Guide to Chaos Daemons
The Hell-spawned Host
Daemonic Alignment: Your Independent Characters (Heralds) can only join units of Daemons that are the same alignment as themselves. Seems obvious.
Khorne: Furious Charge. Not exciting.
Tzeentch: You get to re-roll some of your saving throws which can help approximately a quarter of the time. These models are super important for generating Warp Charge.
Nurgle: Shrouded and Slow and Purposeful. The S&P is woefully annoying since your bigger Daemon Princes and Great Unclean Ones can't Sweep. The free Defensive Grenades aren't even a little bit bad.
Slaanesh: Fleet, Rending and extra Run movement. Beasts and Cavalry already have Fleet, so this is a kick in the teeth for all the better Slaanesh units. The extra Run movement is helpful when you're coming off a Deep Strike.
Daemonic Instability: Every single unit you own will automatically pass Pinning and Morale checks. But, an important thing to note is that they are not Fearless, so can Go To Ground should they want to which is very helpful since a lot of your units don't have Ranged weapons and they like Cover Saves. However, your Daemons may also never choose to fail, which means Our Weapons Are Useless checks don't get made which means Assault-orientated Walkers are going to make Daemons - at least the Infantry portions - very sad.
However, Daemons do need to make Leadership checks only when they lose an Assault (which means your Shooty units never have to do this...Hint, hint), if you fail this Leadership check, you just lose models. No save. At all. Generally, this means you never want to be losing Assaults, and the easiest way to do that is to never be in Assault (if you can help it). So, I hope you unit has ranged attacks.
1. Can be good. But it's rubbish on most of your HQs, since you need AP2 to actually be any good.
2. Hatred is pretty bad. Re-roll.
3. Relying on Fear is bad. Re-roll.
4. Re-rolling your Daemonic Instability is good. Especially Banished! results.
5. A random rolled Warlord Trait to re-roll random dice rolls (see below)
6. Pretty garbage unless you've planned for it (Summoning), which you haven't because getting this is random.
Warp Storm: 2 and 3 (3/36) are really bad, 4 (3/36) is pretty bad, but you can use Cursed Earth to balance it out.
5 and 9 (4/36, each) hurt Daemons of Nurgle and Slaanesh.
6 and 8 (5/36, each) hurt Daemons of Tzeentch and Khorne.
10+ (5/36) are generally really good.
Leaving you another five chances of nothing. However, note that #6 and #9 have the best effects, even if they do hurt your own units, and #9 is actually really good since Daemons of Khorne are typically the worst units so you don't have any, right? It's all random, so it's not worth going into, save for the following piece of advice; If you're running a mono-God army lists, you can effectively ignore the Warp Storm Table. However, because the WST can actually hurt your own units, the more Alignments you choose to run, the more dangerous the WST becomes for your own army, as each Alignment tries to snipe the other ones.
These are bad. Because you need to book-keep a whole bunch, and Daemonic Rewards are why Daemon players are a pain. Not because they're over-powered, but because of the massive amount of pre-game rolls that you need to make, takes a lot of time - people just get bored.
Lesser Rewards: #3 is really strong. Check your opponent's army list to see if you need Adamantium Will.
Greater Rewards: Pretty much all of them are good, the only one you shouldn't need is #6.
Exalted Rewards: You need one, maybe two in your army, somewhere. If you roll #2 first, keep it, then grab the Grimoire of True Names (see below) no matter what your second roll is. If you don't roll #2 first, take the Grimoire immediately. On your second Exalted roll, if you don't get Riftbringer, get the Portalglyph.
Magic Weapon; Etherblade is an AP2 weapon, absolutely nothing wrong with it. Axe of Khorne is amazingly strong, if you're Khorne, that is. Staff of Change is very bad, compared to the Etherblade, Plague Flail is pretty good, and the Witstealer Sword is great on Slaanesh units. Remember, with all of these weapons, a Monstrous Creature's Melee attacks are always AP2, meaning the Staff of Change, Plague Flail and Witstealer Sword are very powerful. But, on Heralds, regardless of Alignment, you can always take a Master-Crafted AP2 weapon, and that's not bad.
Greater Magic Weapon; Greater Etherblades are even better. A Khornate Blade of Blood is just bad, and also confusing in 7th Ed.'s nomenclature, the Axe (above), isn't Unwieldy, but the Blade, that you paid extra points for, is. It's just bad. Avoid. Tzeentch's Mutating Warp Blade looks cool, 'cause you get a Spawn out of it. Just remember that Tzeentchian Daemons and generally the worst Daemons in Assault, and you're probably not going to get any use out of it. Baleswords are stupidly strong (MC's attacks are AP2, always) and one of the reasons why Daemon Princes of Nurgle are so very strong. Daemons of Slaanesh, can instead, pick up a Ranged weapon (so, not AP2 on MCs) that doesn't really do anything, IMO, this is because Monstrous Creatures of Slaanesh are going to have Rending, AP2 attacks in Melee, and aren't going to need any more benefits than that.
Hellforged Artefacts; Of the four, only two are actually any good; The Grimoire of True Names gives you a bonus to your Invulnerable save, and not even specific to your Daemonic save, either. Standing on a Skyshield Landing Pad or using Forewarning (Divination) gives you a 4+ Invulnerable save, which is better than your Daemon save, there's also Fiery Form (Pyromancy), but Pyromancy is so situational that it's really jarring to roll on it, especially when models with the Daemon rule (everything in your book) can manifest Malefic Demonology with no additional problems. Barring exactly one other model in the whole game, Chaos Daemons are the only ones who can do this, and, as a result, you're silly if you don't use it. The reason it's being brought up now, is for Cursed Earth. Cursed Earth stacks with the Grimoire, giving you a Daemonic Invulnerable save of 2+. This is very strong, and the main reason why mono-Godding Khorne is the worst, because you don't have access to Cursed Earth. Now, Khorne-aligned armies can pay points for a Skyshield, but, Khorne Daemons definitely do not want to sit on a Skyshield all game, except for one unit, but we'll come back to that one much later.
Last piece of advice regarding the Grimoire; Don't put it on your Warlord. If your opponent manages to kill your Warlord (somehow), they've not only killed your Warlord, but they've also killed the model holding the Grimoire, and, while there's no official ruling, killing the model with the Grimoire is like your opponent getting another VP, it's that important to winning the game.
The second Hellforged Artefact worth your time is the Portalglyph, every second turn, this 'glyph is going to create for you a new Troops unit of your choice, you're paying 30 points at the beginning of the game (the cost of an Exalted Reward), to get more units. The only reason not to take a Portalglyph as your second Exalted Reward is if you're playing a Kill Point game, which you will know you're playing before you roll on the Exalted Reward table. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. You must build a Portalglyph Marker, but, since its the same size as a Blast Marker, you are actually fully allowed to model it flat (or, at least the same thickness as a Blast marker), if you can drop it behind a piece of terrain, your opponent can't really shoot it anyway because they wont be able to see it. Note that a Portalglyph has the Daemon rule and does get an Invulnerable save.
IMPORTANT: The new Troops units created by the 'Glyph are not part of any Detachment, and therefore do not have Objective Secured. They still Score though.
Eternal Blade is only to be used with Monstrous Creatures, and only when you're playing a Kill Point game where taking the Portalglyph means giving your opponent free KPs.
Chaos Psychic Focus: A rule from the BRB. But one that you really need to pay attention to. Daemons with Mastery Levels automatically know the Primaris Power of their God. Fine. It's important to point out that Chaos Psychic Focus does not replace normal Psychic Focus. If you make all your rolls on the same Table, you also learn the Primaris of that Table, too. This is particularly important when you're pointing out how terrible Chaos Space Marines are, because they must roll on their Gods' Table and will always lose out on getting a 'free' Primaris when Marked. Daemons do not have to roll on their Gods' Table.
e.g; A Herald of Tzeentch with Mastery Level 3, knows Flickering Fire of Tzeentch (Tzeentch's Primaris), then makes 3 rolls on Malefic, gaining the Primaris for free. For a total of 5 Powers on an ML3 Psyker.
Personal Note: Between Psychic Powers and Rewards, Daemons make a lot of pre-game rolls. For the sake of your sanity, I suggest investing in a single sheet or two of laminated paper. Cut up that piece of laminate until you have as many palm-sized cards as you have models that make pre-game rolls. If you want, you can put headings on the paper and print it; Warlord Trait, Psychic Powers, Rewards. Now, go out and buy a whiteboard/grease marker pen, and now you can write on your laminated cards, at the end of the game, wipe your laminated cards clean (whiteboard marker, remember), ready for the next game.
If you can afford the hobby, you can afford the <$5 it takes to do this. I'm putting this in for your benefit. It makes Daemons go so much smoother.
Skarbrand: First we have a Monstrous Creature that doesn't Fly or manifest Powers for over 200 Points. Red flags and klaxons. His Warlord Trait gives him Instant Death, which is very strong considering his weapons, and gives all units around him Rage and Hatred which is really, really strong. He has 7 attacks, 9 when Charging, Armourbane or Fleshbane, WS10 and I10. So friggin' strong. If you are going to mono-Khorne, you need him, because he really is that good. However, he doesn't have Grenades (this will come up a lot for the rest of the entire Guide), so if you want his I10 to actually mean something, you'll need to bring Skull Cannons (see Heavy Support). Also, it may have been a joke, but Skarbrand also sports BS10 (maybe it was meant to be BS0?), but, since you'll be running Skull Cannons, and Skarbrand himself, doesn't Fly, he's actually really awesome behind a Quad-Gun or Icarus Lascannon.
Kairos Fateweaver: Flies, and manifests Powers, and brings the Warlord Trait. If you plan to run two or more Alignments in your army, Fateweaver's guaranteed Warlord Trait is a must have. Fateweaver naturally has a 4+ Invulnerable save, meaning that there's no fiddling necessary if you want to use the Grimoire on him for a 2+ Invulnerable save - especially since he'll be your Warlord and you don't want him to die. Additionally, he gives you one re-roll per turn, and that's game turn, which means you can use it in your opponent's turn if you want to. Some handy uses for this re-roll include, but are not limited to; Making sure the Grimoire goes correctly, making sure that Fatey never gets Grounded and making sure you don't suffer Perils of the Warp.
In addition; Fateweaver knows 7 Psychic Powers. He's a Daemon of Tzeentch, so gets Flickering Fire as is his right. Then he rolls once on Pryo, Div, Bio and TP, and twice on Malefic for a total of six more Powers. Roll for your Malefic Powers first, if you get lucky and get some good ones, great. If it's a Kill Point game or Fatey rolls badly on Malefic, Fatey becomes a Witchfire machine, he's BS6, so he should rarely miss, and as an ML4 Psyker, only a handful of models in the game can successfully Deny the Witch vs. Fateweaver when he's really trying. Remember that when dealing with Space Marines, The Shield Eternal gives Adamantium Will, this may not show up on some people's army lists, as you'll be expected to know what the Shield Eternal does. Remember that Mephiston has Adamantium Will and a Psychic Hood, and will shut you down given a chance. Rune Priests have Adamantium Will as standard, etc.
"How many Psykers do you have in your army? Any of them ML4? How many of them have Psychic Hoods and/or Adamantium Will?"
This isn't WHFB. Your opponent can't keep secrets. If you ask your opponent a direct question, they have to tell you the answer.
This point is, if you use Fateweaver correctly, he's going to do work. It's not even that hard to keep him alive. Fly him off the board if you have to.
Fun: If Fatey is getting wrecked, and has Possession (Malefic), turn him into a Bloodthirster or Lord of Change to refit his statline and restore 'him' to full Wounds. Sure, you lose your Warlord VP, but you don't lose the model, in fact, the model is now better.
Ku'Gath Plaguefather: A decent boon to your Scoring units, he doesn't die, and lets you re-roll your Daemonic Instability tests. Unfortunately, compared to a regular Great Unclean One, he's pretty weak as he only generates a single Warp Charge (he'll still have 3 Powers though), and yeah. He does his thing. The main reason to take him is for his Necrotic Missiles, his Poisoned (4+) AP3 Large Blast shots. Unfortunately, his Missiles don't Ignore Cover, so their use is very limited. Cheaply bubble wrap him with Nurglings and he'll repair them all game.
Bloodthirster: Compared to Skarbrand, he has one less Initiative (neither of them have Grenades), but has Wings, which is way better. The Bloodthirster naturally carries an Axe of Khorne, which has a chance to Instant Death, so that's almost like Skarbrand's Warlord Trait. Being a straight Assault unit (not counting Lash of Khorne), the Bloodthirster actually benefits quite a lot from Lesser Rewards, especially #1, #2, and #3 giving you a Template weapon that can fire on Overwatch. The only problem with the Bloodthirster is that since its Ranged weapons are quite weak, it can really only Vector Strike, or, you can start the game Gliding, but, Gliding MCs don't tend to last very long.
Having the Axe of Khorne as standard doesn't stop you from also taking a Magic Weapon. Taking an Etherblade gives you a second Specialist Weapon, for the extra attack, and against 1-Wound models or Vehicles which don't suffer Instant Death anyway (rendering Decapitating Blow moot), swap to the Etherblade and Master-Craft your attacks...For 10 Points.
If you do have your Bloodthirster in Glide Mode, remember, like Skarbrand, he has BS10. Put him behind an Emplaced Weapon until your opponent foolishly moves his models close enough for you to Charge...Then, GOT'CHYA!
Lord of Change: Not quite as impressive as the Bloodthirster in combat, but he's still T6 with 5 Wounds, and the only place where a Tzeentchian Magic Weapons are ever going to be useful. As always, Lesser Rewards for Melee, Greater Rewards for survivability, and Exalted Rewards for Grimoire and 'Glyph. A fully upgraded Lord of Change costs the same as Fateweaver, and Fatey is really good, so why take a standard Lord of Change over Fateweaver? Well, if you're mono-Tzeentch, you don't need Fatey's re-roll on the WST, even if you do roll #6 on the WST, #6 also does AP3, Ignores Cover hits to your opponent, and your opponent may not have an Invulnerable save like all your Tzeentch Daemons do, who also re-roll their Invulnerables sometimes. Second, a Lord of Change can make three rolls on Malefic, giving you more Summoning Powers than Fatey can have, and, a Lord of Change just has a better statline and can be given real Melee weapons through Rewards. So, if you're mono-Tzeentch and need something to be in Assault, Fatey can't do that.
Great Unclean One: Huge. Easily costs more than Ku'Gath. A GUO has one less Wound and one less attack, but has more Mastery Levels, and through Greater Rewards can be even harder to kill than Ku'Gath. Only reason to take Ku'Gath is for his Missiles, which don't really work if you play with a lot of terrain (which you kind of should). Yeah. Not much to say here. A GUO doesn't die, and can Summon more models on top of himself through Malefic.
Malefic Daemonolgy is Daemons' greatest strength, if you aren't going to use it, you need a really good reason. Speaking of...
Keeper of Secrets: If you aren't going to Summon, what you do put on the board needs to not die - Greater Rewards and Grimoire. Unlike the Great Unclean One, which relies on a bunch of Wounds and high Toughness, a Keeper of Secrets has access to Telepathy. So, go all Predator on your opponent, turn Invisible and use your Run speed or Fleet Charges and just straight up attack. Models need 6s to Hit a Swooping Bloodthirster, they need 6s to Hit an Invisible KoS. The difference is that a KoS is already on the ground and can Charge as soon as something - anything - gets in range.
That said, a Keeper of Secrets can still Summon if they want to. But, in Kill Point games, a Lord of Change falls back on Divination or the extremely sub-par Change Discipline. If a KoS can't Summon (maybe Coteaz or Riptides are on the board), it falls back on Telepathy and Excess, both of which are pretty good. Also, a KoS has Preferred Enemy (Eldar) and that's always pretty cool.
Daemon Prince: A lot of people will argue that Daemon Princes are a better investment that a Keeper of Secrets, and they're not wrong. A Daemon Prince can take Wings and an Armour Save, and can still take everything a Keeper of Secrets can take - including Telepathy - and yet doesn't need to take the Mark of Slaanesh. A Daemon Prince with the Mark of Nurgle gains Shrouding for free, so doesn't need to waste Warp Dice on trying to cast it, but, Daemons of Nurgle can't Sweeping Advance. Basically, Daemon Princes are really, really good. But a Keeper of Secrets is cheap, that's the difference. If you've got the points, pay for a 'Prince. If you don't have the Points, Keepers aren't bad.
The only time a Lash of Despair is useful is on a Daemon Prince. A Daemon Prince has access to Biomancy (which a Keeper doesn't have), and so can potentially roll Iron Arm for a lot of S9 Skyfire attacks.
Each Daemons' Detachment in your army may include up to four Heralds. These 1-4 Heralds only take a single HQ slot. But, no, you can't spend two 'slots' for 8 Heralds. If you want to do that, you need to take multiple Detachments. Common practice is a Greater Daemon and 1-2 Heralds, where one of the Heralds has the Grimoire, because you don't put the Grimoire on your Warlord, remember? The Greater Daemon is there so you can have Daemon Princes in your Heavy slot, giving you even more Monstrous Creatures. However, if you're playing with multiple Detachments, you may not need those kinds of Role swaps.
Skulltaker: Skulltaker comes in at a cool 145 Points. He's got Adamantium Will, so if you're planning on making a Khornate Star, it's advised to put him in it. He's got four S5 attacks at Initiative 9 (no Grenades!), but, must Issue and Accept Challenges, and only comes with an AP3 weapon, and is going to get rolled by any Character who actually knows what they're doing. I've noted Skulltaker's points cost above as that because he must be mounted on a Juggernaut. He's got Eternal Warrior, and that's great. But the Juggernaut gives him T5 and a third Wound, Eternal Warrior is just better the more Wounds you have, and when his base Wounds is only two, he doesn't actually stick around that long at T4. Yeah. Bring the Juggernaut. Do some hobby, and convert Skulltaker on a Juggernaut. It looks cool, and in-game it's just better. Find a way to get good at converting.
Karanak: Pay 120 Points to give a unit Scout and Rage. But Karanak doesn't come with Melee weapons with an AP, so his main ability barely works. Pay points to give any unit of Khorne Scout, but don't expect Karanak himself to actually do anything.
Herald of Khorne: Minimal differences between a Herald and Skulltaker. You can give a Herald Adamantium Will if you want, you can give an entire unit of Khorne, Rage, and Hatred is just terrible for the most points. The biggest difference between a Herald and Skulltaker, is, obviously, access to AP2 weapons. You can even pick up two Magic Weapons for an extra attack (like the Bloodthirster, dual Specialist Weapons). Juggernauts are solid.
- Blood Throne of Khorne: Really strong. Would be broken if Skulltaker could ride one, but he can't. A Blood Throne makes you into a mini-Skarbrand, even maxed out on a Blood Throne (you don't need to be maxed out though), a Herald comes around to the same points as Skarbrand. But, obviously, Skarbrand is still better. But, if you can take two or three Khorne Heralds on Blood Thrones, then they'll be pretty good.
The Changeling: Pay 75 Points to screw with your opponent. Once. Once your opponent fully understands how The Changeling works, they're not going to fall for it a second time. See: Lictors & Mawlocs.
The Blue Scribes: Manifest a random Power once per turn. No Psychic Test, no Warp Charge. It's amazing when you manage to roll a decent, usable Power. Completely garbage when they roll a garbage Power. At 81 Points, you're better off with The Changeling, at least Changeling can take the Malefic Primaris. Being a Jetbike is nice, though.
Herald of Tzeentch: Yep. Always be Mastery Level 3. Even with no other upgrades, you're an ML3 Psyker for under a hundred points, that's better than Eldar! More Blue Horror tokens isn't necessary, Locus of Change isn't really worth the 20 Points, but, in a unit of Pink Horrors, Conjuration is necessary so that Flickering Fire isn't complete crap. Discs of Tzeentch are generally useful because they turn you into a Jetbike giving you T4, more importantly though, you're a Jetbike, and can go anywhere you want.
Burning Chariot? Nope.
Epidemius: Locus of Virulence is the least useful Locus. But, he is T5 with four Wounds, while a Herald of Khorne is also T5, with three Wounds, but way better. Best to leave Epidemius at home, he's over 100 Points and doesn't even have Mastery Levels.
Herald of Nurgle: Heralds of Nurgle are also T5, but, unlike Epidemius, Nurglite Heralds have the option of picking up FNP, for themselves and the unit they join, which is a huge multiplier for any Nurgle-aligned unit, particularly on your Troops units who plan to camp Objectives. Picking up a Greater Reward can increase the Herald's survivability, and Heralds of Nurgle often make good caddies for the Grimoire, since even without the Grimoire's bonus (e.g; put on another unit), a Herald of Nurgle still isn't very likely to die.
The Masque of Slaanesh: She's not great. She isn't an Independent Character, and only has T3, meaning she gets killed by S6 weapons, which can kill her very easily. She can re-roll her Invulnerable saves, which is pretty much the only survivability that she has. Since she can't join units, you don't need to cart her around in a bodyguard unit, so you pay 75 points for the following;
- -5 to a unit's Weapon Skill...So...Invisibility. Which you don't need to cast.
- Every model in the unit takes a S1, AP2, Ignores Cover hit. I hope you're good at rolling sixes.
- -5 to a units Ballistic Skill, and target unit can't Overwatch. So, Invisibility. Kind of.
These aren't even Powers you need to manifest, nor are they even Shooting attacks, they just happen. Unfortunately, these abilities only have a 12" range, so you're going to need a way to get close to your opponent's units without getting killed, which is really hard, since she can't join units and only has T3. You can Deep Strike her, maybe?
Herald of Slaanesh: As a base Herald, not quite as good as the Nurgle one. However, once you start upgrading a Herald of Slaanesh is when they really get head and shoulders above Khorne and Nurgle. She starts with Rending attacks, and that's kind of cool. But, when it comes to Star units, she's the only Herald with access to Telepathy, and that matters. Grace also gives her and her unit Move Through Cover, which is very handy for Daemon units that really like being in Assault, furthermore, with Daemons' ability to Deep Strike all the time, Move Through Cover is really good for just planting any Slaanesh-aligned unit anywhere you want since they wont be taking Dangerous Terrain checks. Swiftness doesn't even work, since you don't have Grenades, unless you play in a low-terrain density meta or your opponents make a habit out of not being in Terrain (yeah, right). Beguilement is amazing, as you choose who Accepts your Challenge, and that model can't refuse. Now, while you do have natural, Rending attacks, just pay 10 points to grab a Magic Weapon for the Etherblade's AP2, so you can really get into the Challenges. Steed of Slaanesh is decent, because it changes you to Cavalry, and that makes you Fleet Cavalry which is super fast. Remember that Cavalry treat all Terrain as Dangerous, so make sure you've got Move Through Cover. Chariots are...Lame. At least a Khorne Blood Throne gives you better range for your Locuses, and has better armour.
Bloodletters of Khorne: T3 with a 5+ save all the time, so, you're not quite as vulnerable as Guardsmen or Cultists who don't get a save vs. Flame weapons. But, you're still T3, and you still only have a 5+ save. If you can find a way to give them Grenades, they'll be alright in Assault vs. non-Vehicles. Make absolutely sure you take a Bloodreaper, and give it a Magic Weapon, that isn't the Unwieldy Khorne Blade for a Character with at-Initiative AP2 weapon. The Banner of Blood is basically mandatory, but, it is going to get picked out by any Precision Shots coming your Bloodletters' way. Also note the 'joke' that is their BS5, I don't GW realised that a lot of people would end up using Fortifications. That, or GW knows that a Khorne-aligned Daemon army is really bad at picking off Fliers, and gave them counter-measures in the form of models that work really well behind Emplaced Weapons.
Pink Horrors of Tzeentch: Warp Batteries. You never need more than 16 Horrors, for the ability to generate 3 Warp Charge. Pink Horrors will always have Flickering Fire, if you want them to do something meaningful, roll on the Tzeentch Powers, and make sure to bring a Herald with Conjuration. But, since you already have the Primaris, you lose the 'bonus' Power you get for generating all your Powers on the same table. If all you're interested in, is their ability to generate 3 Warp Charge for 144 Points in the Troops slot, then roll on Malefic, and pick up the free Primaris, so now your Horrors have Powers. Use your Horrors to Summon more Horrors, to Summon more Horrors, and your Warp Dice will increase every turn. At some point one of your Summoned Horror units will roll Sacrifice or Possession and that gets pretty funny. If you haven't been paying attention, Malefic is really strong.
Remember: Summoned units will not have Objective Secured.
Plaguebearers of Nurgle: Permanently Shrouded Troops unit. So, for 50 Points you can invest in an Aegis Line and have a 2+ Cover Save all game with an Objective Secured unit. However, if your opponent can somehow remove your Cover Save (there are lots of ways), you fall back on your 5+ Invulnerable save, and then you're really no better off than any other unit. You have T4, but you're still going to lose models. Bring a Herald with Fecundity.
Daemonettes of Slaanesh: As survivable as Bloodletters, but not quite as heavy on the offensive. They have a lot of Rending attacks, so you have a chance of actually being able to kill something with your S3, don't think their I5 is helpful either, because they don't have Grenades. Fleet is helpful to re-roll Charges, but if the Bloodletters can use their Banner of Blood, the Bloodletters'll be better, and with the way Magic Weapons work, the Bloodletters will always have AP2. But Daemonettes can get the same Magic Weapon, right? No. A Witstealer Sword isn't close to being as good as an Axe of Khorne, when a Witstealer Sword rolls a '6' To Wound, it Rends. When the Axe rolls a '6' To Wound, it's already AP2 anyway, but now causes Instant Death. Now, as an Infantry model, a Daemonette is better off with the Etherblade, obviously, but the Bloodletters still have the Axe that causes Instant Death.
Nurglings: Infiltrating Swarms. Worth having a cheap unit to Scout-block. Or if you're taking secondary or tertiary Detachments of Daemons, Nurglings are your cheapest Troops tax that you need to use to keep spamming Daemon Princes and/or Heralds. Any Template weapon is going to rock your world. Template weapons Ignore Cover, removing your Nurgle-given Shrouded, and Template weapons'll cause double wounds. Not a terrible unit, but not really anything to get excited over.
Bloodcrushers of Khorne:
T4 multi-wounds are pretty sad. Especially when they only have a 5+ save. At 45 Points per model, Bloodcrushers are a joke, especially when they take it from being Cavalry on Terrain. Bloodcrushers are for converting Khorne Heralds on Juggernauts, and, if you also play Chaos Space Marines, they also serve well as Khorne-Marked Spawn, since the 'official' model for Spawns really suck.
Flamers of Tzeentch:
T4 multi-wounds with a 5+ save are still sad. But Flamers are half the points of Bloodcrushers. If you're desperate for Ignores Cover attacks, Flamers of Tzeentch are where you get it. Just be aware that Flamers' close combat attacks also have the Warpflame special rule, and if your opponent gets to have two or more rounds of close combat with Flamers, you're basically giving his unit free FNP.
Beasts of Nurgle:
T5 and permanent Shrouding, and It Will Not Die solves a lot of problems. Unfortunately, at 52 points per model, you're paying a premium for the unit. But, if you Summon them through Malefic, there's really no problem, is there? Remember that Beasts have Fleet and not!Move Through Cover, so even though Beasts of Nurgle are Slow & Purposeful
, they're still one of the best Chargers in your book. How weird is that?
Fiends of Slaanesh:
Same problem as Bloodcrushers. Except Fiends don't have natural AP3 attacks, can't have a Champion with AP2 and can't take a Banner of Blood. They're cheaper though.
...So, that makes them just as bad as Bloodcrushers, right? ...Wrong. Beasts are naturally a better unit type than Cavalry, and can be joined by a Herald of Slaanesh packing Telepathy. The other thing that makes Fiends 'better' is Soporific Musk, which gives your opponent -5 to Initiative, which is like
having Grenades (but not really), as you'll actually get your attacks in, unless you're playing against Eldar or something else with ridiculously high Initiative.
Flesh Hounds of Khorne: Never use Bloodcrushers. Use these guys. They're Beasts, and as we've just learned; Cavalry suck. If you're going to use a Herald on Juggernaut, put him in one of these units. The Herald brings an AP2 weapon to the unit, and in return, the Flesh Hounds give their Herald Scout. Unfortunately, the Herald is still going to be Cavalry and take Dangerous Terrain checks all the time while his dogs are laughing at him.
Screamers of Tzeentch: Most important unit in the book. T4 multi-wounds aren't great as always, but, Screamers bring two very important things to your army; Lamprey's Bite is basically Melta Bombs when attacking a Vehicle, but, Screamers are also an entire unit of at-Initiative AP2 attacks. But, you don't have Grenades, and that causes problems. But, being Jetbikes, if your opponent is behind directional terrain (such as an Aegis Line), you can Jetbike over the unit (Jetbike is a verb, now), and Charge the unit from 'behind', so you wont be Charging through Terrain and you get your real Initiative. Of course, this doesn't happen all the time, but when the opportunity presents itself, you can do it. Second, Slashing Attacks are not 'Shooting attacks', so are not hampered in the slightest by Invisibility, and you hit the unit multiple times per model. Whereas a Swooping MC can only Vector Strike an Invisible unit once.
Plague Drones of Nurgle: Jet Pack Cavalry! Their Initiative leaves something to be desired. But they are Shrouded, and they do have Defensive Grenades. Always pick up the Death's Heads because you just like spiting Bloodcrushers and Fiends because who doesn't like having Shooting attacks (but just remember that they can't Overwatch due to S&P). Rot Proboscii aren't much of an upgrade over Plagueswords (again, Touch of Rust means they can also do proper damage vs. vehicles), but Venom Sting is usually an upgrade worth paying for. Try not to take too many Drones though, since that'll get really expensive. They're not great, simply because of their points cost...But, it's fun just to laugh at Bloodcrushers, right?
Chaos Furies: These guys are a steal at 6 points each. Mark them with whatever you want. Slaanesh (Steed), Khorne (Jugg.) and Tzeentch (Disc) all have their ways of putting a Herald into the mix too because that Leadership 2 is really, really bad. Give them Rending attacks, Hatred, or just to re-roll saves or Shrouded to make a better Screen. They aren't particularly game-breaking. But they are dirt-cheap and should at least be considered for a screen for your more valuable models.
Seekers of Slaanesh: Cavalry are bad. But at least you have access to a Herald that can grant Move Through Cover, so it's not all bad. At one-third the cost of Fiends, you can take loads of these models. As a Slaanesh-Aligned unit, every model in the unit has Rending, so that's good. Just make sure to bring a Herald with an AP2 Magic Weapon, you just can't rely on chance to win games for you - it doesn't happen. So, while they don't have Grenades or Soporific Musk, you can have a lot of them because they're cheap, and played right, you can even make them your Star unit and make them Invisible, with the Grimoire!
Hellflayers of Slaanesh: Super-fragile so is a candidate for 'must Deep Strike', unfortunately, a Chariot has a large footprint, so that's still probably a bad idea. If you can manage to get it into Assault, that's great. Maybe put a 'Nurgle Screen' in front of it for the first turn(s). If you can get it into combat, great. But you probably wont. AV11 with 2 HPs isn't tough to begin with (ask a Stormtalon), but with Open-Topped as well, it's pretty bad.
Soul Grinder: The mere mention of a Skyfire option on an AV13 vehicle pretty much ensures that you must buy at least one of them, right now. Daemon of Nurgle gives it Shrouding which is really good. But if your opponents like Ignores Cover a lot, you may be better off with Tzeentch, which allows you to re-roll some of your Invulnerable saves, or even Slaanesh is good, because Slaanesh gives you Fleet, which allows you to re-roll your Charges some, and in Assault is where your Soul Grinder wants to be - at least when it's not Skyfiring things. All of the Alignments are good, except Khorne, that's why its free. The only reason to Mark your 'Grinder with Khorne is to shave points, or, you're playing a mono-alignment (all-Khorne) and you don't want to tempt the WST into zapping your own units. Hitting #9 on the WST is especially dangerous to a Slaaneshi Soul Grinder. Tzeentch is fine, because a S4 zap wont do anything.
A Soul Grinder already has the weapons he needs. He'll be Skyfiring, or he'll be Assaulting. He doesn't need to do anything else. But, Baleful Torrent is AP4, Ignores Cover, and that's important to have, Warp Gaze is S10, AP1, and that's kind of important (or you can just Assault). You shouldn't need both, since that's ~50 Points on top of your Mark, taking your single model to 200 Points or more, but both are still good to have. If you've got two Soul Grinders, give one, one, and the other one, the other. Spread your points around, so when your opponent takes out one model, he doesn't cripple you. Same reason as not giving your Warlord the Grimoire.
Skullcannon: If you're running Khorne, it's good to have one or two of these around. They serve as light vehicle popping (which your MCs are too busy to deal with), or, they give your models Grenades, which is really important for getting your Bloodletter's AP3 attacks in. Alternatively, they also do well in a Slaanesh army for some reason, where Slaaneshi models really want to be using their high Initiative. Still, with Soul Grinders in the slot, with the option of competing with Daemon Princes, and even Burning Chariots, you may find that if you want to play Khorne (or Slaanesh), you'll be needing more than one Detachment to do any good. But, also remember that a lot of Khorne units have really good Ballistic Skill for some reason, so if you don't want a Soul Grinder, make sure to spend points grabbing a Fortification (Firestorm Redoubt spings to mind) with a Quad-Gun attached.
Burning Chariot: 100 Points for a model with AP3 Ignores Cover, and the ability to remove Vehicles from the board? Sounds good. But the Chariot is only AV10, and Open-Topped. It's got an Invulnerable save, but so do Dark Eldar Vehicles, and DEVs are still pretty easily Destroyed. You'll need two or three of them, then take Soul Grinders for Skyfire.
Seeker Cavalcade: AV11, 2 HPs, Open-Topped. Just bad. The only thing notable about these particular Chariots is that every single one of them can pick up a Magic Weapon, where the Rider has four attacks.
HQ. From his own Dataslate of the same name, Be'lakor is brutal. Coming in at 350 Points (that's more than Fateweaver!), he has a 4+ Invulnerable, and is always Shrouded for those amazing 2+ Jink saves which means he never has to Swoop and can always Charge because he's always Gliding. But what if your opponent Ignores Cover? Have no fear, Be'lakor automatically knows all Telepathy Powers and therefore always knows Invisibility and Dominate to screw with Overwatch. And that's fine. But now we'll talk about his sword, which is S7, which doesn't matter 'cause he has Armourbane and Fleshbane as well. His Warlord Trait is pretty bad, 'cause no-one cares about Fear, but that's cool. Use something else as your Warlord and get a roll for a chance to get something useful. Remember, just 'cause he's Invisible, doesn't mean he can't be Stomped.
Blood Slaughters of Khorne: Imperial Armour 13
. Heavy. Really good. So much better than Helbrutes at a competitive points cost. Unfortunately, takes the Heavy slot, and Daemons really, really like their Heavy slots.
Chaos Decimator: IA13
. Elites. AV13 in your Elites slot that keeps coming back is really, really good. Mark of Nurgle is really strong, because not only can you keep coming back, but you're also fixing Hull Points and Weapon Destroyed!s while you're at it. The only particularly noteworthy weapon is the Heavy Conversion Beamer, because it's S10, AP1 and that's really strong. But, chilling at ~250 Points is a big ask in the Daemons' book, especially considering that it doesn't even bring Mastery Levels to the table.
Blight Drones: IA13
. Fast. The 'Daemon Stormtalon' is 150 Points, with AV12 and 2HPs, however, they do come with Vomit and Phlegm, and an Invulnerable save thanks to the Daemon
rule, so are much better than Stormtalons vs. ground models. But, Templates and Blasts can't hit opposing Fliers, so you're pretty much at the mercy of opposing dogfighters.
Plague Hulk of Nurgle:
A Soul Grinder with the Mark of Nurgle, who trades the Skyfire weapon for a pair of AP3 weapons that don't even Ignore Cover. Cheap though, for what it does.
Mamon, Daemon Prince of Nurgle: IA13
. HQ. Doesn't fly, doesn't bring Mastery Levels. But he is T7, with 5 Wounds and FNP. A Great Unclean One is better simply because they unlock Daemon Princes in the Heavy slot, which Mamon doesn't. For over 200 Points? No thank you.
Daemon Lord - Scabiethrax the Bloated: IA13
. Lord of War. Scabiethrax is a Gargantuan with a 3+ Invulnerable save and FNP (4+), T9 and six Wounds. All Gargantuans are broken, and Scabiethrax is no exception. You can't even swarm him with Fearless models, because after he Stomps, at the end of this turn, everything near him takes a Wound with no saves allowed. You're just dead. Typical, horde, tarpit unts don't often sport a Toughness better than 3.
Army must be 3108+ Points to use. So, 3500?
Daemon Lord - An'ggrath the Unbound: IA13
. Lord of War. An'ggrath has 2+ Armour, a 3+ Invulnerable save, and all the goodies of a Flying
Gargantuan. An'ggrath also Denies the Witch on a 2+, which is super good and should be used always. An'ggrath has a lot of S10 attacks, and doesn't do a whole lot else. But what else do you want from a model of Khorne? Did I mention that he Flies? Very strong model. His only weakness is Grav weapons, and Grey Knight Gargantuan slayer squads. But GKGSs are made for killing Gargantuans, and are even better when the Gargantuan in question is a Daemon.
Army must be 3552+ Points to use.
Uraka 'the Warfied', Daemon Prince of Khorne: IA13
. HQ. Doesn't fly, doesn't bring Mastery Levels. He has S7, Fleshbane for some reason. But that's it. Pay the 25 Points you need to pay for Skarbrand, and be done with it. Skarbrand has Fleshbane, too. And Armourbane. Skarbrand causes Instant Death all the time, instead of just on '6's. Also, Skarbrand has more attacks, making Skarbrand more better.
Daemon Lord - Zaraknyel: IA13
. Lord of War. Zaraknyel is. The best. Primarily because in order to be 'fluffy', Forge World made her 666 Points. Yes. That's really all she costs. For a Gargantuan with a 3+ Invulnerable save. Use the Grimoire! Make it a 1+ save! Still, in addition to regular Gargantuan IWND, Zaraknyel has her own way of regaining Wounds, but not just re
-gaining Wounds, but gaining Wounds she doesn't have, to a maximum of 10! 10 Wound Gargantuan. It's real. For 666 Points. The only way to stop Zaraknyel is with Grey Knights and Psyk-Out Grenades.
Army must be 2664+ Points to use. Regular games of 40K typically cap at 3000 Points, making Zaraknyel the most useful Daemon Lord. Why is she so cheap!?
Spined Chaos Beast: IA13
. Elites. Toughness 6, four Wounds, IWND. Nothing special. Move along.
Giant Chaos Spawn: IA13
. Heavy. Ignore.
Daemon Lord - Aetaos'rau'keres:
Big daddy himself. This Flying Gargantuan Creature comes with a Riftbringer, Souleater and Wind of Chaos (that's three Exalted Rewards!). T8 with 9 Wounds means Souleater probably wont ever go to waste, and then has the standard Demon Lord 3+ Invulnerable save which is totally fair on a Gargantuan. He's Mastery Level 4, which would be cool, if have didn't have
to roll on the Change Powers twice, and he also isn't allowed to use Daemonology at all, and that's kind of bad. Still, he can roll on Telepathy, and Invisible Gargantuans is exactly what needs to be on the table. ARK also shoots 6-9 Haywire shots, which is super great for destroying opposing Super-Heavies, and with the Apocalyptic Barrage Poison attack, for every model he kills with it, he gets a Pink Horror. So, he's a Gargantuan who makes new units, kind of makes up for no Daemonology. Kind of.
However, if there's a Greater Daemon or Daemon Prince on the board, ARK is going to try and shoot it - even if its a friendly model
. ARK is the
Daemon Lord, and he's not going to screw around with anyone else. This kind of forces you into taking Heralds. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. ARK is 1000 Points, you just don't have the points to spend on 'Princes and Greater Daemons, so Heralds are fine. The other downside to ARK is that if he fails a Leadership test at the start of his Shooting phase, your opponent controls him for that phase, and that could be bad. But, for every model removed, you get a Horror back, so it's not all
ARK is a beast. Sure, your opponent can control him once every so often during the Shooting phase, and he gets mad when you try and play with 'Princes and Greater Daemons on the board which you can't afford anyway. But, there it is. The only reason ARK doesn't dominate is because Zaraknyel only costs 666 Points with no downsides.
...Army must be ~4000 Points to use.
Your only Battle Brothers are Chaos Space Marines, you don't even have any Allies of Convenience either. Besides, the less points you spend on Daemons, the less points you're spending on models which can Summon even more models.
So, what do Chaos Marines give you? Your ICs can't join their units and vice versa due to Daemonic Instability, so you only get Battle Brother'd Transports. Mainly the Chaos Land Raider, which lets your units roll up the board and not die. Particularly Bloodletters. Pink Horrors can cast Flickering Fire (a Witchfire) out the top hatch of a Rhino, however this means you have Horror units of no more than 10, without a Conjuration Herald's support, so its not great, but you can do it!
Cursed Earth also interacts with Daemon Princes (obviously), Possessed, Mutilators, Warp Talons, Heldrakes, Obliterators, Defilers, Forgefiends and Maulerfiends, which is especially important when dealing with Chaos Marine models with the Mark of Tzeentch who also get another +1 to their Invulnerable save. In the same way, the mentioned models can also benefit from the Grimoire of True Names, which is very handy for Maulerfiends, which are often high-value targets. Cursed Earth goes a long way to helping the Maulerfiend gets where he needs to be, the Grimoire helps, too, obviously, but I'm sure there are other things you might be able to use it on.
What to Summon using Malefic Daemonolgy (not exclusively for Daemons)
You just read that units aren't equal.
Summoning: Pink Horrors (Warp Dice), Plaguebearers (Scoring), Flesh Hounds and Seekers. If Cursed Earth is in play, try and Summon some Flamers into the circle for no-Scatter Template weapons. But if CE isn't up, ignore Flamers. Just summon a bubble wrap unit (Plaguebearers), or Pink Horrors to increase your Warp Dice and more Powers.
Sacrifice: Sacrifice gives you a Herald, generally, this should be the same type as the unit it came from, so that the Herald can join up with a unit ASAP and not get shot off the board. But the key is that in addition, you get 30 points of upgrades. Heralds of Khorne can grab an Axe of Khorne, but you're just really slow, and the thing that most makes a HoK useful is a Juggernaut, which you can't get. Heralds of Tzeentch can afford another Mastery Level, or Conjuration if you want to buff the unit of Horrors he just came out of, a HoT can even afford a Disc of Tzeentch if you need him to get out of dodge. Herald of Nurgle can grab Fecundity or a Mastery Level, and a Herald of Slaanesh can grab her Steed with points left over! For an Etherblade or Grace, your choice.
Incursion: Screamers. No contest.
Possession: The only good option is a Lord of Change. A LoC comes with stock Wings, and brings back your Mastery Levels so you can keep Summoning even after you explode into a great feathery bird. A Bloodthirster is okay, again, because of the Wings. But not as good as an LoC because you don't have MLs. The important part about this Power is that your Psyker is 'removed as a casualty', so you will give up a KP, and you will give your opponent whatever Warlord VPs you've got to hand him, if you use your Warlord to cast this Power...Which you shouldn't, unless your Warlord is about to die anyway (Herald of Tzeentch with one Wound left about to get Charged by a Space Marine Chapter Master).