There are a lot of downsides to having an old codex. Your units may still have fewer wounds, you don’t have updated options for Secondaries, and your codex is littered with outdated wording like “reroll failed hit rolls” instead of “reroll hit rolls”. As 9th Edition codices keep creeping upwards in terms of overall strength, it hasn’t been a fun wait for Thousand Sons, Daemons, and Chaos Space Marine (or Tau, or Guard, or Grey Knights, etc) players.
But Chaos players, believe me when I say this: If you aren’t playing Noise Marines, you need to go out and do it right now.
You probably won’t see a unit as genuinely, brokenly, absurdly killy as current Noise Marines in the new codex. You have to experience this for yourself while you can.
Just How Scary Are Noise Marines, Anyway?
Here was my Noise Marine’s kill tally from just the first turn of a recent game I played against a comp Space Wolves list: 2 Redemptor Dreadnoughts, 10 Incursors, and Bjorn (in combat).
Let’s break down how that’s possible. Noise Marines come in units of 20, with 18 Sonic Blasters and 2 Blastmasters in the squad. Sonic Blasters have 3 shots at S4/AP0/D1 that ignore cover, and Blastmasters have d3 shots at S8/AP2/Dd3. Noise Marines have a 1 CP stratagem to increase the Strength and Damage off their sonic weapons by 1, which affects both the Sonic Blasters and Blastmasters (and Doom Sirens, although they are a bit overpriced). They also benefit from Veterans of the Long War for +1 to Wound rolls, and Endless Cacophony to fire twice.
Emperor’s Children have a relic to reroll all of their Wound rolls in an aura for a battle round, in addition to the usual Chaos Space Marines buffs of +1 to Hit and reroll 1’s.
Let’s stop messing around and give you what you came for. Let’s get straight to the hilarious math:
- Noise Marine unit average damage to Knights (T8, 3+/4++): 63 Wounds, or over 2 Knight Castellans destroyed
Wait, what? That’s absurd. I must have cherrypicked my target. The real weakness of Noise Marines is going into units with 2+ armour saves. Let’s do the math on that so you can see why no one is running Noise Marines.
- Noise Marine unit average damage to Sanguinary Guard (T4, 2+ Save): 21 Dead Sanguinary Guard
Again, there must be some weird cherrypicking going on. The REAL weakness of Noise Marines is into units with -1 damage, since they rely on high volumes of 2 damage shots. Let’s see how Noise Marines do versus Dreadnoughts.
- Noise Marine unit average damage to Redemptor Dreadnoughts (T7, 3+/5++, -1 Damage): 37 Wounds, roughly 3 dead Redemptor Dreadnoughts
Now I will go ahead and cherrypick a target that is the gold standard of 9th Edition durability, so you can see what Noise Marines do to targets without good armour saves:
- Noise Marine unit average damage to Beasts of Nurgle (T5, 5++, 5+++ Feel-No-Pain): 80 Wounds, roughly 16 dead Beasts of Nurgle
And what the hell, let’s have some fun. We’re going to answer the question that has been on everyone’s mind: Can Noise Marines pop Raiders?
- 93 Wounds to Raiders, roughly 9 dead Raiders
Noise Marines in Melee
Their shooting is arguably the best in the game, but its their melee that turned me into a believer.
Unlike “normal” Marines and Chaos Space Marines, Noise Marines have 2 attacks base. As a Slaanesh unit, their Icon upgrade gives them 5+ Death To the False Emperor exploding hits vs Imperium units. Remember how I talked about the benefits of an old codex? Because DTTFE triggers on modifiable rolls, casting Prescience gives Noise Marines 4+ exploding hits vs Imperium units. I’ll save you the math on this. Hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s with exploding 4’s is a good thing.
They have no melee weapon, but Emperor’s Children do have a stratagem that gives Wound rolls of unmodified 6’s in melee AP3. If you have the Remnant of the Maraviglia active, you can reroll your Wound rolls fishing for 6’s to generate a huge volume of AP0 and AP3 attacks.
Why Aren’t Noise Marines Tabling Everyone Everywhere?
Their math is obviously absurd, but Noise Marines have a few big problems. They cannot Fall Back and shoot/charge as Emperor’s Children (and are absurdly overpriced in any Legion besides Emperor’s Children), and they have little protection against artillery.
I went second one game against Tyranids, didn’t bring the -1 to Hit prayer, and lost 8 Noise Marines to Symbiostorm’d Hive Guard before I could cast Delightful Agonies on them. That was definitely no fun. Manticores with Vengeance for Cadia are painful too. Those two big threats to Noise Marines are both crippled by -1 to Hit, so I would recommend bringing Benediction of Darkness as your prayer in a TAC Noise Marine focused list.
Getting bad touched hasn’t been a big issue in my playtesting because they’ll just pick up some Intercessors or a Raider (or Bjorn!) that comes in to tag them, but that’s always a risk. They also can’t be multi-charged by fragile units, as their Legion trait’s Fight First ability gives them a free interrupt in combat.
The big final reason you don’t see them very often is that they just cost so many CP. You’re going to want to spend 4 CP on your Noise Marines the turn they expose themselves to fire. This is in addition to potentially a few more CP to make them deadly if they get in melee or rerolling a cast on a buffing power. 4 CP to blow half your opponent’s army away is not a bad tradeoff, so it really comes down to making sure your other detachments don’t require too much CP (or refund CP like Thousand Sons or DG can do). I also wouldn’t run multiple blocks of Noise Marines. Invest in one big block, and then two big blocks of Emperor’s Children Terminators to keep applying the pressure on turns two and three. I’ve seen large bricks of Noise Marines start showing up in some successful Chaos lists recently, and think that is a trend that is likely to continue.
Noise Marine Focused List Example
I’ve been really enjoying the below Emperor’s Children list lately. It’s beaten strong players and lists but just as importantly, it feels like an out-of-control thrill to run every single game… just the way Slaanesh intended. I specifically didn’t put exact weapon choices because I don’t think it’s particularly important whether you cut 1 Cultist to add 1 melta to a Terminator squad, feel free to experiment and adjust this concept to your particular models or playstyle.
“Things Will Get Loud Now!”
Competitive Pure Emperor’s Children List
- HQ: Daemon Prince, Wings, WL (Loathsome Grace), Delightful Agonies
- HQ: Dark Apostle, Relic (Remnant of the Marivaglia), Benediction of Darkness
- HQ: Sorcerer in Terminator Armour: Warptime, Prescience
- Troop: 20 Noise Marines (18 Sonic Blasters, 2 Blastmasters, 1 Icon)
- Troop: 30 Cultists
- Troop: 10 Cultists
- Elite: 8 Terminators, Icon, Lightning Claw + Combi-bolter, a few meltas
- Elite: 7 Terminators, Icon, Lightning Claw + Combi-bolter
- Fast Attack: 5 Raptors
- Fast Attack: 5 Raptors
- Fast Attack: 1 single Spawn
- Heavy Support: Whirlwind Scorpius (-1 CP)
- Heavy Support: Forgefiend
- Heavy Support: Venomcrawler
It’s easy for Chaos players to get caught up in negativity as we wait for updated 9th Edition codices. I get that having one wound while our Loyalist bretheren have two wounds is annoying. At the same time, don’t get so caught up in what we don’t have that you lose sight of what we do have. And what we have are some ridiculously strong units that are very capable of winning tough games. There is no way we should be able to double shoot Noise Marines while stacking +1 to Wound, +1 S, and +1 Damage on them, yet here we are. Make sure to enjoy this version of Noise Marines while you still can.
As always, stay safe, have fun, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls.
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Published: June 8th, 2021. Last Updated: June 8th, 2021.