Getting Started With Codex: Chaos Space Marines

By |2016-10-26T08:00:56+00:00October 26th, 2016|Categories: Army Construction, Chaos, GW Bundle Deals, How To Tutorial, Warhammer 40k|

Iron Warriors

Today we’re going to take a look at the dark mirror to the Space Marines, and dive right on in to the Codex: Chaos Space Marines

We think you all enjoyed our last article, so I am going to turn this into a series covering the armies of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  It’ll take a while.  There are twenty different army books (and growing). Let’s take our time and work our way through the variety of choices you have for Warhammer 40,000.

Who/What are the Chaos Space Marines?

Space Marines are the bright champions of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  Fearless, determined warriors who bring death and destruction to the enemies of the Imperium.  There are Space Marines who’ve broken their Oaths of service, and turned against the Imperium they helped to build.  These traitors have turned to Chaos and embraced the path of darkness.  They’ve become Chaos Space Marines.  The oldest of the Chaos Space Marines are the original traitors from the Horus Heresy (A Galaxy shattering civil war that pitted marine against marine), but renegades and traitors have continued to appear since.  Even mighty champions of the Imperium can fall to Chaos’s lure, as Lugft Huron fell from being the Chapter Master of the Astral Claws and became the Tyrant of Badab, Huron Blackheart.


Chaos Space Marines traded their oaths of fealty for the attention of the Dark Gods of Chaos.  In the name of these Ruinous Powers, Chaos Space Marines will build shrines, enslave worlds, and attempt to tear down the Imperium of Man.  Their service to the Chaos Powers has given them great powers, mutations, and blessings that no sane man would court.   Death to the False Emperor!

From a modeling perspective, Chaos Space Marines are a dream come true. 

From a player perspective, the Chaos Space Marines are going to feel similar to the Space Marines, but they have different options and choices available to them.  They use a shortened version of the space marine armory, but is offset by having access to cultists, giant robots, and Chaos God specific troops.  The theme you can build out of the Chaos Space Marines is ultimately up to you.  Besides, everybody loves the bad guys, right?

3 Key Factors

Let’s take a look at the three factors we always look at when deciding on a new army.  Remember, you’re going to invest a decent amount of cash and time into a miniature war game, so take your time and find the army you want to play.



Chaos Space Marines have access to a shortened form of the Space Marine armory.  The units and options that differ from their loyalist counterparts represent the shift of allegiance.  Chaos Space Marines have access to cultists, who are regular humans who worship the Dark Gods and follow the Chaos Space Marines into battle.  They also have access to some wonderfully big Daemonic war machines.  The final aspect of the key difference between traitor and loyalist are the Cult (Chaos God specific) choices that can be taken.


From a customization stand point, a Chaos Space Marine player actually has more options within his units than just about anyone else in the game.  More importantly, these choices will affect the unit’s expected role on the tabletop.

For example, a Squad of Chaos Space Marines (the troop choice) can:

  • take between 5 and 20 models
  • can take a specific Mark of Chaos
  • have options to include close combat weapons
  • can include two special weapons or one special weapon and one heavy weapon
  • can take an icon for more power

Five different points of customization allow you to tailor squads to perform specific tasks.  A giant squad of  Chaos Space Marines with the Mark of Khorne, close combat weapons and the Icon of Rage are going to perform differently than a small squad of Chaos Space Marines kitted out with shooting weapons and the Mark of Tzeentch.  You can build your army to perform virtually any desired battlefield objective.  Finding the right combination of units to maximize your hitting power is half the fun of building the list.


Potential Army Lists Include

  • Chaos Robots
  • Chaos God Specific Armies
  • Grand Alliance
  • Armored assault
  • Daemonic Posession


Chaos Space Marines trade in the Aquila motif that their loyalist counterparts use for an astonishing amount of spikes.  This website pulls its name from the era where every possible surface of a chaos vehicle or really any smooth surface had a spikey bit sticking out of it.  It’s a different aesthetic, which can be further customized by modeling cult specific features onto your models. Chaos Warbands utilize virtually any color combination that you’d want to consider (and probably some you’d never thought of) so they are a different kind of a blank canvas

chaos crimson_slaughter_current_scheme

From a modeling perspective, Chaos Space Marines are a dream come true.  With the modern plastic kits for the Space Marines and the Chaos Space Marines, the parts are almost completely interchangeable.  You should be able to find the perfect part without too much trouble.   The sculptor in you can have a lot of fun sculpting weird, odd chaos mutations onto your models.  let your hair down and try out some weird.  you might end up liking it so much you convert the entire army this way.

Most of the chaos armor on terminators/big robots/newer models has heavy trim over the armor plates, so make sure you understand which surface is which when you start painting.  Otherwise things might not turn out how you expected and you might have to start over.



The Chaos Space Marines should be approached differently from their loyalist counterparts.  Different options and choices within the codex give you different solutions to problems.  Your cultists give you cheap options to hold onto objectives.  With the ability to mark units with a chaos alignment, you can tailor your play style to whichever Chaos God you want.  Don’t assume that because they look like regular space marines that they will play like regular space marines.berserk_di_khorne

This army can utilize inexpensive troops to hold objectives and tie down your opponent and send its more elite units into take objectives from your opponent.  This isn’t an army that wants to fight fair.  Cultists are ultimately expendable while your Chaos Space Marines get the job done.  Read through your codex and find the units that you want to center your army around, and build from there.

This army can struggle against armies with an over abundance of plasma weaponry, and your characters have two issues. They must issue challenges, and have no access to the Eternal Warrior special rule.  This means they have to pick fights with people who can kill them instantly in a challenge.


What Next?

We always assume you have a copy of the Warhammer 40,000 rules.  If you don’t have those, go ahead and pick up a copy.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines is an essential purchase. It has your army list and special rules.
Traitor’s Hate is also essential.  It updates your army list and opens up new choices.


There are two supplements you can consider, Black Legion and Crimson Slaughter.  They give you new options to consider playing with.

If you are ready to start picking up models, consider the Start Collecting box for Chaos Space Marines.

It comes with

  1. One Terminator Chaos Lord (Can be assembled as a Chaos Sorcerer)
  2. Ten Chaos Space Marines
  3. One Hellbrute Dreadnought


All of these can find a home in a Chaos Space Marine army, and so can you.

If a man dedicates his life to good deeds and the welfare of others, he will die unthanked and unremembered. If he exercises his genius bringing misery and death to billions, his name will echo through the millennia for a hundred lifetimes. Infamy is always more preferable to ignominy.

-Zardoz the Magnificent

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About the Author:

Trained as a school psychologist, i look at the overlap between education, psychology and games with the direction to utilize the latter two components to improve the first