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 need initiative so we need to hold a Mark of Slaanesh if it gets in melee.  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 Toughness 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 once on the charge (because the Hand of Darkness says so) hitting on 3's which a Familiar will help with to re-roll, 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 the blow.  Softening up the Wraith Knight just a bit should allow the Chaos Lord his shot at glory.

When you consider how great this item is for Chaos Marines, you wonder why more people don't play them.  =)  Your total cost for the exercise is as little as 170 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 (though it wouldn't suck if you have the extra points).

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 wound (but not cause 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 thing and wishing forlornly for things that can't be.

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 with grenades and provide road blocking units for you at critical times.  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 at least 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 not talked much about.  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 Jet Bikes 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, survive to see that through...

Maulerfiends are just as fast and ferocious, and don'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 and it can hover at games end.

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.

22 comments:

  1. Well, the picture isn't quite that sunny. The Hand of Darkness only lets you make a single Attack per Turn with it, not all of them. And Abaddon only has Rage, not Furious Charge too, so he's only ever S8. Also, Ancient Doom works the other way around: If you attack the WraithKnight with something Slaaneshi, it's the WraithKnight that gets Hatred, not your dudes.

    On the other hand, you don't actually need Master of Deception to bring a Unit along with your Steed Lord. Outflank doesn't have the restrictions that Infiltrate does, so you can just Join him to a Unit in Reserves and have them Outflank together.

    Not sure where you're getting the idea that Chaos Spawn are underrated. Most CSM Players I know think they're great. They're less popular in DaemonKin, because they can't get T6 there, and DK Flesh Hounds are better than CD ones, so those tend to take their place most of the time. But in regular CSM lists, they're pretty much a staple from what I see.

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  2. And I think gargantuan creatures are immune to instant death too. I for one would love to see CSM work and you put forth good points, but I fail to see a chaos list that can reliable deal with knights and wraith knights and survive on the table against the top tier armies out there. Nurgle raptors, meet broadsides!

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    1. Gargantuan Creatures take d3 Wounds from Instant Death Wounds, and it ignores their FNP, so it definitely helps, but it's not a one-shot solution.

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  3. As WestRider points out, you've got Ancient Doom backwards- it lets the _Wraithknight_ reroll misses in the first turn of combat. (It also has a downside that forces the unit to make a Fear check at a penalty, but as the WK is Fearless, this does nothing.)

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  5. I still think that the best you can get at killing a wraithknight is a Sorc, DP or Be'Lakor. Be' Lakor is more reliable but costly and not tough enough vs eldar shooting. Same goes to DP. But sorc can really make it work. Less reliably but just think of it. He has access to so many useful stuff. A sorc with just Iron arm is at least on par with a lord with a hand of darkness. It also has psy shreik which is the best way to soften up a knight as most knights tend to stick in cover and psy shreik ignores it. You can hope for a couple of wounds even after fnp.
    And another thing. Sorc can summon daemonettes. Yep,he'll probably peril but it's not a guaranteed wound and in fact, you can hope for a peril to roll a 6 in a desperate situation. And here you go. A fleshbane super-sorc stomping a wraithknight's face with his force weapon.

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  6. The Sorcerer is really iffy. Eldar so often can drown out a Psyker power with dice. I had a Psykr in my Night Lords and I held out dropping him for quite a long time because i saw the same promise you do but I just couldn't get him to perform his job enough times to keep denying my army a fearless Raptor leader. I'm not down on Chaos Psykers but i might not put them too high on my list of must haves. I think they need to be a part of a a strategy that involves more Psykers than just one if it is to work well against Eldar.

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  7. I use sorcerrors in every list. They're one of a few powerful things that are still better than what others get. And they've been very useful. I don't hold them in reserves cause you're generally better off with psy support early on. And i often summon daemons. It's a very handy tool.

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    1. Sorcerrors can and should get spell familliars so they can re-roll failed psy tests. They can also get access to invisibility. Invis + spawns can tank anything other than lucky stomps but even this to some extent. And sorcerrors are pretty choppy when you don't feed them to beatsticks.
      Currently, i'm using a list with 2*5 nurgle spawns and 2 unmarked ML3 biker sorcerrors with melta bombs, sigils, spell familliars, force axes and gifts of mutation. If i need more spare points, i give up on gifts. And when i desperately need spare points, i give up on sigil but thisway they can be countered with ap2-3 in melee in a challenge. The tactix behind un-sigiled sorcs against things that threaten them in melee is a bit different though. I tend to stick to spawns and cast things but when the time comes, i disband un-sigiled sorcs and spawns so that the former can just move to some other location and do his own stuff and the latter can tarpit whatever needed. And if they get invisible or enduranced, they can do it for as long as needed. It's all situational ofc.

      Anywayz, i've been running both lords and sorcs and they both have their merits. Lords can encounter a wider variety of melee units cause they're not afraid of challenges generally while sorcs are more of useful tactical tool cause they can get access to whatever your army might need in this particular battle via psy powers but tend to be squishier.

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    2. To be fair, IF a Sorcerer gets Invisibility, he makes a number of units awfullly awesome. In a five game tournament, you just never know.

      Splitting him off is a wise move of course when it becomes important. i did it last night with a Seer Council. Jumped my Farseer+Autarch over to one objective at games end and the Warlocks to another and used Asuryans Will to make them fearless without the Shard of Anaris. Handy.

      Similar shenanigans are there for the Chaos Sorcerer.

      The Night Lord Raptors are entirely capable of losing combats and having a Fearless Lord ensures that this doesn't turn into a disaster for you. Whilethey are T5, 3+ armor and capable combatants, its a big 40K universe and they are bound to lose at some point whether it be dice or matchup. So for a Night Lords contingent you need the Fearless.

      I do love me some spawn though and in other lists I own enough to use them. Excellent unit. I wrote a blog entry about them a long time ago lauding them even before this current codex made them make more sense. They produce great results most of the time.

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  9. Hello, I was just wondering if you could elaborate on what you currently use for your Night Lords.
    I've very recently gotten back into the hobby and I'd like to build a competitive list for my own NL. I do quite like warp talons and raptors but don't really know how effective they are right now, and at the end of the day I'd rather have a list that's fun to play rather than nice to look at. Still, if you could work it in, fluff gets you extra points.

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  10. As recently as four months ago I went undefeated at a tournament with Night Lords. I used the list below. A little commentary here is in order.

    Eldar and Tau are a real threat as is the combination of the two and if you cannot manage to get to them physically and quickly, you are not going to do well.

    So this list was designed to give me fortitude I would need in the times it would have to face the music or be in the open, taking a brutal Tau onslaught of firepower. It's going to happen. Being tough is important. the 3-4 models that you save at times mounts up and pays real dividends. Also I wanted larger numbers in my units. Understanding that my window to strike would be limited and my exposure on the way in painful, the ability of Chaos units to be much larger is a competitive advantage I don't see advanced much on forums but you will find that quantity does indeed have a quality all its own.

    In any event, I also wanted wingmen. This again was with Tau in mind originally, although it applies to all kinds of forces, such as Dark Angels and their insane Overwatch, or any force with the divination power of Foreboding and so on. Enter the use of MSU single model Obliterators and Mutilators. Depending on the number of detachments you really want in your army, the inclusion of them is fantastic.

    GIVEN two Raptor units, the very identity of a Night Lords army, you need them Fearless. So Chaos Lords are a must. Just Fearless alone is enough reason to take them for a list that relies on positional dominance and fortitude. I learned through hard experience that this is just a necessity. Therefore I had to think long and hard about how to putfit them. While my particular way of doing it is based on a lot of trial and error, the resulting Chaos Lords I have below are the culmination of a lot of in-game experience. In particular the Eye of Night was and remains such an excellent tool that I can't recommend it enough times. The Hand of Darkness is obviously a feast or famine weapon but the Chaos lord is so tough that I'll definitely take my chances on that. Mileage will vary based on the opponent.

    Anti-air is a pretty smart thing to add to lists but even better is when enemies don’t have an answer for it. Heldrakes are really impressive and they can glide. Love it. Al the Fast Attacks we can stuff in there makes me happier.

    The Night Haunter is proud of this force and I am too.

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    1. Night Lords Total Roster Cost: 1996

      76pts 1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

      76pts 1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

      76pts 1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

      75pts 4 Chaos Space Marines
      1 Aspiring Champion
      40pts 1 Chaos Rhino (Dirge Caster)

      75pts 4 Chaos Space Marines
      1 Aspiring Champion
      40pts 1 Chaos Rhino (Dirge Caster)

      80pts 4 Chaos Space Marines [Black Legion] (Veterans of the Long War)
      1 Aspiring Champion (Veterans of the Long War)
      40pts 1 Chaos Rhino (Dirge Caster)

      61pts 1 Mutilator, (Mark of Nurgle)

      61pts 1 Mutilator, (Mark of Nurgle)

      61pts 1 Mutilator, (Mark of Nurgle)

      130pts 1 Chaos Lord (Nurgle, Jump Pack, Sigil of Corruption, Powerfist+ Combi Melta)

      285pts 1 Chaos Lord (HQ) [Black Legion], 160 pts (Mark of Nurgle + Blight Grenades+ Melta Bombs + Sigil of Corruption + Combi-Meltagun+ Veterans of the Long War) + Chaos Bike + 1 The Eye of Night + The Hand of Darkness

      330pts 13 Raptors (Mark of Nurgle) + Meltagun x2
      1 Raptor Champion (Melta Bombs + Mark of Nurgle + Power Axe x1)

      330pts 13 Raptors (Mark of Nurgle) + Meltagun x2
      1 Raptor Champion (Melta Bombs + Mark of Nurgle + Power Axe x1)

      170pts 1 Heldrake

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    2. This looks quite nice. The only thing that looks mehish to me are the mutilators, do you reckon there's any viable option to them? In fairness I can definitely see how they will do their job for the points, but the models are just awful and having just gotten back into 40k I don't really have any parts for conversions. I reckon a second Heldrake would be a good substitute but of course there already are 3 Fast attack choices. Not really sure whether anything can be done there.
      Other than this I quite like the list and can see it being effective.
      Thanks for responding so quickly!

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    3. The temptation for many would be to look at a Mutilator and try to replace it with one of something better. That it is three of something worse than a Heldrake is actually what makes it an asset. Ignoring them is dumb. they will be striking at armored targets when armor is present or smaller units when it isn't and almost certainly winning against their best possible targets. Problem is, responding to one Mutilator is truly wasteful for the enemy. There is nothing in 40K I enjoy more than the Catch-22 scenrio. A Heldrake is of course very good and sicne this army has both a Black legin component and a Regular Space Marine component, you actually CAN add a second Heldrake in place of the Mutilators. I'm not going to tell you this is a bad idea. It will depend entirely on the matchup but i am seeing more and more that having an initial charger to absorb the hits is important.

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    4. Fair enough, the list is definitely very shrewd and very efficient as it is, I can see the mutilators do their thankless job better than any of their alternatives. My main objection was based on their models but that's really besides the point if I'm trying for a competitive list and conversions will be an option, I guess. Thanks again for the swift responses, I might let you know how this list performs in my hands with and without the mutilators. I myself am becoming more and more convinced that mutilators are the unsung heroes this list needs.

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    5. Well the Grotesques and Spawn can both be viable bases to create Mutilators. Even monstrously decked out Terminators could work. So if the look of the model is an issue, maybe those could be possibilities too.

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    6. I like the Terminators idea, I'll see what I can do about the models but really that's secondary to the list.
      Thanks for the help, I appreciate it. I quite like the site, keep up the good work.

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