Hey everybody—my name is Justin Curtis, I’m frequently a judge at some of the major GTs in the US, and have been playing various Chaos armies at a highly competitive level for about ten years now. These days, I’m usually seen pushing some combination of Mortarion and/or Magnus into people’s faces. Most recently, I finished second in the NOVA Open and won the 2018 Thousand Sons ITC Faction award while bombing out just short of Top 8 at Vegas.
I kept promising to write an article about the new Chaos units, but wanted to test them first, rather than just writing a blind review of how we expect them to perform. But then we had the Big FAQ coming, which changed quite a bit. And then we had some surprise Slaanesh releases thrown into the mix. So, while we’re pretty far from Vigilus at this point, I feel like we’re just now getting a handle on how these things will actually play.
So I’ll be throwing out some oversimplified 0-10 ratings in each case, but keep in mind, I’m doing so from the perspective of the higher end of the competitive meta; there won’t be any 10’s in here (that would be something along the lines of the Castellan from last fall) and there will likely be more than a few 0’s (anything that has virtually zero hope of impacting the meta in any way). For units that were changed from previous iterations, I’ll also provide a rating of where I’d have put them before the changes. Anything higher than a 5 I’d expect to see in some competitive lists; anything below it, not so much.
I already put out Part 1 of this two part series last week, so this week I’m going to finish up by covering all the cool detachments and legions from Vigilus Ablaze!
Vigilus Ablaze Specialist Detachments
Bringers of Despair – 1.5
This formation brought me a lot of despair (haaaaahahaha) as I tried to figure out a way to get value out of it. Between the Warlord trait and Chosen Enforcers, it’s essentially a Build-Your-Own-Abaddon toolkit. The problem being, you’re spending 1 CP for the detachment, likely 1 CP to Field Commander into the Warlord trait (as there are so many valuable Chaos warlord traits now), and another CP every time you want to activate Chosen Enforcers. So you’re looking at a 2-3 CP minimum investment to replace Abaddon…who would have given you 2 CP. That’s a really heavy debt to work yourself out of; especially since the Warlord would have to also be in Terminator Armor, which lowers the point savings you’d hypothetically be getting instead of taking Abaddon. You end up trading 5+ CP and Abaddon’s insane combat threat level for 140ish points, which just isn’t ever going to be worth it.
Devastation Battery – 5.0
This detachment’s worth relies almost entirely on Havocs being playable, and as such, it’s getting the same rating. Shooting at the enemy on Turn 1 seemed like such a valuable option until the secondary realization hit, which was that people just won’t walk into range of the Chaincannon volley they can see coming from a mile away. You could make an argument that denying access to midfield on Turn 1 has value in itself, but I don’t see it having the level of value that pays off the investment—particularly considering Chaos isn’t Tau—we have plenty of other ways to make it dangerous to wander towards us on Turn 1. The all-in play of Dark Apostle/Alpha Legion Havocs that move on the opponent’s Turn 1 and then shoot at them while hitting on 2+ just hasn’t materialized as a realistic option yet.
Cult of the Damned – 0.5
Hey everybody! Remember Cultists? Sorry about those four nerfs. Have a really bad Specialist Detachment! You can get a weird Heavy Flamer for your Dark Apostle! We promise it’s great!
Daemonkin Ritualists – 3.5
The Daemonkin detachment is crucial to the much-hypothesized Possessed Bombs, but unfortunately those don’t strike me as competitively viable army concepts at this time. If you manage to slam an unwieldy Infantry bomb supported by a cavalcade of characters into something that costs more than 10 Guardsmen, I’ll applaud you, but it doesn’t seem like something you’ll be doing reliably.
Soulforged Pack – 7.0
The Soulforged Pack is the backbone of the Lord Discordant Hype Train, so it’s getting a similar score—I personally think you could hypothetically get by without the 2” movement aura if you went into Slaanesh Daemons for Advance and Charge aura (which is a more realistic option now, given their new units), but in a more general sense, you’ll almost always want a Soulforged Pack if you’re running Discordants.
Host Raptorial – 5.5
I really, really wanted the Host Raptorial to be better than it is—but until Raptors or Warp Talons get some upgrades or cost decreases, this is mostly just a delivery mechanic for Chainlords.
Fallen Angels – 0.5
What do you mean we almost let Imperial armies summon Daemons again?
Legion of Skulls – 1.0
This one was really disappointing; if all of the mechanics weren’t Bloodletter-keyword only, we might have seen some interesting options come out for Bloodthirsters (and maybe even other Khorne Daemons) from this. As-is, Bloodletters are already fine competitively, and they certainly don’t need a +2 inch charge stratagem.
Vigilus Ablaze Chaos Legions
Black Legion – 6.5
Black Legion got some really good new options in Vigilus; Tip of the Spear and Council of Traitors are very relevant, while World Killers could be surprise clutch for a huge CP swing in a tournament game. Then you’ve got Ghorisvex’s Teeth, the foundation of most Chainlord builds, or something like the Sightless Helm that could fit well on a Discordant. Abaddon’s minor upgrades are obviously a win for Black Legion as well, because it’s always hard to argue against a full reroll (especially now that it’s of the Cawl “not just misses” variety).
Red Corsairs – 7.5
Red Corsairs are joining the Lord Discordant on the podium here as the two things from the updates I think we’ll see the most of in high-end competitive lists going forward. The fact is, Chaos armies chew through Command Points, and don’t always have the best options for gaining them—unless you’re in Thousand Sons or Nurgle Daemons, we don’t exactly have the most appealing Troop choices to be throwing out. So in a very 7th Edition sort of way (“hey, will you guys take Tactical Marines if we give you a free Rhino?”) Games Workshop decided to bribe us into taking them, instead of actually improving the Troops themselves. On the bright side, it appears to have worked—8 CP Red Corsair Battalions are a perfectly functional way to gain enough points to fuel whatever else you’re up to.
Crimson Slaughter – 1.0
Red Power Armor guys who get you Command Points? Who said anything about Red Corsairs? How about we take that mechanic…and make it entirely unreliable! Wait no stop come back!
The Purge – 7.0
Coming to a Forge World Dreadnaught (sorry, Helbrute) near you! One of the best Stratagems and one of the best Traits combine to make Purge the far-and-away winner for backfield shooting options. There’s honestly not too much to elaborate on here; if anything, the only downside with The Purge is that Chaos long-range/backfield shooting options are pretty limited, but again, that’s what Butcher Cannons are for. It’s worth a quick note that Purge also got one of the better Renegade Relics, which is basically a throwable, one-use Bottle of Mortarion Smells.
The Scourged – 1.5
What if the Vexator Mask only had a 3” radius, and was tied to a Warlord Trait in a chapter nobody would want to take for any other reason? Nobody would play it? Sounds accurate.
Brazen Beasts – 2.5
Brazen Beasts wanted to be the Daemon Engine legion, but fall short on a number of fronts. Their Legion Trait doesn’t really work for an army that’s already likely low-volume, high-AP attacks; their Stratagem assumes anything will be left alive in the general vicinity of a Lord Discordant after it makes combat; and their Warlord trait has the same problem as every other “gain stats during the game for completing specific tasks” ability, which is that it’ll virtually never affect the game in a meaningful way. They also lock you into Khorne, which unfortunately provides no upside, compared to the Psychic Power support from the other gods.
Flawless Host – 6.5
Flawless Host, or Death to the False Everybody, are the Legion I’ve been playing the most—they’re an amazing pick for buffed up combat characters (say, for instance, Lord Discordants) with the Warlord trait catapulting a Discordant, Daemon Prince, or even kitted out Lord from “mini-Greater Daemon” territory to “Mortarion who?” You don’t necessarily want to go any deeper into them than absolutely necessary, as it’s hard to find value for the Stratagem and you only get one Ultimate Confidence guy, but I think they’re consistently going to be worth it for at least that.
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