Saturday, February 9, 2013

6th Edition Chaos Space Marine Cults: Khorne

I am going to review the Cults of Chaos for those who have long been waiting for information on them or just wanted my take. I am hoping to fill this with practical advice on what the army would need to answer all the questions that an army should answer.
I'll start by saying that it is surprising how few are gravitating towards the Cult of Khorne in the new Codex. Across the internet you will find some disparate pockets of Khorne resistance but on the whole the Eye of Terror would seem to have swallowed the entire Cult. So I will begin with them.

I am assuming for this conversation that we want an ACTUAL Khornate army.  No allies will be discussed here.

Interestingly, the Mark of Khorne may never be worn by a Psyker (Page 91). This does limit true Khorne armies in its ability to defend itself psychically. The Forces of Khorne simply would have nothing to do with such foolish modes of cowardice.

The hallmarks of a Khorne army are the Icon of Wrath, the Mark of Khorne, the Juggernaut of Khorne, Kharne the Betrayer and the Axe of Blind Fury.

LESS intrinsic but very much in keeping with the spirit of Khorne are the Vehicle Destroyer Blades, Combat Familiars, and the Chain Axe; so being familiar with those things will help you capture the essence of the Khornate army’s armory.

With those things in mind and history as a guide, let's see what we can do and why we should do it.

One virtue the Khorne army has is that it is simple to run. Newer players will find the simplicity of blindly seeking assault range to be a great relief from the micromanaged tactica of some armies like Dark Eldar or Tau. Your goal is to get as close as fast as you can, take up space a little bit and deny the enemy anywhere to run while not leaving yourself open to diversionary tactics or one trick pony armies.

While list building, there's a few important rules. First is, minimal units are a terrible idea for Khornate Berserkers. They need to be built for shooting attrition (as their range will be inferior and their shooting a relatively inconsequential issue).  Maybe more importantly, you want the impact of Kharnes Warlord ability to get a chance to express itself as often as possible as Khorne acts like a Chaplain (Hatred for the entire unit? Oofta!). To this end at least one unit should be larger and preferably the one that Kharne the Betrayer accompanies.  Their Grenades will terrify vehicles while their sheer volume of attacks will suffice to strike fear everywhere else. Also, the Khorne army multi-charges well when needed and it should not be afraid to do so.  They are fearless but fearsome even without all the extra attacks for charging. So the core of the army would look like this before you get too far into it:

160pts Kharne the Betrayer
160Chaos Lord (Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Juggernaut of Khorne, Combat Familiar)
354pts 16 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power weapon + Meltabomb)
202pts 8 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon + Meltabomb)
50pts Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
50pts Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)

Rage, Counter attack and Hatred all on that large Fearless unit is great.  The icon allowing Re-rolling of the charge distance is huge though.  The leaders can rush forth from the unit on the turn they are prepared to charge and easily overpower a majority of units they would take on, leaving their escorts to find their own way if it makes sense to do it. The Chaos Lord and Kharne are both 7 attacks on the charge with AP 2 weapons and the Chaos Lord adds the benefits of 2 more mundane attacks through the Combat Familiar!!! No unit can hope to stand against such ferocity. The enemy’s one chance is to kill them all with shooting by end of round 2 right?

The question of course is, how can Khornate armies cope with being outshot in a world most players think is shooting dominated. Flyers need an answer too. In addition they will need someone to hold rear objectives. So we should add the Cultists necessary to do that. Looking at the codex we see that the best answer is Havocs for both exposing the enemy to open air as well as killing aircraft. So it's time to invest there.

133pts 16 Khorne Cultists (Pistol+CCW, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, 2 x Flamers)
214pts 8 Havocs (Flakk Missile Launchers)

A Havoc squad still only kills one target at a time and sadly they won't scare a Land Raider.  So where can we get some low cost, high reliability anti-Land Raider firepower? Well Predators can pump out more of it for the price than any other unit in the codex. The Triple LasCannon Predators can do the really heavy lifting on Land Raiders, as well as other vehicles, Terminators and the like. For essentially the same price, the Obliterators can do the same thing. To me, this is a tossup. It really is. BECAUSE it is, I say why choose? By getting both, we solve two problems at once. We give ourselves the Raider killing power we need, we get more shots than we would if we went with just Obliterators and perhaps lost in the shuffle is the fact that we don't want the enemy bogging us down with throw away Fearless units which Obliterators can be used to intercept.  The Rhinos will help (briefly) with that problem but ultimately, we need more blockers anyways.

140pts Predator (Triple LasCannons)
148Pts 2 Obliterators (Mark of Khorne)

That puts us up to 1611 points. The screws are starting to tighten on us as far as what we can do from here but most of the major areas of concern are covered at least to an adequate level. I think it becomes far more debatable what to do next.
For my part I recognize that Imperial Guard can be very plasma heavy which could be a serious problem for a Khornate army. Grey Knights are well known for their copious Power Weapons and short range brutal fire power. What the army lacks is an anvil to keep the enemy honest. In addition we have done nothing to affect enemy deployment at all, and I am never a fan of letting the other guy play his own game. I want him to play mine. So how can we both affect his deployment and also give ourselves some answer to the mech'd up VetSpam of IG or the Disintegrator/Splinter Cannon spamming? Certainly more boots on the ground would be a great answer, but which boots? More berserkers won’t keep the enemy honest in how they deploy. So then what? Unfortunately there is no good answer. Chosen no longer are able to outflank and the Mark of Khorne won't let you take a Steed of Slaanesh nor do you have Huron BlackHeart you can use for a Khorne army.
The only answer would seem to be Deep Strikers, flyers or both. You have points enough for TWO Heldrakes (who also serve admirable as anti-aircraft if you desire). Experience has already shown that such a threat is legitimate and brutally effective. If you aren't disposed to adding so much cost to your army (yet) you could consider the Raptors/Warp Talons. As a Khornate army, death from the sky is as good as death from the ground so long as it festoons the Blood Gods throne with the appropriate adornments. En masse. 2+ armor is king in 6E however, and a Terminator unit may well serve best of all as a Deep Striker, as it is hearty and no less scary when given the Mark of Khorne.

340pts 8 Chaos Terminators (Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Champion with Pair of Lightning Claws, 2x Power Fist+Combi-Bolter, 1x PowerSword+Combi-Flamer, 1x Power Sword+Reaper Auto Cannon, 3x Power Sword+Combi-Bolter)
340pts 2 x HelDrakes

Either solution will affect the enemy deployment and movement, and be a legitimate and impressive threat to almost any unit type.  I chose the load out on the unit because you want the unit to be able to bust a rhino and charge the innards.  You also want the unit to be able to crush vehicles in melee as well as kill people.  And you want to whittle the unit down as much as possible, possibly killing the leader with your Lightning claws in a challenge.

So having explained the why part, here is the summary of my thoughts on what the Khorne army might look like in its full glory:

Predator (Triple LasCannons)
2 Obliterators (Mark of Khorne)
8 Havocs (Flakk Missile Launchers)
16 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon, Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
8 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon, Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
16 Khorne Cultists (Pistol+CCW, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, 2 x Flamers)
8 Chaos Terminators (Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Champion with Pair of Lightning Claws, 2x Power Fist+Combi-Bolter, 1x PowerSword+Combi-Flamer, 1x Power Sword+Reaper Auto Cannon, 3x Power Sword+Combi-Bolter)...  OR...  2 Heldrakes
Kharne the Betrayer
Chaos Lord (Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Juggernaut of Khorne, Combat Familiar)

Other Space Marine Articles:


  1. This is fantastic, thanks for posting. I'm just getting back into 40K after a good 10 year break and am currently trying to throw together ideas for a themed 2000pt Chaos army. It's a toss up between a berserker-heavy Khorne army or (more appealingly) a nurgle force led by Typhus, featuring zombies and a focus on fast attack (to be different). Fluff-wise the concept of a Dark Angels force recently twisted by Nurgle is rather appealing... Looking forward to your Nurgle rundown so I can see how they perform!

  2. WHAR CULT REV...oh, neat! Thank you!

  3. Looks scary. I would go with the terminators over the hell drakes 9 times out of 10 though. Other than than durability, I like the idea of eliminating the usefulness of a segment of your opponent's this case, anti aircraft. Anyone who has brought a banewolf to a death wing terminator list can attest to the gut shot to your morale when this occurs. Great article.

  4. Welcome Paul. If you haven't already joined the site, feel free to do so (the link is on the right).

    There are other articles regarding Chaos Space Marines here. I will be covering another Cult army in the next blog I do, but in the meantime feel free to read and commment on any other entries.

    Six Deuce makes a good point and I would go one step further: I find GREAt virtue in the concept of eliminating the advantages the enemy has or even turning their expenditures against them.

    In the case of Khorne, Fearless makes the army immune to pinning armies, their melee affords them the ability to do Disorganized Chages with less penalties than other armies, their grenades make them a terror in larger numbers, especially with leaders like we have included here; and of course if you go with the Terminators, you are making a large portion of the enemy firepower irrelevant because 2+ armor is king. These truly ARE things to think about.

    If you look at a Khorne cult list, the first 1600 points spend themselves in my opinion. Allies and other options aside, if you want the army to function in all the vital ways, as a Khorne cult, you really can't go too far wrong with that core.

    One person wrote that they beleive the Havocs are a waste and that an Aegis Defense Line makes more sense. No doubt the twin-linking plays a role in their thought process. But perhaps they are forgetting that someone has to man it and preferably something with Higher BS. Clearly no one in this Khorne list would be great candidates. So after spending 100 Points on the Aegis Defense Line you end up needing a high BS type unit to add to the list. What is there that you would want doing it? You are giving up STR 8 for STr 7... Giving up BS 4 for BS 3 (assumning you go with Cultists)... This does not seem as good to me as competent Chaos Marines firing like madmen and they have the added bonus of firing other ammunitions as well. The versatility is worthwhile.

  5. Agreed. Aegis is awesome, but it is not synergistic with korne at all, not to mention counter to the theme.

  6. Efficacy is the goal here and I think that the BS 4 Marines firing away, with more ablative wounds than the gun would have is a better solution all the way around. Even if there was no theme to adhere to, i think that the Aegis can't provide the utility the Havocs can. In Big guns Never tire missions, they will be more valuable than the Aegis as well.

    here is one persons take:
    "FWIW, if I were building a Khornate army in the current codex I'd be rocking fewer Berserkers and more Khorne-marked marines on foot with an extra CCW, flamer/meltagun and the Icon of Wrath if for no other reason than to use them like Grey Hunters and give you some midfield shooting while still having an assault threat."

    My feeling on that after thinking about it some more, is that the midfield shooting isn't really where this army is going to shine. consider that there would only really be ONE round of shooting to speak of that would be added by the approach. The reason is becaue in round 1, you are extremely likely to be running. in round 2, your choice is to charge or run into position and force it or shoot. In round 3 you're definitely charging if you haven't already. So that one round of shoot-or-run optionality (can i use that as a word...oops, just did!) Seems like it WOULD be nice on a few occassions, but not perhaps nicer than the charge. at no point would it make more sense given STr 5 charges with a massive number of them, not to charge when given the option. So while I can see some virtue in it if the enemy is one that tends to never approach or else is one that has such speed that it needs not approach very quickly, sure. but otherwise i think I would not prefer the Chaos Space marines in this way. Fearlessness is a big deal in 6E as well and that is definitely something to factor in. You PAY a lot for that but it comes up way too often not to factor it in.

    a good example: We played a threee way game the other day for fun. I tank shocked and lost a Rhino to Death or Glory. i did it again, much to my opponents incredultiy and the marines went running. I did it a third time and tey Auto-broke and ran again... Right into the arms of my dreadnought who they could scarcely Glance. This happens and when you get run into a unit of Zerkers, it's on like donkey kong. The mixer is a rockin' at that point. Other armies like tau specuialize in Pinning you and that could be terible for the Space Marines, not so frightening for Khorne. In addition, while the Space marines are running, it usually means an objective has opened up, as happened in the game we played. His Drop pod slapped them squarely onto the objective and of course there was nothing to be done BUT get 'em off there! So I did. My Dreadnought ate heartily that game.


    Khorne has plenty of things as scary as dreads. Like 16 berserkers...or 8 Terminators (Gawds help you if THEY get you).

  7. A poster on another forum has suggested that Maulerfiends are best when charging turn 2. My personal feeling on that is that it plunges the Fiend deep into the gut of enemy firepower and melee when it is at its near strongest. So though he may well have the desired effect in turn 2 (and assuming he's not dead from the 1-2 preceding rounds of fire, as they are tough and not so easy to kill) you're essentially exchanging one unit for another. In KP terms that probably isn't a great play. In objective terms it may not be either, especially in Big Guns Never Tire. Though I understand the virtue of being aggressive, I have a long standing burr under my saddle about exchange tactics or units. I do not WANT my unit to kill just one thing. I want it to kill 2 if it MUST die. Failing that, I want it to kill 1 and survive (effectively a 2 point swing) while controlling the battlefield (i.e. making lesser units think twice before even CONSIDERING coming his way). These are the precepts that make me think that a reserved Mauler Fiend is probably a better BASE tactic.


    Terrain has a lot ot say about this. If there is terrain for him to hide behindon the approach, and a weaker flank for him to bust, he can have a real hey day going first. So while I am much more for reserving them, I will concede that terrain may make the possibilities of the Maulerfied too juicy to pass up.

    as in all things, situation is King.

  8. Why two rhinos? You have an 8man squad and a 16 man squad. Only one would be able to be used? They only hold 10? Explain?

  9. Options. They are mobile terrain. They are also there for the Leaders if they need a chariot. the enemy may wish to attempt first blood and may devote fire to the Rhinos to acheive it.

    The key to any list is to ablate, to some extent, the fire coming in from enemy units. 2 Obliterators and two Rhinos help form a bubble so that the units cant get bogged down as easily. They present cheaper and less critical targets. The enemy cannot be stopped from firing at SOMETHING. You may as well entice them into attacking less valuable things. It is important not to allow your more critical elements to get focused on early.

  10. Great article, anyone out there have any experience running a list like it? I recently started freshening up a Khorne army I have had for some time, and was looking for some changes, I will certainly try something close to it.

    Thanks Onorthodoxy

    1. Follow the Unorthodoxy Empire, and welcome! Yes, we had a couple people report back to me, using slight variations of it and they said it went smashingly. I tried it myself and also liked the results. Each army requires you to look at your playstyle and wrap your brain around it, but once you kind of absorb it and think about the terrain a bit, it really becomes clearer how to use armies. If you do try it, try it for like five games and then modify after you correct for whats happening. Tactics are very difficult to master unless you keep an army fairly consistent and tweak it as you go. Kind of forces you to HONESTLY attack the problem of tactics instead of blaming the list, which is what usually happens . Give it a try?


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