Codex CSM 8th Ed: Black Legion Review


With the new Chaos Space Marines 8th Edition Codex, Abaddon and his Black Legion are ready to wreak havoc on tabletops all over the world.

For ten millennia Abaddon and his forces of have plagued the galaxy. Launching from the Eye of Terra, the warmaster has conducted 13 Black Crusades against the Imperium of Man gathering the various Chaos warbands and legion remnants in the warp under his banner; The Black Legion. Now, with the new Chaos Space Marines 8th Edition Codex, Abaddon and his Black Legion are ready to wreak havoc on table tops all over the world.

Hi, all. Chandler here with a review over the first and most formidable of the Chaos forces, the Black Legion. For more reviews, tactica, and strategy articles head on over to the Tactics Corner.

Chaos Space Marines have gone through an interesting life cycle in 40k. At times they have been one of the most fearsome top tier armies in the game, but have also suffered through years of mediocrity almost vanishing entirely on table tops the world over. Well, I am here to tell you that Chaos Space Marines are back! Prepare to see these guys all over the tables again because the new codex is here and boy is it good. This article focuses primarily on what I feel is one of the strongest legions in the book, Black Legion. So, let’s get to it.


Black Legion Overview:

The Chaos Space Marines codex gives us information on 7 of the Traitor Legions as well as rules for Renegade Chapters. If you play Death Guard or Thousand Sons, those legions are not covered in the new codex, but fear not as both of these factions will be receiving their own codex soon. Within the codex we have 13 new Warlord Traits, 9 psychic powers, 14 new Artefacts, and over 20 new Stratagems as well as Legion Traits and special rules. There’s a lot of great info packed in this book.

Special Rules:

First up, Legion Traits. These are nice abilities which are shared by all of your <Legion> keyword forces. In order to use them, however, all your units in a detachment must share the legion keyword.  In this case, that would be Black Legion. The Black Legion Black Crusaders Legion Trait is very cool.  It adds 1 to the Leadership of all your models and you can Advance and shoot Rapid Fire weapons as Assault weapons instead.  This means if you advance with a boltgun, you can still shoot but it is considered Assault 1, and you would then take a -1 to hit penalty for Advancing and firing an Assault weapon.  Still, this is a very useful trait. The Leadership bump is especially crucial with units that tend to suffer from Leadership woes like Chaos Cultists.

Despoilers of the Galaxy is another amazing special rule. Again, in order to gain access to this ability, your detachment must all share the same <Legion> keyword. This ability allows your Troops choices to control objective markers they are within range of even if they have less models than an opposing unit. A tremendous benefit indeed.

Warlords & Artifacts

Next up, warlord traits. There are 6 standard warlord traits in the codex as well as 7 unique Legion warlord traits. The Black Legion warlord trait, First Amongst Traitors, is especially useful against Imperium armies as it allows you to trigger extra attacks from your Death to the False Emperor ability on a 5+ to hit instead of a 6+ for units within 6″ of your warlord. Units like Berzerkers can really go nuts with this ability against Imperials, of which there are no shortage of in the meta right now.

The Artefacts of Chaos are new relics for your Characters and come at no additional point cost.  Many of them will replace a piece of wargear, so you would have to pay for that wargear initially, but many of them don’t require any wargear at all. There are 7 standard relics that any army can use, and also 7 Legion specific relics. For Black Legion, we have the Eye of Night which allows you, once per game instead of shooting, to choose a visible enemy vehicle and roll a dice.  On a 2+ that vehicle suffers d3 Mortal Wounds.  Pretty awesome relic considering it is free! It is especially useful on a Daemon Prince with Wings who likely has no shooting attacks anyway, and the mobility to get around the board to see pesky vehicles that might be clinging to terrain to block line of sight.

Strategems

Finally, there are the Stratagems. All of them are useful depending on the army build you are going for, but there are a few that really stand out here:

  • Daemon Shell – 1 CP: Select a Heretic Astartes Character with a bolt pistol, boltgun, combi-bolter, etc. Instead of shooting normally make a to-hit roll which cannot be re-rolled. If it hits, the target suffers D3 mortal wounds. If it misses the Character suffers D3 mortal wounds. (This one is risk/reward. Obviously you don’t want to do this with your warlord unless you are just absolutely desperate to kill something, but can certainly be useful on many characters such as the new Exalted Champion)
  • Veterans of the Long War – 1 CP: Select a Heretic Astartes Biker or Infantry unit in either Shooting or Fight phase. You can add 1 to the wound rolls made for the unit until the end of the phase. (This one is especially awesome with Berzerkers who can attack twice and sometimes up to three times. Throw in the Exalted Champion within range and they are suddenly re-rolling 1s to their wound rolls which combos quite nicely with this stratagem)
  • Fury of Khorne – 3CP: For a Heretic Astartes Khorne Infantry or Biker unit, it allows that unit to immediately fight again at the end of the fight phase. (This one has gotten a lot of attention for the fact that it could essentially allow Berzerkers to fight 3 times in a single turn. And while that is very awesome, it is much more difficult than you might think to pull off in practice considering consolidation moves, charge rules, etc. Still it is a nice trick to have up your sleeve)
  • Tide of Traitors – 2CP: Used at the end of the movement phase. Select one of your Chaos Cultist units and remove it from the battlefield. Set it up again within 6″ of any battlefield edge and more than 9″ away from enemy models at it’s full starting strength. (This is probably one of the best Stratagems in the entire book. Combined with the Despoilers of the Galaxy ability, this Stratagem adds a lot of flexibility in how you cover objectives in the game. I prefer to use this late game like turn 4 to get Cultists in position on an objective that my opponent wasn’t really accounting for. It works quite well with large blobs of cultists as you can survive a couple of turns of shooting then bring them all the way back to starting strength on the other side of the battle. It also helps mitigate giving up easy kill points. As the cultists die you are removing them and putting them back at starting strength making it tougher for your opponent to snatch those victory points.)
  • Let the Galaxy Burn – 1CP: Black Legion Infantry or Biker units can re-roll 1s to hit in the shooting or fight phase. If the unit selected is a Chaos Space Marines squad they can re-roll all failed to hit rolls. (This one is extremely good, especially when used with a beefy combat or high powered shooting unit that is not next to an aura character.)

Tactics:

Black Legion is probably the most flexible of all the Traitor Legions in the codex. They have a lot of tools available to them which make them a force to be reckoned with on the table. So, what are the best ways to use them? I think it lies in a mix of cheap objective controllers like Cultists who can come back in wave after wave, as well as high powered shooting and assault units.

 

First and foremost, you want to make use of those Stratagems which will require command points and lots of them. Fortunately Abaddon gives you 2 extra command points by simply being your warlord.  And he is actually worth taking now in your army. He gives a 12″ wide buff that allows all Heretic Astartes units to auto-pass morale which is huge considering those cultists you’ll be fielding.  He also allows all Black Legion units within 6″ to re-roll all failed to hit rolls.  Not to mention, he hits quite hard in combat as well with his Talon of Horus and his sword, Drach’nyen. His warlord trait is First Amongst Traitors, however, which might not always be useful depending on match-ups. But there is such a strong Imperial presence in the meta now that he’s still worth taking.

Cultists are once again the go to unit for Chaos Space Marines. And while that is somewhat disappointing for power armor fans, Tide of Traitors combined with Despoilers of the Galaxy is just too good to ignore in favor of plain old Chaos Space Marines. Consider the cheap price point for Cultist and the fact that you want to stack as many command points in this army as possible, you definitely want your Troops slots filled with Cultists over standard Chaos Space Marines. Not to mention that being Black Legion gives these Cultists a very nice +1 leadership buff which can really help them hang around in Morale.


Next, you’ll want some detachments that can really bring the pain at an affordable price point. The Outrider detachment is great for this in Black Legion as you can bring a squad of Warp Talons and a couple of Raptor squads loaded with plasma or melta to get in precise range to light up some nasty targets.  The meltas are especially nice here because you can use the Let the Galaxy Burn stratagem to allow them to re-roll 1s to hit with their meltaguns. Warp Talons are great for shredding up infantry units and can avoid overwatch the turn they drop in, which is amazing. Put a Sorcerer with jump pack next to them when they arrive and cast Prescience and Warptime on them in the Psychic Phase. Now, suddenly that Warp Talons squad is in the enemy’s face ready to charge without getting shot to pieces with overwatch. When they charge they’ll be swinging 2 attacks each, hitting on 2s with Prescience, and if you throw the Veterans of the Long War stratagem on them they will be adding 1 to their wound rolls as well and re-rolling them because of their dual claws.

The Vanguard detachment is also a nice option to supplement Black Legion especially with Khorne Berzerkers and Chaos Terminators. Berzerkers in Black Legion don’t hit with as much ferocity as their World Eaters counterparts, but with the right buffs in place they can be pretty brutal in their own right. Obviously you want some Rhinos to put these guys in. Squads of 8-9 are best and throw an Exalted Champion in there to allow them to re-roll 1s to wound.  The turn they charge you can throw on Let the Galaxy Burn to let them re-roll 1s to hit as well as Veterans of the Long War to let them add 1 to their wound roll. At Strength 5 combined with the nearby Exalted Champion they will be wounding most things you might charge on 2s re-rolling 1s. And they get to fight again after that. If you’re fortunate enough you can throw Fury of Khorne on them as well to let them fight a 3rd time. Note, that is a significant Command Point investment, but could definitely be worthwhile in how it can cripple an opponent.  Chaos Terminators are also a nice option to use, especially when kitted with combi-meltas or plasma.  Although expensive they are fairly resilient and can lay out some pain on the enemy.

Finally, the Spearhead detachment is a very nice option to consider. Aside from being able to use some of those awesome vehicle stratagems, Havocs make excellent choices and are versatile enough to be run in many different ways. Having a couple of squads loaded down with Autocannons hanging in your backfield next to a Chaos Lord or Abaddon is great. The Autocannon Havocs trick is no secret of course. The tactic has been sound since the index releases and it still proves to be so. Alternatively you can load these guys down with plasma or meltaguns and roll them around in some Rhinos to help them get into position.  All in all a great, affordable unit that shoots very well.

Now, let’s take a look at Black Legion list to see how some of the above fits in at the 2000 point level.

++Battalion Detachment – Black Legion++

HQ:
Abbadon
Exalted Champion

Troops:
Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Cultists x10

Heavy Support:
Havocs x5 Autocannons x4
Havocs x5 Autocannons x4

++Battalion Detachment – Black Legion++

HQ:
Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor, Power Axe (Axe of Blind Fury)
Exalted Champion

Troops:
Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Cultists x10

Elites:
Khorne Berzerkers x9
Khorne Berzerkers x9

Dedicated Transports:
Chaos Rhino
Chaos Rhino

++Outrider Detachment – Black Legion++
HQ:
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Mark of Tzeentch, Prescience/Warptime

Fast Attack:
Warp Talons x5
Raptors x5, Meltagun x2, combi-melta
Raptors x5, Plasma gun x2, combi-plasma

Total Points: 1979
Command Points: 12

This list makes use of a whopping 12 command points thanks to Abaddon’s bonus, which gives you quite a bit of flexibility with your stratagems.  In this list Abaddon would be most useful sitting back with the Havocs allowing them re-rolls to hit while the Exalted Champions each ride with a Khorne Berzerker squad in a rhino pressing up the field.  The Sorcerer with jump pack and the Chaos Terminator Lord come down with the Warp Talons and the Raptors first to deliver punishing fire power and assaults using the stratagems and psychic powers to enhance the units. The cultists are moving up the field to grab objectives, and being replaced/moved as needed with the Tide of Traitors stratagem.  It has a good mix of brutal firepower as well as deadly assault potential. Your opponent will have to deal with the Raptors and Warp Talons in their face as you move your Berzerker squads into position to launch devastating charges out of the Rhinos with their Exalted Champions.

Black Legion is probably one of the most flexible of the new Legion options in the game. They have plenty of tools to build a versatile all-comers style army. Looking forward to seeing Chaos Space Marines back on the table again.

~Now, let the galaxy burn!

 

 

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop
  • SonoftheMountain

    Glad to see Codex: Chaos Cultists is alive and well

    • Jeremy Larson

      It’s not just Chaos. With the way Stratagems work, elite armies need cheap Command Point Batteries to get the most out of them. At least with cultists, he kept it all from one book. As a part-time GK player, I have to reach out to AM or SM to get some love.

    • Ravingbantha

      Never understood this absolute obsession with cultists as some sort of ‘must have’ unit. I play and win with Chaos all the time, and I’ve never once used a cultist

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        They are cheap. Cheaper troops means they can spend more points on cooler units.

      • Karru

        Like Red Five said, their point is to be cheap, nothing else. Since CSM squads aren’t that useful compared to something like Havocs, why would you waste points on them? Just take Cultists for your mandatory slots and grab some more CP and “special slots” to use.

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          The Chaos Marines are a good all-a-round unit, the problem is that they are generalists and the game heavily favor units that specialize.

        • Damon Sherman

          I really hate how “gamed out” a lot of these netlists are. I really want to like 40k again… but they’re not making it easy.

          • Karru

            You can blame GW for that one. They are the ones that make the rules. One thing that is completely clear is that when it comes to anything GW, you can pick 2 of 3 options, Fluffy, Competitive and Reasonably sized game.

            If I want to play a fluffy army competitively, my only real choice is to play a very high point game in order to actually get stuff like CP and all that as they are the source for many of the fluffy rules from the codices.

            If I want to play a competitive army in a normal game, I really can’t go fluffy due to pricing in many cases, since I will quickly run out of points if I try to put everything “fluffy” into the army while still trying to get CP to use stuff.

            Finally, if I want to play a fluffy army in a reasonably sized game, I can kiss goodbye to being competitive in most cases because of the lack of CP, pricing of many units and how the Detachments now work.

            It really isn’t the fault of the netlists so to speak. As long as GW wants it to work like this, this is the way things will keep going.

          • Damon Sherman

            I’ve been saying that for years on deaf, apologetic ears.

            I wish GW would make a game that wasn’t so disconnected for the world and lore it builds.

        • BrianDavion

          cultists aren’t gonna be quite as handy for taking objectives though.cultists to secure CPs, chaos marines to hold objectives. doubly true if those objectives are in cover.

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        Chaos Cultists have no business having the Heretic Astartes and keywords, as they are neither Astartes nor Legionaries.

        • BrianDavion

          I agree, do it like that and suddenly their only vitue is dirt cheap troops. that have little useful synergy. course problem with that is then you run into dark apostles being useless (and GW’s weorked hard to make them the “cultist buffer) you yo risk unintended synergies with deamons

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          That’s not how the game is structured anymore. They need those keywords.

          • BrianDavion

            they need those key words to benifit from command auras buffs and abilities, I think 301st is arguing that if they didn’t get those benifits there would be considerably more use/utility in CSMs

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            They need those keywords to actually be playable in a Legion army. if they did not have that keyword (and there was not an exception made, as with the Fallen), then they would basically be unplayable.

          • BrianDavion

            easy eneugh to put an exception in, ala fallen

          • Nyyppä

            And then the legions would not play like they should.

            The real answer is to make CSM cheaper.

  • Nyyppä

    Waiting the WB version of this article.

  • grim_dork

    The sacred number of Khorne is eight. Recognize and realize.

  • BrianDavion

    I think going with all cultists for troops runs the risk of lacking durable objective holders. I’d look at running 2 battalions, with 3 CSM squads and 3 cultist squads.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      How large are these squads? You are eating up a lot of points there.

      • BrianDavion

        for cultists you’d only need the minimum ten man squad. for CSMs but I’d assume if you wanted a durable unit to hold ground you’d want squads of 10. so tops for your troops you’re looking at 390 points for the CSMs, 120 points for the cultists total of 410 points for your troops. I think you’d do this mostly if you where planning on bringing CSMs anyway and needed more CPs

  • nurglitch

    Autocannons are twice as many points now, meaning the old autocannon squad trick doesn’t really work. Those squads of Cultists are bolter-bait.

  • BartTP

    Lol, no signature BL units like termies or chosen. Good work.

  • lemt

    I can’t seem to decide if Havocs with Autocannons or Obliterators are better. Havocs have less shots but cost less, and have better range. Obliterators cost more but have more and better shots, at less range. But since they can deep strike and are quite a lot tougher, the range loss doesn’t seem too bad (as long as you have more stuff in your army that plans to move up, otherwise they’ll just get pinged to death).