Six is Not a Magic Number (and Other Lessons)

After the drubbing I received at the hands of the Dark Eldar this weekend, I’ve been thinking about my Slaanesh CSM army and how to improve it. The decision I’ve come to is that I must unfortunately sacrifice a bit of fluff for the sake of efficiency. Now, this is probably a big “Duh” for a lot of people, but I’ve been trying so hard to make fluff and effectiveness gel well, and it just doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that I’m completely scrapping the theme of the army – I’m not swapping in Plague Marines or Khorne Berzerkers – but like any good manager, I’m making cuts in some areas to improve the whole. So, some of the decisions I’m making include…

  • Six is not a magic number. Once upon a time, having 6 models in a Slaanesh unit meant something, but these days there’s nothing special about it. With Noise Marines, or any other unit for that matter, six models versus five just means another warm body. The points I’m spending on that extra body can be better used elsewhere – if I trim the extras out of a number of units, it can easily mean another unit on the table.
  • Not every unit needs an icon. Take my Chosen, for example. I run them forward in a Rhino with either all meltas or a combo of meltas and flamers. They’re not meant to really get into assault. Giving them an Icon of Slaanesh serves no purpose unless I’m planning on deep-striking something near them, and in that instance I can just attach an IC with a personal icon. Unless I need icon saturation on the table, that’s another 20 points I can spend elsewhere.
  • Blastmasters are out. I love the idea of blastmasters, I really do. However, the reality is that it’s like combining a heavy bolter and missile launcher, paying more for the combo, and getting less utility out of it. Pinning’s about the only notable extra you get, and frankly that’s just not enough. Too expensive for too little benefit – let’s put those 40 points elsewhere.
  • A Noise Marine squad doesn’t need to do everything. I used to pack 5 sonic blasters in a squad along with a doom siren/PW Noise Champ. Looking back, the unit ends up being kind of schizoid; is this a shooting unit or an assault (i.e., doom siren delivery) unit? It’s better to separate them out a bit. Let some vanilla Noise Marines accompany the champ, and let the sonic blaster squads sit back and shoot things that get close. Diversification is a good thing.

That’s not to say I’m all efficiency over here; I still like to run a Land Raider full of Lightning-Claw Terminator Champs, which is a ridiculous amount of points, and if I wanted to get truly efficient, I would tone that down a bit or replace it with a couple of other units. I also realize that Slaanesh is probably the hardest of the four Chaos Gods to do well with in a CSM army. Still, I still tend to skew my lists a bit towards fun over fight, so I’m thinking I can have fun with this while still being more effective. So, for example, a couple of 1750 lists with this in mind:

List One:

HQ: Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission) – 125 pts.
HQ: Daemon Prince (Mark of Slaanesh, Sorcerer, Wings, Lash of Submission) – 155 pts.
Elite: 5 Chosen (Meltagun x3, Flamer x2) in a Rhino – 165 pts.
Elite: 5 Terminator Champions (Icon of Slaanesh, Pair of Lightning Claws x5) in a Land Raider (Daemonic Possession) – 505 pts
Troops: 5 Noise Marines (Sonic Blaster x5) in a Rhino – 160 pts.
Troops: 5 Noise Marines (Sonic Blaster x5) in a Rhino – 160 pts.
Troops: 4 Noise Marines and a Noise Champion (Doom Siren, Power Weapon) in a Rhino – 180 pts.
Heavy Support: 2 Obliterators – 150 pts.
Heavy Support: 2 Obliterators – 150 pts.

List Two:

HQ: Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission) – 125 pts.
HQ: Terminator Lord (Mark of Slaanesh, Daemon Weapon/Blissgiver, Combi-Melta) – 155 pts.
HQ*: Summoned Greater Daemon – 100 pts.
Elite: 4 Chosen (Meltagun x3, Flamer) and an Aspiring Champion (Flamer) in a Rhino – 175 pts.
Elite: 4 Terminator Champions (Icon of Slaanesh, Pair of Lightning Claws x4) in a Land Raider – 435 pts
Troops: 5 Noise Marines (Sonic Blaster x5) in a Rhino – 160 pts.
Troops: 5 Noise Marines (Sonic Blaster x5) in a Rhino – 160 pts.
Troops: 4 Noise Marines and a Noise Champion (Doom Siren, Power Weapon) in a Rhino – 180 pts.
Heavy Support: Predator (Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons) – 130 pts.
Heavy Support: Predator (Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons) – 130 pts.

The lists should play somewhat similarly, with some notable differences. The first list is a dual lash list, and has a bit more weapon flexibility with the Obliterators. The second list still has a Monstrous Creature and keeps it out of harm’s way by having it in reserves, while having a somewhat more deadly payload in the Land Raider (since the Lord is in there). The good thing is, both lists play more or less like my past lists, but thanks to the efficiency I’ve got a bit more to play with. By making the changes I listed above, I’ve managed to trim 183 points from past lists: 2 fewer Noise Marines (40 points), no Blast Master (40 points), one less Noise Champion (65 points), one less Chosen (18 points), and no mark on the Chosen (20 points). That’s allowed me to run the Chosen and the Terminators in the same list, rather than choosing between them. Let’s face it, it needs the Chosen more. If I later decide to do a variant without the Terminators, I still have a very strong backbone to use, and with the Lord and Prince being the same cost, I can easily swap between them as needed.

Efficiency – it’s a beautiful thing, even for Slaanesh. A bit less excessive spending in your list means more excessive force on the table.

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  • Von

    Sad as it is to see an army de-fluff itself, doing away with arbitrary meta-rules and correcting poor choices (or, more accurately, with those NM squads, lack of choice) is kind of rewarding to watch. You’re probably doing the right thing.

  • NockerGeek

    I think I can avoid completely de-fluffing the army; it’ll just come down to making good unit choices that still fit the theme. There’s still room for improvement, of course – as I said, if I wanted to be truly competitive, the Terminators will probably have to go, but for now I’m keeping them. And you’re right – it does feel rewarding. Progress is always good to see.

    Of course, I can always go all-out on fluffiness if I want to do narrative play. :)