Welcome to the Warhammer Armies! Today, we’re going to be breaking down everything you could want to know about playing Alpha Legion at a local competition. This article is a supplement to the Chaos Space Marine Warhammer Armies article, intended to help you play Alpha Legion specifically alongside the information contained in Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines. We’re going to go over everything specific to Alpha Legion, any specific units you might want to consider, a general breakdown of how Alpha Legion adjusts the general Chaos Space Marine gameplan, and close out with a sample 2000 point list for Alpha Legion. With this information at hand, you should feel very comfortable using Alpha Legion at all your local events, both casually and competitively, and even be capable of performing well at a large scale event.
ALPHA LEGION SPECIFICS ANALYSIS
To start us off, we have the Alpha Legion (here after AL) trait, “Hidden In Plain Sight”, which causes your opponent to subtract 1 from their hit rolls as long as they are more than 12” away. Hidden In Plain Sight provides you with a large degree of damage reduction against shooting. This makes your fire support significantly more durable, while also protecting your melee units while they close in if (when) their transports are destroyed.
Next, we have the AL unique Stratagem, “Forward Operatives”, which allows you to move an AL INFANTRY unit 9” when they are set up during deployment only. Despite the recent nerf received to Forward Operatives, it’s still a very powerful stratagem. When constructing an AL list, you should have 2 or so units to take advantage of the Forward Operatives stratagem.
The additional 9” movement before the game begins allows you to claim the center of the table for some strong early game board control. When your opponent goes to try to remove you from this position, they will have to deal with your static -1 to hit, which puts you in a favored position. This makes units like Noise Marines, Obliterators, and large units of Cultists great choices to use Forward Operatives with.
Moving right along, we have the AL warlord trait, “I Am Alpharius”. This is one of the most unusually Warlord Traits in the game, as it allows your Warlord to take a second Warlord Trait in addition to I Am Alpharius. This second Warlord Trait is randomly generated however, which is unfortunate. If your Warlord is slain, I Am Alpharius activates and causes a CHARACTER (your choice) in your army to become your Warlord. When they do so, they gain a second Warlord Trait randomly, in addition to I Am Alpharius.
In addition, as long as you have a CHARACTER alive with I Am Alpharius, your opponent can’t claim any Victory Points for slaying the enemy Warlord. This makes I Am Alpharius impose a minor Victory Point penalty on your opponent. Most missions will reward a single Victory Point for slaying the enemy Warlord, and denying this point can be significant, so don’t discount this Warlord Trait.
Finally, we have the AL unique Relic, “Blade of The Hydra”, which is an empowered chainsword. With a profile of Strength +1, AP-2, Damage 2, and a bonus D3 attacks, the Blade of the Hydra is a fantastic melee weapon. It’s a great option to spend 1 CP on as a secondary relic in games where you think you’ll need a little more melee punch.
All in all, AL steers Chaos Space Marines towards a more INFANTRY gunline based approach than many of the other Legions. You still have all the regular melee tools that Chaos Space Marines have, but your ranged aspects perform significantly above most of the other Legions, which in turn moves you towards striking a balance between melee and ranged components.
ALPHA LEGION RECOMMENDED UNIT ANALYSIS
For the most part, we only recommend the units that are generally recommended, since AL simply improves your defenses and mobility. However, there is a single unit that we recommend specifically for AL: The Helbrute.
Helbrutes are actually decent models from an offensive perspective, thanks to Fire Frenzy. However, they suffer from durability and mobility issues. Although they still suffer from mobility issues, the AL trait reduces the damage that your Helbrute receives, making it an acceptable choice.
A single Helbrute equipped with a Plasma Cannon and Missile Launcher only clocks in at 127 points, and it provides decent fire support through the Fire Frenzy stratagem. Taking additional Helbrutes isn’t recommended, as Helbrutes aren’t that impressive without Fire Frenzy. In addition, proper list construction will make your Helbrute an unlikely focus, so you should be able to get multiple Fire Frenzies out of your one Helbrute.
ALPHA LEGION SAMPLE LIST/TACTICS
AL are a very flexible Legion, capable of using a brutal mix of durable ranged firepower and the devastating melee damage output that we all love and expect from Chaos Space Marines. Let’s take a look at a sample 2000 point list and how to play it.
Chaos Lord, Bolter, Bolt Pistol-74
Demon Prince, Wings, Talons, Warp Bolter, Mark of Slaanesh, Delightful Agonies, Delightful Agonies, Warlord-183
Helbrutes with Missile Launcher, Plasma Cannon-127
10 Noise Marines, 7 Sonic Blasters, 2 Blast Masters, Champion has Sonic Blaster/Chainsword -222
9 Khorne Berzerkers, 7 have Chainsword/Chainaxe, one has Chainsword/Pistol, Champ has Chainsword/Power Fist-163
3 Obliterators, Mark of Nurgle 195
Maulerfiend, Lasher Tendrils, Mark of Slaanesh 152
Maulerfiend, Lasher Tendrils, Mark of Nurgle 152
Heldrake with Hades Autocannon 180
Rhino with Combi Bolter 72
Chaos Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Tzeentch, Prescience, Warptime-120
Chaos Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Nurgle, Diabolical Strength, Miasma of Pestilence-120
Our list clocks in right at 2000 points. We had to give one Berzerker a Bolt Pistol and our Heldrake a Hades Autocannon to make the list fit, but it’s well worth it.
In terms of deployment, we have two targets for Forward Operatives: our Noise Marines and our Obliterators. Both of these units have only a 24” range, meaning they want to be in the middle of the table so they can rapidly reach and gun down the opposition. On longer deployments, or against heavily castling opponents, you can just deep strike the Obliterators like normal.
Both of these units are also well positioned to take advantage of the Alpha Legion trait. On the first turn, your Maulerfiends should receive your defensive psychic powers while your fire support leans on the free -1 that they have. Once the Maulerfiends are dug in, you can shift your defensive powers onto your Noise Marines and Obliterators. Noise Marines with a -1 to hit and a 5+ to resist damage are hard to shift without dedicated effort. The same is true for Obliterators with Miasma, as a -2 to hit will negate a huge amount of damage that they would otherwise suffer.
Offensively, we’re packing a plethora of threats. In terms of melee, we of course have two Maulerfiends and some Berzerkers to bring the threat to our opponent. Diabolical Strength+ Daemonforge will turn a Maulerfiend into a one man (robot?) wrecking crew, and Berzerkers are extremely lethal to the enemy INFANTRY. While your opponent deals with this, your ranged components can pluck your opponent apart piece meal. Noise Marines are excellent at clearing infantry and can even threaten vehicles with Veterans+ Endless Cacophony. Our Obliterators bring in some extra heavy lifting at a distance. Although we have recommended Nurgle Obliterators for the extra -1 to hit from Miasma, Slaanesh Obliterators are a completely valid choice as well.
Character wise, your Demon Prince and Sorcerers fly around providing buffs for your army as needed. Your regular Chaos Lord on foot provides a cheap access to Re-Roll ones for your fire support while the rest of your army presses forward. If you feel it’s necessary, you can spend 1CP and give him the Blade of the Hydra to help defend your ranged elements. If your opponent deploys near the front lines, consider leaving a unit alive near the front. You can Warptime a Maulerfiend 20”, and make a fairly easy charge, wipe or heavily damage the unit, and use your Pile In/Consolidates to get closer to the enemy army, possibly tying up extra units and amping up your early game pressure.
Most of your tricks come from your many layers of defense between your Psychic Powers and static -1 to hit. However, there are a couple of little things you can use to improve your gameplay. For starters, your Chaos Lord on foot can actually get placed in the Rhino with your Berzerkers. This lowers your drop count by one, helping you get that +1 to go first. You can also disembark him from the Rhino turn one, taking advantage of the 3” disembark range to effectively add 3” to his movement turn one. Once he’s out, the Rhino can fly up along with their Berzerkers. If the Rhino survives escorting it’s cargo, use it to tie up enemy units or take objectives.
In addition, your Cultists provide lots of Objective control, as you should be able to easily control your backfield and the middle of the table. Proper placement of your units will render any enemy Reinforcements largely useless, as they will either have to drop in badly out of position of your main threats or settle with dropping into their own deployment zone.
As a word of caution, mind your CP. 13 is usually plenty to run off for at least a few turns, but it’s extraordinarily easy for you to spend 7-10 CP in a single turn without trying to waste them. When you consider that you will only have 10-11 once the game begins, thanks to Forward Operatives and possibly a single bonus relic, you can plausibly spend all your CP in a single turn if you aren’t careful. This is a concern for all CSM players, but it’s even more magnified for AL.
Well, that wraps us up for today! AL can afford to really amp up their damage thanks to their above average deployment and durability. As long as you leverage these benefits properly, you’ll find lots of success on the tabletop.