Monday, May 20, 2013

Daemon Codex - Troops

Somehow I feel like reviewing the Daemon book is taking an awful long time, but that is probably a good thing.  The book is certainly complex, it has a lot of synergy, varied options and diverse selections.  That being said, those things do not really exist in the troops slot.

As a whole, Daemon troops have very few real customization options and each troop choice really has one unique upgrade in the form of a banner.  For starters - I do not think it is worth putting Icons on the troops choices for the sake of having an icon to Deep Strike.  Troops are never going to be far enough forward to merit the Icon over simply scattering as normal.  Second, for troop choices that might be left in reserve it is not bad to bring an Instrument to guarantee units arrive as groups - or at least push up the odds of this happening.  It is not worth taking an instrument to avoid/inflict Warp Storm results - that is just a bonus once the unit happens to be in play.  If a significant portion of the army does plan to arrive via Deep Strike reserves - just get a Comms relay and skip the Instruments altogether.

I am also only discussing those troops that can score - I will discuss Nurglings separately as they fulfill more of a disruption role.


Bloodletters are very similar to their previous incarnations - more so with their 6th edition incarnation wielding AP 3 weapons.  They have great offensive statistics with WS5, S4, I4, A1 and Furious Charge and will shred anything they end up in combat with.  In a common theme they lack grenades - but that is representative of all the assault units in the codex - which means they rely on T3 and 5++ to survive.  They are also the most expensive Daemon troop choice at 1 point more than the others.  For my armies Bloodletters fill the same role they used to - they are backfield objective holders that make anything wanting to claim that point keep their distance.  They are too slow to be frontline troops that advance across the battlefield.

They could be part of a massive assault force to Deep Strike 30-40 power weapons that have to be dealt with in 1 turn.  In this role they are interesting - especially with a Blood Throne that arrives  - maybe on the next turn with some reserve manipulation - to provide a Hatred or Rage locus.  They still die in droves but only a few need to be left to inflict significant damage.  In the large group configuration upgrading to add a character with a lesser gift is worth it - the standard Bloodletter can take down many IC in CC.  In any other configuration I would leave them cheap and naked.

As for their Banner - it allows them to charge 6" + d6 - which is nice to get them into combat but probably not worth 2 more bodies.  Since the aggressive units are Deep Striking in, they should be plenty close to unload on whatever unit is nearby.


The only troop with a shooting attack - the base statline for a Horror unit makes them similar to Guardsmen - but with a Tzeentch reroll on 1's.  For me this makes them excellent objective campers in the backfield - seeing a theme here for the troops - since they can go to ground in terrain for a 3+ or 2+ that makes them very difficult to shift.  With a 2+ it takes roughly 36 wounds to put down a single Horror.  With a 3+ it takes roughly 4.5 wounds to put down a horror.  This makes them ideal candidates to sit behind an Aegis - even better if they will be shooting at flyers since they take virtually no penalty for having gone to ground.

I think there are really 2 ways to run a Horror unit.  A large group of 18-20 (I take 18 for Slaanesh sacred number and Tzeentch sacred number multiples) with a Herald bearing a Locus of Conjuration.  Do not bother to roll a psychic power because they are taking Flickering Fire in this case to throw down 4d6 shots at BS 3 w/ S6 AP4, and then additional shots from the herald.  Cast Prescience on the unit for the best results.  Naturally an unlucky Deny the Witch or failed psychic check makes this configuration a bit risky.  The chance to get denied on a 6+ or fail the psychic check is around 23% (1/6 denied + 5/6*(3/36 failed psychic).  Even so, the large squad provides a home for a Herald, can almost be assured to survive shooting and great objective claiming.

The other configuration is to roll a 10 man squad (or 12 to get that Slaanesh number - I know, most people do not play their whole army as slaanesh inspired) and try to grab Bolt of Tzeentch.  If that fails, Flickering Fire remains good.  Bolt provides some interesting anti-vehicle firepower and negates the chance of a miss since it is a beam.  It still suffers that base 23% fail rate.  It is a great source of AP 2 shooting though and I like to think of its strength of 4 + d6 as really s4 +2d6 armor penetration, since I am generally going to line vehicles up with Bolt to attempt a multi-kill.

When it comes to icons Horrors can also grab a Blasting Standard - which is 2d6 S4 hits on a unit they hit that turn.  Once again, I really do not think it is worth grabbing - maybe for some extra shots in the larger configuration but it costs roughly the same as a Mastery Level on a Tzeentch psyker, and is a bit prohibitive. I would also never bother to upgrade the characters - unless it is to mitigate the Warp Storm.  It makes it so they character must be the source of their psychic shooting, rather than any model nominated from the unit.  Be sure to hide most of this unit out of line of sight where they simply cannot be wounded, but can dish out their maximum firepower.

Plague Bearers

Plague Bearers are interesting in that they have some tarpit abilities and can survive shooting but are painfully slow.  They really want to Deep Strike into terrain to take advantage of their Shrouding - even better for enemies within 8" since their defensive grenades provide Stealth too.  Unfortunately, enemies that close are going to assault and butcher Plagues who have a single attack at WS3, I2, poison 4+ (S4).  In almost any situations, I would prefer to have Horrors who have similar survival traits - albeit T3 instead of the Plagues T4.  Even with a Herald to grant Feel No Pain, it ends up as a unit that is tough enough not to get wrecked in CC completely - but will still lose combat and disappear with Daemonic Instability checks.  Further, plagues just do not bring anything other than resilience to the table - they cede the initiative to the enemy player.  As a Daemon player the units should all be aggressive and put pressure on an opponent.  Simply being difficult to kill is not pressure.

As for Banners, the plague banner is not bad - wounding on a 2+ would be great if the unit had more attacks or the chance to get off a charge.  Unfortunately, even if it does charge - an enemy is likely to escape due to I2 and the Plagues cannot sweeping advance anyway.


These ladies are the big winners with the new codex.  They provide almost all the functionality of a Bloodletter squad but can take down 2+ armor, threaten vehicles/walkers, bring speed with fleet and strike early and often in combat.  With WS5, S3, A2 rending a Daemonette unit can put down a significant number of wounds - with a lot of upside with deviations from the expected number of Rends.  For example, 30 hits means an expected 5 Rends.  In the worst case, (2.6% chance) there are no Rends - but there is a good chance to hit 8, 9 or 10 or more of them.  Daemonettes can win combats they have no business being in while poor performance at most costs them 4 or 5 wounds.  Couple their inherent properties with the synergy from a Slaanesh Herald that can provide Outflank on a Seeker Mount, or Move Through Cover/Reroll hits and choose challenges and the unit is an all star.  Their extra run distance also provide a significant advantage with a minimum movement distance of 10" when running.

The ideal configuration for Daemonettes is a large group - with 18-20 of them working towards the enemy knowing that T3 and 5++ cannot keep them alive for long.  I think an Aluress with an Etherblade is also a good investment to take challenges.  They can potentially run across the field, but I like to Outflank them with a unit of Seekers to throw down 35-40 Rending models on one flank - it is hard to avoid when the unit can traverse half the board over the course of two turns as well.

Daemonettes are also one case where an icon can be useful -d3 weapon skill means guard hit Daemonettes (if any are left) on 5's and marines do as well 2/3 of the time. Since it influences the whole combat, it can also protect Seekers/Fiends from CC as well.  Finally, with I5 - they have a great chance to catch and sweep most units - or at least stay safe in CC with Marines.

Troops Summary

I have really thrown my hat in with Slaanesh and Tzeentch when it comes to troops.  I think they offer the most balanced, flexible and deadly configurations with the ability to put significant pressure on the adversaries backfield or assault units.  With a herald Daemonettes really shine due to Beguilment and provide a nice flanking force that can also score as needed.  Unfortunately, for most the troop units there are not many options to configure them - these are based in the Heralds themselves rather than the troops slot.  The options they do have for the most part are not worth the cost - although all the abilities are situationally useful.


  1. Bloodletters have 1A, not 2.

    1. Thank you - good catch on the attacks, it is hard to disambiguate between the old/new units with the same name and almost the same profile!

  2. There is an upside to grabbing an Irridescent Horror; as a character he will benefit from Precision shots. Out of 2D6 shots this provides a chance to pick out special weapons from your target squad, or the chance to ID T3 models.

    1. That is a great point that I did not even consider - the ability to knock out specials or upgrade characters could be huge. Especially since the shots with a herald come in at S6 and can instant death a T3 character in hiding.

    2. Can you guys break this down for me? From what I've read, BoS says perils go to the character, but how does adding the character give precision shots? From how I understand it, the unit as a whole expends the warp charge, takes the test, and makes the attack. Where does it say that it's the character making the shots/prescions?