The Chaos Space Marine conundrum

Since I last did a major update on my Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marines I’ve managed to play quite a few games, and try a lot of different army compositions and unit types. My game tally is about average. I win some games, but I tie far more, and lose about half of my games. I especially struggle against Imperial Guard (who I can’t match in firepower), and Space Wolves (who I can’t match in close combat prowess, nor sheer cost effectiveness across the board). I’ve tried including an even mix of interesting and effective army build choices in my lists, but the more games I lose, the more the lists tend to start leaning towards the more optimized builds. I’m not quite there yet, but I will eventually get to the point where the CSM army I’m fielding is a carbon copy of the so-called CSM standard tournament build.

Why is this? The short of it is the Codex is underpowered, the units are for the most part overpriced, and there really aren’t that many interesting choices in the Codex to begin with. The book is also four years old, and it is really starting to show its age, especially when compared to any of the codices released after the release of the fifth edition of the core rules. The picture above is only a half-truth in the sense, that of course evil is always cooler, but Chaos Space Marines are not even playing in the same ball park as regular Space Marines, Space Wolves or Blood Angels. Of course this is all old news to anyone who knows anything about the current state of competitive play. Even the infamous double lash prince -build, once much reviled, is now just a sad relic of a different edition and style of play.

Anyway, to get to the point, since stating the obvious and whining about getting the short end of the stick makes for poor blog content, lets have a look at what the CSM have going for them. This post is just the first in a short series, so bear with me. This time I’ll have a look at the Chaos Space Marine HQ choices.


Not counting the special characters (who for the most part are crap anyway), the budding CSM general has three types to choose from: The Chaos Space Marine Lord, The Chaos Sorcerer, and the Daemon Prince.

Out of these the Lord is arguably the worst, since he doesn’t really deliver much bang for buck. The argument could be made, that giving him wings gives him good mobility since wings, unlike a jump pack, can fit inside a Rhino. I suppose he’d be at his best when facing shooty enemy infantry in melee, but even for that he is just too expensive, and since he doesn’t have an invulnerable save, he won’t last very long. Oh, if you were thinking about taking Daemon Weapon, stop it. Immediately. Really, really not worth it at all. If you really have your heart set on a killy Chaos Space Marine Lord, however, take Khârn the Betrayer, and make sure you stay the fuck away from your own troops with him.

The Chaos Sorcerer is a slight step up, since he can use his psychic power (Lash of Submission is really the only one worth considering) from inside a Rhino. You could also experiment with a Sorcerer on a bike joining a unit of Chaos Space Marine Bikers, but this build isn’t really viable in point costs under 2000.

The one HQ choice that stands head and shoulders (literally) above the others is the Daemon Prince. He is decently killy in close combat if you equip him with Wings, Warptime, and Mark of Nurgle, but the more common build of Wings, Mark of Slaanesh, and Lash of Submission is a far more attractive choice. Despite the prevalence of amour in today’s competitive play, a Prince with Lash still gives you a very versatile tool for battlefield control. Wanna move those stuck-in orks off an objective? No problem. How about bunching up those pesky Nob Bikers for a salvo of Plasma from your Obliterators? Can do. Worried about that Lone Wolf about to trounce up your whole battle line? Give him a taste of the Lash, and it will take him that much longer to reach any place where he can do any damage. Obviously the Daemon Prince is a magnet for heavy weapons fire, but you need to remember that every lascannon shot aimed at the Daemon Prince is one less shot busting up your Rhinos. In fact, since the Daemon Prince is just that good, you’d better take two of them.

Next up, Elite choices.


5 responses to “The Chaos Space Marine conundrum

  1. For me personally, it comes down to whether you want utility or combat prowess. The sorceror is the right choice if you’re just looking for the lash. He is more likely to live through the game and be there to screw up your opponent’s objective holding. If you just want one hq, I’d take the sorceror.

    The prince on the other hand has the same threat with the lash and is a good CC monster, but he is easier to pick off and should be fielded in pairs.

    Just my own thoughts.

    • Aleksi, good points there. Playing with just one Prince has so far worked for me, since he is basically a multi-purpose tool. He’s good both for battlefield control, and asskickery. Also, the model looks amazing, and makes for a good army centerpiece. I realize he is also a big target, though. Its rare that he survives until the end of the battle. Hm… I should probably give your idea a try, though. As soon as I find a Sorcerer model I like and get him painted.

  2. Greetings! I am new to the wargaming. when i purchased my original Chaos space marines i put together simply what looked cool. Now i do not know what the stats are for all the basic weapons nor what is what, and how that affects my army. I am trying to do an inventory on my army but it does not have the stats for Bolters, heavy bolters, combi-bolters etc. in the Codex or main rulebook. could anyone send me a link to somewhere with this information i would greatly appreciate it. I am trying to set up my army ASAP to start playing!

  3. I like warptime on my prince & a lash on A sorcerer, But I def agree with everything OP said.
    There are now 4 Loyalist Marine codexs and all pretty much counter everything CSM can Field for(and for less points at that). I just hope no one decides to make a grey knights army anytime soon.

    Things I’d like to see: Chaos Psycher powers Get a huge overhaul, Its needed.
    Greater/Lesser Daemons buffed, or changed to have more verstilty Like using the daemons codex.
    Troop costs adjusted to reflect the premade squad system the loyalists now use.
    Cultists! Cultists! Cultists!

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