Tuesday, September 5, 2017

6 The Good, The Bad & The Panda: Codex Chaos Space Marines Review #5 Elites

Cult is defined as a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.  For the forces of Chaos their Cult Marines are bound together by the ideals of the four Gods of Chaos; Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle and Slaanesh.  These Marines are revered by those below them and feared by those that stand before them as much as they revere their God.  They fight with such ferocity that their zealot actions are make the heroic dying efforts of a lowly guardsman pale in comparison.   To define them is to define a champion of Chaos.  They are without peers.  They are Chaos.

Today we are going to attempt to direct our gaze onto the four iconic Cult Marine units; Khorne Berzerkers, Rubric Marines, Plague Marines and Nosie Marines.  Bare with me as this post will be on the lengthy side as the stats and abilities of units are something to talk about.  One cannot simply glance over these units for to do that is to ignore the heart and soul of the Chaos Codex.  There will be very few Chaos armies that do not field one of these units.  If you find yourself in doubt to the prowess of these Marines then yourself are not a true follower of Chaos.

Khorne Berzerkers
Overview:  The epitome of Khrone!!!  Blood Frenzied manics devoted to experiencing the horrors of combat up close and personal.  Fear across the galaxy for their tenacity in close combat.  To stand before a unit of charging Khorne Berzerkers is to die.  Unit sizes vary from 5 to 20 Khorne Berzerkers. Suited for close combat and just close combat.  Anything else is to insult Khorne himself. 

Good: Attacks, attacks and more attacks is what you are going to get when you successfully charge with a unit of Khorne Berzerkers (2 attacks each, 3 for the Champion).  To compound matters further for their enemies is that of their base strength of 5.  Like all Chaos units they get exploding 6's against any Imperial army but this is just a bonus.  The real heart and soul of this unit is their "Blood for the Blood God" rule which lets them fight twice in the fight phase.

Bad: Next to nothing in terms of shooting options other than taking up to 3 plasma pistols.  In addition you can only get one power weapon and that is on the unit Champion.  This does take some edge off of them but it is still not enough.

Panda: In my Khrone Renegade army, "The Ravenous"I like to field 2 units of 10 Khorne Berzerkers each with 2 plasma pistols. From their I have 9 wielding chainswords and the Champion with a powerfist and a plasma pistol.  This maximizes the number of attacks I will be getting as each Berzerker is now getting 3 attacks each for a grand total of 60 attacks if they attack twice.  You are simply trying to kill your enemy through sheer number of attacks.  They do have the option to take chainaxes instead of chainswords but I prefer the extra attack to the +1 strength and the -1 Ap.  You can cheese it up by taking both a chainaxe and a chainsword.  This allows you to swing with the chainswird for one attack, get its bonus then swing with the chainaxe for the other attacks.  If for whatever reason I don't get the job done or their is another unit I can consolidate into you can use the stratagem "Fury of Khorne" which lets them immediately attack again for a third time.  This stratagem is a power move that you use to catch your opponent off guard in an attempt to cripple his army.  Do not forget to shoot your plasma pistol in close combat and just be aware of shooting them before charging in as your opponent may remove the closes models to increase your charge range.  While a World Eaters army will get more attacks with their Berzerkers, a Renegade force will get to advance and charge in the same turn thus keeping their momentum.  In addition a Renegade force can have a Sorcerer to cast spells like Warptime and or Prescience on the Berzerkers.  Prescience will help with overcharging your plasma pistols and hitting in close combat thanks to the +1 to hit that it gives.  Giving them an Icon of Vengeance is cheap and will definitely come in handy with getting to re-roll your charge ranges.  For World Eaters Legion thing get even better as Khorne Berzerkers are a troop choice for them at the cost of having no Sorcerers.

Rubric Marines
Overview:  A cheap sorcerer, deadly ammo and invulnerable save give these warriors of Tzeentch a sharp edge to cut down those before them with ease.  This is 40ks version of a scifi Egyptian Mummies armu. Units range from 5 to 20 Rubric Marines.  Suited for mid to short range shooting with a dash of Smite thrown in.

Good: Having a 3+ save with an invulnerable save of 5+ is pretty good for a MEQ unit but it gets better.  If the weapon that they are shot with does 1 dmg they get to add one to either of those saves.  This adds up when fighting generic units with average weapons thus forcing your opponent to direct specialty weapons at them.  In terms of their own weaponry Rubrics are not without as they come stock with an "Inferno Boltgun" which does str 4, AP -2, dmg 1 at rapid 1.  They also get a heavy weapon option, "Soulreaper Cannon", that is Str 5, Ap -3, dmg 1 at Heavy 4 (24" range) with no penalty to moving and shooting.  If those two options were not enough any Rubric can swap out their "Inferno Bolter" with their own Tzeentch version of a Flamer, the "Warp Flamer".  Oh and don't forget that they have an Aspiring Sorcerer that can cast a mini Smite, have a "Warp Flamer" and has a "Force Stave".   All in all you get a highly customizable unit that dish out a dangerous amount of firepower.

Bad: Their cost is not cheap especially if you start buying each of them a "Warp Flamer".  They have no close combat dedicated weapons except for the Aspiring Sorcerers "Force Stave". "They also can be negated with other units that can be fully kitted out with special weapons that do multiple damage per shot/attack.  Oh and they are slow as molasses but what did you expect from a walking sack of bones and dust.

Panda:  They are a tricky unit to use but at the right moment in the right spot they can lay waste to most units with ease.  A bit of restraint goes a long way but then again part of me want to field a small squad with 4 "Warp Flamers" and 1 "Soulreaper".  Each of these weapons can move and shoot with no penalty to shooting them while packing a solid punch.  In this configuration they would do a great job at holding down mid table objectives or taking them in as a supporting unit.  Multiple units kitted out like this is a scary site indeed.  

Plague Marines
Overview:  Puss filled wounds, that seep onto the battlefield to slow the tide of all advancing armies.  These Cult warriors of Nurgle are a formidable force in any army thank to their sheer resilience and durability.  They come in squad sizes of 5 to 20 Plague Marines.  Suited for tar pitting and holding objectives.  

Good: Where to begin as this squad has every type of weapon it needs and then some.  You want to kit them out for shooting you have "Plague Spewers (Nurgle Flamers), "Meltaguns", "Plasma Guns". "Blight Launchers".  On top of this if you want close combat weapons there is plenty to chose from; too many in fact to list.  The best thing about Plague Marines is their "Disgustingly Resilient" ability which gives them a 5+ FNP like save which can be used on mortal wounds.  This combined with their Toughness of 5 makes from them super durable and a hard nut to crack.

Bad: They move like a shambling zombie with a mere 5" movement which is felt each and every turn.

Panda:  GW went over the top when it comes to weapon options for both close combat and shooting.  The lists go on and on and on.  No other unit in the game comes with this many options.  It's ridiculous to say the least and that is coming from a dedicated follower of Nurgle.  Giving one unit so many choices, of various types, is just too much.  To put it in perspective they have 17 different weapons at their disposal.  That's right they get more options than a Helbrute.  On top of that GW introduce Plague Weapons as an ability which allows for the re-rolling of wounds for 1s.  9 of the 17 weapons have this ability.  Nurgle himself is disgusted in this lack of restraint by GW; its just over the top.  I like using them in units of 5 with a Champion carrying a "Powerfist" and a "Plasma Gun".  While 2 of the Plague Marines tote a "Plasma Gun" and "Plague Sword" and the last 2 with a "Flail of Contagion"/"Plague Knife" (+1.  Shove them in a rhino with another identical squad and you are looking at 6 "Plasma Guns", 4 "Flails of Contagion" (+2 Str, AP -2, Dmg 2 over 4x D3 attacks that has the dmg overflow from one model to the next).  and 2x Powefists.  I would also look at a variation of this by dropping in "Plague Spewers" for "Plasma Guns".  I go to the plasma as it just packs a solid punch both in strength, AP and Dmg.  Do this twice and your opponents will be screaming at GW for an FAQ to smash your Plague Marines in the face.

Noise Marines
Overview:  Sensory overload is the name of the game with these Slaneesh cult loving marines.  Be it mutilation, modification, scarification, mutation and so forth.  There is no boundary for these marines, no stimulation to great.  They come in units of 5 to 20 Noise Marines.  Suited for mid to close range shooting.

Good: They can swap out their "Bolter" for a "Sonic Blaster" which is one of the nicest bolter modifications in the game.  We are talking about a 24" range that is assault 3, S4, AP 0, Dmg 1 weapon.  The assault 3 means you can constantly keep the shooting all game with only a minor -1 to BS if you need to move, advance and shoot.  Throw in a "Blastermaster" and you have a solid heavy weapon that can help deal with armour, monstrous creatures or hordes.  Last but not least the Champion gets access to the armoury and the "Doom Siren" which is a nice flamer like weapon.  All three of these Noise Marine weapons prevent their targets from benefitting from cover which can come in handy. They do get the ability to attack one last time after a model in the unit is killed; shooting phase or close combat phase. Lastly they do get a fair number of attacks for close combat with 2 a piece and 3 for the Champion.  

Bad: No options to turn them into a deadly close combat  orientated unit.  Yes you can give them "Chainswords" for an additional attack but that still does not give them the volume of attacks needed to make up for their lack of AP.  As such they need to keep themselves away from close combat orientated units.  

Panda:  In minimum squads of 5 with 4 "Sonic Blasters" and one "Masterblaster" they are a nice addition to help add some mid field fire support.  They would benefit from a 7" move to help represent the speed and vigour of Slaneesh.  GW should of put some of the effort that they over did it with on the Plague Marines into the Noise Marines.  They just lack that close combat punch and with having to position themselves in the mid field they are going to be in jeopardy of falling into close combat whether they want to or no. They are short on either close combat weapon options and or abilities to make them a competitive unit. They do get this added ability in an Emperor's Children Legion by being able to attack first and by being a Troop Choice.  This makes them a bit better but not enough.

Overall GW is sleeping with Papa Nurgle and appears to not care who knows about it. Plague Marines are without a doubt the best Cult unit thanks to GW providing them with a toolbox that has answers for every situation.  Khorne Berzerkers also faired well thanks to their ability to attack twice in close combat.  As such I expect to see both these units on the table tops.  Tzeentch will get a boost to their rubric Marines when 1kson come up but that is the Panda speculating.  If this happens that will leave Noise Marines looking for an update or a points drop to stay competitive.  While it is nice to have a unit like the plague marines I would prefer to see the wealth spread around.  We will continue with an examination not the other Elite units in my next post.


  1. Couple of points here- firstly it's worth mentioning that Berzerkers have the option to keep their Chainswords and replace their pistols with Chainaxes. That lets you make all your base attacks with the axe and still take the extra attack from the sword, all for the cost of losing a bolt pistol.

    I'm not sure where you're coming from on Noise Marines at all. They have the option for Chainswords as well, so you certainly can make an assault based unit with just Chainswords and a Champion with a Doom Siren and some sort of melee weapon, though obviously only in a points game since that unit costs a lot less points than a full shooting one. If you use them as Emperor's Children, then as well as their ability to always fight at charge initiative you have access to Excess of Violence to make kills explode in addition to Endless Cacophony to shoot twice.
    I don't know where this recent obsession with 24" range being 'too short' is coming from in an edition where someone can Deep Strike 9" away from you without error. It doesn't matter if you're hiding in the corner with a Heavy Conversion Beamer, unless you protect a shooting unit with other units someone can and will get close to it very quickly.

    1. Thanks for reading the post. Ground is covered very quickly in 8th edition and leaving 24" or less between you and your opponents models is risky cause of this. I am trying to leave Legion Specific abilities and stratagems our of the unit reviews as I will be conduction a review of each legion and the tricks they have up their sleeves. I will add a blurb on chainaxes and chainswords for Berzerkers cause that point slipped my mind and a quick point that Emperor's Children make Noise Marines a bit better. Please remember that the PANDA section is where I place my personal opinion and thoughts. They may not be the same as others and that is ok.

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