Monday, April 15, 2013

Daemon Codex - Daemonic Heralds - Nurgle, Slaanesh

This post rounds out discussion of the heralds and the specific Psychic disciplines for Nurgle and Slaanesh.  An analysis of the Khorne and Tzeentch heralds can be found here.

Herald of Nurgle

I want to like the Nurgle Herald, but the problem really is he is a bit too slow.  I would be glad to drop him out of an enemy Psyker failing its Warp Storm 'Posession' but with Slow and Purposeful and no way to really speed him up it is a tough sell.  I think there is a place for him as a very durable, up close and personal Deep Striking unit and the loadout needs to reflect this.  That means, in spite of only being Leadership 8, I think the Nurgle Herald needs to snag two Biomancy Powers in the hopes of grabbing anything except Haemorrage.  At the least, not being able to run means there is never a decision on whether to run or shoot him.

Psychic Powers - Once again the Nurgle set presents with a host of shooting powers - I want my Nurgle psykers to be CC powerhouses with staying power - not shooting units.  The powers themselves are not necessarily bad for the most part.

Stream of Corruption - A MEQ killer that mimics the old flamers.  This will be good in many cases, and you can assault afterward too.  It is still probably worse than a Biomancy roll and it might take your slow unit out of assault range.

Plague Wind - More shooting but this time with a Large poisoned blast.  This one is interesting and can wipe out large swaths of units.  It is a short range power, so it suffers from the same problem as the Primaris

Miasma of Pestilence - Finally a buffing power.  A generic reduction in Weapon Skill and Initiative is very good for winning CC.  This one is very strong, and actually lets a Plague Bearer unit tarpit something.  Only a 1 in 3 chance though, I wish it was the primaris.

Rancid Visitations - There seems like there could be a lot of potential here - but this is really not going to do that many wounds. It has a larger range which is nice, and it might work a bit better with Enfeeble, but killing models one at a time from different units is a good way to get smashed.  It also costs 1 too many Warp Charges.

Loci - The Lesser and Exalted locus emphasize more hitting power - even if these correspond to only a minor increase in combat effectiveness.  A quick look at the actual effectiveness of these:

Locus of Virulence
1 in 6 attacks wound on a 2+ rather than a 4+ - which correlates to 50% more wounds in those cases or an increase overall of 1 wound per 12 attacks.  For a plaguebearer unit of 20 charging (most benefit from the locus) there are going to be roughly 3 additional wounds from their attacks.  For that cost, it is better to simply buy 3 more Plaguebearers in most cases.

Locus of Fecundity
Return Feel No Pain! to Nurgle units?  Sounds great to me.  I would mentally factor the cost of this locus into the cost of the unit itself - about 2 points per model for a 10 man units which is quite reasonable.  The only real limitation to this locus is that the Nurgle herald is so slow, it is hard to use with Plague Drones or Beasts of Nurgle.

Locus of Contagion
Although more expensive, this locus actually generates the same number of additional wounds as the virulence locus.  A bonus, 4+ poison hit on a 6 results in one additional wound per 12 attacks.  Although the expected number of wounds is identical, there is more upside to the contagion locus - since a very very luck roll might technically double the number of hits (very small odds to roll all 6's to hit for 20 attacks though!).  Once again, I would rather have more models than this locus.

Mounts - The Nurgle mount is expensive, but it really turns the Herald into a pseudo monstrous creature that can hide in a unit and benefit from Lookout Sir! The raw cost is almost as much as another herald, but I still like this upgrade for him - provided you are running him as a durable assault style unit.

Lesser/Greater/Exalted Gifts -
I think a lesser gift on the Nurgle Herald is almost mandatory to get an AP 2 weapon.  If running the herald as a feel no pain locus then I would stop there.  If he is there to be a pseudo monstrous creature - then a Greater Gift can be useful too - once again though beware of overspending.

Preferred Loadouts
Palanquin, Mastery 2, Lesser Gift
Lesser Gift, Locus of Fecundity

Herald of Slaanesh

A Slaanesh herald brings a lot of strengths to a Daemon unit.  All three locus are useful, she is a high initiative killer with an AP 2 weapon and can threaten a vehicle due to rending.  More importantly, whether on foot or on a Seeker mount she is fast.  As an added bonus, she has access to the Telepathy discipline, which is one of the most powerful in the book - broadly the statements made about a Keeper of Secrets here apply to the consideration of Telepathy - with the obvious caveat that a Slaanesh herald is only leadership 8.  Due to the general necessity to run the Herald's unit though, I prefer powers for her that do not requiring shooting - which means Maledictions and Blessings.

Psychic Powers - Even at ld 8 telepathy is good - if planning to roll on that table I would always take Mastery 2 for a shot at Hallucinate and Invisibility.

Lash of Slaanesh
As the primaris power Lash is a fairly strong power.  The fact that it rends gives it a good chance to wound any model it touches.  As a beam is can potentially mow down a vehicle parking lot and with strength 6 - the primary downside is that most Slaanesh units want to run rather than shoot.  I can see this being one of the shooting powers on a Keeper of Secrets or a Daemon Prince.  In the case of the Prince there are a lot of option to line up a good shot.

Naturally this is the power I wish was the primaris -5 initiatives, no counter attack, no overwatch removes a lot of the risk from the assault phase.  Remember that as a Malediction, it cannot reduce initiative below 1 - so at worst charging through cover Daemons will be hitting simultaneously with their opponents.

Pavane of Slaanesh
I loved the old Pavane for its ability to manipulate models, placement or mess with charge distances.  This variant will not kill most models - a focused witchfire that causes a wound on a failed leadership (rinse and repeat) is just not going to cut it in most cases.  It might pick off a stray melta gun or sergeant - but most models that are ideal targets for Pavane have the leadership to resist it.

Cacophonic Choir
All the Nova powers seem to end up with a 2 warp charge cost, but are too tame to really make it worth it.  This one forces a leadership test that inflicts a wound for each point failed by units within 12".  It can be good against some opponents and the pinning test is interesting, but not reliable enough to mitigate the return fire - after all the caster of this wants to get in the thick of the opponent to make it really work.

Loci - All three of the Slaanesh loci are strong in their own right and useful based on what unit the herald joins - or the rest of the army composition.

Locus of Grace
Providing Move Through Cover to cavalry is outstanding and can mitigate losses among cavalry units charging through cover - or deep striking into it.  When going through terrain or charging cavalry take a  pseudo overwatch - take a wound on a 6 for each model in the unit.  This locus is best paired with a Tzeentch psyker who can provide Prescience for rerolls to further augment the unit.

Locus of Swiftness
Most Slaanesh units are fast enough to strike first in combat - when that is rarely not the case, this locus guarantees they will do so.  It is reasonably priced, although a bit redundant.  If the Herald is paired with Daemonettes, this is a reasonable buy when points are tight.

Locus of Beguilement
Rerolls in combat and challenges that cannot be refused - and must be accepted by a model of your choice.  I expect to see this Locus to be the standard for most Slaanesh heralds - paired with a Seeker mount and a Seeker unit - it turns a the unit into a blender that can churn through even the most stubborn enemy units.  With the challenge mechanic, it also guarantees those units do not remain stubborn for long.

Mounts - In most cases I see the Seeker Mount being an auto include with the Slaanesh Herald.  The speed from being cavalry lets her ride with Fiends or Seekers or swap between units when paired with Daemonettes.  For 3/4 the cost of a greater gift, it is well worth it.

Lesser/Greater/Exalted Gifts
Taking a lesser gift is once again mandatory for her - it might even be worth it to grab the greater gift for +1 strength on the weapon. In most cases through, I would stick with just the lesser.  Since survivability is more closely linked to her hitting power for a Slaanesh herald, and she does not want to shoot in most cases, most of the lesser/greater rewards are not worth going for.

Preferred Loadouts - 
Mastery 2, Lesser Gift - run with Daemonettes
Seeker Mount, Lesser Gift, Locus of Beguilement/Grace
Seeker Mount, Lesser Gift, Mastery 2, Locus of Beguilment (I hesitate t put this on here because I think it is too expensive, but it has power)

That wraps up Heralds and their associated psychic powers.  I am struggling with how to present the other entries - it is hard enough to evaluate the HQ units one at a time without context of the entire army.  I am going to move to troops and provide a broad overview of what builds they lend themselves too and then move to the assorted force oganization entries.


  1. I'm surprised there is no option for a Nurgle Herald to ride a Rot Fly. Considering a Khorne Herald can ride a Juggernaut and join Bloodcrushers and a Slaanesh Herald can ride a Steed and join Seekers, it seems like an unfortunate omission.

  2. It's not an unfortunate omission, not any more than Slow and Purposeful is an omission on the part of Daemons of Nurgle.

    1. I really wish the Nurgle Herald could take a fly - the way they kitted him makes him really viable to run with only one unit. The other option would have been slower other units - which I would trade off for some hitting power.

      The one item I really miss from the new codex is a durable, hard hitting medium toughness unit - like the old blood crushers - to serve as an anchor for the army.