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.
The Magic Man
The Chaos Sorcerer has changed dramatically over the years and in 2012 the changes keep on coming. Psykers always change as Games Workshop can't ever stick with one way to run psychic powers.
With the new psychic system Chaos Sorcerers are the psychic first lab rat of 6th edition.
If they're any clues, expect cheaper Psykers for the rest of this edition mark my words.
Before we dive right into the good and bad of Chaos Sorcerers, let us start by looking at the differences between the 2007 and 2012 versions of this unit.
Here is a side by side comparison.
(Click to Enlarge)
Compare & Contrast
- Point cost reduction from 100 to 60 points
- Reduction of Base Line stats
- Loss of Invulnerable save
- Additional Wargear Options
- Psychic Power Changes
--Is it worth it...--
At first glance, the point drop is pretty amazing. If the Chaos Space Marine codex and the Dark Angels codex is any indication cheaper Psykers will be the norm. The Chaos Sorcerer price drop comes with a lot of give and take, but mostly taking.
--Can't handle it Guy--
The Chaos Sorcerer might be cheaper, but it lost a wound, an attack, a point of Ballistic Skill, Weapon Skill, and Initiative. The losses that hurt the most are BS and wounds. It would have been nice to see a Witchfire powers could hit on 2s, but only having two wounds really hurts.
--Now it will cost ya--
Gone is the stock Invulnerable save now you will have to pay at least 15 points for it. As you will start to see Sorcerers often don't come cheap once you try to get them up to snuff.
Sorcerers get the same amount of wargear options as Chaos Lords, but most upgrades are useless in the hands of a two wound model, with the major exception of Spell Familiar which makes Chaos Sorcerers one of the most reliable Psykers in the game.
--Psychic Powers --
Instead of dedicating an entire post just to the Chaos Psychic Powers we will discuss them here. The biggest thing you have to keep in mind, is you cannot take all powers from the chosen Chaos God if you are Mastery Level 2 or higher.
Discipline of Tzeentch
Tzeentch powers are mostly offensive (witchfire) powers here is a break down.
Tzeentch's Firestorm Primaris Power
Tzeentch's Firestorm is a decent shooty power if that is your forte, but you're better off taking the random roll power because Doombolt and Breath of Chaos are better powers. Unless your plan is to spam Tzeentch's Firestorm with an Aspiring Sorcerers.
Boon of Mutation
It is never a good power if there is a possibility you will kill your own guy. What is worse, you don't get a chance to become a Daemon Prince, but sure can become a Chaos Spawn. Boon of Mutation is also plagued by a short-range, which means you have to huddle your characters close together to even attempt.
Doombolt is pretty amazing power. Doombolt is a Beam so it automatically hits (hello dead Flyers), and can hit multiple targets. The ability to auto-hit Flyers is too hard to pass up.
Breath of Chaos
At two Warp Charges Breath of Chaos really makes this a power a poor choice. The Breath of Chaos works well for Flamers of Tzeentch because you can spam the template, that isn't the case with Sorcerers. At two Warp Charges you cannot spam it with Aspiring Sorcerers.
Discipline of Nurgle
Nurgle Powers are all over the place and in general not very good.
Nurgle's Rot Primaris Power
You could do worse than Nurgle's Rot and as a Nova power it does have potential. You create a 6" inch bubble of poison death. This works great if you run your Sorcerer with a multi-wound unit, and not worried about hurting them. Nurgle's Rot big problem is its just not as good as the other Nurgle Powers, so unless you are playing against horde armies best to take a chance on the dice roll.
Weapon Virus is pretty situation power and best used against things like Shoota Boyz, but with Dark Angels now able to shoot Bolters like nobodies business Weapon Virus might find itself a new friend.
Gift of Contagion
Gift of Contagion could have been a better if it didn't have a random chart, but is still the best of Nurgle power of the bunch. The random chart makes Gift of Contagion best targets assault units. It works wonders with assaulting Plague Marines, because 2/3 of the time your opponent will end up wounding 6s against T5.
Plague Wind for two Warp Charge power makes me sad again. Plague Wind really suffers from the limited range; meaning your Sorcerer will probably only get one shot off before being assaulting. Still, in a world obsessed with 2+ saves having an AP2 large blast isn't so bad.
Discipline of Slaanesh
Slaanesh Powers suffer from big highs and terrible lows.
Sensory Overload Primaris Power
Sensory Overloard is overloaded with special rules that may or may not be helpful. The problem with a power that tries to do too much is it often does nothing. The chances are you will want Sensory Overload to Pin a unit, but instead it just Blinds them. The same goes for any combinations you want; making the whole power too situational
The only Blessing for all of Chaos! This Blessing is a pretty good one, but is plagued by the random chart! The target of this power will undoubtedly be assault units. The best part about this power is you can target any unit no matter what Chaos Mark they have.
Symphony of Pain
Symphony of Pain is a great combo power and useful against shooty targets. Having a typical shooty unit hitting you on 4s or 5s is excellent. Too bad you won't ever have two Slaanesh Sorcerers because one has to be Chaos Lord if you ever want Noise Marines as Troops, thus underutilized the cumulative potential.
Ecstatic Seizures is only good against large units maximizing the Ecstasy power. Once again, two Warp Charges really puts a damper on this power. It will most likely ineffectively suck up the powers you want to use.
The Chaos Sorcerer price drop comes with a lot of give and take, but mostly taking.
Putting it all together.
Chaos Sorcerers have many limitations, namely you can only take two of them. In addition to the number you can have, Chaos Sorcerers have the double problem of being only two wounds and lack Fearless. The two wounds really hurts; it means you cannot reliably send Sorcerers into assault without risking a very quick death. As well, Chaos Sorcerers take a valuable spot away from other characters that can give Fearless to Chaos Space Marines or Chaos Cultists. Also, Sorcerers only unlock Thousand Sons as Troops.
So what uses are their for Chaos Sorcerers?
Chaos Sorcerers still make a great secondary HQ choice if you have the points. Once you take your Chaos Lord to unlock your Troop of choice; taking a Sorcerers isn't a bad idea for buffing and some extra punch. Slannesh and Nurgle Sorcerers can either use maledictions or blessings to improve the combat effectiveness of your Noise or Plague Marines.
Since Chaos Sorcerers will most likely be a secondary choice don't drop too many points into them. It is not worth dumping exotic wargear into a Sorcerer. Sorcerers should never exceed 165 points, spending more than that only leads to a bloated unit that can easily be doubled out or run off the board. The new Sorcerer stat line just doesn't support a heavy investment.
Sigil of Corruption and Spell Familiar are the must buy for any Mastery Level two or higher Sorcerer.
Chaos Sorcerers do have a few other options. If you want to run lots of Thousand Sons units taking a cheap Sorcerer is a good idea. The Sorcerer alternative to Ahriman means more Thousand Sons to take. Sorceress also make great Burning Brand of Skalathrax handlers, as you will often want to keep your Sorcerers far away from assault as possible. Sorcerers offer the cheapest HQ choice possible running bare bones with Telepathy and taking whatever the dice gives you for a power. This cheap alternative works great with MSU armies or Icon of Vengeance based armies. This gets to another important point: Chaos Sorcerers don't need a Chaos Mark.
Chaos Sorcerers without Chaos Marks are not beholden to taking multiple disciplines, which means you can go all in Biomancy or Telepathy. These Sorcerers can also join any unit regardless of Chaos Mark. A Biomancy Sorcerer has a very good chance of getting Endurance or Enfeeble enabling the Sorcerer to run along an assault unit providing great utility. Players also have to remember a Chaos Sorcerer does provide Deny the Witch bonuses for any unit they're attached to.
With Chaos Disciplines not being as powerful as they could, expect undivided Sorcerers to be the norm. Have two wounds and Runes of Warding still running around, Chaos Sorcerers will have a problem finding themselves into many army lists, still this doesn't mean they're a bad unit. The key is finding the extra points for a Chaos Sorcerer and balancing worth because just taking extra guys is often a better option.
Memory Lane: Chaos Sorcerer
--Ways to play Chaos Sorcerer--
The following configurations 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: 170 pts Sorcerer with Terminator Armor, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Mark of Tzeentch, Master Level 3, Veterans of the Long War
Balanced Configuration: 150 pts Sorcerer with Sigil of Corruption, Force Sword, Spell Familiar, Mastery Level 3
Shooting Configuration: 155 pts Sorcerer with Sigil of Corruption, Force Sword, Spell Familiar, Mastery Level 2, Burning Brand of Skalathrax
Khorne Configuration: KHORNE ONLY NEEDS BLOOD
Slannesh Configuration: 160 pts Sorcerer with Sigil of Corruption, Force Sword, Spell Familiar, Mastery Level 2, Mount of Slaanesh, Mark of Slaanesh
Nurgle Configuration: 160 pts Sorcerer with Sigil of Corruption, Force Sword, Spell Familiar, Mastery Level 2, Chaos Bike, Mark of Nurgle
Tzeentch Configuration: 165 pts Sorcerer with Sigil of Corruption, Force Axe, Spell Familiar, Mastery Level 3, Mark of Tzeentch
If you have any questions feel free to email me using the contact information below.
Overall, Sorcerers have some problems. Long gone are the days of Lashing your way to victory, now enter the world of random spells. Chaos Sorcerers are a slight missed opportunity because you can only take few of them, if "lesser Sorcerers" were available in the Elite section I think you could see more flexibility and interesting combos for the entire codex. As it is Typhus and Ahriman are the mostly like the only Sorcerers people will be seeing from the Chaos Space Marine codex anytime soon.
It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.
For tactical articles feel free to email me to continue the discussion or if you discover an inaccurate interpretation of the rules-- edits will be made accordingly.
Also check out other articles in this series...
- Getting Restarted
- Breaking Down the Codex
- Chaos Space Marine Unit Review
- Cultist Review
- Khorne Berzerkers Review
- Thousand Sons Review
- Noise Marine Review
- Plague Marine Review
- Chosen Review
- Mutilator Review
- Helbrute Review
- Possessed Review
- Chaos Terminator Review
- Chaos Bikes Review
- Chaos Spawn Review
- Raptors Review
- Warp Talons Review
- Heldrake Review
- Havocs Review
- Obliterator Review
- Defiler Review
- Forgefiend Review
- Maulerfiend Review
- Rhino, Vindicator, Predator, Land Raider Review
- Abbadon the Despiler Review
- Huron Blackheart Review
- Kharn the Betrayer Review
- Ahriman Review
- Typhus Review
- Lucius the Eternal Review
- Fabius Bile Review
- Chaos Lord Review
- Chaos Sorcerer Review
- Daemon Prince Review
- Warpsmith Review
- Dark Apostle Review
- Final Breakdown