Chaos Marine Formation Review: Lost and the Damned

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CULTISTS! Join us as we talk about how the unsung villains of the CSM codex and their latest formation is reshaping the meta.

Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio today I bring you the somewhat new and upcoming Chaos Space Marine formation, the Lost and the Damned! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!

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The forces of Chaos have a multitude of forces at their disposal to carry out their deeds. From daemons of the warp both Great and Lesser to the mighty warriors of the Chaos Space Marines the forces of Chaos have great tools for their war on order and the cadaverous “Emperor” of the crumbling Imperium. So great are the powers of Chaos that they can even use their Dark Apostles to recruit entire Hive Worlds, Planetary Garrisons, and even Regiments of the Imperial Guard to their cause as Chaos Cultists. These cultists can be used as cannon fodder, sacrifice to great rituals to summon the most powerful beings of the warp, they can harass planetary populations, act as insurgencies in a prelude to invasion, and a multitude of other uses for the scheming Chaos gods.

 

In terms of gameplay in Warhammer 40k the Chaos Cultists unit in codex CSM represent the insurgency and hive gang descended forces most accurately. Renegades from Forge World more accurately represents a Guard, or Planetary Defense, regiment that’s fallen to Chaos. These units are cheap, and somewhat reliable when used properly in basic CSM CADs but with the new Lost and the Damned formation, coupled with the new Traitor Legions rules, we begin to get a unit that can really play an integral role in game other than just sitting in reserve as long as possible to hopefully hold an objective on the last turn.

So what is it about this formation that makes Cultists better? Look first at the formation specifics.

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Formation:

  • 1 Dark Apostle
  • 4-9 Units of Cultists
  • Base Cost: 305 Points, 41 models
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Special Rules:

  • A Tide of Traitors: Each time a unit of Cultists from this formation is completely destroyed roll a d6. On a 4+ you can immediately place an identical unit into ongoing reserves. This new unit can Outflank, these count as part of the original formation and may also return on a 4+ if destroyed.
  • Prophet of the Gods: The Dark Apostle’s Zealot USR applies to all Lost and the Damned units within 6″ of him.
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Tactics:

The best part of the formation is easily the ability to recycle units of cultists on a 4+ and have units recycled off the first outflank. This means that if you take the base formation with 4 squads of Cultists and all 4 die you should get 2 of them to come back, and when they do you can outflank onto an objective or into your opponents back field to tie up a long range unit, harass objective camping units, get Line Breaker or deny a Maelstrom objective etc. Cultist units generally aren’t the strongest units in 40k, often they will get rolled up in a turn or two by most other troops choices. Gaining Zealot when within 6″ of the Dark Apostle from the formation can make them a bit more effective in Close Combat and gives them that little extra edge they need against units like Guard and even basic MSU Space Marines.

The formation in and of itself is fairly lack luster outside the rule to bring back units on a 4+, where it shines is when it is taken as part of one of the new Detachments from Traitor Legions. Specifically three Legions come to mind as being able to benefit from this formation. Death Guard, Word Bearers, and Alpha Legion.

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Death Guard:

A Death Guard, Vectorium (DGV), Detachment may take the Lost and the Damned as an Auxiliary formation. At first glance through the Traitor Legions book the Lost and the Damned formation doesn’t jump out as a clear good choice for a Death Guard Vectorium. How this ends up being a good take requires more than a cursory read through. First they must take Mark of Nurgle, giving them +1 Toughness, which isn’t great but any little bit of improved resilience will help, as you’ll see this will grow quickly. Cloud of Flies means they will have the Stealth USR against shooting that is coming in at 18″ or more away. If you give a model, probably the Dark Apostle from the formation as he will be going around with the units anyway, the Poxwalker Hive artifact for a mere 20 points you can now choose a friendly cultist unit within 7″ a turn to permanently gain Fearless and Feel No Pain but they can’t run or shoot. They also return d3 slain models to every friendly infected unit within 7″ of the bearer at the start of each turn. So for 400 points you now have 40 cultists that are T4, with the potential of being Fearless and have a 5+ FNP that re-rolls 1s, has Stealth a lot of the time, and can recycle wiped out units. It is not a bad way to go, and due to it’s cheaper price tag can be useful as the 2 core choices for Death Guard can become expensive really fast. I personally find this method of using Cultists to be one of the more intriguing.

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Word Bearers:

The Word Bearers are an interesting choice from the Traitor Legions book, as you can read by clicking the above link, in that they can summon daemons more easily than other Legions and their Grand Hosts detachment, can take The Lost and the Damned formation as a Core choice. Meaning they have access to the cheapest Core choice at only 305 points. If you’re going to run Word Bearers you probably want to summon daemons. This means you’ll need a lot of psykers and psychic dice. The best way to get a ton of Psychic dice and is through Daemons. A Cultist Core, plus Heldrake Auxiliary, and 4 level 3 Sorcerers comes out to only 1085 points. That leaves you with plenty of points to add in a Daemon CAD for additional psychic dice and farming. It also means you can add in more Auxiliary choices to your Word Bearers Grand Host detachment if you’d prefer to go that. A Terminator Annihilation Force would add an additional Sorcerer and 3 units of Terminators. Access to a cheap core choice that recycles units on a 4+ also means you can afford to stock up on Cultist units where other lists like Death Guard or Alpha Legion find themselves running out of points quickly. It is a very points efficient way of forming a Grand Host and Daemon Summoning Farm.

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Alpha Legion:

Now here is the Cultist totting Legion everyone is talking about. The Alpha Legion special detachment is called an Insurgency Force. These forces are some of the most powerful in the game in terms of ability to take objectives and get into your opponents backfield. The Alpha Legion have the Forward Operatives rule meaning all units of Chosen, Chaos Space Marines, and Cultists have the Infiltrate Special Rule. So taking an Insurgency Force can get you Infiltrating and Outflanking units galore. When you combine that with the three rules below you can get a very annoying force quickly. Having 7+ units that can Infiltrate or Outflank is bad, with the additional option to take a Alpha Legion CAD filled with 5 man outflanking Chosen units armed to the teeth with Special Weapons it gets even worse for your opponent quickly.

Icon of Insurrection: Friendly units of Cultists within 12″ of the bearer have the Zealot Special Rule. Using this in concert with the Dark Apostle from the Lost and the Damned formation gives you quite a bit of Zealot running around your opponents back field. Cultists aren’t amazing in Close Combat by any stretch of the imagination but being able to charge in with Zealot on the first turn against certain units is, as covered before, not a bad strategy. Especially if all you need to do is swamp an opponents unit for a turn or two.

Tide of Traitors and Cult Uprising: This is the controversial part of this detachment. GW has yet to rule on this as of me writing. It does however look like you could get 2 new units for every cultist unit killed off in an Insurgency Force. If that is true this detachment is going to be an even more popular choice than it already will be.

Many Heads of the Hydra: This rule was covered in the article linked above but the basics of this are if your Warlord is slain you just pick a new Character model to become the Warlord. This way you are almost guaranteed not to give up Slay the Warlord to your opponent unless you’re tabled. When you combine this special rule with the ability to recycle units of cultists you get a nice constant supply of Characters to use as your Warlord.

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The Lost and the Damned formation took an already commonly used unit in Chaos Space Marine forces and made them an auto-include in many detachments for a completely different reason. Instead of just being the cheapest Troops Choice available to a CSM CAD we now have a formation with good rules and interactions in the wider concept of the Detachment.

 

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

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  • Commissar Molotov

    I used the formation from the Vectorium, but I also took Typhus and turned them into free Plague Zombies. Can’t have any upgrades other than unit size, but it makes them Fearless, Slow and Purposeful, and gives ’em FNP (and thanks to the Vectorium rules, they get to re-roll FNP rolls of “1”.)

    Haven’t tried the formation yet, as I have to glue and paint 60 Wargames Factory zombies together. Still haven’t figured out exactly how I’m gonna represent the “leader” of each zombie squad, either – but I think it’ll be fun on the table top. Who doesn’t like an inexorable tide of zombies?

    • Latro_the_Zombie

      single plague bearer would work

      • Commissar Molotov

        For the “leader” option? Nice idea!

    • Nicholas Gunther

      There’s some controversy about this. According to the Chaos Legion rules, they MUST be given the Mark of Nurgle. However, Typhus does not allow the unit to purchase any upgrades.

      This could mean that you’re not actually able to make any of those Cultists zombies, as you need to buy the upgrade.

      • Prisoner 42

        But zombies!!! I’m sure nurgle will allow it.

        • Nicholas Gunther

          I’m with you on that one. But strictly rules as written, you might have to fall back on the staff to accomplish this. Alternatively, you COULD ally detachment Typhus into an Alpha Legion army, which would work. Plus you potentially get two zombie units per killed alpha legion cultists.

          • Prisoner 42

            I definitely don’t have enough model’s for that but I’d do it if I could didn’t even think about it great idea.

          • Nicholas Gunther

            It’s an army I want to play with, but I reckon that the wording “any cultists unit in Typhus’ “army” will be eventually changed to “detachment.”

      • Commissar Molotov

        Well, it says “units that CAN [emphasis added] take the Mark of Nurgle must do so.”

        Since the “Plague Zombie” section under Typhus specifies that they can’t take any options (except for unit size, as the Chaos FAQ clarified), I figured that settled it.

        • Nicholas Gunther

          It’s just unclear. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m saying that you might get some blowback. Because they “can” take the mark. But because they have, Typhus cannot upgrade them.

          • Nyyppä

            Well, they are zombies. If zombies can not take marks then they can not take marks. It’s that unclear.

            Some people have this tendency to try to deny others from having perfectly valid combinations in the game because they want to win. There is nothing more to this.

          • Nicholas Gunther

            Hey, I personally don’t really care. I’m just bringing up a popular point of contention. 🙂

          • Nyyppä

            I did not mean to imply that you were guilty of this.

          • Nicholas Gunther

            No worries. :). I just wanted to clarify. There’s so many things in 40K like this right now, that I just wish we could get a quick little FAQ to end arguments about.

          • euansmith

            “Hello, you are through to the GW Rules Helpline; give me two options and I will roll a die for you.” 😉

          • Nicholas Gunther

            Things ARE getting better, though. As long as it continues that route I’m pretty happy.

          • euansmith

            Yeah, the past year or so has seen GW getting their mojo back. It is a different mojo to the one they had in the days of yore; but it is a cool move none the less.

          • Nyyppä

            Are they really, though. Models are better, true, but the rules are still just as badly designed as 3 decades ago when this all started.

          • Nyyppä

            Well, if these people would actually read the codex entry for Typhus this all would be pretty damn clear to them too. It’s not that you buy cultists for the army, you buy zombies. There is no process of turning them in to zombies, it’s merely a decision made by the player at the moment of list building.

            It is true that the game is still far from clear rulings, but that’s a minor issue in the end. Most factions being unable to withstand against the top factions is a bigger one.

        • Agent OfBolas

          You must buy MoN as Traitor Legions is superior to CSM book. It’s one of first thigns you can read in TL book.

          • Commissar Molotov

            With respect, that doesn’t make any sense.

  • Nyyppä

    The short version: It’s useless unless you play Alpha Legion.

    • Jared van Kell

      Far from. I use this formation in my Death Guard and it has so far proved its worth.

      • Nyyppä

        If you are super lucky. On average you will have 50% to even get the tax points back which is still far from them being useful.

        • Jared van Kell

          Oh but it what they allow the rest of the force to do that earns their place in my army. It is not about them earning their points back it is about using them to help me win the game. It is the bigger strategic picture that you need to be looking at.

          • Nyyppä

            I am. 250p for 30 cultists is a huge point sink for what it brings to the table. This is made worse by the fact that those 30 cultists outside this formation cost 150p.

  • Djbz

    One thing you didn’t mention with the Deathguard’s Poxwalker hive, it only prevents them from shooting, it does not remove their ranged weapon(s) like the Plauge zombies made by Typhus’ special rule.
    Meaning you get to keep their additional attack from having two combat weapons.

  • euansmith

    Where is the Dataslate for the cultists with aspiring champion available; aside from dodgy .ru sites?

    • Malisteen

      There is no such dataslate.

      • euansmith

        Not even in Crimson Slaughter or anything? The Aspiring Champion on the box is identified as belonging to that group?

        • Malisteen

          Yeah, the box doesn’t make any sense. You can’t use the champion as part of the unit, it’s just an arbitrary bundle.

          • euansmith

            It is doubly odd with him just being a random clamp pack mini too.

          • Commissar Molotov

            He clearly belongs stylistically with the Chosen squad from Dark Vengeance, but he wasn’t included with ’em in the box.

          • euansmith

            Curiouser and curiouser.

            So is there no actual way to field this box as it stands, outside of Kill Team?

          • Commissar Molotov

            You could use him as a Dark Apostle, I guess.

  • gordonshumway

    What is “controversial”? The two rules have completely different names and are not word for word the same, and are conferred by different formations. The Lost and the Damned is a CORE choice for Alpha Legion, a force known for heavy use of cultists. It is clearly intended…not even GW could have made that glaring of a “mistake” when designing the Legions for the new book. If this is “controversial” for anyone they are either illiterate or just a crybaby. This is a fun and in some situations powerful rules interaction, but compared to half the OP crap on 40k tables should cause no one to lose a moment of sleep.

    • Nyyppä

      Glaring mistakes in TL? Well, where do I begin? I’ll give you some of the lot just to make a point.

      – WB is actually just a poor mans CS. CS does what WB does, but is better at everything. I mean, better possessed, less risky summoning, otherwise practically identical. CS is so freaking weak in the current status quo that pretty much no one will bring it to the table. WB is worse because it has no way to utilize any of it’s actual fluff with the rules it has been given and the rules themselves are just…bad.

      – IW, the one legion that has pretty much no access to it’s actual work horses in the formations because almost all of them are in IA13 which the formations do not recognize.
      – WE are awesome in theory right up until you see how they have zero weapons with enough AP to do anything and not enough attacks to compensate the lack of AP.

      Actually DG is the only legion done “right” in the whole book and even they no longer use the actual cult marines since, well, the regulars are pretty much the same thing and a lot cheaper.

      There are glaring mistakes in that book. A lot of them.

      • Malisteen

        No, none of those are mistakes. They are rules you *don’t like*. Maybe even bad rules. But they aren’t *mistakes* of the nature that people are trying to pretend the Alpha Legion cultist rules are.

        I don’t like the rules for grav weapons, but I don’t try to tell my opponents they were mistakes or accidents so they aren’t allowed to use them.

        • Nyyppä

          So in your opinion GW deliberately made half of the legions unplayable and only one actually somewhat better than the vanilla codex? Judging from their history with CSM during the last decade you might be right.

          No, grav weapons are not even remotely comparable. They are a way for GW to ensure that marines keep being the most popular faction by giving them the most broken toys.

          • Malisteen

            No, in my opinion GW deliberately made Alpha Legion cultist units roll two dice when they die, and spawn a new identical unit for each result of 4+, because that’s exactly what their rules say.

            As for whether or not those rules make the army ‘unplayable’ or ‘actually somewhat better than the vanilla codex’ is a largely abstract question. A question that cannot be answered from reading the rules as written. Even if it could, it’s a question that wouldn’t matter, because while *what the rules literally do* can be judge simply by reading them, and *what they were meant to do* can be reasonably inferred, *whether the resulting rules are strong or weak* is a metagame consideration beyond the scope of the GW design team’s control, even if they wanted to do so. That kind of thing requires extensive play testing, and GW simply does not do that, so making a unit ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ in the broader scope of the metagame is just entirely out of their control.

            Do you think they meant for possessed to be as weak as they were when the current model kit was first released? Do you thing they meant for the helbrute unit to be awful when they released the current multipart kit, a kit that must have cost them a pretty penny to produce?

            Do you think they *meant* for falcons to be so ridiculously overpowered at the tail end of 4th edition? The codex writer was presented with the numbers and was shocked by them – far form not play testing, they don’t even run the math. When asked about it, he said “we never thought people would take more than one”.

            So no, I don’t think they meant to make some legions strong and some weak. I don’t think they meant for grav to be as strong as it is, or for chaos and orcs to suck, or for mechanicus and tau and eldar to be strong or for nids to be the flyrant army and nothing else.

            But I don’t think any of those things were “mistakes”, either.

            For an example of something that IS a mistake, look at that cultist formation again. The one that puts new cultists in ongoing reserve, and gives them outflank, with the obvious intent that the reserved cultist then enter the field using the outflank rules. Except that units in ongoing reserve cannot enter the board using the outflank rules. THAT is a mistake. An obvious case of intent being in direct contradiction to the rules as written. It’s not about whether I like the rule or don’t like it, or whether I think it’s a good or bad rule, or strong or weak, or fun or unfun.

            If you don’t like grave as an example, how about horrors? I think horrors that split and then split again is a bad, unfun rule, one that bogs down an already slow and cluttered game. But that doesn’t make the rule a *mistake*. That doesn’t mean when I play against a tzeentch daemon player that I would have any ground to stand on if I tried to claim the rules was a mistake and they shouldn’t be allowed to play it according to its clear wording and intent.

          • Nyyppä

            It’s perfectly reasonable assumption that they made AL cultists what they are on purpose.

            Well, if they did not mean to make the various bad units bad then they are bad because they made mistakes. There’s just 2 ways a thing can be done wrong. One is a mistake, one is a deliberate intent to do so. Either they meant things to be like they are or the failed at their jobs.
            There are plenty of rules like outflanking cultists in outgoing reserves. Scoring flyers can’t score. The nid drop pod equivalent practically can’t shoot. Heldrakes practically can’t shoot. Soulblaze USR. Double fearless formation that costs as much but is worse than the units in it taken separately. 2 shooting phases for a unit with one shot per game weapons or no guns at all. Vespid, pyrovores, vanguard veterans, mutilators, half of DE, flying DP tied to 15 possessed on foot and so on. The list is a long one.

            Common sense and at least a passing knowledge of the game would have prevented all of these. It’s not a matter of play testing either. It is not needed to see that these things are useless.

          • Malisteen

            What I’m saying is for relative strength in the metagame, I’m not sure GW has an intent to begin with. I don’t think they mean things to be strong or weak or anything at all, there is an utter void of intent. To actually do that, they’d need to play test. It’s so fundamental to achieving that aim that GW’s refusal to do that can be taken as a signal of the lack of any intent what so ever. They just don’t care. They can’t fail to achieve an intent they never set out for.

          • Nyyppä

            Them ignoring the meta is also a mistake. It is a game. People playing it will try to win. The tools available to them have to be roughly as good for both parties. Failing to achieve this is a mistake no matter why they fail at it. Not trying is still failing.

        • gordonshumway

          Didn’t get a chance to reply earlier but you said it better than I could. This.

  • Agent OfBolas

    This formation is useless. Cultists are just heavy overpriced, as well as Dark Apostle.

    There is no point, outside just pure fun (but you won’t get fun with such crappy formation) to use them.