Over the weekend we wrote our review of the new Codex: Chaos Space Marines, which introduced us to all new rules for the Traitor Legions and how they wage war. We noted in our review of the new book that this book is missing the rules for World Eaters and Khorne Berzerkers. We already knew from the last GW preview event that World Eaters were getting their own Codex, but in the meantime we get a White Dwarf Index covering the legion with rules to get us by.
Since no Codex Review would be complete without a look at Khorne’s chosen, we’re covering the World Eaters as well. So strap in and let’s look at how much blood we can shed for the blood god with these new rules.
Welcome to the World Eaters, the first founding legion that has dedicated itself to the worship of Khorne. No unit in a World Eaters army can have the SLAANESH, TZEENTCH, or NURGLE keywords, and every unit in the army must be upgraded to have the Mark of Khorne. If a unit already has the KHORNE keyword or cannot have the Mark of Khorne, then instead you have to replace every instance of CHAOS UNDIVIDED on their datasheet with Khorne instead, and if they didn’t have the undivided keyword, they get the Khorne keyword. This makes World Eaters one of two legions – with Emperor’s Children being the other – that can get the KHORNE keyword on non-CORE units like Warp Talons and Maulerfiends. This is kind of a corner case for the army, but has value if you want to do something like summon a Skullmaster.
Note that Kharn and the Berzerkers already come with the Mark of Khorne free, in a similar fashion to Lucius and Noise Marines. If every unit in your Detachment (excluding Agents of Chaos/Unaligned units) is from the World Eaters, then Berzerkers in that detachment become Troops, and they gain the World Eaters trait (otherwise they never get a Legion Trait).
Legion Trait: The Butcher’s Nails
- Each time a unit with this trait fights, if it made a charge move, was charged, or made a Heroic Intervention this turn, it gets +1 to its Attacks characteristic.
Yep, that’s it. Just one bullet point. They literally half-assed this one. That said, +1 Attack on the charge is very good, and considerably more powerful than just getting +1 to hit or +1 to wound, and it combines well with the mechanics of Let the Galaxy Burn and “Having a metric assload of attacks.” Though on the whole, I’m not sure it’s better than the traits you get from Creations of Bile or Red Corsairs.
Half-assing things is going to be a theme here – a distressing amount of this is just reprinted from the Faith & Fury/Book of Fire rules.
The World Eaters get six Warlord Traits, and they’re pretty much just the set they had in the Book of Fire. Slaughterborn is identical, and still the one Kharn has to take. The best of them is still Violent Urgency, which gives friendly World Eaters units within 6″ +1 to Advance and Charge rolls, giving you the opportunity to make 8″ charges out of deep strike and significantly increasing their reliability. That’s good news for Warp Talons, though your delivery mechanism now for a Chaos Lord is either going to be Terminator Armour or a Transport. The only notable change here is True Berzeker, which now halves all incoming Damage for the Warlord instead of just damage for melee attacks.
In a similar fashion to Warlord Traits, the old Stratagems return here as well, mostly in the same form. Scorn of Sorcery still gives you a 4+ attempt to negate a power. (Note: This is incredibly stupid, because Scorn of Sorcery is also in Codex: Chaos Space Marines with the same name, only different text. Does this give them two versions of it? Who can say what was intended here, except to do as little work as possible). Skulls for the Skull Throne, which gives you D3 CP if you kill a character, also returns, and is a good way to help yourself to more CP in a Nephilim. Red Butchers also returns, still a 2 CP upgrade for a Terminators unit that gives them +1 Strength and the ability to fight twice, though it’s hard to justify when you’re already in danger of starting on 3 or fewer CP. It’s exactly the kind of thing that needed to be a points upgrade. Apoplectic Frenzy has been fixed here, and is now used at the start of the first battle round. The only major change here is to Stoke the Nails (1 CP), which now is used at the start of the Fight phase to give a CORE unit +1 Strength and they’re considered to be engaged in Wanton Slaughter. That’s a fine change on a Stratagem that had become kind of worthless, and it’s good for armies that can get into melee on rounds 1-2 and need the extra damage.
Some familiar names here as well. Here many of the relics are unchanged from the Book of Fire, but there are some notable exceptions. The biggest is the Berzerker Glaive, which still replaces an Axe but can now be thrown on a Warpsmith and is now S+2, AP-3, 2 damage, and retains the 5+ feel no pain bonus. The Strength and AP improvement bring it in line a bit more with power axes generally, so it’s nice to have that. Bloodhunger has also changed; now each time the bearer fights you roll a D6 for each enemy model destroyed by its attacks and on a 5+ you regain one wound, to a maximum of 6. This is a pretty big nerf, but it’s on a relic you weren’t taking anyways so whatever.
There are two updated datasheets in this White Dwarf article, one for Berzekers and one for Kharn the Betrayer.
Kharn the Betrayer
Let’s get this guy out of the way first. Kharn’s always been an oddity in the 8th edition Chaos Marines Codex, regardless of the version. He’s never been quite deadly enough in melee, with a his D3-damage attacks, and lost a bit in 9th edition when the rules for declaring charges changed to require you to get into Engagement range of every unit you declare against, which hurts characters even more. On top of that, Games Workshop never seemed to understand that if you give a character a drawback like “can kill your own guys,” you have to compensate for that with some kind of benefit or lower cost. As a result, Kharne’s biggest value was having a full re-rolls aura he could impart on Vindicators or Daemon Engines.
This new Kharne improves on the old one’s statline by giving him S6 and 6 wounds, though Gorechild is now Strength User, so the boost in Strength is a wash. Gorechild’s also flat 2 damage now, which again seems weak for the character who’s supposed to be Khorne’s chosen marine character.
abilities-wise, Kharn retains his 4+ invulnerable save and his Blood for the Blood God rule to fight twice in the Fight phase, but loses his aura – now he merely gives World Eaters CORE units within 6″ re-rolls on to hit rolls of 1. The upside is that he can now potentially re-roll hit rolls of his own, and he ignores all modifiers to hit rolls and WS when making attacks. The downside is that now at the end of your Movement phase, if you have any other friendly units within 3″, you roll a D6 and on a 2+, you pick one of those to take 2 mortal wounds. That’s somehow even worse than before, when you merely allocated hit rolls of 1 to friendlies within 1″, though admittedly the potential damage is lower. For all this you’ll pay a whopping 140 points, which is enough that you likely won’t bother bringing Kharn in games. Once again, GW fails to make Kharn into a compelling melee character.
Now for the real stars of the show. Khorne Berzerkers are ostensibly the major troops choice of the World Eaters, allowing you to turn what’s normally a tax slot into something where you can get real value out of a monster melee unit. These new Berzerkers have gained the long-awaited second wound and an extra point of Ld while keeping S5 base, but lost their ability to fight twice every turn. They’ve instead replaced this with more than double the attacks – Berzerkers now have 5 attacks base, while champions have 6. They don’t gain any new wargear options, but their base weapon is now a Berzerker chainblade, a S:User AP-2, 1-damage weapon that gives them a bit more punch than a traditional chainsword. Note that Berzerkers come in units of 5-10 now.
Add an icon to the unit and they’ll gain the ability to ignore modifiers to Combat Attrition and get an extra AP on their melee attacks, making the Icon a must-take in World Eaters units so you can get AP-3 melee attacks, making them incredibly nasty units for trading. And at 22 points per model, they’re not bad at it – a 5-model unit with an icon will set you back 115 points but will throw out 31 S7, AP-3 attacks on the charge (and typically generate an additional 4-5 hits in Wanton Slaughter) and you can improve that to AP-4 with the Wild Fury Stratagem to chew through heavier targets, and Stoke the Nails can help you get to S8 if you need.
On the whole, Berzerkers seem pretty solid. But without the ability to fight twice, they’re just a melee unit in an army that’s full of them. The big points of comparison to make here are against Chosen, Possessed, and Warp Talons.
- Compared to Chosen, they come with +1 strength and +1 attack (+2 in World Eaters) but 1 less wound, and need to pay for the Icon to get to AP-3, whereas Chosen just get that AP on their attacks normally. On the flip side, Chosen are 25ppm and have to pay an extra 20 to get the Mark of Khorne + Icon on their unit, but once they do they get to fight at AP-4 and going from S4 to S5 is a big help. Berzerkers can get to AP-4 of course with a Stratagem but by that same token Chosen can get +1 to hit. I think the cheaper cost and the Troops slot gives Berzerkers a slight edge here.
- Warp Talons have the same attacks profile and weapon profile but get to re-roll wound rolls, have a 5+ invulnerable save, and get to deep strike and move 12″. Where Berzerkers beat them is the ability to go to AP-3 and get up to S8 with stratagem support and the Icon, which Warp Talons can’t get. Warp Talons are more expensive, though – 28ppm.
- Finally we’ve got Possessed, who are faster and tougher than Berzerkers, hit at the same S and AP, but do 2 damage on their melee attacks and have a 5+ invulnerable save and the Fearsome aura. They’re more expensive at 28ppm but you get a ton of additional value for the points and the only thing Berzerkers bring to the table here are pistols (whatever) and ObSec… and that’s only if they’re Troops in World Eaters army.
Ultimately the real value in Berzekers seems to be that they’re relatively inexpensive at the moment and in a World Eaters army, where being Troops enables them to get Objective Secured. Their biggest downside is that they don’t ignore morale or really have any way to avoid dealing with it, which makes them feel even squishier/more like glass cannons than their Thousand Sons and Death Guard counterparts. This means that small units that can trade are more likely to be the way to go with them.
Building a List
OK so what does a list look like here? Well, I think I’m going to have to pass on Kharn here and instead focus on the real value, which is Berzerker Troops. The Red Butcher Terminators are a fun novelty that I’ll likely buy in for as well, but the list is liable to start on 2-3 CP.
World Eaters Battalion Detachment (-4 CP, 2,000 points)
HQ: Lord Discordant w/Baleflamer, Mark of Khorne (190), Trait: True Berzerker (-1 CP)
HQ: Lord Discordant w/Baleflamer, Mark of Khorne (190)
HQ: Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor w/Mark of Khorne, Combi-Melta, Power Axe (130), Warlord: Violent Urgency (-1 CP)
Troops: Berzerkers x10 w/Icon (225)
Troops: Berzerkers x10 w/Icon (225)
Troops: Cultists x10 (50)
EL: Terminators x10 w/2x Reaper, Mark of Khorne (355), Red Butchers (-2 CP)
FA: Dreadclaw Drop Pod (115)
HS: Maulerfiend w/Lasher tendrils (150)
HS: Maulerfiend w/Lasher tendrils (150)
HS: Chaos Vindicator w/Siege Shield (140)
DT: Rhino (80)
Here’s my first pass. The list goes in on Lords Discordant and Maulerfiends as fast melee threats to support mobile Berzerkers while a big Terminator unit holds the middle, though admittedly that Terminator group can probably be cut for something else. But I’m a sucker for Red Butchers so that’s what I put in there. There are a few different daemon engine options in place of the Maulerfiends though I liked their output the most here and felt that Venomcrawlers’ +1 to psychic tests would just be wasted.
I could also be convinced that this is much better off running four 5-model units of Berzerkers is the better option here, putting two in the Dreadclaw. They can generate a lot more value individually that way, even if it makes the units themselves a bit more fragile.
These rules are a stop-gap solution and boy do they feel like it. Kharn mostly stinks here – a melee character who’s not super frightening in melee and comes with a major drawback for which there’s no discount or benefit to make up for it. Berzerkers are good little blenders and trading engines in a World Eaters army, where they can throw out large numbers of attacks for relatively low costs with just enough durability to be a pain. I don’t think this iteration of World Eaters is particularly competitive compared to some of the other options out there, though Berzerkers will certainly be fun to play around with in other legions.
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