Chaos in the 40k: A Guide to Power Units
So with the new Dark Angels on the shelf, there seems to be a bit of uproar in the Chaos Marine community, which somehow has decided it is disenfranchised by the new loyalists on the block. Instead of telling you why you're terribly wrong, I'm going to do something constructive, I'm going to help you come up with solutions to common problems. You see, I'm the kind of person who takes lemons and makes lemonade (with a bit of sweet tea vodka). My 2013 war-gaming resolution was to focus on one army for each system, and that army for 40k is my Chaos Marin force. This has allowed me to buy and try tons of units so far, and give a lot of thought into one book, without being distracted by shiny model syndrome. So in the same vein as my previous Necron article, here is a list of units that I've had (or others have had) some great luck with, in the CSM book.
Daemon Prince + Black Mace: Plus the usual accruement, Daemon of Tzeentch, power armor and wings, maybe Gift of Mutation if you have the spare points. The Daemon of Tzeentch gives him poor-man's Terminator armor, adding to his survivability. Smash overrides the AP4 of his Black Mace, meaning he'll be swinging and crushing everything in his path, wounding on 2+ and with AP2, nothing wrong there! If you want to go a bit more fluffy, Daemon of Khorne with the Axe of Blind Fury will also put some holes in the enemy army, though losing WS9 decreases your survivability a bit.
Huron Blackheart: Maybe it's because I'm bias, since I play Red Corsairs, but for 170 points, it doesn't get much better than Huron. You are guaranteed the ability to infiltrate D3 units of your own, plus he's no slouch in combat with that spiffy claw of his (even against vehicles). His random psychic powers, while not reliable, are often times surprisingly useful. If you're not taking any of the other super killy characters, and can take advantage of Infiltrating, then this is the guy for you.
Khorne Lord + Chaos Spawn: While we're on the subject of über HQ units, lets wrap our minds around this: Chaos Lord with Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury on a Juggernaut. Now we're talking a S6 T5 W4 Lord with 7+D6 attacks on the charge, striking at AP2, protected by a blob of Fearless, T5 W3 monsters, all running 12" a turn across the board... gross.
Khorne Characters (in general): One way I've been saving points in my army is by using characters to spread around their juicy special rules, instead of paying the upgrade cost to give special rules to everyone. Khorne characters in particular are quite nice, since Counter-Attack will spread to the whole unit. Additionally, any character with Veterans of the Long War will give his unit Hatred (Space Marines), which is surprisingly handy on a blob of combat cultists.
While talking about this article over on Bolter and Chainsword, a few people pointed out a misinterpretation of the rules I had regarding both Counter Attack and Hatred! While the whole unit with Counter Attack takes the LD test for it, only the models with the rule get the benefit, and I was just plain wrong about Hatred transferring... Back to the drawing board!
Kharn the Betrayer: Well, fortunately Khorne saw the conundrum that I was in, talking about Khorne Characters and he did me a solid and birthed out (with lots of blood and hatred) into creation, Kharn the Betrayer! This guy comes with Hatred Incarnate as a Warlord Trait, so he will give any unit he is with this lovely rule, as well as being Fearless. Stick Kharn in a unit of Cultists, and who cares if you roll a 1, that's a cultist skull for Khorne! Don't forget kiddies, those dead cultists count for your combat result! Yay blood!
Chaos Sorcerer: Not a whole ton to write here, but Chaos getting Level 3 Sorcerers for a mere 110 points is AWESOME! The new DA book only has Ezekiel as a Level 3, which is probably strong indication for how the other marine books will shape up.
Chaos Terminators: I've heard these guys getting a lot of flak, but I think it's totally unjust. As with many things in the Chaos Marines codex, to get the most out of them, you have to spend the least on them. A unit of 5 with power axes, combi-plasma and a chain fist is less than 200 points, and will kill quite a lot for it's cheap price tag. The heavy weapons in the squad are a bit of a points trap, as are the melee weapons and marks (with the possible exception of Nurgle/Tzeentch). In general, keeping them as cheap as possible will give you a lot of unit, for not a lot of points.
Plague Marines: This is one of only two cult troops that I feel is really a "power unit" but boy howdy, it's a nice one. Taking a squad of 5 Plague Marines with either a pair of Plasma or Meltaguns is a nice way to camp an objective for 150/140 points, or just under 200 for 7. You can give the Champion a combi-weapon for a little extra firepower, or a Lightning Claw for additional melee defense, but overall, I I tend to think that gets too expensive. A big unit of 10, with the Combi-weapon and Lightning Claw is going to reach nearly 300 points, which can be alright, but I prefer to keep 'em cheap!
Noise Marines: At first I wasn't going to include Noise Marines on this list, as they tend to be pretty pricey once you've fully decked out a unit, but then I decided to look at them again, but from a keep it cheap mentality. A squad of 5 Noise Marines with 4 sonic blasters actually puts out a surprising amount of firepower, 13 shots at 24" to be exact, for only 107 points! If sacred numbers are your thing, you can go up to 6 for 127 and be pumping out 16 shots per turn. Now you're speaking my language! If you want the whole kit and caboodle of 10 Noise Marines, FNP banner, 8 Sonic Blasters, a Blastmaster and Champion with Lightning Claw and Doom Siren, you're going to pay nearly 300 points, just like the Plague Marines, which I just can't justify.
UPDATE: Now Noise Marines can take a single Blastmaster at all times, and a second one in a squad of 10+, so that changes things a bit! Now all I can think about are squads of 5 naked Noise Marines with a single Blastmaster for 125. Cheap scoring with a devastating weapon?! sounds perfect to me!
MSU Chaos Marines: A common complaint about C:CSM is simply that the Chaos Marine unit itself isn't that great. I actually tend to disagree, and have been trying to find the best situations to use them in. Lately in my lists, I've been including 5-man CSM squads with a Plasma Gun in a Rhino with Havoc Launcher. At 137 points, it's fairly comparable to Grey Hunters in a Razorback, and for 5 points more, you can give them +1 LD so they stick around even longer. This is an especially viable option if you're not paying the Nurgle tax for the cheap Plague Marines I mentioned above.
Chaos Cultists: Cheap scoring units, what else could you want? Fearless and FNP? Well okay, you can get that too by taking Typhus! For 50 points, you can't as for much better to sit behind a wall and camp.
Heldrake: Baleflamer is all you need, but I suppose telling you how great the Heldrake is at this point, should be redundant.
Chaos Spawn: 30 points for a T5 monster that runs 12" a turn, where do I sign up? Seriously, pretty much everything about Fast Attack in the Chaos Book is good, the only problem is the restriction of 3 slots!
Chaos Bikers: Probably one of the most cost efficient units in the book, Chaos Bikers are very cheap for what you get, which is a T5 marine with twin-linked bolter, pistol and CCW, sporting T5 and moving like the wind. If you want to make them especially tough, Mark of Nurgle will bump them up to T6.
Havocs + Autocannons: Super cheap for what you get, always a great option for the budget chaos player, plus Forgeworld makes a nifty kit that fits pretty damn well on the plastic chaos marines! Don't forget to add Veterans of the Long War for a mere 5 points to ensure you don't run off at the first sight of trouble.
Obliterators + Mark of Nurgle: As with previous editions, Obliterators form an incredibly resilient fire base in the chaos book. Take them in units of 2-3 for the best effect and T5 makes sure that Lascannons don't remove whole models every time they shoot.
Maulerfiend + Lasher Tendrils: Since the Fast Attack for chaos is so impacted, the GW writers have done us a solid and given us another fast moving moster as a Heavy Support choice. Lasher Tendrils strip away attacks by the fistful, and are especially nice for tying up enemy
Predator + Lascannons: for 140 points you can get 3 Lascannon shots a turn with a respectable armor 13 vehicle. That's only 20 points more than the Havoc Squad, but it's dishing out some deadly AP2 firepower.
While Chaos Space Marines don't have any godly units in itself, they actually have a ton of very cost effective units. Instead of focusing on one or two Deathstar units to do all the work for you, Chaos instead is more well suited to taking a lot of inexpensive units, then using them together to take down the larger foes. Generally every decent unit in the chaos book will run 150-200 points, which means you should have a fairly good number of units in your force, each one performing a different role.
As always, I don't claim to be the premiere source of good tactics in the world, so if you have any units you've found particularly cost effective for Chaos, feel free to share them here with me!