Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Khorne Berzerkers

And now the review of the new Chaos Space Marine codex progresses to the cult units, kicking off with Khorne Berzerkers.  When I first saw the stats for these guys, I was worried: where was their fabled extra attack?  Why had it been reduced to to A=1?

Then, I read the rules a little closer.  They get furious charge, and the Mark of Khorne, which yields rage and counter-assault.  This means +1S and +2A on the turn they charge.  And if assaulted, they get +1A for the counter charge on a successful Ld check (which should happen most of the time ... but their Ld is now 8 though).  Considering they come with a bolt pistol and close combat weapon, this means they get 4 S=5 attacks on the charge at WS=5.  This is pretty decent.  Until turn 2 in the melee when they revert to 2 S=4 attacks each (and 3 if they get assaulted in the interim).  So they're strictly worse in the second round that they were in the previous codex, but on the charge, they're better and more brutal (not withstanding the loss of increased initiative to the furious charge rule).  Does this balance out? Well, no: if you get the charge in, they're better full stop!  So: get the charge in and do what these chaps are supposed to do: take skulls for the skull throne!

Points-wise, they're cheaper than they have been in the previous codex as well (effectively a free champion, and 2 points cheaper per marine), which makes them more appealing overall. 

Let's have a look at their upgrades:
The chainaxe is appealing if we know we're not up against space marines (and other power armour Sv=3+ models).  Otherwise, they're not worth it.  Since the meta-game is so saturated with space marines and we're getting plenty of attacks, I suspect that we would forget about this upgrade most of the time (unless we've already modelled the chainaxes / fluffy reasons).

Swapping the bolt pistol for a plasma pistol is entertaining, but pricey.  Ultimately, if the berzerkers are going to be charging high toughness targets, they're probably worthwhile (just).  But try not to evaporate oneself in the process.  (but wait: all blood is welcome, right?).

The Icon of Wrath grants furious charge (which is pointless, since the Khorne Berzerkers already get it), as well as the ability to re-roll charge distances.  This latter ability is very useful, but probably not quite worth the points of the Icon. 

Veterans of the Long War should be worthwhile if the local meta-game is indeed space marine saturated. And its price is very cheap!

The champion can take melta bombs (could be useful? at least situationally), the gift of mutation (if there's a spare few points around, but otherwise probably not needed), ranged weapons (a different way to get a third plasma pistol -- and therefore gunslinger by the letter of the rules; or perhaps a combi-weapon), and melee weapons (power weapons will be worthwhile, but I think a power fist might also be tempting -- but there's a real peril in the Champion of Chaos rule there).

Here's a couple of set-ups that might be worth exploring.

8 Khorne Berzerkers, 2 plasma pistols, Veterans of the Long War, Champion with Power Sword, plasma pistol and melta bombs, Rhino transport with combi-melta (280 points).
A compact unit taken in Khorne's sacred number with 3 plasma pistol toting marines transported in a rhino that is set-up to be a nuisance even without the berzerkers on board.  Roll up the board and select the target.  Get out and plasma pistol them.  Next turn, get assaulted by (overwatch them!) or assault the targets.  Should be case closed with a little planning.

10 Khorne Berzerkers, Veterans of the Long War, Champion with 2 Power Lances, Land Raider transport with dirge caster (475 points).
Use the land raider to get close, then assault.  The double power lances on the champion are interesting: on the charge he will get 5 S=6 attacks with AP=3.  That should be enough to take care of opposing characters.  But feel free to swap out for more traditional lightning claws instead -- the lower strength is probably more than made up for by the re-rolls available -- I simply wanted to point out an innovation in double power lancing!  And don't forget to apply the Dirge Caster's effects.



MasterSlowPoke said...

There's no real reason to take two of the same power weapon. Power Lance/Power Axe still gives +1 attack but gives you the option for AP2 when AP3/4 don't cut it, and ensures you're always +1S at least.

jabberjabber said...

Excellent point! The Lance/Axe combo gives more choice ultimately.

Dan said...

What do you figure the viability of taking a single power lance is in something like your first example? Since Berserk almost always charge, it seems like you'd get some good use out of the lance and since you have to challenge, that means the first turn of combat, as compared to a straight-up sword, you'd be +1S. However, lightning claws might still be better that +1S; need to do some math on that.

Anonymous said...

I find lances to be the worst power weapon, and that's including mauls which wiff horribly against marines. Berserkers are only slightly more likely to charge than your standard foot-sloggers; anything fast (jumpers, beasts, cav) will charge you. Even so, after that ONE round of +1 strength, you're stuck with AP4 (in otherwords, uselss AP), and no bonus ot strength or wounding. If you think the power sword is too weak, take a lightning claw; it's better so long as you're getting 3 or more attacks, and a wash with the sword if you're only getting 2. Against tougher opponents, the claw is better, so take it; T3 guys will crumple regardless. Berserkers, like all the Cult troops, are not good enough to be taken as Elites.

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