My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless I must call out ego or pretension.
With so many possibilities and options it is easy to get paralyzed by choice. The old version of Noise Marines were expensive and thus lacked good build options. Now you can easily pick how you want to destroy your enemy, and destroy them like never before.
As always, let us start by looking at the differences between the 4th edition and 6th edition codex. Here is a side by side comparison between the codexes. (Click to Enlarge)
So what has changed between editions?
- Everything Got Cheaper
- Sonic Weapons Changed
- Icon of Excess
- Loss of Close Combat Weapon
- Loss of Leadership 9 to 8
Don't forget Noise Champions can now get Combi-weapons, plus the unit can get Veterans of the Long War.
--A Three Cord Discount at the Drug Store--
With the exception of the Doom Siren (15pts), everything in the Noise Marine arsenal got cheaper. From 17 pt Noise Marine to cheaper Sonic Blasters, Noise Marines have benefited more than most units in the codex. To put it in context the 2007 codex a 5-man Noise Marine Squad with a Doom Siren and Sonic Blasters was 150 pts, now it is 125 points.
--From First Act to Fender--
The changes to Sonic weapons cannot be denied. Cheaper, but now with the Salvo special rule. Salvo replacing the two setting rules. The new rules prevent Noise Marines from charging after shooting, but that drawback is exchanged for ignoring cover. This removes Jink saves and reduces the effectiveness of Aegis Defense Lines, and the effect on light armored horde armies is devastating.
In addition, the Blastmaster is now the best weapon in the game. Let me repeat that the Blastmaster is the best weapon in the game. The Heavy setting will devastate entrenched Long Fang, speeding Bikes, and all MEQs, and the 48” range makes matters only worse for your opponents.
--It Hurts so Good--
The Icon of Excess is icing on the cake. Feel No Pain for Noise Marines is just plan dirty. At 30 pts it is reasonable for what it does. If you run 20 Noise Marines that Icon is only costing you 1.25 pts a model. Not all situations require you to take this Icon, but if you got horde or balanced it is a must buy.
--Keeping it Balanced--
The only negative change to Noise Marines comes with the loss of the Close Combat Weapon, which can be bought right back for only one point or lose the Bolter and get it for free.
--Loss of Leadership--
There are powers and such where having bad Leadership does matter, but still I am not sure the point. My guess it is an attempt at consistency with the rest of the Codex.
Putting it all together.
Even with all the great things I can say about Noise Marines, they have major flaw. Noise Marines are very role specific; balancing cost vs. effectiveness is extremely important with this unit. You can spend a lot of points creating the most tricked out (does it all) Noise Marine unit, and be easily lulled into a false sense of security or frozen with indecision.
Decide what do you want your Noise Marine to do.
If you want them assaulty don’t buy Sonic Blasters and focus on pimping out your Noise Champion. The same goes for Blastmaster units, stay cheap and keep warm bodies between it and the enemy.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match either. Even large units don't need all Sonic Blasters: your opponent will peel off a few models, so might as well let that it be the cheaper ones first.
Noise Marines still are Fearless and have I5. It has been said before just how good Fearless is, but I5 is just as important. I5 makes Noise Marines one of the best Marine hunter units in the game, even small Noise Marines units can devastate any 10-man Space Marine equivalent.
All you need is a Noise Champion a Doom Siren and a Power Weapon. Doom Siren evens the odds and the Power Weapon to finish the job. Throw in Veterans of the Long War and you have a unit that can change the 40k meta.
Still with all my rah-rah, two types of units can handle Noise Marines with ease: Flyers and Walkers. The Blastmaster cannot hit Flyers and Melta bombs are the only thing that stands in the way of a Walker. As well Halberds the dumbest weapon in the game stops Noise Marines in their tracks.
What about +2 armor, use Mass Salvo for the win.
All this requires taking different Noise Marine units for specific jobs, which as the points rack up, requires finding other alternative units to fill in the holes.
--Ways to play Noise Marines--
Death Star Configuration: 449 pts 8-man Noise Marine unit with Doom Siren, Icon of Excess, Power Sword, Veterans of the Long War, Close Combat Weapon, Land Raider w/ Dirge Caster. Take Lucius for double Doom Siren or a Chaos Lord, either way take a Chaos Sorcerer for Slannesh blessings.
Balanced Configuration: 275 pts 10-man Noise Marine unit with Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Sonic Blasters, Rhino. Keep in midfield destroy threats; don't hesitate to go on the offense and force the issue against weaker units. This unit is great for holding objectives and can handle almost any other scoring unit.
MSU Configuration: 165 pts 5-man Noise Marine unit with Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Rhino w/Dirge Caster. Use Rhino turn one to get close, then use Dirge Caster for assaults. This cheap and efficient unit is predicated on the Noise Champion living so keep him surrounded.
Horde Configuration: 450 pts 20-man Noise Marine unit with Sonic Blasters for 15 models, Power Fist, Icon of Excess. For under 500 points this unit can march up the field or sit behind an Aegis Defense Line. Use a Chaos Sorcerer for Symphony of Pain to increase the strength of Sonic Weapons.
A Word about Allies
Two armies that complement Noise Marines are Necrons and Daemons.
Necrons are a great choice for anyone, but getting two cheap Flyers to protect your Noise Marine from other flyers is priceless. Consider the Stormlord as well, as Sonic Weapons ignore Night Fight for the most part.
As for Daemons, an all Slaanesh army is not only fluffy, but competitive. Take Heralds of Slannesh for Pavane along with a Fiend or Seeker escort. Daemons also open up another slot for a Daemon Prince for much needed anti-air.
Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any situation.
Overall, Noise Marines are one of the top-tier units in the Chaos Space Marine codex and maybe even the game. With the nerf to Furious Charge they are one of the few Toughness 4 units ( -Halberd Grey Knights) that has high Initiative.