Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Chaos Space Marines Review

By Martynas Klimas 23 Jul 2019 0

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Chaos Space Marines Review

Released 18 Jul 2019

Developer: Slitherine
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Available from:

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is the 40K 4X game with the least-elegant name, but it also gives us the opportunity to take charge of more of the universe’s factions than any other title. And as those are slowly trickling in via the DLC channels, we finally have the opportunity to play as the Chaos Space Marines.

Gladius is an Imperial hive-world created especially for this game. When Cadia fell and the Eye of Terror split the galaxy in half, Gladius was swept by a catastrophic warp storm that demolished the surface of the planet. Many of the factions present on the world are digging themselves out of the rubble. In the case of Chaos Space Marines, they’re falling out of the sky after evacuating their ship that became possessed by daemons.

gladius chaos 1

As a 4X game faction, CSM don’t offer much in the way of twists. They collect all of the regular resources present in the game and they can build cities like most other factions. Contrast that to Space Marines, who replace most resources with Requisition and have to make-do with a single settlement, the Chaos Marines are easy to get into.

However, they have certain unique mechanics to aid them. Cultists, the lowest kind of infantry they have, not only spawn cities and clear terrain, but can also be sacrificed to boost population growth of a town. This is said to be the effect of Chaos Gods being more pleased with the Cultists’ sacrifice than with their lack-lustre skills on the battlefield. And seeing how they’re built at a separate building from the actual Chaos Space Marines, it’s actually worth doing if you want to get an outpost up to speed.

It also works if you want to use the Chaos rites often, as they trade a single unit of population for a temporary boost to certain sectors of the city’s economy. Chaos isn't really good for your life expectancy, who knew?

gladius chaos 2

As for your units, they can be boosted with (researchable) Marks of Chaos, just like on the table-top! Each non-vehicle, non-daemon unit can have one Mark applied to it, which provides a certain boon: Nurgle gives hit points, Tzeench increases invulnerable saves, and so on. These units can be further upgraded with Icons (also need to be researched). You can’t spam these, as you can only apply a specific mark once a turn (so you can brand 4 units on your turn) Aside from that, a unit can earn Chaos boons - all sorts of small bonuses -  by killing enemies. These can also supposedly turn your units into Spawns, but that never happened to me.

The unit roster has some surprises, as the recently introduced Master of Possession and the Venomcrawler make an appearance. You also have the Chaos Space Marines and Havocs (modeled after the new kits), as well as most of the ugly demonic engines, like Hellbrutes (Evil Dreads) and Heldrakes (hell turkeys). The units are generally powerful (Cultists aren’t really bad in melee, are cheap, and don’t compete with good infantry for build slots) and have their own tricks, like Havocs becoming more accurate when stationary. There are also fun upgrades, like Dozer Blades that allow Chaos Rhinos (the only real, non-demonic vehicle they have) to ram infantry, which is always fun.

Gladius Chaps 3

Hilariously enough, the Chaos Terminators, featured so prominently in the art, do not make an appearance. Even the Chaos Lord is modeled after Blackstone Fortress’ Obsidius Mallex (the first CSM character to ever get a Thunderhammer). It’s a pity that we don’t get a Chaos Sorcerer, though the Master of Possession tries to fill that role by summoning temporary random demonic units (so Warp Talons or some of the freaky vehicles) and being able to turn units it kills into Chaos Spawns.

Also, apparently prayers/endless complaints from grumpy reviewers do go to Heaven (or at least the dev’s ears) and the Gladius is now flush with unit barks tailored for each and every unit (unit specific naming is still AWOL). Well, except for Chaos Cultists, so I added them in myself by messing with the XML files. I wish more games were this open to some low-effort, zero-skill modding.

As for the downsides of the DLC, they’re mostly focused on the writing. Specifically, it’s all about the Slaanesh bits giving off this skeevy smell, as they seem focused on pleasure a little too much. In fact, there’s even a high-level item in the game, described as a depiction of Slaanesh that’s so sexy it corrupts the bearer. I’ve been on the internet for far too long to let something like that pass. Other than that, the writing’s great and really sells how unrelentingly awful the CSM are to the regular people, even when compared to the Imperium.

gladius chaos 4

I noticed a single bug in the game that transcended the failings of my computer. Notably, when a Master of Possession creates a temporary unit, the “Summonable X” (“X” being the amount of turns the unit hangs around) tag seems to stick with the hex of origin for the turn. Any unit that moves into gets tagged the same way and winks out of the game once the turn timer runs. I lost a level 7 Lord and some Havocs that way, which is at least a little irritating… but then they fixed that as of last Friday. So at least newcomers can be spared a similar pain.

All in all, Chaos Space Marines is a good DLC for *inhales* Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War. It provides a good roster of units, a bunch of fitting mechanics and abilities, as well as some flavorful writing. Heck, the buildings that fill the CSM cities are carbon copies of the structures you built in Dawn of War 1! Aside from the Slaaneshi descriptions and the bug I mentioned, it has no other flaws and is well worth your time. Now, if only they fixed the AI that likes to spawn Imperial Guard Hydras almost to the exclusion of anything else… 

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Chaos Space Marines Review

Available on:



Log in to join the discussion.

Related Posts from Strategy Gamer