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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chaos Space Marines Codex Review: Troops

The Troops section of the CSM book. Very few books have 5 different kind of troops to choose from, especially not without the need to get a certain HQ choices to make that happen. Are they all viable options though? Read on...

Chaos Space Marines

VT2: No special rules, no powers, no unique gear, no cool items. These internet darlings are magical and great, simply because they have bolters, pistols, and combat implements - at the same time! Extremely exciting, isn't it?
So the evil, ancient veterans get nothing except holsters, but standard marines have three actual special rules. Right, Gav?

Squad can take one gun, but further guns require that the squad numbers ten or more models. Expensive champion, no multi-melta... Well, hey, at least they can shoot and charge, right?

Compared to terminators, these are ridiculously poor, and they don't stack up to their larger cousins, at all.

Five marines, one meltagun, and a rhino. 120
Yeah, uhhh, no, thanks. In some special builds, these shine, but in a general-purpose chaos army they don't.

Very lacklustre.
If you want to be exotic, take ten men, hand one an autocannon, and stuff the circus inside a rhino.
This is the fabled 'autoback,' and it does what it's supposed to, while scoring an objective in your deployment zone.

Overall, horny marines fail to impress.

Zjoekov: People indeed often ignore the fact that CSM don't get ATSKNF, neither Combat squads. This is a rather big deal. Yes you can increase your Leadership with a champion and Icon of Chaos Glory and you should for larger squads, but this means investing extra points. "But you can deepstrike near Icons too!" Sure, point taken notice of. You lose Icons to wounds allocation now and then btw, you can't lose ATSKNF in that way ;)

They just lack when comparing them with other Marine codices. Yes you carry 2 meltaguns, but when it costs a fortune and when you have no cheap suicide melta that often means your squad ends up somewhere where you rather don't want it to be... 2 CCW's is okay, but it doesn't make them combat troops and without ATSKNF this is extra relevant.

I mentioned ATSKNF a couple of times and I will again: This is really a big deal. And so is the lack of a razorback as a transport option.

Now that I'm done complaining let's see what you do get. As said 2 meltaguns in a 10 man squad. Rhino with option for combiweapons. Extra meltashot in the form of a combi on the champ. Alright, that gives us this:

10 CSM; 2x meltagun, IoCG, Champ with combi-Melta and Powerfist 230
Riding in a rhino with combi-melta 45
Total: 275 points.
Yeah not so impressive, sorry. You could leave off both combis and should probably do that to save points. Actually, I wouldn't bother with them at all except in a special kind of list VT2 mentions which we'll get to eventually.

Plague Marines

VT2: Scoring, and worth a damn. Unfortunately, also very expensive. A standard five-man team is 135 points on foot, armed with two meltaguns.
Compare that to the 1x3 combi-terminators' cost and, well - not so good anymore, sadly.

Lucky for the fatties, they score, and they score well, so stacking up to terminators isn't that important.
Ideally, you want 2x5 plagues, outfitted with matched plasmaguns, and the obligatory rhino, for objective duties.

Other than the above, there's not much to say.
Toughness 4(5), feel no pain, marine stat-line, they tank small-arms fire, light infantry, and improperly geared heavy infantry just fine. The problem with this?
Plagues do almost no damage in combat - even with the expensive champion - so you need terminators to bail out any plagues stuck in assaults. When father nurgle's followers are forced to stab the enemy with knives, nurgle is displeased - for they should not be there, locking horns, rather, inside their rhino, shooting bitches dead with whatever guns you gave them.

In short, unless you have terminators close by, don't let plagues charge, or be charged.

For a strictly marine-only army, this is the best scoring unit, and the most reliable.

Zjoekov: VT2 speaks truth, also on how to use them. However, there is an alternative way of using them and one that is very 'popular' (not necessarily a good sign):

7 Plague Marines; 2x melta, Powerfist champion, Rhino. 256 points.

Now you can have 2 of these or 3 of these:

5 Plague Marines; 2x melta, Rhino 170

How I see it: Option 1 doesn't realise that they shouldn't be in combat and option 2 realises that more guns and more hulls is overall the better choice. So yes, VT2 was right of course. 7 man squads with Powerfist aren't horrible choices though, they outperform the before mentioned CSM squads with ease.

Why exactly do they outperform CSM? Because both aren't hot in combat and both die to heavy fire. However; having troops which don't die (almost literally) to small fire is very nice. Rhinos, Oblits and Princes need heavy fire to be dealt with too; Plague Marines somewhat take advantage of this. Oh before I forget: Fearless. Big deal in this case.

If we haven't made it clear: These are your standard troop choices, not CSM.

Noise Marines

VT2: 20 point marines, with I5. I love you, Gav. Also, fearless. No, of course they have no other special rules, or even abilities.

For the cost of a lot, you can swap the squad's bolters for stormboltes, only they're now called 'sonic blasters.'

Because this horrible unit didn't bring melta, plasma, or even combi-weapons, it's utter garbage. Paying 200 points for ten dudes with nothing sure doesn't make me want to run them, either.

Well, despite their extreme level of bad, they have one use: stand-off shooting.
Full squad, with blasters, is 250, and pumps out 30 shots a turn if you're standing still.
Unfortunately, they need terminators to help them deal with armor, and to kill heavy infantry that gets too close.

Blastmaster lets you unleash hell upon the world, using your awesome, badass, and balls-to-walls S8, AP3, small blast. For 40 points. Forty god damn points for ONE gun!? Fuck you, Gav. Chainfist up your ass, Gav.

Not recommended.

Zjoekov: We have a champion too! I5 power weapon is kinda cute and so is his S5 Ap3 flamer. How much would a small squad cost you?

5 Noise Marines; Champ with Doom Siren, PW and meltabombs, Rhino. 185 points.

Yeah not so good, the basic guys ruïn it here; 20 points a piece is nuts and nothing can compensate that. Next.

Khorne Berzerkers

VT2: Cornflake marines are usefull to you, because they do almost everything you'd want terminators for, yet are troops.
Because of Jervis' decree, cornflakes are not allowed to wield meltaguns, or even plasmaguns. Thank you, lord of comp and 'beer-and-pretzel'-gaming!

Anyway, let's take a closer look, for once.

Cornflakes are vanilla marine sergeants, with one more point of weaponskill. Awesome.
They've got grenades, pistols, axes - but no bolters. Yeah, okay.
So it's a combat unit, yes?
As we all know, a combat unit is such because it has certain powers, abilties, and gear. Cornflakes have combat implements, furious charge, and are fearless. Fuck you, Gav. Fuck you with a rusted chainaxe.

Berserkers only work if there are terminators in the army. Yeah, I know. Thank Gav.
This is because the cornflakes can't open armor, and need an assault vehicle to carry a critical mass of them into the enemy's lines - both of which the terminators provide.

Here, another comparison.
5 naked cornflakes: 105 points.
3 combi-terminators: 105 points.

Gav is the spawn of satan.

Despite all their shortcomings, berserkerflakes are very useful to the army as a whole. Their stats and tiny, tiny rules make them excellent for beating down light- and heavy infantry - the only problem is getting them there. Never, ever tango with elite infantry, or your squad will either pop to fearless wounds, or explode outright.

This is why you bring the pimps, aka, the chaos terminators.
While the pimps shoot down the elite infantry as best as they can, the cornflakes ride the pimpinatormobile for speed, added protection, and general effectiveness.

All that said, land raiders are expensive, and do you even need cornflakes in the first place? Well, uhh.
No. No, you don't need them, at all.

Zjoekov: Couple of things here.

Land Raiders aren't a hot choice (as we'll show in the Heavy Support slot) and when taking them as dedicated transport for another unit, you add complications... See you can't start in those, this is pretty annoying sometimes as you can imagine. I don't recommend it.

Berzerkers have the option for a champion and this champion can take a Powerfist. Do it! Always, no exception. Fuck that I5 power weapon, cute but you simply want a powerfist. How many Powerfists are Ws5 A3 base? Exactly.
Another thing why a PW isn't that good on Berzerkers is the fact that is messes with wound allocation. Berzerkers cram out so much attacks on the charge; the power weapon wounds will get stacked on 1 special guy in the squad, reducing its effectiveness.

Instead of running them in a Land Raider, just take a Rhino instead. Yes this has its own problems and therefore it's not overly competitive either, but at least you're not breaking the bank this way. So the squad setup I suggest if you want them:

8 Berzerkers, powerfist Champ, rhino. 243 points.

Passable. Still 8 marines with good combat stats and with some other threats around you should get to charge some stuff now and then. Other times their rhino gets blown up and you'll slowly get torrented off the table without doing anything worthwhile. That's what makes them not so hot. Easy fix? Cheap plasmapistols please and maybe a small price reduction.

Thousand Sons

VT2: Infused by warpmagic, and touched by the god of wisdom and change himself, thousand sons are kings of magic, and those among them who do no sorcery are instead undying souls, caged and bound within their rune-etched armor.

Man, that sounds awesome.

Truth is, sons are severely overpriced, and cosplaying eldar in disguise. You see, back on craftworld B´âwtFa´vvQû, it's standard-practice to dress like a marine, and specialize in killing them well within their normal range

At the measly cost of 162 points, you can put the smallest, cheapest squad of sons possible on the table. No, this doesn't include a rhino, and yes, it's five dudes.

Zjoekov: GWvsJohn also did a post on this unit already so I'd like to refer to that if you are interested in this pretty looking unit.

You know what kills this unit utter and completely? No, not the 23 point Marines with Ap3 bolters and SnP. It's the sorcerer. 60 points without powers and 1 wound is nuts. Perils? Now you've done it, you're dead and your squad is even slower. In 75% of the cases at least, as yes you have a chance to pass that 4++ twice.
For the powers available to this mighty sorcerer, see the HQ section or the separate psychic powers article on chaos.

Squad setups? I'll give you 2. First the 'count-as MM Tactical bunker':

5 Guys; Bolt of Change, rhino. 212 points.

Yes really, 212 points. Now imagine that sorcerer dying at his first attempt to cast Bolt.
Next one; super-expensive rapid firing squad with increased CC power!

10 guys; Warptime + meltabombs, rhino. 332 points.

332 points? Lol. Now compare this with a fully equipped Grey Knight Strike Squad and cry.


Plague Marines are just pretty good troops. CSM and Berzerkers are far from horrible, but fail to impress overall. Noise Marines are overpriced and Thousand Sons pretty much broken (as in fail).

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