Heretic Astartes in 9th edition

Hey everybody,
Yes, I realise I must seem like quite the hobby butterfly right now! Just a couple of days after my Sisters of Battle appreciation post, I’m here talking about another army and my plans for it – I just can’t help it, I’m addicted to the plastic! I wanted to talk a bit about my Chaos forces though, after having spent some time during last week with the codex and having a look at things in terms of what I currently have for the army, etc.

Chaos Space Marines is a wonderful army, and one that I really like the look of. It seems like they can be quite difficult to make work, though I think a lot of that noise comes from the tournament folks who are continually complaining about issues with the book in comparison to the Space Marines codex. For their 9th edition book, though, there do seem to be some concerns, particularly around how terminators have rules that don’t reflect their plastic kit, or something – I’m not an expert, and I don’t even have Chaos Terminators (yet!) so can’t really comment on that.

To me, though, as something of a newcomer to Chaos (even though I’ve talked about the army for years now, and have had the models for longer!) the book does seem to be quite nice. The unit entries have been tidied up a little bit, and on the whole it does seem like an improvement – though to be honest, anything has got to be an improvement on how I would go about army-building in 8th edition, when I needed the codex, the Daemonkin codex, the second Vigilus book, and the Psychic Awakening book. Everything is wrapped up quite well, and presented fairly nicely, too.

There are a lot of new models coming out to accompany the new book, which is very exciting, so there are new entries that are reflective of that. Due to having a lot of new cultists coming, I have left out my own chaps from the current list that I have drawn up, as I think I’m going to stick to marines for the time being while I attempt to make sense of the army as a whole.

Let’s take a look at what I’m working with, anyway.

So there we are! I’m on the cusp of 1500 points, but this is what I have built and (reasonably) ready to go so far – some of it is even painted! It isn’t a legal force yet, as there are too many HQs for a patrol and too few troops for a battalion, but I do have another box of Traitor Marines that I could at least build up to make it work out. I think I would probably ditch the Master of Possession to keep the HQ slots in check for now, as I have no real targets for his Daemonkin abilities in the army – certainly not enough targets to make it worthwhile taking him. I still don’t 100% know how I would like to build the third unit of Legionaries, but I could always throw in some of my Cultist models to make the numbers up – a mob of ten models is 50 points, so there are some easy options there.

Marks of Chaos cost 15 points per unit when you upgrade a unit to have one, which feels a bit too much of an investment at the minute! That said, each of the four Marks grants an effect and has a second effect for units equipped with an icon, so I could potentially see myself giving one of the Legionary squads a Mark just for that, really. Of course, it’s not just these effects that you get, as the psykers and priests will know additional powers and prayers when they have pledged themselves to one of the Four. For now, I’m shying away from the investment, as I say, but I think it might be interesting to give, for instance, the Legionary squad a Mark of Tzeentch, which would improve the AP by 1 on each ranged attack in the squad, as well as allowing them to escape some damage when they fail a saving throw. Something to think about in the future, anyway.

At any rate, let’s take a look at some of these chaps in turn. To start with, I’m playing Black Legion, so I get to ignore all modifiers to combat attrition tests, and I get +1 attack if I’m shooting at the closest enemy, or if I made a charge move that turn. Nice! All models in the army have the Let the Galaxy Burn special rule, which is a bit like the combat doctrines for the Imperial Marines – in round one, they get exploding 6s to hit on Heavy, Rapid Fire or Grenade weapons; in round two, that is changed to Rapid Fire, Assault or Pistol weapons; round three changes it to Assault, Pistol or melee weapons. There are rules to change this a bit, including giving a unit all three of these effects whenever you might need it, but it seems to demand a certain staged level of play, which (to my mind) goes against what Chaos Marines are all about. They also get their own version of Bolter Discipline, called Malicious Volleys, which applies to the Legionaries and Havocs.

I might be talking about ditching the Master of Possession, but let’s start with him, anyway. He can cast two powers per turn, and I’ve given him Warp Marked and Possession, the former lets him mark an enemy unit within 18” and any Daemonkin or Daemon Engine units get +1 to wound against that unit; the latter lets him roll against the toughness of a unit within 9”, destroying a model from the unit if he succeeds, and dealing D3 mortal wounds if the unit is not destroyed by doing so. Some fairly decent shenanigans there, then, though I must remember that Possession will be no good against anything T7 or better! He can also add 2 to any psychic test he makes by dealing D3 mortal wounds to a nearby friendly infantry unit, as he makes a sacrifice to the Dark Gods, and any enemy psyker within 12” who suffers perils is dealt an additional wound as a result. This is quite useful if the Master of Possession goes into close combat against an enemy psyker, because after he has bashed them over the head with his staff of possession, that psyker suffers perils anyway.

My Sorcerer knows Prescience and Infernal Gaze, which are two psychic powers loaded with memory for me – I’ve talked about this before, but painting up my first ever army while listening to 40k battle reports, I can remember hearing all these terms from back in the day, and it brings all those memories back! Prescience gives +1 to hit for a friendly unit within 18”, and Infernal Gaze is a witchfire power that lets you do mortal wounds for every 4+ on 3D6 (or 6D6 if you rolled 10 or more for the psychic test). Very nice stuff, particularly as I don’t see him otherwise being a very useful model – he won’t likely be leading from the front, at least!! The force stave always makes me smile as a weapon though – something akin to the badge of office for a psyker, it just makes me smile to think of the guy beating people around the head with it!

My Dark Apostle is the beefed-up Warlord of the team, though. This may change in time, as I am considering getting myself into the whole Chaos Lord scene – I do have the model, of course, from Blackstone Fortress, but I do think I might make my own, in the fulness of time. For now, though, my warlord is chanting prayers to the dark gods from a book dripping with Warpfire! I love the model, it’s just a stunning centrepiece, and I’m really looking forward to getting him painted up in the fulness of time. Natively, he knows Dark Zealotry and one other prayer, and he can chant one of those prayers that he knows. I’ve given him Warp-Sight Plea for this purpose, so he can either let core or characters within 6” re-roll hits in melee, or he can let them re-roll shooting hits of 1 and deny cover to the targets of that attack. However, I have given him the relic Inferno Tome, which allows him to know one further prayer, and whenever he chants a prayer that is heard, the closest enemy unit within 18” suffers D3 mortal wounds! Wonderful! His second prayer, then, is Omen of Potency, which gives him +3 attacks and improves the AP of his melee weapons by 2. Very nice, he’s now making 8 attacks with his accursed crozius, which is S6 AP-2 and D2. Not bad, eh? There isn’t much in the way of stratagems to make this worse, just Death to the False Emperor to re-roll hits and Veterans of the Long War to get +1 to wound roll. There is also the stratagem to chant an additional prayer, so he can potentially buff himself up and then get to re-roll hits in melee.

The Exalted Champion is a bit like a beefy lieutenant model, as he weirdly has a combi-melta as standard! Something I hadn’t realised, but anyway! He allows core units within 6” to re-roll wound rolls of 1, so he goes hand in hand with the Chaos Lord in that sense. He’s very much a model that I have built and primed, so that’s pretty much why I’ve got him in the list for now!

I have two big blobs of Legionaries, and I was surprised when working out the points for the list at just how expensive these guys are! The first squad is the Shadowspear unit of ten, so is fairly standard, and it comes in at 210 points! The next squad is the upgraded one from the recent Kill Team box, so has some interesting options in there, and the addition of the psyker in the unit is really what has pushed this one up to 240 points. I’ve given this psyker Warptime, the psychic power that allows a unit to move twice – he will most likely be using it on his own squad, I’m thinking, but it might be nice for positioning if he can send other folks out into the wilderness, as well!

Legionaries are, of course, the backbone of the army, and I would really like to get three groups of ten models in the army, at least (can you imagine bigger squads forming a massive gunline?!) Now, a gunline might actually be a red herring here, as they are incredibly punchy in melee – 3 attacks base, and the chainsword giving them +1A. Interestingly, while they have the normal rules for one special or heavy weapon per five models, they can also take 1 plasma pistol instead – which I suppose makes sense if you wanted to make an all-melee unit and felt like the special or heavy weapon would therefore be a waste. The unit now has rules for almost all of the Kill Team options as well; I was particularly pleased that you can make one of these chaps a psyker as it gives so much interesting flavour to the unit as a whole.

Writing this blog has really made me want to get building that third box of guys now!!

The elites section of the codex is quite interesting, especially with the advent in a week’s time of the new Chosen coming to general retail. Still no possessed yet, sadly, but they’ll be here soon, I hope! I’ve got a Helbrute in the list, which is the original model from Dark Vengeance – and, interestingly, that is the model that is used for the codex entry photo, even though the model isn’t available any more. The regular Helbrute is such a boring one in comparison, it really turns the argument about monopose models on its head! I do like the Helbrute for the fact it has a decent threat level – it’s making 5 attacks, each at S12 AP-3 D3, so against power armour he’ll be hitting on 2s, if he’s taken so much as a single wound, he’s re-rolling any 1s in that attack. He can tear Terminators apart with those angry fists, to say nothing of Primaris Marines! But that’s not all, because while he’s getting into battle, he can be firing his multi-melta, which is always fun! The Helbrute also gets his very own stratagem to shoot at a unit that has shot at him that turn, provided the shot hit.

The Venomcrawler is another of these units that is in the list simply because I have it built up, a relic from the Shadowspear box. However, the fact he grants +1 to a psychic test for friendly psykers within 9” is just fascinating, really! Makes him almost some kind of daemonic pet for the Sorcerer, although I’m sure it’s designed more for the Master of Possession. At any rate, he’s making 6 attacks with his soulflayer tendrils, which are delightful at S7 AP-3 D2, and he also has an Assault 3 gun that is only marginally less potent at S6 AP-2 D2. Very handy for harassment, for sure, and I think it could be a useful model to pair with the Sorcerer to help him concentrate on the Warp.

Finally, the heavy support slot begins with my Havocs, built up with two missile launchers primarily because I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, rather than because I wanted them! However, they do offer a kind of flexibility, so I suppose I can’t complain too much! I do love the heavy bolter as a weapon, and if I had the unit over again I would probably have given them another one. The reaper chaincannon is a bit of an auto-include for the unit, of course, and any kind of gun that’s throwing out 8 shots at S5 AP-1 D1 is something to think about. Havocs, of course, have part of the cost of their big guns baked into the unit, and heavy bolters come free for them, but even the chaincannon is just 5 points extra. It seriously makes me think about getting another kit and building it differently. I don’t think they’d take too kindly to being mutilated by having the missile launchers hacked off…

Obliterators are a fun unit, aren’t they? They no longer roll for the fleshmetal guns weapon characteristics, just a random roll to see how many shots it does once you’ve selected one of three profiles to use for the attack. One of those profiles has the potential to do 15 shots, which is quite worrying – especially when you discover the little nugget that they can fire into combat with these bad boys! It’s not enough that they’re doing 4 attacks at S10 AP-3 D2, but they can potentially then fire 15 shots at S5 AP-1 D1 at you in the next shooting phase – that is quite upsetting to be on the receiving end of it, I’m sure. They’re also Daemonkin, so will benefit from the Master of Possession’s shenanigans. 90 points each isn’t too bad either!

Interestingly, Mutilators have now gone from the codex, so my theory of a new plastic kit for Obliterators/Mutilators is out the window (coupled, of course, with the upcoming box of two Obliterators and Venomcrawler, of course!)

There is a decent amount of punch across this army, I think, so it should be really good to try out on the table once I’ve made my adjustments! Taking out the Master of Possession, and adding in a third batch of Traitor Marines at roughly 200 points would bring the total up to 1480, so I’m sure I could kit that third squad out to hit the 1500 mark, which would be nice! With all of that firepower and all of those attacks coming out of the army, it’s a nice image to have, for sure!