Friday, March 13, 2015

40K Hobby Progress: Trying to Win With a Chaos Space Marines Army - Update One

Time to update my tournament army, it's an uphill battle.
As the Chaos Space Marine players like to bemoan, the CSM codex isn't particularly competitive these days and adding to that river of tears it appears that the nerf to Invisibility is gaining more steam throughout the community. This newest development throws out one of the codex's last remaining ways to stay somewhat competitive in a tournament. As an owner of a CSM army I know these pains all to well - but luckily I am not a vehement tournament player and play for the sake of enjoyment ( <--- that's what the loser tournament players always say, Doh!, busted). That being said I'd like to be competitive enough to win at least half of my games because losing a majority of the time is just balls. I couldn't even begin to image how a real competitive CSM player feels? Oh right, he probably doesn't feel because his CSM army is on the shelf gathering dust while he plays his more competitive armies, heh.

Queue the sad violin.
Lindsey plays a sad, sad song for me.
My gaming club, and by proxy the local gaming stores, are adopting the Las Vegas Open (LVO) format this year. For those that aren't in the know the LVO rules nerf Invisibility and thus forces ever downward the already laughable CSM competitiveness level. I have previously semi-ranted about this knee-jerk nerf and warned about how it might catch on throughout the community so I won't bore you again. Personally, I  just want to know one thing you LVO jerks - where is the Wave Serpent nerf? At least space elves can win tournaments with their cheese. Jerk faces.

Change is coming for my tournament army.
So where does that leave my tournament army? In case you aren't familiar with my tournament army you can take a look at it here. In that army I use invisible Flesh Hounds as my hammer and distraction unit, annoying for sure, but when played against a competent player they are usually able to counter them in some fashion - so maybe it isn't so much of a stretch to just remove Invisibility from my army? In this way I can ditch the expensive Be'lakor and open a bunch of points to update my army with. I think I am going to go with this route, I refuse to play under those nerfed Invisibility rules. It's the principal of the thing.

Check out one of the greatest superhero scenes ever in film here.
It's the mobility, stupid.
I watched a couple of the final LVO matches being live streamed and as expected I saw mobility become the king of the battlefield as it has been for most of 7th edition. Not even those cheese-master losers whom brought the mostly non-mobile Lynx Lord of War could make it to the top table for the final game. What I was seeing was players with mobile armies winning, either through fast transports, deep strike, fast movement or even outflank. The ability to place units where you want them and when you want them is key and it gives your opponent fewer hiding places, thus limiting his own mobility and options. Not to mention that mobility gives you the power to score those objectives - especially if playing with Maelstrom objectives.

What's out, what's in.
If I am ditching Invisibility in my army altogether then bye-bye Be'lakor. He did win me a few games with a late round objective grab but mostly he was just hanging around flying and toss'n out Invisibility so basically he was a big 'ole Invisibility tax sink. If Be'lakor is gone why keep Daemon allies at all? Yes, Flesh Hounds are terrific but I can open up even more points if I drop them as well. I may not drop them in the end but for right now I am wanting to experiment with the Mayhem Pack and so I need some more points to play with in order to afford that.

You have to admit, sucktastic or not, they look awesome.
Yeah, that's right Homie, I'm putting Helbrutes in my tournament list - pending on how well they perform in testing. So why put such noncompetitive things in my tournament list? Well, here is my thinking, the Mayhem Pack Formation gives me three Deep Striking Helbrutes (each a separate unit) that all come in on the same round. That means mobility and so I am placing them where I need them the most instead of having them meander slowly up the field and get shot dead like normal. Oh yeah - they are still going to die, but they are expendable, and at 100 points a pop it just isn't a big deal.

Conclusion: still good even after the nerf
and the initial CSM player backlash.
My other bright idea is adding a Heldrake. Well, not so much a new idea actually but a recycled one. This grants me great mobility and the ability to place a S 6 AP 3 template just about anywhere I need it. Support like that was something my tournament army was sorely lacking. Often when an opponent had one of his important units out of the way I had no viable way of getting to it besides trying to fight my way there. Don't forget that the Turkey can hover so that gives me even more mobility options to get that template on a target where I need it most. After testing the Heldrake, for the first time post-nerf, I find it to be a great asset for my assault army.

It may not be the Murder Sword but
I'm not looking at the sword

He's murder.
It appears that I have points for another HQ and Hells Bells I'm going to add another one of my favorite units of all time, a JuggerLord. A second JuggerLord will add depth to my assault wave and he has a ready made second Spawn unit to serve as escort into battle. What I want to give him is a Murder Sword. I have started experimenting with a Murder Sword wielding JuggerLord and so far it works well, last game that Lord struck down a marked for murder enemy Warlord in one blow. But, alas, points are tight and I can't afford a loadout of a Murder Sword and a Powerfist. Yes, he must have a Powerfist to deal with the tougher things that the Axe of Blind Fury JuggerLord can't. For right now I'm going with no Murder Sword but like other things in this new list - I might change my mind in the near future.

One of the most noticeable weaknesses of my tournament army has been the lack of a decent backfield presence, I have three minimal Troop choices and usually struggled to get to midfield or hold onto rear objectives when attacked. To make matters worse, just about every tournament I play in uses the limited Maelstrom objectives so controlling those objectives behind my advancing Red Tide is even more crucial. Needless to say, due to my poor Troop support, I lost or tied the Maelstrom secondary mission probably 70% of the time. Lots of room for improvement there. Depending on the amount of points I have to play with I will probably go with two Cultist units and two-three Chaos Space Marine units in Rhinos with meltaguns. This should give me a decent 'third wave' and introduce an important mobile 'second wave' into my army. Check out the awesome blog Berzerkers of Skallathrax for great tactical articles that explain how to organize your army into waves. I like the concept of waves, it makes sense for a competitive army and his army is very similar to mine already so it was easy to compare and take ideas from!

Are cool new Khorne models coming the last weeks of March?

New Chaos toys incoming?
Lets not forget that the March 21st White Dwarf Magazine will introduce some new Khorne datasheets for 40K. Depending on what that new stuff is I may or may not update my army again. If Berzerkers riding Juggernauts arrive as a new unit then you can bet the farm I will be adding those puppies to my army. I mean, how cool is that?

It looks something like this.
Because I will be playing mostly under LVO format this limits me to two detachments, a Formation counts as one detachment. So if I play the Mayhem Pack Formation I only have room for a single CAD and so no daemon allies.

Is this list going to win me tournaments? No, but hope springs eternal right? I do think that the army will be fun and win me some games but that Mayhem Pack is going to need some testing to see if it stays in my tournament list or not.

An early version of my tournament army was named The Angry Red Tide
but I'm adding four models with the word Hell in it so, eureka, Hell Tide is born.
HELL TIDE 1850 Points
version 1.0


Chaos Lord of Khorne
 - Juggernaut of Khorne, Mark of Khorne, Sigil of Corruption, Axe of Blind Fury, meltabombs
Chaos Lord of Khorne
 - Juggernaut of Khorne, Mark of Khorne, Sigil of Corruption, powerfist, lightning claw

Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Cultists x10
Chaos Space Marines x5 - meltagun
  ---------> Chaos Rhino
Chaos Space Marines x5 - meltagun
  ---------> Chaos Rhino

Chaos Spawn x5
Chaos Spawn x5

Maulerfiend w/ tendrils
Maulerfiend w/ magma cutters
Maulerfiend w/ magma cutters


MAYHEM PACK (3x Helbrutes Deep Striking)

Helbrute w/ plasma cannon, powerfist
Helbrute w/ multi-melta, powerfist
Helbrute w/ multi-melta, powerfist



  1. Nice article - 10 spawn, three fiends and a hellbrute pack is pretty darn brutal! But actually in a non cheesy way... It sounds like a really cool army I'd love to see an army photo of them all together.
    Have you thought about trying to squeeze a third squad of cultists in at a measly 50 points? More bodies are always useful!

    1. Thanks! Army photos will be on the blog once all is updated and painted so it may take a long while.

  2. Mayhem Pack is great. I've used mine extremely effectively by putting them into really tough spots. Even if you mishap it's only a 1 in 6 chance it dies and even then it's only 100pts. Putting multi-meltas where you want them lets you open up those transports for that first wave to crash into, or second wave. Plus, they get it will not die, which is never a bad thing.

    The glaring weakness of your list, as I see it, is the troops. Most of your army is going forward, they aren't hanging out to snag objectives, and what you do have to grab objectives is small and fragile. What I would do, just my opinion of course, is forgo the 2nd Lord and invest those points into your troops. Bulk the CSM up to 10 guys each (points permitting). That also means the other unit of Spawn can go Nurgle since they won't have a Lord with them. You said it, the Maelstrom style stuff has gotten you and I just don't see the minimal troop setup covering that gap.

    1. I can't wait to start playtesting the mayhem pack, still missing one helbrute for it.

      Yeah, troops are a little thin but the idea is not to have to fight with them, protect them with the helturkey. It is an improvement over what troops I am currently running: 10 cultists, 3 nurglings and 5 marines on foot. If I drop the 2nd Lord I can put 8 berzerkers in one rhino and 10 marines in a second rhino. Certainly does sound muuuuuuch better but I'd be worried my first wave wouldn't have enough punch anymore. Eh, decisions, decisions. :)

    2. But what if your opponent is just as mobile as you? You're thinking the same way I usually do, that your opponent is going to stand there while you drive at them. If your opponent is utilizing deep strike and outflank then they can dodge your waves and go straight at your fragile flank. Food for thought :)

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  4. My thoughts: the Mayhem Pack works, but only with some form of reserve manipulation. If it comes in on turn 4 you will have already lost. Reserve manipulation for CSM can only come in the form of a fortification. Adding a cheap tough fortification will also give your army some holding power, as even empty fortifications can hold objectives now. The Imperial Bunker is AV14 all round and costs 55 points and with a comms relay is 75. Stick some cultists in it, or better still 4x autocannon or 4xlascannon havocs. Thats 190 points for a unit that is AV14, holds an objective, puts out 8 autocannon shots per turn and helps your reserves come in. Plus the Comms relay will almost guarantee your Heldrake comes in on turn 2.

    Personally I have found that deep striking Oblits are just as good as the Mayhem Pack, and can actually work well as a combo with them, though its a big commitment to make deep striking an army theme.

    If you decide against the Mayhem Pack or the Oblits then why not use your other detachment for a Crimson Slaughter allied contingent? They have some cool rules and best of all allows you to take one Juggerlord from CSM with Axe of Blind Fury and a second from CS withe the Daemonheart. A Daemonheart Juggerlord is awesome, as he has a 2+ save, 4++, IWND and extra attack and wound from the jugger... Since that bunker/havocs combo is good, why not use the fortification slot from the CS detachment to do it again? Or if you don't have the points add one or two battlecannons in the form of a Vengeance Weapons Battery? 85 points for an AV14 Battlecannon that can babysit an objective? Priceless!

    Also do fill up your force org. If you have spare fast attack slots anywhere then put lone spawn (MoN) in them. Likewise fill any spare HS slots with lone oblits.

    1. btw I'd just choose the VWB and not bother with the bunker if short of points, as it has no transport capacity it can't be taken over by enemy troops and will thus always hold an objective for you against anything but enemy Objective Secured units, but you can't add a comms relay to a VWB.

    2. Thanks for the helpful comments. I will admit that I was shopping around for reserve manipulation but wasn't satisfied with the Aegis or Bastion with a relay. Reserve manipulation is very important to make lists like this more competitive, you are certainly correct about that. I will have to look into the Imperial Bunker, it sounds like what I need, just don't have the rules for it.

      Unfortunately, tournaments I play only allow 2 detachments. Formations count as a detachment choice so I don't have any extra fast or heavy slots open for extras. Unless I drop the Mayhem pack, which might happen. Don't know all depends on what I read in the new Khorne codex next week. :).