This weekend, I had the pleasure of taking my Emperor’s Children to an RTT to spread the sweet song of Slaanesh. I was trying to paint up a World Eaters list to run that I thought would be fun and underrated, but ran out of hobbying time. Without enough time to finish painting my new army I went back to my Emperor’s Children. I still think World Eaters are underrated and have some real play (mainly focused on using Kharn’s hit rerolls to buff Dreadnoughts and pre-game moving Raptors), and I can’t wait to take Khorne’s favorite Legion out for a spin sometime soon.
Coming off a 3rd place finish at a GT a few weeks before with my Emperor’s Children, I feel more comfortable with this faction than I’ve ever been. There are still some tiny details I’m still experimenting with, but the core (25 Terminators, Noise Marines in a Drop Pod, 2 Contemptors, and Lucius/Dark Apostle/Sorceror/Raptor unit) is just such a great toolbox. The key to this list is just playing super tight with your CP. Chaos is a very CP intensive faction, but I do feel that a lot of that is often self-inflicted. I’ll see people buy extra relics, take multiple detachments, CP re-roll random low rolls on d6 damage weapons, and then talk about how Chaos Space Marines are bad because they are too CP hungry.
My one signature touch in my Emperor’s Children lists lately has been Lucius The Eternal. He started as a meme pick, but you know what? I’ve really, really enjoyed him. I needed a reroll 1’s source for my Noise Pod and Contemptors. A base Chaos Lord is 80, Lucius is 95. The issue is a bare Chaos Lord is completely useless in combat, whereas Lucius gives you a bit of versatility since he comes with a master crafted power sword and a rule to bounce back a few mortal wounds. A Chaos Lord can become good in combat if you buy him the Raiment Repulsive and pay for a multi-damage weapon, but at that point I’d rather just bring Lucius and get a similar package for fewer resources. It’s all about just adding tools to the toolbox, and Lucius gives me one more credible piece to deal with messy late-game situations.
Every single opponent I faced was a great sport and the atmosphere was extremely friendly. Let’s go over the list quickly before discussing the games.
Lucius And The Boys
(Emperor’s Children Battalion, 10 CP)
- Lucius The Eternal
- Dark Apostle, 5++ aura prayer, Remnant of the Maraviglia
- Sorcerer in Terminator Armour, Warlord (Warp Lord), Prescience, Delightful Agonies
- 10 Noise Marines (8 Sonic Blasters, 2 Blastmasters, Chainsword on Sgt)
- 3 x 10 Cultists
- 7 Terminators (Lightning Claw + Combi-bolter + Icon of Excess)
- 8 Terminators (Lightning Claw + Combi-melta + Icon of Excess)
- 10 Terminators (Lightning Claw + Comb-melta + Icon of Excess)
- Relic Contemptor (Twin Volkite)
- Relic Contemptor (Twin Volkite)
- Dreadclaw Drop Pod
- 5 Raptors
People talk about “You can’t focus on just doing damage in 9th, you have to play the mission”. And that’s absolutely true. But you know what’s also true? Doing incredible amounts of damage is its own form of playing the mission. I cut my teeth in 9th Edition playing anemic Daemon board control lists against some extremely strong players. Ever since I started playing a list that actually kills things, the game has gotten so much easier. And it’s not just damage–it’s how reliable the damage in an Emperor’s Children list is. I’ve got rerolls everywhere, bonuses to hit and wound, the ability to shoot twice if I low roll a volley and something survives that shouldn’t. And we just never fail charges. Slaanesh is a generous god!
Very astute Warphammer readers or members of our Discord may notice I dropped 10 Cultists from my list since the GT, instead adding Icons Of Excess to all the Terminators and upgrading my Sorceror to a Terminator Sorceror. I have a really clever reason for making this change: I couldn’t find 10 Cultists while packing my minis that morning.
Round 1: Taylor’s AdMech + Knights (W, 72-57)
- Krast Superheavy Detachment
- Knight Magaera (2+ Save, First Knight)
- 3 Moiraxes with Lightning Locks
- 3 Armigers
- Stygies Battalion
- HQ (can’t remember which one)
- 2 x 10 Vanguard
- 10 Infiltrators
- 10 Ruststalkers
- Large unit of Serberys Raiders
My Secondaries: Retrieve Data (8), Engage On All Fronts (7), Bring It Down (12)
Taylor’s Secondaries: Stranglehold (9), To The Last (11), Retrieve Data (12)
Taylor is someone who is both an experienced player and a ton of fun at the table, so I was really happy when we got paired up. The table had a quality amount of terrain, but it was set up at an angle that was a bit too easy to get angles into the other deployment zone. I pointed out the table was currently “whomever wins the roll-off will just obliterate the other person”, and Taylor agreed. We shifted the terrain pieces around to give us both some pieces and angles to hide behind. I share this story just to remind people that they should feel comfortable advocating for both players to have a fair game, including themselves. We wanted to play a game and enjoy the experience, not decide the game with a coinflip. This isn’t some crazy thing. I remember Richard Siegler saying him and an opponent at ACO agreed the table was setup for a turn one coin flip, so they counted some additional terrain pieces as Obscuring. I put all three Terminator units into deepstrike, and he started everything on the board.
Taylor went first, and moved some Infiltrators, Ruststalkers, and Raiders onto objectives and picked up some exposed Cultist units while screening my Drop Pod out of his backfield. Just a solid, standard turn from him.
My first turn was were some decision points started being reached. I’ve played Knights several times before with my list, and know that my turn one crew (Noise Marines and 2 Contemptors) kill around ~1.5 Knights a turn. I decided to focus on all the Infiltrators/Ruststalkers/Raiders instead. The Noise Marines wreaked absolute havoc, their S5 2D profile with +1 to Wound and ignoring cover picking up those T3 and T4 2 Wound bodies all over the table. The Contemptors stalled out a bit, but combined it was enough to pick up 10 Ruststalkers/9 Infiltrators/all the Raiders/some random Skitarii. The significant part was that all screens on one side of the field, with just the two units of Skitarii left on one side of his deployment zone. He autopassed morale using the AdMech strat to keep the remaining Infiltrator alive and score 5 on Primary.
Turn two really showed the value of the Noise Marines as a pressure piece. Taylor was unable to move his Skitarii onto an objective, because it was in range of the Noise Marines and he knew the Skitarii would just get picked up when they shot on death. Taylor did indeed pick up the Noise Marines and Dreadclaw Drop Pod (smart move, it would actually have done significant damage to the Armigers and Moiraxes in combat). The Noise Marines just ineffectually picked off a few wounds on a Moirax when they died. In exchange, on my turn the 8 man melta-Terminator squad dropped down and killed two Armigers, popping one at range and charging the other. The Contemptors together killed the wounded Moirax. I killed very little over the rest of the game, but the Terminators basically cleared all the central objectives and pressured him back. Scoring 15 Primary on turns 4 and 5 was the deciding factor in the game.
Taylor played a really solid game as I knew he would. There were a few micro mistakes, like positioning his Magaera too far to one side of a central ruin on his first turn so it closed off the option to easily move to charge threats appearing on the other side. I made my own small mistake, throwing a unit of Raptors onto an objective and putting them in harms way even though I was already holding him to a zero on Primary that turn. Taylor and I both agreed that going second was an advantage in this game, because it was going to be a pretty barren game for Primary scoring. The chance to scoop 15 Primary points at the bottom of turn 5 was a big advantage. The pressure from the Terminators prevented him from scoring enough Primary early to match the advantage I had later.
I do think in hindsight (and I didn’t realize this until getting bored on the drive back home from the tourney and thinking about the game again) that the play for Taylor would have been give up on screening the whole board, and rotate into playing Dawn of War deployment on the three objectives near him. The combination of me picking Bring It Down and him picking To The Last would reward him massively for playing defensively, and rotating the board would have given him way less area to screen. Because he was trying to screen basically diagonally across the board, he had to throw a ton of screening resources out turn one and my Noise Marines just absolutely walloped the AdMech units. Very well played by him overall, and I look forward to playing him again.
Round 2: Mike’s Blood Angels (85-48)
- Blood Angels Battalion
- Lots of Assault Intercessors and a max Death Company unit and other flying fighting dudes, can’t remember the exact mix
- Two HQ’s, Sanguinary Priest
- I cannot overstate just how many angry Marine bodies were on the table. No transports, no tanks, no shooting units. Mike knows what he’s about.
This was an awesome list that fully captured the aggression of the Blood Angels and Death Company. It was also beautifully done. I know Mike does commission painting, and I could clearly see why when looking at his Death Company. Mike had a bye win round 1 and I had an average score after round 1, so we were paired up. I loved Mike’s enthusiasm for the game, and knew we were going to have a fun time.
This game was realistically over at the end of the Deployment phase. I could see Mike had spread his units out instead of setting them up to jump from terrain piece to terrain piece. This meant he was going to have to soak a turn or two of damage from my whole army with all my buffs up before making it into combat. Unfortunately for the Sons of Sanguinius, the answer to how many Marine bodies my list can kill is just, “Yes”. I had layered my Cultist units to prevent his Death Company from killing anything important turn 1, and started a unit of Terminators on the board to counter charge if he got turn 1 so my guns could focus on shooting the targets that would be appearing down range.
Regardless of the outcome, we all had a great time. One of his friends came over to hang out who also played Emperor’s Children. The quick game gave us time to chat about a variety of topics like Putin and Louisiana gumbo.
For anyone looking to play this kind of Infantry heavy aggressive Blood Angels list, I think it’s pretty mandatory to have some units of Incursors or Infiltrators. Death Company are neutered by screening, especially forward deploying screening. Not only can Incursors forward deploy and screen out their screens to win that mini battle, but they also give you some additional Marine bodies that can get in the mix turn 1 and mess with their scoring.
Round 3: Alex’s Thousand Sons (W, 86-51)
- Cult of Duplicity Battalion
- Exalted Sorcerer on Disk
- Terminator Sorcerer, Loyal Thrall
- Infernal Master
- 4 x 5 Rubric Marines with Soulreaper and Icon
- 2 x 10 Tzaangors
- 2 x Contemptors with Volkite and Missiles
- 10 Scarab Terminators with 2 Soulreapers and 2 Missiles
- 5 Chaos Spawn
- 2 x 1 Chaos Spawn
Alex is my main practice partner and a very good player, so I was definitely excited about the chance to play him at a tournament. He also has some of the most beautifully painted armies I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately, this game confirmed some of the worries I had about Thousand Sons. I love the enormous toolbox of Psychic tricks they have, and they can create some very strong offensive combos. But where is the durability? What are you sticking in front of your Sorcerers to keep them alive? People are looking at 10 strong Terminator bricks, but I’m terrified at the idea of having a large unit that is extremely susceptible to mortal wounds and can’t use the damage reduction strat in melee. No feel-no-pains or transhuman type effects available, not even a cheeky way to turn off rerolls.
Anyway, I hope that first paragraph didn’t spoil the outcome too much. I went first and killed 8 Terminators, even after he spent 3 CP for the -1 Damage strat. This was with the Noise Marines and Contemptors shooting massive volumes of AP0 2D weapons. There is definitely some extra spiciness involved–the Contemptors throw out huge amounts of mortal wounds with the wound rerolls and the Noise Marines had 2d3 shots of d3+1 damage weapons every time they shot. Alex started his Terminators visible because he didn’t expect them to take nearly as much damage as they ended up taking. In his defense they definitely shouldn’t have lost 8 models, but at this point I’ve seen the Noise Marine + Contemptors combo do huge damage to so many things they have no business threatening. On turn 2, I finished off the remaining Terminators and picked up all three Characters that were nearby. The game was basically decided from there. Thousand Sons are going to live, and die, by the strength of their Characters. His Spawn failed a 7 inch charge that would have done significant damage to my 10 man Terminator squad, which was very unlucky because it took away a chance for him to get back in the game. The main takeaway for me was just how little stuff was left on his side of the board once the Terminators were killed. I would love to see Thousand Sons players bring several Rhinos in every list as cheap pools of T7 wounds with invulns to help screen and keep Characters safe. I also think the new Heldrakes are pretty interesting, and want to test them more myself.
Lowlight of the game for me was on turn 2. I have one Psychic Deny, and planned to use it to attempt a deny his Warp Ritual cast. I straight up told Alex not to ask me if I want to deny after each cast, I’m not going to deny anything unless it’s his Warp Ritual cast. He resolves all of his Psykers besides one, finally getting to the guy in the center casting Warp Ritual. He rolls his Psychic Test, passes, and announces he is spending 8 Cabal Points so I can’t deny it. That was so obviously the play in hindsight, I just completely forgot that was a thing in the moment.
I can’t wait to play this matchup again, because on paper I think Thousand Sons can be a tough matchup for Emperor’s Children. Alex is a sharp guy, and his gameplan will keep getting better next time we play.
It was one of my “I’m not going to sweat for it, but it’ll be cool if it happens” goals this year to try to top the rankings for one of the Chaos codexes. After falling in love with everything about the Emperor’s Children and doing well at both a GT and some smaller tournaments, I’m now up to #2 in the Chaos Space Marine rankings. Regardless of how that shakes out, I’m honestly really, really enjoying playing Chaos Space Marines this year.
I feel at this point the faction is just completely written off, but still has much more bite than people realize. Here are a few list concepts I’ve been bouncing around and really want to test sometime:
- Word Bearers Daemon Engines, focusing on the synergy of a Master of Possession with Voice Of Lorgar and Malefic Covenant guaranteeing a 9″ bubble of +1 invuln to the Daemon Engines. The Dark Apostle giving the Lord of Skulls -1 to Hit on a rerolling 2+ prayer seems super strong.
- World Eaters with several big blocks of Raptors and Berzerkers in Rhinos, accompanied by 3 Plagueburst Crawlers to force your opponent to come towards your World Eaters
- Emperor’s Children with Night Lord jump pack units for two nearly guaranteed charges per turn, and the NL units keeping the EC units from being shot with We Have Come For You combat traps.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your Chaos Space Marines in today’s meta. We don’t have all the tools that newer armies have, but what we do, we do very well. As always, have fun, stay safe, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls!
Note: If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer and quality 40K writing, feel free to check out Patreon.com/Warphammer and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available.
Interested in learning more about playing Chaos? Check out the Warphammer Discord here: https://discord.gg/SgBcXW5s6R
Published: August 24th, 2021. Last Updated: August 24th, 2021.