Tactica Chaos Space Marines: Heavy Support & Daemons
Happy new year fellow heretics and welcome to a new installment of the Chaos Space Marine tactica! I've been on hiatus during the holidays and wanted to return to complete this Tactica (and even write more! :D). This week we will be covering the plethora of Heavy Support choices available to the Traitor Legions and their ilk. Be careful though, because here... there be Daemons...
-Cost. Havocs are a great budget choice for the Heavy Support role they fill. Only costing as much as a basic marine (much like the Devastators in the Marine codex), they can quickly become very potent without having to spend too many points. 125 for a unit of 5 with 4 Meltaguns (tack on another 35 for a Rhino) is a great deal for how much damage that unit can potentially put out.
-Wargear options. This is where this unit shines. Like the Devastators in the loyalist Marine book, they have a good number of heavy weapons to choose from. Unlike them, the Havocs also have access to Autocannons (making them amazing transport killers) and the full gamut of special weapons (Plasma Guns, Meltaguns and Flamers).
Like other Chaos units, they can take a Champion with the typical wargear options of Power Weapon/Fist, Combi-weapons, Plasma Pistol and Meltabombs. I'm not a huge fan of running a Champion with this unit, unless you wind up going with 4 special weapons, at which point you can always take a 5th in a Combi-weapon (not something I would do, but it could be worth it, I guess).
As for Icons, I don't think I would take any unless you had the points spare. They have access to all of them and, like the Troops selection Chaos Marines, benefit greatly from them (as they still possess the Bolter/Pistol/CCW combo and can be a crazy assault squad if you want them to be).
I usually like running them with 4 Autocannons, picking off transports and light tanks, or 4 Meltaguns/Plasma Guns in a Rhino picking squads or vehicles apart. I have considered taking them with a Champion with a Power Fist, Combi-Flamer, 4 Flamers and an Icon of Khorne to make them a lethal assault unit.
-Fragile. These guys are as fragile as a normal squad of Marines and can be even moreso if you take them as a 5-man squad with heavy/special weapons. Any savvy opponent will not let them live long, especially if you play them foolishly. That being said, taking them as a 10-man squad quickly makes them very costly for what they do and can turn the cost Strength into a Weakness. It just really comes down to what you want them to do.
-2 wound Terminators. These days, there's been a lot of talk about the Paladin blob in the Grey Knight codex and people seem to be having trouble with 2-wound Terminators. Granted the Obliterators don't have anywhere near the wargear Paladins have, but they're still tough as nails.
-Move-and-fire heavy weapons. The ability to use a wide variety of heavy weapons (which can change every turn) on the move is amazing. It allows you to re-position your big guns easily and a unit of Obliterators is much easier to hide than a tank.
-Deep Strike. While mishaping with a unit of these is pretty crippling, putting them down in the right place (say, for example, within 6" of an infiltrated Chosen squad or a unit of Bikes that Turbo-Boosted the turn before to get into position) can spell doom for an enemy formation. Dropping Plasma Cannon blasts on condensed units out of their transports, Lascannons to blast long-range targets or Multi-Meltas to crack closer ones mean that dropping a unit or two of these guys in the middle of your opponent's army can quickly turn the game in your favor.
-Cost. 75 points a model. 225 for a maximum of 3 models/6 wound in the squad. If it weren't for Lash of Submission being so useful (allowing you to drag units into their gun range and then back out to keep from being assaulted) I doubt these guys would see as much play as they do.
-Fire magnets. A smart opponent will work to quickly silence your guns and can make short work of a unit of Oblits with the right tools. most anti-tank weapons will insta-kill them on a failed save and most of those weapons will only allow for an invulnerable save. Considering how much a unit costs, you should be prepared for them to take a lot of hits (cover can help mitigate this).
-AV13. The front armor of the Predator allows it to shrug off most lower-end anti-tank, forcing you to use up your higher-strength weapons to take these bad boys out (needing a 5+ to do anything with Strength 8 weapons). Oh, and since you're a Tank, ramming from head on is a very viable option in case someone shoots your guns off.
-Lots of long-range firepower. There are different schools of thought when it comes to equipping Predator tank, all of them are very potent at 36" which usually covers a large amount of the board (especially in the current scenarios). Turret Autocannon, Sponson Heavy Bolters and a pintle Combi-Bolter or Havoc Launcher can make for a great anti-infantry choice. Autocannon/Lascannon makes it versatile at killing other vehicles without being too costly. The only option I'm not really a fan of is the Turret Twin-Linked Lascannon, but only because of how much it costs.
-Easy to get cover saves/block line of fire. Much like the Rhino it's based on, the Predator can easily be hidden behind a relatively small amount of cover and also be used to block people off and make them deal with the tank in front of them.
-Upgrades. Every option available to other Chaos vehicles is here. Possession is always great as the number of shots you usually get out of the Predator makes up for the reduces BS.
-Cost. Unless you're going with a "Dakka Pred" (Autocannon turret/Heavy Bolter sponsons), the Predator tank is going to be costly in comparison to other choices in this FOC slot. It's still usually a good buy and I've rarely seen it not earn its keep, but just be aware of the cost of firepower here.
-Weak side and rear armor. AV 11 and 10 is really easy to get through and the large side angles on the Rhino chassis mean you're going to have to work to get your higher AVs against enemy fire.
-AV13. See the Predator.
-Demolisher Cannon. Yeah, the Vindicator only has one gun, but boy what a gun it is. Strength 10, AP 2 Large Blast. Pretty much tailor-made to kill large groups of foot troops (like, say, Paladins) as well as put the hurt on enemy vehicles. I've always been a huge fan of the Vindicator for just this reason. It can serve multiple roles for a low cost. Speaking of which...
-Cost. 125 points gets you something that's hard to shut down reliably and can dish out some great mid-field punishment. Even with Daemonic Possession (giving it the ability to ignore the all important "Crew Shaken/Stunned" results on the damage chart) it's still very affordable, especially if you feel the need to take more than one.
-Upgrades. The Vindicator has all of the basic choices for Chaos vehicles, with pintle-mounted weapons and Possession being the best of the group. Pintle-mounted weapons can give you the ability to continue to be a threat in the event that someone gets a "Weapon Destroyed" result and takes out your main gun and Possession lets you keep shooting until that happens (though you do become a little less accurate, but I feel it's a fair trade).
-A gun on wheels. The Vindicator really does exemplify the "all or nothing" play style in that it only really has one weapon worth noting and, once that's gone, it becomes a glorified Rhino (that happens to be really good at ramming but can't carry anyone). Get really good at memorizing the ramming rules because you're going to want to know them for when someone turns your 125+ point investment into a brick on wheels so you can throw said brick into their tanks for revenge.
-Weak vs. Monstrous Creatures. Most Monstrous Creatures are Toughness 6 or more and don't need to group up to be effective, making them a pain to take out with the Demolisher Cannon. Couple that with the low rear armor and the best way to take out a Vindicator becomes rushing it down with big creatures (something armies like Tyranids and other Chaos players can do very well). Learn how to "eyeball" distances so you can keep enemies at your range and out of their own or start making wreck markers.
-Weak side and rear armor. Again, see the Predator.
-It's basically a big Dreadnought with Fleet. Looking at its statline, you would swear you were looking at a Dreadnought. A bit low on the BS and WS side of things, but a Dreadnought none the less. It's got the 2 Dreadnought CCWs and can be given another 2 close combat arms for a 4th and 5th attack, giving it potentially 6 on the charge. I'm always a fan of the "combined arms" strategies and the Defiler does that very well by basically being a Battle Tank and Furioso in one.
-Has a wide variety of weapons. It comes standard with a Reaper Autocannon, Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer and a Battle Cannon. This allows you to put out a good amount of fire as you close in, assuming you just want to tear people up in close combat, or you can just sit back on the other side of the board lobbing Strength 8 AP 3 Large Blasts across the table.
-Upgrades. The Defiler comes standard with Smoke Launchers, Searchlights and the best upgrade in the codex, Possession. The only real upgrading you can do is replacing the Reaper Autocannon with a Twin-Linked Lascannon (not all that much of a bonus, especially for the cost) and replacing the Heavy Flamer with a Havoc Launcher. As mentioned before, you can replace both of those weapons with close combat arms if you really just want to have an assault Dreadnought. Khorne approves >:D
-Large Target. The default model for the Defiler is really big. While cool-looking, it doesn't really find much cover that it can benefit from. The large size coupled with its large array of weaponry means that it's going to be tough to keep one at 100% past turn 2. I have seen people convert Defilers to be lower to the ground or with smaller models, making the excuse that it looks better this way. Don't be that guy.
-WS and BS 3. While it does have a lot of twin-linked weapons, your awesome Dreadnought/Tank hybrid is still possessed by the spirit of an angry Guardsman. When the rest of your army is hitting on 3s at range and are being hit in melee on 4s you're going to start missing that Marine statline (but not enough to get a real Chaos Dreadnought. No one's that desperate).
Chaos Land Raider
-AV14. This is it. The pinnacle of armored vehicles. AV14 means that anything less than a Missile Launcher, Melta weapon or Lascannon 'aint gonna cut it and even the Missile Launcher is going to just simply annoy you. The Land Raider is pure offense and it's armored like it.
-Assault Vehicle. The only transport available to the codex that you can assault out of. This makes it the transport of choice for when you need a delivery vehicle for Berzerkers or Terminators. The 3 access points mean that you can usually use it to block off any counter attacks while you rush into something that needs killing up close. This also means you can roll this guy up 12", hop out within 2" of an access point and then charge 6" giving you a potential assault threat range of 20".
-Strong weapon loadout. Two Twin-Linked Lascannons and a Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter mean that this thing isn't going to miss much when it shoots. The 2 Strength 9 long range shots allow you to crack tanks as you close in or put the hurt on some enemy infantry with the Heavy Bolter. If you just feel like having a nice big turret, you can do that, too.
-Cost. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Land Raiders are all going to cost a pretty penny. On the other, Chaos pays less for Land Raiders, points-wise, than any other army. It is a lot to spend on what effectively amounts to a glorified transport, but it's well worth it in my opinion.
-Upgrades. The Land Raider has the same upgrade options as all of the other vehicles in the army. Taking Possession is almost a "gimme" here as, even with it, you cost less than a normal Land Raider and anything letting you ignore "Crew Stunned" results is a good thing. Plus all of the guns on the thing are Twin-Linked, so being BS 3 isn't all that bad. A Dozer Blade is also usually a good idea as it also keeps you running to unload your deadly contents into the enemy lines.
-Size. Land Raiders are effing huge models. Like, almost too big to roll on the board from Reserves big. This means that, not only is it going to attract more attention from a psychological standpoint, but it's also going to be really hard to get cover saves for the damn thing. It's also a pain to maneuver around if your opponent happens to immobilize it, especially on a map with a lot of choke points. AV 14 and smoke go a long way, but I've had games where an immobilized Land Raider mucked up my whole formation and nearly cost me.
-Cost. While this is a strength (since you're paying a budget price for them), it's still over 1/10 of your build total if you're playing a 2k point army, even moreso if you're playing lower points games. The Land Raider is a big purchase and really belongs in higher-points games, though I have been known to take 2 of them at 1k for the lolz.
Now, while these guys aren't in the Heavy Support slot, they do serve very important purposes in the army. The Daemons both give some very potent choices for their points and I find both selections to be extremely useful.
Summoned Greater Daemon
-Great statline. The Greater Daemon sports a Strength and Toughness of 6, 5 Attacks, WS 8, 4 Wounds and a 4+ Invulnerable save. There's a damn good reason these guys are a 0-1 choice. I would take 3-4 of these guys if I could, especially for the points. Oh, and he's a Monstrous Creature so he ignores armor saves and gets the extra D6 armor penetration.
-Cost. Even though he eats a Champion when he shows up, he's still a bargain for what you get. Not much else in the book is as effective as a Greater Daemon for around 100 points.
-Requires a sacrifice of a Champion or more. When he decides to show up, you have to blow up one of your own Champions, Sorcerers or Lords and replace them with him. This does increase his cost by a decent amount, especially if your opponent has managed to kill off all of your unit Champions.
-Starts in Reserve. These guys aren't available right away, meaning that you need to rely on dice luck to be able to use your Greater Daemon in every game (this can also be mucked with by anyone with a negative modifier for enemy Reserves).
Summoned Lesser Daemons
-Cost. These guys are the cheapest scoring unit you will find in the book. A minimum unit is a pittance and a 10-man unit will still run you less than most of your other Troop choices.
-Fragile. Lesser Daemons only have a 5+ save. While this save is Invulnerable, you're still looking at a lot of dead Daemons if someone decides to dedicate any fire to killing them off. Your best bet with a unit of Daemons is to hide them in cover on an objective and make them come to you.
-Must Deep Strike near an Icon. They must be placed on the board via Deep Strike and must be within 6" of a friendly Icon (meaning you must purchase Icons for your army). This means, if you're using them, they begin to cost more and more depending on how many Icons you feel like taking. This also means that they come in from Reserve, meaning you're going to have to either risk your Lesser Daemons when they show up by putting them in harm's way or keep a unit back until the Daemons show up.
And that's it for the Chaos Space Marine codex... OR IS IT?! Next week I'll be doing a special article on the Special Characters and example builds. Until then, death to the false Emperor!