PossessedThere are those amongst the traitor legions who seek power in all its forms, who are willing to give anything to sate that thirst. Some turn to committing atrocities on those they once swore to protect, while others give themselves completely to the denizens of the warp both body and soul. They are known by many names: Gal Vorbok, Vakrah Jal, Ascended, Luperci, and Possessed. Man and demon made into one, possessed walk a path unlike others who garner the favor of the Gods; to be both trans-human and monster built into one.
Possessed are an often passed over unit that the chaos marines have to offer. While they have a relatively decent statline and some good rules, they rarely outshine other units that are available to an aspiring warlord or sorcerer. This fact, coupled with their rather high point cost and their biggest bonus being random, is what see's them left on the shelf more often than not. Each possessed marine costs 26 points, double that of a normal chaos marine, more per model than any cult marine, and almost as much as a terminator. However if you break down their bonus's, those points make sense; unfortunately that doesn't stop their from being units that cost less and have some buffs of their own.
So what do you get for those 26 points on top of a chaos marine statline?
2 Attacks per model
Vessels of Chaos
So more, stronger, base attacks, a higher leadership on top of being fearless and causing fear, an invulnerable save, fleet, and one of three randomly determined abilities (rolled each turn.) In addition, possessed have access to marks of chaos and icons; and most of the marks are very good choices.
- Mark of Khorne gives possessed rage and counter-attack, so in the first round of combat they are always getting 3-4 attacks. Even more if supernatural speed is rolled and the Icon of Wrath gives possessed furious charge
- Mark of Slaanesh boosts the initiative of possed up to 5, and the Icon of Excess gives them a much needed feel no pain.
- Mark of Nurgle, like Slaanesh, is an outright stat boost; this time giving possessed toughness 5. The Icon of Despair is considerably less useful than the previous two marks, giving possessed fear which they already have.
- Mark of Tzeentch improves the invulnerable save possessed have thanks to their being demons, which makes them more survivable. The Icon of Flame is absolutely useless for them though, giving soul blaze to the ranged weapons possessed do not have.
- There is also the Icon of Vengeance, if possessed didn't already have fearless.
Of the four marks, they all have their merits, with only the mark of Tzeentch being the hardest to justify at 5 points per model. The other three marks are either 3 or 4 points per model, and make possessed even stronger in combat.
Thats all well and good, but the downsides?
Only one close combat weapon
Its not so much the cost of possessed that outright makes them an undesirable choice, its their lack of speed, that they are always affected when charging into cover, and having no means of causing damage outside of being in close combat. If they had been priced less, or come with a +2 armor save, or come standard with one of the four marks for free then they might stand more of a chance at being desirable.
Something I have not bothered to go into more detail on is the Vessels of Chaos rule, the random ability they get every turn. If you use the Crimson Slaughter detachment, Vessels of Chaos is replaced with Slaves to the Voices, with different abilities.
From the chaos codex the three abilities are:
- Strength of the Damned - rerolling failed to wound results
- Vorpal Claws - ap3 attacks
- Supernatural Speed - an extra attack and another point of initiative
Crimson Slaughter abilities are:
- Spirit Beacons - possessed and any transport they are in get shrouded
- Beast Form - unit type changes to beast
- Incorporeal Bodies - the invulnerable save becomes 3 and the possessed have rending
Both tables have their positives, ap3, more attacks and higher initiative, the speed boost from beast, and the improvement of invulnerable save with rending. The problem is these are randomly determined, so your not gauranteed to get the desired outcome.
All in all, there are to many things that have to go right for possessed to shine. They need to fight enemies in the open and outpace them with a higher initiative. If you really want to use them keeping it cheap is the way to go. That means low body count, and having a very specific role. Unfortunately that role is probably not going to be assaulting elite units, but instead going after vehicles or large groups of units that are not fearless.
Ways to play possessedThere are two ways I would recommend, either as cheap solo squads or in the favored of chaos formation.
If you take solo squads, then run them in small packs with the Mark of Slaanesh, Nurgle, or Khorne.
Taking a squad of five with any of those marks (plus icon of wrath for khorne) will run you between 155 and 165 points.
The favored of chaos formation is where it gets more expensive, though for good reason. This formation is 3-5 possessed squads and a demon prince, and as long as a squad of possessed is within 12 inches of the prince, they get all of the abilities from the vessels of chaos (or slaves to the voices) table. At more than 500 points minimum, this is an expensive, if quite powerful way to field possessed. Three ap 3 attacks rerolling failed to wounds and striking at I5 minimum is hardly anything to sniff at.
All in all, possessed can be a fun unit to use, but they are a point investment that can be hard to justify at times.