Sunday, April 28, 2013

List Building Anxiety - Daemons Edition

No matter how I put together an army list with the Daemon codex, somehow I feel dissatisfied with the result.  I feel like it is missing something or there are so many options I want to include that just cannot make the cut at the 1500/1850/2000 point levels.  With the previous codex, this was less of an issue.  The choices were straightforward, the units for the most part fulfilled a single role - assault the enemy - with a slight exception when Flamers/Screamers were revised.  From an overall hobby standpoint this presents a bit of a quandary though - and one that has reflected itself in my painting - or maybe I should say the schizophrenic nature of my painting.

...What units do I need to finish to bring to the tabletop?  I have at the moment somewhere between 6-8 different units all at different points in their painting lifecycle.  My zombies need a drybrush and sealing, my Daemonettes need their basecoat finished, Seekers need detail work while a pair of Soul Grinders languish without highlights.  Part of my painting motivation comes from playing, and at the moment I have no clue what units I am going to bring to the next tournament (or next game for that matter).

I think part of the problem is that although the models may look the same and the names might not have changed, I am having trouble reconciling those changes with my preconceptions of what the models 'used' to do.  The changes to Fiends are a great example - they used to be a glass hammer unit that put down a bucket of wounds on a unit, rending was a nice bonus, but they way they won combat was through their huge number of strength 5 attacks.  The new Fiends are different - they are more a force multiplier for a multiple combat having lost their higher strength and attacks characteristics.  From a purely mathematical standpoint, a single Fiend previously put down 2 wounds - 0.5 rends - on the charge against WS/T 4.  The new Fiends put down 1 wound each with 0.33 rends.

The changes have prompted me to ask a fundamental questions as I go about list building - What kind of army is this going to be?  Some of these answers are fairly straightforward - when bringing 5 FMC's it is pretty obvious what the army lives and dies by on the battlefield.  However, how many shooting elements need to be present to call it a shooty army - are the assault elements there to take the battle to the enemy objectives or are they protective counter assault units.  Further, what role do each of the new models play based on their design rules?

An example of this are Bloodcrushers - they are fast, they hit hard but without appropriate support they fold to enemy shooting and will be worn down via overwatch and return attacks in close combat.  As a fast unit, I want to put pressure on enemy lines with Bloodcrushers - but to make that happen various support elements are needed - a Grimoire of True Names, a Divination Psyker and a Telepathy Psyker are the ingredients for this unit to become a powerhouse - they also very much benefit from Acquiescence in the Excess discipline.  Unfortunately, bringing these elements means bringing Heralds along for the ride or Greater Daemons.  It is expensive to accomplish it with Greater Daemons - and it puts at risk the very elements required for that devastating unit  - but doing so with heralds means a transition to a shootier army - which may be good, does  it lead to a more balanced overall force?

A more straightforward example of a multirole model is the Soul Grinder - it provides a battle cannon shot but also protects the firebase with its dreadnought CC abilities.  Maybe this is the answer to why I have always preferred Soul Grinders over daemon princes - princes are generally more one dimensional.

I am still not sure what kind of army I want to build - I know I do not want a FMC force - but I also know I cannot construct an army like I did with the old codex.  That is, I took a set of individually powerful units with some multi-role synergy and dropped them into an army list.  The new Daemons are complex- I am not sure a single army will include every model that I want - but it certainly gives me something to think about.  To ease my painting troubles, I am considering the following 'core' force to build around at the 1850-2000 point levels.

Lord of Change w/ Mastery 3, Grimoire of True Names
Keeper of Secrets w/ Mastery 3, 2x Greater Gifts
5x Bloodcrushers
2x Soul Grinders of Tzeentch w/ Phlegm
Allied CSM Sorcerer w/ Mastery 3, Spell Familiar
Allied 5x Chaos Space Marines w/ 1x Plasmagun

What other units are needed to make this army work - and what kind of army is it?


  1. I am generally quite pleased with the changes you're talking about. I like how much more difficult it is to not only build a list, but to play that list effectively. With the previous book I did the same things you were doing. Pick powerful units.... win games. This book is requiring much more careful thought and careful play.

    As an opponent I am much happier to see a daemon player across the table from me than I ever was before. The previous book was predictable to play against. I knew what every unit could do and usually predict my opponent easily. While I know what the units can do in this book I'm finding it much harder to predict my opponents overall strategy, making the games more interesting.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with for a list. Good luck.

    1. One aspect of the random nature of Daemons is they are a very interesting army - mainly because the same army can play in many different ways based on how they roll their rewards/psychic powers.

      I definitely agree that it makes for a much broader array of tactics - and a lot of creativity in each game to utilize those gifts as best possible. I had not yet grown tired of my previous Daemon army - the deep strike deployment and non-preferred wave kept me on my toes - but otherwise games often played out the same each time.

  2. In my opinion, losing herolds option is waste of very good roster element.

    like Juga herold with loci-rage, or Div herold with loci in pink horrors for more firepoints,

    But if two GD is the goal, then:
    -Seekers for target overload
    -Skul cannon for grenades
    -Daemonets for target overload
    -Screemers for vectorstrike support and LR-hunting
    -Portal for additional scoring
    -min fiends for grenades
    -flamers for BURN

    1. I am not married to the Lord of Change - but I do have a Daemon Princess that I would really like to put on the field as one. I like heralds for what they bring too - but at the same time I think it is easy to start ramping up the overall costs of units with them.

      On the car ride home I was thinking though that I could probably get more buffs out of the combined squad of Karanak to go with the Crushers - he gives them scout. Then maybe drop in two heralds at Mastery 2/3 - one with a grimoire for buffs from the backfield. That also provides more chances to grab forewarning or misfotune.

    2. > I think it is easy to start ramping up the overall costs of units with them.
      Yeap, this is the problem. but Herolds brings new powers and options for their points.

      Agree. Karanak - is very interesting option for Bloodcrushers.

      Interesting to read about play-tests.

      Why SG of Tzeench are using? Seems like Nurgl will looks better for fire platform.

    3. The Nurgle one cannot sweeping advance and I usually find my grinders in CC by the end of the game. Also, the Tzeentch variant has an actual benefit - unlike Khorne - without inflating the price the way the Slaanesh one does.

      In general I have not really had issues with Grinders being blown away in shooting - if I do have an opponent with a lot of it I generally deep strike them to keep them safe until I dispatch the offending units.

  3. I used to have a favourite Daemons list that I can't run anymore but I find it interesting whenever I figure out how to create my old units with the new book. One example is my Nurgle Prince which I used to give Breath of Chaos, Noxious Touch and Cloud of Flies. I can approximate Breath of Chaos if I buy Mastery Level 1 and give him the Primaris Nurgle power (although it's not as good against 2+ armour). I can also approximate Noxious Touch by buying a Greater Reward and choosing the Balesword. He will still wound on 2s against T4 and below, but the Poisoned (4+) ability will allow him to reroll it like he used to. Can't think of a replacement for Cloud of Flies though. As a Nurgle daemon he has defensive grenades by default but I think I might need a Skull Cannon if I want assault grenades.

    1. I ran a Skull Cannon in the tournament a few weeks ago, it did not disappoint. Being a chariot is actually very useful to give it a little close in offensive power and a BS 5 blast has a very high chance to hit and dig units out of cover - or set them up for an assault.

      I think grenades are the biggest aspect I miss from the previous codex - even softening a charge on some Daemonettes or Plaguebearers really helped to keep them around until another unit can bail them out.

      How have you found having Slow and Purposeful to effect the way the Nurgle prince plays?

    2. Interesting. I never noticed that S&P stops you from swooping forward in the Shooting phase since you can't technically "elect to run". I guess I've been cheating this entire time. I imagine I can still get in the enemy's face by Turn 3, but I might need to rely more on Greater Rewards or the Grimoire to keep him protected until then.

    3. I was also thinking that the inability to sweeping advance can hurt too - it means that most units can break from combat without being totally wiped by the prince - although if you get them near the board that can help.

  4. Hey Calypso,
    Thoroughly enjoying your blog, so thanks!

    As for the list:
    I'm aiming for a 1750 points list-advice as that's my niche...
    285 LoC, ML3, ER (Grimoire)
    250 Keeper of Secrets, ML3, GR, ER (Portalglyph)
    225 5 Bloodcrushers
    172 18 Daemonettes, Icon
    90 10 Plaguebearers
    170 Soul Grinder, MoT, Phlegm
    170 Soul Grinder, MoT, Phlegm
    150 Sorcerer, ML3, Spell Familiar, Bike, Meltabombs
    90 5 Chaos Space Marines, Plasmagun
    144 4 Chaos Spawn, MoN

    - I think a big squad of Daemonettes would help keep pressure on the opponent with fast movement, large bodycount, potential for great damage. The Icon is for when you’d want to help DS a Soulgrinder (or Skarbrand, see below).
    - A squad of Plaguebearers is quite good and cheap for holding home objectives.
    - Portalglyph is (IMHO) very important to spawn additional troops to guard and claim objectives because you can’t really afford to spend a lot of points on troops if you want forward momentum and fast threats to keep the opponent on the ropes.
    - The Chaos Sorcerer could do with mobility to make sure he can boost or curse units at the front, hence the Bike.
    - Adding the Sorcerer to an additional fast threat helps alleviate some of the pressure on the Bloodcrushers. This is where the 4 Spawn with MoN come in. There is nothing like the Spawn in the Daemon codex, while a unit like this would greatly help maintain forward pressure. If you can find the points, 5 MoN Spawn would be even better.
    - For 1850 I’d add 5 Havocs with 4 Autocannons
    - In the type of list your propose I’d consider Skarbrand over the KoS. This because in a list with Psychic defence (Eldar or Tyranid) the KoS’s buffs/powers can be shut down with it’s Ld 9. Skarbrand works regardless and greatly boosts the Crushers, Spawn, LoC and Daemonettes.

    Hope some of this is of help... Keep us posted.


    1. Thanks for the input Cilithan!

      On the same car ride - see above - I was wondering about the choice between running spawn as a fast assault unit or bringing in a unit of CSM bikers - armed with plasamguns (maybe meltaguns). The nice bonus is I have a Sorcerer modeled on a bike ready for some finishing touches too. I like the CC power of the spawn though to throw out a ton of attacks and they definitely have a chance to mow down large units that the crushers might struggle with.

      Do you think the Spawn and the Crushers are enough forward threats? Given a psychic boost, they can both become very durable - 4++ save on the Spawn would be awesome with their T6 already there.

      I did have my psychic powers shut down by some of ChrisP's shrikes for a turn, which was fairly miserable - especially since I was trying to overwatch said Shrikes.

      I have mixed feelings on the Portalglyph, I have heard some rave reviews on it, but am a bit hesitant to expose my scoring units to more randomness.

    2. I've been underwhelmed with the output of spawn in my games. They can hit hard on the charge, but if you start rolling 1's in subsequent assault phases, they'll have trouble chewing through a standard tactical squad. I wouldn't depend on them for kill power, but use them s a tactical tarpit.

      You can assault with spawn and crushers, putting the spawn on as many enemy bases as possible to increase crusher survival. They're great disruption units once they get into the enemy deployment zone and not bad at glancing rear av10 to death.

      Standing alone, they won't do much but they create a passive synergy by drawing lots of fire and increasing the survival of the rest of your army.

    3. As for Spawn vs. Bikes: the Bikes never did it for me. I've tried, but they don't fit my playstyle. I used them too agressively and they died too soon. The reason I say the Spawn have a roll in the type of list you're proposing, is that they are so much tougher than the Bikes and still very fast. I agree with everything Hyv3mynd says. The damageoutput of the Spawn varies too greatly to depend on it.

      I have had 6 Misfortuned Assaultterminators fold in one round, but I have also seen 5 TacMarines hold 4 Spawn for 3 turns and even kill some Spawn in the proces. What the Spawn do without fail however, is soak up a very large amount of firepower; draw attention to themselves as a very fast and treatening unit and disrupt the opponents backfield from turn 2/3 onwards if unchecked.

      Hyv3mynds last point says it all. Youre Crushers/Greater Daemons on their own are an easy target and the will fall to volume of high strength shooting. Having a squad of Spawn means you can be a bit more carefull with the Crushers and have the Spawn draw attention first while the Crushers do some terrainhugging. The Spawn are really cheap for what they offer. 180 points for 15 wounds on a fast, T6, Fearless, Move through cover model is hard to pass on IMO.

      As for the Portalglyph: like the Grimnoire it is hit or miss. However, the Portalglyph is an additional threat which your opponent will want to take care of, thus further alleviating the pressure of the forementioned units. Since I use CSM as my primairy I don't use the Grimnoire, but the Portalglyph hasn't failed me yet (mostly in that it spawns 1 squad and forces the opponent to deal with it).


    4. This is a great analysis of both units - thanks. I just recently picked up some bikes in a trade - so I am going to give them a shot first. Although cheap on the field spawn themselves are hideously expensive with respect to $$ (or time to make your own). I was braintorming methods to build some yesterday without going the full blown route hyve did - I also just do not have the bits for that, not to mention the skill yet.

      What I really want that fast attack option to do is be the durable 'anvil' that locks a gunline/guard blob in place so that the fast killy units can come in afterward - which seems like something spawn are ideal for accomplishing.

  5. Hey Calypso,

    Having a great time reading your blogs since I am a re-comer to 40k after playing Necrons when they were first released and deciding to come back in, I started playing Daemons so if I opt out I still have a fantasy army. On the other note though I decided to go a mono-god army.... Nurgle.

    1850 pts:
    GUO - Biomancy 3, E/G gifts
    Herald - G/L gifts, Gr. Loci
    Herald - G/L gifts, Gr. Loci
    Plagubearers - 20, Leader
    Plagubearers - 20, Leader
    Plague Drones - 6, leader, instrument, icon, banner, rot
    DP - Nurgle, Wings, G/G/L Gifts, Psyker 3
    DP - Nurgle, Wings, G/G/L Gifts, Psyker 3

    While I will admit S&P does make the wade into battle a slow process I partially get around that by having a GUO go centre stage and wading through as a distraction. As of yet he has only taken 3 wounds max in any game I've had. Then I have the DPs flanking on the sides, working on keeping the enemy herded in, hiding from cover to cover, making them usually a 3+ cover, 2+ within 8". I have the plague drones fly in and drop off the Plaguebearers as close as possible, relying on their cover saves and feel no pain (a herald in each) to keep them alive to assault, then send the PDs to tank hunt. Then it's just a matter of slowly caging them in as much as possible. I find being unable to make sweeping advances not a hassle at all, just helps me herd my cattle better XD