No self-respecting Chaos Lord would take to the table without a worth entourage and fan-base in tow…
There was a time in 40K (6th & 7th) given the rubbish of the CSM book(s) that players were saying Fritz’s response to anything was just throw more cultists at it, is that still true.
YES, but things are a bit different now in 8th with the FLOW of the game and the change in armor saves, cover, and AP for each weapon.
Before 8th I used cultists as a speed bump- throwing masses at them to slow other incoming units dawn and MAYBE drag something down under volume of dice if I got lucky. And given the limitations of the D6 system in Warhammer 40K, I often DID get lucky since I was putting out so much dice.
They died fast to return fire, but they did their job and the dead cost nothing.
Switch over to 8th and I QUICKLY discovered they died even FAST with the changes to cover and how terrain really doesn’t matter now in the game. Also MORE dakka was coming at them since many units in the game got a buff in dice output so Games Workshop could make the games go faster. Most armies are packing AP -1, and many are now spamming AP -1+ so the staying power of an armor save in general is becoming less and less.
Space Marine tactics are going to have to change, but that is a post for another time…
So now I was faced with a few options- add more cultists to counter that, but as cheap as they are, they do costs points/power level, and second with their rubbish LD of 5/6 with base/champ do I want to throw in an HQ to bump that, perhaps throwing more supporting points?
I picked neither, but I still throw down a TON of cultist.
What has changed is the flow of the game- players are leading with very strong units, and if I throw my strong units that them, at worst I lose, and at BEST I win but my strong units are now weak due to losses. I want strong units to gobble up weak units.
But now given the change in wounds and that 40K is still a D6 system, cultists can suddenly reliably wound a ton more stuff, and put out enough dice to do it vs. relying on “luck”.
I now use them as a breaking wall against those uber-powerful units certain players like to lead with, but it has to happen FAST as they certainly aren’t going to last long- not that they should given the narrative of the game.
Still VERY useful, but not as 100% mandatory as in the past.