It has been a bit of a crazy last two week with work, but I finally have some time to sit down and finish up on CSM Ally mandatory units. I discussed troops in two posts with part 1 and part 2. The general conclusion for a Daemon army I drew was you want units that are cheap, provide bodies and whose primary job is to man a comms relay for the Daemons while also providing objective camping and some synergy to act as a force multiplier.
Although a good argument can be made for including CSM's as troops, I am going to discuss HQ units to be taken with a swarm of cultists sitting behind an Aegis. The discussion of fortifications for Daemons can come at another time!
There are really two arguments that can be made for taking an HQ - either take a Fearless one so the cultists stay put or take one with high leadership so you can go to ground behind the Aegis. The options for standard HQ's - I think the named characters tend to be wasted in this role, especially since they cannot join Daemon units - include a Chaos Lord, Dark Apostle, Sorcerer, and Warp Smith. I am leaving out the Daemon Prince since he/she does not work well with a cultist squad.
From a cheap option to keep the cultists in check I really like these guys. For four points less than 3 flamers you get a great statline, a chance to grab a combi-weapon (like plasma that can really help Daemons take down some units) and add some CC punch to the cultists with a Black Mace, Burning Brand or Axe of Blind Fury. If I was to take any of these, it would be the Axe to turn the cultists into ablative wounds for an advancing cultist unit. Unfortunately, doing this really asks you to make this guy expensive and Daemons already do CC really well. The Brand is a bit wasted on a backfield unit in an army that kills MEQ really well already. Taking one naked to grab objectives is a bit of a waste with the utility from the other units.
This is the other fearless HQ option - not that he gets this from the Zealot rule so it is easy to miss it. If this guy could join Daemon units I would take him in a second. Since he cannot, he falls into the same category as the Lord - unless he is kitted out he just does not bring enough to the battlefield as an ally to Daemons. Daemons do not care about his leadership bubble - if they lose fearless in the new codex this changes - they cannot benefit from his hatred rule and he can be kitted to wreck MEQ, but Daemons already do it for cheaper. At the cost of a kitted Tzeetch Herald he just does not have the utility. I will make one exception to this statement, if you bring two cultist units he can conceivably be useful but I prefer to put as many points into my opponents line rather than leave toughness 3 dudes on back objectives and lose several hundred points of killing power.
The first of two HQ units that are not fearless the Warp Smith is an interesting choice. He sports a 2+ save, the only one in the generic HQ section w/o terminator armor and comes stock with an Axe plus two shooting attacks on the tendrils. He can also pull double duty as a repair bot while shattering an opponents defenses to expose them to your Soul Grinder shooting a bit more - you are taking Soul Grinders as Heavy support right? I am just assuming no one reading this is ridiculous enough to just min/max Flamers/Screamers. The repair function on those 4 Hull Point monsters can make them very resilient. He definitely fits the role of force multiplier and brings some CC punch to the unit as well. I had overlooked him previously when evaluating HQ units because he really is a pure, not flashy, support character. Finally, he also has the interesting ability to curse a vehicle with Gets Hot! which can be situationally good. I have faced down enough Punishers in the past to really appreciate the ability to wipe that vehicle out after one round of shooting.
I think I would take him naked with a unit of cultists, throwing him on the Comms to use his 2W and 2++ plus Look Out Sir! to make sure I can get those relay rolls. He might run away on a failed Ld 10 test, but going to ground to avoid a lot of that fire will probably keep your cultists around at least one turn.
You get to fight this guys minions, but not really him!
I originally thought this guy was a slam dunk option for what he can bring to the field and in game play I have liked him but not been overly impressed. All that changed with the new BRB FAQ that lets you cast Blessings on units that arrive from DS that turn. The Sorcerer in this sense is a true force multiplier while lending his leadership 10 to a swarm of cultists who can go to ground with him. The great thing about go to ground is that you can still cast blessings/maledictions while doing so. I think there is only one way to run this guy: Mastery 3, Spell Familiar and that is it. I throw a Force Stave on him as well, but that is just for the chance to Glance out a drop pod dread if I have to before it wrecks the whole unit. This load out comes in at 10 points more than the Warp Smith but lets you roll 3 times on Telepathy. The powers on that table are outstanding and the only one I do not care for is Dominate. With 3 Rolls you have an 80% chance to get either Hallucination or Telepathy - provided you do not take the Primaris at all. Hint: Never take the primaris until you get either of those powers.
Hallucination can be murder for some units - think a Dreadknight force weaponing itself or some Terminators standing in place for a turn clogging things up. Even better in my opinion, Invisibility gives one of your units a 2+ in area terrain. I like to drop it on Fiends, which go from Glass Cannon to murder machines with Move Through Cover, ignoring terrain and now being hit on a 5+ for added defense. The other powers - Terrify to take down difficult fearless units, want to force combat resolution on a Tyranid again? Time to run down that Tyrant after killing 10-12 Gaunts! Mental Fortitude also lets you situationally be fearless when you need it on those Cultists. Finally, Puppet Master can provide some interesting situations and I have found it is great against Broadsides. The Changeling was good for its costs, and Puppet Master provides much the same function.
My conclusions? I love the Sorcerer for a Daemon support role. It lets them delve into psychic powers, sit behind an Aegis line to benefit from fortifications and hold backfield objectives rather efficiently. Starting some units on the board also helps against armies with a lot of infiltrators and having some extra bodies is a nice boon to the otherwise 'elite' Daemon armies.