I posted a lot up on 4th edition CSMs when they came out. Now I have a document about all CSM's uses in 5th.
Chaos Space Marines in 5th:
Abaddon: With so many different scenarios falling under Instant Death now, Abaddon is even nastier than before with resilience. But to be honest, a WS7, Str8, Power-Weapon-toting, 4+ invuln-wearing, 4+D6 attack throwing, Nightbringer-whacking monstrosity needs little justification as to why anyone should use him.
Fabius Bile: When before he was basically a mediocre Sorcerer… well he basically still is. His Warrior Enhancement is also fairly hit-or-miss, but the Run rules and improved Rhino buff makes these Enhanced Warriors slightly better. Because, to be honest, nobody buys Fabius for Fabius.
Huron Blackheart: When Powerfists once used to be good, Huron was only slightly less clowny. Before, he was basically a way to combine a Powerfist with Warptime. Now that he has less attacks for losing the +1A bonus for 2 weapons, Warptime means all the much more. You can also switch to the Power Weapon and Warptime, which is pretty nice. However, Huron is largely mediocre.
Typhus: Not bad. Still basically a Sorcerer rather than a Lord, but a Sorcerer with a Poisoned Weapon is nothing to sneeze at in 5th edition. Even when not acting as a Force Weapon, a Poisoned Daemon Weapon is an awesomely cool toy. But what really decides whether or not you should use Typhus is how much you value his toys. You can always just give a Chaos Lord a Manreaper for similar hack-and-slash effect, and for a serious points discount compared to Typhus. It’s just a matter of deciding whether or not Feel No Pain, Wind of Chaos, and Blight Grenades are worth it. For me, 225 pts is way too expensive to a model who gets cracked in the jaw by Powerfists anyway, and now that he can’t kill Killzones anymore to get rid of fists, it’s all the more a problem.
Kharn: The errata to Gorechild keeps him from tearing Falcons out of the air, but Str6 on the charge with 2d6 penetration with 7 attacks on the charge can put the fear into any tank. He’ll rip Walkers open in a heartbeat. Or at least he’d better. Like all other CSM heroes except Abaddon, anything Str8 or higher (including anything with DCCWs) will crush him like a bug. But for his meager price tag, it’s largely worth it. The problem is that he fights so much better alone, but it’s hard to keep Kharn isolated and alive. Mostly it’s just a bullet you’ll have to bite down on.
Ahriman: The new Perils ought to cause Ahriman some headaches, as if you don’t perils with him at least once, he either gets killed first or you’re very lucky. He’s still just a Sorcerer, but a Sorcerer who can cast 3 powers (including the Force Weapon’s insta-gib) in a single player turn. However, this is no longer purely unique to Ahriman with the clarifications to Force Weapons, as now normal Tzeentch Sorcerers can mix Warptime and Force Weapons.
Lucius the Eternal: Armor of Shrieking Souls can be fun, but that’s all that’s really fancy about him. He’s not the best character killer in the game. Hardly. He’s actually much better against hordes, where the more saves he can take, the better. It’s even more likely in 5th edition, where enemies will be forced to charge in at Lucius when he charges them. You may even want to charge Lucius in alone against massive hordes. If he dies, he’s not that expensive. But if he lives, you’ll win combat by a ton, just off sheer passed armor saves turning into enemy power weapon wounds. Take the average Ork or Tyranid horde for example. Want to crush a large part of it quickly and cheaply? Well if you’re too cheap for Berserkers, Lucius can get the job done.
Daemon Prince: The fact that Wings don’t make you easier to shoot is a call for relief amongst prince-heavy players, but it hurts that dakka can rip through area terrain and eat him apart. Princes usually shrug off your average high-AP shots anyway, so the new cover is a huge blow to them. The fact that they can no-longer score, an advantage that Princes had over all other CSM HQs up until now, means that there may be a drastic drop in Prince usage. However, this is offset by Princes’ ability to run in the new edition, making Wings slightly less of an obvious choice. Princes also get the better of the new Psychic Power rules, which clarify that the normal Princes can cast one power per player turn, not game turn, making Warptimed Nurgle Princes into obscene meteors of pain.
Chaos Lord: A big problem with Chaos Lords was being insta-gibbed by Powerfists. Fortunately, with the Fist nerf, many Fists are being replaced by Power Weapons, which Chaos Lords can largely stand up to. The top-tier Chaos Lord of 5th is probably the Nurgle Lord w/ Plaguebringer. Put him on a Bike and give him a Daemon Weapon and he’s a super-tough nut to crack. You could even put him on a Palanquin and give him a Daemon Weapon for even nastier hitting power. The Khorne Lord also gets a substantial buff with the loss of Killzone rules. Now that casualties can be picked from anywhere, Chaos Lords w/ Bloodfeeders can become hyper-destructive. Running also mitigates their inability to be put in Transports.
Chaos Sorcerer: If the Chaos Space Marines had an “OMFG CHEESE” award, it would probably go to the new Chaos Sorcerer, particularly the Tzeentch-based variety. As befits such masters of magic, Warptime and Force Weapons make a frightening combination on Tzeentch Sorcerers, who can use both each player turn. Unfortunately, many units are immune to Force Weapons’ effects with the ridiculous spread-around of Eternal Warriors, but it’s still a powerful effect to be able to hide something like that in a unit and then pounce with it. Nurgle Sorcerers might be able to put that to better use, if you didn’t care about the Force Weapon. And who can forget the Lash Sorcerer, a model whose “OMFG CHEESE!” cries still ring fresh in our ears. Maybe with the Warptime change, we might see Slaaneesh Sorcerers with Warptime instead. …Meh, I didn’t think so either.
Chosen: The Outflank maneuver is high on the list of powerful aspects of 5th edition, but it should not be overlooked by good old fashioned Infiltration. Granted, hiding is going to be nigh-impossible with TLoS bathing the board, but when Infiltration comes after deciding who gets first turn, you can take advantage of knowing you’re going first and get into great firing lanes if you choose to pack forward a ton of Bolters and Plasma Guns.
Chaos Terminators: It is often said that arming all models in the unit differently means that you can waste wounds. However, IMO, this only works if you’re likely to fail those saves in the first place. When you make each model different, you’re basically forcing your casualty removal on models you may not want to die. Terminators are still largely inexpensive, but this seems to be because they come with Power Weapons as standard, while fists are an upgrade that makes them just as expensive as Loyalists, while not as good at a range. Chaos Terminators don’t fill the same role that Loyalist Termiantors fill. Loyalist Marines are a bit lousy in CC and depend far more on ranged firepower due to their measly 1 attack in CC. Chaos Marines, on the other hand, not only start with 2A, but they’re spoilt for choice when it comes to CC support: Khorne Berserkers, Chosen, Daemons (Lesser, Greater, and Prince), Raptors, Defilers, and even Dreads and Possessed. Loyalists really only have Terminators and Assault Marines, so their need for Terminators is far more pronounced. Only in cults, or with obscene amounts of Combi-guns, do Terminators really offer anything unique. Besides, CSMs have Obliterators to cover special firepower needs, so the “I need 5 combi-meltas for anti-tank” argument is a weak one.
Possessed: They’re largely a wildcard unit. If you know exactly what you need to fill the gap in your list, which any good general should be able to pinpoint, you’re better off spending your points to fill that gap rather than getting Possessed who might work for you 1 in every 6 games. The good thing about Possessed is that they’re not hampered by casualty removal because they don’t derive their CC potential from specialist individuals, like Powerfist Champions or Icons (though the latter is always an option). If you’re dead-set on using Possessed, they make good anti-horde units with their base 2 Attacks and Str5. An Icon of Slaaneesh would make them I5, able to strike before most units in CC, while an Icon of Khorne would allow them to maximize the benefits of their Str5 attacks, and even draw saves onto precious enemy specialists. If you want the best use out of them, put them in a Land Raider. A nigh-invincible AV14 360-degree hull and, at worst, a Scout move that launches the LR forward a free 12”. You could disgorge into the enemy in 1 turn! The problem with Possessed that kills them in 5th is the Dawn of War mission. You don’t know what their power is until they’re deployed, meaning that you can’t use their Scout move at all if you land that power. And even with running you’ll have a long walk to whatever objective you need to clear off.
Chaos Dreadnought: The TLed Bolter on the Dreadnought’s hull is a fixed weapon, meaning that if the Dread fire frenzies, it’ll likely have to turn at least 90 degrees to shoot your own guys. You could mitigate this by running another unit forward, ahead of the Dreadnought. The Plasma Cannon is a problem though. Able now to cut through Plague Marines, you probably don’t want that on your Dread. With the new Combat Resolution, Possession and multiple DCCWs is probably your best bet. In fact, if you get lucky enough for Blood Frenzy, you can effectively run twice in one turn. It’s not like you’ll be shooting, and if you hit a Blood Frenzy on Turn 1, you could set yourself up for a nice 2nd or 3rd turn charge.
Chaos Marines: Still the ubiquitous Troops choice, and still probably one of the best Troops in the game. Rhinos are now safer delivery systems for your precious cargo, and these can get you on top of your objectives faster and safer than before. The serious problem they face is putting wounds on models that have special equipment, like Champions, specialist gunners, and most importantly your Icons, none of which are cheap. (In fact, the Powerfist Champ is a downright rip-off.) I’ve found that, if you put your Icon on a Champion, you can consolidate some specialization, and a 3+ save means that the risk is often worth it. You could alternatively use units with sizes larger than 10 to buffer your specialists and to confer the effects of Icons onto even more models than before.
Plague Marines: With 5th edition, Troops being scoring has been one of the most critical hits to many 4th edition meta armies. But Plague Marines are probably one of the best holders there are. Even with the penalties to Feel No Pain, sitting Plague Marines behind some juicy cover can make them virtually immovable. Their Fearlessness combined with their resilience to dakka-style CC attacks means that they aren’t easy to dislodge by any stretch of the imagination, likely requiring the efforts (and possible expenditure) of enemy Elite units. Unfortunately, Plague Marines aren’t as rock-hard as they once were in cover in 4th, as all Frag Grenades have now made all combat charging through cover happen at I-order, a place where Plague Marines largely suffer.
Noise Marines: One of the army’s (and game’s) most infamous dakka-factories, the Noise Marines seem less-needed now that fearless hordes can be ground to a pulp in combats of attrition. However, the fact that Sonic Blasters, the only sonic gun really worth using, have an incredible range and fire rate but low AP means that they can be screened behind lesser Chaos Marines (and Lesser Daemons) and still shoot at anything with a 4+ save or better without any negative penalty. The fact that Massacres can no longer touch new units means that Noise Marines can more often catch enemies within 24” to shred apart with tons of dice. Their lack of AP also applies when shooting at screened enemy units. At that range, even Doom Sirens might find effect! But the Blastmasters take a serious dive. What was once a cross between a Krak Missile and a Plasma Cannon in 4th, the small template isn’t as good as it used to be when you need that hit, and whether it’s worth the huge price tag on an already stupidly-expensive unit is up for personal debate.
Khorne Berserkers: Another candidate for the CSM’s “OMFG CHEESE” award, Khorne Berserkers take their place as one of the game’s hardest-hitting CC units. Running makes them engage even faster than before, a pseudo-fleet as it were, and the removal of the killzone combined with forced countercharge responses means that Khorne Berserkers can flay ranks upon ranks of units just by hitting them. I’ve found that Khorne Berserkers excel at both whittling down large, fearless units (introduce them to 32 Gaunts and you’ll almost surely have a pile of dead bugs behind them when the fight is done) or for dealing so many wounds to units with specialists that the specialists are likely to succumb. They get even better when you transport them in Land Raiders. The assault ramps nearly guarantee safe, 2nd turn assaults. The problem with Berserkers, if there is one, is that they’re too good at killing that they can hit an enemy unit and wipe it out in one bloody assault, leaving the Khorne Berserkers standing around like idiots in front of not a small amount of enemy guns. You can avoid this by charging multiple enemy units, resulting in what will likely be two dead enemy units, chased off by a combined Leadership penalty caused to both units.
A point of interest is that Berserkers’ choice between Fists and Weapons on their Champ isn’t as clear-cut as with other units. Most other Champs don’t have that many attacks, but a Champion of Khorne has 3 base, meaning that they can swing a ton of fist attacks even in protracted combats. What sets them apart is that the Power Weapon strikes at I4 (5 on charge), which contrary to popular belief is a bad thing when the Champion’s unit swings as hard and as frequently as Berserkers do. When Power Weapons swing at the same time as Berserkers, there’s a chance that wily opponents can waste the attacks by stacking them onto the same model because enough wounds can be allocated to others. While it’s a sure-fire way to kill a specialist, your Khorne Berserkers defeat the purpose of the weapon and actually end up making it weaker. (About 3 saves onto any specialist with armor equal to or worse than a Marine and you can bank on a kill on the Specialist.) A fist, on the other hand, will strike at I1, and thus you’re less likely to lose the benefits of ignoring armor on single specialists. The fist is also better for prolonged fights and against big monsters, but to be honest you shouldn’t be attacking big monsters with Khorne Berserkers. CSMs have the luxury of having ample Monstrous Creatures and powerful guns to take down big monsters. Of course, if you need the points that badly, you can always go with naked Berserkers. It’s not like they need one extra attack that badly, or like they’d croak in CC without the Champ’s Ld bonus.
Thousand Sons: Like Plague Marines, they can be used for a screen, though somewhat less effectively due to their Slow and Purposeful blocking the advance of the screened unit. Their AP3 Bolters lose a lot of sting against the cover-hugging units of 5th, making Thousand Sons just very overpriced Marines. A better screen could be found in Tzeentch-Icon Marines or Chosen, who can easily interpose themselves between your fragile unit (Noise Marines, as they don’t mind the screens so much) without being so slow. The plus is that the Aspiring Sorcerer gets the same Warptime + Force Weapon trick as described below, but suffers from the same disadvantages. Worse is that, since S&P counts as charging through cover, and the Aspiring Sorcerer doesn’t have Frag Grenades, the Sorc will go at I1 whenever charging, but will fortunately have the services of the Rubric Marines as bodybags. Big waste of a shooty unit, IMO.
***The rest is in the next post. It all won't fit.***