Lessons Learned: My Chaos Space Marines

Chaos Space MarinesYesterday was a 1,650 tournament at my FLGS. As usual, I played my Chaos Space Marines, Disciples of Twilight. I had not managed to play in any monthly tournaments for a past few months so I was looking forward to it. Over the past few months I have slowly but steadily been improving and finally managed to get a positive win ratio in 7th edition.

First up, I had a great set of games, no complaints. However, I only managed to go 1-2 on the day. The first loss was only by 4pts but the final loss was by 9pts. The win I managed was by 4pts. So, I had a great day playing 40K but I took a pounding and tied for last place.

Chaos Space Marines List

The list I was running was a test for the Standish Standoff 4 (SS4), which is the big 40K tournament we hold in Standish, Maine. It’s not big by comparison to the tournaments that are famous but big enough for us and always draws a great crowd. My poor performance on the day made it obvious that my list needs work, which sucks. The tournament is in November, about a month and a half out, and here I am again trying to conceive a list that will hold up through the day (I never go in expecting to win the day), and to do so with regards to what I can manage to get painted in time or already have painted. I hate being in this position.

Daemon Weapons

Despite not doing well in the tournament, I did gather some valuable information. First and foremost, as much as I love the thought of daemon weapons, I won’t be using them for the SS4 tournament. For those not familiar, daemon weapons add D6 attacks but if you roll a 1 then you hit yourself with the weapon, gain no bonus attacks and are WS1 for the combat. It doesn’t sound too bad at first, the odds of rolling the 1 are low enough, but when this is on a close combat character who spends a vast majority of his life in close combat, those 1’s come up and always at a bad time. I tend to overlook it for a while, take a positive outlook and fondly remember those times the daemon weapon just destroyed entire squads. Yet, there are times (more than I would like), where I roll that 1 and things fall apart. Daemon weapons have great potential but are unreliable and I need reliable in a tournament list.

Chaos Lord Soulgore
Sorry buddy but you’re sitting on the sidelines now.

Chaos Spawn

Relating to the daemon weapon is my Spawn. I love me some Spawn. Typically they are a bodyguard for my Chaos Lord, Soulgore, who rides a Juggernaut and has the Axe of Blind Fury. Lately I have also just run Spawn on their own with Mark of Nurgle for T6 goodness. I have found that I get more out of Spawn on their own with Mark of Nurgle than I do with Spawn unmarked playing bodyguard to Soulgore.


I also concluded that as much as I love Raptor models, and jump units in general, that it’s a unit that just isn’t going to work for me. I have been running them 10 strong with Mark of Slaanesh (I5), and the Icon of Excess (grants FNP), with two meltaguns and the Aspiring Champion with melta bombs and a power sword. The unit weighs in at 270pts. I love the concept of the unit but on the table it has almost always underperformed. With a price tag of 270pts you have certain expectations and despite the mark and icon, at the end of the day they are just Marines with jump packs, nothing special. I have run them in cheaper configurations as well but I just haven’t had any luck with the unit.

Chaos Raptors
They look so cool…

Chaos Space Marines Troops

Yesterday I also played with the idea of using Cultists as the core of my troops. I did have Berzerkers but of course Berzerkers rampage forward to get into combat and hopefully steal objectives. The Cultists were being used as my backfield objective holders and they failed in that role. Typically I use Chaos Space Marines in that capacity, or even midfield, and I will take Cultists more as a plan B. My typical use has proven the better option for me in how I run my lists.

Land Raider

On the positive side of things, I did see that the Chaos Land Raider can be worth taking. I have stayed away from it for a while for various reasons but the primary one being that I have not felt it’s value is worth the points. It may not be the best Land Raider going but it’s still an AV14 box that lets dudes assault out of it. I did not lose it once yesterday and as a fire base it proved not terrible either. It’s certainly not a must-have choice in my lists but it’s an option.


So, I have a lot of thinking to do in order to get a list together for SS4. Yesterday was not my best day gaming but you really do learn more from losing than you do winning and right now I needed some hard truths to help me make a better list for when it counts more. I love my Chaos Space Marines and I want to see them do well.

How about you. Do you get all introspective on your losses and look for your faults or just take it on the chin and move forward?

  • Hey Thor,
    Anytime I’ve seen someone use cultists as backfield holders, they’ve been fearless by some manner. Either they were zombies (typhus), or they were part of some sort of formation which made them fearless. By themselves, they only work good if you can prevent them from being on the board till the end of the game. They just break way too easy (but they are crazy cheap, so that is why!)

    What will you take instead of daemon weapons?

    I’d be wary about the land raider. They have all but disappeared from the tourney scene due to the most popular armies having excessive access to lance, (DE/Eldar), Melta (Tau/SM), haywire (DE/Nids), and gauss (necron). The main advantage of a landraider, is it’s av14. When things just negate that, it’s just a large tomb.

    For example, pretty much every single FMC in a skyblight formation has a haywire template.

    • Cultists definitely need to be fearless if they’re being used in the way I as. I was hoping I’d have so many other threats that the Cultists would be largely ignored, and that was true of one game, but mostly they just got destroyed by a singe unit firing on them be it from the shooting itself or from failed morale.

      I’ve played with the popular claw/fist setup and have liked it. Versatile and reliable. I do also like the Blade of the Relentless in theory but practice hasn’t proven it all that effective.

      I certainly wouldn’t hang my list on a Land Raider but at the same time our meta is nothing like the big tournament scene. DE are all but extinct (though likely to change!), where I’m at. Eldar are a rare sight and Necrons even more rare. The big army where I play is SM so there’s always the melta threat but hell, every unit we field has a threat and you will likely face it at some point.

      As I said, it’s not a must-have in my lists but it did move from the hell-no list to the maybe list ;)

      • To make use of melta the unit has to get into assault range. Unless you’ve hung the raider out to dry whatever comes that close to it should be swamped in melee monsters! In most games your opponent will have to dedicate so much effort to killing a landraider that they are leaving something else alive to do so. Due to the points they carve out of your list they’re hardly a must have, but I think they can do pretty well in our area.

        • It was largely ignored in the tournament. You’re right, generally it takes some dedicated fire to open it and most reliably would be with melta. As you noted, melta means assault range and when the LR is packed with Berzerkers, well you know what happens when they lose their ride. The LR on its own doesn’t scare people, it’s the contents, and one way or another the contents will generally still do their job.

  • Trentat

    I’ve found that character armament of Power Fist & Lightning Claw are probably the most effective pairing. They’re both ‘Specialist Weapons’ so grant the +1 attack and you have the option of going for either high strength & AP or shred attacks at initiative.

    Like Greggles said there are a lot of counters out there for Raiders, so be wary. I still see them though, especially ObSec Deathwing/GK/Templar ones. Without ObSec I’m not sure that they’re worth it though?

    You can practically achieve the same result by Infiltrating units forward, which Chaos _might_ just have the most access of this option available: Huron Blackheart (not a bad IC by any means), Cypher (pricey for an IC without a ++ save though) and of course the Strategic Warlord Trait.

    Chaos has some pretty good short range fire (2 x special weapons/squad) and is even better in assault. Starting your army right on your opponent’s doorstep might aid that.

    Let the galaxy burn, brother!

    • I’ve like the claw/fist setup in the few times I’ve used it. I’m definitely going to run it some more and get a better feel for it.

      I do love infiltrating but haven’t run Huron for some time. Ahriman has it as well, the warlord trait, but Huron is a better fit for my army. Maybe it’s time to revisit that option again.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I have found the Helcult quite good- a shooty Dreadnought and two squads of fearless cultists to hold an objective. They give the Helbrute a cover save too.

        You could try a bastion/bunker with the escape hatch as a way of getting troops forward. Its much cheaper than a LR and can give anti air or reserve manipulation.

        • I’ve heard about the hellcult being pretty good as well. And ya Thor, really depends on your local meta. I can just report on mine, and what I saw at Nova Open (which is ultra competitive east coast fellas).

          I’ve actually thought about using CSM as allies to the orks to add some flare, but decided to just keep it pure orks and summon daemons until the weirdboy’s heads explode :).

          • I’ve thought about allying in my Orks to my CSM but I just don’t see it working that well, with Orks as the ally, at least now with the mob rule changes since I do fast Orks, not blobs.

            Weirdboy going until his head explodes is all that’s expected of him. If he can get some Daemons in the process then great :)

        • I have been eying the formation and the Helcult specifically. I just have yet to commit it to a list.

          I’ve never been a big fan of buildings. Not that they aren’t effective but I’ve always figured those are points better spent in the army itself. I’m not saying I’m right either, just that’s been my thought on them ;)

%d bloggers like this: