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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, August 26, 2011

GWvsJohn talks Chaos: Chaos Space Marines

Our review continues with that most basic building block of the Chaos Space Marine army, the Chaos Space Marine because, as Abuse said "the important part of a Rhino is what's inside it, and in the case of the CSM book, what's inside it is generally stinky poop. :P" (Although, part of my point in the Rhino review was that this statement is less true for CSM than vanilla.) Before we get into the meat of how to best utilize our traitors and renegades, let's get the elephant in the room out in the open. The basic Chaos Space Marine Squad is worse than the basic squad of any loyalist chapter. (For full disclosure purposes, I didn't double check my Black Templar and Dark Angel codexes this morning, so I can't be 100% on those two books :) ). And They Shall Know No Fear is a game-altering-ly powerful special rule. Loyalist marines are never out of the fight until the last man is dead. Your opponent MUST expend resources to dog them off the board or else that single tactical will regroup right on an objective or the valiant sgt will regroup to stand right in the way or a game-winning charge or the lonely missile launcher will regroup to pop that vehicle you were about to contest an objective with. Don't ever forget what a gift the Emperor has given you, you silly loyalists. In exchange, Chaos Marines get a chainsword and +1 Ld. Um, thanks?

One of the most common CSM squads you will see on the forums and the FLGS is 10 men, 2 specials, champ, powerfist, icon of chaos undivided, rhino. This "swiss army knife" squad, in theory, attempts to play up the basic Chaos squad's strengths. Double specials, close combat weapon to accent the bp/ccw on the basic guy, it sort of makes sense. But does the squad work? Not at all. That 2nd meltagun is nice. It also cost 85 points. BP/CCW is nice, but it doesn't turn a space marine into a CC threat, just ask vanilla assault marines. 2 s8 attacks are nice too, but it's not scaring anyone. You know what isn't nice? 255 points (265-275 if you're not a total dope and add some combi-weapons). That's 1/8 of your army. Spending 200+ points for a troop squad isn't a bad thing when that squad is going to stick around all game. However, Chaos Space Marines will NOT be sticking around all game. All their threat is in 2 meltaguns and a powerfist. That means they want to get close. Once they're close, they're going to get charged by a better CC unit (and by better CC unit, I mean any CC unit). Once they're in CC, they're done, because they will lose and break, and unlike their loyalist brothers, CSM stay broken. Just like that 1/8 of your army gone for 2 melta shots. The situation is only worse if you try to turn them into a "ranged" squad. Now you're paying 180 points (plus Rhino) for 2 plasma guns or 160 for an autocannon. The 10 man Chaos Space Marine Squad is just too expensive. The short ranged version is too vulnerable to CC to justify the cost and long range version brings about half the long range damage output you'd expect for a similarly costed unit.

"Too expensive" is going to be a theme of the Chaos Codex review. It's the main reason the book isn't top-end competitive. We need to approach every choice with maximum efficiency in mind. So, what do we want/need out of our troops. We need threat against tanks or infantry (6+6) and preferably both (duality). We need it to be durable and mobile (mech) and bring extra threat with the transport (1+1). We also need to bring enough of them to realistically claim objectives (4+2) so they need to be cheap.

Let's start basic. 5 dudes, 75 points. If you know 1 thing about 40k, it should be this "special/heavy weapons are good." Thus, adding a special is a no-brainer, and since "melta" is one of my goals, it's going to be the meltagun. 85 points for a scoring meltagun is actually decent. That being said, 1 melta shot does not make a real threat. You need 2. You may be thinking "but GWvsJohn, if 85 for a scoring meltagun is good, why not just spend 85 more and add a 2nd scoring meltagun?" To which I'd reply, "how dare you address me directly, peasant!" But returning to "serious business" that 2nd meltagun isn't scoring. The unit already scores. That 2nd meltagun is just a meltagun. And 85 points for a meltagun is NOT decent. What about 25 points? Now I'm getting excited. But it's one shot. Less excited. But is also adds +1 Ld! Seriously, an exclamation point for +1 Ld? Umm, also another shitty CC attack? Fine, I'll take it, but I'm not happy about it. Of course, I'm talking (to myself) about the Aspiring Champion. He gets a combi-melta, and he gets to keep his BP/CCW too (screw you Sgts). 110 points. 2 melta shots. Ld 10. Add Rhino of your choosing. I think the 50 point Havoc Rhino works best. Adds some decent duality and some 1+1 action. Final tally is 160 for a scoring, double melta, s5 blast unit. It's not a world beater, but I think it's a solid start to a list. You could do worse than bringing 6 of those.

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