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December 20, 2012

Winning with Chaos Space Marines

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Hi everyone !! Black Blow Fly here again with hopefully a fresh look (REALLY) on Chaos Space Marines.



Now to be honest I was a bit disappointed when I first read the new codex but having played a new army I've taken quite a liking to it. As you probably know I've been playing a Khorne army with daemonic allies for about a month now. I have had the chance to play some games in a local tournament as well as some friendly matches. I am glad there aren't any broken units like Thunderwolves and no silly wargear like psykotropic or rad grenades. I really appreciate that a lot too... You can bring a fun army to play and nobody in their right mind is going to accuse you of bringing the cheese if you happen to win.

After having played dark eldar when their new codex was released one thing I always look for in any army I play now is resiliency... I want to field armies that are tough and will stick around - no more glass cannons for me! You can design tough armies with the new CSM codex so two thumbs from me in that regard.


Cult Armies
I think of the four Chaos powers Khorne is one of the two that made out the best... That is what I'm currently playing (obviously) so that's what I'll focus on in this article. I would also like to eventually build a new Death Guard army.

One of my major complaints about the previous CSM codex is that it was very hard to build a pure cult army... You lost access to marked daemons and overall the old codex lacked any real flavor - you were forced to play Black Legion style armies if you wanted to build a competitive list and I was never a fan of Lash spam. This though has been well addressed in the new codex though through the use of an allied detachment (for example Chaos daemons) and there are also lots and lots of very good cheap options. Certain characters such as a Chaos Lord with the appropriate mark unlocks cult units such as Berserkers and Death Guard as troop choices. Cult units were troop choices in the previous codex but like I said I found it hard to build an army around a specific theme and eventually lost interest.

I have also seen some of my friends' new CSM armies that are very interesting and were designed using two Force Organization Charts (double FOC)... They aren't spammy either and double FOC doesn't have to be - the ability to field one extra unit from one slot such as a third HQ can really help boost an army.

Melee
If you know me then it will come as no surprise that I enjoy playing armies that excel in close combat and the new CSM codex is very strong in this department. I think that melee can still win games and one of my most cherished 40k mantras is if you want to win on a consistent basis then design armies that can exploit the current Internet meta lists. I'm seeing a lot of armies that are very shooty and setup behind an Aegis Defense Line (ADL). If you stop and think about it for a moment the ADL is probably the most popular kit GW sells now since the release of sixth edition and I'm surprised GW hasn't marked up the price as yet (heh - give it time). If you can engage armies such as these with dedicated melee units then you stand a good chance to win. Of course reaching melee is the hard part... But it doesn't necessarily have to be.


Wargear
Let's take a quick look at some units from my current army - I like to run my melee units in the Chaos land raider which gives me access to the following options:

Dirge Caster - prevents enemy Overwatch (possibly the best piece of wargear in the codex)

Dozer Blades - allows your vehicles to reroll failed difficult terrain tests... HUGE for Chaos land raiders

Icon of Wrath (only accessible to units with the Mark of Khorne) - allows the unit to reroll a failed charge distance... Another really great piece of wargear seeing you'll be charging through difficult terrain quite often if you play an assault army

The combination of these three simple pieces of wargear along with the Chaos Land Raider has lots of synergy and these types of combinations are part of the reason why I finally came back to Chaos.

Chaos Land Raider
The Chaos land raider is your only option for an assault vehicle unless you can use Forgeworld units such as the Chaos Storm Eagle or Dreadclaw. Sure it's not cheap but the Land Raider provides a much better platform to launch rapid assaults. The Chaos Land Raider also doubles as heavy support and is decent versus flyers (twin linked lascannons)... Remember you can snap fire the lascannons if you move up to 12" - you haven't lost anything versus those annoying enemy flyers.

You do get a bit of a break in points cost which helps... I run mine with dirge casters, extra armor and dozer blades - which is roughly the same amount of points as a stock Imperial land raider. As I said above the ability to kit your land raiders with dozer blades is a BIG advantage over their Imperial counterparts... Especially if you're using them primary as assault vehicles - the loss of Power of the Machine Spirit (PotMS) really isn't so bad. Use your tools as they're intended.

Try to reach melee using the Rhino instead - you'll see the difference soon enough. It's hard to pull off for a number of reasons... Much less survivable, you can't assault out of it the same turn it moved and if it's destroyed you can't launch an assault your coming turn either.

Finally keep in mind that most players are bringing less melta in favor of more plasma... Plasma can't even so much as scratch AV14 so that's another big plus. I have found that the land raider is really good now in the current state of 40k and I love mine.


Forgeworld
If you can use Forgeworld in your games both the Chaos Storm Eagle and Chaos Dreadclaw are excellent flyers that can transport your troops. Both are AV12 all around. I'm using a Storm Eagle in my 2500 point list and it is awesome. Basically the Storm Eagle gives other Marine armies besides Grey Knights and Blood Angels access to the equivalent of a Stormraven. I don't sink a lot of points into mine as some of the upgrades such as lascannons drives up the total points invested quite high.

Khorne Marines and Berserkers
I run one squad of each. Truth be told the Khorne Marines (Chaos Space Marines with Mark of Khorne) are in several ways the better of the two. Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) grant the Khorne Marines Hatred versus any Imperial Space Marine and +1 leadership. I run mine kitted out with what I often refer to as über grit - boltgun, bolt pistol and a chainsword... They are equivalent to Grey Hunters plus they have the advantages gained from Mark of Khorne (MoK), VotLW and the Icon of Wrath if you're willing to pay the points. As such they cost more points per Marine compared to a Grey Hunter but they are better in every way except for the lack of And They Shall Know No Fear (ATSKNF). I get around this by attaching Kharn to the unit since he makes them Fearless and you don't need VotLW since he grants them Hatred Incarnate as well.

A lot of people are saying Berserkers got hit with the ever proverbial nerf bat since they lost +1 attack... Who cares? They have Rage and Counter Attack instead plus they're cheaper now for the points. Some people also complain that Furious Charge no longer grants +1 initiative... Everybody is in the same boat there though so it's not a big deal in my opinion. It's silly when people find one negative aspect and simply write off a unit. Berserkers cost less points now so as far as I'm concerned it's a wash.

Both of these units can smash most enemy units on the charge - yes they are just that good. I find the two units together is a good combination since the Khorne Marines can lay down suppressing fire for the Berserkers with their boltguns and a flamer if need be. Throwing Kharn into the mix takes them over the top.


Kharn!!!
Kharn is a real bargain for the points plus he unlocks Berserkers as a troop choice. Kharn also costs less points now as well plus he gained some new good abilities, some of which I've already touched on above. Kharn is a scary close combat monster and should be treated as such... He can quickly wax many enemy HQs if necessary. Typically though I'll use the champion from the squad to which he's attached to accept or issue any challenges so Kharn can wreck havoc versus enemy rank and file... Like I said above Kharn is truly a scary close combat monster. Kharn destroyed a Soul Grinder on the charge in one of my games this past weekend which is an impressive feat versus AV13 coupled with four hull points.

Tricks of the Trade
If you should decide to follow a similar path it's important to realize that typically at some point your scoring units will come in harm's way. Most missions present objectives versus kill points - so even though your scoring units are very aggressive you still need to protect them. A tactic I use often is to throw some of my daemons out in front as a shield wall - they are the first wave to assault. The Berserkers and Khorne Marines act as the second and final assault wave. As such they usually have an easier go at it and some will survive and go on to claim objectives.

Another tactic I often employ is to focus on killing enemy scoring units first... Whittle them down until you have numerical supremacy in terms of total scoring units - this can win games and you can get more out of your assault units versus shooty enemy units.

Conclusion
So I've discussed some simple ideas how to win with the new CSM. I'm happy with my army and it's working well for me. I might try my hand soon at using Chaos Daemons as the primary detachment. I'd love to work a Bloodthirster into my list.

Give the codex a chance - I think you might end up liking it.
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