So here we are again, after way too long, taking a look at how to make the struggling Chaos Space Marines good. In my last couple posts I talked about some of the strong HQ choices, some things that IA 13 can do for us, and some of the more powerful army builds that have been seen in the past. Now, with the release of the revised Black Legion and Crimson Slaughter supplements, I'll be talking about some of the new formations that came with them, but I will be wondering why neither came with a "decurion style detachment", but lets not dwell on that...
As I may have said in the past, I use the Crimson Slaughter supplement regularly as I feel it most accurately portrays the Word Bearer legion with it's use of Possessed and Dark Apostles. So now that GW has granted them a bevy of swarthy formations with which I can build my army I am excited to bring the pain that they will inevitably bring...right? GW wouldn't fuck this up would they?
So getting the book in hand it brings me back to the good old days when the codexes were good quality, inexpensive, paperback books. I skip over all the fluff bullshit because I read it all the first time I got the codex and I head right for the army wide rules, which didn't change. The entire army still has Fear, which while not the most useful of abilities, it's free, so I can't complain. Only cult units can take VotLW, which is a little anti-fluffy to use them as Word Bearers but I cope somehow. And the Possessed still have the same chart they write on and there are the same issues that haven't been cleared up. If they become beasts while in a vehicle, what happens? Are then forced to disembark, if so, does that count as moving or do they still get to move? This seemed like the perfect opportunity to clarify this, instead they copy and pasted the warlord traits. Yep, all the same. They aren't terrible, but many of them are highly dependant on where or not your opponent is Fearful.
I'm not here to discuss the things that stayed the same, I'm here to talk about the Formations! Those wonderful tools that are going to make Chaos a contender...but before I go too far, I need to point something out. These guys love Possessed, I mean they put that shit on everything. Most of the Formations include a unit of them and many people see this as a bad thing, but you have to remember that with the chart that they roll on, all of the options are useful and they all make the unit more survivable in some fashion. Keep that in mind.
First up, The Ravagers. This formation consists of a unit of Chosen and a Unit of Possessed and if your Chosen champion is alive at the start of your turn then one of the units in the formation can re-roll all their plasma gun shots...I mean to-hit rolls, for the rest of your turn. Kind of meh, but like I said, TL plasma guns is pretty good. Plus there is no range limit, your Possessed could be on the other side of the table and get this boost which could make them pretty scary.
Ok, this one is cute. Once again you have to take a unit of Possessed, but this time they come with a Sorcerer. The kicker is this...before the game starts you roll 2D6, and at ANY POINT IN THE GAME where your opponent rolls 2D6 (Ld check, shooting a weapon with 2 shots, rolling a psychic test with 2 dice, or denying the witch with 2 dice, the key is 2 dice are rolled) and they match the dice you rolled at the start of the game you get a free unit of Tzeentch Daemons (type of daemons pending a roll on a chart but range from 10 Pink Horrors to a Lord of Change). This only work once, on the first time the dice match, but still, that is fucking hilarious. That will seriously cause someone to think twice about firing all those storm bolters on their Rhinos and Drop Pods.
Ever wish that your shitty Chaos Marines were a little more durable? Well, this next formation is for you. First up is the, seemingly obligatory, Possessed teamed up with a Dark Apostle and 1-3 units of Chaos Marines. At the start of your shooting phase the Dark Apostle may choose to not shoot his mighty bolt pistol and instead scream a string of cuss words that would make a sailor blush. This bout of profanity gives each other unit from the formation and within 12" Zealot and FNP until the start of your next turn. I like this one. It brings the poor lowly Chaos Marine up on the same footing as his imperial counter part. Fearless, Hatred, and FNP at the sacrifice of not shooting a bolt pistol, not a bad trade off.
The Cult of Slaughter is possibly my favourite formation in the book. The formation is one Dark Apostle and 2-8 units of cultists. The first benefit is meh, each unit of cultists use the Dark Apostle's Ld if they are within 9" of him, but the other one is good. At the start of each movement phase you may return D6 removed models to the cultists units. To EACH cultist unit. EEEAAACH unit. Every movement phase. Do you see where this is going? Endless champions to be fed to challenges, the ultimate regenerating tarpit. Give the Dark Apostle the Corzius of the Dark Covenant and they all become fearless when 6" away, never mind Ld10. Yes I know cultists are shit and they die in droves, but this gives you back 3.5 every turn. This forces your opponent to make some choices. Does he really want to shoot ANOTHER Riptide into the unit to finish off the last 4 cultists? He does now because next turn there will be 7, and the turn after that 10, and he can't ignore them completely because you have 100 of the little fuckers and man do they get in the way.
The last formation from this supplement I am going to talk about is the Lords of Slaughter which requires a Chaos Lord, a unit of Possessed, a unit of Terminators, and 1-3 units of Chaos Marines. The perk to this formation is that your Chaos Lord becomes a level 1 Psyker and knows the Prescience spell, further more he can cast this power on any one in the formation regardless of range. It doesn't explain whether or not he can choose any other spells though. This will have to be hashed out and ruled on at sometime, as of right now, I've come to the conclusion that Prescience is the only power he gets.
This formation has some set backs, mainly that most of the units in it kind of suck. Terminators are blah, and everyone one knows the shortcomings of the regular Chaos Marine, and I've already mentioned the plight of Possessed. However, being able to cast Prescience on them anywhere on the table is pretty strong especially on the terminators which makes their deep striking melta guns a little more reliable.
There are 2 others, but one is Kranon's Helguard, which is the same and garbage, and the other is a combination of all the other formation of this book and is over 2000 pts at a minimum.
The Black Legion book comes with all the same fluff and rules as before as well as all the same wargear and Warlord traits, none of which were anything to write home about. However the book is of the same good quality and there is some new artwork as well as a handful of nifty formations just like their red tinged brethren.
First up is the Bringers of Despair, which used to be an upgrade for a unit of terminators. I think it was 8 pts per terminator and they would get +1 WS and BS. This formation consists of Abaddon and a unit of termis and the termis get the +1 WS and BS for free. It's not really that great, and I only really mention it because its the "flagship" formation as it has Abaddon in it.
The Chosen of Abaddon is also kind of shit. It's biggest perk is that it makes your Sorcerers Fearless. So, 1-4 Lords or Sorcerers, and each one must take a join a unit of Chosen or Terminators. They may not leave the unit they join, but they become fearless. Whoop-dee-fuckin-doo. NEXT!!
This next one bugs me in that why does Khorne get a dedicated formation and none of the other Chaos gods do? A lord and various units of Bezerkers, Marines, Raptors, Warp Talons, and Bikers. They all get the Mark of Khorne for free, and once per game the whole formation can charge the same turn in which they run. Further more, if a unit from the formation makes a charge, and the total of the die rolled is 8 or more they get +1 S for that assault phase. That sounds like a bunch of great bonuses, free upgrades, running and charging, sort of Furious Charge. Except all the units required in the formation are kind of garbage and the benefits given don't quite make up for their garbageness.
The Tormented...sounds cool right? Well, it's not really. It's a Daemon Prince and 2-5 units of Possessed. This formation give the Possessed WS and I 5 and Rending which quite frankly is not enough. Possessed, like many units in the Chaos codex suffer from not being able to make it to combat in a worthy state. Making them more powerful will only ensure that they will get killed faster. Remember, these are not the Crimson Slaughter Possessed with the different mutation table and giving them Rending is nearly useless 33% of the time because they can get AP3.
The Black Legion Warband is, I guess, a "Decurion" light detachment. There is an odd array of unit choices consisting of just about every Space Marine based unit in the book with the addition of the Helbrute. What makes it worth taking all those shitty units you ask? You get to roll twice on the Chaos Boon chart when you earn one PLUS when a unit in the formation kills an enemy unit, the rest of the units gain Preferred Enemy for the rest of the phase.
Yep, I said the same thing... but fear not...
...not all of the Black Legion formations are shitty, for the next one I am about to mention is something that helps Chaos with something they typically lack in... fire power.
The Daemon engine pack consists of a Warpsmith... no, wait, it gets good. Just hear me out. Ok, a Warpsmith, and any combination of 2 Forgefiends or Maulerfiends. Now I instantly see you choosing the Maulerfiends, but the first perk I'll mention is that at the start of EACH shooting and assault phase, you may choose a Forgefiend or Maulerfiend and they can use the Warpsmiths BS and WS until the end of the phase. Yes, that means BS 5 Forgefiends! Now I know you might not be quite as impressed as I am but I recently played with a BS 5 Forgefiend, and it is fucking amazing. 7 hits with a S8 gun per turn is no laughing matter and I was laying down the hurt on a number of opposing vehicles from a good distance. There is another perk, which isn't quite as good, but has some definite implications when the right situation arises. At the start of the game you nominate a character from the enemy army, the Fiends from the formation gain Preferred Enemy on that character, and in turn any unit it is in. Further more, if one of the Fiends kill that character, they re-gain a hull point.
Finally, the grand-daddy of them all. The Cyclopia Cabal!! (dramatic music plays) This formation consists of 3-5 Sorcerers and they come with a fancy new spell. At the start of the psychic phase you may select any of the Sorcerers from the formation to cast the power and he will get an additional power dice for each other Sorcerer from the formation within 12". Now, what is this fancy new spell you ask, well let me tell you. It's a 3 warp charge power that targets an enemy, non-vehicle unit, not locked in combat, up to 30" away. If this power is successful you may immediately make a shooting attack with that unit as if it were part of your army. Those Grav-Centurions a problem? Well, now they're your opponents problem too. How do you think Tau players like it when their Riptides ripple fire on their own army? Thunderfire cannons, Warpspiders, units of artillery, IG blob squads, among a few are all fair game for the pilfering.
Well, that's it. Time to wrap it up. All things said, these books add a little bite to the jaws of Chaos but I don't think it's quite enough to raise them up from their lower tier position but time will tell. The Cyclopia Cabal adds a serious element that can definitely turn the tides in certain games, but with the high casting cost it's not a reliable way to win battles.
Hope you enjoyed this little romp.
Until next time, keep them dice rollin