Monday, April 8, 2013

Daemon Codex - Daemonic Heralds - Khorne, Tzeentch

Last week I discussed half of the HQ selections for the Daemon Codex by looking at the Greater Daemons. This week I want to look at the other portion - excepting named characters - encompassed by the Daemonic Heralds.

In what appears to be a theme for 6th edition codices - especially the Chaos Space Marine book - the heralds all start off extremely cheap but can quickly become very expensive through gifts, buffs and psychic powers.  Across the board all the heralds are leadership 8 and come in at the same cost as 5 lesser daemons of the same type (+5 more for the Khorne Herald).  Their statline are on par with what you would expect for an HQ, although at 2 wounds they are a bit more fragile.

It is very easy to overspend on Heralds in much the same way it is easy to overspend on the Greater Daemons.  There is the potential to turn each into a monster bristling with special rules - and while the abilities are generally reasonably costed, they add up quickly.

As a general statement, the three close combat oriented heralds - Slaanesh, Nurgle, Khorne - should at a minimum be equipped with a lesser gift for an Etherblade.  An AP 2 weapon that strikes at initiative is extremely rare in 40k now and with their superior statline these guys should be winning most challenges.

All four heralds are also a great place to drop Exalted Gifts in situations where the goal is to grab a Daemonic Artifact.  The Grimoire of True Names is an outstanding item - with some randomness in its downside, but that is inherent to Daemons - while the Portalglyph is sneakily good for spawning additional backfield objective camping units.  The reason I like these gifts on the Heralds, is it is easier to protect a herald from shooting with Lookout Sir!, abusing line of sight, and simply putting 15 bodies between them and the enemy.

Now into the specifics for each Herald.  I am going to provide an overall summary, discussion of their mounts, preferred gifts and a look at their associated psychic powers.

Herald of Khorne
As would be expected, the Khorne Herald has an impressive CC statline and should, in my opinion, take an Axe of Khorne instead of an Etherblade when given his mandatory lesser gift.  Even with just this basic kit, he is going to destroy units in combat and can even put a dent into monstrous creatures or dedicated CC units.  I would not bother to invest in any of the other gifts for this guy other than a mount - more on that later.  With his baseline setup (Axe of Khorne - he can run with Bloodletter unit - a unit I think is a bit slow and overpriced now - so that really means he needs additional speed to go with some Flesh Hounds or Bloodcrushers.

Psychic Powers - Ahh right, Khorne units, NEXT!

Loci - All the Khorne Loci are decent, although I am not sure I would bother to pay for the lesser locus when the others are much stronger against more opponents.  Fury provides a bonus punch on the charge while Wrath provides hatred for roughly the same price.  Given that the place for a Khorne Herald is in a fast unit, likely to get the charge a quick comparison of the two, assuming the unit gets the charge.

Crushers on WS < 5:
Fury: (3 base attacks + 2 charging) = 5 Attack (2 Hit / 3 Attack) = 3.33 Hits
Wrath: (3 base attacks + 1 charging) = 4 Attack [(2 Hit / 3 Attack) + (1 Miss / 3 Attack)(2 Hit / 3 Miss) = 3.55

Flesh Hounds on WS < 5:  -
Using the same procedure as above
Fury: 2.667
Wrath: 2.667

Naturally with more attacks, the Crushers take better advantage of the Wrath Locus, whereas the +2 charge bonus attacks mean more to the Flesh Hounds with less attacks.  Also, this is only for the first round of combat - after which the advantage of the Fury locus starts to wear off.  Overall, I think that makes the Wrath Locus the clearly superior one - and for a bargain difference of 5 points I cannot think of a reason not to take it.

Mounts - The Juggurnaut is only ten points less than another Herald, but it brings so much speed to the table - not to mention an extra Strength, Wound, Attack, and a Hammer of Wrath hit.  It is pretty much an autoinclude.  Even if running the Herald with Bloodletters, it is almost too good to give up.

Lesser/Greater/Exalted Gifts - I hit this earlier - I would throw a lesser gift on him for an Axe of Khorne, and avoid the the Blade of Blood - rampage is not worth losing his great initiative and the extra points are not worth a single bonus attack for wielding two specialist weapons. If he has to, the Khorne Herald can grab the Grimoire, but I like that more on units that can be kept a bit safer.

Preferred Loadouts
Juggernaut, Lesser Gift - Grab an Axe of Khorne and throw him into a Flesh Hound or Bloodcrusher unit

Herald of Tzeentch
Access to Divination really makes a Tzeentch herald shine.  I think this guy will be the primary HQ used for allied Daemons - he is cheap, effective and has a good troop unit in Pink Horrors to join and throw out some shooting, plus he is a pure force multiplier.  With the potential for Prescience, Tzeetch heralds provide a huge boost to Pink Horrors, and Soul Grinders in shooting.  Generally, I would run every Tzeetch Herald as a minimum Mastery 2, and possibly Mastery 3 if the points are there.  Keeping in mind that a brand new Herald is only 20 points more than the +1 Mastery upgrade.

While Prescience is outstanding, I think it is easy to simply swap for it when the other powers provide a lot to an army.  My other Divination favorites include Misfortune, Perfect Timing and Forewarning.  The first to greatly increase enemy casualties - with misfortune being ideal for Terminator/Marine armies, Perfect Timing to deal with Aegis Lines and Guard Equivalent saves and Forewarning greatly enhancing the survivability of assault elements.  With a good Warp Storm or Grimoire roll, units can achieve a 2++ or 3++ save in some games - keep in mind that the Daemon codex is really about maximizing the opportunity for these kinds of 'stars align' opportunities.

Psychic Powers - Tzeentch powers are all shooting in nature - and their primary use is to knock out vehicles or eradicate smaller units completely.  The reason for this use is due to the Warp Flame rule which can start providing Feel No Pain! (+1 on a toughness test) to enemy units,  Looking at the powers:

Flickering Fire - Strong baseline power, with good strength and AP plus a lot of potential shots.  The ability to overcharge this makes it the default for larger horror units.

Tzeetch's Firestorm - Not a fan of the variable strength on this, and it just does not do enough damage.  Lacking an AP also hurts this one a lot.  It is also a small blast on a model with mediocre BS.  Shooting is to break open vehicles, assault is to finish off the contents.

Bolt of Change - This one is interesting - it can pick off multiple vehicles or units at once, it has a good AP and a minimum strength of 5.  I would take this over the Primaris in some cases.

Infernal Gateway - I wish this was a large blast or brought a little more to the table in terms of strength - that said I would take it in some cases when presented with the right target set.  I would never take it on Horrors since they become useless once they hit a single Warp Charge with this.

Loci - I cannot conceive of a time when I would take the Lesser or Greater Loci for Tzeentch.  As a rule I have a bias against powers that require your own units to be losing to be good in the case of the lesser Lcous, and the Greater is really for a unit of Screamers, who are hurt by it half the time.  However, the Exalted Locus of Conjuration is great to have when a large Pink Horror unit is going to accompany the Herald.  Running 4d6 S6 AP 4 shots - probably with BS 3 Twin Linked is great.  If the Herald opts for a shooting power - it should if it is in this unit - too it can add another 2d6-3d6 shots at BS 4.  If taking the Conjuration Locus, I think the Tzeetch primaris power is a must take and I would also make the Psyker ML 3 for extra Warp Charges to spend after dropping a few buffs.

Mounts - A disc provides a ton of mobility for this guy at a pretty reasonable cost.  He can run along with Screamers or Flamers on one to provide up front shooting/blessings/malediction support.  In armies not using  a Pink Horror Fire base, I would run him on this with a unit of Screamers.

Lesser/Greater/Exalted Gifts - The Tzeentch herald is a good bearer for Daemonic Artifacts, but I would not purchase any other gifts for him.  Most the gifts are oriented towards CC units or add some shooting, neither of which the Tzeentch herald needs.

Preferred Loadouts
-Mastery +2, Locus of Conjuration: Primaris Tzeentch, Primaris Divination and 18-20 Horrors
-Mastery +1, Exalted Gift: Grimoire or Portal Glyph, Primaris Divination, Horror unit
-Mastery +2, Disc, Exalted Gift: Grimoire, Divination, Possible roll on Tzeentch for Bolt of Tzeentch/Gateway

I know I am missing the Slaanesh and Nurgle Heralds here, but as I was writing I realized this article was dragging on considerably.  The ability of both these Heralds to act as force multipliers is obvious, and they bring some effective powers to the table on their own.  I think the simple temptation for Daemons is going to be to overspend on these to make them all on par with what we are used to seeing for HQ units.  However, in both cases if they come in over 130-140 points they are probably too expensive.  There is a little leeway for adding a locus, which is really factored into the cost of the troops themselves.  Be mindful of barrage sniping with both of these models.  I think in general a few Heralds at a lower cost is going to be superior to a single decked out Herald - which means spread out the Exalted Gifts and try not to create a Herald that looks more like a greater daemon.

Slaanesh and nurgle evaluations will follow, along with a discussion of how my current list has been evolving.


  1. Good write up so far. I went to the store yesterday to get my copy of the daemon codex but they were out so the inner blue man in me won out and i bought the tau codex.

    1. go tau! i have both codex's and there great, really liking most of the armies GW is putting out!

  2. So what does the Burning Chariot bring to the Tzeentch Herald, in terms of extra functionality or survivability? Better or worse than just a Disc Herald in a squad? Is the Burning Chariot even any better with a Herald instead of an Exalted Flamer?

    1. Great question - the Khorne Chariot is interesting and I would consider Deep Striking it into the midst of a horde of Khorne units ready to charge in. As for the Tzeentch chariot - I really see no reason to bring it for a herald. It provides some impact hits guaranteed to give a unit a shot at Feel No Pain, it forces anything over a 6" move to be a snap shot, is susceptible to shaken/stunned results for the crew and is not as fast as a Disc - on which the herald can hide with another unit.

      As it stands now, it is broken for an Exalted Flamer since the weapons are templates - which cannot be snap shot. Moving with the chariot removes all its firepower - I expect to see them changed in some way by an FAQ.

  3. sigh.....if only that first herald loadout fit the theme of my nurgle army :(

    1. Actually there is a very good Nurgle Herald load out (at least I think it is very good)that makes for a rock hard killy model. It is definitely more durable than the Khorne Herald.

  4. A great write up of the heralds and something I will definitely be recommending to my Daemon-toting friend. I'll have to read the rest of your Daemon articles later. :D