The humble Chaos Space Marine. One of two undivided troop choices that CSM have, and often looked down upon.
Today I want to go over the Chaos Space Marines unit, see how useful they are, and how they can best be used. They may not be the best unit in the codex, not by a long shot, but they can still be used effectively.
General Info: Chaos Space Marines
Chaos Space Marines have two stock troop choices, Cultists and Chaos Space Marines. Unless you’re unlocking the cult units as troops (Plague Marines, Berzerkers, Thousand Sons and Noise Marines), you’ll likely be using a unit or two of CSM. I think CSM get a bad reputation. Competitive gamers feel they are expensive for what you get. You get a Marine stat-line, power armor, access to double special weapons and Chaos Marks. Are they on par with their loyalist brothers? Probably not, but they have options not available to loyalists, and comparing one codex to another on a unit by unit basis will never work. People fail to understand that.
Chaos God Marks
Like most things in the Chaos codex, they have the ability to get Marks. You can go a number of different ways here. You could take Mark of Khorne, drop the bolter for a CCW and rampage forward in a large unit of 20 Marines. Using the same approach, you could instead pick up the Mark of Slaanesh. More a fan of T5 Marines? Snag the Mark of Nurgle. The Mark of Tzeentch is the only one I wouldn’t consider. In my opinion a 6++ (invulnerable) is not worth the cost.
With the Marks you also have the icons, one for each Chaos God and an unmarked icon. Khorne will get you rage and counter-attack, Slaanesh grants FNP (Feel No Pain), Tzeentch gives Soul Blaze and Nurgle gives the unit Fear. As with the Marks, it really depends what you’re aiming for, but the points add up quickly when using Marks and icons.
Icon of Vengeance
I personally almost always take the Icon of Vengeance to get Fearless if I’m running a 10-man squad. It’s get dumped on for being a 25pt icon that can be removed, and in turn you lose the ability, but it has proven invaluable to me in my games. There’s the option of going cheaper and taking Veterans of the Long War for +1 LD (leadership), and also gaining Hatred Space Marines. It’s only 1pt a model and this is what I do when not using the Icon of Vengeance, normally on smaller 5-man squads.
Losing my icon is not something that comes up very often where I play. With good maneuvering you can keep the icon safe from typical fire. Snipers and barrage are a problem, so I try to deal with those threats early. Normally when I do lose my icon it has already done its job. It’s pricey, but my experience has been well worth the investment. If you’ve turned your nose up at it in the past then give it a shot for a few games, and you’ll likely start seeing the value. Fearless troops are gold in 7th edition.
Weapons & Wargear
Dual special weapons are the most common setup with CSM. I sometimes run two 10-man squads with one using dual plasma guns, and one using dual meltaguns. Whatever flavor you prefer here is a matter of preference really.
For my Aspiring Champion I just give him a melta bomb and call it a day, unless I’m running smaller squads. If I run a 5-man squad then I will give the Champion a matching combi-weapon to the special weapon in the squad. With the changes to challenges, a power weapon isn’t a terrible idea now, but I prefer to just keep it as cheap as possible and send him on his way.
Oh, since it’s probably not clear, I do not Mark my Chaos Space Marines. I like having a relatively cheap unit that can maneuver around with a Rhino.
Use on the Battlefield: Chaos Space Marines
I’ve covered this a bit above but it’s simple. I toss these guys in a Rhino and snag objectives. My typical lists have a lot of fast units in them. So, I use those fast units to create threats, and my CSM drive around often unhindered.
With 7th edition changing scoring, I will also use my CSM offensively where needed. Meaning, I don’t feel the need to babysit them, and keep them out of harm’s way all the time since other units can score. Rapid firing eight bolters and two plasma guns is damn effective. When more guns are needed I will not hesitate to dump these guys out. They’re basic Marines. Bolters in volume can be effective. It also means that they don’t take very well to being charged. The Icon of Vengeance is handy here though. It has kept my units locked against things that normally would have swept them. The icon keeps them on the table so I can bail them out with my assault units.
Lately, I have been sticking to running two 5-man squads instead of the larger 10-man. The points I save on the smaller squads lets me invest in other units, and those other units often pull the heat off the small CSM squads.
Conclusion: Chaos Space Marines
Overall, CSM are your basic troop choice, and should be used as such. They aren’t amazing at anything, but they have reasonable fire power, are relatively cheap, and have objective secured. They may not be on par with their loyalist counter-part, but it’s still a 3+ armor save walking around with bolters, and special weapons, and that is always useful.