Posts Tagged ‘Chaos’

Chaos Space Marines Part 2 — Marks of Chaos
Chaos Space Marines Part 2 — Marks of Chaos avatar

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Last time I talked about Chaos Space Marines in general, but now I want to dig into one of their most recognizable, and debatable elements—the Marks of Chaos!

The chaos marks is where a lot of the chaos space marines style comes from. While expensive, they can give your marines and edge in many situations to triumph over their prey. Let’s take a look at how they Marks affect your in practice. Specifically, I am going to evaluate the marks on standard Chaos Space Marines. Though their champions, princes, and sorcerers can be marked, the effects they bring to those independent characters bring different results than to infantry.

Chaos Glory: This is probably an auto-include for most lists. Making your marines fearless is simply too useful to deny. With it you can live till the last man to protect an objective, which has won me many games. If you don’t take this Mark, you’d better need that 10 points for something else in a big way.

Mark of Slaanesh: Hitting at initiative 5 will usually have you slicing up enemies first, with only a few exceptions. Here’s what that means when a group of 10 chaos marines charge 10 of their loyalist enemies (no power weapons).

  • Chaos charges. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 7.5 wounds. 2.5 kills.
  • Marines counter attack (down 3 models). 8 attacks. 4 hits. 2 wounds. 0 kills.

Is this better than a standard charge? Well, without the mark of Slaanesh the marines would you hit you at the same time for 1-2 kills. Winning the assault without a single loss is actually pretty cool, and if you had an aspiring champion with a power weapon you’d actually be in an ever better position. To, me, this kind of assault power is worth 20 points.

Mark of Khorne: Let’s see how much extra blood these chaos marines can splatter with the extra attack granted by this mark. Using the above example:

  • Chaos charges. 40 attacks. 20 hits. 10 wounds. 3.3 kills.
  • Marines strike back simultaneously for 1-2 kills.

Compared to the Mark of Slaanesh, you actually come out loosing, because you’re paing for that extra kill with the loss of a few of your own models. Not much of an advantage, but let’s compare this against a mob of Orks:

  • Without Mark of Khorne. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 7.5 wounds. 6 kills.
  • With Mark of Khorne. 40 attacks. 20 hits. 10 wounds. 8-9 kills.

A little better, but the real advantage comes from the bonus attack from your power weapon. Is it worth 30 points? Probably, but only if given to a full-sized unit. To me, the Mark of Slaanesh comes out a little better, because it keeps more of your team alive to fight again.

Mark of Nurgle: Enhanced toughness is always good, let’s see if it makes much of a difference for its 50 point price tag! Again using the 10 chaos marines vs. 10 space marine example.

  • Chaos charges. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 8 wounds. 2.5 kills.
  • Marines strike back simultaneously. 10 attacks. 5 hits. 2.5 wounds. 1 kill

Now on the defense.

  • Marines charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 2 wounds. 0 kills.
  • Chaos strike back simultaneously. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 1.5 kills

Hmmm, it seems like you have an advantage here, but against marines this isn’t any better than the Mark of Slaanesh, which costs 30 points less! Let’s look at how much the Mark of Nurgle protects you against a battlewagon full of boyz!:

  • Without mark: Orks charge (5 dead by marines striking first). 60 attacks. 30 hits. 15 wounds.  5 kills.
  • With mark: Orks charge (5 dead by marines striking first). 60 attacks. 30 hits. 10 wounds.  3 kills.

A more appealing difference, but still not anywhere near the 50 point price tag! However, the true advantage of the Mark of Nurgle is that it helps you survive shooting. Let’s see how the Nurgle chaos marines standup to a fusillade of boltgun fire.

  • Without Mark: Space marines rapid fire: 20 shots. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 2 kills.
  • With Mark: Space marines rapid fire: 20 shots. 10 hits. 3 wounds. 1 kill.

Congratulations, you just paid 50 points to keep a 15 point marine alive. Obviously you’re more likely to get shot at by more than simple bolter fire, but when costs are such a premium for the chaos general, you need that 50 points for something more worthwhile, and you especially can’t afford to give EVERY unit of marines in your army that mark. This one is a no-go.

Mark of Tzeentch: As much as I love Tzeentch, this is by far the most useless Mark. A 5+ invulnerable save helps you little when you’re cruising in your rhino or lurking in cover, so it’s very hard to justify its high price tag. However, let’s see how it helps you against a pack of terminators!

  • Chaos receives charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 0 kills
  • Terminators charge. 15 attacks. 7.5 hits. 6 wounds. 4 kills.

Without the Mark:

  • Chaos receives charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 0 kills
  • Terminators charge. 15 attacks. 7.5 hits. 6 wounds. 6 kills.

Wow, this one actually surprised me. I can see this being useful, but only in the occasion that you fight an enemy that warrants the save. However, you’re probably going to lose combat by such a large amount that keeping those few models intact won’t matter much. Against something like a dreadnaught, where you’re overwhelming unlikely to damage it with greanades, this mark only becomes useful for tying up the enemy. Is that worth 40 points?

Summary: So to conclude, few of the marks are worth really worth it, which is too bad. They make the army fanciful, but don’t leverage benefits that will make or break your unit. Chaos space marines rely most on their good number of attacks and power armor, so I think that the Mark of Slaanesh or Khorne is probably the best option, since it makes the marines better at something they must do for you to win games. The Mark of Chaos Glory still takes the cake though; it’s sweet price and usefulness far outweighs the cost of the other marks. Disappointing.

After this experiment I’ve decided that Chaos is due for a facelift. In the coming weeks I’ll present some alternate rules to make the ruinous powers threatening again!

Force Org: Troop – Chaos Space Marines
Force Org: Troop – Chaos Space Marines avatar

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

When the ruinous maw of the warp opens to speak, it is the traitor legions of the Chaos Space Marines that take heed. These heretics are among the galaxies greatest threats, combining the impressive combat skills of the Adeptes Astartes with hatred unparalleled among humanity, for the Chaos Space Marines are driven by their disgust of the false emperor and exaltation of all that his slaves profess as “evil”.

Let the galaxy burn!

Chaos Space Marine Basics

  • Chaos space marines possess all the versatility of their loyalist counterparts, able to take a beating, deliver a beating, and stand undaunted against most foes.
  • Chaos space marines are incredibly expensive, making them more “elite” than even any other marine codex.
  • Chaos space marine can more easily be tailored to a variety of roles, being able to run in smaller or larger units, as well as accepting a mark of chaos to enhance their abilities.
  • While this all sounds great, chaos space marines lack quality support, since most other units in the Chaos Codex are mediocre. This means they require more skilled command then loyalist marine armies because they simply can’t rely on “And They Shall Know No Fear” to keep them in the game.
  • Chaos space marines are stylish, but ironically have more trouble killing space marines than you might expect.

Advanced Tactics

  • Chaos marines have an advantage in close combat over many other troop choices, since they have many attacks and the much envied 3+ armor save. Against non-Space Marines, they’ll want to get in close and stay that way to maximize this benefit.
  • Chaos marines are so expensive that you’ll need to carefully weigh the pros-and-cons of fielding units of their maximum size. A fully kitted-out unit equipped in a rhino is often 240+ points!
  • Always pair your chaos marines with something that can pick up the slack at range. Obliterators are probably the best choice, though my defilers almost always do a great job supporting the marines.
  • Pairing is especially important when deciding whether or not to purchase and equip an Aspiring Champion. While their leadership boost is always nice, the cost of the champion and his power fist further drives up cost. Do you really need him to be the one dishing out the big hits? Or can you rely on your Obliterators?

The Marks of Chaos

 

The chaos marks is where a lot of the chaos space marines style comes from. While expensive, they can give your marines and edge in many situations to triumph over their prey. In practice there is only one that is worth your time on chaos marines—the Mark of Chaos Glory. I’ll go into more detail on these next week, since they’re such a big part of the chaos codex that warrants a closer look.

Compact units striking in tandem often yields better results.

Wargear

Chaos Space Marines have a host of options, most of which are reclaimed from their loyalist brothers. Since the chaos marine’s core gear is worthy on its own, taking anything else warrants a game plan. Sadly, this is one of the areas where the chaos space marines begin to look outdated compared to other marines.

  • A team of 9 or fewer has access to either a plasma pistol, meltagun, or flamer. This one should be a no-brainer. Meltaguns are too good not to invest in.
  • Units of 10 or more unlock many more options.
    • Heavy weapons: missile launchers, autocannons, heavy bolters, and lascannons all sound good on paper, but in practice they split the marine’s focus. You need a big squad to bring them along, but need to stay put to shoot it. Big squads want to get into close combat, which wastes the powerful damage output of your guns. The alternative is to have a huge mob of guys hanging out on an objective in your deployment zone shooting all game. Not points well spent.
    • The second option is to load up on a second plasmagun or meltagun. This turns your unit into more of a close combat threat, but as mentioned before you’ll need a “buddy” unit to assist in mopping up after exposed or left over from the marine’s shooting.
  • The Aspiring Champion should probably always have a combi-melta, especially if you’re running a small unit. We all know the value of powerfists, so if you plan on getting him close I wouldn’t hesitate from outfitting him with one of those, too.

 

Builds

Here are a few sample Chaos Space Marine build how to use them.

  • Black Crusaders (255 points): This is the classic build, cumbersome but still threatening to most opponents. 10 models, aspiring champ with power fist, two melta guns, icon of chaos glory, all in a rhino. This is pricey—but a solid unit. You’ll need other threats on the table to ensure that this expensive rhino doesn’t get prioritized by your enemy.
  • Warbands (160 points): This build works for “multiple small unit” armies. 5 models, aspiring champ with combi-melta, one melta gun, all in a rhino with a havoc launcher and/or combi-melta. Having lots of these units is probably more competitive, since it costs considerably less than the Black Crusaders yet gives you more melta shots for less cost, and offers more targets for your opponent.
  • Defenders of Darkness (225+ points): Here is a long-range alternative. 10 models, plasma gun, and a heavy weapon in a rhino equipped with a havoc launcher. This build threatens enemies out to 48”, usually parking on an objective and defending it all game. This is mostly just for fun, since sitting back and shooting with a chaos marine army is not likely to win you many games.

    Parts include: chaos space marine, chaos spawn, chaos terminator sorcerer, and spikes from the warp.

 

Off the Sprue

The Chaos Space Marine boxed set is great. Not only does it give you dynamic looking marines, with either close combat/pistol arms or bolter arms, but there is a lot of stylish accessories for making them dedicated to the chaos gods. The only heavy weapon is a heavy bolter, but as a whole I’d say that this kit is better than the standard Space Marine one. Chaos Marines are more exciting to look at and actually look like they’re doing something other than standing at attention. Chaos Marines are also easy to convert, giving you incentive to make dramatic bad guys for your game.

vs — Warriors of Chaos
vs — Warriors of Chaos avatar

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I really liked Jeff Morgenroth’s “vs” column for 40k, and decided to try and mirror it for Fantasy.  While I may not have the opportunity to play every army, I can certainly write on the armies with which I’ve become familiar.  That being said, it seems like a great starting point will be Warriors of Chaos.  So, let’s look at them the way Jeff looks at 40k armies!

Know your foe. Warriors of Chaos boast nasty core choices.  You’ll see a ton of 4′s and 5′s on Warriors, and Marauders come dirt cheap and will be on par with or better than other armies’ core units.  Their magic is downright nasty, and the Marks for corresponding gods can confer interesting effects.  The army lacks a lot of shooting power, with the Hellcannon being the only real threat in the shooting phase, and even that’s unreliable.  Warriors of Chaos will rely on tying you up with rock-steady troops and then hammering you with…more rock-steady troops.

There’s plenty of problems with the Warriors of Chaos though, and this is a good way to break them:

  • Outnumber.  A single Chaos Warrior can run 15 points or so.  This means that they will not have steadfast, and you can easily outnumber them.
  • Magic.  This means that they can’t spam characters and items, meaning they lack the opportunity to take a lot of scrolls and such.  Magical defense can be severely lacking in many Chaos lists.
  • Maneuver.  Except for Warhounds, they don’t really have any good candidates for redirecting or sacrificing.  Once things are deployed, don’t expect too many maneuvering tricks or surprises.  Aside from Wulfrik, Chaos is going to have a hard time springing up behind your battle lines.  Leverage this “march and mince” mentality by luring them into traps.
  • Challenge. Chaos characters and Champions must challenge and cannot refuse.  Keep that in mind when combat is imminent, as a unit with no Champion can just be a deathtrap for a Chaos character.

Beware. I keep telling people that Warriors are nasty in combat, and they keep throwing their combat specialists at them in hopes of a good fight.  The fact is, there’s a few reasons that the Chaos troops are usually better than other armies’ elites.

  • Mark of Tzeentch.  Some will cry cheese, but the Mark of Tzeentch gives you a 6+ Ward if you don’t have one, or improves any other Ward save you have by 1.  This applies to Ward Saves from items, Parry Saves, etc.  If you run into a brick wall of 3+/5++ infantry, their high toughness won’t be the only problem you have.
  • Warshrines.  There’s a silly little table in the Chaos armybook called “Eye of the Gods.”   It’s meant for when Chaos Characters kill someone in a challenge, but the Warshrine can roll on it to confer a bonus to an entire squad.  Some of the effects are ludicrous: +1 to a variety of stats, stubborn and 4+ Ward Save, etc.
  • Magic.  Chaos Sorcerers can be really beefy, and the book has plenty of items to make your and their magic phases swing in Chaos’s favor.  The armybook Lores can be hit or miss, but watch out for things like Infernal Gateway, which can wipe units off the table.  Don’t forget Mark of Tzeentch gives +1 to casting rolls as well.
  • Combat. It’s tough to tell you to beware an entire phase, but I’m serious.  A unit of 30 Khorne Marauders can bring 31 S5 great weapon attacks for 200 points.  Halberds are a popular choice on Warriors, giving them a 2 base S5 attacks each, at I5.  Do not underestimate what you’re getting into when you start a combat.

Tactics. As a Chaos player, I’ll share some dirty secrets that will really frustrate other Chaos players.

  • Deployment. I love when people anchor a flank with a cannon, or isolate a squishy archer unit.  It makes it easier for me to just avoid those troublesome units.  What scares me is when someone’s war machines are set up to cover overlapping shooting lanes, where I have to expose my flanks to multiple threats.  If it’s not Dwarf cannons, it’s Empire cavalry.  Having an advantage in deployment drops should allow you to gauge when and where to place the units that will affect the Chaos player’s gameplan.
  • Static CR. Even if the Chaos player rolls all 6′s, and you roll all 1′s, he can only inflict so many wounds.  Due to the expense of the units, you can really stack up ranks and such to mitigate the wound output.  While Chaos Warriors aren’t likely to run, you can stack the deck by bringing banners, charging, or other CR bonuses.
  • Monsters. Outside of a few units or equipment upgrades, Chaos has a really hard time dealing with monsters.  Killing Blow and Poison can be tough to come by, and they’ll be reluctant to throw their precious armored troops against some S6 monstrosity.  A Hydra can be a real nasty curveball for the cookie-cutter Chaos list.

Chaos Sorcerer Ideas
Chaos Sorcerer Ideas avatar

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Having looked at magic and Lores, I wanted to take some time to detail a few items and combos that work well together with Sorcerers.  Since my group is still working with smaller point values, I’ll be limiting myself to a modest point budget (250-350 points) and using only Sorcerers, rather than Sorcerer Lords.

Sorcerer of Slaanesh

The Lore of Slaanesh may not be the most competitive, but it allows you to leverage an opponent with a weak base Leadership, or poor Leadership structure.  The mark itself makes you Immune to Psychology, which should clearly give you the upper hand in the battle of morale.  Along that note, a fun idea for a Slaanesh lord would be the following:

Sorcerer of Slaanesh – 175 points (200 with mount)

  • Level 2
  • Magic Weapon: Tormentor Sword
  • Magic Armor: Helm of Discord
  • Talisman: Seed of Rebirth
  • Enchanted Item: Favour of the Gods

This Sorcerer’s focus is two-fold: disrupt and challenge.  The Tormentor Sword will ensure that challenges don’t cost you turns in attrition, by forcing tests for Stupidity.  Helm of Discord will punish anyone who doesn’t pass a Leadership check.  Seed of Rebirth will give you a 3+/6++ save (mostly), and Favour of the Gods makes your successful challenges that much more potent.  This list will wreak havoc against Goblins, Skavens, and other armies with numerous low-Leadership characters.  Add a mount for a 2+ save, and also to leverage more Fear attacks and faster movement.

Sorcerer of Nurgle

The Lore of Nurgle focuses on bypassing armor.  The signature spell will allow you to snipe particular models, softening up difficult characters if they can’t pass a ward save.  The mark itself makes you difficult to hit, both with shooting and close combat.  There’s a few tricks in both the Chaos Armybook and the main rulebook to complement these ideas:

Sorcerer of Nurgle – 190 points (240 with mount)

  • Level 2
  • Magic Weapon: Biting Blade
  • Magic Armor: Shield of Ptolos
  • Arcane Item: Warrior Familiar

This Sorcerer’s can stand on his own, for a variety of reasons.  First of all, the Mark of Nurgle gives enemies a -1 to hit while shooting at him.  He then gets a 1+ armor save against shooting, and even if you put him on a Palanquin he counts as Infantry, so you can easily get him a Look Out Sir roll for extra protection.  He hits hard too, with a couple of S4 attacks at I5.  The Warrior familiar chips in another S5 hit at the beginning of combat.  With the Biting Blade, all of his attacks will be plucking -2 off of enemy armor saves.  A Palanquin gives you 6 more S3 attacks, so if you soften someone up with the Nurgle spells, you can be sure that they’ll be feeling a charge.

Sorcerer of Tzeentch

The Lore of Tzeentch is dangerous; especially with spells like Infernal Gateway and Call to Glory.  There are a lot of neat synergies as well though, such as Pandaemonium and Baleful Transmogrification.  The most important thing though is that the Mark of Tzeentch makes spells easier to cast, and also gives an awesome Ward Save boost:

Sorcerer of Tzeentch – 180 points (200 with mount)

  • Level 2
  • Magic Weapon: Biting Blade
  • Magic Armor: Charmed Shield
  • Arcane Item: Spell Familiar
  • Talisman: Talisman of Protection

This guy is absolutely loaded.  First of all, the Biting Blade is so cheap that you might as well take it if you’ve got the points.  Remember that the Armybook costs trump those in the rulebook, so things like Biting Blade are cheaper and Enchanted Shield is more expensive.  The Charmed Shield can help save you from an untimely hit, but also gives you a valuable +1 to your armor save.  Since Tzeentch wizards can cast more easily, taking a Spell Familiar can let you load up on 3 spells.  This could prove useful in turns where the Winds of Magic are generous, but also makes you more likely to roll doubles, thus letting you pick a spell you want.  The Talisman of Protection works well with your Mark of Tzeentch to give you a 5+ overall Ward Save.  Finally, you should seriously consider the Disc of Tzeentch mount.  In addition to giving you a 2+ armor save, it gives your wizard huge mobility, allowing him to swoop around with relative impunity, placing spells exactly where you need them.

Chaotic Mounts
Chaotic Mounts avatar

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
There’s something to be said about the Chaos Lords and Heroes selection over at Games Workshop: the models are beautiful. In fact, it’s part of what drew me over to the Warriors of Chaos, along with their sharp-looking infantry. You might be surprised to see a limited number of the awesome mounts actually fielded on the table though. Whereas cavalry and mounts owned 7th Edition Fantasy, the horde formation and rank bonus rule 8th. As a result, some of the awesome models don’t get much love. Let’s see if we can figure out how to field them without shooting ourselves in the foot:

Juggernaut of Khorne

Image courtesy of GW.

How could you not want to use this guy?! Well, maybe because you have to buy the Mark of Khorne, meaning you’re already at 65 points in addition to what you normally get. At the very least though, this likely gives your Hero or Lord a 1+ armor save, as well as MR1. Causing Fear isn’t that great, speaking strictly from a tabletop definition. The sheer size and majesty of such a model makes your opponent way more likely to target him. You can use this to your advantage, although you have to be careful of shooting attacks. Generally speaking, any template or war machine that hits your Juggernaut rider will be hitting him — you don’t get a Look Out Sir save if there’s less than 5 rank-and-file troopers of the same troop type with him. Unless you’ve got a slew of other Monstrous Cavalry hanging around (hint: you don’t) then he’s vulnerable to such attacks, which your opponent will likely know. Having Frenzy will give you an extra attack, and make you Immune to Psychology, but it may also cause any unit he’s attached to wander out of their way with bloodlust. Keep a BSB nearby to minimize unwanted charges.

Steed of Slaanesh

Image courtesy of GW.

The Steed of Slaanesh is often left at home, perhaps because of its explicit nature or maybe because the Mark of Slaanesh isn’t that popular. It’s a pretty economic solution: for a mere 30 points you get a Cavalry model that can move 10″ per turn. This guy’s mobility can be used to make a pretty mobile BSB, and his Immune to Psychology status can make him a decent rover. March him towards units that need to rally, because he won’t care about the Panic tests. This is a great way to add some maneuverability to the backfield.

Disc of Tzeentch

Image courtesy of GW.

The Disc of Tzeentch is super popular, for a few reasons. First of all, Mark of Tzeentch is useful on any unit because Ward Saves are almost always worth having. Secondly, it’s a powerful Lore of Magic that synergizes well with the Mark, so people have a ton of Tzeentch-marked units running around anyways. Finally, it flies. What does this mean in game terms? For 30 points including the Mark, you get a Flying model that will let you zip across the battlefield at 10″ per turn, like the Steed of Slaanesh. Unlike the Steed, however, this allows you to ignore cover. It allows you to charge 10 + 2d6 inches if you want your Disc in combat, but more likely you’ll want it to get good positioning on spells, or to zoom a Leadership support unit around where needed.

Palanquin of Nurgle

Image courtesy of GW.

Why did I save this for last? Because I think it’s underrated and intriguing. The Palanquin of Nurgle looks like a sickly horse, but Papa Nurgle gave us a gift with it: it counts as Infantry and it’s got 6 poisoned attacks. Now, let’s remember that since his rider still counts as Infantry, he gets a 2+ Look Out Sir save. Since it comes on a 50×50 base, it displaces 4 Warriors (effectively lowering his numerous attacks). It’s quite pricey, coming in at 70 points including mount and mark, the most expensive of the bunch. Still, you have an option to charge out of a unit with it, taking some opponents by surprise. With his low movement they may get to Stand and Shoot in response, but that confers a -1 penalty to hit in addition to his Mark of Nurgle. This sneaky tactic can really catch an opponent off guard, freeing up the Palanquin’s bunker unit to charge something else in the following turn.

Chaotic Lores
Chaotic Lores avatar

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Having messed around for a few games with different Sorcerer loadouts, I’m absolutely thrilled with the variety that the Magic phase adds to WHFB.  Whether you want to radically shake up your army or just tweak a character’s role, swapping out your wizard’s Lore can give you the extra flavor you need.  The Chaos book has some very distinct options that will allow you to follow in the footsteps of your Dark God of choice.  They all have a certain focus, and require you to take the respective Mark of Chaos.  Thus, I thought it would be good to highlight the uses of each Lore:

Lore of Slaanesh

Spells:

  1. Lash of Slaanesh: Weak magic missile, prevents marching.
  2. Hellshriek: Nearby units take a panic test
  3. Hysterical Frenzy: Target suffers from Frenzy, takes damage each turn
  4. Titillating Delusions: Target must move toward nominated point
  5. Aura of Acquiescence: Target causes Fear (or upgrades Fear to Terror)
  6. Ecstatic Seizures: Target unit takes toughness test or takes a wound, no saves of any kind

With an average cast value of 8.2, this lore is relatively easy to cast.  Many of the spells rely on enemy Leadership directly (Hellshriek) or need enemies to fail Leadership tests for their true value to come out (Aura of Acquiescence).  Two of the spells are Remain in Play spells, which can be countered during the enemy’s magic phase.  You can use some of the spells to redirect or force enemy troops to move.  This lore is really good against low-Leadership armies that like to stay still and shoot, or whose magic phase may clash with your Remain in Play spells.  The mark you get makes you Immune to Panic, Fear, and Terror, which doesn’t necessarily complement this Lore.

Lore of Nurgle

Spells:

  1. Magnificent Buboes: Put a wound on any model in LOS with no armor saves allowed
  2. Fleshy Abundance: Friendly unit gains Regenerate
  3. Plague Squall: Weak stonethrower with no armor saves allowed
  4. Cloying Quagmire: Target unit takes Initiative test.  Those who fail take an Armor Save, and are removed if they pass it.
  5. Curse of the Leper: Remains in play, target suffers -1 to Toughness and Strength per turn (down to 0, when they’re removed)
  6. Rot, Glorious Rot: All enemies in range take randomized hits with no armor save allowed

With an average cast value of 8.5, Nurgle is more difficult.  While the Mark of Nurgle doesn’t synergize well with the Lore, it does make you immune to certain Nurgle effects, and also makes you hard to hit.  Many of the spells ignore armor saves or punish enemies with good armor saves.  Low initiative troops will be hurt by Cloying Quagmire, and will also have to grapple with a war of attrition in Fleshy Abundance.  These spells are great against an army like Dwarfs, whose low Initiative and heavy armor will be a liability if not ignored outright.

Lore of Tzeentch

Spells:

  1. Flickering Fire of Tzeentch: Flaming magic missile
  2. Baleful Transmogrification: Target takes a Leadership test, suffers wounds by amount it failed, with no armor saves allowed.
  3. Pandaemonium: Enemy units cannot use General’s Leadership, enemy wizards miscast on any double
  4. Treason of Tzeentch: Target unit attacks itself
  5. Call to Glory: Friendly model turns into an Exalted Hero
  6. Infernal Gateway: Target unit takes 2d6 hits at Strength 2d6, if the Strength is 11 or 12 the unit is removed.

Ok, this is a pretty impressive spell list.  Combine that with the Ward bonus that the Mark of Tzeentch gives you, and it seems like a good buy.  Nevermind that the average cast value is 9.2 for this Lore, because Mark of Tzeentch gives you another +1 on your cast attempts, making this effectively as “cheap” as Slaanesh to cast!  There are some great synergies with Leadership, such as casting Pandaemonium and then Baleful Transmogrification.  Direct damage is an option with Treason, Call to Glory, or Infernal Gateway.  This is a great all-around Lore, although you will find yourself in trouble if you roll the Leadership spells against an army with good Leadership or a lot of Immune to Psychology units.

Conclusion

Some Sorcerers have access to main rulebook Lores, which are very competitive.  If you’re looking for some variety, or to keep with a certain theme, the Chaos Lores will treat you just fine.  Just remember that your magic should never be relied upon.  The Gods are fickle, but when you manage to get some spells off the results are just devastating.

Chaos Kitbashing
Chaos Kitbashing avatar

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Let me come right out and say it: I don’t like a lot of the models in the Warriors of Chaos range.  Despite being some of the oldest models in the Fantasy range, the Warriors look amazing when ranked up.  Outside of that and some Lords and Heroes though, you’ll quickly find that a lot of the models aren’t too enticing, especially compared to their artwork and rules in the Army Book.

So what’s a warlord to do?  Kitbash!  Counts-as!  There are plenty of options around, and as long as you use appropriate base sizes there shouldn’t be any in-game impact.  These ideas come with a caveat that you should ensure your regular opponents are cool with these substitutions and replacements.  Rolling Beastmen units in your Chaos army might irritate some tournament players (or organizers!) for example.  With that in mind, here are some neat ideas to give your Chaos a more original, thematic look…and even save a few bucks!

Item #1: Trolls for Trolls

Left: Metal Chaos Troll ($22.25). Right: Plastic O&G River Troll (3 for $45).

Let’s start with one of the more interesting and viable Special choices: Trolls.  The Chaos Troll line is a bit underwhelming, as you’ll be looking at $22.25 per model.  While the aesthetics of the models are up to individual taste, I think we can all agree that the models look a bit…dated.  You’re actually paying a premium for metal, which is difficult to customize.  The Orcs and Goblins line has River Trolls, however, on the same 40mm base.  $45 for a box of 3 plastic, beautiful sculpts with plenty of bits to spare is a much better bargain.  With a proper paint scheme and some other Chaos bits, these trolls are a huge upgrade in my book.

Item #2: Ogres for Ogres

Left: Metal Chaos Ogre ($22.25). Right: Plastic Ogres (6 for $40)

Seem familiar?  We have the same problem — really old, expensive model in metal.  Or, you can look to another line.  Both the Chaos Ogre and the Ogre Kingdom core Ogres share a 40mm base.  The question is whether you’d rather pay $22 for one model, or less than $7 per model for a box including extra bits and accessories to make the command.  I’m not going to comment on the competitiveness of Chaos Ogres on the table, but you can bet that in terms of customization and sheer price point they lose out.

Item #3: Dragon Ogres for…

Left: Metal Dragon Ogre ($22.25). Right: Plastic Beastmen Minotaurs (3 for $45)

Ok, now you can see why I wanted to write an entire article on this.  This is the third special choice for Warriors of Chaos whose models are outdated, expensive, and metal.  The tragedy of it is that Dragon Ogres may be the most viable of the three, and their models may be the least passable.  Luckily, they share the same 40mm base as many other gorgeous models, including the Beastmen Minotaurs.  Sure, these Minotaurs don’t have the crackling lightning of the dragonborn as described in the Army Book.  Nor do they even look part dragon.  Then again, neither do the actual Dragon Ogre models.  Instead, you can buy an 80-piece plastic kit of 3 Minotaurs for the price of 2 Dragon Ogres.  This one may require opponent permission, but with creative conversion and modeling you can end up with a unique unit that looks far better than the GW options.

In Conclusion

The Warriors of Chaos have some really cool models available to them, but that just makes some of the other models stand out that much more.  If you’re willing to poke around in the other sections of GW’s website, you can find some great inspiration for kitbashing ideas.  Stay tuned for further ideas on supplementing the Chaos range with additional minis.  Don’t be afraid to peruse other lines — look at 40k, or even non-GW models — you may find something truly unique!

WHFB: Chaos Warriors
WHFB: Chaos Warriors avatar

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Image courtesy of Games Workshop US

Last week I took a look at the Chaos Marauders, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t do an article on the glorious Warriors of Chaos themselves.  The Warriors of Chaos boast what is arguably the best core troop.  With access to an easy 3+ armor save, high strength and toughness, and solid initiative to boot, the Warrior of Chaos is a fearsome fighter.  All of this close combat prowess comes at a cost — they mostly skip the shooting and magic phases, and they bring a hefty points cost with them.  Let’s examine what uses they can have in a Warriors of Chaos army though:

The All-Rounder: 17 points

Seventeen points is a steep cost for your basic troop, with extra points buying you a shield and halberd.  While you can’t use both in close-combat, the shield provides an essential boost to your armor save against missile fire while you’re getting there.  Halberds will give you two S5 attacks per Warrior in the front rank, three for your Champion.  The end result?  A couple of ranks five-wide with full command will net 16 S5 attacks at WS5 and I5.  That is downright menacing.  Including the Mark of Khorne on the unit will up the ante to 21 S5 attacks.

The Brick Wall: 16 points + Mark of Tzeentch

For a more defensive-minded unit, forego the halberd and give the unit a Mark of Tzeentch.  This will give you a 3+ armor save and a 5+ parry save in close combat.  At range, you have a 3+ armor save and a 6+ Ward save.  This means you will shrug off 92.5% and 90.7% of S3 hits in combat and at range, respectively.  Those numbers are still very respectable at 83.3% and 79.2% if you’re looking at S4 hits.  Such an expensive anvil will require proper protection to ensure they don’t run off, as you will not have steadfast.  Nonetheless, they will take a licking and keep on ticking.

The Meatgrinder: 16 points + Mark of Khorne

You could forego defense entirely and just buy an extra hand weapon.  With the Mark of Khorne, you now have 4 attacks per front model.  It’s worth noting that this doesn’t really boost your second rank, but if you’re running a wider frontage (like a horde, if the situation warrants it) then you’ll be in for a treat.  Even in most situations, running 6-wide is an option, meaning you’ll have 25 attacks from the front tank with a Champion, all striking at S4.  This build can work well if you know you’ll be facing a lot of weaker troops, where S4 (and its corresponding -1 Armor Save penalty) are sufficient to inflict casualties and numbers are more important.

Other Thoughts:

There are a few things I’d like to point out about the Warriors’ options.  Great Weapons strike me as a total waste.  While you do get an awesome S6, you’re wasting your Warriors’ I5.  Sure, they’re armored enough to withstand a round of combat and then strike back, but you’re already paying for that I5.  Even with Mark of Khorne, there are better and cheaper ways to fit Great Weapons into your list (see: Marauders).

Mark of Nurgle is a promising idea if you know you’ll be facing a heavy shooting phase.  Keep in mind that the -1 to hit only applies in the shooting phase, and becomes a WS modifier when being hit in close combat.  This means that you’ll rarely see the benefits in combat, but it can be useful to keep your boys alive until they get there.  Of course, it should be weighed against Mark of Tzeentch, which will reduce all casualties by 1/6 anyways with its free Ward Save.

The Blasted Standard should be used in any decent-sized army, and the Warriors are a great candidate.  It works well with Knights as well, but having Blasted Standard and Mark of Tzeentch gives you a 4+ Ward Save against all attacks made in the shooting phase, which is huge.

In Summary:

Your Warriors are tough as nails, but they’re not indestructible.  Using other units like Marauders, Warhounds, and mounted units will let them get into combat quickly and do what they do best.  Your number one goal should be to get them stuck-in combat and protect them from shooting.  Even against enemy combat specialists, the Warriors will put up a respectable fight.  If you manage to get the drop on an unsuspecting squishy unit, sit back and let the fireworks begin!

WHFB: Chaos Marauders
WHFB: Chaos Marauders avatar

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Chaos Marauders - Picture courtesy of Games Workshop.

The Warriors of Chaos army is known for having the fiercest of core troops.  The Chaos Warriors will shred most enemies they meet in hand-to-hand combat, but one often-overlooked option is the Marauder.  Representing the rampaging tribesmen of the North, the Marauders bring rank upon rank of flesh and steel to bolster your elite Warriors.  With steadfast and rank bonuses being as important as they are in 8th Edition, Warriors of Chaos will need all the help they can get in the numbers game.  Let’s take a look at your options for kitting out these versatile troops:

The Bunker: 6 points/model

Six points gets you a T3 model with a 5+ save and a parry.  That’s pretty decent, especially when you start looking around other units.  Now consider what happens if you take the Mark of Tzeentch, which will amortize to under a point per model, assuming you take at least 20 Marauders (which you should!)  Now you’re looking at 7 points for a 5+/5++ T3 model.  Stick a Sorcerer in there or march a large block up the middle of the battlefield as an anvil.

The Blender: 5 points/model

If you don’t need an anvil, consider a hammer.  At 5 points a model, you can give your boys Flails or Great Weapons.  If you go with a minimum frontage of 5, you’re looking at 10 S5 attacks with your front two ranks.  Mark of Khorne gives you 15 S5 attacks.  If you switch between Flails/Great Weapons based on your opponents, you can make good use of the Marauders’ I4 when it’s useful.

Huge Blocks: 200-250 points

Just to put the point costs above in perspective, you can bring 40 Blender Marauders for 200 points.  Or 40 Bunker Marauders for 240 points.  That’s 8 ranks, if you’re only playing 5-wide, to ensure steadfast with your Bunker Marauders.  If you’re able to deploy in horde formation (10-wide) your Blender Marauders will get 20 S5 attacks normally, 30 with Mark of Khorne, and 33 if you add a Champion.  Not bad for under 240 points!

Mark of Nurgle

The Mark of Nurgle’s caught a lot of flak because of the FAQ that weakened it.  Namely, units only receive -1 WS when striking against you, so units like Marauders only benefit against WS2 and WS5 units.  They don’t get any other CC-related bonus from Mark of Nurgle, i.e. rolling to hit against other units.  There is a benefit, however, to wearing the Mark of Nurgle if you know you’ll be facing an army with an impressive shooting phase.  Units suffering a -1 BS penalty is big, but remember that it only applies to tests based on ballistic skill.  Elves with Longbows will already likely be shooting at a long distance, another -1 can really thin the number of saves you have to take.  Magic missiles and war machines could be a separate issue.  The Mark of Nurgle can work on your Marauders, if you know who you’re facing.  It can also be handy in shrugging off certain spells from the Lore of Nurgle!

Conclusion

Marauders are a versatile unit that shouldn’t be overlooked.  They can’t replace Warriors in terms of sheer killing power, but getting 3 Marauders for the price of 1 Warrior should really make you think hard about how you use either in a game.  With so many elite troops, Warriors of Chaos have to leverage the numbers game any way they can, and Marauders give them a way to do that.

Painting Warriors of Chaos
Painting Warriors of Chaos avatar

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Now that I’ve consistently been putting paint to minis, I figured it’d be a good idea to do a quick tutorial on how my Warriors of Chaos come to be.  I’ve gotten a few compliments on them, which is always great because they’re quick to whip up to a tabletop standard and look really sharp as a regiment.  This is what we’re going to make:

Step 1: Base Coats

The first step is to get the main colors down.  Take a hefty amount of Scab Red and thin it down a bit.  You’re going to slather it on most of the mini: the head, armor plates, and the front/back of the cape.  Next, take some Calthan Brown and hit the horns, shoes, weapon handle, and fur.  Carefully get the belt as well, don’t worry about painting over the metal buckles.  Finally, take some Boltgun Metal and do the blades, chainmail, and shields.  Make sure to get the edges and back of the shield too!  Here’s where we are so far:

Step 2: Red Stripe

Take some Blood Red and start lining the edges of the armor.  Make sure to get thigh plates, shoulder plates, gloves, and the helmet.  A thin line will suffice.  I’d also advise you get the collar piece, as that’s what will really make the model pop.  Keep a steady hand and if you mess up, you can come back later with more Scab Red.  Here’s what we’re looking for:

Step 3: Orange Line

Now take your finest brush and some Blazing Orange.  You’re going to want to edge the areas you just painted red so that they have a slight line of orange on the outside.  Edging is easiest when you tilt the brush at an angle against the edge you’re highlighting, although this isn’t always possible.  Don’t worry if your edging looks too thin.  Less is more here, and we don’t want the orange to dominate the highlight:

Step 4: Highlights and Washes

Take a lighter metal like Mithril Silver and highlight the edges of blades and the icons on the shield.  Using the same edging technique as before, highlight around the edges of the shield.  Pick out any other metal bits: rivets, bolts, hoops, etc.  Paint the horns in your favorite manner, I chose a Dheneb Stone/Calthan Brown mix.  Drybrush Dheneb stone over the furs, being careful not to touch the cape or helmet.  Finally, get some Badab Black and get ready to wash!  Wash the shield, pushing the wash towards the edges of the icon but off of the icon itself.  Wash the chainmail to make it pop.  Wash the boots and weapon handles to show their natural texture.  Finally, water down a bit of Badab Black and wash the armor plates if you feel your edging is a little rough.  Base to match your table or army, I just drybrush some more Dheneb Stone:

Step 5: Cloaks

My trick to cloaks is simple: blend your way up to the raised areas.  Thin out some Scab Red to make a glaze and paint the cloaks again.  You really want a solid red color, no splotches.  Next, do a 50/50 mix of Scab Red and Blood Red, but with less water.  Paint from the bottom of the cloak upwards, trying to hit the raised folds.  Next do Blood Red on its own, again thinned less.  With each successive layer, you should be painting closer to the center of the raised folds on the cloak, leaving darker colors in the recesses.  Next do 50/50 Blood Red and Blazing Orange, and finally Blazing Orange on its own.  When it’s all said and done, you’ll have some splotches, so use a Baal Red wash to bring it all together.  Note that the washes will take awhile to dry, as seen on the right:

And there you have it!  Finish any remaining cloak accessories (like the skulls) and basing, and you’re done!  Once you get the hang of edging, it shouldn’t take long to rattle off a group of Warriors.  If you’d like a cleaner look, you can smooth out the cloaks and the edging with more layers (i.e. do 2/3 Scab Red and 1/3 Blood Red before the 50/50 mix).  You may get quicker/cleaner results if you use a Citadel Foundation paint for the red tone, such as Mechite Red, but the color will be different from what you see here.

Of course, you could use these techniques with other color palettes if you want your Warriors to bear the mark of another Chaos God.  Using a series of Green/Yellow, Purple/Pink, or Blue/White could easily net similar results with a more Nurgle, Slaanesh, or Tzeentch feeling, respectively.  Good luck!