Warhammer Armies: Black Legion Tactics

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Welcome to Warhammer Armies! Today, we’re going to be breaking down everything you could want to know about the Black Legion. This article is a supplement to the Chaos Space Marine Warhammer Armies article, intended to help you play Black Legion specifically alongside the information contained in Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines. We’re going to go over everything specific to Black Legion, any specific units you might want to consider, a general breakdown of how Black Legion adjusts the general Chaos Space Marine gameplan, and close out with a sample 2000 point army list. With this information at hand, you should feel very comfortable using the Black Legion at all your local events, both casually and competitively, and even be capable of performing well at a large scale event.

BLACK LEGION SPECIFICS ANALYSIS

Kicking us off, we have the unique trait for Black Legion (hereafter BL), “Black Crusaders”. This trait says that all BL units receive +1 leadership and treat their Rapid Fire weapons as Assault Weapons until the end of the phase. This trait simply passively improves the performance of most BL Infantry units, while not actively steering them in a specific direction. This leaves a prospective BL player to construct a list to his liking, as BL aren’t specifically tied to any one kind of gameplan or God.

Next up we have the BL unique stratagem, “Let The Galaxy Burn”, which allows any BL Infantry or Biker unit to re-roll hit rolls of 1 in any shooting or fight phase. In addition, if used on a unit of Chaos Space Marines, they instead re-roll all missed hits. “Let The Galaxy Burn” adds on to the already increased use of most BL Infantry, as it allows them to function independently from a Chaos Lord or Demon Prince.

It should be noted that although the stratagem is empowered when used on your standard unit of Chaos Space Marines, we still don’t recommend taking them. Instead, “Let The Galaxy Burn” should be used for utility, as it allows you to send in a unit unsupported, and have them function like a supported unit would.  This way you can move your support pieces elsewhere, allowing you to cover more board space, or simply make up for the fact that one of your support pieces was eliminated during a game.

Moving right along, we have the BL warlord trait, “First Amongst Traitors”, which allows your warlord to broadcast a buff that makes Death ToThe False Emperor activate on a 5+, instead of a 6+. This is a very powerful warlord trait, especially when paired with prescience. Warlord Traits are chosen on a game by game basis, which means that you can choose to take “First Amongst Traitors” against IMPERIUM players, and simply opt for a generic recommend warlord trait when fighting anybody else.

To close us out, we have the BL Relic, “The Eye of Night”. The Eye allows a BL model to target an enemy Vehicle unit, and roll a d6. On a 2+, that unit takes D3 mortal wounds. The Eye can’t be used if the bearer shoots any other weapons, and it may only be used once per game. Overall, The Eye is a rather lackluster relic, as it competes with powerhouses like the Intoxicating Elixir or the Talisman of Burning Blood. A once per game set of D3 mortal wounds is simply too narrow to be worth taking, so we generally do not recommend this relic.

Overall, BL have a variety of ways to improve the performance of their Infantry, especially against any IMPERIUM player. Effective BL lists will tend towards being infantry heavy to take advantage of this, but you shouldn’t feel discouraged from taking Vehicles as well, as Chaos Space Marines have access to a few very helpful vehicle traits.

BLACK LEGION RECOMMEND UNIT ANALYSIS

BL can generally work with any units, so as a baseline we recommend all units covered in the Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines article. However, there is a single unit that should be added to the list of recommended units for any Chaos Space Marine player that plays BL: Abaddon The Despoiler.

Abaddon clocks in at a hefty 240 points, but he’s worth his weight in gold.  He’s the strongest support piece available to CSM, and he also provides extra CP and a terrifying amount of close combat potential. Let’s just go through what he’s capable of, one step at a time since there’s a lot to talk about.

Offensively, Abaddon makes 6 attacks with the Talon of Horus, which is a powerfist with no penalty to hit. He also makes a bonus D6 attacks with Drachnyen, which is a Strength +1 AP-3 D3 attacks. This makes him an absolute terror in melee, as he has the attacks to chew through cheap units that are trying to tie him up, and he hits hard enough to threaten more durable targets like Vehicles and Monsters. Defensively, he has 7 wounds, he has a 2+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save, and he takes half damage (rounded up) from all sources. This makes Abaddon extremely difficult to remove compared to other characters, as he can take a few hits and keep on fighting.

Where he truly shines though is in his incredible utility and flexibility. Abaddon allows nearby BL units within 6” to re-roll ALL missed this, not 1’s, any time. In addition, he broadcasts a massive 12” aura that allows all Heretic Astartes (not just BL) to automatically pass Morale Tests. As if that wasn’t enough, if Abaddon is your warlord, he provides you with an extra 2 Command Points. CSM are a highly CP reliant faction, so any bonus CP is automatically highly valuable. As icing on the cake, Abaddon actually has all 4 God keywords, which means he’s eligible for almost every buff and ability in the game. Of particular note is the Grandfather’s Blessings stratagem. Normally, we don’t recommend this stratagem as its 2 CP to only recover D3 wounds. However, because Abaddon takes half damage, this means that the value of any recovered health is significantly higher than normal.

His only real shortcomings are that he has a 6” move, and his warlord trait is locked as First Amongst Traitors. Although he can Teleport Strike to get up close and personal, once he’s on the ground it’s very hard to get him anywhere far from his current position. And although First Amongst Traitors is blank some games, he should always be your warlord, as 2 bonus command points are simply far more valuable than any warlord trait you could take on another unit. Despite these limitations, Abaddon’s strengths far outweigh his weaknesses, and he should be viewed as a borderline auto-include for any BL player.

BLACK LEGION TACTICS/SAMPLE ARMY

BL have above average Infantry thanks to their improved morale, ability to advance without completely sacrificing damage output, and for the fact that any Infantry or Biker unit can effectively provide their own Chaos Lord buff to themselves in a pinch. Effective BL lists will attempt to leverage this flexibility and quality wherever possible. Let’s look at a sample 2000 point BL list, and then we’ll break down the unique BL tactics at play and how to pilot the list in general.

BL Battalion

HQ’s-303
Demon Prince with Wings, Warp Bolter, Talons, Intoxicating Elixir, Delightful Agonies 183
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Sword, Prescience, Warptime, Mark of Tzeentch 120

Troops-120
10 Cultists 40
10 Cultists 40
10 Cultists 40
303+120=423

BL Battalion

HQ’s- 315
Abaddon The Despoiler, Warlord 240
Chaos Lord Powerfist, Chainsword, Mark of Khorne 86

Troops- 240
40 Cultists with Autoguns, Mark of Slaanesh 160
10 Cultists
10 Cultists

Elites-518
6 Chaos Terminators, all with Power Axes/Combi-Plasmas 306
5 Khorne Berzerkers , 4 with Chainaxe/Chainsword, Champion has Powerfist/Chainsword 106
5 Khorne Berzerkers, 4 with Chainaxe/Chainsword, Champion has Powerfist/Chainsword 106

Heavy Support-420
5 Havocs with 2 Missiles, Lascannon, Mark of Slaanesh 140
5 Havocs with 2 Missiles, Lascannon, Mark of Slaanesh 140
5 Havocs with 2 Missiles, Lascannon, Mark of Slaanesh 140

Dedicated Transport- 72
Rhino with Combi Bolter 72

326+240+518+420+72=1576
1576+423=1999 Total

Our list comes in right at 1999, just under our 2000 point budget. It’s a rather aggressive infantry based army that aims to apply high amounts of pressure on our opponent. Abaddon and the Terminators start off in orbit ready to come in on turn 2 and apply a heavy amount of firepower. Meanwhile, our cultists and Rhino with both units of Berzerkers move up the board alongside our Demon Prince for a concentrated melee threat.

In the backfield we have our 3 units of Havocs for fire support. We can keep two units of Havocs near our spare Chaos Lord whose main job is to make them more accurate, and to defend them. Our remaining unit of Havocs can run off on their own, and use Let The Galaxy Burn on a turn where they need their shots to count.

Our cultists are our main priority for psychic powers on turn one. On smaller deployments, you can get away with just moving them and them warptiming them to get into rapid fire range. On deployments with a lot of space between you and your opponent, you’ll probably have to advance them twice to get there, but it’s better to have diminished damage than no damage at all. Prescience and Veterans Of The Long War will help boost their damage to respectable levels, especially if you didn’t advance them. You can then use Endless Cacophony and double down on all of your various buffs. Defensively, Delightful Agonies helps shore up the very poor defenses on Cultists.

From turn 2 and beyond, everything should be in position, and our terminators and Abaddon should be on the table. At this point you should be dialing the pressure up to 11 by moving your buffs and CP investments to your Terminators and Berzerkers, and be going for as much raw damage as possible. At this point it’s unlikely your Havocs will be targeted for at least a few turns as your opponent will have more pressing issues to concern himself with.   Meanwhile, we have 5 more units of cultists (equipped as you please) to roam around the table grabbing objectives and screening for our Havocs.

This list doesn’t bring any vehicles other than a Rhino to leave anti-tank weapons without good targets.  It is possible to bring Vehicles in a BL list of course, and it can be very rewarding. However, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of only bringing one or two, as that just gives your opponent easy targets for their anti-tank weaponry. It’s better to either saturate the board with lots of Predators and Maulerfiends, possibly with a couple Heldrakes if you really want to go all in, or leave the vehicles at home. Our single Rhino should be able to hide behind terrain from at least a good portion of the enemy anti-tank, and even if it dies as long as it goes up the board first turn, it has done its job.

Overall this list aims to play to the strengths of BL which is their improved infantry and relatively low reliance on characters. In addition, it tries to take advantage of the many benefits that Abaddon The Despoiler brings to any BL player by providing lots of uses for CP, lots of cultists to take advantage of his auto-pass morale bubble, and of course his downright destructive melee capability. BL are a relatively free-form Legion, but as long as the player tries to leverage these advantages and tactics, they will find success in their games of 40K.

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