Codex: Chaos Space Marines (9th edition) Review, Part 2: The Traitor Legions

Welcome back to part 2 of our massive review of 9th edition Codex: Chaos Space Marines. In Part 1 we covered the army rules and gave some overall impressions. Because of the size of this review, we’ve split it into four parts:

  1. In Part 1 – We talk about the general overview of the book, what’s in it, our overall impressions, and the army-wide rules and concepts of the Chaos Space Marines
  2. In Part 2: The Legions – This article – we talk about the eight legions outlined in this book, their rules, and how they’ll play.
  3. In Part 3: The Datasheets, we talk about the units available to the Chaos Space Marine army and the options available to them.
  4. In Part 4: Crusade, we cover the book’s Crusade rules. That one publishes on Tuesday, just like all our other Crusade reviews.

Carrying forward the work started in Vigilus Ablaze and Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury, this new Codex: Chaos Space Marines has rules for eight chaos legions, complete with traits, stratagems, relics, and warlord traits for each. On the whole, these dramatically change how the faction plays and the types of units you’ll be taking as you play them. Each legion has its own character and backstory, and longtime chaos space marine fans and players will be happy to see that pretty much every one of their armies gets a good pass here.

Before we dive into the legions, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for sending us a preview copy of the book for review purposes.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Alpha Legion

Rob: The Alpha Legion are know for their duplicity and trickery, using subversive tactics to win the day. Historically they’ve relied more on Cultists trained to operate behind enemy lines and sabotage enemy supply lines and munitions and the new rules get at that a bit, giving them more ways to buff cultists and redeploy units or hide objectives. 

Legion Trait: Masters of Duplicity

  • Each time a ranged attack targets one of these units, if the attacker is more than 12” away, they get -1 to their to hit roll, or 18” away if the target has any models with 10+ wounds.
  • These units can declare a charge or perform an action after falling back. If they charge while doing an action, the action still fails.

This isn’t incredibly powerful, but it’s still pretty neat. It’s a bit of a generalist trait in that it doesn’t push you to any one specific unit type or army build but is more generally powerful and good for staying alive longer when you’re at a distance. The ability to fall back and charge allows them to disengage where appropriate, let other units unload at a target, and then re-engage as they see fit, which is great. The ability to fall back and perform actions also works well with their faction secondary objective, which is hilarious.

The Alpha Legion Warlord Traits give you some fun options. I Am Alpharius returns, now letting you generate a random second Warlord Trait from either table you choose, and if your Warlord is destroyed that model gets to be your Warlord and gets a new trait (you get to pick that one), and your Warlord doesn’t count as destroyed until the new one is destroyed. Other choice picks in this category – Clandestine gives your Warlord an extra +1 save when in cover, plus enemy attacks always miss on a hit roll of 1-3. Master of Diversion lets you redeploy up to three Alpha Legion units from your army after determining who has the first turn (you can also put them into Reserves for free) and may be reason enough to run Alpha Legion on its own. Want to go hard on Cultists? Cult Leader lets you pick one Cultists unit within 9” every Command phase to get +1 to hit and improve the AP on its attacks by 1.

The Stratagems here will be largely familiar, though they suffer a bit from the smaller starting CP totals in Nephilim. Conceal makes one unit of Infantry untargetable if it isn’t the closest eligible target or within 12”, but costs 2CP, or 3 if that unit has a power rating of 10+. Not great, if we’re being honest. Forward Operatives (1 CP) is also back and lets you pick an Alpha Legion Infantry unit to make a Normal move in the resolve pre-battle abilities step, with the caveat that you have to end up more than 9” from enemy models. This one is great, particularly when combined with Master of Diversion. Scrambled Coordinates (2 CP) Prevents enemy units from being set up within 12” of any two Alpha Legion core units on the table, and Veiled Agenda (1 CP) lets you keep one of your secondary objectives secret until you score VP for it the first time.

There’s a lot going on with Alpha Legion relics. Let’s start with one of the more important ones from the prior book – Mindveil. Sadly, this can now only go on an Infantry model, but gives you a full D6 of additional movement any time you make a normal move, fall back, or Advance, though it still lets you ignore models and terrain. RIP Mindveil Lords Discordant, though still very useful given that the faction no longer has access to Jump Pack characters. Another option here is the Drakescale Plate, which gives its bearer a 2+ save and permanent Transhuman, i.e. wound rolls of 1-3 always fail. A fun little combo with Clandestine to make a model that’s truly annoying to try and kill. Another fun one is the Hydra’s Wail, which lets you up the cost of a Stratagem used by the opponent by 1 CP for the rest of the battle. My favorite however is probably Hydra’s Teeth, which can be put on a Champion and turns a bolt weapon into a relic that can choose to fire a hydra’s teeth bolt instead of firing normally – this attack automatically hits, gets +2 Strength and Damage, and invulnerable saves can’t be made against it. Neat!

Credit; Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Black Legion

Rob: The poster children of the Chaos Space Marines feel like the were put front-and-center here – the’re listed first among the legions and have not one but two special characters they can play with – Abaddon and Haarken. They tend to favor a more versatile approach than some of the other legions but thanks to said special characters and some stratagems they have a lot more ways to get re-rolls. They also have some incredibly sick relics to play with.

Legion Trait: Black Crusaders

  • Ignore modifiers to combat attrition
  • Your units get +1 to hit if they’re either making a ranged attack at the closest eligible enemy unit or making a melee attack against a unit you charged this turn

Ignoring combat attrition is a fine bonus on top of the real meat here – that +1 to hit. It’s a huge benefit, in part because of how much control you have over positioning and charge targets. It’s a trait that pushes you to be aggressive and use mobile units while also not locking you into a specific unit group or play style. They also have some ways to hand out and remove Objective Secured, to favor a board control strategy.

There are six Black Legion Warlord Traits, and most of them – like Trusted War-Leader, Indomitable, and Veteran Raider – are largely unchanged from Vigilus. The two new stand-outs here are two of the three traits Abaddon has to take. The first is Merciless Overseer, which each turn lets you nominate a Black Legion unit within 6” to count as being in Wanton Slaughter for a round. The other is Paragon of Hatred, which lets you re-roll charge rolls and gives your unit +1 Attacks each time your warlord fights, or +D3 if they’re in Engagement range of any IMPERIUM units. This is a solid set, and the pair on Abaddon are pretty great buffs on an already insane unit – see our review of Abaddon in the Datasheets article for more on him.

There are likewise some cool Stratagems in the mix. Fore lore heads out there, there are some cool nods here – Bringers of Despair (2 CP) lets you nominate a Black Legion Terminator unit within 3” of an enemy unit and until the end of the phase it can fight and fights first, and gets +1 Attacks. This essentially gives it the ability to pile in and fight, though without intervening, allowing the unit to either punish the shit out of enemy units that try to get cute and steal objectives or protect characters who get charged. Lord of the Ezekarion (1 CP) lets you take a second Warlord Trait on a given character, And Confluence of Traitors (1 CP) acknowledges the board makeup of the legion by allowing you to let one of your units gain a second legion trait of your choice for a round. By my favorite Stratagem of the bunch is the replacement for World Killers – Herald of Doom (2 CP) gives one of your Legionaries units a 6” aura that causes enemy units within 6” to lose Objective Secured. It’s a hell of a way to ensure your hold on objectives is absolute, but requires a bit of planning to use well since you have to use it in the Command phase.

Then there are the relics – and hoo boy do the black legion have some good ones. The clear standout here is the Cloak of Conquest, which gives its bearer an Aura that gives Black Legion Core and Character units within 6” Objective Secured. That’s stupid good, and it’s worth noting that it works on Abaddon and the Lord Discordant. The other one I’m a big fan of is the Vilebreaker Plate, which sadly has a useless ability to reduce the AP of incoming attacks by one but also gives the bearer the ability to teleport himself and another CORE unit within 3” anywhere on the table more than 9” away from enemy models in the same Movement phase. Ghorisvex’s Teeth also returns here, as a S:user AP-3 2-damage chainsword that makes 3 extra attacks. Good stuff. And then there’s the Sightless Helm, which gets a fresh coat of paint – gone is the drawback and now your model can ignore hit, WS, and BS modifiers, ignores cover, and improves the AP of their attacks by 1. Again, great stuff on a Lord Discordant.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Creations of Bile

Rob: The newest legion on the block, the Creations of Bile were introduced in Psychic Awakening: War of the Spider but failed to make much of an impact initially. Sure, they had an interesting trait, but it wasn’t enough to overcome some of their drawbacks. They’re significantly improved here, despite having fewer traits, relics, and Stratagems than the other legions. To start, you no longer need Bile in the army, though his upgrades are pretty neat, and the trait is even stronger.

Legion Trait: Experimental Enhancements

  • Units with this trait get +1” Movement and +1 Strength
  • Each time a model with this trait is killed by a melee attack, if that model hasn’t fought yet, don’t remove it – it can fight after the attacking model’s unit finishes their attacks, then you remove it from play. It’s considered to have 1 wound remaining for profile purposes.

This absolutely rules, and turns your army’s best trading units into some hellish monsters that no one wants to deal with. It’s great on Raptors and Warp Talons – same is ever was – but also positively brutal on Possessed, who enjoy being S6. It’s also pretty solid for getting units like the Venomcrawler or Chaos Spawn to S8 and S8, respectively.

The Creations of Bile get three Warlord Traits to pick from and three Relics. Prime Test Subject is my favorite of these, giving your warlord +1 Strength, Toughness, and Wounds. It’s theoretically good on a Lord Discordant, but I don’t think it’s worth it to let one go from 9 to 10 wounds, so instead I’d look at it on a Daemon Prince. Surgical Precision has your attacks auto-wound and get +1 AP when they roll a 4+ to hit, and Twisted Regeneration lets you roll to see if your warlord stands up the first time they’re killed instead of fighting on death.

For the Relics, we’ve got the Helm of All-Seeing, which lets you roll to regain CP each time your opponent spends CP on stratagems. The Living Carapace gives your warlord a once-per-game ability to turn it on and reduce all incoming damage to 1 for a turn. And the Hyper-Growth Bolts upgrades a bolt weapon to shoot a bolt that hits non-Vehicles at AP-1 and D3+3 damage.

The Creations of Bile have four Stratagems. Monstrous Visages can give units attacking a core, daemonkin, or character unit -1 to hit for a phase. Taken Alive can be used when you kill the enemy Warlord in melee to give your opponents -1 Ld, plus they can’t use Insane Bravery or re-roll morale tests for the rest of the game, which is neat but unlikely to see much use. The Masters Are Watching lets you extend the range of some Auras to a unit that has line of sight to them. And the best of the bunch here is Auto-Stimulants, which lets a CORE unit Charge in a turn in which it Advanced.

On the whole, this is probably among the weaker legions on paper, but in an environment where CP are harder to come by early, the strength of its legion trait goes a long way. The Creations of Bile favor melee armies that have lots of foot movement and high-volume, low-strength attacks.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Emperor’s Children

Condit: The Emperor’s Children are unique amongst the legions presented in this book – all of their units that can take a mark must have the Mark of Slaanesh, which ups the cost of a decent chunk of your army by +15 points per unit. The fight-first effect is pretty good, though. Units that can’t be marked instead just gain the SLAANESH keyword, which gives your Daemonkin and Vehicle units access to the Slaanesh-only stratagems, something other legions can’t hand out. And yes, Noise Marines are still troops in Emperor’s Children armies – they also get the Mark of Slaanesh free, since it’s already “baked in” to their costs.

Legion Trait: Flawless Perfection

  • Units with this trait ignore modifiers to WS, BS, or hit rolls
  • Each time a unit with this trait makes an attack, on an unmodified wound roll of 6, improve the AP of that attack by 1.

Add to these the fight-first ability from their Mark and the +1 WS from the Icon on the units that can take it and you’re left with a force that can do decent work at all ranges, but really comes into its own in close combat, where they can combine these legion-wide rules with a couple of key stratagems to get downright scary.

If you were worried about their toolkit from Faith and Fury not making the jump, don’t be. Honour the Prince is back, still costs 1CP, and now works on Advance rolls too. Excruciating Frequences returns here, but no longer gives +1 damage as that’s now a built-in bonus sonic weapons can get. Instead, the Stratagem now has sonic weapons do additional mortals on unmodified wound rolls of 6 to wound, and a unit hit by the attacks can’t fire overwatch or set to defend. But the real fire here is Soporific Gaze (2 CP), which lets you pick an enemy unit within 3” of an Emperor’s Children character at the start of the Fight phase and force it to fight last – just an absolutely brutal ability to have as a general Stratagem.

Most of the Relics have seen at least some change, but mostly for the better – previous standout Remnant of the Maraviglia now gives you a flat +1A for all units within 6” of the priest, letting you turn Chosen or Terminators into absolute blenders. The Raiment Revulsive now gives an aura that lets units within 6” perform actions and still shoot, while preventing enemy units within 6” from starting actions of their own. And the Armour of Abhorrence gives the bearer an Aura that prevents enemy units from falling back on a 4+.

From a Warlord Trait standpoint, the Emperor’s Children have some solid picks, but little that you’d feel compelled to take – Loathsome Grace gives your Warlord +2” movement and lets them re-roll Advance and Charge rolls, while Glutton For Punishment reduces incoming damage by 1 and gives you a 5+ feel no pain against mortal wounds. And Faultless Duellist gives you re-rolls to hit and reduces the attacks characteristic of enemy models in Engagement range by 1.

And no discussion of the Third Legion would be complete without talking about Lucius the Eternal, who’s back with a vengeance. The Lash of Torment is no longer a weapon, but instead lets him pick an enemy within 3” to fight last, and if he catches wind of anyone with a 3+ WS or better within engagement range, he dishes out 8 attacks at damage 3. Oh, and he’s 120 points. We’ll hit on him again in the Datasheets section, but if you’re taking Emperor’s Children, you’re going to want him around.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Iron Warriors

Rob: When we first got the preview copy of the book, we were a bit down on Iron Warriors, whose trait normally has them ignore AP on incoming attacks with AP-1 or -2 – something that’s, at best, a side-grade from Armour of Contempt. But then the Q3 Dataslate released and in it was some Day 0 errata for the Iron Warriors that replaces the second part of their trait in the same manner as Salamanders and Valorous Heart sisters, making it so you can’t re-roll wound rolls against them. This is pretty great, and immediately makes for a bunch of incredibly durable threats.

Legion Trait: Iron Within, Iron Without

  • Each time a model with this trait makes an attack, the target doesn’t get the benefits of cover against the attack
  • When an enemy model makes an attack against a unit with this trait, the wound roll can’t be re-rolled (Per the Q3 dataslate)

Condit: This makes them extremely tough, especially if they’ve got the Mark of Nurgle. And generally speaking, the Iron Warriors are all about durability, with a set of rules that make them tough as nails. 

As for the rest of their rules, they bring one of the strongest sets of stratagems in the book, offering not only some potent survivability tricks – Dour Duty will let you give a CORE INFANTRY or DAEMONKIN unit -1 incoming damage for a phase, while Unholy Vigour imposes -1 to wound on all attacks against a MACHINE SPIRIT or DAEMON ENGINE unit. And Spiteful Endurance gives you a 5+ Feel no pain save against mortal wounds. They also have some nifty tricks to squeeze some additional damage out of your list. For instance, Tank Destroyers lets you nominate an enemy vehicle and make all unmodified hit rolls of 6s from your army automatically wound, while Methodical Annihilation lets a unit in the Shooting phase re-roll one damage roll, double the number of models in the target unit for Blast weapon shots, and shoot at targets in Engagement range with vehicles firing Blast weapons.

Rob: The Warlord Traits here are pretty solid as well – Bastion lets you pick a friendly CORE unit within 6” of the Warlord each command phase, and for the next round that unit gains Objective Secured (and counts as double if it already had the ability), and can hold steady or set to defend if it’s charged. Daemonsmith turns your Warlord into a daemon-buffing machine, letting you give one Daemon Engine, Cult of Destruction, or Machine Spirit unit within 6” +1 to hit rolls each turn. Unyielding Mettle gives your character +1 toughness and a 5+ feel no pain. That said, all the Iron Warriors Warlord traits are pretty damn good.

For the Relics there are a few choice options, though some of these have new Infantry-only limitations that make us a bit sad about what could have been. Insidium goes on a non-Daemon Infantry model and gives the model the Daemon and Daemonkin keywords, plus +1 to its strength, toughness, and wounds. The Fleshmetal Exoskeleton likewise only goes on an infantry model and gives incoming attacks -1 damage and the ability to regain D3 wounds on a 4+ rolled each time an enemy unit attacks the character and doesn’t kill them. Which is also bonkers, but sadly limited to Infantry. I am however a big fan of the Siegebreaker Mace, which replaces a crozius, maul, thunder hammer, or general accursed weapon with a mace that has S+2 AP-2 2 damage plus one extra attack it makes at Sx2 AP-3, D3+3 damage.

Condit: All in all, they look to be in a pretty good spot, with incredibly durable heavy infantry backed up by some infuriatingly durable heavy armor – if you’re looking to bring a Lord of Skulls, this might be the army for you.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Night Lords

Rob: Oh hell yes. The Night Lords are my boys, and Games Workshop have done right by them here. The Night Lords still have a Leadership-affecting trait but its raw power and the 9” range combined with the CP crunch of Nephilim makes it a bit more powerful here, plus the second half of the trait isn’t too shabby.

Legion Trait: Terror Tactics

  • Units gain this ability: Terror Tactics (Aura) – while an enemy unit is within 9” of this unit, subtract 2 from the Ld characteristic of models in that unit and subtract 1 from Combat Attrition Tests taken for that unit.
  • Each time a model with this trait makes a melee attack, if the target is a unit that was below Half strength when the attacker was selected to fight or if the target is a unit with Ld 5 or less, then you get +1 to the wound roll.

This is pretty money as a combo, putting many of the game’s units on immediate blast thanks to having Ld 7. The big exception you have to worry about here are Space Marines, who will typically have Ld 8 or 9 with a Sergeant, though you can further depress this by using Raptors, Accursed Cultists, or Chaos Spawn, who give an additional -1 to Leadership with their Fearsome Aura, to get down to -3 naturally. And if you’re feeling extra cheeky, you can push that to -4 with the Noctilith Crown, whose Malevolent Locus aura radiates a -1 Ld debuff on non-CHAOS models within an increasing radius. Capping out at -3 isn’t terrible, but it does mean that you’ll struggle to get your fun effects off against Ld9+ targets, which make up an infuriatingly large percentage of the game’s units for no particular reason (Why are Tyranids Warriors Ld 9?)

The Night Lords have some great Warlord Traits. Murderous Reputation gives your warlord a 6” aura that just… turns off Objective secured on enemy units. One with the Shadows prevents enemies from re-rolling hit rolls against your warlord and gives them -1 to hit. Dirty Fighter lets you force a unit within 3” to fight last every Fight phase. One Piece at a Time gives an enemy unit that lost models to your warlord an extra -1 on its Combat Attrition tests plus your Warlord can consolidate in any direction, but you have to finish within 3” of an enemy unit. And then there’s Night Haunter’s Curse, which gives your Warlord a once-per-turn free 6 on an Advance roll, hit roll, wound, or saving throw after you’ve already rolled it, counting as unmodified.

The Night Lords’ Stratagems are a solid bunch as well, mostly revising those found in the Faith and Fury rules. In Midnight Clad is back to give Infantry -1 to be hit in the Shooting phase. And We have Come for You (2 CP) lets you prevent a non-Vehicle/Titanic/Aircraft unit from falling back from a Core, Daemonkin, or Character unit. Vox Scream (2 CP) still turns off Auras within 12”. There are some new tricks too – Sound of the Black Hunt gives a Core, Daemonkin, or Character units re-rolls of 1 to hit against a unit with Ld 6 or less, or full re-rolls if it’s below half-strength or Ld 5 or less. Underhand Scheming lets a unit fall back and charge. Screaming Skies lets a Jump Pack unit leave and come back next turn.

The coolest trick here however is From the Night (1 CP/2 CP), which is used in the Reinforcements step to take an Infantry or Biker unit in Strategic Reserves or hasn’t been set up yet and it can set up as if the battle round is one higher than it currently is, letting a unit come in on turn 1 (this costs 2 if the unit is Daemonkin). This is pretty great, though note that Night Lords have lost the ability to make guaranteed charges out of deep strike – there’s no more 3D6” charge stratagem.

The Relics here are mostly just fine. Some of the better options are frustratingly linked to Infantry models only, like the Vox Daemonicus, which prevents enemy units from setting up as reinforcements within 12” and gives the bearer an Aura that cancels actions and psychic actions within 12” if you can beat their Ld on 2D6. There is a cool weapon here however – the Claw of the Stygian Court replaces a lightning claw, malefic talons, or accursed weapon with one that’s S+2, AP-3, 2 damage and the enemy model can’t use any rules to ignore the wounds it loses. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Red Corsairs

Rob: If there’s a legion here that’s underrated, it’s going to be the Red Corsairs, who get a reduced slate of rules but have some damn powerful options to play with. The Legion Trait here does a lot of Heavy lifting, but the Stratagems are pretty great and Huron himself isn’t so bad, either.

Legion Trait: Raiders from the Maelstrom

  • Units with this trait can Advance and Charge
  • Models with this trait count as two models when determining control of an objective, or 5 if they have 10+ wounds

These are great. They’re just incredibly solid, and the ability to Advance and Charge immediately gives your army such an incredible threat range with its faster units – Venomcrawlers, Lords Discordant, Possessed, and Maulerfiends love this trait, and having the second bit to help control objectives is nothing to sneeze at, either.

The Red Corsairs get 3 Warlord Traits, but the only particularly notable trait among them is Dark Raider, which lets a single Core unit within 6” of your Warlord make a Normal move after shooting, but it can’t charge if it does so. This is pretty neat for doing a fire and fade with something like Havocs. On the Relics side you’ve also got three options, and here the Armour of Badab is my clear favorite – it goes on a Terminator model and gives them an Aura that gives Terminator models in friendly Core and Character units within 3” a 4+ invulnerable save and non-terminator models get a 5+. Pretty good for broadcasting some extra survivability!

The Stratagems here are also great. The most unique is Raid Supply Lines (2 CP), which is the first and only Stratagem in the game that lets you prevent an enemy unit from arriving from Strategic Reserves or reinforcements for one turn. That’s right, you can use this to force a drop pod to come in one turn later or make a Hive Tyrant Encircling the Prey sit in the air an extra turn – you just have to use this on the first or second battle round, in the Reinforcements step. Then there’s The Hounds of Huron, a Stratagem that lets a Red Corsairs biker unit just Fall Back or make a Normal move after fighting, depending on if any enemy units are still around. And Secure the Prize gives a Red Corsairs CORE unit +1 save against damage 1 attacks for a phase. 

This a powerful set of rules and on top of these the Red Corsairs get the option to take Huron Blackheart, whose profile has gotten a bit of a facelift – he’s now 6 Wounds, T5, and 7 attacks, plus his power axe is 2 damage and his claw gives him an AP-2, 1-damage sweep attack. He also has a Captain Aura and a Chapter Master re-roll, though he’s lost his ability to be a Psyker all game in favor of only getting to cast one power once per game. Still, he’s an absolute bargain at only 130 points. 

Credit: Robert “theChirurgeon” Jones

Word Bearers

Rob: Last – but absolutely not least – are the Word Bearers, who devote themselves to the pantheon and specialize in daemonology. The Word Bearers have some of the best abilities for buffing and making use of Daemonkin and Daemon units, and that makes them a powerful choice in this Codex.

Legion Trait: Profane Zeal

  • Each time a model with this trait makes a melee attack, if the model’s unit made a charge move, was charged, or performed a heroic intervention this turn, you can re-roll the hit roll. 
  • Each time a model would lose a wound form a mortal wound, roll a D6; on a 5+, that wound isn’t lost

This is a decent trait, and for models with WS/BS 4+ or better, getting re-rolls to hit is significantly better than getting +1. It’s also great if you need to fish for 6s for Let the Galaxy Burn. Shrugging off mortals is a fine added bonus. 

The Word Bearers have some very cool Warlord Traits to go with their Legion Trait. Exalted Possession gives the warlord the Daemon and Daemonkin keywords, a 4+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks, +1 strength/attacks/wounds, and +2” movement, basically supercharging the crap out of them. It’s very solid on a Daemon Prince or Lord Discordant. Then there’s Master of the Union, which lets you pick one Daemonkin unit within 6” every Command phase to get +1 Strength and +1 to its AP on melee attacks for a round. And Hate-Filled Demagogue lets you pick a Word Bearers unit within 6” in your Command phase to gain the Let the Galaxy Burn ability if it’s a Cultists unit and the unit counts as being engaged in Wanton Slaughter for the round. 

On the Stratagems side, there are some really cool options here. Cursed Despoilers lets your unit of Core or Daemonkin engaged in Wanton Massacre score extra hits on a 4+ against a target in range of an objective marker. Revered Hosts gives a Daemon unit re-rolls to wound in melee. Malevolent Covenant is used when a psyker fails a psychic test; for 2 CP you can auto-cast at the minimum value and it can’t be denied, but you can drop this to 1 CP by taking a mortal wound. And Apostle of the Dark Council is used before the battle to upgrade a Priest to get +1 Ld and re-rolls on prayer chants, letting you get to a 2+ rerollable there.

There are some cool relics in the Word Bearers’ armory. The Malefic Tome gives the bearer +1 psychic power and +1 to Psychic tests, both decent abilities that combine into something great. The Armour Diabolus gives its bearer a 2+ save and the ability to do mortal wounds back to attacking units that hurt the bearer. The Baleful Icon gives the bearer an Aura that turns off hit, wound, and damage re-rolls against you in melee, which is an incredibly neat ability.

What About the World Eaters?

There’s one legion missing here – the World Eaters. Previously part of the Codex in 8th edition, the World Eaters are in the process of getting their own Codex, and so they’ve been removed from Codex: Chaos Space Marines. Instead, this month’s White Dwarf has a supplement for them, which we’ll cover next week.

Next: The Datasheets

That wraps up our look at the legion rules for the traitor legions but in part 3 we’ll wrap up our look at matched play rules by going through the book’s datasheets and talking about the units available to the forces of Chaos.

Part 3

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at