pred starts getting a bit too expensive for my taste, and against anything except AV13 or 14, the default autocannon is going to be about as effective.

If you have anti-tank covered (with, for instance, the meltas on every infantry unit plus a squad of Havocs I tend to take), you can consider the DakkaPred. Dirt cheap and traditional with heavy bolter sponsons is always an option, for a not disrespectable weight of fire…

> 95 - Predator with heavy bolter sponsons

But I say why not go all-out with the dakka? It's what this tank was built for, after all...

> 122 - Predator with heavy bolter sponsons, combi-plasma, twin-linked bolter, and a havoc launcher

>>> Obliterators

Ah, Oblits. Very similar to last edition, but subtly changed. All in all, I think the tweaks made them more balanced and less of an auto-buy unit, though that won't keep me from bemoaning their loss of Fearless.

Oblits have gained an Assault Cannon, giving them a good new tool in their arsenal, but have to use a different weapon than the previous turn, but are cheaper and have the ability to take marks. It balances out, I feel—the aforementioned loss of Fearless is a somewhat hard blow, but with such small squad sizes, you're not going to be able to take many morale checks before the entire squad is gone.

Much like the Mutilators, MoN is clearly the superior mark here—preventing ID on multi-wound models is paramount, it prevents wounds from small arms fire, and it costs less than the (admittedly still very useful) MoT.

3 Oblits in a squad is rather expensive, but adds a level of redundancy (which in turn becomes reliability) that 2 Oblits just can't match. I'm not a fan of solo Oblits, very much—sure, you avoid the issue of LD tests (since if he dies, he's dead), but that tactic just plain gobbles up HS slots, surrenders kill points easily, and one Oblit really isn't going to be able to regularly eliminate an enemy threat. He's a kind of useful tool that might do something for you, rather than a steady leveling force.

My optimal unit of Oblits?

> 152 − 2 Oblits with MoN

>>> Havocs

Aaaand we close in on the humble Havoc.

Havocs are one of the favorites this edition, thanks to a broad array of relatively cheap special weapons. In terms of squad size, I'm a fan of getting a few ablative wounds in there so you don't immediately start removing the heavyweight punchers of your unit (or the guy who's leadership is helping keep the unit there). How many ablative wounds I field, exactly, comes down to the last stages of my list, as I haggle for points among various units.

Some people prefer getting a full 10 Havocs, but I see that as points wasted, most of the time. On occasion, I run the bare minimum of 5 models, myself, though I try not to: still, it fits with my generally MSU state of mind (why buy 2 large Havocs units when those points could be spent on 3 small ones with more heavy weapons? You'll be doing more damage and your opponent will have to shoot at more different targets to shut them down.

I would advise against getting any gear on the champion, as he's probably fated to die quickly, anyways, and you don't want the Havocs to be in combat (where most champion upgrades are relevant) anyways. The largest exception to this is if you're taking a squad of Havocs with special weapons in a Rhino as a trail-blazer (think a cheaper, slightly less effective version of special-weapon equipped Chosen and you'll be on the money).

> 196 - 7x Havocs with 2 melta, 2 plasma, and a champ with a combi-plasma in a Rhino

This squad can unload a good amount of firepower. They can pop a pair of weapons out the hatch to take on MEQ or TEQ (plasma) or tanks (melta), and can dismount for a very punishing short range barrage. Not incredibly competitive—not due to lack of killing capability, but just because there are better ways to spend your points and HS slots.

So you intend to field your Havocs the good old-fashioned way: laughing like cruel and capricious gods as they rain down fire from destructive heavy weapons from afar. Goooood, good, I'm right there with you.

I'm a fan of mono-weapon Havocs, so that they can focus their weapons on one enemy and bring to bear enough of the same type of firepower against the type of unit their weapon is effective against in order to basically guarantee a smashing. That said, there's nothing to be ashamed of mixed-weapon squads; they're certainly easier to collect the models for, and can take similar weapons for a slightly more flexible output that can still target enemy units with impunity. Additionally, splitting up weapons in different squads can be a good way to sprinkle threat capability through multiple units: if your Havocs with flakk missiles are all in one squad, the enemy player can just focus his fliers on ruining that unit the turn they come in (and trust me, Night Scythes and Doom Scythes can do that with impunity), whereas he's going to have quite a bit more difficulty taking out your flakk missiles if 2 of them are in 2 different squads of Havocs apiece, next to autocannons or some such.

> 158 - 6x Havocs with 2 missile launcher with flakk and 2 autocannons
> 158 - 6x Havocs with 2 missile launcher with flakk and 2 autocannons

These guys represent a good amount of anti-flyer and -light tank apiece. These guys benefit slightly more than most Havoc squads for being buffed by an allied Tzeentchi Herald with Prescience, since they'll often be firing at flyers, so the rerolls on the autocannons will come in dead useful. Plus, well, rerolls if they miss with any of those flakk missiles.

If we are going to go mono-weapon, though? We have a few choices: autocannons are dead cheap for a squad of 4, and very nasty this edition for glancing enemy tanks to death. Spamming this unit is arguably one of the most competitive way to run CSM Heavy Support, not that I would condone such a thing.

> 115 − 5x Havocs with 4 autocannons

Another viable option is a solid anti-air unit of Havocs with Flakk missiles; pricey, but somewhat necessary, as practically the only dedicated AA units in the CSM codex. Sure, you can buy a quad gun on an ADL, you can ally in a Soul Grinder, you can even rely on your Vector-Striking Heldrakes… but flakk missile Havocs are pretty much the only unit starting designed around their anti-air capability. Not to mention their anti-MEQ/light tank (krak missile) and anti-horde (frag missile) capabilities.

So… they're pretty pricey, but also flexible enough to justify the cost. As they're often an enemy target, I'm a bit more lenient with how many ablative wounds I throw into this squad. A great squad to camp behind the ADL with the quadgun/lascannon plucking an enemy flier out of the sky per turn (for all that they cost a pretty penny), supported by (when they come on) that tiny squad of cultists you kept in reserve to claim your home objective (who are in turn granted a greater level of protection by the ADL and the ability to take over the quad gun to hit a second target).

> 214 - 8x Havocs with 4 missile launchers with flakk missiles

Another option to run is that ultimate anti-tank squad: 4 lascannons. Again, they benefit from a Tzherald's Prescience greatly, as that mitigates how many purely unlucky misses you get—acting, in short, as a force multiplier. 3 or 4 hits with lascannons are going to to do rather more damage than an unlucky roll of 1 or 2 hits.

> 181 - 7x Havocs with 4 lascannons

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:07 am

(There you go, Wrath. As much as I've written)
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Codex: Chaos Space Marine Tactica

Postby The Hillock » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:12 pm

Bloomin' marvellous.
Probably the worst WH40k player in the world...

Hillock's terrain thread
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