Monday, 8 October 2012

Chaos Space Marines Codex Review

Well, here's the review I promised! Hope you enjoy it.

Huron got a lot better this edition.

Overall the book is fantastic and there's definitely going to be plentiful styles and builds for both fluffy and competitive armies. The vast majority of the book is easily worth it and even some of the formerly more terrible units make it into the "useable" zone, including Spawn!

The Chaos Boon Table is fantastic and all 3 gods that use psychic powers get their own psychic tables. Throw in a smattering of Chaos Gifts, some cool new rules and units and you'd be hard pressed being disappointed with the book.

The Chaos Vehicles upgrades are also fantastic. Dirge Caster stops enemy units within 6" from firing Overwatch whilst Destroyer Blades allow you to cause D6 S5 hits to a unit when you Tank Shock them.

Named Characters
There's very, very little to be disappointed about in this section, except for the complete lack of anyone new (no Cypher...). All of the named characters are at least better than they were, though the only ones you might see in competitive lists are Kharn, Fabius Bile, Huron and maybe Ahriman (being the only Mastery Level 4 Psyker currently). Though I do suspect someone will come up with an uber-list with Abaddon and a whole bunch of Chosen, but I'd personally leave him to friendly games.

Back to Fabius Bile: he seems very good now. He comes at S5 with 5 attacks and inflicts Instant Death with his combat attacks, while boasting a 18" Poison (2+)  Assault 3 shooting attack. He also has FnP. Unfortunately though, he's still only Initiative 4 and has no Invul. But ultimately, the icing on the cake is that you can make a single unit of Chaos Space Marines in the same army as him +1 Strength and Fearless for absolutely no extra cost and no negative side effects of any kind. Swap out the Bolters on this unit for Close Combat weapons, give the Champ a Lightning Claw and give them whatever Mark you please, plus the Icon if you feel it's worth it, and you've got yourself a pretty brutal unit. Obviously Mark of Khorne and Icon of Wrath are the obvious choices for the unit, making them an absolute machine in combat. The Champ will be hitting with 5 Attacks at S6, AP3 with rerolls To Wound for the first round of combat. Even Independent Characters are going to fear that should you not feel comfortable throwing Fabius himself in there.

Typhus can make Cultists Zombies if you wish for no cost, giving them Slow and Purposeful and FnP, but they can't shoot. There is a dispute over this though, as the rule states that they may not choose any options, and in the new codex extra models are options, so some could argue that as per RAW you cannot take more than the minimum unit of 10. Whether this was intended or not, we'll have to see. I personally don't think it was meant that way, but I'd still advise staying away from Zombies until the FAQ is released.

Chaos Lords are going to be king in challenges, and considering they must issue them, that's a very, very good thing. Daemon Weapons still hurt you on the roll of a 1 when determining extra attacks, but the new rules for them a very nice. I don't think I'd use any of them outside of friendly games though. Burning Brand of Skalathrax, the flamer Kharn used when he started attacking his own guys, is also an option. It's a S4, AP3 Flamer with Torrent. I like it plenty. Back to Lords though, my personal favourite current combo is Terminator Armour, Sigil of Corruption, Power Fist/Power Weapon/Pair of Lightning Claw and a Mark of Tzeentch. This gives him a 2+/3++ save and some simple but effective armour-cutting weapons. I'll be rocking the Power Fist myself.

Sorcerers are way cheaper at 60 points, and you can get up to 2 more Mastery Levels at 25 points each for a Mastery Level 3 psyker. All of the god-specific psychic tables are absolutely fantastic, though Slaanesh is so far my least favourite whilst Nurgle's 5-6 option is definitely my favourite. It probably depends on the army you're playing and what kind of Synergy you need though.

It is indeed true that Daemon Princes don't have Eternal Warrior and they cannot be T6 with a Mark of Nurgle. Instead they must be a Daemon of one of the gods, which gives them an ability + Hatred (a certain type of Chaos Daemon here, depending on god). Being Flying MC's though, I think they still have their uses, but they are certainly expensive. I'm not so sure about them yet.

Now onto the new guys, the one's most people are probably most curious about. Warpsmiths seem decent, though I'd only run them as a secondary character after a Lord or Sorcerer is in the list, but the Dark Apostles are utterly lame. Yes, it's crushing, but it's the truth. Everyone within 6" gets to use his leadership of 10 and any models in the same unit that roll on the Chaos Boon Table get to reroll the result. Lame. He also has an AP4 weapon, because we totally need help killing those Dire Avengers and Fire Warriors in combat, right?

So in the troops section we're left with just Chaos Space Marines and Cultists, both of which are fairly cheap and both of which are definitely going to be making it into 90% of non-themed lists. A unit of 10 Chaos Space Marines can just be given a pair of Plasma Guns at 170 points, or you can completely kit them out with Marks, Icons, Special Weapons and all that jazz and reach over 268 points (though anything over that is probably getting into the zone of "retarded-for-the-sake-of-being-retarded" kits) for the 10 of them.

Meanwhile, 20 Chaos Cultists will rarely be costing you more than 120 points. I'll definitely be running at least one unit in every list I make.

By golly is the Elites section packed. You've got Chosen, Possessed, Terminators, Helbrute, Mutilators, and the 4 Cult units. Obviously you can unlock one of the Cult units as a Troops choice with a Lord/Sorcerer with the appropriate Mark or the appropriate named character, so I guess that's a mostly moot point.

Every single Elite choice is useable. Chaos Terminators with Power Fists cost 2 points less than enemy shooty Terminators and while they miss out on Assault 2 weapons for inferior ranged firepower, they are more accurate and are the superior choice when within 12" thanks to their now 2 TL shots versus the standard Termies still 2 non-TL shots. I think Chaos Terminators are going to be a good option this edition, either with MoT or Slaanesh and Icon for FnP, however I think the Slaanesh and Icon combo is crazy expensive. I'll probably stick to no mark or Tzeentch.

Possessed are great now, but are still crazy expensive, so it makes it hard to justify them outside of friendly games. The Helbrute is the Dreadnought replacement and is actually useable now. Yay! I'm not too taken by the Mutilators because I think I could spend points better elsewhere, but they're still good.

Fast Attack
Too bad you've pretty much got to take those Flyers to be competitive. They are definitely good, but in my opinion it's either 2-3 or none. One will just get nailed way too fast. You could take a Daemon Prince for your HQ instead of one if you wanted and save some points, but I'd just go with those Heldrakes. Luckily you can also give them Baleflamers and dominate infantry like no tomorrow with those S6 AP3 Torrent Templates.

As for the last FA slot, everything is viable. Raptors are essentially the same before, but gain Fear and are only 17 points a piece. Bikers got the same kind of treatment, and 3 of them with 2 Meltaguns is only 90 points. You could make them T6 for an additional 18 points too, if you so choose. They're definitely a solid unit now.

Then you've got the Warp Talons. As I mentioned in my last post about the codex, they work great with the Dimensional Key. They're a bit like Possessed though; they look great, they beat things down in combat like no tomorrow, but they also cost a huge amount of points. Worth taking, but not tournament material.

Heavy Support
Most of the old stuff stayed about the same, maybe getting a little cheaper. The Predator costs more base but the options are much cheaper. Oblits are 5 points cheaper and have access to Assault Cannons but can't fire the same weapon twice. Nothing really worthy of note with the old stuff except the Havocs, who are the first unit who can take Flakk Missiles. They're S7, AP4 Skyfire and you can fire them out of your Missile Launchers. Unfortunately they come at an additional cost, but I have 2 units of 5 Havocs in every version of my list with 4 Missile Launchers and Flakk Missiles. Combine them with 2 Flyers and the sky is yours. They also make taking the Baleflamer over the Hades Autocannon on your BS3 Flyer a much easier choice. Defilers are also better but more expensive.

The new stuff though... Well the Fiends are both fantastic. The Forgefiend can fire 3 S8, AP2 Blasts per turn at 200 points whilst the Maulerfiend is a Walker that moves 12" a turn and is designed to dominate vehicles in combat. It doesn't have any guns, but it'll wreck anything with an AV value that it touches.

All of the Daemon Engines are incredibly survivable with a 5++ save and the ability to regenerate a Hull Point with It Will Not Die.

Absolutely amazing book. Gamers and fluff buffs will be happy alike with the options and versatility available to the Codex. I couldn't have asked for much better honestly.

It'll still be a little time before we work out what will rule the tournament scene and what you shouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, but we'll get there.

So that's all I've got for now! Thanks for reading through all my waffling and half-finished thoughts.

I know I promised lists, but I'm not even finished yet. It's nearly there though and should be up in the next couple of days. It's a difficult thing to work through though with so many options.

Rhinos are exactly the same, in case you were wondering.

I can't really cover everything properly in the post, so if you have any more specific questions on units, rules or whatever, feel free to ask!


  1. A really good review, I think you got everything spot on

  2. really good review, glad I found it

  3. You are the first person I actually agree with! Most others are gripping, and you looked at the highlights!