Every edition has one troop unit loved above all others: 4th edition it was unquestionably the Plague Marine, for 5th edition the Grey Hunter looks to take that crown. Really what is not to like? Grey Hunters are cheap, resilient, upgradeable, and transport portable.

So why are some units loved like Grey Hunters and others held in derision? Well oddly for the most part it has nothing to do with the Grey Hunter itself. It has something to do with the rest of the Space Wolf codex. Would you love the Grey Hunter if you couldn’t put them in Razorbacks? Would you love them if you couldn’t get a Rune Priest? Would you love them if Long Fangs couldn’t back them up? Would you love them if a Wolf Guard couldn’t join them?

No sane player would think that Grey Hunters are a poor choice, it is just that we often focus with narrow vision on what makes one unit better than another. Is there any other troop choices that are both cheap and durable like Grey Hunters? It is important to at least try to push the 40k in different directions, so did you know there is one unit almost identical in cost and ability to Grey Hunters?

Amazingly enough it is the generic Chaos Space Marine. Think when was the last time you saw basic Chaos Space Marine played? You might need a refresher course to remember what a generic Chaos Space Marine is about: they have access to two meltas, a high base LD, a champion, and are the same price as a Grey Hunter. Generic Chaos Space Marines also have the ability to change their basic stat line. So why don’t we see many armies built around generic Chaos Space Marines? Part of it is they are not shiny or new. Part of it is that the current  meta precludes people from experimenting with old units especially when there is already established succesful builds.

There are few things that separate Grey Hunters from generic Chaos Space Marines. Counter Attack which is pretty important especially when facing horde armies. Grey Hunters can also get a Wolf Guard added to their squad which increases flexibility. Then there is also Mark of Wolfen and the Wolf Standard both effective upgrades with certain lists. With such abilities a generic Chaos Space Marine can only compete by taking a Marks of Chaos. With exception of Mark of Tzeentch and Mark of Nurgle there are many uses for the other Marks. One caveat: if subscribe to the MSU army design philosophy than generic Chaos Space Marines are not very good you can get a five man Plague Marine squad with two special weapons and a rhino for fairly cheap. MSU army lists also don’t work well with generic Chaos Space Marines because to minimize the points spent on Marks you need larger squad sizes.

When considering Marks take off the fluff hat and prepare to mix Chaos Gods. Remember again what makes Grey Hunters good? It has to do with what the else the Space Wolf codex has to offer. A major crutch CSM codex has is the their troops are often put in dangerous situations because they have to make up for other deficiencies. The ability of the Space Wolves to simply play defense and hide in Razorbacks is huge. With generic Chaos Space Marines you have to gang up. That means pushing into your opponents face is paramount with generic Chaos Space Marines.

The two most useful Marks for this is Mark of Slaanesh and Mark of Khorne.

When you first look at the MoK you ask yourself why not Khorne Berserkers for almost the same cost? Answer: special weapons are often more important than Furious Charge and WS5 especially when you consider many CSM armies problems with popping tanks. Having a permanent “counter attack” and four attacks on charge is just plan nasty. Then there is MoS which against most foes can be devastating. With I5 you negate most MEQ armies by reducing attacks inflicted on you since you will leave the dead flaying before they even swing. MoS is also the cheapest of the Chaos God marks adding only two points to each squad member. As well MoS gives your unit a better chance of not being swept by sweeping advance if they lose a combat and run. There is no denying the risks with playing generic Chaos Space Marines, but if you can put together a charge at the same unit from just two of these squads you can bring to bear an amazing amount of attacks leaving your adversary wondering what happened.

What about Mark of Chaos Glory? When 5th edition first came out this Mark seemed like a pretty good buy because it gave reliability to units not running off the board. Slowly as 5th edition has gone on lists and armies have become less static with few exceptions. The idea of standing and being shot at for a few rounds and taking multiple tests is rare– the game is more decisive than that. So if you add a champ to your unit they become pretty darn reliable, when at most you are taking one pinning check and one assault test a game. It should also be mentioned that if your list needs to save as many points as possible than very few things are more sturdy than a 5 man generic Chaos Marine Squad in a rhino especially when you compare some of the restrictions you have to deal with if you use Lesser Deamons. As well another fun and effective build for non-cult Chaos Space Marines is the 10 man ghetto “Razorback” unit. It is any combination of long range weapon with a plasma gun in a rhino. So you can sit back and take pot shots at transports and units.

The goal of this article is not to poo-poo on Grey Hunters they are a great unit, but if you have the time “counts as” those Space Wolves into Chaos Space Marines and you might have more fun than you ever suspected.