Melee in 8th edition: The go-to choices for Chaos

Hey all, Danny here again to give you part 2 of 4 on what melee is looking like in 8th edition.  Today, I am going to cover what the Chaos Gods bring to the table in terms of applying axe to purpose.

So as I detailed in my first post on the Imperium, I define a legitimate melee unit worth taking by several factors:  Attack output, attack quality, and application (speed or durability).  Cost is also a factor as a unit can be bananas in all 3, but if it costs most of your army, it is likely not worth it.  Let’s see what Chaos can patch together to kick some butt the old fashioned way.

Khorne Berserkers – The obvious go-to choice for a lot of reasons.  At 16 points base or 17 with chain axes (take the chain axes), you have a unit with S5 attacks (S6 AP-1 with axes) and 2 attacks per model. Not terrible.  Add in the fact that Berserkers fight twice in each Fight phase, they essentially get double the number of attacks, so really, each model has 4 attacks.  This also gives them double the amount of consolidate/pile-in movement, so they are essentially moving up to 12 inches in the Fight Phase.  This opens them up for a lot of tactical play, whether diving deeper into enemy lines to engage units or even orbiting around units and pinning them in place.  As they have the Mark of Khorne, they can use Fury of Khorne Stratagem to fight a 3rd time in the combat phase, and depending on what Legion you use, they can gain a whole host of benefits. I really like them as World Eaters obviously as they are Troops and gain +1 attack on the charge.  One of the reasons I love chain axes is that with Veterans of the Long War, they are going to wound any target not T12 or above on 4s, and with an Exalted Champion nearby to reroll wounds, this makes them a blender of epic proportions.  They will obliterate a conscript/brim wall or kill a Knight in a single fight phase.   They are a bit slow and lack any real defensive tek, so you want Rhinos or even a Spartan.

Tzeentch Possessed – Possessed don’t get much love, but they are much improved over 7th edition.  With 2 wounds a piece and D3 attacks, they can hit hard, and with a 5++, they are more resilient than most other infantry.  Specifically, they are good at Tzeentch marked because then they have both the DAEMON and TZEENTCH keywords, so they gain the benefits of the Changling.  Giving a unit of Possessed a -1 to hit debuff makes them far more resilient.  While this is not as much damage mitigation as going Iron Warriors/Slaanesh Possessed for a 5+ Feel No Pain and a 6+ Feel No Pain, it does not require any CP usage or casting of any powers.   Possessed are also a bit faster than most infantry, and if you take them in Alpha Legion, they are a great choice to infiltrate forward (with a small daisy chain for Changling protection) and get right into your opponent’s face.  Again, thanks to Veterans of the Long War, their base S5 makes them quite dangerous to just about any target, and again, if you can get an Exhalted Champion close, they are going to do work.  This is expensive though, but it can be a big curveball that a lot of builds don’t anticipate.

Khorne Terminators – Terminators are much improved (and I am sure Salty John would like to take credit for this), and Khorne Terminators can make use of a lot of awesomeness. Terminators are Infantry with a 2+ save, and while that doesn’t seem amazing, it means that it easy for them to get a 1+ save. Especially since 10 is the largest unit size, you are going to be able to fit entirely in cover to get the bonus.  They also have a wide range of power weapon options, whether you want high AP with a sword, strength bonus with a Maul, or a mix of the two with an Axe, you can do a lot of damage with 2 attacks base.  The real money though is a set of power claws for +1 attack, -3 AP, and reroll to wounds.  This makes any Terminator great at shredding through chaff consistently and being pretty immune to  any punch back.  Why Khorne Terminators? Well, Fury of Khorne doubles their output, and for an expensive unit, that is a huge amount of added value.  Getting terminators to suddenly move up to 12 inches in a single fight phase while nuking through light infantry is pretty sweet, and against anything T7 and under, throwing in a Veterans of the Long War make them lethal with the re-roll to wounds.

World Eater Mutilators – World Eater Mutilators are one of the few ways, in my opinion, to really efficiently run Mutilators. The Legion Trait of +1 attack on the charge really increases the value of Mutilators, and since they will be marked Khorne, Fury of Khorne also gets even more value out of the unit.  At 50 points a piece, you get essentially a 3 wound terminator with S5 base.  With innate teleporting, you can drop Mutilators where you need them and go for the long charge, or if you don’t care much about fluff, you can drop down a Sorcerer too to Warp Time them forward so they only have to manage a 5 inch charge.  Fleshmetal weapons are random, but even at the worst, S6 AP-1 D1 isn’t terrible, but really, you are hoping for at least S7 AP-2 and D2.  While Mutilators are variable, if you have a turn where they go bananas, S8 AP-3 D3 attacks are pretty mean.  Coupled with some innate durability from a 2+/5++, they are a budget version of Terminators who are slightly more resilient but a lot less reliable.  Still, for only 150 for 3, that’s not too bad if they roll well.

Blood Thirster of Insensate Rage: One would imagine that Blood Thirsters would make this list, but for me, the real threat is the model formerly known as the D-Thirster.  While lacking any shooting, The D-Thirster has 6 attacks base, movement 12, but more importantly, the big axe is AP -4 and Dmg D6.  To make it even better, you roll 2d6 for damage and choose the highest, which means that you are far less likely to see that 1 staring at you.  While the D-Thirster is not a great tool to handle hordes, against any hard target, the D-Thirster is going to put in some serious work.  A single D-Thirster is more than capable of killing most vehicles in a single hit, and even against a Knight, one is likely do cripple it on the first swing.  Let’s not forget it is S14 (15 in the first round of combat), so it is wounding a lot of things on 2s, and with a Herald near by, it is S16 on the charge, so wounding Knights on 2s.  Ouch.

Zarakynel: The Named Forgeworld Greater Daemon of Slaanesh is easy to overlook, but at only 460 points, she is a cheap superheavy.  With movement 12, she only needs to survive for a turn before being able to get deep into enemy lines, and a first turn charge is quite possible as she can advance and charge in the same turn as well as fall back and charge.  She is T8 with 20 wounds, which isn’t too bad considering she had a 4++.  Her sword is where it is at with 6 attacks base, but on the roll to wound of 4+, she does 3 mortal wounds rather than her normal damage.  This is amazing for punching through units with great invulnerable saves like Magnus or Bobby G, but it also makes her great at shredding through infantry as the mortal wounds spill over to the unit, so she can theoretically kill 18 1 wound models in a single combat phase.  Add in her aura of leadership debuff, and morale tests can be scary with her around.  Overall, for relatively cheap for a Lord of War, Zarakynel is a well-rounded threat and a great melee asset.

Great Daemons of Nurgle: Any Greater Daemon of Nurgle whether a standard Great Unclean One or the named Scabeiarthrax are beastly in combat against any high value target.  Why you ask? Well, the spell Virulent Blessing from the Nurgle Daemon school is bananas. Besides giving a blanket +1 to wound, on a roll of a 7 (so a 6), the damage is doubled.  Add that to a monster that can do D6 or even just 6 damage, and suddenly, you have an Unclean one doing 20+ wounds in a single fight phase.  While Nurgle daemons are not fast, having an inherent 5+ Feel No Pain is pretty strong on them, so they are resilient enough to really soak damage and then get into the fight.  With double damage, even Magnus or Bobby G has to be wary as a single wound through could multiply into tragedy.

Bloodletters: Bloodletters are all about the layers, but they are a cheap melee threat that is scary to any infantry that relies on armor to save it.  You can take them in big blobs of up to 30, which lets them hit on a 2+, which is just mindboggling for a basic troops choice.  The Hellblade is a nasty weapon with AP -3 and the chance to spike to D2.  Again, for a weapon option on a unit of up to 30, that is just brutal.   With a Herald near by, they are S5, so wounding marines on a 3+, and because they are Khorne Daemons, they have +1 S and +1 A on the first turn of combat, whether they charged or not.  They are also ever so faster with an Instrument as they advance +1 and charge +1, so why not? For just over 200 points, you get 30 models that can pump out 63 attacks on the charge at S6 hitting on 2+ with a Herald near by.  With AP -3, that makes them threatening even to armored targets, and being able to spike to D2 on their weapons means that rolling they can start to explode a bit and do far more damage than anticipated.  Bloodletters make a great multi-purpose threat capable of scything through chaff or even threatening harder targets.

World Eater Warp Talons: Warp Talons are expensive, but they are fast, and they can do a shocking amount of damage and their utility is huge.  Warpflame Strike is huge as it not only allows them to arrive via reserve, you cannot Overwatch them when they arrive this way.  Again, if you don’t care about fluff, throw in a sorceror to drop with them, and you can move them another 12 and really let them get into the mix.  You can effectively turn off a gunline with just a small squad of Warp Talons, especially if you are patient and drop them when you have other melee elements waiting to assault in as well.  If you want the Warp Talons to kick some ass, having them be World Eaters is even better as +1 attack on the charge plus lightning claws equals 3 attacks each at -3 AP and rerolling wounds.  Not only will they tie up a bunch of units, they will do some decent damage as well.

World Eater Daemon Princes with 2x Malefic Talons: Yes, there is a theme here, and it is not that other Legions cannot do melee well, it is just that World Eaters get a lot of extra value out of the +1 attack on the charge.  Daemon Princes with double Talons pump out 7 attacks at 2+ to hit, S7, AP-2 D2, which is decent and threatens a wide variety of units.  Jumping up to 9 attacks is even better on the charge thanks to WE and Mark of Khorne, and well, if you make one your Warlord, you can just take the +1 attack Warlord Trait for a melee monster (that can hide behind screens thanks to being 8 wounds) that pumps out 10 attacks on the charge.  That’s pretty beefy.  While AP -2 and D2 isn’t great against super hard targets, it is certainly enough to blitz through infantry and even Terminators sweat because half of the wounds (on average dice) just kill a terminator. A Warlord WE DP will kill most characters in a single swipe.  Throw in wings and you have movement 12, and throw in Talisman of Burning Blood, and you have a fast model that can also advance and charge.

Magnus:  Magnus is one of the scariest melee threats out there for a variety of reasons. While on the surface, he doesn’t look that threatening, his overlapping and stacking abilities makes him consistently damaging, more so than just about any other major melee threat.  First off, he is accurate as hell with a 2+ to hit that never degrades and is rerollable. That’s nice.  Second, his damage never degrades as his weapon is just a straight Dmg3 at all times. It is also -4 AP, which is huge as it means most hard targets like big monsters or vehicles don’t get an armor save, and he is S16, so he is wounding everything (almost) on 2s.  Good god.  He is also going to get the first swing as he moves 16, but with Warp Time, he can move 32 inches in a single turn.  That’s scary, and that doesn’t include his charge.  He is also not too easily killed as he has a 4++ rerolling 1 base, and with the new Tzeentch power from Chaos Space Marines, he can have a 3++ rerolling 1s, all at T7 with 16 wounds.  While certainly not invincible, he is not an easy mark at all, and it will likely take the majority (or all) of your opponent’s army to put him down on T1.  At only 415, that leaves plenty of other threats to safely bridge the table.  Let’s not forget that he has a super smite, so he is also doing d6 or even 2d6 mortal wounds to a target before charging in.  Damn.

Renegade Knights: What else is there to say that I didn’t say before? Dmg 6 weapons are crazy. Stomping Feet are pretty good too.

Ok all, that’s it for Chaos.  Next week, I’ll see what Eldar can do.  As always, thanks for reading, and please come check us out at all our usual spots, like our Facebook, our Stream (where 8/30/17, you can watch Adam, John, and me jibberjabber), and of course, you should think about everything we give to you, and maybe think about giving back over at our Patreon.  We do like giving stuff away.  If not, maybe think about throwing a few bucks to disaster relief for Harvey.  A lot of quality wargamers out that way.