The Long War: Winning With Chaos Space Marines
Chaos is not the easiest army to play, I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also agree that having a thread for information on how to beat certain armies and strategies would be very nice to have! So let's get on with it, shall we?
I'll start with a hot one; Defeating Tau!
The Tau are our foil in the way they function and play. We want to get in close and smash face, they want to sit back and shoot. We have individually powerful units, they have very strong synergy. We can use Psykers, they have no psychic defense to speak of. So you'd assume that with all of this, it'd be a pretty close fight!
Well there's some struggles. First of all, Tau being good at shooting is a lot more powerful than out assaulting tendencies. Second, the synergy that the Tau have as an army outclasses anything we can bring against them individually. And third, they can deal with almost any threat anyone throws at them. Though they lack extremely powerful specialists like Eldar, they have extremely flexible options. No amount of cheesy spam you can think of will bother them; they will expect it and have a way to deal with it.
Despite their strengths, Tau do actually possess some very exploitable weaknesses. The obvious one is that they have very, very fragile troops, GEQ. They rely on cover to stay safe from shooting and will crumble in Assault to our most basic melee units. Also, their highest Infantry toughness is 4, so any Anti-MEQ weapon will be enough to take out anything outside of tanks and a Riptide. The Tide, by the way, is absolute garbage in close combat, so if you can catch it with, say, a Daemon Prince, it's going to explode.
Perhaps the most important weakness to examine though is their reliance on synergy. Tau need eachother to be powerful, so eliminating supporting units is vital. This means that focusing the Riptide is actually not the best option most of the time. In fact, I'd say your true threat lies in Markerlights.
Markerlights are the keystone of Tau. Without them they have average accuracy and very few means to ignore cover. If you can take them out on Turn 1, that Riptide is going to be a lot less scary when you can get 4+ cover saves (or 2+ jinks on your Nurgle DPs!). My most dominating wins (as in tabling by turn 3) against Tau have come from Noise Marines Blastmastering all of the Pathfinders off the table on Turn 1. The results are really quite shocking.
And of course Tau aren't good against Psykers and lack any of their own, so if you want to, say, ally with Daemons and start summoning some hordes, you'll meet little resistance. Also Psychic Shrieking a Riptide for 7 wounds? Delicious. Taking a ML3 Psyker of any kind is worth considering.
Speaking of which, getting Ignores Cover on any Anti-GEQ or MEQ weapon will work wonders. Blastmasters get this standard, but giving Obliterators Ignores Cover from Perfect Timing (Divination from Balestar) and spamming Plasma Cannons will feed into the strategy. Any low AP flamer like the Burning Brand, Heavy Flamers, or Baleflamers are extremely useful for clearing out firebases, though these are harder to find in the book. Heldrakes are risky to take against Tau due to tons of Skyfire/Interceptor, but knocking out the units that can do it early enough will earn you a nice grilled fish dinner.
Alright, so Tau like firelanes. They want you to be in he open facing as many guns as possible. Do not give them this, stay behind walls and deny LOS. Move forward and move fast, being sure to press their weakest side so you can start isolating their units.
As soon as possible take out their Markerlights. Dedicate any firepower you have to doing this while not putting key units at risk. Once they're gone, cover becomes useful for you again and you can approach more quickly and more safely.
Always be forcing them to dedicate fire to one side of their Gunline, and make sure the choice to do so is a difficult one. A good example is Nurgle Bikers with Burning Brand Nurgle Biker Lord and Obliterators on one side, Raptors and Daemon Prince on the other. If you can manage Deepstriking Termicide units behind their line, do so as well.
As these units get sent in, use some long-range support to open holes in the line. Treat your Blastmasters and other supporting fire like a scalpel, cutting out an important unit by severing its connections to the units around it.
Your Target Prioritization until Turn 3/4 should be as follows:
- Missilepod Broadsides
- Crisis Suits and Riptides
- Fire Warriors
On Turn 3/4, depending on how the game has progressed; focus on the objectives and the objectives only. You should have softened them up enough at this point to switch tactics and hammer out points.
Yeah yeah, Chaos has bad internal balance, blah blah blah. I don't need to tell you we're not going to even consider half of the codex. But here are the ones to strongly consider:
-Noise Marines w/ Blastmaster(s): Kills anything hiding in cover with the Single Frequency. Even Broadsides will die to 1 failed save! Also Fearless and can get FNP for an extremely durable objective holder.
-Nurgle Biker Lord with Burning Brand and Fisticlaws: Expensive but very powerful unit for finishing out the game and clearing objectives. Also capable of catching and killing a Riptide.
-Be'lakor: Invisibility says hello! This will kill anything you throw him at. Literally nothing in the Tau army can match him in Assault, and Shriek can decimate entire units. Very expensive but always worth considering.
-Nurgle Daemon Prince, ML3, Armor, Wings: Be'lakor Junior, can take Black Mace or Burning Brand for different role coverage
-Obliterators, Mark of Nurgle, with Balestar ML3 Sorc: Fills the role of Noise Marines but more versatile and more aggressive, though more fragile.
-Cultists in Reserves: They'll get blown off the table if they're in, so keep them in Reserves and use them to hold objectives.
-Allied ML 3 TzHerald with 11 Horrors, ADL Quadgun: Once their Markerlights are gone this is a nigh invincible Daemon engine. Pump out more and more daemons for various roles, and god help them if you manage to be able to create a Lord of Change.
-Allied Soul Grinder, Nurgle, Phlegm: Combines with the above unit for Divination goodnees on the Phlegm. After Markerlights are gone, becomes absurdly hard to kill, and will at the very least draw fire. If you're pressuring them aggressively he'll remain untouched, or will allow one of your guys to hit home. Also can move forward and punk Riptides.
-Termicide: Instantly forces one unit to dedicate their shooting to deal with, and can be used as a lethal means of clearing a Broadside team. With Heavy Flamer can roast a whole squad of anything not in a suit.
-Slaaneshi with Icon or Nurgle Bikers, 2 Melta or 2 Flamer: Goes with some form of Biker lord for a durable pressure unit. Slaaneshi version can be taken in Raptor form for Deep Striking.
-Plague Marines: Survivable and will hold a more risky objective to force shooting to be drawn to them. Take with 2 Plasma for anti-Crisis.
And that about covers it. Please add your own thoughts or ideas below, share your secrets with your Chaos brothers!