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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Armies in 5th: Chaos Space Marines Part 4: Troops

The Troops section for Chaos Space Marines has some of the most varied options around. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief this doesn’t mean CSM Troops are “good.” Rather, only a couple of the units are really useful and still aren’t drop dead amazing for the price you pay or in the context of the army. Remember, the last three articles have shown a general lack of good anti-tank outside of Obliterators, mobility and sacrificial squads which would generally hinder your opponent’s deployment and movement. For the most part, Chaos Troops operate under the same statline (we’re calling Lesser Daemons ‘Troops’) with a standard MEQ statline. This means they are pretty resilient and generally quite good in mid-field. Let’s break them down and see what we can discover.

We’ll start with Lesser Daemons since they aren’t MEQs. The one big advantage these guys have is being able to assault on the drop and with icons, that assault can be well-placed and accurate. Unfortunately this also means throwing your Icon units close to the fray (and having Icon units) and 13pts for a 5+ invul model is pretty meh when it only has T/I4. For an extra 2 points you get a Boltgun and a 3+ save (the A essentially remains the same due to 2 CCW). Whilst Fearless is nice to have them stick around, Chaos Troops don’t exactly want in the Ld department. Skip on these guys.

The bog-standard CSM is very similar in regards to the Tactical Marine but is mildly cheaper, has one extra attack thanks to pistol+ccw and more reliable/higher Ld with Champions & Icons. These reasons encourage many to believe they are in fact better than Tactical squads but the lack of ATSKNF is huge. Tactical Marines aren’t great in combat, hell neither are ASM w/3A on the charge + mobility (even BA ASM are only ‘good’ w/FNP & FC) so whilst CSM are a bit better in combat than Tacs, they are still primarily a mid-field shooting unit. And this is where their hidden costs come in, heavy and special weapons. Whilst CSM have the enviable advantage of being able to pick special/heavy or double special, taking both weapons is going to cost you more points than a normal Tac squad with the added disadvantage of no ATSKNF. Chuck in the lack of MM as a heavy weapon and whilst CSM have better Ld + Icon bonuses and they aren’t as reliable in midfield as the ‘crap’ Tac squad. Whilst they have more options than Tac squads in relation to heavy weapons (like Autocannons) and Icons (please only use Chaos Glory, we don’t want to throw good points after bad upgrades) they aren’t the stellar stand-out unit you would expect with all the praise the CSM book gets. Solid certainly, fantastic no.

We’ll start with the cult Troops then and begin with the worst two. Noise Marines and Thousand Sons. You can check out GWvsJohn’s review of TSons here but let’s add some more general information on these two choices and why they are bad. Simply put, they are expensive and for the extra 5-8 points per model you pay for them, they bring very little to the table. Whilst both bring better mid-field firepower than regular CSM through low-ap bolter shots and sonic blasters (now 10 pts more per model), they are woefully inefficient and just don’t provide anything for the Chaos army regular CSM can’t do for a better price. They also don't have the flexibility other expensive MEQ units like Sternguard have. Whilst Sternguard are as expensive as Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters (5 pts more if they take combis), they have the tools for whatever job is at hand. Noise Marines and TSons have none of these advantages to off-set their high cost. Whilst fluffy lists can be made for these Troops, they suck.

Zerkers, like regular CSM, are considered one of the better Troop choices out there. Unfortunately, they’re not. Whilst the extra 6 points per model to gain an extra attack, fearless, WS5 and furious charge isn’t too bad, it doesn’t make this unit good in combat. Harking back to BA ASM, even with better mobility and FNP, they aren’t great combat units but rather torrent units. BA ASM as Troops work though because you can back them up with heavy hitting from Termiantors, Honor Guard, Sanguinary Guard, VV, Dreads, Libs, etc. and are noticeably cheaper. Zerkers unfortunately do not have that luxury built around them and whilst they are excellent torrent units (4A, S5/I5), anything which gets the charge off on them and is a half-way dedicated assault unit will tear them to pieces. The inability to take good assault transports is a deterrent as well meaning they are unlikely to get the charge off against a unit they wish to. Whilst Rhinos are excellent for their points, assaulting out of them is very difficult as you have to plan a turn ahead. The Land Raider is a pile of crap as well. Yay for a 240 point model who has no PotMS and 2x Lascannons + HB and a Zerker squad doesn't need another 240 points thrown after it when it's not that scary to begin with. These guys are serviceable but will chew through your points. With the general lack of back up outside of Winged DP and Dreads, they don’t help the army as an entity whilst trying to make it assault based.

And finally, Plague Marines. Here’s a cult-Troop that rightly gets praise. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s fantastic due to minimal offensive flexibility, what you get is a Troop choice which is hard to remove. Whilst expensive, T4(5), 3+ and FNP with the ability to take 2 specials no matter the squad size gives you excellent objective holders, particularly in Rhinos. Whilst they suck at combat, against non-cc units their resilience should allow them to hang around until someone can come rescue them. The problem with these guys is they are short-ranged and expense. Although very tough and able to take double-meltas/plas, they are very expensive as a sacrificial unit to be throwing into your opponent’s face. Because of this and their relative crapness in combat, they shouldn’t be used in such a way which limits their placement and effect on the battlefield. That being said, a couple min-sized squad of these guys can provide very solid objective holding and when your opponent reaches your lines, multiple special shots to stop what needs stopping.

When all is said and done there are two, perhaps three, choices which jump out as good Troops choices. Whilst no where near as fantastic as the internet forums would like you to believe, they are for the most part serviceable and provide in midfield. These are your regular CSM who can provide MEQ bodies and either double special or special/heavy firing from a Rhino, Plague Marines who provide very hard to remove units who can take double special no matter their squad size but who are quite expensive and Zerkers, who although not fantastic combat units can provide some torrenting support to Dreads/DP in combat. Another important aspect of Chaos Troops to note is their Rhino. Unlike SM Rhinos they have a couple of weapon upgrades which can make them a lot scarier including combi-weapons (hello meltaguns) and Havoc launchers. Whilst this doesn’t make the crap Troops any better, for an extra 10-25 points you can get an extra couple of weapons to help support your Troops in midfield which can be very beneficial.

10 pinkments:

VT2 said...

The inflation really becomes apparent when you look at the troops.

It makes me sad to think about :(

Chumbalaya said...

Lesser Daemons are more for cheap tarpits and objective cappers. They aren't great, but end up cheaper than other Troops picks.

Other than that, I agree, CSM Troops make me sadface.

Evil-Termite said...

The sad part is that all of the chaos troops actually are really cool. I especially like the noise marines with their sonic blasters. The bottom line is that they just cost too many points per model. If they were priced right, they would be worth taking.

GMort. said...

My Noise Marines with Sonic Blasters now 'Count As' Sternguard in my 'Renegade' Marine army and my Khorne Berzerkers are now Assault Marines.

Hopefully they'll get to be what they were originally intended for when we eventually get a new Chaos Space Marine Codex...

Artemi said...

I don't understand why you have to pay extra for Sonic Blasters. Am I really paying 5 points for +1I and Fearless? I don't get THE signature weapon for Noise Marines for that price?

I don't know what I'd do to make the TSons better, though, outside of a points drop. Maybe give them Twin-Linked bolters w/ Inferno Bolts? I do wish they still had their small blast template bolter rounds...

VT2 said...

Sons need their immunity to ranged attacks below a given strength back, and should really be the ones with the improved toughness.

Steve said...

God, I wish I could convince my friend that CSM aren't automatically better than Tacs just because of the bolt pistol/CCW. It's like talking to a brick wall.

Kirby said...

Meh Grey Hunters aren't automatically better than tacs w/pistol & CCW and they do have ATSKNF + the goodies of counter-attack and acute senses though one less Ld. Grey Hunters are at least a different role unit but ya, poor CSM :(. Send him here Steve, send him here!

VT2 said...

Regular chaos marines are a bad unit, just like tactical marines, but they're bad for different reasons.

Both have some uses, of course - if they didn't, they'd be useless like servitors, noise marines, and spawn - but they're still bad compared to what else is available.

One of them can beat up large numbers of puny infantry in combat and at range, while the other gets to bunker midfield.

Da Warboss said...

Khorn Berserkers would be best served making them World Eaters with Khornate Axes ("Terminator armor? AHAHA. The best save you get from my Khornate axe is 4+...")

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