Start Competing: Emperor’s Children Tactics

Credit: Robert "TheChirurgeon" Jones

This is a companion article to our larger Start Competing: Chaos Space Marines article. In this article, we’re looking specifically at the Emperor’s Children traitor legion and how to manage their custom rules and strategies.

The Emperor’s Children are the primary Slaanesh-aligned faction of Chaos Space Marines, and though for a while they played second fiddle to the Flawless Host, Faith and Fury put them right back at the forefront. Emperor’s Children have access to a ton of great stratagems and boosts, giving you options regardless of whether you want to make a single big mudermonster warlord, run large blobs of Noise Marines, or play with shooting-heavy squads of Terminators or Bikers. As a Slaanesh-devoted faction, they’re interesting in soup builds as well, since Slaanesh daemons have some really strong options and make great soup partners.


Legion Overview

The Emperor’s Children are probably the strongest individual legion among the Chaos Space Marines’ options right now, owing to great synergy with Chaos Daemons, superior stratagems, great Troops, and a suddenly much-more-relevant legion trait. Their weaknesses are few and they have a lot going for them strength-wise.


  • Noise Marine Troops. Noise marines are pretty good, and definitely have a lot to offer over regular Chaos Space Marines. They’re even better for Emperor’s Children, where they’re both Troops and are able to use stratagems like Excrutiating Frequencies to massively up their damage output.
  • Shooting. If you want to build a shooting army with Chaos Space Marines, Slaanesh is the key to getting there. Endless Cacophony is only available to Slaanesh units and the ability to shoot twice with Noise Marines, Obliterators, Terminators, Bikes, or Havocs is very strong, particularly when paired with stratagems like Excrutiating Frequencies and Veterans of the Long War.
  • Melee. While they aren’t as good at melee combat as say, World Eaters, Emperor’s Children are still pretty damn good at it, and have a host of nasty tricks they can pull off.
  • Daemon Support. Slaanesh daemons are really good right now, and they have a lot of great synergy with Emperor’s Children.
  • Stratagems. The Emperor’s Chlidren have some absolutely amazing stratagems and they can shoot and fight pretty well with both.
  • Legion Trait. Fighting first didn’t matter as much in 8th but it’s very relevant in 9th, where it the non-active player gets to activate a unit for melee first after chargers have gone.


  • Mark-locked. The mark of Slaanesh is arguably the strongest mark you can give to Chaos Space Marines, but being forced into it does have some downsides. The big one being that your units can’t fight twice. The other one being that Eldar get to clown on you for having the mark of Slaanesh, which isn’t great when you’re facing Harlequins on a top table and they can suddenly re-roll hits and wounds against your units.
  • CP Thirsty. Having a lot of your best rules tied to stratagems means you’re going to need all the CP you can get, and you’ll have to manage your total pretty carefully compared to other “dumber” lists that can spend the bulk of their CP during army construction and plow forward. You’ll have some tough choices to make about the stratagems you use and when they’re applied.
  • Custom Units. The Emperor’s Children don’t really have much in the way of custom units or things exclusive to Slaanesh. That’s not a huge downside, but it does mean you’ll have fewer options than some other chapters, particularly when it comes to daemon engines.



Legion Trait: Flawless Perfection

Units with this ability always fight first in the Fight phase, even if they didn’t charge. This is much better in 9th edition, where changes to the order of activation for units in the Fight phase make always-goes-first abilities much stronger and the emphasis on melee units to flip objectives and smaller board size means you’re much more likely to see multiple charges happen in a turn in any given game, giving you an option to alternate wtih one of these units. This also lets your units get in against multiple chargers, and counteracts “fight last” abilities that have shown up a little more on units. In addition, all Emperor’s Children units have to have the Mark of Slaanesh if they can have a mark, and the faction can take Noise Marines as Troops. The Mark of Slaanesh is just fine and the Noise Marine Troops aren’t something you have to take, but do open up some interesting build opportunities. A

Warlord Traits

The Emperor’s Children Warlord Traits are a bit unbalanced. There are two clear winners and a bunch of more mediocre traits for generating more attacks or giving you a defensive boost in melee combat. The two winners here are Loathsome Grace, a big offensive boost, and Glutton for Punishment, the best of the defensive boosts, though neither is so great as to be a must-take and you may find yourself looking to the Shadowspear psyker traits instead.

  • Stimulated By Pain. Add 1 to your attacks characteristic for each wound suffered (max 3), if you somehow regain the wounds you drop the attacks. Extra attacks are good but there are tons of ways to get them in Chaos Space Marines and as far as Warlord Traits go there are just many better options than this. C
  • Intoxicating Musk. Enemy attacks made within 3” of the warlord have -1 to hit. Not a bad way to protect the warlord from getting punched back by a target that he either multi-charged or couldn’t kill, but marginal defensive boosts aren’t really what you want from your traits. This is one of those times where the best defense is a good offense. C
  • Unbound Arrogance. This one is a fun mini game: When you fight with your Warlord, both you and your opponent pick a number between 1 and 3 on a dice, hiding it behind your hands. Reveal the numbers. If the numbers are different add the number you chose to your attacks. This is making you work really hard to get +D3 Attacks and there are just better ways to get more attacks that don’t require you frequently guessing “2” because it’s always in your opponent’s best interest to take away the “3” option. C
  • Faultless Duellist. At the start of the fight phase, roll a D3. Until the end of the phase, subtract that many attacks from enemies within 1” of the warlord. Another way to reduce the damage you take back from nearby enemies and potentially better than Intoxicating Musk against anything with 2+ attacks. C+
  • Glutton For Punishment. Reduce any damage inflicted on the Warlord by 1 (to a minimum of 1). This is a great way to boost the longevity of a Daemon Prince or a Lord Discordant against the increasingly large pool of 2 damage weapons out there. You probably still want Loathsome Grace most of the time because of the Strength bonus getting you over important thresholds, but this is a good consolation and would be an easy second take if Emperor’s Children had a way to take two traits. A
  • Loathsome Grace. Re-roll charge rolls and add 1 to your warlord’s Strength and Attacks when you charge or make a Heroic Intervention. Pretty much a copy paste of the Imperium’s Sword trait from Codex: Space Marines, but very helpful to have when it comes to boosting a Lord Discordant or Daemon Prince. Works very well with the Intoxicating Elixir to double up on your Attacks and Strength boosts, but also very helpful on Jump Pack Slam Lords who want to make sure they nail their charges out of deep strike. A


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


Emperor’s Children get access to an incredibly good set of Stratagems – likely the best of any legion, matched only by the set that the Night Lords have access to. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a boost to melee or shooting, terminators or bikes, or deployment shenanigans, there’s something to work with in the stratagems for the Emperor’s Children.

  • Combat Elixirs (2 CP). At the start of the battle select one Emperor’s Children unit that is not a vehicle or chaos cultist. You can only use this once per battle. Apply one of the following effects of your choice:
    • +1 Attack
    • +1 Strength
    • +2” to Move
    • +1 Toughness
      2 CP is expensive, but very good. This is great for pushing a character’s stat over a key threshold, like getting Daemon Princes to S8. This is also great for boosting a squad of something like Terminators or Warp Talons that really need the offensive boost to be viable, and it lets you get that boost without having to keep a Herald of Slaanesh around. Most of the time you’re going to be looking at Strength and Toughness . The flexibility is just so good. A
  • Excess Of Violence (1 CP). Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, when you choose an Emperor’s Children Infantry Unit to fight. Any time you destroy an enemy model you may make one additional attack with the same weapon against that unit. Also appears in Codex: Chaos Space Marines. It’s solid ability for clearing hordes, where it can quickly help you rack up more attacks. Note that this also triggers if a unit of yours dies and then shoots something (and kills it) using the Music of the Apocalypse ability, so you can create some fun situations where you chew through units and then, when killed, you pop off 3 shots and if one of those kills a model, you can get another shot (and shoot at things outside your combat). Note that, post-FAQ, this will only work for models killed that aren’t within 1″ of an enemy model when they die, so feel free to get creative with your wound allocations in order to make your opponent pay for causing you harm with more than a bolt pistol shot. B+
  • Incessant Disdain (1 CP). Use this at the end of your opponent’s charge phase. Select one Emperor’s Children’s character and give them a 6” Heroic Intervention. You have to move towards enemy Character models OR the nearest enemy model.  This isn’t quite as powerful as it was now that your character can get punched in the nose by the units he’s intervened against, so you’ll have to be careful about when and how you use this. That said, it does combo with the Legion Trait so you can activate your character after the first charging unit fights, which forces your opponent to address the character immediately (and even if they don’t, your other units will also be in the mix with chargers). This can be very useful for creating surprise Interventions, and forces your opponent to play around some very tricky situations if they don’t want to catch a face full of Daemon Prince when charging into another unit nearby. B
  • Honour The Prince (1 CP). Use this AFTER making a charge roll for an Emperor’s Children Slaanesh unit from your army. Change the result of one of your D6 to a 6. This is an absolute pearl of a stratagem. With this it’s a mere re-rollable 3+ roll to get deep strikers in and critically you can use it after you have rolled, meaning as long as you roll a 3+ on either die, your deep-striking Lord is going in hot. Note that this also combos well with Loathsome Grace, giving you even better odds of making that charge. This Stratagem allows you to build around reliably putting melee combatants in combat against enemy units whenever you want, easily closing 7+” distances, and is one of the game’s strongest stratagems. A+
  • Excruciating Frequencies (1 CP). When you select an Emperor’s Children Noise Marine unit to shoot with, use this stratagem to give them +1 S and +1 Damage on Blastmasters, Sonic Blasters and Doom Sirens to the end of the phase. This is exactly what Noise Marines need as a boost to be viable. Getting S5 D2 sonic blasters ignoring cover and firing 3 shots on the move is great, and the Blastmaster loves this just as much. Combine this with Endless Cacophony to double up on boosts and you’ve got something real nice. Remember that Noise Marines can be in squads of 20. A
  • Cruel Duellists (1 CP). Use when you pick an Emperor’s Children unit (but not a cultist or vehicle unit) to fight with in the fight phase. Any unmodified 6s to wound will cause the attack to be resolved at AP-3. Solid for a unit of something like Raptors or Terminators where you might have a good volume of attacks but low strength or AP because of how they’re outfitted. Shame it doesn’t combo with Veterans of the Long War. B
  • Tactical Perfection (1 CP). Before the first turn begins, select one Emperor’s Children unit and redeploy it to a new position or into Strategic Reserves, following the deployment rules for the mission being played. If it’s a transport with models inside they too get redeployed as well. This is a very solid ability, even if you can no longer put units on the table into Deep Strike with it. In the Book of Fire this got a stealth update to allow you to put a unit into Strategic Reserves, which is a massive boost in power since it allows you to dump 20 Noise Marines off the table and into reserves for only 1 CP. A+


The Emperor’s Children have access to a solid list of relics, with most of their options supporting the strategy of “make some insane melee characters who will be absolute buzzsaws,” though Remnant of the Maraviglia is cool for supporting a longer-ranged shooting strategy with multiple units.

  • Blissgiver. Replaces a Bolt Pistol with one that’s 6″ range, Assault D6, Strength:User, AP-1, 1 damage, can be fired within 1″ of an enemy like a pistol, and can target enemies within 1″ of a friendly. Every time it wounds but doesn’t kill a Character, roll a D6 at the end of the phase and on a 6 they take D3 mortal wounds. This is the Codex: Chaos Space Marines relic for Emperor’s Children. It’s… fine, but there isn’t anywhere you’d really wanna put it. There are better relics fighting for a slot. C-
  • The Endless Grin. Enemy units get -1 to their Leadership and roll an additional dice, dropping the one of your choice when they take Morale tests within 6” of the model with this relic. Choosing the die is interesting for when you’re up against daemons, but otherwise this is another worthless Leadership-modifying ability. D
  • Fatal Sonancy. This is a weapon with 12” range, Assault D6, S6, AP-2, 1 Damage that hits automatically and ignores cover. So a nasty flamer in other words. Interesting because it doesn’t replace an existing weapon, acting like an upgraded Doom Siren. Neat for giving your Warlord a little extra short-range damage output, but the range is probably too short and the damage too low to make this worth taking.  C
  • Armour of Abhorrence. Enemy units can not fire Overwatch at a model with this relic and if they fail a morale test within 6” of a model with this relic, an additional model flees. This used to be great when turning off Overwatch was really good and now it’s just kind of an OK add-on against Iron Hands and Tau, the latter of which are so bad you won’t need help from this to clown them. So it’s not nearly as relevant. The extra model fleeing is OK but not good enough to make this worth taking. C-
  • Remnant of the Maraviglia. Priest model only. Once per battle instead of chanting and prayer, the model can broadcast the Remnant. For the rest of the battle round, reroll wound rolls within 6” of the model with the relic. This is great for Chaos, who don’t get access to Lieutenants, and something you’re always going to combine with the Endless Cacophony and Veterans of the Long War Stratagems to have an insane round of Shooting. A
  • Distortion. Replaces a Power or Force Sword, S user, AP -4, D3 Damage and you can opt at the start of the fight phase to gain -1 to hit and S x2 if you wish, turning it into an AP-4 power fist. Pretty nasty, and the dual mode gives it a lot of utility. B
  • Raiment Revulsive. A model with this relic can re-roll all charge, hit and wound rolls. All of them. This is a very strong upgrade, particularly on a Chaos Lord with Loathsome Grace. Give him a Thunder Hammer and Jump Pack, maybe a Combi-Melta for extra punch and you’ve got an incredibly powerful melee unit that can spend 1 CP to nearly guarantee you make it into combat whenever you need to with Honour the Prince. A+


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Notable Units


The Emperor’s Children only have access to one character – Lucius the Eternal (Fabius Bile is a former member, but no longer has the keyword or the affiliation. He’s doing his own thing – check out Creations of Bile). Lucius is a bit of an oddity; he’s got a Chaos Lord’s aura and statline, but only a 5+ invulnerable save, though whenever he makes a save in the fight phase, on a D6 roll of a 4+ he causes the attacker a mortal wound. He comes with a Doom Siren and the Lash of Torment, a 6″ S User AP-1, 2 damage whip that can be shot within 1″ of an enemy unit and target units within 1″ of a friendly unit. His master-crafted power sword is a nice +1 damage boost, and his Duellist’s Pride ability gives you +2 attacks if you put all of your attacks on the same character in the Fight phase. He’s a bit weird, but he’s at 90 points, he’s only 10 points more than a naked Chaos Lord and at that price he’s priced competitively. He basically gives you an efficiently costed Lord on foot and while the uses for those are limited, he’s kitted out to mulch characters with one of the faction’s few 2-damage weapons that doesn’t also give you a negative modifier to hit. If Lucius is your Warlord he has to take the Stimulated by Pain trait, which is a good reason to never make him your warlord.

Noise Marines

While any Chaos Space Marine army that can take the Mark of Slaanesh can have Noise Marines, they’re especially potent in an Emperor’s Children army. For starters, they’re troops in an Emperor’s Children army, which means you can easily fill the Troop slots of a Patrol or Battalion detachment with some legitimately powerful units. Second, in the Emperor’s Children faction they get access to the Excrutiating Frequencies Stratagem, which super charges a single unit’s Sonic Blasters, Blastmasters, and Doom Sirens for a turn, giving them +1 Strength and +1 Damage. This is a massive benefit for those weapons, where previously the volume of shots and ignoring cover was nice but not quite enough to get them over the top. Now that they can hit S5 and 2 damage they can much more reliably punish marines, and combining this with Veterans of the Long War gives you the ability to wound T4 models on a 2+. You also have the option to use a Dark Apostle’s Remnant of the Maraviglia to give you the ability to re-roll wound rolls for a turn for Emperor’s Children units within 6″, another powerful boost.

Don’t sleep on melee Noise Marines. Yeah it’s not the preferred way to run them, but for 2 points per model more than standard Chaos Space Marines you can get a unit of Noise Marines with bolt pistols and the new AP-1 Astartes Chainswords that have 2 attacks base instead of 1, always fight first, can be boosted to either 3A or S5 with Combat Elixirs (mathematically, the extra attack is better most of the time), and have access to the Cruel Duellists Stratagem, which for 1 CP can give turn their wound rolls of 6 into AP-3 attacks and the Excess of Violence Stratagem, which give them additional attacks every time they kill a model. And on top of all that, you can make sure they’ll make their charges with Honour the Prince. Put them in a Rhino or Drill with Lucius and you’ve got a pretty nasty little unit that can tear through larger units of chaff like Cultists or Termagants pretty quickly.

The update to Dreadclaw drop pods is a game changer for Noise Marines (and Havocs, see below), giving you a reliable, CP-free way to protect them from harm while still putting them on the table turn 1 in position to hurt an opponent. You’re limited to squads of 10 instead of 20, so there’s some tradeoff there in terms of raw damage output, but you can nearly guarantee they’ll arrive in position intact and even after they drop the Dreadclaw will stick around to be a pain in the ass for opponents to deal with.

Emperor’s Children Noise Marines. Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


Able to combine some bigger guns with the melee advantages of Emperor’s Children, Helbrutes are especially potent here, and whether you give one a fist or a scourge, are a nightmare to deal with in melee. Sadly, Sonic Dreadnoughts are no longer an option in competitive play, so you’ll have to make do with a multi-melta or reaper autocannon as the ranged weapon or go full melee.


Kind of a dark horse in the Codex, Mutilators have found a place in 9th edition by virtue of being cheap, durable units able to grab Linebreaker and Engage at All Fronts or Deploy Scramblers. They can double as a melee threat in Emperor’s Children armies thanks to Honour the Prince. 

Raptors and Warp Talons

Both of these got significant points drops in the January 2021 FAQs and both are significantly much more useful as a result. Additionally, both can use Honour the Prince to reliably make charges out of deep strike. Raptors are pretty efficiently-costed now and while they’re expensive, Warp Talons are much more reasonable at 23 points per model with just insane damage output potential and the ability to get +1 strength from Heralds of Slaanesh. Both units are great targets for Combat Elixirs and Raptors are amazing for Excess of Violence.


Terminators also enjoy everything that the Emperor’s Children have to offer, and following the January 2021 points drop are a much better deal. Give them a combi-plasma and a lightning claw and use them as a durable unit that can help control the middle of the table.


As Raiders and Ironstriders have become more common, autocannon havocs have become more of a meta play for Chaos Space Marines, and they’re perfectly at home in Emperor’s Children lists. Particularly when you can put two into a Dreadclaw Drop pod to ensure they’ll be able to deliver their maximum pain payload on turn 1.

Dreadclaw Drop Pods

As we mentioned above the changes via FAQ to the Dreadclaw Drop Pod make it an incredibly viable option for Emperor’s Children, giving them a way to get Havocs and Noise Marines safely into position or onto the middle of the table.


Playing Emperor’s Children

There are three key things to know about playing Emperor’s Children:

  1. If you’re taking Troops, take advantage of the Noise Marines. You don’t need to max out on them – two squads and a unit of Cultists is fine in a Battalion – but being able to have Obsec Noise Marines is a real advantage and you should be leveraging it as much as you can, unless you’re just tacking on an Outrider or something that doesn’t require Troops choices for your Emperor’s Children. You’ll also want to have a way to protect them (they’re very fragile with only 1 wound) so they can open up with their guns, and that will mean either a transport or putting them in Strategic Reserves. Note that the Power Level on Noise Marines changed in the big FAQ update; you’ll pay 3 CP if you want to put an entire squad of 20 into reserves, so it may behoove you,
  2. Take advantage of the ability to charge from Deep Strike (or just make any charge). Honour the Prince essentially guarantees a unit can reach enemies in a charge the turn it arrives from Deep Strike, requiring only that you have rolled a single 3+ on either of the dice for your charge roll. This means you can bank on having a powerful jump pack chaos lord or other Deep Strike threat arrive, shoot, and charge a unit, clearing objectives or cleaning out an enemy’s backfield. It’s a great, reliable ability to have.
  3. One major challenge you’re going to have is that between all of the great stratagems you have – there isn’t a dud among them – you’re going to quickly find that you don’t have enough CP to do everything you want. Your army’s game plan should have a set plan for how you’re going to spend your CP so you know when and how you can overcharge your Noise Marines, how many units you can redeploy with Tactical Perfection, and how often you can double shoot with Endless Cacophony. Having success with Emperor’s Children requires planning and forethought

Tips and Tricks to Remember

There are a few things you’ll want to remember as you play Emperor’s Children that will help you get the most out of the faction:

  • Endless Cacophony combines with shooting buffs. Stratagems that last until the end of your shooting phase like Excrutiating Frequencies and Veterans of the Long War stay active if you use Endless Cacophony to shoot a second time. Use this combination to double up on your strongest effects, so you’re getting more bang for your buck. Same goes for Remnant of the Maraviglia.
  • When you’re shooting primaris marines, watch out for Transhuman Physiology. You have to declare stratagems like Excrutiating Frequencies before an opponent has to decide to use Transhuman, so be wary of stacking all your buffs on one unit right away or you could find the extra +1 to wound going to waste as your opponent just makes it so only rolls of a 4+ will wound anyways. This is where having two squads of Noise Marines can come in – you can tease out the use with one squad using Frequencies or VotLW, then clear a path for the other squad, and use Endless Cacophony to pick a new target at the end of the phase.
  • Remember that you can use Tactical Perfection to move a unit around before the first battle round. You can use this to put a key unit out of harm’s way, line up to take out an important target that was deployed later, or even deploy to bait out an opponent – place a key unit on one side of the table early, then redeploy it to the other after your opponent has responded with their deployment, trapping them out of position.
  • Give your Noise Marines some help. They’re good at shooting but a BS 3+ is only going to go so far. Remember to give them support – Chaos Lord/Daemon Prince auras to re-roll 1s to hit, the Prescience psychic power, and Warp-Sight Plea are all boosts you can give to your Noise Marines’ accuracy without spending even more CP.
  • Don’t be afraid of melee. If you’re running Noise Marines, even your Troops are at least OK at fighting, owing to two attacks base. Yeah, you don’t want your noise marines tied up in a long melee or getting charged, but your army also isn’t bad at it either.


Chaos Space Marines Obliterators
Chaos Space Marines Obliterators. Credits: That Gobbo

The Lists

Emperor’s Children work fine as a standalone force, but can also benefit from being combined with Slaaneshi daemons, other chaos marine legions, or even Death Guard.

Mark Perry’s Emperor’s Children

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [109 PL, -3CP, 2,000pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost

Legion: Emperor’s Children

+ Stratagems +

Gifts of Chaos (1 Relic) [-1CP]

+ No Force Org Slot +

Dark Disciples [1 PL, 10pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. 2x Dark Disciple: 2x Close combat weapon

+ HQ +

Chaos Lord [7 PL, 115pts]: 2. Flames of Spite, Jump pack, 2x Lightning Claw, Mark of Slaanesh, The Rapacious Talons, Warlord

Dark Apostle [4 PL, 80pts]: Blissful Devotion, Illusory Supplication, Mark of Slaanesh, Remnant of the Maraviglia

Sorcerer [5 PL, 90pts]: Bolt pistol, Delightful Agonies, Force sword, Mark of Slaanesh, Prescience

+ Troops +

Chaos Cultists [3 PL, 50pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ Autogun: 9x Autogun
. Cultist Champion: Autogun

Chaos Cultists [3 PL, 50pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ Autogun: 9x Autogun
. Cultist Champion: Autogun

Noise Marines [10 PL, 173pts] . Marine w/ blastmaster: Blastmaster
. 6x Marine w/ sonic blaster: 6x Bolt pistol, 6x Frag & Krak grenades, 6x Sonic Blaster
. Noise Champion: Astartes chainsword, Sonic blaster

+ Elites +

Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought [8 PL, -1CP, 145pts]: Combi-bolter, Hellforged Dreadnought chainfist, Hellforged heavy plasma cannon, Mark of Slaanesh

Chaos Leviathan Dreadnought [13 PL, -1CP, 240pts]: Cyclonic melta-lance, Leviathan siege drill and meltagun, Mark of Slaanesh
. Two twin volkite calivers

Chosen [6 PL, 82pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen
. Chosen Champion: Boltgun, Lightning Claw

Chosen [6 PL, 85pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen: Lightning Claw
. Chosen Champion: Boltgun, Lightning Claw

+ Fast Attack +

Dreadclaw Drop Pod [6 PL, 115pts]: Mark of Slaanesh

Dreadclaw Drop Pod [6 PL, 115pts]: Mark of Slaanesh

Dreadclaw Drop Pod [6 PL, 115pts]: Mark of Slaanesh

+ Heavy Support +

Havocs [7 PL, 145pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Aspiring Champion: Combi-plasma, Plasma gun
. 4x Havoc w/ autocannon: 4x Autocannon, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

Havocs [7 PL, 145pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Aspiring Champion: Combi-plasma, Plasma gun
. 4x Havoc w/ autocannon: 4x Autocannon, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

Havocs [7 PL, 165pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Aspiring Champion: Astartes chainsword, Boltgun
. 4x Havoc w/ reaper chaincannon: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Reaper chaincannon

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]: Mark of Slaanesh

++ Total: [109 PL, -3CP, 2,000pts] ++


The Standout Features

  • Fun with Dreadclaws continues to lead the way for Chaos Space Marines
  • Minimal on-board targets out of the gate make it tough for lists skewed to the first turn to exploit it.

Mark Perry piloted this list to a 4th place finish at the NaughtyKGT Weekender in July, taking full advantage of the FAQ changes to Dreadclaw drop pods, which breathed new life into the Chaos Space Marines faction. The changes didn’t suddenly make the army top tier or anything, but the addition of proper drop pod rules to the Dreadclaw seems to have given the army (the Emperor’s Children version of it at least) just enough of a shot in the arm that people can have some real fun with it again.

This build leans hard on the Dreadclaws, taking the maximum of three and stuffing them with a heady mix of Havocs, lightning claw Chosen and Noise Marines, with a spare on-board Rhino to pack whoever can’t fit in the claws in (presumably chosen depending on matchup). Other than the Rhino, the only things starting out on the board are (maybe) some characters, Cultists and two Dreadnoughts (unless the Contemptor rides a pod like an absolute mad lad), giving the army a pretty small footprint and maximising the chance of it being able to hide the majority of the units behind Obscuring terrain. That’s made even easier by access to Tactical Perfection, as with only three key units on the table you’re happy to spend the CP to redeploy all of them when it really matters.

That (plus having a solid half of its points in the sky) allows this list to both maximise its own first turn punch (by deploying aggressively with the dreads then pulling them if needed) and largely weather whatever the opponent might try and do if the roll goes against it. Chaos Units have plenty of avenues to do some big damage (especially with the ability to dump a whole army into the Remnant of the Maraviglia‘s bubble), but brittleness for the price is a real headache, so this kind of setup is ideal. It’s also cute to see the use of autocannons on the Havocs, leaning hard into a metagame where these are particularly effective.


Leigh El Toro’s Emperor’s Children with Death Guard

+++ ​Emperor’s Children Patrol Detachment +++


Sorcerer (90) – 5PL
-Equipment: Astartes Chainsword, Force Sword
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Psychic Powers: Prescience, Warptime
-Warlord Trait: Warp Lord


Noise Marines (220) – 10PL
-10 Noise marines
-Equipment: 7 with Sonic Blasters, 2 with Blastmasters, Champion with Sonic blaster and Astartes Chainsword


Chosen (195) – 12PL
-10 Chosen
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Icon of Excess
-Equipment: 5 with Lightning Claw, Boltgun and Bolt Pistol, 4 with dual Lightning Claws, Champion with Dual Lightning Claws

Terminators (300) – 16PL
-10 Terminators
-Icon of Excess
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Equipment: 2 with Lightning Claw and Reaper Autocannon, 7 with Lightning Claw and Combi-Bolter, Champion with Lightning Claw and Combi-Bolter

Fast Attack:

Bikers (142) – 9PL
-4 Bikers
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Equipment: 1 with Astartes Chainsword and Combi-Bolter, 2 with Astartes Chainsword, Combi-Bolter and Meltagun, Champion with Combi-Melta and Combi-Bolter

Dreadclaw (115) – 6PL
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >

+++ Heretic Astartes Spearhead Detachment (-3 CP) +++

No Force Org Slot:

Dark Disciples (10) – 1PL < Emperor’s Children >
– Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >


Dark Apostle (80) – 4PL < Emperor’s Children >
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Dark Prayers: Warp-Sight Plea, Blissful Devotion
-Relic: Remnant of the Maraviglia


Terminators (208) – 16PL < Emperor’s Children >
-6 Terminators
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >
-Icon of Excess
-Equipment: 5 with Lightning Claw and Combi-Melta, Champion with Lightning Claw and Combi-Melta

Fast Attack:

Dreadclaw (115) – 6PL < Emperor’s Children >
-Allegiance: < Mark of Slaanesh >

Heavy Support:

Plagueburst Crawler [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Rothail volley gun

Plagueburst Crawler [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Rothail volley gun

Plagueburst Crawler [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Rothail volley gun

+++ Total: 2,000 Points +++


The Standout Features

  • Plagueburst Crawlers for long-ranged fire support
  • Dreadclaw Drop pods to carry Noise Marines and Lightning Claw Chosen
  • Two Terminator Squads and Bikers plus a Warptime Sorcerer give the list a ton of mobility and options

Playing This List

Leigh piloted this list to a 4th place finish at the Geelong GT and it’s got a lot of interesting tricks. The most immediately obvious of these is the trio of Plagueburst Crawlers for long-ranged fire support. While they lose the benefits of being in a Death Guard army/detachment, those primary benefits – being able to shoot in engagement range with no penalty and the Contagions aura – mean almost nothing when the unit is intended to sit in the backfield taking out heavy targets from a distance. The Plagueburst crawlers give the army a durable backfield objective holder while offering the army the ability to shoot at targets indirectly and also gives it the D3+3 damage punch of Entropy Cannons, two things Chaos Space Marines can really use.

The list also packs a pair of Dreadclaw Drop pods, one stuffed with Noise Marines and the other with Lightning Claw Chosen ready to drop in and Honour the Prince with a turn 1 charge. Generally speaking the list has a ton of mobility, able to drop multiple units wherever while the PBCs also give it just under 600 points of on-the-table units to help deep strike other options every game. The list can easily pick up Engage on All Fronts and Retrieve Octarius Data if it wants to, though the latter is a bigger ask given how most of these units want to be fighting or killing things.


Where to Read More

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