Monday, February 18, 2013

40K Chaos Space marine Cults: Slaanesh

We went over Khorne.  Now we move on to Slaanesh, Brought to you by the number 6 and the letter S!

Slaanesh is the flavor of the month it seems.  Most people have caught on to the incredible firepower that is possible in this army and they have certainly inundated Games-Workshop with requests for bits and conversion pieces.

This is a shooting army with a lot of Pinning weapon ability, known for speed and whimsy.  Lets dive in.

The characteristic Mark of Slaanesh is the most obvious advantage of the Cult.  A high initiative means a couple things.  First is, Power Swords actually make a little more sense for Champions.  Many people have come to recognize the economy of Power Axe's for challenges over the Power fist.  The power fist also falls somewhat out of favor because of the combination of Power Sword + Meltabombs that Cults can utilize.  The initiative boost makes a Power weapon very practical for the Aspiring Champions.  Power LANCES may even be the bigger winner from all this.  They become especially attractive.

The Champion of Chaos ability is ESPECIALLY nice for Slaaneshi commanders.  the ability to CHOOSE who accepts their challenge makes their power weapon choice all the more useful.  In some units, there are two or even THREE enemies who can accept the challenge and being able to choose is great with INIT 5 or higher with the Chaos Lords!  Choose the slowest character and whack him or just whack the scariest one by going before him.  A shame that Master Crafting isn't in the Chaos Codex but there's always hatred.

For the units in the Slaanesh force that are going to be assault units, Veterans of the Long War is a worthwhile upgrade.  Points are going to be at a premium in a Slaanesh army.  Any dedicated assault unit should definitely make use of this upgrade because the synergy with the initiative boost is powerful.  It isn't that Hatred is bad for the other Cults obviously, BUT going first with Hatred  is excellent.

The first thing you know you need to look at is the Sonic Blasters and the Blast masters.  Sonic Weaponry ignores cover and the Blast master is pinning.  Just wow.  Already we can see where a large amount of points might be going!  Other Upgrades are also great for Slaanesh:

Slaanesh is all about speed and pushing the limits.  If you plan to use Helbrutes or Defilers in your list, you cannot call yourself a Slaaneshi without the Power Scourge upgrade.  No Slaaneshi would be caught dead going on initiative 1!  Excellent upgrade for them to take.

Dirge Casters, while an all around good choice for most forces, is very Slaaneshi in flavor, disallowing the enemy from Overwatching your incoming unit.  More to the point, the assault portion of the Slaanesh forces will tend to be SMALLER than its Ranged components in general and indeed smaller than MOST Chaos Space marine armies, so any advantage they can gain is important.  They won't have the same strength of arms others do.  When they strike in melee at all it must be with as much speed and manpower as they can muster.

Warpflame Gargoyles are a hilarious way to turn a Rhino Combi-Bolter into an enormously effective weapon!  As Slaanesh is a primarily shooting army, this is an absolute MUST upgrade.  Bolters inflicting Soul Blaze is just awesome.

The Noise Marines use this Icon of Excess to provide their critical units with the ability to power through the most serious of wounds.  It is a very expensive Fee No Pain item, but for less than the cost of two Noise Marines you can and probably will save more than that over time.  This item really is a no brainer on units that are going to be on the defensive or targeted a lot in the early going.

The Steed of Slaanesh is one of the best things in the codex for chaos.  The ability to outflank or scout forward is EXCELLENT, getting +1 Attack is great and being able to run forth +3" is really outstanding for the round he comes in.  He immediately threatens a GREAT radius from the board edges, and whatever unit he brings with him will be happy for the added combat oomph of the Chaos Lord astride it.  While a Combat Familiar isn't strictly speaking a "Slaaneshi" upgrade, it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Slaanesh armies have access to some very powerful Psychic emanations as well.  Symphony of Pain is the force Multiplier to watch out for.  it effectively increases all Sonic weapon strength by one and nerfs the unit you're about to charge all at the same time!  HUGE.  Even if you don't roll that power, the other two 1 Warp Charge powers are EFFECTIVELY setting your assault troops up for success.  One is Concussive and Pinning Witch Fire, while the other ups your stats in combat.  In short the Psykers of Slaanesh can REALLY help a Slaanesh force out, especially one that is troops heavy.  The Warp Charge 2 Power really doesn't seem worth it.  It's not at all clearly written either and could lead to some arguments on how to implement it.  I won't get into why here.

So now that we know what Slaanesh has up its sleeve, let's build a list (I know some of you really like that part!)

While list building, there's a few important rules. First is, minimal units are NOT a problem for Slaanesh like they were for Khorne, as it is primarily a shooting army.  That isn't to say that it can't be otherwise and indeed we will explore melee options for them, but it's clearly not the focus.  We are assuming you want a true Cult army here, so we won't be talking Allies.

All armies pretty much call for three troops choices as their minimum.  Given the ridiculum that is the Sonic Weaponry, this informs our first choices.  Remember that the Unholy number of 6 is the one Slaanesh blesses best! Based on what we discussed so far, this is what your core three Troops choices will look like:

307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)

As you can see, points are at a premium in a Noise Marine list.  However, those are very sturdy units, pumping out a LOT of firepower and a firebase like that is going to do some damage.

Paying that much for those firebases means we have to both protect them, as well as get them to their objectives.  The Rhinos can be on standby or on patrol ready to support assaults by the Firebase defenders and when inevitable attrition occurs, they can hop in for a ride.  In addition, they can block off lines of sight, allowing the firebases to fire at one target at a time without much return fire.  Think of the Rhinos as a reticle!

Anti-aircraft ability is a must in every list.  As the Icon of Excess largely makes an Aegis Defense Line redundant, I am more inclined to include the havocs once more.  The Icon of Excess is too good not to take on this important unit as well.

217pts 6 havocs (Missile Launchers x 4, Flakk Ammo, Icon of Excess, Mark of Slaanesh)

To make this work, we need to be able to pop people out of their Vehicles.  Obviously we don't want to HAVE to do it with Blast masters as their strong suit is killing people.  Going through the codex, not so oddly and for the same reasons as with Khorne, Predators and Obliterators would seem the obvious choices.  Cheaper than the ForgeFiend for essentially the same tank killing power.  Better armor as well.  UNLIKE with Khorne, we actually DO have the luxury of doing the job with Sonic weaponry if we had to so the need for anti-tank shooting itself is actually lessened a little in second and subsequent rounds.  That opens this up to more possibilities than with Khorne.  The Land Raider killing power is the most important target to be able to handle more so than the other types as far as our "dedicated" anti-tank units go.

So instead of Predators, I'd say Obliterators are the clear choice between the two.  BUT...  Maulerfiends may well be an excellent choice also.  Consider that they give us the tank tearing power we want, the ability to keep the enemy away from us and are not so easy to kill at all.  they are able to move 12", ignoring terrain, so anything that approaches better make sure they are dead first!  This helps Slaanesh control the Battlefield pretty well.

I think a combination of these two would be a decent proposition.  The trouble with two Maulerfiends is that in the first turn you may not be able to open any tanks without using your troops.  If you're concentrating firepower on troop type targets, you need kill fewer armored targets initially if a nasty blocker like the Maulerfiend is around.  It adds to your melee threat profile as well.  The Psykers in the Slaanesh army are quite good at evening the odds for the Maulerfiend before he goes in for the kill.  Lasher Tendrils will serious help it deal with certain units who can hammer it by badly redusing the enemy attacks!  So:

140  2 Obliterators
135 MaulerFiend (Lasher Tendrils)

Obviously we need leaders and we need a melee Hammer to complement and protect the list.  The MaulerFiend can only cover so much ground on its own and obliterators will likely be spending a lot of time on vehicles and fortifications with their Havoc friends. 

Lets look at HQ's next.

A Psyker can really help, though it isn't absolutely 100% necessary.  It will help the Maulerfiend with its Primaris power since Maulerfiends are, after all, Power Fists.  A Psyker is a definite force multiplier for the rest of the army, as I mentioned, for sonic weaponry.  I am always for a synergistic character and the Sorcerer, for Slaanesh, is definitely that.  We need him to be very survivable and not snipe bait for the Colossi, Dark Reapers and other Barrages of the world.  Terminator armor is a REALLY good bargain for the character.

162pts Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armor upgrade, Combi-Flamer, Veteran of the Long War,  Level 3 Sorcerer)

A Chaos Lord on Steed will offer the army a much needed boost in mobility if the mission, terrain or enemy dictates the need.  The army also really needs a melee threat as mentioned to go alongside that of the Maulerfiend.  Again Synergy is nice here and the Chaos Lord can use the Dimensional Key to slow the enemy down!  A shooting army needs to take every step it can take to reduce enemy movement towards the gun line and the Chaos Lord, once he activates the key, becomes a walking Swamp for enemies inside that rather large radius (12" in all directions from a large based model!) and can even slow progress towards objectives just by being close enough.  That radius moves fast with his steed to where it is needed.  The steed and key make for a very tempting combination.

155  Chaos Lord (Mark of Slaanesh, Veteran of the Long War, Steed of Slaanesh, Power Weapon+Pistol, Meltabomb, Sigil of Corruption, Dimensional Key)

That leaves us with enough points for an escort for the Slaanesh on Steed.  We'd prefer a tough one that can provide wounds for the Slaanesh lord before he launches into someone and of course fast enough to keep up with him!  Raptors, Spawn and Bikes are the only real qualifiers.  Amongst them, Bikes and Spawn present the toughest wounds.  With an Icon of Excess, Bikes becomes very tough and provide that benefit to their master, plus the speed of the bikes is a huge asset if you need to steal an objective later.  Spawn offer the same toughness, Cause fear, AND have more wounds, but nowhere near the speed potential nor do they protect their master with Feel No Pain.  Certainly a more potent melee threat though and is easy to argue either way.  I don't think either one would be a bad idea but Bikes will be what I choose for this example.

133pts 4 Chaos Bikes (MeltaGun, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess)

I hope this discussion helps you build your army.  Of course people like what they like and own what they own so not everyone can build THIS list and what fun would it be if we all did.  But this should help illustrate what Slaanesh is about, what's available and a way to think about them.

To summarize my ideas on the Slaanesh list:
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
 6 havocs (Missile Launchers x 4, Flakk Ammo, Icon of Excess, Mark of Slaanesh)
2 Obliterators
MaulerFiend (Lasher Tendrils)
Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armor upgrade, Combi-Flamer, Veteran of the Long War,  Level 3) 
Chaos Lord (Mark of Slaanesh, Veteran of the Long War, Steed of Slaanesh, Power Weapon+Pistol, Meltabomb, Sigil of Corruption, Dimensional Key)
4 Chaos Bikes (MeltaGun, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess)

Points: 1998
Kill Points:  12
Armour:  4 Pieces
Other Chaos Space Marine articles:



  1. Love it. Glad you posted about my cult. My only point of contention is the fact that the blastmaster troop retirement was indeed lowered to five by the faq.

  2. Excellent catch. The FAQ has been...very willing to change things entirely, unlike in the past. The codex does read that you need 10, but apparently that was changed after the fact, and recently I see.

    As I have more cults to review, is there any element of the cults I didn't cover that you'd like me to?

  3. I like how your example armies are "pure." Maybe at the end you could build a list where each cult is represented.

  4. Well it is a CULT.

    I will do Chaos Undivided last. Abaddon rises!!!

  5. So, the list I ran most recently follows:
    1x Chaos Lord (MoS, power maul, sigil, steed)
    1x Sorcerer (MoS, staff, sigil, spell familiar, lvl 3)
    10x Noise Marines (9x sonic blasters, 1x doom siren), Rhino (havoc)
    5x Noise Marines (1x blastmaster)
    5x Noise Marines (1x blastmaster)
    5x Noise Marines (1x blastmaster)
    25x Cultists
    2x Obliterators (MoN, veterans)
    1x Maulerfiend
    9x Havocs (4x missile launchers)
    1x The Masque
    5x Plaguebearers
    1x Demon Prine (Unholy strength, iron hide, wings)

  6. Add the Mark of Excess to the 10-man Noise Marine Squad.

    I recently lost a game to Sisters. He Scouted with his Dominions and with a single plasma shot Immobilized the Maulerfiend, so it was out. I attempted to Outflank the 10-man squad, but they didn't show until turn 4. The triple Exorcists just ruined me...just ruined me. Uriah manning the Quad Gun managed to kill my Demon Prince in two turns. The Masque clustering enemy troops for blastmasters and frag missiles kept the game closer then one would have imagined.

    I think I'm going to nix the Prince and try to cram in another 10-man Noise Squad, as well as add sonic blasters to every Noise Marine. Symphony of Pain (Psychic Power) was incredible, boosting the effectives of every sonic weapon, even against vehicles. I'm also considering giving the Sorcerer Terminator armor. Again, the Masque is clutch, with triple Pavanes, but I wasn't aware until recently that Demons were being rewritten so soon, so she's likely out the window.

    As I see it, the only glaring weakness in the list is a shortage of AP 2. I'm fixing up some bikers with plasma, but until then I've been relying solely on massed fire to bring down Terminators.

  7. My opponent's skill handling Celestine was superb. He knew just when to let Seraphim take wounds for her and when to let her take the hit. I learned I need more bodies, and cultists don't count for diddly. I also learned that Noise Marines are the shizzle, and I think I'm going to put mauls and swords on the 10-man squad champions.

    To that end, which do you prefer, mauls or swords? I'm insisting on something that will take full advantage of the high Initiative of Noise Marines, so no axes or fists. I favor the maul, since they can wound Marines on 2+. Sure, it allows armor saves, but a sword would only wound half the time anyway. I ran into major problems with Tyranid Monstrous Creatures, what with wounding on 6's. So, again, I like mauls.

  8. I'm also going to add some auto/las predators. For 115 points, I think that's an even better deal then Grey Knight Psyflemen dreadnoughts. Couple that with an Aegis Line and a Comm Relay for the outflanking Noise Squad... Sounds good, anyway.

  9. Umm... I think Power Lances are pretty good for Slaanesh, actually. The Concussive ability can be great against Monsters, but other enemies tend to have 3+ armor. So a Power Lance would be really awesome for Slaanesh.

    As for the Auto/Las Predator, i think they are good as I mentioned. One unlucky shot that you didn't see coming is not really an indightment of the maulerfiend, but a function of the learning curve. Stick with him. I think he's good for the list.

    Spell Familiar is fat, or so it feels to me.

    The comms relay is a good idea, since outflanking is awesome sauce.

  10. Dont forget that certain grenades can be used against Monstrous creatures. So charge with the lance and continue combat with the Grenades if they are tough 6.

  11. I am sorry to name them, but there are some little mistakes in your list, Mr. Unorthodoxy.
    Like, what are Rhinos with warpflame Gargoyles, if the aren't even got any weapon to shot?
    Kombibolter is available at an extra 5 points and will bumb the rhino to 50points each. Soul Blaze isn't even worth it. Pls just reflect with Math-Hammer, that it won't hurt much to anyone. Second thing is to be questioned is, why you are using dirge casters in a shooting army? Only for protecting the "meat-shield" of the Lord? By the way 4 Bikes with T5 aren't reliable as they seem, as they only provide one wound each and they aren't scoring in most missions.
    Back to your troops choices. One Blastmaster each, when you can have 2 in each Sqad? just why? Tau will just eat the whole guys for lunch with this poor counter-fire. Please correct me if I oversaw something there. And why would you field 12 Bodies with no option of starting within the Rhinos.
    It would be a pleasure for me to discuss this further :)

  12. well, Anonymous, Rhinos COME with weapons. Are you not looking at the codex as you offer this critique?

    Dirge Casters are for, obviously, the outflanking unit so their charges will go unimpeeded next round and to give the maulerfiend it's charge worry free. If the enemy expends its anti tank against just my barriers (rhinos) then they aren't killing the fast moving threat im protecting. So in some ways... They are also a red herring.

    I am well versed in what a bike might be good for, especially with Icons of Excess. Are you? How about one led by a Chaos Lord like this?

    Keep in mind: this article is about making a Slaanesh themed force. The Slaaneshi forces can get in rhinos just fine once some attrition occurs.

    I have seen time and again what happens to stagnant armies: I feast on them. You must be dynamic enough to move when needed. Having NO options in this regard is worse than not having a small blast template that might hit one target when enemies are properly spaced. You have to concede points somewhere to the gawds of Strategy and Disruption.

    This army can disrupt certain strategies, make it difficult for armies to "do their thing". What I would recommend is to go ahead and play 5-6 games this way and report back. I would be eager to hear what you did in those games.

  13. Yeah, it suprised me in a positive way, that my chaos rhino has a stock combi-bolter. Thx for opening my eyes there :) Second, I want to thank you for your detailed answer. And third, I would give this a strategy a chance if the mauler fiend wouldn't blow up like nitro glycerin when moving out of cover, like my defiler did too many times :(
    But I tryed out a Slaanesh themed army last week and was ****ed hard by a single deathwing terminator squad of 5. What strategy is yours to get thoose sweet little... ehm... guys down, when they just pop up behind my Gunline of 6 Blasmasters?

    1. I forget to mention: I will use 3 rhinos in combination with larger troops than 10 to try it out. Hopefully that won't help my TAU-oponnents getting even more cover...

  14. When they get behind you, its bad. But the list has obliterators and volume of fire. So i suppose as long as you deploy to anticipate it, youll be okay. Question is, if behind you, was it necessary to face them? Could you head one unit behind them and run the rest away?

  15. I should have run the remaining troops up the field and should have charge with my cultits from reserve. But I wanted them to outflank a devastor unit sitting on one objective, rolled bad and they were whipped out by an Veteran-Sqad led by this 2+/3++ Ezekiel and one carriing the banner of devastation.
    Last game I did a better job, 10 man Squad CSM of mine with 2 melta guns and 2 Obliterators with plasma cannons finished of 5man squad terminators on their arriving. When I have the Firepower to kill em, I'll try to, otherwise I should ignore them I think.

  16. ignore them or feed them a fearless unit to chomp on. Small one of course.

  17. Hey, I really like your list and was thinking of making a smaller version myself. Here's what I had in mind:
    Lucius the Eternal
    Hellbrute (autocannon, power scourge)
    10x NM (champion with doom siren, 8x sonic blasters, blastmaster, rhino w dirge, Icon of excess)
    10x NM (champion with doom siren, 8x sonic blasters, blastmaster, rhino w dirge, Icon of excess)
    10x Raptors (champion with meltabombs, mark of slaanesh)
    Maulerfiend (Lasher tendrils)

    Any suggestions or changes?

  18. Lucius the Eternal is a hard core Bad a$$, Not a damn thing in the world wrong with him. Worth his points 8 times out of eight. So you really would fail to go wrong by taking him. He's strong. Every time I've seen him played, he's been a rock star.

    I assume the way this works is the Raptors run behind the Rhino rush, alongside the helbrute who keeps them safe from charges there and also who later can help WITH charges. The Maulerfield is distracting fire from hitting the Rhinos any more than necessary and also to escort it in. You want to plop out and doom siren the enemy OR be able to pillbox them depending on which kind of force you are facing.

    This list comes out to around 1258 points, it lacks one extremely important item: anti-air. ONE flyer (which may be all you see at those points levels), especially the Hellturkey, might easily open all your cans and destroy the troops within. You'll have to gauge your own meta on that issue, but it stands out to me given only 33 models in the force total.

    Other than that, at this points level, It's a very nice core. on a theme basis, it's not the right number of troopers (I don't know if that matters, but I thought I'd mention it for completeness sake).

    I'll be honest, at 1258, a LandRaider might really ruin your day as well. Are you sure you want an autocannon and not the stock Multimelta? Food for thought. Str 8 alone won't be great at handling a singular land raider and a GodHammer pattern LandRaider will pop those Rhinos with no trouble as will what's likely to be inside. The multimelta OR TL Lascannon sound like a better option to me, with a Multimelta getting the edge I think.

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, I'll be taking a lot of this into consideration when I construct the list. I think I'll try flakk missile havocs for anti-air. Multi-melta seems like a good solution to give me a better chance against a land raider. And do you think the maulerfiend could help me out against heavy armour if it had magma cutters? Or would It be too much of a risk?

    2. Havocs work. Dont necessarily need a maxed out squad if points are tight but its surely nice to have the insurance.

  19. I am testing different builds through my journey to 2500pts pure Slaanesh army :) And I must admit: your blog entry was a quite an inspiration. Thank you :)

  20. I am testing different builds through my journey to 2500pts pure Slaanesh army :) And I must admit: your blog entry was a quite an inspiration. Thank you :)

    1. Wow, thanks! I dont post on the blog AS often as some because I want to write substantial things and not just "content". I am interested to hear what you used and how its working for you.

  21. After few games with just minimal infantry content (I love big monsters so had to put them in army as soon as possible) I`ve reached 1500pts and now gonna have 10 NM with 2xbm and 2x5NM one bm each. My build is pretty close to your army :) I start my games with infantry and Maulerfiend on the table, then my lord with bikers arrive and start huning for a HQ choise with his Murder Sword, Obliterators Deep Strike deep and kill some big tanks then use heavy flamers etc. 10 or so games and I was a little bored so now I`ve chosen Sorcerer, Dimensional Key and some sonic blasters.

    Important thing with just one Maulerfiend puppy: keep him close to your infantry holding objectives and well hidden. Do not rush into combat because he will die advancing. I`ve found the best use as a bodyguard and fear factor. For task like this Lasher Tendril is the best upgrade. Enemy stuck with Noise marines facing counterattack of Maulerfiend? Problem solved very quickly ;)

  22. I like the advice on the Maulerfiend. Its easy to imagine why that is and your results confirm it. It is somewhat what I meant in this and the other Cult blogs I did, you have to have a means to keep the heat off the primary "weapon" until its ready to detonate on the enemy. An escort of sorts.

  23. One more thing I`ve found out recently: Roll for a Symphony of Pain, target some flyer, hit it with Salvo. It makes Havocs with Skyfire upgrade redundant. So many shots, almost always get the enemy flyer in range and with so many shots "6" just will be there :) Swap Blast Master for Varied frequency with S6 and it is enough to make a glance with both sonic weapons my 10 men unit (5 sonic blasters and 2 blasts) delivers 15 S5 shots, 2/4 S4 bolter shots and 4 S6 shots. If you get 2 such units you can fire up to 46 shots. Find me a flyer tough enough ;)

  24. I've found 20 infiltrating slaanesh marines with Cypher very effective. They're unexpectedly resilient with FNP and shrowded and can't get locked in combat. ATSKNF helps out regular dudes too but i guess you can go with cult troops as well - they're fearless which is much more reliable - even with ld10.

    1. Cypher eh? That's an interesting wrinkle...


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