Imperial Armour 13: Unit Analysis, Part 1
Now that I've had some time to digest the new Imperial Armour book, it seems like it's time to do the proper thing and talk about every unit in the book. I'm just going to go straight down the book, in the order they appear there, since that seems easiest! This book does a ton for the Chaos Marine army, and I'm looking forward to using each and every one in game.
Chaos Space Marine Battle Tanks
Chaos Infernal Relic Predator
First up is the good ol' Predator, except with some very different weapons (and +15 points over a standard predator). Stock it comes with a Flamestorm cannon, which is cute, but these aren't outflanking Baal Predators, so I'm a bit weary of the range. For no points you can exchange the gun for an AP3 autocannon, which isn't awful, but it also gets access to the magna-melta cannon, heavy conversion beamer and plasma destroyer. Of the weapons available, I only really care for the plasma destroyer, which is essentially a heavy 3 plasma cannon that doesn't get hot, with a set of sponson heavy bolters, that'll really dish out some damage against infantry.
Chaos Relic Sicaran Battle Tank
Everyone's favorite loyalist relic with some chaos flair! It probably goes without saying that this is one of the best vehicles in the book (if not the game). With Eldar out there being the huge pain in the neck that they are, what's not to love about a heavy 6, twin-linked, rending autocannon that ignores jink saves? If there's one unit in this book that's a "must have" this is probably it.
Chaos Space Marine Assault Vehicles
Chaos Land Raider Proteus
Oh the proteus... For a few less points this is a Land Raider that lacks assault vehicle. It can buy a nifty, though expensive item that can pin units that shoot at it, but against fearless or assault armies, what good is that? Unfortunately, this is just a worse land raider, lacking the ability to scout or affect reserves like the loyalist version.
Chaos Infernal Relic Achilles
Another cross over from the loyalist toys, the Achilles mounts the standard two twin-linked multi-meltas, but also has a quad mortar in place of a Thunderfire cannon. Overall not a bad tank, fairly hard to kill with built in Reinforced Ceramite, but lacks the Ferromantic Invulnerability of the loyalist Achilles. In return, the Chaos Achilles's gun becomes more powerful the more HP you sustain, gaining +1S, -1AP and -1 to pinning tests caused by it's weapon, so after taking 2 HP you're dishing out 4 S7 Ap3 blasts that cause pinning at -3 LD. It's not an awful tank, but it is awfully expensive, and you need to get it dangerously close to dead to get the most out of it's weaponry. Also, without PotMS, it has to fire it's anti-infantry mortar at the same target as it's anti-tank sponsons.
Chaos Space Marine Heavy Tanks
Chaos Fellblade Super-heavy Tank
The Chaos Analogue of a Baneblade, the Fellblade is one of the toughest super heavies in the game, at AV14/13/12 with 12 HP! It's main gun is slightly weaker than the Baneblade cannon, though has an armor penetrating round that's S9 AP2 armorbane. It's sponsons are a pair of quad lascannon, or laser destroyers, plus a hull mounted demolisher cannon and twin-linked heavy bolter. The upgrades are typical chaos, except that it can (and always should) take Armoured Ceramite as well! For it's price it's actually quite a good super heavy, it's slightly anemic armament is more than made up for it's resilience.
Chaos Typhon Heavy Siege Tank
Imagine a vindicator on steroids and you're not too far off. It's main gun is a whopping S10 Ap1, 7" blast that ignores cover, absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there. Half the HP of a Fellblade, the Typhon does however have the full AV14 of a land raider, so it's still a tough nut to crack. Being under 400 points, this is definitely a solid Lord of War option for those looking for a huge cannon on a budget.
Chaos Spartan Assault Tank
Not a super-heavy, but as close to one as you can get! A Land Raider with double the lascannons, over double the transport capacity, and an extra HP for giggles, the Spartan is definitely the most resilient way to get your units across the board. It's large transport capacity means that it can carry a full 20-man squad, plus any characters that want to come along as well, and if you're planning on taking terminators in it, don't forget the Frag Assault Launchers. It's fairly expensive, over 300 points once you buy it Reinforced Ceramite, and can die to a lucky AP1 shot, or be kicked by a Knight, but generally it's extremely resilient. I'd consider taking one in a fast assault army, but they're far too expensive to take multiples of.
Chaos Space Marine Attack Craft
Chaos Storm Eagle Assault Gunship
So we Chaos players don't get the Storm Raven, but we have for a little while at least had access to the Storm Eagle. The new book doesn't do a lot to change the Storm Eagle, only notably giving it access to Balefire missiles. As an assault transport it really does suffer the same problem as the Storm Raven, if it gets shot down before delivering it's payload, the guys inside are toast, and if you don't get shot down, it's a turn 3-4 charge at best. It's a cool looking model, but unfortunately at the end of the day I don't think it's all that great.
Chaos Fire Raptor Gunship
Now we're talking! The Chaos Fire Raptor is a rare beast in the world of a Chaos Marine player, specifically because it's actually BETTER than the marine variant! It's hard to believe, but it's able to upgrade it's near worthless Hellstrike missiles for Balefire missiles instead. If you want air superiority, look no further, this beast does it all with it's twin-linked avenger bolt cannon and two reaper autocannon batteries (each one effectively is two reaper autocannons). It's fairly expensive, nearly the price of a loyalist Land Raider after upgrading it's missiles and autocannons, but holy crap it's awesome. I wouldn't say it's an auto-include in all lists, since if you're doing a fast combat army, you might quickly run out of targets, but if you're doing something a little more shooty, then the Fire Raptor should definitely be considered.
Chaos Thunderhawk Gunship
The most iconic flyer in the game is back with a chaosified version. Roughly the same as the Space Marine Thunder Hawk, the only really major differences are that it's heavy bolters can be rending, and if you want it can be a Daemonic Transport, which gives it a chance to eat D3 models to gain back a HP when a unit embarks or disembarks. As far as Lords of War go, the Thunderhawk is not really a bad choice, but it is extremely expensive and can easily be over 800 points. With AV12 and HP9 it's actually not that hard to kill, especially on the turn you hover to disembark units. While it does transport 30 models, only one unit a turn can get in or out, so you're best served with a single large unit of 20 marines/berserkers than several small units.
Chaos Hell Blade
I loved this flyer in the previous rules, but now it's just way better. It's two reaper autocannons can (and always should) be upgraded to Helstorm Autocannon (Heavy 3, twin-linked, rending autocannons), which makes it the same price as before... so for free, you're basically getting 50% more firepower and rending. Additionally, they now come with a 5+ invulnerable save, get to move D6+2" in any direction in the movement phase, and re-roll to wound and armour penetrating results of 1's against a model chosen at the beginning of the game (must be a flyer or FMC). They're still no more difficult to kill than a sentinel, but for how cheap they are, they're totally worth it. I would consider taking them in pairs to make the enemy have to split their anti-air efforts, and it's a great vehicle for popping enemy transports.
Chaos Hell Talon
Another gorgeous model that previously had lack lustre rules... it's still an HP4 AV10 flyer, which is a weird spot to be in for survivability, though it does have the 5++ and extra movement rule from the Hell Blade as well. It's reaper can be upgraded to the Helstorm autocannon, but now it has some very interesting bombs. By default it comes with 8x S5 AP4 small blast, ignore cover bombs, though now any of them can be upgraded to one of 3 additional types. The Alchem cluster bombs are 3 blasts each, barrage and poisoned 4+, while the warp-pulse bombs are S2 AP2 large blast that have both blind and haywire. The third type I wont really get into, mostly because it's impossible to tell how it's supposed to work (S8 Ap4, heavy 3, snap fire only for those wondering, but the bombing run rules require a blast marker, and you can't snap fire blasts, but it doesn't have blast... wtf is going on). They did drop in points, but after buying a couple bomb variants, they can easily get to land raider prices, and still come with more bombs than they can drop in a game. I don't think I'd take them competitively, but they could definitely be a for-fun unit.
Chaos Dreadclaw Drop Pod
Alright, the beloved Dreadclaw! Of anything in Imperial Armour 13, this is the most likely to affect the way you play Chaos Space Marines. First things first though, do NOT think of it like a space marine drop pod, if you do, you'll be disappointed... Instead, lets read what it actually is. For 100 points, you have an Av12 flying assault vehicle that can deep strike turn 1. When it lands, it'll do a S6 AP5 on all models (friend or foe) within D3+3" from it's hull that ignore cover, though it does not have deep strike protection. For me, this thing is awesome, since it's a flyer, it'll land in hover mode, meaning it can then also flat out an additional 18" in the shooting phase, and can jink when shot at. Also since it lands in hover mode, if you get shot down, you're not totally screwed. Since it's an assault vehicle, shot down or not, the following turn you can get out and charge the enemy, letting you get 10 marines or a Helbrute/Dreadnought/Contemptor, into combat on turn 2. Unlike traditional drop pods, you are not forced to disembark, so you can sit safely inside your AV12 jinking cocoon, waiting to get out and charge the next turn. It's a dedicated transport for Chaos Marine and Chosen squads, as well as all of the Dreadnought variants. I would probably mostly consider this for use with 5 melta chosen for some anti heavy armour, or even for 10-man marine/berserker squads to get them into combat ASAP.
Chaos Kharybdis Assault Claw
The big brother of the Dreadclaw, the Kharybdis has a few extra toys, but it costs a crap ton of points. I really struggle to justify it's cost, being nearly as expensive as a Spartan, yet with no good guns. It can transport a whopping 20 models, deep strikes turn 1 and has all those perks that the Dreadclaw has, but it also safely deep strikes thanks to Internal Guidance. The weapons it does have can't even all be shot, due to flyers firing 4 weapons and it having 5, though only being Heavy 2 S6 Ap5 twin-linked, you're not really missing out on a ton anyhow. The last nail in the coffin is that it takes up a Heavy Support slot, not a dedicated transport for anything, so you're left with a hugely expensive, under armed transport that competes for a very important slot in the Chaos Marine army.