So far we’ve seen the Chaos factions of 10th edition run the gamut from very strong (Thousand Sons) to pretty dire (Death Guard), but that’s only half the story – the point values of these units makes a huge difference, and as we’ll see, it’s a huge boost for some of these factions and a huge drag on others. Chaos also has a few of the game’s smaller factions, where Death Guard, Thousand Sons, and World Eaters are working with reduced unit pools, which gives them fewer options and may make army construction more difficult.
In this article we’ll review the initial points release for the game’s Chaos factions, and talk about how they affect the army and building lists, and what they mean for each army’s power level. I say “we” because I’m joined by Norman, Gunum, and Mike Pestilens of Warphammer.
Before we dive in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the Munitorum Field Manual for review purposes.
Chaos Space Marines
Chaos Space Marines mercifully no longer have to pay points for Marks of Chaos and have access to the largest pool of units of any Chaos book, giving them a ton of flexibility when it comes to list building in the new rules.
- Free wargear is massive for some of our units, especially Raptors and Bikers (both 95 points). You no longer have to choose between keeping them cheap to play the mission or giving them special weapons to actually do damage. Now they can do both. Raptors in particular are perhaps the biggest winners in the codex. Dropping 10 points compared to 9th ed while gaining free wargear means you’re saving a total of 40-50 points on the loadouts that actually do some damage.
- Units that got a glow-up without points increases will be some of the strongest CSM units. Possessed at 145 and Forgefiends at 165 gaining Devastating Wounds while barely going up in points makes them very efficient.
- Obliterators getting a points decrease to 80ppm means they’re more durable per point, which is a big help. They are going to be star units for CSM players in the new edition.
- At a mere 115 points for 3 wound bodies with innate advance-and-charge, Chosen can finally be forgiven for the fact their weapons hit like wet noodles.
- Defilers and Heldrakes got a bump in rules, but an even bigger bump in their points. At 200+ points, it is going to be hard to justify running them when CSM have so many more efficient options–although both are still top tier Rule Of Cool.
- Oh, and Noise Marines are just a casual 85 points with free wargear. A unit fully equipped with Sonic Blasters, Power Fist, Icon, and Blastmaster used to cost almost double what it does now. I know the weapon stats got slightly nerfed, but wow. Noise Marines are some of the most efficient units in the entire game.
Mike P: Chaos Space Marines are some of the biggest winners of this points update, bar none. Emperor’s Children, Iron Warriors, and Word Bearer style lists are the biggest winners, although Night Lords fans will be thrilled by the huge buff to Raptors. You can stuff an eye-watering amount of Noise Marines in your list and still have lots of points left over, incentivizing lists led by Lucius to make them Battleline.
Now that a lot of units have decreased in cost, attaching Characters to them will be harder to justify unless you’re investing in big bricks. It’s harder to justify a 75 point Chaos Lord to buff a unit of Chosen when the unit itself is only 115 points. Characters still can provide a lot of value, but don’t go overboard attaching them to your units.
Chaos Daemons have the second largest number of Datasheets for Chaos but are always a weird bunch because in some ways they’re really 4-5 different armies in the same book. That said, the current Index and Detachment rules push players toward Chaos Undivided builds. In addition to being valuable in their own book, Chaos Daemons also act as allies to the other Chaos factions much of the time, and so cheap units here may become point fillers elsewhere or effective objective holding pieces in more elite armies.
- Blue Horrors almost doubled in cost to 125, but that’s totally fine. Their datasheet got massively improved, and they’re very easy to justify in a list at their new points.
- Lords of Change coming in at 230 points makes them very efficient shooting and buff platforms. The same applies to Kairos at 285. When you can bring 3 Lords of Change for under 700 points, it’s hard to be upset at losing their psychic powers.
- Shalaxi shooting up to 400 points means that while her datasheet is still incredible, she isn’t as much of an auto-include as she first seemed.
- Be’lakor going down to 325 while improving means you’ll see him in lots of lists. I don’t mind that at all, since his model is one of the most beautiful sculpts in the entire game.
- Bloodletters at 160 points is just way, way too much, and may be enough of an issue to hold back Khorne as a mono-faction. The good news is that Bloodcrushers are well-costed at 120 points, so that’s the direction Khorne players are going to want to go. It’s hard to justify a unit of 10 Bloodletters when a big unit of 6 Bloodcrushers is only 50% more and is massively more durable and killier.
- Fiends going from 30ppm to 50ppm is pretty brutal. Slaanesh Chariots also shot way up in points, with Hellflayers in particular going up to 110ppm. I just don’t understand these changes at all.
- Daemonettes also went up to 140 points after becoming less durable. At least Tranceweavers and Syll’Esske are relatively cheap, and the Contorted Epitome is saved from its datasheet nerf with a 50% points drop. A unit of Daemonettes with a Tranceweaver to Fights First feels okay at 200. The issue is most Slaanesh units are absurdly fragile per point now.
- Nurglings are practically being given away for free at 40 points for a unit of 3, though that comes with being OC 0 – which limits what they can do.
Mike P: There are enough well-costed units across the entire Daemon faction to build good lists. You’re pretty happy if you’re an Undivided player with a wide collection. This will be a lot tougher for mono-God players, as you have a smaller pool of units to draw from to avoid the stinkers.
Slaanesh lists just have way too few units on the board now. Slaanesh players are going to get whiplash going from the excitement over their leaked rules to the pain of seeing their actual points. Shalaxi is just insane and Daemonettes can do buckets of mortal wounds if your combos go off, but Slaanesh is definitely the God that comes out the worst from this points update.
Tzeentch are big winners across the board. With cheap as chips Characters (60 point Fluxmasters and Changecasters in particular), dirt cheap Flamers, and one of the most efficient Battleline units in the game in Pink Horrors, Tzeentch armies are going to be very durable.
With the exception of Bloodletters being outrageously expensive, Khorne largely comes out decently. Lean into Bloodthirsters and Bloodcrushers and you’ll be fine.
Nurgle points largely remained untouched, which is totally fine. Most units got a slight buff, so staying at the same points will help the faction. A Great Unclean One with the Endless Gift enhancement is now arguably the most durable unit in the game per point. Plaguebearers are also fairly costed, and the support Characters are largely priced decently. Plague Drones and Beasts are fine at their current point cost after getting toughness increases.
Chaos Knights had an issue in late 9th edition in that it was almost never worth it to take a big knight to your games. In 10th edition they have received a massive glow up thanks to the changes to toughness and terrain rules. So how do they stack up with the points options available to them?
- Rejoice! The Knight Tyrant is now priced to move, getting a hundred point drop (and more considering free war gear). You’ll likely see a few of these beefy boys running around
- For some reason the Karnivore is the most expensive War Dog, going up 20 points over its 9th edition iteration while most other War Dogs saw a point decrease. This is a bit baffling considering one of the few attractive things about the unit was how cheap it was.
- Brigands on the other hand went down 5 points, despite gaining the free wargear and the ability to hit on 2s. Expect to see a lot of these.
- The Despoiler now sits at 410 points, technically just a 5 point decrease from a 9th loadout with a single gun, but with all wargear free you can run what was a 540 point loadout for that cost. Double gatling cannons is a real thing and will hurt you.
- The Stalker is a cheap 135 points, making it your cheapest character option. For those of you who are trying to figure out how many dogs you can cram in a list, the answer is 14 with a good amount of room to customize
Norman: With the exception of the Karnivore and the double melee Despoiler (you weren’t taking that, no one was), every knight went down. This means more T10-13 bodies on the table for your opponents to deal with. The Double Tyrant build for this army is now a very real option and something I’m dying to put on the table. There’s just generally a lot more flexibility in this army now. The downside here is that the enhancements are a bit pricey; I expect to see some lists forgo them completely in favor of bigger knights.
Rob: Compared to the other armies we’ve seen the Death Guard have weaker army rules and some underwhelming damage output. They don’t really make up for it with their point costs – point costs on infantry and characters have gone down, while points on vehicles have gone up. As with late 9th edition, all the wargear options are free. Unlike 9th edition, a bunch of the options don’t matter any more.
- Mortarion clocks in at 370 points now, and that’s a big drop for what is potentially the army’s best unit. Add this to his durability, ability to hide, and the ability to heal him and he’s a pretty good deal for the price.
- We talked about Daemon engines potentially being the army’s saving grace in the Index review and they’re a mixed bag points-wise. They’ve all gone up to their early 9th edition costs, i.e. the Plagueburst Crawler is now 175 points, the Defiler is 205, Bloat-Drones are 135, and Blight Haulers are 115. That’s pretty disappointing, because while they’re still fine units, they’re all markedly worse than they were when it comes to damage output. That’s not ideal, and I think these are the units most in need of a points cut in the book. That said, 175 for a PBC isn’t back-breaking and it’s still one of the strongest datasheets in the book.
- On the Infantry side, Plague Marines clock in at 20 points per model, but specifically either come as 5 models for 100 points or 10 models for 200. Their options are all free, but there’s a lot less to love about that now that flails and cleavers and maces are all just boring plague weapons/heavy plague weapons. These guys might be better costed at 18-19 points per model, but 20 doesn’t feel too off base. On the other hand, Blightlords come in at 35 per model and that still feels like too much for a unit that only has 4” Movement characteristic, despite its durability. Similarly Deathshrouds are 43ish per model and those units probably needed to be more like 30 and 35, respectively. Poxwalkers are also back to being 6 points per model which, why?
- Most of the characters came down in cost – the Foul Blightspawn is one of the army’s better options and he’s only 55 points now. Same for the Tallyman and the Icon Bearer, and the Plaguecaster clocks in at 75.
- The Enhancements clock in at 10-25 points and you’re going to need them to fill out the last 10-30 points in your army because there isn’t a single unit that costs less than 55 points. Chaos Spawn are locked into units of 2 and cost 75 points now.
Rob: The Death Guard points feel like they were written by someone who didn’t pay attention to the faction throughout 9th edition. A lot of these bigger units needed to be substantially cheaper to give the army the number of shots it needs to really make use of armywide LETHAL HITS on its plague weapons. The daemon engines offer some solace, but outside of the Myphitic Blight Haulers they all feel a bit too expensive for what they do. The drop on Mortarion is a big help, but Death Guard armies are going to feel like they’re paying elite unit prices for horde-level damage output. Again, I’m not sure I can visualize what a good Death Guard list looks like. I could see something with heavy daemon engine support if the army running those had like, 200 more points to play with, and even then it’s hard to imagine an army making a serious go at shooting that relies on AP-2 heavy guns.
There’s also an angle here where you look at Daemon units to supplement your bigger options, and there might be something to that, though as soon as I see Nurglings are OC 0 I cringe.
The Thousand Sons don’t have a big army list of units to choose from, but they have some very good options to pick and while I think the core of the army will generally be Magnus + Ahriman + 2x Scarabs + rubrics, there’s a surprising amount of room to play around with the list.
- Magnus the Red is 410 points. He’s absolutely worth every one of those. He’s a tremendous force multiplier and has great damage output.
- Ahriman is 110 points, or 115 on a disc. The disc is fine if you need to spend the last 5 points. Otherwise he’s a great deal for his ability to get a free ritual off per game, usually turning off saves for an enemy unit.
- Exalted Sorcerers will run you 90 points. Again, a great deal for a unit which does a ton for your Rubrics. Terminator Sorcerers run 105 and are also a great deal.
- Rubrics will set you back 95 points (19ppm) for a unit of five or 190 for a unit of 10. Again, this is bonkers, particularly when you consider that plague marines cost 20 and don’t come with half the advantages.
- Scarab Occult Terminators clost 205 points (41ppm) for a unit of 5, or 410 for a unit of 10. This is on the high side, but you get a ton of value for those points and even at that cost I think having one or two units of five is a solid deal. Land Raiders will set you back
- Tzaangors run 6.5ppm, which is fine. I like them more than Cultists at the same price.
- The Heldrake runs 195 points, which is way too many for a unit which is going to, in a good turn, kill 4-5 assault marines. It’s not a backbreaker but it’s probably too much to have it see play in a serious list when there are other vehicles and monsters I’d rather run, like the Mutalith Vortex Beast, who still clocks in at 145 points.
- The Tzaangor Enlightened are one of the most interesting units in the book, in part because they’re the cheapest unit at 45 points (15ppm). This means you may see more of them just because they’re good for plugging a 50-point gap after Enhancements have been purchased, though I suspect players can find other ways to make their armies work.
Rob: The Thousand Sons feel reasonably priced. They probably give you a bit too much value on a per-unit basis compared to the rest of the game’s units, but the current prices give me an army that feels like what I’d expect to run for the Thousand Sons. I think that once players get past that core 1400 or so points of Magnus + Ahriman + Scarabs + Rubrics that feel like the base of the army there’s still quite a bit left to work with depending on whether you want to go hard on vehicle support, daemons, or more rubrics.
The World Eaters are an army with some truly bonkers abilities and one of the few armies still able to drop some massive melee output. A lot of their value and ability to compete will then come down to the point costs of their units.
- Well. As you may have seen from our review, our units gained some glow ups and that sadly did not come without a price to pay. Angron? Is now rightfully 415 points. Could he be 450? Probably, but an almost 100 point increase to what he was in 9th I think literally pays for his nonexistent sins. He has the output and the survivability to justify this cost, but now we can start looking at the other units in the book.
- Eightbound? 155 for three guys, 310 for six. This is a unit that I think justifies its cost, now that they have Scout built in. They also have a wall of attacks with inbuilt re-roll 1’s to wound. I could see taking two units of these guys and feeling okay.
- Exalted Eightbound? 180 for 3, and 360 for six. 50 more points over all for what exactly? A feel-no-pain of a 6+ (which can be a 5+ with our buffs) and the ability to deepstrike. Their aura of stopping fallback could be useful, but I just don’t know if it justifies the extra cost between units. If they still had their 4++ I’d say this would be the go to unit, but we’re just not sure.
- Our beloved Jakhals stayed at their comfortable 75 points for full upgrades, saving 5 overall.
- Kharn is where it’s at for points cost though, dropping from 140 to a comfortable and very attractive, 95 points. He goes into berserker units and is just a hammer of a man. Nearly an auto take.
- The Daemon princes for World Eaters come in with pretty aggressive point increases, not that they don’t deserve it. The foot Daemonprince comes in at 220 points, paying with his literal blood with a 90 point price increase. Giving out a 4+ invulnerable save to your army of Jakhals is pretty great, and his melee stats are still really good. The winged Daemon prince also went up about 75, but gained basically nothing. Has one less toughness then his brother, and the same amount of attacks. These daemon princes don’t even have Lone Operative so they are going to be getting blasted. Probably the biggest losers in the index.
- Invocatus had a 5 point price drop, and the World Eater Lord on Juggernaut also saw a tiny price decrease, also 5 points.
- The Master of Executions went up to 80 from 65, another big jump for our guys, though he is significantly better than before. Quite a value add.
Gunum: Hear me out: World Eater Daemon engines. This is what I think the odd stand out is in the book, and has all kinds of support floating around. Maulerfiends come in at 175 for some really fast and aggressive board presence. Forgefiends are cheaper now if we go into all guns. Defilers are at a comfortable 210 for the amount of firepower they can put out, and Predators are something worth considering at 130. The unit that I personally just love, that does everything I want it to do at its price point, it’s the Helbrute. It comes in at a comfortable 150 with the ability to shoot and fight back out of the pure rage of being attacked.
The World Eaters index is still going to be incredibly powerful, but you will need to find the balance that works for you and the way that you play your lists. Simply slapping down 30 Berserkers along with Kharn is a great place to start, but then you might be missing out on our greatest unit in the book, which is Angron. Building lists that are focused around Angron and the things that he can do might make it so you don’t get to take many Eightbound. What I would consider is trying to play this army as an MSU army, even though you can take giant units of Eightbound and other things, trying to spread the cost around to get the maximum number of bodies on the table is something we should consider. The unjustified price increases for the Demon Princes, as well as the Eightbound, are very difficult to swallow as a World Eaters player, but the rest of what’s here looks good.
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