Chaos Space Marines Army List Feedback – Reader Help

Garret contacted me the other day to ask me a question about painting. This was the first time a reader contacted me to ask me anything, so I was very happy to respond. We’ve been conversing since, and Garret asked me if I’d offer some feedback on a Chaos Space Marines list he was working on. I’m always happy to help any 40K player out, and doubly so if it’s a fellow fallen brother.

To further help Garret get feedback on his list, I told him I’d post it here so that you all could also offer suggestions and feedback. Now, what he sent me is a very cool idea he has for a campaign, and this list revolves around that idea. Here’s what he had to say.

Geez, If you are willing to give me a spot there I will not complain, but please do note that this is my first and only based on theory. I have absolutely no gaming experience yet. The feedback you and everyone else will provide can put me up far ahead. Some foreword to the goal of this list:

The idea is to have a balanced army that’s competitive with a space marine army I want to build. I want to setup a campaign for these two and work out GW’s poor point allocation to a certain extent. So lets say it’s more fluff than competitive. The two armies must be competitive against each other of course, but I doubt they will hold against the locals. It’s for me and my friends or introducing new blood like myself to the game.

I’ve not touched the campaign yet, but the idea would be to start with your main HQ and say for argument sake 2 – 3 units of your choosing in the army. Every 2nd round or so you should get some basic troop options for spawning at your side of the table. There will be appearing random objectives on the playfield (still working on the implementation of random) and these objectives will grant you access to (depending on objective) a choice of elite, fast attack or whatever unit in that category. For now you will get three choices per category, but you may choose only one for that objective.

This is a very rugged untested summary, but it will give you longer games with 1500 pts hopefully since there must be 3 objective spawns. If all three have been taken, then they randomly respawn somewhere in no man’s land again. The game can be won by points or I guess the one that wipes the other one of the board eventually. It’s gonna be a snowball effect after all. This do mean you’re gonna need a good supply of basic troop choices and there should be a limit to how many can be on the board at the same time (say 4 squads of 10?), but the game will go in a direction of a winner somewhere I presume.

Now for the list:


HQ – 2 = 1 1504 PTS
TROOPS – 6 = 2
ELITES – 3 = 2

HQ – CHAOS LORD -65+45 = 110pts

ELITE – 10 X CHOSEN -180+145 = 325pts



TROOP – 10 X CULTISTS -50+16 = 66pts

TROOP – 10 X CULTISTS -50+5 = 55pts

FAST ATTACK – 4 X CHAOS SPAWN -120+10 = 130pts

HEAVY SUPPORT – 10 X HAVOCS – 140 + 125 = 265pts
-Frag, Krak & FlakK

HEAVY SUPPORT – 10 X HAVOCS – 140 + 65 = 205pts

FAST ATTACK – 7 X RAPTORS – 129 + 114 = 243 pts

I hope this can give you some article work, I would welcome any criticism since it could make my campaign work in the long run. Also please know I appreciate the opportunity you give me here. Thank you very much.



First, I think the campaign idea sounds like fun. Honestly, this is the stuff I love seeing with 40K, the cool and interesting ways to play the game that people come up with.

Now, my feedback on the list. Seeing as the entire thing is a theory, and I have no idea what sort of buying options you have, Garret, I’m going to stick to utilizing the units listed.

The Chaos Lord should, ideally, have the Sigil of Corruption for the 4+ invulnerable save. It’s only 10pts more and well worth the cost difference. Giving independent characters a Plasma Pistol is not something I very often do. I always overheat and lose my last wound when I do. I would leave off the Plasma Pistol and instead get yourself a Mark of Chaos. Personal preference here, but Mark of Nurgle will get him to T5 and make you less susceptible to Instant Death. If you do go with Mark of Nurgle then be sure to get Blight Grenades to negate any charge bonus against him and his squad. Of course, if the Lord is joining the Chosen then you would have to match the mark there, or just leave him without one as you have it :)

Chosen I have very little experience with, but I like the setup you have. You’ve kept them relatively cheap, and Mark of Khorne pushes the element Chosen have over basic Marines, more attacks. I would consider dropping the Icon of Wrath for an Icon of Vengeance though. The Icon of Wrath is great on a unit already Fearless, like Berzerkers, but Chosen aren’t Fearless, and getting run down because of a lost combat is a harsh realty for Chaos in general.

Another option for Chosen would be taking Veterans of the Long War. It costs less than the Icon of Vengeance, gets you to LD10 to offset a bad combat some, but also gets you Hatred Space Marines. Considering you have them geared up more for close combat, and you know you’ll fight Space Marines, it’s a solid option. It’s also a fluffy choice since Chosen are the veterans of the army.

Cultists look good, and I run the same setup since that’s how they come in the Dark Vengeance box.

On the Chaos Spawn I find the Mark of Khorne is largely not needed. Mark of Khorne gives you two things, Rage and Counter-attack. Spawn already have Rage naturally, so you’re only gaining counter-attack. Instead, I’m a big fan of Mark of Nurgle here. Making Spawn T6 is a HUGE advantage. All S4 stuff needs 6’s to wound (bolters, Marine close combat attacks). It also helps them with the fact they have no save by virtue of being tougher to wound. I’ve noticed a recurring theme with Mark of Khorne, so if it’s a fluffy thing then that’s cool.

Havocs are a great squad, and very often overlooked. It’s a solid unit with good firepower, and staying potential when you run them as a 10-man squad, as you have. I don’t give my Havocs the Icon of Vengeance because of the cost though. Instead I take Veterans of the Long War to boost them to LD10 with the Champ. My rationale is that if you’re taking morale from being shot then LD10 should be good to deal with that. If you’re taking morale for a lost combat then something went wrong, and you may as well just write off the unit anyway.

Something to consider with the Havoc’s Champion is giving him a Combi-weapon. Giving him a Combi-plasma would let him help the unit out a bit when things get close. I’m also a fan of Melta Bombs on anything that can take it, including your Lord. It’s a 5pt backup plan in case you tangle with something you can’t otherwise deal with.

Ah, Raptors. It’s a unit I want to love, but have seldom had much luck with. My only suggestion here would be to look at Meltaguns over Plasma Pistols on the two guys. You’re going to lose out on an attack per-model, but gain a more versatile unit as a result. It’s a great place for some melta since you can just jump out from behind cover and nuke something.

Overall, consider getting some Rhinos as well. I know the Chosen are geared for close combat, but having the option to start in a vehicle is always good. It can get you further down the field and to a far-flung objective. The thing I like to do with Rhinos when I take them in a situation like this, a close combat unit, and even for the Havocs who don’t need to drive around, is it can give you a screen. The Rhinos can be used to block line of sight to your units. The Chosen could advance behind the Rhino to minimize shooting on them, and it can be used to block charges to them as well. Same with the Havocs. Just park their Rhino near them to block line of sight and deter assaults.

So, my fellow Chaos players, do you have any advice you can offer Garret?

  • I’m not sure if you’re on Twitter, Garret, but I also posted this there. In case you aren’t on Twitter, and following me there, this is what LandMine (@ministomp), had to say:

    “change the havocs with AC to havocs in transport with 4x plasma gun + a mark of slaanesh or Nurgle.
    Remove spawns, play more CSM”

    • Garret

      Thanks for the post and everyone’s reply. It’s really great stuff and will give me a lot to work with. I’m not currently on twitter, still need to sort out my DISQUS account, but will have a look at it. And thank you for everyone posting ideas and replies concerning the list. For someone new like me it’s a great help.



      • Always happy to help out a new player.

      • Klatoo Verata Nicto

        Khorne is one of those factions that in order to compete you need to consider Khorne Daemonkin, or Forgeworld. Forgeworld loves Khorne! Especially Daemon engines. Instead of a dreadnaught consider taking a Blood slaughterer (135 points with Impaler.) It is WS5 with Rampage and gets 4 attacks on the charge. It can also possibly charge a MC or Vehicle the round it is summoned due to it’s impaler. (Str 8 AP3 and hits on a 4+ on a wound or pen you pull the target 2d6 towards it (reach yourself = charge.) You can take these in squadrons of 3. Did I mention that its one of the amazing Armor 13 Front walkers? You can buy them cheaply on EBAY.

  • Nice idea for a list, i love the idea of seeing a flood of chaos marines on the board but not Chosen. I don’t think they can really mane their points back, but if you do take them do grab a rhino for them. Saves one volley of shooting.

    For your Helbrute and cultists you might want to consider the Helcult formation.

    Personally I prefer a lot of daemon engines ;)

    • Good point on the Helcult. The only downside though is it would become an Unbound list. I take that back, it may be a downside for Garret, it may not be, but it’s a consideration anyway.

    • Garret

      Yeah I still need to work through the additional codex content, I presume that one comes from Crimson Slaughter codex? I still need to buy those. When it comes to unbound I have no idea what that means yet, but I would love to go full on CSM like Landmine said. Some transports and tons of fire power to back it up.

      the extra’s will come with time since it’s quite an expensive hobby. But I put away quite some cash every month so I guess I should only concern myself with painting time.

      Thanks for the advice Rory

      • There’s a Helbrute formation digital supplement you can buy. I forget the price, but it has 3 Helbrute formations in it. The one we’re talking about, Helcult, requires 1 Helbrute, and 2 squads of Cultists. The Cultists are Fearless and can shield the Helbrute. If they obscure the Helbrute then the Helbrute gets a 3+ cover save and a Cultist dies to save him. It’s a neat formation.

        The Crimson Slaughter, and Black Legion, supplements are nice, but not really a must-have if you’re in the early stages of your army.

        • Garret

          Oh yes I saw that, I will have to take a look at that again. helbrute formations seem to be deadly in pairs from what I read.

  • Evil dudes in power armour! That’s what Chaos Space Marines are all about. If you want to play Chosen you might want to check out the Black Legion supplements. It allows you to take Chosen as troops, you just need to take Veterans of the Long War on every unit that can take it.

    Leadership can be an issue for CSM so Veterans help, the Icon of Vengeance does too but I wouldn’t be too stressed out about this. Sometimes it’s actually good to break and run. So I would keep the Icon of Wrath on the Chosen, the reroll on the charge range is golden.

    I would drop a few bodies on the Havocs and try and add rhinos. They are great not only as transports but also as mobile cover. Bring a few.

    The Helbrute is actually 100 points not 105 points. The points are wrong in the codex. It is in the Errata.

    Raptor – meltaguns, always meltaguns. Raptors don’t loose an attack when they take meltaguns since they keep their pistol and chainsword. I would run them not for assault but as a tank hunting unit with counter assault abilities (power weapon on the champion). But drop the Icon, they won’t survive long enough to benefit from fearless anyway. Mark of nurgle or nothing.

    • I overlooked that Raptors keep the pistol and Chainsword. Good to know next time I run mine! Amazing how you can have a codex for years and realize you were doing things wrong.

    • Garret

      This is golden. Thanks, I will do that with the chosen and see how they run, I would love to do chosen if they are not to lame. I heard Rhino’s die to easily, but there’s a secondary transport with some lasguns, but they cannot be taken as dedicated transports and I think they go for 230pts? could be wrong by they looked badass.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      • You’re thinking of the Land Raider. It is a good tank with AV14 all round and 4 HP. You can assault straight out of it as well, something you can’t do from a Rhino. Check out the Crimson Slaughter expansion box that GW sell, you get a Land Raider, Terminators, Raptors and some Cultists at a discounted price.

        Rhinos are easily destroyed, that’s true but they still good for their points. I always try to squeeze a Rhino or two into my lists.

        • Garret

          Think I should do the same. They are dirt cheap in comparison, that land raider is so expensive, might have to do a special list to accommodate it.

          I was unaware that GW actually sells a Crimson Slaughter expansion? Sounds like they have everything in there I need. Will most assuredly not complain about some extra cultists.

            • Garret

              Is it just me or do that price look like a save? Cause if you go buy each of those separately, you should rock about £25 for each if not more. Then again here in South-Africa, our money is worth crap so maybe it’s just a save over here XD

              Will definitely buy me one of these.

              • Generally speaking, the boxes like that are usually a deal. It’s a great way to get a bunch of stuff for a discount.

                • Garret

                  I’ll keep an eye out. So used to gimmicks, but I worked out you save round about £21 on that deal, which is quite a lot when you convert it to our currency. Worth it.

                  • That box is most definitely a save. Well worth checking out.

                    • Klatoo Verata Nicto

                      Consider buying the Chaos Storm Eagle Assault Gunship. It is a Flyer that can have a multi-melta and 2 twin linker Lascannons for 280 points. Although with it’s basic loadout it costs 205 points, and can deploy up to 20 Marines. Imagine 20 bezerkers with a guarenteed safe (assault) transport. This means they can charge the same round they disembark… That would ruin anyone’s day.

                      Its also worth mentioning that it is a fast attack not heavy choice.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    Chosen kitted out for CC are very inefficient due to the inflated cost of their cc weapons. They end up costing as much as Terminators who are better. If you want Chosen take them in a rhino with a bunch of special weapons, I like plasma guns but all meltas or all flamers is good too, and maybe a Sarge with power sword.

    Havocs do this better but Elite slots are generally less full and Chosen can be made scoring with BL.

    • Garret

      Thanks, I will go do some cost breakdowns and maybe go for termies then. sigh… on paper alone they looked like so much fun. Thank’s for the feedback, for some reason I tend towards chosen but there’s no logic behind it.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Its also nice to have the option to deepstrike, shakes the game up a bit.

        • Garret

          I will keep that in mind. mobility is the game of war I guess. On a 1500pt list you don’t have much to work with in the first place.

          • Chosen is a bit more flexible than terminators and they can sweep, which is a big one. But you pay premium points when buy cc weapons. Don’t expect too much out of them, and if you armour saves like I do, you might double check that they actually activated their power armour …

            • Garret

              geez, I’m starting to wonder what the heck you are suppose to do with Chosen. Do they even have a purpose in the codex? They have this slick extra attack an better leadership but that’s about it. The cost for them is immense. What do you use them for Thomas?

              • Most people will give Chosen 5 special weapons. They are the only unit that can do that in the codex. As you can imagine, having 5 plasma guns or meltaguns can be very powerful.

              • Short answer, I don’t use them. My lists are always include other stuff that run the cost quickly – bikes, walkers and tooled out lords and sorcerers.

                Chosen are better as a shooty unit, with counter attack capabilities. They are versatile and can be used to bolster your firepower quite effectively. Especially if run Black Legion or Abaddon as you take them as troops when you do. You can minmax special weapons for a low price. But list optimization isn’t really the CSM strong suit, and it is pretty dull to try and do that. If you think Chosen geared like the awesome Dark Vengeance models, run them that way!

                To me, 40k is much more than just a game. If you like some models or concepts, like a warband of elite veterans that like to get in close and claim skulls for the skull throne. Run that army! I run Helbrute everytime I play. Why? Because I like the idea of insane killer cyborgs in my army not because they out perform other units (they don’t). For the same reason I tend to always run an unit or two of actual Chaos Space Marines, it is just the way I want my army to be.

                • “To me, 40k is much more than just a game. If you like some models or
                  concepts, like a warband of elite veterans that like to get in close and
                  claim skulls for the skull throne. Run that army! I run Helbrute
                  everytime I play. Why? Because I like the idea of insane killer cyborgs
                  in my army not because they out perform other units (they don’t). For
                  the same reason I tend to always run an unit or two of actual Chaos
                  Space Marines, it is just the way I want my army to be.”

                  Very well said, and I completely agree. I know some people really enjoy min-maxing lists, and I can see why, but for me it just sucks the fun out of the game and my list. You can maximize CSM if you really wanted to, but it would be dull and uninspiring. The reason we die-hard Chaos players still play Chaos, in the face of a bad codex, is that we enjoy the fluff and the army regardless. Often that means simply playing with what you enjoy even if it’s not amazing on the table.

                • Garret

                  well I’m stubborn enough to play chaos this way. I got the dark vengeance chosen as is and I already primed them, I think that ship sailed unfortunately. I will give them a try, cry and maybe buy new ones to fit the way I want them to play if I’m still stuck with chosen in my head.

                  And as you said Thor, if you are forced to play with certain units, you will lose heart in the end. Seeing that I won’t see a competitive table soon I might be able to mitigate some effects of the codex that leaves certain units useless. I will just need to be fair with the emperor’s babies as well.

                  To mitigate their weakness I might consider a mark of slaanesh ,seeing that they’ll be hitting the big boys, getting that alpha strike.

                  I think what I will do in my campaign rules with chosen and warp talons, is to make them a mutation of chaos space marines and warp talons. if the unit get enough kills, you can choose to convert them at no cost, but they’ll have to survive the current match first. Just need to work out the weapon particulars and such, give the space marines something similar or just another system. Either way it’s gonna be fun and hopefully a bit more balanced

                  • My rule is never disregard something until you try it. You might find everyone was right, but you may also find out you really like the unit despite what everyone else thinks. I think every CSM player has at least one unit they use that the internet thinks is trash.

  • Garret

    Something I noted. Terminators don’t get any assault grenade options. That means they fight at initiative 1 if they charge into cover should my memory serve right. I presume their armor make up for the deficiency on a practical game play level?

    • Correct. Terminators tend to be best armed with power axes and power fists, which make you initiative 1 anyway. You’re relying on the 2+ armor to keep you alive so you can swing.

      • Garret

        At least I’m starting to thinking in the right direction, lol. ok so they are kinda a one trick pony. get on their flank. Lay down fire until your reinforcements arrive kinda thing.

        I would have loved to use warp talons as well,but they kinda start to feel like Chosen just weaker. They are most probably the most over priced unit in the codex with the poorest mechanics. How long you guys think before we’ll get a whole new codex for Chaos that fix these problems?

        • Yeah, Warp Talons are very expensive. They do have a 5+ invulnerable, which is nice, but they really aren’t worth their points.

          The last rumor I heard was 2017 for the new codex. We’re all just hoping that they finally get it right.

          • Garret

            Geez that’s around the corner! I really hope they do, for now I’ll paint and test my campaign with some codex adjustments of units.

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