I don’t write articles on strategy and tactics but time-to-time I feel compelled to share my experiences to see if others find the same true, maybe help out a player or two and just get some feedback. This is one such article.
When the Chaos codex came out I immediately began running the same tried-and-true stuff. For me that was a core of Plague Marine troops backed up by Obliterators and often led by a Daemon Prince or two. As with most new codices, the same-old isn’t the same. So, I began trying out other units, adapting my army lists and changing with the times. First I wanted to talk about the humble Chaos Marine.
As mentioned, I stuck with Plague Marine troops for a while but the need to take a Lord with Mark of Nurgle to unlock them quickly got to me. I like Lords. They are my favorite HQ choice now, but in the context of the rest of my list at the time the Nurgle Lord didn’t fit in well. I stayed away from Chaos Marines because of their lack of fearless. Nobody likes being run down from a lost combat or jumping off the board from a failed morale test. I began using them though and realized for the points they are awesome.
Point for point breakdown is not my style, again, I’m more about experience and not about telling people what they should be doing. That being said, for 13pts you’re getting a Marine and all that entails. They lost the extra close combat weapon from the last codex but for the points drop who cares. If you want though, you can add back in that CCW for nonimal points, or swap it in for free by exchanging the bolter. I prefer to keep them cheap though. I always give them Veterans of the Long War to get that leadership boost. That LD boost has saved their ass on countless occasions and it’s well worth the cheap investment. There’s that added benefit of hatred Space Marines but I see that as a bonus, not the reason to take it.
Other than VotLW and special weapons, the only other thing I do is give the Champion a power weapon. With the Champion of Chaos rule forcing challenges, I figure I may as well spend a little in the hopes I win out. I know some people don’t bother, and I can’t blame them since rarely does my Champion win, but I’m kind of a sucker for my Champions having something on them to give them some utility beyond the +1LD they have.
Marks on these guys is something I avoid. Again, I prefer to keep them cheap so I can invest in other units, units more worthy of a mark. Same with icons, I don’t bother. It’s easy to take this affordable scoring unit and turn it into a point sink quick. If you’re running something fluffy then the options are there, which is great.
I’ve played loyalist Marines for a long time and I run these guys like Tactical Marines but a hair more aggressive since I give them double special weapons. I let my more aggressive, and faster, units spearhead while these guys do their job of securing objectives and giving supporting fire. If you’re investing a lot into this unit then you’re going to feel compelled to get more aggressive with them, to make use of those upgrades, but with a non-fearless unit that has to take challenges, it rarely pans out well for them.
My lists most of the time have two units of Chaos Marines, even when I have a marked Lord who unlocked cult troops. Once you’ve used these guys for a while and gotten use to their affordability it’s hard to spend the points on cult troops. It took some getting used to, running Chaos Marines compared to Plague Marines, but it’s been worth it.
So, if you’ve been shunning the humble Chaos Marine then give them a chance. They are very point efficient, they’re still marines with a 3+ armor save and they do their job well. They aren’t cult troops by a long shot but what you save on these guys lets you boost the rest of your list so they can do their job.