Chaos Space Marines Guide
Bad guys!/We're the very worst!/Each of us contemptible, we're criticised and cursed!
We made the big time, malicious and mad/we're the very best at being bad!
--- Abaddon The Despoiler
Guide by LeSwordfish, with thanks to Drasius, DedalusMkV, Cheesegear and Boomwolf
Universal Rules, Relics, Detachments, Powers
Chaos Space Marine Detachments:
Despoilers Of The Galaxy A Chaos Space Marine Detachment - note that this is one that only includes <Legion> units, so can't include any Daemons, even if they're in the codex - gets Despoilers Of The Galaxy, also known as Objective Secured. Your troops claim an Objective over units without this rule. If both you and the other squad have this rule, go back to who has most models. You have the advantage here with big squads of tough units or really big squads of weak units.
Legion Traits: In a Battleforged army, in a Chaos Space Marine Detachment - so no daemons - if every unit has the same Legion tag, you get a Legion trait. I'll discuss all the Legion stuff below. These are definitely worth trying to get, though. Note the FAQ clarifies that Daemon Princes are included.
Shadowy Allies: Fabius Bile and <Fallen> units don't stop you getting a Legion trait. Neat-o.
Death To The False Emperor: If you roll a 6+ to hit an <Imperium> unit in close combat, make another attack. When this goes off, it's very nice.
Daemonic Ritual: Summon Daemons. This gives you a little more flexibility than just keeping stuff in reserve but is much less reliable. Unless you have something specific you want to do, I'd suggest using Raptors or Warp Talons or Terminators instead. I'll discuss Daemons and Summoning below.
Artefacts Of Chaos
If you have a Chaos Space Marine warlord, you can give a single one of these to a single Chaos Space Marine <Character> in your force, often replacing an existing weapon. You can use a strategem to get a few more, but otherwise can only take one. Legions have their own, listed in the individual Legion sections below.
Talisman Of Burning Blood: <Khorne> only. Advance and Charge (so useless for Renegades) and re-roll Charge distances. Probably can find more useful things for a Khorne HQ, though can be very handy if you want to bring them in from reserve.
Eye Of Tzeentch: <Tzeentch> only. (No, really?) Add 1 to the psychic test when trying to manifest Smite. I guess if you're doing a Blasting Sorceror? Almost no other relics work for a Sorceror, so if you only have sorcerors then sure.
Intoxicating Elixir: <Slaanesh> only. +1 Strength and Attacks. Not actually terrible, if you have a good loadout without it.
Puscleaver: <Nurgle> only. Powersword that wounds on 2+ against non-vehicles and does D3 Damage. Not terrible, but competing with the Murder Sword, which I would personally prefer. Good for if you know you need to take down monsters, I suppose?
Axe Of Blind Fury: <Khorne> only. Power axe with extra strength and D3 damage, but automatically hits a random friendly units within an inch on a roll of a 1, which can't be modified. Usually "Friendly unit within an inch" would imply you could hit yourself, but it says "If there's no friendly unit the hit is discarded" - so is the RAI that you don't hit yourself? RAW you are a friendly unit within an inch of yourself, so... Warhammer Community says: Probably go with RAI. This weapon is way better if you can't wallop yourself. On a chaos lord, a powerfist or chainfist is way better, though - higher Strength (2+ to wound on T4), and doesn't kill anyone else, in exchange for a slightly lower chance to hit. On someone who doesn't re-roll ones, then... sure, I guess?
Black Mace: Compared to the Axe above, this is only one point less AP, same average Damage, and does it's bonus damage to the other team instead of you. A much better choice, especially on a Lord.
The Murder Sword: My favourite relic! A Str+1 AP-4 powersword would be good enough by itself, I think, but hits with this weapon do Mortal Wounds to a chosen enemy <Character>. A cheapo Jump-Pack lord with this has a pretty good chance of landing four mortal wounds on something, which is a great way of defanging a key enemy buff-machine or softening something up for an easy Warlord kill. (Combine it with a Daemon Shell before charging, and you're taking out even Terminator Characters.) Alternatively, try and use it to affect your opponent's plans: forcing buff characters to stay away from you can really damage an opponent's battle plan.
Chaos Artefacts aren't great. The legion ones are a little better but... very few things compare to the good Space Marine ones.
Eternal Vendetta: Re-roll wounds against Adeptus Astartes. Not good.
Flames Of Spite: Inflict a Mortal Wound on a roll of a 6. Not good.
Unholy Fortitude: +1 Wound and a 6+++ save. Making your warlord more survivable is the best thing you can do with a Warlord Trait.
Hatred Incarnate: Re-roll ones to wound. Not terrible, assuming you're not running around with re-rolls from another source. Great for Powerfists or chainfists.
Lord Of Terror: Nearby Enemies roll 2d6 and pick the highest for Morale. Absolutely killer when combined with other leadership debuffs.
Exalted Champion: +1 Attack. Good combo with the Murder Sword, but I'd suggest that the Murder Sword is best on an "Assassin" character, not a Warlord.
Infernal Gaze: Smite, but worse. Only useful if you want to combine with Smite. Does at least target any visible unit, not the nearest one.
Death Hex: The best power!
Gift Of Chaos: Another Blasting power, this one shorter-range than Smite but with a chunk more damage than the D3 version. Does enough damage to very easily pick off weedy characters like Commissars, but at very short range. Free Spawn is just gravy.
Prescience: Also the best power!
Diabolic Strength: Pretty good, but not top-tier like the others.
Warptime: This one's the best too! It's been nerfed so you can't charge from reserves now, but you can still make Bikes or Jump Packs move fast enough to get a first-turn charge. Make sure your Sorcerer is fast enough to keep up - note how short the range is.
If you're Marked, you can swap for whichever of the following powers aligns with your Mark:
Weaver Of Fates: A Tzeentch unit gets either a 5++ or +1 invuln. Combine with Warptime and Warp Talons to throw out a really scary first-turn charge.
Miasma Of Pestilence: Enemies get -1 to hit a Nurgle unit. This is good, but either of the other powers are more effectively defensive.
Delightful Agonies: A Slaanesh unit gets a 5+++. This is mathematically nearly identical to the Tzeentch one, though better because it works against Mortal Wounds and the few things that Ignore Invulns. If all you want to do is first-turn charge with Warptime, this is probably better, because you can use the cool murderous close-combat Emperor's Children stuff.
Icon Of Wrath (<Khorne>): Re-roll charge rolls. Not bad, though you still have less than 50% chance to make a 9" charge, so don't soley rely on it to get a unit from reserves into combat.
Icon of Flame (<Tzeentch>): Maybe inflict Mortal Wounds on nearby units? I don't think this is very useful.
Icon of Despair (<Nurgle>): Chaos can do a pretty good job of stacking negatives for leadership, and this is a good way. Combine with Raptors/Spawn/Night Lords/Haarken and laugh as your opponent haemmorages models.
Icon of Excess (<Slaanesh>): Particularly on units with an absolute truckload of attacks, this is good. Though, of course, completely useless against anything not Imperium.
Icon of Vengeance (Unaligned): You're usually Leadership 8: this makes you very unlikely to fail morale at all. Five points per unit will add up, though.
SpoilerUnless otherwise noted, each Strategem is 1CP.
Daemon Shell: Fire a single shot from a <Character>'s Bolt weapon with no re-rolls. If it hits, the target takes D3 mortal wounds, if it misses you take them. Pretty nice before charging for making a tough target a bit weedier, or for adding a few more Mortal Wounds onto something that needs to get dead.
Gifts Of Chaos (1 or 3): Get 1 or 2 extra Artefacts. It's cheap to get one, but personally I think few of the relics are very good.
Beseech The Chaos Gods: An Unaligned unit can get aligned to a different Mark of Chaos. There's not much that keys off Marks Of Chaos, but it could be worth it if you really want to put one of the mark-specific Stratagems or powers on someone. Do Icons still work? Do Icons change?
Blasphemous Machines: A vehicle can ignore the penalties for moving/advancing and shooting. I guess if you really need to move and shoot with something? Remember that re-rolling a dice (also 1CP) is mathematically better than a +1, so if you only have one shot, don't use this.
Chaos Boon: If your <Character> kills a <Character>, <Vehicle>, or <Monster> in the fight phase, get a random boon. The boons are almost universally useful for a close-combat character, and you have a 1/6 chance of choosing one. Don't try it on your Warlord, though - both Spawnhood and Daemonhood explicitly slay the character.
Veterans Of The Long War: Certain non-renegade units can add +1 to all wound rolls for a single phase. A neat way to add an extra kick of damage to a squad that REALLY needs to kill something.
Fury Of Khorne (3): Fight again with a <Khorne> unit at the end of the Fight Phase. Terrifying. I love it. Beserkers can fight three times! 3CPs is a lot, though if you have something you really really want dead then go ahead. Combine with Veterans for something you really, really, really want to die.
Grandfather's Blessings (2): A <Nurgle> infantry or biker unit gets either +d3 wounds back or a single model back from the dead. I'm tempted to suggest making your Warlord Nurgle just to pull this one off.
Endless Cacophony (2): Shoot again with a <Slaanesh> unit. Not bad. Once again, combine with Veterans Of The Long War to mess something up.
The Great Sorcerer: A <Tzeentch> Psyker can attempt to manifest another power. It's cheap, at least, if you want to.
Tide Of Traitors (2): At the end of your movement phase, remove a chaos cultist from the battlefield and SUA(9") near the edge of the battlefield, fully restored. For 2CPs, you'd better have a lot of cultists, but this could change the game entirely if you can pull it off. Plan ahead by putting an Objective near the edge of the board and teleporting a massive Objective Secured unit onto it.
Linebreaker Bombardment: Much as I hate to admit it, Vindicators aren't great and this isn't a great stratagem. 3D3 Mortal wounds is nice, but against anything not truly scary you'll probably do better shooting normally.
Killshot: Add +1 to the wound *and Damage* rolls for three Predators when targeting Monsters or Vehicles. Niiiice. They don't even have to target the same thing. Three Predators is very many point though, and if one dies you can't use this.
Daemonforge: Re-roll failed Hit and Wound rolls for a <Daemon Vehicle> for a phase. Very nice, though none of the vehicles are all that impressive.
Chaos Familiar: Swap one Psychic Power for another from Dark Hereticus. If you really need to do a thing, its useful, and also allows you to take "one-use" powers and swap them for more generic things once they're done (like a big one-turn Warptime charge).
Flakk Missile: Sure, if you need to kill a Flying thing. Remember that flying Princes, Jump Packs, etc don't enforce a -1 to hit, so the +1 to hit is even better.
Fire Frenzy: A Helbrute can shoot twice, but only if it doesn't move and targets the nearest unit, and only useful if you've geared it out for a whole bunch of shooting. Note that this specifies "Helbrute" not <Helbrute> so RAW it doesn't work on the Forge World equivalents.
Chaos Legions/Chapters & Special Characters
Fabius Bile can be taken in any Chaos Space Marine Detatchment without it losing it's Legion Trait, but never benefits from the trait himself.
Your standard Chaos Lord but with bonus attacks and strength. Instead of handing out re-rolls, he heals d3 wounds on himself every turn, which isn't great - he's not got an invulnerable, so will die very easily as soon as something draws a bead on him. He can hand out a random buff to a nearby unit of infantry. Ninety points is a good price, but would you take a Lord on foot for any other reason than the re-rolls anyway?
+1 Leadership, and you can Advance and fire Rapid Fire weapons as Assault weapons - note that this means they shoot less. Neither is to be sniffed at, but I don't think either is stellar.
Let The Galaxy Burn (Stratagem): Re-roll all hit rolls of 1 for a phase, or all misses for ordinary CSM. More or less the same as Veterans of the Long War, though does allow you to get more out of those rapid fire weapons you're shooting less and at a -1 with. Still, i'm not sure that "advance and fire your bolters once" is a particularly useful thing to ever do, let alone boost with CPs.
The Eye Of Night (Artefact): Once per game, a enemy vehicle takes D3 mortal wounds on a 2+. It's got infinite range, so is actually not bad for the times when everything's shot and that one damn tank is down to one damn wound, but still alive.
First Among Traitors (Warlord Trait): Everyone near you gets a free Icon Of Excess. Bring re-rolls to Wound from a pet Champion, or bonuses to wound. Useless against non-Imperial armies, of course. Probably not as good as Lord Of Terror or Unholy Fortune.
Abaddon the Despoiler (Special Character):
He's as close to Guilleman as you get on Team Evil... which is still not very close. He's good, though, with a pretty good damage output in close combat, bonus command points, and a bunch of buffs to nearby units. He also halves the damage he takes, which makes 7 wounds unexpectedly survivable. He comes in at a whopping 240 points, but used well is entirely worth it. Team him up with some terminators and try not to run into anything actually scary. Like actual Guilleman. He'll still go down like a chump to Mortal Wounds in bulk.
The best reason to take the Black Legion is Abaddon. They want you to take lots of rapid fire stuff that you can shoot on the move - CSM, Cultists, Terminators. Abaddon makes everything nearby Fearless, so does pretty well with a bodyguard of a billion Cultists.
You ignore enemy cover, and re-roll to target buildings. Given that Cover is bad and buildings are never used, this is nigh-worthless. Better, I suppose, if your Meta has houserules that make cover more useful.
Iron Within, Iron Without (Stratagem): 6+++ for one phase. Slaanesh can give you a 5+++, Tzeentch can give you a 5++. This isn't very good.
Fleshmetal Exoskeleton (Artefact): Artificer Armour that heals you. The best relic in the book... You need to be an Iron Warrior. If your Warlord is for some reason in a different Detachment to everyone else, this is worth considering.
Cold and Bitter (Warlord Trait): Nearby Iron Warriors units auto-pass Morale tests. Not worth being Iron Warriors. Abaddon does this at double the range.
Iron Warriors aren't really worth playing. They don't get much from anything but a single relic.
You have to be <Khorne>, which isn't great because the other gods have the good stuff. You get Beserkers as troops - this is fantastic. When you charge, you make bonus attacks. This is very much worth doing: build your list around making charges. Khorne loves allied sorcerors with Warptime, and Icons of Wrath. Errata says: No World Eaters Tzeentch, Slaanesh, or Nurgle units, or Psykers.
Scorn of Sorcery (Stratagem): A 4+ chance to negate a psychic power. Means you can get by without psykers if you don't want to, but you shouldn't really try. You can still try to deny afterwards, so it's useful if you really need a power shut down - also, a 4+ is way better than your chances of denying if your opponent rolls an 11 or something.
Brass Collar of Borghaster (Artefact): You can try and Deny The Witch, and if you succeed the psyker suffers Perils of the Warp. Once again, you can kinda get by without psykers? But you shouldn't try. It's not as good as the Black Mace, Murder Sword, or Talisman.
Slaughterborn (Warlord Trait): Bonus attacks and strength for killing Characters/Monsters/Titanic things, including at range. I would suggest that Lord of Terror or Unholy Fortitude is better, and Exalted champion is a more reliable way of the same thing, but if what you want your warlord to do is throw himself into close combat with things then... you'll do great as a World Eater.
Kharn the Betrayer (Special Character):
Kharn has the same dodgy ruling as the Axe Of Blind Fury. Once again, he's way better if he's not automatically doing D3 damage to himself every fight phase. Kharn is expensive, compared to a lord with Plasma Pistol and Axe of Blind Fury, but for only thirty points he's very significantly better - three times as many attacks and bonus strength. All he does is kill things. That's all. His buff aura only extends 1 inch, which is close enough to get murdered by his own attacks. If you want a dude who kills things, Kharn's your guy. I'd suggest grabbing someone else as your warlord though - with the same survivability as a standard Lord, he doesn't last long once something starts hitting him back.
World Eaters aren't subtle, but you have to be smart to use them. You need to build around getting charges, hitting hard, and unless everything goes in a vehicle, moving fast. World Eaters are much harder to use as a mono-list: Chaos Psykers are so great, you're crippling yourself by not including some. If you're willing to do that, though, they work pretty well.
Enemy units within 6" of Night Lords Units take -1 to their Leadership, to a maximum of -3. You can stack this with itself pretty damn hard, though - Raptors give an additional -1, and Icons Of Despair give another (yeah all Night Lords are Nurgle now. what is a "fluff"). If you want to keep cheesing, Chaos Spawn give an additional -1. Haarken Worldclaimer gives a further -1, as well as buffing your Raptors - remember that he's Black Legion though.
In Midnight Clad (Stratagem): Enemy units subtract -1 from rolls to hit one of your units. Another reason to go Nurgle is to stack this with Miasma of Pestilence. Yeah, those helblasters are hitting on 5s and exploding on 3 or less. Have fun! Even by itself, this is always useful.
Claws of the Black Hunt (Artefact): A pair of Lightning Claws get one better strength, AP, and D3 damage. That's very worthwhile having - one of the best relics around.
Night Haunter's Curse (Warlord Trait): Re-roll a bunch of things for your Warlord. This is a great trait - but be aware that it's competing with Lord Of Terror which is hilarious with stacking leadership negatives. Both want a warlord getting stuck into the middle of things: if you're sending your warlord off on his own this is better. Also, you're an idiot. Even a Daemon Prince won't last long without a few squads around him.
Night Lords are decent, but I'm not sure they're stellar. You can pull off one trick really well, or not but enjoy a mild debuff. If you're trying to do anything specific other than leadership shenanigans, somebody else can probably do it better.
Everything has to be <Slaanesh>, and you can take Noise Marines as troops, which is nice - but you pay a lot for them, and maybe need bigger numbers for Objective Secured. Slaanesh has some neat stuff, so this isn't bad. Emperor's Children always fight first as if they charged in the fight phase. That's never not useful.
Excess of Violence (Stratagem): Make a bonus attack if you make a kill. Good for blending weedy units. Good for stacking with Death to the False Emperor, good for stacking with Veterans Of The Long War, good for the Warptalon First-Turn Charge.
Blissgiver (Artefact): Assault D6 pistol. If a character is wounded, on a 6 they take d3 mortal wounds. Pretty rubbish, in my opinion. If you want to fight, the Black Mace or Intoxicating Elixir is better.
Stimulated by Pain (Warlord Trait): Get a bonus attack for each wound you lose, to a maximum of +3. I'd feel more comfortable not taking wounds, to be honest. If you want a blender character, that should really not be your warlord, if possible.
Lucius the Eternal (Special Character):
Lucius costs less than an equivalent lord, for which the only thing he loses is going down to a 5+ Invulnerable. In exchange, his powersword is Master-Crafted, he has the Lash of Torment (which isn't great but IS Damage2) and he gets more attacks against <Character>. He also sometimes deflects wounds back on people. Nobody would take that equivalent lord without Terminator Armour or a Jump Pack, but Lucius is a bit of a bargain. He's a blender, like Kharn - a much less effective one, but he at least is nice and cheap so you can take an actual warlord.
Emperor's Children are pretty good, and Slaanesh is pretty good: I'd say they're a solid choice if you don't have any better ideas. They have a few cool close-combat abilities, and can do a good job shooting people from close up and then weathering the charges.
Enemies must subtract 1 from To Hit rolls that target Alpha Legion units if they're more than 12" away. This is another great selection for general use.
Forward Operatives (Stratagem): SUA(9"), but before the first turn, so they get to move. This is one of the best stratagems in the book - who needs Warptime? Your favourite unit can just straight-up charge turn one, no questions asked. The only problem is if you go second unexpectedly, in which case you've only spent one CP. The usual combo for this is a big squad of Beserkers.Alpha Legion are great. To an extent, anything with them will work: I would suggest that if you don't have anything particular you want to do with Chaos, they should be your choice. Their Stratagem, trait, and Warlord trait are all the best in the book. If you're a cheesemonger with a 30k Alpha Legion army, you're in luck.
Blade of the Hydra (Artefact): A chainsword (so, free). You upgrade your chainsword to a powersword that makes +d3 attacks. and does two damage. It's free, at least, but there are better murder weapons around.
I Am Alpharius (Warlord Trait): Randomly choose a standard CSM trait (they're decent). In addition, if your Warlord is killed, another character becomes a Warlord and gets a trait. This is the best trait in the book, and you should take it on any Alpha Legion warlord you have.
Re-roll morale tests. Once again, another great ability.
Dark Pact (Stratagem): Re-rolls and immunity to wounds when summoning Daemons. If you want to Summon Daemons, then sure, this is good.
Cursed Crozius (Artefacts): Power Maul with Damage 3 and AP-2. Re-rolling to wound against Imperiums is just icing on the cake. This is pretty good.
Voice Of Lorgar (Warlord trait): Increase the range of your Auras by +3". This isn't bad, if your warlord is a buffmancer not a fighter.
Word Bearers are another good "generic" legion - my suggestion would be that Alpha Legion do better for that, though.
Advance and Charge. Dedalus has described the Renegades better than I could, so i'll copy his comments here:
Huron Blackheart (Special Character):
A comparitive Chaos Lord costs about the same amount of points, and Huron gets psychic powers and a free Command Point. That's a pretty good deal! However, you probably wouldn't take that chaos lord without terminator armor or a jump pack. Huron's not bad at all... you could just do better. He's good for really small games, though.
The Fallen aren't a legion as such - you can just take them without losing your legion bonuses. Remember that the fallen are also <Imperium> units, which could be important.
He's very cheap, and his pistols mean he puts out quite a bit of close-range firepower when moving. He often doesn't count for Slay The Warlord, which is very nice - although he dies pretty easily, so when you fail that roll, you really notice.
For only one point more than standard marines, you get +1 attack, +1 Leadership, Morale bonuses, and you re-roll 1s to hit when not moving. Five of these dudes with plasma guns is a pretty solid firebase that won't explode itself too much. Ironically, Cypher gives Fallen the same buff as they get for not moving, so you don't really need him as well.
SpoilerDaemon Prince: 8 wounds, a 3+/5++ save, T6... all the stuff you want from a big tough warlord. Take the Iron Warriors relic for a 2+. The Warp Bolter is great, as is double talons or the axe. The sword is probably a bit in the middle of the two options. Unless you really want a Daemon Prince Of Khorne, a prince of something else can cast psychic powers which is way better. If you want a prince to go off on his own and blend something, consider the Daemon one from the Index: He doesn't hand out buffs to Legion troops, but does get a second special ability himself, all of which are useful.
Chaos Lord: An ordinary lord is cheap and hands out buffs, while not being too squishy. If you want to do anything more than stand back and maybe shoot (which you don't - chaos shooting is rarely fantastic, and a hundred-odd points is an awful lot to re-roll ones on some Havoks or something), you'll want-
- ...With Jump Pack. Not super survivable but speedy. Give him Claws Of The Black Hunt/Murder Sword/Powerfist and Plasma Pistol and go off trying not to bite off more than you can chew.
- ...With Terminator Armour. An extra wound and a 2+ save makes him a better candidate for Warlord, for barely any extra points. You can hold him off the board until you need him.
Sorceror: Chaos' psykers are, at the moment, maybe the best in the game. You should absolutely always have one, and maybe even two or three. Power armour is cheap.
- ...With Jump Pack. Unless you're really points-shaving, I'd recommend at least taking one of these. Zipping about at 12" per turn lets you get in place for your powers, and if you want to pull off the Warptime/Charge combo you need to be able to SUA.
- ...With Terminator Armour. Sorcerors are only 4 wounds, which is pretty weedy. If you're not taking a Lord (and you kiinda don't need to?), this is the only way you can get a Sorceror tough enough to be warlord. 2+/5++ is still not very tough, but the massive price drop makes them far more useful.
Dark Apostle: He's a good second HQ: You probably want either psychic powers or a tough punchy lord, but for only 72(76) points a bubble of LD9 and re-rolls to hit in the fight phase is very nice. One weakness is that he can't take a Jump Pack or Terminator Armour, so he can't follow a SUA unit into the fight.
Exalted Champion: Again, why no Jump Pack/Terminator armour? He re-rolls to hit against Characters and has a bubble of re-roll To Wound, but without a jump pack he's going to have difficulty getting into place with Chaos' harder punches. Sure, you can take a Champion and an Apostle to super-buff a close combat unit, but that takes a lot of work to pull off. Chaos' biggest tank is a Rhino with a capacity of twelve, which means either you have to get several units to the same place at the same time, or your super-buffed super-unit is only ten models and riding around in a wet paper bag.
Warpsmith: He doesn't buff, but he can repair tanks. A little bit. He's also cheap-ish, even once you stack on all his wargear. If you have a ton of tanks (that will all be close together) then he's... maybe a little bit worthwhile. Otherwise, no. On the other hand, a Meltagun and his Curse ability makes him surprisingly shooty. You should probably find the points for another Sorceror instead.
SpoilerChaos Space Marines: They're space marines. The Aspiring Champion makes them LD8, which is pretty good even if they're not re-rolling, and you can take up to 20 of them, which is good for Objective Secured. A few options:
- Chainswords make them close-combat killy, and you can add flamers to blend up light infantry. A squad of twenty will probably last to make it to close combat, or you can hop out of a rhino - which makes you way more expensive than Raptors.
- You can take one heavy weapon in five, or a second in ten, and hang back. Autocannons are great.
- You can combine rhinos with plasmaguns and shoot from nearby. Worth noting now: plasma is the best special weapon if you have those re-rolls of 1.
Chaos Cultists: Cheap and numerous. They'll die a lot, but that's okay because they're five points each and you can take a trillion of them. You've never seen pain until your opponent has killed thirty-five models and you resurrect them on his objective.
Daemons are in their own section below.
For three points over ordinary marines, you get +1 Strength, +1 attacks, and you can fight twice. Unless you're World Eaters you lose Objective Secured, which hurts, but you should blend any light unit in close combat. Chaos has a lot of units that can do that, though, and most of them find it much easier to make it into close combat. Is 6 attacks per model going to usually be overkill? You have access to Chainaxes, which make you a little stronger against big heavy stuff - Str6 is really good - and you probably don't mind that much that you lose your chainsword attack (or lose the bolt pistol and keep it). You can also take plasma pistols. They're nice and cheap, and handy if you run into a monster or something you can't get through with a trillion str5 ap0 attacks. Dedalus points out that Beserkers stay extremely murderous even when badly depleted by shooting, and that a squad in a rhino is 250 points for a deal-with-it-or-lose unit.
You pay five points over CSM (Inferno Boltguns aren't free), but you get a 5++, AP-2, bonus saves against low-damage attacks, you can move and fire your Soulreaper cannon, and you get a Sorcerer who can deny and use a weedy little popgun version of Smite. I'm not convinced they're good enough for the price you're paying, or for filling a slot you could be using for Beserkers or Noise Marines, but both Dedalus and Boomwolf disagree, pointing out their excellent toughness. The Soulreaper cannon is pretty nice for ten points, but to get one you're paying over a hundred points for the squad
You pay three points per model over CSM, but get both +1 toughness and a 5+++ and re-rolls of one to wound in close combat. That's pretty good, and they have access to a lot of good weapons. Plasma guns are cheap, Blight Launchers are better, the various close combat weapons are all funny: Flails Of Corruption are especially good. If you take two close-combat weapons you get bonus attacks. Being super-tough is a great thing to do and not much else in the Chaos Codex does it.
They're the cheapest special guys - only two points gets them an extra attack, and you make a shooting attack after dying, which is neat. Sonic Blasters are maybe good (much better at long range or shooting into cover), Doom Sirens seem really expensive for what they do, but Blastmasters are great - at least as good as missile launchers, for cheaper.
They're less terrible now they're 14 points per model rather than 16, but probably still not worthwhile: I would rather have any of the Marked elites (or Fallen) instead.
35 points per model makes them considerably more effective close-combat choices than terminators, point for point, but no shooting whatsoever hurts. Roll hot on your fleshmetal weapons and you're making a ton of powerfist attacks. Trouble is, they're so slow as to be basically useless, trundling about at 4" per turn. Note that they're Daemons, which means you can buff them with the Daemon stuff from Princes, Heralds, etc.
They at least don't pay the Powerfist Tax that standard marine terminators do, so you can SUA and fire combi-bolters into somebody's face - or other combi-weapons, but that's way more expensive. I still hold that they're less efficient than Mutilators, but have a much broader range of uses.
The worst unit in the chaos codex for generations, suddenly brought to the forefront. They hit pretty hard in close combat, and with two wounds can take some hurt in return... but have the same problem as Beserkers in that you have to get them there, and 20 points is quite a lot.
Don't take the powerfist, it's ludicrously expensive. Missile launcher and lascannon/plasma cannon/Autocannon comes out at about 120-140 points, which is quite a lot for not that much shooting - havoks are probably about as expensive for about as much shooting.
For only 21 (23) points apiece they can be very shooty and fast and fighty indeed - you can even have special weapon, combi-bolter and chainsword. As dedalus rightly points out, renegade bikers are fantastic because they can get a very easy first-turn charge (take flamers and you can burn your enemy before charging too). Being very fast is a power all by itself in Maelstrom, and they're much tougher than their equivalent points in Raptors or Warp Talons.
Occasionally you'll roll exactly the right thing on the mutations table and they'll be hilarious. D6 Str5 Ap-2 Dam2 attacks is nothing to sniff at - and applying an extra -1 leadership can be useful for the purposes of stacking debuts - but I'm not convinced it really compares to the other heavy hitters in this slot. I guess for only 33 points they fill slots cheaply? But chaos have really good Fast Attack so why use filler?
For 2 points over CSM you get -1 to enemy leadership, Fly, SUA, and 12” move. That's very worth it, especially if you stack things on them. They're chaos’ cheapest source of SUA special weapons: you could do worse than two plasma guns and a combi-plasma dropping down on something. Reasons to take Raptors over Warp Talons: you're stacking leadership debuffs, you want an icon (multiple cheap units with Icon Of Khorne and hope to get at least one charge off? I guess?), you want to save points (false economy IMO), you want fifteen models.
The darlings of the list and one of the best things in the book. For only 25 points each, you get a speedy Flying unit with SUA, a 5++ and double lightning claws. The scariest combination with them for a while was to charge out of reserves using Warptime, but that no longer works. You can still race them around the board and stab things, but they're too expensive to try and use with Warpflame Strike.
They bring four heavy/special weapons for a total of roughly 140-160 points. Autocannons are the best, though missile launchers are also good. If you just want to take four plasma guns then that's also alright, though bear in mind that Fallen get to re-roll their ones to hit.
Each Obliterator fires something comparable to a Battle Cannon (though note that since you roll all the stats at once, it's worth using some CP re-rolls.) 3 wounds with a 2+/5++ is nothing to be sniffed at either and at only 65 points each they're a bargain.
Chaos Land Raider
Your only non-squishy, non-rhino option for transporting stuff. It costs nearly four times as much though, which is kinda just ludicrous. Even though they're much cheaper now, they're still not good.
They're cheaper than Land Raiders, about as shooty, and terrors in close combat (always take the scourge.) They're a lot squishier though, and you'll really notice that 4+ BS as soon as you try to move and shoot. Given that most of your best get-things-into-close-combat abilities only work on infantry, I'm not sure I could recommend it over its weight in Warp Talons. Note that it's a Daemon with a Mark Of Chaos, which means more than a few things from the Daemon codex will affect it. Sure, I'd love Strength 18.
Tougher than a Predator, but puts out noticeably less damage for cheaper. (The hades and Predator autocannons are roughly the same: would you rather have a second one or two lascannons?) As with the defiler, that 4+ BS (which deteriorates!) is a real pain. For Autocannon vs Ectoplasma cannon, play to your meta: the Autocannon is a terror for light vehicles but terminators won't mind it much at all.
It's a little less tough than a defiler, and notably less close-combat killy. It's cheaper, sure, but less good at... everything.
It makes a small amount of high-strength attacks. You know a predator can run around with four lascannons for not much more cost, right?
Significantly more killy than the vindicator for not that much more points. It's a little weedier, yes, but should probably be your go-to choice if you want a chaos tank.
If you want to get something closer to the enemy, this is basically your only option. If a transport is all you need, don't ever take a Land Raider instead. Don't forget your smoke launchers! And don't forget your Rhino can charge into combat too to avoid Overwatch. Havok launchers are super cheap now, so i'd recommend throwing one on.
These got way cheaper since the index but they are still dubiously useful, I think. Drasius points out their use as a guaranteed first-turn charge to kill/tie up heavy weapons so your opponent can't effectively whittle down incoming units. They aren't even proper flyers! It doesn't put out nearly as much damage as it could, but it's so goddamn fast. Shame that that doesn't matter in maelstrom because it's just a single model, so if you leave even two dudes alive (and you will, your weapons are pretty weedy), you don't get the objective.
Lord Of War
SpoilerKhorne Lord Of Skulls
You'll pay between 500-650ish points for one of these, as compared to the 400-550 of a knight. For that you get better Wounds and Strength, slower move - and your attacks get higher as you die! Your gatling cannon is a hundred points more than the knight for +2 damage and +12 strength, but you really need it over the skullhurler so as to not be 600 points of Can't Kill Infantry. Your close-combat ability is straight-up fantastic: I would suggest picking up the Gorestorm cannon and throwing yourself forwards, probably able to take on anything short of a warhound.
SpoilerChaos Lord (Index): All of these variant mounted characters are no longer Infantry. A lot of things only work on Heretic Astartes Infantry or Bikers, including many Stratagems and Legion Traits, so be aware of the many things you're screwing yourself out of. This alone is a solid reason to stick to bike/jump pack.
- ...on Bike: Chaos lords love being fast. If you're a renegade (or a Khornate with the right relic), you can move 20" and then charge, which is fantastic for a combat character. Similarly, if your Lord only exists to hand out buffs (why?) then you can get him to the right place at once. Other than those two use-cases, I'd suggest Fly is better.
- ...on Juggernaut: You're Str5 and T5, you get some extra attacks. All of that is very nice. You're more expensive than a Terminator, though, and trundling around at only 8". If you want a fast lord, a bike is probably better.
- ...on Disc: You pay seven points to make a single str4 attack. Just stick to a jump pack.
- ...on Palanquin: You get bonus toughness and wounds for less than a bike. But you move slower. Nope!
- ...Steed Of Slaanesh: This isn't entirely unlike a bike. Advancing and Charging is an easier buff to get than 6" advance, but if you're going full-slaanesh, it's not bad at all. 12" + 3d6 is... about as reliable a charge on 24" as a 9" charge from SUA.
Chaos Sorcerer (Index): Again, you're no longer Infantry.
- ...on bike: Getting buffs to the right place at the right time is great, as is getting a little extra toughness.
- ...on Disc: Actually very well worth it, because you get a 5++.
- ...on Palanquin: +2 wounds is... probably not worth it.
- ...on Steed: You don't care as much about Charging as a good fast Advance to get close to something to cast powers on. Stick to the bike.
Haarken Worldclaimer (Vigilus Defiant)
Haarken is 115pts. A Lord with Jump Pack, (bolt pistol) and Lightning Claw is 101 (though that's not a combo I'd suggest), and Haarken has +1 attack, a huge aura of reducing leadership, the Helspear (which is only about as good as a plasma pistol) and the neat Head-Claimer rule. His Aura only affects Raptors, but it does get units from other Legions, and allow all re-rolls not just Ones. This is... Hrmm. Honestly, Haarken is a bit obvious: if you're taking raptors (and have a way to fit him in whatever legion you're doing) he's good, otherwise he's not. For what he does - hunt characters - I'd rather have double-claws, or The Murder Sword.
SpoilerThe advantage of Summoning over a standard "set up in reserve" ability is that you choose what to deploy at the time, rather than at list-building. As such, there's only so much an army guide like this can tell you: pick what's a good unit at the time. A unit with an Icon gets a +1 to charge ranges if you want to charge from summoning (remember Warptime won't work on them). Also, remember you need to roll over the Power Level as well as pay the points: Average on 3d6 is 10ish so expect to summon about that much - that's enough for a larger squad of some of these.
They make a ton of high-AP attacks, some of which are Dam2: they're pretty good against Terminators. Icons and Instruments are both fantastic for them.
If in doubt, summon Pink Horrors. They have a 4++ save and can shoot, for only one extra point over plaguebearers. Try and roll for PL8 and get twenty for the bonus attacks.
With Disgustingly Resilient, they're the toughest daemon, (and can force enemies to take a -1 to hit) but considerably less murderous than just about any other type of Daemon. If all you want is a shield, they're the most cost-efficient daemons, though Pink Horrors are almost as tough and can shoot as well.
Daemonettes fight first even if charged, so you can summon them to be charged by something and they'll probably kill a bit of it before dying. In every round except the first, bloodletters make the same amount of attacks, and they're better - daemonettes are better against large weedy squads, while beserkers are better against multiple wounds.