Posts Tagged ‘Chaos Space Marines’


Playing in my last few games, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly aware of what I’d call the ‘dead wood’ factor: the fact that quite significant chunks of my army just aren’t pulling their weight. Last time, for instance, virtually all the productive killing (i.e., when not under Eldar psychic control) was done by the Assault Squad (with an honourable mention for the Sanguinor). Thinking further back, I do recall commenting that most of my early victories were largely the result of Mephiston and the Death Company slaughtering large parts of the enemy force virtually unsupported.

This week, however, I found myself in a game where virtually everything pulled its weight. I had arranged to play our local Blood Ravens merchant and had even gone so far as to buy some new kit to counter the build I know he favours, but for silly little reasons the game never happened and now we have a fortnight’s wait before another opportunity arises. (Shocking levels of attempted intimidation and headology are now taking place, with us casually wandering past each other at games nights muttering things like ‘Thunderfire cannon’ and ‘Baal Predator with flamestorm cannon’ just loud enough to be heard.)

So I ended up playing a Chaos Marine army at 1K. I was mildly appalled by how few Blood Angels you get at this point size (and this was before I realised I was actually well over the agreed points – subtraction isn’t my forte and I was cutting down a 1500 point list). I ended up with Captain Zedrenael of the 8th Company, accompanied by a Chaplain and a Sanguinary Priest, leading into battle a demi-Assault Squad and a mechanised Tactical Squad (both 3rd Company, not that it really matters). Backing them up were a Furioso and a regular Dreadnought carrying twin autocannon (a slightly exotic load-out, but… well, that’s an explanation for another time).

The Chaos army was equally compact and consisted of a pack of Noise Marines, a mob of Cultists led by a Dark Apostle, a pack of Chaos Terminators (these had me rather worried) and a Slaughterbrute (ditto, until I realised it was just a Chaos Dreadnought after a rebranding exercise). In command was Lucius the Eternal.

The game boiled down to a tussle over two objectives, both in ruins in the table centre. I kept to one corner and put the Tactical Squad’s rhino on the flank, with the Assault Squad and characters taking cover behind the two Dreadnoughts. Facing me from left to right were the Slaughterbrute, Lucius, the Cultists and Apostle, and the Noise Marines (the Terminators opted to Deep Strike).

I got the first turn and everything trundled forward, the Furioso and rhino both popping smoke. The autocannon dreadnought scored four wounds on the Noise Marines but they passed all their saves: they call the autocannon an anti-vehicle weapon for a reason, I suppose.

The Chaos forces on the left pushed forward towards the ruins, the Slaughterbrute circling round to get sight of the rhino. The Noise Marine shooting brought the first nasty shock of the game as I learned their heavy weapons ignored cover as well as Feel No Pain: two Assault Marines went down hard. The rhino blew up, killing a single Tactical Marine but allowing the multi-melta in the squad to shoot at the Slaughterbrute at full effect next turn.

I continued to push forward on turn 2 with everything but the Tactical Squad, who opened up at the Slaughterbrute with multi- and combi-meltas. Both missed, of course, leaving the squad looking very exposed. The autocannon dreadnought mowed down a few Cultists.

On Chaos turn 2 the Terminators arrived, and – in a probably decisive move – teleported down where they were flanking my Dreadnoughts, rather than close to my infantry. Not that there was very much of that left: blastmasters and doom sirens opened up and wiped out the remaining Assault Marines, leaving just the three officers standing – at least they were now in assault range of the Cultists in the central ruins. In another key decision the Terminators opened fire on the autocannon dreadnought and destroyed it. Equally tellingly, luck was against the Chaos army on the left as both the Slaughterbrute and Lucius attempted to assault the Tactical Squad, but rolled 3s for their charge range and were left dangling,  Lucius having taken a wound to overwatch fire. The only bright spot was that the Chaos machine had killed the multi-melta earlier in the term.

Blood Angel turn 3 and it was happy time, in theory, as I got to assault – but some of these looked much too close for comfort. Captain Z, the Chaplain and the Priest got stuck into the Cultists, which was obviously going to go my way given I was rerolling 3s to hit and needed 2s to kill, while the Furioso steeled itself to engage the Chaos Terminators up close (at times like this I’m glad I gave it Blood Fists and not Talons). Over on the left the Tactical Squad did some serious manning-up as they took on the Slaughterbrute in close-combat.

Well, Captain Z challenged the Dark Apostle and took him apart with the greatest of ease, while the other characters killed six more Cultists for no wounds in return. Luck really was smiling on me as the Chaos general rolled snake-eyes, keeping the fight going into his next turn and shielding my characters from the attentions of the Noise Marines. The Slaughterbrute squished one marine but was immobilised by the Sergeant’s powerfist, bringing the rest of the squad into the fight as their krak grenades now only needed a 4 to glance the thing’s armour. The Furioso zapped one Terminator on the way in and flattened another in the fight, while the Terminator’s powerfists were defeated by its reassuringly high front armour.

On his turn the Chaos general did consider moving his Noise Marines up closer to one of the fights (they had nothing to shoot at), but as this could just leave them more vulnerable to an assault in my next turn he left them where they were. All he did was stick Lucius into the fight between the Slaughterbrute and the Tactical Marines. Lucius carved up the Sergeant easily, but the ‘brute lost another hull point to a krak grenade. This fight was on a knife edge, which was more than one could say for the one between the Cultists and the Blood Angels command staff: the two surviving Cultists fled the combat, freeing up the Captain and his colleagues. In the Furioso-vs-Terminators combat, the hulking cyborg crushed another of the Traitors, who again failed to damage it – but this time they fled and the Furioso ran them down, his consolidation taking him invitingly close to the Noise Marines.

My turn 4 and I was getting that game-in-the-bag feeling, provided I could stop Lucius from killing all my troops. The Captain and his fellows moved to enter the Slaughterbrute and Lucius vs Tactical Marines combat while the Furioso stomped up to the Noise Marines, declining to fire to increase his chances of being in charge range. And he was! Being Fearless, and lacking a single close combat weapon that could affect AV13, the Noise Marines could do nothing but let the Furioso splatter them across the landscape.

The Blood Angels characters entered the fray and Lucius spat his customary challenge. Chaplain Aukon looked around for Captain Zedrenael expectantly but realised the old warrior was hiding round the back of the Slaughterbrute, making a meal of fiddling with a melta-bomb. ‘You can handle this one, Chaplain,’ the Captain shouted cheerily. Muttering under his breath the Chaplain went one-on-one with Lucius the Eternal, as the Slaughterbrute exploded in the background.

Well, thank the Emperor for Rosarius saves, as after two rounds of closely fought combat the Chaplain managed to ding Lucius sufficiently on the head with his crozius for the Chaos warlord to fall over. The Chaos presence on the table now consisted of the last remnants of the Noise Marines, which the Furioso was happily battering his way through, and the Chaos general conceded with good grace, as we agreed that this had been a great game – had even a single combat gone even slightly differently, the whole outcome could have been totally different.

In my last army review I considered the Furioso to be a marginal performer, but he did the business on this outing. Notably, Blood Talons just wouldn’t have worked in this situation – there is a place for Blood Fists in an army list after all. I think putting the Terminators down so close to the one thing in my army that could reliably kill them was the biggest mistake my opponent made.

Apart from that – I’m not sure, to be honest. I’d been inclining more and more to the idea that Tactical Marines are not an optimal choice for a Blood Angels army – or at least, you have to choose between going all-out with specialist Blood Angels assault units, or just sticking with a more traditional Marine-style build and using some Blood Angel stuff to flavour it. Given my fondness for Captain Zedrenael as a warlord, I expect I will work towards the former, but still…

This was also, by the way, my first entirely Death Company-free list in… er… well, possibly ever. Obviously, I can’t say I really missed them much on this occasion, so there may possibly be food for thought there, too. Oh well. On the table at the moment are an Honour Guard squad, another Assault combat squad, and the makings of some Assault Terminators. My game with the Blood Ravens is a fortnight off so I have a little more time to decide what I’m actually going to take for that one, anyway…

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I’ve kind of been trying to avoid playing 40K for the last few weeks, mainly because I’m not sure my fragile ego could endure another spanking. Nevertheless with my enforced summer break looming I really have to gather my rosebuds while the sun shines, or something, and so I duly manned up and trotted along to GW Oxford.

Shortly after entering the establishment I was challenged to a game by someone I had better not name. I should have known what to expect when he said he had ‘1000… hang on, 1250… actually I can probably do a full 1500 points.’ Hmmm.

We wound up playing War of Attrition with my Blood Angels in the role of the Imperial Guard. This is a mission which looks a little dodgy to me, balance-wise: the deployment conditions appear to give the Guard a big incentive to deploy with a deep firebase. A more balanced army like the Angels isn’t so limited. Anyway, the Chaos Marines of my opponent were plonked down in the table centre, deep in his own half (he didn’t really consider the value of deploying further forward, or perhaps given I was likely to get first turn he was being cautious) – a squad with a Tzeentch mark, a Daemon Prince, two Obliterators, and a squad of Thousand Sons. On my left I stuck down the Devastators, supported by a combat squad. The Death Company, the Captain and his assault squad, another combat squad and Mephiston all deployed in cover on my right. Victory would be a matter of points destroyed (not kill-points), with infantry Troops recycling as reserves.

I got the first turn and trundled the Death Company up to his army, advancing with the Furioso more slowly. The Devastators started the steady rain of fire on the Chaos forces they would maintain for most of the game, generally being quite accurate (just as well given everything in the Chaos army had some kind of invulnerable save). On the first Chaos turn the Obliterators blew up the Death Company rhino, which was sort of predictable, and a bolt of change destroyed the Furioso, which was a bit unlucky I thought.

Anyway, on the second turn the Death Company negotiated their way around the Rage rule to assault the Obliterators while Mephiston swooped forward and engaged the Thousand Sons single-handed. The Obliterators barely had time to gurgle before they were dead, while Mephiston found himself in a bit of a slugfest: the 4+ invulnerable the Thousand Sons enjoyed kept them in the fight, and I had a nasty shock when I found their champion was packing a force staff: Mephiston was one 6 away from being instantly killed.

There was nothing to be done about that, so I crossed my fingers and concentrated elsewhere. The Tzeentch squad, the Daemon Prince and the Sorcerer all counter-charged the Death Company, but the combat was a close one and the vampire-marines only lost by a single wound. The following turn they were finished off but not before wiping out the last of the Tzeentch squad, while Mephiston polished off the last of the Thousand Sons.

All that was left in the Chaos army by now was the Prince and the Sorcerer and they advanced on my lines waiting for their troops to recycle. Mephiston snuck up on the Sorcerer and showed him the proper use of a force weapon, shortly after which the Thousand Sons reappeared just behind him. Their inferno shots pattered off the Lord of Death’s 2+ save and not wishing to push my luck (and being well ahead on points) I pulled Mephiston back, quite happy to sit out the remaining couple of turns in a defensive posture.

The Daemon Prince had other ideas and pursued Mephiston, taking a wound off him with a Bolt of Change before assaulting. Clearly getting peevish Mephiston demonstrated again how a force sword is properly used and consolidated into cover.

The Tzeentch squad had now recycled alongside the Thousand Sons but as neither had any effective long-range weapons and both were in the fire arc of my plasma cannons as they advanced my opponent conceded even though there was a turn left to play. He was right: the final score was 1095 to the Blood Angels, 490 to the Chaos Marines.

Hmm. Yet another Death-and-Meph outing, with the Company and the Chief Librarian killing the entire enemy army between them (with some supporting fire from the Devastators). Everything else barely moved or shot throughout the entire game. I know those two units are capable of that level of destruction, but at the same time I can’t rely on it. This game was mainly useful as a bit of an insight into some of the odder parts of the Chaos list.

And I feel I must say that my opponent did not seem very confident in his grasp of the rules, consistently forgetting to roll for his daemonic support, not to mention his psychic powers. Maybe I should have been a little more lenient about this and reminded him before the game actually finished, but hey. It’s a tough school. He needs to learn to remember without help, not everyone’s as compassionate as me (and he called me ‘dude’ a couple of times during the game, which I didn’t appreciate).

Oh well, a win’s a win, as they say, and there’s nothing like a crushing one-sided victory to make you remember why you started playing the army in the first place. I’ll settle for that, for now.

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Oh, boy. I try to be a responsible adult who keeps things around me in perspective, and any reasonable person would say that the opportunity for a little judicious career development should be higher on anybody’s priority list than the chance to go and play with toy soldiers somewhere. This is a call that I frequently have to make as all the development seminars in my area seem to be scheduled, without fail, for a Thursday night, which is the only realistic time I have for wargaming. More often than not I manage to squeeze them both in. I fear it says something unflattering about me on all sorts of levels that I am currently welcoming any symposia going, not out of a burning desire to improve my methodology and skills, but because right now I’ll take any decent excuse to avoid being kicked all over the shop by any other army going.

At least with the Consecrators I had some highly resilient Troops units and could, you know, grind out the occasional draw. For some reason the Blood Angels are going through a prolonged period of seeming fragile and non-threatening.

Onto specifics: this week I played a guy with whom I’m building up quite a history of close, fun games (haven’t quite beaten him yet, but). This week he was using his Chaos Marine force, which appeared to comprise a mixture of basic tactical squads, supported by three Obliterators, some tooled up Chaos Terminators, a Daemon Prince, a Greater Daemon and some of the Lesser kind too. The dice were quirky and we wound up playing Wave Assault with Chaos in the role of the Tyranids.

I held the board centre and the Chaos army gradually advanced from three directions. Two of the Obliterators came on in the first turn and proceeded to hammer the Blood Angel devastators who were covering one of the approaches. It quickly became clear I had the choice between sitting tight in the board centre and waiting for the Chaos assault or moving to intercept and counter-assault the enemy.

I went for the latter which was possibly a mistake. Acting unsupported, the Death Company managed to deal with the Terminators when they teleported in but were virtually wiped out as a result. The two survivors managed to tie up some Lesser Daemons for a turn but that was the limit of their contribution. The Chaos tactical units and Obliterators concentrated on hammering my tactical squad and dreadnoughts prior to assaults from the Greater Daemon and Daemon Prince. The squad and the Furioso dreadnought were dealt with extremely briskly and painlessly from the point of view of the Chaos army.

I had sent Mephiston over to one board edge ready to pounce on the Chaos elements that would be coming on from there, but this plan was confounded when the Chaos general deployed them as far as possible from the Lord of Death. By the time Mephiston was back in the thick of things my army had been reduced to a lone devastator sergeant ineffectually rapid firing down at the Obliterator advance, my Captain (whose support squad had just been eaten by a Daemon Prince), an immobilised heavy-weapon dreadnought and the Lord of Death himself. (I was technically out of the game by this point as I could no longer contest objectives and had no chance of routing the entire enemy army in the few turns remaining, but I played on out of common civility.)

Well, Mephiston killed the Daemon Prince on the charge, as you’d expect, and then carved his way through a big squad of Daemonettes with no real cause for concern (these were vanilla daemons, of course). The dreadnought took two wounds off the Greater Daemon, which was then charged by the Captain (I judged that what the situation demanded was a pointless, vainglorious gesture, but I only needed one 6 to potentially take the beast’s last wound).  The Captain muffed it and was gobbled up, Mephiston was left contemplating the prospects of fighting the entire remaining Chaos force virtually single-handed, and luckily further embarrassment was spared when the dice ended the game at the earliest possible moment. We didn’t actually check to see if the Chaos marines were close enough to claim any of the objectives, but in every real sense the game was obviously theirs.

My opponents seem to be wising up to the fact that it’s the Death-and-Meph combo that gives my army whatever potency it possesses, and taking any chance they can to neutralise the former early in the game while steadfastly trying to avoid the latter. The extreme fragility of the army’s ability to contest objectives is also becoming painfully obvious. I need to stick another full-size tactical squad in there, probably a mechanised one. This will probably mean dropping Mephiston, but master of carnage and reliable source of good cheer though he is he’s not helping me win games at the moment.

Other candidates for the chop are my perennially-underperforming plasma cannon devastators and the Captain. I suspect a Chaplain to sing the Death Company on their way will be a cheaper and more effective choice of HQ. The jury is still sitting on the performance of the Furioso dreadnought: possibly switching the (as-yet-unfired) frag cannon for another blood fist may help this guy to shine.

In any case we’re looking at significant changes to the design of the list, and I note I still need to address my anti-tank shortfall. Hum. Keep those professional development seminars coming, guys.

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