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40K: Now With Twice the CSM Tentacles

12 Minute Read
Oct 19 2016


Now that the dust has settled, is there anything to like about Traitor’s Hate?  This gamer thinks so.

So it’s been a while since I wrote – too long if I’m honest.  Part of the reason is that I’ve been brooding over Traitor’s Hate.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty there that I like, but in many ways it just didn’t go as far as I’d have wished.  Still, I’ve been dragging the book around everywhere with me, reading, rereading and basically absorbing what’s there.  I even took it with me to a wedding in Vegas – no, no, not the ACTUAL wedding ceremony (I left it in the hotel room).   Can’t invoke the wrath of my wife, even for cool, evil, little, supermen from the future.

Actual footage of my Vegas wedding experience.

I like the book, it gives Chaos Space Marines (CSM) some oomph, its visually pretty (though the repeated and now ‘classic’ Kharn pose started to wear a bit thin — and I’m a Team Kharn guy), I liked the story (particularly what it bodes for the future) and, like all new Games Workshop (GW) books, it smells intoxicating (seriously, I always crack a new GW book wide open and inhale deeply – it just brings so many good gaming memories flooding back and has a real, distinct scent, even as old comics do).  I know many across the Internet have panned the book as mostly irrelevant, especially in the face of the dread ‘meta.’  I understand this position, and if I’m honest with myself, it does bother me somewhat.  But there’s just something about the book that’s got under my skin.  It has me enthralled, even as I’ve struggled to use it to really build lists that I like.

The Visions I see when snorting a new GW book.

So, let’s take a look at how I feel about Traitor’s Hate.


The Bad

I know it’s not traditional to start with the bad, but I just want to get it out of the way.  Again, I don’t feel the book is terrible in what it brings to the table regarding rules for CSMs, I just wanted more.  Having said that, some of what we did get was a bit of a head-scratcher as well.  This is not an element by element review of Traitor’s Hate – there’s been plenty of those, so I won’t go over each new formation.  But we all understand that the book does contain a couple formations that fundamentally just don’t work, such as the Heldrake Terror Pack (Hello?  Is it even really possible to use Merciless Pursuit?) and the Trinity of Blood (Really?  We’re supposed to bring three of the most over-costed super heavies in the entire game and in return we get a couple of lackluster powers?  That’s gonna go great with the 3,000 point, $480 Beatdown we’re gonna receive…).

Ultimately, what I felt was really bad (disappointing would be a better word) about Traitor’s Hate was that they left out so many things that were just obvious.  Where’s our new CSM relics?  Or new Warlord Traits (the ones in the original CSM Codex are just sooo painfully bad)?  Why not take this opportunity to flesh out the three Chaos God disciplines found in the original CSM codex, pushing them to a full seven powers apiece as was done for Chaos Daemons (CDs) in the first Warzone Fenris campaign book (better yet, they could have just abolished these powers and substituted the new daemon God-specific powers)?  And, because it has to be said, why not provide a complex detachment (Black Crusade) that is more of a real game changer like the Daemonic Incursion from the aforementioned Warzone Fenris?  For the record, I’m not entirely convinced on this last point (see the Good below), though I’m not stupid.  The Black Crusade is no Daemonic Incursion.


Incursions are just sooo good…  er, I mean bad.

Lastly, I must admit that I loathe the title Traitor’s Hate.  I mean, really?  I know GW is known for some really bad names/titles (Space Wolf codex, pretty much all of it), but they’ve been a better company lately.  They’ve improved so many things over the last couple years … and I know they can do better.  Just look at the recent Genestealer Cults book.  There’s so many cool things in there.  Subterranean Uprising?  Evocative and appropriate.  The Doting Throng?  So cool, and appropriate.  Even looking at Traitor’s Hate’s subtitle “The Long War”; so much better.  We all know it, and it is evocative and appropriate.  Even had they reversed the title/sub-title, it would have been much better.  Traitor’s Hate just seems trite, boring and lazy.

genestealer-cult-hybrid-acolyte-art-cropIt doesn’t get any better than worshiping the Four-armed Emperor.  You’ll see when He gets here…

The Good

So having said all that, why do I like Traitor’s Hate again?  Well, to start with, I like the Black Crusade detachment.  I love that it provides Hatred to everything Imperium, even if it isn’t all that strong.  It’s appropriate, so it feels right to me.  And I love that the Path to Glory ability it grants allows me to pick random champions in the army each turn and roll on the Chaos Boon table for them.  Oh, I know the Internet hates the Chaos Boon table, but I’ve been playing since the very beginning with Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned, and those books were all about enormous, sprawling, pages-long, mutation tables.  Honestly, CSMs don’t feel right to me without such a table.  And, though I’ve yet to try it on the table-top (still prepping my armies), I get the sense that I might get a little boost out of this when I play, particularly in conjunction with the Chaos Warband formation’s ability to roll twice on the table and choose either or both results.  I foresee plenty of Daemon Princes and/or Chaos Spawn (a significant upgrade to a cultist champion) appearing in my games.


I once generated a mutant dark elf that was 3 times the size and looked like my brother.  True story.

I also like several of the individual formations, particularly the Maelstrom of Gore (just screams Kharn and has convinced me to reformat my Berzerker army to a Black Crusade detachment rather than folding them into another Khorne Daemonkin army), the Lost and the Damned (a really cool endless swarm of cultist mooks), the Helforged Warpack (I love daemon engines) and the Cult of Destruction (I like running individual daemonhosts as ‘counts as’ obliterators/mutilators).  Many of these are not what you’d call staggeringly powerful, but they’re better than what I was running before, so I’ll take it.  What’s more, these formations have given me an excuse to convert my own Dark Apostle and Warpsmith (never needed to before as I primarily played Thousand Sons and Kharn-led Berserker armies).  And this last point is perhaps the most crucial of all of the reasons I have for liking Traitor’s Hate — the book has rekindled that creative flame inside me.

For those who know me, they know I’m all about Chaos.  I like all the Chaos Gods, I like the Traitor Legions and I like the simple heretics and cultists.  Oh, I have my favorites, such as the Thousand Sons and Tzeentch, but Khorne and his Berzerkers, are a close second.  I even like the Traitor Legions who pretend to favor no one Power over another or even none at all (pshhh), though I find them a tad wishy-washy.  I love the background, the infernal magic, the squiggly monsters … the tentacles.  All of it.  But above all, I love that from a modelling point of view, I can let my mind run wild.  I can do almost anything, subvert any other kit or model, bend the wholesome to the Darkness and corrupt the pure in my quest for the craziest, coolest monsters I can think of.  But truth be told, over the last decade or so, I’d lost some of my will to do this, at least in regards to CSMs.

File:Codex Chaos Space Marines FCover.jpg

Everyone loved me…

The last couple CSM codices have just been so lackluster, perhaps even well before that (I lost my rose-tinted glasses regarding the vaunted 3.5 codex long ago … though that is for another day).  And I’m not even talking about the overall CSM power level (though it sucks in this department too, sure as sure) – I’m talkin’ the overall flavor.  The last two CSM codices have just been so dry.  Little in the way of God-specific equipment, almost no evocative special powers, dull and disappointing Marks and no way to give them to daemon engines  – it just killed my desire to work on them.  Instead, I turned my attentions to CDs, where the flavors just ooze from the book – powerful and appropriate special rules, God-specific relics and magic weapons, interesting spells.  Daemons have it all and it’s only gotten better.

Codex Chaos Daemons

We’re the awesome proof that GW doesn’t hate on all the bad guys.


But with Traitor’s Hate, I’ve found that that spark of interest has begun to return.  Maybe it’s the crazy mutations that I envision throwing around, or the ability to bring more than just two sorcerers in a boring ‘ole Combined Arms Detachment (CAD), or the new ‘stolen from the space marines’ spells, or even the possibilities I can see with mixing the formations in Traitor’s Hate with those found in the updated Black Legion and Crimson Slaughter supplements.  Or maybe it’s just the inkling that this is but the harbinger of more and better CSM stuff to come?  Whatever it is, I’ve found that urge to covert CSMs again, and I’ve gone a little crazy with it.  So far, I’ve kit-bashed 3 new sorcerers, a warpsmith, a Hellbrute/Chaos dreadnaught and a Dark Apostle for my Thousand Sons/Tzeentchian cult armies.  In addition, I’ve also kit-bashed 10 Slaanesh CSMs and 12 Tzeentch CSMs.

All this, and I’ve so much more modelling planned to do.  Bikers, more sorcerers and CSMs and a myriad of tiny bits/adjustments to all these conversions.  I delved deep into my 20+ year-old bits box, scrimped from numerous modern kits and embraced GW’s new textured bases (these have been so good for adding gravitas to these new conversions).  It’s been so long, it just really strikes home how much better a marine, particularly a CSM, looks on a 32mm base.  I just didn’t truly appreciate this before.  I could go on, but the point is, I’m having a great time.  Traitor’s Hate has brought joy to this traitor’s heart.

rubric-marine-thousand-sonsIt’s Our turn now….

A Sample of My Madness

So considering that I’ve been so inspired to model/kit-bash CSMs, why was I having so much trouble hammering out lists?  Well, frankly, it’s because most of my CSM armies, but especially the ones I wished to convert over from their previous incarnations using the Black Crusade detachment and the new formations in Traitor’s Hate, were either Thousand Sons lists or Tzeentchian cults.  Honestly, neither the actual CSM codex nor Traitor’s Hate are meant to do this comfortably.  Obviously, since the CSM codex only contains the Thousand Sons rubrics unit and Ahriman himself as actual Thousand Sons, I’ve had to make compromises over the years – limiting myself to only Marks of Tzeentch, packing in two sorcerers and a couple of Thousand Sons units and then filling out the rest with slaves and puppets (daemon engines, daemonhosts (obliterators/mutilators), mutants (cultists with the Mark of Tzeentch), etc.).  Honestly, it has worked okay, though over the years I’ve relaxed my standards a bit (using some unmarked sorcerers, using formations and equipment from Black Legion/Crimson Slaughter as ‘counts as’ Thousand Sons, etc.).  As a primarily fluff player this has worn on my gaming soul a bit, but what can I say?  The state of CSMs has been so bad, it’s been a struggle to just be bad as opposed to horrific.

Anyway, I had difficultly fitting my current Thousand Sons armies into the new detachment.  If I’m honest, it’s pretty much my fault, as my long-held dreams of getting multiple sorcerers, say 3-5, into these armies had finally come to be reality.  Problem is, it’s soooo easy to eat up points that way, leaving not nearly enough to squeeze in the slaves/puppets needed to actually be an army.  So I kept building and tearing down lists.  Finally, after two weeks I’ve constructed three lists that I’m personally pleased with, and another that is mostly done, but I’ve yet to hammer out the exact details.

And then … behold, Magnus returns. 

And he is here to prove that Tzeentch is the true Master of the Impossible.  We’re getting a Thousand Sons codex of some stripe.  I … I can’t … words fail me to truly express just how astonishing that is.

magnus-large-horz-gwI’m back, baby!

Given these new developments, I suspect strongly that only one of my lists will likely survive to ever be played as I’ve written, so that’s the one I’ll post for your perusal.  But before you feast your eyes on my creation, keep in mind a couple things.  I’m all about style.  I do not like to spam units or characters, though given the state of CSMs, I really can’t avoid this with basic troops and lesser units.  Even still, I try to make my characters distinctly individual.  Also, I do not delude myself into thinking my lists will dominate the tournament setting.  Instead, I aim to build lists that play the way I want them to and that I feel might land me firmly at the middle of the pack at local tournaments.

So, having said that, I present:


The Cerulean Seers — 1850

Black Crusade Detachment

Lost and the Damned Formation [core] – 584

Thotek, Dark Apostle, Mark of Tzeentch, Scrolls of Magnus
Mutants (cultists) x 10, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 3, heavy stubber
Mutants (cultists) x 10, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 3, heavy stubber
Mutants (cultists) x 10, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 3, heavy stubber
Mutants (cultists) x 10, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 3, flamer

Mutants (cultists) x 10, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 3, flamer

Mutants (cultists) x 12, Mark of Tzeentch, autoguns x 2, heavy stubber, champion w/shotgun

Spawn Formation [auxiliary] – 306
Chaos Spawn x 3, Mark of Tzeentch
Chaos Spawn x 3, Mark of Tzeentch
Chaos Spawn x 3, Mark of Tzeentch

Spawn Formation [auxiliary] – 170
Chaos Spawn x 2, Mark of Tzeentch
Chaos Spawn x 2, Mark of Tzeentch
Chaos Spawn x 1, Mark of Tzeentch

Disciples of Mannon Formation – 310
Naphazar, Chaos Sorcerer, 2 additional Mastery lvls, spell familiar, Prophet of the Voices
Possessed x 5, Mark of Tzeentch

Cyclopia Formation – 480
Osirum, Chaos Sorcerer, 2 additional Mastery lvls, Mark of Tzeentch, disc of Tzeentch, spell familiar, VotLW, Last Memory of the Yuranthos
Khabek Xalte-Ptah, Chaos Sorcerer, 2 additional Mastery lvls, spell familiar, VotLW, Gift of Mutation
Hathor Bubastis, Chaos Sorcerer, 2 additional Mastery lvls, spell familiar, VotLW, melta bombs

Osirum.  When I’m fully painted, you’re all gonna burn.


The basic plan is to flood the board with mutants and chaos spawn, snatching up objectives, getting in the way and letting the bigger tentacled monstrosities eat troublesome vehicles/units.  Hopefully, while the enemy is busy with all them, the sorcerers can hang back, buffing the hordes, cursing the enemy and mind-controlling dangerous opposing units to help us overthrow their fellows.  Osirum will roll forward with the spawn, hurling flaming magicks everywhere and looking for opportunities to lead crucial charges.  Naphazar, thanks to the protection the Prophets of the Voices afford him (he’s a daemon!) will specialize in Malefic sorcery and attempt to summon a bunch of Tzeentch daemons while awaiting the fulfillment of his prophecy.  I’ll keep the lone spawn close by to serve as a sacrifice should that spell be available.  The theme throughout is monsters, mutants and even more monsters from beyond.  Will it dominate?  Probably not, but it might do okay on the lower tables of a tournament and ought to be loads of fun.

Naphazar.  When he gets his paint job, he’s bringin’ the Party all night long.

Praise Tzeentch!

~So what do you think?  Has Traitor’s Hate, or indeed any of the other recent GW books, fired up your hobby spirit?  Thousand Sons?!?!  Or am I just mad?  It’s hard to tell for us Tzeentch guys…

Read more from Kazzigum on Slaved to Ruin

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