I refuse to believe that any Codex is useless. If it was useless, no-one would buy it, and so GW wouldn’t produce it, even their business acumen is enough to tell them that. But people do seem to think otherwise. I’ve heard bad things about Chaos Marines, and , yes, in some cases I can understand it, Chaos Dreadnoughts do suck, but in some ways Chaos Marines rock. For example, the power of the Codex is try much in the Troops choices. Other armies have to look to elites (Eldar) or HQs/Special Characters (Draigowing/Loganwing/Deathwing) for their power. But CSM get troops.
Ahh, the much ignored Chaos Marine. Why is he much ignored? Because he is a Tactical Marine, and people aren’t too fond of Tac Squads. Well, he’s not quite a Tac Marine. For a start, he is one point cheeper, and gets and extra point of leadership and a chainsword. However, on the other hand, he loses And They Shall Know No Fear. Conveniently, Aspiring Champions give the unit Ld.10, and the Icon of Chaos Glory should make them stay where you need them.
But why should I take one over a Cult Troop? Well, they are Tac Marine equivalents (TEQs. Yes, I think I’ll start using that), and so are therefore as flexible as their loyalist brethren, but they also get an extra attack. If you want a fighty squad, you can give them the Mark of Khorne or Slannesh, for a more resilient squad, the Mark of Tzeentch (which is better on Terminators) or Nurgle (which is better on bikes). When you combine this with the diversity of their weapon upgrades, you’ve got yourself a squad that can do whatever you need it to.
These are probably my favourite. Weapon Skill 5, Furious Charge and 4 attacks on the Charge, these guys are going to hurt something. A popular set up is to take 8 guys, one of which is a Skull Champion with either a Power weapon or Power Fist in a Rhino. The advantage with a Rhino is that you can put a Combi-melta on top, so they can bag a tank before they get to work on the squishes inside. I have also seen a list where four Land Raiders full of ‘zerkers were taken, which is hugely pointy, but I can’t see any chance of their mobility being removed before you are too close for your own safety.
The drawbacks are, however, that you can’t assault out of a Rhino that has moved that turn. So, either you drive up, get out and stand there for a turn asking for Plasma Guns to shoot you, or you drive up, stop (and probably pop smoke) and pray no-one destroys your Rhino. Also, these guys are 6 points more expensive than a standard Chaos Marine, so expect to invest a lot on these guys.
These are every competitive players favourite. Toughness 4(5), Feel No Pain, Blight Grenades (count as defensive. No, I don’t know either), and the ability to take two special weapons in a five man squad is just too go an offer to pass over, despite the terrible models (they look like someone accidentally melted them with a blow torch). Like all Cult Troops they are also Fearless, so a 7+ squad is going in to be difficult to shift off an objective, especially if they are in a Rhino/Land Raider.
There really are no major downsides to these guys, other than an Initiative of 3, which isn’t a big deal, as the enemy isn’t really going to hurt them, unless he’s brought a unit of Howling Banshees (in which case you’re doomed, in more ways than one) or Plasmavets. They are a lot more expensive than your standard CSM, but you really only have to take five, so the point become moot.
Thousand Sons/Rubic Marines
I think that these guys are really under-rated for what they can do for your army. Above a normal marine all they get is a 4+ Invulnerable save and AP3 on their boltguns. But that AP3 is money. A TEQs chance of killing any form of TEQ is 1/18, where as a Thousand Son has a 1/6 chance. It gets better though. Each squad also come with an Aspiring Sorcerer, who must be equipped with one psychic power. So, you can have Wind of Chaos everywhere, Gift of Chaos everywhere (this is my favourite, as you can have free Spawn popping up everywhere to cause chaos or lock shooty units up in assault), or Bolt of Change everywhere (this is a favourite of many, as it is a close to a meltagun as the Thousand Sons can get. Still can hurt a Land Raider though).
Although awesome, these guys are horrendously expensive. The sorcerer is going to be a minimum of 70pts on his own, before you start adding all the guys and a transport. So, although fantastic, these might not end up as the core you build your army upon.
Emperor’s Children/Noise Marines
Up to this point, every Cult Troop has had a very clear cut purpose. Be it the violent assault of the Bezerkers, the resilient shooting of the Plague Marines, or the MEQ killing awesome sauce (available at all good Woolworths) of the Thousand Sons. But the Noise Marines are without this. So, let’s see what we get for our 20pts: a Fearless, I5 Chaos Marine. Great… However, their are advantages in the form of their upgrades.
The Champion (who gains an extra attack) can buy a power Weapon, allowing for 4, I5 attacks that ignore armour on the charge. He can also take some brilliant ranged options. The Blastmaster can be fired as an Assault 2, Pinning Heavy Bolter with 12″ less range (fail) or a pinning, small blast krak missile (now we’re talking). At S8, AP3, it will instant kill most MEQs on contact, and will then force them to take a pinning test. Or, he can take a Doom Siren, which is an AP3 Heavy Flamer.
The standard Noise Marines can also se upgraded with Sonic Blasters, which are Assault 2/Heavy 3 Storm Bolters for 5 points. I reckon a small squad, in a Rhino, with a Champion with a Blastmaster, and a couple of guys with Sonic Blaster could work well. In fact, I might have to build that army…
the Chaos Marine book is diverse and full of viable options that need a little work to get them to operate to their full potential. Using only Plague Marines is lazy, and I hope I have shown how other troops options work just as well.