Tactica Chaos Space Marines: Special Characters
Hello again, fellow Fallen, and welcome to the final installment of the Chaos Space Marine Tactica. This week we'll be going over the who's who of the codex, the Special Characters. Unlike many of the other books that have come out since 5th edition released so long ago, the Chaos Marine book doesn't have any character upgrades for units, meaning that all of the Special Characters are HQ selections. With that in mind, I want to judge each choice on their own merits while also showing how they measure up with some of the other choices available in that FOC slot.
Abaddon the Despoiler
-Amazing Statline: This guy fought alongside Horus in the Great Crusade and later the Horus Heresy and it shows. The Warmaster of Chaos sits at an impressive WS7, S8, I6 with 4 power weapon attacks that re-roll to wound. Defensively, he's got toughness 4(5), 4 wounds and a 2+/4++ save keeping him alive.
-Immune to Instant Death: Combine this factor with his 4 wounds, 5 toughness and great saves and Abby here is one tough cookie.
-Wears Land Raiders as underpants: At 275 points, Abbadon is the single most expensive character in the book. At that price range, you really need to be able to earn back the investment to justify the cost. Fortunately, he can do that with some good rolling.
-Wields a Daemon Weapon: Outside of his 4 base attacks, Abby's got an extra D6 attacks. Unfortunately, they come from a Daemon Weapon and, if you recall my HQ article, you'll remember the biggest drawback to Daemon Weapons: rolling a 1 makes you a sad panda. This is especially so with Abbadon as rolling a 1 means that a good chunk of your army gets to stand around hitting himself. Is that possibility worth those times where he rolls a "6" on the charge and walks through an enemy unit? That's entirely up to you.
-Rod of Torment: This is the single best reason to take this guy. Every unsaved wound causes Instant Death. He's great at dealing with big bugs and other multi-wound, low armor save threats.
-The Chirurgion: This is what gives Fabius his 5 attacks and Strength of 5. What it also gives him is Feel No Pain. This makes him a pretty good damage sponge, especially when attached to a unit of Plague Marines.
-Xyclos Needler: This is great at killing high toughness threats with its 3 shots and 2+ poison rolls. This combined with the Rod of Torment make him ideal for killing off enemy characters and other high-toughness, multi-wound enemies.
-Cost: He does a lot for 160 points. The only time he starts to get pricey is when you start buying Enhanced Warriors. Speaking of which...
-Enhanced Warriors: Let me say this now: this is fool's gold. At +3 points per model to give +1 strength and Fearless to a unit of basic Chaos Marines, you'd be better served buying one of the marked units and getting more bang for your buck, especially considering there's a 1/3 chance that you will lose models for this. Paying to lose members of a squad I already paid for? No thanks.
-Can't deal with high armor targets: Since his pistol is AP6 and the Rod is a basic close combat weapon he has no way of dealing with enemies with Terminator Armour or the like. Can he deal with stuff that has high toughness and lots of wounds? Yes, but it better have a crap save.
-The Tyrant's Claw: A Power Fist with a Heavy Flamer is hard to argue with. These, combined with the fact that he can use Warptime, make him into a great assault HQ choice. If you don't feel like going at Initiative 1, you can always just bust out his Power Weapon instead.
-Very offensive Sorcerer Lord: Most of the time, I like to keep my Sorcerer Lords out of melee combat unless I've designed them to handle it. Huron, on the other hand, is all about offense. He practically screams to be put into a unit of Berzerkers and a Land Raider. A Power Fist, Power Weapon and Heavy Flamer give him a lot of offensive potential.
-Cost: He's around the same cost as a kitted out Sorcerer Lord with a few nice extras. Plus, he's Huron Blackheart. How can you not like pirate Chaos Marines? :D
-Fragile: He's pretty fragile for a Lord with a 3+/5++ save and Toughness 4. He's got a pretty basic statline for an HQ marine choice and, if it weren't for his extras, he honestly wouldn't be worth his points.
-Automatically passes psychic tests: Typhus has 2 of the better psychic powers in the book, Wind of Chaos and Nurgle's Rot (I've killed so many Guardsman and Eldar with that, it's not even funny). On top of that, he always passes his psychic tests, meaning he never has to test for perils of the warp. Kinda nice, especially when coupled with...
-Manreaper: Yeah, it's a Daemon Weapon, but it's a Daemon Weapon that also allows Typhus to auto-kill someone as if he had wounded them with a Force Weapon. Better yet, he can do that even if he's used a psychic power this turn.
-Resilient: Toughness 5 and Feel No Pain on a Terminator Lord are all amazing, but add those onto the fact that he's running around with 4 wounds as well and the Herald of Nurgle can be a tough nut to crack.
-Cost: One of the most expensive characters in the book, Typhus is honestly worth his cost, depending on how you use him. He can be an expensive loss to your army, which is why this is a weakness of his. The point of running Typhus, though, is to play smart, not hard. Pick your fights or you'll lose nearly 1/6 of your build total.
Kharn the Betrayer
-Cost: Kharn here is an amazing deal for his points. Yeah, his drawback might cost you a few models sometimes, but he's still well worth it.
-Versatility: Gorechild's extra D6 to armor penetration coupled with his 5 Power Weapon attacks (6 on the charge) and Strength 5 (6 on the charge) mean that he can kill infantry and vehicles alike. Most tanks and transports are AV 10, giving Kharn a good chance to crack that tank with his high number of attacks and he can go through MEQ like a hot knife through butter.
-Immune to Psychic Powers: Kharn is completely immune to the use of any psychic powers, such as Jaws of the World Wolf, as well as the use of Force Weapons. In addition, depending on the psychic power used, he passes this immunity to the unit he's with (like if another Chaos player tries to Lash the unit he's with). This is pretty useful in these days where every MEQ player is taking a Librarian of some sort.
-Always hits in Close Combat. Kharn hits anything not friendly on a 2+ regardless of WS, which is next to impossible to find in 40k. Why would I say he always hits, though? Funny you mention that...
-The Betrayer: When you roll a 1, which on average dice will happen every time Kharn charges, Kharn will likely kill off one of his buddies. I personally find this to be an acceptable loss when considering how brutally effective he is in melee. There will be those games where he kills off the rest of the squad he's attached to and then gets taken out without being able to do anything but cost you a large chunk of points.
-Amazing psyker: Ahriman has all of the basic Chaos Undivided powers as well as the two Tzeentch powers. To top this off, he can use three of his powers in a turn (including a use of his Force Weapon), all of which can be shooting attacks. This can give him unrivaled ranged potency when compared to all of the other HQ choices.
-Surprisingly good in Melee for a Sorcerer Lord: He can soften a unit up with a couple of castings of Doombolt and then swing in with 4 Force Weapon attacks, one of which can auto-kill someone if you so choose.
-Inferno Bolts: His Bolt Pistol is AP3 like the Thousand Sons he rolls with. Did I mention he's one of the best ranged HQ choices in the codex? Because he is :D
-High Chance of Dying to Perils of the Warp: If you run Ahriman, you have to be aware that, by using 3 powers every turn, you're exponentially increasing the chances that you'll take a free wound from an interested Daemon wanting to pick your brain. Also, he's pretty badly neutered against enemy Tyranids with Shadow in the Warp (which a surprisingly large number of the big ones have).
-Cost: He's the second most expensive character available to the Chaos Marines and doesn't usually wind up earning all of his points back, especially given that he can be taken out with a single errant Power Fist.
Lucius the Eternal
-Close combat monster: At Initiative 6 with 4 Power Weapon attacks swinging at WS 7, Lucius will usually wreak havoc on anything less than MEQ infantry (and even then can do some real damage to other Marines). He also removes a retaliatory attack from his Lash of Torment. If you pick your battles with Lucius, he can be a real pain for your opponent to take out, especially in melee combat.
-Armor of Shrieking Souls: This further allows Lucius to dominate in melee by reflecting saved wounds from both his armor and invulnerable saves back as auto-hitting Strength 4 Power Weapon hits.
-Doom Siren: This gives Lucius an AP3 Flamer weapon, further cementing his role as an assault HQ choice. He can do some serious damage with this before charging in and butchering the squad.
-Cost: Tied for the cheapest special character in the codex, Lucius is well worth his cost assuming you can actually get him into melee combat where he shines.
-Purely assault oriented: Lucius has no ranged potential outside of Template range, meaning you need to get him into assault to even begin to earn his points back. While this will happen eventually in a given game most of the time, there's no guarantee you'll get him in before he gets cut down covering the length and breadth of the board.
-Fragile: Lucius is as resilient as your average MEQ HQ choice. While this isn't normally an issue considering his cost, you really do need to play this guy smart, not hard. Get him into combat with normal infantry and non-assault oriented troops and he'll earn his points back fast.
Well, that's that for the Codex: Chaos Space Marine tactica series. Next week, I'll be doing a follow-up article regarding older codices and how to make them tournament worthy. I hope you all have enjoyed this as much as I have. Hopefully, I've done the Dark Gods work and helped a few more of you dust off those old Chaos Marine armies on the shelf and represent the Despoiler at the local tourney scene. Good luck and, most of all, have fun!