Welcome to the Warhammer Armies! Today, we’re going to be breaking down everything you could want to know about playing Word Bearers at a local competition. This article is a supplement to the Chaos Space Marine Warhammer Armies article, intended to help you play Word Bearers specifically alongside the information contained in Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines. We’re going to go over everything specific to Word Bearers, any specific units you might want to consider, a general breakdown of how Word Bearers adjusts the general Chaos Space Marine gameplan, and close out with a sample 2000 point list for Word Bearers. With this information at hand, you should feel very comfortable using Word Bearers at all your local events, both casually and competitively, and even be capable of performing well at a large scale event.
WORD BEARERS SPECIFICS ANALYSIS
First, we have the Word Bearer’s trait “Profane Zeal”, which allows Word Bearer’s (here after WB) models to re-roll failed Morale Tests.
This trait slightly improves the quality of your infantry units by allowing you to safely take medium sized units and not worry about a bad Morale Test wiping them out. This is more useful in Chaos Space Marines since many of our infantry benefit from powerful Psychic Powers and Stratagems, which are in turn more useful on larger units rather than smaller ones.
Next up, we have the WB unique Stratagem, “Dark Pact”, which allows you to re roll any dice when making a summoning roll, and prevents you from taking damage from the summoning attempt. We’ll be talking about Dark Pact and summoning in general a bit later, as it’s more important for their Recommended Units.
Moving along, we have the WB unique Warlord Trait, “ The Voice of Lorgar”, which increases the range of all Aura abilities on your Warlord’s datasheet by 3”. Unfortunately, this is an extremely weak Warlord Trait, as its only use is covering for sloppy movement. 6” is more than enough to affect units that you need to buff with your Warlord, so this Warlord Trait should never be taken.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the WB unique relic, “The Cursed Crozius” is a relic power maul. In general, Chaos Space Marines don’t have very threatening melee weapons on their infantry. The most threatening weapon in our arsenal is a Powerfist, or a Chainfist for Terminators. The Crozius remedies this situation in a big way, by providing us with a Strength +2, AP -2, Damage 3 weapon. As a nice bonus, it gets to re-roll to wound against IMPERIUM units. It’s low strength is somewhat awkward, but this can be compensated for with Veterans of The Long War or Diabolical Strength.
Overall, WB rather light in pay offs, as their main payoffs are a solid melee Relic and a limited use Stratagem. Their Trait is fairly lackluster compared to most of the other Traits in Chaos Space Marines, and their Warlord Trait is unfortunately unplayable. In order to perform well with Word Bearers, you will have to lean on the intrinsic strengths of the Chaos Space Marine codex, and get creative with your use of Dark Pact.
WORD BEARERS RECOMMENDED UNIT ANALYSIS
WB don’t add any units to our list of Recommended Units, as no units in Chaos Space Marines become unusually useful under the WB Trait. However, Summoning through Daemonic Ritual is made a bit more attractive in Word Bearers, as they can consistently summon decently sized units without risk, which is a feature unique to them.
To briefly go over summoning, if a CHAOS CHARACTER skips their movement in the movement phase, they can roll 1, 2, or 3 D6, your choice of which. After the roll, you can bring in a unit with a Power Level equal to or less than your roll with the Daemonic Ritual ability anywhere within 12” of the summoner, and outside of 9” of any enemy units. If the summoner has a MARK, the unit they summon in has to match that alignment.
Summoning has the crippling requirement of standing still, and you have to pay the points cost for any unit that you summon. This makes Summoning something that must be done designed around. In general, there are too many restrictions around Summoning to make it useful as a responsive measure, at least in Chaos Space Marines.
There are a couple of payouts regarding Summoning, however. The first is in the various Heralds in Chaos Daemons. All 3 of the Chaos Daemon psychic tables will interact with any Daemon unit from Chaos Space Marines, which can create some very powerful synergies or simply provide extra additional utility. There is a second payoff, and it’s one that’s unique to Word Bearers. Chaos Demons have some very powerful units which can be taken in large sizes, such as Plague Drones. However, they will also end up with high Power Level ratings, which makes summoning them very inconsistent. Dark Pact helps resolve this weakness by making it far more likely you will hit the values you need.The specifics of what you are trying to summon and why are going to be up to you. Once you settle on your list of models to summon, then you should build the rest of your list to compliment that package.
WORD BEARERS SAMPLE LIST/TACTICS
Because of the unusual nature of how WB approach their list construction, due to the fact Summoning is actually part of their gameplan, we’re going to start with our summoning package, explain what it does, and then move to our WB list and how it interacts with our summoning package. One of the little benefits to summoning is that it isn’t tied to any detachments, meaning you can simply select units that you like. Let’s take a look at our sample package.
Changecaster, Gaze of Fate-78
Poxbringer, Virulent Blessing-70
6 Plague Drones, Instrument of Chaos-214
Let’s start with our Changecaster. He provides us with Gaze of Fate, which provides us with a free re-roll per turn. This should always be used at the start of the Psychic Phase, and in a broad sense can be thought of as giving you a free CP every turn, since very Command Re-roll you don’t have to spend CP on is a CP you can spend somewhere else. At the low price of only 78 points, he’s a great inclusion.
Next, we have our Poxbringer with Virulent Blessing. Virulent Blessing is a Psychic Power that gives any NURGLE DAEMON unit +1 to wound in the Fight Phase, and causes wound rolls of 7+ to cause double damage. Blessing is a powerful buff spell, and all it needs is a good unit to be put on. That brings us to our 6 Plague Drones. Plague Drones make a dizzying 5 attacks per model between the riders Plague Sword and the Drone’s Proboscis. In addition, these attacks all get to re-roll failed to wound rolls, which makes them a potent offensive threat. Coupled with Virulent Blessing, we have a great hammer unit.
Our summoning package clocks in at 362 points, leaving us with 1638 points for our WB to make a 2000 point list. The package is a nice mix of utility, damage, and durability, since Plague Drones are pretty tough. As an added bonus, they’re also respectably mobile, thanks to a 10” move and FLY. However, we need our WB to be able to clear a hole through the enemy frontlines so our Plague Drones can get to where they need to go. Let’s take a look at our WB, and see how they work together.
Chaos Lord with Jump Pack, Chain Sword, Cursed Crozious, No Mark-97
Demon Prince, Wings, Talons, Warp Bolter, Mark of Nurgle, Miasma of Pestilence, Warlord-183
Heavy Support- 304
Maulerfiend with Lasher Tendrils, Mark of Slaanesh 152
Maulerfiend with Lasher Tendrils, Mark of Nurgle 152
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Nurgle, Diabolical Strength, Warptime-120
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Slaanesh, Prescience, Delightful Agonies-120
10 Noise Marines, 7 with Sonic Blasters, 2 with Blast Masters, Champion has Sonic Blaster/Chainsword-222
5 Chaos Bikes, swap Bolt Pistols for Chainswords, two Bikes have Plasmaguns, Champion has Combi Plasma, Mark of Slaanesh-166
Heldrake with Baleflamer, Mark of Nurgle-185
Our WB clock just 1 point under budget at 1637, and they’re bringing some serious mobility and raw punch with them. To begin, we need to talk about how the actual summoning and movement of the summoners works, and who summons what. On the first turn, our Demon Prince and both Psykers fly up the board. Our unmarked Chaos Lord holds still to summon in our Changecaster on the first turn. We want Gaze of Fate online immediately, since every successful cast is more or less an extra Command Point for us, and Chaos Space Marines want every Command Point that they can get.
On our next turn, our Demon Prince and Nurgle Psyker hold still to summon in our Plague Drones and Poxbringer. Whoever summons in the Plague Drones should use Dark Pact to help gurantee the Drones come in, as it’s critical that they make in Turn 2. At this point, our entire summoning package is on the table, and we should be in full swing.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the list’s components and how everything works together. Like usual, we have lots of cultists to cover our objectives, and we have a single Heldrake to help tie up the enemy right off the bat to apply some early game pressure. For firepower, we’re bringing in 10 Noise Marines and some Bikes. Noise Marines are very flexible units, capable of threatening most units in the game with some Psychic Powers and Stratagem support. We’re also bringing 5 Bikes, as they provide mobile firepower to help supplement our Noise Marines, and they can be Warptimed up the table first turn to help tie up more of the enemy along with our Heldrake.
For heavy lifting, we bring two Maulerfiends. Our Slaanesh Maulerfiend is primarily backup for our Nurgle Maulerfiend, although he does make a fantastic target for Delightful Agonies. It’s our Nurgle Maulerfiend where the summoning package starts to really shine, however. Plague Drones are a fantastic target for Virulent Blessing, and can be thought of as the “intended” target. However, Plague Drones will struggle against really durable targets, like Land Raiders or Imperial Knights. Against these sorts of targets, the Nurgle Maulerfiend makes a fantastic recipient for Virulent Blessings. Maulerfiends can already be pushed to very high damage values with Diabolical Strength and Daemonforge. Virulent Blessings can push a Maulerfiend to truly ridiculous damage values. With a bit of luck in terms of rolling 6’s to wound, you can easily threaten to 100-0 targets like Imperial Knights.
In addition, Virulent Blessings can be leveraged as a sort of duplicate Diabolical Strength if your opponent has lots of Vehicles or Monsters. Throwing Diabolical Strength on your Slaanesh Maulerfiend along with Prescience, and then tossing Virulent Blessings and Daemonforge on your Nurgle Maulerfiend allows you to easily threaten multiple targets. And this is to say nothing of your Nurgle Demon Prince, who should be your warlord. He makes an additional excellent target for Blessings, as if you didn’t have enough already. If you feel like getting really combo based, give him Flames of Spite along with Diabolical Strength and Virulent Blessings. You’ll get 8 Strength 8, AP-2, Damage 2 attacks that hit on 2+ re rolling and wounding everything in the game on 2+. Rolls of 5 or higher will also cause mortal wounds, and rolls of 6 will cause 4 damage. Talk about some absurd damage potential! Also, don’t forget that your re-roll 1’s to hit aura from your Demon Prince will affect the Plague Drones as well, which is a nice 17% damage boost on their already respectable output.
All in all, this list has the tools to handle almost any opponent thanks to its myriad amount of Psychic Powers and strong synergy. WB require far more consideration and thought than any other Legion in terms of list construction due to their use of summoning. However, despite that added challenge in addition to the lack of a strong, readily apparent payoff, it is completely possible to build a very strong list out of WB, and once you learn how to tie some Chaos Demon support into your Chaos Space Marines, you should easily find lots of success on the tabletop.