Monday, October 5, 2015

Chaos Space Marines in 7th Edition

As some know I have always enjoyed the Night Lords ever since I learned of the way they like to fight and their mercenary, dispassionate and somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the fanaticism of their peers.

Chaos Space Marines have seemed to suffer since 4th Edition Codex yanked the identity away from Chaos Marines and though it was finally returned to them in some measure with the Daemonkin book and also the latest Chaos Space Marine codex, the ultimate issue is that the codex has some fairly awesome things in it but lacks certain UTILITIES that some Codex's take for granted.

This has no bearing on whether the CODEX is good or bad.  some do get wrapped up in that kind of debate but what's the point?  IF a good General can still play and win with them, then I think it a better use of time to look at how than to become so overcome with indignation that you miss the opportunities.

In 7th Edition, there are a few things that matter a great deal:  Objective Secured units, speed and hard core punching power enough to face the prospect of a Wraith Knight among them.  Chaos Marines are "bereft" of Gravity Weapons (at this time), Drop pods to deliver them and are without the comforts of any Formatons to really reinforce the naturally melee oriented nature of Chaos Marines.  Let's face it, Space Marines just have more platforms to fire from, so Chaos Marines pretty much need to embrace melee if they want to get a competitive edge)

I would point out that Chaos Space Marines still have some incredible advantages you can still use and if you're willing to adjust your list to the new realities, then here's a few things you can do to make a Chaos list "7th Edition able".

You need enough weapons to slay the mighty Wraith Knight in one go.  The Stomp and other effects of a Wraith Knight make it absolutely imperative that any army do this.  Where best to find them?

Well to know the enemy is half the battle so let's take a peek.  The Wraith Knight is I5, so this informs our choice somewhat.  We really do need something that goes before the Wraith Knight.  We also know the Wraith Knight has Ancient Doom as a Special rule, which means we want whatever we use against the Wraith Knight to hold a Mark of Slaanesh if it gets in melee because this will grant Hatred to us against it.  We also know that the Wraith Knight has six wounds , so no matter what we decide to use for this task, it needs to be able to take out NINE wounds (Because the Scattershield can defray wounds for the thing).  This is a tall order.  Who can do all this?

Points are the issue here.  The enormous amount of fire it takes to do nine wounds to a STR 8 creature is so crazy that while you may wish to tenderize the thing a bit with shooting (never a bad idea), melee would be less points intensive in the long run.  How much less?  On paper you might consider hitting it with an endless stream of AP fire but we have to be honest in realizing that 9 Obliterators that cost 684 points couldn't do it unless they had three rounds to devote to it and they all never died!  Three LasCannon Predators certainly would need at least that much time also, and are 420 points; and they would need 4 rounds, which will never happen.  That is how extreme a threat the Wraith Knight is against shooting.  So we have to consider melee, even expensive melee units, as a probable alternative to all these other expenditures.

The two answers I see for Chaos Marines are these:

1.  The Black Legion Hand of Darkness.  Easily the best answer.  A simple Chaos Lord on a Bike can get the charge off, hiding in a unit for a round if necessary until ready to strike.  With the Mark of Slaanesh, The chaos Lord is striking at Initiative 6 (and therefore first), Attacking 5 times on the charge (because the Hand of Darkness is not Unwieldy!), hitting on 3's which are re-rolled because the Wraith Knight has the Ancient Doom, wounding on 2's because the Hand of Darkness has Fleshbane; and since the Hand of Darkness is AP 1, it will cause instant death when and if the Scattershield does not deflect all the blows.

When you consider how easy it is for Chaos Marines to kill the monstrosity that haunts other armies nightmares, you wonder why more people don't play them.  =)  Your total cost for the exercise is as little as 155 points.  There simply is no better answer.  He doesn't even need an escort into combat for this.  In fact it's generally preferable that he have none.

2.  A second option is Abaddon The Despoiler.  He is not as effective at the task, but he would be attacking 7 times instead of 5, wounding on a 3 when charging (instead of a 2) but he would re-roll to hit and wound  (but not inflict Instant Death).  Ultimately this works out to be slightly less effective and also requires the use of a far more expensive chariot to the fight, a Land Raider.  Now given that in a tournament you're probably not going to have Wraith Knights in every round then if you're ALREADY planning on bringing a Land Raider, Abaddon is a better all around choice than a Biker with the Hand of Darkness whose role is a bit more specialized.  So consider him as a viable alternative given that he can be in a a unit that does the remaining damage necessary.

Okay so we've dealt with the 7th Edition issue of Gargantua's right?  We said there were three really important elements:  Killing those, plus having Objective Secured units and speed.

Speed comes in all kinds of forms.  Speed is really jut another way of saying "being where needed, when needed".  The idea of speed is taken VERY literally by some people but really, isn't this what we're really saying when we suggest that an army needs "speed"?  Most of the time we are.  The Chaos Marines have mobility via Deep Strike, Infiltration, Outflanking and traditional Jump troops and vehicles.  So the perception may exist that they aren't AS mobile as their marine counterparts which is entirely correct, does it really matter actually when there's this many ways to get where needed when needed?  You just have to embrace using them instead of always comparing things.

Chaos Rhinos are inexpensive, can be Objective Secured and they are remarkably unappetizing targets after round one for enemies because of their low cost (relatively speaking) to the cost of what has to be dedicated to their destruction.  If the enemy hasn't stopped them from moving flat out in round one, killing them loses a lot of meaning (not to say they won't try when no better target exists).

5 man Chaos Marine squads are fairly hearty compared to (again) what is required to kill them and 30 Chaos Marines split into six Rhinos is 660 points of the army giving you TWELVE Objective secured units.  That's actually a lot when you consider that they can be reserved to allow the whittling of the most significant anti-tank threats before they have to come on.  5 Chaos Marines will actually do damage to many units and provide road blocking units for you at critical times.  So all in all Chaos Marines are getting three attacks on the charge from replacing their bolter with a CCW and if you go this way, then the movement of the rhinos wont impact your shooting much but you will be able to now handle what happens next when they get blown up with some dignity.  More importantly this gives you the ability to be where you need to be WHEN you do, as the game comes to a close.

If you don't like that solution to speed, I myself play Night Lords and enjoy the Raptors/Warp Talon speed quite a bit.  With Nurgle Raptors there isn't much of the board you cant safely reach in good numbers.

A Steed of Slaanesh adds a lot to a Chaos Lord in the ability to outflank and the Master of Deception Warlord Trait can offer the Steed of Slaanesh Lord a unit to travel safely with when outflanking. Want to make sure he has it?  Huron BlackHeart can ensure that, as he comes with it.  Acute Senses allows the mounted Chaos Lord to re-roll the side he comes in on, so this form of mobility for a unit is pretty valuable and obviates the need for a transport of course,

Nothing is more terrifying than Beasts on the march.  Necrons Scarab swarms and Dark Eldar Beast Packs aren't the only beasts around.  Chaos Spawn are very good and very underrated.  Like the aforementioned, they are not always cutting through heavy armor with the greatest of ease but they are going to stop a unit you want stopped for quite a while and they can keep up with anything you have in the army.  Moving 12", ignoring all the terrain and then charging them means that by round two, they are locking something up and anything not well armored will not like what happens next.  think about the JetBikers who constantly outwit you by simply shooting and moving afterwards and ask yourself:  can I get to them in enough time to matter?  Beasts can keep up and with a few armored hulls around to protect them on the approach...

Maulerfiends are just as fast and ferocious, and doesn't need the cover of Rhinos because its a Daemon (5+ invul save, better than cover!).    They get less attacks potentially, but they will punch through any armor and thus make a great companion to run alongside the Spawn if that''s what you wanted to do.

Nothing moves faster than a Heldrake, so enough said about that speed.

I encourage you to look for the opportunities.  7th Edition really values Speed, Objective Secured units and the ability to take out the big boys.  Chaos Space Marines can do it all.