I am at a bit of a tough place as a 40k player at the moment. It is not that I do not want to play/paint, but somehow by the time all the responsibilities of the day have come and gone, I simply do not have the time or energy to jump into projects, blogging, or reading about 40k. I have read other posts from bloggers that express being burned out from the hobby - but that is definitely not the case - if anything I am more interested in getting games in than before. As added motivation for myself to push through I am planning on a two part challenge. First, I am challenging myself to complete one miniature a week - whether it is a Daemonette or a Keeper of Secrets - in an effort to jump start my painting. Second, in fulfillment of the first goal I am making Wednesday and Sunday nights dedicated painting nights. I plan to post the results of each weeks painting at the start of my Blog posts. The first model I am looking to complete is one of the Dark Vengeance CSM who has been half finished for a month now.
For the core of this post I am going to look at the Fast Attack choices available to Daemons. The Fast Attack slot might be the best in the codex and each god brings an interesting option - although they all fulfill roughly the same role - engage quickly with the enemy gunline to tie up shooting until something big comes in to finish the job.
A Khorne Herald is a natural fit to mitigate some of these problems when mounted on a Juggernaut with a Lesser Gift and Wrath/Fury locus to provide even more first turn punch. Another interesting option is to run the Hounds in front of Crushers - bearing an Icon - so that a Khorne Herald in a Chariot can drop down and provide them all with a Locus on the second turn when they charge. I like the Fury locus a bit more for hounds - since they really want to be shredding large platoons of infantry the turn they hit, which means volume of attacks. Also, given their low cost (4 points less than 2 bloodletters) they are likely to arrive in large groups.
I have seen some advocates for Karanak in the Flesh Hound pack as well - while his Collar is a nice benefit, along with his locus - I think he brings more to a Blood Crusher unit than to Flesh Hounds. A natural pairing for hounds is also Seekers - who can knock down armored targets like Walkers and are almost as fast as the Hound on Turn 1. Overall, I would run a large pack of Hounds - 12-16 hounds provides enough attacks to put down wounds and endure shooting without them getting in one anothers way.
I have mixed feelings on Plague Drones - I really like the models which is a huge plus and I want to make them work but they suffer the continued Nurgle curse of really not being able to kill anything. Their low WS is partially offset by their poison attacks and T5 can mitigate a lot of damage. However, there is no good way to get a Herald in with them to provide FNP or that extra Etherblade. I think these need to be in small units - since they are not going to be CC monsters and cannot sweeping advance - that rely on the Rot Probiscus upgrade coupled with an Etherblade to do most their damage. That makes an already expensive unit a bit more expensive, but they are also much much faster as Jetpack Cavalry than first inspection might suggest. Their real role is to dive into heavy weapons squads, tie up units from overwatch or hold down the fort for a turn before the real hard hitters can make it in the next turn. Unlike Flesh Hounds - do not expect much damage to come out of them the turn they charge or the turn after. The Etherblade is hopefully enough to protect them from Instability. At the least, Shrouding makes them difficult to shoot down on the way in and they are much more reasonably costed than Beast of Nurgle. They can also bring a Icon along with them to spot a Great Unclean One as it drops in close to enemy lines.
It is hard to look at screamers and not be disappointed - then again, their rules were out of control in the same way flamers were. Screamers really provide a great way to push into vehicles, do some extra damage from their Slashing attacks and stick around through shooting with just a few buffs that make them utterly obnoxious. At their base they are a T4 jetbike with WS/A 3 and S/T/I 4. On the charge they actually put out a respectable number of wounds per body - which is relatively cheap - but fail terribly when faced with 4+/3+/2+ armour. A few buffs - namely Invisibility, Grimoire/Forewarning, Grimoire/Warp Storm 10, Night Fight and they become very tricky to dislodge and likely to disrupt enemy movements for at least a turn. Screamers represent a very fast rerolling 1's body that might be the best tarpit in the game. Even a unit of Terminators does not want to mess around with a 1 in 36 chance to cause a wound when the S5 AP 2 return strike is slowly knocking down 40 point bodies.
I think the best use of Screamers is in exploiting these synergies - which means their power level and ability is going to vary widely based on what powers are rolled up each game (or turn). As such I like running a unit of 9 - which can funnel enemy units where they need to be and provide a block to movement. One advantage of the shift away from Mech is that blocking enemy movement is easier when they cannot just tank shock through. Their Slashing Attacks can provide some damage output - and can threaten small units of infiltrators that want to come closer. They also make their way to the backfield very rapidly where their Ap2 attacks can knock out small MEQ units or provide a tarpit if they happen to snag a 2++ rerollable save.
I wish it was economical to run a Herald with them, but I think the herald wants to stay at home with Horrors for shooting, throwing out buffs and not getting annihilated if the buffs happen to go south for a turn. At least then he/she can attempt to give super powers on the following turn.