Unit Spotlight: Brigand Dreadblades – a Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Tactica

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Chaos Knight codex is the Fallen Hero section of the detachment abilities.

If this Detachment is a Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment that contains one Dreadblade unit, until the end of the battle, that unit gains the Agent of Chaos keyword. Only one Dreadblade unit from your army can have this keyword

The inclusion of a Dreadblade Agent of Chaos unit from your army does not prevent CHAOS units in your army from using any rules that require every model from your army to have the same keyword (e.g. Contagions of Nurgle, Cabbalistic Rituals, etc.).

9th Edition Chaos Knights Codex, pg. 55
We get to be on the same team this time guys! Isn’t that exciting?

I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat – bringing a Dreadblade Titanic Knight is almost certainly a bad idea competitively. They’re expensive, have a relatively bad damage output to points ratio, cannot be obscured, do not have objective secured, and can only be in one place on the table.

Similarly, paying 3 CP to bring a single War Dog is a bad idea.

But, 3 CP and about 450 points to bring three War Dogs? That’s an idea I can get behind.

You can read all about why you might some War Dogs in your chaos force in my first article about Executioners here.

Edit: With Arks of Omen, most Chaos Factions are able to bring a detachment of Chaos Knights for ZERO CP. This makes every single positive more relevant and makes all of the cost concerns go away.

Why Brigands?

The Brigand is a perfect generalist gun platform, with 16 horde clearing shots and 2 tank breaking shots every turn.

They come packing the following weapons, in addition to the normal Diabolus Heavy Stubber (Range 36, Heavy 4, S5, D1)

Avenger Gatling Cannon

36″Heavy 126-2

Daemonbreath Thermal Spear

30″Heavy 29-4d6 (d6+2 in half range)

This is a really interesting combination of infantry blender – wounding clowns on 2s is a good feeling – and tank cracker. Strength 9 is a perfectly reasonable place for an anti-tank weapon to be, wounding most things on 3s or better.

They don’t have the range to really hide like the Executioner does, so they have to play a little closer up than the other version of gunboat War Dog. Fortunately, this is a blessing in disguise as the Thermal Spear becomes incredibly more consistent at half range. While they are screened properly, their MOV 12 will allow them to get to middle ground objectives, hold them with their objective secured bodies, and blast other models to pieces.

We’re going to chat a little bit about customizing the Brigands before we dive into which factions want them.

Fell Bonds, or how “Worthy Offerings” Changes Everything

Worthy Offerings is a Dreadblade Fell Bond that gives the models with the bond +1 to hit against Characters, Vehicles, and Monsters.

This makes the Thermal Spears considerably more consistent, and makes hunting enemy characters late game much simpler.

Without Worthy Offerings, a Brigand only has a 43% chance of hitting both of its shots and 89% to hit at least one.

With Worthy Offerings, against the designated targets, that jumps to a 70% chance to hit both and just shy of 95% odds to hit at least one.

This only gets better with a re-roll ones effect, which makes the odds of hitting at least one 99.92% and the odds of hitting both jump to a whopping 95% of the time.

Canny readers will notice that I am focusing quite intently on the Thermal Spear, and I am. A bunch of S6 D1 shots are good, but not critical to a turn as often as a small number of S9 Dd6 shots are.

Let’s put these numbers in context. Without Worthy Offerings, a unit of 3 Brigands will have one to two turns every game where one of them misses both Thermal Spear shots. With Worthy Offerings, a unit of 3 Brigands will have zero to one turn across a game where they miss both shots. Throw a re-roll in there, and you are looking at an expected zero turns across six games where a Brigand will miss both shots (obviously dice happen).

There are other reasonable choices for Fell Bonds – you can make them ignore cover, improve their AP within 18″ of their target or even make sixes to wound ave higher damage and AP, but I think Worthy Offerings is so far ahead of the other choices that I don’t really consider them when building Brigand load outs.

Look at your Fell Bond, now back at mine, then back at your Fell Bond, then back at mine.

Sadly, it isn’t mine, but if your owner decides to put you in a Worthy Offerings Detachment, it could act like it’s mine.

Look down, back up, where are you? You’re on the top table of a local tournament with the War Dogs that act like me.

What’s in your dice tray, back to me. I have it, it’s two 2s that actually hit your opponents tank.

Look again, the 2s to hit turned into a dead Dreadnaught.

Anything is possible when your owner puts you in Worthy Offerings and not Frenzied Invaders.

I’m a War Dog.
Favours of the Dark Gods

These are model specific bonuses, and you can only take one per unit. This means that only one of the three War Dogs you bring will get the bonus.

Each Favour comes with a baseline ability, and then a secondary effect which unlocks when enough things are killed by the bearer.

There are 18 of these, and I think that two are worth considering for Brigands. They are the same as the Executioner options because they have roughly the same weaknesses.

Mirror of Fate: This Favour says that every time an opponent spends a CP, roll a d6. On a 5+, you get a CP back. For 15 points, this is a steal. Note that if your opponent spends 2 CP on a stratagem, you roll 2d6. When the model kills enough things (5 wounds worth for Executioners), you get to turn a hit, wound, or save roll into a six after seeing the roll once per round. This can really help keep the Brigand alive, or help make sure that a Thermal that didn’t wound initially makes it through.

Subjugator Machine Spirit: This Favour is a bit different. The bearer can fall back or advance and count as remaining stationary until the end of the shooting phase. This is an incredibly powerful rule, as tying up purely ranged War Dogs in melee is a viable strategy, and being able to ignore that particular strategy on one of them is excellent. The secondary effect allows the bearer to charge after advancing or falling back. Frankly this part doesn’t matter in 99% of cases, because a Brigands’ melee output is abysmal.

Factions That Love Brigands: Chaos Knights, Chaos Space Marines, Daemons

Chaos Knights lists with one or fewer big knights really love the ranged output that the Brigand can provide against the targets that are usually high priorities for the Knight player. If you want to put your entire list into Worthy Offerings as the house, a Desecrator can even provide a re-roll 1s to hit aura for the Brigands to benefit from.

Chaos Space Marines are really hurting for quality shooting outside a couple specific sub-factions, and Brigands bring a lot of shots in multiple types. Even better, Brigands are CORE models with the CHAOS tag, so Abaddon provides them a passive re-roll hit rolls of one aura which makes them insanely accurate when combined with Worthy Offerings.

Daemons relied heavily on Flamers pre-nerf, and Flamers are no longer what they used to be. Brigands could provide some good mid board objective secure goodness while also blowing up big threats.

Factions That Might Like Brigands: Death Guard, Thousand Sons, World Eaters

Death Guard are usually bringing Plagueburst Crawlers of some sort or Myphitic Blight Haulers to fill the role of fire support. Brigands are both faster than these options and have objective secured. They also benefit massively from the Contagions, which make their Avenger cannons wound T4 enemies on 2s and makes the Thermal spear wound T5 on 2s as well.

World Eaters don’t have much shooting, but they also don’t really want to invest points in mid-board gun platforms as much as they want things to sit back and babysit objectives while shooting most of the length of the board. They’ll take Brigands, and they should do well for the boys in red, but I suspect they like Executioners somewhat better.

Thousand Sons are a faction with lots of Damage 1 shooting and rely heavily on Mortal Wounds during the Psychic phase to kill tanky enemy models. This is not always reliable, and leads to some matchups where lots of high toughness enemy models or mass resistance to Mortal Wounds can cause serious problems.

Brigands would shine in these matchups, putting out high strength attacks with good AP at longer range than most of the Psychic Mortal Wound bombs can hope to achieve.

Some Firsthand Notes From Chandler:

Hey all! Jaden asked me to put some personal experiences in here. He sneakily convinced me to try some Brigands in a Thousand Sons build I was throwing around for fun.

Thousand Sons were my first real 40K army, and while I loved them, I found one of my blind spots was always dealing with mid-to-back line hard targets; while the mass Smites for mortal wounds do a pretty good job breaking virtually any amount of armor, you can only target the closest thing, meaning a lot of wounds would be soaked up by screening units.

While this role would often be filled by Contemptor Dreads or Mauler/Forgefiends, they were inevitably a somewhat inefficient choice.

Brigands, however, fill this role beautifully. Trying out the list into Iron Hands, it was able to drop Redemptor Dreadnoughts while being fairly resilient to the counter punch, and were a real threat to any character that left the safety of Look Out Sir! due to Worthy Offerings. Thousand Sons also don’t have a ton of super relevant warlord traits or relics in their existing codex, and it doesn’t feel bad to just take 1-2 relics or traits and drop your other three into the Brigand detachment, given how much work they’re able to do. I immediately fell in love with the list design with the Brigands in it, and felt that it made my list considerably more flexible, allowing the Sons portion of the list to really lean on scenario and just outputting mortal wounds.

While obviously Tzeentch Flamers are the current hotness, this won’t necessarily remain true for long, with their inevitable points increase incoming, and I think keeping Brigands in mind might be beneficial for Thousand Sons players going forward.


Brigands are an instant access to tank cracking and horde clearing for any chaos faction. They’re fast, reasonably sturdy, and have objective secured for holding down mid board objectives while contributing turn over turn.

They have a Fell Bond to help them be more consistent, access to re-rolls in a few different factions, and represent the among most powerful ranged output that many of the Chaos factions have have access to. If you’ve got any Chaos faction, it might be worth a try popping them into lists.

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3 thoughts on “Unit Spotlight: Brigand Dreadblades – a Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Tactica

  1. Great writeup, thank you!

    This may be outside of the scope of this article a bit, but do you feel War Dog selection (karnivore vs brigand vs executioner) in Disciples of Belakor would be different than daemons in general?

    For reference, Disciples war dogs are considered house Korvax and still get access to daemonic surge.

    1. Hey there, WordPress was real delinquent in letting me know you commented – my apologies!

      I think disciples of Bel could play Executioners or Brigands really well, but I think you could also play Karnivores if you want to bring a bunch of shooting CSM instead of melee. In general, my inclination is that Daemons need guns, and the surge for +1 to wound on the Brigands can be very worth it with the S6 autocannon or the s9 gun.

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