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Chaos Space Marine Legions Review Part 2

The Second half of our look at the Chaos Space marine Legion traits and reveals spotlights the Black Legion, the Word Bearers and the one I've personally been waiting for, the Alpha Legion.

Part 1 covering the Emperor's Children, the Iron Warriors, the Night Lords, and World Eaters is found here. Also apologies for any silly spelling errors, as I'm ill today.

Yes, I blog when I'm sick. Papa Nurgle protects.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Chaos Undivided by Fernoll

Black Legion

I started this off last week trying to figure out a strong case for the Black Legion, and kept coming down to Terminators. After a fashion.

Here is their trait, and I'm just going to quote myself from last week on my gut reaction to it:

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Add 1 Leadership, on Advance Rapid Fire weapons become Assault 

At a glance, this helps your army become a faster moving Chaos force. The old Veterans of the Long War bonus is there, and it's clear there's meant to be symmetry with the Ultramarines chapter tactic.
But here's the thing... auto-bolt rifle armed Intercessors with the Ultramarines Chapter tactic can do exactly the same job as Black Legion Chaos Space Marines for 30 points cheaper AND get to shoot Falling Back from combat. They also get an extra shot.
Apart from the Chaos Space Marines getting to use Plasma Guns as an Assault weapon (of dubious advantage since they'll be exploding on 1s and 2s), there's no benefit to this trait. And if you wanted that, the Hellblasters have an assault gun anyway!
Very unimpressed, as the Black Legion were starting to become a really good Deep Strike, hyper aggressive Legion in 7th. Disappointing to see them come back to being vanilla but worse than Loyalist again.

I actually can't say more than that for them. Your good picks are Terminators and bikes, allowing really swift battlefield movement for the latter whilst still putting out a decent rate of fire. The benefit for Terminators is avoiding being left out of the game. If you've ever dropped a group of Termies into the enemy back line, only to have them spend the rest of the game chasing other people down, then you'll know what I mean.

The other units that really benefit from this are two of the cult Marine groups. The Plague Marines are a great tar pit or damage sponge for their points, equally effective at range or in melee. This Legion Trait can get them right to where they need to be faster.

By the same token, the differently tough Rubric Marines of the Thousand Sons can advance and use their good bolters (at least a little bit!). A neat way to counter the slightly slower movement speed they have, without piling them into a transport and negating the use of their Sorcerer.

It's worth noting that faster movement across the battlefield without the crutch of transports is always welcome. Your regular Marines will be faster... it's just that Loyalist Space Marines do it better.

The Warlord trait is of dubious benefit as well.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Death to the False Emperor triggers on 5+ 6-inches from the Warlord

The trait is very cool and thematic, but it only works against Imperials. Granted, about 2/3 of your opponents will BE Imperials, but really not impressive.

The Stratagem is copy/paste from the Space Marine Codex. Basically Ultramarines.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Re-roll 1s for To-Hits in shooting and fight phase. Re-roll failed hits if Chaos Space Marine squad

Yay? Good because you can get 3 plasma guns into a 10 man Chaos Space Marine squad, but there are better ways to get firepower from special weapons. Now if that Stratagem was for Terminators, as the Black legion were renowned for their Termies, that would have made for a very powerful alpha strike unit.

Abaddon is noted in the release, but if an army can't stand up without leaning on special characters then something has gone wrong. I'm generally against using special characters in armies, as they detract from Your Dudes.

Overall, underwhelming for the premier Bad Guys of 40K, but some neat tricks you can pull with the more exotic troops.

Word Bearers

Black Legion have always been  considered the most vanilla of the Spikey Marines. However, the Word Bearers have taken hold of their Horus Heresy development in full and are now the best candidate for "standard" Chaos Space Marines... if such a thing is possible.

Their trait is simply And They Shall Know No Fear:

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Re-roll failed Morale tests
Which on the surface seems fairly terrible compared to the Loyalists. But then you need to consider marks and icons. Well, one of them really. Icon of Fury basically turns your Chaos Space Marines into spiky Black Templars.

That summon demons more easily.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Re-roll any dice in the Daemonic ritual. Also no Perils on rolls!
And have dragon robots, dinosaur robots, and don't mind the psykers in general.

Frankly, out of all the traits we've covered so far this lends itself to be the most flexible. If you're not sure which way you want to go, or which specialism, Word Bearers are going to be your Legion of choice.

Different icons can let you dabble a bit in the other Legions:
  • Flame for testing out Mortal Wounds in the psychic phase as a transition to full on psyker play. 
  • Despair for trying out Night Lord fear mechanic shenanigans.
  • Excess for... Black Legion I guess? 
  • Fury for all of the close combat Legions.
They have a few more bits and pieces in their reveals, but these all have analogues within the Space Marine codex... and actually a lot of similarity with the Black Templars. If you wanted "Space Marines But Evil", the Word Bearers are really what you need. And since they have slightly better access to daemons, they really are more Evil Marine than the Black Legion.

I'm just going to mention Tide of Traitors here, even though it isn't strictly a Word Bearer stratagem. For the cost of two Command points you can bring back 40 cultists from death on your enemy's flank.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
2 Command Points brings back your cultist squad on the enemy's flank

The kicker from this is that the unit isn't destroyed, meaning your opponent doesn't get victory points for it.

So imagine this: an unholy (literally) blob of autoguns marches in front of your power armour as human shields, and just as they're about to die out they teleport to behind your enemy and rapid fire 80 shots into the enemy artillery.

Proceed to cackle with glee.

Just as a little incentive, this blob can be made with two purchases. Nearly £60, but so worth it for the look on your opponents face! And if they get snippy about saying only half are armed with autoguns, just remind them they're rag tag rebels, and those pistol looking things are "home-improved".

And of course, that works just great with...

The Alpha Legion

These are hands down my favourite Legion, and only second to the White Scars in my mind. They specialise in subterfuge, terrorism and integration into the populace. They literally bring down a world from within. How does an 8-foot tall power-armoured warrior do that without getting noticed?

They're just that good.

They also have a weird history, and no-one is quite sure where their allegiance lies. It may even be that individual cells of the Alpha Legion have different allegiances. To make the point clear, their war cry is "For the Emperor!". Although they may just be saying that to confuse their enemy.

They're so mysterious that the story of Alpharius, their Primarch, being discovered has three different versions, all of which are true. And what makes matters worse? All their leaders are Alpharius. And their sergeants are Alpharius. And even their regular troopers.

So how does the crunch support this fluff?

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
-1 To Hit if more than 12" away
Copy/pasted from the Raven Guard, this receives similar criticism and benefits to all the other Chaos Legions. They don't have the And They Shall Know No Fear, making them less point efficient than the Loyalists, but they have access to Marks and Icons making them far more flexible.

Raven Guard are probably very jealous of the Alpha Legion Raptors with an Icon of Fury, who can hide in the shadows as well as they can, and then make their charge better than they can. Winged Deliverance indeed!

The coolest thing is going to be the Warlord trait:

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Pure trolling
The enemy needs to chop their way through every single one of your characters to get that Slay the Warlord point, and with the trait allowing you to roll on the regular Warlord trait table, it's essentially a free upgrade!

You trade sureness of your build for a little bit of security here, with the great benefit being able to throw your Warlord into danger more easily than other armies. That teleporting Terminator Lord may seem risky to a Black Legion commander, whereas for you it's just another cunning decoy by Alpharius.

It fits the Alpha Legion that only two parts of their list are unveiled properly now, with just the snippet of their unique stratagem given out. Quoting from Warhammer Community:
"The beauty of the Alpha Legion is flexibility. Take advantage of the versatility of Chaos Space Marines by deploying far away from combat armies or close to shooting armies with Forward Operatives."
This is likely to be the same Stratagem as the Raven Guards, where you can spend a command point to put a unit into an unusual deployment. You can use this in a similar way to the Raven Guard (assault unit in charge range [Icon of Fury!!], plasma Chosen in Rapid Fire range etc.) or some absolutely horrible tricks unique to Chaos.

First up: Death Guard in front of the enemy lines. Or Khorne Beserkers. Or Thousand Son warp flame bolters. Fun, but predictable.

How about a blob of 40 cultists?

Which come back on the enemy flank?

Have a think about that.

The rest of the reveals for the Alpha Legion are generic ones:

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Shoot twice at nearest unit if you didn't move
Fire Frenzy is a fun way of getting more dakka out of your Hellbrutes, but the command point is probably better spent elsewhere.

chaos space marines 8th edition codex legion traits stratagems black legion alpha legion word bearers
Swap your powers!
Chaos Familiar is very nice. Being able to swap psychic powers on the fly is incredibly strong, meaning your psykers will never lack utility. Having a few psykers dotted around the field with this Stratagem means you'll always have access to your full tool belt.

And this is why I've put these three Legions together in this post. Whilst the previous ones ha a lot of benefits in their respective specialisms, these ones really highlight the advantage of Chaos against their Loyalists counterparts: adaptability and flexibility.

Space Marines with the Primaris coming down the line are becoming more inflexible. Intercessors, Inceptors and Hellblasters do one thing, and do it quite well. Chaos, by chopping and changing marks, are the opposite. Even their psykers can change their battlefield impact on the fly!

If you like to come up with quirky strategies, or unusual synergies, Chaos is going to be for you. Whilst on the surface they may seem to be less strong than the Loyalists, remember that even their most flexible Chapters have a plan and stick to it.

You can make things a bit more Chaotic.

Renegades and Fallen tomorrow.

Until next time!

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