Start Competing: Renegade Chapters Tactics

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

Somewhat the “odd men out” when it comes to Chaos Space Marines, Renegade chapters represent the various warbands of marines who have turned to chaos or left the Imperium after the Horus Heresy. The most notable of these are Huron Blackheart’s Red Corsairs, who led a rebellion that came to be known as the Badab Wars before he fled to the Maelstrom. On the tabletop, these renegade chapters have a few rules quirks of their own and, thanks to Vigilus Ablaze, many now have their own custom legion traits, relics, and warlord traits to work with. For the most part, they’re weaker than the first founding legions owing to having fewer options and not having access to the Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) Stratagem, but a couple of them have rules that allow them to transcend these limitations in the right situations.

 

Legion(s) Overview

The renegade chapters are an odd bunch, and each have their own rules to work with, some better than others. It doesn’t make sense to give them separate articles but it also is a bit clunky to lump them all together here.

Strengths

  • Red Corsairs. The Red Corsairs make up for the lost of VotLW by having a very strong legion trait, a decent relic, a good stratagem, and a solid special character. There’s a lot of reason to like them and use them despite the reduced emphasis on filling out extra detachments as a way to gain CP.
  • The Purge. Likewise, the Purge also have a very strong trait that, with the right units, can overcome their limitations.
  • Flawless Host. The Flawless Host have a few ways of building particularly nasty characters and while they’re not as good post-Faith and Fury and 9th edition, there’s still some fire here.
  • Soupable options. Every Renegade Chapter has its own “thing” that it can do and where they’re worth consideration, it’s often going to be as a detachment joining a larger force where you use specialized units. There’s less downside to souping with Chaos Space Marines outside of the CP costs, making this an effective strategy.

Weaknesses

  • No Veterans of the Long War. Losing this great Stratagem really hurts, and most of the renegade chapters don’t get anything in return for losing it.
  • Reduced Options. The Renegade Chapters only have a single Warlord Trait, Relic, and Stratagem each, and those stratagems are rarely on par with Veterans of the Long War. If you go this route over a first founding legion, you’re giving up a lot of really good options.
  • Crimson Slaughter and Scourged. These chapters just don’t bring enough to the table for what you give up taking them.

 

Rules

We’ll be covering each of the renegade chapters here as separate sections, including some notes on playing each.

Renegades

There’s a baseline “Renegade Chapters” Legion Trait in Codex: Chaos Space Marines, used to broadly represent renegade chapters before Vigilus Ablaze came out. Its only rule is a single trait, allowing you to Advance and Charge in the same turn, making it a much worse version of the Red Corsairs’ ability. There is literally no reason to ever use this.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Brazen Beasts

One of the six Renegade Chapters introduced in the Vigilus Ablaze book, the Brazen Beasts are an alternate option to the World Eaters for players who want a Khorne-devoted faction: Every model with the Brazen Beasts Keyword that can have a mark has to have the Mark of Khorne. As such, you can’t have any Brazen Beasts psykers. They’re a bit unique in that they have a stratagem that affects Daemon Engines, which is worth looking at because well, Khorne is where all your Daemon Engine options are and Daemon Engines can’t use Veterans of the Long War anyways. So the Brazen Beasts potentially end up working best as a detachment that uses a few Daemon Engines with support from some melee-equipped Chaos Space Marines armed with Astartes Chainswords and bolt pistols who can take advantage of the legion’s trait in a pinch to score some cheap extra AP-4 wounds. The big downside to all this is that the update to Death to the False Emperor really benefits melee armies that can take Icons of Excess and/or Sorcerers, and Brazen Beasts can do neither. C+

Legion Trait: Rend the Foe

Each time you roll a wound roll of 6+ for an attack made by a model with this trait in the Fight phase on the turn in which the model charged, was charged, or heroically intervened, that hit roll is resolved at AP-4. This is alright. It would have been pretty great if you could combine it with Veterans of the Long War to get some easy 5+ triggers, but as a Renegade Chapter, you’re stuck with Soultearer Portent as your only means of boosting this. Still, that’s not as bad as it used to be given that you can only go to +1 to wound max. This trait is going to do the most work for you on units with high attacks output, like Berserkers or Possessed, but the latter really want support from a Master of Possession and the former would rather be Red Corsairs or World Eaters most of the time. You can also get some value out of this on Raptors or Bikers, and Lightning Claw terminators are a great fit here as well – your basic goal is to land as many hits as possible and fish for high wound rolls that you can then use to turn AP 0/-1/-2 attacks into AP-4.

Warlord Trait: Carve the Runes

Each time your Warlord kills an enemy character, they get +2 to their Strength and Attacks. This is a stronger boost than most of the similar effects, but still not really enough to make it the Warlord Trait you’d want to take. It’s so-so, but as Brazen Beasts your options are pretty limited – it’s better than most of the Codex traits, but Hatred Incarnate is likely a better option on the whole, particularly with how it helps you with the Legion Trait. C

Stratagem: Burning Daemonheart (1 CP)

Use at the end of the Fight phase and pick an enemy unit within 1″ of a Brazen Beasts DAEMON ENGINE from your army. Roll a D6 and on a 2-4 that enemy unit takes D3 mortal wounds, and on a 5-6 it takes 3. This is potentially a neat trick to get extra damage from your daemon engines if you can’t finish the job against a target, and another way to push out even more damage with a Lord Discordant. The kicker here is that it’s a decent enough bonus on daemon engines that if you’re going heavy on them or doing something like a triple Lord of Skulls detachment, this is worth considering as a way to push out some extra wounds. A nice boost on Heldrakes as well. This is really where the Brazen Beasts provide value, since Daemon Engines  (excepting the Lord Discordant) otherwise get nothing out of legion traits and can’t benefit from Veterans of the Long War anyways. That said, even with this Brazen Beasts are still worse than Iron Warriors in terms of stratagem support. B

Relic: Daemonflesh Plate

Gives you a 2+ save, plus you get +1 to your Move and Attack characteristics. This is really nifty on a Winged Daemon Prince, where all of the bonuses are relevant. The downside is that you’d be taking this over the Talisman of Burning Blood on the character, but as a second relic it’s pretty solid and you can always give talisman to your Lord Discordant, who needs the advance and charge boost more. B

Playing Brazen Beasts

Because they have a Stratagem to push out extra mortal wounds from a Daemon Engine and little incentive to take infantry/bikers, Brazen Beasts tend to make a good fit for Khorne Daemon Engines (unlike World Eaters, whose rules focus almost exclusively on INFANTRY). They’re not quite as strong as Iron Warriors, mind – that faction’s just got more stratagems for buffing vehicles overall – but they do something that Iron Warriors can’t. So if you’re running Lords of Skulls, Blood Slaughterers, Kytan Ravagers, Maulerfiends, Heldrakes, or Venomcrawlers, consider a Brazen Beasts detachment, where you still have access to the Daemonforge Stratagem and can use the Daemonheart to push through extra damage without having to resort to psykers, which leaves you open to take Abhor the Witch as a secondary option. If you’re souping in Daemons, Brazen Beast Daemon Engines will happily benefit from Khorne Daemon auras, though boosting strength here isn’t going to be nearly as useful on S8+ daemon engines as the Locus of Rage re-roll charge rolls ability or the Locus of Wrath Stratagem aura letting you re-roll failed hit rolls. This also gives you a good reason to take a Brazen Beasts Lord Discordant. The Winged Daemon Prince with the Daemonflesh Plate is also pretty solid as an add-on to a Brazen Beasts Detachment.

Don: this is the “legion” that makes the strongest use of Exalted Champions. Re-rolling to wound is tremendously powerful. Their stratagem practically begs for you to put Heldrakes in the list.

 

Crimson Slaughter

The poster boys of 6th and 7th edition Chaos Space Marines, Crimson Slaughter have fallen out of the limelight, and no longer enjoy a full codex worth of benefits as a result. They’ve got some interesting tricks, but nothing that really jumps out or pushes a specific play style.

Legion Trait: A Moment’s Peace

If a unit with this trait destroys an enemy unit, roll a D6; on a 5+, you gain 1 Command Point. In addition, that unit automatically passes morale tests until the end of the turn. This is kind of neat; Chaos doesn’t have a lot of ways to get extra CP and this is likely to give you 1-3 opportunities per turn to get CP back depending on the list you’re up against. It’s much worse against heavy elite armies like Custodes where you aren’t going to have many units to deal with and they take forever to kill. CP generation being capped at 1 per turn kind of stops this from being a real sleeper hit and the morale rider is OK if you have larger units that are taking heavier casualties. It’s just not really doing enough to justify over other traits, however. C

Warlord Trait: Maelstrom of Torment

Enemy units within 6″ get -1 Ld and boost that to -2 within 9″ instead if your Warlord has killed any enemy models. The good news is that this is trivially easy to activate. The bad news is that it’s mostly mediocre. -2 Ld is a decent debuff but on its own it’s not really enough to punish enemies – you really need to start stacking debuffs until you can get to -3 and -4 to screw over marines with their high Ld values. C+

Stratagem: Terrifying Phenomena (2 CP)

Use at the start of the enemy Shooting phase. Pick a terrain feature within 12″ of a Crimson Slaughter unit from your army and enemy units within 3″ of that terrain feature get -1 to their to hit rolls until the end of the phase. This is a neat ability, and a great way to punish castles and enemies holed up on a piece of terrain. It’s also great that you can use it after the enemy makes all their moves. The hardest part is getting a unit near the terrain, but Heldrakes make great enablers for this with their ability to move 30″ on turn 1. The fact that the effect punishes an enemy unit rather than benefitting a friendly one means this works well in an army mixing Crimson Slaughter with another legion or daemons. B+

Don: this stratagem became more usable in 9th due to the plethora of terrain features that are on most tables these days. It is fairly strong considering how many units it can affect.

Relic: Blade of the Relentless

Replaces a Power Sword. S+1, AP-3, 1 damage and if you kill any enemy models in the Fight phase with this weapon, then from the end of that Fight phase onward, the weapon automatically wounds. This is pretty neat given how easy it can be to kill a single model. The downside is it’s still only a 1 damage weapon, which makes it mediocre at best. It’s even less appealing given that regular power swords are S+1 now. C+

Playing Crimson Slaughter

Crimson Slaughter are kind of tough to find good angles on. A moment’s peace seems to benefit Cultists and large squads of Raptors, but they also really want to use Veterans of the Long War. Still, the ability to protect your advancing units and units on objectives by giving shooting units -1 to their to hit rolls. As mentioned earlier, Heldrakes are a great way to turn this on right away and Mutilators are a solid way to keep activating this as well. They also just work fine on their own as a reasonably durable INFANTRY unit that can score you Linebreaker/Enagage on All Fronts points and Deploy Scramblers. So between the two, you can reasonably assemble a Crimson Slaughter detachment designed to drop in your opponent’s backfield early and activate Terrifying Phenomena immediately, protecting your more fragile units as they advance up the field. Then you can hopefully recoup some of that CP expenditure with the legion trait. The detachment for this potentially looks like a Patrol running a Jump Pack Sorcerer as its HQ plus a squad of 10 Cultists, a unit of Mutilators, and 2 Heldrakes, with the primary focus being to fire off Terrifying Phenomena to protect other detachments in the army, likely from different legions.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Flawless Host

The former darlings of the competitive scene, the Flawless Host are a Renegade Chapter dedicated to Slaanesh and what they lack from Veterans of the Long War, they make up for in sheer volume of attacks thanks to their Legion Trait. From the moment their rules were released, Flawless Host Lords Discordant became a thing thanks to their native +1 to hit aura boosting their own attacks for their legion trait. Other than insanely good characters, the Flawless Host don’t have much else to offer, so you rarely see them fielded as full armies. With 9th edition giving Chaos Space Marines AP-1 Astartes chainswords there’s some real value in looking at Chaos Space Marines over Cultists as your Troops choices in a Flawless Host detachment and potentially giving them an Icon of Excess to maximize their chances of generating an insane number of attacks. This also works well on Raptors and Bikers, though all of these units will make you wish you had access to Veterans of the Long War. That said, the update to Death to the False Emperor gives Flawless Host a lot more punch, since they’re now doubling up on their extra hit rolls all the time, and able to improve that with Icons of Excess. A unit with +1 to hit suddenly generating 2 extra hits on 5s or 6s is pretty nasty, and can make up for the lack of VotLW. There may be some hope for the Host yet.

Legion Trait: Death to the Imperfect

Every time a unit with this ability rolls a 6+ to hit in the Fight phase, it can immediately make an extra attack against the same unit with the same weapon. These are in addition to the Death to the False Emperor attacks and they can’t generate additional attacks themselves. Also, every Flawless Host unit has to have the Mark of Slaanesh if it can have a Mark. The key part of this ability is that “6+,” which means that it can be affected by modifiers to hit. Functionally, vanilla Chaos Space Marines have two abilities that modify their to hit rolls in Melee: The Prescience Psychic power and the aura on the Lord Discordant, which gives +1 to hit to Daemon Engines, including himself. The result is an easy way to get Lords Discordant that generate new attacks on a 5+, which when combined with the Warlord Trait, can really boost their output. For squads that can take an Icon of Excess you can use both together to generate some dizzying numbers of attacks, especially when combined with Prescience. The only downside in 9th edition is that you can’t still stack modifiers to have this go off on a 4+ to hit but that took enough effort that it doesn’t change much about the value of this trait. Post-balance dataslate, this trait is worth revisiting. A

The other big upside to this is that, unlike with Death to the False Emperor, this trait works on Helbrutes, giving you additional attacks on a 6+ and potentially a 5+ if you’ve got a buff like Prescience on top of it.

Warlord Trait: Ultimate Confidence

If your Warlord gets extra attacks from the Death to the Imperfect trait, they generate 3 attacks instead of 1. This basically triples the effect of your legion trait and acts as the second half of the 1-2 punch that is “making the most insane Lords Discordant you can imagine.” Even on Daemon Princes, this is a sweet ability to have and it combines extremely well with the Rapacious Talons daemon weapon, either on Princes or Jump pack lords. It’s still going to do its best work on a Lord Discordant however, where the model is naturally giving itself the +1 to hit. A

Stratagem: We Cannot Fail (1 CP)

Use when a Flawless Host Infantry unit fights in the Fight phase. Until the end of the turn you can re-roll hit rolls for attacks made by the unit. This is pretty great too, despite the downside of only working on Infantry (you just don’t really need it on a Lord Discordant). It’s another big boost to taking squads of chainsword-and-pistol Chaos Space Marines and Raptors and combos well with the legion trait and an Icon of Excess. It’s a fairly solid consolation prize for losing Veterans of the Long War, anyways. A

Relic: Flawless Cloak

The bearer gets +1 Attack and the range of their aura abilities increases by 3″. This isn’t bad, but it’s not going to be your first pick for the faction when the Intoxicating Elixir and Rapacious Talons are available as options. Still, it’s a fine second relic and a good way to extend a Lord Discordant’s Aura of Discord or a Chaos Lord’s re-roll aura. Also fine for getting 9″ on a Dark Apostle’s Illusory Supplication. B

Playing Flawless Host

Perhaps one of three renegade chapters who can reasonably run monofaction, the Flawless Host have some good tricks. If you’re running Flawless Host you want to start with a Lord Discordant. Make him your warlord and give him the Ultimate Confidence trait plus the Intoxicating Elixir for the extra Attack and Strength. After that you’re looking for ways you can turn regular units into murder blenders and this is where Chaos Space Marines with bolt pistol + astartes chainswords will do fine work for you, as will raptors and bikers., and you’ll typically want to give them an Icon of Excess to maximize their chances against Imperium armies that make up 50+% of the competitive field. Terminators are also a good shout here (going lightning claw + gun on your Terminators is probably the ideal loadout since it gets you an extra attack), and you’ll want a Sorcerer with Prescience to help boost your to hit rolls to cause your extra hits to proc more easily. And where you’d otherwise miss having Veterans of the Long War (and you still will for shooting), you’ve got We Cannot Fail to make up for it, helping push your chainsword marines up and over as they clear objectives. Plus you still have Endless Cacophony to double shoot, so that’s something, though you’ll probably want to avoid Obliterators since they don’t want to fight if they can help it and they really would rather have Veterans of the Long War. Utlimately the name of the game with Flawless Host will be maximizing your raw number of attacks and focusing on Chaos Space Marines’ melee units, particularly those who can generate cheap additional attacks with the astartes chainsword.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Purge

The Purge are the Nurgle-aligned Renegade Chapter, blessed with one of the strongest legion traits to grace a Chaos faction. Until Faith and Fury was released, Chaos Space Marine armies basically lived on a diet of Flawless Host Lords Discordant and Purge Forge World Dreadnoughts, owing to their ability to generate insanely consistent damage output with the faction’s legion trait. These days it’s still a strong trait, though until the Imperial Armour Compendium is updated to give Forge World Dreadnoughts the HELBRUTE keyword, it’s significantly less useful.

Legion Trait: Bringers of Oblivion

You can re-roll hit rolls for attacks made by units with this rule when they target enemy units that have lost one or more wounds already this turn. Also, every PURGE unit has to have the Mark of Nurgle if it can have a mark. There really isn’t a unit that doesn’t benefit from this trait — it’s fantastic — but the biggest winners are Havocs, Bikers, Terminators, and Helbrutes, who have some of the faction’s best shooting (among units who can benefit from the trait, anyways). This ability is more than strong enough to build whole armies around it, and the best ways to activate it are by doing mortal wounds in the Psychic phase, so you can tag something for deletion when the Shooting phase rolls around. A+

Don: Without a doubt the most powerful trait for any CSM chapter (in my opinion) and favors MSU units that can activate in multiple phases.

Warlord Trait: Blessed Mission

Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for attacks made by your Warlord, and re-roll damage rolls for weapons used by your Warlord. This is, at best, OK, and a good example of an ability where whoever wrote it wasn’t really thinking about how many things it would affect. While many Chaos Characters may benefit from re-rolling 1s to wound, most of them don’t have weapons that offer variable damage; none of the Daemon Prince nor Lord Discordant weapons offer variable damage (save krak grenades), meaning that your options for getting actual use out of that “re-roll damage” ability are chainfists, meltaguns, force weapons, and the Master of Executions’ Axe of dismemberment. Of those, only the Meltagun is a D6. So you can generally skip this one, but if you do want to use it, a combi-melta/chainfist Chaos Lord is probably your best bet. C

Stratagem: All Life is Worthless (1 CP)

Use in your Shooting phase and pick a Purge unit that isn’t within 1″ of any enemy models. It can target enemy units that are within 1″ of friendly units until the end of the phase, but if you roll an unmodified 1 to hit, it gets resolved against one of your friendly units within 1″ of that target enemy. This is nifty to have, allowing you to tarpit units and still shoot up the dangerous units trying to break through, and it full-on prevents enemy units from using melee to protect themselves. This is also decent on say, Heldrakes with Baleflamers or models that just automatically hit since they’ll be able to fire into combat with no penalty. A

Don: this stratagem was extremely powerful in 8th edition to dig your powerful shooting units out of combat.  Alternatively, you can try to shoot your own unit to death so the rest of your army can unload on that unit. This is definitely more of a trick for the 1 marine that was pinched in combat by a squad of bloodletters or the like. And, if you can make that unit lose a wound before then, you can aim for more 1s or hits depending on what your plan is (due to their trait).

Relic: Orb of Unlife

A single-use item you can throw in the Shooting phase instead of firing a ranged weapon. You pick a point on the battlefield within 8″ of the bearer and roll a D6 for every unit within D6″ of that point, subtracting 2 from the result if the unit is a VEHICLE. on a 4+ that unit takes D3 mortal wounds. This isn’t amazing, but it combos very well with the Purge’s Legion Trait, helping “turn on” their re-roll ability by putting cheap, unavoidable wounds on one or more targets. B

Don: not a very reliable relic, but it can give your army multiple targets to use their trait on, once per game.

Playing The Purge

The second member of the “maybe these guys could pull it off” club, the Purge have an incredibly powerful legion trait and it can easily make up for the loss of Veterans of the Long War on its own. The key to playing the Purge is to build around two types of units: 1. Units with powerful shooting and melee that can take advantage of the Legion Trait’s re-rolls, and 2. Units that can activate the Legion trait early and reliably, both on your turn and an opponent’s.

1. This is an area where you want to focus on Havocs, Chaos Space Marines, and Terminators and, where possible multi-shot multi-damage weapons. Specifically heavy bolters and combi-plasma, both of which are potent weapons that benefit greatly from having full re-rolls to hit. Purge used to rely on Forge World dreadnoughts like the Deredeo to do some of this as well but with Chaos FW dreadnoughts not currently receiving the benefit of legion traits, that mostly leaves biker/infantry options to work with. That said, if Deredeos do get the HELBRUTE keyword in an errata update, they’ll immediately be superstars in Purge lists again, both because of their damage output and because they can cause mortal wounds with their missle batteries. A Rhino with two squads of Heavy bolter Havocs and a large combi-plas terminator squad are both good looks here, and running 5-man Chaos Space Marine squads with a heavy bolter is also a solid play.

2. The Purge really want to be active in all phases of the game. Activating your legion trait early and reliably means finding ways to deal mortal wounds in the movement and psychic phases, with the former being possible and the latter being substantially easier. For the Movement phase your options are mostly limited to the Hell Talon flyer and Dreadclaw drop pod from Imperial Armour Compendium. For the former it’s limited to two uses per game and only goes off on a 4+, which is OK but not reason enough to use the flyer. For the latter, I actually think Dreadclaws could be pretty good… if they get the errata they desperately need to let the occupants climb out upon arrival. Otherwise, at 12″ they’re a bit slow as flyers crossing the table and a little too fragile to field on their own. After that, it’s on to the psychic phase, where Sorcerers can do a fine job tossing out targeted mortal wounds at the things you want to kill in the shooting phase. A jump pack sorcerer is ideal here for the extra movement, and Infernal Gaze is an ideal power for him since it lets you target a visible unit within 18″ and has very good odds of scoring the 1 mortal wound you need to get things going. Prescience is a good bet for your other power since it can help boost your accuracy even further. Once you’re already in the shooting phase, any ability to score mortal wounds before your other units open up is good as well, so The Orb of Unlife is a fine toss here, and mortal wound-dealing weapons like Decimators’ Soulburner Petards or the Dredeo’s Falkonite battery will help push through immediate damage that triggers the rest of the army, allowing you to focus fire/fight down whatever targets you mark for death.

3. That bonus lasts through the Fight phase, where you’ll find that Purge Marines and Raptors and bikes armed with Astartes Chainswords are surprisingly deadly when they’re re-rolling all rolls to hit. Purge Warp Talons, though still overcosted, can also be very nasty when they re-roll all their hit and wound rolls!

As a result, Purge armies tend to want to focus more on lots of infantry, but there are opportunities to soup them with say, Death Guard, where taking a Spearhead detachment of Plagueburst crawlers can give you the kind of shooting you need to trigger the rest of your army’s re-rolls.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Red Corsairs

If the Red Corsairs had a full complement of Stratagems, Traits, and Relics, they’d probably be a top-tier Chaos Space Marines subfaction. As is, they’re comfortably situated around the 1.5 tier range, thanks to an incredibly good Legion Trait that makes including a Red Corsairs battalion in your army an incredibly attractive proposition. Red Corsairs work best with units that want to get into melee fast, thanks to their “advance and charge” ability, so they make a good match for Lord Discordants, melee-focused Helbrutes, Berserkers and Possessed. Their unique Legion trait also helps you hold onto your CP as you add additional detachments, making them a good fit to soup in with Super-heavy detachments that aren’t benefitting from Chaos Knights’ ability to recoup the CP for those detachments. So good accompaniments for War Dog detachments and triple Lord of Skulls detachments, where you can get a Battalion of Red Corsairs that costs you 0 CP or generates +3 if it includes your warlord.

Legion Trait: Raiders from the Maelstrom

Units with this ability can Advance and charge in the same turn. Also if a Detachment contains three or more units with this trait, then improve the Detachments Command benefits by +1 CP. If there are 3+ Chaos Space Marines units with this trait in the Detachment, then improve it by +3 CP instead. This is great, though note that Chaos Cultists don’t count as a unit with this ability, so make sure that you aren’t including them as one of your Red Corsairs units when going for +1 CP. This really does a lot for Red Corsairs, and makes them one of the few ways you can start with more than 12 CP in a game of 9th edition (it also means that running a Battalion with 3 squads of marines and Huron as your Warlord will net you 16 CP to start with, which is pretty neat). On the non-CP side of things, this is a great ability for melee units to have – Lord Discordants and Helbrutes love this ability in particular as it allows them to close very large distances on the first turn of the game and make charges that otherwise would be impossible. A+

Warlord Trait: Reaver Lord

Your army gets an extra relic, chosen from the Artefacts of Chaos, which must be given to a Red Corsairs character in your army that doesn’t have a relic and it can’t be the same as something else you’ve taken. Also, every time your Warlord kills an enemy character, they get +1 Attacks because sure, why not. This replaces Huron’s previous Warlord Trait, and it’s pretty solid. The extra +1 Attacks rider is whatever, but the extra relic is pretty nifty, even if the net impact is essentially getting +1 CP. There are enough options in the standard Chaos Space Marines list – which includes the Daemon Weapons – to make this worth looking at. B

Stratagem: More Where They Came From (3 CP)

Use at the end of your Movement phase to pick up a Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marines unit from your army and put them back on the battlefield within 6″ of a battlefield edge and more than 9″ from enemy units, at full starting strength. This is pretty neat, and not restricted to once pre game like Tide of Traitors, but has the issue that you don’t really want to actually run big squads of Chaos Space Marines just to have a good unit to bring back onto the table (it’s not worth using on a minimum-size squad). On the other hand, it has become a lot more useful since Chaos Space Marines got the ability to take Astartes Chainswords, and there’s potentially more use for a 20-man squad that can drop back onto the table in flanking position then advance and charge the following turn. Give them the Mark of Slaanesh and an Icon of Excess and they’re good to go. B

Relic: Maelstrom’s Bite

Replaces a combi-melta with one that improves both the bolter and the meltagun parts: The bolter is 24″ Rapid Fire 3, S4, AP-1, 2 damage, and the Meltagun half is 12″ Assault 1, S9, AP-4 D6 damage, and it does 2D6 drop the lowest at half range. This is really nifty and a good upgrade to put on something like a Chaos Lord on bike rolling around with a bike squad that can really belt out a lot of firepower. It’s not terribly strong, but the gun itself is a good value, especially if you’re getting it free with your Warlord Trait. B

Notable Units

The sole Red Corsairs character is Huron Blackheart, the faction’s leader. He’s effectively a Chaos Lord equipped with a power axe, power fist, and a 9″ heavy flamer. Where he really shines however is that he’s also a Psyker who knows one power plus Smite, and his little familiar gives him an additional power while it’s alive. This means that you can load an extra power or two on to him, giving him Warptime so he can push himself into combat quicker, or Infernal Strength, allowing him to boost his stats before fighting. As an added bonus, taking Huron as your warlord gives you 1 CP. Otherwise, he’s an efficiently-costed Chaos Lord/Sorcerer combo and worth including in as an HQ choice in a Red Corsairs army looking for a Chaos Lord option.

Playing Red Corsairs

Red Corsairs are the third of the three “maybe these guys can make it on their own” Renegade Chapters, and it’s entirely because the ability to Advance and Charge in the same turn opens up a lot of valuable options for them. It gives them incredibly fast Lords Discordant and Helbrutes, and is wonderful on Bikes, Raptors, and Berserkers who want to be able to close large distances in a single turn. Because of that, Red Corsairs can overcome one of the Chaos Space Marine army’s biggest weaknesses – their lack of durability – by having the speed to close distances with the foe. Basically you want your Red Corsairs detachment/units to focus on melee, using their speed to close distances that other marine armies couldn’t really dream of.

The CP-generating half of the Red Corsairs isn’t quite as insane as it used to be in 8th edition but they still provide a solid CP boost that can make them great for souping into armies that need CP but struggle to generate it – Chaos Knights are the big example, since you’ll spend 3 CP to take a detachment of Moirax War Dogs – and they’re a good companion to triple Lord of Skulls lists that spend 6 CP on the Superheavy Detachment with TITANIC units in it. A Red Corsairs detachment can pretty easily get you +1 or +3 CP taking minimum sized squads of Chaos Space Marines, and now that they have astartes chainswords, you could do a lot worse than a few squads of sword + pistol chaos space marines who can advance and charge and do some surprising damage. Red Corsairs don’t have to take Huron but if you do he scores you an extra CP and a free relic if you make him your warlord. As a character he’s not as tough or damaging as some of your other options but he’s a very efficiently-costed Psyker/Chaos Lord combo and he improved a little bit in the latest update as his power axe got a +1 strength boost (though sadly his Tyrant’s claw was unaffected and still has D3 damage and a 9″ heavy flamer). Whether or not he’s your warlord you probably want a Lord Discordant around.

 

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Scourged

The Tzeentch-aligned Renegade Chapter, the Scourged have a kind of odd mishmash of abilities that offer an alternative to the all-psykers approach of the Thousand Sons, mostly offering a variety of weird effects that don’t synergize with each other. There’s not a ton to say about this group; their tricks aren’t nearly good enough to offset what you give up by taking them as a legion, leaving them as a purely “for funsies” choice despite having a great Warlord Trait and a decent Stratagem to work with.

Legion Trait: Omniscient

You can re-roll one hit roll for an attack made by a model in a unit with this trait each time it shoots or fights. Also units with this trait hit in Overwatch on a 5+. Also, every unit with this trait has to take the Mark of Tzeentch if it can. Pairing a much worse Master Artisans with 5+ Overwatch surprisingly doesn’t result in an amazing faction trait, though it’s better than some legions get. It’s OK but not great and doesn’t really help with most Chaos game plans where you’re trying to stack a ton of additional attacks and most of them are hitting on a 2+ and re-rolling 1s. This would be great on daemon engines but well, you know. It’s also a lot weaker in 9th edition where Overwatch shooting costs you 1 CP. B

Warlord Trait: Shattering Truth

At the start of each Fight phase, pick an enemy unit within 3″ of your Warlord and it can’t be chosen to fight until all other units able to fight have done so. A cool Belt of Russ-style ability that makes your Warlord incredibly annoying to deal with. Good to have on anything you’re going to have charging into enemy lines and getting counter-charged. A

Stratagem: Prescience (2 CP)

Use after your opponent sets up a unit arriving on the battlefield as reinforcements and pick a Scourged Infantry unit from your army within 12″ of that enemy unit. Your unit can immediately shoot at that one as if it were the Shooting phase. No -1 to hit rider is nice on this confusingly-named Stratagem, which replicates a trick that the Alpha Legion have. Good for punishing units that want to get close and it combines well with the strategy of taking Havocs, who really want to stay out of combat and will happily open fire on an incoming unit and use their re-roll . A

Relic: Book of Untruth

Each time an enemy Psyker within 18″ of the bearer manifests a power, roll a D6 and on a 5+ they take a mortal wound. Cute, but not great. It’s not going to throw out enough mortal wounds to really punish someone or stop them, especially that it’s only a chance. C

Playing Scourged

Because their Legion Trait gives you one hit re-roll per unit, you’ll want to build Scourge armies around smaller units if possible, and you’ll get the most mileage from them on smaller numbers of high-variance shots, where normally putting more of your eggs in one basket creates too much risk. Their trait pairs well with Lascannon/Missile Launcher Havocs, combi-melta Terminators, Obliterators, and Twin Lascannon + fist Helbrutes (where the re-roll helps them in melee), and they’re also decent for 5-man Chaos Marine squads that want to carry around a heavy bolter. A brick of Scourged Terminators with combi-meltas supported by a Terminator Sorcerer with the Weaver of Fates power to boost their invulnerable save (since they’ll be Mark of Tzeentch) and either Prescience to boost accuracy or Death Hext to turn off invulnerable saves. They’ll also be able to deploy forward enough to make use of the Prescience Stratagem if something tries to deploy near mid-table. 

On the flip side, Warpsmiths in the Scourged can be pretty decent, owing to the fact that they have both a meltagun that would love to re-roll hits and a WS 3+. Scourged Winged Daemon Princes are OK – give them a warp bolter so they can use Prescience – though the legion trait doesn’t really do much for them since they’re already BS/WS 2+. But they and Lords Discordant both absolutely loooove the Shattering Truth Warlord Trait, which makes them an absolute pain against enemy melee units and allows them to Heroically Intervene almost with impunity (though you’ll still want to be careful when you’re intervening into a combat with more than one enemy unit).

 

Playing Renegades

Renegades are a bit tricky. They’ve got some decent tricks but aren’t necessarily well-suited to running as a monofaction army on the competitive level. You may still be able to get away with monofaction forces at the RTT, particularly for the Flawless Host and Purge, but more than likely you’ll want to soup in either other legions or, better yet, Chaos Daemons to help get you over the top. If you’re running one of the four god-locked renegade chapters and are looking to stay thematic, then it’s relatively easy to build a daemons contingent for your army that will help you keep on-theme, and only the Brazen Beasts won’t gain a lot from doing this as Khorne Daemons aren’t quite as strong as your options for the other three gods.

Otherwise, treat Renegades like a swiss army knife of tricks the same way you would the other chaos legions, running a legion where it makes the most sense or maximizes value for the units and role you have in mind for it. There’s little to gain from taking Brazen Beasts berserkers but enough reason to consider Brazen Beasts Daemon Engines. There’s no upside to running Purge Daemon Engines, but plenty of value in running Plague Marines, Havocs, or Helbrutes.

The one big exception to all of this is Chaos Sorcerers. Because psychic powers from the Dark Hereticus discipline aren’t legion-locked and you’ll rarely if ever use Veterans of the Long War on a Sorcerer anyways, taking a Sorcerer as your HQ choice in a Renegades detachment that’s part of a larger souped force is a great way to get one into your army without using a more valuable slot somewhere else, and doesn’t cost you anything.

Tips and Tricks to Remember

  • Purge – Get your wounds up early: Have models that can dish out mortal wounds early so you can switch your legion trait on as quickly as possible. And remember that your legion trait will stay active through the Fight phase – Purge are an army that want to be active in all phases of the game. Consider souping in a Death Guard Spearhead of Plagueburst Crawlers to give yourself some solid ranged support that can trigger your legion trait.
  • Scourged – Keep a CP to Overwatch if you’re running Havocs: Remember your Overwatch shots hit on a 5+, plus you’ll get one re-roll to hit from your Legion Trait and if you’re running Havocs that can drop a decent hurt on an opponent trying to charge them, especially if you’ve already softened them up with the Prescience Stratagem.
  • Don: If you’re running a Purge army I suggest using the Daemon Shell Stratagem every shooting phase (to score early mortal wounds to “turn on” your legion trait).
  • Red Corsairs – Make use of your speed: Red Corsairs aren’t just here to help generate CP. The other half of their legion trait is very strong, and can help them close distances and be more of a threat than some of the other legions.

 

Where to Read More

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