Chaos Players, Drop What You’re Doing And Go Play Noise Marines Right Now

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Your units may still have fewer wounds, you don’t have updated options for Secondaries, and your codex is littered with outdated wording like “reroll failed hit rolls” instead of “reroll hit rolls”.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

Good talk.

Noise Marines in Melee

Their shooting is arguably the best in the game, but its their melee that turned me into a believer.

“Can you hear the voices too? It is a good pain!”

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

Closing Thoughts

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.


Mike Pestilens (magnustheread)

Mike Pestilens (magnustheread)

Mike, the founder of Warphammer, probably talking about which Warlord Traits he will include in his list. Not pictured is his date texting her friends to come pick her up early.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Matt


  2. CB

    Wow. I’ve been building an EC army slowly over time (jus cuz they cool), but had no idea how nasty the NoiseBois are rn. Is a new Chaos Codex planned for this year?

    1. Mike Pestilens

      Mate I can’t comment on any future releases, but if you think Emperor’s Children are cool (which they absolutely are!) it’s never a bad idea to own some Noise Marines. Such an iconic unit and the lore is incredible.

  3. cbrey01

    Wow. So, (as a casual EC player) how long do I have before a new Chaos Codex comes out?

  4. tom baker

    I like to do similar with my 20 pack rubric marines. Nowherre near as powerful at 80shots, although they have AP-2, they deploy midtable, and can get a 3+ invun (+2 if you get the psychic off) against single damage.

  5. Kelly Robinson

    This is my current army. Regular old plain jane CSM can hold objectives along with the Havocs a bit better than cultists in my opinion. Broke the Noise Marines down to 10 man squads to avoid blast weapons. I can deep strike my Terminators to deal with armor threats or units malingering on objectives in my opponents back field. It’s not perfect but it sure is fun to play.

    ++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [95 PL, 9CP, 2,000pts] ++

    + Configuration [12CP] +

    Battle Size [12CP]: 3. Strike Force (101-200 Total PL / 1001-2000 Points) [12CP]

    Detachment Command Cost

    Legion: Emperor’s Children

    + Stratagems [-3CP] +

    Gifts of Chaos (2 Relics) [-3CP]

    + HQ [20 PL, 390pts] +

    Daemon Prince with Wings [10 PL, 200pts]: 6. Loathsome Grace, Delightful Agonies, Hellforged sword [10pts], Malefic talon, Raiment Repulsive, Warlord, Warp bolter [5pts], Wings [2 PL, 35pts]
    . Slaanesh: Smite

    Dark Apostle [4 PL, 80pts]: Accursed crozius, Benediction of Darkness, Blissful Devotion, Bolt pistol, Dark Zealotry, Frag & Krak grenades, Mark of Slaanesh, Remnant of the Maraviglia

    Sorcerer in Terminator Armour [6 PL, 110pts]: Armour of Abhorrence, Combi-melta [5pts], Force axe, Mark of Slaanesh, Prescience, Smite, Warptime

    + Troops [38 PL, 885pts] +

    Chaos Space Marines [8 PL, 165pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts], Mark of Slaanesh
    . Aspiring Champion [19pts]: Astartes chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma pistol [5pts]
    . 4x Marine w/ boltgun [56pts]: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
    . 4x Marine w/ chainsword [56pts]: 4x Astartes chainsword, 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
    . Marine w/ heavy or special weapon [24pts]: Bolt pistol, Heavy bolter [10pts]

    Noise Marines [10 PL, 240pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts]
    . 2x Marine w/ blastmaster [52pts]: 2x Blastmaster [20pts], 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
    . 7x Marine w/ sonic blaster [147pts]: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Frag & Krak grenades, 7x Sonic Blaster [35pts]
    . Noise Champion [31pts]: Astartes chainsword, Doom siren [10pts], Frag & Krak grenades, Sonic blaster [5pts]

    Noise Marines [10 PL, 240pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts]
    . 2x Marine w/ blastmaster [52pts]: 2x Blastmaster [20pts], 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
    . 7x Marine w/ sonic blaster [147pts]: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Frag & Krak grenades, 7x Sonic Blaster [35pts]
    . Noise Champion [31pts]: Astartes chainsword, Doom siren [10pts], Frag & Krak grenades, Sonic blaster [5pts]

    Noise Marines [10 PL, 240pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts]
    . 2x Marine w/ blastmaster [52pts]: 2x Blastmaster [20pts], 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
    . 7x Marine w/ sonic blaster [147pts]: 7x Bolt pistol, 7x Frag & Krak grenades, 7x Sonic Blaster [35pts]
    . Noise Champion [31pts]: Astartes chainsword, Doom siren [10pts], Frag & Krak grenades, Sonic blaster [5pts]

    + Elites [16 PL, 355pts] +

    Terminators [8 PL, 200pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts], Mark of Slaanesh
    . Terminator [38pts]: Chainfist [5pts], Combi-melta [5pts]
    . Terminator [38pts]: Chainfist [5pts], Combi-melta [5pts]
    . Terminator [38pts]: Chainfist [5pts], Combi-melta [5pts]
    . Terminator Champion [38pts]: Chainfist [5pts], Combi-melta [5pts]
    . Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [38pts]: Chainfist [5pts], Reaper autocannon [5pts]

    Terminators [8 PL, 155pts]: Icon of Excess [10pts], Mark of Slaanesh
    . Terminator [28pts]: 2x Lightning Claw
    . Terminator [28pts]: 2x Lightning Claw
    . Terminator [28pts]: 2x Lightning Claw
    . Terminator Champion [28pts]: 2x Lightning Claw
    . Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [33pts]: Heavy flamer [5pts], Lightning Claw

    + Heavy Support [21 PL, 370pts] +

    Havocs [7 PL, 150pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
    . Aspiring Champion [22pts]: Astartes chainsword, Flamer [5pts], Frag & Krak grenades
    . 4x Havoc w/ lascannon [128pts]: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Lascannon [60pts]

    Venomcrawler [7 PL, 110pts]: Eviscerating claws, 2x Excruciator cannon, Mark of Slaanesh, Soulflayer tendrils

    Venomcrawler [7 PL, 110pts]: Eviscerating claws, 2x Excruciator cannon, Mark of Slaanesh, Soulflayer tendrils

    ++ Total: [95 PL, 9CP, 2,000pts] ++

  6. Sean

    How do you get 20 noise marines in a position to be effective? I feel like your opponent would pour a ton of fire into them to neuter that unit?

    1. Mike Pestilens

      Hey Sean, Emperor’s Children can redeploy a unit into Strategic Reserves for 1CP. So if you go 2nd, just put them into deepstrike. Or hide them behind a wall

      That being said I think you’re right that 20 can be unwieldy. 10 out of a Rhino or Dreadclaw Drop Pod or Termie Drill is usually more practical

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