The voices are crying and can only be silenced with the spilling of blood. Yes, Crimson Slaughter has been unleashed from the Warp upon the world.

Yes, the second supplement for Codex: Chaos Space Marines has been released. So let's dig in and see what kind of blood shed the Crimson Slaughter is prepared to bring.

Background and Art

Honestly at this point in this edition I'd be more surprised to see the artwork is bad. Once again it really hits the right notes for me and I enjoy it. I'm really glad the art has gone the direction it has and look forward to the releases partially just to see what new art will be in them.

The lore covers the Crimson Sabres transformation into the Crimson Slaughter as well as their curse: the haunting voices of their victims that only go quiet when their butchering their foes. It also lays the ground work for the cursed chapter's feud with the Dark Angels. All in all a pretty decent bit of work that sucked me in several times. It's almost enough in itself to drive me to want to unleash these monstrous butchers on the table myself.

The models don't help any since they're all drop dead gorgeous with that nice red with the arcane blues on them.

Army Rules

No codex supplement would be complete without some serious flavor provided by new rules. Here they are:
  • Harbingers of the Tormented: All models in a Crimson Slaughter detachment have Fear (yes, that reads all models, which means even the lowly Rhino can strike terror into the hearts of those who try to assault it!).
  • Slaves to the Voices: Units of Possessed are Troops. Additionally, Possessed units in a Crimson Slaughter Detachment do not have the Vessels of Chaos special rule but instead roll on a D3 table at the start of their controlling player's turn. The table provides the following rules (the number is to designate which roll does what):
    • 1. Spirit Beacons: The unit, and any vehicle they're embarked upon gain the Shrouded special rule.
    • 2. Beast Form: The unit's type changes from Infantry to Beasts
    • 3. Incorporeal Bodies: The unit's invulnerable save is increased to 3+, and they gain the Rending special rule.
  • Draznicht's Ravagers: When choosing a Crimson Slaughter detachment one unit of Chosen can be upgraded to Draznicht's Ravagers for the cost of a melta gun. As long as the unit's Chosen Champion is alive they have the Preferred Enemy special rule. If the Champion is slain the rule is lost.
  • Renegades of the Dark Millennium: The only units who can take the Veterans of the Long War upgrade are Khorne Berzerkers, Plague Marines and Noise Marines.
  • Relics of the Crimson Slaughter: Instead of the relics from Codex: Chaos Space Marines any more in a Crimson Slaughter detachment may instead choose items from Relics of the Crimson Slaughter.
  • Allies: Crimson Slaughter treats Codex: Chaos Space Marines as Battle Brothers.
A lot of really interesting and flavorful bits here. The restriction on Veterans of the Long War seems a little odd to not include Thousand Sons in, but considering the Crimson's Slaughter's history it's not too out there. Thought it could also be a small oversight.

I really like the Slaves to the Voices rule as it moves Possessed out of the Elites slot (and makes them scoring) while giving them a pretty decent table to work out of for rules. They could still use the ability to assault out of a Rhino, but for what's there to work with I'll accept what is being given at least.

Warlord Traits

As standard the Crimson Slaughter has their own Warlord Traits table. Though if you want you can still roll on the charts in the rulebook.
  1. Murderous Hate: The Warlord and any unit he joins have Hatred. Additionally when striking enemy units chosen from Codex: Dark Angels they also re-roll misses in every round of close combat.
  2. Maelstrom of Torment: All enemy units in 12" of your Warlord suffer a -1 Leadership penalty. Additionally they suffer a -2 Leadership Penalty on Fear tests.
  3. Maddened Rage: The Warlord has Rage and Furious Charge, however the Warlord and any Crimson Slaughter unit he joins, in 12" of an enemy unit cannot shoot and must attempt to charge if possible.
  4. Merciless Slaughter: Warlord and any unit he joins has the Crusader special rule.
  5. Spectral Assailants: Enemy models in base contact with the Warlord each take D6 Strength 3, AP - hits at Initiative step 10 of each Assault Phase.
  6. Pall of Mist: The Warlord has the Shrouded special rule.
The only one of these I'm not 100% in favor of is Maddened Rage. The inability to even shoot with assault/pistol weapons really limits the effectiveness of that rule. Granted it is flavorful, but it's one I'd hope to avoid getting if playing this army.

Wargear and Stratagems

Yes "and Stratagems". The Crimson Slaughter come with their own stratagems for Cities of Death and Planetstrike.

Relics of the Crimson Slaughter

  • Crozius of the Dark Covenant: For 5 points less than your standard Rhino, this weapon is only available to a Dark Apostle and replaces their power maul. Instead this weapon gives +2 Strength, AP4, Melee, Concussive and Warp Medium (all friendly Crimson Slaughter units in 6" have the Zealot special rule, basically making the Dark Apostle's special rule into an aura effect).
  • Blade of the Relentless: Also for 5 points less than a standard Rhino this weapon is only available to a Chaos Lord and comes with the following statline: Strength User, AP3, Melee, Soul Siphon (Keep track of every enemy model killed by the wielder in close combat by the wielder. At certain numbers of casualties a new rule is unlocked (and stacks with any other rule that has already been unlocked), these rules last the rest of the game. They are: 1+ Kills: +1 Strength, 3+ Kills: AP2, 5+ Kills: +1 Strength, 10+ Kills, Instant Death).
  • Slaughter's Horn's: 5 more points than a melta and comes with Furious Charge, Hammer of Wrath and Rage.
  • The Balestar of Mannon: 10 points less than a Rhino and only available to the Chaos Sorcerer. Gives access to the Divination discipline, and re-rolls failed Psychic tests. However neither he nor any unit he joins gains bonuses to Deny the Witch for being a Psyker.
  • Daemonheart: 5 points less than a Rhino, and can not be taken by a Daemon Prince. Gives a 2+ Armour Save and the It Will Not Die special rule.
  • Prophet of the Voices: The last relic and also for 5 points less than the cost of a Rhino this item gives the Daemon, Fearless and Fleet special rules. It also confers the Slaves to the Voices special rule to the bearer and they are restricted to only being able to join units of Possessed.
Honestly I love all these. The prices aren't too unreasonable for points costs and you can really see the flavor in these Relics and in a couple of them, bring out the character they're meant to be carried by. All around a good batch here.

Cities of Death Stratagems

These are available for the Crimson Slaughter to use in addition to any other Stratagems they'd normally have access to.

Key Building Stratagems:

  • Haunted Ruin: Any units within the nominated city ruin have the Fear special rule. If they already have the Fear special rule enemy units attempting to attack that unit suffer a -2 Leadership penalty for Fear tests. Futhermore, at the end of every enemy Movement phase, any enemy units with at least one model within the Haunted Ruins suffer D6, Strength 3, AP- hits.
  • Weapon Curse: Any weapons fired within the nominated city ruin have the Gets Hot special rule.

Dirty Tricks Stratagems:

  • Silent Voices: All friendly Crimson Slaughter units that have the Slaves to the Voices special rule can choose to re-roll the result on the Mutation table. You must accept the second roll, even if it is worse than the first.
  • Souls of the Fallen: Whenever one or more friendly non-vehicle units in a Crimson Slaughter detachment completely destroys an enemy unit in close combat, or as the result of a Sweeping Advance, each unit recovers one lost Wound as follows: if the unit includes one or more friendly characters from a Crimson Slaughter detachment that have lost a Wound earlier in the battle, that model regains one Wound (randomize if there is more than one eligible character); if the unit contains no eligible characters, but the unit has suffered one or more casualties earlier in the battle, randomly select one casualty that the unit has suffered and return it to play, anywhere within normal unit coherency; if the model cannot be legally placed in this manner, or the unit has suffered no casualties, nothing happens - no Wounds or casualties are recovered.

Armoury Stratagems:

  • Ectoplasma Weapons: All plasma weapons carried by friendly models from a Crimson Slaughter detachment are Strength 8.

Obstacles Stratagems:

  •  Spirit Shroud: Spirit Shrouds follow all the rules for barricades (see Cities of Death), yet they do not block line of sight or offer a cover save. However, all friendly Crimson Slaughter units within 2" of a Spirit Shroud have the Shrouded special rule.

 Deployment Stratagems:

  • Warp Blip: One use only. Nominate one friendly non-vehicle unit, from a Crimson Slaughter detachment, that is not locked in combat. Instead of moving normally, the unit is removed from play and Deep Strikes back onto the battlefield.
Of these my favorite has to be Ectoplasma Weapons. The Plasmagun just looks so much deadlier unleashing shots that can cause Instant Death to Space Marines. I rather wish it was a wargear option for regular games.

Planetstrike Stratagems

Just like the Cities of Death Statagems these are added to the list of available stratagems if your fielding the Crimson Slaughter.

Attack Strategems:

  • Spirit Bombs: Any unit that suffers one or more casualties from the Attacker's Firestorm must pass a Morale check or Fall Back.
  • The Urge to Kill:  All friendly Crimson Slaughter units have the Crusader and Furious Charge special rules.
  • Guidance From the Warp: All Crimson Slaughter units can choose to re-roll the scatter dice when arriving via Deep Strike.

 Defense Stratagems:

  • Interference From the Warp: The Attacker must re-roll any results of a Hit! on the scatter dice when arriving via Deep Strike.
  • Wave of Horrors: Each of the Attacker's units that arrived during turn one must take and immediate Pinning test at the end of his Movement phase.
  • Perfect Counterstrike: Nominate a unit that has just entered play from reserve. That unit can declare a charge in the ensuing assault phase.
  • Bombardment Fodder: During deployment, you can choose to place a free unit of Chaos Cultists anywhere on the Battlefield that is in open ground (i.e. none of the models in the unit can be deployed inside any buildings, atop battlements, or in area terrain). This unit can be of any size (as long as you have the appropriate miniatures available) and does not cost any points. The unit can be given any optional equipment, though they cannot be given a Mark of Chaos.
 Of these Bombardment Fodder is my favorite just because it's hilarious. If your opponent takes the bait to kill this free unit it helps protect your other units, and if they don't try killing this unit you could end up with a massed unit of cultists clogging up the board and hurting their ability to Deep Strike (not to mention it's a free unit! Who doesn't like that?).

Altar of War

Once again the Altar offers three optional missions  that you can play instead of the traditional ones in the book. They are:
  1. Storm of Spirits: Uses 3 objective markers and both players deploying along the long table edge up to 12" in. Plays like a standard objective game with Mysterious Objectives save for the Spectral Hurricane rule. It works as follows: after deployment place a marker (a coin is suggested) in the center of the battlefield. At the start of the Crimson Slaughter player's turns roll 2D6. The Crimsom Slaughter player may then move the marker in any direction up to the number of inches rolled on the dice. After the marker has been moved any non-Crimsom Slaughter units with at least 1 model within 12 of the marker suffer 2D6 Strength 3, AP- hits (they count as originating from the marker, so allocate as normal for shooting).
  2. Silence the Voices: If at the end of the game the enemy player has no models left the Crimson Slaughter player wins, otherwise the enemy player wins. Uses a special deployment with the Enemy player in the center of the table and the Crimson Slaughter player deploying in 8 different deployment zones. Features several extra rules:
    • Eight-pointed Attack: The Crimson Slaughter player must divide their units as equally as possible between the eight deployment zones on the map; distribute any odd units as evenly as possible amongst the deployment zones. With the exception of Flyers, no Crimsom Slaughter units can be held back in Reserve.
    • Fight to the Last Man!: Every non-vehicle unit in the enemy army has the Stubborn special rule.
    • Lines of Retreat: Any Crimson Slaughter unit that Falls Back does so towards the nearest table edge. Any enemy units that fall back must do so towards the center of the board, where they will remain until they Regroup.
    • Voices Becalmed: All Crimson Slaughter units have the Hatred and Furious Charge special rules unit the first enemy non-vehicle unit has been destroyed.
  3. Securing a Legacy: The enemy player gets any number of fortifications that they want inside their deployment zone for free (and not dilapidated) that they are in control of, as well as 3 objective markers. Deployment uses the long table edges again with 12" in on both sides. This game lasts for 10 game turns and is determined by victory points (the objectives are worth 3, and yes they're Mysterious). Special rule this time is A Fight for Survival. This rule puts any non-vehicle unit in the Crimson Slaughter detachment (not counting unique characters) into ongoing reserves where it comes back at the start of the Crimson Slaughter player's next turn. These units enter play from any point along the Crimson Slaughter table edge.
I like all three of these. They're all full of a lot of flavor and they look like a lot of fun to play. Though that Spectral Hurricane might be a little unfairly biasing things in the Storm of Spirits mission.

Echoes of War

This supplement wouldn't be complete without some historic missions to field the Crimson Slaughter in! They are:
  • Confrontation With Angels: Crimson Slaughter vs Dark Angels (and Dark Angels can't take fortifications). No set points limit. Deployment follows special rules and map. Battlefield is a city and requires the use of as many city ruin models as you have and can fit on the table. This can include fortifications (which are dilapidated). The mission has three special rules:
    • Extraction: Any enemy model that starts its Movement phase within 6" of the extraction table edge can be 'extracted'. Remove the model from play, it may not return.
    • Body of the Fallen: After the enemy player has deployed their army, and before the Crimson Slaughter player deploys theirs the enemy player must pick on Infantry, Ravenwing Biker or Ravenwing Attack Bike model in their army and declare out loud that it is carrying the body of the Fallen Dark Angel. This does not impede the model in any way, and is solely for determining Victory Points for secondary objectives. Worth D3 victory points to the enemy player if the model carrying the Body of the Fallen is successfully extracted. If the model is slain the Crimson Slaughter player gains D3 victory points instead. If neither happens then neither player gains any points from this condition.
    • Surrounded on Three Sides: The Crimson Slaughter player can bring on units held in reserve or Ongoing Reserves from any point on any of the table edges, apart from the extraction table edge. The enemy player can bring can bring on units held in reserve or Ongoing Reserves from any point on the extraction table edge. Crimson Slaughter units must always Fall Back to the nearest table edge that is not the extraction table edge. Similiarly enemy units must always fall back to the extraction table edge.
  • A New Redemption: Crimson Slaughter vs Dark Angels, no set point limit. Planetstrike with the Crimson Slaughter as the attacker. Crimson Slaughter can not take Fortifications. Battlefield is on an ice world so no Forest, Jungle, Woods or Wild Undergrowth terrain allowed. Uses 6 objective markers and each player has 3 Stratagem points. Uses the following extra rule:
    • Ice World: Roll a D6 at the start of each player turn. On a roll of a 1, an ice-shard blizzard sweeps the snow-covered battlefield. This causes all Zooming Flyers and Swooping Monstrous creatures to take a test, on  a roll of a 1 they Crash and Burn or are Grounded, otherwise they enter Ongoing Reserves. Players then roll off with the winner unleashing an Ice-shard Hurricane (special rules for this are included in the mission and involve dropping 1"x1" square markers of paper on the table, with any unit within 6" of the marker's final position suffering D6, S5, AP5 hits with the Pinning special rule), and Line of Sight is 12" for the duration of the turn.
  • The Hunt for Tzax'lan-Tar: Crimson Slaughter vs Chaos Daemons. Crimson Slaughter must include Kranon the Relentless as their Warlord. The Daemons player must include a Lord of Change as their Warlord. Standard battle field using the long table edges for deployment with 12" deployment zones. The Crimson Slaughter player rolls for their Warlord Trait while the enemy player has the Lord of Unreality trait. Game follows the rules for Purge the Xenos buth with two additional rules:
    • A Score to Settle: Kranon the Relentless has the Hatred (Tzanx'Lan-tar) special rule.
    • Warpstorm Tornadoes: At the start of each game turn the enemy player must roll a D3. The number rolled is the total number of Warpstorm Tornadoes that touch down this turn. Starting with the enemy player both players take turns placing Large Blast markers anywhere on the battlefield. Roll for scatter before determining the final position of the Warpstorm Tornado marker. Each unit (friend or foe) hit suffers a number of hits equal to the number of models fully or partially beneath the marker using the following profile (vehicles are hit on their side armor): Strength 2D6*, AP D6*, Large Blast, Barrage (*roll to determine Strength and AP of each Warpstorm Tornado after determining its final position).
  • Regallus Under Siege: Crimson Slaughter vs Imperial Guard (who can take the Wall of Martyrs Imperial Defense Network for free). 3 Objective Markers on a standard battlefield using the Vanguard deployment. Victory Points to determine the winner (objectives are mysterious and worth 3). Uses the following extra rules:
    • Wave of Terror: Once during the game, at the beginning of one of his turns the Crimson Slaughter player can send forth a wave of howling spirits. All enemy units within 18" of a Crimson Slaughter model must pass a Morale check or Fall Back).
    • Cannon Fodder: Each time a unit of Chaos Cultists is completely destroyed, remove it from play and place it in Ongoing Reserves, where it is available to return to battle at the start of the Crimson Slaughter player's next turn. These units may enter play from any point along either Crimson Slaughter table edge.
  • A World Turned Crimson: Crimson Slaughter vs Imperial Guard. Standard battlefield with the Crimson Slaughter player deploying their army in a bubble at the center of the table with a radius of 12". The Guard player starts in reserves. Purge the Xenos with extra victory points to the Crimson Slaughter player for each building they've cleared (additionally this mission can be played as a Cities of Death game). The following extra special rules apply:
    •  Leave None Alive!: If a Crimson Slaughter unit with the Walker or Infantry unit type moves into a city ruin and does not run or shoot in the Shooting phase, that ruin will become Cleared. Each building can only be Cleared once, so place a suitable marker next to each building that has been Cleared.
    • Lines of Retreat: Any Crimson Slaughter unit that Falls Back does so towards the nearest table edge.
    • Scattered Forces: At the start of his first turn the enemy player makes Reserve rolls to see if his units arrive, exactly as if it were the start of his second turn. If, by the time the enemy player rolls to see if the last of his units in reserve arrive, none of his units have done so, do not make a Reserves roll - that unit arrives automatically. The enemy player's units enter play from any point along any table edge.
    • Stop the Massacre!: All enemy units have the Zealot special rule.

Final Thoughts

This book may not fill the tournament player's fancy, but the collection of rules looks to be a lot of fun, it offers some decent, but not overpowered/priced relics and has a lot of nice missions to choose from (even if the one with Kranon doesn't have you using a special profile and just his model). The background really sucked me in several times when I was skimming through it and seems to be some of the best written stuff I've seen from the studio in a while.

Amusingly I've heard some talk by people saying the army rules look like they'd fit Word Bearers, and outside of the Veterans of the Long War limitation I'd have to say they're right! It has a lot of the right stuff to make a very characterful Word Bearers army.

All around this book is pretty good and adds a lot of nice backstory to the game and creates some nice alternate options for playing Chaos Marines. And while this supplement hasn't sold me on starting a Crimson Slaughter army just yet, but I'll admit I'm completely tempted to now. Those whispering voices must be contagious....

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