40K CSMs: Are Cult Troops Worth It Anymore?

Kazzigum wrestles with a new conundrum seeping forth from the Eye of Terror.

With the launch of the Traitor Legions supplement three-odd months ago, Chaos Spaces Marines (CSMs) have received a much needed shot in the arm, both in terms of power level on the table as well in the ability to construct an army that really oozes with the feel of the original Fallen Angels.  Perhaps the most significant thing that Traitor Legions does for CSMs is that the book truly elevates the common Chaos space marine (CSM) to be a worthy threat to their loyal brothers.  The new rules in the book do this primarily by granting the Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) rule for free to all CSM units in the given Traitor Legion detachment, as long as the particular Legion’s requirements are met (for example all units that can, in a Emperor’s Children detachment, must take the Mark of Slaanesh).  Even more importantly, the freely given VotLW rule provides an array of additional special rules that are indicative of the background and preferred fighting methods of each of the original nine Traitor Legions.  In essence, every unit in the army that contains actual CSMs gets much better for no extra cost, and no where is this more telling then for the lowly CSM troop choice unit.  Of course, this isn’t enough to make CSMs on par with loyalist marines who all have the irritating And They Shall Know No Fear rule, but it honestly goes a long way towards closing the gap.  And as a long time Traitor myself, it’s honestly all I could have hoped for.

The Good ‘Ole Days are here again…and they’re better than ever.

One interesting side effect of this mass upgrading of CSM units is that for the four aligned Legions (Death Guard, Emperor’s Children, Thousand Sons and World Eaters), who each have their own particular Cult specialist unit (Plague Marines, Noise Marines, Rubrics and Khorne Berzerkers), this creates a sort of redundancy.  This is because the special rules granted by these particular Traitor Legion’s upgrade package essentially turns them into the Cult unit in question, and for cheaper.  So given these new circumstances, a CSM player has to ask himself — are the Cult units even worth it any more?  Well, the short answer is no.  And yes.  Well, for some of them.  Ummm … it’s complicated I guess.  This is the question I’ve personally been wrestling with for the last couple months.

Cult units have always been contentious, particularly in their current incarnation from the 6th edition codex.  It’s not that they were not seen as unique or good, just that three of the four have been generally regarded as over-costed (Plague Marines always seems to win this one, no matter the edition).  For the most part, this doesn’t matter any more, as the Legion special rules allow you to turn your basic CSMs into these cult units for much cheaper.  Or do they?  For three of the four, they kinda do.  And given that this is the case, is there even a real reason to bring the actual Cult units anymore?  I think that there is, for most of them.  But let’s take a closer look.

Well, I think this just speaks for itself.

Plague Marines

Of all the four Cult units, I think Plague Marines are now nigh indisputably obsolete.  How’s that for irony for you?  After so many editions of always being the best of the Cult units for their cost, Plague Marines are now clearly over-costed vs plain Death Guard CSMs.  Why?  Well, with the rules granted by the Death Guard CSM unit’s free VotLW, said unit gains all the same rules and stat-line numbers as a Plague Marine unit, but for 8 points cheaper a model.  And while the Plague Marine unit also gains the free VotLW upgrade as well, it gains no real benefit from it (as the unit already has all the special rules granted other than the VotLW rule itself, which washes out because the Death Guard CSM unit also gains it).  If we’re generous, and assume minimum sized units, the Death Guard CSM unit does have to pay for its champion, whereas the Plague Marine champion is clearly excluded from the unit’s base cost in the CSM codex entry.  But even taking the champion into consideration, the Death Guard CSM unit still comes in at 6 points cheaper a model.  For this very significant difference in cost, the only things the Plague Marines really have going for them over the standard Death Guard CSM unit are blight grenades, a plague knife and the ability to have more special weapons (cough, cough meltas, cough) in a small squad.

Cough, cough.

To be fair, there are other considerations besides just straight stat-lines and special rules.  Each Traitor Legion in the book also has its own detachment, and the Cult units in particular also each have a formation that features and improves each particular Cult unit.  Unfortunately for Plague Marines, the Command Benefits of the Death Guard Vectorium detachment (Disgustingly Resilient and Cloud of Flies) improve both Plague Marines and all other Death Guard CSM units equally.  And while the Plague Colony formation that features Plague Marines does improve them (granting the Fear rule and reducing the stats of enemies within 7″), it’s just not by enough in my opinion.  Fear is negligible as a power in general (at best) and the debuffing power requires the enemy to be very close in order to work, and the truly good portion of the rule (reducing enemy Toughness) requires you to field a full seven squads of Plague Marines (pricey indeed)!  Sadly, these new detachments don’t do nearly enough to close the gap between Plague Marines and the standard Death Guard CSMs.

In the end, Plague Marines finally lose the battle between the Cult units.  Despite their unique gear, and the ability to load a small squad up with a couple meltas, Plague Marines just don’t compare to regular Death Guard CSM troops — they’re just too expensive in comparison.

Eh?  What was that?

Noise Marines

Noise Marines are interesting, as while on the face of it, they too appear to be over-costed (though not by nearly as much as Plague Marines), I’d argue that they are still a value vs the standard Emperor’s Children CSM troop unit.  True Emperor’s Children players will undoubtedly believe so regardless, as only Noise Marines have access to the iconic sonic weaponry.  In the case of the Emperor’s Children, the free VotLW grants several rules, including a limited Feel No Pain, an ability to strike one last blow after dying and the Fearless rule.  While the first two of these rules improves a Noise Marines unit and a Emperor’s Children CSM unit equally, Fearless is the only special rule that Noise Marines had over regular CSMs to begin with.  Ultimately, the new Emperor’s Children special rules makes Noise Marines and regular Emperor’s Children CSMs virtually identical, and for 2 points cheaper.  Of course, only Noise Marines retain the ability to field sonic weapons, so is that worth 2 points more a model?  Perhaps, but sonic weapons are nortoriously expensive.  On the other hand, if you choose to arm your Noise Marines with an additional close combat weapon, you’re only paying an additional 1 point per model vs the standard Emperor’s Children CSM who pays 2.  Viewed through this lens, the Noise Marines are only 1 point more expensive per model than the standard Emperor’s Children CSM.  The gap is pretty close.

WHOOO!  We’re partying up in here!

Once you look at the new detachments, I feel the gap closes even further.  While the Emperor’s Children Rapture Battalion detachment provides no advantage to either unit with it’s Combat Drugs Command Benefit (as this buffs both equally), it’s the Kakophoni formation that really provides tangible improvements to its featured Noise Marines.  To begin with, the formation provides the Split Fire rule.  This can be huge, as it not only potentially allows Noise Marine units to blast away with blastmasters at longer ranged targets while still allowing the rest of the unit to still target closer ranged and softer targets, but it also allows such units to split its fire at medium ranged targets with sonic weapons while still retaining the ability to assault closer threats.  The second rule provided by the formation is potentially even better, as it grants all sonic weapons the Shred rule as well as increasing said weapons by +1 Strength if the formation contains the full six units (which is far more doable than the Plague Marine requirement of the Plague Colony formation).  These rules go a long way toward making sonic weapons more worth their exorbitant cost, and they even improve Lucius the Eternal (if you bring him as part of the formation), as he is also armed with a doom siren.

All in all, it’s a tough call.  The improvements to the standard Emperor’s Children CSM troop unit makes them very similar to Noise Marines, and for noticeably cheaper.  But ultimately, they’re still not Noise Marines.  The sonic weapons make all the difference.  Still, I can see many Emperor’s Children players perhaps splitting the difference, taking a mix of both.  But for my money, Noise Marines in a Kakophoni are the way to go.  After all, though we all have this image in our minds that all Noise Marines are armed with sonic weaponry, it just isn’t so.  A nice mixture of assault and tactical oriented Noise Marines salted with liberal amounts of sonic weapons throughout, all in a Kakophoni, sounds both deadly and fluffy.  That’s how I’ll be doing it when I revisit my Emperor’s Children.

Did You Know?  Some portions of the Nine-Fold Path are lined with golden bricks, like the Yellow Brick Road.

Thousand Sons Rubrics

In all honestly, Thousand Sons Rubrics fall outside of this discussion, as the special rules provided by the free VotLW rule for the Thousand Sons Legion do not create a CSM unit that in any way approximates the Cult unit.  In the case of the Thousand Sons, the free VotLW provides ongoing Hatred of Space Wolves (but granting Hatred to them in return) and the Blessing of Tzeentch rule that grants a +1 bonus to a unit’s invulnerable save when a blessing psychic power is manifested on it.  Both of these rules are also granted to the Cult Rubrics unit, and in the case of the Blessing of Tzeentch rule, are far more potent on the them rather than the regular Thousand Sons CSMs unit (a 6+ invulnerable save is increased to a 5+ vs a 4+ invulnerable save increased to a 3+).  The special rules provide none of the trademarks that make Thousand Sons Rubrics what they are — an aspiring sorcerer, inferno bolts, slow and purposeful, Fearless, etc.  It really is a case of comparing apples to oranges, but I’ve included the Thousand Sons here for completeness, as they are one of the four iconic Cult CSM units.

All dusted off and ready to rumble.

Having said all that, I find that Thousand Sons Rubrics are superior to the regular Thousand Sons CSM unit despite the significant point difference (Rubrics being 8 points more expensive per model before the cost of the sorcerer is factored in; though to be fair, if you price the unit out, the aspiring sorcerer in the Rubric unit gets his force stave for free).  Ultimately, the upgraded Thousand Sons CSM unit gets very little besides a free VotLW and is ultimately the terrible CSM unit of old that we’ve all despised for so long from this version of the CSM codex (it doesn’t even gain free Fearless like the other three Legions with Cults do!).  Of course, this still begs the question of whether or not Thousand Sons Rubrics themselves are worth it.  I say yes, but such a discussion and the reasons really falls outside the scope of this article.  For those interested in my thoughts on the matter, I recommend you read my Schemes & Machinations II article.

Bring on the Red Rain!

Khorne Berzerkers

Lastly we have the World Eaters and their infamous Khorne Berzerkers.  Oddly enough for such a straight-forward and single-minded unit, I find the question of whether Khorne Berzerkers are worth it over their ‘lesser’ World Eaters CSM brethren to be the most perplexing.  Are Khorne Berzerkers still worth it?  I say yes, but you might not agree.  Let’s take a deeper look.

The regular World Eaters CSM unit, though their free VotLW upgrade, gains Adamatium Will, Fearless and Furious Charge.  With the exception of the Adamantium Will, Khorne Berzerkers already have these rules — though they now also gain Adamantium Will.  Essentially, the upgraded World Eater CSMs have all the same rules of the Khorne Berzerkers and the same stat-line — almost.  The Khorne Berzerkers retain an advantage with their superior WS 5, but aside from this and the option to upgrade their weapons to chain axes and take up to two plasma pistols in a squad as small as five members, they are largely identical to the new World Eater CSMs (which are 4 points cheaper a model).  Four points a model is a significant cost disparity, but the superior WS 5 should not be under estimated.  Across the spectrum of 40k armies, WS 4 is quite common.  Most space marines (including the Chaos variety), orks, necrons, most eldar, etc. have WS 4 — it’s basically the elite standard.  Having WS 5, especially for assault troops such as Khorne Berzerkers, is a big deal.  It means they are most often striking opponents on a 3, which with the great number of attacks they can bring to bear, can really pile up.  Hitting most enemies on a 3 while they in turn strike you at a 4, really makes Berzerkers feel like they are the elite of the elite assault troops.  It just feels right.  Still, four points a model is a lot, and were these their only advantages, I’d say this is one fight the Berkerkers cannot win.  Fortunately, there’s more.

We may be old, but we can still bring it.

To really make a final decision of whether the Berzerkers are worth it now, we still need to look at the new World Eaters Butcherhorde detachment and the Maelstrom of Gore formation.  The Butcherhorde detachment grants the Blood Mad Command Benefit, which lets all non-vehicle units in the army move 2d6″ after deployment and allows non-vehicle units (excluding walkers) to re-roll any failed charge rolls they make in the battle.  Both of these advantages are huge for assault-oriented armies such as the World Eaters, but both the newly upgraded World Eaters CSMs and the Khorne Berzerkers benefit from them, so no determining factor there.  The Maelstrom of Gore formation is a different matter, however, as it exclusively features Khorne Berzerkers.  The formation grants two special rules.  Firstly, Blood-crazed, which grants the Berzerkers Fleet and also add +3″ to their charge distances.  This is a huge advantage, as Fleet is far superior to a straight re-roll of charge distances, and the extra distance makes the Berzerkers’ threat range so much more dangerous (not to mention they’re now very unlikely to fail those oh so tiresome, yet far too common, 7-8″ charges).  The second rule is called Red Rain and basically allows the World Eaters player to allow the Berzerkers that are already stuck in to fight an extra free round of combat once per game.  While somewhat situational, it is so, so fluffy and under the right game conditions, if performed at the right moment, could be truly devastating.  All in all, these special rules make all the difference … and did I mention that Kharn the Betrayer can benefit from them as well?  I can almost hear Khorne salivating…

Still sexy.  I’m never giving mine up.  He does need a bigger base though.

In the end, I feel that the WS 5 and the benefits of Maelstrom of Gore put Khorne Berzerkers over the top.  In my opinion, as long as you take the Berzerkers in a Maelstrom of Blood formation, they are still worth taking.  Even still, I’ll grant it is a close call.  Four points a model just really is a big deal.

Blood for the Blood God!

Chaos Warbands have returned, and somehow, GW has managed to cobble together units that were bad, and now they’re just Bad.

Wait, What About Objective Secured?

The astute among you may have noted that I’ve left out the fact that all these newly upgraded Legion CSM units will likely also have the Objective Secured rule because they will also likely be fielded in either a CAD, Allied detachment or Chaos Warband formation, and that I’ve not factored this into my comparisons.  Well, this is true, and it is certainly a factor to be counted in the upgraded CSMs favor.  While I will not completely discount the rule, I’ve personally not found it all that important for an infantry unit such as CSMs or the Cult units, or in any CSM armies I’ve played personally.  Of course, one can argue that the fact that the Chaos Warband also provides Objective Secured to all its units provides even more advantage, but once you do that, it really begins to murky the comparisons overall.  Especially in light of the fact that all the Cult units also gain Objective Secured in a CAD or Allied detachment.

For all these reasons and more, I’d decided to leave this issue aside in my comparisons.  Take from that what you will.

Not half bad in its own way.  I guess…

The Crimson Path of Kharn the Betrayer

Right, so having debated all that back and forth, I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide an example.  With that, I present to you my new World Eaters list.  My own Khorne Berzerkers hold a special place in my heart, as they’re the first army I ever ‘finished’ painting and they’ve rampaged across table-top battlefields of the 41st millennia for longer than most of you reading this have likely been alive (since 2nd edition).  Of course, to field this version of the army, I’ll need to convert and paint a Khorne warpsmith and five more Berzerkers, but that’s not so bad.  I rather enjoy it, and I’ve already completed the warpsmith.

No automatic alt text available.

Behold … the Devil in Brass!  He’s bad-brass.  What?  No, no.  Ignore that Martian overseer, er trooper, in the background.

So, having said all that, I present to you my newest World Eaters list:

The Crimson Path — 1,850

World Eaters Butcherhorde Detachment (World Eaters detachment) – 1,850

Lord of the Legion [Command choice] – 120

Kainen the Raveger, Chaos Lord x 1, Gift of Mutation, Mark of Khorne, VotLW, Axe of Blind Fury

Maelstrom of Gore [formation] – 931

Kharn the Betrayer
Khorne Berzerkers x 5, plasma pistol x 1, chain axe x 1, VotLW, Chaos rhino with havok launcher, champion has powerfist & combi-bolter

Khorne Berzerkers x 5, plasma pistol x 1, chain axe x 1, VotLW, Chaos rhino with additional combi-bolter & destroyer blades, champion has plasma pistol

Khorne Berzerkers x 5, plasma pistols x 2, VotLW

Khorne Berzerkers x 5, chain axe x 1, VotLW, champion has power axe & combi-bolter

Khorne Berzerkers x 5, chain axe x 2, VotLW, champion has chain axe & combi-bolter

Fist of the Gods [formation] – 735
The Devil in Brass, Warpsmith x 1, Aura of Dark Glory, Mark of Khorne, VotLW, the Berserker Glaive
Wrath, Chaos land raider, dirge caster

Ruin, Chaos land raider, dirge caster

Hate, Chaos predator, twin-linked lascannon

Spawn [formation] – 64

Chaos Spawn x 1, Mark of Khorne

Chaos Spawn x 1, Mark of Khorne

 

And to push it to 2,000 pts, I will:

  • Remove the dirge caster from the second land raider.
  • Add a Chaos Rhino (40; dozer blade (5)) to the third Khorne Berzerkers unit.
  • Add another Chaos Predator (Rage; autocannon & two side sponsons with lascannons) to the Fist of the Gods formation.

I say we charge.  Blood for the Blood God!

Tactics

Okay, before I begin, let’s just get it out of the way — this is not a competitive list, and I’ve not used this version of the army yet (but I look forward to it).  So, with that out of the way, what’s the plan?  Well, get into assault as soon as possible obviously, but how to do that?  It’s odd, but perhaps the World Eaters biggest advantage can easily be turned against them.  The free 2d6″ move before the game even starts really allows this army to put on the pressure, as coupled with the Blood-crazed special rule from the Maelstrom of Gore formation, it allows the Berzerkers to potentially assault up to 33″ in the first turn.  This means that, depending upon the deployment method of the battle, there might be no where the opponent can set up that I cannot assault Turn 1.  Of course, I better go first that turn, or I could easily find my Berzerker units left out in the open and cut to pieces by enemy fire.  I’m not gonna lie, I have the feeling I’ll need to practice with this several games (at least) before I can really intelligently speak to how this rule should best be utilized on the battlefield.  But, what the hell, that sort of thing has never stopped me before.

Let’s just hack ’em to pieces.

So, overall, the plan is to advance boldly upon the enemy and hack them to pieces.  If I go first, all the Berzerkers and both Kharn and Kainen go on foot to try to charge into the enemy from the get go.  The spawn too, though since they’re faster, I’ll deploy them slightly behind the Berzerkers.  The warpsmith I’ll mount in a centrally positioned land raider, so that all tanks from his formation benefit from Unholy Blessings rule.  If I’m going second, we’ll likely mount up on the rhinos and land raiders, and cluster up to attack one of the enemy’s flanks (hopefully retarding incoming fire before we can take our own turn).  In general, I hope to use the rhinos and land raiders to screen the Berzerkers whenever possible, but everything except the predator will advance at as quick a speed as possible.

A key part of my strategy is to advance the land raiders as boldly and bullishly as possible.  Oh, I’m aware that in this era of grav and D weapons, there are all too many things that can destroy them, but these things are not always present in the enemy army.  Quite often, opponents depend upon massed Str 6 and 7 weaponry, and against these, the land raiders are invincible.  Besides, fortune favors the bold, and no army should embrace this spirit more than the World Eaters.  The tanks mostly just need to get Kharn and the Berzerkers to where they want to go, and then Khorne can sort out the rest.

 

So what do you think?  Have I convinced you one way or the other?  Let me know in the comments.

Read more from Kazzigum on Slaved to Ruin

  • sethmo

    Plague marines have two attacks, two cc weapons, which is three attacks every round. Add in poison, defensive nades and two specials, they are cheaper then the equivilent in marines. Leadership is higher too for psychic shenanigans against your unit.

    • Djbz

      Plague marines Leadership is the same as regular CSM squads.
      And they have 1 attack base.
      Over a regular Deathguard CSM squad they have poison on their (additional)CCW and Defensive grenades for 6pts a model more.
      With a -1 Initiative penalty as well
      Only thing they have going for them is that they get a free champion upgrade and they don’t need 10 guys to get another special weapon. (Though that second one can be bypassed by Havocs/Chosen- either one still being cheaper)

  • Djbz

    Honestly?
    I don’t think they’ve been worth it for a long time.
    Legion rules make Berzerkers and Plague Marines completely redundant. (+1Ws/Plague knife+Blight grenades is not worth 4/6pts per model no matter how you slice it)

    Noise Marines aren’t worth bothering with unless you use the sonic weapons (and the salvo rule hobbles them)

    Rubrics also don’t really work, Ap3 and 4+ invun is nice but being almost twice as much as a regular marine kinda neuters those advantages too much.

    • Malisteen

      Yeah, cult units weren’t worth taking to begin with. Plague Marines were alright in 4th and 5th editions, but since then offensive power in the game has ramped up so dramatically that the extra points they pay for defensive boosts weren’t really worth it to begin with, and that was before Death Guard chaos marines could do the same thing cheaper.

  • Hagwert

    Are cult troops worth it in gaming terms ….probably not . Are they worth it in fluff, modelling and painting terms …… yes, yes and YES!

    • Malisteen

      Fluff, sure, but I don’t know about modeling and painting. The current models for ‘zerkers, plague marines, and noise marines are all pretty garbage compared to more modern kits like thousand sons, raptors, or starter box chosen.

  • Karru

    My summary of all Cult Troops right now:

    Plague Marines are not worth it. Regular CSM squads are better with the Death Guard benefit, thanks to the price. I have never had to use Plague Knives or Blight Grenades, since I have no real reason to charge anything and since most assaulting is dead anyway in this edition, I can expect that my opponent won’t be doing the same to me.

    Emperor’s Children are still worth it due to their Sonic Weaponry. That’s the only reason why you would take them anyway.

    Thousand Sons have been the worst option since 4th edition and won’t be changing any time soon I’m afraid. Currently they cost way too much and have literally nothing going for them. The AP3 bolters are useless against anything that doesn’t have a 3+ save. If the opponent has a 4+ or worse save, they would get cover anyway most of the time against these guys. If they have a 2+ save, the bolters are just bolters. The +1 blessing rule is also pretty weak since you have to spent dice to get in on your units.

    The biggest problem with the Thousand Sons is their lack of weapon options. They have nothing outside light anti-infantry weaponry. They cost way too much for what they can bring to the table. For the price of one 10-man Thousand Sons squad I can bring two units of 5 Havocs with 4 Plasma Guns each, well 265pts for a unit of 10 Thousand Sons and the Havocs cost 270pts. Those Havocs can now engage both vehicles and heavy infantry, making them the better option here.

    Khorne Berserkers. These guys are absolutely worthless to me compared to the legion CSM variants. This is for two reasons, first one being the difficulty of assaulting in this edition and the other is weapon options. The WS5 is in my opinion a worse option compared to having the ability to take Assault weapons like Melta Guns. Also, I prefer the Chaos Warband over the Maelstrom of Gore anyway because the Warband gives a lot more flexibility compared to the Maelstrom.

    Overall, only the Emperor’s Children are still useful. All the others fall to useless territory due to their price and/or lack of options.

  • MechBattler

    The Legion bonus rules bring vanilla CSM closer to cult troops in terms of performance, but they still fall short.

    Rubrics still have Fearless, a better invulnerable save, they get sorcerers, and have AP3 guns their lesser brethren don’t get.

    Plague Marines have T5, which makes a HUGE difference in survivability and poisoned weapons which makes them capable of more easily wounding everything short of a Gargantuan Creature.

    Noise Marines have still have higher initiative, which is a massive advantage in combat, because being able to kill off models before they get to strike back is both offensively and defensively favorable. Their Sonic Blasters ignore cover and Blast Masters are probably one of the best all-round shooting weapons an infantry model can carry in any army.

    Berzerkers have WS5; hitting more often in combat is always an advantage. They also still have better weapon options for CQC; more Plamsa Pistols and Chain Axes make them more effective in combat.

    The formations designed for the cult units make them even nastier, providing performance bonuses that regular CSM can’t get.

    And some of the Cult Psychic powers work specifically in support of the Cult Troops. Symphony of Pain can be stacked to give Sonic Weapons absurdly high strength. Blades of Putrefaction gives Plague Marines Poisoned (2+). Siphon Magic lets the abundant number of sorcerors in Rubric and Occult Terminator units to feed off each other’s casting to generate extra dice for warp charges.

    Summing it up – While the Legion bonus rules do make CSM more effective as a whole, they’re still not as good as the Cult troops in the specialized areas those cult troops are designed to excel at:
    Plague Marines – Being tougher while eroding their opponent’s toughness.
    Rubrics – Being resistant to low AP while negating their opponent’s armor.
    Noise Marines – Hitting faster while negating their target’s speed (weapons that ignore cover).
    Berzerkers – Piling on hits and wounds in combat with better WS and weapon options.

    The cult troops are still the best there is in the codex at what they’re designed to do, and Legion bonus rules just bring CSM a little closer to that, but do not make them better at it.

    • Karru

      You do realise that Legion Marines have to take a Mark of Chaos, right? That means that Death Guard CSM squads have Toughness 5 as well. The only thing Plague Marines have over regular CSM squads are the Plague Knives and Blight Grenades. This makes Plague Marines the worse option between the two, since Plague Marines have to pay extra to get those two things that rarely get used.

      Regular CSM squads are better than Thousand Sons. Thousand Sons are overpriced and bring very little to the table. If you want tough and survivable units in a Thousand Sons army, you go with regular CSM since they have way more numbers over Thousand Sons. Those AP 3 bolters are also pretty worthless in the grand scheme. Only models with a 3+ save have trouble against it and even then most of the time you are lowering their save by 1 because they can get cover against it most of the time.

      How does Berserkers have “better weapon options” than regular CSM squads? Regular squads can bring Assault Weapons, like the Melta Gun. Berserkers can bring an AP4 CC weapon for 3pts per model. The WS5 is nice, but the lower price and access to Assault Weapons unfortunately wins in my book.

      • MechBattler

        I will admit that Death Guard CSM are just as good at sitting on objectives as Plague Marines. However, Plague Marines are the superior choice to send across the board and hold objectives in hostile territory. Defensive grenades are big deal and can really take the punch out of a charge, and poisoned weapons are fantastic given they let you wound reliably against tougher opponents and give you rerolls to wound against weaker targets. I’d use both – CSM for defense, and Plague Marines for offense. It doesn’t hurt that the Plague Colony formation gives them Fear, and reduces the WS and Initiative of enemy units within 7″ of them by 1 during the fight phase. And if you’re crazy enough to max out to 7 units, they add -1 toughness to enemy units within 7″ too, making those poison weapons deadlier.

        There’s nothing wrong with Rubrics. The overabundance of weapons that can ignore power armor makes the 4++ save extremely valuable. ANY reduction to an enemy’s save is worth the points. Most cover is 5+ and some is 4+. Forcing my opponent to take a cover save worse than their armor, even if it’s only a difference of 1, is worth it. Even just one more dead model could mean the difference between an enemy unit having to take a morale check for losing 25% of their models. The chance that they may fail morale and flee is also part of why it’s worth it.

        Not everything wears power armor. A few chain axes in the unit can help mow down 4+ armor units very nicely. Additionally, Berzerkers can get 3 plasma pistols without adding a single model to the unit. That’s 3 plasma shots they can take that doesn’t prevent a charge, and doesn’t lower the number of attacks they can dish out in combat. That being said, excluding the chain axes, there’s really not much difference performance-wise between the two. I guess between Berzerkers and CSM is comes down to if one wants to use the Maestrom of Gore formation. It gives the Berzerkers Fleet, +3″ to their charges, and the ability to get a free fight subphase during the movement phase where your opponent can’t hit you back once per game. Which is pretty darn gnarly.

        That’s my two cents.

        • Karru

          You make quite a lot valid points here, but there is still some room to argue.

          As I pointed out, Thousand Sons still suffer from their lack of weapon options. They still only have Bolters which limits their usability a lot. The problem is that if you take them, instead of something like regular CSM or even Havoc, and you are not taking a CAD, you are limiting yourself a lot. 265pts for a unit of 10 Thousand Sons is a lot when that unit can only engage infantry. They have no CC defence and those Bolters have limited damage output.

          Even Chosen are better option than Thousand Sons. The two biggest problems with Thousand Sons is their lack of weapon options and price, with the price being the key issue. If they reduced their price to 18pts or 19pts per model, they would start to be more appealing. They still have to pay 35pts for the nigh useless Aspiring Sorcerer. The problem is that he is a Level 1 Psyker and can only take the extremely weak Tzeentch Chaos Powers. If the unit was 215pts solid for a unit of 10, including the Sorcerer, the unit starts to get some traction going.

          The fact that you are paying 265pts for an anti-infantry unit that dies to massed fire just as easily as another CSM squad makes them very, very weak. Even if they gave them their old 2 wounds back they would be much more useful. Currently they are just weak.

          • MechBattler

            What you say is true. In terms of damage output, Rubrics are most certainly less cost effective and less flexible than CSM with Thousand Son rules bonuses. However, Rubrics are also still better defensively with their 4++ and the ability to bump it to 3++ whenever a Blessing is cast on the unit. I suppose at that point, it’s really a question of preference and what type of army someone wants to play.

            I do want to point out though, that Scarab Occult Terminators are an absolute steal. At first glance, 250 points seems really hefty. But if you try to build a comparable unit out of the codex with an HQ sorceror and 4 chaos terminators it ends up costing 130 points for the sorceror and 193 points for the terminators, for a total of 323 points. The Occult sorceror is actually only 90 points and better than the HQ one. You can even give the squad the Soulreaper Cannon and Helfyre missiles for 50 points and the unit is still only 300 points compared to the codex unit, and they get the AP3 weapons on top of that.

            While the Rubrics didn’t really get any better, the Scarab Terminators are freaking awesome, and we can only hope they release other cult terminators that are just as good.

          • Karru

            You won’t find me disagreeing with you there regarding the Terminators. Those are nice, but the Rubric Marines should get some boosts going for them.

            The reason why the Terminators are better is their weapon options. They can engage multiple different targets and have better saves compared to the regular Thousand Sons. Rubrics can only take on infantry, which is very bad for an expensive “elite” unit.

            That’s the core of the issue with the Rubric Marines. You have very expensive Elite unit that doesn’t really have nothing going for it that a regular unit couldn’t achieve cheaper. What is the point of taking that unit when another can do it better? Then again, this is the issue with most units within the CSM codex. There are many redundant units within the book.

          • MechBattler

            If only the Warpflamers were a free swap instead of 7 points a model. Then, they’d be REALLY scary. It wouldn’t matter if those flamers give FNP if you had enough of them to wipe the target unit in one phase. As a person who uses flamer sternguard liberally, I wish like hell those warpflamers didn’t cost 7 points.
            Rubrics would be taken for the same reason Noise Marines are – gnarly weapons.

          • Karru

            Yeah, and they really should drop the Slow & Purposeful and replace it with Relentless. Switch it around with the Plague Marines. The fluff description of the Rubrics mention that they still “fight like their living brothers” when near a Psyker. Considering that the Plague Marines already have Blight Grenades, it wouldn’t hurt them that much to lose their ability to Overwatch.

            The flamers are really hard to sell on these guys. Most people use flamers to get the Wall of Flame special rule, but since these guys can’t Overwatch, there is little to no point. As you pointed out, the FNP thing isn’t that bad if you could just burn the enemy away. If the flamers were free, it would increase their usefulness a lot. 30pts per model is way too expensive, considering they have no alternatives to transport other than the Rhino, which is easy to pop.

            I do love my flamers as well. I have one Sternguard Squad equipped with a Heavy Flamer and a couple of Combi-flamers. Even against Power Armour, that unit deals a ton of damage since placing enough templates guarantees a lot of wounds.

          • MechBattler

            My army is Salamanders to boot, so my flamer sternguard are REALLY effective. I also run a command squad with combiflamers with Vulkan He’Stan riding along. Pod them down, watch an enemy unit melt, drink opponent’s tears. I also love doing that with Ironclad Dreadnoughts with double heavy flamers in pods.

            “Oh, I’m sorry, did you NEED those Dark Reapers? Mua ha ha ha!!!”

          • Karru

            I absolutely adore my Ironclad. People seem to underestimate the potential of a AV13 vehicle, especially considering how cheap the damn thing is. 175pts with my loadout, which has one Heavy Flamer, 2 Hunter-killers and the Assault Launcher. That thing has killed way more stuff than one would expect.

          • MechBattler

            People never realize how tough AV13 is until they figure out most things that are not lascannons need 5s just to glance it. And since most anti-armor guns usually only fire 1 or 2 shots per phase an Ironclad can end up soaking up a ton of firepower.

            I’ve had opponents just give up shooting at the darn things when I get them positioned for cover saves. One guy actually told me it was easier to knock HP off my Knight Titan because of it’s weaker side armor and the fact that the ion shield could only cover one facing. You KNOW the Ironclad is tough when they prefer to shoot at the Knight Titan.

  • Foehammer7977

    The other thing I didn’t see mentioned for world eaters is that basic CSM can get bolsters, BP, and CCW for those times you don’t want to run like a raving madman into close combat.

  • Xodis

    CSM is still pretty damaged (and not in the good chaos way) right now, so Ill reserve judgement until 8e and its new CSM codex…..but please dont be first lol.

  • Honest Kairos

    I think “are they worth it?” is a question answered by how you enjoy playing.

    For competitive play, no, not really.

    For narrative/fluff play, they’re an integral element to a CSM player’s list.

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    2015: CSM are overcosted and worthless. Just take cult troops. Also, GW… when are we getting legion rules? We’re all just running cult troops anyways…

    2017: Are Cult Troops even worth it anymore? GW gave us legion rules, and now there’s no reason to run cult troops…

    Stay golden, internet.

    • kobalt60

      The grass is always greener etc, etc…..Except I hate grass, I hate fences and I really hate analogies

  • Alexis Thouin Bourdeau

    What is the point of the two land raiders in the list ?

  • Space Wolf Paco

    I have been trying to find the World Eaters Butcherhorde detachment that grants the Blood Mad Command Benefit, which lets all non-vehicle units in the army move 2d6″ after deployment. I have the Data slate Kharn’s Butcherhorde but it says nothing about this. Where may I find it?