The Inevitable Chaos Review Part 3: Icons, Troops and Cult Troops

I'm using both from now on, capiche?

Let's get back to analysis. Hopefully we'll be all done by the end of this week. This part is Icons, Troops and the Cult Troops section of Elites. As ever, italics is Top Bryss wisdom.

I need to talk about Icons before reviewing units, I reckon. So here they are. As with the last book, there are four Power Icons and one Generic Icon.

And yet, before I even get into them, we have to note that ICONS AREN'T BEACONS ANY MORE. This is important. They're just generic banners at base with +1 resolution now. Which you don't really need in most cases. Maybe against other Marines, mind. The role Icons used to fulfil is now taken by the Dimensional Key, which is better and worse due to not being easily available in Turn 2 when most of your Reserves come down.

Amusingly, Daemon Icons still help you out. I love that. "Hey, Jawbrand Skullmasher, we couldn't be arsed making homing icons, so we're gonna leech off yours, alright?"

Anyway, I'm digressing.

Icon of Wrath: This is the Khorne one. It gives you some good bonuses, especially the whole 're-roll Charge distance' thing. GW were even nice enough to make it cheaper for Berzerkers than normal Chaos Marines, since they already get FC. A worthy buy in most circumstances.

Icon of Flame: This is the Tzeentch one. It's the second-cheapest, second-worst icon. You essentially pay 15 points for a 50% chance of 1-3 bolter hits if you damage the unit you shoot. Even if the effect carries on for a few turns, it's not too effective.

Icon of Despair: This is the Nurgle one. Nurgle rather wishes it wasn't. Fear isn't too great. End of.

Icon of Excess: This is the Buy Noise Marines! one. Nurgle rather wishes it wasn't. It's a pretty natty effect if you can spare the points.

Icon of Vengeance: This is the one that's more expensive than Chaos Glory was. Even though Fearless is better this edition, I'm not sure it should be the second-most expensive Icon. I would honestly have preferred it if CG was retained. Combined with Veterans, it would be a nice booster. This isn't. If you want Fearless troops, it's more cost effective to use Cult Troops. If you want Fearless Terminators for more than the cost of an whole extra Terminator, well... (Who on earth would make that choice? It's like being asked to choose between a speedboat and a wooden raft!)

So now we know what our Icons do and that only two of them are fairly decent, on to Troops.

Chaos Space Marines: Efficient much? 10 of these are a massive 30 points less than a Tactical Squad with no options. Admittedly, the Tacs get discounted Specials, but these boys can actually take Specials in five-man squads, so it all evens out.

You can restore them to the old 15-point flexible Grey Hunter-like if you want, but you don't need to pay for stuff you don't require anymore, which is a nice touch (remember what I said about Burger King in Part 1? Have it your way!).

An important note is that the days of pseudo-Marks have gone away. You may now give your units real Marks that don't vanish when one Icon guy is sniped. Oh, and the cost of T5 has gone down by 20 whole points for 10-man and 35 for 5-man units, which is much more cost-effective, even if you can't have it and Feel No Pain.

And then there's Veterans. Ld9 for 1 point a head? Yes, please. Other than these little things, the Chaos Marine entry is same old same old. And therefore is still good, if not better.

Cultists: Aah, the new boys. First off, hello. Second of all, goodbye Champion, who dies the second combat is entered. Due to this suicidal tendency, a Chaos Lord does this unit the world of good. Or an Apostle if you run two big units close together as he's cheaper and less slotty than two Chaos Lords.

Maximum squad size is a little odd. 35? Why not 40? It's not like you needed to be divisible by 7, you haven't got the Mark of Nurgle yet.

You are able to mix and match pistols and guns, presumably so Dark Vengeance buyers don't have two awkward easy Kill Points. Options are fairly cheap, although the Champion's Shotgun not being S4 like it was in Dark Vengeance stings. But the main draw here are Marks. You are essentially given five types of Cultist:

Normal Cultist: Normal Cultist is cheap. Normal Cultist dies. This is fine, you have thirty-three more of them, plus the Champion, who is doubtless already dead. Really though, the reason you have taken Normal Cultist is that you are too stingy to buy a Mark for him.

Ragey Cultist: Ragey Cultist has Ragey Rage. Ragey Cultist dies. This is fine, you have four attacks on the charge and there are thirty-three more of them, plus the Champion, who is certainly already dead. Really though, the reason you have taken Ragey Cultist is to throw them at Guardsmablobs and laugh like a maniac.

Lucky Cultist: Lucky Cultist has Orky Luck, except his is extra-Orky Orky Luck, as it's Invulnerable Orky Luck. Unfortunately, Lucky Cultist is T3, and so still dies. This is fine, you have thirty-three more of them, plus the Champion, who is without a shadow of a doubt already dead. Really though, the reason you have taken Lucky Cultist is that, well, OK, you got me, there is no reason to take Lucky Cultist except as a gimmick.

Plaguey Cultist: Plaguey Cultist is basically a knock-off Ork, one point less and with no Furious Charge. Plaguey Cultist is T4, which means he dies a bit less than all the other Cultists, with the exception of the Champion, who died a few seconds ago. Really though, the reason you have taken Plaguey Cultist is that you can't be arsed buying allied Orks and they are cheap T4 screening. They are my favourite Cultist.

Lusty Cultist: Lusty Cultist is I4 all the time. Unfortunately, Lusty Cultist cannot take an Icon of Excess (which ironically would give him a better pseudo-Invulnerable than Lucky Cultist), and so Lusty Cultist dies. This is fine, you have thirty-three more of them, plus the Champion, who couldn't be more dead if you threw him in a blender with some razor wire and a large gold brick. Really though, the reason you have taken Lusty Cultist is that you couldn't afford Ragey Cultist or Plaguey Cultist and wanted to waste 35 points.

With all these Cultist types, I'd swear Phil Kelly wants to start a Spice Girls tribute group.

So that's the Cultist entry. I rather like it, although the shotgun thing seems like a waste of 2 points if it's not S4. On to the Cult Troops!

Khorne Berzerkers: Went from 4/3 to 4/2 attacks-wise (first number is charge), lost a point of Leadership not like it matters except versus Leadership-based attacks and lost 2 points of cost. They can become AP4 now if anyone cares. And they've gained an option to re-roll charges and still have krak grenades, making them still effective as a multi-purpose melee unit (even more so now they have S6 attacks on Monsters), they just don't have staying power any more.

Thousand Sons: Are no longer completely reliant on their Sorceror to move properly, the base unit cost has been reduced by 12 and now have the option to have a bad Icon. Which you don't really need as the Sorceror always has the option of taking Tzeentch's Firestorm. Most of the time you want to take this as it adds to the unit's fire output well. Not being able to Overwatch is bad. So protect them with your cheaper Troops. People don't seem to like them, but I'll use them because Ahriman/Huron (probably Ahriman) and Infiltrate is fun, especially since the 1k Sons bring their own Cover.

Plague Marines: Got more expensive but gained a poison dagger, giving them a niche as a monster staller in addition to their other natty abilities. Still as good as before.

Buy Noise Marines!: Hello you. You're 3 points down. For the same cost as a Bolter Noiser in the old book, you now get a Sonic Blaster. The Blastmaster also took a points knock. And all your weapons ignore cover! This sort of makes them the polar opposite of Thousand Sons, who like shooting open-air units. Just one question. Why on earth does it cost you less to take a CCW than it does for normal Marines?

That's all for now. Next time, Elites and Uniques, then Fast and Heavy.