1 Aug 2014

Warriors of Chaos Unit Overview - Special

Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I wanted to discuss perhaps the most dangerous and proficient warriors in the world of Warhammer Fantasy; the Warriors of Chaos. These savage northmen model their culture entirely around the worship and veneration of the Chaos Gods, earning their status and rank through blood and sacrifice. This warrior-driven society translates incredibly well to the table-top, providing the most elite fighting force in Warhammer Fantasy and some of the most destructive unit options available to any army with some incredibly versatile army building potential due to the Marks system. To dedicate ones-self to a Chaos God is to damn their soul for eternity, but the gifts and punishments all vary on the Path of Ascension!


Chosen - I am guessing that many Warriors of Chaos players from 7th Edition will fondly remember the unstoppable Chosen units that would just crush whatever enemy lay before them; sadly, this is just not the unit it used to be. The best way to describe Chosen is that they pay four points more per model over a regular Chaos Warrior for one point in Weapon Skill, a free unit-wide roll on the Eye of the Gods chart and paying ever so slightly more for shields. These are still the Strength and Toughness 4 elite soldiers that form the core of most Warriors of Chaos army lists though their transition to Special does remove one of the better aspects of the unit. Having Chaos Warriors in Core is a clear statement of the elite nature of the army as no other force in the game really has a truly elite unit in their Core slot, something unique to the Warriors of Chaos, and having what essentially amounts to the same unit in Special seems almost pointless. Weapon Skill 6 isn't that much of an upgrade over Weapon Skill 5 unless you are facing other Warriors of Chaos with the Mark of Nurgle, while paying more for shields is an unwarranted optional tax. Just like Chaos Warriors, I think making the most of this is to give them the Mark of Nurgle and Halberds for a generalist unit, or the Mark of Tzeentch with Shields for an anvil.

The points you pay for Chosen aren't really worth the benefits, but the Eye of the Gods roll is interesting at least. You can end up with a single Chaos Spawn or Daemon Prince replacing the unit champion - if any - while the other results apply to the unit and can be either very minor or absolutely ludicrous. The average roll of 2D6 is 7 which allows each model in the unit to re-roll a single roll to hit, roll to wound or saving throw for a turn and boosts their combat efficiency massively. Some of the results like +1 Ballistic Skill are useless but Khorne bless anyone that has to face Toughness 5 Chosen with the Mark of Nurgle! Alternatively, having an entire block of Chosen end up with a 4+ parry save, 5+ ward save and 3+ armour save could invalidate an opponents' armour busting units such as White Lions or Executioners. Of course, who cares about saving bodies when you have Frenzied Strength 6 Chosen? Unfortunately, once you discount the Spawndom and Daemonhood results, five of the results aren't really that useful with only four really making a huge difference to their effectiveness. That the results are purely random means that unless you have something like a Chaos Warshrine nearby to help with the roll there's a big chance you'll get an unfavourable result, though natively rolling 3D6 and discarding one die of your choice is pretty helpful. Sadly, by essentially being Chaos Warriors that are moved to Special - and thus don't fill up mandatory points - with a slight boost, a random effect and a significantly higher cost, this is a unit that won't really help to fill in the gaps a Chaos Warrior unit of the equivalent size couldn't.
Competitive? No.

Gorebeast Chariot - Though I would argue Chariots aren't as common as they might have been in 7th Edition at least where other army books are concerned, there's no doubt the Warriors of Chaos Chariots are among the best units of their kind in any force. While the Core Chaos Chariot is really strong and durable at a cut price mark, the Gorebeast Chariot is possibly the best Chariot in the game for the points even despite having one noteworthy weakness. For only twenty points more than a Chaos Chariot, the Gorebeast has +1 Toughness, +1 Wound, trades two Strength 4 attacks for three Strength 5 attacks and applies Killing Blow to its Impact Hits. Wow! For the uninitiated, that is a Toughness 6 Chariot with five wounds and a 3+ armour save making it possibly the toughest Chariot around and a model that can quite easily tarpit even the most elite of enemy infantry units. Personal experience suggests that unless the user of a Gorebeast Chariot gets extremely unlucky with dice rolls and is flank or rear charged, it will win combat handily against five or six deep (or more) units of anything from infantry to cavalry including but not limited to High Elf Spearmen, Empire Inner Circle Knights and so on.

Whoever decided this thing should cost as much as a High Elf Lion Chariot is quite simply out of their minds as the complete and utter superiority of the Gorebeast Chariot is almost mind bogglingly significant. Slap the cheap Mark of Nurgle on this thing and watch as lance formations of Brettonians simply ping off of its scaly hide, making it an ungodly survivable model even against hard as nails combat characters. In terms of offence this thing isn't exactly lacking either with a total of seven Strength 5 attacks and D6+1 Strength 5 Impact Hits with Killing Blow, all with good Weapon Skill and most with high Initiative values. This is quite possibly the most fearsome and aggressively priced Chariot in Warhammer Fantasy that causes Fear and has a respectable Leadership 8 as a side bonus. The only downside to this amazing unit is its lowly Movement 6 with Swiftstride that means it will lag behind even your regular Chaos infantry with its inability to perform a march, but given the incredible firepower a Gorebeast Chariot can withstand and its low cost this is hardly a major issue.
Competitive? Yes.

Chaos Ogres - While the move to Special and slight change in both points costs and available equipment or options might indicate otherwise, this is essentially the exact same unit as the standard Ogre Bulls in the Ogre Kingdoms army book. The profile is identical with one slight exception, meaning they are Movement 6 with a special form of Impact Hits, they have middling Weapon Skill 2 and Initiative 2, they are Strength and Toughness 4 with three wounds, they have three attacks per model, cause Fear and have a mediocre Leadership 7. The one difference is that they trade light armour for heavy armour that means they are slightly more durable than a stock standard Ogre Bull, but their inability to take shields means that Ogre Bulls with Ironfists are the more survivable of the two and cheaper to boot. If you want to outfit Chaos Ogres with additional hand weapons then they have to pay a greater amount than Ogre Bulls, though this could be explained by the latter being incapable of taking both Ironfists and additional hand weapons. There is no option for a Look Out Gnoblar for use with a standard bearer, but Chaos Ogres can take great weapons and become slightly cheaper but arguably inferior Irongut equivalents due to the Leadership disparity.

The only other way in which Chaos Ogres are differentiated from Ogre Bulls is through the optional Marks of Chaos, but the high cost of each of these per model - though admittedly Chaos Ogre units will usually be small - does sadly make them cost as much or more than Chaos Trolls. The Mark of Khorne is really good here seeing as Frenzy actually will benefit the supporting ranks and stacks very well with additional hand weapons to turn the Chaos Ogres into a rolling meat grinder of Strength 4 attacks, though I would argue the Mark of Nurgle is best to give Chaos Ogres some much needed durability in combat. Still, all things considered this is basically a unit that mimics their Ogre Kingdoms equivalent very closely but ends up being inferior by virtue of the latter's cheaper upgrades and the change from Core to Special. I guess having Eye of the Gods on the unit champion is worth mentioning but that is such a random rule and annoying because it forces the champion to issue and accept challenges that it likely won't have much of an impact in most games. Like Ogre Bulls, this is a good unit but one that doesn't compare at all well to Chaos Trolls or their "parent" though I would argue they are still a competitive option.
Competitive? Yes.

Dragon Ogres - The only truly exclusive monstrous infantry option in the Warriors of Chaos book, Dragon Ogres are the "elite" unit of their type and are one of the most potentially devastating units available. They are much more survivable than Chaos Ogres with four wounds per model and a 4+ armour save in addition to a funky 2+ ward save against lightning-based attacks, though I would argue the 4+ Regeneration save of Chaos Trolls makes them the most durable of the three units. What Dragon Ogres undoubtedly excel at though is just annihilating any unit they come across short of a proper death star, assuming you give them one very expensive but valuable upgrade. Three Strength 5 attacks at Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 2 are certainly decent enough but ultimately not that much better than what a Chaos Troll brings to the table at nearly half the points cost. Not looking good for the Dragon Ogres so far, right?

Once you give them great weapons, though, they become arguably the best monster hunters in melee for a Warriors of Chaos army with three Strength 7 attacks per model. While additional hand weapons are significantly cheaper and give you more good Strength 5 attacks, I feel great weapons allow Dragon Ogres to perform a role that most units in the army book can perform and that is busting open 1+ armoured units with impunity. Of course, Always Strikes Last and their weak saves ensures that any true dedicated combat unit - such as the local Skullcrushers - will kill a few or more of the crazily costly Dragon Ogres before they strike, but against your typical monsters or units these children of the mountain god will just devastate whatever gets in their way. The halberds should be skipped because Initiative 2 is pitifully slow as it is and the extra point in Strength is definitely worth the Always Strikes Last penalty. Leadership 8 is pretty decent for a monstrous infantry unit and once equipped with great weapons this makes Dragon Ogres the bulkier Chaos mirror of Ironguts. Causing Fear is situational but nice as usual while the Storm Rage can make Dragon Ogres nearly invincible against an artillery-oriented Skaven list, but the effects of the latter are pretty tame and unlikely to pop up in most games.

There's just one huge problem here, and that is cost - you can take two Chaos Trolls for slightly more points than a single Dragon Ogre, and even one Chaos Troll is (except against Flaming Attacks) more survivable than a Dragon Ogre when stacking up against high Strength opponents. Without great weapons, Dragon Ogres are just barely better in combat than Chaos Trolls - and it could be argued the latter wins out because of their Troll Vomit allowing them to easily engage armoured units without having to pay for expensive great weapons. These beasts are just so darned expensive and points inefficient compared to Chaos Trolls and probably even Chaos Ogres that I just can't recommend them, especially seeing that if you do need a monster hunter you could take a Hellcannon for roughly the same points cost as three Dragon Ogres with great weapons anyway. If it wasn't obvious, a Hellcannon is far better for destroying monsters, infantry formations and war machines alike from range and is an Unbreakable Monster in combat too! Where Ogres definitely don't compare well to Trolls in this army book, they are still priced adequately for what they do; with Dragon Ogres I definitely don't agree with the pricing and think they are just far too expensive for what they bring to the table.
Competitive? No.

Chaos Trolls - Of the various monstrous infantry options available to the Warriors of Chaos, Trolls are undoubtedly the best - even if you don't move them to Core via Throgg! These River Troll equivalents from the Orcs and Goblins army book combine well rounded damage output with incredible survivability, making them the most points efficient unit of their type in the Special slot. Three Toughness 4 wounds per model with a 4+ Regeneration save ensures that except when facing someone like Tyrion or Dwarf Flame Cannons the Chaos Trolls will be extremely difficult to shift for most enemies. Three Strength 5 attacks at Weapon Skill 3 and Initiative 1 are above average for monstrous infantry and allows them to cleave through deep formations of infantry relatively easily once monstrous support attacks are considered, but their unique attack that is made by exchanging their normal strikes gives them the means to combat heavily armoured units with ease. This is a single attack resolved at Strength 5 that ignores all armour saves, giving Chaos Trolls great versatility and ensuring that even the nasty monstrous cavalry units popping up everywhere will have to be decidedly cautious around the disgusting beasts.

Movement 6 and causing Fear are fairly typical of monstrous infantry, but Stupidity on Leadership 4 most certainly is not and is the only real weakness Chaos Trolls suffer from. While Chaos Trolls will rarely lose combats, Stupidity on such a low Leadership value ensures they will rarely get there; enter Inspiring Presence from a General or from Throgg coupled with a Battle Standard Bearer to fix this issue almost completely. Re-rolling failed Stupidity tests on Leadership 8 or higher gives the Trolls all the support they need to go off and start wrecking everything in their way, though additional hand weapons are also available as a handy and very worthwhile option. Chaos Trolls are fantastic and regardless of whether Throgg is included or not they will do more than prove their worth to you as a dedicated melee unit.
Competitive? Yes.

Chaos Knights - How else can I introduce Chaos Knights except to say they were arguably the most terrifying heavy cavalry in Warhammer Fantasy an edition ago? There's the problem; this is a unit that was one of the best of its type but the changes it suffered both in the army book and from the rulebook have seen it steeply slip from its position of fame. In any case, let's take a look at what makes these unabashedly awesome models tick. Toughness 4 with a 1+ armour save makes them the most durable heavy cavalry in the game against conventional means, while a pair of Strength 5 Magical Attacks - including the near mandatory Ensorcelled Weapons upgrade - means they can tear apart anything with ease that doesn't share the same defensive stats. Weapon Skill and Initiative 5 sees that they will strike before most enemies and hit them on 3s in close combat, while Movement 7 with Swiftstride is average for a heavy cavalry unit and still ensures they are speedy enough to get into a melee by turn two or three. Throw in Strength 4 attacks from the steeds and a decent Leadership 8 for a unit that ticks almost all the boxes a heavy cavalry unit needs to, save one; cost.

This unit is horrendously expensive and especially so once compared to the incredibly fearsome Skullcrushers or Elven Dragon Princes and I definitely don't think they are fully worth their price. Causing Fear is situational albeit nice, but can one really justify purchasing both a Mark of Chaos and Ensorcelled Weapons (or lances) on this unit considering how expensive each individual model is without any options? I don't think so but I'll stop short of saying the unit is "bad", it is more a case that they are just outclassed by Skullcrushers - though admittedly monstrous cavalry are quite a bit different to standard heavy cavalry. If you don't fancy Skullcrushers or have a theme that doesn't involve the Blood God Khorne then Chaos Knights are your only real replacement, and they do perform their role better than a number of other army books' equivalents I could think of. Still, once you chuck on Ensorcelled Weapons and the Mark of Nurgle this is a unit where five with no command will cost you just shy of two hundred and thirty points - you could almost take (and should take) two Gorebeast Chariots of Nurgle at that price! It's a real shame that 8th Edition just doesn't favour heavy cavalry like it used to as Chaos Knights are so iconic and imposing, but thankfully they are at least tough and damaging enough that - like Hellstriders - I can still see their uses even if their role is better filled by other competing units.
Competitive? Yes.

Hellstriders - Seeing as I liked Marauder Horsemen it would be fair to assume I would also be a fan of Hellstriders, the new unit dedicated to Slaanesh added with the most recent army book, but I'm a bit more divided on this unit. Compared to Marauder Horsemen, Hellstriders have the unfortunate Special label which sees that they do not make up your mandatory Core points and have a higher cost to boot. They are still just as easy to kill with a 6+ armour save - if you take shields on the Marauder Horsemen - and are pretty susceptible to fleeing from combat with a mediocre Leadership 7, though it is notable that they are immune to Panic due to the Mark of Slaanesh which I consider critical for a chaff unit. Still, I would be lying if I said Hellstriders don't get what they pay for over their Core compatriots. Movement 10 Fast Cavalry is just insane and could justify the points increase over the Movement 8 Marauder Horsemen with no other upgrades, but when you throw in the stock shields and spears the Hellstriders are surprisingly valuable. The Steed of Slaanesh is further improved over a standard warhorse with a combination of special rules including Armour Piercing, Daemonic (Magical) Attacks, Fear and Poisoned Attacks - these generally don't make as much of a difference with one Strength 3 attack available, though they do allow Hellstriders to engage Ethereal units which is certainly handy.

Their Soul Hunters rule is more of a cool bonus than anything really ground-breaking because Hellstriders themselves are really lacking in offensive punch, though their mixture of Strength 4 attacks on the charge and the Poisoned, Armour Piercing Steeds does give them a big advantage over other chaff units. The idea is that Hellstriders will beat an opponents' chaff units, gain the cool benefits from the Soul Hunters special rule and become a rather scary threat, but the unfortunate truth is that the unit is really lacking in any real offensive punch even with Devastating Charge thrown in as the first Soul Hunter buff. This unit is cool in theory but ultimately is only really useful as chaff and war machine hunters, a role that Marauder Horsemen perform perfectly well at a lower cost and take up your mandatory Core points as well. Hellstriders do get what they pay for when compared to Marauder Horsemen but aside from the added mobility the extra survivability and offensive punch just aren't enough to really justify taking them instead of Marauder Horsemen. Warriors of Chaos aren't an army that requires excessive amounts of chaff much like Vampire Counts or Wood Elves do and so I would prefer sticking with Marauder Horsemen and Chaos Warhounds as your cheap and always dependable chaff units. As for the Hellscourges, trading Strength 4 attacks on the charge for Always Strikes First in the first round of combat isn't a good exchange given the unit already has high Initiative 5 that should see it attacking before other chaff units and war machine crews anyway. As much as I am divided on this unit though and would take Marauder Horsemen over them in a heart-beat as I feel the Special points for Warriors of Chaos are far better spent on Gorebeast Chariots, Chimeras and so on, I cannot lie that this is still at the very least a decent unit - just one that suffers from role duplication.
Competitive? No.

Chaos Warshrines - Where the Gorebeast Chariot and Chaos Chariot provide an incredible mixture of both offence and defence in a well priced package, the Chaos Warshrine is intended more as a support unit and competes with the Gorebeast for the crown of toughest chariot in the army book. Don't let the fact that it is carried to battle by a pair of Ogre-like creatures fool you; the Chaos Warshrine is not intended for close combat with serious opposition and should be treated similarly to a Celestial Hurricanum or Luminark of Hysh from the Empire army book. Its' damage output is pretty weak once you factor in that it uniquely lacks Impact Hits despite being a chariot and has only between five and ten Strength 4 attacks, or between seven and twelve if you dedicate it to Khorne. That's not bad by any means but the random determination of its number of attacks does relegate it to a supporting role rather than the hard-hitting flank stopper most chariots are. This does mean that its low Movement 6 and lack of Swiftstride are mitigated somewhat because of its role disparity to something like a Gorebeast Chariot, as the mobility is just nowhere near as important here. Realistically, it needs to keep up with your main combat units or characters and that is all, and Movement 6 with the inability to march combined with a 12" buff ability radius ensures that infantry-centric armies will keep in range of the Chaos Warshrine.

On that note, the way in which the Warshrine supports your army is unfortunately rather limited unless you stack up on combat characters. This is because unlike the aforementioned Empire chariots the Chaos Warshrine only provides benefits to characters with the Eye of the Gods special rule rather than entire units, limiting its application. Seeing as unit champions for Warriors of Chaos are generally avoided because of the Eye of the Gods special rule and taken only as bodyguards (read, challenge monkeys) for Heroes and Lords, a Warshrine is pretty limited in terms of what it can actually provide to your army. It doesn't really help all that much with its support abilities and it doesn't do much damage on its own to compensate. Fortunately the Warshrine is inexpensive and is also survivable enough to at least prove an annoyance if used aggressively to interdict and block valuable enemy targets with its five wounds at Toughness 5 and impressive 4+ armour save backed by a 4+ ward save. While the Toughness 6 of a Gorebeast Chariot makes it all but immune to low Strength attacks, it is vulnerable to high Strength attacks with only a 3+ armour save for defence; this is where the Chaos Warshrine pulls ahead as it can see those Strength 6 or greater attacks bounce off of its 4+ ward save. That it has two saving throws and one of them being an all-purpose ward save sees that the Warshrine is more survivable overall than a Gorebeast Chariot, but the offensive punch of the latter obviously makes it a more inviting target for opponents.

Still, a cheap innate bound spell - the best kind of bound spell - high survivability, mediocre damage output and a low cost make the Chaos Warshrine an attractive unit for an army built around nasty but expensive combat characters like Chaos Lords or special characters such as Archaeon or Valkia. It can keep up with your infantry core relatively easily while still providing its sadly limited support abilities and at least be an annoyance to an opponent frightened by its admittedly intimidating model and potential when combined with a death star unit including multiple nasty melee characters. It has good overall stats including Leadership 8 that make it mostly immune to spells or effects that force characteristic tests and impose heavy penalties for failing them - such as instant death from the Pit of Shades. While being incapable of providing Impact Hits and lacking Swiftstride does limit its uses in the typical role of a chariot, that it treats dangerous terrain tests as an infantry model means that it will only ever lose a single wound to a failed dangerous terrain test. While this is obviously not all that important for a model that likely won't be used purely for charges all that commonly, it is nonetheless a nice little extra that helps to increase the value of what is a relatively cheap unit. The optional marks also help to improve on what is an already decent unit and are inexpensive enough for me to consider them - or at least one - almost mandatory. The Mark of Tzeentch is easily the best available as it provides the Chaos Warshrine with an awesome 3+ ward save that makes it unbelievably survivable despite its pricing, while I would consider the Mark of Nurgle the next best option as it ensures the Warshrine will be nearly impossible to defeat in close combat through conventional means. Ultimately, the Chaos Warshrine is cheap and durable enough to be used as something to carry your flank and act as a combo-charge supporter, though it can't really be relied upon to beat down other chariots or combat units in a fair fight.
Competitive? Yes.

Chimera - Of all the monsters available to a Warriors of Chaos general, none are more frightening for the points than the Chimera, a three headed creature ripped straight out of Greek myths. While the Hellcannon and Daemon Prince bring versatility in the form of either shooting or magic, the Chimera is purely focused on being a combat beast and a deadly one at that. While Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 2 might seem rather mediocre for a melee-oriented unit, having six Strength 6 attacks base most definitely is not - especially once you add an additional D3 attacks that receive +1 to hit when striking enemies in the Chimera's rear arc! While the insane mobility of the Chimera ensures that rear charges against it will be mercifully rare, having between seven and nine Strength 6 attacks at Weapon Skill 4 is delightfully insane and ensures a Chimera can tear apart anything from entire blocks of infantry to other monsters in short order. The low Initiative does make it hugely vulnerable to the cheaply cast Pit of Shades or high Initiative monster-hunting enemies like White Lions or Executioners, but its flying movement and causing Terror do allow it to choose its fights better than most units.

Its survivability is decent once you tack on the almost mandatory - and delightfully cheap - Regeneration (4+) upgrade with four Toughness 5 wounds and a 4+ armour save, but if there is one true weakness to the Chimera it is that it has a pitiful Leadership 5. This means that if it is not in your General's Inspiring Presence range then it is incredibly vulnerable to Panic tests caused by destroyed units, including cheap and easily killed chaff units such as Chaos Warhounds or Marauder Horsemen. My best advice here is to keep a Chimera within 12" of your General at all times to make sure its low Leadership isn't exploited and causes it to flee the field, a very likely event once it fails a test with Leadership 5. This one crucial vulnerability aside, the Chimera is a living wrecking ball that can demolish almost anything in its way with the appropriately priced Strength 4 Flaming Breath Weapon upgrade and a mess of Strength 6 attacks. This is one of the deadliest monsters in Warhammer Fantasy and makes for the perfect counter-part to a Daemon Prince or monster-mounted character.
Competitive? Yes.

The monstrous options are generally the stars of this slot with Gorebeast Chariots, Trolls and Chimeras being the stand-outs. Ogres, Dragon Ogres and Chaos Knights all have their uses but aren't as high quality as the previous trio. Chosen, Hellstriders and Chaos Warshrines are generally less worthwhile but can still offer some unique options.

Thank you for reading this article! I have a wealth of experience against and with Warriors of Chaos both in pick-up-games and at a competitive level so I feel I have suitable experience to conduct a serious mini-review of their units. They are such a powerful army book that will beat out any army in a straight fight, but their inability to really offer much in the shooting phase does limit them somewhat. I am eager to hear your thoughts on the Warriors of Chaos and how they have performed both for and against you. Cheers, and have a nice day! 


  1. Oh shucks. I ended up with plenty of dragon ogres, and chaos knights for my army. No gorebeasts, trolls or chimeras. Ah well, can't say I'm much of a tournament goer anyways. Are the new dragon ogres on bigger bases than the old metal ones?

    1. Dragon Ogres and Chaos Knights will still serve you just fine, they aren't bad units at all - particularly Chaos Knights. It's just that in the context of the Warriors of Chaos book where you have stuff like Hellcannons, Trolls, Skullcrushers and so on, both those units are comparatively inefficient in similar roles. If either were in another book they would probably be pretty common. When I rate a unit "competitive" or "not competitive" is based upon how it contrasts to units in the same role in that army book rather than other army books, at least for the most part anyway.

      As far as the Dragon Ogre base size goes, I would have no clue about that, sorry! The new ones are on the monstrous cavalry bases - so 50x75mm - and I'm guessing the old ones are on the 50x50mm?