Chaos Warrior Units and Characters
Alongside Marauder-type units and characters, Warrior-type units and characters get asked about an awful lot on various internet message boards (okay, so admittedly, those two combined make up most of the army list). I guess this is only natural, since there are a lot more actual choice to these units, while Maruader units only appear to give you choices. While it makes very little difference if you choose great weapons or flails (or indeed any other weapon option, if they had it) on a unit of Marauder infantry, it makes a lot of difference if you choose great weapons or halberds on Chaos Warriors.
Note that Forsaken have not been included here, due to not having most of the attributes of proper Chaos Warriors.
- Archaon, the Everchosen
- Prince Sigvald the Magnificent
- Valkia the Bloody
- Vilitch the Curseling
- Wulfrik the Wanderer
These are the things the various Chaos Warrior units and characters have in common.
Now mostly restored to their former glory, Chaos Warrior units are now dangerous in close combat once again. With Weapon Skill 5, Strength 4, Initiative 5 and 2 Attacks minimum on all units, even the wizards are decent fighters. With combat stats like that, you can comfortably realy on killing things and you don't need to worry about rank bonuses and guys hanging around in rear ranks (if any) should mainly be something you include to replace casualties from shooting, magic or close combat.
Units and characters normally also have access to something that boosts their Strength, which I highly recommend, as a Strength value of 4 looks a bit lonely next to the other combat stats of 5s. Halbers make a lot of sense on most things, the halberd's one-handed cousins the Sword of Might, Axe of Khorne, Chaos Runesword or ensorcelled weapons make even more sense. These weapons all boost your Strength by 1 and I usually stop there, as those weapons that boost your Strength by 2 (or more) usually come with some inconvenient downside, such as only giving you the bonus when you charge, only giving it in the first round of combat, or making you strike last in later rounds when you have excellent Initiative and would often have struck first. Some weapon upgrades don't boost your Strength at all - I never take these.
Combat-wise, there are a couple of things Chaos Warrior units are lacking. The first of these is any kind of re-roll for missed attacks, which would make them more reliable. Even with a dozen attacks from a unit, it isn't that unlikely that you will miss with quite a few of them and with little in the way of static combat bonuses, you could suddenly end up doing much worse. The second thing they are lacking are units that are Stubborn, which would have made them much better in those cases where the dice do fail you and an expected win turns into a loss. There is a magic standard that makes nearby units Stubborn, but it is expensive and the Battle Standard Bearer carrying it is a bit prone to getting stabbed. That being said, a BSB comes highly recommended for the army.
Along with good combat abilities, Chaos Warrior units and characters start off with a minimum of Toughness 4 and a 4+ armour save. This is quite decent, though I recommend that you aim for a better save than this, for example by giving your units and fighter characters shields (even if you don't intend to use it in combat, it protects against shooting and magic) and that characters be given some sort of mount unless you have some particular reason not to. Even if you do carry a two-handed weapon, it at least gives you the option of using a hand weapon and shield for that boosted armour save in close combat (if you are an infantry model and the attacker is standing in fron of you, that is). A 4+ save is just good enough for me to rely on it some of the time, but not all of the time.
Marks of Chaos
Unlike Marauder units, where my inclination is to go with the Mark of Slaanesh on everything, on Warrior units (and especially the characters), I think the field is much more open. Sure, on small units it makes a whole lot of sense to be immune to Fear, Terror and Panic, but a lot of Chaos Warrior units and characters cause Fear (Knights and characters riding anything other than a Chaos Steed or Chariot) and are therefore immune to it and treat Terror as if it was Fear. And with a minimum Leadership of 8 and the Will of Chaos, Panic is not a big deal. However, these days I am seeing Terror a lot more in the armies I've faced and after a series of tournament battles where I've had vital charges fail due to Terror test, I'm now a lot more positive to the Mark of Slaanesh, even on things that cause Fear.
My second chosen Mark, Tzeentch, is great on characters, since that means they get a Ward save, a bonus to cast spells and the option to ride around on Discs (I love Discs, I have four different models riding them at the time of writing and will have four more by this time next year). On units, the fact that you don't get to use it all that often because the units are quite small and because it leaves you somewhat vulnerable to psychology, I don't like it very much, though if the unit gets a Ward save from some other source (by having the Blasted Standard or by being a Warshrine) it is good.
The Mark of Khorne gives you excellent damage potential on already very dangerous units, with the normal caveat that you have to watch out for baiting units. You also need to be aware that if the character is Frenzied and the unit is not, he might be forced to charge out of it, which is especially a risk if the character is faster than the other guys in the unit (a guy on a Jugger in a unit of infantry, for example). Naturally the Mark of Khorne is better the more models there are in the unit and the better they fight.
With the errata published after the release of the army book, the Mark of Nurgle got reduced in effectiveness since it now only affects enemy Weapon Skill when they are attacking you and not when you are attacking them. The Mark of Nurgle has a greater effect than the Mark of Tzeentch when it comes into play, but it comes into play more rarely (it does nothing to stop cannons, for example). And like the Mark of Tzeentch, it does nothing to help you out with psychological worries. For characters, it gives Sorcerers access to one of the better default spells in the game, but it does little for fighter characters, and the deamonic steed of Nurgle is the least useful of the bunch.
Eye of the Gods
With the "clarification" given in the army book FAQ, this special rule makes little sense. I had hoped that they would give answers that made the rule consistent, but for some reason they chose not to. So this is how it works:
- Everybody who can issue challenges must do so whenever possible.
If you have multiple models who can issue a challenge, it does not appear to matter who does it.
- Characters may not refuse challenges, though champions may. So if a challenge is issued and you have a character that could accept it, you must accept the challenge, though you don't have to accept it with a character, you could accept it with a champion.
- If a character who has the Eye of the Gods rule kills an enemy character (not a champion) in a challenge, they get a roll on the Eye of the Gods table.
- If a character who has the Eye of the Gods rule kills something with the Large Target rule, they also get a roll on the Eye of the Gods table, even if it was not in a challenge. For example you would get a roll if you kill the Large Target with spells.
- If you have a Warshrine on the table, your champions are also eligible for points 3 & 4.>
- Characters without the Eye of the Gods rule, however, never get to roll on the Eye of the Gods table, even if you do have a Warshrine on the table. Points 1 & 2 still applies to them.
- You must kill the character / Large target to get a roll, causing them to crumble away (in the
case of Undead) does not count.
The exception is if it is a Large Target, in which case it counts if you run it down, even if you are with a unit and not by yourself. Presumably if you have multiple models eligible for Eye of the Gods rolls in the unit and they run down a Large Target, they each get a roll.
- If you get a gift you have rolled previously, you must re-roll (and keep re-rolling until you get something you
The exception is The Eye is Closed, which is not a gift and can be gotten any number of times.
- If you cause Fear and get the result that makes you cause Fear, you re-roll.
The same applies for Terror.
It does not apply for Stupidity. So a unit of Trolls can get Stupidity again as a result of their Mutant Regeneration (for no effect as there is no such thing as double Stupidity), but if they roll Stupidity a second time they get to re-roll it.
- If you use a Warshrine to roll on the Eye of the Gods table for a unit, the character will also benefit
as long as he is with the unit. If he leaves he loses the benefit (so much for "your character now has that
gift for the rest of the battle!"...).
If a character is with a unit of Chosen when they make their pre-battle Eye of the Gods roll, or a unit of Trolls when they roll due to Mutant Generation, he won't benefit.
- If you roll on the Eye of the Gods table for a whole unit and the unit includes a character who causes Fear / Terror, you would re-roll those results, even if the unit itself did not cause Fear / Terror.
- It is generally reckoned that you can use the Favour of the Gods to modify a valid roll into an invalid roll (e.g. modify +1 Ld into Fear when you already cause Fear, etc.) in order to get a re-roll. I personally think this is rather ridiculous for a 5-point item.
If it was intended that it should work this way, I must question the intelligence and / or communication skills of whoever gave the rule its final form.
In any case, it is just one of those rules you have to live with, at least until they decide to do an errata. At least you don't have to worry about whether or not to challenge, because you don't have any choice. Some feel that this makes Sorcerers a lot worse since they have to challenge; personally I am not affected, since my Sorcerers all fly around on Discs and can generally avoid such situations (and as single models, they can't get out of challenges if they do end up in combat alone anyway).
The rule makes champions in units without characters a bit less useful, since they can get into some challenges you would not want them in, but on the whole this doesn't matter a whole lot - in units large enough for a guy to hide away from a challenge, rank and file members are rarely much of a threat to enemy characters anyway.
The Will of Chaos
Much easier than the Eye of the Gods rule, the Will of Chaos applies to all units in the army (that aren't immune to Panic for some reason) and lets them re-roll failed Panic tests. This is in some ways better than the old Mark of Chaos Undivided in that it applies to a lot of units who didn't have this Mark in 6th edition and also applies to units that take a different Mark (such as the Mark of Nurgle or Tzeentch), but it is also worse in that the old rule applied to all forms of psychology tests, including Fear, Terror and Stupidity. The rule is nice to have (especially since you don't have to pay for it), but it doesn't stop me from wanting to give all my Core units the Mark of Slaanesh.
A basic Chaos Warrior costs a minium of 16 points. While those 16 points buys you a rather nasty and tough fighter, it does mean that you don't get very many guys for your points. And the characters are all proportionally more expensive, which makes the army smaller still if you take as many as you are allowed to. With my greenskin army I have no hesitation to take a Lord and three Heroes in armies of around 2000 points, while with my Chaos army, I either drop the last Hero or downgrade my Lord to Hero level (for a total of four Heroes).
I belive that with such expensive models, it is important to get a good number of units to compensate, or you just risk getting outdeployed and outmanoeuvred. This involves taking somewhat smaller units and taking quite a few cheaper units of Marauders (either type), Warhounds and Spawn. In my normal WoC army, I aim at 8 - 10 units costing less than 100 pts.
The Warriors of Chaos army is unusual in that with the new army book, we lost a character choice (and that is even disregarding that we lost access to all Beastmen and most Daemon charcters). The Apsiring Champion is gone and we are left with one fighter and one sorcerer on both the Hero and the Lord level, in addition to the Daemon Prince (which is covered elsewhere since he's not a Warrior type of character).
The main problem with the Chaos Lord is the cost, considering that they only have slightly better combat stats than an Exalted, who costs half as much. Two Exalted together are about as tough as a Chaos Lord, and more flexible since they can be two places at once. There are, as I see it, four reasons for taking a Chaos Lord instead of a pair of Exalted.
The first and possibly the most important is if you want to ride one of the flying big nasties, the Chaos Dragon or the Manticore, which only a Lord-level character can do.
The second is if you want a magic item or combo of magic items you can only get on a guy with a 100 pt magic item quota, for example the Axe of Khorne and the Armour of Morrslieb. A Hero could only get one of these two, which are a bit pointless by themselves. Especially if you feel you need a very powerful combat character, able to take on other powerful combat characters, can this be interesting.
The third is if you really wanted his Leadership of 9. I personally don't think Leadership is a very big problem in a Chaos army, given the good basic Ld, Marks, the Will of Chaos rule, highly affordable BSBs, etc, but maybe you are fielding a large unit of Chaos Trolls and want them extra reliable.
The last reason is if you can't get two Exalted instead of a Lord because you have already used all spare Hero choices on other things - a trio of Sorcerers, for example.
Marks of Chaos:
On foot: A Lord on foot doesn't fit with any of the four reasons above any better than a Lord mounted on some sort of steed, so I would never leave him on foot where his Movement of 4 would limit his flexibility.
Mounted on barded chaos steed: The minimum equipment I would buy a Lord. Even if you just intend to hang around with a unit of infantry, I'd take this for the armour save bonus and boosted Movement. The downside to the regular chaos steed, is that it is more expensive on a Lord than on an Exalted, while the various daemonic steeds cost the same, making it relatively less tempting.
Mounted on a daemonic mount: Interesting on Tzeentch and Nurgle Lords, since it brings with it immunity to Fear, which they don't get from their Mark. Khorne Lords can get the much better Juggernaut for the same cost and Slaaneshi characters don't really need an immunity to Fear.
Mounted on a steed of his god: The Jugger, as mentioned above, is great on a Lord in a unit of Knights. Discs and Steeds of Slaanesh are okay and the Palanquin is too slow.
Mounted in a chariot: Personally I prefer to give chariot mounts to Heroes, since chariots can be a bit vulnerable and I'd rather not risk my Lord in such a place.
Mounted on Manticore: Often overlooked in favour of the Dragon, I think the Manticore has a good deal going for it if you are facing armies with little in the way of firepower, where the much lower resilience of the Manticore isn't a big problem. It has enough Unit Strength to remove rank bonuses and with a Chaos Lord on top you should have enough of a nasty fighter against most units. And it is considerably easier to fit into a moderate-sized army than the Dragon is.
Mounted on Chaos Dragon: Dragon Riders tend to cost upwards of 600 pts and take up a Lord and a Hero choice, which means that unless you are playing 3,000 pts or more, you have a significant part of your army in one single model. The question then becomes if he is cost-effective, or if he just keeps chasing throwaway units, which you could have done equally good with a much cheaper Lord. If they do come out with a plastic Chaos Dragon rider I would like to get one, but I guess it would be more as a display model than anything else.
As with the Chaos Lord, you may consider two Hero-level Sorcerers instead of one Lord-level one. They tend to end up costing about the same, two Heroes gives you the same amount of magic dice, the same number of spells, and have one more Wound in total. However, getting four spells on one character gives you a lot more flexibility than two characters with two spells each. Additionally, you can cast spells with two more dice, which means that you have a decent chance of getting off the higher level ones. Concerning magic items, a Lord has more flexibility in his item selection regarding cost (he can for example take the Infernal Puppet, Rod of Torment and a Power Stone, which you couldn't get on two Heroes), but he can take one Arcane item less than two Heroes can.
Thus if you want a good chance to get and cast the high-level chaos magic spells (which there are relatively many of and which are quite nasty), get a Lord. If you are happy just spamming the low-level spells, get two Heroes. Remember, though, that you can't guarantee to get any specific spell other than the first one of the Lore.
Marks of Chaos: Choosing Marks is a question of spell Lores (especially which has the most interesting high-level spells) and the god-specific mounts. Tzeentch only has one high-level spell that is good all the time (Gateway), but the only really interesting mount (the Disc). Slaanesh only has two spells you can't comfortably cast with 3 dice, but one of them is Ecstatic Seizures, which can easily do more damage than Gateway for a lower casting cost. Too bad so many of the spells are of limited or no use against Immune to Psychology armies and the mount isn't all that interesting for a spellcaster. The top Nurgle spell is great on a flying caster, the fourth and fifth spells a bit variable and the mount of Nurgle a bit sad.
On foot: You get absolutely nothing worthwhile out of keeping a Sorcerer on foot, so I can't understand why GW keeps making more of them than any other Sorcerer. They don't get great weapons and a 360 degree arc of sight isn't interesting since you aren't likely going to have them run around on their own and there are no skirmishing units for them to join.
Mounted on barded chaos steed: Reasonable cost, reasonable protection and a bonus attack as well. If aren't interested in having a flying Sorcerer and aren't interested in bringing Fear to the unit you will have your Sorcerer in, stick with this one.
Mounted on a daemonic mount: As always something you take because it causes Fear more than for any other reason.
Mounted on a steed of his god: Here I only really like the Disc, which adds great mobility to your caster and can significantly increase his survivability (unless the enemy army has very good mobile firepower). The Steed of Slaanesh also has good mobility, but less than the Disc with the upside of being able to hide in units. You do get a 360 degree arc of sight for magic missiles and shooting gifts, but I can't see that as being overly great. And finally it also adds Fear to your unit, but with Slaanesh I don't consider that to be all that interesting. As with all the mounts of the gods, you also get Fear with the Palanquin, though with Movement 4 it won't get your expensive Wizard out of trouble and the selling point for a Palanquin - a heap of mediocre attacks - isn't that interesting on a non-fighter (though the Blasphemus Amulet on a guy on a Palanquin could be fun if he is in a unit with the Festering Shroud).
Mounted in a chariot: As I see it, chariots are something you get for a Hero you are not too concerned about, not for your main spellcaster. I would avoid this option.
Mounted on Manticore: Similar to an Orc Great Shaman on Wyvern, which I consider to be an underrated character setup, a wizard on a slightly fragile and quite random large target is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Mounted on Chaos Dragon: In many ways, a Sorcerer Lord might be a better thing to put on a Dragon than a Chaos Lord. Sure, the guy on top doesn't fight as well, but a reasonably good fighter on a Dragon is often nasty enough, especially if you can get a flank or rear charge. And, being a Wizard, you will have something useful to do in the turns you are not in combat - though if all you want to do is fly around and cast spells, you can get eighteen Discs for the price of one Dragon. This also gets around the problem of other Disc riders, that of getting very few characters left over and either ending up with very few fighters or very few spellcasters.
Usually preferred over the Chaos Lord since they are around half the cost and fight nearly as well.
The main downside to the Exalted over the Lord is that the lower Toughness and Wounds means that he dies
in around half the time it takes to kill a Chaos Lord, and that is even discounting the fact that
the Lord can buy more protective gear with his increased magic items quota. If you are not bothered
by the fact that you are getting a character which is a bit squishy for the points and you don't really
mind the reduced magic items quota, then drop the Lord and stick with Exalted.
A lot of people equip their Exalted with flails as they are very cheap and give you +2 Strength in the first round of combat. I'm personally not a fan of this, since it prevents my guy from using a shield, his attacks aren't magical (a problem if you run into Ethereal units or Forest Spirits) and if you do get stuck in a protracted combat, being only Strength 5 isn't all that. I am a great fan of the Sword of Might (not just in this army).
Marks of Chaos: All Marks can work, but unless you are going for a god-specific mount, the Mark of Khorne is probably the most effective (and the mount of Khorne is pretty darn good as well). The Mark of Slaanesh is completely pointless if the Exalted is in a unit, but gives you a living seeker missile who can join units if you go for a Steed. The Mark of Tzeentch is a bit dull unless you take it to get a Disc (in which case it is very nice) and the Mark of Nurgle is just a bit pointless most of the time.
Battle Standard: Now just a 25 point upgrade which any Exalted can take, though the character can't be the army general and the standard can get captured and lose you more VPs. I don't mind it much that he can't be the general, since Sorcerers have the same Leadership and so it is no loss that one of them might have to step in instead.
On foot: There are only two reasons to go with an Exalted on foot, as I see it. The first is going with the Book of Secrets and the Lore of Shadows in order to have a Hero that can use the Steed of Shadows to fly around. As the spell can fail or get dispelled at a bad time, this is a bit risky and seems not to be a very popular choice. The second is to take advantage of getting +2 Strength with great weapons rather than the +1 you get if you are mounted. You might like to go with the Helm of Many Eyes in order to strike first, which comes with the risk of going Stupid at a bad moment. Over all, I prefer to mount my characters.
Mounted on barded chaos steed: Quite cheap, boosts your armour save by +2, comes with an additional attack and means you "save" one guy in the second rank of infantry units, letting you keep a rank bonus a little longer (if you think of it that way, it is practically free most of the time). If you are using your Exalted as a supporting character instead of having him run around on his own, then I'd recommend a chaos steed for the protection and mobility it provides at a bargain cost.
Mounted on a daemonic mount: Really expensive and only to be taken if you need the Fear it causes (as having a Fear causing character in the unit makes it immune to Fear). Otherwise it's improved fighting stats aren't worth it compared to the much chaos steed, especially since the daemonic mount only gives +1 to your armour save, rather than +2.
Mounted on a steed of his god: All of these are useful, with the possible exception of the Palanquin, which fights a bit better than the generic daemonic mount, but which has miserable mobility. If I wanted an Exalted with Movement 4 I would have saved 50 points and stayed on foot.
Mounted in a chariot: Cheap fighter heroes in chariots can be quite fun, though most of the time I see it as a way of getting a Special unit without using up a Special choice. With my Chaos army I rarely run out of Special choices before I run out of points, so this is not a very tempting choice.
Generally it seems that Chaos players field more Sorcerers than any other character choice, presumably because the units fight so well on their own that spending the points on upgrading them is often just as effective without using any Hero choices. Sorcerers, on the other hand, do quite different things and are valuable in a Chaos army because it is so low on firepower. And unlike Wizards in other armies, they often fight as well as rank and file members of the units they are in.
Marks of Chaos: The usefulness of Hero-level Wizards can often be judged by the first spell of their Lore, since quite often they will concentrate on that, it being easy for them to cast and you can always get it if you want to. Both the first Nurgle and Tzeentch spells are highly useful, the Nurgle one for taking out nasty targets lurking in units, but it also kills very tough rank and file guys (e.g. knights) quite well for a 5+ spell. Flickering Fire is amongst the best basic spells anywhere, and has a ridiculously low casting cost for what it does on average (and that is not even considering what it does if you roll well). The first Slaanesh spell, on the other hand, is distinctly underwhelming - a low-Strength magic missile that has a secondary effect of dubious value that only kicks in if you actually manage to kill something with it. Hero-level Sorcerers of Slaanesh are more reliant on getting some of the next three spells and not fighting against an army that is Immune to Psychology.
On foot: Unless you really have a good reason to go on foot (such as wanting to take the Bloodskull Pendant), I would never do so.
Mounted on barded chaos steed: Sixteen points to get your Wizard a 2+ armour save? Sold! As with any other spellcaster able to get a mount that increases their armour save by two points and which doesn't come with any silly downsides (such as Cold Ones do), this should be considered a default option and only something you go without if you have a specific plan. I would personally get a chaos steed for any Sorcerer who wasn't riding a Disc.
Mounted on a daemonic mount: Three times the cost of a chaos steed, gives you a worse armour save and is only slight faster and only fights slightly better. Only worth considering if you want the Fear and don't have the Mark of Slaanesh.
Mounted on a steed of his god: I'm loving Discs and currently have three Sorcerers mounted on them (and I will be getting one more before I'm done). The ability to move 20" pretty much regardless is great (though occasionally it would be nice to be able to join units) and even if you are a Chaos Sorcerer there is nothing wrong with zooming away from trouble at top speed if your position is looking shaky. And with that kind of Movement, a 18" range on your basic spell is suddenly not a problem. The Steed of Slaanesh is just as fast at the best of times, but can be march blocked and has to go around obstacles rather than over them. On the bright side it gives you a 360 degree arc of sight for magic missiles and if your magic missile was useful this might even have been a significant advantage. Take it if you want to force Fear tests on enemies wanting to charge you. The Palanquin is, as always, something you take if you have decided to sit in one specific unit the whole game and want to make them immune to Fear.
Mounted in a chariot: A little note before I start: You can put an unmarked Sorcerer in a chariot bearing the Mark of Khorne, to get something like a Sorcerer of Khorne (he doesn't use a Lore of Khorne, but at least he's Frenzied). Not terribly effective, probably, and more something you field because it might annoy people. Otherwise a Sorcerer in a chariot is a bit risky, but worthwhile if you don't feel you can spare an Exalted and really need a Chariot without spending a Special choice. It is probably best with a Sorcerer of Slaanesh (for the immunity to Fear and Terror) or Nurgle (because those spells have better range, making up for the chariot's inability to march).
Warrior units are all variations on a theme (being hard-hitting, resilient and moving more or less slowly). They also have in common that halberds (or the one-handed magical "halberds" called ensorcelled weapons) are your weapons of choice for them.
You can divide Warriors of Chaos players into two roughly equally large parts: those who like Chaos Warriors
and those who do not. In this edition they got better and are now close to how good they were back
in 5th edition. Still, for some they are not good enough, and will probably not be good enough until
their Movement value is boosted (which isn't likely to ever happen). One noteworthy good thing about Warriors is that the number of models you get in a box makes for a good-sized unit, which is quite rare with infantry units. I guess the idea from GW's side was that you would field the unit as three ranks of four (this was back in 6th edition when you got a rank bonus for units 4 models wide), but now I like two ranks of six. I know that some people tend to prefer going with three complete ranks, going either 5 or 6 models wide, but given that I can get a decent support unit for the cost of that third rank, I tend to stick with two ranks only. Occasionally I have been tempted to add a model or two to hang around in a third rank as this would let me keep my rank bonus a little longer and give me more guys to step up if the unit is getting chewed up, but so far I have not succumbed. Five models wide also has the disadvantage that you start losing rank bonus after just one casualty.
In battle, I use my Warriors as an anvil, deploying them centrally in my battle line. There they move steadily up, flanked by lighter support units and with the faster heavy-hitters (Knights, Dragon Ogres, etc) beyond them. If charged by something reasonably nasty, the Warriors will lock shields and rely on their good stats and 2+ armour saves to shrug off most damage, and dealing some back with their two Strength 4 attacks. If they get into combat with something less nasty, they will instead use their halberds and deal out more damage. Regardless, the Warriors should do quite well, very rarely breaking and sometimes breaking the enemy unit. If the enemy unit doesn't break, my other units can then counter-charge in my turn, decisively swinging the combat in my favour.
Note that Chaos Warriors can have all the equipment options available to them if you so wish, you do not have to stick with one. Of course, three different combos are a bit redundant, but there is a whole lot right in taking two combos so that you have a bit of choice. Sadly, you get only one out of three weapon upgrades (and the least useful one too!) in the box.
Marks of Chaos: All Marks are useful, but as with all other Core units, I prefer the Mark of Slaanesh. Leadership 8 is decent, but considering the cost of the units, removing almost all psychological worries is worth quite a bit more than 10 points.
Great weapons: While getting two Strength 6 attacks per model, forgoing the Initiative 5, which should give you a good chance of striking first in later rounds, is a bit too much of a loss for me.
Halberds: Probably the most popular weapon option, and with good reason. Combine it with a shield and you will have the option of choosing between either S5 and a 4+ armour save, or S4 and a 2+ armour save.
Additional hand weapons: Similar to the halberd in that you use both hands and strike in initiative order. Against most foes, however, the halberd is just as good or better, and only against things with a 6+ armour save or no armour save (which comes up to the same since you are S4 to start with) are additional hand weapons better.
Shields: Sadly all your weapon upgrades require both hands to use, which means you can't use a shield at the same time, but you can still purchase a shield and at the start of each combat you will choose to use either your hand weapon and the shield, or the other weapon. And you will get to use the shield against damage from shooting or magic. This flexibility and the protection from ranged attacks alone is good enough for a shield to be almost compulsory for Warriors.
Command options: Here I think that all options are useful. Champions tend to be rather dubious for nearly all units in the game and shouldn't be considered compulsory for Warriors, but 12 pts for another WS5 attack - which can be Strength 5 if you use a halberd - isn't bad. Standard bearers are great, especially since all units can get a magic standard (I tend to prefer the simple War Banner). Musicians, as always, are cheap and useful (regular readers of my articles will know that I take musicians on essentially everything that can take them).
Costing three points more than Warriors and having more expensive command opitons (for some reason), a unit of Chosen tend to cost 50-80 points more than a Warrior unit of the same size and with similar options. What you get for those extra points are +1 WS (good against Elves, Dwarves and Daemons), a random special stat increase or special rule, and the option to take a magic item on the champion. They also take up a Special choice instead of a Core choice, but that isn't a big deal for me, since I tend to run out of points before I run out of Special choices anyway. Thus
The random Eye of the Gods rule can be influenced if you give the champion the Favour of the Gods or if your army includes Valkia, but at it's basic level the most likely results are +1 Attack, +1 armour save, Magic Resistance (3) and +1 Leadership are the most common and you will get one of these approximately two thirds of the time. Most of these are a bit unimpressive and thus it is recommended that you at least go with the Favour if you take them. Both of the things that improve their Chosen of the Dark Gods special rule will also help if you improve them with a Warshrine, though spending too much effort on boosting one single unit can lead to it just being ignored instead of the enemy reckoning that he has a chance of beating them (with Movement 4, you usually need the enemy to charge you if you want to get into combat).
Marks of Chaos: It seems that the most popular Chosen are those of Tzeentch (this is what I'm getting too), and it would appear that most do so in the hopes of getting the 4+ Ward (which will be a 3+ Ward with the Mark of Tzeentch) and Stubborn, as if a 4+ Ward, Stubborn and immunity to Fear, Terror and Panic with the Mark of Slaanesh was not at least as good. I would say that the choice of Marks for Chosen is basically the same as for Warriors.
As Chosen are so similar to basic Warriors, I won't be going into detail on them, other than to remind people again that you should always get shields on this unit. The usefulness of the different combos in close combat are more or less the same as with Warriors, but will depend somewhat on which roll(s) they get on the Eye of the Gods table (which sadly are only semi-predictable).
Command options: Champions, with their ability to get a magic item, are one of the main reasons to get Chosen to begin with, as I reckon it. There are a few interesting ones, the most tempting one being the Favour of the Gods, which provides great synergy for a mere 5 pts. Other tempting ones are the Collar of Khorne for the magic resistance, the Helm of Many Eyes to smack chargers (very nice with a great weapon) or the Book of Secrets for an extra sort-of-level-1-Sorcerer (and if you have given the unit the Mark of Tzeentch, you even get +1 to cast). Standards are again useful because it gives you another magic standard (most of the options are nice) and a musician is something I would always take, even if it is 10 pts here.
Who doesn't love Chaos Knights? Well, people on the other side of the table, presumably,
but I think you're unlikely to find a single WoC player who doesn't think Knights are great.
And now we get them in a lovely plastic kit as well. The fact that we now get a better version
of the old Chosen Knights for 5 pts less than previously certainly helps. I'm not sure
why they are so cheap - perhaps GW wanted to be certain of selling heaps of the new plastics.
With excellent combat abilities and excellent resilience, combined with a couple of additional
useful abilities (Fear and magical attacks) they didn't have before, there is a whole lot
right in adding a unit or two to your Chaos army. I have seen armies with three or four units
of Knights, but unless I wanted to make a themed army, I would not go that far, as there are a
lot of other tasks that Knights do less well and which are better suited to other units -
units it can be difficult to afford with multiple units of Knights.
Every now and again, someone will suggest huge units of Knights, of ten guys or more. I'm having some problems understanding why. One reason that is often given is that these units are very tough. That is in one sense right, but in another (much more valid sense) completely wrong. Yes, a unit of 10 is more resilient than a unit of 5, but it is significantly less resilient than two units of 5. Bigger units are much more difficult to hide and make much better targets for template weapons, cannons, bolt throwers and the like. And that is not to mention that two smaller units are far, far more tactically flexible in play. All units have a point where it is more profitable to start a new unit rather than expand an existing one, and with Chaos Knights that point comes quite early. You can go with 6 Knights if you want to, but I don't think that is necessary - 5 are just as effective for the cost and leaves you enough points for a unit of Warhounds.
Marks of Chaos: As with any Chaos unit that fights well, the Mark of Khorne is very popular on Knights. Since you get +1 Attack for the Knight and +1 Attack for the steed, you get a lot of extra Attacks for your points with this Mark (and those Attacks are quite nasty as well). My own first unit of Knights bore the Mark of Tzeentch, due to the Ward save and because I didn't feel the need to protect them from psychology as they cause Fear and get to re-roll Panic. However, after a tournament when they failed a bit too many tests to charge Terror causers, I am now set on having my second unit bear the Mark of Slaanesh. The Mark of Nurgle seems rather popular, which surprises me somewhat, since the close combat effect of the Mark is quite limited since there aren't that many WS6 guys out there and WS3 guys aren't usually much of a threat. And the Mark doesn't do anything to deflect cannon balls, something the Mark of Tzeentch combined with the Blasted Standard does quite well.
Lances: I appreciate that the older Chaos Knight models with lances are now playable as what they are equipped with again; what I don't appreciate is the cost, especially since the lances aren't magical. If all else was equal and I could choose between S6 when charging with S4 at other times, and being S5 all the time, I might at least have considered it. However, I must say that having my guys be Strength 5 even when not charging takes away one worry I have with cavalry and you can be a lot more relaxed about them. Normal Knights have to charge to perform well (and Boar Boyz have to charge and be quite lucky), but with Chaos Knights you can quite often afford to take the charge because their defensive stats are so good that few if any will die and you will strike back with a decent pile of Strength 5 attacks. And let's not forget the Strength 4 attacks from the horses. I think I might actually be willing to pay points to swap lances for ensorcelled weapons.
Command options: I assemble one guy from each Knight unit to be the champion, but admittedly I rarely purchase the upgrade, because at 20 pts it is just a little too steep for my taste (very rarely will I pay 20 pts for a champion upgrade on any unit anywhere). There is also the thing about being forced to issue charges, but as I see it, that is a very minor point. Standard bearers are a much better choice for the same cost, not least because there are some nice magic standards you can give them (not surprisingly I like the Blasted Standard on my Knights of Tzeentch). The musician seems to be rather less popular, which surprises me somewhat since I feel that a guy with a horn or drum is a great investment on just about anything.
I had hoped that Chaos Chariots would get a bit of a cost decrease in this edition,
because at 120 pts each they have always seemed overpriced to me. That didn't happen, but
instead we get +1 A for each of the crew, which isn't a bad thing by any means and at least
means that it is unlikely to be taken out by any little fast cavalry unit that comes by,
unlike my greenskin chariots.
As with any chariot, Chaos Chariots are slow since they can't make march moves, and thus they are good at supporting infantry units. I would especially recommend them in support of Chaos Warriors, who with their shields make for good anvil units. With the Warriors holding against a charge, the Chariot(s) can counter-charge the enemy unit in your next turn.
And as with any chariot, you need to stay away from Strength 7+ attacks, until GW removes that silly auto-destruct rule (hopefully in 8th edition). Happily, with a Toughness of 5 and a 3+ armour save, Chaos Chariots are quite resilient to small arms fire.
Marks of Chaos: As with any small unit that doesn't already cause Fear, the Mark of Slaanesh is highly useful, as well as dead cheap. To be honest, that is the only Mark I would consider on the chariots. I have a great deal of appreciation for Frenzied chariots, but to pay 30 pts for it isn't very tempting. The last two Marks provide decent enough protection for the points they cost, and especially against Dwarfs the Mark of Nurgle is interesting in making those Strength 7 bolt throwers less likely to hit, but they aren't spectacular and won't help you if you need to charge a unit of weedy Undead.
A small note needs to be added about characters riding in chariots and Marks. As the rules go, the restriction is that the character and the chariot can't have different Marks; there is no requirement that they must both have the same Mark. Thus you can have an Exalted Hero of Khorne riding in an unmarked Chariot, if you like. Some people don't like this practice, which I guess is understandable, especially since only two of the Marks given to the rider transfers to his mount (and vice-versa) while the other two do not. The two that do transfer are the Marks of Khorne and the Mark of Slaanesh. To continue the example above, 15 pts gives both an Exalted and his Chariot Frenzy. Some will say that this is too cheap, but in my greenskin army my Savage Orc Big Boss costs a mere 5 pts more than a regular Orc and gives his Chariot the same bonus (in addition to a 6+ Ward for himself) and you don't often see people complaining about that.
Out of all the units in all my armies, this is probably the one that went the longest
from being fully converted up and painted before it was fielded in battle. It's not that
I don't like the boosts it can give to units around it, I just don't like paying 130+
points for such a boost, especially when it's random.
The Warshrine is essentially and despite appearances, a very slow, very tough monster and not really like any kind of chariot. It can't shoot at all, doesn't fight especially well for something costing more than a hundred points and have nothing particular that stops it from running away at the least provocation other than it's unimpressive Leadership of 8. If only they were a bit cheaper and could be taken as mounts for Sorcerers. Oh, well, at least it was fun converting one up from scratch.
Because it is so slow and can't really keep up with anything other than human-sized infantry, a Warshrine does best deployed more to the front of the army (though not in front of anything else), so that you get at least a couple of rounds where you can bless units and hope to get a good result. It is very tough and should be able to shrug off most things shooting at it, though an unlucky Ward save against a cannon can easily wreck it. I suggest boosting the quicker units first and keep trying each turn until you get something at least semi-useful. Then, once the first wave has smashed through (or gotten smashed), you can consider boosting one of the slower units (presumably Warriors unless you don't have any).
Marks of Chaos: I have given my Warshrine the Mark of Slaanesh, which I believe is the most effective one. I know that a lot of people like the Mark of Tzeentch because it gives you that lovely 3+ Ward save, but as the thing is only Unit Strength 4 and has nothing that particularly helps with psychological worries, I think that Slaanesh is the one to have. If you also have a BSB with the Banner of the Gods nearby (making the thing Stubborn), then it is extremely difficult to shift. The Mark of Nurgle is a bit disappointing for the cost, but not as bad as the Mark of Khorne. Paying 30 points for +1 Attack in total (since the whole thing counts as one creature) and having to charge if able to doesn't make any kind of sense and is the clearest example why having set costs for Marks wasn't an entirely brilliant idea.
The old Hordes of Chaos army book was a bit of a failure when it came to special characters - one heavily overpriced Chaos Lord (very impressive model, though) and one Dragon, of all things (with a model so hideous only someone with a Spawn-fetish could love it). This edition we have four additonal Warrior-type characters, in additon to several others as well. If you ask me, having three out of five plodding around with Movement 4 is at least two too many
Archaon, the Everchosen
Poor Archie, Games Workshop have lately made a dedicated effort to erase any mention of the so-called Storm of Chaos, which was presumably going to be a great triumph for him. As it panned out, it more resembled a Breeze of Chaos and the result was so dull that it appears GW now just want to forget all about it. I guess that once any over-hyped character has to actually prove himself, the result will most of the time be far from what you would get if the writers could have it all their way. However, it must be said that in this edition, Archaon is 130 pts cheaper than previously as well as conderably better. This may have contributed somewhat to his lack of performance in what was heralded as an impressive campaign of slaughter and destruction. This edition he got +6" radius on both his Leadership and break-test re-roll ranges, his mount is a lot better now it cannot be killed off independently and his Chosen of the Gods abilities got better. And he is now just a single Lord choice , rather than a Lord and two Heroes. Did I mention that this came with a 130-point reduction in cost?
Note that while Archie is the only character allowed to join the Swords of Chaos unit of Chaos Knights, he can also join any other unit as normal, he just won't make them immune to Psychology (though as he causes Terror and gives you a re-roll of Panic tests on Ld 10, that's not actually a loss).
The Good: Excellent resilience, and he even boosts the resilience of any unit he joins, which is quite tasty. Good in combat against Knights.
The Bad: Distinctly unimpressive against units with good Toughness and who aren't relying on their armour (such as a Hydra, for example). A bit vulnerable if his unit gets mauled while he himself is not in base contact with an enemy.
The Dull: Ignording movement penalties for terrain, but only when on his own is a bit pointless. Slaanesh has made him immune to Fear and Terror, but as he causes Terror himself, that is a completely worthless gift. The default Tzeentch spell (which is also one of the better ones) can't be cause if the sorcerer is in combat, which is where Archaon wants to be.
Prince Sigvald the Magnificent
Slaanesh has generally been lacking in special characters, and now we get one whose name sounds like he's originally from the Empire. I have tried to like Sigvald, I really have, but I can't get around the feeling that someone should have given him a horse.
The Good: Makes any unit he joins Stubborn on a Leadership of 10 (and it can easily be immune to Fear and Terror as well). Not to mention that he is one of only two ways of getting Ld 10 in the army.
The Bad: Five Attacks at S7 would have been significantly better than seven attacks at S5. As he is, he's only really good at killing weak enemies. Even if he cannot be march-blocked and ignores difficult terrain, Movement 4 is a bit low. No kind of protection from Killing Blow (other than killing his assailant before he gets to strike), which will ignore both his armour save and Regeneration.
The Dull: Model doesn't look anything like any other model in the army.
Valkia the Bloody
Valkia was originally rumoured to be a Daemon Prince(ss), and apparently there are a good number of
people who, at the time I write this, still think she is one, presumably because a model has yet to be
released. In fact, she is a Fear-causing Chaos Lord (Lady?) that flies, said flight being just about
the only thing she has in common with a Daemon Prince. I find Valkia interesting in that she has a lot
of bonuses that are not straight forward and so can be a bit tricky to evaluate (e.g. she has a 2+
armour save with her shield, but since her armour reduces the Strength of any attack that hits her
by 1, it is effectively better) than that most of the time.
The Good: The only flying model in the whole army that can join units and which has a 360 degree arc of sight. Excellent combat stats (on the charge, at least). Surprisingly good resilience for someone without a Ward save. A Khornate character without Frenzy, but who still gets the extra Attack. Very handy boost of other units (especially if you have the Favour of the Gods or a Warshrine in the army).
The Bad: Very little in the way of protection against war machine fire means she should really hang around with a unit until there is something good to charge. With only Unit Strength 1, she can be automatically broken in combat against Terror causers (and she won't be autobreaking anything herself). Rather unimpressive in a protracted combat, especially if on her own.
The Dull: A lot of her bonuses are more suited to a character that hangs around with a unit that to a character that flies around on her own.
Vilitch the Curseling
I don't really like Vilitch - as I see it, you are not a proper Tzeentch character unless you fly
and I have no liking for one that plods around on foot with Movement 4. His background is interesting
enough, but I can't see how that is reflected in his rules. One of the missed opportunities in the
The Good: Handy against armies that use a great number of spells cast with only a single dice, such as the Vampire Counts. Approximately one third of such attempts will result in an extra Dispel Dice for Vilitch, making it much easier to dispel the ones that reach the required number. With a Lore with a high number of situational spells, such as the Lore of Tzeentch, it is very useful to know all the spells.
The Bad: Very fragile for his cost and, being on foot, has problems avoiding trouble, improved combat stats or not. Heavily overpriced if Vessel of Chaos doesn't bring in a good number of magic dice.
The Dull: Most effective against people stupid enough to make half-hearted attempts to get spells cast or dispelled. Against those who only attempt what they are almost certain to achieve, he is much less effective. You would think that having two bodies fused together would bring with it some special rules (for example some extra Wounds).
Wulfrik the Wanderer
So we got Beowulf as a character in the new book. Wulfrik is in many ways the most norse-like
of the Chaos charcters; roaming around, drinking mead and attacking from unexpected directions.
Note that he doesn't have to stay with the Marauder unit, so after they have shown up, he can go
off on his own, letting him and his unit each handle a war machine or similar. Note also that you
don't have to send him off to sneak up behind enemy lines if the enemy army isn't a suitable one
for this purpose, you can deploy him normally in a unit of Chaos Warriors or whatnot. Naturally,
in those cases he won't exactly be amazing value for the points, but there is no point in him showing
up late and trying in vain to chase down much faster units.
If I were to field him, I wouldn't use the standard model, and instead convert him up as a cultist demagogue leading a pack of chaos cultists with a look based on the Mordheim Possessed warband. I doubt I would ever use him in anything other than a quite large unit, where I had enough Hero choices anyway and there should be a decent number of soft targets for him to squish. The unit I would deploy him with would be a small unit of Marauders of Slaanesh with great weapons.
The Good: Only sort of scout-like option we have (too bad we have to spend a Hero choice on it). Unlike other similar units, he has a chance of turing up in turn 1.
The Bad: Showing up behind enemy lines with an expensive character in a unit of slow infantry isn't terribly effective if you aren't guaranteed some movement spells to help them get moving. Unless he gets into combat with the nominated victim, he is rather unimpressive in a challenge.
The Dull: A character who gets bonuses in challenges, but who tends to turn up behind enemy lines where there is very little to challenge.
Other related articles
- Chaos Warrior Performance
- Marauder Units and Characters
- Infantry Tactics
- Battle Standard Bearers
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