The Book of Decay Pt. 2, Chaos Space Marines

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BOOK of DECAY - part 2 Chaos Space Marines
There are several types of Chaos Space Marine forces which work relatively similar.  As such, I have elected to review these together to save both time and energy.  Likewise, each of these units function very differently on the battlefield . In spite of their, their options and their use of these options remains very much the same.  It is unfortunate, though, that these options are some of the weakest for Nurgle players in terms of appropriateness and/or tactical value. 

Icon of Nurgle
Unfortunately, the Icon of Nurgle, like its respective Mark, is limited in its application.  The effects of the Icon upon its unit is minimized by the same restriction s seen in the Mark.  The Icon allows for typical Icon advantages - mainly Daemon Summoning and Deep Striking.  However, when you do the math, the Icon of Nurgle makes the bearing unit very expensive - almost as expensive as Plague Marines, especially at 7 models.  If it weren't for the incredible fluffiness of the Icon, I'd say skip it.  But, in truth, you are most likely better off loading up on Plague Marines.

Champions are only ever good if you plan on getting into close combat.  Remember that.  They offer a minimal bump in Leadership and have a decent selection of close combat weapons.  However, their ranged weapon selection is limited.  Therefore, consider, seriously, how you plan on using the unit.  A Champion can cost as much as another model, so it may be worth it to spend these points elsewhere.  Of course, if you plan on pushing the unit into the enemy for melees, your Champion is your best friend as he can very much augment the combat abilities of the unit.

Special Weapons (Plasma Guns, Melta Guns, Flamers, Plasma Pistols)
Perhaps the most widely available weapons to a Nurgle army are Plasma Guns, Melta Guns, Flamers, and Plasma Pistols.  These four weapons are available to almost every unit.  Plasma Guns are, of course, the primary tool for MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalenthunting.  With the new Feel No Pain rules and the ever-increasing number of units with FNP, they can come in very handy.  The fact that they share Bolter-type firing rules is also very handy.

Melta Guns are the primary tools of the tank hunters and are second to none.  They are restricted only by their range, though the new rules for AP1 weapon damage and their incredible ability to penetrate armor can make up for that...providing you can get close enough. 

Flamers are simple crowd control weapons.  Since Nurgle armies tend to lack bodies and armies, like Orks, tend to have no lack of bodies, Flamers can help us even the odds.  The downside to Flamers is, of course, their short range. 

Finally, Plasma Pistols.  For a while I wondered what advantage Plasma Pistols confer.  They are, as a rule, as expensive as Plasma Guns which are arguably more deadly.  However, there is one area in which Plasma Pistols lend a great advantage: pre-charge shooting.  Plasma Pistols act as a little gift to any unit you want to use in assaults in that they let give you the ability to drop an enemy before charging.  As we tend to lack in terms of power weapons, this can be especially helpful against MEQ's and TEQ's.  Take two or three in units when you're able.

Heavy Weapons (Heavy Bolter, Missile Launcher, Autocannon, Lascannon)
Nurgle armies by nature tend to lack heavy weapons.  Therefore, when you can get your festering little digits on them, that is a good thing.  Heavy Weapons are decently simple to pick.  Some are obvious.  Lascannons are tank hunters, Heavy Bolters mow down enemy infantry.  Missile Launchers are fairly versatile.  Autocannons are a little tougher.  They make good anti Monstrous Creature weapons and are good for taking down light armor.  But, overall, its uses are limited.  Keep in mind that a heavy weapon tends to slow a unit down.  So you need to take this into account when choosing weather or not to take a heavy weapon and which one to take.

Close Combat Weapons (Power Sword, Power Fist, Meltabombs)
Chaos Space Marine close combat weapon options are limited to their Champions (with the exception of the Chosen).  Overall, these weapons are fairly straightforward.  If you are going to use your unit in a multifaceted role or against infantry - use the Power Sword.  If you are fighting Monstrous Creatures or Vehicles, consider the Power Fist.  And if you are tank hunting, Meltabombs are a cost effective option.  I'm not trying to marginalize the Power Fist.  A buried Power Fist is a dangerous weapon by all means.  However, the points pay off considering three things simply makes the Power Sword the better option in my opinion.  These three things are 1) new additional close combat weapon rules, 2) initiative, 3) new wound allocation rules (especially considering 7 model units).

Here is where I will cover Rhinos in depth.  Rhinos provide a conundrum for Nurgle players.  Rhinos are a much-needed mobility option for Nurgle armies.  However, they are also contrary to the infantry-based theme of the list and, as such, fairly un-fluffy.  Players may argue as they see fit, but this is merely the opinion of one Nurgle player. 

If you chose to take a Rhino, I suggest that you keep it cheap.  Rhinos are fairly fragile but are also inexpensive.  Rhino's have a variety of upgrades available, all of which are covered in the vehicle section but none are overly beneficial to the point where they should be deemed viable.  If you want a cheap shooting tank, grab a Predator.  If you want a durable transport, take a Land Raider.  If you want a cheap, expendable transport, take a naked Rhino.

Grrr, Chosen.  I'll be blunt, I'm not a fan of Chosen.  Still, for the sake of argument, I'll review them here.  Chosen, so much potential to be cool but restricted to being the epitome of everything gaudy that makes Chaos Space Marines ineffective.  As an aspirant to the ways of Nurgle, I pride myself in maximizing efficiency while sticking to the fundamental basics of being able to destroy the enemy while minimizing personal damage.

Chosen, in my opinion, violate this theory fundamentally.  Chosen throw the door wide open to all sorts of excess and gaudiness while not being any more durable than any other Chaos Space Marine units.  Don't get me wrong, Infiltrating or Flank Marching these bad boys with a pile of plasma guns or close combat badness is going to be very mean.  However, for their points plus an Icon, you are spending more points than you would on a squad of cult troops for something much less durable than cult troops.

My second main complaint about Chosen is that you cannot take all Champions.  These guys are supposed to be the baddest of the bad, your tough-as-nails aspirants who are serving their Lord just long enough to gain the favor of their god so they can usurp him.  The fact that they are regulated to standard stat lines with one champion and not able to be taken as a retinue just hurts on so many levels.

Overall, I'm giving Chosen a 4/5 for appropriateness.  They are fairly fluffy in terms of being in a Lord's band, however, their poor rules really restrict them from being as awesome in the game as they are supposed to be (see the Terminators entry for an example of what chosen should be).  For tactical contribution, I'm going to tick some players off and give them a 3/5.  They can be decent in certain situations, but it requires specialization and a points sink.  Even with that, you probably won't get these guys to pay off in the long run. 

Chosen Special Weapons
Chosen can take a broad array of weapons - in fact they can take the widest array of any unit available to the Chaos Marines and they can do so in a much higher concentration.  When selecting weapons for your Chosen, I'd strongly recommend that you spam whatever theme you're taking.  The worst thing a player can do with a squad of Chosen is to try to make them a jack-of-all-trades unit.  You can do that with standard CSM Definition: Chaos Space Marinessquads, but Chosen allow for so much specialization that they will get bogged down by their own points costs.

Two weapons unique to Chosen (in regards to the units mentioned in this section) are the Lightning Claw and the Lightning Claw pair.  To be honest, I think that taking a lone Lightning Claw is typically a bad idea.  If you have it, use it.  Grab the pair.  They arefewer points and offer superior attacks in close combat.  I should also mention that the Lightning Claw Pair is cheaper than the Power Fist upgrade as well and outperforms it against most infantry.

Chaos Space Marines
For Nurgle players, Chaos Space Marines offer a rare type of unit which allows us to take ranged heavy weapons.  The downside, is that there is a limit to the minimum size which can take this type of a weapon.  Unfortunately, the comparison between Chaos Space Marines and Plague Marines is unbalanced.  Plague Marines are incredibly durable and have the ability to take multiple special weapons in small squads.  One would think that Chaos Space Marines would carry some sort of benefit such as lower cost or varied weapons options.  The truth is a Nurgle numbered squad of Chaos Space Marines get none of that.  A unit of 7 Chaos Space Marines with the Icon of Nurgle cost only 6 points less than a squad of 7 Plague Marines, have fewer weapons options and are far less durable.

So Nurgle players are left with the decision to either use "unfluffy" units of Chaos Space Marines (units of greater than 7 or without the Icon) or to not use them altogether.

Chaos Space Marines get a 4/5 for appropriateness.  They are, of course, completely reasonable for Nurgle armies.  However, they score only a 2/5 for tactics.  They are simply not efficient unless you are willing to use them in a manner contradictory to Nurgle fluff.

Chaos Bikers
It is really too bad that the idea of Nurglites on bikes is contrary to the overall themes of a Nurgle list.  This is unfortunate because of two things: 1) Nurgle marked bikers are extremely durable and 2) Chaos bikers provide a much-needed burst of speed and mobility.  Overall, I could not fault a Nurgle player who wants to put a unit or two of these bad boys in their list. 

Chaos Bikers should be a few things.  They should be focused and they should be potent.  That is to say that they should have a designated purpose and should be good at it.  For example, if a player wants to build an anti-armor unit, they should max out on Melta Guns and consider either a Powerfist or Meltabombs on their Champion.  If a player wants to build an anti-infantry unit, they should max out on Plasma Guns and consider a Power Weapon and/or Plasma Pistol on the Champion.

Be warned, however, Chaos Bikers are expensive.  A min-maxed unit can run 224 points.  In my opinion, a unit of 7 Plague Marines with Champion (similarly loaded) and 2 Plasma Guns is much more effective and is cheaper.  Still, remember that bikes are Relentless and they can move a lot and fire a lot.

Chaos Bikers get a 2/5 for appropriateness, redeemed only by their high Toughness.  They score a 4/5 for effectiveness due to their durability, potency and their ability to compensate for Nurgle's typical lack of speed.

Raptors are about as far from Nurgle as you can get.  Raptors, by definition, should be unmarked and are very fast.  These two things alone should disqualify them from any Nurgle list.  However, some players may have an urge to use them anyway.  Should you betray Grandfather Nurgle like this, we'll cover them anyway.

Raptors can take pretty standard equipment with the exception of a Lightning Claw Pair.  In all fairness, I don't see another option that makes more sense.  Plasma Guns are probably a bad idea.  Melta Guns or Flamers might be acceptable options.  However, in my opinion, it's better to keep these guys cheap and choppy.  Consider taking a Champion with Lightning Claws and that's all.  This unit should have enough capacity to kill things in close combat to make them worthwhile.

Raptors score a 1/5 for appropriateness for obvious reasons.  They only score a 3/5 for effectiveness, however, because it's very hard to water down the cost for the Icon because of their high cost individually.  This is contrasted with their limited flexibility (pretty much only close combat) and their inability to hold their own out front - like Chaos Bikes can.

Havocs provide Nurgle players with a terrific cache of ranged heavy weapons.  Havocs also excel at small unit sizes (such as Nurgle's precious 7) and they don't necessarily need the Icon of Nurgle to give them durability as they shouldn't normally get into hot spots.  Still, a fluffy unit of Havocs will cost a player almost as much as a Plague Marine unit before any heavy weapons are added.

Still, this is one of those situations where I'm going to take the line of the ends justifies the means.  Nurgle needs ranged weapons.  Havocs have ranged weapons.  It's possible to make a unit of these guys efficient.  Overall, skip the Champion.  He doesn't add anything to the unit.  Focus on maxing out your four heavy weapon spots then use the other three models for ablative wounds.  If you add an Icon, you'll be a little more durable, which might enable Havocs to keep all four weapons firing all game.

For appropriateness, this unit gets a 3/5 due to the fact that they will unable to watch the intimacies of their devastation .  Havocs, however, score a 4/5 for their tactical capacity because, though they are expensive, they offer Nurgle valuable weapons selections.

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