Start Competing: Night Lords Tactics (Updated 12/19/2022)

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

The Night Lords are the consummate bad boys of the founding legions, a series of murderous criminals led by a guy who’s a cross between Trent Reznor and Batman. They’re the most cynical and ruthless of the traitor legions, building their campaigns around sowing fear in the enemy and striking from the shadows. This fear-based approach has been a blessing and a curse for Night Lords: On the one hand, it means they look rad as hell. On the other, more gameplay-focused hand, it means they typically have some kind of Leadership mechanic that’s borderline worthless in half the game’s matchups. Fortunately the 9th edition Codex: Chaos Space Marines iteration of the army leans more toward the useful side, and there are plenty of strong tools available to Night Lords players even when the leadership mechanics aren’t very useful. 

Legion Overview

Although far from the most competitive of the traitor Legions, the Night Lords have some nasty tricks that enable them to do real damage in melee. That said, they feel the loss of jump pack characters more acutely than any of the other legions, and their Leadership-based rules just don’t work against every army.


  • Melee. The Night Lords have several ways to buff their units in melee, and they can create some very effective melee monsters. Their legion trait can also further boost this.
  • Leadership Debuffs. The Night Lords’ Leadership debuffs are as good as you’re going to find. Their Legion Trait gives nearby units -2 to their Leadership, and you can easily get this to -3 with units of Possessed or Raptors, and if you work at it you can push that to -4 with help from Chaos Daemons or Chaos Knights. Against many armies, Ld-3 can immediately put units into testing territory, and getting free extra kills is always nice.
  • Rules Support. The Night Lords have some of the best Stratagems, Warlord Traits, and Relics of any of the traitor legions, which helps them make up for having a less powerful trait.


  • Legion Trait. Getting +1 to wound is great; needing to get a unit down to Ld 5 to make it happen is not. Most of the units you’ll come up against are Ld8+, meaning you’ll need another Ld debuff on top of the legion trait to get regular space marine units down to Ld 5 if they have a veteran sergeant. There are also just a ton of units this won’t matter against, like Custodes and Necrons. Having a legion trait that only even works half the time isn’t ideal, and it’s compounded by the fact that both halves of the trait work together, so they’re broken together.
  • Shooting. Night Lords have few direct buffs to their shooting, especially at long-range. Their stratagem to get re-rolls in shooting keys off of the target unit having low leadership, and the units you need to shoot are often too far away to affect with your short range leadership debuffs.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


The Night Lords don’t have any bespoke special characters and their legion trait is probably the worst of the bunch, but they have some good Stratagems, traits, and relics that help make up for that.

Legion Trait: Terror Tactics

  • Units with this trait have the following ability: Terror Tactics (Aura): While an enemy unit is within 9” of this unit, subtract 2 from teh Leadership characteristic of models in that unit and subtract 1 from Combat Attrition tests taken for that unit. 
  • Each time a model with this trait makes an attack with a melee weapon, if that attack targets a unit that was below Half-Strength when the attacking unit was selected to fight, or if the attack targets a unit that has a Leadership characteristic of 5 or less, add 1 to that attack’s wound roll.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; this kind of sucks. Ld -2 isn’t bad per se, but it’s also not directly impactful in the Morale phase against a bunch of armies, such as Tyranids, Custodes, Necrons, Thousand Sons, Knights, or Chaos Knights. On top of that, the units you need +1 to wound against the most tend to be the kind of big targets that have high Ld values to begin with, and getting those down to Ld 5 typically requires help from another aura source, such as Fearsome units or Daemons. This makes Terror Tactics very tough to work with and build around, though in the matchups where it’s on, it’s incredibly useful. Too bad you don’t play against Orks that often. That said, as we stand on the edge of a season of Astra Militarum dominance, there might be a space for Night Lords yet if the most common army in the game is about to be one that mostly has Ld 7 (although Born Soldiers having a leadership buff and being a near auto-take throws a bit of a wrench in the Night Lords’ plans). D

Warlord Traits

After a rough period, the Night Lords have a pretty great set of Warlord Traits, offering a few options that you’ll want to consider.

  1. Night Haunter’s Curse. Once per turn, you can change the result of a single Advance roll, hit roll, wound roll, or saving throw made for this Warlord to be a 6. This counts as an unmodified 6. This is fantastic. It’s insanely versatile, but most of the time you’re going to use it to push through insane amounts of damage. It’s great in that it lets you roll first, and also that it gives you one use per turn instead of per round. If you’re playing Night Lords, you’re likely taking this. A+
  2. One Piece At A Time. Each time this Warlord is picked to fight, after it finishes making its attacks, if any enemy models were destroyed by those attacks but their unit wasn’t destroyed, pick one of those enemy units. Until the end of the next Morale phase, they get -1 to Combat Attrition tests. This just doesn’t matter all that much. C+
  3. Murderous Reputation (Aura). While an enemy unit with the Objective Secured ability is within 6” of this Warlord, it loses that ability. This is pretty fun, and a great way to catch opponents off-guard and steal objectives. 6” is a good range for it, as it lets you cover an entire objective. A
  4. Killing Fury. Each time this Warlord is picked to fight, it gets +D3 attacks if it charged, was charged, or performed a Heroic intervention that turn. Each time the Warlord makes a melee attack, it is considered to be engaged in Wanton Slaughter. This mostly only matters for the extra attacks. Getting exploding 6s early is neat, but your Characters are often not reaching melee until turn 3 on onward. B
  5. One With The Shadows. Each time an attack is made against this Warlord, your opponent cannot re-roll the hit roll and subtracts 1 from the roll. This is a very nice durability boost, and goes great on a Lord Discordant or Daemon Prince. Characters like Masters Of Execution or Sorcerors are so fragile that this trait is a waste on them, as they’re probably still dying even with this trait if they get exposed to an actual threat. A
  6. Dirty Fighter. At the start of the Fight phase, you can pick one enemy unit within 3” to fight last this phase. Another powerful effect, and the fact it works in both player’s Fight phases means it is useful both offensively and defensively. CSM access to Fights Last effects is extremely limited (outside of Emperor’s Children), and this will be a near auto-include in any Night Lords list. A+

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


The Night Lords also have a pretty great set of Stratagems, though they’ve tragically lost their ability to reliably make charges out of Deep Strike. They’ve still got some great combat tricks however and a couple of things no other CSM army can do. They’re also well-costed on the whole, which is helpful for actually using them.

  • In Midnight Clad (Battle Tactic, 1 CP). Use in the enemy’s Shooting phase when a Night Lords non-CULTISTS Infantry Unit is targeted in your opponent’s shooting phase. Until the end of the phase, subtract 1 from the hit roll against that unit. This is great for helping protect some of your bigger units where you know there will be multiple attackers coming in, though in a pinch it can also just be a solid deterrent. The fact that you can wait until you’re being targeted is also helpful. A
  • Sound the Black Hunt (Battle Tactic, 1 CP). Use in the Shooting or Fight Phase when you pick a NIGHT LORDS CORE, DAEMONKIN, or CHARACTER unit to shoot or fight with. Until the end of the phase, each time a model in that unit makes an attack, if the target was below its Starting Strength when you selected it as a target, or if it has a Ld of 6 or less, you can re-roll hit rolls of 1 against it. If it’s below half strength or Ld 5 or less, re-roll all hit rolls instead. This is pretty solid, since getting re-rolls on 1s is pretty easy with the legion trait or just some early shooting, and even against higher Ld armies you can get some value out of it, though really you’re saving it for those full re-roll opportunities. B+
  • Flay Them Alive (Epic Deed, 1 CP). Use in the Fight phase, when the enemy WARLORD is killed by a melee attack made by a NIGHT LORDS HERETIC ASTARTES model in your army. For the rest of the battle, the opponent gets -1 to combat attrition tests. This just doesn’t matter, and the armies that really have to worry about Attrition either aren’t the armies that are going to give you an option to kill their Warlord, or you’ll have to kill your way through the attrition-vulnerable units to get to the Warlord. D
  • Underhand Scheming (Strategic Ploy, 1 CP). Use at the start of your Charge phase. Pick one NIGHT LORDS unit from your army – that unit can charge even if it Fell Back this turn. This is always useful to have, and the timing is great – you can wait until you need to think about a charge to use it rather than having to commit in your Command phase. The fact that Underhanded Scheming isn’t Core-locked provides extra value, as units like Warp Talons or Venomcrawlers can extra effective skirmishers. A
  • From the Night (Strategic Ploy, 1 CP/2 CP). Use in the Reinforcements step of your Movement phase. Pick one NIGHT LORDS INFANTRY or BIKER unit from your army that is either in Strategic Reserves or is a Reinforcements unit you haven’t set up yet. That unit can be set up as if the battle round was one higher than it currently is, regardless of any mission rules. If that unit has the DAEMONKIN keyword, this costs 2 CP. Bringing a unit in early is always super useful, since you can use this to get some turn 1 reinforcements down on the table in a key spot. That said, you don’t have a reliable way to charge with them out of deep strike, which limits the usefulness of this – remember your odds of making a 9” charge with a re-roll are only 48%, so the value here is more around getting into a key position or onto an objective early, or dropping a shooting threat where it can see an enemy. This is unfortunately where the 2 CP rider kind of stinks, since Obliterators make a good fit for this with their ability to teleport and solid shooting. Another good use for this is to use it to drop Raptors in key spots on turn 1 to score Behind Enemy Lines or Engage on All Fronts, or get a turn 1 Retrieve Data on an opponent’s half of the table. A-
  • Screaming Skies (Strategic Ploy, 1 CP). Use at the start of your Movement phase. Pick one NIGHT LORDS JUMP PACK unit from your army and remove it from the battlefield. In the Reinforcements step of your next MOvement phase, set it up on the battlefield more than 9” away from any enemy models. If the battle ends with this unit off the battlefield, they’re destroyed. This is also very solid even without coming back the same turn – it’s useful for Retrieving Data, Behind Enemy Lines, and Engage scoring, and can help you get into a good position late to threaten undefended objectives in an opponent’s backfield. Again, the big challenge is the lack of a reliable charge out of deep strike. A-
  • We Have Come For You (Strategic Ploy, 2 CP). Use this Stratagem at the start of your opponent’s Movement phase. PIck one NIGHT LORDS CORE, CHARACTER, or DAEMONKIN unit from your army. Until the start of the next turn, enemy units within Engagement Range of that unit can’t fall back unless they have the VEHICLE, TITANIC, or AIRCRAFT keyword. Preventing units from falling back is huge, and being able to trap enemies with your Possessed or Terminators is a great way to keep your big threatening unit on the table an extra turn. This is also a great reason to multi-charge units and tie up as many as possible. A+
  • Vox Scream (Wargear, 2 CP). Use this stratagem at the end of your Movement phase. Select one model within 12” of a Night Lords unit. Until the start of your next Movement phase, that unit loses all of its aura abilities. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is a tough Stratagem to evaluate – turning off auras is a good ability, but the entirety of 9th edition has been spent converting auras into Command phase abilities, leaving us with only a few real targets for this. It’s great for turning off ObSec auras from Marine Characters with Rites of War (or the Ancient), feel no pain auras from Apothecaries, and psychic auras like Cursed Earth. My favorite use for it, particularly in Night Lords, is turning off Synapse on Tyranid units, which can immediately make a number of Tyranid units suddenly very vulnerable to combat attrition and morale or break the links needed for Synaptic Imperative. So it’s situational, but really damn good in those situations. A-

Night Lords Terminators – Credit: RichyP


The Night Lords have OK relics, but they’re pretty uneven. The options they have for squad leaders are solid, and the Scourging Chains hint at some interesting combos, but there’s little here you’d want to build around.

  • Claw of the Stygian Count. Replaces a lightning claw, malefic talon, or Accursed weapon with one that’s S+2, AP-3, 2 damage and each time the bearer fights it makes 2 extra attacks and the wounds from this weapon can’t be ignored. This is pretty solid, and one of the two Night Lords relics you can take on a squad champion. The big problem is who can take it – your Terminators will take the Black Rune, and this can’t go on a Bike champion or Possessed, basically meaning your options are Daemon Prince and Chosen Champion. It’s solid on a Daemon Prince, but you’re probably taking a daemon weapon there instead. So this is a cool relic weapon that doesn’t make it into lists. B
  • Vox Daemonicus. INFANTRY model only – can go on CULTISTS. Enemy units can’t be set up on the battlefield as Reinforcements within 12” of the bearer, and the unit gets the Vox Daemonicus (Aura). Each time an enemy unit starts to perform an action or psychic action within 12” of the bearer, roll 2D6; if the result is greater than their Ld, they can’t perform that action/psychic action. This is neat for how it combos with the legion trait, helping you drop to a 6+ or 7+ roll against some units, but your legion trait aura is only 9” and this isn’t reliable enough even with the -2 to make it worth taking. C
  • Talons Of The Night Terror. Model that can FLY only. Each time the bearer makes a Normal move or Advances, pick an enemy unit it moved across and roll a D6, subtracting 1 if that unit is a CHARACTER. On a 2+ that unit takes D3 mortal wounds. Also, each time the bearer finishes a charge move, pick an enemy unit in Engagement Range and roll a D6; on a 2+ that enemy unit takes D3 mortal wounds. This is a nice little boost, and something you can put on a Warp Talons or Raptors champion instead of a winged Daemon Prince as a way to push through extra mortals on your targets. It also helps push through out-of-phase damage against a Ghaz or Abaddon or C’tan, and is particularly great when you can live the dream of jumping over a target, then charging them from behind. B-
  • Scourging Chains. Improve the AP of melee weapons this model has by 1. Subtract 1 from the Attacks of enemy models within Engagement Range of a model with this relic. This is a solid way to bump up your damage output on a big target, as getting to AP-4 with a Lord Discordant or Daemon Prince can unlock some real power for you – though your first play is typically going to be a daemon weapon with them, and you can’t combine daemon weapons with other relics using the Gifts Stratagem. That said, I can see a play for something like a Daemon Prince rocking a Sword + Claw of the Stygian Count with Scourging Chains if you want to try something different. B-
  • Misery of The Meek. Once per battle at the start of any phase, use this relic to regain up to 3 lost wounds and add D3 to the model’s attacks and 3” to its aura abilities until the end of the turn. This isn’t too shabby, and it’s much better than it used to be. It’s a decent buff for a turn on a Lord Discordant or Daemon Prince, and going to 12” on your legion trait aura is kind of neat. C+
  • Stormbolt Plate. INFANTRY model only. Enemy models can’t target the bearer with ranged attacks unless they’re within 12” of the firing model, or it’s the closest eligible target. Each time an attack is made against the bearer, it counts as having Light and Heavy Cover against that attack. This would be really neat on a Lord Discordant or Daemon Prince but alas, the infantry-only rider basically makes it worthless. Might have some play on a Master of Executions but you’ve got other, better things to take there. This is something you won’t bring now, but keep it in mind if we ever end up in a sniper-heavy meta in the future. C
  • Flayer. Replaces a power sword, accursed weapon, or force sword with one that’s S+2, AP-3, 2 damage and killed models count as 2 each for morale purposes. You can’t give this to a squad leader and you’re never giving it to a Sorcerer, so that just leaves Chaos Lords to carry the thing. You aren’t taking those either and even if you were, there are better options than this. D

Night Lords Venom Crawler – Credit: RichyP

Secondary Objective: Sow the Seed, Reap the Fear

No Mercy, No Respite

Score 1 VP each time one of the following happens:

  • An enemy unit fails a Morale test
  • An enemy unit Falls Back
  • An enemy unit fails an action

Alos, each time you destroy an enemy unit with a NIGHT LORDS melee attack, roll 2D6; if you meet or beat that unit’s Ld, you score 1 VP. 

This is a difficult secondary to work with. You have almost no control over units Falling Back or doing actions, and you don’t really have a consistent way to force units to fail an action – hell, the Vox Daemonicus just prevents them from attempting one. The failed Morale Tests and melee kills are your biggest tools here, and any army that can fail 10 morale tests in a game is also going to give you max points for No Prisoners. Likewise, you don’t even want enemy units falling back most of the time and have rules to prevent it from happening, putting the Fall Back clause at odds with your army’s “get stuck in melee” plan. That being said, there is some value in taking this and then making your opponent second guess themselves whenever they think about falling back, or forcing them to spend 2CP on auto-passing morale on a unit like Cultists that they otherwise wouldn’t care about. You won’t take this in many matchups, but it’s one to keep in mind in case the right opportunity comes up.  C+

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Notable Units

The Night Lords don’t have any special characters but there are a few units that work well in the army with their particular traits and rules that are worth calling out.


It’s worth breaking these out separately from Warp Talons, in part because they’re a very different unit with different use cases and in part because they come with the Fearsome aura that gives -1 Leadership to enemy units within 6”. This means Night Lords Raptors innately give enemy units -3 Ld, enough to drop a lot of the game’s rank-and-file Ld 8 squads down to Ld 5 and trigger the +1 to wound. If you combine that with the Mark of Khorne, you can get Raptors at S5 that will wound a lot of targets on a 2+, which is a pretty good buff for the unit. That said, this still costs you 15 points for the mark, and only having AP-1 means that most of the targets you’re going up against will still be on their regular armor saves. This isn’t really good enough to make it worth taking big units of Raptors, but it does give them considerably more play in a Night Lords army.

Note that, while Night lords are a melee group, your Raptors may be better off taking flamers or meltaguns, and 2 models in a 5-man unit can take special weapons instead of a bolt pistol and chainsword. In melee this only means losing one attack, and at AP-1, which doesn’t matter against a large number of armies. Even a flamer gives you better output in return, with D6+2 S4 AP0 hits.


Likewise, Possessed also have the Fearsome Aura, and they’re very good melee fighters without getting +1 to wound. Against targets you can drop to Ld 5, they’re extra solid. 

Warp Talons

Warp Talons also FLY like Raptors, but lack the Fearsome aura, which makes them a little less useful than their Raptor counterparts. They’re still good targets for Screaming Skies, Vox Scream, and Underhand Scheming, though.


Although not much stronger in Night Lords than any other faction, Heldrakes are the perfect unit for a turn 1 Vox Scream since they can be anywhere on the table turn 1. That’s about it, though.

Master of Executions

The Master of Executions really, really wants to play with the Night Haunter’s Curse Warlord Trait, getting an auto 6 to hit or wound every turn. Combine this with the Warp’s Malice for a monster who can throw out a ton of mortal wounds per turn in both the shooting and fight phases. Their innate 6” heroic intervention range also makes them a great choice for Dirty Fighter, as they can make it very difficult for enemies to charge nearby units without having you fight before them. 

Winged Daemon Prince

This guy has the Fearsome aura, comes with some OK weapons, and can benefit from a number of Night Lords relics, traits, and anything that affects units with FLY, plus he can easily keep up with other JUMP INFANTRY. 

Lord Discordants

Probably the single best chassis available to Chaos Space Marine players if they want to build a smash character, and Night Lords certainly love building smash characters.







Playing Night Lords

Building Night Lords means playing around their unique abilities. Most notably, the ability to reliably charge out of deep strike, the ability to turn off auras, and their legion trait’s effects on enemy leadership values. You don’t have to run Raptors in a Night Lords force – they have some neat tricks, but a bunch of AP-1 1W jump infantry aren’t going to light the world on fire, either. Generally, Night Lords armies will do well focusing on melee threats generally, and Berserkers, Bikers (though note these won’t get INFANTRY-locked abilities), Terminators, and Helbrutes all have quite a bit to offer here and Heldrakes are a great accompaniment for what the army wants to do as well. Generally speaking, your army favors speed and melee combat, both being able to win decisively and also trap foes for the long haul and finish units off with morale effects that cause the remaining 1-2 models to flee.

Because you have a lot of great stratagems and you’ll want to Vox Scream multiple turns, it’s important to keep track of your Command Points with Night Lords and have a plan for how you’ll want to use them. While generally you’ll be spending a lot early on to get an advantage over your opponent, you’ll want those expenditures to be part of an overall plan to tie up an enemy and throw them off-balance, forcing them to react to your fast units in their backfield rather than deal with your objective holders. Think about your stratagem game plan before the game starts so you don’t get caught unable to execute on turn 3 when you have no CP left.

Tips and Tricks to Remember

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

  • Pay attention to your Ld debuff auras. Positioning for your legion trait is going to be critical, not just for morale tests but for activating Prey on the Weak in the Shooting and Fight phases. Pay attention to your positioning and overlap these 6″ effects so that you can get the most out of these debuffs. If you can stack them with non-trait effects (like the Raptors’ aura) or rig the rolls with other effects, even better – you’ll find marine armies in particular struggle when they suddenly can’t write off any losses they’ve taken in the morale phase because their Ld 8 and small squad size is no longer enough to keep them out of danger.
  • Don’t overdo it on drop units. Between Raptors, Terminators, Obliterators, and other units that can drop in from reserves, it’s tempting to create an army with lots of these units. Just make sure you aren’t overloading on units that will deep strike – remember that only half your army can be put into reserves in a given game.
  • Prey on the Weak works on shooting too. Easy to forget, but Prey on the Weak can be applied to shooting attacks as well. You may have to work harder to get your target’s Ld down if they’re space marines, however.
  • Pick your shots for Vox Scream. It can be tempting to fire off Vox Scream every turn but 2 CP is expensive and you need all the CP you can get so you’ll want to pick your shots. If you’re on the first turn and you know that chaplain’s plan is to use Canticle of Hate to pull of some deep strike charges next turn, you can wait to shut off his auras. Think about how the auras will be used before you throw out Vox Scream.
  • Be mindful of terrain. Between From the Night and One With the Shadows you’ll want to keep an eye on terrain so you can make good use of it for your approach. Be sure to note where difficult terrain is and where you have to worry about being slowed.

Night Lords Chaos Space Marines – Credit: RichyP

Playing Night Lords

The key principle to keep in mind as a Night Lords player is that you can generally win in the Fight Phase (especially with Dirty Fighter) but are vulnerable in the Shooting Phase, so use tricks like We Have Come For You and Look Out Sir (something like a Lord Discordant being caddied by some Terminators) to keep your heavy hitters from being blown off the board. 

Because the Leadership debuffs are much more matchup dependent, your gameplan will vary greatly game-to-game. In many matchups, Night Lords means playing around their Leadership debuffs to create opportunities to force Leadership checks on small numbers of kills each round and force an opponent to lose a model here and there to having to make a bunch of dice rolls that can’t be re-rolled. Dropping a unit’s Ld by 3 may not get them to that 5 mark you need to get +1 to wound, but it will force a unit with Ld 9 to take a test if it loses a single model. 

For this reason, you want to be mindful of your Ld debuff auras and look for ways to improve them further. The bad news is that doing this in Chaos Marines is very difficult – pretty much all of your Leadership debuffs outside the trait come from the Fearsome aura, which won’t stack across multiple units. This means you may have to go outside the faction for more help. Generally speaking, -3 is where you want to be most of the time, but -4 is a real sweet spot for Ld debuffs, where veteran marine units drop into Ld 5. If you want to get to Ld-4, the most consistent way to do it is via Chaos Daemons.

That said, remember that “immune to morale” does not mean “has a high leadership.” Tyranids in particular are susceptible to this – relying on low Leadership models held in place by Synapse. Likewise, Rubrics and Scarabs only have average Ld despite being immune to morale tests. This is all worth looking at/asking your opponent about pre-game to understand what you can get your legion trait wound bonus against.

Adding Chaos Daemons

Per the rules in Codex: Chaos Daemons, you can add a detachment of Chaos Daemons to your army that won’t mess up your army-wide rules and gains the AGENTS OF CHAOS keyword as long as the total PL of the detachment is not more than 25% of your army’s total PL. This is great news, because all Chaos Daemons come with the Daemonic Terror (Aura), which reduces the Leadership of enemy units within 6” by 1 and gives them -1 to Combat Attrition tests. You can take extra advantage of Daemons by using your Master of Possession’s WARP LOCUS keyword to bring daemons in closer to enemy units. Just be aware that if you mark him, he can only act as a locus for units of the same god (Though both Slaanesh and Tzeentch have plenty to offer). If you’re going this route, here are some units to consider:

  • Flamers are one of the game’s best units – they’re tough, they FLY with a 12’ move, and they each throw out an absurd number of shots (D6+3) with S5 AP-2 flame weapons. There’s almost no Chaos army that doesn’t want to include more of these, and you could honestly claim that building a Chaos Space Marines army is as simple as starting with a Patrol detachment of one Fluxcaster, one unit of Horrors, and 18 Flamers. If there’s a downside to them, it’s that they don’t want to be in melee, so you want other units which can get closer to help debuff enemy Leadership.
  • Slaanesh Psykers, such as the Keeper of Secrets or Contorted Epitome, are able to take the Cacophonic Choir power from the Soulstain discipline, which combos very well with the Leadership debuffs you can give to make it super easy to throw out 6 mortal wounds every time you manifest. Phantasmagoria is another good option here, which can both do mortal wounds and has a high spike potential Leadership debuff , helping you trigger your legion trait.
  • Fluxmasters can head up your Tzeentch detachment and boost Flamers using the Infernal Flames power

Adding Chaos Knights 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get dread effects for your Dreadblade super-heavy auxiliary detachment; you can’t get the House Korvax trait with a Fell Bond. So if you’re adding Chaos Knights, it’s just for their raw capabilities in-game, which probably means adding long-ranged shooting support for your melee units.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Some Lists

The Night Lords have been tragically underrepresented at the tournament level but they did see some early success following the codex release. 

Colin Kay’s List

Colin’s list is one of the first successful Chaos Space Marine competitive lists and pretty much the only competitive Night Lords list to top 4 at the GT level. Colin piloted this list to a 2nd place finish at the Denver 40k Fight Club Major in mid August.

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [114 PL, 1,999pts, ] ++

Legion: Night Lords

+ HQ +

Daemon Prince with Wings [11 PL, 180pts, -1CP]: G’holl’ax, the Decayed, Hellforged sword, Mark of Nurgle, Stratagem: Relic, Warptime, Wings

Lord Discordant on Helstalker [10 PL, 190pts, -2CP]: 6. Dirty Fighter, Aspiring Lord, Baleflamer, Gifts of Chaos, Intoxicating Elixir, Mark of Slaanesh, Techno-virus injector

Master of Possession [7 PL, 120pts]: Mark of Slaanesh, Mutated Invigoration, Pact of Flesh, Warlord

+ Troops +

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

Legionaries [13 PL, 148pts]: Chaos Icon, Mark of Khorne
. Aspiring Champion: Astartes chainsword, Power fist
. 4x Marine w/ astartes chainsword: 4x Astartes chainsword, 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ heavy chainaxe: Heavy chainaxe

Legionaries [7 PL, 125pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Aspiring Champion: Astartes chainsword, Astartes chainsword
. 3x Marine w/ astartes chainsword: 3x Astartes chainsword, 3x Bolt pistol, 3x Frag & Krak grenades
. Marine w/ balefire tome: Balefire tome, Prescience

+ Elites +

Chaos Terminator Squad [19 PL, 420pts, -1CP]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Chaos Terminator: Chainfist, Combi-melta
. Chaos Terminator: Combi-melta, Power fist
. Chaos Terminator: Combi-melta, Power fist
. Chaos Terminator: Power fist, Reaper autocannon
. Chaos Terminator: Power fist, Reaper autocannon
. Chaos Terminator: Combi-flamer, Power fist
. Chaos Terminator: Combi-bolter, Power fist
. 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

Master of Executions [5 PL, 80pts, -2CP]: 1. Night Haunter’s Curse, Aspiring Lord, Gifts of Chaos, Mark of Slaanesh, The Warp’s Malice

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

+ Fast Attack +

Raptors [12 PL, 141pts]: Chaos Undivided
. 3x Raptor: 3x Astartes chainsword, 3x Bolt pistol, 3x Frag & Krak grenades
. Raptor Champion: Bolt pistol, Power sword
. Raptor w/ special weapon: Flamer
. Raptor w/ special weapon: Flamer

Venomcrawler [6 PL, 105pts]

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

+ Heavy Support +

Havocs [8 PL, 160pts]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Havoc Champion: Astartes chainsword, Astartes chainsword
. 2x Havoc w/ lascannon: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Lascannon
. 2x Havoc w/ missile launcher: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Missile launcher

++ Total: [114 PL, 1,999pts] ++

Standout Features

  • A Master of Executions designed to throw out mortal wounds
  • A unit of Raptors with two flamers
  • A Lord Discordant with Dirty Fighter and the Intoxicating Elixir
  • A Nurgle axe Daemon Prince

Colin’s list uses a few Night Lords-specific tricks to wreck opponents with. This starts with the Master of Executions, carrying the Warp’s Malice Relic and the Night Haunter’s Curse Warlord trait, which he can use to score 6s to hit or wound as he needs – every 6 to hit with the malice or his axe does 2 mortal wounds, giving him 4 shooting attacks and 6 melee attacks per turn to try and score as many 6s as he can.

The Master of Executions here is joined by the Lord Discordant, who’s kitted out more here for defense than offense, with the ability to make a unit fight last and also give itself a once-per-game wound cap for a phase as needed. These flank a standard 10-model unit of Terminators with the black rune and a unit of Possessed, with support from Raptors and Warp Talons. It’s a list that has a bit of extra mobility, and can flirt with Behind Enemy Lines and Engage on All Fronts along with action secondaries and killing secondaries to make a surprisingly versatile secondary gameplan. 

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