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!
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.
- 1 Dark Apostle
- 4-9 Units of Cultists
- Base Cost: 305 Points, 41 models
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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