On Wednesday night I ran two squads of CSM (Chaos Space Marines). It’s hard to deny that the current codex is geared towards undivided so I thought I’d give it a go and see what I thought. At the moment I’m still on the fence but figured I’d toss out my thoughts and solicit feedback as well.
CSM run you 13pts a model, super cheap. You can get yourself a 10-man squad for 140pts (the 5-man buy-in is more expensive). No arguments that the base cost is cheap but let’s dive into this a bit more. If you want to get them the CCW (close combat weapon), to make them like the CSM prior to this codex, then you’re paying 2pts a model, so now we’re at 15pts a model, still cheap.
Now there’s the considerations on wargear. If you’re going dual special weapons or a special weapon and a heavy weapon then you’re looking around 25pts there on average. Chaos Champions need to issue and accept all challenges so at least taking a power sword is advisable, in my opinion, so 15pts there. Oh, we need a Rhino so 35pts there. This, I feel, is the bare minimum and clocks in at 235pts.
We have those wonderful marks to consider and icons, this is where things get steep. The cheapest mark is 2pts a model with the most expensive at 3pts per-model. I don’t feel a mark is really required with this unit but I did want to toss it out there. The biggest issue this unit faces is not being fearless. You can get an icon to gain fearless at 25pts. You can also take Veterans of the Long War at 1pt per-model and boost your leadership by 1. You of course get hatred (Space Marines), but the LD boost is universal. Veterans doesn’t make you fearless but an LD boost is handy when you’re not fearless. So, either grab that icon and hope you don’t lose it or take VotLW. Take both if you feel like dumping a lot of points here.
For my comparision I’m going to make, let’s take a 10-man CSM squad, give them two plasma guns, take the CCW, the Icon of Vengeance, give the Champion a power sword and grab a Rhino. This unit runs 265pts. The comparision is Plague Marines, my favorite troop unit. I’m going to compare with how I run mine. I take 6 Plague Marines with 2 plasma guns, Champion with a power fist and a Rhino and it costs 244pts, or 21pts cheaper with 4 fewer bodies. I know many prefer a 5-man Plague Squad but I find 6 to be my magical number of bodies for these guys.
The direct evaluation between the CSM and Plague Marines. Both are fearless but Plague Marines are naturally fearless and not reliant on a piece of wargear that can be sniped out. Plague Marines are T5, CSM are not. Now, we can give CSM the Mark of Nurgle to get T5 but we raise the cost of the unit by 30pts to do so. Plague Marines have FNP, CSM do not. Plague Marines have defensive grenades and plague knives (4+ poisoned melee weapon), CSM do not. Lastly, the Plague Champion has better odds of winning a challenge overall, at least in my experience.
The last thing to look at is unit size. We’re comparing 10 CSM to 6 Plague Marines. As far as shooting potential goes, it’s not a big difference, a few bolters. As far as being shot at, if both units take 10 rapid firing bolters then that’s 2.178 dead CSM and 0.948 dead Plague Marines, so less than 1. What Plague Marines lack in bodies they make up for in resilience.
Just to play along with this some more, let’s say we mark the CSM with Nurgle and use the same example with being shot at. The CSM now goes down to losing 1.437 Marines, obviously better than before, but now the unit runs us 295pts, or 51pts more than the 6 x Plague Marines and still less resilient model to model. Those 51pts can buy me 2 more Plague Marines and I know damn well 8 Plague Marines will outperform 10 CSM.
As you can see, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into CSM. The biggest thing against them for me is they lack fearless. I can handle not being as tough as Plague Marines since model to model they are cheaper, but I hate relying on an icon for fearless. VotLW is nice but if you taking a pounding in close combat then it’s little comfort and you can get your ass swept, which makes the Chaos Gods cry.
The downside to Plague Marines as troops is you need a marked Lord. This is my biggest contention with them. I dislike the idea of needing a marked Lord, or Typhus, to get my favorite unit into the troop slot now. Having an HQ choice forced on me sucks. I suppose what I need to determine is what sucks less, a forced HQ or weaker troops? From what I’ve experienced thus far, I’d say the forced HQ is easier to swallow.