40K: Kakophoni… of Destruction!


Today we bring you the somewhat new and rising Chaos Space Marine formation, Kakophoni!

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The Space Marines of the III Legion Astartes were some of the Emperor’s finest warriors. Named the Emperor’s Children they were also the only Legion granted the honor of being able to bear the Emperor’s Aquila upon their armor in the Pre-Heresy era of the Great Crusade. They strove for perfection in all things, this obsessions with perfection and beauty eventually led to their seduction by the Chaos power of Slaanesh. In their falling to Slaanesh some of the Emperor’s Children created units based around weapons of great sonic power. Their corruption by Chaos making them seek out ever greater sources of Cacophonous noise, created units that could purge enemies through noise imbued with the powers of the warp. They formed these powerful units of Noise Marines into formations called the Kakophoni. How do these formations of voluminous power stack up on the table to though?



The Kakophoni formation is the cheapest of the new formations from Traitor Legions that centers around cult troops; Berzerkers, Plague Marines, and Noise Marines. The Kakophoni uses Noise Marines as it’s base and adds in some special rules that make them even better. When used as part of an Emperor’s Children Rapture Battalion detachment the formation becomes even better. Like all of the Cult Troop formations, even those found in Wrath of Magnus, the devil is in the details. Where getting the best benefits of the formation requires you to take the maximum number of units allowed in the formation. This is a near impossible task for Thousand Sons but is much more manageable for the Emperor’s Children.



  • 1 Chaos Lord or Lucius the Eternal.
  • 3-6 Units of Noise Marines
  • Minimum load out costs 365 points, bare bones full load out costs 650 points.


Special Rules:

  • Split Fire
  • Sonic Overload: All sonic weapons used by units from a Kakophoni have the Shred Special rule. If this formation includes the maximum number of units then all attacks made by Sonic Weapons are resolved at +1 Strength as well.


Those special rules don’t suck. Even if you aren’t taking the full load out to get the +1 strength to the sonic weaponry the addition of Shred is a big deal. This iteration of 40k has made armies nearly dependent on the ability to get re-rolls. If you’re running an army that can’t access the ability to re-roll to hit and/or wound on at least 30% of your army, I would argue 50%, then you’re far behind in the 40k arms race. So just taking them as a Cheap Core choice in an Emperor’s Children detachment isn’t a bad option. Although you get the same problem you run into with both the Plague Colony and Maelstrom of Gore; which is a Warband is more often than not going to be the better Core choice. Then how to run this formation to make it effective?

Well, if you run it with Max units to get the most benefit from Sonic Overload and use it in a Rapture Battalion to get the benefits of the Fueled by Sensation rule you’re starting off right. This detachment is the one that gives units within the detachment with VotLW the Fearless and Feel No Pain (6+) special rule, with the Icon of Excess you get FNP 4+. You also get to roll on the Combat Drugs table for all the units in the Kakophoni which can get you some cool things like +1 BS or +1T.  So what would a fully loaded Kakophoni look like points wise, and damage output wise?


The way I would run it is min-maxed. For 1145 points you get 31 models, 6 squads of 5 Noise Marines plus Lord. Give them 3 Sonic Blasters, Doom Siren, and Blastmaster with an Icon of Excess. With Shred and +1 strength all those weapons become just a tad bit better. They’re getting better by the way against the most prolific models in the game, models in Power Armor. They’re also becoming very resilient with the addition of a 4+ FNP. If you throw these guys in cover, with their long range, higher strength, Shred weapons you can chew through the soft underbelly of a Battle Company quickly. The Doom Siren is probably a maybe check in the include column. For 15 points it is great for killing off marines close up; with the formation rules it is a template, S6, AP3, Shred weapon. That melts ceramite plate to slag! In terms of actual game use I can imagine entire games where you get to use 1 or 2 of the 6 Doom Sirens only once or twice. Without the Doom Siren on each Champion the formation drops to 1064 points. The Blastmaster however is a totally different thing.

The units in the Kakophoni formation have the Split rule. This means one model in the unit can fire at a different target than the rest. This means you can sit your units of Noise Marines in cover and plunk away with your Salvo 2/3 Sonic Blasters at 24″ range and still fire your 48″ range small blast, S9, AP3, Ignores Cover, Pinning, Shred weapon at a different target. While it may feel weird to not be advancing a unit with a higher initiative than Vanilla Marines across the board to get into combat; the Kakophoni actually makes for one of the more resilient gun lines that the new Traitor Legions book provides for. Perhaps only the Death Guard Warband in their Detachment can rival this formation for sheer resiliency and firepower.

The bottom line with the Kakophoni formation is; if you’re an Emperor’s Children player who loves all his Noise Marine models you have a formation that while not the quote, unquote, best in the new Traitors Legion book certainly makes it a viable option to play Noise Marines again. That is truly the best part about this new release. It may not have the “ZOMG OP, I’m going to wreck face! GG Noob!” feeling of the Eldar codex but it is solid, and it breathes new life into an entire range of models that had been rotting on the vine for several years.

~Who’s been fighting the Long War with the Emperor’s Children out there? Tell us how it’s going in the comments.


As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.


  • ZeeLobby

    Noise marines are just pure awesome. I hope they get some updated models soon. If the 1K sons troopers are anything to go by they would look real good.

    • eehaze

      The trouble that I’ve had with Noise Marines is that they cannot move if you want to fire sonic weapons. They need other, mobile units to grab objectives and screen.

      The Kakaphoni would make a better Auxillary choice than a core choice, Since the formation requires it to be core, I would run a Warband, the Kakaphoni, and the Heldrake Terror Pack. I think you could patch together a decent, well-rounded force with those three formations. (as long as you’re not facing Knights)

  • Walter Vining

    my thunderwolves still don’t care

    • Spacefrisian

      Dark Angel Ravenwing will care

    • Djbz

      They should.
      Shred (and possibly +1 strength) Sonic blasters will kill them rather easily.

      • jonathon

        (6) x (3) sonic blasters salvo @ 24″ is 54 shots; is (36) hits; with S5 & shred is 27 wounds; is (9) failed saves; throw an ironwolf (whatever their techmarines are…) up front with a 2+ save & you’re looking at 1, maybe 2 dead wolves. Next turn they’re in combat.

        if you get lucky and are able to cast that symphony of pain power & you may luck out with 1 or 2 more unsaved wounds. And of course there’s always the chance of rolling +1BS for you combat drugs…

        its great in theory, if you manage to get all your noise marines into range but far enough apart that you can’t be multi-assaulted… without that 2+ save the TWC should be scared, but we know that there’ll be a 2+ save out front pretty much every time

  • Muninwing

    “The way I would run it is min-maxed.”

    you don’t say…

  • Forgeworld bringing back the Sonic Dreadnoughts would fit nicely with this. The old Emperor’s Children Warband datasheet also allowed for sonic weaponry for Bikes, Havocs, Chosen, and Terminators (and Predators).

    • Muninwing

      havocs. yes. how much fun would four blastmasters be… or if they allowed four doom sirens?

      but since they still make the FW parts (or at least they are still in circulation via ebay) for the Dread, why not just include the rules?

    • Spacefrisian

      One of the missed opportunities in Traitor legions.

      • BT

        I don’t have the book, but it seems their goal was not to change the models in any way, just give you bonuses for having a ton of them. It is a pure economic money grab by GW, kind of like the supplement books that were the same cost of a codex but with 4 pages of rules.

  • Muninwing

    though i wholeheartedly agree with the last paragraph:

    “That is truly the best part about this new release. It may not have the “ZOMG OP, I’m going to wreck face! GG Noob!” feeling of the Eldar codex but it is solid, and it breathes new life into an entire range of models that had been rotting on the vine for several years.”

    this release seems to have something for everyone. it gives motivation to unearth old half-done projects for many of us, or start something that’s just different. definitely different from the last near decade of chaos, which has neglected many of its most compelling ideas.

    this also looks like a fun list to play, and to play against. and fluffy (though 6-man squads would be fluffier…). and definitely in the range of interesting to paint, given the excesses of slaanesh and their wide interpretations.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah… My issue is still that I know I’d spend hours converting and painting said models (I have a TON of old CSM models) only to put them on the table, and then quickly pick them up.

      • Muninwing

        the best-painted models are the biggest draws of attention. they get shot first.

        obviously they are special, and therefore powerful. so make sure your best units are 3-color-minimum and all your chaff is amazing NMM.

    • BT

      No, it is to sell models. Now you really want 30 noise marines to run this, so for most older players, that is at least 10-20 extra models they have to get. Also, now you can shelve all of your regular MoS marines, because you will not have the points to run them. Well, you can. your just being sub-optimal. Fighting a fist-fight with one hand behind your back is sub-optimal. If you like fighting, you will still enjoy the fight, but you are going to lose every fight.

      • jonathon

        depends how you’re running your squads – 5 man with a blastmaster? Well, then you need (6) blastmasters only and your regular pink marines can be the ablative wounds that make that gun work… Hell, if you want sonic blasters you can always just tear some arms off rather than buying all new bodies…

        I don’t deny that formations that are simply “take X multiples of the identical unit” don’t feel like a cash grab, but there are ways to accomplish you goals without buying $300 worth of new marines.

        • BT

          I know what you mean. I have designed my EC list to work as a 30k list, a Chaos Marine list, and even as a Vanilla Marine list. I have made it a point to be as efficient as possible with my army. It will just come down to the point where GW will not get my money if I get more Kakophoni marines, some guy in China will.

        • SupraGenius

          A good pair of snips and some files help removed old arms. Maybe a hobby saw too.

      • Muninwing

        never mind that a company exists to create profit through product, there’s not necessarily a strong argument for the “they just want to sell” idea.

        if they are just trying to maximize cash, then making these TL units more powerful per point (which they really haven’t) would have sold them better.

        • BT

          Yeah, because heaven forbid GW making sonic weapons for Raptors or Terminators or other units… like a Sonic Predators. That wouldn’t make them money at all. For example, did they change something at some point and say Oblits can make Grav weapons? No? Plain Jane Drop ships for Chaos Marines? No? Sure, because they would never take a kit, make no changes to it what-so-ever, and just make more money by allowing another fraction to use it. No s**t it is a company designed to make money. They make money despite themselves, no matter how dumb they are. Like say allowing Admech, Skitarii, or Guard to use Drop ships, Rhinos, Predators, and Vindicators wouldn’t sell more of those kits. Oh no… they have to spend time and money coming up with new kits that will only sell depending on how popular that fraction is… or if they even get transports. I bet those Maulerfiends and Mutilator kits are selling like hotcakes! Right up there with the Chaos Dreadnaught kits!

          And all you did was repeat my point at the end… take a marginal unit and make it slightly better per point if you buy more of them. So the point is you either don’t bother getting any Noise Marines or you get 30 of them. There really is no middle ground.

          And to be honest, I don’t recall any other formations that are even built that way before this book. It was always “get this number of units and get this effect”, with some dogs units thrown in as a tax. This is one of the first times I can recall a scaling bonus based on number of units. I don’t get every book that come out, so on that I am unsure.

  • Djbz

    I’d make at least one of the units a combat based one with a Doom siren Champion (leaving the rest with Pistol+CCW) to go on the offence with the Chaos Lord/Lucien (Pity the Lord can’t have a doom siren).
    Doom sirens are nasty as base, with this formation they’re going to be terrifying
    So maybe 3 range, 3 CC for the units as they’re going to have to weather a lot of fire.

    • jonathon

      CC noisemarines aren’t cost effective when compared to bog standard chaos marines though – they suffer from the same problem as berserkers (only worse!) to get that doom siren, you’re paying 2ppm more than a squad of chaos marines to get an identical stat line and no special weapons options – that makes the doom siren a 25point, AP3 flamer at a minimum squad size with no tank-busting abilities on the unit.

      I’ve ran the formation with (3) noise marine squads, (2) set up as shooty and one set up as assault based, in conjunction with a warband + single spawn (mandatory aux choice), it was fun but was hardly a competitive choice, great against a sky-hammer but a single dreadknight, dreadnought, unit of terminators, knight, etc. tears that unit to pieces.

    • Scott Resnick

      Why not just kit out the Lord and throw it in a Raptor Talon, since you need an Aux choice anyway? make some good use of that higher initiative by getting your jump troops into combat while your gunlines harass everything else.

      • Djbz

        Because the Kakophoni’s Chaos Lord wouldn’t be able to charge from deep strike like the raptor talon units

        • jonathon

          he doesn’t need to. You have to find a spot to put him unfortunately But he could take a jump pack and the Burning Brand to provide a much better (though not buffed) AP3 flamer nuisance, and a single jump pack model shouldn’t be hard to hide.

        • Sure

          The Kakophoni lord guards the back, the raptor lord handles atteck.

  • jonathon

    as an OG emperor’s children player I wish this formation was better. It is the nth example in the book of GW saying “take multiple mediocre units and we’ll give you some rules to boost them a marginal amount!” – taking 6 units of noisemarines with blastmasters and a lord is what? 830 points, this provides you with no reliable antitank (unless you want to fire 3+ blastmasters a turn at a rhino…), no reliable AP2 weaponry, no mobility, AND takes up almost 50% of a standard tournament list. So what would you fill the rest of that list with? a Raptor talon with (4) x (5) w/ (2) meltaguns gives you some fairly reliable antitank & armor piercing potential. You’re now looking at 1410 points, leaving 440 for upgrades – or a daemon prince + sorceror…. 50 marines, no vehicles…. I dunno. I think the warband is the better option & noise marines get relegated to the shelf unfortunately.

    • Muninwing

      well, look at it from a generalist’s point of view.

      firstoff, if you’re not going for supercompetitive, you don;t need to worry about too much of the cheez coming back around at you.

      second, a generalist’s list is going to be a balanced TAC if possible. with the exception of your note about antiarmor, this can do that well. yes, there’s not a lot of AP2 here… but is that really an issue? how often do terminators come at you in a meta with grav? instead, as you mentioned, how can you include some mobile meltas? or what about four autocannon Havocs for medium damage? there are some options that can be included readily if you’re not facing a Knight army or Mech IG or the like.

      third… while i get the objections to the CC component in the comments, i do feel like these are the kinds of armies you’d actually see from EC in the 41st millenium. LOTS of sonics. and here’s a list where they might not play out perfectly, but they’d be fun to play. and, as i said above, they look fun to play against too. they might not win a tournament. but i bet they’d be pretty good at messing with an opponent for fun’s sake, and could do well in a less competitive meta without being over-cheezed.

      • jonathon

        sure you don’t see terminators that often, but you do see 2+ characters leading the rest of the unit, you see T5, 2+ grav centurions, you see Tau… so there is still a bunch of 2+ save you do need to be wary of.

        Unfortunately you’d be hard pressed to fit a unit of havocs in with a full kakophoni because you still need to pick up that warband to get them in.

        my only gripe about the traitor legions book is what I consider a small missed opportunity – for the (4) legions which use cult troops, I believe the warband should have allowed for 2+ units of chaos marines, OR the appropriate cult troop (well, that complaint + the fact that I bought traitor’s hate a month earlier to get 90% recycled material…)

        and it isn’t a matter of being “super competitive” – how many imperial lists now feature at least one knight titan?

        • Scott Resnick

          I’d be taking a Kakophoni and a Raptor Talon. Lord goes in a squad with a jump pack. Hand out some melta there, and go to town. You have a very aggressive gunline with S9 weaponry, and then lots of melta and lightning claws hitting from the other side, assaulting out of deep strike at I5, and also taking advantage of combat drugs.

  • Peripheral

    I see this noted below, but Noise Marines wreck havoc with Ravenwing.

  • MechBattler

    Imagine what adding Shred would do to units taking as many Blastmasters as possible. Bend over and kiss your butts goodbye MEQs!

  • Sloordrigg Metselverk

    Just to point it out, the Kakophoni formation already gets ‘Fuelled by Sensation’ as it’s an EC formation. The Rapture Battalion detachment adds the combat drugs. Me, I’d simply tack a small Kakophoni formation onto a different army as an add-on. Say 3 five-man squads of Noise Marines to tag along with a Vectorium Detachment or an Alpha Legion CAD to add an effective gunline. Death Guard Havocs could provide some nicely mobile anti-tank support or any CSM CAD could add in heavier armour. Take a Mayhem Pack, too, and just annoy the hell out of your opponent by following your own, secret, insane objectives. That’s what CSM do best anyway.

  • Rizal Ramli

    oh this sounds excellent!!! been sporting favored Noise Marine squads since 3.5 and I’m glad GW has finally made it a viable option again. Nothing beats favored numbers for a Traitor Legion IMO, 6 squads, sexaaay