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.

 

On the New Daemons FAQ

Here's the major (and only) change from the new Daemons FAQ:

Q: Do models chosen from Codex: Chaos Daemons and / or the White Dwarf, August 2012, Codex: Chaos Daemons official update have the Daemon special rule from the Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook, or do they have the Daemon army special rule from Codex: Chaos Daemons? (p27)
A: All models from Codex: Chaos Daemons and/or the White Dwarf, August 2012, Codex: Daemons official update have the Daemon army special rule listed in Codex: Chaos Daemons with the addition of the Fear special rule from the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook and a 5+ invulnerable save.

So, daemons get the best of both worlds: fear from the rulebook, eternal warrior and everything else from the Daemons codex.  Given the space marine heavy meta-game, fear won't be doing much for us, but its all good.

Yet, there's many unresolved questions arising.  Here's a selection.
* Are Flamers' invulernable save 4+ or 5+?  (they are Tzeentch daemons, but the white dwarf update didn't list the save).  My thought is that all Tzeentch daemons must (by definition) have the mark of Tzeentch.
* Is Fateweaver 3+ or 5+?  I'd say 3+ since he gets a superposition of 3+ or 5+ from my reading of the FAQ.  So, which is he going to choose, I wonder?  (in addition, I'm fairly certain one has to take the best save if a model has more than one of a given type).
* Do Soul Grinders get a 5+ invulnerable save?  By this FAQ statement, yes!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Plague Zombie

What do you get if you mix plastic bits from Cadians, Plaguebearers and warhammer fantasy Zombies, with a touch of greenstuff?  Well, the title of this post is kind of a give-away really, isn't it?  Yes, its a Plague Zombie.  And the first conversion of many that I'm hoping to accomplish.

Creating plague zombies is pretty easy to achieve for even the casual miniature convertor.  The bits are straight forward to go together and the best part is that even if it doesn't look quite right (or indeed: physically plausible), then you can get away with it: arms and legs at odd angles and crooked necks are all part and parcel of being a plague zombie, so roll with it!  I'm dredging the bits box for a few other finds to see what else I can incorporate.  I was thinking that some fantasy ghouls might be a nice touch, but also Catachans, the old Chaos Mutation sprue, and even an odd Orky arm or armour might not go too much amiss to be honest. Heck, why should humans have all the fun: I'm sure Grandpa Nurgle would be only too happy to count Ork plague zombies amongst his flock.

This particular chap features the legs and chainsword arm of a Cadian sergeant, coupled with a zombie torso and right arm (notice the grenades being carried in the zombie arm as well), a zombie head inside a cracked Cadian helmet, a utility belt at the rear (just above the buttocks) and a cute nurgling tugging at the zombie's innards to pull him along in the right direction a bit faster!  I like the dynamism of this conversion, the humour of the nurgling, coupled with the menace of the chainsword and the un-realized potential of the grenades: does the zombie have enough brains left to pull the pins on them?  Or will the nurgling do the job itself eventually?

Monday, October 29, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Mutilators



I get what mutilators are about, in principle.  But: (a) I don't like the miniatures; (b) they might have been better wrapped up with obliterators, rules-wise.  Those are just personal opinions.  

Mutilators can be bought in units of up to three models, and can obtain any mark, as well as Veterans of the Long War.  All of these options are very viable. The Marks of Khorne and Slaanesh and Veterans will improve the close combat effectiveness in all probability, whilst the Marks of Tzeentch and Nurgle will improve survivability.  There isn't a bad upgrade option here to be honest!

But here's some issues.  They deep-strike, but can't assault on the turn of entry.  The can go in a land raider, but there's better units begging to go in land raiders that are not only more effective, but also fill up the transport availability better.  They might have 2 wounds each, but they die to instant death like any other marine. A lucky vindicator will deal with these guys in a single shot.

To illustrate these points, consider this set-up:

3 Mutilators, Mark of Khorne, Veterans of the Long War (192 points)
They're getting a similar number of attacks on the charge (only one more in fact, unless we're talking about a pair of lightning claws) as terminators with comparable upgrades, but there are less of them.  Plus the weapons that they're going to manifest are limited such that they can't have the same ones twice in consecutive player turns.  Terminators can and do!  

On top of all that, they're competing for elites slots with Terminators, Helbrutes, Cult Squads, and others who may be better purchases.  So, I can't shake that negative feeling I have about these mutilators, sorry.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Helbrute

Call them Dreadnoughts.  Call them Helbrutes.  Either way, they just got better in the new codex.  

Reason 1 they're better: they are not automatically crazed -- only when hit by enemies.

Reason 2 they're better: their fire frenzy targets enemies, not friends.

My base set-up (pictured) with a plasma cannon got 5 points more expensive, but given the changes to crazed, I think its an improvement.  

Here's a few set-ups that might become common:

Helbrute with pair of Thunder Hammers (110 points)
Race toward enemy lines (or drop-pod in via a Dreadclaw) and hammer away.

Helbrute with Power Scourge and Reaper Autocannon (115 points)
Cute, all-round dreadnought.  

Helbrute with Powerfist containing in-built Heavy Flamer, Twin-Linked Lascannon (140 points)
I like this set-up.  He shoots from the opening at opportune targets as he advances toward more squishy enemies.  Target transports, pop them open and engage the contents.  Possible even better than the equivalent points of terminators?  Hmmmm - now there's a math-hammer conundrum.  (answers welcome).

Helbrute with Missile Launcher and Plasma Cannon (120 points)
For support purposes.  Sit on the back lines and shoot volleys of templates at the enemy, plus the odd krak missile.  Probably better to think about an obliterator or two instead for support to be fair though.

So overall, I like them, but they are competing with other elite slots.  I'd be tempted to take several if I was going to take them unless its my Nurgle dreadnought (which I just like the sculpt and paint job of -- see image).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Which Power Weapon?


Following up from the analysis of Chaos Terminators in the New Chaos Space Marine Codex, this post deals with the thorny question of which power weapon we should select if given the choice.  Throughout the new chaos space marine codex, it does not specify any kind of power weapon to be used.  We are therefore free to model all four different types of power weapon on our miniatures.  But which one?

Let's start by looking at the stats for the power weapon varieties.

Power Swords: these have AP3 and use the user's strength.  
Power Axes: AP2, S+1, but go at Initiative=1 due to being unwieldy.
Power Mauls: AP4, S+2, and concussive.
Power Lances: AP3 and S+1 on the charge, moving to AP4 and user's strength thereafter.

But in which situation(s) should we select each?  Without knowing what kind of army we may be facing, its hard to optimize.  But, let's think about each in turn and play to its strengths.

Power Swords.  These are the basic variety with an important AP3.  These are the swords that are going to be getting rid of enemy space marines (or equivalent).  I'd suggest that they are very appropriate on squad champions for the new chaos marine codex where each champion has to challenge every turn.  If we knew with certainty that the enemy was not going to be space marines, then I'd hesitate, and probably choose a power maul instead -- they still go at initiative, but have a superior strength which will aid with taking down pesky eldar (etc.) with higher certainty.  On chaos terminators, these might need some modelling or conversion work

Power Axes. These are the only option to get back to AP2, as per 5th edition rules.  And what would we use AP2 on?  Clearly terminators, but also those occasional 2+ save regular power armour worn by some space marine commanders and their ilk (e.g. Chapter Champions, Honour Guard), as well as Blood Angels' Sanguinary Guard, Ork Mega Nobs, Tau Broadsides, Tyranid Tyrannofexes (etc.).  The main drawback is that they go at low initiative, so we need to address why we don't take power fists (or chainfists) instead. They're not so much more expensive to obtain on a chaos terminator upgrade.  But to save on points, a couple of axes inside a Chaos Terminator squad might not be a bad idea so that they can go toe-to-toe with other terminators and negate their 2+ armour save, get a better roll to wound and force invulnerable saves.  We're really taking power fists in preference to power axes as a deterrent to dreadnoughts, monstrous creatures (and similar) to tackle their high toughness or AVs. If we're talking about a character in a squad (rather than terminator squads as a whole), I'd want them to be going at initiative unless they're plague marines or other infantry that go at I less than 4 -- in which case I'd still prefer power fists instead of power axes (again, unless I'm saving on points to afford other things elsewhere and suspected they could weather going at low initiative -- just like plague champions).

Power Mauls. Higher strength, worse armour penetration such that space marines still get their armour save.  Is this better or worse than a power sword?  Here's some quick math-hammer.  Suppose we set up the target of the power maul and sword as a regular space marine, and the wielder as a nasty chaos terminator.  The probability to hit is the same in both cases (4+).  The probability to wound is 2+ for the power maul, and 4+ for the power sword.  The marine gets his regular save against the maul, but no save against the sword.  So the combined probability to cause a wound on a marine is 0.138 per attack for the power maul, and 0.250 per attack from the power sword -- approximately twice as good!  Then again, if we're facing a terminator instead, then clearly the power maul is going to be better: 0.042 vs 0.069 unsaved wounds per attack -- i.e. power mauls aren't too much better against terminators, so we might as well opt for the powerfists and chainfists instead.  So, my take on this situation is that a power sword would be better on a squad character (especially if we know we're facing other marines), but a power maul would be better if we knew we were facing (e.g.) Eldar.  In a squad of chaos terminators, a few of these are not a bad idea as a deterrent if we're facing off against lower save armies.

Power Lances. These are interesting.  I would take them in preference to power swords if I could almost guarantee that I would get the charge in and potentially finish the job in under two game turns.  This means taking them on fast moving miniatures -- such as bike-riding characters for the main part.  The other main use would be to take them on miniatures riding in assault-ramp-equipped vehicles -- land raiders and the like.  So in a squad of terminators that might be heading for combat with marines, an odd power lance might be good!  But I think I'll be only taking them on Chaos Lords on Bikes for now. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Terminators

Chaos terminators often strike loyalists as being "cheap". But don't let that fool you: their lack of fearless and ATSKNF means that they're more likely to be routed and swept in combat. That's the trade-off for cheapness. As with the basic chaos space marine troops, it is this lack of fearless (or similar) that hurt the chaos space marine commander fielding chaos terminator. Clearly, teaming up with the likes of Abaddon or Typhus will help with that.

Secondly, don't forget the codex FAQ: terminators can take replacements for either basic weapon (combi-bolter or power weapon), not just one of them as the original wording implies.

Let's take a look at a few builds and associated tactics. (Bear in mind that there is also a built in choice to make about which power weapon to take as well).

3 Chaos Terminators, 3 combi-meltas, 1 chainfist (122 points)
This is the classic "termicide" set-up.  Deep-strike next to the target vehicle and annihilate it on the turn they arrive (assuming reasonable or no scatter in deep-striking).  The chainfist is there to give the terminators some threat to other vehicles even after the melta shots have been used up, and to any lurking dreadnought that might counter-strike.

5 Chaos Terminators, 4 combi-flamers, 1 heavy flamer, 2 chainfists, power weapons to taste, Icon of Vengeance (246 points)
A threat to those back-of-the-field devastator squads.  Deep-strike (or roll up from a land raider) and flame them to the Warp.  If they survive, assault.  The chainfists are there to both worry nearby vehicles  and help with assaults.  The icon is strictly to prevent routing, but does account for most of the points cost above 200 (the equivalent of a loyalist squad with ATSKNF ... but obviously they're not as role-focussed as this bunch).

5 Chaos Terminators, Mark of Nurgle, 3 powerfists (208 points)
Chaos' answer to loyalist terminators ... but with better toughness.  Take an Icon of Vengeance if you're worried about being swept.  (a cheaper alternative would be 5 terminators, 1 power fist, icon of vengeance - 199 points - as a loyalist analogue). Add Veterans of the Long War to taste.

6 Chaos Terminators, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, champion with pair of lightning claws, 1 chainfist, 3 combi-plasmas, 1 heavy flamer (296 points)
Terminators with feel no pain?  And they're Slaaneshi rather than Nurglesque? You bet!  Run with a Slaaneshi character (a chaos lord even), and head for combat.  This unit is kitted out to take advantage of the higher initiative, but the chainfist is there for added threat overall.  The combi-plasmas are for taking out light tanks or heavy infantry, whilst the flamer's use is obvious.  Despite the variety of arms, this unit is still an anti-infantry set-up.  Potentially drop a few members for a pure combi-plasma termicide squad, but otherwise, these guys are ready to go.  Just need a Land Raider now perhaps.

10 Chaos Terminators, Mark of Tzeentch, 2 Reaper Auto-cannons, 4 chainfists, Icon of Flame (413 points)
Fan of Apocalypse?: go big and get a 4+ invulnerable save for a strong unit of on-the-board-to-start terminators.  Back up by adding Ahriman to give fearless, or take a daemons allied detachment for some Fateweaver antics.

5 Chaos Terminators, Mark of Khorne, 2 powerfists, Icon of Wrath (211 points)
Show those loyalists what "skulls for the skull throne" means, and at a comparable points cost.  Take a land raider to taste and perhaps a pair of lightning claws on the champion and Veterans of the Long War upgrades.  Even worth considering a Gift of Mutation if there's some points left-over.  This unit will need accompanying with a HQ character to avoid being swept ... but then again, they shouldn't be getting swept, should they?  They should be causing more wounds than they receive every round.  If they don't, then even their blood is welcome.  Everyone wins in Khorne.

4 Chaos Terminators, 2 pairs of lightning claws, 2 chain fists, 2 combi-meltas, Mark of Tzeentch, Veterans of the Long War, Icon of Vengeance (241 points)
A dual-purpose squad.  Firstly, deep-strike to take out a target transport with the combi-meltas and/or chainfists.  Deal with the inhabitants with the Lightning Claws.  Drop the Icon and the Veterans of the Long War to reduce the points downward.  The Mark of Tzeentch is purely for the 4+ invulnerable save (in case one is tackling a command transport and the inevitable contents therein).

I like chaos terminators: they do what they should and with minimal fuss.  They're a strong competitor for the elites slot in the new codex.

The Next Step in the 40k Blogosphere Evolution

Guest post from Adam (@ Space Wolves Grey).  If you've seen this before, then apologies.  But for those of us who have been around since the early days of FtW (yes, that includes Adam, but the rest of you know who you are - and its been a pleasure getting to know you all along the way btw), then this post is very significant.


Hey Warhammer 40K fans, I'd like to share some info with guys about a new website project I'm working on -and it's pretty big. Really big infact.

Now I'm a big fan of the 40K blogosphere and personally I prefer following the blogs to trawling through the forums.

Only problem is, I've found myself struggling to find the good stuff this year and it's for 2 reasons.

1) From The Warp stopped being the hub of 40K blogging
I used to be able to find loads of great stuff on From The Warp's blogrolls from really obscure little blogs, but very talented bloggers non the less.

I understand that all these blogrolls became too much for From The Warp to manage.

2) Bell of Lost Souls changed how they manage their blogrolls
One upon a time everyone and his dog could get on the BoLS blogroll.

Then after a couple of overhauls, only the small blogs that don't post very often were allowed on the blogroll, while only the big sites were allowed on the Elite Blogroll, provided you wrote content for BoLS of course.

And that kind of screws over all the medium blogs in the middle and kind of holds the bigger blogs to ransom.

It's tough for new bloggers
While there are other 40K blog hubs out there, they don't drive anywhere near as much traffic as these two sites did.

Because of FTW and BoLS not serving the community as they once did, getting 'discovered' in the blogosphere is really hard for new bloggers starting out.

Don't get me wrong, I've found some truly amazing stuff by trawling through the blogosphere, but I've had to do some major blogroll trawling, Google image searching, you name it.

It's tough for readers
I think I'm subscribed via RSS Feed to about 8 blogs, because they're the big ones that update regularly. And that's simply because it's convenient. I don't have time to trawl the blogrolls all the time.

But in an ideal world, we'd want to see all the best bits from the entire blogosphere without having to dig for it, right?

That means we'd be able to find great painting guides, conversions or battle reports from absolutely anyone. Not just the big blogs that update all the time.

"GET TO THE POINT ADAM!"
Alright, alright. You're probably thinking that I'm going to create another 40K blog hub, well, you'd be have half way right.

What's going to make this blog hub as good as From The Warp back in it's hay day and better than all the other hubs and networks that have sprung up over the past year or so?

Two things actually:

1) Readers will be able to read and filter articles from the blogosphere without blogrolls

That means any blogger's articles can be found, so your blog doesn't need to be as big as Fritz40K for people to read you.

2) The site will rank in the top 3 Google search results for Warhammer 40K, 40K and all of the Warhammer 40K races.

Yes, that is a BOLD statement. But as some of you may know, I work in Search Engine Optimisation as the Link Building & Content Manager for a leading agency in the UK. It's going to take some hard work, but it's achievable.

But what it means is that the site will get lots of exposure from all the rankings, loads of traffic and as a result the blogs will receive far more visitors, subscribers, etc.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend is incredibly technical and will be bringing my creative concepts to life in simple, fast loading functionality for you all.

CONCLUSION
This is a real top-level explanation of what we're up to. I didn't want to delve too deeply into the details and there's loads more stuff that this website will do for the online community. This is the real tip of the ice berg.

If you have any questions, I'd love to answer them! It's probably best that I explain all my reasons for creating something for the community in the Comments below rather than fill up this article with personal stuff.

But for now if you could head over to my old 40K blog and bookmark or follow it, we'll keep you up to date with all the developments right up to the big launch in January!

And I just wanted to say "thank you" for all your years of kindness and suppport.

-Adam

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Possessed


Compared to the previous codex, Possessed chaos space marines are undoubtedly superior.  Although there is some randomness in the abilities that they get, none of them are bad (as was the case previously!). And they're fearless.

But that's about as good as a review that they're going to get from me.  I think the lack of guaranteed combat effectiveness (read: Vorpal Claws; grenades) are a large negative for Possessed.  I doubt we'll be fielding many of them, outside of fluffy purposes.  Given their points cost, we should probably be looking elsewhere in the codex for viable close-combat effectiveness.

Nonetheless, here are a few set-ups that might be worth considering:

9 Possessed, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War, Land Raider from the Heavy Support Section (524 points)
Slot in a Khorne character (e.g. Kharn) and use the land raider to get in to assault as soon as possible.  Not an intelligent or brave option, but it'll work up to a point.

20 Possessed, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, Veterans of the Long War (620 points)
Only for the brave: charge across open territory without any weapons.  Hope to make it to combat (aided by the Icon) before getting blasted.  Alternatively, take with an infiltrating character (Huron or Ahriman).

14 Possessed, Mark of Nurgle, Veterans of the Long War, 2 gifts of mutation for the champion (468 points)
A variant on the above with superior toughness and possibly more likely to make it.  The number of possessed is strictly for fluffy purposes.  The gifts of mutation are for fun only.

9 Possessed, Mark of Tzeentch, Veterans of the Long War, 2 gifts of mutation for the champion (317 points)
Yet another variant, this time for Tzeentch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chosen

Chosen chaos space marines are the Swiss-army knife of the codex.  They're able to take on many battlefield roles, but they must be kitted out for such roles in advance and pointed in the right direction during the game.  Much like regular troops, they have a fearlessness issue that needs to be thought about (depending on what role they're assigned), so taking a fearless character along with them is sometimes going to be a good choice.  What they get over a basic trooper is an extra attack: we're paying the points for this (and for uber-grit in the old parlance: i.e. a bolter, bolt pistol and close combat weapon), so that's one aspect we should think about making use of.  Being able to take 4 special weapons (5 if one includes the heavy weapon / special slot) is also very good.

So, let's have a look at a few set-ups for our Swiss Army Knife Chosen Chaos Space Marines:

9 Chosen, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War, 4 flamers, champion with melta bombs and power weapon, Rhino Transport with Havoc Launcher (305 points)
To be run with someone like Kharn.  Pile in the transport, and roll up to the enemy.  The champion should be armed with one of the flamers. Get out, flame and shoot.  Then subsequently charge.  Use a Land Raider instead perhaps for the assault ramp.  These guys should be taking down most opposition and are geared up to also face-off against hordes (which seem to be getting forgotten about, but shouldn't be since one aspect of the new meta is boots on the ground ... as well as flying).

9 Chosen, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, champion with pair of lightning claws, 3 meltas, 2 power weapons, Veterans of the Long War, Rhino with Havoc Launcher (370 points)
An expensive option run with a Slaanesh character or Dark Apostle.  Designed for tank hunting and then dispatching of the contents.

5 Chosen, Mark of Nurgle, 5 Plasma Guns, Icon of Vengeance, champion with power weapon, melta bombs (225 points)
Bringing massed plasma firepower from behind, these Nurgle boys answer the call against terminators from range and should probably hold an objective whilst they're at it.  Try not to get assaulted.

5 Chosen, Mark of Tzeentch, 1 heavy bolter, 4 combi-bolters, Icon of Flame (137 points)
A Tzeentch alternative to the rear-guard action: lots of soul blazing weaponry to target infantry hostiles.  Probably better ways of doing this, so think of this option for illustrative purposes only. Don't get assaulted.

5 Chosen, 5 melta guns, Rhino transport with combi-melta (185 points)
Take down the enemy hardware!  Team up with Huron or Ahriman for infiltrate!

10 Chosen, 1 Missile Launcher, 2 Plasma Guns, 2 Meltas, Mark of Nurgle (275 points)
Taken in an army with an infiltrating character (as above).  Infiltrate to the back lines and get at least one turn of firing in.  The mark of Nurgle is there to try to get a second turn of firing in before being destroyed.  This is a distraction unit to take some heat of other units in an army.  Try not to be assaulted.

5 Chosen, Mark of Nurgle, 1 Missile Launcher, 2 Plasma Guns, 2 Meltas (170 points)
Just like the above, but smaller!

Overall, I want to like Chosen, but they're pricey.  Overall they're okay.  But the main issue is that I feel that the Elites slot that they occupy will be vying for a position with other, more appealing selections and choices.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Cultists

One of the most talked about units in the new codex are Chaos Cultists. They're cheap, they're going to perish quickly, and there's potentially lots of them per unit.

And because they're just a little bit on the not so brilliant side, they could probably do with something to help them with their fear given their base leadership is 7 (or 8 on the champion).  To be fair, orks are also cheap, but taken in large numbers, orks don't fear much.  Tyranid gaunts are also cheap: but they get around things by having a hive mind to guide their actions.  With chaos cultists, I think some fearlessness is the key to their role: we want them to bog down the enemy for a couple of turns.  Let's say 2 combat turns.  Beyond that, they're simply going to perish -- but that's the point.  By the time those two turns have rolled around, we should have our other units in place, or taking care of things.  The obvious thing is to run the chaos cultists with a dark apostle, or other HQ.  Or just have done with it and turn them in to plague zombies via Typhus.  Or maybe we could just take a large blob of cultists and hang back, hunkered down in cover and around a corner (avoiding line of sight) such that they simply sit on an objective all game long.

Let's have a look at a few alternatives.

35 Chaos Cultists, Mark of Nurgle (220 points)
Hang back, go to ground and sit on an objective away from line of sights.  Stay put. Add a few heavy stubbers for fun if there's any points spare in the army.

35 Chaos Cultists, Mark of Tzeentch (185 points)
Cheap and get a 6+ invulnerable save when charging across the battlefield to engage enemies in combat.  They're not going to survive long, but they'll survive fractionally longer with some good rolling.  The 6+ save could be a nuisance factor that is needed.  But perhaps only for those of you with lots of practised rolling.  The Nurgle Mark (above) is arguably better in the long term.  Perhaps implement a unit of 10 instead?

35 Chaos Cultists, 32 Autoguns, 3 Flamers (197 points)
Run with a fearless character and charge forward, shooting as you go.  Use to seek out an objective on the opposite side of the field, or hang slightly back for a little cover fire.

35 Chaos Cultists, 3 Flamers, Mark of Khorne (235 points)
Use with a Khorne character, charge forward and engage enemy units for a maximum of two turns.  Hopefully some back up will arrive by then?  Swap out the Mark of Khorne for Mark of Slaanesh to create a 200 points unit that strikes at the same initiative step as Space Marines - might be useful?

35 Plague Zombies (150 points)
Typhus turns 35 Chaos Cultists in to Plague Zombies for the glory of Nurgle!  This unit is the real business: fearless, feel no pain, and a little shambling thanks to slow and purposeful.  Use to do what you like!  Shamble forward and hold an enemy in combat for 2 turns as required.  Sit on any objective you like.  Take multiple units and still have points to spare for important support units and plague marines? Place Typhus in the middle and shamble toward melee?


Monday, October 22, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Space Marines

The most fundamental and quintessential unit in the entire codex: the basic chaos space marine troop squad is one of the most flexible, but simultaneously one that needs much thought about how it is to be set up.

One aspect that the troops selections in the new codex need attention with is fear (or, rather, fearlessness).  Sure, they're cheaper than their loyalist cousins, but they do not get ATSKNF, or combat squads.  Running them with an HQ that ensures their fearlessness seems to be key to keeping them going in the game.  That, or load them up in a rhino and never get out of it unless they have to.  As an alternative, the Icon of Vengeance can grant the entire unit fearless, but the Icon must remain in play.  Remember that Icons can be sniped and be poorly positioned so that they might fall early!  So, if we're going to be taking such an Icon, it is imperative that the marines race in to the "protection" of close combat as expediently as possible.

Let's have a look at a few builds that may appeal:

20 Chaos Space Marines with combat close weapons instead of bolters, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, 2 flamers, champion with power weapon (355 points)
A large blob of Khorne boys, preferably run with a Dark Apostle, Chaos Lord, or Kharn.  Infiltrate them with Huron for laughs.  Or swap out the Icon of Wrath for an Icon of Vengeance.  They're unsubtle, large and menacing, but they'll get the job done by avoiding the worst of AP3/2/1 weapons (like incoming vindicator shells). Veterans of the Long War may be a good utility addition too.

10 Chaos Space Marines, with additional close combat weapons, Mark of Nurgle, 2 plasma guns, Icon of Vengeance, champion with power weapon and combi-plasma (268 points)
An unsubtle team of Nurgle worshippers to take on (at range) many of the tougher units in the game (or even snipe at light tanks to glance them in to wrecks) before closing for some close combat thrills.  I suspect that plague marines themselves might be better at this task to be honest.  But, this kind of unit is what I have in mind for use with Fabius Bile's ability (although if I did that, I'd drop the Icon of Vengeance totally, of course).  

10 Chaos Space Marines with close combat weapons instead of bolters, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, champion with a pair of lightning claws, 2 meltaguns, rhino with havoc launcher (287 points)
Roll up in their rhino and aim to take out enemy vehicles with the melta guns.  Assault the inhabitants in close combat using the enhanced initiative and feel no pain granted by the (amazing-outside-of-Nurgle) Icon of Excess.  The rhino can take shots at S5 up to 48" away using the havoc launcher -- don't under-estimate how good that can be. Possibly team up with a Slaaneshi HQ to taste.

5 Chaos Space Marines, 1 melta gun, champion with combi-melta and melta-bombs, Icon of Vengeance, Rhino with combi-melta (170 points)
A small, utility unit designed to gun for enemy vehicles and dreadnoughts.  Not very inventive, but then, they don't need to be.

10 Chaos Space Marines, 1 melta gun, 1 flamer, champion with power fist, Icon of Vengeance, Rhino with Havoc Launcher (252 points)
A bland, but totally adaptable tactical squad of traitor marines.  The power fist on the champion is a risk (given that he has to issue challenges all the time) so perhaps a power weapon plus melta bombs (5 points cheaper overall) may be better most of the time, but its there to give a threat to vehicles and dreadnoughts. Add Veterans of the Long War for taste.

Sorry Tzeentch, I just don't have a use for you outside of fluffy, characterful lists.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Group Hug?

++These crimson sands are ours++

The last stand of a pair of assault terminators, surrounded by daemons of Khorne and Tzeentch with a looming Soul Grinder.

The Chaos Space Marine FAQ / Errata


The new Chaos Space Marine FAQ / Errata has been released for a day now.  Its brevity shocks me.  Either the authors really believe strongly there's nothing else to correct, or they forgot something.  If they forgot something, then what would it be?  I'm looking at you Daemon Princes.  You guys need to have MARKS as well as Eternal Warrior to make you worthwhile.

But let's look at what we got.  Three boons, and two oddities.

The two oddities are the same: Axe of Blind fury can now be wielded by both miniatures with the Mark of Khorne and Khornate Daemons.  But how are we purchasing Khornate Daemons to wield the Axe of Blind Fury please?  Is this some kind of strange fore-shadow to a future chaos daemons update / codex?  Hmmmmmmmm.

The first true Errata is the Typhus / Plague Zombie controversy.  Resolved in favour of large blobs of plague zombies.  Yay!  Time to purchase some zombie bits and mx with Cadians, Catachans, Ghouls, Skeletons, and green stuff!

The second is the correction to chaos terminators.  Instead of only being able to purchase either a special ranged weapon, or specialist melee weapon, or a pair of lightning claws, we can now do any of the three.  So don't go removing arms from those plastic terminators yet: our combi-meltas with chainfists are legal once more!

The third is a 5 point points-cost drop to the Helbrute (now 100 points).  That's actually very unusual for a FAQ / errata.  A sales inducement perhaps, since I don't know too many people online or offline who were worried that the Helbrute was mis-priced at 105 points.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Dark Apostle


The dark apostle is one of the cheaper Chaos Space Marine HQs and packs a decent punch as an analogue to the loyalist's chaplains.


The obvious use for the dark apostle is to place them in a large squad (e.g. cultists) to grant them fearless and hatred. The improved Ld that he also inspires is useful. The ability to also re-roll results on the Chaos Boon table is great: particularly if there's another character about to benefit from.

Without upgrades, he's handy.  But with a few tweaks, he could readily become a serious and potent threat.  Let's have a look at some possibilities.

Dark Apostle, Mark of Khorne, The Murder Sword, Veterans of the Long War (150 points)
An unsubtle attempt to rack-up as many rolls on the Chaos Boon table as possible.  Place in a large squad and go hunting for enemy characters as quickly as possible.  Use transports to get there faster!  Replace the Murder Sword with the Axe of Blind Fury to taste.  Perhaps add a Dimensional Key if there are lots of deep-strikers in the army.

Dark Apostle, Mark of Slaanesh, Gift of Mutation, Veterans of the Long War (130 points)
Taking advantage of the Power Maul, the Mark of Slaanesh should strike early in combat. Roll with some Noise Marines perhaps, or just in a regular squad and a rhino. A cheap upgrade set to take advantage of the basics.

CSM in 6th Review: Warpsmith



The Warpsmith is the chaos analogue of the techmarine.  Corrupted and mutated by the taint of the warp, the Warpsmith is nominally responsible for the creation of monsters like the Forgefiend and for the maintenance of the old legion's war vehicles.

Armed with a flamer and melta gun, the warpsmith can be deadly to both troops and vehicles, with a little effort with positioning.  His shatter defences ability is an interesting one that can help decrease defences of enemy strong-holds.  He can repair vehicles (a modified roll of 4+) to remove immobilized, repair a HP, regenerate a weapon, and can curse (gets hot!) enemy vehicles.  I find it interesting in the description, that he only gets the modified roll of 4+ if he has his mechatendrils intact.  Does this mean we're going to see more future models being able to remove specific weapons from enemy targets?  Intriguing!

So what upgrades might be good for a warpsmith?  Well, I don't think that additional ranged weaponry (which consist of combi-weapons or a plasma pistol) are particularly needed given the in-built melta-gun and flamer, plus hand-held bolt pistol.  There are a few potential options, but I actually think a "naked" warpsmith is a good option.  Load him up in a rhino with a reasonably sized squad and plough in behind defilers, vindicators and the like.  Repair them as necessary and target any stray enemy ground vehicle that gets too near. Or sit him back manning a quad gun on an Aegis defence line even, to take advantage of his BS=5.

But let's try a few different builds beyond "naked":

Warpsmith, Mark of Nurgle, Aura of Dark Glory (140 points)
This one is simply buffed for a bit more survivability.  The role here is to repair, snipe and cause a headache for enemy support.  Sit next to a Forgefiend (or similar) in the back field perhaps and keep them running? Swapping the Mark of Nurgle for a Mark of Tzeentch would also be an idea with similar goals to this build.

Warpsmith, Mark of Khorne, Aura of Dark Glory, The Murder Sword, Gift of Mutation, Veterans of the Long War (185 points)
Right, I know I said that Gift of Mutation was risky, but what the heck.  This build sees the Warpsmith take on a much more pro-active role.  Pack him in with a close combat squad (terminators perhaps?) and head straight for an enemy leader.  On the charge (and facing the nominated target of the murder sword), I believe that's 6 S8 attacks at AP1 (2 base, +2 mechatendrils, +2 charge).  And if the enemy is a space marine, that's going to result in a roll on the Chaos Boon table pretty quickly.  Along the way, he's going to be sniping at enemy vehicles and generally causing a nuisance.  Pity about only having 2 wounds and T=4, but that's the risk here.  Feel free to swap to a Mark of Slaanesh to strike at I=5, its all good!

My only criticism with the warpsmith is that we can't give him a daemonic steed, or a bike to ride on -- that'd be very cool.  Otherwise, I think this guy actually has some potential.

Friday, October 19, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Daemon Prince


The daemon prince of the new chaos codex is significantly more expensive in comparison to the old codex, but his/her statistics have received a boost. For the chaos space marine commander, the daemon prince is still a very powerful choice, but one that is not quite as automatic as it used to be.

Consider a 5th edition daemon prince: with a mark of Nurgle, wings, doombolt -- comes in at 160 points.

To build a 6th edition analogue, we'll take the mark of Nurgle, wings, power armour and level 1 mastery -- this comes in at 245 points.  This is over 150% of the points of the 5th edition daemon prince.  And lacks eternal warrior (for reasons that I suppose will never become quite clear).  I hope the daemons codex doesn't follow suit, but I fear it must for comparability.  This is bad because at a base T=5, this means he's going to get his derrière kicked by every other monstrous creature in the game.  Seriously: please FAQ this Games Workshop!

That said, chaos players will still be packing daemon prince models in to their armies so that they can upgrade chaos champions and lords through dark apotheosis.  (and chaos spawn too). Just a pity that when they get upgraded, they don't have the chance to get wings in the process! (I mention this because in the old Realms of Chaos, the upgrade to Daemon Princehood through the eye of god rewards frequently resulted in the addition of wings to the chaos champion).

Below, I consider a few daemon prince builds below, some better (and more points efficient) than others.

Daemon Prince, Wings (185 points + mark needed)
A naked prince with wings ... but you'll need to pay extra for a mark.  Set him up behind a line of sight blocking piece of terrain and then fly him in to wreck havoc on enemy squads or vehicles.  Vector strike other flyers to taste.  Cheap, effective, but reliant on the invulnerable save and T=5.  

Daemon Prince, Mark of Nurgle, Wings, The Black Mace, Power Armour (265 points)
This is a really terrifying build.  With enhanced shroudedness, a good save, fast moving, this guy can get in to combat fast and cause real mayhem.  The black mace, because it is wielded by a monstrous creature, gets the same monstrous creature AP.  Causing one wound by the daemon prince is relatively easy, so activating the 3" blast from the black mace should happen every combat round that the daemon prince is in.  This build is therefore one that can kill entire tactical squads of marines in a single round of combat (with a little luck).  But we're paying a suitably high price for it.

Daemon Prince, Mark of Tzeentch, Level 3 Mastery, Spell Familiar (250 points)
Seems to me that one role for the daemon prince would be a shooty firebase.  This build looks to take on that role.  Hang back, shoot, and engage in the occasional melee.  The familiar is there to help counter the Ld=9 of the daemon prince (seriously: why Ld=9 on an immortal creature of chaos?!) and get him to pass psychic tests more regularly.  And just for fun, why not have him man a quad gun behind an Aegis defence line to make use of his excellent BS?

And that's about it.  We can think about a Khorne or Slaanesh mark, but I think the points are better spent elsewhere.  I can't see many players taking daemon princes regularly any longer.  And gone are the days of double daemon princes at low points limits -- and of regular marks of chaos (sigh).  Much better to upgrade a chaos champion I feel.  I'm sad that my winged daemon princes won't see much play inside chaos space marine forces any longer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Sorcerer


For a low points cost, the chaos commander get a level 1 psyker.  Pump him up a few mastery levels and we can get a true menace starting at 110 points for a level 3 sorcerer.  Add in a mark of Tzeentch and we also unlock Thousand Sons marines as troops (if running such an army).  I'll refer the interested reader back to the Chaos Lord review for the notes about getting in to close combat and rolling on the chaos boon table.


Let's have a look at a few potential builds that might be entertaining.

Sorcerer @ Level 3, Mark of Slaanesh, Steed of Slaanesh, Combi-Melta (155 points)
Ride up on the steed (along with your favourite fast moving squad to taste) and hammer with psychics. I'd suggest two rolls on telepathy as well: hope for invisibility, but take primaris if needed.  The combi-melta is there for flexibility and threat to vehicles.

Speaking of telepathy, there's little wrong with just sitting your level 3 sorcerer on a bike and rolling three times on the telepathy table -- just a thought!  Or even a simple level 3 sorcerer in terminator armour that is deep-striking lone-wolf style could be appealing too.

Sorcerer @ Level 3, Mark of Tzeentch, Terminator Armour, Combi-Flamer (157 points)
Place in a respectable block of Tzeentch terminators, and take your powers from Tzeentch preferentially.  The combi-flamer is there for when the squad is assaulted, or opportune moments.

Sorcerer @ Level 2, Mark of Tzeentch, Disc of Tzeentch, Scrolls of Magnus, Sigil of Corruption (200 points)
A riskier proposition: take one Tzeentch power and one Telepathy.  Zoom around on your disk and gain extra powers every turn.  Use primarily as a fire base and try not to die hideously to enemy flyers.

Sorcerer @ Level 3, Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption (190 points)
A slow, expensive sorcerer of Nurgle with extra wounds thanks to the palanquin.  Take with plague marines and go forth!

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Lord


The not-so-humble chaos lord is the Swiss army knife of the new chaos codex.  Their intrinsic strength is two-fold: (1) their customizability and (2) the cheap base cost.  Of course, these two properties combines can readily lead to chaos commanders spending lots of points on their chaos lords and they suddenly become a points sink.

One of their primary perks is to "unlock" Khorne Berzerker, Plague Marines, and Noise Marines as troops (NB: Sorcerers unlock Thousand Sons Rubric Marines, rather than chaos lords themselves).  Taking any of these marks will still leave the Chaos Lord under 100 points and can be a good choice if a named HQ choice has not already been taken (e.g. Typhus to unlock plague marines as troops).

But given the nature of the chaos codex, we really want to kit the chaos lord out for close combat glory and the pain of our opponents.  With some luck, he'll be defeating opposing characters and squad leaders for some rolls on the chaos boon table and occasionally turning into a daemon prince. And therein is one guiding principle that I contend is useful for thinking about the chaos lord: the daemon prince costs a naked 145 points.  Therefore we want to build a chaos lord to be about the same points value (minus the mark ... or 155-160 points with the mark).  If it costs more than that, we'd better make him a super-lord capable of performing lots of tasks during the course of a game.  If gunning for a daemon prince result, I'd note that a dark apostle might be a useful guy to have tag along as a second HQ choice for the chaos boon re-roll.  

Let's have a think about a few alternative builds:

Chaos Lord, Mark of Nurgle, Bike, Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Power Weapon (145 points)
Ride up on your bike with a squad of bikers and hit hard.  Alternatively, a squad of chaos spawn might also be entertaining to match the lord up with (recall that spawn can move as fast as a bike!).  Swap the power weapon for a power fist or daemon weapon (or similar) for taste and potentially veterans of the long war as well.  Team up with Epidemius to rack up the tally quickly.

Chaos Lord, Mark of Khorne, Bike, Axe of Blind Fury, Sigil of Corruption, Veterans of the Long War (160 points)
A Khornate analogue to the above, and perhaps a little better in some respects.  Team up with other bikers or spawn and wreck havoc!  Swap the bike out for a Juggernaut of Khorne to taste?

Chaos Lord, Mark of Tzeentch, Terminator Armour, Power Fist, Dimensional Key (167 points)
This is an interesting build, built for armies with many deep-striking components.  A sorcerer might be a better option here, but I include it here as an entertaining Tzeentch option (but that mark could readily be one of the other gods).  Place this guy in side a big unit of other terminators and see what happens next.  Once the dimensional key is activated (hopefully by turn 2?!), bring down the rest of the army nearby this deathstar unit and work outward (or just claim linebreaker without trying).  

Chaos Lord, Mark of Slaanesh, Jump Pack, Lightning Claws, Veterans of the Long War, Sigil of Corruption (155 points)
Something of a lone star Lord, but could be matched up within a raptor squad.  The idea here is to get in to combat quickly and strike first (at high initiative) to rid yourself of an opposing character, or weak squad.  

Finally, the last alternative would be to simply run a "naked" chaos lord.  Given that they're so cheap, this is actually quite a viable option.  Such a naked lord would either be placed in a squad to confer their fearlessness to them, or hang back with a havoc squad (or otherwise) and man a quad gun on a defence line.  Given that they have BS=5, this is one of the cheapest ways in which to bring a good marksman to man a quad gun!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gift of Mutation in the New Chaos Space Marine Codex


Before continuing to review the HQ options in the New Chaos Space Marine codex, it is worthwhile pausing to examine the Gift of Mutation chaos reward.  This reward costs 10 points for many chaos lords and aspiring champions, but is the reward worth taking before deployment?

To figure this out, I'm going to go through the possible results for the Gift of Mutation results and try to attach a points value to them.  I'll then take a mean and see if that is worth more, or less, than the 10 points that it cost to purchase the upgrade. 

Firstly, I note that six of the results of the chaos boon table ends up with nothing.  We'll give that zero points.  Both spawnhood and dark apotheosis must be re-rolled, so we'll ignore them.  That gives a total of 32 possible outcomes, of which 6 result in nothing.

Let's go through the rest of the possible results. Unless otherwise stated, the points cost given has been sourced from 2 chaos codexes ago.  The points cost before the slash is what its worth to a multi-wound character, the points cost after is to a single wound (aspiring champion type) character. 

+1 attack is worth 10 / 5 points, in line with the old mark of Khorne (rather than daemonic mutation which costs more);

+1 strength is worth 10 / 5 points;

+1 weapon skill is tough to judge, but we'll simply call it 5 points and be done with it;

+1 ballistic skill is like WS, so again, we'll just call it 5 points;

+1 initiative is approximately the same as a mark of Slaanesh, so we'll give that 10 / 5 points;

+1 wound is worth 15 points;

+1 toughness is worth 10 points;

+1 armour save is worth 20 / 10 points ... I feel this might be slightly over-costed, but let's roll with it;

+1 strength on a ranged weapon is an oddity, so we'll give it 10 points, inline with the +1 melee
strength;

fleshbane is an interesting one, a bit like an enhanced poison attack, or daemon's noxious touch.  Let's give that 10 points;

adamantium will helps with deny the witch, but its not over powerful.  How about 5 points?;

shrouded gives a solid cover save (or cover save improvement) which we'll apply 15 / 10 points to;

eternal warrior is like the old daemonic rune ability which was worth 35 points.  I think that's over-costed now, so we'll lower it to 20 points;

witch-eater is an oddity that circumstantially punishes enemy psykers. Probably about 10 points;

re-roll failed armour saves is very good. We're certainly looking at 20 / 15 points I'd suggest;

poisoned attacks - we'll apply a level 5 points to;

crusader - longer run moves are not too great, so how about 5 points;

hammer of wrath - an additional attack at I=10 is good - we'll adopt the same points cost as +1A which gives 10 / 5 points;

icy aura is a low initiative strike effect that amounts to +1A, so again, 10 / 5 points;

hatred means re-rolling misses in round one of combat, 15 / 10 points I think;

shred re-rolls failed wounds, and is certainly worthy of 15 / 10 points as above;

instant death attacks are okay, so we'll give them 10 points;

stubborn is not so great on a character since they're almost exclusively fearless, but on a squad leader it might prove okay once in a while: 0 / 5 points;

fleet is not as great as it was in 5th edition, so we'll append 5 points to that;

feel no pain is good and we'll go for 15 / 10 points on that one.

The final option is multiple boons which results in an average of 2.5 more boons.  The average of all the above (including null results) is approx. 21 / 17 points.

What are the means of all the above?

Answer: 9 / 7 points.

It therefore seems that the gift of mutation boon is not quite worth taking.  Let's suppose I've been a bit mean with some low points costs though.  I'd need to find an extra approx.40 points for character abilities in the above reckoning.  So maybe I've undercosted poisoned attacks ... there's 5 poitns.  But then I'm struggling a little bit.  At best, gift of mutation appears to be a break-even proposition for independant characters.  But for regular squad leaders, I think we're going to forget about it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Fabius Bile

Much like Typhus, Fabius Bile's interesting quality comes not from himself, but from how he can affect other units in the game.  Specifically, he is able to "upgrade" one unit of regular chaos space marines for free to enhanced warriors that have +1S and Fearless.

Now, why is this good?  Well, one of the main problems with Chaos Space Marines is their lack of "And They Shall Know No Fear" (ATSKNF).  They do fear things.  And with a lower leadship value and lack of ATSKNF, there is a good probability that they will be routed off the board.  Fabius Biles ability circumvents this without having to run cult units as troops (e.g. plague marines are fearless, etc.).  If the troops we select are getting +1S, then we'd better tool them up for some close combat.  So we're probably looking at a Mark of Khorne, with close combat blades galore, give the aspiring champion a power blade and even the odd gift of mutation for fun.  Roll them up in a rhino, or perhaps even infiltrate them through a good warlord trait (or perhaps we've got Huron or Ahriman as a second HQ selection).  Give them an icon of wrath perhaps, flamers and meltas to taste and watch what happens.  Sure, there are other builds (Nurgle T=5 and S=5 marines are pretty scary), but they cost proportionally more.  Equally, they could be exactly what a Fabius Bile -centric army would be all about: a large blob of modestly costed hurt (e.g. 10 marines with Mark of Nurgle cost 170 points, which isn't too bas at all!).

As for Fabius Bile himself, once the upgrade has been put in place, he should probably be placed in a second squad of marine to give them all fearless and charged in to the heart of a battle (or perhaps even used as fearless objective holders).  In a fight, he's okay (he's not Kharn, you understand), but his feel no pain should keep him alive a little while longer than the average grunt and his ability to inflict instant death is nothing to sneeze at.  The Xyclos Needler is also not a bad ranged weapon (18" range with assault 3 and poison) that can have a place in a close combat squad and is useful for the odd snap shot that may be got off in case a unit is charged. 

In short, I think we're taking Fabius Bile as a utility choice for the upgrade to circumvent the lack of fearlessness in our regular troops.  He's okay, but not brilliant, and appropriately costed I think.
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