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.

Rosemary's Baby

The story of the Chaos Spawn is a story of redemption, going from complete and utter crap to something resembling a real unit. Chaos Spawn illustrates Phil Kelly's desire take "bad" units and make them playable.

This isn't to say that Chaos Spawn are a great unit, but a unit who in the right hands can surprise most opponents. 

The best part about Chaos Spawn is, nothing else, they are fun again! Fun because their rules fit their fluff, and fun because Chaos Spawn can be used for anyone wanting to reconstituted their old Lost and the Damned army.

In order to understand just how different Chaos Spawn are from before, look no further than the differences between the 5th edition and 6th edition codex. Here is a side by side comparison.

(Click to Enlarge)

Chaos Spawn 2012 Rules




Chaos Spawn 2007 Rules




Not your Mother's Spawn

  • Reduction in cost 40 to 30 pts
  • Takes up a Force Org Slot
  • Loss of Slow and Purposeful and Mindless
  • Gained Mutated Beyond Reason and Rage
  • Squad Size change 3 to 5
  • Access to Marks

 --Spawn for Less--

The laughable 40 point Chaos Spawn is gone, and replaced with a more reasonable 30 points. I would've still like to see Chaos Spawn around 25 points, but a 10 point drop is good enough. As well, the 30 points is an illusion as you will most certainly take a Mark.

--The new one child policy--

The ONE build for Chaos Spawn in the last edition was Spawn Herder lists: where you take as many Chaos Spawn as you could fit, with Lash Princes so you could Lash of Submission units to the Chaos Spawn. Now Chaos Spawn take up a Fast Attack slot, and with how competitive Fast Attack is, make sure you know exactly what you want with Chaos Spawn before adopting.

--Out with the Bad--

The removal of Mindless is HUGE, now your Chaos Spawn won't aimlessly mill about the board, getting shot in the open. Thank the heavens Slow and Purposeful is also gone, before it was bad, but if it had stayed with the changes it would've been crippling. Could you imagine Chaos Spawn without Run or Sweeping Advance?

--In with the Good--

Mindless was replaced with Rage, which gives Chaos Spawn at least three attacks when Assaulting. Better than Rage is Mutated Beyond Reason. Not only does the random chart fit fluff, but it also doesn't penalizes you. The random chart only works in Assault; giving either 4+ Armor save, two dice for Attacks pick the highest, and the best, Poison on a 4+. Re-rolling wounds at Strength 5 is always golden.

--Quintuplets is better than Triplets--

In a bold move Phil Kelly changed the unit size of Chaos Spawn from three to five. This change actually might be the most important change to Chaos Spawn. Having five Chaos Spawn in many situations puts the math in your favor when it comes to assault outcomes, and a five man unit is more wounds an opponent has to get through. 

--Which God to Pin on your Spawn--

Mark of Khorne

The cheapest of the Marks, but unless you really, really want Counter-Attack this Mark isn't worth it. If your Chaos Spawn are actually the ones getting assaulted, I imagine the extra attacks won't matter much.

Mark of Tzeentch

God forbid you could actually get a save! This four point upgrade is pretty meaningless.

Mark of Nurgle

Some say the only Mark you should get. Toughness 6 does wonders for a unit that doesn't have an armor save. If you have the points to spend, taking this Mark is a no brainer. A very good choice especially if you run a Nurgle Chaos Lord on a Palanquin.

Mark of Slannesh

The other good choice for your Chaos Spawn. This gives Chaos Spawn the ability to strike at the same time as any Space Marine. Since Chaos Spawn are the only Beasts in the Chaos Space Marine codex, so taking a Slannesh Chaos Lord on a Steed of Slannesh with a Chaos Spawn escort isn't a bad idea.


This isn't to say that Chaos Spawn are a great unit, but a unit who in the right hands can surprise most opponents.

Putting it all together.

Chaos Spawn are simple creatures, and regardless if you give them any Marks, they will do one thing and one thing alone: Assault. So how do you get them into Assault? Charging them head long towards the nearest target does seem like the logical course of action, but without an Armor Save that would be foolish. 

Chaos Spawn MUST hug terrain and use it as best they can. This is made much easier because Chaos Spawn ignore difficult terrain as Beasts. Just have your Chaos Spawn hop from terrain to terrain to reach a target. Speaking of targets, focus less on what you would like to Assault, and more on what you can actually get to in one piece. Chaos Spawn are very baitable and a good general will exploit the lust to get them in Assault.

If terrain is a problem have Chaos Spawn screened by other units. Vehicles can move as fast as Chaos Spawn so don't have shame; hide behind them!

Besides keeping Chaos Spawn alive, make sure to take a large unit. I would never consider less than four in a unit. Nine wounds are reasonably easy to get through, but 12 or 15 not so much. Large squads also give you a buffer if you lose one or two models. Trust me, you are going to lose Chaos Spawn, they are a glass cannon of tentacles.

If you only have a few Chaos Spawn models or playing low point games this doesn't mean your Chaos Spawn are completely useless. Chaos Spawn make good Chaos Lord escorts, basically providing extra wounds at 10 points apiece. 


Memory Lane: Chaos Spawn

Chaos Spawn made their first appearance in 2003 with the release of the Eye of Terror campaign and codex. They were the heavy support option for Lost and the Damned army list. Spawn at the time were a very good unit; 20 points and with 3+ armor sav. They didn't have model at the time and players were encouraged to make their own Chaos Spawn, luckily a model came out a few years later.

The golden age of Chaos Spawn was short-lived as by 2007 the latest Chaos Space Marine codex nerfed them back into oblivion. 2007 Chaos Spawn were an insane 40 points each and would run towards the nearest enemy and move at snail's pace. The reasons for the changes were inexplicable, with the only explanation being that since certain spells could turn models into Chaos Spawn maybe they didn't want something more powerful than the thing that was being replaced?


--Ways to play Chaos Spawn--

Death Star Configuration: 165 pts 5-man Chaos Spawn unit with Mark of Slaanesh. Take with either a Slannesh Chaos Lord on Steed of Slannesh or a Chaos Bike. Utilize the speed and wounds of the Chaos Spawn to get your Chaos Lord where it needs to go. Don't be afraid to have the Chaos Lord break off, especially if it is a to provide Fearless for another unit. 

Balanced Configuration: 120 pts 4-man Chaos Spawn unit. At little cost and risk this unit is very forgiving and can deliver a max of 32 attacks!

MSU Configuration: 0 pts 0-man Chaos Spawn unit. There is no MSU configuration! Have your Chaos Spawn at the ready for when your Chaos Lord turns into one.

Horde Configuration: 180 pts 6-man Chaos Spawn unit with Mark of Nurgle. Pile on the wounds with Nurgle Chaos Lords. You also have a unit that cannot be doubled out and deliver a pound of pestilence with ease.

A Word about Allies

Imperial Guard and Daemons work well with Chaos Spawn each for one particular reason. In the case of Imperial Guard, taking a Primaris Psyker is the best way add some defense to Chaos Spawn. Casting Endurance from Biomancy or Fire Shield from Pyromancy on Chaos Spawn complements them very well.

In the case of Daemons, Skarbrand is a angry companion, as he will have your Chaos Spawn re-rolling all hits, and with Weapon Skill 3 is a big deal. You can also make fun lists by taking Beasts of Nurgle along with Chaos Spawn to see how many D6s you can roll.

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

Final Thoughts...

Chaos Spawn will always be about getting to Assault and once there it is still no cake walk. Having Weapons Skill 3 and Initiative 3 really does hurt. It means that most opponents are hitting Chaos Spawn on 3s and doing it before the Chaos Spawn hit back. Taking a Chaos Lord with them only mitigates this problem, because he most assuredly will be in some Challenge.

Chaos Spawn are fast, so target units in the backfield and leave front line units for better Chaos Space Marine Codex units to handle. With so many other threats from your list, having Chaos Spawn sneak in the back shouldn't be too difficult. Chaos Spawn are now better, but don't fool yourself, use them accordingly for harassing and/or as a support unit. Don't get too carried away.


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