Chaos Renegades after 3 games: What I learnt and new army list

I have had 3 games with my Chaos Renegades so far, one of which I wrote a battle report about on this site. I won that game and a game against a Tau army, which was the trial by fire for the army as Tau excel in anti-infantry fire with their plethora of S5 shots at high ranges. I lost one game against Space Marines at 1750 points as I was unable to score objective points fast enough and eventually fell behind 9-11 on points. During those games, I have learnt a lot about the army, including the following:

This is genuinely a fun army

At the beginning, I was not sure how my opponents would feel about facing a human wave of chaff charging towards them. It is a clear example of a skew list, so a list that focuses on one quality and hopes that the opponent cannot deal with that quality. In this case, the quality is quantity and it is clear that many armies simply do not have the necessary number of shots per round to deal with the number of models this army presents. The issue with that is that some people might feel bad about losing to a skew list, as they might not have a great chance to win to begin with if they are not prepared to deal with the skew. As this is definitely a casual project, it should be an army that is not only fun to play with, but also fun to play against.

It is indubitably fun to play with, as it is strangely liberating to charge towards the opponent and remove your own models in spades. There is still a definite element of tactics and strategy involved, as you still need to select targets and make sure you concentrate on the right targets to make sure at least some of your howling fanatics get to the other side. Moreover, as most of the models in the army only move 6 inches a turn without access to transports or other mobility enhancers like jump packs or drop pods, it is vital to ensure the correct deployment of your units as a unit that is misdeployed might spend most of the game trekking towards combat without ever seeing it.

What I have underestimated though is the fun opponents get from killing models and this is where the army is fun for them too. As a matter of fact, each of my opponents so far has marvelled at the amount of models they managed to kill, regardless of whether they lost or won. The average in the first three games is over a hundred miniatures per game, with over 140 killed models being the record. Most games at 2000 points don’t even feature so many models, let alone see so many killed from both armies together. Gunning down this mass of infantry makes games feel epic and just like GW’s fluff department has always described 40k battles, especially those featuring Marines: a small pocket of the Emperor’s Finest surrounded by a mass of enemies, mercilessly cutting them down.

The most common thing I have heard from my opponents or just passers-by is: ‘How many points is that army?’ In essence, this army plays like ‘Apocalypse in a box’, bringing a huge number of models to a small game size. It thus creates that Apocalypse feeling without the need to paint up superheavies or dozens of vehicles and games can be wrapped up in less than three hours, two if you don’t count the time it takes to unpack and pack the army.

250 models take up more real estate than one would think

It turns out that 200+ models fill all of the normal 72 by 12-inch deployment zone, and when I say fill, I don’t mean ‘Make sure models are spaced out wide enough to avoid blast templates hitting multiple models’ full, but rather in the sense of ‘every single square inch is filled with models’ full. That has caused me some issues as I have to deploy either multiple units behind each other or deploy some units in a deep and narrow frontage instead of a wide frontage. I also had issues unpacking my army in the game I lost, as I entangled multiple units and thus had them get into each other’s way. I will have to take more care to make sure each unit can advance without getting into another unit’s path. Another solution I have found is to get some models that can deploy on the first and second floors of buildings where they don’t take up real estate so to say as other models can be deployed below them. Furthermore, I need to deploy my Aegis Line a bit further back so that melee units can deploy in front of it.

I need more suppressing fire to handle medium tanks, especially Dreadnoughts

This ties in nicely with the topic just mentioned. In two of my games, I ran into Walkers or Monstrous Creatures that I could not deal with. Especially now that Dreadnoughts rock 4 attacks a piece, they seem to have become a lot more popular in the local area and they do have the means to ruin my army’s day by virtue of being difficult to damage when moving from cover to cover and immune to S5 or less attacks in melee, which means all of my army. I have a large number of autocannons in my units and each time they actually got a Dreadnought in the open, it promptly died, but I want a weapon that can one-shot a Dreadnought, meaning that I can just throw a few shots at one in cover and know that the one shot that is not saved will actually do some permanent damage or even take one out. Likewise, in the game against the Tau, I tabled his entire army by turn 4 except for a single Riptide. I had enough shots to force some armour saves, but 2+’s are not that difficult to make and I would have needed 24 wounds to make him fail enough saves on average, which is rather a lot. The first measure was to give each melee unit Krak grenades to at least give them a fighting chance versus Walkers and monsters.

So as I was going through the list to see how I could change it to fit a normal table better and to deal with Dreads and monsters, I came across the Disciple squad, which resides in the Elites section. I hadn’t really looked at them beforehand because they have one of the weird point cost schemes Forgeworld is so fond of. Usually with Forgeworld, a unit has a high starting cost, but then drops sharply the bigger the unit gets. For instance, 30k Marine squads start at 150 points for 10, but then only charge 10 points per extra Marine, so a 20-strong unit is a mere 250 points. Disciples are the opposite for some reason, costing 35 points for 5, but then costing 10 per additional model. The Veterans are the same, but at least they get to buy an upgrade at a flat rate per unit, so you can assume that their higher individual cost is compensated by the lower cost of the upgrade per model for a larger unit. The Disciples on the other hand pay the higher cost, but have no flat rate upgrade to justify it, which is why I never really looked at them before. But then I noticed that they are the only BS4 unit in the game and had access to all heavy weapons at the usual Imperial Guard cost. As I wanted to get rid of my allied detachment and also reconsidered the idea of the 50-strong Mutant unit, both because it relied on the allied Dark Apostle and because I had no way of fitting another 50 models into my deployment zone, I decided to include 3 units of 5 Disciples, each with a single lascannon weapon team. They should be able to deploy on the higher floors of buildings where available or behind my other units if no such buildings are on the table (which never happens where I play), then take potshots at enemy tanks or monsters. At 165 point for 3 units, they will be annoying and difficult to remove, as they require far more firepower being dedicated to killing them than a 55-point unit warrants, which is also known as the Rhino conundrum.

So, this is my current 2.000 points list:

Renegade Command Squad: Grenade Launcher, Arch-Demagogue with Covenant of Tzeentch and Master of the Hordes

Renegade Enforcers (2): Each with Power Axe and Combat Drugs Injectors (one joins the 30-strong unit of Renegades, the other one the Mutant Rabble)

5 Disciples: Lascannon weapon team

5 Disciples: Lascannon weapon team

5 Disciples: Lascannon weapon team

3 Chaos Spawn

3 Chaos Spawn

Mutant Rabble (30): Champion with Power Axe, Meltabombs and Covenant of Khorne

Platoon Command Squad (30): Demagogue with Covenant of Tzeentch, Chaos Sigil, 3 Autocannons, Militia Training, Autoguns

Renegade Squad (20): Chaos Sigil, 2 Autocannons, Autoguns, Militia Training

Renegade Squad (20): Chaos Sigil, 2 Autocannons, 2 Grenade Launchers, Autoguns, Militia Training

Platoon Command Squad (30): Demagogue with Covenant of Khorne and Power Axe, 5 Flamers, Chaos Sigil, Krak Grenades Pistols and Melee Weapons

Renegade Squad (20): Champion with Covenant of Khorne and Power Axe, 3 Flamers, Chaos Sigil, Krak Grenades, Pistols and Melee Weapons

Renegade Squad (20): Champion with Covenant of Khorne and Power Axe, Chaos Sigil, Krak Grenades, Pistols and Melee Weapons

3 Sentinels: Multiple Rocket Pods

6 Sentinels: Autocannons, Militia Training

3 Rapier Laser Destroyer Arrays: Extra Crew, Militia Training

3 Rapier Laser Destroyer Arrays: Extra Crew, Militia Training

4 Thudd Guns

Aegis Defense Line: Quad Gun

As you can see, this version of the list is slightly leaner, trading some bodies for more guns, but retaining the basic concept of swarming forward with a mass of bodies to overwhelm the opponent.

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Mad, bad and dangerous to know: Using Renegades and Heretics in a Chaos army

As you all know by now, I am a bit of a hobby butterfly, moving from one project to another, always looking for that perfect army that I like both on the field and in the background as well. I have some large armies that I do not plan to get rid off anytime soon, such as my 17.000 points of Eldar or 15.500 points of Blood Angels, but some smaller armies come and go or end up taking new directions as time goes by.

Chaos has always been one of my favourite armies, but for some reasons I have never taken it to the same extreme as with the others, rather building several self-contained lists that I can combine if needed. I had an Iron Warriors army in 3rd edition, the epitome of cheese at the time, but I sold that only a few months ago to give them a new loving home. Then I started 4th and 5th edition with my ‘Everyone infiltrates’ Alpha Legion list, which has taken a backseat as it is simply not very competitive at the moment. Right now, I am mostly rocking the Plague Riders, my Nurgle army.

When I began my Alpha Legion list, it had the option to include Cultists, an option that then vanished before coming back in the current codex. So I already had quite a few Cultists models, in fact I used House Delaque minis for Necromunda as there were no official models at the time. With the new edition (or rather the old one as 6th is a thing of the past), I did a swap deal with a Dark Angels player, so we bought two boxes of Dark Vengeance, then traded the respective halves to each other so I had the Chaos contents of two boxes and he the Dark Angels contents. This added another 40 Cultists to my collection, but the thing is that Cultists are not all that great in the current book, mainly because they pay 10 points for a useless Champion with victim stats and another point each if they want to buy a lasgun, so you end up paying 5-6 points for a weaker version of the Guardsman, who is slightly overcosted to start with.

Fortunately, the guys at Forgeworld totally have our backs and in the amazing Imperial Armour 13, they supply a list for Cultists armies that is much better than the paltry single entry in the Chaos Space Marines codex. In fact, this book is so amazingly cool that it should be shown to all GW codex writers every morning just so they see how wrong they are. Heck, it is twice the page number for the same price, with better pictures and much better background, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, what does it offer?

First of all, it offers a complete FOC chart that can ally with other Chaos forces as Battle Brothers. As you are now free to match detachments from multiple armies, this means that you can easily combine them with Chaos Marines, representing an uprising receiving unexpected reinforcements or a Marine warband bringing along their cannon fodder, or Daemons, representing the Cultists catching the eye of a powerful Daemon and opening a Warp Rift to unleash hell.

In addition, they are cheap, dirt cheap in fact. A single Renegade Infantry Squad costs 30 points for 10 guys with the option of 10 more (20 if your Arch Demagogue is a Master of the Horde, more on that later) for the same price. As 3-5 Squads make a single Platoon, which is a Troops choice, you can end up with between 30 and 150 guys in a single FOC slot, all for the modest sum of 90-450 points. They also pay no extra points to swap their Autopistol and Knife for a Lasgun, Shotgun or Autogun, so they end up costing half of what regular Cultists cost. Granted, they are only WS and BS2, but who cares with those numbers? It is possible to increase them to WS and BS3 for a token sum, however, I would not do that as adding another 10 points per squad (regardless of models in the unit) defeats the purpose of bringing so much chaff to the table.

Another asset is the Arch Demagogue, the compulsory HQ choice. He comes with 4 assistants in a command squad, but is not forced to stay with them as he has the Independent Character rule. And I would keep him away from them, as 4 guys without armour make a crappy bodyguard. If he is the Warlord, he can choose a Devotion and they are the real moneymakers for him, as you can tailor your army based on that choice. For example, a Master of the Horde allows Renegade Squads to be 30 strong, as well as returning them back to the game on a 5+ if a complete squad of 15+ is wiped out. A Heretek Magus has better armour and toughness and opens access to Defilers and other vehicles, a Rogue Witch is, surprisingly, a Psyker who gives access to more Psykers, and so forth. The ones I like best are the Mutant Overlord, who gets a small, but useful Mutation, as well as letting you pick Mutants as Troops and buy a single unit of Chaos Spawn and the Revolutionary who gets a free covenant (see below) and Zealot.

Finally, as lowly Cultists, they do not gain real Chaos Marks, instead having access to Covenants. A Covenant is bought by a character or champion at a flat fee and adds a bonus to every member of his unit. Those bonuses are quite good, with Nurgle granting FNP 6+, Slaanesh Fleet, Khorne Shred in the first round of each melee and Tzeentch something I have forgotten right now, which might be because that one is actually not that good. As they are not Marks, they can be combined in a unit by having an Arch Demagogue join a unit with a different Covenant, giving the unit both bonuses. But even without double-dipping, paying a mere 10 points flat per unit is a great way of adding a lot of ‘uump!’ to a unit. An Arch Demagogue’s Covenant also adds more units to be used in the army.

This shows how elegant this list really is in terms of design. Choose a theme (Dark Mechanicus, hordes, mutants, elite soldiers) and get new options by choosing the matching devotion. Then add a god and you get even more options based on who your Arch Demagogue is aligned with. So easy and yet so cool. Depending on what options you select for your Arch Demagogue, the army will be wildly different, which really reflects a chaotic rabble of Renegades brought together and held together by a single charismatic leader. Two thumbs up for rules matching fluff!

So, having said that, I want to talk about what I would take to add some mass to my Nurgle army.

Renegade Command Squad: 4 Disciples with Lasguns, Arch Demagogue with Power Axe, Refractor Field, Mutant Overlord, Covenant of Nurgle: 95 points

Enforcer: Power Axe, Combat Drug Injector: 45 points

  • The Commissar equivalent adds +1 to the unit’s Leadership role (yes, units roll d6+4 the first time they take a test and keep that as their Ld score for the whole game) and has a Combat Drug Injector which gives his unit Rage, so 2 bonus attacks for charging.

50 Mutant Rabble: Laspistols and Close Combat Weapons. Mutant Champion with Covenant of Khorne: 170 points

  • Yes, you read that right, 50 guys for the price of a Tactical Squad. By adding the Arch Demagogue and the Enforcer, they gain Rage, Fearless, Hatred and FNP 6+ to go with their Shred from the Covenant of Khorne, so this is a unit that can potentially dish out 211 attacks, re-rolling to hit and wound in the first round. Granted, it is unwieldy and rather slow, but it is a dirt cheap unit that must be dealt with or it will overrun even elites.

Infantry Platoon: 3 units of 20 each, one with a Demagogue with Covenant of Nurgle (one squad per platoon gets one for free as he is the leader of the whole platoon). One unit has Lasguns and two Cultists have Grenade Launchers, one Lasguns and two flamers and the last one melee weapons and pistols and two flamers: 230 points

  • Another 60 bodies to form a second wave.

1 Blight Drone: 150 points

  • Available as my Arch Demagogue has the Covenant of Nurgle.

Field Artillery Battery: 2 Heavy Quad Launchers: 60 points

  • Insane value for points as you get a copy of a Thunderfire Cannon without the Techmarine to go with it at a third of the rate. I have two old ones with Squat crew, so they can be my Mutant gunners.

That would be my first draft of a Renegade detachment, leaving of course lots of slots open for more units. Right now, this brings over 130 bodies to a Chaos army, adding some cut-price artillery with the Blight Drone and Quad Launchers as well. I could scrounge through my bits boxes to see if I have any spare Guard tanks to add, I believe I still have a Leman Russ there and there is a Hydra languishing on my painting table too.

Right now, this clocks in at 810 points, with the Blight Drone being the most expensive single model. So I could add 1190 points of Nurgle Marines to that and see how it fares on the table. The biggest drawback is the sheer number of models you need for it though. I have thrawled eBay to find as many Delaque as possible, so I think I could fill the complete Infantry Platoon with them interspersed with plastic Cultists, though I want to keep the plastic ones for the Mutant Rabble. I am considering buying some Beastmen Gors to add to the Cultists with Pistol and Sword to fill the Mutant unit.

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