Welcome to the Warhammer Armies! Today, we’re going to be breaking down everything you could want to know about playing Emperor’s Children at a local competition. This article is a supplement to the Chaos Space Marine Warhammer Armies article, intended to help you play Emperor’s Children specifically alongside the information contained in Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines. We’re going to go over everything specific to Emperor’s Children, any specific units you might want to consider, a general breakdown of how Emperor’s Children adjusts the general Chaos Space Marine gameplan, and close out with a sample 2000 point list for Emperor’s Children. With this information at hand, you should feel very comfortable using Emperor’s Children at all your local events, both casually and competitively, and even be capable of performing well at a large scale event.
EMPEROR’S CHILDREN SPECIFICS ANALYSIS
Before we dig into the benefits of playing Emperor’s Children (hereafter EC ), we need to cover a unique restriction that they have. EC have to take the SLAANESH keyword for their MARK, and this limits them on certain fronts. The most important effect that this restriction has is that it prevents you from taking Berzerkers, which is painful. This shapes their entire playstyle to a more ranged style army than most Chaos Space Marine lists, as the loss of Berzerkers and the general utility the KHORNE keyword provides from Fury of Khorne and the Icon of Wrath makes melee less effective for them.
To start, we have their trait, “Flawless Perfection”, which causes any EC unit with the trait to always fight first in the Fight Phase. This isn’t a horrible trait, but it is less than stellar. For starters, if you are getting charged, your opponent will go first anyways, as it is their turn. If you are charging your opponent, than you would be going first without the trait, which also invalidates it. Where Flawless Perfection does become useful is if your opponent initiates multiple charges at once, or if there is a combat that lasts multiple rounds.
If your opponent charges with multiple units, you can get some mileage out of this trait as you won’t have to spend CP to interrupt most of the time, and that can help mitigate close combats. Where this trait really starts to be impactful, however, is if a fight goes for multiple rounds. If your opponent chooses to stay engaged with you on his turn, you get to swing and attack first, and that can shift a combat in your favor.
Next, we have their unique stratagem, “Excess of Violence”. Excess of Violence allows you to make a sort of diminished round of attacks for a unit after their first set of attacks is finished. For each model that the attacking unit kills, you get to make one more attack. It should be noted that it is weapon locked as well. This means that if you have a unit of 10 guys kill a bunch of dudes, you can’t have the Champion’s Power Fist make a ton of attacks! Instead, you would get one basic attack for one kill from every basic model, and one Power Fist attack for every model killed with your Champion’s Power Fist. All in all, this isn’t a bad stratagem, but it’s primarily useful for just slaughtering hordes. The more models you can kill with your initial salvo attacks, the more effective Excess of Violence is.
Moving right along, we have their unique Warlord Trait, “Stimulated By Pain”. Fueled is kind of a fun Warlord Trait, as it gives your Warlord +1 attack for every Wound that he’s currently missing, to a maximum of +3 attacks. The main issue with this Warlord Trait is that it’s only live once you’ve taken damage, and once your Demon Prince starts taking damage, he’s usually not long for this world. However, the prospect of getting up to 11 attacks with a Demon Prince with Talons is hilarious, and it can make a Sword a decent weapon choice too. Not the most competitive, but it’s definitely entertaining.
To close us out, we have the Emperor’s Children unique relic, “Blissgiver”. Blissgiver is an upgraded Bolt Pistol, shooting a 6” Range, Assault D6, Strength User, Ap-1, Damage 1 weapon. Even though it’s an Assault weapon, you can still shoot into close combat with it, and if you wound a character with it but don’t kill them, you get to roll a D6. On a 6, you cause D3 Mortal Wounds to the character. Much like their Warlord Trait, Blissgiver is a really fun relic but it’s not very competitive. Most of the time, this Relic just gives you a few AP-1 Bolt Pistol shots at a very close range, which isn’t impressive. If you can land shots on a Character and cause some damage, you can try for a Hail Mary to get a free D3 Mortals on that character. Given that this relic competes either with the Intoxicating Elixir as your free Relic, or the value of 1 CP as a secondary Relic, it’s generally not worth taking.
Overall, the EC are a rather unusual Legion, as everything about them steers them towards being a close combat Legion, but without access to the KHORNE keyword or Berzerkers, they lack many efficient ways to capitalize on these abilities. In execution, EC tend to be a more gunline based army than other Legions, but their various perks enable them to have teeth if your opponent closes the gap as well.
EMPEROR CHILDREN RECOMMENDED UNIT ANALYSIS
We don’t generally recommend any units for EC, outside of the units on the generally recommended list. However, there are two units that shine particularly well in EC, so they’ll be covered here. We’re talking about Noise Marines and Chaos Terminators.
Noise Marines are already a great well rounded unit, able to engage most units in the game with at least a modicum of success. In EC, Noise Marines receive a few useful improvements. First, EC Noise Marines are considered Troops, per the Chaos Space Marine FAQ. Noise Marines as troops is one of the best selling points for EC, as Noise Marines are well positioned to take advantage of the EC Trait and Stratagem. Baseline, they’re still excellent at midrange firefights, and their 2 attacks in close combat mean that they aren’t shabby in melee either. With the ability to consistently fight first over extended combats, this makes melee a somewhat dangerous proposition for your opponent, as Noises can plausibly beat many INFANTRY units in close combat. Against hordes, Excess of Violence pushes their damage potential through the roof, allowing you to improve their already respectable melee up another peg.
Chaos Terminators are in a somewhat similar position, except the models are more expensive and they benefit from the EC Trait and Stratagem even more. Chaos Terminators are a great CP dump, as they can unleash a blistering salvo of Plasma with +1 to wound, and then do it again thanks to Endless Cacophony. In melee, Terminators have Power Weapons, either Swords or Axes, which means they’re no slouches in close combat. The EC trait really punishes your opponent if they don’t respect your damage in future combats, and Excess of Violence can easily almost double the raw number of attacks that your Terminators make, as long as they’re fighting single wound INFANTRY. Although not a required unit, they can be very effective.
EMPEROR’S CHILDREN SAMPLE LIST/TACTICS
Because of their unusual structure, EC players will need a good mixture of Noise Marines, support elements, and a couple of serious hammer units. Let’s look at a sample 2000 point list, and how to play it.
Demon Prince with Wings, Warp Bolter, Talons, Intoxicating Elixir, Delightful Agonies, Warlord-183
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Axe, Mark of Slaanesh, Prescience, Warptime-122
16 Noise Marines, 13 have Sonic Blasters, 2 have Blast Masters, Champion has Sonic Blaster/Chainsword, Icon of Excess-346
15 Noise Marines, 12 have Sonic Blasters, 2 have Blast Masters, Champion has Sonic Blaster/Chainsword-317
Chaos Lord with Bolter, Power Axe-79
Sorcerer on Bike, Bolt Pistol, Force Sword, Death Hex, Diabolic Strength-140
Maulerfiend with Lasher Tendrils-152
Maulerfiend with Lasher Tendrils-152
Maulerfiend with Lasher Tendrils-152
Our list clocks in a little shy of our 2000 point mark at 1998, but that’s okay. The core of the army comes from the two large units of Noise Marines. Normally, we would cap our unit sizes at only 10, as larger units are prone to morale losses. However, these large units interact powerfully with the various buffs and Stratagems available to Chaos Space Marines, which in turn helps cover for our diminished threat options. In addition, we can mitigate morale issues with Insane Bravery. Normally, Insane Bravery is a very CP intensive strat that can eat into our CP reserves.
However, this list actually has some CP to burn. We don’t have access to Fury of Khorne, easily the most CP intensive stratagem available to CSM. In addition, we have all of our main powers covered, including Death Hex, so we don’t have to worry about swapping powers. We also can’t use The Great Sorcerer for extra powers, and we also don’t have a relic worth considering for 1CP. This combines to make us have far more breathing room to spend our CP than many other CSM lists, so we can more easily afford to use our CP. Taking giant Noise Marine units is a good way to create an extra payoff to reflect this.
Although Noise Marines can handle Vehicles or Monsters in a pinch, it’s not where they shine. To help cover that, we have 3 Maulerfiends and a squad of Obliterators in reserves. Maulerfiends demand attention, as we have so much anti-infantry firepower it’s not realistic for most players to properly screen them out. By taking three, we all but guarantee that we will get at least one Maulerfiend onto a priority target. Give it Diabolic Strength and Daemonforge, and you’ll easily destroy almost any Vehicle or Monster in the game, Lords of War aside. Our Obliterators provide us with a nice level of spot removal to come in on turn 2-3 to pick off an additional enemy unit.
Gameplay wise, you’re primarily a midrange gunline. You can throw most of your Psychic Powers onto a Maulerfiend turn one and fly him up the board to apply a little early game pressure while your Noise Marines get in position. Don’t be afraid to Advance them, as they can still shoot with all of their weapons even while Advancing. After turn one, you’re really mostly looking to beat your opponent by hitting him where he can’t fight you. In other words, against more melee based armies, just keep shooting and keeping distance, and against gunlines, close the gap with your Noise Marines. They’re surprisingly effective in all positions. Just be careful against any Toughness 8 (or higher) targets, or anything in a 2+ save. Either of those will tank your damage from your Noises, and you should instead throw a Maulerfiend or your Obliterators on those targets at all costs.
In terms of CP useage, you should be aiming to get at least three meaningful turns of Prescience+Veterans of The Long War+ Endless Cacophony. Sometimes, you’ll only be able to get two salvos, but three is your target goal. You don’t have nearly as many outlets, so spending CP shouldn’t be as difficult a decision for you as most other Legions. Your Character use is also fairly straightforward. Your Bike Sorcerer can easily get anywhere he needs to be to provide Diabolical Strength while also usually Smiting your opponent, or occasionally providing a critical Death Hex. Your Jump Sorcerer falls under a similar role, as he can quickly move to get where he needs to be to utilize his Warptime and Prescience. Meanwhile, your Demon Prince applies some extra melee pressure and Psychic Support, a fairly standard affair for Slaanesh Demon Princes. Your Chaos Lord on foot escorts your Noise Marines, ensuring they always have a Re-roll 1’s to hit buff while also providing a little extra protection with his Force Axe, and if necessity dictates a quick Daemonshell from his BS 2+ Boltgun.
That wraps up the list! EC are a fairly straight forward Legion, sacrificing some of the devastating close combat Chaos Space Marines are known for to receive a decent hike in their ranged capability, especially when fighting lots of Infantry. As long as you leverage your firepower properly while finding ways to keep the pressure on, you should find plenty of success on the table with EC.