There was a time, before the end of it all, before a salty priest opened up the wrong book in the wrong library and decided to become the end of all things. It was a time when being a follower of Chaos was a relaxing thing. It was a simpler time, where being the Everchosen of Chaos just meant declaring war on the entire world every couple hundred years, subduing greater demons inside magical swords, and getting possessed by the oldest daemon prince in existence only to get so mad about it that you spontaneously combusted.
In the setting of the Old World, the warriors of Norsca and the devout followers of Chaos are on the verge of an awakening but aren’t quite there yet. This is (probably) the time of the 11th Everchosen of Chaos, an unnamed warrior (probably Todd), has yet to give up the mantle to Asavar Kul, the man who would come to start the Great War Against Chaos and begin the chain of events that would see Archaon rise to power. The warriors of chaos found in The Ravening Hordes are a little less chaotic than they would come to be in the End Times, but they are no less deadly.
Table of Contents
Why Play Warriors of Chaos?
Are you a fan of elite, mobile armies with awesome close combat power? Or maybe you like hordes of screaming muscle-folk in loincloths wielding massive bludgeoning weapons? Or maybe you like evil dragons and cabals of super sorcerors casting magic missiles into the darkness and imbuing your oiled up murder-makers into daemonic oiled up murder-makers? If you said yes to any of those things then this is the army for you. Buyer beware, you do not take this army if you want to use your ballistic skill for anything.
Five Things You Need to Know to Play Warriors of Chaos
- The Special slot is filled to the brim with incredible options.
- The Chaos Dragon is a question your opponents need to have an answer to and often will not.
- The Mark of Chaos Undivided is a life saver, unless you’re doing some cheeky spellcasting, other marks are secondary.
- Close the gap fast. Warhounds or Horseman with Vanguard can only screen you for so long. The last thing you want is to be lit up by Plague of Rust or arcane bodkins (or your worst nightmare, both!)
- Invest in Dragon Ogres today!
There’s Something Special Here
Despite providing us the 76 universal special rules in the main rulebook, the Old World team deciding that just wasn’t crunchy enough for our little goblin brains to delight over and have given each faction several of their own:
Chaos Armor(X): Found on Heroes and the more elite options in the army, Chaos Armor provides anyone with it with a ward save of 5 or 6+. It also allows the wizards in a chaos army to wear armor at no penalty.
Ensorcelled Weapons: Regular hand weapons used by units with this rule have the Magical Attacks special rule and AP -1. It is important to note this only counts if you choose to use a single hand weapon in combat, swing with anything else (or even more hand weapons) and you lose this bonus. This is a great bonus for any of your units that get locked into combat past the first round.
Gaze of the Gods: Heroes in the Warriors of Chaos army may choose to roll on the gaze of the gods chart during their Command phase. On a 1 the model gains the stupidity special rule for the remainder of the game or permanently loses 1 leadership point if they already have this rule. On a 2 or a 3, the model gains either a bonus to initiative or toughness for the next round. On a 4,5,or 6 the model gains a permanent buff to either their Weapon Skill, Attacks, or Strength. This is an extremely powerful ability that can turn already competent combat units into absolute blenders if the stars align. Just be wary about going too hard without something to mitigate those rolls of 1, leadership isn’t what it used to be.
Marks of Chaos: Most units in the Warriors of Chaos army list have the Mark of Chaos special rule. By default they are considered to have the Mark of Chaos Undivided, though you can pay a premium to have this changed. All models must have the same Mark of Chaos in a unit and heroes with a specific Mark can only join units with that same Mark or with the Mark of Chaos Undivided. Heroes with the Mark of Chaos Undivided may join any unit.
- Mark of Chaos Undivided: Re-roll all Fear, Panic, and Terror tests.
- Mark of Khorne: Have the Frenzy special rule.
- Mark of Nurgle: Any enemy model that directs an attack against a model with this Mark in the combat phase must reroll any To Hit roll of a natural 6.
- Mark of Slaanesh: +1 Initiative during the first round of combat and automatically pass any Panic test they are forced to make.
- Mark of Tzeentch: Gain the Flaming Attacks and Magic Resistance(-1) special rules. Any Wizard with the Mark of Tzeentch that is part of a unit with the Mark of Tzeentch with a current unit strength of 10 or more may apply a +1 modifier to any casting roll.
What Can You Bring?
Before we break down some of the units available to the worshippers of the Ruinous Powers, we should note that in this particular time, Todd the Everchosen wasn’t as big on summoning actual factual daemons to his beck and call as his successors and as such a number of the units that had been part of the Warriors of Chaos line in previous editions are no more (at least for now). Gone are the Chaos Warshrine, the War Mammoth, the Mutalith Vortex Beast, Bloodcrushers, and any of the other units that amalgamated Norscans and daemons. As far as we can tell, Todd was cool with putting daemons inside of people and inside of cannons, but he was not cool with anyone riding them around. Bit of a progressive guy was Todd the Everchosen. What does that leave us with? Let’s dive in.
For Heroes, the Warriors of Chaos have access to Champions of Chaos, Sorcerers of Chaos and Daemon Princes.
The Champions of Chaos are your beatsticks of days past. They come with Chaos Armour (5+), Ensorcelled Weapons, Gaze of the Gods, Rallying Cry, and Mark of Chaos. The Chaos Lord comes with Full Plate Armor while his lesser champions carry the Heavy variety. Any champion of chaos may take one of a slew of different weapon options and a shield and may purchase up to 50 points in upgrades from the Gifts of the Gods. Your Chaos Lord is WS 7, Str 5, To 5, W 4, I 6, A 5 Ld 9, with the lesser champions getting slightly less elite almost across the board as you downgrade them.
The Exalted Champion and Aspiring Champion may be upgraded to be your BSB. Any Chaos champion may be mounted on a chariot of your choosing or a Chaos Steed, Exalted Champions and Chaos Lords may ride a Daemonic Mount, and the Chaos Lord may choose to hop onto a Manticore or Chaos Dragon.
No matter how you want to run your Warriors of Chaos, it is hard to pass up on a Chaos Lord. Their base stat line is incredible and it is very easy to walk around with a 2+ armour, 5+ ward and potentially a 5+ regeneration save. Not only that, but the Chaos Lord on dragon, while chalking in at a minimum of 500 points, is absolutely a powerhouse that will run roughshod over many lists. Sitting at a baseline toughness 6, with 10 wounds and 11 attacks in close combat and the above-mentioned armoured statline (AND Fly(10)!?!), most opponents are going to have to be very deliberate with what they feed it otherwise it will get out of control fast.
Daemon Princes are still here and still kinda good at everything, though they do have to pay for it. Coming in with Chaos Armour (4+) and Regeneration (5+) before upgrades and the options to pay for heavy armour, the fly special rule, gifts of chaos, wizard levels and magic items, it is pretty easy to end up with a 400 point highly mobile threat in multiple phases of the game.
Lastly, Sorceror Lords and Exalted Sorcerors bring that baseline magic prowess along with a very respectable statline should they get locked into combat and access to Battle Magic, Dark Magic, and Daemonology. It should also be noted that the signature spells for each of the chaos gods ae quite solid and you can build a very fun and janky list around multiple Tzeentch Sorcerors huddled around a Skull of Katam (+1 to cast for all wizards within 3 inches) just machine gunning magic missiles at your opponents from inside an escort squad.
Warriors of Chaos are still here, though they are down to a 4+ armour save should you invest in shields. Still rocking an impressive WS of 5 and 4s for Str, To and Initiative, there is definitely a place for a Warrior brick in your army given that much of the killing potential of the game has been toned down but do not overlook Marauders. At 9 points per model with Flails, Shields, and light armour, Marauders are quite the package to run in large numbers. They can choose to pay for Open Order or Skirmish formations and more importantly come with the Warband and Shieldwall special rules allowing them to increase their leadership by their rank bonus AND reroll their charge rolls, while potentially locking an opposing unit exactly where you need them for a turn.
Chaos Warhounds and Marauder Horseman are staple screening units and harassers. Don’t leave home without them. They come in very cheap and are absolutely perfect with the vanguard rule for blocking arrows, guns and even cannons from getting good angles on your lynchpin models.
Chaos Knights now have a Core option and make for a great flanking unit. With a 3+ armour and the First Charge special rule, a small squad of 5-6 are perfect for disrupting key opposing units or simply marching straight at their backlines.
If you’re really into the lottery, Forsaken are here too. At 19ppm they are a very pricey unit whose rules change every turn. If that dopamine hit is your cup of tea then go to town! A unit of Forsaken by Khorne in particular has the potential to go toe-to-toe with just about anything in the game in close combat if you roll well enough, or they could swing blindly with a pool noodle when you are in desperate straits.
In the Special slot, the Warriors of Chaos can field Chosen Chaos Warriors that match the profiles their basic kin would come to have in later times with extra attacks, armour, a built in 6+ ward save and the stubborn special rule. If marching ponderously towards your opponent like a juggernaut of lore is your jam, they’re a pretty tough nut to crack.
Chaos Trolls, Chaos Ogres, Chaos Chariots, and Chaos Spawn are also here and are all perfectly fine but don’t excite me much. Of these, Chaos Spawn are perhaps the most interesting to me as they can be taken in squads of 4 and like Forsaken have special marks of chaos. If you liked the lottery mode I mentioned for Forsaken earlier, you might as well drop a couple of units of these guys with Mark of Nurgle of Khorne and see what happens.
The real highlights here are Chosen Chaos Knights, Dragon Ogres, and Chimeras. At 2 attacks each, the option to take full plate for a 2+ armour save and a 6+ ward, Chosen Chaos Knights hit hard, hit fast and stick around. They have become a staple shock unit in my army, normally with a BSB embedded within them. They’re stubborn and can be upgraded with the drilled special rule to freely redress their ranks in a pinch (though they feel too expensive to run unit sizes that want to also take this). They also have First Charge and Counter Charge making them extremely effective at defending themselves against opposing shock units (where they will normally get the upper hand due to their higher initiative and save profile) and at dealing with infantry blobs alike.
Dragon Ogres are a Beastmen army list option that can also be taken within the Warriors of Chaos army without using Allies and they are rad as hell. With Heavy Armour and Armoured Hide (2) these bullies are sitting on a Str 5, To 4, W 4 profile at WS 4, move 7 and a 3+ armour save. They can be taken in squads of 1-9 and have no unit limit currently. Whether you run them in a squad or 2 of 3-6 or take a larger number of singleton squads to act as screens that can also dome an opposing character in a pinch, they can do a lot for you. I have had great success running squads of 3 and bull rushing opponent flanks with them as the ogres are great at shrugging off small arms fire and are often underestimated before they crash into the enemy lines. If that’s not enough, the models rock – just run them my friends.
Lastly, Chimeras are extremely potent flying monsters with a plethora of upgrade options. A Chimera with Flaming Breath, extra attacks, and regeneration is an excellent piece to run in any situation for a decent price tag.
In the Rare slot, Warriors of Chaos armies may take a single Chaos Giant per 1000 points (much improved from previous editions but still as random as ever), a Dragon Ogre Shaggoth per unit of Dragon Ogres (a chonky monster that feels a bit too expensive for what it does), Gorebeast Chariots, and a single Hellcannon per 1000 points.
Gorebeast Chariots are slower moving than their smaller kin, coming in at movement 6 and without the Swiftstride rule common to most chariots and cavalry but if it hits it hurts. A Gorebeast Chariot with Mark of Khorne does make for a great short range missile if you can keep your opponent from forcing long bomb charges onto you due to the frenzy rule. d6+2 Str 5 impact hits, killing blow on the Gorebeast itself and legitimate attacks from the charioteers on the back make for a tight little package at 145 points.
Finally, the Hellcannon. What a piece of garbage. You may think that’s aggressive of me to say. Well dear reader, I have biases. In 8th edition, the Hellcannon was a feared weapon of mass destruction that forced panic tests and sometimes accidentally charged you and killed you in close combat instead. I hated playing against it and loved playing with it. Now? It does those same things but rarely ever when you want it to. As someone who was blessed with the opportunity to play with these new army rules in the weeks leading up to their release I managed to get in about half a dozen games using the Hellcannon before I had to put it out of its misery. In those games, it misfired 11 times, killed 3 models in shooting and 3 in close combat and caused a single panic test. By the end it was my favorite meme.
Now, much of that was just terrible luck and the armies I chose to play against but some of it was also the fact that the Hellcannon now as two chances to misfire in a turn instead of one. The Caged Fury special rule is a leadership test (as it was in the past) that is taken in the command phase. Now if the test is failed, however, the Hellcannon fully misfires rather than the previous run rampant it used to do. The Hellcannon has its own misfire table, on a 1 the daemon inside breaks free, the cannon is removed from the table and all units within 3d6 inches take d6 Strength 5 AP -1 hits. On a 2-4 the Hellcannon eats one of its Dwarven handlers, and on a 5 or 6 it immediately moves 3d6 inches as if it had the random movement special rule. When you combine this penchant for misfiring (either due to leadership or artillery dice) with the return of partial hits on templates it can be difficult for the Hellcannon to be effective. The saving grace is that if you DO manage to actually shoot something and wound it, everything wounded is subject to the Multiple Wound (d3) special rule and the old forced panic test still applies.
The Ruinous Gifts of Chaos
Like many armies, Warriors of Chaos have two sets of upgrades they can provide their Heroes and the champions of their units. There are nine potential gifts of chaos available and the Warriors of Chaos section of Ravening Hordes provides eighteen Magic Items to choose from.
As far as Gifts go there are some good ones here. Enchanting Aura forces any enemy unit in combat with the bearer to lose the Strike First rule if they have it and if they do not, they gain the Strike Last special rule. Playing with initiative is always worth it this edition. Acid Ichor is another standout here, particularly if you’re running a Chaos Lord on one of their bigger mount options. For 15 points, every wound this model suffers in a challenge causes a Str 4 ap -2 hit in return.
For magic items, the Daemonsword is back again. This time it increases the wearers Str by d3, their attacks by d3, is AP -2 and gives them the Strikes First special rule, however any natural rolls of 1 strikes the bearer’s unit (or themselves) instead. While the clap back is rough, for 75 points and given the Chaos Lord (Or Daemon Prince’s) base profile, it might be worth taking a look at. On the Armour side of things, the Armour of the Damned is another mighty expensive piece of equipment that counts as Full Plate Armour and forces opponents to reroll all successful To Hit rolls against the bearer when in combat. The Crown of Everlasting Conquest has become an autotake for me on my champions, as it is a 40 point Talisman that grants the bearer Regeneration (5+). Weirdly, most clutch of all is the common item Favour of the Gods as for 5 points it lets you reroll the d6 on the Gaze of the Gods chart once per game.
The Lores of Chaos
Wizards in the Warrior of Chaos army get access to signature spells based on their Mark of Chaos.
- Undivided wizards may take ‘Winds of Chaos’, a Hex spell with a range of 21″ that reduces an enemy unit’s movement speed by 1 or 2 depending on your casting roll.
- Slaanesh followers gain access to ‘Acquiescence’, a Hex with a range of 12 that gives an enemy unit the Always Strike Last special rule until the end of the next Combat Phase.
- The Mark of Nurgle grants ‘Fleshy Abundance’ a range self Enchantment that Remains in Play. The wizard and any unit they have joined have their Toughness increased by 1.
- Wizards bearing the Mark of Tzeentch may take the ‘Blue Fire’ signature spell, a Magic Missile with a range of 18 that causes D6+3 Str 4 Ap-2 hits with the Flaming Attacks special rule.
Final Ruinous Thoughts
The Warriors of Chaos are a fun beatstick army with possibly the scariest single Hero option in the game. In the games I’ve gotten to play with the army since getting the hang of the rules, they have been very good at dictating the pace and tempo of what is going on, though they can struggle into faster skirmishing threats with proper magical support (Once again, Plague of Rust is your nightmare). As already mentioned, Chosen Chaos Knights, Dragon Ogres, and mounted/flying characters make closing the gap relatively quick and their armour saves make mistakes much more forgiving, but you still need to be deliberate with your close combat phase to make the most out of what you’ve got, as you’ll often be outnumbered.
Here’s a couple list ideas to brew around:
Yes He’s Got Two Hats…
Army Composition: Warriors of Chaos
Chaos Lord on Chaos Dragon 597pts
Shield, Crown of Everlasting Conquest, Bedazzling Helm, Acid Ichor
Sorcerer Lord Lvl 4 225pts
20x Warriors of Chaos 298pts
Shields, Full Command
5x Marauder Horsemen 70pts
5x Marauder Horsemen 65pts
Throwing Spears, Shields
5x Chaos Warhounds 35pts
5x Chaos Warhounds 35pts
5x Chosen Chaos Knights 223pts
Full Command, Lances, Full Plate
Fiend Tail, Flame Breath, Regeneration (5+)
Fiend Tail, Flame Breath, Regeneration (5+)
This list is a monster mash nightmare with 3 Flying threats covered in the thick layer of murder. The plan here is simple enough, rush your opponent with three big monsters, one of which clothed in absolute unholy terror, while you couch your Sorcerer in the Chaos Warrior brick to give them whatever buffs they need to stick around in combat should your vanguard collapse. The warhounds and marauders act mostly just as fast moving screens to speedbump opposing elite units or protect your flanks. The Chosen Chaos Knights are a bit of a swiss army knife, either supporting your flying circus early or hunting your opponent’s own faster units should they try to ignore the dragon in the room. We’re just going to be relying on Mark of Chaos Undivided for our Panic tests and being better than everyone else in combat to avoid break tests because the points for a BSB just aren’t here.
I’m a Barbarian
Army Composition: Warriors of Chaos
Exalted Champion 239pts
BSB, Great Weapon, Mark of Nurgle, Armour of Silvered Steel, Enchanting Aura
Sorceror Lord 281pts
Lvl 4, Chaos Steed, Mark of Tzeentch, Favour of the Gods, Lore Familiar
Chaos Marauders x35 367pts
Great Weapons, Light Armour, Shields, Full Command
Marauder Horsemen x5 75pts
Flails, Javelins, Shields
Marauder Horsemen x5 75pts
Flails, Javelins, Shields
Chosen Chaos Knights x6 316pts
Lances, Full Plate, Mark of Tzeentch, Blasted Standard
Dragon Ogres x4 248pts
Heavy Armour, Halberds
Dragon Ogres x4 248pts
Heavy Armour, Halberds
Gorebeast Chariot 145
Mark of Khorne
This list drops that big ol’ dragon in order to spread the meat around the rest of the army. The foot BSB forces your opponents to Always Strike Last, allowing the Marauders to maintain equal footing against opposing units so they can hopefully overwhelm enemies in follow-up combat rounds. Our mounted Tzeentch sorceror will join the Chosen Chaos Knights to get +1 to their casting rolls and use Lore Familiar to pick the spells they need to based on our opponent’s army. Everything in the list moves fast other than the Marauders (and that can be easily fixed with the Steed of Shadows spell in early turns if you need it) so closing the gap isn’t an issue. The Marauder Horsemen here are more than just screens for the knights, javelins let them march and shoot and if they are ignored those flails will let you put out some surprise wounds on a warmachine or opposing chaff. As a take all comers list, it gives you a little bit of everything into most matchups.
The Warriors of Chaos are incredibly fun army to field, they have a resiliency that really isn’t replicated anywhere else, and despite being a ‘one phase’ army; in many ways the amount of strategy they bring to that phase makes for some really exciting playstyles and cinematic experiences on the table.