Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 2

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In Part 1 of this Tactica, we covered which units to take against the pure combat focus of a Khorne army and with an idea of what your list includes, let’s now look at deploying and using them effectively.

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I’m a firm believer in having a strong core at the heart of your army with everything else flowing around it – the expendable stuff, and that word synergy is at its most prominent at this point as you will want as many of your units as possible to benefit from your ability ‘bubbles’ and not have to spend time shuffling about after the game starts to get into range.

By keeping your core intact you can still win even if the rest of your army gets smeared into a fine red paste, which is still a very real possibility no matter how well you’ve prepared.  This core will of course tend to be your slower foot troops who don’t tend to move much, backed up by their support elements which make them better, and the simple diagram below shows that by deploying them in a compact line with the Celestial Hurricanum behind them, all three infantry blocks will be benefitting from the +1 to hit in combat.  The white squares in the Greatsword unit represent characters which can also then spread their influence to these units – namely the re-rolling of Leadership tests provided by your Battle Standard Bearer and the increased Leadership of 9 provided by your General in the shape of an Arch Lector. This entire group is now re-rolling its Leadership tests on an unmodified Ld of 9 (through Steadfast and Stubborn) whilst hitting back on 3’s with a ton of Strength 4 and 5 attacks. The Lector is also granting Hatred to the Greatswords and can also cast a prayer on them either increasing their chances to wound or improving their survivability. It would take a brave enemy General to charge headlong into that and he will bleed for the damage he inflicts – and seeing as you have around 110-120 wounds in that formation he’ll be hard pressed to outlast you.

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Once you throw in your Archer Detachments that can range in front of your line, you should be able to divert enemies units looking to charge you and set up favourable flank charges for when you do want to step out of formation.  This core also has the benefit of accounting for a significant proportion of your points making it harder for your opponent to achieve a victory and easier for you to avoid defeat.

Some of your more combat capable units can also act as powerful deterrents to those who think themselves strong enough to break your core.  For example, a Steam Tank makes a brilliant protector of this formations flank, it’s hard as nails and unbreakable letting you focus on what’s in front of you.  A counterattacking unit of Demigryphs or Knights can also fulfil this role.

If circumstances are permitting, always endeavour to get a unit of Demigryphs in a position to flank the enemy. This doesn’t have to be out on a flank necessarily, simply using a piece of terrain to hide behind waiting for the enemy to come past is just as, if not more useful.  At worst it delays your enemy as he doesn’t want to get flanked, at best you get to pull off a devastating charge that can roll right up a battle line.

You should always try to place your cannons out on the flanks and this is for two reasons. Many opponents forget to look sideways across a battlefield when moving their army forwards and often assume you will shoot the unit directly in front of the Cannon in an effort to keep them alive. Whilst this is an option, shooting across the battle field into the flanks of units of Skull Crushers and Chaos Knights is far more damaging to your opponent.  Your Cannons’ days are numbered as your opponent will do much to remove them as a threat as quickly as possible, so their only job is to inflict as much damage as possible before they go. The other reason to put them on the flanks plays into this.  They’re a great distraction and buy the rest of your army time while they’re being dealt with – and if they’re way out on a flank it’s even longer before their disposers get back into the fight.  I usually deploy the small halberdier units with my cannons to buy them another turn or two of firing to really soften up the enemy before they go and make sure my opponent has to commit a significant unit or two to deal with them – playing even further into reason two.

In the compressed battle line below, you can see the core formation in the centre – although it can be positioned anywhere – supported by the Steam Tank and unit of Knights protecting its flanks. These, and any other units, moving to assist the centre also have the advantage of coming under your ability bubbles too, further adding to their potential.  The Cannons are way out wide supported by the small halberdier units and the Demigryphs are well placed on either side to support either the centre by arcing around or the flank if necessary, or even to advance forwards and punch a hole through vulnerable points through the enemy line.  You can also see how a simple copse of trees can be hidden behind to set up a trap for any unit advancing on the core formations, with the screen of skirmishing archers being used to pull enemy units into favourable positions for flank or dual charges.

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By angling the archers correctly, you should be able to ensure a flank charge at least somewhere along the line and your opponent will likely be hoping to pass his Ld tests to stop his frenzied units charging into your traps.  Don’t be afraid to advance your skirmish screen aggressively to take the initiative away from your opponent who is used to having it when playing with such an offensive army. By getting those archer units high up the board you can clog up his approach with unexpected combats or slowed units trying to avoid getting into combat with them, and then overrunning into your lines unsupported.

The elements not visible in the diagram such as the Helblaster, Outriders etc. can be placed where they are needed as your enemy deploys.   If you can see he’s going to try to rush your core in force, put your Helblaster down in the centre to really make him suffer – or even abandon his plan. If he’s emphasizing (refusing) a flank, you should have an opportunity for your Outriders to find a prime firing position. A lot will depend on how your opponent deploys so try to keep your best stuff until the end. Things like Halberdiers and Knights aren’t going to hold many surprises with where they go, but the likes of Demigryphs and Steam Tanks are crucial units so try to get favourable match ups across the board to maximise their damage potential – and your opponent will be doing the same as he will be fully aware of the danger these units possess. Steam Tanks need to avoid anything with multiple high strength attacks like Slaughterbrutes, Dragon Ogres and tooled up characters. Demigryphs should simply avoid wasting their offensive power on grinding down units in multiple rounds of combat.  They are the point of the blade and if applied correctly should be able to take on almost any unit if they avoid a frontal charge.

The army is also surprisingly offensive when needed, with three mounted offensive units plus a Steam Tank battering ram, you can really take the initiative when the time comes and launch a crippling counter attack to carry the day.  Look for gaps or vulnerable points in the enemy line, as charges are made these holes will appear and capitalising on those moments to get a unit in behind his line will create a real headache as to how to deal with them – all the while you’re pounding him with black powder and magic.

Don’t be afraid to feed your expendable units into his to buy you the time you need to whittle him down with your shooting and get into position with your best units.  Expendable covers everything that isn’t in your core formation – even things like the Demigryphs.  As long as they are buying you an advantage with their sacrifice, you know that by protecting your core (which accounts for around half your victory points) you can still win.

The trick is to get him to underestimate your army.  Let him think he can roll over any unit you’ve got without consideration with his hulking combat monsters, ignoring the risks of charging across the board as fast as he can [With a Khorne army one doesn’t have much choice in the matter. – Ed].  Capitalising on his overconfidence and haste in avoiding warmachine fire will let you dictate where the combats happen and with who. Constantly deflect his best units, either into flank traps or off the board to waste their time, and only taking them on when the circumstances are in your favour.  Do this and you will win the battle.

Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 1

 

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAs we near the end of our ‘Tale of Two Armies’ series, I thought it would be helpful for those interested to put the lessons I have learnt into a Tactica article of sorts – but one that focuses on tackling a specific opponent. This is the first part of that article which will cover general army selection against a foe which favours combat over all else, with the second part moving on to deployment and tactics.

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I’ve enjoyed a large amount of success in the series of games Phil and I have played out, only losing once in the first game – to a total bloodbath where but a single Chaos Warrior was left standing at the end, a Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one.  This was in stark contrast to how I thought the series was going to go after the decision was taken to do it and getting my hands on the army books.  I still stand by what I said in my Empire Army Book review, the subtleties of the changes in the Empire book still leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth knowing what the author’s motivations were, and the fact that the list suffers from significant imbalances corroborates my opinions when paired with the Chaos book.

I feel a large portion of my success was actually down to Phil’s choice of which Chaos God to theme his army on as much as it is to my playing ability. Playing as Khorne is certainly a limitation – at least when it comes to playing the Empire.  I’m sure it would have been harder for me to succeed if I was playing against say, an Undivided list, with all its magical gizmos and tailoring potential – it has a hideously powerful potential in the hands of someone willing to throw any kind of theme or fluff out the window. The lack of any shooting or magic are both huge advantages to an Empire player as you don’t have to invest any of those precious points into protecting yourself from those elements and can focus more on directly dealing with the biggest threats you know you’ll face. But anyway, on to what I’ve learnt which will hopefully benefit those budding Empire General’s out there for the times when they’ve run into an army of Khorne frothing at the mouth.

Army List Selection

Games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle can be won and lost before a dice is even rolled, the choices you make in building your list will have a significant say in how easy or hard your games will be to win.

Frenzied Khorne units are like lawnmowers when it comes to the green grass of the Empire.  Most of your soldiers will die horribly by the wagon load in a stand up fight – you will typically be striking last, with inferior weapon skill, lower strength, and with far less attacks. You will need numbers, and it will be crucial to get your units working together – synergy is a term used a lot with Empire armies and harnessing it is the key to victory.

For your Core, you will need at least one, maybe two, big blocks of State Troops to act as both an anchor for your battle line and an anvil to break the enemy on.  They will need to hold their ground in the face of the whirlwind of death that will inevitably hack its way to them, at least 40-50 bodies if you’re going down the single block route.  I personally prefer to go with two units of 35-40 but that’s what works for me against my opponent and it can be hard to maintain character support across the two of them which we will come onto a bit later.  Which type of State Troops to use for this depends on your style of play, but there are some definite good and bad choices when it comes to deciding which to field.

Swordsmen are the most durable being able to make full use of shields that also provide them with a parry save, plus having an extra point of WS meaning Marauders and Hounds only hit you on 4+ instead of 3+ adds to their durability. They are great for absorbing attacks but will kill very little in return, particularly against anything wearing Chaos Armour.  They are an ideal choice for a true anvil with which to hold the enemy against, but are also the most expensive in points per man.

Halberdiers can actually kill something occasionally, but will die doing so. The extra strength helps with causing wounds and also getting through the thick armour you’ll face. However, the inability to use a shield at the same time as a Halberd means they die very quickly. For a mere 6 points they are generally considered to be the best all round choice in any Empire Army – shields are only worth taking against armies with lots of shooting so leave them behind against Chaos and take more bodies instead.  They are probably the best choice against Chaos.

Spearmen give you many attacks – albeit with very little chance of success against the high toughness and armour saves.  The Spears also make them very static and completely defensive as they only work if they don’t charge. They are the worst choice against Chaos, limited in their usefulness to only the weaker units, which are few in a Chaos army.

To back up your block/s you can add in detachments if you so choose – although there is a lot of debate as to whether they are worth it anymore after the changes made to them. My opinion is generally no, with one exception. There is a definite use for smaller 10/15/20 man units in the army, for sure, but now without the benefit of the auto flank counter charge rule, attaching them to parent units means they often just provide additional squishy bodies for your opponents superior troops to kill and gain yet more combat resolution with – that goes double for Chaos units, and triple for Khorne.  Add in all the Psychology involved with having them in amongst your line means I rather have the flexibility of taking small units on their own.  Independent 10 man Halberdier units (cheap) are fantastically useful and can be used as warmarchine protectors, charge redirectors, speed bumps, flank protectors etc.  Easily worth the measly 60 points they cost per unit.  The exception is for the lowly Archer – they’re brilliant.  They can range in front of the army and become a very irritating distraction for your opponent who must overcome their charge redirecting and blocking. Panic isn’t a problem when they die as they are out in front and the fact they can shoot is just a bonus which lets them soften up the hounds which are usually tasked with removing them.  Costing as little as 35 points in units of 5 makes them invaluable at buying you time – they are one of the most important units available to the Empire.

The rest of the ranged State Troops unfortunately are poor.  They are now very expensive for what they do and against a Khorne army with no real shooting or magic to worry about the more fragile Outriders are a much better choice.  10 Handgunners costs you 90 points for 10 shots, 5 Outriders cost you 105 points for 15 shots – all at the same equivalent BS.  Plus the Outriders get a free move at the start of the game to get into a better position, and also have horses for if they ever do need to move again – which you should avoid.

Knightly Orders are decent. The 1+ armour save is still very hard for even Chaos Warriors to get through, just stay away from Chaos Knights, or worse Skull Crushers,  who will still make a mess of them. You can also choose to equip them with Greatswords as you’ll be striking last anyway, but losing the 1+ save is a big decision as it’s their biggest strength. They won’t win in a head on charge against most units but get them in a flank and they will be hard to shift – particularly the Stubborn Reiksguard who can pin a unit in place almost indefinitely.  Their problem is they struggle to deal out enough damage and need character support if you want them to charge through units of any significance – mounted Warrior Priest’s help them massively with their Hatred.

One of, if not the best units available to you will be the Demigryph Knights – they are the one truly combat capable unit available to the Empire and can eat their way through almost anything if you play them right – just don’t forget you’re playing Chaos who are also very combat capable.  If you’re careless with them they will die just as quickly as anything else in the Empire army. Their armour-piercing beaks are tailor-made to beat Chaos units, get them in a Flank and watch them go – its carnage. Take two units if possible.

Warmachines are fairly straight forward.  The Steam Tank is a beast and you should always take it when possible.  Its hull mounted cannon is a bonus but it’s the D6 plus D3 impact hits per steam point used in moving when it charges is where the real use is. Plough it into units like Chaos Knights and Warriors and watch it mangle them – but stay away from Dragon Ogres unless you’re confident of crippling them in the impact.  Their S7 Great Weapons can do a lot of damage and at 4 wounds each are still durable despite the lack of decent armour or high toughness. The steam turret is still useful against Chaos despite their smaller units and generally high toughness.  One bad roll for armour saves can still be crippling if you ramp it up to S4 so keep an eye out for opportunities to use it.

Take at least one Cannon, preferable two – there’s multitude of fast-moving units with either high armour or multiple wounds running around for you to shoot at: Skull crushers, Dragon Ogres, Chariots, Chaos Knights, Slaughterbrutes etc. Back these up with a Volley Gun and Engineer (he’s a must).  Chaos players are terrified of the Helblaster and rightly so – it can and will remove entire units when it fires using the Engineers BS and re-roll, and will also act as an area denial weapon.

A few other things I’ve found useful are Greatswords and the Celestial Hurricanum.  Greatswords are a 50/50 for a lot of Empire players as they’re expensive, but against Chaos Warriors their weapons can wreak havoc against their tough units. Put a Battle Standard bearer in the unit and they will (almost) never ever run away. Cold blooded, unmodified leadership 8 with a re-roll is nearly impossible to break and it’s easier to just slay the entire unit, and although expensive they are very hard to get points out of because of this.  The Hurricanum enjoys the benefit being something of a wild card as well providing some reliable effects. The +1 to hit 6” bubble is valuable beyond measure for your troop blocks and means that when you do finally get to hit back, those numbers you’ve sunk your points into will do some serious damage.  It also provides an extra power dice to help get those all-important spells off, and that means the random weather spell is a bit of a bonus afterthought really – you’d take it for the first two reasons alone.

And last but no means least, we have the characters – Empire armies rely very heavily on them and thankfully they’re cheap.  First up is a Captain upgraded to a Battle Standard Bearer and he really is non-negotiable as it will be the rock of your entire army. Back him up with as with a few Warrior priests where you think you’ll need them and you should have a pretty formidable formation all benefitting from each others abilities. After you include the previously mentioned Engineer for the Helblaster, you just need some Magical firepower in the form of some wizard levels – Level 2 or more, it’s up to you really. As you don’t have to worry about any spells coming back your way you can put as much or as little into magic levels as you want. Lore of Metal really hurts Khorne with their sky-high armour saves so I take at least one Wizard with that lore in my army. The biggest choice you will face in your character selection is who to make your general.  A Wizard Lord gives you access to the very desirable Ld 9 and can hang back from the battle line relatively safe.  Another good choice is to make one of the Warrior Priests an Arch Lector, who can sit in your battle line and benefit the whole formation with his leadership and prayers – just remember to protect him adequately.

Things like Grand Masters and Generals are good but typically being mounted they tend to move away from your force so the army doesn’t usually benefit from the leadership bonus.  Sitting still in units are a waste of points for what a cheaper character can do – and if you do want them to go charging off to plough through enemy units you really have to invest the points in his unit and his magic items – which all significantly weakens the rest of your army.  Besides, who’s stupid enough to actually go chasing a Khorne army?

So based on what I’ve gone over, in a 3000 point list you should have a unit roster looking something like this:

Captain – BSB

Wizard/s

Engineer

Arch Lector/Warrior Priests/s

Halberdier Block  x2

Small Halberdier Unit  x2

Inner Circle Knights Block

Archer detachment  x2

Demigryphs  x2

Greatsword Block

Outriders

Great Cannon  x2

Steam Tank

Helblaster Volley Gun

Celestial Hurricanum

Don’t be under any illusions, its hard work getting it all to fit – there just never seems to be enough points when making Empire lists – but it can be done. Some sacrifices will need to be made depending on how many magic levels you want or how many points you wish to invest in magic items.  A few things can easily be trimmed to free up points like the Outriders or one of the small halberdier units, but by including at least most of the units above you should have a flexible and tough army that your opponent will struggle to do any meaningful damage to.

In the next part we’ll look at deploying the army to get the maximum benefit out of each unit and how to use them once battle is joined.

-Lee

Chaos Warriors – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyLee and I have been hard at work building and painting the first 500 points of our armies in time of the deadline at the end of the month at which point we shall attempt to kick each other’s faces in across a 4×4 board.

Needless to say, a part of this adventure is looking at and reviewing the units featuring in our armies as we add to them. I kicked things off a little while ago with the review of the plastic Chaos Lord and so it seems only logical to next look at the main stay of most Warriors of Chaos armies…the Chaos Warriors.

Warhammer-logoNow, the last time I owned a unit of Chaos Warriors they were the first multipart models to come out back in the days yo got piles of toys for £15. They had metal halberds, standard and champion weapons and just as I was getting out of the game those metals were replaced with plastic icons etc. They were, to a man, units of hunched, awkward, malnourished, looking fellows but at the time, they were the best basic models Chaos had going. But they were a bugger to build and rank up thanks, in part to the huge amount of freedom the old kit gave you. And because the standard-bearer and champion fell over with an unpleasant thud every time the unit was moved they were annoying to use too.

So what of the ‘new’ kits? I appreciate they’re not new but they’re new to me and I’ve not properly looked at the before.

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Having the battalion box allowed me to compare the frames to the newer plastic knights and in that respect they’re showing their age. The new knights are extremely tightly packed by comparison.

Either way, you get 12 blokes for your money which for Chaos Warriors is more than enough to kick face. I did get myself the box of three warriors to juice the unit to a full 15 but that’s another story.

The most obvious thing about the kits is they are a colossal, massive, giant zero gravity leap forward from the last kit. For a start they’re standing up straight so that’s an improvement. They’re also much easier to build. The difference between the old kits and the new is that you only have to worry about sticking hands holding weapons and shields into sockets set into the torso. The up shot is that aside from looking fantastically intimidating, they all rank up very nicely together.

 

It gives gamers the options of building units with a hand weapon and shield or two hand weapons. There’s also enough axes and other blunt instruments to make the units suitably Khorne, which is good news for me. However, the stiff ranks and limited weapon and shield options do, on the surface, can make the warriors a bit faceless and repetitive. But that too has its advantages, especially as hordes of Chaos Warriors should be faceless and repetitive. It also means that once you’ve got your colours and technique down you can smash through a unit in a weekend, providing there are no interruptions.

However, with a slight adjustment of a weapon or the turn of the head you can add in the subtle variations across the unit which tell a story far greater than one would expect.

The look of the Chaos Warriors are a nice evolution and find the balance between knights on foot from a time past and group of double hard bastards with the winds of foul Gods at their backs. The broad stance, when ranked up, give off an implacable feel that promises extreme and unrelenting violence, weapons held up before them almost mechanical in nature just adds to the menace.

But my favourite part of the Chaos Warrior kit, buy a mile, are the helmets. They’re an evolution not only of the helmets from the previous metal kits but all the Chaos Warrior models that came before it and, obviously, the metal knights that replaced the truly rubbish metal/plastic regiments that came out at the same time as the old Chaos Warrior box. Some feel more Chaotic in nature, others are the warping the helms of the warriors of the North. There’s that perfect blend of hand-made and warp spawned influence. And those heads go a surprisingly long way to giving the models their intimidating feel over all the other components.

Because of the simple design and build the models are straight forward enough to paint with the shields, heads and detailing on the armour offering up enough variation that you won’t go completely mental building and painting them.

In game terms Chaos Warriors couldn’t be more essential if you tried especially with the new rules surrounding initiative and the fact that Chaos Warriors are initiative 5. And they have 2 attacks. Or, in my case, 3. With the right load out, at the right moment, Chaos Warriors would crush just about anything they come into contact with from any core section of any army book in the game. But 14 points a model, plus upgrades, one would bloody well hope so. They’ve also got Chaos armour back – something that was taken out of the last Chaos book I owned – so they’ll be difficult to kill. Which is nice.

The Chaos Warriors box is a brilliant kit with some nicely sculpted and intelligently designed models inside. They are hands down my favourite regiment box in the entire Fantasy range. It was these models that had me fixed on doing a Chaos army the second Lee and I discussed A Tale of Two Gamers. And seeing as they’re such a brutal and immovable core unit for my army, I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

The Chaos Warriors box is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.00.

 

 

Warriors of Chaos – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyA Tale of Two Armies is well under way now – I’ve even painted something (review to follow) – and the next step is to review the army books. First up is Warriors of Chaos. I use to collect these bad boys back when you could take daemons and Beastmen. You could also only use a Hellcannon with your opponents permission. And it was made of metal. And weighed a tonne. When it wasn’t falling apart.

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Since then there’s been a couple of rule books and a couple of army books and it’s been all change in many ways. Daemons have their own book, Beastmen have their own book and Warriors of Chaos is written by someone who overpowers the armies he likes and screws over the armies he doesn’t. I refer, of course, to Robin Cruddace. I can point fingers because (A) I use to work with him and (B) It’s his fault the faith point system exists for Sisters of Battle. An army he collects it’ll surprise you to hear.

Fortunately for me Robin likes Chaos in Fantasy. So much so that I almost feel embarrassed to be fielding the army at all. But more on that later.

This is the first hardback Warhammer Armies book I’ve properly looked at I have to say I think the format suits Fantasy much better than 40k. Don’t get me wrong, the 40k books are still wonderfully presented but the old-fashioned styling just suits Warhammer.

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Credit where credit’s due for the first time ever I find that I understand the Warriors of Chaos as a people. In the old days the background largely pointed towards disgruntled and disillusioned knights of Bretonnia and nobles of the Empire buggering off in search of glory or just someone’s face to kick. Building on the work done with the Libre Chaotica, the Warriors of Chaos now feel like a nation all of their own rather than a vague wasteland full of stuff and things.

It also has the added effect of stripping any shred of nobility of redemption from the army. Gone are the days of players fielding an army with a back story where the lord is just misunderstood or he’s fighting for Chaos but really he’s a good guy and he’s doing it to save the soul of his sister’s neighbour’s best friend’s dog. The tribesmen of the North are all a mad bunch of blood thirsty bastards. The downside of this is that, as an army, they’re now harder to relate to. Obviously that’s not uncommon in a fantasy wargame but as it’s a human faction, of sorts, that can be a bit of an issue for some gamers. I certainly wrestled with the fact that there was nothing even slightly redeemable about the army now. It’s by no means a complaint but if you’re a gamer that needs to have a cause to fight for, Warriors of Chaos may not be for you.

As I say, things have moved on and everything feels, perversely, much more sensible. Although it does get laid on a bit thick that there are hundreds of thousands of big beasties that’ll gobble you up and use your bones as toothpicks. Which is fine but it does beg the question: how have any of the marauder tribes survived? I mean if there are that many monster and they’re all massive, gribbly and nigh on unkillable how they hell is anyone left? But that aside, I feel like one could not only choose a marauder tribe to base their army on but have the freedom to invent their own fairly confident that they can create something compelling  and without flying in the face of the background.

The Realm of Chaos also feels more coherent now. Mr Cruddace has gone to lengths to divide the three ‘kingdoms’ of Chaos between Troll Country, the Northern Wastes and the Realm of Chaos. These aren’t new but they all just felt like an extension of each other – one and the same thing. It has the added benefit that it clarifies the pecking order somewhat. Lords and other mentalists have, at some point, been in the Realm of Chaos. The bulk of your army occupies the Northern Wastes and all the bonkers shit lives in Troll Country. Simples.

Which brings me on to the army list and the aforementioned near embarrassment. Now, even back in my earlier years of Warhammer, Chaos have been nails. Those nails, for this iteration, seem to be tipped with industrial diamonds. Everything has gotten much cheaper. And everything vaguely Chaos Warrior shaped get to be initiative 5. Considering combat is now fought in initiative order now that makes most of the army utterly ridiculous and the rest still pretty awesome. Throw in high weapon skill largely across the board, more attacks than everyone else, good leadership free Chaos armour and it all starts to feel like your opponents have quite the mountain to climb. And just to really brighten the day of everyone not collecting Chaos armies, Marauders are now only 1 point more expensive than an Empire swordsman but have a point better weapon skill and a point better initiative. Which makes them horrid. Chuck in some flails and it gets worse. Granted they’ll probably die in droves as they lack armour but at 6 points basic they’re amazing value.

Chuck in the fact that the characters have been juiced and their magic items have got cheaper. Not just a bit cheaper though. The sword of change – which may as well come with Lords and Heroes as standard because it’s that good – is 40 points cheaper. 4. 0. Fucking really?! Even as someone collecting a Chaos I feel guilty about fielding that combination. That’s not to say that they get everything their own way but the point of difference is barely worth mentioning.

The marks are still unpleasant although one of the nastiest now being Nurgle as units attacking them suffer a -1 to hit. Which although isn’t quite the same as +1 Toughness it’s, I think, worse as most models in Warhammer are already struggling to wound Chaos Warriors anyway. Throw in making it hard to hit, on top of the usual modifiers for range etc and they become a very difficult army to kill with shooting which is where most armies have some shred of an edge over Warriors of Chaos.

There’s also piles and piles of characters and big beasties now. Too many I hate to say. Reading through the bestiary I found myself getting rather bored. This is partly to do with Mr Cruddace’s poor writing. The phrases ‘torn to pieces’ & ‘ripped to shreds’ had been used at least once a page for the first 15 pages. The standard of the writing swings wildly between clumsy and an attempt to imitate Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s knack for extreme graphic violence. The result is much of the descriptions all seem a bit unnecessary and blunts the impact that some of the more brutal units should make. Coupled with the commercially leaning unit/monster options and it is, as mentioned, an embarrassment of riches.

By the time I got to the Warshrine, Mutalith and Slaughterbrute I’d already established that the army was extremely powerful for the points value. Not over powered, I hasten to add, because they are supposed to be bonkers and a genuine challenge to break the back of. But the big kits just seemed to be in there because they were big kits not because they actually filled a requirement in the army list. And they’re proper bonkers so you’d be mad not to take them – which again, seems a tad commercial and one of two reasons why I won’t take them. The first being the models look rubbish. I wouldn’t go so far as to say something with a daemonic flavour shouldn’t be in the book as I certainly miss that side of things compared to the book I last owned. But such big beasties coupled with the giant, trolls and ogres makes a veritable menagerie of mentalness which is a bit over the top. That said they do allow for some pretty cool themed armies with those models as centerpieces.

I do love the Skullcrushers though. The models look brilliant but even if they weren’t the rules would make me buy them. Who wouldn’t want a mentalist Chaos Warrior on top of mentalist daemonic monstrous cavalry that is as capable as its rider at kicking face. And it causes fear. Which is awesome.

Warriors of Chaos, then is a fairly brutal army book. The units are all tough to fight and tough to kill. They’re also not very expensive compared to what you get for the points in other armies. Equally the magic items have gotten cheaper but there are fewer of them. And the truly bonkers stuff doesn’t appear to have made the cut. Which is no bad thing. Although a few of the fairly bonkers items have unnecessarily been juiced to become bonkers in their stead.

And the final thing to wind up everyone who doesn’t play Chaos is that characters, aside from being forced to challenge all enemy champions, heroes, lords etc get to roll on a table once they inevitably kick face and boost their stats, permanently. Of course there is a chance your (extremely expensive) Lord could get turned into a Chaos Spawn but it’s not that likely.

Warriors of Chaos is a powerful army. If put together in the right way: too powerful and utterly broken. The variety of powerful units coupled with reduced points costs, powerful mutations and cheaper magic items doesn’t give many opponents anywhere to go other than lots of magic and lots and lots of shooting. That said, they are still an elite force and that means they are vulnerable to Hordes and if you can bog them down you don’t need to kill em to win depending on your scenario.  They also lack any ranged fire power beyond the Hellcannon which is just as likely to run off as shoot anything, and there’s no flyers in the army beyond the Chimera at 230 points, Galrauch at 510 points or a Manticore (150 points) or Chaos Dragon (330 points) upgrade for your lord. This does leave them vulnerable to…just about every other army in those respects. Out manoeuvring a Warriors of Chaos army is, it seems, easier than ever.

I maintain that they are still a challenging army to use. For all their advantages they will rely on deployment just as much as any army, more likely more as they’ll always be out numbered. And as I’m going to be collecting Khorne that applies double as Khorne are easy to lure into traps. I can’t wait to find out if they’re tough enough to fight their way out the other side.

Warriors of Chaos is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.