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.

Possessed to cost You

Possessed are one of the forgotten units from last edition, always funky (like Chosen), Games Workshop doesn't seem to know what to do with them, and for the new codex that hasn't changed.

While Possessed have gotten better, I just can't recommend them, for one simple reason: Possessed are just too damn expensive.

The disappointing part is you can see exactly how they got there point cost, Invulnerable save, Strength 5, Fearless, Fleet, but for in-game playability that isn't enough.

But, before we see why Possessed are damned, 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)

Possessed 2007 Rules



Possessed 2012 Rules



Highs and Lows

  • New Random Chart
  • Loss of Leadership
  • Fleet
  • Daemonkin to Daemon
  • Two Gifts of Mutation
  • Marks and Icons

--A few less Random Tentacles--

The new power chart for Possessed is a marked improvement over the last edition. Going from 1d6 powers down to 1d3 powers. Called Vessels of Chaos the new chart has Possessed either re-roll wounds, have AP3 claws, or get +1 Attack and +1 Initiative, which changes every Fight-sub Phase. Two thirds of the options are very good-- killing MEQs or going before they can swing. You really can count on this random chart and brings a focused purpose to Possessed.

--Loss of Leadership--

This ones doesn't make much sense because the unit is Fearless. There are powers and such where this does matter, but still I am not sure the point. My guess it is an attempt at consistency with the rest of the Codex.

--Fleet for Free--

Possessed get Fleet, where before it was just luck of the draw. This would be a great addition if it were not for the fact that Possessed cannot pass it on to any attached Independent Character. So unless you run Possessed alone Fleet rarely comes into play.

--Going Full Blooded--

Removing the Daemonkin wording and replacing it with Daemon streamlined Possessed. It also has the added (though minor) bonus of giving Fear to the unit. Conversely, being a true Daemon means you are now clearly affected by Grey Knights and other Daemon hating powers. Still having +5 invulnerable save shouldn't be underestimated.

--Two heads for the Price of Two--

Possessed and Warptalons are the only two units in the Chaos Space Marine Codex that can get two gifts of mutation for their Champions. If it wasn't for how expensive Possessed already were then this could be an option, but unless you are running a theme gift list it should be avoided. 

--Marked for Possession--


Mark of Khorne & Icon of Wrath

With a base of two attacks having Mark of Khorne on Possessed isn't a bad option. That gives them four attacks on the charge and three when being charged. Mark of Khorne is one of the cheapest Marks as well. The real benefit is taking Icon of Wrath. Furious Charge gives you strength six attacks, making Possessed one of the best vehicle hunting units in the Codex. Possessed can also get lucky and roll +1 attack + 1 initiative with Vessels of Chaos.


Mark of Tzeentch & Icon of Flame

This is the most expensive Mark and also the weakest. It makes Possessed 31 points a piece, and all you get is better chance to survive low AP weapons. What kills Possessed is not failing Melta save, but being killed by Bolter fire. Save yourself the trouble and avoid this Mark unless you run Tzeentch Independent Characters you want to attach. As for Icon of Flame it is even more pointless for Possessed than other units.

Mark of Nurgle & Icon of Despair

This Mark makes your Possessed 30 points each and in return you get some added defense. This is the middle of the road Mark for the unit consider for screening other units or for taking Typhus along with them. As for Icon of Despair is pointless because Possessed already cause Fear.

Mark of Slaanesh & Icon of Excess

If you are going for resiliency this is the best Mark and Icons of the bunch. Going first against most MEQs is huge for Possessed and getting the added bonus of an additional save is priceless. The downside is the cost when you factor in the Icon of Excess. For a 10-man Possessed unit that is an extra 65 points on top of the 260 you are spending on the models.

Icon of Vengaence



While Possessed have gotten better, I just can't recommend them, for one simple reason: Possessed are just too damn expensive.

Putting it all Together

As I stated before, Possessed have a cost problem. At 26 points they just don't hold up. If only they would have gotten a point reduction or 2+ armor, but as it stands Chaos Terminators are where it is at for Elites. The only bright spot for Possessed is their ability to Sweeping Advance, but against most units that (with Fearless) it becomes almost impossible to decisively win combats.

Just compare them to Grey Hunters, at almost half the cost, a Possessed may very well kill a Grey Hunter unit, but it leaves them incapacitated immediately after.

Did I mention also that they don't have grenades?

Too many good things need to happen for Possessed to be effective. You have to face units in the open, have low Initiative, and low Toughness for any guarantee. So that means Possessed better like killing Tau or...

Necrons are the Possessed target of choice, between Vessels of Chaos and Sweeping Advance most Necrons units will easily crumble, but against large units (Orks) or equal stats (Space Marines) Possessed have problems.

It also hurts that Possessed cannot use Rhinos to assault from, that means Land Raiders are the only effective way to get Possessed to the thick of it without being gunned down first. Everything adds up to Possessed being as a very situational unit.

If you really want to use them keeping it cheap is the way to go.

That means having no Marks or Icons and picking a very specific role. Consider something like Tank hunting. Use the Strength 5 and mass of attacks to bring down and surround vehicles. Leave heavy assault lifting for other units, and go after what you know Possessed can succeed against. Protecting the backfield or moving along the edges and using Fleet to make an unexpected assaults can pay dividends.


Memory Lane: Possessed

Possessed have always been expensive, random, and Elite. In 1999, Possessed had one funky chart. Not only were Possessed 30 points each, but they got three powers!

They got to randomly roll for...

  1. 12" Move
  2. If Possessed won combat opponents automatically fall back.
  3. +1 strength
  4. +1 attack
  5. Power Weapons
  6. 3+ Invulnerable save

Now that was one chart that actually made the 30 points worth it.

Fast forward to 2002 and Possessed had another change. This time the chart was gone, but Possessed could buy powers at various costs. Possessed were also only 22 points at this time. We also see for the first time the now standard 3+ armor and 5+ invulnerable save.

Here is what you could buy for Possessed in 2002

  1. Flight = Jumpack
  2. Talons = Bonus attack + Rending
  3. Fire = Shooting attack
  4. Visage = - 1 to Leadership checks in combat
  5. Mutation = + 1 attack

Finally, by 2007 Possessed had their own box set you could buy, so no more kit bashing! It didn't mean though that anyone would buy it, because Possessed were pretty bad. With return of the random chart and 26 point models Possessed never really had a chance.

Here is what the chart looked like...

  1. Scout
  2. Furious Charge
  3. Fleet
  4. Rending
  5. Feel No Pain
  6. Power Weapons




--Ways to play Possessed--

Death Star Configuration: 247 pts 8-man Possessed unit with Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath. Take with a Land Raider and a couple Khorne Chaos Lords and you have something dangerous on paper. This keeps each Possessed around the price of an un-buffed Chaos Terminator and you get double the models count in the Land Raider

Balanced Configuration: 296 pts 9-man Possessed unit with Mark of Slannesh, Icon of Excess. Trying to keep Possessed under 300 points and effective is hard. This unit  goes first in most fights and getsto get multiple saves opportunities. Since Possessed are so expensive, Initiative 5 and Feel No Pain are the best ways to keep them alive from both shooting and assault.

MSU Configuration: 190 pts 5-man Possessed unit with Mark of Nurgle, Rhino w/Dirge caster. Drive around and snipe exposed units. Great for killing Gretchin, Scouts, and Cultists. Really, only use if you plan on running a Rhino rush army-- MSU isn't the best utilization for Possessed generally.

Horde Configuration: 655 pts 20-man Possessed unit with Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess. This is one of those ridiculous units that you from time to time. If it actually makes it to combat can be pretty devastating, and at the very least it is a huge distraction. Don't attach Characters to this unit better keep the Fleet to get off a good Assault. It would really be viable if they could score, but as it stands use for 2000+ point games.

A Word about Allies

Possessed being crazy and mutated means going with Daemons or Orks as Allies is only logical. With Daemons complementing Possessed with either Nurgle or Slaanesh --use Possessed with either Plaguebearers or Deamonettes. Mixing up Initiative steps is a good way to get as many models engaged, and with different armor values forces your opponent to divide his attacks. Possessed really fit any Chaos Space Marine theme that showcases the downfall of joining Chaos.

With Orks Possessed work great with Ork boyz giving cover or just mobbing your opponent. The key though is getting lucky with Vessels of Chaos and delivering AP3 wounds that Ork Boyz can't. The great thing about Orks and Possessed is counter-charging after the Orks hold your opponent in place.

Final Thoughts...

Overall, Phil Kelly missed a great opportunity with Possessed. Phil must have felt that changing the Random Chart was enough, but the he never realized that it wasn't ever about the chart, but always the cost. Leaving Possessed at 26 points a model doesn't fit well into most Chaos Space Marine armies because they just eat so many points from other more deserving units.

Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any situation.


It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.