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Warhammer 40K: Wanton Acts Vs Combat Doctrines, CSM May Have Outdone The Loyalists

5 Minute Read
Jun 21 2022

The new Chaos Space Marine rules might just be better than what their loyalist brothers get.

To say there is a bit of a rivalry between Chaos Marines and Loyalists is an understatement. The entire lore of modern 40K is based on that. This rivalry translates to the tabletop as well. While the Imperium and Chaos make up two of the largest factions in 40K, they are rarely considered to be equal. Many Chaos players feel that the loyalists get all the love. They have more rules, and more models and get constant updates. Chaos is left to suffer. Even when Chaos gets something good, it often gets nerfed. However, with the latest rules previews, it seems like Chaos might actually have a leg on the lame Marines for once. Let’s take a look.


Combat Doctrines 

By now we should all be pretty familiar with Combat Doctrines. These are a core part of the Marine rules now. In effect, they give certain weapons extra AP based on what turn it is and what doctrine is active. This provides a solid and reliable boost in damage output. In effect, each wound done that is affected by this rule is 1/6th more likely to result in damage.

Wanton Acts

The new Chaos Space Marines Wanton Acts, follow a similar logic. They also affect certain weapons on different turns according to what type of Wanton Act is going one. Like doctrines, the Acts change in a set pattern as the turn count progresses. However, unlike doctrines, Wanton Acts don’t give you extra AP. Instead they give you extra hits on unmodified 6s. This is a powerful, if unreliable buff. But is it better?

Random vs Reliable

At a basic level, Combat Doctrines is actually the more reliable of the two options. If we look at something like the base bolter, shared between both forces, Doctrines is normally the way to go. If we consider 9 bolters firing one shot each at an MEQ we can see which comes out ahead. According to my math, the bolters under Combat Doctrines will score an average of 1.5 wounds, while Wanton Acts will net you 1.25 wounds. It is close but over a whole army’s worth of bolter fire, Combat Doctrines will really draw ahead.


However, it should be noted that while Doctrines have the higher average wounds, Acts have a higher potential. The 9 loyalist shots can only ever get you a max of 9 wounds, while the CSM shots have a max of 18 wounds. If you get lucky Acts can be highly beneficial. Still, if we were looking at just bolters I’d say doctrines might have a slight edge.

Other Weapons

It’s when we start looking at a broader array of weapons that Acts really start to come into their own. For heavy, and indeed all multi-damage, weapons the extra shots really start to pay off. While an extra bolter hit here or there won’t really turn any tides, an extra las-cannon or multi-melta hit might. A properly built army can really take advantage of Acts in a way you can’t really do with Doctrines.

Indeed it should be noted that a lot of heavy weapons don’t really get much use out of Combat Doctrines. Ap3 and AP4 weapons don’t really get a lot of extra use out of an extra point of AP. In addition, the large number of invulnerable saves in the game tones down how useful having really high AP is. On the other hand, extra hits is always helpful. Heavy weapons in particular get a lot of extra oomph out of extra hits.  A CSM multi-melta under the effects of Acts can now do 32 damage, enough to kill a knight. Pretty spicy.

Playing The Long War


Another subtle advantage Acts get over Doctrines is that some weapons get buffed in more phases. In Doctrines for instance Rapid Fire and Assault weapons only get buffed in the 2nd phase of the rule and pistols in the 3rd. Under Wanton Acts, however, rapid-fire weapons are affected in phases one and two, while pistols and assault weapons are affected in phases two and three. Assault weapons here are a big winner, as phase three lasts the remainder of the game. They get buffed for a lot longer than under Loyalists.

So even though Acts might not be as good for say bolters as Doctrines are, they will affect bolters for more turns. Overall this gives Acts a big extra heads up. (Speaking of assault weapons, we should mention that flamers are not affected by Acts at all, while Doctrines gives them a nice buff. This would be a bummer for CSM flamers, if they did just get extra hits for free to make up for this.)  Overall given, all we’ve seen, it certainly seems likes Acts are the superior rule.

Let us know which rule you prefer, down in the comments!

Author: Abe Apfel
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