The Word Bearers are the most devout worshippers of Chaos, faithfully following all of the Ruinous Powers as a Pantheon. They frequently summon hordes of demons to do their bidding. After the battle is concluded they topple and raze entire cities as offerings to the Dark Gods.
Today, we’re going to look at the major payoffs for playing as Word Bearers, some unit and character combos, a sample list, and finally tactics for how to play as and against the list. If you’re looking to take your gameplay with the Word Bearers to the next level, then look no further!
Before we get started, we are going to define the term “payoff” so there’s no confusion on definitions. In this article, a “payoff” is something you get for playing specifically Word Bearers that’s highly powerful and that can not be accessed otherwise. For example, the Stratagem Revered Host is a payoff, as this is a highly powerful Stratagem only available to Word Bearers (hereafter WB)
On the other hand, Veterans Of The Long War would not be an example of a payoff here. Even though it’s another highly powerful Stratagem, it’s available to all non-Renegade forces so it doesn’t fit our definition today. Finally, these entries won’t be in any particular order. We aren’t trying to organize things by their power so much as providing you with what the best tools you have to play with are.
Consistency: This is sort of cheating because we’re wrapping a lot of different payoffs into one, but this is a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put simply, Word Bearers have tools to heavily mitigate variance in all of their support elements, and they also have resistance against bad Morale Checks or Saving Throws.
You can give a Sorcerer The Malefic Tome and cover all of your Psychic needs with just one Sorcerer. If you’re really concerned about passing tests, make him your Warlord and give him the Warp Lord Warlord Trait from Shadowspear. Now he knows 3 powers, casts 2, and he casts at +1 while rerolling 1’s. You can even make him Tzeentch so the third psychic power can be cast for 1CP.
Similarly, an Apostle with the Epistle of Lorgar and the Apostle Of The Dark Council Stratagem will know and attempt two prayers instead of one, while re-rolling the dice if necessary. Add in some Dark Disciples and you’re basically guaranteed to land your powers.
Finally, Hexagrammatic Ward and the Word Bearers Trait grant you resistance against bad luck. You’re never at risk of failing a really critical, game winning save and rarely losing models to a bad Moral Test. When you wrap all of this together, you get a Chaos Space Marine army that’s ironically not Chaotic at all. This level of consistency is really impactful even though it’s not as tangible as most other army abilities, and it’s probably the biggest draw to play Word Bearers as an army from a gameplay standpoint.
Revered Hosts: Possessed are a very reasonable unit thanks to their points drops and the recent updates that all Marines have gotten. However, the fact they are only Damage 1 makes this unit a tad narrow in application. Word Bearers can bump this up to Damage 2, significantly improving the lethalness of Possessed. This alone makes at least one large blob of Possessed almost mandatory for Word Bearers.
Multiple Competitive Warlord Traits: Word Bearers have 2 extremely powerful Warlord Traits, and a 3rd that’s more than reasonable. Daemonic Whispers provides you with some bonus CP and a pseudo free Command Reroll. Chaos Space Marines are one of the more CP focused armies, so any assistance in that department is a huge boon.
For the more aggressively slanted, Exalted Possession can make a Chaos Lord or Demon Prince into one of the most devastating melee threats in the game. We’ll get into that in the next section. Finally, Master Of The Union is a great support Warlord Trait for all of your DAEMON units. You definitely want this on a Demon Prince, as he will also benefit from this Warlord Trait.
Crown Of The Blasphemer: Chaos Space Marines have always struggled at getting strong Invulnerable Saves since we don’t have access to Stormshields. The Crown Of The Blasphemer provides a reasonable defensive option, especially on a Demon Prince.
WB have a smaller selection of Payoffs which directly translates to them having way less Combos to set up. However, the few combo pieces that they do have are very strong, and the army can be built in almost any direction since they aren’t steered in a particular direction.
Daemon Weapon+Revered Host+ Exalted Possession= Plastic Lawnmower
Chaos Space Marines have received some really crazy Relic Weapons in Faith and Fury, and WB can push these Relics to high heaven. The Revered Host can be used on any Possessed unit, so with Exalted Possession you can use it on a Character with a Daemon Weapon to just ruin someone’s day.
For example, consider a Demon Prince with a Sword and the Tzeentch Demon Weapon. On the Charge and with Revered Host, he makes 6 Strength 8 AP-3 Damage D3+1 swings that ignore Invulnerable Saves. There are very few things in the game that will stand up to that kind of assault aside from Titanic models.
All About Possessed:
Unsurprisingly, Possessed are the superstar unit for Word Bearers with their ability to boost their Damage. However, Possessed are also Demons. This means that they can benefit from Chaos Demon abilities and Psychic Powers.
For example, if you want your Possessed to be able to Advance and Charge, ally in some Slaanesh Demons. The Slaanesh Locus will affect your Possessed and enable them to advance and charge. Alternatively, if you just want your Possessed to do as many attacks as possible, ally in Khorne Demons.
If you take a Khorne Demon Prince with The Crimson Crown, your Possessed will re-roll 1’s to hit and every Wound roll of 6+ will grant a bonus attack. Now you add in Veterans Of The Long War and Soul Tearer Portent and your Possessed are at +2 to Wound and every Wound roll of 4,5, or 6 will grant a bonus attack!
Granted, anybody can use these combinations with Possessed. However, Word Bearers can push the quality of these combinations much higher thanks to Revered Hosts and optionally even Master of the Union, creating a super star unit that can kill anything it gets its hands on.
Given our small list of powerful Combos to work with, it’s important to build a list that can capitalize on both of them. Unlike most Combo’s that exist in the game, the few that Word Bearers have are unusually flexible. For example, there’s a lot of ways to abuse Revered Hosts with the Exalted Possession Warlord Trait, but every possible iteration still revolves around those two things. With that in mind, let’s look at a sample 2000 point list and how to play it!
Master of Possession, Stave 88
- Cursed Earth
- Infernal Power
Dark Apostle 72
- Apostle Of The Dark Council (1CP)
- Epistle of Lorgar (free Relic)
- Soultearer Portent
- Benediction of Darkness
4X 10 Cultists 40/160
Demon Prince, Claws, Wings, Warp Bolter 168
- Miasma of Pestilence
Chaos Lord, Pack, Power Fist 102
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Stave 116
- The Malefic Tome (1CP)
- Diabolic Strength
2X5 CSM 55/110
5 CSM, one Meltagun 69
20 Possessed 340
3 Obliterators 285
WB Air Wing:
3 Heldrakes with Baleflamer 140/420
And with that, our list is complete! It only clocks in at 1930 because we need 70 points to summon in a Poxbringer using our Demon Prince. This list is fairly straightforward by Chaos standards.
Our general gameplan is to buff our Possessed as much as possible and to cover their movement up the board with our Drakes. The Possessed receive a -1 to be shot from the Apostle and a second -1 to be hit at all times from the Demon Prince. The first turn our Demon Prince summons in a Poxwalker with Virulent Blessings.
Blessings gives our Possessed +1 to Wound and causes Wound rolls of 7+ to deal double Damage. Combo that with Veterans and Soul Tearer Portent, and that’s +3 to Wound and Wound rolls of 4,5, and 6 do double Damage. Finally throw in Revered Hosts when needed and nothing can withstand your Possessed.
The rest of the list supports this as much as possible. The Drakes fly up 30” and kill some screens and then tie down some of the guns. Between this disruption and the -2 to be hit at ranged, your Possessed should make it unscathed. Your Obliterators and Chaos Lord serve as “scalpel” units to remove threats your Possessed can’t easily reach.
There were a couple details left out of this list deliberately to reflect the flexibility that the army has. For example, which Warlord Trait you take is up to you. You can pay 2 more CP for the Nurgle Demon Weapon and make your Chaos Lord your Warlord and give him the Exalted Possession Warlord Trait for a flat 4 Damage Power Fist. Throw Blessings on him and you can sometimes get that up to 8(!) Damage swings!
Alternatively, make your Sorcerer your Warlord and give him either Daemonic Whispers for that sweet, sweet CP or Warp Lord if you’re concerned about passing your Powers. The exact way you want to set up these options is really up to you.
With some minor adjustments you could even cut the Summoning and add in an actual bare bones Chaos Demons detachment and use some other possible interactions, like Possessed that Advance and Charge. The main advantage to Word Bearers is how consistent they are at pursuing their gameplan, but the way you want to go about it is up to you.
That wraps up our Word Bearers tactics article. They aren’t a super competitive force, but they’re a lot of fun. If you’re a player that dislikes failing key rolls to bad luck, then this is probably the Legion for you. With the many ways available to effectively force things to happen and a general lack of complex moving parts, Word Bearers are a great army for people getting used to Chaos as well.
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