Friday, February 15, 2013

More than just a Heldrake

No, really, it's good!
It seems like everywhere I look Chaos Space Marines are being trashed.  Either they're not competitive or they're not exciting, right?


The Chaos Space Marine codex is one the most well-written sets of rules in Warhammer 40,000.  More than that, I think the codex is dynamic, challenging and fun -- aside from Grey Knights, Chaos Space Marines are the only marine army that doesn't restrict your troops choices solely to marines.  The designers made a clear effort both to reinvigorate outdated codex choices and to introduce new and flavorful alternatives that work both thematically and competitively.

Close combat Dreadnoughts are few and far between in the competitive game.  They're slow, and it's not unreasonable for a lucky lascannon shot to blow them up.  Rather than do something silly like create virtually indestructible long-range, high-strength shooting attacks for them (like the aforementioned Grey Knights), the Chaos Space Marine codex offers you two new options for close combat Dreads: Helbrutes and Maulerfiends.  Both are inexpensive and both are better than a standard Space Marine Dreadnought, but it's the Maulerfiend that really stands out: he moves 12 inches without being slowed by terrain, is immune to dangerous terrain checks (thanks to Move Through Cover), has a 5+ invulnerable save, ignores Shaken and Stunned effects on a 2+, can reroll as many charge dice as he chooses, and is one of the most efficient close combat anti-vehicle models in the game.  All of that for 125pts is a steal.

At this point the Heldrake is fairly self-explanatory: the combination of strength 7, AP3 vector strikes (which ignore cover) and a strength 6, AP3 Baleflamer (which also ignores cover, has a 360 degree arc of fire and can be thrown 12 inches from the Heldrake itself) makes this bad boy a top contender for best Fast Attack choice in the game.  The Heldrake never has to Evade because it has a 5+ invulnerable save, and it's rarely affected by Shaken or Stunned results due to its 2+ roll to ignore them.  This thing lives to eat marines, particularly those of the Ravenwing variety.

The finished product.
Here's one of the first lists I built for this codex after it was released:

  • Typhus
  • 2 Helbrutes, double power fists
  • 35 Plague Zombies
  • 35 Plague Zombies
  • 30 Plague Zombies
  • 3 Maulerfiends
  • 3 Heldrakes, Baleflamers
  • Aegis Defense Line, Quad Gun
  • Total Points: 1845

The concept behind this list is to park a big group of Plague Zombies behind the Aegis Defense Line and let Typhus man the Quad Gun.  The Maulerfiends are usually able to get a second turn charge (at worst -- it's not uncommon to make the charge on turn one), and the Helbrutes follow a turn or two behind.  The combination of AV12 saturation, the Maulerfiends' speed and the survivability their invulnerable save offers them tends to overwhelm any opponent whose army isn't built around thunder hammers and storm shields.  Two or three Heldrakes usually join the party by turn two, effectively pinning the opponent down in his deployment zone -- his choices are to fight what's in front of him to avoid being boarded, or to shoot at literally 100 troop models that have a 4+ save with Feel No Pain and are Fearless to the last man.  I'll start moving those Zombies up to the midfield around turn three, and by turn five there won't be enough of my opponent's army left to contest.

It's a fun, fast-moving and hard-hitting army, and it's the off-the-top-of-my-head build.  What do you think -- am I wrong?  Is the Chaos Space Marine codex boring or bad?


  1. Like you - I am personally very much enjoying this army.

  2. Interesting. How would you make it work for lower points games? 1500 for example. What would you cut out first?