Codex Chaos Space Marines 8th Edition First Impressions

by | Aug 30, 2017

All tactical reviews intentional don’t include any reference to Forge World and its rules, as such no Forge World units or books are ever reviewed on Blood of Kittens. 

After much begging it is time to update the popular Blood of Kittens codex tactical articles. First we start as always with a first impressions of the latest codex. As with every new codex, bloggers frantically put up reviews and instant insights. This type of analysis is often shortsighted and based on antiquated meta, but that isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid reviews. So here is the Blood of Kittens take on the 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex.

If you see similar analysis on other sites understand Blood of Kittens is writing independently of what you might have read. Always remember, what seems good now isn’t always the six months from now.

The Chaos Space Marine codex is the 2nd codex released for 8th edition following the Space Marine codex. The 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex is the first new Chaos Space Marine codex since 2012! At the time it was the first codex for the happily forgotten 6th edition. In that Chaos Space Marine codex, it was all about the new Daemonic Machines, with the Heldrake, Maulerfiend, and Forgefiend taking the center stage of model releases. Like many things during 6th edition it was a bad choice by Games Workshop, players didn’t ask for this particular exploration into Chaos Space Marines. To this day we still haven’t seen a new sculpt to the basic Chaos Space Marine, while the basic Space Marines have gotten at least three updates in the same amount of time.

As for the rules, the 6th edition codex focused on the new models making every initial armies a horde of Heldrakes and Cultists and not much else. Five years later we now have the 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex, which looks nothing like the 6th edition version, but holds more an echo to the amazing Traitor Legions supplement from last year. The 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex, keeps Legion Traits, mixes in Stratagems to replace Formation or old special rule abilities. The 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex seems like an attempt at addition through subtraction, like Marks of Chaos being under utilized keyword fodder. The 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex subtraction mostly comes from a lack of cohesion, which unlike the 8th edition Space Marine codex synergies come easily. Games Workshop can never seem to let the Chaos Space Marines loose.

This does though make list creation fairly easy as the army doesn’t require much thinking, pick most any play style of choice and the unit options will be clear.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a Chaos Space Marine army.

  • Basic Chaos Space Marine army design follow three archetypes around specific Characters.
    • Fight Phase Armies: Dark Apostle & Exalted Champion Lead with either Dark Riders or Butcher’s Nails Legion Traits. Mark of Khorne with focus on Khorne Berzerkers, Possessed, Warp Talons, Raptors.
    • Shooting Phase Armies: Force Multiplier “to hit” characters with either Black Crusaders or Hidden in Plain Sight Legion Traits. Mark of Nurgle or Mark of Slaanesh with focus on Noise Marines, Havocs, Chosen, Tanks.
    • Character Rule Manipulation Armies: Abaddon and/or Daemon Princes with either Flawless Perfection or Black Crusaders. Mark of Tzeentch or Mark of Slaanesh with focus on Cultists and Daemons
  • Focus on a only a few Stratagems that fit your army’s core theme. Trying to fit a variety of units to take advantage of many Stratagems leads to ineffective army builds.
  • Legion Traits and Marks of Chaos are combinable Example: Units can be both Alpha Legion and Noise Marines gaining benefits for both.
  • Any Troop Daemon included in a Detachment causes all other units lose any Legion Trait abilities. Only way around this is by using Daemonic Ritual for reinforcements or pay an HQ tax for a separate detachment.
When the traitor’s hand strikes, it strikes with the strength of a legion. --Horus Lupercal

As with every codex no matter the edition, Games Workshop makes certain units better than others. 8th edition has done a pretty good job so far of making sure no unit is just flat out terrible, but it hasn’t stop certain units from being fantastic. Here is a sample of some the best and worst units in the 8th Edition Chaos Space Marine Codex.

Khorne Berzerkers

Base Cost 16 Points
  • Troops as World Eaters
  • Extra Attack on the Charge if World Eaters
  • Fight Twice each Fight Fight Phase
  • Fight a Third time using Fury of Khorne Stratagem


Base Cost 13 Points
  • Flexible Wargear Options
  • Cost Efficient
  • Endless Cacophony Stratagem to Shoot Twice
  • Access to Autocannon

Abaddon The Despoiler

Base Cost 240 Points
  • Re-roll all Hits Aura
  • Fearless 12″ Aura
  • Amazing Melee Unit
  • Additional Command Points

Chaos Space Marines

Base Cost 13 Points
  • More efficient Troop options
  • No specifically useful Stratagems
  • Marks of Chaos could do more
  • Chaos Icons could do more


Base Cost 138 Points
  • No Flyer Defensive Abilities
  • Not effective enough Flyer Killer
  • Hades autocannon still not good


Base Cost 45 Points
  • Missed Iron Warriors opportunity
  • Should be an Elite Choice
  • No Specific Stratagem
  • No Defined enough role

As alluded to before this is the first in a “new” series of articles detailing every unit in the 8th edition Chaos Space Marine codex. This will follow close to the same format as previous Tactical reviews, with some added twists to fit 8th edition.

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