Battle Report: Chaos Space Marines vs Astra Militarum

Some of us at my FLGS are getting ready for a one day campaign this Saturday. It’s 1,500 points, no Unbound armies, and you can’t have any named characters. I’ve already mentioned that I’m using this as a chance to, hopefully, establish my Sorcerer in Terminator armor, tentatively named Maelstrom, from my Disciples of Twilight (Chaos Space Marines). I love campaigns, and they’re a great way to build up some fluff and let characters come to the forefront.

To that end, I’ve been messing with a list featuring dual Sorcerers. I tried it out last week and got destroyed in two back-to-back games. I went back and modified my list to try to cover glaring weaknesses. The result was this list I ran on Wednesday.

Chaos Space Marines – 1,500


  • Maelstrom (Sorcerer) – Psyker (Mastery Level 3), Combi-bolter, Force Weapon, Terminator Armor, Spell Familiar
  • Warforce (Sorcerer) – Psyker (Mastery Level 3), Bolt Pistol, Force Weapon, Sigil of Corruption, Spell Familiar


  • Deathcry (Helbrute) – Power Fist, Missile Launcher
  • Gorgons (Terminators) x 5 – Combi-melta, Reaper Autocannon, Assorted Power Weapons


  • Redemption (Chaos Space Marines) x 5 – Meltagun
    • Swiftclaw (Aspiring Champion) – Meltabombs, Combi-melta
    • Rhino – Dozer Blade
  • Vengeance (Chaos Space Marines) x 5 – Plasma Gun
    • Aspiring Champion – Meltabombs
    • Rhino

Fast Attack

  • Heldrake – Baleflamer

Heavy Support

  • Devastation (Obliterators) x 3 – Mark of Nurgle, Veterans of the Long War
  • Forgefiend – Ectoplasma Cannon x 3

The list is a really big deviation from my norm, which makes it both interesting and a bit aggravating. Not a bad aggravating mind you; just that I’m not used to wielding something like this and it takes more thought.

A few of the big changes for me was trying out 5-man CSM squads. I was talking to someone last week, and he had a very good point. He was the one who kicked my head in twice. He suggested dropping them down to 5-man because the full 10 wasn’t benefiting me much, and he was right. I also shaved all my squads down to bare minimal (mostly), to save on points to spread around. I had a lot of marks in my previous list that were mostly wasted. I also wanted to try the Forgefiend with the 3 x Ectoplasma Cannons. As long as I’ve owned a Forgefiend, which was as soon as it came out, I have not tried it. It’s shorter range and trades in volume of fire for quality of fire. For the record, Ectoplasma Cannons are S8, AP2, blast with 24″ range.

The Game

I’m not going to break down my opponents list. Astra Militarum have such large lists, at any point size, that I can never get everything right. The short of it is that he, Ming, had around 6 Chimeras, mostly full, and dual special weapons, also a Command Squad. It was backed by a Manticore, Leman Russ and Vendetta.

We rolled up a Maelstrom mission, Deadlock: start with 6 cards and decrease one card per-turn. He won deployment and I won to setup first. I setup with all my units close together since he could outmaneuver me, and pick off anyone who strayed too far. He setup his parking lot relatively far forward and then stole the initiative from me. That’s happened two games in a row now…

Turn #1

Mostly Ming shuffled around to get on objectives. The Manticore hammered the Terminators and took out two if I recall. Short turn but Ming pulled out 4pts.

Ming Turn #1

I advanced slowly, pulling my units together. My psychic phase was horrible. but my Obliterators took out a Chimera and pinned the unit inside. I managed to pull 5pts.

Turn #2

Ming’s Vendetta arrived, and the rest of the army moved up for objectives. My Obliterators took heavy fire from the Vendetta and Chimeras, and only one remained afterwards with Warforce. The Terminators also took a lot of fire, Manticore and Master of Ordnance, and only one remained there with Maelstrom. Tough turn. Ming pulled a few more points.

My CSM in the back moved to an objective. My forward CSM jumped out, and with melta, took out the Leman Russ. Maelstrom left the lone Terminator to join Warforce and the remaining Obliterator. The Forgefiend immobilized a Chimera and the Heldrake toasted some Guardsmen. I pulled a few more points as well, keeping it a very close game.

Turn #3

Ming advanced up, and I lost my Forgefiend this turn to volume of fire. The Vendetta unloaded into my Helbrute, and put two hull points on him, as well as stunning him. My forward CSM lost their Rhino, and then they proceeded to die from the Master of Ordnance. That guy was ruining my day. Ming pulled a few more points.

Things were pretty desperate for me here. My lone Terminator moved to try to charge the nearby Chimera. My Helbrute got crazy, recovered from stunned and had to try to charge something, the Chimera. My Obliterator vaporized a single Guardsman on an objective with a lascannon (not overkill at all), and my Heldrake went into hover to snag an objective. That single Terminator died to overwatch, and the Helbrute failed his charge. I pulled a few points, keeping it close still.

Remainder of the Game


The game was neck and neck. I was taking a pounding, but managing cards that kept me in the game. At some point we got a tie score, end of turn #4 I believe, and the desperation intensified. Ming had to get the objective in my back field with CSM on it. I had to get an objective his Chimera was on, the one the Helbrute and Terminator failed to get at. Warforce got Endurance up on my CSM, which kept them alive when the Veterans got out of the Vendetta and shot them in the face. I had denied him. I sent my Obliterator on his own to get the Chimera, as I needed my Sorcerers close to the CSM for powers. The Obliterator failed to destroy the Chimera in shooting, which I needed, so I could charge the occupants. He did punch the Chimera to death but I was denied the objective.

Chaos Space Marines: Hold the Objective
Piss off. This is our objective.

At the end of turn #5 it was a tie game, I believe 11-11. We got another turn and Ming downed my Heldrake, removing my ability to score line breaker. I couldn’t remove his ability to score linebreaker, too many units and not enough of my own. My only call was to try to kill his Warlord holed up inside a Chimera. Warforce got off Endurance, Iron Arm and Warp Speed. He was jacked up, and ready to smash a Chimera, but they failed the charge. It was a long shot anyway. I had to get the Commander to die in the explosion, but it was my only move.

We rolled up a turn #7, but at this point Ming had me by at least one point with the ability to pull a few more. The store had to close early so we never got to play out the turn, yet it was clear Ming had won the game.


It was a hell of a game, and the closest one I’ve had in literally months. I was amazed I stayed in the game after he neutered my Obliterators and Terminators. Not only did I pull cards that I could manage, those remaining few models were almost invincible after losing their buddies. The fact the game came down to a few critical dice rolls was great.

My psykers just weren’t felling it this game. I had some great powers on both of them, but it was really only two turns of the seven that I got up the powers I wanted and needed. My list is an elite list, and it really relies on my Sorcerers to do their thing. Those failures really hurt.

The MSU CSM squads did well though. Had I run those squads at 10, like usual, it wouldn’t have made a difference in this game. One game doesn’t make for anything conclusive, but I’ll keep trying them out small squads to see how it goes. The Forgefiend was a letdown but I wasn’t prioritizing well either, so that’s on me and not the setup.

Overall I like the list. It’s small, theoretically resilient, but anyone who has seen me roll 2+ saves knows better. I might tweak it a bit for Saturday to get another fast unit in there, like Bikers. The list is so slow, and having a fast unit would be damn helpful. We’ll see though…

  • Ouch sounds like an uphill struggle for. Well done to Ming for putting your list to the test.

    • It was an uphill battle from the start. So many tanks and so few ways to reliably deal with them. He had the numeric advantage and mobility. More than half of my powers were useless with the infantry safe inside tanks. I just tried to keep my units together, weather the fire and hope for achievable cards, which thankfully was how it went, keeping it a very close and fun game.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        nice thing about the IA13 list is the ability to give dirt cheap cultist squads Krak grenades and their champions can have melta bombs (as well as specialist and heavy weapons in the squad). So much better than the Cultists from the CSM book.

        • So, basically traitor Guard. I like it.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            proper traitor guard, with mutants, crazy psykers, zombies etc. Basically what the CSM Cultists should have been.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    slightly confused- there aren’t any Terminators in the list above.

    Glad you have come over to the MSU dark side! CSM needs all the efficiency savings it can get!

    I have gone MSU big time lately- individual spawn units, solo obliterators, minimum squads of cultists etc.

    • Doh! I forgot to type them in. Thanks for the catch. Updated!

      No argument here. CSM really has to spread points around to have a reasonable chance on the table these days. Every time I try and load up a unit like Nurgle Bikers, Tzeentch Terminators etc., I just find it’s not worth the points. We’re outdated, over priced, lacking formations, detachments… *sigh*

      New codex soon…right…?

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        lets hope so. I almost never play without a CAD of IA13 or the updated Vraks book because there is bargain stuff in them and its Battle Bdothers with CSM and Dkin. The unending host formation is amazing.

        • Sadly I don’t own IA13, though it is available to me, I just haven’t sat down to go through it yet beyond checking out the walkers…love walkers.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            there are some good walkers in it, though the AV13 Ironclad-alike has a weapon whose profile isn’t listed (flamestorm cannon), though I assume its the same as the Land Raider version (S6 AP3 template). No way to get ti to the frontline though short of a dreadclaw which is 50ish points overpriced.

            Seriously though, aside from the obligation to choose the HQ of the CAD as your warlord if you want to unlock any of the goodies, the IA13 and Vraks lists are pure awesome. Cheap artillery to shell anyone hiding and to put your Demagogue in (for T7) and a blob of zombies to bubblewrap it is a brilliant addition to CSM or Dkin. Or respawning infantry to follow up on a fast assault wave from the Vraks book.

            • Hmm. Sounds like I really need to go through it more thoroughly then.

              • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

                its almost as cool as the Imperial Militia/Chaos Cults list from HH V

              • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation
                • Awesome. Thanks for that.

                  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

                    its a great book. I have lots (and I mean LOTS) of zombies, cultists and mutants painted up for IA13 (which I presume you have) and the new Vraks book (which I presume you have) so this HH5 Cults list is the way into Horus Heresy gaming for me.

                    If you don’t have IA13 or Vraks I can give you a linky…

  • I like the list, I usually kit my champs more but I often end up with small squads. A really hope the new codex gives us good reasons to big, really big. Heavy discount on model 11-20 could be one way (I think that’s how they do it in HH), free wargear when you hit 20 or a heavy/special weapon per five models.

    • Yeah, I’ve never run a squad of 10 because there’s no reason to. Giving an incentive there could be interesting. On the other end, I’d also like to see a heavy weapon a choice at 5 models. I wouldn’t mind taking 5 CSM with a missile launcher or something to play as pseudo Havocs every now and then.

      • I’m pretty sure that the new codex will have some mechanism to stimulate big squads. Because, you know, GW likes to sell models.

        I’ve run a 20-man unit of Nurgle marines a couple of times. They can take a beating but man they pay for it.

        • Oh, they sure do like to sell kits when a new codex drops. No doubt about that.

          See, that’s the thing with the codex. You can create fluffy stuff with it, no argument. We have marks and icons to tailor units as we see fit. However, it’s usually prohibitively expensive, and often times the return on investment is not worth it. GW needs to give value for going down such an expensive route. You know, if you’re entire army is Nurgle aligned you gain this benefit, this for Khorne, etc. Maybe the old bonuses for sacred numbers…something. I just can’t stomach yet another bland and superficial codex.

  • Ming

    Man, somebody ought to paint them Scions!

    More battle report photos here:

    • Yeah, they probably should… ;)

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