Start Competing: Black Legion Tactics (Updated 12/12/2022)

This is a companion article to our larger Start Competing: Chaos Space Marines article. In this article, we’re looking specifically at the Black Legion traitor legion, examining their rules, units, and tactics and strategies for using them.

The poster boys of the Chaos Space Marines faction, the Black Legion are the first among traitors and as a result have more good stuff than any other legion in Codex: Chaos Space Marines, primarily because they have two great special characters to work with. While they aren’t currently the strongest legion of the bunch, they have a very good toolset to work with and their leader, Abaddon the Despoiler, remains one of the game’s most powerful single units, and a force multiplier that can provide value in almost any legion or chaos list.


Legion Overview

The Black Legion aren’t the strongest traitor legion competitively, but they’re probably third in line behind Creations of Bile and Emperor’s Children. They do have some very nasty tricks they can pull off, and a Legion trait that helps a wide variety of builds.


  • Abaddon. Abaddon absolutely lives up to his “Warmaster” name, providing numerous buffs and being one of the game’s most powerful melee units. Abaddon’s one of the game’s most durable units on his own, being incredibly hard to kill if he ranges off on his own away from Look Out, Sir protection, and his ability to lend re-rolls and +1″ to charges for friendly CHAOS CORE units makes him valuable outside of his Black Legion home.
  • Legion Trait. The Black Legion trait is pretty good – the combat attrition bonus is fine, but getting +1 to hit on the charge or when shooting the closest eligible unit is damn good, and pretty easy to work into your strategy.
  • Versatility. The Black Legion are among the most versatile of the chaos legions, owing in part to their ability to borrow any other legion’s trait for a unit once per game. Tip of the Spear and Unrelenting Assault let them get into combat more easily, and they have a good set of relics and warlord traits to support different types of play, including the only double-warlord trait stratagem in the book.
  • Objective Control Tricks. The Black Legion have some great objective control tricks no other legion has access to. The Cloak of Conquest gives friendly CORE/CHARACTER units Obsec, Heralds of Doom can take Obsec away, and Bringers of Despair can let a unit of Terminators move onto objectives by pushing into combat out of turn.


  • Weak secondary objective. The Black Legion’s secondary objective is bad, one of many bad Shadow Operations secondary objectives that Nephilim pooped out to the Chaos Legions. You’ll never take it, particularly when Raise the Banners High is right there.
  • CP Thirsty. The Black Legion have some cool Stratagems to work with, but they’re on the more expensive end – most of them cost 2 CP, making them very much the kind of thing you only do once per game. That exacerbates the issue that Black Legion lists want to load up on relics and warlord traits, so you’ll start with very few CP.
  • Defensive buffs. There’s not much in the way of defensive help in the Black Legion repertoire, making them a bit more vulnerable to damage than some other legions.
Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


Legion Trait: Black Crusaders

  • Each time a Combat Attrition test is taken for a unit with this trait, you can ignore any or all modifiers to the test.
  • Each time a model with this trait makes an attack, add 1 to the attack’s hit roll if the attack is ranged and the target was the closest eligible enemy unit when the target was picked, or if it’s a melee attack and the attacking unit made a charge move this turn.

The real value of this Legion trait is that +1 to hit. Being able to hit most targets on a 2+ is a huge benefit for the faction, and dramatically improves the output of melee units like Possessed on the first round of combat. There are definitely times when you won’t want to shoot the closest target, but be mindful the rider here is “eligible when the unit was selected to shoot,” so you can manipulate this both by using line of sight blocking terrain and by killing other units in the way first.

The other part of the Legion trait, ignoring Combat Attrition modifiers, is largely useless. The issue is all Icons in the codex either grant +1 to Combat Attrition tests or ignore Combat Attrition modifiers, so this ability is already redundant for most large units that you’re running besides Terminators. 

Note that if Abaddon gains the AGENT OF CHAOS keyword he won’t get a Legion Trait unless you include him in a pure Black Legion army (he gets an exception). In practice this will rarely matter, but it’s always nice when Abaddon can cancel out a -1 to hit from an opposing unit. 

Warlord Traits

The Black Legion have a few solid Warlord Traits, and with Lord of the Ezekarion, they have a way to get multiple traits onto the same Character (provided the second trait is a Black Legion Trait)… though the issue with Lord Of The Ezekarion is that you have to use it on your Warlord, and your Warlord will almost always be Abaddon, making this stratagem useless. That said, note that two of these – Paragon of Hatred and Merciless Overseer – will always end up on Abaddon if you take him (and you’re probably going to take him).

  • Veteran Raider. During your Command phase, pick a friendly Black Legion CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6″. That unit can can Fall Back and shoot and charge this turn. This is pretty good! It’s a solid way to have units that can avoid being tarpitted, and a good way to re-activate the +1 to hit from Black Crusaders. It’s a solid ability to have, though potentially less useful than some of the others, and you may find that you just don’t need to fall back and shoot or fight very often because staying locked in combat is just fine and dandy. B
  • Indomitable. All damage suffered by the Warlord is halved, rounded up. A nice boost to a unit’s durability, this will do its best work on bigger characters like the Daemon Prince or Lord Discordant, where you have more wounds to protect and more multi-wound attacks coming in. Really great if you’re going up against power fists. B+
  • Merciless Overseer. In your Command phase, pick a friendly BLACK LEGION unit within 6″. Until your next Command phase, each time a model in that unit makes an attack, if your army is engaged in either Wanton Destruction or Wanton Slaughter, that unit is considered to be engaged in Wanton Massacre for that attack instead. Unfortunately, Massacre is generally the least useful Wanton to be in. This trait would be much better if you could put units into Wanton Slaughter instead. You are never spending a CP to buy this trait, but since you’re already getting it as part of Abaddon’s package of traits, you can sometimes get a bit of value out of putting a Venomcrawler or Decimator into Massacre turn 1. D
  • Soul-Eater. Each time your Warlord makes a melee attack, you can re-roll the wound roll, and each time your Warlord fights, if it destroys any enemy model with melee attacks, they regain D3 lost wounds after it fights. Cute, and potentially fun on a Daemon Prince or Lord Discordant, which actually have enough wounds and killing power to make use of this, but this isn’t as helpful on the whole as say, Indomitable. C+
  • Trusted War Leader. While your Warlord’s on the battlefield, every time you spend a CP to use a Stratagem, roll a D6; on a 5+ that CP is refunded. This is pretty solid, and getting to roll a die for each CP spent helps ensure you’re likely to get your CP back for taking this. It’s not bad, and it can easily pay for itself, if you can spare the up-front investment. B+
  • Paragon of Hatred. You can re-roll charge rolls for this Warlord, and each time he fights, if he’s within Engagement Range of any enemy units, he gets +1 Attack until the fight is resolved, or +D3 if any of those enemy units have the IMPERIUM keyword. Another Abaddon trait, and solid to have. Combines really well with Flames of Spite if you’re doubling up. A


The Black Legion have access to eight Stratagems, which become active if your army includes a Black Legion detachment. Note that this includes your Supreme Command Detachment featuring Abaddon, even if he doesn’t gain a Legion Trait.

  • Bringers of Despair (Battle Tactic, 2 CP). Use at the start of your opponent’s Fight phase. Pick one BLACK LEGION CHAOS TERMINATOR SQUAD within 3″ of one or more enemy units. That unit is eligible to fight and fights first this phase, and until the end of the phase add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of models in that unit. On its face, this Stratagem is plenty useful for giving your Terminators fights first and +1 attack on your opponent’s turn. But the possibilities here are actually much more significant: A unit which fights starts by making a pile in move, meaning this unit can activate after your opponent’s first charging unit (or first if there are no chargers), move 3″ to get into engagement range of an enemy unit, and then unload on them. This is a very nasty surprise that helps get you free movement end ensures that opponents must deal with your Terminators or stay more than 3″ away. It’s an incredibly powerful trick for one of your army’s best units, and any time you can catch an opponent with this they’re going to have a bad time. A+
  • Tip of the Spear (Battle Tactic, 2 CP). Use at the start of your Charge phase, if no BLACK LEGION units from your army are within Engagement range of any enemy units. Pick the BLACK LEGION CORE, DAEMONKIN, or CHARACTER unit closest to an enemy unit. Until the end of the turn, that unit can re-roll charges, and each time they make a melee attack against an enemy unit either within range of an objective marker or in your opponent’s deployment zone, improve the AP of that attack by 1. It’s expensive and too situational in practice. Not only are there just too many restrictions here, but if you fail your charge, then you’ve already spent the CP and your AP boost is wasted (remember the timing of this stratagem!)  Black Legion would have been much better off if the effects of this stratagem were split into 2 separate 1CP stratagems. B-
  • Hatred Unbound (Epic Deed, 2 CP). Use in your Command phase, if a BLACK LEGION WARLORD from your army is on the battlefield, and you’re engaged in either Wanton Destruction, Wanton Massacre, or Wanton Slaughter. Pick one BLACK LEGION CORE unit within 18″ of your Warlord and until your next Command phase, that unit is considered to be engaged in all three simultaneously. This one is a bit wonky. Its primary value is more that it gets you the mode you want to be in rather than being in all three, since few units in the Black Legion army do both shooting and fighting well enough to really care about having both. As a result, it’s overpriced. That said, it’s still good for getting you the one mode you do want. Black Legion players will unfortunately rarely have the CP available to afford a minor boost like this. C-
  • Lord of the Ezekarion (Requisition, 1 CP). Allows you to get an extra Warlord trait for a Black Legion character that is your Warlord that isn’t a Named Character or a DAEMON, but it has to be a Black Legion Trait. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is cool, but the inability to put it on a Daemon Prince or Lord Discordant basically means it’s garbage. At best it’s something you might use on a Master of Executions but mostly it can’t be used to build the kinds of melee monsters you really want. D- since Abaddon locks you out of this, A if you aren’t running Abaddon for some reason. 
  • Confluence of Traitors (Strategic Ploy, 1 CP). Use in your Command phase. Pick a BLACK LEGION HERETIC ASTARTES unit in your army, then pick a Legion Trait. That unit has that Legion Trait until the start of your next Command phase. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is excellent, and you’re going to use it every game. 99% of the time you’re going to use it to Advance and Charge via the Red Corsairs’ trait (don’t forget you also count as 2 or 5 models on objectives!), but there are other solid uses for it, such as giving a unit the Creations of Bile +1 S/+1″ Movement and Fight on Death for a turn, or the Word Bearers’ FNP against Mortals + re-rolling all hits on the charge. Or in a pinch you may use it to Fall Back and perform an action or charge with the Alpha Legion Trait. You have a lot of options here and at 1 CP you’re going to use this every game. Shame it’s only once. A+
  • Unrelenting Onslaught (Strategic Ploy, 2 CP). Use in your Movement phase, when you pick a BLACK LEGION unit from your army to move. Until the start of your next Movement phase, that unit can ignore any or all modifiers to its Move characteristic, Advance rolls, and charge rolls, and it can shoot and charge, even if it falls back this turn. This is pricey, but great. There’s a lot of flexibility here and it’s dynamite for avoiding things like tanglefoot grenades or the Death Guard Inexorable Stratagem. Falling back and charging is also a great way to reactivate your +1 to hit. The only downside is the 2 CP cost, and the fact that there are several strong effects that you might have preferred to spread around several units instead of just selecting one. A
  • Vengeful Skies (Strategic Ploy, 3 CP). Use in your Command phase, if any BLACK LEGION CHARACTER models from your army are on the battlefield. Pick a point and put a marker on that point. At the start of your next Command phase, place another marker on the battlefield within 12″ of that marker and draw a straight line between the center of each marker. Roll a D6 for each unit the line passes over or through, adding 1 if the unit has 11+ models and subtracting 1 if it’s a CHARACTER. On a 3+, the unit takes D3 mortal wounds. Then remove the markers. You can only use this Stratagem once. Another orbital bombardment, wooo. This sucks, and you’ll never use it. The ability to pick two points is nice, but only doing D3 to each for 3 CP and a full turn of waiting is just a bad rate. D
  • Heralds of Doom (Strategic Ploy, 2 CP). Use in your Command phase. Pick one BLACK LEGION LEGIONARIES unit from your army on the battlefield. Until the start of your next Command phase, that unit gains this ability: “Heralds of Doom (Aura): While an enemy unit with the Objective Secured ability is within 6″ of this unit, it loses that ability.” The fact that your ObSec unit can gain a no-ObSec aura makes this super strong. This is an A++ ability, but you’re forced to us it on a C unit in Legionaries, and the kind of unit you’ll have exactly one of in your army most of the time unless you’re building around using this stratagem. When you can use it to steal an objective from someone, it’s great – note that primary scoring happens at the end of the Command phase, so look for opportunities to turn this on and steal an objective and turn it into a 12-VP swing. A-

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


If you have a Black Legion warlord, you can give these to Black Legion Characters in your army instead of giving them one of the generic relics. There are some very, very good options here to pick from.

  • Ghorisvex’s Teeth. Replaces an Astartes Chainsword with one that’s S User, AP-3, 2 damage and every time you fight you can make 3 extra attacks with this relic. It’s OK, but a far cry from the beast it used to be. B
  • Loyalty’s Reward. Upgrades a bolt weapon to be a relic. Each time the bearer makes an attack with that weapon that targets an IMPERIUM unit and a hit is scored, the target takes 1 mortal wound and the attack sequence ends. If it doesn’t have the IMPERIUM keyword, then instead you do mortal wounds each time you wound the target instead. This is neat, and to get the most out of it you need it to be upgrading a combi-bolter, where each 4-shot volley is likely to score you 3-5 mortal wounds against IMPERIUM targets. That’s not bad, all things considered. C
  • Veilbreaker Plate. Black Legion Terminator model only. Each time the bearer takes an attack, reduce the AP of that attack by 1 (This does nothing, thanks to Armour of Contempt), and once per battle, in your Movement phase, if the bearer didn’t arrive as Reinforcements this turn, it can activate this relic. If you do, the bearer and a Black Legion CORE unit within 3″ can be removed from the battlefield and set back up more than 9″ from any enemy units and wholly within 6″ of each other. This is great, and pretty much useful in any army or situation. Teleporting is always great, and placing a unit of Terminators or Rubric Marines or Legionaries anywhere on the board is a powerful threat. The only thing that will keep you from using this in every list is the restriction that you can only take it on a Terminator Chaos Lord or a Terminator Sorcerer, and these are units that are usually crowded out of your HQ slots. A-
  • Cloak of Conquest. The bearer gains an Aura: Cloak of Conquest (Aura): WHile a friendly BLACK LEGION CORE or CHARACTER unit is within 6″ of the bearer, that unit has the Objective Secured ability. This is fantastic, especially because it can go on anyone. Use it to make Lords Discordant (or even Abaddon himself!) ObSec and share the wealth. A+
  • Sightless Helm. Can be given to a Cultists model. Each time the bearer makes an attack, you can ignore WS and BS modifiers, improve the AP of the attack by 1, and the target doesn’t get the benefit of cover against the attack. This is a neat set of buffs, but you’ll generally struggle to get full value out of it – Heavy Cover isn’t really a thing, and most of your melee fighters don’t have shooting that really cares about hit modifiers. That said, this does good work on a Thunder Hammer Chaos Lord, where you can get an AP-3 Thunder Hammer that ignores the hit modifier, but it’s not doing as much for your only shooting option, the plasma pistol. This probably does its best work on a Lord Discordant, where the hit modifiers won’t matter since you’ll take a Baleflamer, but getting the AP boost on all of those attacks is just very, very good. B
  • Trophies of Slaughter. Increases the range of the bearer’s non-psychic power Aura abilities by 3″ (to a max of 9″), and gives the bearer an Aura that gives enemy units within 9″ -1 to Combat Attrition. This is… just OK. If you had a way to get this on a character with the Cloak of Conquest, it’d be dynamite, but unfortunately the Gifts of Chaos Stratagem specifies that one of your upgrades has to be a weapon upgrade. C
  • Wrath of the Abyss. Replaces a thunder hammer with one that’s AP-3 and doesn’t give you -1 to hit. That’s not bad! But then compare this to the Sightless Helm: A Thunder Hammer upgraded with the Sightless Helm is literally identical to Wrath Of The Abyss, but even better because you don’t count about opponent’s modifiers and you ignore cover on any random ranged attacks you make. Then consider that the only model that can take this is the Chaos Lord, aka the only model that comes with a Thunder Hammer. That unit is just not good, so you won’t take it, which means you won’t take this relic… even if it wasn’t already a strictly worse version of the Sightless Helm! F-

Secondary Objective: Despoil Dominions

Shadow Operations

If you select this objective, Black Legion INFANTRY and BIKER units can attempt the Despoil Dominions action. One unit from your army can start to perform this action at the end of your Movement phase if it is within range of an objective marker that hasn’t already been despoiled and there are no enemy units (excluding AIRCRAFT) within range of the marker. The action completes at the end of your next Command phase or the end of the game, whichever happens first, provided the unit is still there. Each time you complete this the unit becomes despoiled, and any time an enemy unit tries to perform an action within range of that marker, roll one D6; on a 4+ that action immediately fails. You get 4 VP for each objective you despoil outside your deployment zone, and 1 VP for each objective in your deployment zone.

This is a really, really bad secondary objective and you shouldn’t take it. It’s flat worse than Raise the Banners High in most every respect, and you’ll struggle to ever score more than 9 VP with this unless you were already dominating the game or going second and having an amazing final turn. If this had a more modern “that you control” rider instead of “no enemies within range,” it might be close to playable, but as is, this secondary is a trap, particularly on missions that aren’t Recover the Relics, The Scouring, and maybe Tide of Conviction. Just take Banners or Retrieve Data instead, they’re both better Shadow Operations picks. D

Notable Units

There are two Black Legion special characters, Abaddon and Haarken. Abaddon is one of the best single units in the game, and Haarken is also very good, but unlikely to see play because you’re already bringing Abaddon.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Abaddon the Despoiler

The Black Legion Warmaster and basically the leader of the Chaos Space Marines faction overall, Abaddon has a strong claim to being the best single model in the game, if not the best unit. Clocking in at 300 points, Abaddon is pricey, but he’s one of the game’s most durable units and also one of the game’s most deadly. For those 300 points you get a S6 T6 9W Terminator model with a 4+ invulnerable save, plus he has the Marks of Nurgle and Tzeentch, meaning he automatically ignores the first failed save per turn (goes to damage 0) and S6 and S12+ attacks get -1 to wound against him. Cap that off with the fact that he can’t take more than 3 wounds per phase and you have a model that’s insanely difficult to wound even before you factor in that he can be protected by Look Out, Sir. Keep him near a Master of Possession so you can heal him with Pact of Flesh and watch your opponents’ faces fall as they see their hopes of killing him in two turns evaporate.

On the offensive side, Abaddon has 8 Attacks base, but will typically get either +1 or +D3 from his Paragon of Hatred Warlord Trait, and can choose to make those with either Drach’nyen (big swings), or the Talon of Horus (sweep attacks). The talon will double his attacks with S6, AP-4, 1-damage attacks, while the sword is S9, AP-4 3 damage attacks that, on a 6 to wound, do D3 additional mortal wounds. Abaddon also has the marks of Slaanesh and Khorne to help him out, so he always fights first and gets +1 strength when he charges/is charged/intervenes.

Abaddon is amazing as a single combatant, but he also brings a ton to the table as a force multiplier. He has to be your Warlord, and if you make him your warlord, he gains the AGENT OF CHAOS keyword, so he can go in most Chaos Marine and Chaos Knight armies without messing up armywide rules (this leads to the popular “dog walker” chaos knights lists that run Abaddon and a bunch of war dogs). Abaddon’s value in these armies comes in part from his Warmaster Aura, which gives friendly CHAOS CORE units within 6″ +1 to their charge rolls and the ability to re-roll hit rolls of 1. This is fantastic as an always on ability, and can help units make charges out of deep strike or early in the game when you need to close big distances.

Abaddon comes with three warlord traits: Eternal Vendetta, Paragon of Hatred, and Merciless Overseer. Eternal Vendetta lets him pick a target for your army to focus down – helpful against targets you need to kill early, while Merciless Overseer helps you get the most out of your melee units early in the game by putting them in Wanton Massacre. And Paragon of Hatred just helps him be an incredible melee blender, giving him natural re-rolls on charges and extra attacks to play with. Regardless of your Legion, Abaddon can give re-rolls, giving a single HERETIC ASTARTES CORE or HERETIC ASTARTES CHARACTER unit within 6″ re-rolls to hit per turn in the Command phase, and this is further boosted for BLACK LEGION units, who can also re-roll the wound rolls.  All of this combines to make a fantastic character who can brawl in the middle of the table and basically help lock down an objective for your control.

If there’s a downside to Abaddon it’s that he’s slow and just kind of a melee character in an army that has lots of melee options. As a result, not every army wants Abaddon, but almost all of them do since even with the slower speed he’s still one of the game’s best single units. He’s a nasty threat that can chew through most enemy units and can be protected relatively easily with a bodyguard unit if you need extra protection on him. Abaddon is a value add in any list and a strong mid-table play, working well with Chosen or that unit of 10 Black Rune Terminators you’ve got moving to midtable. He also doesn’t necessarily need the support, and can tear through enemy units of nearly any size with ease. And in a Black Legion specific list, where he can make full usage of all his buffs because of their shared <Legion> keywords, he is the most mandatory auto-include out there.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Haarken Worldclaimer

Abaddon’s herald is a Chaos Lord armed with an upgraded lightning claw (AP-3, 2 damage, re-rolls wounds) and a spear that can inexplicably only be used as a ranged weapon. The spear gives you a 12″ beam-style ranged attack that hits at S7 AP-3, 3 damage and will usually miss when you throw it, despite hitting on a 2+. I don’t make the rules; this is just how it goes. With 7 base attacks, Haarken’s a fine melee combatant, and his custom lightning claw makes him a pretty deadly threat, particularly compared to his pre-codex version, which struggled to do real damage. Each time Haarken kills an enemy CHARACTER, he gets +1 Attack for the rest of the game and improves his Herald of the Apocalypse aura range by 6″ (to a max of 24″).

Haarken’s a solid fighter but his real value comes from his auras. He’s got a standard Chaos Lord aura, plus the Lord of Raptors Aura, which lets you pick a single BLACK LEGION CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6″ in your Command phase to re-roll all hits or, if it’s a RAPTORS unit, all wound rolls too until your next Command phase. And his Herald of the Apocalypse aura makes it so any time an enemy unit fails a morale test, an additional model flees. Those are pretty good, especially that chapter master re-rolls aura. If you’re bringing Haarken, it’s for that. Sadly, Black Legion raptors aren’t great, so you’ll seldom be using that particular ability, but dropping full hit re-rolls on Black Legion units is very tasty, and gives Haarken a ton of value.

Haarken’s a great unit who can give you a ton of value but tragically he’s just not what Black Legion armies really need, especially when they’re already running Abaddon. As a result he’s a unit everyone kind of knows is good, but a unit that no one runs competitively. Note that because he is a CHAOS LORD, he can’t be in a detachment with Abaddon, so be sure to put Abaddon in a Supreme Command detachment if you really want to run Haarken. 


You’re going to run a unit of Black Rune Terminators, but be mindful that in Black Legion they make a good partner to Abaddon and can jump into the thick of it at any time with the Bringers of Despair Stratagem. They also benefit greatly from the Black Crusaders trait, which helps them mitigate the penalties from power fists and chainfists. Abaddon’s full hit and wound rerolls are also spectacularly effective on Terminators, as both their ranged weapons and melee weapons become real threats with that much reliability. 

Obliterators, Havocs, and Decimators

Obliterators have some nasty output but generally need a lot of help to ensure their shots hit. That’s where getting +1 to hit and re-rolls of 1 to hit can help them push through obscene amounts of damage. Likewise Lascannon Havocs need a similar boost, and Black Legion are the perfect home for them. And finally Decimators fit the same bill as well, where they really, really like getting +1 to hit with guns that just do mortal wounds on a 2+ to wound.


Black Legion Raptors aren’t anything particularly special, but they get great support from Haarken, where giving them full re-rolls to hit and wound is pretty damn good. Give them a couple of meltaguns to shoot with and as many models as they can take, plus the Mark of Khorne to get S5 on the charge. AP-1 Chainswords aren’t amazing, but a unit of 10 putting out 41 attacks that hit on 2s re-rolling and wound on 3s re-rolling can be pretty scary, just in terms of volume.

Rubric Marines

Rubric Marines are especially welcome in Black Legion, where the fact that they don’t get the Legion Trait is completely meaningless given they never fail morale and don’t roll to hit if you give them Warpflamers. Abaddon’s wound rerolls make their 2+d6 shot flamers into terrifying weapons.

Black Legion Chaos Space Marines / Servants of the Abyss for Blackstone Fortress by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms
Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Playing Black Legion

Competitively, Black Legion armies are going to tend to revolve around Abaddon, who brings powerful melee and aura abilities to the table that other legions won’t get. Your strategy will also revolve around making good use of the Legion trait to get +1 to hit on your shooting and melee attacks, to ensure you’re always hitting on 2+. Because of this accuracy boost, Black Legion armies can often get away with running some units other armies couldn’t, because those units just aren’t reliable enough when they hit on 3s. Lascannon Havocs are a great example here.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Sample Lists

Although the Black Legion haven’t been a powerhouse of the meta like Emperor’s Children and Creations of Bile, they’ve still managed some respectable finishes with a variety of interesting lists. As always, we’d recommend visiting 40kstats for more lists that are updated every week.

Stephen Mitchell’s List

Stephen took this list to Warzone Atlanta in December, finishing in 4th place with a 5-2 record, losing respectably to John Lennon and Nick Nanavati from Art of War in the process. The list relies on a pair of Decimators to push out a ton of mortal wounds to support the standard core of Terminators.

The List

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [87 PL, 1,700pts, -2CP] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ HQ +

Dark Apostle [5 PL, 95pts, -2CP]: 5. Trusted War-leader, Aspiring Lord, Chaos Undivided, Cloak of Conquest, Gifts of Chaos, Illusory Supplication
. 2x Dark Disciple: 2x Close combat weapon

Master of Possession [7 PL, 120pts, -1CP]: Liber Hereticus, Mark of Slaanesh, Mutated Invigoration, Pact of Flesh, Stratagem: Relic

Sorcerer [6 PL, 110pts, -1CP]: Eye of Tzeentch, Gifts of Chaos, Infernal Gaze, Mark of Tzeentch, Warptime

+ Troops +

Cultists Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ cultist firearm: 9x Cultist firearm, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion: Cultist firearm

Cultists Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ cultist firearm: 9x Cultist firearm, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion
. . Autopistol and brutal assault weapon

Legionaries [7 PL, 130pts]: Chaos Icon, Mark of Khorne
. Aspiring Champion: Astartes chainsword, Power fist
. 3x Marine w/ astartes chainsword: 3x Astartes chainsword, 3x Bolt pistol, 3x Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ heavy chainaxe: Heavy chainaxe

+ Elites +

Chaos Terminator Squad [19 PL, 365pts, -1CP]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Chaos Terminator: Combi-melta, Power fist
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Terminator Champion: Black Rune of Damnation, Chainfist, Combi-melta, Trophies of the Long War

Decimator [9 PL, 180pts]: 2x Soulburner petard

Decimator [9 PL, 180pts]: 2x Soulburner petard

Possessed [7 PL, 140pts]: Possessed Champion
. 4x Possessed: 4x Hideous mutations

Possessed [7 PL, 140pts]: Possessed Champion
. 4x Possessed: 4x Hideous mutations

+ Fast Attack +

Warp Talons [7 PL, 140pts]: Warp Talon Champion
. 4x Warp Talon: 4x Warp claws

++ Supreme Command Detachment +3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [15 PL, 300pts, 2CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost [3CP]

Legion: Black Legion

+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander +

Abaddon the Despoiler [15 PL, 300pts, -1CP]: 3. Merciless Overseer, 5. Eternal Vendetta, 6. Paragon of Hatred, Stratagem: Warlord Trait

++ Total: [102 PL, 2,000pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • A pair of Decimators to push out ranged mortal wounds
  • A unit of Warp Talons to harass and trade up
  • A Dark Apostle with Illusory Supplication to help keep the Terminators on the table

Playing This List

Stephen’s list takes advantage of the Black Legion +1 to hit to help make the most of some units that would otherwise not be reliable enough. Namely, Decimators. The two Decimators can each put out 4D3 mortal wound shots per turn, and Abaddon can use his Merciless Overseer Warlord Trait to keep one of them on exploding hits all game. The list packs two units of Possessed for fast and early charges, with support from a unit of Warp Talons, who can also drop in near Abaddon and make 8″ charges out of deep strike if needed.

David Stein’s List

David’s list, which he piloted to a 2nd place finish at the Boltercon Invitational GT in mid November, opts for a less Forge World-heavy approach, taking instead Havocs as its long-range shooting support.

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [86 PL, -1CP, 1,697pts] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ HQ [22 PL, -3CP, 375pts] +

Dark Apostle [6 PL, 110pts]: Accursed crozius, Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Illusory Supplication, Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts]
. 2x Dark Disciple: 2x Close combat weapon

Heretic Astartes Daemon Prince [9 PL, -2CP, 145pts]: 1. Flames of Spite, Aspiring Lord [-1CP], Gift of Chaos, Gifts of Chaos [-1CP], Hellforged sword [10pts], Malefic talons, Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts], Thaa’ ris and Rhi’ol, the Rapacious

Master of Possession [7 PL, -1CP, 120pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Gifts of Chaos [-1CP], Liber Hereticus, Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts], Mutated Invigoration, Pact of Flesh, Smite, Staff of Possession

+ Troops [17 PL, 375pts] +

Accursed Cultists [3 PL, 75pts]
. 5x Mutant [30pts]: 5x Blasphemous appendages
. 3x Torment [45pts]: 3x Hideous mutations

Legionaries [7 PL, 150pts]: Chaos Icon [5pts], Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts]
. Aspiring Champion [28pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Power fist [10pts]
. 2x Marine w/ astartes chainsword [36pts]: 2x Astartes chainsword, 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ balefire tome [38pts]: Balefire tome [20pts], Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Infernal Gaze
. Marine w/ heavy chainaxe [28pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Heavy chainaxe [10pts]

Legionaries [7 PL, 150pts]: Chaos Icon [5pts], Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts]
. Aspiring Champion [28pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Power fist [10pts]
. 2x Marine w/ astartes chainsword [36pts]: 2x Astartes chainsword, 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ balefire tome [38pts]: Balefire tome [20pts], Bolt pistol, Diabolic Strength, Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ heavy chainaxe [28pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Heavy chainaxe [10pts]

+ Elites [39 PL, -1CP, 777pts] +

Chaos Terminator Squad [19 PL, -1CP, 385pts]: Mark of Slaanesh [1 PL, 15pts]
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Combi-bolter, Power fist [5pts]
. Chaos Terminator [38pts]: Accursed weapon, Chainfist [5pts]
. Terminator Champion [-1CP, 38pts]: Accursed weapon, Black Rune of Damnation, Chainfist [5pts], Trophies of the Long War [-1CP]

Possessed [7 PL, 140pts]
. 4x Possessed [112pts]: 4x Hideous mutations
. Possessed Champion [28pts]: Hideous mutations

Rubric Marines [13 PL, 252pts]
. Aspiring Sorcerer [21pts]: Force stave, Smite, Warpflame pistol, Warptime
. 9x Rubric Marine w/ warpflamer [216pts]: 9x Warpflamer [27pts]

+ Heavy Support [8 PL, 170pts] +

Havocs [8 PL, 170pts]: Mark of Tzeentch [1 PL, 15pts]
. Havoc Champion [10pts]: Astartes chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun [10pts]
. 4x Havoc w/ lascannon [20pts]: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Lascannon [20pts]

++ Supreme Command Detachment +3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [15 PL, 2CP, 300pts] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander [15 PL, -1CP, 300pts] +

Abaddon the Despoiler [15 PL, -1CP, 300pts]: 3. Merciless Overseer, 5. Eternal Vendetta, 6. Paragon of Hatred, Drach’nyen, Stratagem: Warlord Trait [-1CP], Talon of Horus, Warlord

++ Total: [101 PL, 1CP, 1,997pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • A unit of Lascannon havocs to take down big targets at range
  • Two big units of Legionaries to hold objectives and brawl
  • A unit of 10 Warpflamer Rubrics to wipe enemies off the table
  • A Rapacious Talons Daemon Prince

Playing This List

On the other side is this list, which trades out the Decimators for Lascannon Havocs and a Daemon Prince with talons. The list runs a Dark Apostle + Terminator brick and gets support from a 10-model unit of Warpflamer Rubrics, who can zip around the board with Warptime and light enemy units up for 10D6+20 hits every time they shoot, which is a staggering number of shots to throw out.

Where to Read More

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