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.

Better than Ever?

Chaos Space Marine Terminators are one of the best units in the new Chaos Space Marine codex... with one major caveat. Versatility gives the Chaos Terminator an indomitable edge.

They benefit more from the changes in 6th edition than anything you will find in the new Chaos Space Marine codex.

With minor tweaks Chaos Terminators are a hard unit to pass up, especially if have a burning desire for a great hammer unit.

Can the same problem that plagues so many other units in the Chaos Space Marine codex bring the downfall of this amazing unit?

Before we got to their little problem, let us start by looking at the differences between the 5th edition and 6th edition codex. Here is a side by side comparison.

(Click to Enlarge)

Chaos Terminators 2007 Rules



Chaos Terminators 2012 Rules



The Little Differences

  • 30 to 31 points per Terminator
  • Random changes to options costs
  • 5 Terminators now for a Reaper Autocannon
  • Loss of Leadership 10 to 9
  • Marks and Icons

--Odd numbers makes for hard Math--

This pretty trivial increase in the cost for Chaos Terminators (I image) is attributed to the flexibility that Power Weapons now possess. The fact that they stayed under 35 points is amazing when you think you get a "free" Terminator Champion along for the ride.

--Games Workshop formula in overdrive--

Most upgrade costs have all gone down. With things like Chainfists went from 15 - 12, but cheap Heavy Flamers go from 5 to 10 points. Where the cost will hurt the most is with Chaos Marks, they got noticeably more expensive. Before a Mark of Nurgle 10-man squad would cost you 40 points, now it will cost you 60 points. Of course, finding the right balance can keep the costs below the previous edition, but it sure makes it difficult.

--Old Favorite Gone--

One of my favorite builds in 5th edition was taking a 3-man Chaos Terminator unit with an Reaper Autocannon and sitting back to pop transports. Now Chaos Terminators are in line with their loyalist twins, requiring at least five Chaos Terminators to take a heavy weapon.

--Loss of Leadership--

As I have said before the leadership drop makes little sense except as a way to make Veterans of the Long War more appealing, but with Chaos Terminators it is a big problem because they don't have Fearless.

--Marks and Icons--

Mark of Khorne and Icon of Wrath

This is the cheapest Mark you can give your Terminators and one of the most effective. Having four attacks on the charge is one of the ways that separates Chaos Terminators from other Terminators. Where most of the time you can take a Mark without the Icon in this case taking the Icon of Wrath is a must have.

Icon of Wrath is a good way of keeping your Terminators cheap without taking pricey Powerfists or Chainfists especially if you go with a large unit. It also makes Power Axes wound on 2s against most units. More importantly it gives the ever important re-roll on charge distance. Combined Mark of Khorne and Icon of Wrath put Chaos Terminators on par with Assault Terminators for damage output while at the same time being cheaper.

Mark of Tzeentch and Icon of Flame

Mark of Tzeentch is a great Mark if you plan on facing lots of AP2. In 5th edition it was the most prevalent Mark. It does make your Chaos Terminators 36 points each, putting them very close to the price of Assault Terminato. The major drawback with this Mark is that only Tzeentch Lords can join the unit, which is not the best assault Chaos Lords you can take. If you want to go Tzeentch consider shooty Chaos Terminators.

As illustrated before Icon of Flame is a waste of points, instead consider Icon of Vengeance if you want to run your Terminators without a Chaos Lord babysitter.

Mark of Nurgle and Icon of Despair

Mark of Nurgle is expensive, but has the added bonus of reducing the wounds you will take from mass small arms fire. It also gives you the opportunity to take Nurgle Lords which can be very powerful. In combination with Gift of Contagionyou can end up fighting opponents that will only wound Chaos Terminators on 6s.

As for Icon of Despair never worth taking unless your local meta is Xenos heavy.

Mark of Slannesh and Icon of Excess

Mark of Slannesh is the best Mark if you plan on going Marine hunting. Taken along with Veterans of the Long War, you have a unit that devastates multiple Space Marine squads with ease. Mark of Slannesh is also a relatively cheap option.

Icon of Excess on the other hand is expensive and doesn’t (mathematically) add that much to this unit. So unless you are facing a lot of AP2 weapons stay cheap and simple.

Icon of Vengeance

Icon of Vengeance is best taken if you have the points to spare and want your Chaos Terminators to stand alone on the battlefield. It is an important option if you go shooty Chaos Terminators allowing you to take more risk closer to the board edges. It is also something to consider when you faced with terrible Icon options from other Marks.

With minor tweaks Chaos Terminators are a hard unit to pass up, especially if have a burning desire for a great hammer unit.

Putting it all together.

As I alluded to before, Chaos Terminators are great unit, but for one problem you have to give them a double take: no Fearless.

Without Fearless Chaos Terminators are at a pretty substantial disadvantage. One answer to this problem is having a Chaos Lord along for the ride. This isn't such a bad problem to have, because Chaos Terminators are made for Chaos Lords to join.

The best part about taking Chaos Terminators stock (without upgrades) is you have a cheap and deadly unit. The flexibility of taking Power Weapons however you want, really lends itself to Chaos Terminators. Take a mix of AP 3 or AP 2 weapons, throw in a Chainfist for Land Raiders, then if that's not good enough, take a few combi-weapons. Combo with Marks and Icons and you still have unit under the points cost of any other Terminator unit.

Always keep 400 points threshold in mind when constructing a Chaos Terminator unit-- 400 points is the same cost for 10-man Assault Terminator unit.

As for other uses, Chaos Terminators have options. Termiscide has changed in from combi-melta to combi-plasma or combi-flamer. As firing platform Chaos Terminators are great, either sitting back with Reaper Autocannons or getting up close with Heavy Flamers and the host of combi-weapons.

Without a Chaos Lord run your Chaos Terminators away from your board edges and away from losing combats. Consider going small with these types of units (less than 5), so losing a Leadership test in assault still having a good rate of success and you don't lose a ton of points if things go badly. The good thing about 6th edition is that unless you are down to one or two models you can still rally and fire a Reaper Autocannon while falling back.

Don't forget the trusty Reaper Autocannon with the Twin-linked is a decent for anti-air in a pinch.


Memory Lane: Chaos Terminators

Just like loyalist Space Marines, Chaos Terminators have been part of Chaos Space Marine lore since the beginning. 

In the 1999 codex they were just spikey Terminators without much flavor or fluff unless you gave them cool Chaos Space Marine wargear. We did get introduced to some standard Chaos Terminator gear: Combi-weapons, Power Weapons, and Autocannons.

By 2003 Terminators were combined with Chosen and subjected to limited numbers depending on how big your games were. The limitation though provided some crazy amounts of special weapons like 10 Reaper Autocannons for certain builds. Chaos Terminators were still the suck with terrible metal models that wouldn't get replaced untill 2007.

Finally by 2007 Chaos Terminators had their Elite slot back to themselves, and new much cooler plastic models! Chaos Terminators got full access to Marks and Icon, but a limit of only 10 models per unit. The introduction of Termicide became prevalent, but quickly Terminators became underused because of no Fearless and the better all around Plague Marine.


--Ways to play Chaos Terminators--

Death Star Configuration: 397 pts 10-man Chaos Terminators unit with Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War. The unit along with a Khorne Chaos Lord is a ton of attacks that more likely than not will be AP2. Mark of Khorne keeps your attack count up even if you lose a few Chaos Terminators and Icon of Wrath gives you the strength six you will need to wound most things on 2s. 

Balanced Configuration: 285 pts 6-man Chaos Terminator unit with Icon of vengeance, 5 combi-weapons, 1 Chainfist, Reaper Autocannon. This all-purpose unit for under 300 points is a good tool for any situation. Consider what Combi-Weapons you want and don't be afraid to go with say 2 flamers and 3 plasma to handle whatever comes your way.

MSU Configuration: 115 pts 3-man Chaos Terminator unit with 3 combi-weapons. Classic Termicide, but now taking 3 Flamers or 3 Plasma instead of Melta

Horde Configuration: 392 pts 10-man Chaos Terminator unit with Mark of Nurgle, 2 Heavy Flamers. This unit is designed to take two Chaos Lords on Palanquins. Combined this makes for 20 wounds your opponent must chew through, made even harder with toughness five.

A Word about Allies

Terminators are easily complimented by Imperial Guard or Daemons. For Imperial Guard consider Blob Squads as a good foil for the Elite unit Chaos Terminators are. Imperial Guard blobs are also good at holding AP 2 units that pose the biggest threat to Chaos Terminators. Traitor Guard fluff also fits well with Chaos Terminators as the unit that corrupted them in the first place.

As for Daemons it really depends on the type of Chaos Terminator unit you run. If you go with MEQ killing Terminators taking a unit like Screamers to handle the AP 2 treats is a good idea. If you plan on using unwealdy Chaos Terminators taking anything with high Initiative (Fiends, Daemonettes) can easily protect your Chaos Terminators from taking too many saves in assault.

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

Final Thoughts...

Though I consider Chaos Terminators one of the best units in the codex the rise of Plasma does give me some pause. Chaos Terminators still have great potential to evolve with the changing meta, because of the different ways they can be played. Just remember unlike other Terminators, Chaos Terminators do require a bit more finesse because they can disappear to just one bad Leadership roll.


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