Obliterator Review – Weapons? We Got Weapons

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Chaos Space Marines Review for 8th Edition

Obliterators are another unit I use a lot, second only to Spawn for non-troop choice units. There’s just so much to like about an Obliterator unit that it’s hard to not take them.

As with the Spawn, the below is just my opinion, and I’m no nationally ranked 40K player or anything. I’m just a guy who thoroughly enjoys Chaos Space Marines, and figured I’d share my experience.

Obliterator Rules & Info

An Obliterator is effectively a 2-wound Terminator at its core, however, they come in a much smaller unit for a much higher price. The huge price tag is well worth it though as no other unit in the codex can do what this unit does. An Obliterator is a Swiss-army knife, and can easily fit into any list you make. Do you need some solid shooting? Take Obliterators. Want some close combat power? You want Obliterators.

The only real downside to Obliterators is that they are not Fearless. In fact, they are only LD8. This is where Veterans of the Long War comes in, as you’ll see below.

Chaos Marks

If only the GW models looked like this.

As with Spawn, there are not a lot of upgrade options for an Obliterator unit. The first thing you will see are the marks. Now, I have my preference here but most of the marks are useful, barring the Mark of Slaanesh. I can only imagine that mark is offered for the sake of fluff only.

My preference is the Mark of Nurgle, the 2nd most expensive mark. Getting Obliterators to T5 means a single S8 missile isn’t going to Instant Death them because of a bad roll. You can also take a lascannon hit (S9 AP2), and know at worst you’re taking a wound. It also means they can tangle with the likes of Terminators packing power fists and thunder hammers and also not suffer Instant Death. Being tougher to wound with your standard S4 weapons and attacks is a nice bonus but it’s definitely avoiding Instant Death as to why I prefer the Mark of Nurgle.

The second cheapest mark for an Obliterator is Mark of Khorne. If you’re doing a fluffy list or want Rage and Counter-Attack then it’s a good choice; better than it was now that Counter-Attack is automatic. Getting 4 attacks on the charge per-model with Rage isn’t terrible either. The downside, as noted earlier, is fear of Instant Death and so you have to choose your assault targets carefully.

The final mark, since Mark of Slaanesh is useless (literally), is Mark of Tzeentch. It’s the most expensive mark and gets you a 4++ (++ is invulnerable save). A 4++ is nice but you still have to worry about Instant Death. Point for point you will find Mark of Nurgle keeps you alive longer.

Veterans of the Long War

The final upgrade you can snag is Veterans of the Long War. Most of the time I will buy it to boost their mediocre LD8 up to LD9. When you’re running a small unit, max of 3 per-squad, that boost in leadership comes in handy a lot. However, if I have to shave points in my lists then this is one spot I will look. It’s not the first spot I look but if the points just aren’t there then I will forgo this option.

Use on the Battlefield


Chaos Obliterator
This Obliterator hasn’t had his morning coffee.

Obliterators pack a plethora of shooting options: lascannon, plasma cannon, multi-melta, assault cannon, heavy flamer, twin-linked plasma gun, twin-linked meltagun and twin-link flamer. The downside being that you can’t shoot the same weapon two turns in a row, so you have to plan at least a turn ahead with the unit when it comes to shooting, which I don’t find to be too hard to do.

How you use the unit really depends on your list. Some games I will start them on the board if I find I need to start busting up armor ASAP. I tend to start them pretty far forward and walk them up the board each turn. This lets me deal with the varied ranges on their weapon options, ensuring I have a few choices each turn with what to fire, and gives me the option to assault. They also do well playing rearguard starting on the board and serving as a deterrent.

My preferred way to use the unit is Deep Strike. The threat of Obliterators Deep Striking in is not one that can be ignored by your opponent as they have a way to deal with everything. I might bring them down on top of something I need to open up for a unit of mine to assault or to hammer down a weak flank.


Assaulting is a definite option for the unit and should not be overlooked. They pack a fair amount of power fist attacks on the charge with 3 per-model (4 if Mark of Khorne). Be careful though to not get them bogged down in close combat. A smart opponent will feed you a unit to tar pit them and remove them as a threat since their shooting is the real threat.

Obliterators, while not bad at close combat, are also not a dedicated assault unit either and so choose your targets carefully. I try to get as close as I can to my opponent, thin the unit down with firepower and then assault in to clean it out. They do well as a counter-attack unit as well and can help clear some sticky combats.

Assaulting vehicles with Obliterators is an obvious choice as well. Try and strip some hull points off the vehicle shooting first and then charge it to finish it off, ideally anyway.

In General

Overall I find Obliterators to be juggernauts. They start off a bit slow but once you get them down field and into the thick of it they will just gain momentum and crash through the enemy if used well.

Obliterators vs Havocs

A quick note on Obliterators vs Havocs, since some will wonder. There really isn’t a comparison, in my opinion, since they both are doing different things. Sure, both units are in the heavy slot, and both units shoot, but that’s about where the likeness ends. Havocs, generally speaking, are the cheaper unit. You can add in more Marines to the unit to help keep those heavy weapons alive longer.

The use of Havocs though differs greatly from Obliterators. Havocs are for parking in your backfield, sitting on an objective. Though, some prefer Havocs with special weapons riding around in a Rhino. Anyway, Obliterators are a more aggressive unit, be it from Deep Strike, or just walking forward so they can utilize the twin-linked options they have. Obliterators can also get into close combat and hold their own.

I don’t feel one unit is better than the other. It comes down to what your list needs.

Iron Warriors Obliterator


Modeling is another thing I like about Obliterators, well Chaos Space Marines in general really. You have the luxury of doing whatever you want. Well, except buying those hideous Games Workshop models they make. Man are those things ugly.

Thor's Obliterator Unit
My Obliterator unit converted from Assault on Black Reach Terminators.

For Obliterator alternatives, a lot of people will use Chaos Terminators as a base model and add some green stuff. I chose to use loyalist Terminators and green stuff fleshy bits onto them. I’ve seen some amazing scratch-builds for them as well. If it looks like it has a 2+ save and a lot of shooty parts then you’ve nailed it.

If you aren’t into converting then Hitech Miniatures has some really awesome looking models for alternatives. Go to this page and have a look.

Conclusion on Obliterators

Obliterators are a great unit; one of the best in the codex. It’s also a great unit to start an army with because they are pricey and effective, so you can fill points easily while you build out the rest of your army. They are one of the few diverse units that Chaos Space Marines have, and I recommend a unit in any Chaos army.

Do you like Obliterators, or are you more of a fan of the armored support options instead?

Series Navigation

<< Chaos Spawn Review – Mutated Beyond ReasonChaos Space Marines Unit Review – The Few, the Proud, the Fallen >>
  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I love Oblits as well, just so useful. I like to use them with a comms relay (which brings reserves in sooner) and the deep striking Helbrute formation for target saturation. If Forgeworld is accepted where you play and you have the money DSing Blood Slaughterers would be even better than Helbrutes.

    Another use for Oblits is as babysitters for Typhus. Mr T is expensive, and hard to deliver, putting him in a Land Raider just multiplies that, but deepstriking him in is risky and Chaos Termies (especially Nurgle marked ones) are pricey, not fearless, and will die to Typhus’s AP2 Destroyer Hive power. I usually put him with a couple of Oblits and deep strike them, Oblits are tough enough to shrug off first turn fire, next turn split Typhus off to charge something and use his Destroyer Hive, or if its a tougher target charge in with the Oblits.

    I don’t play Chaos Daemons but if you do don’t forget that Instruments of Chaos work on Oblits so you can bring them in without a reserve roll, but sadly I don’t think the Icons work due to the wording about Daemonic Alignment (Oblits with MoN are not ‘Daemons of Nurgle’). Not worth taking just for this, but if you’ve taken an instrument to manipulate Warp Storm rolls its worth remembering.

    • I just started looking at the Helbrute formations seriously. I love Dreadnoughts of all types and the formations make them useful. So far I like the look of the Helcult. I also like the Mayhem pack but I tend to get skittish with deep striking; though they aren’t so expensive that it would ruin your day by losing one coming in.

      They do make a good bodyguard, though I rarely use them in that capacity just because of Slow and Purposeful (no running to gain ground).

      Yeah, the fact they aren’t daemons of whatever bones them there. I really wish CSM had access a means of preventing/reducing scatter like the icons of old. The Dimensional Key is nearly useless and just not worth it.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I tried using the Dkey seriously, making a Tzeentch disc riding lord with that Crimson Slaughter armour that gives you a 2+ save, L Claw and Pfist. HIf he survived turn 1s shooting he was so fast he always got a turn two charge, but even so he wasn’t really worth his points, nothing else in the army could keep up with him so he always got killed! Plus he didn’t unlock anything useful as troops.

        I only used the Helcult once, but it was very good, fearless blons of Cultists are really useful and for once the Dread actually survived to do something because of the improved cover save.

        • That’s an issue with Chaos Marines at times; you have to go so far down a road to make something work that it’s not worth the investment.

          Helcult just makes sense for me since I almost always have Cultists anyway, so why not toss in a Helbrute and reap the rewards?

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            agreed. I bet they didn’t playtest the Dimensional Key even once or they’d have realised how useless it is. Even if you get a turn two charge most of your reserves will have come in by the time the assault phase rolls around!

            I’m certainly going to use the Helcult again, though deepstriking Dreads are fun for my in your face Khorne army, they aren’t really competitive, just too risky.

  • Man, they sure could use a new model from GW.
    The core troopies need a new boxset as well.

    • Agreed. Chaos could use some updates to the model line and need some nice multi-unit kits as well. You know how it is though, if you’re not the Imperium then you wait years and years, sometimes indefinitely, to get stuff.

      • As an agent of Chaos it is your duty to corrupt those nice new Imperial kits to better suit your needs!

        In a way I think the Dark Vengeance models highlight the shortcomings of the current Chaos kits. It’s not good when starter box models outshine most of the model range. If only they had more multipart plastic chaos models that looked that nice!

        • The Raptor/Warp Talon kit followed the aesthetic set by the Dark Vengeance set, same with the new Helbrute kit. It got me excited to see them roll out more kits with that baroque style but they have been taking their sweet ass time with it. So many Chaos players would gladly snatch up new kits in that style.

          • Updated multi-part cult troops could be very useful. Then you could mix bits from those kits with the standard CSM models to make champions and marked units, or just to dress them up a bit.

            At the least they could replace the “upgrade kits” with actual models…

  • The current Obliterator models are miles ahead of the original, for sure.
    They are brilliant multipurpose heavy choices, but planning is key. The lone obliterator option also serves really well as a “Termicide” option: deepstrike and blow something to molten ruins.
    As far a Typhus’ bodyguard there is no better ablative armour for the big T.
    Also, Mark of Nurgle! Instant death? What’s that?

    • It’s just that inability to run that’s a bit of a turn off with Oblits guarding Typhus. Granted, a good landing means tons of guns on target but you can’t spread out if you get a bad landing or are fearful of big nasty pie plates.

      • Slow and Purposeful has always been their down side. I generally employ them as mobile fire platforms taking best advantage of available fire corridors and as a fire magnet 2+/5++ and Mark of Nurgle takes some killing.
        As mentioned below, let Typhus run off and do his thing after the unit weathers a turn of fire: worst case scenario you may lose one or two of the Oblits.
        Getting them to land where you want is the hard bit …

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