Since the release of 8th edition, it seems like the followers of every single Chaos god have gotten love. Thousand Sons got their own codex, and it’s crazy viable at the tournament level, Death Guard finally got their own codex and a whole new range of models, plus Nurgle got new Great Unclean Ones, and even Slaanesh got an update with new Greater Daemons and units. And yeah, while Khorne’s legions did get some sweet new models in Wrath and Rapture alongside Slaanesh, it’s hard not to feel like the Blood God’s been a little left out with regard to Warhammer 40k. Well good news, faithful devotees of the Blood God! Goonhammer is here to help you through these trying times by providing you with this guide to everything you need to know about adding skulls to the skull throne in the 41st Millennium. In this article, we’ll be covering the factions, units, stratagems, and strategies that underpin a successful Khorne-based army, and then we’ll top it off by arming you with a few different lists to try out and build on.
Note that this is not a full overview of Chaos Space Marines and Daemons. While we cover a lot here, we’re tackling things from the lens of what you might field in an army where everything (or mostly everything) is aligned to Khorne and planning to fight in melee combat. That means we’ll skip over units, traits, and relic options where they don’t really fit with the broader strategies.
Finally, any strategy article like this represents a time and a place. At the time of publication, it is October 2019, shortly after the release of Codex: Space Marines and prior to the release of Psychic Awakening and the Imperial Fists and Salamanders supplements.
- Killing – Most Khorne-aligned units are absolute buzzsaws in combat. Once they make their charge, they are going to exact a heavy toll on the enemy forces. Khorne has some of the game’s best melee units, including winged Daemon Princes, Kharn the Betrayer, Bloodletters, and the absolutely terrifying Khorne Berzerkers, who fight twice every turn.
- Maiming – Khorne units tend to have high strength comparative to other units in the same categories, even those of the other Chaos gods. What they lack in psychic power buffs they can make up for with sheer brute force. They also have a few tricks for boosting their prowess in melee combat.
- Burning – Some Khorne units are also good at shooting, when they aren’t chopping things up with massive axes.
- Psychic powers – Let’s get this out of the way: Sorcery and psychic powers are for cowards. Real warriors do not resort to them. However we do have to acknowledge that yes, from time to time, they can be a powerful asset. Khorne does not have access to any psychic powers or psykers, but does provide several ways to deny powers.
- Shooting – Generally speaking, Khorne-heavy armies will be worse at shooting. They just don’t want to be doing it anyways.
- Surviving – Khorne doesn’t care where the blood and skulls come from, and it shows in his units. Khorne units hit like a freight train, but tend to be relatively fragile. Berserkers and Bloodletters will tear things up when they charge, but once the enemy starts shooting at them, they’ll die pretty quick. This means that many Khorne units are basically glass cannons.
- Holding objectives – being bad at surviving hails of fire and wanting to charge headlong into the enemy means that Khorne units tend to be pretty bad at holding objectives. The best way to protect your objective holders is to either kill the opponent’s ranged units or tie them up in combat.
There are several ways to play Khorne-devoted armies or to make use of units devoted to the Blood God. Principally, there are two Khorne factions we need to discuss: Chaos Daemons and Chaos Space Marines, each of which gives us a wonderful toolbox of deadly implements to play with, and which compliment each other very nicely in some key ways.
Khorne Daemons have seen regular use in competitive play through Bloodletter bombs, which are incredibly effective combat monsters to throw at your enemies. The rest of the Khornate daemon options have been less effective, particularly because they don’t come with the same psychic power bonuses that the other gods provide.
- Daemonic. Generally, daemons have a 5+ invulnerable save. This is OK on stuff that has an armor save, but it means things like Bloodletters are going to die quickly once they get hit.
- Unstoppable Ferocity. Units with this ability that charge, are charged, or perform a Heroic Intervention get +1 to their Attacks and Strengths characteristics until the end of the turn. This is great, and it means that when you do fight with Khorne Daemons, you want to win decisively so you can charge again next turn.
- Locus of Rage. If all the models in your CHAOS DAEMONS Detachment have the KHORNE keyword, it becomes a dedicated to Khorne and Characters in it get an aura that lets friendly Khorne Daemons re-roll charge distances within 6”. Also very useful to have, since Khorne Daemons want to be charging all the tim.
These are the units that “get there” in competitive terms.
Daemon Prince of Chaos
These guys are as good as they ever were and you’re going to want at least one and probably multiples in your Khorne army. They show up competitively in Daemon detachments all the time, always with wings and usually either with two sets of Malefic Talons or the Skullreaver relic axe. Take advantage of their 8W to screen them until they can either counter-charge something hitting your lines or jump over your screens to smash a large target to pieces. Khorne Daemon Princes get +1 Attack base and still benefit from Unstoppable Ferocity, meaning they’ll end up with 9 talon attacks on the charge if they’ve doubled up. They also have an aura that gives re-rolls on to hit rolls of 1 to all KHORNE DAEMON units within 6”, which will affect Chaos Space Marine units as well if they’ve got the right keywords.
Wings Note: The relic axe is definitely the big money here, being so good that a prince with it is often snuck into “mixed” Daemon detachments.
Heralds of Khorne
Heralds essentially come in three varieties: Bloodmasters, your bog-standard Heralds, Skullmasters, your Heralds on Juggernauts, and Blood Thrones, your Heralds on a Chariot. All three have the Locus of Khorne aura, which boosts nearby KHORNE DAEMONS within 6” by giving them +1 Strength. This is incredibly powerful, and also works on Chaos Space Marine Daemon units.
- Bloodmasters are by far the most useful of the three herald varieties, clocking in as the cheapest HQ you can take for a Khorne army. Their Locus of Khorne aura is very useful for buffing Bloodletter bombs and their upgraded swords are great. Note that on the charge, these guys are S7.
Gunum’s Note: Character of Glass. These are able to deal a bunch more damage output then you’d expect. Their +1 Strength aura is almost a requirement in most of your lists.
- Skullmasters are the Juggernaut variety. They’re just not efficiently costed, and are only going to show up in casual lists, even buffing Bloodcrushers (since Bloodmasters buff Bloodcrushers just as effectively).
- The Blood Throne is the largest, beefiest version of the Herald of Khorne. Bigger and tougher, but it’s only got 6” Movement. It’s still sitting under 10 Wounds so it’s got some protection but ultimately there’s no reason to take this over either a cheaper Bloodmaster (or even Skullmaster) or pay the extra points for a Daemon Prince.
These guys are glass cannons, but they’re very good glass cannons. They do their best work in large groups (20+), where they can take advantage of their Murderous Tide rule, which gives them +1 to hit. At only 3 Toughness, they’ll die quickly if something gets a chance to shoot at them or retaliate, so the goal is to treat them like a bullet and throw them into a Bloodletter bomb (we’ll talk more about Bloodletter bombs later). The only downside is the amount of CP you have to invest in a Bloodletter bomb, but it’s worth it. Be sure to give them a banner that you can upgrade to a Banner of Blood and an instrument so you can get the +1 to your Advance and Charge rolls – you’ll need it. These guys are the backbone of a Khorne Daemons strategy, and they show up often in competitive lists.
Bad, But Workable
There are a bunch of Khorne Daemon units that aren’t great, but also aren’t terrible if you’re trying to make the faction work. These tend to be units that are just outclassed by other options or aren’t quite good enough, but you aren’t flat out killing yourself by taking them.
The special character Herald of Khorne. Comes with an extra wound, an extra attack, and a better sword, and the ability to re-roll failed hit and wound rolls against CHARACTERS. He’s also got a different aura, giving +1 to hit rolls for friendly BLOODLETTER units within 8”. This is a tasty ability, but not one that standard Bloodletters need if they’re sitting on 20+ models and already hitting on a 2+ for Murderous Tide — ultimately they need the +1 Strength more. Where it does have value is on Bloodcrushers, who got the BLOODLETTER Keyword in the Codex: Daemons FAQ. If you’re taking them, it’s worth considering Skulltaker with them, as he’s got an extra 1” of Movement and can mostly keep up with them.
Fast harassers who are also best run in big blobs. For double the cost of a Bloodletter, you get more speed, higher toughness, an extra wound, an extra attack, and the ability to attempt to deny one psychic power per enemy phase. Unfortunately you give up having AP-3 and the ability to do multiple damage on an attack. On the whole, it’s probably not worth it
Gunum’s Note: As one of the only ways Khorne Daemons have to Deny the Witch, there is an argument to be made for running three small units to help with all of the dirty cheaters in this game. I mean Psykers. Same thing.
An HQ special character Flesh Hound, but with three heads. Karanak’s got the ability to mark an enemy character at the start of the game and get +1 to hit and wound rolls against them, and he’s got 5 S6, AP-2, 2-damage attacks on the charge. His biggest asset however, is being able to attempt to deny two psychic powers per enemy psychic phase. His biggest disadvantage is that he’s the third-most useful HQ in the Khorne Daemons cupboard, and so he’ll usually get squeezed out by a Daemon Prince and a Bloodmaster.
Gunum’s Note: My tech unit of choice. Being unable to deal with psychic powers can really suck, the last thing you need is your 4++ Bloodcrusher bomb to be hit by Death Hex and die immediately. Hide this little puppy alongside your Khorne hounds and deny 2 spells from 1 dog! You can put him in combat, as he is tougher than you’d expect at T5 with 6 wounds and has an AP-2, 2D bite that can really help against smaller characters. Keep him safe like you would any beloved pupper, until you see that dumb elf neighbor who won’t turn off the NumaNuma dance at 4 am, then send him out to exact your unholy vengeance.
Oh you poor, rage-filled children. Bloodthirsters have a great model and look terrifying on the table (even though they now sit somewhere on the smaller end of Greater Daemons), but ultimately they just aren’t good enough to overcome the fact that your opponent will shoot them off the table before they can act – they are neither fast enough nor tough enough on the whole, and their damage output is surprisingly bad for what it seems like the incarnation of fury should be bringing to the table. The fact that their attacks and WS degrade as they take damage just adds insult to injury – why couldn’t they at least have their Attacks increase with damage, similar to some Chaos Space Marine vehicles?
The only version of the Bloodthirster you should even consider in a competitive setting is the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage, whose Great Axe gives him the ability to do some real damage to either big targets or hordes with 7 S16 or 14 S8 attacks on the charge if you’re at half health or better (as well as a chance to score extra hits on 6s). You essentially have to run him with the Armor of Scorn if you do this to up his survivability against mortal wounds and anti-tank firepower.
Bloodletters on Juggernauts. Faster and tougher than Bloodletters, but neither fast enough nor tough enough, even with the extra wound they picked up after the Wrath and Rapture release.
Gunum’s Note: This was the first unit that got me into 40k. Why are giant rhinos being ridden by berzerker sword guys awesome? Because they are Metal. I loved the idea. They are just, point per model, not good. But if you want to see someone get really scared and maybe raise some eyebrows while you’re at it, for a perfectly reasonable 589 points you can run 12 of these rock stars in a single, deep strikable unit that gets a 3d6+1 charge when it comes down. That will give you 49 S6 Ap-3 and 36 S7 AP-1 1D attacks on the charge, on at T4, 4 wound body. After you drink the blood and salty tears of whatever you charged, then spend 3 command points to attack a second time to continue the SKULL crushing. During their shooting phase, you Warp Surge to maybe, hopefully, live through some shooting on the following phase. Cause if they don’t deal with these death rhinos, they will die.
They’re not great, but they aren’t terrible, either. The Skull Cannon has a battle cannon that ignores cover on a fairly tough platform that won’t fold immediately in combat. Not a first or second pick unit but hardly the trashiest thing either.
Gunum’s Note: You’re Khorne. This has a gun. What are you doing?
Finally there are some units that don’t even get there with help. You could take these, but if you are it’s not worth it, and it’s especially not worth trying to make these work outside of very casual games.
Awful. 1 conditionally good buff and 3 mediocre ones stuck on an immovable terrain piece. Better than most fortifications by virtue of being summonable via Daemonic Ritual but still 100pts better spent elsewhere. (Like seriously, the Herald buff is so useless. Put yourself up on an exposed position for a little extra invulnerable save and an extra attack you can’t use because most models can’t actually reach you up on the platform to hit you).
Gunum’s Note: A small note on this: It is really bad, but it is unkillable and can be used as a move blocker if anything. It is even less bad if you are going for maximum attacks on a Possessed star or trying to get just a little extra distance on buffing deep striking Bloodletters or Bloodcrushers.
The special character Bloodthirster. We legit wish he worked more like he does in Age of Sigmar than here. He has shades of it, with his base number of attacks increasing the further down the damage brackets he goes, but it’s a pale imitation of the hilarious levels of murder that AoS Skarbrand can achieve when brought to low health. Inflated cost and lack of FLY further seals the deal of being worse than his generic ‘Thirster brothers. His one cute trick is combo-ing with a unit with FLY to trap Flyers that can’t hover in combat, and then kill them when they fail their Fall Back attempts and are unable to move their minimum distance. This is hilarious, but it’s not worth trying to build around.
A big Daemon vehicle that can spit D6 S8, AP-2 3-Damage shots, these aren’t as accurate as the Skull Cannon (hitting on 5+ when moving), aren’t as strong in combat as a Daemon Prince or Bloodthirster (they also have a WS of 4+), and they can’t be protected like a Daemon Prince. Even with the points drop in Chapter Approved 2018, they aren’t worth it.
- Banner of Blood (1 CP) – Used before the battle. Upgrades a banner to a Banner of Blood which, once per game, can be activated to let one unit charge 3D6” instead of 2D6”. This is incredibly good, and how you’ll get your Bloodletters into combat the turn they arrive from the warp. Remember that if they’re near a Herald (or other KHORNE DAEMON CHARACTER) in a Khorne-devoted detachment, they’ll also get to re-roll to their charge distance. The average charge distance you’ll roll in those situations is 10.5, more than enough to close the distance. A reason to bring Bloodletters to the table. A++
- Locus of Wrath (2 CP) – Used in the Fight phase. You pick a KHORNE DAEMON CHARACTER in your army and until the end of the phase you can re-roll failed hit rolls for KHORNE DAEMON units within 6”. This is OK. The re-rolls are the old type that get messed up by modifiers, but unless you’re fighting Plaguebearers, that won’t matter most of the time in melee. The big problem is that 2 CP is a lot to pay for the effect. B
- Frenetic Bloodlust (3 CP) – The Khorne “Fight again” stratagem. Goes off at the end of the Fight phase. It’s very good, but expensive. A
- Denizens of the Warp (1 / 2 CP) – Used during deployment to put a unit of CHAOS DAEMONS into the warp, so they can teleport onto the table later. You’ll be using this in most or all of your games to drop a Bloodletter Bomb right into the enemy’s face. The amount it costs depends on the Power Level of the unit, so note that 20 Bloodletters can teleport in for 1 CP, but 21 costs you 2 CP. A+
- Daemonic Possession (1 CP) – Use when a Psyker rolls a Perils result. That unit takes 2D3 mortal wounds instead of D3. Situational, but very useful when it goes off. B
- Warp Surge (2 CP) – Use at the start of the phase and pick a Daemon unit. Until the end of the phase, you can’t re-roll saves for that unit, but you get +1 to your invulnerable save (to a 3+ maximum). This is most useful for protecting bigger units, like Bloodcrushers or Bloodthirsters, when they’re about to get wrecked by heavier fire. Expensive to use though. B+
Khorne Daemons have their own set of warlord traits. None of the warlord traits that the named characters get are good fits for them, so avoid making them your warlord.
- Aspect of Death – Each time an enemy model fails a Morale test within 8” of your warlord, they lose an additional model. This doesn’t matter against big hordes and against high-value targets, they probably won’t fail morale tests. D
- Glory of Battle – Add 1 to your Warlord’s Attacks characteristic whilst there are more enemy models within 8” than friendly models. A very situational way to get +1 Attack when most of the time you’d be better off just taking the Legendary Fighter trait from the core rulebook. C
- Oblivious to Pain – Roll a die each time your Warlord loses a wound. On a 6, they don’t lose the wound and you can re-roll failed hit and wound rolls for your warlord until the end of your next turn. This one’s OK for boosting the survivability of a Bloodthirster warlord, but there are better options. B-
- Immense Power – Add 1 to your Warlord’s Strength characteristic. This works best on a Daemon Prince or Skullmaster, where you are essentially giving it the ability to get to a key Strength threshold on charges – 9 for the Daemon Prince, 8 for the Bloodmaster. A
- Devastating Blow – Every time your Warlord fights, it can trade all its attacks for a single attack that does D3 mortal wounds. This will rarely be more efficient than just throwing out the 7 to 13 attacks you’ve carefully engineered to happen. C
- Rage Incarnate – Re-roll hit rolls of 1 for friendly KHORNE DAEMON units that charged this turn and are within 8” of your Warlord when they fight. This ability doesn’t do much for Daemon Princes but it’s great on a Bloodmaster paired with a large blob of Bloodletters. A
Khorne Daemons have access to four relics and they’re all pretty decent, but a couple are real stand-outs.
- Armour of Scorn – Khorne monsters only. Gives the bearer a 4+ invulnerable save and the bearer can attempt to deny one enemy psychic power per phase. Pretty solid, and you basically need it if you take a Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage. A
- The Crimson Crown – Khorne model only. Each time you make a wound roll of 6+ for a friendly KHORNE DAEMON unit within 6” of the bearer, the model that made the attack can make an additional attack with the same weapon (these don’t generate additional attacks). This one is weird in that it procs additional attacks off Wounds. Interesting because it can work with Chaos Space Marine units with the KHORNE keyword, so potentially interesting if you can pair a Herald with something like a Venomcrawler or some Lords Discordant, but it’s not going to generate enough attacks for you most of the time. B
- A’rgath, the King of Blades – Replaces a blade of blood or helforged sword on a KHORNE model. A sword with a S+1, AP-4, D3 damage profile that lets you re-roll failed wound rolls when targeting a character and its damage ups to flat 3 if you give it to a Daemon Prince. It’s… OK. On a DP you’re basically looking for this as a potential second relic after you’ve given the Skullreaver to another Daemon Prince but and most of the time you’re going to wish you’d just doubled up on talons. Take the Skullreaver before this. On Heralds it’s not really worth spending the relic. C+
- Skullreaver – This thing fucks. Replaces an axe of Khorne, great axe of Khorne, or daemonic axe. Profile is S+3, AP-4, D6 Damage and against TITANIC units you re-roll failed wound rolls. Additionally, each time you roll a 6+ to Wound, your target takes an extra D3 mortal wounds. Now we’re talking. This thing is money on a Daemon Prince of Khorne, particularly if you have to go up against Knights. You could put this on a Bloodthirster but they’ll probably get killed before you can close the gap to use it. A
With Vigilus Ablaze, Khorne Daemons get access to their own Specialist Detachment, the Legion of Skulls. Unfortunately, it kind of sucks. For 1 CP, you can upgrade a Khorne Daemons Detachment to be a Legion of Skulls Detachment, which gives every BLOODLETTER the LEGION OF SKULLS keyword. Here’s what that gets you:
- You get access to a Field Commander Warlord Trait – Bloodblessed, which gives you +1 Attack and another +1 Attack if you’re within 6” of an enemy CHARACTER. This is OK for a Bloodmaster/Skullmaster, but there are better ways to spend your CP.
- You get access to a relic, The Goreplate, which lets you roll a D6 at the end of any Fight phase where you killed a model, and add 2 if you killed a Character. On a 4+, you regain D3 wounds. This is fun, but Bloodmasters aren’t big enough for this to matter and Skullmasters aren’t good enough to make this worth taking.
- The Brazen Skull Stratagem (1 CP) – Use during the Shooting phase. Pick a Legion of Skulls model in your army, pick an enemy unit within 8”, and roll a D6. If the result is equal to or greater than your BS, that unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. This is OK. The most interesting thing about it is that it’s not a to hit roll, so you can use it to huck D3 mortal wounds onto flyers that come too close to your ground units.
- The Red Tide Stratagem (2 CP) – Use in the Charge phase and pick a unit that was Charged by a LEGION OF SKULLS unit this phase. Legion of Skulls units that declare a charge against that same unit (and no others) get to add 2 to their charge rolls. This is something I guess you’d use to make sure your Bloodmaster makes it into the same combat as your Bloodletter bomb, but it’s really not worth 3 CP to make that happen. It’s only really going to be useful if you’re doubling or tripling up on things, with 2 squads of bloodletters, but at that point you’re spending all your CP on a single Fight phase trick carried out by like 500 points of stuff.
We’ll talk about lists later on, but in this section we’ll discuss a few core strategies for running Khorne Daemons that you’ll want to use and be thinking about as you build lists.
The Bloodletter Bomb
This is basically a group of 20-30 Bloodletters with an instrument and a Banner of Blood, usually accompanied by a Skullmaster. Both units are placed in the warp using the Denizens of the Warp Stratagem, to arrive on the battlefield more than 9” away from an enemy on turn 2. They’re basically a bullet at this point — activate the banner and they get 3D6+1” charge, with a full re-roll from the Bloodmaster. On an average roll you’ll get 11.5”, more than enough to close any gaps between you and the opponent. Remember to hold a couple back to keep in range of the Bloodmaster in case he doesn’t make the charge, though.
Ideally, you use this to charge something out of LOS or that’s already been tied up in combat, since overwatch shooting is liable to kill 1-2 of your Bloodletters and cost you your +1 to hit bonus on a smaller unit. Or you can take more than 20 to buy yourself some insurance, but that’ll cost you an extra CP. You can also take them in smaller groups as well, and leave the Herald out, which is something you see more often in soup lists, i.e. lists for cowards.
Not the most competitive strategy, but there’s a case to be made for running 2 to 3 minimum-size units of Flesh Hounds that screen Karanak. Have them race up the table to sit within 24” of your opponent’s psykers and have fun with the ability to throw out 5 Deny the Witch Attempts on key powers. Then use your Khorne dogs to harass their cheaper, objective-holding units.
Chaos Space Marines
The other half of the wonderful, blood-filled Khorne-devoted pie are Chaos Space Marines. These come in a variety of different flavors, but the most relevant will be World Eaters. Before we dive into them, let’s talk Rules.
- Hateful Assault – A unit with this rule gets +1 attack the turn it charges, is charged, or Heroically Intervenes. This is exactly the kind of boost most of the melee units in Codex: Chaos Space Marines needed, and makes units like Khorne Berzerkers an absolute terror when they charge. Hateful Assault is basically the reason Khorne Chaos Space Marines are even competitively viable to begin with.
- Death to the False Emperor – When a unit with this ability rolls a 6+ for a hit roll in the Fight phase against an IMPERIAL unit, you can immediately make another attack with the same weapon. This is pretty situational, but it has two key upsides: 1. Half the game’s armies are IMPERIUM (and possibly more now, thanks to the new Codex: Space Marines), and 2. You can modify the to hit roll to make this go off on a 5+ or 4+ with the right buffs. Overall it’s a bad rule, though.
- Summoning – Khorne Chaos Space Marine characters can summon Khorne Daemons if they don’t move. This is something we’ll rarely use because we usually want our characters running into the enemy as quickly as possible, but keeping a single unit’s worth of points aside to summon something important isn’t the worst thing.
Legion Trait: Butcher’s Nails. When a unit with this trait makes a successful charge, you can make one additional attack with each of its models in the subsequent Fight phase. It feels like they tried to make this awful (it doesn’t proc on Heroic Interventions or being charged), but with the addition of Hateful Assault, it’s suddenly amazing to give good combat units, especially Berserkers, +2 attacks on the charge. The only challenge will be getting them to the party.
TheChirurgeon’s Note: Thanks to some INCREDIBLY poor writing of the legion trait (and an FAQ clarification), this only works on the first round of attacks in a given Fight phase. It’s still good to have, just not the total housing you’d hope for on Berzerkers and Kharn.
In addition to the Attack boost, World Eaters also get access to two special characters – Kharn and Zhufor, and World Eaters armies can take Berserkers as Troops. This is huge, because it means you can actually take units you want to take in the Troops slots of a Chaos Space Marines army.
Legion Trait: Rend the Foe. Every time you roll a Wound roll of a 6+ for a unit with this ability in the fight phase in a turn in which the model charged, was charged or performed a Heroic Intervention, the attack is resolved at AP-4. For a warband whose gimmick is “Loves Daemon Engines,” this doesn’t actually do much for them. Overall it’s an OK trait, but too hard to depend on to get much use out of it. It’d be much more useful if Brazen Beasts could use Veterans of the Long War, but as Renegades they’re locked out of using it so you’ll want to look at Soultearer Portent from Dark Apostles as an alternate way of making this occur more often.
Red Corsairs (Renegades)
Not exactly Khorne, but they are red.
Legion Trait: Raiders From the Maelstrom. A unit with this trait can Advance and Charge in the same turn. Also if a Detachment has 3+ units with this trait, it generates +1 CP. If it has 3+ units of Chaos Space Marines, it generates +3 CP instead. While not strictly a Khorne faction, Red Corsairs have a solid trait for Khorne marines to have – the ability to Advance and Charge is solid, especially on characters like the Lord Discordant and Helbrutes. You also get to keep access to valuable Psykers, if you want to blaspheme against the Blood God with the filthy tricks of sorcerers and use Warptime, Prescience, or Masters of Possession to boost your units’ abilities. You lose Veterans of the Long War, but the CP is nice. You could run regular Renegades instead of Red Corsairs, but probably better to run them as Corsairs.
Sometimes Khorne wears black.
Legion Trait: Black Crusaders. Units with this trait get +1 Ld. Also, when they Advance, their Rapid Fire weapons become Assault weapons until the end of the Shooting Phase. Also not strictly a Khorne Legion, but friendly to the cause. Taking Black Legion to get you Abaddon, the most powerful KHORNE fighter in the game and a source of full rerolls To Hit, and Haarken, who boosts Raptors of any legion. Also, you get access to the best Warlord Traits Chaos Space Marines get and some really good relics.
- Fury of Khorne (3 CP) – Lets a HERETIC ASTARTES KHORNE INFANTRY or BIKER unit fight again. Kind of bullshit that marines get this on any unit but Chaos only gets it for a sub-set of Khorne units for the same cost but here we are. This is one of the strongest weapons at your disposal, since it allows you to get a third activation of World Eaters combat off with bonus attacks and any other stratagems applied. A
- Scorn of Sorcery (World Eaters, 1 CP) – Used during the Psychic phase when a power is manifested within 24”. Negates the power on a D6 roll of a 4+. This is pretty good, since it’s got a strong range and a flat 4+ gives you better odds against psykers who get one or more casting bonuses. A little situational, but good to have. B+
- Burning Daemonheart (Brazen Beasts, 1 CP) – Use at the end of the Fight phase. Pick a unit within 1” of a BRAZEN BEAST DAEMON ENGINE and roll a D6. On a 2-4, it takes D3 mortal wounds; on a 5-6 it takes 3 mortal wounds. Kind of a neat cap on whatever damage you’ve dealt and an OK way to finish a target off (the expected value of this roll is 2 mortal wounds), but a bit situational and tied to units whose abilities don’t really synergize with the Legion Trait. B
- Daemonforge (1 CP) – Use in the Shooting or Fight phase. Pick a DAEMON VEHICLE. That model can re-roll failed hit and wound rolls until the end of the phase. This stratagem absolutely whips. It’s a must-have for any Daemon Engines you’re bringing to the table and is great on Kytans, Lords Discordant, Maulerfiends, Vencomcrawlers, and Blood Slaughterers. A+
- Veterans of the Long War (1 CP) – Use in the Shooting or Fight phase. Pick an Infantry or Bikes unit (that isn’t a Renegade chapter). Add 1 to Wound rolls for that unit until the end of the phase. Another fantastic ability and a build-around staple in Chaos marine lists. Pairs wonderfully with Berserkers to give them 2+ to wound against infantry or 4+ to wound against heavier vehicles. A+
There’s a lot more going on with the Chaos Space Marine units, and a lot more ground to cover in terms of strategies. Codex: Chaos Space Marines give Khorne armies a lot of options, and several ways to get great synergy across the two books, where bonuses that affect KHORNE DAEMONS can boost units in the Chaos Space Marines army.
As good as they ever are, but there’s a bit of debate whether or not they’re as good or better as the Codex: Daemons version. Chaos Space Marine Princes can get more attacks than their Codex: Daemons cousins thanks to legion traits and Hateful Assault, but they miss out on the murderous hilarity of Skullreaver and the Unstoppable Ferocity rule. The upside is that they can get access to other good relics such as the Talisman of Burning Blood.
Abaddon the Despoiler
I do not need to tell you that Abaddon is really good. He’s got the Mark of Khorne, he can house most things in a round of melee combat, he can teleport, and he gives full re-rolls to nearby BLACK LEGION units. Plus he gives you more CP. If you are playing Black Legion, it’s worth looking at Abaddon, but he’s not necessarily a must-take.
Kharn the Betrayer
Nicest guy in Hams, seemingly tailor made for blendering squads of Primaris with his 16 S6, AP-4 Damage d3 attacks on the charge. Not a lot that can walk away from that. Really wants a screening unit to follow him around and tank Overwatch, but anything less disposable than a Cultist gang will need some real work to avoid being wasted by The Betrayer gimmick, which frustratingly stops him from re-rolling 1s on top of the”murders your own dudes” bit. That said, he’s also the only way to get full re-rolls (albeit the bad “failed hit” version) on World Eaters. The key to pairing him with Berserkers is to activate them twice, then consolidate them away from Kharn, or have him pile in away from the Berserkers on his activations, so he’s more than 1” away when he starts swinging. This can be a bit of work to set up, but it’s better than losing a Berserker on one out of every six swings Kharn makes. Kharn’s priced decently and fighting twice with 8 attacks, plus the ability to pile on VotLW when taking on bigger targets, makes him a decent second HQ pick for a World Eaters army.
Dark Apostles are already great but they’re much more valuable for Khorne armies due to the lack of psychic support in pure Khorne. Benediction of Darkness and Illusionary Supplication boost survivability while Soultearer Portent helps wound meatier targets and stacks with Veterans of the Long War. Because we’re going to be fighting a lot, don’t forget the Dark Zealotry base power, which is the only way World Eaters and Brazen Beasts can get full re-rolls to hit.
Master of Executions
I’ll admit I didn’t think much of this guy when his rules were first published but he can put in real work. The Master of Executions is an incredibly cheap HQ choice, that makes a good Battalion filler for an army that can’t take Sorcerers and may not want Warpsmiths. 7 Power Fist attacks (on the charge, in a World Eaters detachment) with no downside is nothing to sneeze at. His Warp-Sighted Butcher rule is also deceptively powerful, allowing him to close big distances against nearby characters. Remember that your target doesn’t have to be in combat for you to Heroically Intervene — if an opponent leaves a character within 6” of this guy in the Charge phase, go ahead and step in.
A cheap HQ option whose core value is to give re-rolls to Wound for friendly units within 6”. He’s also not bad at fighting himself, with the ability to re-roll failed hits against CHARACTERS. His biggest downside is that it can be a chore making sure he doesn’t get left behind when your Beserkers charge, and end up unable to make it into combat himself.
ALL HAIL THE KINGS OF KARNAGE. The extra attack these guys get from Hateful Assault is a massive boost to these guys’ value, ensuring that even just a squad of 10 World Eater ‘Zerks can kick out 51 attacks on the charge (41 Chainaxe, 10 Chainsword). They were the best combat unit in the game before but the challenge has always been getting them into combat, particularly since a T4, 3+ unit with 1 wound will melt as soon as enemies start shooting them. The bit change is that now we have Terrax Termite Assault Drills, which also get Hateful Assault, and can tunnel 10 of these guys plus an Exalted Champion and a Chaos Lord or Kharn right to the front lines. Whether or not you’ll want to give these guys an icon will depend on whether you’re using them to counter-charge or trying to have them make a 9” charge out of a drill. In the latter case, you pretty much need the icon. For loadouts, you pretty much always want these guys to have Chainaxes and chainswords so they max out attacks.
The other thing that’s worth point out is that these guys are Troops in a World Eaters Detachment, which is a huge bonus because it finally gives the Chaos Marines army troops that it wants to take and not ones you’re beholden to taking.
There are basically two angles you can take on the Chaos Lord, a strong unit and powerful addition to your army:
- I’m here for the re-roll aura. These Chaos lords are here to be re-roll auras first and powerful fighters second. Give them a chainaxe and run them alongside Berserkers to act as force multipliers. Don’t spend too many points on them.
- I am here to smash things. These Chaos Lords lean into their combat prowess, typically also focusing on their ability to take jump packs and Thunder Hammers and turning them into the Chaos notion of a Slam Captain. He’ll also work well in this capacity as the Field Commander for a Host Raptorial Specialist Detachment, which lets him take the Tip of the Claw Warlord Trait, which adds 2 to charge rolls for HOST RAPTORIAL units within 6” of him. At the very least, this turns his deep strike charge into a 7” attempt instead of a 9” attempt, dramatically increasing the chances of success.
Lord Discordant on Helstalker
These guys are absolute monsters and there’s a reason they show up in trios in every competitive Chaos Space Marines list. They’re absolute blenders with the ability to single-handedly take down Knights on an average charge, and do well against infantry units too. Add to that an aura that’s incredibly useful to have for boosting Daemon Engines and you have one of the game’s best units. The primary way to run these guys has been three autocannon Flawless Host Lords with one acting as warlord with the Intoxicating Elixir, but that’s that Slaanesh nonsense. In a Khorne list, you’ll be running these as World Eaters (or Brazen Beasts if you really want, they put out enough attacks to be OK there), with autocannon loadouts. If you make one your Warlord, the recommended loadout is to give them the Talisman of Burning Blood, so they can Advance and Charge (and re-roll the distances), and the Unholy Fortitude Trait so it can survive for as long as possible. Though if you gave it Hatred Incarnate or Exalted Champion, it wouldn’t be terrible either.
Corrode: Also consider Red Corsairs. Advance + charge is a great ability for a unit which is all about getting to the “punch dudes” phase as quickly as possible.
So much of your strategy as Khorne is going to rely on DAEMON ENGINE units that you’ll want these guys running around buffing your Kytans, Blood Slaughterers, Maulerfiends, or whatever else you’re running.
SteelMentor: Sure, why not stick it in every list before it gets nerfed? Dehumanise yourself and embrace spiderdad.
The Kytan is basically like a Khorne Chaos Knight, only it retains the HERETIC ASTARTES, DAEMON, and <LEGION> keywords and is a DAEMON ENGINE, and so can benefit from a bunch of faction synergies that Chaos Knights don’t get, such as having Benediction of Darkness cast on him by a Dark Apostle, or receiving the +1 to hit from being near a Lord Discordant. The Kytan also gets access to the Daemonforge Stratagem, and receives the same +1 Strength and re-roll charge benefits other Khorne Daemons can get from Bloodmasters. Otherwise, their loadout is solid, giving you a S8 AP-2 D2 gatling cannon that doesn’t give a penalty to hit when moving and the Kytan’s WS and BS never degrade. Meanwhile its axe gives you the option of either 6-damage Smash attacks or triple-attack slash attacks, either of which are great, depending on the target you’re trying to take down.
The cooler, angrier Forge World older brother of the Maulerfiend, the Blood Slaughterer comes with a higher base strength and a better WS characteristic, plus it automatically advances 6”, gets +2 attacks and can’t fall back when within 1” of INFANTRY units, and a bigass harpoon that it can use to hit vehicles and monsters to get a +2 their charge rolls. It’s fun as hell but bad given that it’s a single shot at BS4+. The better move is to replace it with a second Slaughter blade so they can kick out a scary amount of attacks with the double melee option. The Slaughterer can threaten infantry and heavier units reliably, especially with Herald support.
Bad, But Workable
In this category we have a lot of units that aren’t great, but either can be helped to a level of near-respectability by stacking a lot of options and bonuses on top of each other, or are decent and just outclassed by superior options in the above section. Or they’re very good units that just don’t fit the mold of what we want to do, because they’re best suited for standing far away from the enemy and shooting, and their close combat capabilities leave something to be desired.
Master of Possession
I don’t even know why this entry is in here, but Gunum really wanted to write about it.
Gunum’s Note: Okay Folks. I hear you, and I’m sorry. Back when I was playing Khorne Daemonkin I caught a metaphorical ocean of flak for running psykers in my list. Dogstar was good. It was competitive. And once they allowed Space Marines to summon daemons and Chaos Space Marines to use holy spells, the wheels were already off the bus. Not only that, but those last 3 to 4 months before the edition change was the best Chaos ever had it. Traitor’s Hate was the most fun I ever had in Chaos (TheChirurgeon’s Note: S A M E).
”But Gunum! Why do you even bring that up?” Well. This guy is a psyker. And he’s pretty handy in a Chaos Space Marine list. Being able to give <LEGION> Daemons a 4++ Invulnerable save in a bubble makes it so you can use a Possessed star and actually make it up the table, or keep your Lord Discordants on the board longer. Not only that, but their Vigilus detachment also makes this guy such a great take. I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, try this guy out in your Khorne lists, just pretend he’s doing blood sacrifices or something, the force multiplier can really help you out.
TheChirurgeon’s Note: This kind of sorcery is the path of cowards. But sure, do this with your Red Corsairs army or whatever, I guess.
Zhufor the Impaler
This guy is a second World Eaters character to put in your army besides Kharn (he got the WORLD EATERS keyword in an FAQ update). He comes with Terminator Armor, S5 base, 7 Wounds, 5 Attacks, and some nifty weapons. Quite a nasty little package. Unfortunately, his aura is completely worthless, only affecting SKULLTAKERS units, and there’s never going to be a point where you want to take the Renegade Chapter trait in order to get his aura instead of just running World Eaters and getting the +1 Attack and Berzerkers as Troops. Otherwise he’s a decent fighter with some good weapons and the ability to deny one psychic power per turn. Stick him with some Terminators if you want to add some extra combat chops, but you’ll likely find that you’d rather have the re-roll aura just as often.
Raptors have just never been good enough, usually lacking the tools to put out enough attacks or get through armor, making their ability to drop out of the skies at best a delivery mechanism for meltagun shots in older editions and plasma gun shots in 8th. With Hateful Assault they also see new life, suddenly able to drop in and put out 4 attacks each on the charge as World Eaters, albeit with chainswords. That’s not great, since getting a ton of AP- attacks will usually just leave you watching your opponent make a bunch of 3+ saves, but it can be really valuable when you’re charging into Ork blobs or a horde of Plaguebearers.
If you take these guys, you’ll probably want to put them into a Host Raptorial specialist detachment, where they can use the charge distance bonus from a Field Commander to ensure they close the distance the turn they land, and use the Vicious Descent Stratagem to re-roll hit rolls. The downside to all this is still going to be that these guys are going to largely bounce off marines – ten of these guys dropping in to do 40 attacks with re-rolls to hit will still only do an average of 6 wounds to Space Marine targets. On the plus side, they’ll soak up overwatch for other units you need to get there.
Speaking of units given new life by Hateful Assault, we have these long-neglected jerks. Warp Talons historically have suffered from two massive weaknesses: The first is that they can’t take an icon of Khorne, making it very, very difficult for them to make a 9” charge the turn they arrive from Deep Strike, rendering their Warpflame Strike ability close to worthless. The other is that lightning claws just aren’t very good, as S4, D1 weapons don’t do much, even re-rolling wound rolls. The Host Raptorial Specialist Detachment helps solve a lot of these problems, giving them a real ability to close distances the turn they arrive with a +2 to their charge distances. They also combo very, very well with Khorne Daemon units, since they are also Daemon units and if you have a Khorne-dedicated detachment, you can use the Locus of Rage bonus on a Bloodmaster to give them the ability to re-roll charge rolls, further helping them get there. This means that even in minimum sizes, Warp Talons can be used to drop in and make overwatch-free charges, tying up units and helping your Bloodletters and Bloodmasters walk into combat at full strength. They also get the strength bonus from Bloodmasters, bringing them up to a much more useful S5. And like Raptors, they can also use the Viscious Descent Stratagem the turn they arrive to wreak havoc. Even five of these guys will average 11 wounds on the charge to Space Marines if they’ve got Vicious Descent active and 10 can mulch bigger targets with the help of Veterans of the Long War.
Faster and fightier than their loyalist cousins, Helbrutes have gotten cheaper over time but still run into that tough spot of not being tough enough and not doing quite enough damage. Their biggest downside is that they aren’t Daemon Engines, so they have no invulnerable save and get nothing from the Lord Discordant. This is another unit where Hateful Assault may pay off though, as a World Eaters Helbrute gets 7 attacks on the charge with two melee weapons, which it can push up to 13 if you give it two power scourges. This is also one of the cheaper loadouts you can give a Helbrute, and all said and done it has to at least get them close to usable, right? Right??
Alternatively, Red Corsairs Helbrutes with this loadout get one less Attack, but can Advance and Charge, and that’s a very good tradeoff, given that they have 8” Movement.
A newer unit from the Shadowspear box, Venomcrawlers have seen varying levels of competitive play off the back of their ability to run quickly and put out a solid number of attacks for its points cost. It doesn’t benefit from legion traits, but will enjoy the +1 attack from Hateful Assault and gets the benefit of a 5+ invulnerable save and the ability to regain wounds after killing things (in addition to regaining one per turn). One of the bigger downsides to these is the 4+ WS and BS, so Venomcrawlers basically need to be paired with one or more Lords Discordant. Good thing those are great.
Gunum: An interesting thing to point out here is that these do stack very well alongside that Lord of Disco that’s giving them an extra 2” of movement. They are a high strength and do flat 3 damage. They also explode on 5’s. Perfect.
The reason you’re probably going to leave Venomcrawlers out of your list is these guys. Clocking in at only 2 points more per model once you’ve swapped out their Magma Cutters for Lasher Tendrils, Maulerfiends come with the same degrading profile but more attacks at a higher strength, 2 more wounds, and lose the ability to regen wounds after killing things. You lose the ranged attacks, but become more deadly in melee. And like with the Venomcrawlers, you want your Maulerfiends accompanied by Lords Discordant.
Essentially the replacement for Mutilators (good riddance), Greater Possessed are fast maulers who can protect themselves with the Character rule and ruins some poor unit’s day in melee combat. Their spiciest ability is the Locus of Power rule, which grants nearby <MARK> <LEGION> DAEMON units +1 Strength. This won’t stack with more Greater Possessed and it won’t help Chaos Daemons Units, but it will stack with the effects from a Herald of Khorne, allowing Chaos Space Marine armies to stack buffs on Possessed and Daemon Engines. On Possessed in particular, this can help you get to 7 Strength attacks pretty quickly, which with Veterans of the Long War can get you to 2+ wound rolls on a lot of units. These guys aren’t so great on their own and don’t do as much for the bigger Daemon Engines that already hit at Strength 10+, but you’re going to need one to run a Possessed Star.
Note that the Greater Possessed can ride in any Chaos Space Marine transport.
Could Possessed be not shit? Well no, but Khorne armies are the best place to run them. Possessed basically need either one more base attack or a 2 damage weapon to really get there, but Hateful Assault brings them closer than they’ve ever been. The core strategy for running these guys is to build a Possessed Star, which we’ve detailed in the Strategies section, below. Any of World Eaters, Brazen Beasts, or Red Corsairs works well with these guys, but for different reasons:
- World Eaters Possessed get the most attacks thanks to their Legion Trait and have access to the Veterans of the Long War Stratagem, giving them the ability to wound most small targets on a 2+ and take down larger targets with the right Strength boosts from Greater Possessed, Dark Apostles, and Heralds of Khorne. The downside is that you probably need to put these guys into a transport so they can get to the enemy in one piece. Fortunately, they’ll fit in a Drill along with a Greater Possessed and a Chaos Lord.
- Brazen Beasts Possessed don’t get the extra attack and lose Veterans of the Long War, but get a natural boost to their AP on wound rolls of 6. This is probably the worst of the set-ups, but it’s not terrible. If you go this route, you want to combine them with a Dark Apostle, who can improve their chances of getting the AP boost to rolls of a 5+.
- Red Corsairs Possessed will want to take advantage of the ability to pair their Possessed with a Dark Apostle and/or a Sorcerer, so they can re-roll their attacks count and warptime across the battlefield. Because they can Advance and Charge, Red Corsairs Possessed are the most likely to make it into combat without needing a transport, which is a plus.
“Hey” you’re saying, “Hellforged Leviathans are good!” Yes, normally they are — give one a pair of Butcher cannon arrays and put in some work shooting. But this is for KHORNE tactics, so we’re talking about running combat Leviathans. Brazen Beasts have nothing to offer these guys so it’s really a question of whether they want to Advance and Charge with Red Corsairs, or get +2 attacks with World Eaters. Either is fine. Give one a drill and a siege claw and you’ve got 5 base attacks, plus one or two more on the charge depending on your choice. Seven S16 AP-4 D4 attacks with a Hellforged siege drill is nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you’re taking on an Imperial target.
Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought
Similar to the Hellforged Leviathan above, double-CCW Hellforged Contemptors are less tough but much more aggressively costed, and able to put out the exact same number of attacks and damage, albeit at S14 instead of S16.
With the points decrease in the new Codex, Chaos Terminators almost get there, but still kind of miss the mark. You could give them pairs of lightning claws for maximum combat output – and 5 attacks per model for World Eaters Claw Terminators is pretty nifty – in fact, you’ll generally do more damage to most targets using the lightning claws and giving up the shooting attacks. The problem is that a combi-bolter and chainaxe costs you 3 points per model, while lightning claws take away your ranged attacks and cost you 12 points per model, giving you a 26% increase in killing power vs. marines at a 300% increase in cost. The most cost-effective loadout if you’re planning to assault with your Terminators on the regs is probably Power Axe + Combi Bolter, which gets you to about the same charge-turn damage as double lightning claws but at half the cost per model. Claws will be more effective if you stay stuck in for multiple turns, but overall your goal is to win decisively and charge again the following turn, and in this loadout you aren’t giving up shooting.
Notable for being an aircraft that can also tear things up, the Heldrake got a much-needed boost from the Hateful Assault rule, which bring it up to 5 Attacks on the charge when at full health. Heldrakes have a terrible ballistic skill and you’ll want them moving forward to charge, so give them Baleflamers. Despite their Heldrake Claws ability, the ideal targets for Heldrakes are tanks without fly and gunlines, where you can Charge a Heldrake right into them on turn 1 after a 30” move and tie them up immediately, protecting the rest of your army from fire as it advances and your opponent is forced to fall back in the following turn. They can also be used to attack pesky Eldar flyers in a pinch, using their auto-hit guns and claws to put in some real damage if they aren’t shot down first.
Khorne Lord of Skulls
We’ve come a long way from this guy costing 888 points for narrative reasons. At 380 points base, this guy is basically a much slower Kytan with 6 more wounds, an extra gun, and improving attacks as it takes damage. That last part is a neat trick, but not so great you’ll enjoy dropping to S5 and 4” Movement to get 8 Attacks. Sadly, the extra guns don’t add much to the Lord of Skulls, with all of the non-gatling options have D6 shots (with some going to Heavy 2D6 when targeting a unit of 10+ models). As a Lord of War with the <LEGION> keyword, the Lord of Skulls benefits from auras, Dark Prayers, and (ugh) psychic powers, but you’re going to be better off taking the Kytan almost always.
Greater Brass Scorpion of Khorne
The largest Khorne-dedicated Lord of War, the Greater Brass Scorpion is priced like a unit that Games Workshop wanted you to use only in Apocalypse, with a base cost of 650 points despite having only 20 Wounds and a 3+ save. So it’s basically a Titanic Glass Cannon. It’s that it’s very fast, with 12” base movement and a 3D6” charge. And with 8 base attacks at full health that deal 6 damage each, it can do some insane damage on the charge. Plus it has two very good guns that can tear through infantry and vehicles/monsters alike. And it’s got the <LEGION>, DAEMON ENGINE, and DAEMON keywords, so you can buff it with Dark Apostles, and Lords Discordant. But at 650 points, it’s also insanely expensive and it’s going to die on the first turn of the game.
These guys were so dangerous they’ve been nerfed four times. Now they’re just the cheapest unit you can slot into a Troops slot. Take 10 for 50 points with whichever loadout you prefer but don’t waste time trying to make them into something better.
With Chainswords to replace their pistols, Bikers can be surprisingly deadly, moving quickly around the table, pushing out 4 shots apiece at 24”, and then charging in for 3 attacks apiece (4 in a World Eaters army). That’s not too shabby! The only thing holding them back is the lack of AP or S5+ on either of their weapons. You can fix some of this by giving two of them plasma guns, but that makes them more of a shooting threat than a fighting one.
Not all of these units are terrible — several are good, but they don’t fit into what a Khorne army really wants to do, even if they may have some synergy with other units in the list. Except for Mutilators. Those are awful.
You’re not really a Khorne player in 8th edition until you’ve tried to talk yourself out of running Defilers in your list. Unfortunately despite the points drops, despite being DAEMONS, despite being DAEMON ENGINES, they just aren’t good enough. It starts with a platform that’s trying to do two things, so you’re paying for both shooting and melee, and then gets worse when you see that both its BS and Attacks degrade as it loses health. If you are going to run these, don’t bother hanging back and giving them the support of a Lord Discordant and a Dark Apostle to buff their accuracy – battle cannons just aren’t very good, particularly when they can only shoot once. No if you’re going to run defilers, give them a scourge and run them like any of the other daemon engines, having them scuttle forward with your Lord Discordant so they can immediately launch into combat with 8 Attacks.
Warpsmiths are the other very cheap HQ that Chaos Space Marines can take. They’re OK, particularly if you need to put an extra mortal wound on a vehicle here or there. But they have no auras and they don’t really fight all that well.
Decimators really need the HELBRUTE keyword. As-is, they’re DAEMON ENGINES that aren’t quite as good as a Contemptor or Leviathan and not quite as cheap as a Helbrute. Their claws are surprisingly weak and they can’t hit the attack totals a Helbrute can, but they are faster. Ultimately, the problem is that they’re just outclassed by Dreadnoughts, even despite being Daemon Engines. There’s likely a place for them in armies that value their shooting, but there’s little to recommend them for Khorne.
Samus, Daemon Prince of the Ruinstorm
A Forge World special character, Samus is a footbound Daemon Prince with no re-rolls aura, 12 Wounds and degrading WS and Attacks, and a worse armor save than your bog-standard Daemon Prince. You can go ahead and skip this guy.
Mutilators are a bottom-five unit in the entire game. Slow for a unit that needs to be fast, with a relatively low volume of attacks and no way to turn their teleports into reliable charges. Plus, the models are some of the ugliest trash Games Workshop has ever made. If you have any of these, open-palm windmill slam them directly into the nearest trash can so it stops eating up valuable shelf space.
Once you’ve got your frothing madmen all enraged and ready to strike, you need a way to get them to the party. This is especially important for Berzerkers, who will die quickly and painfully once they start taking fire. Unfortunately, the transport options for them aren’t amazing, but some are better than others.
Terrax Termite Pattern Assault Drill
A relatively recent addition to the Chaos vehicle library, the Termite Drill is an underrated addition and ready to explode onto the scene. With the ability to drop 10 Berserkers plus a Chaos Lord and Exalted Champion 9” away from enemy units and then tear things up themselves with a bunch of drill attacks and Hateful Assault, Termite Drills may be the best way to get Berserkers up the table.
Hellforged Drop Pods
There are worse ways to get your Berserkers to the enemy’s front lines, we guess. Chaos Forge World Drop Pod options don’t enjoy the loyalist versions’ ability to drop onto the battlefield turn 1 and are significantly more expensive, but have the ability to wreak havoc flying around after they arrive. This is something that the Termite Drills just do better now, unfortunately. If you’re an old-school KDK player, you may have a Kharybdis, like me. These might have seen some play before they got a points hike, but as-is, they just aren’t worth it.
Rhinos are not good, but they’re your cheapest option and better than walking. You’ll pretty much always be spending the first turn Advancing and firing their Smoke Launchers to stay protected. Hopefully that gets you close enough to get out and charge on turn 2. If these things were like, 25 points cheaper they’d be pretty damn good.
Chaos Land Raider
Chaos Land Raiders are bad and crazy overcosted, clocking in at more points than loyalist land raiders but receiving none of the combat doctrine benefits nor having better variants. The only notable thing about the Land Raider is that it can haul Terminators, who are better off teleporting. Otherwise it’s an expensive tank that doesn’t have enough guns to justify its cost.]
Chaos Storm Eagle Assault Gunship
These never got the points hike that Fire Raptors got, but they didn’t really need them. Clocking in at 325 points with base equipment, they’re a relatively expensive mechanism for carrying 20 models into battle. And like all transports, you need them to survive through to your turn 2 in order to get out and start charging. This can be set up reasonably on turn 1 with a Dark Apostle using Benediction of Darkness to give your Storm Eagle a -2 to be hit, but once you’ve moved out of his range on turn 2 a -1 to be hit won’t be enough to protect a T7, 16W vehicle. Ultimately it’s too much investment for something that will likely be shot out of the sky before you ever have a chance to move.
Hellforged Spartan Assault Tank
I really, really wanted these to be good enough after they got upgraded to have the Daemonic Machine Spirit rule in the latest round of FAQs. But even with price drops, they’re still too expensive and not strong enough to justify their costs If you could take one without the guns there might be something to it, but as-is, you’re spending too much on Quad Lascannon side guns for something whose primary job is to carry 25 melee units across the table safely. And unfortunately even with T8 and 20 Wounds with no invulnerable save, every single army you’ll play against that has a plan to kill knights (so all of them), is prepared to kill this thing on turn 1. It’s also way too much to spend on guns that you’d spend a turn not firing in order to protect it with its smoke launchers.
Khorne-themed armies have a few options for Warlord Traits. Sadly, most of the ones they have access to just aren’t that great.
- Eternal Vendetta – Re-roll failed wound rolls in the Fight phase against ADEPTUS ASTARTES targets. Cool against marines but completely worthless at all other times. F
- Flames of Spite – If you roll a 6+ to wound with a melee attack made by your warlord, the target takes 1 mortal wound in addition to any other damage. This can be really nasty when paired with a Dark Apostle and Veterans of the Long War, allowing you to knock out mortal wounds on rolls of a 4+. The downside is that it’s a heavy investment to do anything with and you can’t put it on Kharn. C+
- Unholy Fortitude – Your Warlord gets +1 Wound and ignores incoming damage on a 6+. This isn’t helping us in combat, but the survivability boost is great, particularly on Lords Discordant. A
- Hatred Incarnate – Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for attacks made by your Warlord. This is also solid, particularly if you aren’t going to have an Exalted Champion around. It’s not great, but it’s among the better options Chaos Marines get. B
- Lord of Terror – When enemy units take morale tests within 6” of your warlord, they roll 2D6 and take the highest result. This will rarely matter. F
- Exalted Champion – Add 1 to your Warlord’s Attacks characteristic. Very straightforward and not the best thing you could do, but it’s not terrible either. B-
- Slaughterborn (World Eaters) – Add 1 to your warlord’s Strength and Attacks each time they slay an enemy MONSTER, CHARACTER, or TITANIC model. The number of times you’ll actually get value out of this in a game (0 to 1) makes it something you can skip. You’re better off just taking Exalted Champion nine times out of ten. Sadly, Kharn is stuck with this if he’s your warlord, so don’t make Kharn your Warlord. C
- Carve the Runes (Brazen Beasts) – Each time your Warlord slays an enemy CHARACTER, they get +2 to their Strength and Attacks for the rest of the battle. Narrower and with a bigger focus than Slaughterborn and so even less useful. D
- Reaver Lord (Red Corsairs) – Your army gets one extra relic picked from the Codex, which has to be given to a RED CORSAIRS CHARACTER from your army that doesn’t have a relic already. Also, every time your Warlord kills an enemy CHARACTER, he gets +1 Attack for the rest of the battle. This is surprisingly solid. The attack bonus is just extra gravy. A
- Veteran Raider (Black Legion) – While they are within 6” of your Warlord, friendly BLACK LEGION units can declare a charge even if they Fell Back in the same turn. This is really good, and gives you a way to continually re-proc Hateful Assault and disengage without consequence when you don’t like your dance partners. A
- Indomitable (Black Legion) – Halve the damage suffered by your Warlord, rounding up. This is just very good, and a better power overall than Unholy Fortitude. A
- Black-Clad Brute (Black Legion) – Add 1 to your Warlord’s Strength Characteristic. In addition, after your Warlord makes a charge move, pick an enemy unit within 1” of your warlord and roll a D6; on a 4+ they take D3 mortal wounds. This is fantastic for A Daemon Prince, giving them S8 with their Malefic Talons and the ability to dish out some extra mortal wounds. A
- Soul-Eater (Black Legion) – Each time your Warlord destroys an enemy unit, they immediately regain D3 lost wounds. This one’s kind of meh. It’s not as good for survivability as either Indomitable or Unholy Fortitude. C
- Trusted War-Leader (Black Legion) – While your warlord’s on the battlefield, each time you spend CP to use a Stratagem, roll a D6. On a 5+, you get that CP back. This one is also solid, because it’s the only place Chaos gets this ability, but it’s best used with a Council of Traitors Stratagem. B+
- Talisman of Burning Blood – KHORNE model only. The bearer can Advance and Charge, and also can re-roll Charge distances. Very helpful for characters you need to get into combat quickly, like Lords Discordant or Daemon Princes, or Jump Pack Lords dropping in with a Host Raptorial who don’t want to get left behind. A
- Axe of Blind Fury – KHORNE model, replaces a power axe. S+3 AP-3, D3 Damage but you can’t modify or re-roll hits of 1 and those hit nearby friendlies within 1”. Basically Kharn’s team-killing ability on a fairly tasty stick. Cute on an Exalted Champion, the same positioning and activation advice applies here as it does to Kharn. B
- The MURDERSWORD – Replaces a power sword with a S+1, AP-4 weapon that lets you pick a CHARACTER in your opponent’s army before the game starts. When you attack them, you do mortal wounds each time you hit. Fun but far too narrow to actually be more than a fancy Power Sword. Ap -4 is mostly wasted, most characters you would want to target (but haven’t named) with this have Invulnerable saves anyway. More useful on Characters with FLY, who can jump over enemy units when charging to make it to their targets. B
- The Black Mace – Replaces a power maul. Basically a Power Maul with better stats that inflicts Mortal Wounds on a D6 roll of a 6 on a unit whenever the bearer slays a model in that unit. While some Khorne units might get enough attacks to make it worth while, more likely you’re better off using something else. C
- The Brass Collar of Borghaster (World Eaters) – Gives the bearer the ability to Deny the Witch once per enemy psychic phase, any successfully denied powers this way auto Perils the caster. Nice if you don’t have Flesh Hound support against the likes of Knife-Ears, but ideally paired with a CHAOS DAEMONS detachment so you can hit them for an extra D3 mortal wounds every time they perils. B
- Daemonflesh Plate (Brazen Beasts) – The bearer gets a 2+ save, and also +1 to their Attacks and Movement characteristics. This relic absolutely kicks ass. If you’re playing Brazen Beasts, windmill slam this bad boy onto a Winged Daemon Prince immediately. A+
- Maelstrom’s Bite (Red Corsairs) – Replaces a combi-melta. Basically a much better combi-melta. The Bolter half is Rapid Fire 3 S4 AP-1 D2 and the Meltagun half is Strength 9, a much needed upgrade to both. You’ll mostly want this on a Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour or on a Bike, where you can really use the Rapid Fire half to its fullest. A
- Ghorisvex’s Teeth (Black Legion) – Replaces a chainsword. A very solid replacement for a Thunder Hammer (or accompaniment, if you want to spend a ton of points), Ghorisvex’s Teeth is used for making “Chainlords,” Chaos Lords with Jump Packs and this relic. A S-User, Ap-3, D2 sword that gives you an extra 2 attacks each time you fight, plus wound rolls of 6+ score 1 mortal wound in addition to normal damage. Another weapon that’s fun to combine with Dark Apostle and VotLW buffs to make that a 5+ or 4+. Also, the chainsword it replaces costs you zero points. A+
- Sightless Helm (Black Legion) – Reduces your BS by 1, but improves the AP of your weapons by 1. This is also very, very good, particularly on units with no guns, like Winged Daemon Princes. Going from AP-2 to AP-3 with Malefic Talons is a real boost, especially if you’ve also taken the Black-Clad Brute Warlord Trait. A
- Cloak of Conquest (Black Legion) – Each time the bearer kills an enemy CHARACTER it gets +1 Strength, Attacks, and Leadership for the rest of the battle. Games Workshop really loves to give Chaos stuff that gives bonuses for killing characters while giving it very few ways to chew through screens. C
- Spineshiver Blade (Black Legion) – Replaces a power sword with one that’s S+1, AP-3, D1, but you get D6 extra attacks with it every time you fight. Not bad, but ultimately outclassed by Ghorixvex’s Teeth. B
- The Goreplate (Vigilus Legion of Skulls) – Roll one d6 at the end of the fight phase if any enemy models were slain by the bearer that phase, adding 2 to the result if any of the slain models were a character. On a 4+, the bearer regains D3 lost wounds. This might be OK if it could go on a Daemon Prince, but because it’s restricted to BLOODLETTERS by the detachment there isn’t much point to it. D
Chaos Space Marines get access to some really neat Specialist Detachments. One is amazing, and worth inclusion in most of the armies you’ll build competitively. Two more are amusing and interesting enough to try and make work in some armies, and the rest are more for non-Khorne lists, or people who prefer to sit back and shoot things, like cowards.
This is the really good one. Upgrades a WARPSMITH (this includes the Lord Discordant) and all the DAEMON ENGINES in the detachment to SOULFORGED PACK. The Warlord Trait gives the warlord and friendly SOULFORGED PACK DAEMON ENGINES within 6” +2 to their Move characteristics, which is great for making sure that Lords Discordant and Maulerfiends and whatever else can get into combat quickly. Just remember to move the units around the warlord first. The Mecha-Serpents relic isn’t very good, but the two stratagems the detachment gives you are also very, very good:
- Infernal Engines lets a SOULFORGED PACK DAEMON ENGINE in your army Advance and Charge in the same turn. This is amazing even in Red Corsairs armies, since none of your DAEMON ENGINES have that ability normally. Use it to run Kytan Ravagers screaming up the table (12” Move + 2D6” Advance + 2D6” Charge gives them an average threat radius of 26” before any other modifiers), or to close the gap with Lords Discordant. A+
- Daemonforge Overdrive – Works in the Fight phase to let a SOULFORGED PACK DAEMON ENGINE act as though it has double the remaining number of wounds left. Very useful for a Kytan Ravager or Maulerfiend who’s taken some damage to strike back with its full complement of attacks and at full Strength. B+
The detachment for jump pack units – gives <LEGION> JUMP PACK units the HOST RAPTORIAL keyword. If you’re running Raptors or Warp Talons in any serious quantities, you basically need this to make things work well. The Warlord Trait is the real money here, so you need to spend on a Field Commander to make this Detachment work. The Tip of the Claw adds 2 to charge rolls for friendly HOST RAPTORIAL units within 6” of your warlord, turning their charges from long-shots to likely occurrences. This is fantastic on Smash Lords. It’s great Raptors with an Icon of Wrath and amazing for Warp Talons, which can’t take an icon. It opens up deep strike charges as a real, bankable strategy and gives Warp Talons new life, particulary as MSUs that can stack benefits from Heralds of Khorne and charge targets Overwatch-free to protect Bloodletter Bombs. The Relic, Chiropteran Wings, is interesting but probably not worth it if your big plan is to drop in and charge.
The two stratagems you get are a mixed bag. One is good, one doesn’t matter at all. Both are icing on the cake, really.
- Vicious Descent – Use when a HOST RAPTORIAL is set up on the battlefield at the end of the Movement phase. You can re-roll hit rolls for attacks made by that unit until the end of the turn. This has almost no value without the Warlord Trait helping you get into combat, so be ready to have that. Otherwise gives you a really solid way to get the most out of a unit of Raptors or Warp Talons, especially if they don’t stay with their Chaos Lord or if your Field Commander is a Sorcerer with Jump Pack. B
- Terror Strike – Use when a HOST RAPTORIAL unit destroys an enemy unit. Enemy units within 6” of any HOST RAPTORIAL units get -1 Ld until the end of the turn. This barely matters, and that’s even with the stacked bonuses from Raptors. D
Gunum: This is my favorite thing.
A Vigilus Ablaze detachment that focuses primarily on Possessed. Affects Dark Apostles, Dark Disciples, Masters of Possessed, Possessed, and Greater Possessed. You’ll need to take a Master of Possession for this detachment to really work, so its use will be pretty limited for World Eaters armies. The Warlord Trait here, Shepherd of the True Faith, causes unmodified wound rolls of 6 for friendly DAEMONKIN RITUALISTS within 6” of your warlord to cause an extra mortal wound. Pretty handy once you start stacking up the attack-boosting effects for Daemonkin Ritualists. The Burning Rod relic is basically an upgrade to the Master of Possession’s staff to do an extra mortal wound. One of the stratagems you get is the reason to take this:
- Vessels for the Neverborn – is used in the Fight phase to give a Daemonkin Ritualists Daemon unit within 6” of a Daemonkin Ritualists Master of Possession gets +1 Strength and Attacks until the end of the phase. A bit of a pain to make work, but very, very strong for buffing Possessed in the right ways. B
- Souls of the Devoted – works in the Movement phase, basically letting you move wounds from a Possessed to a nearby Character. You won’t use this much, if at all. D
Winged Daemon Princes
There’s nothing too mysterious about this; similar to Chaos Daemons, the Winged Daemon Prince is a force in Chaos Space Marines as well. Give him a pair of malefic talons and a Talisman of Burning Blood so he can Advance and Charge in the same turn if he’s a World Eater. If he’s Brazen Beasts, feel free to give him Daemonflesh Plate. If he’s a Red Corsairs Daemon Prince, feel free to give another model a relic instead.
Khorne Daemon Princes: Daemons vs. Chaos Space Marines
Ah, the eternal question. Chaos Daemons Princes get the relic axe, Unstoppable Ferocity, and has a re-roll hits aura that applies to all Khorne Daemons within 6”, which will help Daemon Engines and other Daemon units in Chaos Space Marine armies. They can also be set up in the warp during deployment. On the other side, Chaos Space Marines Daemon Princes get legion traits (which can give them the +1 attack from being World Eaters or Advance and Charge if they’re Red Corsairs), they get Hateful Assault for another +1 attack on the charge, and they have access to the Talisman of Burning Blood. Finally, their re-roll hits aura affects both nearby <LEGION> units and Daemons of the same god. So it’s mostly a wash, and will depend on what you’re trying to do.
Daemon Engines: The delicate interplay of murder between Discordants, Kytans, Blood Slaughterers, Greater Possessed and Heralds
When it boils down to it, the crux of a modern Chaos Space Marine list is whether you’re playing daemon engines or hellforged dreadnoughts, and which daemon engines you’re going with. The Lord Discordant is one of the game’s best units and will be a frequent participant in your lists, and having one (or three) to tear things up in combat and buff nearby daemon engines is key to getting the most out of them.
The other thing to remember about Lord of War Daemon Engines is that they retain the <LEGION> keyword, and so can be buffed by character auras and Dark Apostles. Helpful for when you need to protect a knight-sized target with a Benediction of Darkness.
Gunum will talk more about these below (and we already talked about these in our Slaanesh tactics), but the general idea is to stack as many buffs as you can stack on a unit of possessed to increase their strength, attacks, and damage. You do this by piling on effects that boost KHORNE DAEMONS, which our Possessed happen to be, then further boosting them with effects like Veterans of the Long War and Dark Apostle buffs.
Let’s Build Some Lists
Now that all the tactics and units are out of the way, let’s talk about some lists! We’ll explore a few different options here, looking at different ways of approaching Khorne-heavy armies, and look at lists that have different levels of competitive viability.
Gunum’s Possessed Bomb Army
Gunum: This is my Khorne list right now. I’ve been running this with the intent of a feeling of pressure. I want charges on turn 1. Charges on turn 2. Charges on turn 3. Have some Heldrakes! Oh Dealt with those? Bloodletterbomb! Oh, that’s dead!? POSSESSEDBOMB AND SKARBRAND I GUESS!”
This list isn’t very complicated, the cultists will be your backfield, along with a blood letter bodyguard. The dark apostle protects the possessed, and Skarbrand is protected by..hel…heldrakes? Ehhhhh? Good right?
Then once your units touchdown It’s being a hard to dig out, violent force.
Your turns realistically will go like this: You’ll put the Heldrakes as far forward as you can, the only time that will be hard will be the Hammer and Anvil deployment types. These are just tanky enough at T7, 12 wounds with a 3+ that killing all of them for your opponent will take some dedicated fire. If it is a more close combat-centric army your are playing against, the ‘Drakes have 18” flamers that you will be able to do some light roasting with, able to use them as counter chargers.
Next, what I have found useful is deep striking Skarbrand along with the 30x man of bloodletters. He is a fire magnet if he stays on the table, so it can be nice to use him as a distraction carnifex to take fire off the heldrakes and the possessed. But we need him chopping and giving his +1A buff to all of your possessed and blood letters, so making sure he is around to do that is important.
Finally, using the Dark Apostle and his Disciples to give the Possessed pack -1 to be hit will give them a much stronger body presence when they do arrive at the opponent’s end of the table. This list will make charges, it has a presence to threaten everything from Space Marines to Tau. Overwatch management and engagement is going to be very important in this list, using the Heldrakes as bullies for your real killy units.
Gunum's Khorne Flakes Khorne Daemons – Battalion – Vigilus Detachment – Legion of Skulls (+5CP, -3CP, 754 points) HQ: Bloodmaster: Bloodblessed, The Goreplate – Field Commander Troops: 29x Bloodletters – Flag – Musician Chaos Space Marines – World Eaters Battalion (+5CP, 744 points) HQ: Chaos Lord – Chainaxe, Warlord: Unholy Fortitude Troops: Cultists – CC weapons Elite: Greater Possessed Brazen Beasts – Air Wing Detachment (+1CP, 501 points) Aircraft: Heldrake – Baleflamer
Troops: 10x Bloodletters
Troops: 10x Bloodletters
HQ: Dark Apostle – Dark Disciples
Troops: Cultists – CC weapons
Troops: Cultists – CC weapons
Elite: 17x Possessed
Aircraft: Heldrake – Baleflamer
Aircraft: Heldrake – Baleflamer
Khorne Daemons – Battalion – Vigilus Detachment – Legion of Skulls (+5CP, -3CP, 754 points)
HQ: Bloodmaster: Bloodblessed, The Goreplate – Field Commander
Troops: 29x Bloodletters – Flag – Musician
Chaos Space Marines – World Eaters Battalion (+5CP, 744 points)
HQ: Chaos Lord – Chainaxe, Warlord: Unholy Fortitude
Troops: Cultists – CC weapons
Elite: Greater Possessed
Brazen Beasts – Air Wing Detachment (+1CP, 501 points)
Aircraft: Heldrake – Baleflamer
John Kiddell’s World Eaters
John Kiddel took this World Eaters list to a 4-1 finish and 3rd place at the Twisted Onslaught GT in September. It features three Kytan Ravagers and a Lord Discordant and takes full advantage of the extra attack bonus the army gets from Hateful Assault. It also features two units of berserkers in Rhinos, which lends them a little extra survivability. Think of Kytans the same way you would Knights, essentially. Keep them within aura range of the Lord Discordant while you can, and press forward, using the gatling cannon to take out heavy infantry and murder anything you can in close combat.
I might look at adjusting this with a Drill replacing the Rhinos. It can hold both squads of Berserkers and it’s much more deadly (and requires attention) when it’s up-close than the Rhinos. Of course, that means putting all your eggs in one basket and not holding any objectives so it’s probably not the best idea, but then John’s a better player than I am.
Kytan Beatdown - Click to Expand World Eaters Super-Heavy Detachment (+3CP, 1,230 points) LoW: Kytan Ravager World Eaters Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 770 points) HQ: Chaos Lord w/Bolt pistol, Chainaxe. Mark of Khorne. Troops: Chaos Cultists – 9x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon, Cultist Champion, Mark of Khorne Dedicated Transport: Chaos Rhino
LoW: Kytan Ravager
LoW: Kytan Ravager
HQ: Exalted Champion w/Bolt pistol, Chainaxe. Mark of Khorne.
HQ: Lord Discordant on Helstalker, Warlord: Unholy Fortitude. Mark of Khorne, Talisman of Burning Blood
Troops: Khorne Berzerkers – Berzerker Champion w/Chainaxe Chainsword 1x Chainsword and bolt pistol, 6x Chainsword and Chainaxe
Troops: Khorne Berzerkers – Berzerker Champion w/Chainaxe Chainsword 1x Chainsword and bolt pistol, 6x Chainsword and Chainaxe
Dedicated Transport: Chaos Rhino
World Eaters Super-Heavy Detachment (+3CP, 1,230 points)
LoW: Kytan Ravager
World Eaters Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 770 points)
HQ: Chaos Lord w/Bolt pistol, Chainaxe. Mark of Khorne.
Troops: Chaos Cultists – 9x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon, Cultist Champion, Mark of Khorne
Dedicated Transport: Chaos Rhino
Well that about wraps things up. Hopefully by now you’ve got a good idea of what’s going to work and what won’t in your Khorne-centric army, and you’ve got the foundation you need to start experimenting. As always, if you’ve got a question or comment about the article or your army, feel free to drop us a question in the comments below, or email us at email@example.com. We’re always happy to hear from readers!