Obliterators are another unit I used to use a lot in 7th edition. In 7th they were an amazing shooting units who was capable in close combat. They were affordable and did damn near anything you needed.
However, 8th rolled around and Obliterators got adjusted. Now, they aren’t what they used to be.
Obliterator Rules & Info
An Obliterator is effectively a 3-wound Terminator at its core, however, they come in a much smaller unit for a much higher price. You’re paying more than double the price of a Terminator for an extra wound and a wonky shooting weapon (more on that below).
As with most infantry, Obliterators have Death to the False Emperor. They also have Daemonic (5+ invulnerable), and Teleport Strike (deep strike). Again, very much like Terminators.
Obliterators now come with Fleshmetal Guns instead of the old method of choosing a weapon. The problem is that the Fleshmetal Guns are random.
I don’t mind a little random, I love Spawn, but random on this scale is unforgivable to me. The problem here is weapon’s randomness can go from terrible at killing nearly anything to amazing at busting vehicles. The weapon has the potential to be great, and on average it should be decent at least, but that randomness alone makes it hard to work with.
You could be planning to shoot at a Knight and roll terrible for weapon stats. Now, instead of firing on the Knight you might decide to fire on infantry instead, something the random profile is more likely to kill.
I’m not saying the gun is terrible, only that I prefer weapons with a reliable profile for obvious reasons. Three Obliterators with Fleshmetal Guns could do some heavy damage, or they could be playing tickle with their target.
Note though, I just don’t really care for the big randomness 8th brought around for weapons. There’s so, so many weapons that are random shots (IE: heavy D6) and random damage that it’s become a guessing game on appropriating where firepower should go.
Also, back in the day Obliterators also had power fists. This made them an amazing unit for Chaos, a Swiss army knife, but 8th edition removed their fists. I can live with this all things considered. They really were too good before.
Use on the Battlefield
With an unreliable weapon profile, shooting is probably best spent on elite infantry. The strength of the shooting will be wounding at least on 3’s (typically), and may get up to 2’s.
A full unit of Obliterators (3), will get 12 shots, of which 8 will hit, and 5 will wound (based on 3’s to wound on average). From there the random makes it hard to work out. You could be doing 5 wounds or 15 with -1 to -3AP.
Again, the potential for damage is there, but the randomness of the Fleshmetal Guns just rubs me the wrong way. Is it too much to ask to know what your weapon can actually do each turn?
Thanks to LazyGitWargaming for reminding me of this. One nice thing you can do with Oblits is to give them Mark of Slaanesh. Then you can use the Endless Cacophony stratagem to fire a second time with the unit. This costs 2CP, and then you can dump our 24 shots with a full unit.
Still, you’re dealing with random weapons, and uncertainty in targets, but with 24 shots something should be getting vaporized. As LazyGit mentioned, if you get lucky with the rolls (-3AP, 3 Damage), you could pump out (in a perfect scenario) 72 wounds. It’s food for thought if nothing else.
This was once a thing for them in 7th, but no longer. While Obliterators are S5, they have nothing special in close combat. So, they’re relying on great armor and an invulnerable to keep them alive in combat. It can work as a tarpit, but that’s all their combat ability is good for now I’m afraid.
It’s sad to see the fall from grace this unit has had. Where once they were an auto-include in any list, you now have to consider them.
I’m also, despite what it may sound like, I’m not one of those people who hates change for the sake of change. I can see the need to adjust Obliterators for 8th edition, and I completely understand that. However, I’d rather see them with a weapon profile you can choose, or predict than rely on dice rolls for.
Obliterators vs Havocs
The big advantage Obliterators truly have is being able to deep strike. Placing your guns where you want them, and when you want to, is a must in 8th. They can also take some punishment.
Havocs can field lascannons and missile launchers, which are both amazing weapons at dealing with vehicles and monstrous creatures. You may pay a little more for a full squad of Havocs, but you will potentially be dealing out 24 wounds a turn, and also have 5-6 ablative wounds/bolter shots.
The answer? They both fill different roles. If you need to reach out and touch something at range then I’d go for Havocs. However, if your list is lacking for some deep strike threats, and you need a few more guns, then Oblits are a good choice.
Modeling is somethingthing 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.
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.
Despite my hate for their weapons, Obliterators are still a solid choice for Chaos. They aren’t the demi-gods they used to be, but we had to expect they’d eventually be brought inline with everything else.
Do you like Obliterators, or are you more of a fan of the armored support options instead?
Rules - 8/10
Options & Wargear - 7/10
Cost - 7/10
Effectiveness - 8/10
If you want the old Obliterators, I'm afraid you're out of luck, but they're still a capable unit.
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What Happened to Obliterators in 8th? The Big Shakeup