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.

Betrayed by Blood?

Kharn the Betrayer is one of the most beloved characters in the Warhammer 40,000 canon.

Kharn's bloodlust is legendary, so many wondered what if anything would Phil Kelly change in the new Chaos Space Marine Codex?

The simple answer is Kharn wasn't changed much.

Just some window dressings bringing him in line with 6th edition.

To give you an idea here is a side by side comparison of Kharn between the old and the new Chaos Space Marine codex.

(Click to Enlarge)

Kharn Rules 2012

Kharn Rules 2012 



Kharn Rules 2007

Kharn Rules 2007 



Compare & Contrast

  • Cost Reduction from 165 to 160
  • Base Attack Reduction from 5 to 4
  • Changes to Psychic Defense
  • Addition of Warlord Trait
  • Changes to Gorechild

--Five Skulls Cheaper--

The across the board special character cost reduction continues! Since Kharn gained more than he lost in the new edition the point reduction is a nice bonus.

--Lose one Skull get two for Free--

At first losing an extra attack doesn't seem to make much sense, but when you think about Rage, Kharn missing attack is found. On the charge Kharn will have the same amount of attacks as before, it is just after the first round he will lose a bit of steam. Makes you wonder if Kharn would have been better off with a Daemon Weapon?

--Kill! Maim! The Witch--

Complete immunity to psychic powers has been replaced with 2+ chance to Deny the Witch. Kharn can pass the bonus on to his unit. The secret bonus is now you can cast Blessings on Kharn and unit as well.

--Hate Everything!!--

Not that Kharn had any problem hitting targets, but now he can pass it on to his unit. With Hatred Incarnate Kharn will not only never miss, but his unit shouldn't miss much either. This more than likely will crush any unit Kharn and buddies assault in just one round of combat.

--More Gore for the Gore God--

Gorechild has been changed as well and the changes are pretty delicious. Gorechild now grants a strength bonus giving Kharn strength seven on the charge along with Armourbane. The best part is Gorechild isn't Unwieldy like every other Power Axe.


Kharn's bloodlust is legendary, so many wondered what if anything would Phil Kelly change in the new Chaos Space Marine Codex?

Putting it all Together…

As you can see not much has changed for Kharn, he is meant to rage and use the full force of his attacks against any enemy. With the changes to Furious Charge Kharn is a lot more susceptible to units like Grey Knight Purifiers finishing him off before he can swing. His psychic defense is also not universal like before, but at least Force Weapons still have no affect on him.

Kharn can destroy most vehicles with ease and best part he has a AP2 weapon that swings at initiative five. This all makes Kharn very dangerous, hitting on 2+ and wounding consistently on 2s as well.

The biggest boon for Kharn is his Warlord Trait; with Hatred Incarnate, Kharn spreads his brand of love all around. Kharn joined to another unit is a must, between his low toughness and lack of good invulnerable save Kharn should never be left alone, even when he maims his own compatriots.

Having Kharn and friends also really minimizes the chances of being sniped from pesky strength eight weapons and along with wound allocation Kharn is a lot more survivable than before-- only leaving him susceptible to certain Challenges.

The next question is do you take another Chaos Lord to go along with Kharn? Kharn often cannot survive an onslaught from many special characters because of his weak save and pension for being doubled out. So throwing a Chaos Lord or Champion speed bump in the way is very critical.

Then there is Abaddon and Kharn together to maximize total devastation. This combo is very expensive, but Abbadon can tank what Kharn cannot and both deliver an insane number of attacks that no opposing unit can handle. Only problem Abaddon has to be your Warlord so no Hadred Incarnate...

Kharn’s limitations become clear when you consider the units he has a hard time synergizing with. Kharn doesn’t have a bike so no joining him to Chaos Bikers. He cannot join any Nurgle marked units, so joined to Mutilators is dicey. Chaos Spawn isn’t good either because Kharn doesn't have Beast.

That leaves you really only three options.

  • Khorne Berserkers
  • Chaos Space Marines
  • Chaos Terminators

Kharn unlocks Khorne Berzerkers as Troops, making this option the most logical choice for him to join. Khorne Berzerkers with Kharn and a Chaos Land Raider is a classic and effective choice to run. The Khorne Berzerker blob isn’t a bad idea, but if you are going to consider blobbing better go with cheaper Chaos Space Marines.

What about Chaos Space Marines? If you desire running 20 guys with Kharn this is the choice. You don’t lose much and they're much cheaper than a Khorne Berzerker. They can get a few special weapons to take out tanks and Kharn makes them Fearless.

Chaos Terminators are good choice for Kharn as well; with two problems, you cannot Deep Strike with Kharn, and potentially an expensive mess if Kharn starts killing Chaos Terminators. Chaos Terminators make the best speed bump Champions for Challenges because of there surviviablity. Most importantly, Chaos Terminators take full advantage of Hatred and Power Axes with Kharn at their side.

Taking Kharn also means going all in. So, taking Icon of Wrath is important if Kharn is joined to Chaos Space Marines or Chaos Terminators.

Like Abbadon Kharn doesn’t leave much to the imagination. He isn’t going to change the dynamics of your army. Kharn is classic smash ball 40k, take Kharn, give him a unit, and point him towards the nearest target and you’re pretty much done.

Memory Lane: Kharn

--Ways to play Kharn--

The following lists are by no means meant strictly for competitive play, they represent a cross-section of the Chaos Space Marine codex allowing for flexibility and variety. 

Death Star Configuration: Kharn Death Star List

Balanced Configuration: Kharn Balanced List

MSU Configuration: Don't try Kharn and MSU at home.

Horde Configuration: Kharn Horde List

Fluffy Configuration:Kharn Fluff List

Daemon Ally Configuration: Kharn Daemon Ally List

Ork Ally Configuration: Kharn Ork Ally List

If you have any questions about how to play these lists feel free to email me using the contact information below.

Final Thoughts…

Overall, Kharn hasn’t changed. He is still the same old Kharn you have grown to love. Of course, we wish he was Eternal Warrior, of course we wish he had at least 4+ invulnerable save, and of course having toughness five wouldn’t hurt either. Kharn still kills and with the changes to wound allocation and Look Out Sir Kharn has more of a fighting chance to survive than you think.



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