My last article seemed to stir up some interest on the inter-web and I recieved some good feedback along with a few requests for help. Well, who am I to turn away a request for help? Asking me for help with Warhammer is like asking a one-legged dude for help with your next ass-kicking contest, but I'll do my best. A reader (Knight of Infinite Resignation) question from the blog comments section:
"The NCU (great acronym!) I have trouble with is the Helbrute. I like to run three in my Khorne army, mainly because I have three converted ones and they look cool. They are converted from AOBR models and so two have CCW, flamer and Multi melta, the third I usually run as PC and ML.
So far I've been trying to compensate for their suckiness with an IG allied detachment using some permutation of my two Leman Russ Demolishers and LR Executioner. Thinking instead that what they really need is quick CC threats so may shift to allied Daemons, Khorne hounds, Bloodthirster etc.
Here is my list at 1750:
Kharn Lord, Jugger, Axe BF, Sigil, Votlw, MoK
Helbrute, multi melta, Heavy Flamer Helbrute, multi melta, Heavy Flamer Helbrute, plasma cannon, missile launcher
Fast Attack CSM Bikes x3, Mark of Khorne
Raptors x5 MoK, 10 Meltaguns x2, Powerfist
Berzerkers x9 Power Sword Icon of Wrath Rhino, DB, dirge caster
Berzerkers x10 Power Fist
Votlw 10 Plasma Pistols x1 Rhino, DB
Chaos Cultists x10 Autorifles x8 Heavy Stubber
Chaos Cultists x10 Autorifles x8 Heavy Stubber
Havocs x5 Lascannons x4 Champ has meltabombs Votlw
Kharn rides in the rhino with the smaller Zerker squad, the bikes are to keep the Jugger Lord company. This list has been walked over by Dark Angels a lot lately, and I discovered yesterday how Berzerkers, even with Kharn, bounce off Plague Marines. Also doesn't have much of a way to deal with Terminators but not sure how to add anything in.
Do you have any thoughts?"
I think the main issue is that Rhinos don't offer anything in the way of getting your Berzerkers into assault faster. If your guys are in a non-assault vehicle, they can never assault in a turn in which they were in it. Additionally, they can't assault even if their Rhino was blown up in your opponents turn. That stinks. Rhinos are great at getting shooty-scoring units into position on objectives. They do this quite well with the 12" move then 6" flat out.
Brain exercise time! What do Berzerkers want to do? They want to DRIVE FORWARD AND SPILL BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!!! A Rhino does little if anything to further this goal. Instead it involves them driving forward and WAITING TO SPILL BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD and then gather SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE at a later time, if you don't move away from us while we WAIT TO COME AND CHOP YOU IN TWAIN!
Pretend those are squads of regular Chaos Space Marines. You would probably have a different purpose in mind on what you wanted those Marines to accomplish. They'd want to push forward, lay down fire and claim forward objectives. A Rhino furthers this goal.
The only thing that furthers the goal of the zerks is a Land Raider! I love a Land Raider for them. Not many popular things can knock down a Land Raider before it delivers its contents into battle, perhaps Long Strike or multiple Wraithknights, but they shrug off missile spam from Tau, Tesla spam from Necrons, assault from non-monstrous creature Daemons and certain armies just plan on ignoring AV14 all together. I like them for your list. They are pricey but totally worth it in my opinion. The two ways your 'zerks won't die by being shot involve them not being able to be shot at all: Being in a transport or being in combat. The Land Raider allows you to always be in one of those categories. A Rhino makes it so you HAVE to have time NOT in one of those categories.
Additionally, that Zerker squad is a bit overkill. Kharn + 9 Zerkers with upgrades should be able to tear through anything in the game. The Zerkers in this case are body guards for the Betrayer, so maybe we don't need 9, maybe 5 will do? Save us some points and still serve the purpose of protecting our Warlord. This might also allow us to play a little shennanigans if we stay in combat through your opponents shooting phase. If you think you'll CRUSH your opponents unit and easily wipe them in one round, it might be a good idea to challenge with Kharn and let him use his boatload of attacks on a lowly sarge. The, perhaps your Zerkers won't overdo it versus the rest of the squad, perhaps you kill about half, they pass leadership (or are fearless!) and you are protected from return fire for a turn. Or if you are about to charge into 8 Paladins, you might want Kharn killing regular dudes while your champion challanges (gulp) Draigo.
Also, what is the goal of the Cultists? Are they deck-chair objective sitters? Cultists, while cheap, are low leadership and paper thin. If you plan on having them hold an an objective, it has to be your backfield ones, and even then, any fire directly their way will force a low-leadership morale check. If you're in the backfield, they are running off of the board. Your opponent will be able to dedicate fire to them because your other threats/troops aren't terribly tough either. A Rhino offers little protection for your Zerkers, then you're left with 3+ T4 in the open. An expensive group of them at that. You're probably finding that they go down pretty quick. The main reason Marines of all varieties are great is because they are generally cheap for what you get: T4 3+ basically ignoring a big concept of the game (morale) armed with an incredible anti-light infantry gun. Chaos gets a specific type of Marine, one in which it does have to worry about leadership somewhat but is amazingly priced. I think 5 Chaos Marines is a significantly better choice that 10 cultists with upgrades for a similar price. Plus, you get a decent special weapon too.
I also think that in general, Chaos Marines are better for what you get than Berzerkers if they aren't in a Land Raider. Perhaps instead of Zerkers in Rhino/Rhino, why not Zerks in Land Raider and Chaos Marines in a Rhino?
Lets figure out how to fit a Land Raider in, in order to give you a 1-2 punch with LR/guys and Bikes/Jugger as 1, then the 2 is the Dreads. Your dreads WILL make it into combat and be relevant if your opponent needs to worry about two HUGE threats first. The Rhino/Berzerks are just flat out not a threat.
My next thought is about that pricey havoc unit. Havocs are great and terrible at the same time. Great in that they take BS4 Lascannons at a decent price. Terrible because they only have one T4 bullet catcher before you're losing those lascannons. Plus, they are taking a leadership check at 2 dead bodies, and considering they will be near the back edge, would likely run off the board. If you start adding bullet catchers and the fearless icon, you're spending a lot of points that easily dies to a Heldrake and doesn't score. Additionally, your backfield in this list is 20 cultists and 5 heavy weapons guys. They won't last long against any semi-serious out flanker, deep striking Crisis Suits or a drop pod of Grey Hunters. There just isn't enough target saturation back there to keep those Havocs around.
We can go a couple of different routes with them: We can beef up the backfield with heartier guys, so if you opponent does walk 20 Kroot over off of the board edge, your heartier guys will block them off and chew them up before they lay into your Havocs too badly. Or you can add more armor saturation for you Heavy Support. Right now, you have Rhinos and Helbrutes with AV. If we make the changes and get a Land Raider, we now have some high armor in there. It might be wise to add in some AV 13 support, like the competitively priced Predator with Autocannon/Las sides. The third route we could take is keeping the smaller objective campers in the back and either beefing up the Havoc squad numbers or switching them to Obliterators. Both of them increase the survivability of this long range fire support slot significantly for a marginal points increase.
Lastly, I shaved off some points from the Raptor unit, turning them into more of a suicide-melta squad. They deep-strike, melta something (hopefully something expensive!) and the maybe live! Then if they live, they'll melta something again! I like them in this style of list because your opponent should have their hands full on turns 2-3, allowing these jerks to land somewhere important and hopefully have little resistance.
I think the central concept of the 1-2 punch is the way to go, while upgrading your backfield objective holders and changing your play style to match.
A list with the same flavor to me would be:
Juggernaught, Axe of Blind Fury, Sigil, MoK, VotLW, CB
Meltagun x 2
Berzerkers x 5
Chaos Space Marines x 10
Meltagun x 2, Rhino, VotLW
Chaos Space Marines x 5
Chaos Space Marines x 5
Dirge Caster, Dozer Blade
If I had to ramp this list up to 1850 or even 2k, I'd focus on adding more Chaos Marines in Rhinos or on foot. I still see scoring units being an issue, so, we'll add more!
If you take these suggestions and try it out, I'd love to hear how it turns out! Good luck!