Hi there everyone! We all know tha CSM aren't the best faction to play in 40k nowadays, but if you use all the resources available, you could end up with a decent army, so first, what are those resources and what do they have?:
Chaos Space Marines Codex:
• This will be our basic resource and most of our units will come from here. I won't talk about it further as I've already done an entry for that.
• All your units have the Fear special rule. This means that even if you usually wouldn't need the supplement for anything you should say that your army is Crimson Slaughter, as this can sometimes come in handy and it's free!
• Possessed are troop choices, which is, at least for me, very good, as I like the possessed playstyle and because of this I can skip the compulsory cultists or chaos marine unit. Also it gives your possessed Objective Secured if taken as part of a combined weapons detachment.
• Relics of the Crimson Slaughter are far better than Chaos Artifacts. Even if you loose the Key and the Flamer combo you gain lots of things, as Divination for your Sorcerer, the invoking machine, Daemonheart, etc...
• The possessed rules, now called Slaves to the Voices, are far better than the other ones, as they can give them Shrouded (for a 2++ on ruins and buildings), the beast type (basically move 12" and get to your enemy faster) or 3++ and Rending (better save is always better and Rending can be useful lots of times).
• You can't take Veterans of the Long War (except for your cult units). This won't usually affect you much, as VotLW isn't usually good, but it can be a big downside if you know you're playing against space marines.
• The ability to upgrade one unit of chosen into Draznitch's Ravagers is one of the best things of the supplement, basically because it allows you to reroll 1 with plasma guns because of Preferred Enemy. Also useful when combined with chemical weapons from The Purge.
• The warlord traits are pretty good in a close combat characters and the second one, Maelstrom of Torment can be awesome when used in a Terror army (as I'll explain later).
• Chosen units are troop choices for Black Legion, which is, basically, the thing that stops me from always taking Crimson Slaughter. An army based on Chosen can be pretty decent, its a shame this can't be combined with Draznitch Ravagers.
• All your units have to take VotLW, which usually sucks, though can be good if playing versus space marines and going close combat.
• If you take Abbadon you can upgrade a single unit of terminators to Bringers of Despair. This isn't a competitive option, but if you're playing a friendly game, it cam be fun to shoot your combi meltas at 2+.
• The Chaos Artifacts of the Black Legion aren't that good. It's true there're a couple of fun things (the eye and the last memory) but the rest are pretty bad.
• The warlord traits are horrible, please roll in another place.
Imperial Armour 13
• Gives a lot of extra units that compliment very well the codex (as I've already explained in my last entry).
• Adds the Renegade Army, which is a great ally for our CSM, giving us better mobs than cultists, GREAT artillery and tanks.
• Brings into our games the Legacies of Ruin, for our vehicles, that can give some very good things (the Death of Kasyr Lutien is brutal).
Imperial Armour: Siege of Vraks
• Gives us extra rules for our Renegades, some of which are pretty good (maybe I'll have to do an article about renegades...).
• It has two new detachments. The first one is just for renegades so I'll pass, but the second one, The Purge, is THE SOLUTION, as it allows you to take Renegades and CSM. It gives us chemical flamers, which are very good for Draznicht's Ravagers (even better if infiltrated with Huron); chemical rockets, which you won't use ase CSM have almost no missile launchers, and it makes all your ordnance area weapons cause dangerous terrain, which is sweet if you also use some of the artillery from the renegades. This things are fine, but what makes The Purge so great for me is that instead of requiring two troops it requires two elites! With all the places, groups and tournaments that are requiring armies to be organized in detachments this allows you to skip the two compulsory troops. This means you can take Draznicht's Ravagers as core choices, or terminators, or even plague marines without the respective lord or sorcerer. The possibilities are endless with this, though it has its downsides: You can't take Fast Attack as part of this detachment, so no Chem Nurgle Bikers; the only mark/dedication available is Nurgle, which sucks in a lot of cases and you don't get objective secured.
• We all Chaos players had our hopes up for this codex, I thought this could be my new Codex, as I have a lot of Khorne marines, but... It wasn't. KDK is a pretty bad Codex, and it isn't CSM nor Demons, so you can't use any of the bonuses for them. Even though it has some formations that do not specify the units must be taken from KDK, and the army in general can bee good as an allied detachment or in combination with other Chaos armies.
Chaos Demons Codex
• Demons are great allies for CSM, and I take them frequently as an allied detachment with four Tzeentch heralds and Nurglings for Daemonology.
• With rapiers and renegade artillery some fortifications can come in handy (I find the void shield generator awesome for the job).
All this things make CSM a more bearable army though it still doesn't bring them to the tops, for that we would need a whole new Codex (some images on the internet may mean we'll get one soon, but you never know with this things). Also all this info sounds awesome and all of that, but how can you put it together? Well, here I have some of the combinations that work better for me:
This consists of taking lots of long ranged units, take a corner of the table as far from your enemy as possible and kill everything before it gets near. I usually take The Purge and Crimson Slaughter with Plasma Draznitch Ravagers to kill whatever gets at range, Plague Marines to defend and a deathly combination (the quantity of each thing depends on the enemy) of: Rapiers with Conversion beamer and Laser destroyers, predators, infernal relic predators, Obliterators, Vindicators, renegade artillery batteries, renegade strike batteries (chaos wyverns was what we all needed), renegade hydra batteries (if you think your opponent will have lots off flyers or you want to be preventive), renegade bombard batteries (very good at gaming tables with lots of covers), renegade heavy ordnance battery, renegade support squad (if you're a wimp and take a mediocre unit when there's all this greatness), renegade rapier laser destroyer battery and renegade field artillery battery. Also I always field a Void Shield Generator or even two. You can also take bastions, defense lines or any other fortification you have, cover is good for this list, and if you taka a lot of barrage also take things that block line of sight. The other thing to consider are sorcerers to boost and defend you, warpsmiths to repair your vehicles and units to defend your big guns (plague marines are the best for this, and you can take them with the purge, though cultist and renegade mob units also work. All you have to do now is wait in your fortress of destruction, know who to shoot (units that can charge you or damage you from the distance) and pray to the dice gods for good rolls. Before you play this you should know that not everyone finds this way of gaming fun to play or to play against, and you should remember that this is for fun, so unless you and your opponent are iron within and iron without, the simple quantity of areas four wyverns and quad mortars can unleash can be stressing.
Strike and ControlThis is a list based on moving fast and being everywhere in the table, shining in vortex of war missions, as you usually have units in all the objectives you need. Your army will consist of a mix of raptors, bikers, warp talons, helldrakes, hellblades/talons and blight drones, assisted by a lord or sorcerer with a bike or a jumpack and some units in rhino or dreadclaw. To use it well you have to spread your units over the table, usually working with the minimum squad number and the maximum special weapons as possible (the lack of tanks or artillery forces you to take your heavy guns on your squads) and its very difficult to take as a detachment, as you will need more than three Fast Attack slots and you wont need troops, so you will usually play them freestyle.
The Speartip Strike is a classic brought in from the Horus Heresy, and consist of deep striking your terminators into the heart of the opponent. That's it. But there are some things that you can do to upgrade this so I'll go by steps: First step, take five terminators; second step, upgrade the unit to be ten; third step, give some weapons for them (multi meltas, power fists, chainfist or claws); fourth step, give them Abbadon the Despoiler; fifth step, upgrade them to Bringuers of Despair; sixth step, take a sorcerer or lord with jump pack, bike or mount and the flamer and the key for accurate deep strike; seventh step (which makes sixth unnecessary), take a Karhibdis Assault Claw to make them gods and finally, eighth step (yeah, one for each point of the chaos star), take another terminator character to boost the unit, preferably a sorcerer with telepathy for an invisibility chance.
The Speartip is potent, but its expensive as hell and it doesn't work alone, so you should just use them with the eight steps at really colossal games, in where you can afford it and a whole army to support them.
Chosen to Kill
When you are fighting against enemies that take few potent units, mobs of cultist or chaos marines aren't appropriate. That's the moment in where you'll need the most difficult unit to use at all its potential in the codex... Chosens! The thing that makes them so good is that they can take five special weapons and have two attacks base, but what makes them so complex is that they get VERY expensive, so you'll need to optimize them as much as you can. Above all the configurations available, the best one, without doubt, is to take five with plasma guns or chemical flamers from the Purge and Draznicht's Ravagers, but this is limited to one per detachment, so you'll need to take more, which I recommend to kit with melta guns and power weapons, depending on your enemy. This generates another problem, how do I get them close enough to fire my flamers and melts guns or to charge with my power weapons? Well, there are three solutions: The first, which only guarantees to work on one unit but could work on three, is to take Huron Blackheart (Ahriman is also an option, but he usually is to expensive) to infiltrate them, the second one is to give them earth transports (rhinos and land raiders) and the third is to give them orbital transports (dreadclaws and Kharybdiss). All three of them have their advantages and disadvantages, but you can do a lot of damage with this guys either way.
The Terror Strike is made for the Night Lords, though the ones that pull it off are Crimson Slaughter and KDK and it consist of lowering your enemy's leadership so they will fail Fear, Pinning and Morale test and its easier for you to kill them. This can be done by mixing quite a lot of things, so choose from the following options the ones that you most like: The thing that I usually use as the main force of it is the Kranon's Hellguard formation, as it reduces leadership and BS, even though the units it requires aren't very good (jump pack lord with raptors, three terminators with combi melta, a pair of cultists mobs, chosen in the land raider and a support hellbrute is what I think that works better). The Charnel Cohort formation from KDK is also good, and works better with fear (which is from where you will take the most advantage anyway). Be'Lakor is doubtlessly the best warlord option for a terror strike army, as he also lowers leadership and generates warp charges from it (also invisibility guaranteed is great and psychic scream will come in very handy). At last, every additional CSM unit you take should be Crimson Slaughter, as free fear is specially useful here. It's also important to note that this list isn't that effective against armies with high leadership (necrons for example) and almost null against fearless armies, like demons (though daemonic instability with low leadership is painful).
This type of list was the most used kdk list in the ETC, and consist in only fielding daemon engines. At first you'll think that it's a suicide, as you'll be very outnumbered, but the thing is that usually more than half of the enemy army won't be able to harm you. It depends a lot of your enemy, but if you manage to kill all the anti vehicle enemy units you will be unstoppable. Also, field some areas to level the numbers.
Storm of ChaosThis type of list is, for me, purely hypothetical, as I don't have the units to field it (still scratch building them) because it includes lots of FW minis, the dreadclaws. The idea is to get most of your army into a dreadclaw and alpha strike them into a position in where they will do enough damage to survive the next round. Using lots of chemical flamers and melta guns and counting that the dreadclaws are flyers, you should be able to do it very efficiently.
Chemical WarfareThis is an army based on the Purge, so you'll go Nurgle styled. You just have to fill your elite choices with chosen units with chemical flamer (make at least one of them Draznicht's Ravagers), fill the HQ with whatever you like (sorcerer is a good option to boost your people) and if you aren't using all your heavy supports at anti vehicle (you still need some), take havocs with flamers. At last take a promethium pipe as a fortification so your flamers will be torrent and wait behind it so that you'll literally shred your opponent. Note that this won't work against long ranged units, so try not to play them against tau or to field people to support them.