The True Warriors of the Eight-Points
The Slaves to Darkness is a raging horde of barbarian horsemen, armored warriors and howling marauders, killing and pillaging all over the Mortal Realms to gain the favor of the Chaos Gods. They are led by the Grand Marshall of Chaos himself, Archaon the Everchosen, whose stronghold looms on the horizon in the Eight-Points where Warcry takes place, so they are right at home on the battlefields and in the arenas of the game.
If you like performing glorious feats that inspire your fellow warriors, or if you dream of overrunning the enemy lines with hordes of cavalry, the Slaves to Darkness might be the right warband for you.
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Background and Lore of the Slaves to Darkness Warband
Most humans in the Mortal Realms are tribesmen of the Slaves to Darkness. After Archaon conquered the Realms in the Age of Chaos, the humans who survived the wars did so by joining his armies, and now they roam the Realms on the Path to Glory.
The Path to Glory is the main spiritual practice of the Slaves to Darkness, a never-ending journey of slaughter with one goal: To perform glorious feats of war that will grant them the favor of the Chaos gods. This means that they are fearless warriors, all aiming for the chance to do something extraordinarily brutal in battle.
Some Slaves to Darkness dedicate themselves to specific Chaos Gods such as Khorne or Nurgle, painting their marks on their armor and gaining favors from them when they fight well, while others worship Chaos itself in its Undivided form. As they gain favor, they Slaves to Darkness might sprout chaotic mutations, become stronger, rise in the ranks of their armies or even one day become a Daemon Prince, a true paragon of Chaos.
In battle, the Path to Glory translates into abilities that trigger when your fighters charge or kill their prey, leading to even more killing and slaughter. It also show in the variety of your warband: the lowest fighters are little more than armed barbarians with crude weapons, but your elite fighters, who have already gain some Chaos favor, wear ornate plate armor and terrifying Chaos axes – as well as skulls from the foes they have vanquished.
Let’s have a look at their fighters and abilities.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Slaves to Darkness Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
There are 12 different fighter types in the Slaves to Darkness warband roster, and they fall into the following categories:
Chaos Marauders (55-140 points):
There are two versions of the basic Chaos Marauder:
The Chaos Marauder with Barbarian Flail costs 55 points, and stats-wise, he is a lot like other very cheap fighters in Warcry. He has a pretty normal Move of 4, a low Toughness and Strength of 3, 3 attacks and 10 Wounds.
What does stand out about him is the 3 inch Range with no minimum Range of his Barbarian Flail attack. Even though his weapon is otherwise less than amazing, the 3 inch Range is a big deal, as it lets him engage in melee fights at a range where even the often highly valued spear fighters of other warbands with their 2 inch Range can’t reach him.
Out-spearing the spearmen with your cheapest fighter? That’s not a bad deal at all, and if you field a ton of these Marauders, you can control a lot of space on the battlefield for few points. If someone gets close enough to attack, the Marauder goes down quickly, but that doesn’t matter at a points price of 55 when he gives you a chance to attack the enemy without retaliation.
Like every other fighter in the Slaves to Darkness warband roster, the Marauder has access to the Double ability Imbued with Dark Power, which lets you add the value of the dice rolled for the ability to your fighter’s Strength characteristic for one activation. This is completely useless on Marauders, though, as they only have a Damage characteristic of 1 but a Critical Damage characteristic of 3, which means that you will always hope for critical rolls of 6 rather than spending a Double ability to get a few hits with Damage 1 in.
The other basic Marauder, the Chaos Marauder with Barbarian Axe and Darkwood Shield costs 60 points. It is a lot like the other basic Marauder, but the Darkwood Shield gives it an extra point in Toughness. Unfortunately, its Barbarian Axe is a lot worse than the Flail, with only 2 weak Attacks.
The best feature of the shielded Marauder is its access to the Double ability Shield Ram , which gives you a chance to do damage (1 on a roll of 4-5, damage equal to the value of the dice roll used for the ability on a 6) to an enemy in melee range after spending a Move action to get close to them. This isn’t the best ability on the ability card, but if you’re bringing Marauders anyway, and you happen to have a Double 6 ability roll, you have a shot at punching well above the Marauder’s weight on a charge into melee.
The Chaos Marauder Leader costs 140 points, and retains the low of the Flail-wielding Marauder, but he has 20 Wounds, 4 Toughness 4 attacks and a good damage profile of 2 damage/5 critical damage.
He’s not very durable for a Leader at all, but he’s your cheapest Leader, which is worth noting if you are going for high model count in your warband. Like all Leaders, he has access to the Triple ability Champion of Darkness, which gives you a bonus move action and a bonus attack action (in that order) if you have taken an enemy fighter down in that activation.
The Chaos Marauder Leader’s melee profile means he can put this ability to good use, but only take him if you need the low points cost (or if you love Marauders). If you are picking your Leader for its tactical usefulness, you have better options, such as the Chaos Chosen Leader (more on him below).
In general, the Marauders are vulnerable and mostly good for swarming tactics or for filling out your ranks, and the shielded Marauders are probably the worst of the bunch.
Chaos Warriors: (145-220 points)
The Chaos Warrior with Chaos Hand Weapons costs 145 points, has a Move of 4, a high Toughness of 5 and 15 Wounds. He also has a good melee weapons profile with 4 attacks and a critical damage of 4.
While this Chaos Warrior can do some good damage, I would hesitate to recommend him, since Warcry generally factors in Toughness a little too much in its points cost. Being able to shrug off basic attacks is good, but the game is full of fighters with many attacks, abilities that give extra attack actions and many other factors that mean players will often just go for many chances for rolling critical damage, which ignores Toughness altogether.
If you think in terms of vulnerability to critical damage, the Chaos Warrior only has 5 more wounds than a Chaos Marauder, but costs around 90 points more. So, while the Chaos Warrior with Chaos Hand Weapons is one of your options for some good, reliable damage in a Slaves to Darkness warband, I would recommend taking another fighter that has more tactical options.
The Chaos Warrior with Chaos Hand Weapon and Chaos Runeshield costs 170 points, so 25 points more than the standard Chaos Warrior, which is due to its increased Toughness of 6 and its access to the Shield Ram Double ability. This is a good upgrade, since it gives you a chance to do some ability damage (which, once again, ignores Toughness), without removing more than 1 attack dice from the melee attack. Still, there are more interesting options in your roster.
The Chaos Warrior Leader costs 220 points. He is a Leader version of the Chaos Warrior with Chaos Hand Weapons, which means his Toughness stays at 5, but he has 25 Wounds and 5 attacks with a critical damage of 5. This means he can put the Leader ability Champion of Darkness to good use, and since he also has more survivability than the Marauder Leader, if you only have those two options among your model purchases, it can be a good idea to pick this guy.
One small note, though: For some reason, Warcry doesn’t have a Chaos Warrior Leader with Chaos Hand Weapon and Runeshield, which is really too bad since the recent resculpts of the Chaos Warriors (which are beautiful models), have no options for building a Leader without the Runeshield (or any basic Chaos Warriors without Runeshields for that matter).
This means that if you want to use the new sculpts, you either have to play them as counts-as Chaos Warriors with Chaos Hand Weapons (so they visually have shields but not the rules for shields), or take a different Leader option from another kit. You could also convert the new sculpts to have extra Chaos Hand Weapons, but they are not a multi-part kit, so you would have to have some skill in cutting, sawing, using greenstuff and even some sculpting.
The Chaos Warriors are strong elite fighters with a defense profile that’s not really tailored to the way the game actually plays, and actually finding the right models to field them can be frustrating, but if you have some of the old Chaos Warriors models and want to field a warband of heavily armored Chaos fighters who can dish out some good damage, or if you’re facing opponents with high Strength but few attacks, they can be a good choice for your warband.
Chaos Chosen (180-250 points)
The Chaos Chosen with Soul Splitter costs 180 points, and it has one of those melee profiles where high Strength actually matters: It has 4 attacks with a damage of 2/critical damage of 5, and a Strength of 5. This means that you have a good chance of both regular and critical damage hitting your opponent and doing good damage.
This is great, since the Chaos Chosen with Soul Splitter has access to the awesome Quad Ability Lead the Slaughter, which lets it increase the Attacks characteristic of every friendly fighter within 6 inches by half the value of the dice roll used for the ability for the rest of the battle round after the Chaos Chosen takes out an enemy fighter in this activation.
This is an ability that, to mention just one example, can increase the usefulness of Chaos Marauders with Barbarian Flail a whole lot. If you put a Chaos Chosen in a battle group with as many of those Marauders as you can field, a kill from your Chosen (and a good Quad roll) could turn into a tornado of range 3 attacks from many fighters with a critical damage of 3.
Since the buff bubble isn’t that big (6 inches), the buffed fighters having a range of 3 increases the area of effect of the buff by a great deal. Just remember that the buffed fighters need to stay within 6 inches of the Chosen to keep the buff – you can’t run off in another direction without losing the extra attacks. If you want a more elite version of this tactic, do the same but with more Chosen (now that you’ve bought the models anyway) for a greater chance of triggering the ability.
The Chaos Chosen Leader costs 250 points. He is the most expensive Slaves to Darkness Leader, but he makes up for it with 28 wounds, the best melee profile in the warband (3 damage/5 critical damage on 5 Strength 5 attacks), and access to both the Leader ability Champion of Darkness and the Chosen ability Lead the Slaughter.
This means that he has a good chance of taking out enemy fighters and a good chance of that takedown being used for a good ability (Champion of Darkness) or a great one (Lead the Slaughter).
If you have a Chaos Chosen model in your collection, you should definitely field it in your warband, but, like the Chaos Warriors, the models available can make this difficult. Chaos Chosen are currently only sold as Citadel Finecast resin models, a material that’s not easy to work with, while also being brittle and prone to casting flaws. On top of that, they are split into two kits, so there’s a Chaos Chosen kit for the regular Chaos Chosen, while the Leader only exists in the Chaos Chosen Command kit.
You can just buy the Chaos Chosen Command kit since some of the models in it can easily count for regular Chaos Chosen, but it’s not available everywhere, and I’m not even sure if it’s still in production or Games Workshop still just has some boxes left from when it was. As always, if you know what you’re doing, you can convert your own Chosen models, even by just adding Great Weapons to Chaos Warriors (Great Weapons are resin as well, though) but it makes the warband decidedly less beginner-friendly to be based on models that can be hard to come by.
Chaos Marauder Horsemen (120-225 points)
There are 3 different Chaos Marauder Horsemen fighter types, plus a Leader version. What they all have in common is the Mount Runemark, which means that they can’t climb terrain (they’re on horses, after all), and that they have access to the Triple ability Trampling Hooves, which lets you do damage equal to the value of the dice rolled for the ability to an enemy within 1 inch of the Horseman after making a Move action.
This Triple ability is mostly useful to the Chaos Marauder Horseman with Barbarian Axe and Darkwood Shield (125 points) and the Chaos Marauder Horseman Leader (225 points), since they both have 1 inch Range on their attacks, which means they have to get into the range to trigger the ability anyway. When using it, remember that you can use abilities even after a double Move, so the range of this ability is great.
The Horseman with axe and shield has a Move of 10 and 20 Wounds like the rest of the basic horsemen, which is both very fast and a good amount of Wounds for its points cost. If you’re on a battlefield where climbing obstacles isn’t important, the basic Horseman can be great for getting to and holding objectives or capturing treasure. What it does lack is a good melee profile, since it only has 2 Strength 3 attacks.
The Leader version of this figher has 10 extra Wounds, a better melee profile (3 attacks, a critical damage of 5), and of course access to the Leader ability and its extra move and attack action. An extra move and attack action on a fighter with a Move of 10 can definitely be a tactical advantage, but since he has 3 attacks rather than 4 or 5, you can’t rely on him taking out an enemy fighter to trigger the Leader ability every time you want him to.
The Chaos Marauder Horseman with Barbarian Flail costs 120 points and is simply the Chaos Marauder with Barbarian Flail on a horse. This means he has a much better Move and 10 more Wounds, but the nice 3 inch Range melee profile remains the same.
This is still really good, and an effective attack range of 13 inches (10 Move plus 3 Range) is impressive, but since it moves way faster than the two fighter types that could buff its attacks (The Chaos Chosen and Chaos Chosen Leader), and takes up more space because its a bigger model (which means fewer horsemen than marauders on foot would fit within the 6 inch bubble of the Chaos Chosen buff), The flail Horseman is put to better use as objective and treasure grabbers like the basic Horseman, but with better attack range at a cheaper points cost because of the way Warcry’s point system values Toughness.
Finally, the Chaos Marauder Horseman with Marauder Javelin and Darkwood Shield costs 140 points, has a 2 inch Range spear attack with only 2 attacks, but a critical damage of 4. As the only fighter type in the Slaves to Darkness warband roster, it has access to the Double ability Throw Javelin, which lets you roll a dice for a visible enemy fighter within 6 inches of this fighter, and do 1 damage on a roll of 3-4 or damage equal to the value of the dice rolled for the ability on a roll of 5-6.
Like many similar throwing abilities in the game, the odds of this ability actually doing meaningful damage isn’t great, but if you’re bringing Horsemen anyway, I think having 1 of these fighters in your warband can be a good idea so you have the option to do damage at great range (2×10 inch Move and then the 6 inch range of the ability) if you really need it.
Chaos Marauder Horseman are great in the sense that they add a lot of Range, speed and Wounds to your warband, so I would definitely recommend filling one of your battle groups with them, if you have the points for it. They don’t fit into the strategy of using the Chaos Chosen buff to gain attacks, but that doesn’t matter when they fill out the objective-grabbing role so well – on a battlefield where climbing isn’t important.
Abilities for the Slaves to Darkness Warband
- Imbued with Dark Power (Double, Everyone) Add the value of the dice roll used for this ability to the Strenght of this fighter’s attack actions with a Range of 3 or less for the rest of its activation.
- Throw Javelin (Double, Chaos Marauder Horseman with Marauder Javelin and Darkwood Shield) Roll a dice for a visible enemy fighter within 6 inches of this fighter. On a roll of 3-4, do 1 damage to that enemy fighter. On a roll of 5-6, do damage equal to the value of the dice roll used for this ability.
- Shield Ram (Double, Chaos Marauder with Barbarian Axe and Darkwood Shield, Chaos Warrior with Chaos Hand Weapon and Chaos Runeshield) For the rest of the activation, roll a dice for 1 enemy within 1 inch the next time this fighter finishes a Move action within 1 inch of an enemy fighter. On a roll of 4-5, do 1 damage to that enemy fighter. On a roll of 6, do damage equal to the value of the dice roll used for this ability.
- Trampling Hooves (Triple, All Chaos Marauder Horsemen) For the rest of the activation, pick a visible enemy fighter within 1 inch of this fighter the next time this fighter finishes a Move action within 1 inch of an enemy fighter. Do damage to that enemy fighter equal to the value of the dice roll used for this ability.
- Champion of Darkness (Triple, All Leaders) If an enemy fighter has been taken down by an attack action made by this fighter this activation, make a bonus move action. Then, this fighter can make a bonus attack action.
- Lead the Slaughter (Quad, All Chaos Chosen) If an enemy fighter has been taken down by an attack action made by this fighter this activation, add half the value of the dice roll used for this ability (rounding up) to the Attacks characteristic of attack actions made by visible friendly fighters while they are within 6 inches of this fighter for the rest of the battle round.
Strategy and Tactics for the Slaves to Darkness warband
There are a number of ways you can play the Slaves to Darkness Warband:
First, you could go all in on Horsemen and play to their strengths around reach and objective play. Movement 10, 20 Wounds and weapons with good reach gives you a lot of control over the battlefield – but terrain is a problem for them.
Second, you could go for a swarm of Marauders, preferably with flails and definitely supported by Chaos Chosen who can give them extra attacks on a Quad, and do really good damage otherwise.
Third, you could combine the two, with one or two battle groups being Marauders/Chosen, and the last group(s) being Horsemen.
There’s nothing wrong with Chaos Warriors per se, but they don’t provide you with interesting tactical options, and I am generally a fan of the “only bring something that does something” approach to listbuilding in games, so just remember that you’re not required to take them at all, iconic and awesome-looking as they might be.
No matter what, playing Slaves to Darkness is all about hitting first if you can: Move faster than the enemy, have better melee range, use abilities that trigger off takedowns of enemy fighters.
Pros and Cons of the Slaves to Darkness Warband
+ many options for attacks with more than 1 inch Range
+ strong attack buff Quad ability that 2 fighter types can use
+ Chaos Marauder Horsemen are fast and durable objective and treasure grabbers
– The availability of some of the models and the incompatibility of fighter types and recent sculpts for those models can make your warband difficult to actually buy and build
– Chaos Warriors have good Toughness and are priced accordingly – but its not the most important statistic in-game
– The Strength buff of the warband’s universal Double ability is largely useless since most of the fighter types in the warband have very low standard damage.
Different build options and how to buy the Beasts of Chaos warband
The Chaos Marauders lets you build 20 (!) Chaos Marauders with either Barbarian Flail or Barbarian Axe and Darkwood Shield, including a Chaos Marauder Leader.
The Chaos Marauder Horsemen kit lets you build 10 Chaos Marauder Horsemen with either Barbarian Flail, Barbarian Axe and Darkwood Shield, or Marauder Javelin and Darkwood Shield, including a Chaos Marauder Horseman Leader.
The Chaos Warriors Regiment kit lets you build 16 Chaos Warriors with either Chaos Hand Weapons or Chaos Hand Weapon and Runeshield, including a Chaos Warrior Leader.
The Chaos Chosen kit lets you build 5 Chaos Chosen with Soul Splitter, but take note that they’re cast in Finecast Resin, which works very differently to regular plastic kits.
The Chaos Chosen Command kit lets you build a Chaos Chosen Leader, 2 Chaos Chosen , as well as a Chaos Chosen drummer and a Chaos Chosen standard bearer, which can’t be used in Warcry.
The Start Collecting! Slaves to Darkness kit lets you build 10 Chaos Warriors with Chaos Hand Weapons and Runeshields, which look far better and more dynamic than the ordinary Chaos Warriors, but they’re limited to wearing Runeshields, even their Leader option. It also builds you a Chaos Lord and 5 Chaos Knights, which can’t be used in this warband in Warcry.
Tips on painting the Slaves to Darkness warband
The Slaves to Darkness warband can be very easy to paint if you’re going for a tabletop standard. The armored Warriors and Chosen can basically be painted all black with a Silver drybrush on the edges, and then you just have to color in a few furs and horns. The Marauders, and especially the Horsemen, can require a bit more since there is a lot more skin visible on the fighters, but that can be done with one of the skin-colored Contrast paints over a Wraithbone undercoat. Horses are harder to paint, but if you work from a photo reference and build op brown or grey colors, it doesn’t have to take long.
Since the Slaves to Darkness are the largest human population group of all the Mortal Realms, there is no end to how many different color schemes they could have, so feel free to experiment. Here is a GW video that shows 5 different approaches based on different Chaos Gods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buYS_Zvvzr0