…But what about Chaos Marines?

With all the hubbub of Khorne Deamonkin being the new beloved Chaos glory boys, it’s easy to forget that there ever was once a regular […]

With all the hubbub of Khorne Deamonkin being the new beloved Chaos glory boys, it’s easy to forget that there ever was once a regular Chaos Space Marine army. I too am totally guilty of this tunnel vision and haven’t even played a single game with my Undivided marines since the day the Khorne Daemonkin book hit.

Today however, I tasked myself to figure out what, if any advantage, you can get out of playing vanilla Chaos Marines, and more-so, how on earth would you make a list to survive this days era of War Convocations, Battle Companies, and well, Eldar. Additionally, I don’t just want to make a fast assault Chaos army, because frankly, KDK do it better with the same units.

First up was figuring out what Chaos Marines could get, that was decent in the game, that Khorne Daemonkin could not.

fire-raptor-battle-brush-studios

Chaos Fire Raptor by Battle Brush Studios

The Vanilla Advantage

First off, I really need to figure out what vanilla Chaos Space Marines can bring to the board that’s worth a damn, particularly focusing on units that Khorne Daemonkin don’t already focus on, because frankly, if you’re going to go fast assault, KDK will always beat out regular Chaos Marines. Looking through the core Chaos Space Marine book, I made a list of units that I think are worth taking a look at:

  • Abaddon – Kicking butt and taking names for 10,000 years, just need to actually get him into combat.
  • Kharn – Great for pissing off enemy KDK players, like Abaddon needs a form of combat delivery.
  • Chaos Sorcerers – Level 3, ’nuff said!
  • Warpsmiths – Comes with 2+ armour, a BS5 meltagun, a Power Axe and 5 attacks? Plus he can repair vehicles, or even better use Machine Curse (How many dice does that Knight Crusader roll?!).
  • Chosen – A bit spendy, but can bring a pile of special weapons and are still brutal in combat.
  • Cultists – always a staple, 50 points for 10 Objective Secured wounds.
  • Plague Marines – T5, FNP, fearless troops with bolter, pistol, ccw, defensive (and thus blinding) grenades, what’s not to love?
  • Noise Marines – Fearless, and can bring a lovely S8 AP3 ignores cover blast.
  • Chaos Spawn – KDK get these too, though not with Mark of Nurgle!
  • Havoc Squads – Budget Chosen, a cheap 5-man squad with 4 special weapons and a combi on the Aspiring Champion shouldn’t be ignored, however they do consume valuable Heavy Support slots.
  • Obliterators – deep striking twin-linked meltaguns, or multi-meltas on a T5 (MoN is practically mandatory) W2 2+ model packing a power fist… Yes please?

But that’s not all, Forgeworld has given us IA13, a great book we totally forgot about when we realized none of the units said they were available in KDK armies (until FW FAQ’s this in 2026). Even with a quick glance at the list, you’ll notice that Flyers are definitely where Forge World decided to bless Chaos Space Marines, it’s quite possible that with these units, combined with the Heldrake, that Chaos Marines rightful place may be in the sky.

  • Sonic Dreadnought – a little spendy, but packs 2 Blast Masters, plus a chainfist for fending off deep strikers, or a missile launcher for even more Dakka.
  • Hell Blade – A 115 point flyer with a 4 shot rending autocannon? This is our response to the Storm Talon, it’s fast and quite nasty at taking out it’s loyalist cousin.
  • Fire Raptor – With two reaper autocannons on either side firing at independent targets, plus being able to upgrade the worthless Hellstrike missiles to the totally usable Balefire missiles, this is one of the few things that Chaos gets that’s outright better than the Loyalist version.
  • Dread Claw – 100 point Chaos Drop pod, oh, I mean a 100 point AV12 HP3 flyer that transports 10, is an assault vehicle, and potentially objective secured… WHHAAAAAT?! I’ll get back to this…
  • Blight Drone – Another cheap flyer available in squadrons of up to 3 with a 2+ jink, annoying and deadly!
  • Sicaran Battle Tank – We get them too, Marines like them, we love them. Another weapon to add to the ignore cover arsenal of the Chaos Marines.
  • Rapier Destroyer – Yeah, Imperials get rapiers too, but do theirs fire off 4 S8 shots a turn? Or have an awesome super Conversion Beamer? Or maybe they have S8 plasma cannons? Nope? Weird, I thought loyalists got all the good toys.
  • Plague Hulk – The better in every way brother to the Soul Grinder, stick him behind some ruins for 2+ cover while you squirt out your S8 Ap3 pie plate for only 150 points.
Chaos Sicarian by Scrunty

Chaos Sicaran by Scrunty

What do I do with it all?

Right off the bat, looking to the strengths of the Chaos Marine units, and really only focusing on what is most effective, it’s pretty clear that FW should be a very present force in any Chaos Marine army if you intend to go toe-to-toe with the big kids in the yard. Chaos Marines bring a large variety of extremely cost effective flyers, as well as units with are either outright pains to kill due to having Shrouded, or are packing even more low AP Ignores Cover weaponry.

Plague Hulk by Third Eye Nuke

Plague Hulk by Third Eye Nuke

A Nurgle-heavy army will be fantastic at being obnoxious to kill, between their very hard to move ObSec troops, their 2+ jinking flyers, and Plague Hulks hiding behind some ruins. It wont kill a whole ton without some Heldrakes, Sicarans or other hard punching units, but being hard to kill and playing to the objectives isn’t all that bad. Just off the top of my head you could take a lord, 4×5 plague marines in rhinos, a couple Blight Drones, a pair of Plague Hulks, and maybe a Heldrake, Sicaran, or squad of Obliterators. Something this (though I may swap the Oblits for the Fire Raptor, it’s just so damn good!):

Chaos Lord: Mark of Nurgle; lightning claw; combi-melta; sigil of corruption 130

5 Plague Marines: 2× meltagun 140
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× meltagun 140
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× plasma gun 150
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Plague Marines: 2× plasma gun 150
• Chaos Rhino 35

Heldrake 170
1 Blight Drone Of Nurgle 150
1 Blight Drone Of Nurgle 150

Plague Hulk Of Nurgle 150
Plague Hulk Of Nurgle 150
3 Obliterators: Mark of Nurgle 228

1,848 points

Sonic Dreadnought by Bale Eye

Sonic Dreadnought by Bale Eye

If smelling bad isn’t your thing, there’s also Slaanesh. In 1850 you can easily run 4 units of noise marines in rhinos giving you 8 ObSec units pumping out 4 S8 Ap3 ignore cover blasts a turn, on top of a couple Sonic Dreadnoughts, plus Rapiers, a Fire Raptor and Hellblades, essentially making your whole army have high strength, good AP weaponry where much of it is going to ignore cover and make those Battle Companies just scoop up marines off the board. The list I’ve been toying with for my Slaanesh forces is:

Chaos Lord: Mark of Slaanesh, sigil of corruption 105

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125
• Chaos Rhino 35

5 Noise Marines: blastmaster 125
• Chaos Rhino 35

Emperor’s Children Sonic Dreadnought: blastmaster; chainfist with heavy flamer; warp amp 195
Emperor’s Children Sonic Dreadnought: blastmaster; chainfist with heavy flamer; warp amp 195

Chaos Hell Blade: two Helstorm autocannon 115
Chaos Hell Blade: two Helstorm autocannon 115

Chaos Fire Raptor Gunship: Reaper autocannon battery; four Balefire incendiary missiles 225
2 Chaos Rapier Weapon Batteries: Hades Autocannon: 130
2 Chaos Rapier Weapon Batteries: Hades Autocannon: 130

1,850 points

Black Legionnaires by me!

Black Legionnaires by me!

Alternatively, if you’re into the whole undivided thing like I am, I have an interesting proposition. Focusing on a combination of Air Superiority, with last turn scoring shenanigans, as well as some incredibly hard hitting units. Looking at some of the relics, I’m liking the idea of the Eye of Night from the Black Legion book, which is a 75 point, one-use weapon with unlimited range and a large blast that causes D3 automatic penetrating hits and ignores cover. It’s spendy, and you’re also paying a bit of tax for using the Black Legion rules, but it could potentially strip half the HP off of a Knight, so it’s worth considering at least. The other advantage of Black Legion are Chosen for Troops, but if you were to go with the straight CSM book, you could move them to Elites and drop the Eye of Night to free up 100 points.

Sorcerer: The Eye of Night; Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Veterans of the Long War 190

5 Chosen: 5× meltagun; Veterans of the Long War; Chosen Champion (melta bombs) 155
• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

5 Chaos Space Marines: flamer; Veterans of the Long War 85
• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

5 Chaos Space Marines: flamer; Veterans of the Long War 85
• Dreadclaw Drop Pod 100

10 Chaos Cultists 50

Heldrake 170
Heldrake 170

Chaos Fire Raptor Gunship: Reaper autocannon battery; four Balefire incendiary missiles 225
Chaos Relic Sicaran Battle Tank: two lascannons 175
Chaos Relic Sicaran Battle Tank: two lascannons 175

Aegis Defence Lines: Comms Relay 70

1,850 points

So what we have here is a Black Legion list (gasp!) sporting enough flyers to easily overwhelm the somewhat minimal AA you see in the meta these days. The Sorcerer (or alternatively a Warpsmith) in the squad of Chosen in pod can easily be delivered in a position where a Knight has to choose between shielding against a bunch of meltas, or against D3 automatic penetrating hits (plus probably a melta or 2 on the same side), or a couple Sicarans with lascannons. Against Battle Companies your Drakes and Fire Raptors will just obliterate their ground infantry, and finally we get to the Dread Claws. Hovering flyers can score objectives (measuring from the base in ITC events), so 3 Objective Secured AV12 flyers that can (and will) jink for a 4+ save, really gives you some options for last turn scoring, either contesting objectives from enemy ObSec units, or for stealing them out from under the opponent.

Chaos Space Marine by TheRyuOG

Chaos Space Marine by TheRyuOG

So what do you think? Can a well selected Chaos Marine list still put up a challenge in a competitive environment?

About Adam B

I've been at this for 20 years now! You can find me playing Infinity (USAriadna and Combined) mostly, and sometimes Heavy Gear, Necromunda, or Test of Honour. Also, I love miniature board games like: Blood Bowl, Warhammer Quest, and Space Hulk, plus Aristeia and Warhammer Underworlds coming soon!