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.

Defiled into Sadness

Every so often I get very upset. Sometimes Games Workshop nerfs a unit hard, like the Carnifex.

I get upset because sometimes Games Workshop forces the consumer to buy the new shiny thing by sacrificing the old thing.

In the Chaos Space Marine codex the unit placed on the alter is the Defiler.

The worst part is Defilers were never game breaking, but what happen to them in the newest codex is unnecessary and worse the math just doesn't add up.

To see the math I am talking about look at the differences between the 5th edition and 6th edition codex. One number should stare back at ya. 

(Click to Enlarge)

Defiler Rules 2007




Defiler Rules 2012




What changed between editions?

  • Point increase from 150 to 195
  • Additional Special Rules
  • Power scourge!
  • Power Fists instead of Dreadnaught Close Combat Weapon
  • Access to Vehicle Equipment

--WHAT THE...---

I honestly don't care, what bells and whistles you add to a unit, there is no reason, and I mean no reason, for a Defiler to cost 195 points with only Armor Value 12! At 150 points they were already expensive and now it is ridiculous. Yes, I know they're the only Armor Value 12 unit with four Hull Points, but until I see the Flyer rule next to their name it is no bueno. It doesn't matter, because if one Quad Gun shot gets through, trust me a 5+ invulnerable save isn't going to hold up.

--Oh goody things that don't help me when I am dead--

Why does a Defiler now cost 195 points? Well the automatic unit cost generator Games Workshop uses says so! It Will Not Die, Daemon, Daemonforge combined costs 45 additional points... I guess. This is all moot because even with an invulnerable save it doesn't change the fact Defilers still only has Armor Value of 12!

--More Weapons to never Use--

The addition of the Power Scourge is a welcome sight because now you can actually use all the things found on the sprue. Sadly, it requires you to get into Assault and costs 25 points! I rather not take my chances with a 220 point sink.

--From Claw to Fist--

The loss of the Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon doesn't change much for the Defiler. Defilers double their new impressive strength eight.

--More ways to become more expensive--

Putting aside the cost thing for a second, the ability for a Defiler to take extra weapons is impressive. Taking an additional Havoc Launcher or Combi-Weapon makes for a decent Walker of mass destruction. Defilers though aren't Tanks, so that does limit them from taking all the upgrades.


I honestly don't care, what bells and whistles you add to a unit, there is no reason, and I mean no reason, for a Defiler to cost 195 points with only Armor Value 12!

Putting it all together.

Defilers are one of the worst units in the Space Marine Codex.

You shouldn't take a Defiler no matter how much you love the pin-head, the cost is just too detrimental. You already have a very crowded Heavy Support section, filled with great units like Havocs and Obliterators. Making it very easy to flip the Defiler like a dead spider in any display case.

Ok, now that I have made myself clear, let us see what you can do with this unit, cost be damned!

Defilers are fast they still have Fleet and with the help of Smoke Launchers and the Daemon save you might make it into combat. This is where the nagging point cost can mess with your head. You don't want to throw away all these points, so you are damned if you do or don't. Defilers with Assault in the veins just have to go for it! Remember, to pick targets they can beat, that means avoid Monstrous Creatures and Initiative four Walkers.

Don't get caught flat-footed either, opponents love to shoot a Defilers because of the Battle Cannon.

If your opponent has units that Deep Strike don't be afraid to put your Defiler in Reserve. There is no harm in holding back; better alive later then dead without taking a shot. One major change to keep in mind is Ordnance Weapons no longer stop you from firing other weapons (at least non-blast ones). With the myriad weapons a Defiler possesses this is a major boon.

Defilers are designed to kill one thing very well: basic MEQs. Since scoring units must get out of transports to claim objectives this gives Defilers the upper hand. Thus it becomes critical to know when exactly to unleash the Daemonforge. Daemonforge is a great way to make sure you kill everything left out in the open.

The most important thing about Defilers is not being afraid, you chose to take them, which means you know the risks. If drawing your opponent's fire for just one turn enables the rest of your army to get into position, then at the very least the Defiler did something.


Memory Lane: Defiler

The Defiler was first introduced in the 2003 codex and represented a decided change for the Chaos Space Marine codex. It was the Defiler and the Obliterator that really started an evolution for Chaps Space Marines. Chaos Space Marines weren't just Marines with spikes and some Daemon allies, now they were something completely different.

In the 2003 codex Defilers had an interesting range of rules. They were Walkers, but Monstrous Creatures in close combat. They had a Battle Cannon, but could pay to fire indirectly. 

By the 2007 codex the Defiler got streamlined, rules were stripped and there was few variations to take. Defilers were used sparingly at the time, but when you did see them you could guarantee the Battle Cannon was a main target for most opponents.

Defilers are the forerunners for what Games Workshop wants today's Chaos Space Marine armies to look like. Light on Marines and heavy on Daemon Engines.


--Ways to play a Defiler--

Shooty Configuration: The best way to get around low Ballistic Skill is take blast templates. First switch out the Heavy Flamer for a Havoc Launcher and then buy another Havoc Launcher, giving you three blast weapons. It only costs you 207 and best of all you can sit back at 48". It gives you the option to shoot the Battle Cannon and Snapfire the Reaper Autocannon or shoot the Reaper Autocannon and the two Havoc Launchers.

Assaulty Configuration: Start by taking the Power Scourge; you will want to hit most opponents on 3s, then switch out the Reaper Autocannon for the extra Powerfist. Do not forget to pay the extra 5 points for the Dirge Caster, nothing is worse than death by Snapfire. This gives you (depending target) five base attacks from Powerfists alone. All it will cost you is 225 points, what a bargain...

 A Word about Allies

Why you would take a Defiler as an ally is only for you to explain.

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

Final Thoughts...

Unfortunately, Phil Kelly missed the mark with this unit, but since Phil Kelly is divine I can only assume that Games Workshop is at fault. Never have I seen a unit so hurt by a points increase. The only hope is somehow the meta changes and Defilers become more playable. They do have a few things going for them like the changes to Ordnance Weapons and how Blast Templates. In the end, you are just SO much better off with other Heavy Support options, leaving the Defiler to collect dust until the next edition.



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