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Goatboy’s 40k: Can You Make Chaos Space Marines Work?

8 Minute Read
Mar 21 2016


Goatboy here and I still have dreams of actually getting a Chaos Space Marines army to work. Here’s how:

While I am stuck utilizing counts as nonsense to get my “Chaos groove” on – I think it can work!

I have had some success in the past using Spawn, Basic Cultists, and some FW units to help push me into the winning more side of an event.  Of course this was way before the current crop of new ass kickers started to raise their heads (Wine Making Tau, Battle Company, and Oh Crap More Spiders!).  But I still have hopes I could get an army to work and this is my initial thought process into trying to build something with this extremely old book filled with too high of point costs and bad units.

chaos knight titan forge world

CSM Strengths

Let’s look at what Chaos Space Marines have going for them.

  1. Unkillable Knight – You all know about the FW email that basically says the new Chaos Knight is a Daemon of X and Marked of X etc.  This gives him the Daemon rules for that Mark and while some of the other ones are kinda cute the best one is Tzeentch of course.  They get to reroll saving throws of “1” and we all know how easy it is to get those Daemon saves down to the 3+/2+ territory.  This gives you a pretty rough killing machine and while ITC does nerf the reroll power it also nerfed the dreaded 6 roll on the shooting D weapon table meaning so it takes at least 2 hits to get rid of this a$$hole.  The Khorne one is also not bad as they can get a Legacy that gives them a 4++ and makes your Khorne Daemon friends around you get a +1 to their Inv save.  All in all – I hope we see this get released in a book with updated Weapon profiles as adding on the 12 Shot gun and some kind of Missile Launcher on top would make this unit a must have in most Chaos armies.
  2. The Rapier Weapons platform.  This is dang good Artillery from the Chaos FW book.  You get a few different weapon platforms with the original Laser Destroyer giving you some good punching power.  I kinda like the Hades Autocannon option as it gives you a ton of shots.  I wish this was in the KDK book or at least updated from FW to be allowed.  This would help shore up some shooting issues and give you a nice blood tithe generating unit.  Still this is strong option.  I plan on making some out of the Adeptus Mechanicus guys and put in some weird looking weapon options.
  3. Chaos Spawn are still really good.  With Battle Company going full Grav most of the time these crazy Chaos Worshipers are still pretty dang good.  The Nurgle ones are a great set of baby sitters for your Chaos Sorcerer.  I wish they would get an updated “spawn” powers table but we have to deal with what we get.
  4. Speaking of Chaos Sorcerer’s – they have access to one of the most busted Psychic wargear around.  The ability to reroll your failed psychic power is great and they are one of the few “aggressively” costed units the Chaos Space Marines have.  I have always loved running 1-2 of them in an army mixed with a few Chaos Lords.
  5. The Cultists suck but… they help activate their CAD/Ally option cheaply enough.  Sure they are not as cheap as a Unit of Nurglings but they are close enough.
  6. Battle brothers with 1 very powerful army and a decently powerful army.  Being friends with the Chaos Daemons is extremely powerful as they have access to a strong Battlehost style detachment and a lot of abilities that can ramp up their Chaos Space Marine brothers.  The Khorne Daemonkin options are also strong too as they get you some needed bodies to hopefully keep your friends safe.  They also have some interesting IC options that can join up with your regular Chaos guys and help generate some much needed Blood Tithe.
  7. Daemon Princes are still not terrible especially with the ability to take Spell Familiars.  They also have one of the best Daemon Princes – Bel’akor available.


…and Weaknesses

Those are some nice things but the bad really adds up.  The once feared Heldrake really took a bit of hit when they lost the ability to fart out their damage, drop in vector strike damage, and the overall push away from needing heavy flyer ability.  The loss of being able to flyer over, hit a unit for a decent amount of damage, and then breathe fire out their dingus is a major bummer.  The Chaos Lord, while fun is still not nearly as good as their Marine “leader” counterparts with their better wargear and stronger support.  The lack of any true formations is also a huge bummer as we all know the Sorcerer conclave would be so much more bad ass then the Marine’s study group we have now.  There is also a lack of true “weapon” identity as while we don’t expect the Chaos Space Marines to have grav they should have something chaosy and weird.  There is also the thing where FW seems to add a lot more power to the army and not ever event is cool on letting you play with your resin goodies.

I personally really want to see more actual Chaos Space Marines on the table top.  That is the biggest shame as while the kit is pretty old we did get some really kick ass looking models out of the Vengeance box.  Heck the Horus Heresy guys make a good starting point for your armies too.  Too bad there is no reason to bring a none HQ Chaos Space Marine to the table top.  I don’t know what to do to fix them beyond making them almost free or having some kind of “extra” set of rules that makes taking crappy troops worth it.  Heck even thought Terminators are cheap they still are not worth it.

List Building Time

Enough of that spouting from the soap box – lets look at building an actual Chaos Space Marine list.  I keep wanting to go back to this as winning the Best Chaos Space Marine would be a pretty awesome title on the ITC circuit.  Having a winning record with them would mean I would not just be a counts as punk and would actually be a true Chaos Lord.  Of course the could just be me losing a ton and getting sad as I look at all my converted Goat riders of doom.  Still – let’s build!



First we have 3 options for starting with Chaos Space Marines.  Let’s look at the benefits for each.

  1. Normal Chaos Space Marines
    Pros: Its Old Skool so that is pretty cool.  Items for Chaos Lords of Khorne are ok and you don’t have to take anything specifically.  Good Artefacts: The Burning Brand, Axe of Blind Fury if playing a Khorne Juggernaut Jerk.
    Cons: Not really any army benefiting set of rules as well Artefacts.  Overall very bland.
  2. The Black Legion Chaos Space Marines
    Pros: These guys have some really cool Artefacts.  They can give you an Eternal Warrior HQ choice.  You can gain an extra Psychic Level for your caster and even a “powerful” spell option.  You have an Instant Death super Claw and a few other options.  Plus you can paint all your guys black and make the army build easy to finish.
    Cons: You have to take Veterans of the Long War.  Lucky for us the Cultists don’t get it as an option so you are safe from having to take expensive Cultists.  Oh you get to take Veterans as Troops but again – why?  If they had let Chaos Terminators show up as a Troop option this might have been something worth wile as you gives you a null deploy style list.
  3. Crimson Slaughter
    Pros: Everyone gets Fear for free!  Yeah a rule that doesn’t matter for free!  They also have good Artifact options with a 2+ for your Chaos Lords/Daemon Princes.  They army color is also Red and Gold which means you can easily use these guys as KDK if you want too.
    Cons: They still are Chaos Space marines

Right now the push is really to either be Crimson Slaughter or the Old School Chaos Space Marines.  It really depends on what you want from your HQ characters.  I normally use mine as spell caddies so I don’t care much about giving them anything to make them more expensive.  Will just stick with old school Chaos as it will feel better to win with such an old book.

Chaos Space Marines CAD + Daemons of Chaos Ally
HQ: Bel’Akor
HQ: Chaos Sorcerer, Lvl 3, Bike, Spell Familiar, Force Axe
Troops: Cultists X 10
Troops: Cultists X 10
FA: Chaos Spawn X 5, MoN
Heavy: Chaos Rapier Battery X 3, Conversion Beamer X 3
LoW: Chaos Knight Paladin, Mark of Tzeentch, Dirge Caster

Chaos Daemons Allys
HQ: Herald of Tzeetnch, Exalted Gift, Lvl 3 Caster, Disc of Tzeentch
HQ: Herald of Tzeetnch, Lvl 3 Caster, Disc of Tzeentch
Troops: Nurlgings X 3
FA: Screamers of Tzeentch X 7

I went with Conversion Beamers as they sound kinda neat.  Plus their overall weapon profile seems pretty powerful as even their mid ranged shoot is still strength 8.  I bet they won’t be very good and I would end up just going with Hades Autocannon or Laser Destroyers.  I don’t know how much damage I need to do to vehicles so I feel the Hades Cannons throwing out 12 Str 8 shots might be exactly what I need.  This would free up some extra stuff for the second, non Grim holding Herald.  It might be worth it to throw out a portal in hopes to get more troop options.  The best thing is this list is pretty close to being a Highlander style list so that is awesome.  Still it might win – I guess the knight could go crazy and I get involved in doing some stomps and D attacks.

It is still sad that the only Chaos Space Marines in the army is the Sorcerer and the guys running the big scary daemon like guns.  I really want them to be worth it but the game has moved away from static troops with the only lists that have a ton are either force too – Battle Company – or have troop options that trump everyone else’s – Eldar Jetbikes with Scatter Lasers.

~What do you think will fix the basic Chaos Space Marine?  Some have said access to a Drop Pod might help or do you think a whole sale complete rules/changes/etc to make them seem different then just “evil” marines.


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