So, after writing about the Noise Marines I thought that it would be fitting to do the same about other cult unit, to see how they compare to each other, and decided to do Berzerkers next, as I’ve been using them in my last games to great effect. As said in the last post, I like doing some numbers, and the berzerker ones are really high, as the ability to hit twice is awesome.
Let’s start with what Berzerkers really shine in doing… damage dealing!
To get familiarised with the terms I use such as Offensive Efficiency Factor (OEF) please look in my Noise Marine post I’ll eventually do a post dedicated exclusively to those concepts, but untill then you’ll have to excuse me. Just so you know, a regular CSM deals 0,1 wounds to a MEQ and has an OEF of 0,9 against those on average and, as you can see, Berzerkers are incredibly above those. Actually, Berzerkers are a very superior choice to CSM in my opinion, they only cost 3 points more (4 with the almost-mandatory Chainaxe) and get +1 Strength and +1 Attack for starters, and then the Blood for the Blood God ability, which allows them to attack and pile in TWICE per combat phase. This means that a Khorne Berzerker with Chainaxe and Chainsword will make four S6 AP-1 attacks and two more at S5 AP0… This is an insane amount of punch for such a cheap unit, making it one of the most efficient units of the whole Codex, if not THE most efficient.
When it comes to equipment options, Berzerkers are pretty straight forward, nothing beats the Chainaxe+Chainsword combo. As you can see above it beats taking the weapons individually, even the cheaper chainsword in efficiency, and if you look at the side you’ll see that it is still better than those options combined with a bolt pistol. However, if you play strictly WYSIWYG, getting two CC weapons for every zerker in the unit can be difficult, in which case the Chainsword is superior to the Chainaxe as, even though it usually deals less damage,it is a bit more efficient, meaning that points are better spent on those. As for plasma pistols, I wouldn’t bother with them, it is not worth the risk overheating them with this guys and they can only be fired in your turn, while an additional CC weapon will also hit in your opponent’s turn most times and benefits from the BftBG rule.
The problem with this dual CC weapon loadout is, as you will have probably guessed already, that it makes your unit useless when not locked in combat. This is why I would always pay the 10 points for the icon or otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll need to burn CP on them, which definitely sucks, specially knowing that a new Codex with new stratagems is coming.
However this is not enough, their PIM isn’t too good as they have standard marine movement, and their PIR sucks as they have a 1″ range (the major problem of CC), which is what makes this unit not an auto-take on every army. You need to pay at least for a rhino to use the unit well, adding 72 points to them, and I will need to analyse and test other transports, specially dreadclaws, as the punch of this unit is probably worthy of a better delivery method.
This means that your opponent, specially if he has already played against them, will almost always try to blast your zerkers to dust before they get too close, and here is where their low price comes in. As you’re only paying a point more than four guardsmen, and still have your fine T4 and 3+ save, loosing Berzerkers will not hurt you much while requiring some dedicated firepower from your opponent, as you can either take them “en masse” or give them some support. Boltguns are specially inefficient against them due to the the jump in cost from a GEQ to a MEQ and the not-proportional jump in lethality (9 points for +1BS and +1S… compare it to the 4 points between a Berzerker and a CSM).
At the end I think that Berzerkers are one of the most solid units in the Codex, very good to fill troop slots with the World Eaters keyword, and 15 to 25 would make for a good core from which to expand your army, without consuming too many points. Take them on transports with an Icon of Wrath, a Chainsword and a Chainaxe and pay a Power Axe for your champion if you have 5 spare points (he will hit SIX times with it). They’re a cheap but lethal threat that will fit in most chaos armies in one way or another, and they benefit a lot from nearby characters, Dark Apostles probably being the best option!