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40K: The Fall of Chaos In 8th Edition

5 Minute Read
Oct 16 2018

Lets talk about how Chaos’ best edition in ages went to hell, ahem…the warp.

At the start of 8th Edition the Chaos faction was riding high. Some strong early codexes, and a wide base of units to draw on had them well placed in the competitive meta. At many early events Chaos lists came out on top, even when they didn’t win they were able to preform admirably. Chaos, a faction that has often struggled competitively since the goode olde days of their 3.5 powerhouse codex, was doing well. However, as the edition has aged, Chaos lists have lost the favor of their Dark Gods in Nottingham. Through a serious of nerfs and changes they’ve been pushed down the comparative rankings, and now the infernal glory of their early months is lost, like tears in the rain. Lets take a look at why this is, and what happened.

A Good Start To A New Edition

At the start of 8th Chaos was poised to be one of the meta dominating factions. They started off strong, with both a solid CSM book and the first brand new Codex of the Edition, Death Guard. Death Guard in particular brought a lot of power to the faction, with a new Primarch, and some powerful Demon Engines.

In the new soup mix of 8th, Chaos also had the 2nd largest base to draw on, with Deamons, CSM, Death Guard, Thousand Sons and Forgeworld units to bring into a potent mix. Chaos was able to draw upon a mix of points efficient units, (Horrors, Cultists), super powerful characters (Magnus and Morty) and some of the best stratagems of the time (Tide of Traitors, Vets of the Long War). Moreover in an edition that gave psychers a lot of power Chaos was well placed to take advantage of that. For a long time if you asked me what dominated the 40K Meta, I would have said it was a fight between Eldar Soup, Chaos Soup and Imperial soup. Moreover out of all those, Chaos constantly gave us more diverse and interesting lists.

You Get A Nerf! And You Get a Nerf! Everyone Gets a Nerf!!!!!


So what has taken Chaos down? Well, first off nerfs have. I can’t think of any faction that has so consistently been nerfed in 8th. For as much as players may talk about Eldar nerfs, it seems every-time Chaos has a good build, it gets nerfed. Let take a look at some of the big ones.

  • Malefic Lords- one of the early stars of the Chaos lists. This cheap pysker could dish out smite spam like no ones business. Eventually he got a massive points increase. Couple that with a smite nerf and these guys have vanished back into the warp.
  • Horrors. Horror hordes of one type or another was another early Chaos list type that saw success. Horrors actually got a few nerfs, over the edition and have likewise faded away.
  • Poxwalkers. Remember the Endless Horde of Poxwalkers? What about the Plague Blossom list from LVO? Another Chaos tactic that won games. Also nerfed when they capped Poxwalker growth. One more unit you don’t see much.
  • How about Stratagems? Using Tide of Traitors to bring back large Cultists blobs and for quick movement was also a big Chaos tactic that got nerfed when ToT went to once again.
  • Magnus, one of the big bads of Choas became one of a handful of units to get a nerf when he moved from Index to Codex.
  • Speaking of pyskers, the spam nerf hit Chaos harder than most factions.
  • And what about that tried and true strategy of deep striking a unit and then using Warptime to get them to charge? Nerfed.
  • Invulnerable saves?  They, and the ablity to buff them, has slowly been nerfed, with the BIG FAQ 2 even putting an addition nerf on the Chaos Deamons ability to buff them.
  • Another causality of the new FAQ? Alpha Legions infiltrators got a big nerf. They’ve been a super popular Legion since the book came out, lets see what happens to them now.

I’m sure this list is hardly comprehensive, but you can see how again and again things that have made Chaos lists tick, and competitive, have been nerfed. While I’m not saying that these nerfs, or at least some of them, weren’t needed or justified, the end result has been to curtail the power of Chaos.

Falling Behind

It’s not just nerfs that have hurt Chaos, they’ve also started to fall behind the times. Codex Thousand Sons came out at the start of February. That was 8 months ago, since then Chaos hasn’t had any major updates, with their biggest gain being the small Traitor Knight Book. The other two major factions have gotten large editions since then. In particular the Drukhari Codex, which pushed Alderi over the top to be meta champions, and the Imperial Knight book which has really allowed the Imperium to kick poor Chaos around the tabletop came out. Combine these new books with increased damage output in many armies  and Chaos can’t hang with it any more.

The Final Fall

If you need proof of how badly Chaos has fallen, just look at some of the recent major events. At Wargames Con Chaos didn’t  make the top three. More telling at the NOVA Open this year a Chaos list did manage to snag 5th, but it was also the only Chaos list to make the top 15 of the event. Thats out of 43 Chaos players in a 237 player event. (Compare that with 165 Imperium players). There were also 41 Aldari players at the event, they got 3 into the top 15. About the same number of players, but 3 times the representation in the top 15 is bad news for Chaos.

So overall, Chaos has taken some big hits and fallen in popularity among players, as well as in standing in the meta. This has also been mirrored by the fluff focusing less on Chaos doings lately. Overall the Chaos Gods have got to be feeling a bit neglected. Well see what the future holds, maybe an Emperors Children Codex will pop up and breath new life in the faction, or maybe the glory days of 8th are over for Chaos.


Let us know if you think Chaos is a done faction or if they can still kick it with the big boys, down in the comments! 

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