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!
Wulfrik - The Wanderer is an Exalted Hero with an extra point in both Weapon Skill and Initiative that give him offensive stats very similar to a Chaos Lord, while he packs in a 3+ armour save, 6+ parry and some awesome abilities. Not only does Wulfrik allow both himself and a single unit of Chaos Marauders to Ambush but he can force opponents to accept challenges Wulfrik issues, even allowing Wulfrik's controlling player to choose which character accepts the challenge. While Ambush is mostly there to make up for the innate weaknesses of Marauders in the new army book and give you some very useful deployment flexibility, being able to single out fragile but high value enemy characters like a Grey Seer or an Elf Mage is a fantastic ability - especially seeing as Wulfrik is no slouch in combat!
Four attacks at Strength 5 will smash the vast majority of wizard type characters, but if you really want to impress the Chaos Gods then you can use Wulfrik's Hunter rule to go for an opponents' tough general. When Wulfrik fights his chosen target he gains +2 Strength and what amounts to Eternal Hatred which with four attacks at Weapon Skill 8 and Initiative 7 will give any combat Lord lacking Always Strikes First cause for concern; even a Vampire Lord will have to be careful here! Though I think Wulfrik is just a tad too fragile for his points and is a character that doesn't provide any useful support abilities outside of his Ambush for a unit whose' inclusion is contentious at best, his ability to single out enemy characters make him the Chaos equivalent to an Assassin - a role he performs very well. Unfortunately, with the Lore of Death being so prominent and accessible by Warriors of Chaos wizards, I'm not sure a character like Wulfrik is really needed - aside from a Battle Standard Bearer it generally isn't smart to invest too heavily into Exalted Heroes as they eat up so many points despite being mere two wound models. I honestly can't give him a competitive rating seeing as a Level 2 Sorcerer rolling on Death is almost always a better general investment and doesn't need to risk dying in combat to make his or her points back.
Throgg - Ladies and gentlemen, this here is the best special character in Warhammer Fantasy and certainly heads and shoulders above the rest in this army book. Let us begin, shall we? Throgg has Toughness 5, 4 Wounds and a 4+ Regeneration save for defence, easily superior to a Dark Elf Kharibdyss or other equivalent for survivability. Throgg has five Strength 8 attacks that Always Strike Last at Weapon Skill 5, pummeling even the toughest combat characters into dust. The Troll King can pile on the hurt with one of the best breath weapons in the game, manifesting at Strength 5 and ignoring all armour saves. As a close combat model, Throgg can destroy even characters as expensive and tough as Archaeon as seemingly impossible it should be, while lesser characters like Tyrion and Vlad von Carstein will simply evaporate. The chances of any of the aforementioned models actually killing Throgg in one round of combat are low aside from Tyrion and this is true of a lot of combat monsters, but what is important to remember before you draw out the comparisons is Throgg's sub 200 point cost.
Need I even mention that Throgg makes Trolls - one of the best points-per-model units in the army book - Core choices and lets both they and other monstrous unit types use his Leadership 8 for all Leadership based tests? There's only one word to describe Throgg; overpowered. Absolutely and unequivocally overpowered. He out-fights characters that are more than twice his points cost, he is darned tough and can hide in a unit of super strong Trolls that he makes Core, he provides a form of Inspiring Presence to units that generally require it the most, and his unique breath weapon can annihilate almost anything it touches - including entire units of Chaos Warriors. Oh, and if he passes two or more Regeneration saves in the same phase, Throgg gets a free roll on the Eye of the Gods chart. To think that not only is this character a Hero choice but is also cheaper than a stock Chaos Lord is just insane.
Festus - The first and only Nurgle dedicated special character in the Warriors of Chaos army is Festus, a Sorcerer that trades a lot of the standard tools of the generic Hero choice for some really powerful unique abilities. He lacks Chaos Armour and the usual "Warrior" profile with a mere Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 2, but he offsets this by having a 4+ Regeneration save that will usually prove more worthwhile than a stock 4+ armour save once armour modifiers are considered. He is dedicated to Nurgle and thus outside of a select few characters all enemies will be hitting him on a 4+ at best in close combat, and many on a 5+. Festus also has Poisoned Attacks which makes him somewhat better in close combat than a Vampire Counts Ghoul, but the difference is minimal and obviously the Sorcerer should not be taken for such purposes with only two attacks. Being a Level 2 Wizard with the Lore of Nurgle is great as far as being restricted to a spell lore is concerned - I'm looking at you, Vilitch - and even factoring in the Level 2 upgrade, the Mark and Festus' unique abilities sees him be relatively points efficient compared to a standard Sorcerer.
The Dark Apothecary lives up to his name with his Pestilent Potions that can be used in any close combat; Festus and a single model in base contact roll a D6 and add their unmodified Strength values and compare their results against each other. If Festus scores higher, the enemy suffers D3 wounds with no armour saves allowed, but if Festus scores lower then no further effect occurs. Strength 4 is average and stacks well against even High Elf characters - that the potions are used at the start of the close combat phase means this can be done before Always Strikes First attacks occur. This is a very nifty little tool that makes up for Festus' lack of melee punch, but he can also use them to handily heal himself which makes him quite resistant to character snipe attempts.
What really defines Festus is that any unit he joins also benefits from Regeneration - but a reduced 5+ rather than 4+ - and Poisoned Attacks, providing a unit of Chaos Warriors a huge survivability and damage buff. That these spells also stack with two of the Lore of Nurgle spells to provide Regeneration 4+ and Poisoned Attacks on a 5+ plays hand in hand with Festus being a Level 2 wizard using the spell lore of the Plague God. The Regeneration buff is best used on units built for all out offence, such as halberd or additional hand weapon wielders - this is because a Regeneration save will replace and put to shame whatever ward save a Nurgle unit would have. This generally favours halberds as the all rounder choice to provide masses of Poisoned Strength 5 attacks at Weapon Skill 5 and Initiative 5, but to make the most of Poisoned Attacks would be to use the additional hand weapons. The difference is minimal assuming average rolls seeing as the additional hand weapons essentially equate to an extra rank of supporting attacks - usually five or six - so I tend to favour halberds as Strength 5 will cleave through most armour on infantry. All things considered, Festus provides all that you could want from a hero level Sorcerer aside from a Dispel Scroll, but for the points there are few other special characters that provide such awesome support abilities as the Dark Apothecary. He is a fantastic choice in a Nurgle themed army and can even slot well into a Chaos Undivided army with a bodyguard of Nurgle Warriors with halberds providing a scary melee block.
Scylla Anfingrimm - I want to quickly speak of the two main issues people have with Scylla and disprove a common rules misconception surrounding this monster of a man. Firstly, Leadership 10 sees that unless your force includes either Archaeon or Sigvald then Scylla will be your General - as characters join units at the end of deployment and selecting the General is done before deployment, you cannot use the Standard of Discipline with a Chaos Lord to override this. Secondly, having Unbreakable on a character does not prevent them from joining units that lack the special rule; instead, only Unbreakable units exclude characters without the special rule from joining them. This means Scylla can hide in a unit of Chaos Warriors and be immune to small arms fire or lead a merciless band of Dragon Ogres into battle while benefiting from Look Out Sir - sadly, he is a Monstrous Beast and not Monstrous Infantry. Just be aware that if the unit fails a break test then Scylla will also flee as a result. Once this is considered, Scylla is an incredibly cheap and well rounded character option that makes for a surprisingly good General option, especially seeing as Scylla lacks the Random Movement rules that its mutant brethren share.
As a Chaos Spawn, Scylla has a greatly improved profile that can be considered impressive for the points with four Toughness 5 wounds, a 5+ armour save and 6+ ward save for defence being decent but quite susceptible to any sort of dedicated melee or shooting attacks. The Mark of Khorne sees that Scylla is Frenzied but Leadership 10 stymies the negatives, though this does mean the great beast has a whopping D6+3 total attacks in each combat. These are all resolved at Weapon Skill 4, Strength 5 and Initiative 3, serving to make Scylla a pretty nasty melee combatant. Pile on Hatred and Fear and it isn't out of the question for Scylla to smash an entire rank of Toughness 3 infantry at a time; that he is mostly resistant to Strength 3 attacks except en masse allows Scylla to use Unbreakable to his advantage by engaging and tying up those large blocks of Steadfast infantry for several game turns solo. Scylla also has the Magic Resistance 3 special rule due to being gifted with a Brass Collar of Khorne, affording him a 3+ ward save against damage caused by magic missiles and direct damage spells. That you can use these to buff a friendly unit up adds so much value to Scylla considering how insanely expensive Magic Resistance 3 is to purchase for generic characters, making him just so value intensive. Provided he is placed in a unit of Dragon Ogres, Scylla will either gain an invaluable Look Out Sir roll or be incapable of targeting separately for enemy units, making up for his weakness against massed shooting. He is a surprisingly good character that could potentially be your General by mandate rather than choice but provided he has a unit of Monstrous Beasts to join then this is not an issue whatsoever. Heck, he even fits well into Monstrous Infantry provided your opponent doesn't have any war machines that use templates!
Exalted Hero - If you want a Battle Standard Bearer in your army, look nowhere else - the Exalted Hero is not only your only option for one (and 'BSB's' are necessary nowadays) but he is also just a great Hero choice in general. The Exalted Hero's basic profile with Weapon Skill 7, Initiative 6 and four Strength 5 attacks makes even a High Elf Lord blush, while Toughness 4 with a 4+ armour save stock makes them one of the most cost effective choices of their type in the game. They hit hard no matter how you outfit them and can be made into virtually immortal models with very few real counters, particularly when dedicated to Tzeentch. A Battle Standard Bearer with either the Mark of Nurgle or Mark of Tzeentch will be one of the hardest of their kind to shift in the game and protect those crucial points so well, while using one as a cheap General isn't a bad idea with their fantastic stats. Some popular builds involve a 1+ re-rollable armour save featuring the Helm of Many Eyes for Always Strikes First and a halberd for a multitude of Strength 6 attacks that will re-roll to hit against most foes, or riding a barded Daemonic Mount to war with a 3+ ward save re-rolling 1s for failed saves. No matter what build you choose, it is hard to go wrong with an Exalted Hero.
Sorcerer - Where other armies get cheap wizards but are forced to either pay for units for them to hide in or pile the points on defensive wargear, the Chaos Sorcerer is a prime combination of survivability and spell casting potential in the Hero slot. With access to seven lores, a natural 4+ armour save and above average melee capabilities, the Chaos Sorcerer packs on the value and really isn't that far removed in price from the equivalents in other army books. While paying for melee prowess on a wizard is generally a waste seeing as they should be protected away from the front lines, the Chaos Sorcerer combines Toughness 4, Chaos Armour and a wealth of defensive options including a possible 3+ ward save and Toughness 5 three wounds through the Daemonic Mount to compensate. Whether you take one as a cheap Dispel Scroll wielder or go all out with a bargain-priced Lord equivalent with Level 2 and a Chaos Familiar, the Sorcerer is a great use of your points and deserves an inclusion in almost any Warriors of Chaos army list.
The two generic character options are as good as you could hope for considering the army book they are in, while the special characters are generally avoidable aside from Throgg and Festus - the former of which is over-powered and the latter of which is a great choice.
Chaos Dragon - Dragons tend to be very middling as monster mounts due to their high cost versus the abilities they possess not being entirely favourable, though Chaos Dragons at least have a bit of extra value packed in. The Chaos Dragon is your standard Dragon with 6s across most of its stats, a middling Initiative value and good Leadership in addition to a good mix of defensive and offensive stats. Dragons are your archetypical melee monster but tend to overpay for being so good in combat and fast with the Fly special rule, especially when compared to newer monsters like the Frostheart Phoenix or K'daii Destroyer. Of course, this also ties into the issues monsters have in general with 8th Edition due to how amazingly potent and accurate cannons or other war machines are, but having 6 Toughness 6 wounds does see the Dragon at least be mostly immune to small arms fire.
Where most Dragons have a Strength 4 Flaming Breath weapon as their sole ranged attack, the Chaos Dragon gets both this and a second breath weapon with a not insignificant cost dissimilarity to other Dragons. This is a Strength 2 Breath Weapon that ignores armour saves, making it pretty darned nasty against Elven elites or Empire cavalry. This is handy but I definitely wouldn't say it is worth the extra points over a standard Dragon, nor does it really help solve the core problems with taking a monster in 8th Edition - and especially a monster used as a mount due to the unfavourable monster mount rules. However, the extra attack over other "medium" Dragons does somewhat partially justify the higher points cost and makes the Chaos Dragon a deadly melee combatant at the very least.
Chaos Steed - A warhorse equivalent with Strength 4, the Chaos Steed is your typical horse with only that one minor difference and an equivalent points cost. The only oddity here is that there is no option to take a steed without barding for characters, but instead all of them are barded by default. This means that most Chaos cavalry will be Movement 7 Swiftstride as opposed to Movement 8 Swiftstride, but seeing as this is an elite armour that has the best armour saves of any force you probably won't mind this discrepancy whatsoever. That Chaos Steeds are Strength 4 is just a nice little extra bonus, but ultimately doesn't make a significant difference to their overall value - warhorses are still the staple mount option for almost every army book they feature in.
Daemonic Mount - If you don't mind investing extra into a mount for some really good gains, the Daemonic Mount is perfect for characters of all kinds but especially so for Hero choices. As a Monstrous Beast, a ridden Daemonic Mount changes its riders' unit type to Monstrous Cavalry and thus has both models share their Wounds and Toughness values, using the highest of either. For an Exalted Hero or Chaos Sorcerer this means the Daemonic Mount is not only a Movement 8 Swiftstride mount option, but it is also a profile booster by giving them Toughness 5 and three wounds - turning them into Chaos Lords with the same defensive stats at a fraction of the cost. The Daemonic Mount also provides an impressive two Strength 5 attacks in addition to a Strength 5 Stomp, boosting the damage output of any given character decently. These can also be barded for an additional cost which I always recommend to make the most out of all the defensive boosts they provide, giving an Exalted Hero with a shield a 1+ armour save on three Toughness 5 wounds all for such a good price point. The Daemonic Mount is somewhat wasted on a Chaos Lord that either gets extra Strength 5 attacks cheaper or doesn't benefit at all from the profile switch and is thus better suited to a regular barded Chaos Steed, but for Hero choices the Daemonic Mount is a great option to consider and could be considered integral to the Tzeentch "unkillable" Battle Standard Bearer build. For reference, this is a 1+ armoured Exalted Hero on a barded Daemonic Mount with the Talisman of Preservation and Third Eye of Tzeentch - good luck killing that!
Disc of Tzeentch - Between this and the Steed of Slaanesh - both billed as incredibly fast mount options - the Disc of Tzeentch is quite easily the more favourable option before considering the unique benefits of each Mark of Chaos. While the Steed of Slaanesh has a wide range of nice special rules, they are in service to a single Strength 3 attack that is unlikely to accomplish much at all - the main benefit is the Fast Cavalry special rule. The Disc of Tzeentch instead is equally mobile with the Fly special rule but has the significant advantage of being able to ignore intervening units and terrain to gain a placement advantage which provides great synergy with the damage based spells of the Lores of Tzeentch and Metal. That it also has three Strength 4 attacks at Weapon Skill 3 is certainly a lot more useful than one Armour Piercing and Poisoned Strength 3 attack. For spell-casters or combat characters built to be "unkillable" or as pricey chaff and war machine hunters, the Disc of Tzeentch is the premier mount option and serves to make up for a lot of the negatives for Tzeentch wizards.
Juggernaught of Khorne - Of the two monstrous cavalry mount options available to Warriors of Chaos dedicated to Khorne, the Juggernaught is by far the more offence oriented - and that's a good thing! While both have their place, Khorne characters tend to be built for pure offence and just slaughtering a foe as opposed to worrying about surviving first, something a Juggernaught really helps with. Three Strength 5 attacks at Weapon Skill 5 and Initiative 2 are really good and will average two extra unsaved wounds on your average Weapon Skill 4 or lower Toughness 3 5+ armoured opponent, making the Juggernaught the equivalent of a Frenzied Chaos Warrior rider with a halberd or enscorcelled weapon. The Juggernaught automatically comes with the equivalent of barding and is Movement 7 as such, but it trades that awesome damage output for the Toughness 5 of a Daemonic Mount. Generally speaking, this is a non issue for Chaos Lords that are already Toughness 5 and as such they will be better served with the Juggernaught, but it is an important consideration for Toughness 4 Exalted Heroes. Toughness 4, three wounds and a 2+ armour save are still great just by purchasing the Juggernaught and no other equipment, but that Toughness 5 does make a huge difference against your usual Strength 3 aggressors. In any case, the Juggernaught compares well to the Daemonic Mount and as such can be considered a high value mount purchase.
Manticore - Where the Chimera is a devastating monster in both close combat and for one shooting phase - devouring infantry and heavy cavalry alike with impunity - the Manticore is sadly not as competitive or generally useful an option as the three-species beast. The Dark Elf version is almost identical to the Warriors of Chaos Manticore but with one slightly different upgrade and a minimal cost decrease to the near necessary armour option. As such, most of the same points I raised in my Dark Elf articles hold true here; it is essentially an improved Griffon at the same cost, the high Leadership of most characters riding it means they won't be worried about the possible Frenzy, and it suffers all the issues other ridden monsters do. This is no more worthwhile than a Dragon given its reduced survivability, but the Manticore does bring lots of damage at a respectable price point; I would prefer this over the Chaos Dragon in most games given the significantly lower overall investment when using one as a mount.
Palanquin of Nurgle - While this mount does look very appealing at first, I'm not a huge fan of the Palanquin mostly because of the lack of Nurgle marked monstrous cavalry options in the army book. The points you pay to change a characters' unit type to monstrous cavalry and give them either one or two extra wounds at their basic Toughness is great, especially with the plethora of Strength 3 magical attacks thrown in by the Nurglings. Unfortunately, unlike the Juggernaught of Khorne and Daemonic Mount, the Palanquin is both far too slow to be used for chaff and war machine hunting, cannot hide in a unit of Skullcrushers and is incapable of making use of the Tzeentch "unkillable" build. This heavily restricts its usage and sees it most commonly used as a space-eater in a unit of Chaos Warriors, though this still leaves it dangerously vulnerable to template weapons and blasts that will punish its' lack of Look Out Sir. The only real option is to combine it with Chaos Knights riding Rotbeasts from the Tamurkhan Campaign book offered by Forge World, but even then the Movement 4 of the Palanquin will prove a huge detriment for the Rot Knights.
Steed of Slaanesh - While I did pinpoint the advantages a Disc of Tzeentch has over a Steed of Slaanesh earlier, I do still think this particular mount option can be of great use to Slaanesh characters. This is because Movement 10 and the Fast Cavalry special rule that isn't restricted whatsoever by the armour options the character takes can be so scary for opponents that don't expect such mobile units to pack a real punch and have "wound tanks", something Dark Elf armies are now infamous for. The only issue obviously is that Dark Elves have both Dark Riders and Doomfire Warlocks that are some of the best units in the game bar none, whereas the Warriors of Chaos army book doesn't enjoy the same luxury. Hellstriders and Marauder Horsemen are decent units that are worth including in an army lacking chaff, but their high cost and fragility for the points makes them mostly inefficient compared to the always dependable cheap Chaos Warhound chaff drops. An entertaining build could use five to ten Hellstriders, three Exalted Heroes, a Sorcerer and either a Sorcerer Lord or Chaos Lord and be used as a bullet delivering both Cacophonic Choir and well armoured characters with incredible damage dealing capabilities, but such a build would be far too easy to counter typically. The Steed of Slaanesh is good on its own merits but suffers from not having any good units to join and make full use of its abilities, at least not in the Warriors of Chaos book.
The non-monster mounts are all generally worthwhile with the Disc of Tzeentch and always dependable Chaos Steed being the stand-outs, but both actual monsters are sub-par compared to their rivals in other army books and just don't stand out enough to be worthwhile in an edition that does not favour monsters whatsoever.
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!