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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: Legionis Tacticum
Tactical articles

Legionis Tacticum: Chaos Space Marines by Patrick Eibel
“…And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how do I work this?’…”

As the Jungle celebrates its tenth anniversary, I am trying to finish some of the series that are missing entries. One army noticeably absent from the Legionis Tacticum series is Chaos Space Marines. More than any other recent release, Codex: Bad Boys changed the way many people played their armies.  While many players bemoaned how much the codex neutered their army lists, I think the new codex toned down some of the more easily abused aspects of the old one (Obliterator-heavy Iron Warriors and daemon-bomb Alpha Warriors). 

However, in the attempt to simplify and streamline the codex, the writers stripped away a lot of the flavor that allowed Chaos Space Marines players to create uniquely-themed armies.  The prospect of a future four powers codex helps to offset some of the vanilla taste the current codex leaves.  That being said, there is still plenty to like about playing a Chaos army, and without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the ways to make Chaos cool.

Strengths: Resilient troops, tactical flexibility, MEQ 
Weaknesses: No “Know No Fear,” relatively expensive units
Key Wargear:  Icons, daemon weapons, psychic powers

Tactics: It is difficult to discuss Chaos Space Marines without comparing them to their loyalist counterparts. Codex: Space Marines is a pretty straightforward book, easy to use to create a potent force of loyal servants to the Emperor.  This is because Space Marines are meant to be the starter army to introduce new players to the game.  Other armies may be more difficult to use or to assemble a coherent fighting force.  The Chaos Space Marine Codex is not as obviously potent, but can produce equally effective army lists.

Let’s start with the HQ choices.  Since the codex came out before the practice of having special characters “buy” you things in the army, there is no real reason to take any of the overpriced special characters (of the lot, Huron is the best, given his load out and point value). 

The remaining three HQ choices are all solid no matter how you plan to configure your army.  A Daemon Prince with wings and either the Mark of Khorne (+1 Attack) or Tzeench (4+ Invulnerable save) will certainly dampen your opponent’s morale, and is a bargain at about 150 points.  Chaos Lords can be outfitted a variety of ways to tie into your army theme.  Daemon weapons and personal icons are almost essential for your Lord, regardless of the other toys you get for them. 

No matter how you equip them, Chaos Lords rock

Sorcerers got a big bump in popularity, with fanboys running Lash of Submission armies.  The problem with Lash, of course, is that it is useless against mechanized armies.  Four powers that are good all the time are: 

  • Doombolt (aka Marine killer);
  • Warptime (aka dice compensator);
  • Wind of Chaos (aka just die already); and,
  • Bolt of Change (aka can opener).
Codex: CSM has some of the best Troop choices in the game.  Plague Marines may be expensive at 23 points each, but Toughness 5 makes them hard to kill. Khorne Berserkers can dish out a lot of pain with Furious Charge.  Thousand Sons have an invulnerable save, souped up bolters, and can be led by an Aspiring Sorcerer with one of the four sweet powers described above.  Each of these units are potent in their own right, and can add flavor to your army whether you want to focus on a particular faction or not.  However the real gem of the list are the basic Chaos Space Marines.  Give them an Icon of a particular faction and you get a “light” version of one of the units above for about 30 points less. 

The Elite and Fast Attack choices are all rather uninteresting, so don’t invest too much in these categories.  Oh, sure there are people who swear by Chosen, Terminators, Bikers, or Raptors, and that is all well and good.  These are not the selections that will form the core of your army, and as such should be treated like the cherry on top of the sundae, not the ice cream.

No, for real tastiness we move on to the Heavy Support section, where there are choices aplenty to get excited about.  First, let’s be very clear on this: the reason most Chaos armies include a Defiler is because they are freaking awesome.  Sure, the Armor Value 12 makes them vulnerable, but Daemonic Possession helps, and you get a battle cannon for a little over 150 points (if you add anything, not that you need to).  Obliterators are the other super-fun unit.  Now that the squad must take all of the same weapon, there is no reason not to take two or three and Deep Strike them to manifest multi-meltas to wipe out tanks; or use plasma cannons to blast troops.  Talk about tactical flexibility.  The other choices are pretty much the same as their Loyalist equivalents, so use them as you will.

The Greater and Lesser Daemon entries pale in comparison to what they were under the old codex.  Still, they are still useful as a nasty surprise to reinforce your units no matter where they are on the board, and they are a pretty cheap option next to some of the expensive Troop choices you get.

As far as tactics, if you want to focus on assault, concentrate on units with the Mark of Khorne.  If you want to focus on shooting, you probably want Tzeentch (love those psychic powers), or Slaanesh (blastmasters are sweet), or a combination of both.  I like the idea of fielding a mixed army that features units from all the four powers.  For this army, I would take Thousand Sons, for Tzeench (they have the best add-ons), Bikers of Nurgle (Toughness 6—WHAT?), Chaos Space Marines with Icons of Khorne (watered-down Berserkers), and, of course, the ubiquitous Sorcerer with Lash for Slaanesh. 

To sum up, even though the “bad guys” don’t have as many bells and whistles as the “good guys,”  they still have some nasty options to get the job done.

Related Pages
Introduction to the series
Other articles in this series

Posted March 2010


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle