An Unexpected Update: Black Legion Supplement New Formations

Greetings all,

I’ve been busy assembling a whole bunch of Heresy Night Lords. Ruins of Arotha inspired me to have a crack at using magnets, to make the most out of my kits and I have taken to it like a pig in sh&*t. I decided not to bother with WIP shots, as it’s all pretty standard stuff. I’ll post some up when I finally get around to painting them.

The reason for this article is that GW, the cheeky chaps that they are, have updated the Black Legion Codex Supplement. I bought the iPad version the day of release last year (or whenever the hell it was) and I felt pretty disappointed by it, the fiction was alright but the rules were minimal and lacklustre. My main gripe was with the artefacts available to characters, which also consisted of the vast majority of rules from the ‘dex, they seemed over priced for what they had to offer. For instance the Skull of Ker’ngar, at 40 points you get Eternal Warrior and Adamantium Will. Alright Eternal Warrior is boss, but at 40 points lets compare that to the 50 point Shield Eternal. The loyalists nab a 3++, Adamantium Will and Eternal Warrior for just 10 points more than the Skull! 

I shan’t bother ranting like a heretic fanboy but the Chaos Codex is showing its age now, it’s a sixth edition Codex in the world of seventh. Although the heretics have received some cool new toys in the form of dataslates the core issue remained. Chaos Space Marines are the weakest element of the Chaos army. In a nutshell it comes down to the lack of And They Shall Know No Fear (ATSKNF). Whoa, don’t get me wrong, Chaos shouldn’t have that rule. I’m not suggesting that Chaos Marines should have faith in the Emperor (Alpha Legion?). No, simply that for equivalent points, the loyalists all benefit from an incredible rule that has consistent game wide affects. Auto rallying, not being destroyed from a sweeping advance and acting as normal once rallied. Whereas the traitors can pay points to receive +1 leadership (and 5 CSM cost 5 points more base than a 5 man tactical squad). 

So when the Black Legion supplement came out I was disappointed. On an army wide basis this main flaw remained firm and the extras we did get did not compensate to make the CSM list more competitive. I’m not expecting the filth of the 3.5 ‘dex but if loyalists are going to get their own (arguably better) Obliterators in the form of Centurions then I expect more than an AP3 Daemon Sword that gives me +1 Initiative. Seriously, that’s a thing. I might as well take the mark of Slaanesh (for the +1 Init) and literally any other Daemon Weapon, like the Murder Sword (Ap 3 normally with the potential for d6 attacks like a regular daemon weapon, nominate a character at the start of the battle and your sword goes batshit against that character giving you x2 S, AP 1 and Instant Death! Oh and it’s only 5 points more than the spine tingly sword).

So I lied, there was a bit of a rant. I’m a heretic at heart, even bought the t-shirt at Forgeworld to prove it.

New Formations

Bringers of Despair – Abaddon and his closest Terminator friends rock up with +1 WS and BS (not Abby, he’s hardcore as is).

The Chosen of Abaddon – Enjoy 1-4 Lords or Sorceres, each one must take a unit of chosen or termies to stick with for the game but for as long as the Lord/Sorcerer is alive the his squad they’re Fearless, because no f*&ks are given. Screw you ATSKNF, our sorcerers just grew a pair. Oh and all the Lord/Sorcerers in this detachment get a free roll on the Boon table (re-rolling spawn or apotheosis, because Abs hangs around with the cool guys).

The Hounds of Abaddon – Chaos Lord, 1-3 Khorne Berserkers, 1-3 CSM; 1-3 Raptors, Warp Talons or Bikers (in any combination). Once per game you can run and charge with the lot of ‘em and whenever a unit makes a charge roll on 8 or more the unit gets +1 strength (because Khorne likes it when Marines man up and get stuck in).

Daemon Engine Pack – A Warpsmith with his two pet Forgefiends or Maulerfiends (in any combination). This is an odd one, you can nominate a character before the game begins. Your big dogs gain preferred enemy against said character and if you slay the bastard you regain a lost hull point. Also your Warpsmith cares, if he’s within 12” of one of his pets at the start of the shooting and/or assault you can nominate said Fido to use the Warpsmith’s Weapon Skill or Ballistic Skill.

Cyclopia Cabal – I really like this one for numerous reasons. Here we have 3-5 Sorcerers (they don’t have to form a unit, but I’ll get on to that), they gain one special ability/psychic power, Shroud of Deceit. It’s a warp charge 3 psychic power, you nominate one sorcerer to channel it and any Sorcerer including the first generate a free dice for that power only if they are within 12”. It has range 30” from the channeller, you nominate a non vehicle unit. If successfully cast and not denied you get to immediately shoot with the deceived unit as if they were your own squad. So, your enemy rolls on to the board with his graviton canon toting Servitor Destructors, sweet, let’s shoot them at your his own Land Raider. It’s a great psychic power that should be useful in most games but there’s an added bonus (sort of). Let’s combine all of those Sorcerers in to one unit, stick a fearless character in, say a Lord, and attach all said characters to a 20 man cultist squad. Choose Biomancy for all your Sorcerers (and hope to roll Endurance on one). Now you have a twenty-six man unit that can potentially have a 4+ FNP save with Eternal Warrior for your characters. Plus five dudes are rocking around with force weapons and only one of them needs to get the power off to activate it. I recommend sticking a spell familiar on the channeller to make the most use out of the Shroud of Deceit (as effectively the warp charge for it are free, so you might as well pay 15 points for the re-roll to make sure it goes off). This is by no means a death star but that’s not the point, just think of the awesome conversions and havoc you can reek with a unit like this on the board. There’s the crux of it as well, how much Chaos can you cause and what will you cause it with. The traitors should always give you options to mess about with.  

 The Tormented – Daemon Prince with 2-5 units of possessed, pretty sure I heard those groans from here, but hold on. These possessed come with +1WS, +1 I and rending; sure they’re still not Wulfen but at least they’re a bit more viable now. Shame they still don’t know how to hold two close combat weapons. Warning, if the Prince wanders off further than 18” the possessed do become somewhat senile. Like dementia as opposed to slavering killers. 

Black Legion Warband – Last up is the Black Legion Warband, here we have one Lord, 0-1 Sorcerer, 2-6 CSM, 1-3 Termies or Possessed (any combo), 1-3 raptors, talons or bikers (any combo) and 1-3 Havocs or Helbrutes (any combo). When your characters take down a character thanks to the Champion of Chaos special rule (in a challenge) you roll twice on the boon table and can pick either one or both results. This detachment also has the Thirst For Glory rule, this one is nice. In a phase if one Black Legion unit wipes out an enemy unit all remaining Black Legion units may re-roll failed to hit and to wound rolls of 1. This is damn good. So if you blow up a rhino in your shooting phase your whole warband gets a (pseudo) universal preferred enemy rule for the phase. This also applies to the combat phase (I think your enemies, as well as your own). 


Overall I’m really pleased with the above detachments, I think they add some needed depth to the CSM army and they make a vanilla list a bit more flexible. It might not be the new ‘dex that we’d like but it’s a decent start. What’s more as a digital user this update was free. Sadly this doesn’t help those that bought the hardcopy; however I’d recommend checking online for the full rules once it’s been released in earnest, as lets face it, it’s pretty harsh to buy effectively the same thing again for what is just an update. Oh and there are tactical objectives for the Black Legion (can’t remember if they were in the old version, if not, they are now). There might be other updated information but the artefacts look basically the same (I think the Nova artefact was tweaked). 

It looks like the Crimson Slaughter ‘dex should be receiving the same treatment, although I didn’t buy that one, might now. Not sure. So, we should have some more formations to play with soon. 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop me a line, if not, I hope the article’s been of some use.

As always, have an ace one all.


Image Sources: Black Legion Codex Supplement. Used for the sole purpose of entertainment, reporting news and reviewing the updated Codex for non-commercial use. All rights reserved by Games Workshop. 


  1. Hmmm…looks quite interesting, though not entirely sure why they’re giving the supplements an update? This could mean we’ll be seeing a new CSM codex some time this year after all!? I’ve heard rumours kicking around and I think the CSM is the only Codex so far that hasn’t been given the formations treatment properly. Even Daemons got a little update with the Wulfen release. Regarding the Crimson Slaughter…it’s another lacklustre supplement with 1 entire page of rules, so be careful. Though the artefacts are a bit better…Thanks for the plug by the way! 😀

    1. Cheers for the comment and you’re welcome for the mention, I found your article pretty damn useful.
      I’m hoping CSM’s do get a new Codex, I’d heard a few bits and pieces but you always have to take these rumours with salt(ed caramel).
      The fence is where I’m firmly sat about purchasing the updated Crimson Slaughter rules. On the one hand I don’t want to support a product that I feel is overpriced for what you get (as you say, not a lot of rules). However, I do want to have access to formations that could make the army more enjoyable to use.
      A fortnight ago I played a 3 way all vs all 40k kill points game. I used CSM allied with Daemonkin, Ferg used Nurgle’s CSM and Alex used Space Wolves. It was 1250 points each. Fergana I combined forces and worked together from turn 2 after we realised the Wolves were out for blood. Alex annihilated us both, without losing a single unit. His 1250 took out 2500 points of Chaos within 4 turns. A fairly extreme example but no less frustrating!
      Anyway, essay over, haha. Hope you’re having an ace day.

      1. It’s the codex creep again. Personally I think they’ve gone beyond the realms of SM’s (of all chapters) being competitive and now they’re just OP. You know something’s wrong when a 5 man unit of Wulfen are better in combat than Khorne Berzerkers. And dont even get me started on Deathwing Knights…What’s next? Loyalist Daemon Princes I suspect.

        1. Haha, completely agree. Playing the Wolves I got rather tired of the 12″ move 3++ save units, that hit like an Astartes Cruiser laced from prow to stern with melta charges. Like I say I don’t mind losing but it was pretty horrific watching 3 Thunderwolf cavalry with a Lord laugh of a unit of 7 Possessed with a Sorcerer, a pimped up Daemonkin Lord on Bloodlcrusher, 3 Bloodcrushers, 2 Spawn and… something else. Not even kidding and I charged, with everything!

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