We kicked off the One-Box Challenge recently, our newest and perhaps worst idea. The premise is simple: using only the contents of one single box from Games Workshop, construct a legal thousand point army. This is dangerous and untested new technology, but we remain committed to advancing the state of the art in the 40k meta. Today we’re looking at the forces of Chaos. This is almost entirely a Rob Post, so brace yourself.
Welcome back to one of our best ideas yet. This week we’re looking at the best armies you could assemble by buying a single box of minis over and over, then we’re gonna have them face off at some point to determine which is the best one. If you missed the general ground rules or the first instalment of the series, you can find it here. Today we’re talking about the kind of dumb shenanigans you can get up to using the boxes available to Chaos lists.
Chaos Spaces Marines
Ultimately your big constraint here is going to be how you build an HQ and get some Troops together, because Cultists don’t give you a credible CSM HQ choice and none of the vehicles double as HQ choices either. The ideal kit for this was probably “buy a bunch of Dark Vengeances” but we’re not living in 7th edition anymore so let’s hear it for the Chaos Space Marines squad box.
This bad boy packs 10 models and has enough of the bitz we need to credibly mash up a Chaos Lord and a few other things. That said, there are going to be a few snags we’ll hit thanks to the, umm, interesting weapon allocation choices GW have made, but we can turn those to our advantage. Let’s do this.
One box of Chaos Space Marines gets you:
- 10 bodies
- 8 bolters
- 8 bolt pistols + Chainswords
- 1 Missile Launcher
- 1 Heavy bolter
- 1 meltagun
- 1 plasma gun
- 2 plasma pistols
- 1 power axe
- 1 flamer
$300, 5 boxes of Chaos Space Marines
That’s a real hodgepodge of stuff, but we can make it work. Basically, the plan here is to buy 5 boxes of Chaos Space Marines, giving you 50 bodies to work with. Of those we’re going to build:
- 1 Chaos Lord with Power Axe (champion body)
- 1 Exalted Champion with Power Maul (champion body)
- 16 Chaos Marines with bolters (2 champions)
- 2 Marines with Plasma guns
- 2 Marines with Heavy Bolters
- 23 Chaos marines with bolt pistol + chainsword
- 2 Champions with Power Axes
- 1 Champion with Plasma Gun on a 40mm base
- 4 Marines with Missile Launchers on 40mm bases
I’m cheating a bit here with 40mm bases for the last 5 models (GREGNOTE: this is clever enough that we’re going to allow it). That’s because Havocs use 40mm bases but theoretically you don’t have to. Also for the two squad champions just give them fancy bits or paint them different or something.
Chaos Space Marines Battalion Detachment (-1 CP, 992 points)
Legion: Emperor’s Children
HQ: Chaos Lord with Power Axe, MoS, Bolt Pistol. WARLORD: Loathsome Grace, Relic: Intoxicating Elixir (85)
HQ: Exalted Champion with Power Maul, MoS, Bolt Pistol. Extra Relic: The Black Mace (-1 CP) (80)
TR: Chaos Space Marines x10: Bolter (x8), Plasma Gun x2 (160)
TR: Chaos Space Marines x10: Bolter (x8), Heavy Bolter x2 (160)
TR: Chaos Space Marines x18: Bolt Pistol + Chainsword (x281), Champion: Power Axe, Icon of Excess (238)
TR: Chaos Space Marines x5: Bolt Pistol + Chainsword (x5), Champion: Power Axe, Icon of Excess (85)
HS: Havocs: 4x Missile Launcher, Champion: Plasma gun
They’re all Emperor’s Children, which allows you to take advantage of multiple good things about the legion, including the “always fight first” ability, the Honour the Prince Stratagem to get off charges, and Endless Cacophony to double shoot with the shootier units. By putting 5 of the models on 40mm bases we can credibly create missile launcher Havocs, who give the list some versatility and the ability to shoot tanks off the table. The Lord + Champion + big squad act as a roving murder brigade, stacking a couple of important buffs as the unit hopefully stays out of sight en route to killing things.
Chaos Space Marines are one of the least useful units in the Chaos Marine army and, by the transitive property, the entirety of 40k. You can improve this army by breaking all their arms off and replacing them with sonic blasters to turn them into noise marines, though.
This is another heavy bruiser build, where you eschew versatility for just being stupid hard to kill and having only a few models that work well as your conversion piece for an HQ. I originally wanted to go with Deathshroud Terminators for this, but since their unit sizes cap at 6, we couldn’t build legal lists for them using the 2 datasheet max. Well, we could but we’d end up coming in about 100 points under the 1,000-point limit, which didn’t seem ideal. Likewise, Blightlord units maxed out at 420 points, which made them not so ideal either for building around, though if you wanted to go that route, doing 5 boxes of Blightlords and sprinkling in 2 flails and 2 heavy weapons per squad and using your fifth box to build a Terminator Chaos Lord is an OK way to build, I guess. Ultimately however it seemed liked Plague Marines were the jam here so I built around taking a shitload of regular bloated joes.
For this army we’re buying 6 boxes of Plague Marines, turning 2 of them into Chaos Lords. That gives us 40 fat goobers to work with left over, and we’ll put 34 of them into a list spread across 5 squads. The only upside to the weird limited datasheet entry for these guys in 9th is that it’s almost impossible to build a unit that can’t be built with the boxes, so it’s just a question of making the “7 guys to a box vs. squads coming with 5 models minimum” math work out, and sadly that’s how we end up with 6 unused models.
$300, 6 boxes of Plague Marines.
Death Guard Battalion Detachment (-2 CP, 998 Points)
Plague Company: The Inexorable
HQ: Chaos Lord: Balesword + Bolter, Warlord: Arch-Contaminator, Relic: Plaguebringer
HQ: Chaos Lord: Balesword + Bolter, Plaguechosen: Living Plague, Extra Relic: Plague Skull of Glothila
TR: Plague Marines (10): Champion w/Balesword, 2 w/2x Plague knives, 2x w/Flail, 2x w/Bubotic axe, 2x w/cleaver, 1 w/Axe + Mace
TR: Plague Marines (10): 2x w/Blight Launcher
TR: Plague Marines (9): 7x Bolter, Blight Launcher, Meltagun
TR: Plague Marines (5): 4x Bolter, Flail
It’s not the nasty core of nigh-unkillable jerks you’d get with Blightlords, but it’s still pretty nasty, with a few tricks for dealing with heavier stuff. There are two big squads here – one shooty and one stabby, and each one gets a Chaos Lord to wander around with it to improve their output with re-rolls. Stabby squad gets the benefit of Arch-Contaminator lord, and can reasonably put a dent in a lot of bigger units just on volume of attacks and having access to some higher AP and damage weapons. Even that 5-man flail squad can make people regret getting stuck in with them. Is this list gonna make it to the end? Probably not. But I like its odds.
This is more plague marines than you’ll realistically ever need. But not by a lot and it’s a decent start if you want to build a Terminus Est force. Having 30 Plague Marines isn’t a bad deal, particularly since you’ll occasionally need a mix of bolters and flails. This list probably has some legs here but it’s not going to play well against the vehicle-heavy lists. If I could take triple Deathshrouds, that list would have been a real contender.
OK there are three options here based on your HQ options: Rubrics, Rubric Terminators, and Tzaangors. There isn’t really a Taangor kit that credibly gives you the troops and the disc-riding Enlightened/Shaman, so Tzaangors were out, though I did contemplate just building a mix of stuff using the Shadespire warband. Eventually I settled on Scarab Occult Terminators, going with a Vanguard Detachment and two Terminator Sorcerers. This gives the list quite a bit of punch, and it’ll absolutely plow through anything relying on 1-damage firepower. Also it has a little bit of psychic power, as a treat.
For this army we’re buying 5 Boxes of Scarab Occult Terminators, which gives us enough to build all the weapon options we want and have three models left over. We’ve got double soulreaper cannons here but if you prefer hellfyre missile racks instead for the better anti-tank punch, I feel you on that. The list also packs four psykers who can lob around mortal wounds, plus we get the benefits of whatever Cult we take. Magic gives us a lot of raw power and the Arcane Focus arcana, which is very good. Cult of Time lets us get back models though and returning dead Terminators to the table is going to be clutch for this list. I particularly love the idea of running this group with While We Stand, We Fight and using Glamour of Tzeentch and Weaver of Fates to make targets -1 to hit and throwing out a 3+ invulnerable save with the Indomitable Foes Stratagem.
$300, 5 boxes of Scarab Occult Terminators.
Thousand Sons Vanguard Detachment (-4 CP, 994 points)
Cult: Cult of Time
HQ: Sorcerer in Terminator Armor, Warlord: Lord of Forbidden Lore, Relic: Hourglass of Manat, Powers: Warptime, Weaver of Fates, Glamour of Tzeentch (108)
HQ:Sorcerer in Terminator Armor, Magister: High Magister, Powers: Prescience, Warptime (108)
EL: Scarab Occult Terminators x10: 8x Power Sword + Inferno Bolter, 2x Soulreaper Cannon, Aspiring Sorcerer: Temporal Manipulation (389)
EL: Scarab Occult Terminators x10: 8x Power Sword + Inferno Bolter, 2x Soulreaper Cannon, Aspiring Sorcerer: Weaver of Fates (389)
I missed the chance to go all terminators with the (inarguably superior) Death Guard group but here Thousand Sons come through, giving me a nasty group of walking dust piles that will wreck infantry and can put out the mortal wounds to stymie bigger targets as well. They have some options to zip across the table with Warptime. Overall this is exactly the kind of stupid list that’s going to do well here – able to take out multiple targets and stupid hard to kill, with the ability to bring back dead models and heal injured ones every turn.
Thousand Sons generally aren’t that competitive but some players have had success running lists with rubrics recently. Hard to imagine needing more than 10, though.
OK, initially I didn’t think doing Daemons was even possible – there’s almost no overlap between their units, and the best-case scenario seemed like you’d be converting a regular plaguebearer/horror/bloodletter/daemonette to be a Herald, which is still an option, I guess. I looked real hard at trying to make triple greater Daemons work – Great Unclean Ones come with 5 Nurglings per box and I considered whether you could put 3-4 on a base and call it a Nurglings, but even then I couldn’t quite get to a full Battalion. Tzeentch, which comes with dual build options featuring the Fateskimmer, the Exalted Flamer, bases for each, and three blue horrors just ready to not be added to your dumb unit and placed on 25mm bases and used as infantry. The list structure sucks, but the whole thing is pretty fun. You’ll need to convert two of the heralds into one regular pink horror and one Iridescent Horror. This plan uses every model in all the kits. This ends up being one of the cheapest builds we’ve come up with, and with some of the largest unit variety.
$220, 5 boxes of the Fateskimmer/Burning Chariot, plus you’ll need 15 25mm bases for blue horrors.
Chaos Daemons Patrol Detachment (0 CP, 433 points)
HQ: Fateskimmer (160), Warlord: Daemonspark, Bolt of Change, Flickering Flames
HQ: Fateskimmer (160), Flickering Flames, Infernal Gateway
TR: Horrors: 15 Blue horrors, 1 Iridescent Horror (113)
Chaos Daemons Spearhead Detachment (-3 CP, 560 points)
HQ: Fluxmaster (110), Staff of Change, Gaze of Fate, Boon of Change
HQ: Fluxmaster (110), Staff of Change, Gaze of Fate, Treason of Tzeentch
EL: Exalted Flamer (60)
EL: Exalted Flamer (60)
HS: Burning Chariot of Tzeentch (110)
HS: Burning Chariot of Tzeentch (110)
OK so you can get a surprising amount of different stuff out of this kit and it gives you a unit of obsec chores to deal with, some OK psychic output and mortal wounds, and the ability to do some damage to vehicles with the lascannon-like Fires of Tzeentch. Fateskimmer there has Daemonspark to give you re-rolls of 1 to wound and the list can be pretty resilient when it wants to be thanks to some high-wound chariots with 4+ invulnerable saves. This list is not a good start to a real competitive list, though.
Greg: Man what the hell. Why have you done this. What is wrong with you.
Once I’d figured out the Daemons list, I figured I was done but then we got an email in our inbox that seemed magically transported from 2015 asking us how to beat a bloodcrusher-heavy Khorne list with Sisters of Battle. Then I got to thinking again and I figured “sure, why not do Oops, All Bloodcrushers?” This list does one thing and one thing only and god help your opponents if they can’t kill you before it starts doing it. Bloodcrushers come 6 to a box for $100 each, so you can make this all happen pretty easily. Going Bloodletters here and converting one or two to be a Bloodmaster is also an option if you’re so inclined – you can easily make 30-model squads of Bloodletters that cost you 265 points and cram three of those into a list with a couple of Bloodmasters, then one more small squad of exactly 10 bloodletters to get you to 995 points. Which is neat and something I considered until I realized I could get to exactly 1,000 points with Bloodcrushers.
$400, four boxes of Bloodcrushers. You’re going to have three unused.
Chaos Daemons Vanguard Detachment (-5 CP)
HQ: Skullmaster, Relic: The Crimson Crown, Relic: Rage Incarnate (95)
HQ: Skullmaster, Additional Relic: Ar’gath, the King of Blades (-1 CP, 95)
EL: Bloodcrushers x10: Instrument, Icon, Banner of Blood (-1 CP, 425)
EL: Bloodcrushers x9: Instrument, Icon (385)
This list doesn’t really have much of a shot, to be honest. It’s mobile and it can do some damage against heavy infantry but it’ll get wrecked by vehicles and other heavier ranged firepower and it doesn’t really have a way to damage vehicles in turn, just throwing a ton of daemon attacks at the target and hoping that amounts to some wounds. You don’t really want three Bloodcrushers in a competitive daemons list, let alone 19 of them. All Bloodletters is probably better but that horde army likely doesn’t get you a win either and in this house we stan our juggernaut sons.
Next Time: Eldar
That’s it for today, but check out the other posts in this incredibly pointless series if you want more bad ideas. Please, we beg you, do not try this at home. Join us tomorrow when we tackle the lists we built for the Eldar factions, which aren’t as creative but fall much more into the “unadulterated bullshit” category.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.