Prayers are a powerful tool in the arsenal of armies that have them, and Chaos Space Marines make extremely good use of them. The Dark Apostle has become a staple in competitive Chaos Space Marine play, with his highly consistent 2+ prayers and of course access to some powerful options (yeah, we’ll talk about THAT one in a minute.)
Having spent most of my time lately with Word Bearers, this has given me some room to experiment with more prayers than just… THAT one… which lead me down a path of more closely examining those prayers for what might be good options, and today that’s what we’re gonna take a look at.
Chaos Marines have one ‘default’ prayer that all Priest models know in Dark Zealotry. This gives the Priest a 6″ Aura in which <Legion> Core, Cultists, and Character units can re-roll hit rolls on melee attacks. This prayer is alright, though maybe my opinion is a little colored by spending a lot of time with Word Bearers who are often times re-rolling hits in melee anyway. Obviously it’s a big consistency upgrade and can be stacked alongside other accuracy buffs like Black Legion’s +1 to hit or Emperor’s Children’s ignoring penalties on things like Power Fists, or just stacking up with stratagems like Wrath of the Chosen.
The God Prayers
If your Priest is Marked by any of the four Chaos Gods, they get access to an extra prayer! Unfortunately I mostly don’t find these worth it. Wrathful Entreaty can be cute if you’re building a melee-centric Dark Apostle or of course if you’re playing World Eaters, in which case you’ll have a lot of Khorne marked options. Mutating Invocation gives nearby Tzeentch Core and Character units a 6+ to ignore wounds, but leaning heavily on Tzeentch marks just isn’t very typical. Feculent Beseechment is actually a pretty decent effect, increasing the Toughness of a Nurgle unit within 6″ of the Priest by 1, and could be a consideration if you’re using Plague Marines or Nurgle-Marked Terminators or some such, but this isn’t really common. The main one I think is interesting is Blissful Devotion. Normally this just isn’t a great option due to needing to use THAT prayer, but with how common Slaanesh-Marked Terminators are these days, whose main weakness is mostly just speed, giving them the option to Advance and still Charge really gets them zooming in a way they wouldn’t normally.
Benediction of Darkness
This is a pretty interesting one, giving Core, Character, or Cultist units wholly within 6″ of the Priest Light Cover against ranged attacks. Light Cover is immensely strong, and stacked on top of Armor of Contempt it can make units like Terminators really nightmarish to remove, giving them an effective 0+ save against anything relying on AP. The majority of other units effected are on an effective 1+ against guns relying on AP. The stipulation of wholly within 6″ is probably the only real downside here, as a unit of something like 10 Terminators have to move in a pretty particular way to stack packed in there.
Litany of Despair
Oh boy, a really awkward one!
When Litany of Despair is used, you select one enemy within 12″ of the Priest and roll 3d6. If you roll higher than their leadership, they can’t perform actions and fail any actions they’re performing, and cannot fire Overwatch or Set to Defend.
Let’s be honest, this one sucks. While I’m sure if you took it regularly you’d have that one game where it was a huge deal and really screwed over your opponent, this is a pretty niche effect with WAY too little range. If this thing could pick an enemy at 18″ it might be a bit spicier, if still niche, but having to be SO close is difficult. Virtually all relevant actions in current 40K scenarios complete at the end of your opponents turn (if they don’t do that, you’re probably not using them) so that part just isn’t useful. Maybe in the current Tzeentch Flamer meta being able to stop Overwatch is cute, but even then it’s SO short range. Prayers are done in your Command phase so your opponent had to leave them that close on purpose. It’s just awkward.
Omen of Potency
Omen of Potency has basically one function, and it’s mostly memes. It adds 3 to your Priests Attacks Characteristic, and increases the AP of non-relic weapons on him by 2. Honestly I actually think this would be quite good if it could increase the AP of relic weapons, but due to not being able to, it’s… alright. You can make a VERY murdery Dark Apostle if you want to really deck them out with upgrades, and if you’re doing that this is a staple prayer for that build, but… let’s be real, that’s mostly for fun, this prayer is ok at best.
This gives a unit near the Priest re-rolls of 1 to hit at range and ignoring cover.
So the main problem with this one is Chaos Marines aren’t SUPER shooty at the end of the day, and something like a Daemon Prince is giving much of the same stuff re-rolls of 1 to hit anyway. Still, it’s a way to give a Character re-rolling 1s when they normally might not have it. Ignoring cover is also pretty ok when you need it, but it would be more relevant on something like a vehicle which this prayer can’t target. Maybe ok for supporting something like Havocs or a very shooty Helbrute, but overall it’s not amazing.
Now we’re talking. I think Soultearer Portent is fantastic, and only sees so little use because of the next prayer we’re going to talk about. You pick a Core, Cultists, or Character unit within 6″ of the Priest, they gain +1 to wound in melee. Very simple, but this is an immensely powerful effect in my opinion. Terminator’s Accursed Weapons are quite good but can struggle a little bit into some harder targets, forcing you to splurge on Power Fists and the like which have their own downsides. Soultearer Portent gives you the best of both worlds in many respects, bumping up the effective ‘Strength’ of your weapons considerably. This has become an absolute staple in my Word Bearers builds, giving the Terminators considerably more hitting power.
Alright, time to talk about Illusory Supplication.
Pick a Core, Cultists, or Character unit within 6″ of the Priest. Hit rolls of 1-3 fail to hit against them, and hit rolls can’t be rerolled against them.
Illusory Supplication sees use in virtually all Chaos Marine lists, and for good reason. It is single-handedly why you don’t see other prayers really outside Word Bearers with their multi-prayer Dark Apostles. Chaos Marines by design have really leaned on huge hero-units, and none of have taken that mantle quite like Chaos Terminators. This is one of the main buffs stacked on them that makes them just a true nightmare to deal with. Consistent attacks become absurdly inconsistent due to failing on anything lower than a 4+ on the die, and the main way to get around effects like this is re-rolls… which the prayer also stops. This makes this one of the most powerful defensive effects in 40K, to the point that many lists are taking a 95 point character whose sole purpose is to use this ability every turn, and that’s it.
The prayers available to Chaos Marines are among my favorite of their mechanics, and are a big part of why I was drawn to Word Bearers.
What are essentially powerful psychic powers that can’t really be interacted with or denied in any way, with the consistency of a 2+ to use (and a re-roll for us Sons of Lorgar) you know you can lean on them as a core part of your list.
How have you liked Chaos Marine prayers? Do you have any different opinions on the ones I’ve mentioned? Let us know!