Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why if you think CSM are bad, you lack imagination.

I am so tired of every bodies whining about how "bad" CSM are and how it is a "terrible codex." I just won a tournament using only CSM and no Heldrakes. So they obviously can't be terrible.

I'm writing to tell you why CSM are good. Very good. As well as the options you can get that can face anything. I've noticed most people who claim CSM are bad tend to think very narrowly and focus on the few specific instances of things that are considered bad or think that it is just "Codex: Generic Chaos Legion". These are the most vocal across the internet. No surprise there. So I am going to provide examples of synergy and the bigger picture.

It isn't just about how these units act alone, no unit can survive a whole army alone. People also tend to provide examples of units that counter them which in their eyes automatically make them "bad". If this same logic is applied to every unit then every unit in this game is bad.  Or similarly people like to say "Well I'll just use this to counter it lol." That is meta-gaming list-tailoring and an invalid argument.

This codex is about synergy. It won't hold your hand by giving you a nothing but good stand alone units. It will however let you exploit things like Marked Lords for taking excellent Elites as Troops.

Make your opponent have to choose between two bad decisions for them. If your opponent has an amazing list with great target priority and sweeps not just you but everyone else then it is because they are better than you, plain and simple. I am addressing, and hoping to eliminate, the over-abundance of linear/narrow thinking. Now, if you are looking for a dedicated tactica, this is not a dedicated tactica of the whole codex or for new Chaos players(though if you do have any questions feel free to ask and don't be put off by some of the things I say. This is not addressed to people new to CSM, its for people who know what it does but get stuck in preplanned scenarios, use units for reasons other than their intended purpose and the like while trying to be competitive.). This codex isn't perfect and not every unit is tournament viable, but that doesn't change the fact that over all it is Tier 1, even without Heldrakes.

Yeah, I said it.  

Tier 1 without Heldrakes.


There are no bad HQ choice. Not a single one. There are better choice for specifics yes that would make a different choice "bad" for what you want to do. That's why you don't pick them and write them off because they don't work in your list.

Daemon Princes. If you don't know why these are good no amount of explaining will help.

Dark Apostles. I see these labeled as bad the most often. They're better than bare loyalist chaplains because of their support rules favouring boons and giving Ld10 bubbles. Now you can kit out a loyalist chaplain to do better in say CC, but why would you want to kit out an apostle? You don't need to. They are boosters, not vanguards. Cultist mobs shine when an apostle is near the center of them.

Named characters. Same explanation as for Princes.

Chaos Lords. Now this is what a great HQ looks like. Impressive stat-line and amazing options that give much flavor and character to your army. The artifacts and options these guys can take make them a tier 1 HQ. No doubt about it. Juggerlords with the Axe of Blind Fury will take many skulls of whatever dares fight them. Slaanesh lords will dance around loyalist HQs, Nurlge will laugh off damage. Tzeentch may be a smaller buff, but a 3++ though a Sigil/MoT will keep both hands free giving you the duel wield bonus over a loyalist with a storm shield. Plus marked Lords make Cult Marines troops. This is where this codex really shines.

Warpsmith. These guys are almost exclusively good in a Daemon Engine army. Which makes sense. That's what they do.


Plague Marines. The ultimate in MeQ survivability. They belong on objectives and taking mid field. They can last longer exposed to a lot of firepower. They do not, however belong in CC unless its against GeQ. The duel wield bonus from plague knives and the knives themselves(poisoned) helps a lot but these shine at protracted fire-fights.

Bezerkers. These belong in CC. They are all about offense and offense only. They will RIP AND TEAR basic infantry. Which is their purpose. They aren't for fighting Hive Tyrants or Hammernators. They are for gutting Tac squads or Guard gun lines.

Nosie Marines. These are my favourite. At the time of release they were one point more than a basic tac marine but had fearless and I5 over them. Even now at 3 points more they are still worth it. They will hit first against MeQ things like tac squads or assault squads. At 10 models the Icon of Excess is a steal for FnP. Their lack of special weapons like meltas or plasma is their only real drawback. What you get instead are Blastmasters. Sonic Blasters are bad, no way around it. Blastmasters, however, are borderline OP. Long range S8 AP3 blasts that pin and ignore cover? I'll take at least 2. You can take them in a 5 man squad for the price of 5 powerfists. That is quite good. Or 2 in a 10 man squad. Take a lord with MoS and they become troops. Camp objectives while killing handfuls of marines a turn.

Chosen. These are what you spend your points on for elites if you dont take cultists or  do take cult marines as troops. They have A2 and duel-wield for 3 attacks base a model and still have regular boltguns too. MoS Chosen are easily the better choice. High initiative, a lot of attacks and FnP with the IoE are nothing to scoff at. If you load them out like this you would be better off taking Noise Marines. This is where Chosen differ, how you load them out. They can take 5 power weapons(Including "pairs" of lightning claws counting as 1 choice) or 5 special weapons. Load them up in a land raider with PWs, and the IoE and watch them wade through basic and most elite infantry. Or throw a bunch in a rhino with meltas or plasma can go to town on the front lines. Let your Daemon Prince handle the enemy TeQ and other powerhouses. Prey on the weak.

Thousand Sons. These guys will not die. Before you think "They die to massed fire just like any other marine!" Everything in this game dies to massed fire. It's a DICE game. Where they shine is going against low AP local meta. Things like Riptide armies, plasma spam and the like. AP3 bolters, fearless and a sorcerer are a nice touch.

Helbrute. Cheap rage-filled walkers. Not bad, but take for fun.

Mutilators. Some people swear by them. They are good in CC, but getting them there is hard and I don't think they are nearly as versatile as their Obliterator cousins.

Possessed. Much better than last edition but the bottom rung of the elites. Play for fun, but not in a tourny. Unless they have MoS, IoE in a land raider and only if you really want to take Possessed.


CSM. Eclipsed by cult marines for their abilities, eclipsed by cultists by their fodder ability. However they aren't bad. Sure they are now only 1 point less lacking combat squads and ATSKNF. Regular CSM aren't supposed to roll regular marines. 20 Man squads with a Dark Apostle nearby is what makes them shine. Ld 10/fearless tide of CSM are not something you can just ignore. Especially when backed up by things like Blastmaster squads, Daemon Princes, Heldrakes and Forgfiends.For tournies take cult marines with the points you saved on taking cultists or as troops through a marked lord.

Cultists. One of the best troops in the game. Cheap, spammy and a bad idea to ignore. Literally 99% of the units in this game sink points just by shooting at them. Oh you killed 20 points of cultists by dedicating several hundred of your own? Thanks! Ah, your large blast killed 50 points of them, how much was the unit that shot it? 140? Oh that's too bad. They take away fire from your important units, or if your opponent ignores them(which is also a bad idea) he'll suddenly have dozens of cultists mobbing his troops. They are the best choice for Dark Apostle support or throw in a cheap marked lord that you used to unlock cult marines as troops and spend those points on a Daemon Prince.

Fast Attack

Bikers. Cheap, straight forward solid unit. Nurgle bikers are quite good. T6 bikes are hardy.

Raptors. Fear causing jump troops that can take meltaguns and plasma at 5 models. Mark them to hit your friends blood angel AMs first or outlast them. Good.

Warp Talons. So much hate for a unit. So "over-costsed" is the most common excuse I see. You get Jump Daemon Marines with a pair of Lightning claws for the price of... only the lightning claws. So you buy a unit of lightning claws that also move 12", cause fear and have a 5++? How is that OVER-costed? Lack of grenades holding you back? Use them as a reaction force and draw them out into the open. Just like real Warp Talons. Weird.

Chaos Spawn. Ohhhh yes they are good. Nurgle Spawn rush is nasty, especially with a Nurgle Biker Lord. I personally use plain spawn with a Juggerlord on 'naught with AoBF and SoC. 15 ablative wounds for my Juggerlord that also fight back? Yes I'll spend 150 points on that any day of the week.

Heldrakes. Good, but not the sole unit that makes CSM good. I don't own any but they are good for melting troops.

Heavy Support

All the tanks. Obvious as to what they do.

Forgefiends. Another love-to-hate unit. Looking at them alone and not supporting other units is what people run into. The BS3 isn't amazing but getting a 5++, IWND and two 4 shot S8 AP4 pinning autocannons is very tasty. Ally with Daemons to give it prescience and activate daemonforge and it will chew up a vehicle easily.

Defilers. Got the nerf bat hard with ordnance. A really expensive way to have S8 AP3 large blasts, probably better off charging in and killing things that way. Or taking blastmaster squads.

Havocs. A very intersting unit. Identical to CSM in base cost but you can take 5 heavy(including autocannons!) OR special weapons. Cheap devastators or throw them in a rhino with melta/plas/flame spam to make a mobile hunter-kill unit.

Obliterators. Nurgle ones are the best. Their ability to alpha strike via deepstrike or provide fire support with their multitude of weapons are what make them good.

Maulerfiends. So close to being great with their 12" move, cutters and Daemon Engine rules, they are outclassed by dedicated anti-tank shooting though. Still fun.


  1. Basically, your are saying that Chaos Lord + Cultist + Helldrake + Obliterators are good?
    I think I saw this list on Internet more than a hundred time.

    You are trying to make a point for Apostles and Icons, but you forgot Precision Shots (characters, sniper, Advanced Targetting system...) & Barrage Sniping (Prescience Inquisitor, yes!) & good positioning (Drop Pod, outflank...)

    About Warp Talons, no one play with Jump Pack, there is a reason for this: It's impossible to get in CC, without being shot too much. OK, you might infiltrate them with Huron and Ahriman, that could be an idea.

    You are also talking about synergies? Which ones?

    And please just to have an idea, please could you post your winning tournament list.

    Really, I know that the vocal majority might be wrong, but after 1 year of CSM, if you compare it to all the new release and especially the Imperium Marines. There are really few units that can be usefull and most of them are better in the Empire.

    And the worst is that you can not add Daemons Character in your units, when all the Imperium can ally to each others creating real synergies.

    1. Precision shots are only on a 6 and if it is against a character they get LoS, a 2+ at that for ICs.

      I have a Raven Guard army where I have 30 jump pack troops. They are good, but you have to play them well. Warp Talons are a steal for their points, and if you are tricky with them, they can do a lot of good.

      The book is all about synergy. Noise Marines pinning a IG blob so that the cultists can cave their heads in with pipes. Juggerlords riding with a unit of Spawn. Thousand Sons staring down things like Riptides S9 AP2 Large Blast like it was nothing while your shooty cultists bunker down on an objective.

      Daemons don't need to attach to units, they're not needed and they buff their own units far better than a C:CSM one.

      The list I've won with was as best as I can recall was a Juggerlord riding with spawn while noise marines melted and pinned troops and my forgefiend popped vehicles. My cultists spread around claiming objectives. I used double FoC which had more cultists and a Flying Daemon Prince of Tzeentch that had the black mace. I also had a slaanesh lord to make the NM troops so they sat on my back objectives