Chaos Warrior Tactics

Taken with permission of Skavenblight

With the advent of the new Realm of Chaos army book some of the old chaos tactics are now obsolete. Mainly because the new book has divided Chaos into 3 separate and distinct armies:

Chaos Warrior Warbands, Beastman Warbands, and Daemon Warbands.

With the creation of the Warlord/Retinue rules for Chaos armies now, many of the old atrategies for designing chaos armies of dragon ogres, harpies and beastmen blocks are long gone. I'm going to assume you know how the Warlord/Retinue rules work and get to discussing the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of the various warbands.
Chaos Warrior Warband:

The Chaos Warrior Warband is the one that is made up of the Champions of Chaos and their human followers. Along with the old Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights, some new troops have been added to this warbandÉ ie the Marauders. Also included in this warband are Ogres and Chaos Hounds, as well as Chaos Warrior and Marauder Chariots. First I'll discuss the overall armies strengths and weaknesses and then talk about each unit.

Warrior Warband Strengths and Weaknesses:
These are basically the same as before, excellant HtH troops and characters. Warriors and Knights are the same statistically as before, yet now can take standards and musicians at no extra cost. This makes them somewhat more viable units. Their weakness is again the same as in the old rulesÉ mostly expensive troops, that have no missle fire capability. They must get into HtH or they'll get shot up and killed by magic.

Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights:
PROS: These guys are still awesome offensive units. Knights are one of the most powerful units on the charge. 2 S6 attacks and 1 S4 attack (from the steed) per model on the charge is very very nice. Not to mention that with a WS of 6, they will be hitting most troops (and many characters) on a 3+. The 1 + armor save if given chaos armor makes them immune to many forms of missle fire such as short bows, bows, long bows (except woodelf longbows), and dark elf repeater crossbows. Warriors don't get the bonuses a knight charging with a lance does, but still they have a decent variety of options including, additional hand weapons, halberds, double handed weapons, shields and can swap their heavy armor for chaos armor. This means they can be geared for max attacks (extra hand weapons) or max power (double handed weapons) or max save (chaos armor and shield).
CONS: Both Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights have the same basic drawbacks. They are very bloody expensive. At 80pts per knight with chaos armor, the minimum unit of 5 costs 400pts. Thanksfully standards and musicians are now free, but Knight units will always be expensive. Warrior units are cheaper because they are infantry, but they are the most expensive single wound infantry in the game. Chaos armor, while good protection makes their points jump above 30pts per model.
USES: Knight units are best used in units of about 5-8 (including any characters in the unit). Chaos armor while expensive is still generally a good idea unless you are really strapped for points. Of course you can always give them the poor man's chaos armor by giving knights without chaos armor the Standard of Shielding to give them a 1+ armor save. Warriors i find work best in units of 8,10, or even 12 in large games (including any characters in the unit). More than 2 ranks of them are generally not worth the cost as you pay 100+ points for a rank to only get +1 combat res when the likely won't ever see combat. 2 ranks is good so that a couple of warriors can die without reducing the front rank. One of my common units is 8 or 10 knights with chaos armor additional hand weapons and the Banner of Might. Gives you a unit with a front rank of either 12 or 15 models S4 attacks hitting most other troops on a 2+.

Marauders and Marauder Horsemen:
PROS: Compared to Warriors and Knights, these guys are pretty cheap (12 points for marauders, 31pts for marauder horsemen) and have decent options. For a base cost of 12 points for marauders you get WS4, S4, 2 attacks. That's pretty good. They also have the ability to take a Warrior or Knight leader to act as unit champion. It doesn't get a magic item, but can make/accept challenges and gives the unit a cheap leaderhsip 9.
CONS: They are only T3 and have a leadership of 7. This means that while they are very good offensively, they are pretty easy to kill... especially against mass missle fire. Marauders can have at best a 5+ armor save, Marauder Horsemen at best a 4+ armor save.
USES: Marauder foot troops are best formed into large units armed only with flails. This gives them 2 S6 attacks in the first round of every combat. Even if charged. Units of 16-20 (or 24 models in larger games) are good sizes. Because they have T3 they are very weak against missle fire and at best can have a 5+ armor save. That's why i don't feel the points (3 pts per model) is really worth the 5+ armor save. I'd rather use the points on more models or use the points for a magic banner. The Ruby Chalice on a character in the unit is a good way of protecting against missle fire as well. The Helm of Many eyes is also a good way of keeping them alive if charged. You can also add the Crown of Command to the unit and the Dread banner (causes fear). It's nice to autobreak enemies because you won combat and cause fear. I had a unit of beastman autobreak a SMP because they had the Dread Banner... the beastman ran the SMP off the baord :)Marauder Horsemen are also a good buy, at 32 points per model (if you give them flails) they have almost as good combat potential as chaos knights (2 S6 attacks the first round of combat only a lower WS). I believe they are best used only with flails, even though this gives them only a 5+ armor save, this makes them fast cavalry and an excellent flanking unit.

Chaos Chariots, Ogres, and Chaos Hounds:
PROS: Chariots are excellant unit killers/breakers. Fast and hard hitting. Chaos Warrior Chariots are tougher, with tougher steeds and crew. Marauder Chariots aren't as tough but 40pts cheaper and a little faster (8 movement, instead of 7 for warrior chariots). Ogres are big and tough and can hold up very well and are reasonably fast with a movement of 6. And they are very hard to take down with missle fire. Chaos Hounds are also fairly fast (agian movement 6) and have decent stats of WS5, S4, T4 ad 2 attacks. And for only 12points.
CONS: Chariots as always, are somewhat fragile to being shot up. A single dead steed can make it hard for the chariot to get a charge in (and chariots must charge to be effective). Ogres are big tough, cause fear but have only average leadership. Personally i don't like counting on average leadership. Plus with only a WS of 3, the sometimes have trouble hitting tough things and elites so that their good strength can be most useful. Hounds are also lacking in the leaderhsip department. With only a 6, it's not a good idea for these things to take any leadership tests.
USES: Both Marauder and Warrior chariots have their uses. The extra durability of the chaos steeds that pull Warrior chariots can make them more effective against missle heavy armies, although since the chaos steeds have barding the chariot moves only 7 inches instead of 8 like the marauder one. But unless you worry about them getting shot up, a marauder chariot will still be effective for you. And always give a chariot scythes. Ogres to me are an "if you like them" unit. Their effectivness is debatable, but can still be fun to use and are nice models. Used in units of 3 are best... because of their base size, only 3 are likely to get into bsb contact when in HtH. Chaos Hounds seem to be most useful to hunt down missle units and war machines. Their leadership is a liability and the warrior "handler" isn't worth the points for the extra leadership because he slows the unit down. A unit of 16 (4 ranks of 4) is only 192 points though and i big enough to take some casualties without (hopefully) taking a panic test. Otherwise keep your general nearby.

Chaos Warrior Characters:
PROS: Now that Warrior Warbands can be led by any character (be it champion, hero, lord or sorcerer), Chaos armies are now more viable in smaller games. Chaos Lords are also 50pts cheaper than in the old rules. It's also nice that you buy your marks when you choose your god (or you can have unaligned characters). And Chaos Armor is now an equipment option so having it doesn't take up a magic item slot. It's also nice that if you choose to not have a sorcerer folow one of the chaos gods, they get Chaos Armor for free. All warrior characters are excellant in HtH, sorcerers are as good or better in HtH than many army's generals are.
CONS: They are still pretty expensive, some more than others... a Khorne Champion is 106pts, while a Tzeentch one is 71pts because their Marks cost different. Another annoyance is that they can only have either an extra hand weapon or double handed weapon or halberd or flail or spear or lance. They can't have, for example an additional hand weapon and a flail.
USES: Get them into HtH. You pay a lot of points for their awesome HtH capabilities so make their they get there. Personally i also feel Sorcerers should see some HtH or at least be slightly equipped for it. They also pay a lot of points for good HtH stats. Since my armies are all followers of tzeetch, my army is ususally led by a Tzeentch Master Sorcerer. Sorcerer Lords are powerful but for less points you can get a Master Sorcerer and a Sorcerer (level 1). And it's always a good idea to have more than one mage in your army.

Monsters and Monsterous Units
PROS: The advantage of paying for your monsters out of allies points is that you can get a monster mount for a character without having to match it's points in your characters retinue.
CONS: It's also a little annoying that you have only 25% of your points to spend on monsters AND monsterous units like harpies, chaos trolls, and dragon ogres (which all used to be normal units) AND on beastman allies. It also kinda sucks that Warrior Warbands can only have one unit of harpies, but it's probably best for game balance as IMO harpies are too cheap for what you get if they are allowed unlimited units in a warrior army.
USES: Harpies are always a good choice tie up enemy war machines. Chaos Trolls and Dragon Ogres are those "fun troops" i like to use sometimes. DO's are as tough as they were before and Chaos Trolls have an extra attack and higher leaderhip over standard trolls. Too bad chaos armies can no longer have stone or river trolls though.

Allies are generally banned in most gaming groups and for good reason. They can severely unbalance the game. But most it seems are allowing Chaos warbands to take allies from the other chaos warbands as they are not allies in the normal sense. It also allows those players who had 4th edition armies to use beastmen with their warrior warband. Which is nice, especially if you painted them like i did.

Overall Tactics:
Whenever you design your warband, have a specific task in mind when you form your units. Have them set up for that task and try to keep them in that task. Remember than all your units are designed to be great in HtH... getting them into combat before they are shot to pieces is one of the main challenges of playing a Chaos Warrior Warband. That's why units like harpies, fast marauder horsemen, etc are important to attack enemy war machines quickly.


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