4 Mar 2013

Chaos Daemons Tactica - Greater Daemons (HQ)

Hey all, I'm Learn2Eel and I am back to give you my insights on the terrifying Chaos Daemons. This time, I will be delving into the incredibly extensive HQ section, particularly the Greater Daemons; highlighting some powerful builds, the awesome potential, and the ever vigilant supporting cast. I hope you find this article both exciting and helpful in your struggles against the mortal realm! 


Our HQ slot is amongst the most crowded of any codex, and it is rife with quality - monstrous creatures that significantly outperform those of other codices, cheap Heralds that both provide a host of great benefits to friendly units and are quite powerful on their own, and some very quirky choices that can provide a lot of spark to any given game. Whilst most will favour a mixture of Heralds and a Greater Daemon of their choice to maximise on the offensive potential of their standard units whilst providing a powerful leader for the army, forces led by multiple Greater Daemons or Daemon Princes may be viable as well. Similarly, a flock of Heralds can keep your opponent guessing, and seek protection from the very models they enhance. Our HQ slot is home to some very powerful and accessible units, and many of them - particularly the Greater Daemons - can have ridiculous potential for carnage, and all at a very reasonable price. It is hard to go wrong with our HQ choices, as almost all of them work pretty well. Just be aware not to isolate them, as they work better in conjunction with other units - this is especially true of the Heralds, though even the monstrous creatures should be used with precision and care. As a note, any Greater Daemon unlocks Daemon Princes of the same patron god as Heavy Support choices - an important tool for those wishing to run a 'monstrous horde'. This is also true of Skarbrand, Fateweaver and Ku'gath - each unlocks Daemon Princes of Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle as heavy support choices, respectively. In this article, I will be covering Greater Daemons and their equivalent special characters solely.

A general note on our flying monstrous creatures (all three of them) - they are not too well equipped to deal with other flyers, though they should do just fine against other flying monstrous creatures. Fateweaver, for example, has a very low Strength and as such can only effectively vector strike against AV 10/10/10 vehicles. However, due to being a Mastery Level four psyker that always knows the Change discipline, he can expend three of his warp charge points and fire 4D6 shots through the Change Primaris power at Strength five AP four. This should cream a unit like a Harpy or even a Daemon Prince, and if used against the vulnerable rear armour of a vehicle, it can do a severe amount of damage. Coupled with Fateweaver's high Ballistic Skill and the potential for other buffs from his many known disciplines, and this has a very high chance of wrecking a Heldrake if you can get to its exposed rear armour. A Lord of Change can do something similar if upgraded to Mastery Level three and if it doesn't swap out all of its powers for rolls on Divination (which will be a common tactic) - if flyers are present, keeping the Change Primaris can be a very useful tactic. A Bloodthirster has a decent chance of wrecking lighter flyers, between a Strength six vector strike and a similarly powerful AP two weapon that hits on twos with re-rolls, but mostly if it can get to the rear of the fliers. In general though, our flying monstrous creatures should be handled with care against other flyers - particularly the AV 12/12/12 variants, such as the Storm Raven. 

Skarbrand - I am going to be brutally honest here; Skarbrand may have just stolen the title of 'challenge king' off of the Swarmlord, at least when one looks at his basic profile. For not much more than standard special characters of any other army, Skarbrand is a tough monstrous creature - rocking five wounds at Toughness six with a 3+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable save, he is almost - and in many cases, more - durable than the very tough Tyranid Trygon, which is no mean feat. With a ridiculous Weapon Skill and Initiative of ten, most enemies will both hit Skarbrand on fives and strike well after him. But that isn't why he is so brutal. Firstly, he carries two axes which grant him a bonus attack, and each one has a unique profile - one has Fleshbane, and the other has Armourbane. Ergo, he will wound anything in the game on a +2 whilst ignoring its armour due to having the Smash special rule, whilst he can assault any vehicle and, with Strength seven on the charge due to Furious Charge in addition to Armourbane, reliably destroy it with little difficulty. Against Land Raiders, using the Smash rule allows him to strike five times, and even if it moved, he is virtually guaranteed to at least wreck it with an average of four Strength ten hits that roll 2D6 for amour penetration that can be re-rolled. But that isn't even the best part - per his Warlord trait, all of his already insane melee attacks inflict Instant Death. As if that wasn't enough, due to generating both Hatred and Rage to all friendly and enemy units within twelve inches - including himself - he has nine attacks on the charge at Weapon Skill ten, Initiative ten that re-roll to hit, wound everything on a +2, ignore armour saves and inflict instant death. You remember Mephiston, who is still one of the more brutal close combat characters in the game? Provided Skarbrand doesn't charge through cover, Skarbrand will rip Mephiston's head off with impunity before Mephiston can even blink - even if Mephiston charged! I have done the numbers - there is almost no unit in the game that can stand up to Skarbrand that isn't akin to a ten-strong thunder hammer and storm shield Terminator squad, a unit which, coincidentally, is almost twice as expensive as Skarbrand.

The only character that can stand toe to toe with Skarbrand and reliably survive is Draigo, but with the right castings from other characters or a bit of luck, even this would be a non-issue. Draigo can't annihilate entire Paladin squads by himself in one round of combat without reprieve though. If the Swarmlord doesn't have Iron Arm, even that too is an arbitrary engagement - I don't think I have ever seen a character that has such a jaw-dropping melee profile as Skarbrand at first glance. He can wipe out entire squads of Tactical Marines in two turns, guaranteed. He can butcher three Trygons in the same combat without a moment's hesitation. Marneus Calgar or even Asdrubael Vect himself will statistically die before striking a single blow. But you know what the absolute best part about Skarbrand is, the fact that makes him look so valuable against all these special characters? He is cheaper than all of them, and often by quite a margin too. For someone that can rip apart five Paladins in one turn without breaking a sweat and is still pretty tough for a monstrous creature to boot, he is insanely cheap and one with very few disadvantages when considering that. So what are his actual downsides? Well, he isn't a flying monstrous creature, unlike regular Bloodthirsters - this means that despite his insane melee capabilities, he isn't the quickest to actually get into the thick of it. He also lacks for shooting, though he has a funny and fluffy high strength template weapon that has no AP value - good for softening units up with a lot of forced armour saves. As well, one could argue that his ability that grants all nearby units Hatred and Rage can be a thorn in the side of Daemons players, though typically I think these benefits will usually help the Daemon units more - they are, after all, at home in combat, and maximising those strengths will usually outweigh giving assistance to enemy units. Even then, you should be the one charging anyway - many enemy units won't willingly assault sizeable Daemon units unless they truly have the right tools for the job.

This is why Skarbrand has no friends.
Of course, being so ungodly in combat means that smart enemies will either tag him along or attempt to shoot him to death - though he is hardy compared to most other monstrous creatures, sporting a good armour save, an invulnerable save and five wounds, he can and will still die to massed heavy or poisoned firepower. In that sense, you need to find way to both maximise his time in combat and reduce the amount of shooting directed at him. There are multiple ways to do this; the first is to deploy him smartly and hop from line of sight blocking terrain as quickly as possible, or run him up with a lot of other "shoot me!" units too - such as Bloodthirsters, Bloodcrushers, Bloodletters and the like (I like blood). Another, and one that will probably prove more popular, is to employ fast-moving flanking units, such as Seekers of Slaanesh (heresy!) with standard icons, and have Skarbrand deep strike off of those units. Given that Seekers reliably move about twenty inches each turn, and you still only scatter D6 inches, this is a very viable strategy - it would work with Bloodcrushers and Plague Drones as well, though Seekers are the most effective of those units in my opinion. The best part about this is that it does not compromise the army list to try and make Skarbrand work - those Seeker units are amazing anyway, and work well with other deep-striking forward elements, such as Bloodletters or Daemonettes. Overall, you should always consider Skarbrand - he is so cheap that to use him will not significantly impact on your army list, and his combat effectiveness is pretty much unparalleled. He works well with other highly competitive units, and he is an absolutely gargantuan terror weapon against your opponent - target saturation is key, and Skarbrand provides it in spades. Not to mention the blood, carnage and slaughter. Skarbrand is an excellent unit that, whilst limited by not being particularly quick, has a range of options available to use him effectively - in any case, his cost is so low that you simply cannot be disappointed. Blood for the Blood God!

Fateweaver - Trolololo.....Oh sorry, I got carried away for a bit there. My other half does that sometimes. Anyway, Fateweaver is the most expensive special character in the codex by quite a margin, and the reasons behind his extreme cost are not immediately obvious. Unlike every other Greater Daemon, he has a Strength and Toughness of five - meaning he is vulnerable to instant death from Strength ten weapons. He has a horrific Weapon Skill and Attacks of one, and an Initiative of two, meaning he absolutely needs to be kept out of combat at all costs save to tarpit and save himself from shooting against weak enemy units. So what exactly makes Fateweaver tick? This isn't exactly the easiest question to answer, as it involves a wide range of topics. Firstly, he is the only unit in the codex to have a +4 invulnerable save - the best in the book - that, paired with re-rolls of ones and five wounds, makes him decently durable. When considering that he is a flying monstrous creature, this gives him a degree of survivability and mobility that make up for his relative frailty in regards to instant death. In addition, he uniquely counts as two mastery level four pyskers - though he can only ever use and count the benefits of one at any given time. Each head knows all of the powers from the mediocre Change discipline, as well as one power from two other disciplines unique to each head; one draws from Pyromancy and Divination, whilst the other can use Telepathy and Biomancy. This gives Fateweaver a lot of versatility - though the Tzeentch discipline is mediocre, Fateweaver can reliably put out enough shooting to wipe out small units in any given phase, denying them the potential benefits of Warpflame, whilst buffing himself with the always useful powers from Divination and Biomancy. Potentially, he could get a Divination power that allows him to re-roll failed to hit, to wound and saving throw rolls, and on another turn where it is more appropriate he can switch to Iron Arm or Endurance from the other head. With Psychic Shriek readily available from Telepathy, and his incredible speed, Fateweaver can dish out a lot of damage exceedingly quickly, and take it pretty well too whilst strengthening friendly units and weakening enemies.

However, Fateweaver has two other unique abilities that serve to justify his exorbitant price. The one you should immediately notice is that his Warlord Trait allows you to re-roll results on the Warp Storm Table. Obviously, this is a fantastic set Warlord Trait to have - it can turn army-wide daemonic instability tests into a free unit of ten or more Bloodletters, or any other permutation. It is essentially a means to mitigate the potential effects of the more disadvantageous results on the chart, and dually increase the pressure you can put on your opponent. In this sense, many players may take Fateweaver simply because of that ability - the Warp Storm Table can make or break a game at any given time, and having a character that is guaranteed to reduce the potential negative effects is a must. But I feel Fateweaver's most important ability is actually the most innocuous of all; every player turn, so long as Fateweaver is alive, you may re-roll any single D6 - it can be one D6 from a 2D6 Leadership test, or one D6 amongst twenty from a shooting attack. To truly understand just how significant this is, you should imagine as many games as you've played or can play where a single D6 roll being changed could have made all the difference. That one game where you needed to hit with a meltagun on a three and up, and would have guaranteed First Blood instead of conceding it and losing for such a reason? Re-roll that. What about that four and up invulnerable save you needed to pass to keep your Warlord alive and win the day? Re-roll that. What about the roll to see if Night Fighting was in effect for the first turn, that you needed to get up close without suffering terrible casualties? Re-roll that. That lightning strike on your unit that wiped them out, all from that devilish Imotekh? Re-roll it so it doesn't hit you.

Now, let's think about this codex specifically. You roll an eleven on the Warp Storm Table after having re-rolled a bad result due to Fateweaver's Warlord trait. Your opponent's Flying Hive Tyrant is randomly selected. They roll the 3D6, and end up with a one, a four and a five - a pass. Re-roll that one, and watch as your opponents Warlord explodes, replaced by a Herald of your choice. Fateweaver has to take his third grounding test in this turn - and definitely the last - that he will statistically fail; surprise, he falls to the ground. Re-roll that and keep flying, raining death and terror down on your foes and ruining their strategy to charge him with a squad of Terminators that are now left in the open. Your Herald of Tzeentch with the Exalted Gift that fires a Strength eight AP one lance hits, penetrates, but rolls a two on the damage chart against a Land Raider. Re-roll that and turn it one destroyed Land Raider. You have to take a Daemonic Instability test on your horde of Daemonettes, and you roll a six and a three. Re-roll the six and keep your models alive. Your opponent's Company Master with the Monster Slayer of Caliban rolls a five and could very well instant kill your Lord of Change that assaulted through cover. Re-roll that and make sure his blade fizzles out, leaving the Lord of Change to easily sweep him aside. Your opponent's expensive Chosen unit lost a combat against the Daemonettes, but rolled a three and a one to stay. Re-roll that one and watch the look of horror on your opponents face as they are swept by the lesser daemons. That single Warrior that passed a lucky cover save so that the rest of its unit can try to get back up? Re-roll that and watch as it dies, wiping the grin off your opponents face. A Broodlord rolled a six to wound in combat against your Daemon Prince. Make sure it is anything but. That lucky cover save your opponent's Obliterator passed to not be instant-killed and concede First Blood? Watch as it dies a most painful death. That Khorne Chaos Lord that crashed into your Bloodletters and rolled a six for their daemon weapon? See how much they are laughing with far fewer attacks. The possibilities, and potentially game-changing effects, are endless. Remember again, that this is in every player turn.

Though Fateweaver is very expensive and somewhat fragile, he does have a wide range of abilities that I feel justify his incredible cost. As a flying monstrous creature with a significant amount of wounds and a very good invulnerable save, he should prove very hard to shift against most enemies and, if used carefully, can turn a game on its head in every turn that he is on the board. With his ability to re-roll results on the Warp Storm Table, as well as any single D6 per player turn, he can make the most out of very little and turn Fate against your enemy. In addition, he is an immensely powerful psyker that can both dish out the pain with readily available witchfire powers and potentially make himself unreasonably hard to kill. His versatility and usefulness are unmatched, and as long as you protect him adequately, he will be a superstar. A great choice that needs to be kept away from combat, though his cost is probably too exorbitant for smaller games.

Ku'gath -Compared to the other two special characters, Ku'gath is somewhat more 'relaxed' in terms of his abilities - though he has some very distinct options, he doesn't scream "insane!" like Skarbrand or Fateweaver do. However, this is all to Ku'gaths benefit - like a regular Great Unclean One, he has a good Weapon Skill, an extraordinarily high Toughness, and a middling Initiative. By comparison, Ku'gath has some interesting benefits - notably, he has a whopping seven wounds that, when combined with his incredible Toughness, make him almost impossible to kill conventionally, even if he only has a 'weak' 5+ invulnerable save. He also has an extra attack, making him that much better in combat - an area where a Great Unclean One excels due to their natural durability. However, Ku'gath has three abilities that make him truly distinct from a regular Greater Daemon of Nurgle - firstly, he restores a single lost wound to a friendly, nearby Nurglings swarm at the start of each turn. Given that they are cheap four wound units intended for tar-pit purposes, this is a very handy tool. In addition, Ku'gath has a special ranged attack that he can lob up to twenty four inches away, manifesting as a Poisoned (+4) AP three large blast. Very nice! When combined with one of the two powerful Warp Charge one powers from the Plague discipline, Ku'gath can dish out a lot of damage from a decent range - taking either an extra Poisoned AP two large blast, or a poisoned AP three template weapon. As a Mastery Level one psyker, he gets that little bit of extra love from the excellent Plague discipline - the only downside here is that he cannot go for Biomancy, which is a shame as having a potentially Toughness ten Great Unclean One with seven wounds would just be gravy. Unlike a regular Great Unclean One, Ku'gath also has the Slime Trail special rule - meaning enemies that assault Ku'gath count as having made a disordered charge, which can be very useful in keeping him alive that little bit longer.
He loves you. Do you love him?

Shrouded and Slow and Purposeful also give Ku'gath some interesting additions - though the latter does prevent him from getting into combat quickly, the former combined with any kind of cover save makes for an impossibly hard to kill monster. When one considers that monstrous creatures can get cover saves from area terrain much like Infantry, as well as obscuration, this means that Ku'gath will usually have a very high save - he is slow anyway, so what is an inch or two here and there going to change, aside from making him even more durable? Perhaps most significant of all though is Ku'gath's Warlord trait - this allows any friendly Chaos Daemons within twelve inches to re-roll Daemonic Instability tests, and given that the special rule in question can prove fatal for any given unit, this is quite a useful ability. When one considers that a bad roll on the Warp Storm chart can force army-wide Daemonic Instability tests, or make a single character - such as Ku'gath himself - have to take such a test on 3D6, the guarantee of having his Warlord trait is almost a safeguard against yet more of the random effects latent through the codex; much like Fateweaver can attempt to stop potentially damaging results on the Warp Storm Table. As such, Ku'gath is a very useful commander, and one that does have a nice ranged attack to compensate for his plodding movement speed. A great choice.

Bloodthirster - Rocking an insane profile that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, the Bloodthirster is aptly named - in close quarters combat, there are few equals in terms of raw destructive power, particularly against other characters. Between Weapon Skill ten, Initiative nine and six attacks base, a Bloodthirster can put out a lot of hurt and will almost always strike first to boot - with Smash, it can reliably inflict Instant Death upon enemies before they can even hope to strike back. Ignoring all armour with an axe that also inflicts instant death on any to wound roll of a six, given the huge number of high strength attacks a Bloodthirster puts out, is pretty ludicrous - being a Daemon of Khorne, it strikes at strength seven if it launches an assault, meaning it can and probably will kill other high toughness monsters with relative ease. And even if you do come up against tougher opponents or hardy vehicles, again, the Smash rules can save you - with the high number of attacks a Bloodthirster has, using Smash should allow you to reliably destroy almost any vehicle. On top of exponential melee capabilities, a Bloodthirster also has a minor ranged weapon - a Strength six AP two attack at twelve inches. Though this may seem minor, when combined with the Bloodthirsters' Ballistic Skill of ten, this allows the Greater Daemon to reliably kill an enemy model or two before charging in - against Terminators of any kind, this can be invaluable, and can also help to reduce the number of turns needed to butcher another squad. Of course, the best attribute of a Bloodthirster happens to be why his combat abilities shine - being a flying monstrous creature, the Bloodthirster is relentlessly quick, and very hard to bring down. Due to its unit type, it is also quite capable of picking its engagements - unless you don't react quickly, you should well be able to avoid any potentially deadly enemy unit your opponent sends after it. This truly is what makes a Bloodthirster tick - it is near impossible to get away from, it can choose what enemies to face, and it is tough as hell to boot. Obviously, certain enemies will give it pause - tarpit units, thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators, massed force weapon wielders and the like should all be avoided if at all possible, though being a flying monstrous creature, this isn't too difficult, excluding extraneous circumstances.

Unlike other Greater Daemons, a Bloodthirster has a very handy +3 armour save, meaning that it can't be brought down through sheer weight of small arms fire as feasibly as with the other Greater Daemons - such as from Dark Angels employing the Standard of Devastation. Added to five wounds and a +5 invulnerable save, the Bloodthirster is seriously hard to kill, though it pays for both raw killing power, durability and mobility by being the most expensive Greater Daemon before upgrades by a decent margin. As well, it is also the only Greater Daemon with no access to psychic powers - but as a Khorne player, why should you care? Blood! Even before upgrades, a Bloodthirster can be a terrifying threat for almost any opponent to face - much like a Nemesis Dreadknight, an opponents' entire strategy may come down to "kill it, kill it before it gets close!" whilst being an exceptionally quick and hardy unit. Still, if you are using one as your commander of choice, upgrading it with two greater gifts is a very good idea - these will either give the Bloodthirster some significant offensive boosts, or make him even more powerful. And, if you roll a six, you can always swap out the one redundant result and take either a Blade of Blood for D3 bonus attacks whenever outnumbered in combat, or a Greater Aetherblade for +1 Strength and a bonus attack due to having two specialist weapons! Either way, the Bloodthirster will be much better off for it - though mostly you should hope to get benefits such as Feel No Pain (4+) or the extra wound and It Will Not Die. Overall, there's not much that can be said against Bloodthirsters, as they are insanely powerful melee units that have both the speed and durability to get there very reliably. There really isn't much more you could ask for, aside from the fact that you can take a pair of them and not neuter your army - even in a 1500 point game! Bloodthirsters are fantastic units that, unless taken against enemies with heavy anti-aircraft firepower, should shine consistently.

Lord of Change - The second most expensive Greater Daemon, the Lord of Change is a very interesting option - notably because it has access not only to the fantastic Greater Gifts table, but also because it is a psyker with access to the incredible Divination discipline. Though its native Change discipline is admittedly mediocre, there are no restrictions against taking as many Divination powers as you can - ergo, a standard Lord of Change can have two rolls on that chart, reaping the awesome rewards within. Powers that can grant friendly units +4 invulnerable saves, or give the Lord of Change re-rolls to hit, to wound and on saving throws, serve to make it so much more powerful and useful in any kind of Chaos Daemons army. Based on this alone, they would probably be well worth taking - fortunately, they have a lot more to offer. Like the Bloodthirster, they are a Toughness six flying monstrous creature with five wounds and a +5 invulnerable save - this makes them both incredibly mobile, and able to cast their powers where and as they sit fit, but also makes them frighteningly hard to kill through conventional means. A Lord of Change is also a stock standard mastery level two psyker, meaning that, combined with Divination, it has a pretty serious edge over its competitors in terms of psychic ability. Added to this, Lords of Change are no slouches in combat either - with a Weapon Skill and Initiative of six, they will usually strike before and kill most enemy commanders of an equivalent point cost, especially owing to the Smash rules that allow it to strike at double strength and thus reliably inflict instant death on many enemies, or destroy almost any vehicle with relative ease. Due to having an uneven number of attacks - one less than a Bloodthirster - a Lord of Change also has the benefit of having as many Smash attacks as something like a Bloodthirster would, though the Weapon Skill and Initiative differences obviously make up for this.

Birds with bling are nasty.
Despite how good they are, especially when considering they are quite cheap for what they do compared to almost any other flying monstrous creature in the game, Lords of Change are not without weakness - they lack an armour save, like the Bloodthirster, and are thus more reliant on staying in the air to mitigate the damage massed small arms fire can cause. In addition, many anti-air weapons usually will wound it and hit it quite easily - and with only a thirty-three percent chance to save any wound, the odds are not in its favour. Its lower Initiative and Weapon Skill than a Bloodthirster also make it more vulnerable to force weapons, such as those wielded by Grey Knights and characters like Mephiston. However, like any Greater Daemon - or any unit for that matter, care must be taken - owing to being a flying monstrous creature, a Lord of Change can and should pick its engagements wisely, and provided enough ground targets are available to keep the enemy guessing, it shouldn't be too worried about being grounded and subsequently assaulted either. As well, a Lord of Change benefits immensely from upgrades - though these don't add up too much considering the base cost of the unit, it is nonetheless a consideration of price when writing an army list. Fortunately, Daemons tend not to be too points-intensive; in this sense, I would always shell out the pennies to grant the Lord of Change both psychic mastery level three, and two greater gifts as well as a lesser gift. The greater gifts are there principally to boost the durability of a Lord of Change which, in conjunction with a few decent rolls on Divination, should reliably make the big bird a far more difficult target to kill. You can semi-reliably expect something along the lines of a 4+ invulnerable save toting Lord of Change that can re-roll its failed invulnerable saves, and that isn't anywhere near the best potential combination you can get. The lesser gift is taken for one reason; the Tzeentch weapon on the '0' result, as it is hilariously powerful when combined with a Lord of Change. It adds +2 to your Strength, makes your melee attacks Concussive, and causes enemy characters and monstrous creatures slain by it to explode - doing some decent damage all around, though the Lord of Change should be fine. In fact, a charging Lord of Change with the help of some Divination powers should reliably kill even a Trygon in one round of combat when armed with this staff - that kind of close combat ability, without using instant death, is insane, and can be had for less than 250 carrots. Generally speaking, the Lord of Change is another fantastic unit that whilst powerful base, it becomes so much more so with some handy - but expensive - upgrades. An ideal configuration runs your commander a shade over three hundred tacos; however, that commander will more than likely be a death-dealing avian nightmare for any opponent that isn't wearing a hat. Handle with care!

Great Unclean One - Do you want to watch entire armies unload into a big sac of pus and only get a loving smile in return, following by hearty laughter? Possible exaggeration aside, a Great Unclean One is an immensely tough monstrous creature - with a staggering Toughness of seven and six wounds, a large number of massed weapons in the game simply can't hurt the beast, whilst staples such as plasma and autocannons won't so easily damage it. As a Daemon of Nurgle, it has the Shrouded and Slow and Purposeful special rules - seeing that it can't run and thus won't get anywhere in a hurry, you can move through cover and enjoy either +2 or +3 cover saves; given that it is already unreasonably tough, and has a handy +5 invulnerable save, the Great Unclean One is ridiculously difficult to kill. They aren't slouches in combat either, owing not just to their immense durability, but their good Weapon Skill, ok Initiative and large number of Poisoned (+4) attacks - meaning they should reliably inflict lots of wounds against other monstrous creatures, and maximise their damage potential against weaker enemies. In effect, they are powerful, tough albeit slow monstrous creatures that should do fine even without any upgrades owing to their incredible resilience. However, they also have access to two gems in terms of psychic disciplines - the excellent Plague and Biomancy trees can provide either some very nasty short-range firepower, or improve the Great Unclean One's effectiveness even more. The Plague discipline is mostly comprised of very powerful witchfire powers - lobbing Poisoned (+4) AP two large blasts or similarly contagious AP three templates with relative impunity can make the Great Unclean One a devastating foe at short range. Most handy though may be the blessing that reduces the Weapon Skill and Initiative of all enemy units in combat with the Great Unclean One by D3 - against most enemies, including typical HQs, this should mean that the bloated mess will be hitting on threes and actually going first, or at the same time, for a change.

Still, what may prove to be most popular is the fact that a Great Unclean One can take up to three Biomancy powers, dependent on its mastery level - it is mastery level one base. I would actually recommend going all out here; take the extra two mastery levels, and try and go for either Iron Arm, Endurance or Warp Speed - given that you generate three powers, you have a 50% chance of nabbing any one of those powers. Iron Arm will make the Great Unclean One impossible to kill - increasing its Toughness to eight on a bare roll and potentially ten, whilst improving its Strength that makes it much more effective when using its Poisoned attacks against enemy monstrous creatures; did I mention it also adds Eternal Warrior, meaning force weapons and the like can't touch you? Endurance is very attractive as well, giving the Great Unclean One a mixture of special rules - including Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die - that combined with its extreme number of wounds should guarantee your opponent breaks down in a fit. Warp Speed serves to make the Great Unclean One insanely powerful in combat, by boosting its Initiative and Attacks by D3, whilst granting it Fleet - re-rollable charge distances! - meaning it will sit at six attacks and Initiative five on a minimum roll. As well, I would encourage taking two greater gifts - much like with the other Greater Daemons, the boosts here are significant regardless of what you roll, though you would prefer the four that boost your durability. Think of it like this; whilst writing this article, I randomly rolled three Biomancy powers and two Greater Gifts, and whilst expensive, I think they are most definitely worth it. Why? Whilst writing on a random roll, I got Iron Arm and two relatively poor Biomancy powers, as well as a +3 armour save and Feel No Pain (+4). To put that into perspective, this makes the Great Unclean One a Toughness eight, nine or ten monster with six wounds, 3+ armour against smalls arms fire, a 4+ Feel No Pain save that works against anything but instant death, and Eternal Warrior to boot. And the best part? This isn't even nearly the best combination - you will likely roll something very similar to this most of the time, and it runs you well under three hundred points! Nasty, obscenely nasty.

Of course, there are downsides to the Great Unclean One, as you would expect. Firstly, though its base abilities are great and it is pretty cheap for what you get, it is slow and being a combat-oriented monster with access only to short ranged shooting, this means you need to hope it is either attracting fire from your other forces or can guarantee it gets into combat. The latter can be accomplished either by deep-striking it off of friendly icons, such as those carried by Plague Drones or Seekers, though foot-slogging may not be a bad idea so as to provide some valuable target saturation to your army. As well, whilst upgrading it should turn it into an absolute monster to face, and even though that price is very appropriate, it is still very expensive and is reliant somewhat on luck. Like the Lord of Change, it lacks an armour save unless you roll up the appropriate greater gift, meaning that small arms fire can put a dent in it - however, moving through cover and the potential buffs you purchase should mitigate this. In terms of greater gifts, if you do roll up a gift that doesn't suit you (which is unlikely), swap to the Balesword - paying twenty points for instant death might seem excessive, but when one considers it has a boat load of high weapon skill Poisoned attacks, it becomes death incarnate to enemy monstrous creatures, multi-wound units and characters. In closing, a Great Unclean One is a very powerful daemon that works fine base, but is best off being kitted out with two greater gifts and the extra two psychic mastery levels. Though expensive, it is a build that will reliably make the Great Unclean One virtually impossible to kill, and a monster in combat - it is well worth the price of admission to watch an entire army's worth of lascannons, plasma guns and autocannons bounce harmlessly off of a potentially Toughness ten Great Unclean One that your opponent simply cannot ignore.

Keeper of Secrets -The cheapest and arguably the weakest of the Greater Daemons, the Keeper of Secrets is an intriguing option based on two main elements - its speed in terms of regular monstrous creatures, and the seeming truth that it doesn't need as many upgrades as the other Greater Daemons to be exceedingly effective. Though this can be interpreted as "it has the lowest ceiling", I rather look at it as "very good bang for your buck" - cheaper is often better, and in the case of the Keeper of Secrets, this means you can take doubles and not take up anywhere near as massive a points total as doing something similar with the other Greater Daemons would be. But really, this is conjecture - the meat of the Keeper of Secrets comes down to its ridiculous profile. Weapon Skill nine, Initiative ten, and six attacks base. As a monstrous creature, all of these attacks are AP two, and owing to its stat-line, most enemies will be hitting the Keeper on fives well after it strikes. Obviously, common enemies such as krak grenade-wielding Space Marines will struggle immensely against a Keeper, even if its Toughness and saving throw are mediocre as far as monstrous creatures go. Of course, like all Daemons, it lacks assault grenades and, unlike the Bloodthirster, it does not have the extreme mobility to mitigate this issue by picking where it can launch an assault. This means that you need to be a lot more delicate with a Keeper of Secrets; it is not a flying monstrous creature, nor does it have the immense durability a Great Unclean One possesses. Though it is the most fragile of the Greater Daemons, there are ways around this - notably, it is extremely quick for a 'foot-slogging' monstrous creature, owing to Fleet and adding an additional three inches to any Run moves it makes. As well, like the other Greater Daemons, it has access to the awesome greater gifts - four out of six drastically improve the survivability of a Keeper of Secrets, and as such, I would always recommend taking two of them. The others also serve to give it very useful offensive options - either a very powerful ranged anti-tank weapon that, owing to the Keepers' high Ballistic Skill, is very reliable, or making all of its attacks Fleshbane and Armourbane, essentially making it so much better against other monsters and tanks. The two greater gifts are almost necessary, provided you have the points, though a funny tactic would be to run a bare-bones Keeper of Secrets up the field as a cheap, and highly effective, distraction unit - much like a Trygon or a Dreadknight, just cheaper and without the bells and whistles despite being more effective in other areas.
Can you deal with the awesomeness?

Despite being very good in combat, like the non-Khornate Greater Daemons, the Keeper of Secrets also doubles as a psyker; with mastery level one base and access to the useful Excess and Telepathy disciplines, the Keeper has some other interesting options to consider. When rolling on the Excess discipline, you will usually be hoping for the first power - reducing an enemy units Initiative by five and preventing them from using both Counter Attack and Overwatch within eighteen inches is fantastic - as the other powers are admittedly mediocre, even the Primaris power. As such, your best bet will likely be taking the extremely powerful Primaris power from the Telepathy discipline; Psychic Shriek can feasibly wipe out scores of models in one salvo, and owing to the Keepers' speed, its short range isn't too much of an issue. If you don't want to spend too many points on a Keeper - aside from the near mandatory greater gifts - then taking the extra psychic mastery levels is not necessary, unlike with the Great Unclean One and Lord of Change. This is mostly due to the Keeper not truly needing the potential benefits, that and a lot of the powers it can get aren't as useful as one would like. However, it must be noted that taking the extra mastery levels to increase the chances of receiving Invisibility or Hallucination may be well worth the price, even if it is only a 50% chance - much like with the Great Unclean One, even if the other powers aren't as good in terms of back-up options. Overall, a Keeper of Secrets is a very nifty Greater Daemon - though it is unlikely to be as potentially powerful as the other Greater Daemons, it is a darn sight cheaper, especially considering it doesn't need anywhere near the amount of additional bonuses as the others, and has a lower base cost. Its combat effectiveness is still very high, and it combines natural speed with what is still pretty decent survivability. In short, they work very well for their cost versus abilities, even though the other Greater Daemons probably are better investments, albeit more significant ones.

Example Builds - There are a lot of viable ways to run our highly customisable Greater Daemons, and here are a few builds that I feel should prove optimal.

Bloodthirster w/ two greater gifts - 290

Lord of Change w/ psychic mastery level three, one lesser gift, two greater gifts - 305

Great Unclean One w/ psychic mastery level three, two greater gifts - 280

Keeper of Secrets w/ two greater gifts - 210

Are you a fan of the Greater Daemons? Do you feel they aren't strong enough or too costly for what they do? Sound off in the comments - we appreciate any and all critiques. Thank you!


  1. Great writeup, enjoyed the read :)

    1. Thank you! I hope the rest of the Tactica is as enjoyable :)

  2. Excellent write up! I appreciate the analysis and I'm looking forward to your reviews of the remainder of the demon codex! Thanks for your efforts.

    1. Thank you! It will take a while to get everything out, as it is a pretty in-depth review - even compared to my usual ones - but I hope it lives up to expectations :) Thanks again!

  3. Fantastic, great in depth review.

    1. Thanks :) I hope the Heralds section is also to your liking!

  4. I believe you got fateweavers reroll wrong, you can´t reroll an opponents dicerolls. In the cases where you can it says something along the lines of "You may force your opponent to reroll.." So it only applies to your own dicerolls, still really great though.

    Thanks for a nice read otherwise. Cheers!