In short tough, less numerous and expensive, their troops are like mini-elites with more damage and more health but at a high cost and build time. With a mix of troops, powerful weapon upgrades and daemon choices and abilities they can be strong in ranged and melee combat.
Differences from vanilla Soulstorm:
Chaos troops are more survivable and can take a lot more punishment and therefore the faction as a whole suffers less from Requisition bleeding from constant reinforcements, compared with Chaos in the vanilla game and some other factions. They, however on a unit by unit basis, are generally more expensive than they were in the vanilla game, and as such they are very costly to reinforce both in terms of resources and time.The lower squad sizes and longer reinforce times means that they can be out-squadded by some other factions and there can be focused on individually so it is important to be aggressive.
- The main troop choice, Chaos Space Marines (CSM) for example are tougher have a maximum squad size of 6 plus leader, the squad costs slightly more to recruit and each individual CSM is more costly to reinforce.
- Aspiring Champions are now very tough and are usually the last men standing in the squads to survive enemy attacks when the rest of the squads are dying around them. They are also much more costly than they were before.
- Cultists remain cheap capping squads with the benefit of having Infiltration and can still be used as scouting units or cheap disruption with their Grenade Launchers. However their main change is to their leader Aspiring Champion which is almost as tough as a CSM Aspiring Champion and also gets the befits from researches such as Plasma Pistols and Power Fists, making them much more effective when the leader has been reinforced.
- The Heretic builder unit can still use Forced Labour to speed up building and repairs but at a slower rate than before, losing less health in the process.
Chaos Space Marines can no longer Infiltrate. This is to offset their power and survivability.
Horrors and other lesser daemons will gradually lose health when their morale has been broken. This means that weapons that are effective against morale will be especially effective against them.
Possessed Marines now have monster medium armour and are more tough than before, more costly and less numerous. Relative to the overall squad strength, their health has been increased significantly and move slightly faster than before.
- The Defiler while being a 'jack-of-all-trades' multi-purpose vehicle has had the range of its Battle Cannon increased slightly to better act as artillery.
- Chaos Predators now have the Chaos Projectiles research increase the armour penetration of its default guns, dealing more damage to troops (similar to the Winter Assault Chaos Predator) but with the Lascannon and Twin-linked Lascannon upgrades still available for anti-vehicle fire.
- Helltalons have less health so cannot just be used unsupported to bludgeon enemy buildings and greater care must be taken to use them.
- Chaos Rhinos are now have a limit of 4.
Similarly most Chaos weapon upgrades are now roughly twice as expensive and take twice as long to obtain than before but are twice as powerful. CSM also have more weapons choices,
Flamers for destroying enemy morale and dealing with groups of enemy troops and Missile Launchers for mid game anti-vehicle damage. The Heavy Bolter now is in tier 2 and the Plasma Guns are now in late game. The increased damage for weapons upgrades means that for CSM Missile Launchers it may only take 1 or 2 volleys to destroy an enemy vehicle which make them very potent long range vehicle counters.
The Daemonic Flames research bonuses have been split and the old vanilla Dawn of War researches have been restored to further boost their speed, melee damage, health and ability to upgrade to Daemonic Flames, but only available late game in the Daemonic Pit. The modifiers have been reduced to offset the increased relative initial strength of the Possessed Marines squad.
In the Desecrated Stronghold HQ building for Chaos are 5 new researches, Mark of Chaos Undivided, Mark of Khorne, Mark of Nurgle, Mark of Slaanesh and Mark of Tzeentch. These affect which troop choices are available as well as differences to the strengths of some units and availability of weapon upgrades.
- Mark of Chaos Undivided - Makes the Undivided Chaos Lord available which slowly drains the morale of nearby units when the Unholy Monastary HQ addon has been researched. Also makes the Undivided Sorcerer available with Firebolt (damage and morale damage to small target area), Chains of Torment (immobilises a target squad and deal damage) and Corruption (health regeneration to friendly units and health drain for enemy units). Grants neither bonuses nor penalties to Khorne Berserkers, Plague Marines, Noise Marines and Rubric Marines and these also have only 1 weapon upgrade available to them. Later in the game they have access to Chosen Chaos Space Marines which are even tougher than standard CSM. Their weapons upgrades are likewise even more powerful.
- Mark of Khorne - Makes the Khornate Chaos Lord available which is stronger in melee and grants nearby Chaos troops a reduction in damage received in melee combat. Also makes the Dark Apostle available instead of a Sorcerer with Firebolt (damage and morale damage to small target area), Blood Syphon (target a friendly squad to drain their health and increase the health of the Apostle) and Daemonic Shield (reduce ranged damage received by half). Grants a health bonus to Khorne Berserkers but a health penalty to Slaanesh Noise Marines. Khorne Berserkers also get 2 weapon upgrades available to them. Once the Sacrificial Circle has been built, Bloodletters become available, slow but tough and causes nearby enemy troops to have a slower attack rate. Later in the game they have access to Chosen Khorne Berserkers which are devastating in melee combat with abilities to enhance their melee further.
- Mark of Nurgle - Makes the Nurgle Chaos Lord available and enemy units near to him suffer slower movement speeds. Also makes the Nurgle Sorcerer available with Acid Bolt (damage and to a wide target area with damage over time to units hit), Noxious Cloud (a moveable cloud which reduces the armour of enemy units within) and Corruption (health regeneration to friendly units and health drain for enemy units). Grants a health bonus to Nurgle Plague Marines but a health penalty to Tzeentch Rubric Marines. Plague Marines also get 2 weapon upgrades available to them. Once the Sacrificial Circle has been built, Plague Bearers become available, slow but tough and causing damage over time in melee. Later in the game they have access to Chosen Plague Marines which have increased health regeneration and abilities to slowly weaken the enemy.
- Mark of Slaanesh - Makes the Slaanesh Chaos Lord available enemy units near to him suffer slower reduced sight range. Also makes the Slaanesh Sorcerer available with Doombolt (damage and morale damage to a wide target area), Chains of Torment (immobilises a target squad and deal damage) and Domination (target squad loses control and attacks allies). Grants a health bonus to Slaanesh Noise Marines but a health penalty to Khorne Berserkers. Noise Marines also get 2 weapon upgrades available to them. Once the Sacrificial Circle has been built, Daemonettes become available, fast and deadly and able to hypnotise enemy squads. Later in the game they have access to Chosen Noise Marines which have Combat Drugs to increase their range and accuracy but make them gradually lose health.
- Mark of Tzeentch - Makes the Tzeentch Sorceror Lord available with Bolt of Change. Also makes the Tzeentch Sorcerer available with Bolt of Change (massive damage and various penalties to a wide target area), Infernal Rift (create portals to quickly ferry troops between locations) and the ability to summon a squad of Horrors. Grants a health bonus to Tzeentch Rubric Marines but a health penalty to Nurgle Plague Marines. Rubric Marines also get 2 weapon upgrades available to them. Once the Sacrificial Circle has been built, Screamers become available, fast and tough and causing morale damage to nearby enemy troops. Later in the game they have access to Chosen Rubric Marines which have abilities to increase deal massive damage and disrupt the enemy.
Marks also allow Cultists to Worship to grant bonuses to nearby units depending on which path has been chosen.
Renegade Militia are a cheap, disposable ranged troop choice that are weapon but effective in numbers. They start off with inaccurate Autoguns and can upgrade to a variety of ranged weapons Flamers, Grenade Launchers, and Meltaguns to be more effective against most targets.
New Havocs can be requisitioned with anti-infantry long range Heavy Bolters as standard, they can upgrade to Missile Launchers or Lascannons to deal with vehicles from afar or Autocannons to deal with infantry from a safe distance. Their ultimate weapon upgrade is the Volkite Culverin which deals sustained damage against enemies at long range, causing them to ignite and burn for several seconds but are limited to 1 per squad. Havocs cannot capture or decapture enemy strategic points.
In addition to the powerful multi-weapon ranged powerhouses the Obliterators, Chaos have new Chosen Terminators with focus on melee power but with competent ranged power. Mutilators are a dedicated melee variant of Obliterators.
A new artillery unit, the Vindicator has been added with shorter range and more destructive power better specialised to better break through defensive lines.
The Chaos Dreadnought is a melee powerhouse starting with Twin-linked Heavy Bolters and a Chainsword with multiple weapon upgrade choices for either arm. It has higher health than a Space Marine Dreadnought and higher melee damage but costs more to requisition and its ranged weapon damage is slightly lower.
The Warpsmith is a new commander unit with the ability to build and repair structures and allows nearby vehicles to slowly regenerate health.
By selecting one from a group of new late game researches, the player can choose between 6 relic units to deploy.
- The Bloodthirster now has an ability to further increase its damage in melee but can no longer be used to pop buildings. Instead it gains health by dealing damage and its effectiveness against groups of infantry has been increased significantly by adding an area of effect to its melee and overall damage against infantry increased.
- The Great Unclean One is a new great all-round unit with high health regeneration, strong melee damage and artillery-like ranged vomit and ability to deal with masses of infantry with its Wind of Nurgle ability to deal damage over time over a wide area.
- The new Keeper of Secrets has the lowest health but a selection of abilities - the Pavane of Slaanesh to deal massive damage over a wide area, the Transfixing Gaze to render a target squad unable to attack or use abilities and Acquiescence to drain the life of a target squad and add it to that of the KOS.
- The Lord of Change can jump like the Bloodthirster and has a passive shield which has a chance to negate all damage. In addition it has abilities to turn the tide of battle, Manipulation to cause an enemy squad to attack its allies, the Eye of Paralysis to freeze enemy units in place unable to move, deal or receive any damage and Maelstrom of Confusion - a controllable miniature storm to disrupt the enemy.
- Chaos Land Raiders, two of which can be on the field, have been added as range only relic unit choice with multiple powerful ranged weapons, capacity in transporting Terminators and Obliterators or other troops and the Infernal Machine ability to reduce damage received at the cost of loss of control.
- Finally the Greater Warp Spawn, two of which can be on the field, have been added as melee only relic unit choice, having the Rage ability to increase melee damage and speed at the cost of loss of control.
The Defiler can now upgrade its Heavy Flamer to Havoc Missile Launchers for damage against vehicles and buildings and can upgrade its Heavy Bolter to an Autocannon for damage against Heavy Infantry or a Lascannon for further damage against vehicles and buildings.
The Chaos Rhino now starts with a Storm Bolter for ranged anti-infantry fire support and can upgrade to Heavy Flamer for additional anti-morale or light building damage.
The Chaos Predator can now upgrade the side sponsons to Sonic Blasters on for increased effectiveness against infantry and morale, and the turret to either a Bile Spewer to deal heavy morale damage, a Heavy Blast Master to deal heavy damage against vehicles and deal knockback to groups of infantry or a Volkite Mega-Culverin to deal massive damage to everything.