Faction Focus: Slaves to Darkness


Do you want to Pillage and Burn the land without remorse? Do you enjoy Chaos but having to choose a single god make you squeamish? Do you want to run one of the biggest and best god models in the game? Then come on down to Slaves to Darkness, the faction where mortals of every chaos god can get together and share their common love of burning down the holdings of Sigmar, Nagash and just about anyone that isn’t them. Sometimes their own stuff too if they’re getting antsy.

Slaves to Darkness are the successor to Warriors of Chaos from Warhammer Fantasy Battles and are more or less intact to their original version. The majority of the models are just Warriors of Chaos, with Archaeon the Everchosen and a Start Collecting with some new chaos warriors. The older models have held up surprisingly well standing next to the the newer stuff and the diversity grants a fair bit of flexibility in list building.

On the table Slaves to Darkness are a solid jack of all trades faction. Generally leading more toward horde tactics they have some excellent elite options, do well in combat and magic but can lack in range attacks, in which they have virtually none. They also are the home of Archaon, one of the strongest “gods” in the game and a powerful Warrior-Wizard to boot.

In third edition Slaves to Darkness have generally done quite well. Usually hanging around the second tier of play, outside of the top lists. They also are accessible to beginners, offering hardy units with a lot of room for flexibility in playstyle and making mistakes.

3.0 Changes

The launch of third edition and subsequent months saw the release of some unit changes that work to the armies’ benefit. Your poster boy, Archaon, has been changed substantially which we will go into in the units section. Warcry warbands are easier to use, as with the Tome Celestial from White Dwarf it’s easier for them to get Battleline status and Marks of Chaos. Otherwise it’s a lot of the same changes that are sprinkled in every other book: lots of rerolls changes to +1s and a few units with streamlined weapon profiles, limiting them to one weapon type per unit.

Naturally, you’re also a beneficiary of all the new command abilities and heroic actions that are out. As an army severely lacking in ranged attacks, the ability to Redeploy, Heroic Healing and All Out Defense against an incoming missle unit can severely assist in your survivability. Likewise, as a largely horde army you see a lot of return from All Out Attack. Slaves to Darkness can get very CP hungry and this is helped by the more consistent CP generation and Heroic Leadership. A notable example of those seeing the most from the changes are Varanguard, who are now Elite which means they don’t need a babysitter to be operating at their best.

The army largely works as it did, but better. They had a straightforward but effective playstyle, and it works well in the new edition.

Nurgle Warrior sof Chaos
Nurgle Warrior sof Chaos – Credit: Richyp

The Units

You have some really great variety. A mix of old Warhammer Fantasy Battle stuff, new AoS models and gorgeous Warcry warbands there’s a lot here. From chaff to big monsters, its here and you can customize your pillaging and slaughter to your liking.


Your leaders are the bedrock of your army. Heroes with a Mark of Chaos grant buffs to units with the same Mark, so you often want to group them together.

You’re going to need to choose if you want to build with or without Archaon The Everchosen because he’s extremely expensive. At almost half your list he can pull his weight but you need to build around him. You might see some people online say he got worse, I’d argue he isn’t that much worse, he was just taken down a peg in other Chaos factions where he got to break mechanics over his knee (namely, Tzeentch). He used to be able to join any mono-god faction due to having all the keywords and now the rules have changed around him so he really only gets to shine in Slaves to Darkness. Honestly, I think its the right move for the sake of balance.

On the table he’s quite nasty, granting you an extra CP each round, a 4+ Ward against mortal wounds (With the ability to kick it back in a 6+ in close quarters) and a mount with a couple different powers. He gets 2 spells and while he has no spells of his own, the Slaves to Darkness lore is quite good, particularly Call to Glory. His melee stats are solid and the Slayer of Kings can instant merc a Hero, great for some of the other gods with nasty Ward saves.

Archaon is far from mandatory and there’s a slew of other Heroes to round out your roster. There are three stripes of Chaos Lord, one on foot, and 3 on different mounts. There isn’t really a bad pick, as each one offers a different command ability. Regardless, they’re beat sticks who have command abilities to make your dudes fight better.

The Chaos Lord on foot and on Manticore are both solid. The Manticore has a good anti-horde spell while on foot has a great buff spell and is cheap to boot, despite a recent cost increase. The slaves to Darkness spell lore is very good so you’ll probably bring at least one of these guys.

Be’lakor is another centerpiece model available to you, more popular in his own Legion of the First Prince but another decent Warrior-Wizard if you don’t feel like dumping almost a thousand points on Archaon.

The last notable Hero is the iconic Daemon Prince. While their power level leaves a lot to be desired, the Daemon Prince of Khorne has a great command ability where all enemy runs and charges within 18″ are halved. This makes deep strike charges impossible, and even 3″ charges a lot less certain. Totally worth bringing.


You have a shocking diversity in battlelines here and the stock options mostly fall into 2 groups: Chaos Warriors and Chaos Marauders which both come with on foot and mounted versions. You probably can intuitively guess what each are good at: Chaos Warriors are more expensive but much more durable. At two wounds a pop, 4+ save (3+ if you have at least 10) and a 5+ ward with shields they can be exceedingly difficult to dislodge. The Knights don’t get a 3+ save but they get 3+ wounds a piece. On the other side, Marauders are very delicate, with a 6+ save on foot and on horseback (5+ with shields) but you get an ungodly number of them. If you want to know what’s optimum, Marauders generally perform better simply due to sheer number and the ability to respawn them with the right subfactions. Chaos Warriors still aren’t bad objective holders, but if you want Chaos Knights maybe consider Varanguard instead. Technically there are Chaos Chariots but as a battleline they really do not excel.

A bonus to mention is the Warcry Cultists which used to be ignored but saw a slight improvement in Broken Realms: Morathi with an ability to gain Marks of Chaos in a specific subfaction which didn’t quite get them there. They finally crossed the finish line in White Dwarf which finally made them battleline if the mark matches your General which makes Iron Golems and Spire Tyrants notable when marked with Nurgle and Khorne, respectively.

Other Units

There are a handful of other units worth checking out. The Varanguard are incredibly powerful, suped up Chaos Knights. If you want armored men on horseback, this is what you want. They are essentially a unit of Heroes, and with the Elite keyword they can operate more autonomously than before. The Chaos Warshrine is much better than it was in 2.0 because the Priest keyword actually does something, letting you add Curse or Heal to their repertoire. Their built in prayers can buff all your units but have extra bonuses for matching synergy, so it’s often wise to crowd a Nurgle Warshrine with Nurgle units and so on.

The other non-Hero Behemoths the Slaughterbrute and Mutalith Vortex Beast are fine if you need a Monster real quick and they now got the Marks of Chaos which can make them more powerful than before.

Chaos Chariot. Credit: SRM

How to Play

Slaves to Darkness is a synergy heavy faction. A solid majority of your units have Marks of Chaos which lets them pick one of the 4 chaos gods (or undivided) and Heroes will hand out buffs to nearby units matching that mark. Unfortunately, this gives a sort of incongruous feel where the faction meant to be dedicated to Chaos in all of it’s forms needs to limit the gods it pays tribute to to keep the synergy up.

Generally speaking, Nurgle tends to pull ahead mathematically. All Nurgle heroes grant Reroll 1s to wound, and as wound buffs are harder to come by you generally want them when you can get them. If its your general it gives a +1 to damage. Ouch! Khorne has some value as a General, allowing you to reroll 1s to hit or +1 to wound if its your general. Slaanesh is pretty limited and Undivided and Tzeentch can go in the dumpster.

For subfactions you can almost always go Ravagers. It’s just got all the perks, up to 5 Generals (each with their own command trait that is always active) and each turn you may choose a different Hero to be general. The general can summon units of Marauders or Warcry cultists and give a different “General” buff for the Mark of Chaos. Just generally great stuff and more of a reason to bring as many Mauraders in your bag as you can.

There are fun alternatives like Hosts of the Everchosen if you want to run a hyper elite army of Archaon with all Varanguard. You do have options.

Slaves to Darkness are a solid mixed-arms force. They have good unit diversity with both cheap hordes and tanky elites, and can play to both playstyles pretty well. If they do have a flaw it’s that they have virtually zero ranged attacks so you’re going to be walking a lot. Use cover and protection well and carefully protect your auras to maximize effectiveness.

List Building

We’re going to eschew Archaon as he changes the dynamic significantly and look at a variety of options that lay open to you as a Slaves to Darkness warlord.

Allegiance: Slaves to Darkness
- Damned Legion: Ravagers
- Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
- Triumphs:

Chaos Lord on Karkadrak (225)*
- General
- Artefact: Blasphemous Cuirass
- Mark of Chaos: Khorne
- Ravagers Command Trait: Eternal Vendetta
Chaos Sorcerer Lord (135)*
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
- Ravagers Command Trait: Favoured of the Pantheon
- Spell: Call to Glory
Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince (210)*
- Sword
- Mark of Chaos: Khorne
Chaos Lord (120)**
- Reaperblade & Daemonbound Steel
- Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact)
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
- Ravagers Command Trait: Master of Deception
- Spell: Ruinous Vigour

10 x Chaos Warriors (200)*
- Hand Weapon & Shield
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
9 x Spire Tyrants (70)**
- Mark of Chaos: Khorne
20 x Chaos Marauders (180)**
- Axes & Shields
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
- Reinforced x 1

3 x Varanguard (280)**
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
3 x Varanguard (280)**
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle

Chaos Warshrine (215)**
- Mark of Chaos: Nurgle
- Prayer1: Universal Prayer Scripture: Curse

Endless Spells & Invocations
Chronomantic Cogs (45)

Core Battalions
**Battle Regiment

Additional Enhancements

Total: 1960 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 1 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 120
Drops: 5

A good mix of solid units. The General being Khorne allows you to bring in some nasty Khorne Marked Spire tyrants as Battleline, while the other mortal Heroes have Nurgle, the generally best jack of all trade option. Don’t forget – under ravagers you can change your General from turn to turn, allowing you to optimize the power surge to whatever side of the field needs it right now.

What’s that Daemon Prince doing? Well he can’t be a General but his command trait is incredible at dissuading any would be deep strike charges from Stormcast Eternals and the like, making charges from 9″ away impossible. He’s also not bad in a fight, either.

This may not be a tourney list, but it does let you try out a couple different things which synergize well with each other. Now get out there and pillage for the Ruinous Powers!

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