24 Feb 2013

Chaos Daemons White Dwarf Impressions

Hey all, Learn2Eel here with an early preview of the new Chaos Daemons for Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy! Today I will be looking at the new kits, my impressions of them, and give a preview of some of the rules we have seen for them so far. Enjoy!

The New Units

This release has not been without a host of new kits designed for use in both Fantasy and 40K, with numerous new units representing each of the four Chaos gods. As with all Daemons, how you feel about them may come down to bias and preference - however, my general opinion as a fan of all things Chaos is that these new units are all pretty good looking. My favourites are the new Herald of Khorne and Burning Chariot of Tzeentch, though I think a lot of the other kits look much better with certain colour schemes. Whilst these models are technically good, I do think that some of the paint schemes in the White Dwarf didn't fit the units as well as I would have liked. I will also discuss some of the rules about the new units in their own section - please remember that these are written with Warhammer 40K in mind. Overall, I think there's a lot to like for any Chaos Daemons fan, and there should be at least one kit any hobbyist would like to try out!

Plague Drones of Nurgle - These guys are really ugly looking - in the way only Nurgle models can be - and yet they are still very nice to look at (but not on your stomach). They resemble giant, bloated wasps with virulent toxins, patchy flesh and rotten carcasses hanging from their exposed bellies. The actual 'Drones' themselves are monstrous in size, almost as big - if not bigger - than a standard plastic Daemon Prince, and the stand they sit on keeps them fairly high up in the air to give them the true appearance of flight. There are multiple options for heads and even the carcasses they have consumed recently, which I find to be quite delicious. Of the two head options, I prefer the standard 'wasp' head to the 'elephant trunk' head visually, and I think most hobbyists would be of the same opinion. However, for gaming purposes you may want the 'proboscis' head - it gives them Poisoned (+3) attacks as opposed to Poisoned (+4) attacks, though the cost may determine whether that is a viable option. My only real complaint about these models are the Plaguebearers riding the Drones - though the Plaguebearers look good by themselves, their posing is awkward and they aren't even trying to hold on to the Drones. This breaks the illusion of fast moving giant wasps with powerful riders, as with their current posing said Plaguebearers look likely to fall off as soon as the Drones start flying! Overall though, the Plague Drones are massive and finely detailed models that look like a great value purchase - I can see them being used to provide wings and heads to Nurgle Daemon Princes and other various models too.

As far as their rules go, Plague Drones are very mobile and tough - being a Daemon of Nurgle gives them Shrouded, and paired with 3 T5 wounds, they will be very hard to shift. They are also the first of their kind in terms of unit type, being jet-pack cavalry - this essentially means that unlike regular cavalry, they can move 2D6" instead of charging in the assault phase, and will only take dangerous terrain tests for area terrain they take off or land in as opposed to going through any terrain piece. This also allows them to scale buildings and ruins quicker, which will make them useful for clearing out ruins occupied by enemy units. As far as offensive power goes, their Weapon Skill and Initiative are mediocre and low, respectively, whilst they have a lot of Poisoned attacks that can be made into Poisoned (+3) attacks with the Rot Proboscis upgrade. As it is, they look like a nasty and devilishly quick flanking unit.

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Burning Chariot of Tzeentch - Arguably my favourite model of the new releases, the Burning Chariot of Tzeentch appears a mess at first to the naked eye - billowing flames, a many-eyed and mouthed-daemon atop it, with manta-like warped creatures pulling it along above the ground. It is definitely a strange and convoluted model, but one that isn't lacking for raw appeal - the screamers are always nice models to look at, whilst the exalted flamer is a highly detailed and frightening monster. The flames may turn a lot of people off, but I think the design team should be commended for making them look as good as they are - moulding fire effectively is very difficult, especially on a model as grandiose as the Burning Chariot. The flames look much better when given an appropriate colour scheme, though the rest of the model does not require as much attention; the flames look really good when painting in oranges and reds, as they feel and look dangerous, but other warped schemes of light blue and green look very awkward and unimposing. Another note should be made of the devilish little Pink Horrors scowling and angrily taunting - their comical expressions and bent-over pose gives a very Tzeentch-like feel to the model, making it stand out as a confusing, but interesting, visual treat. Another interesting note is that it seems the Screamers are towing the actual flames rather than the chariot itself, an amusing stylistic nod to how Tzeentch Daemons literally radiate with warp fire.

I am happy to report that they are as powerful in the game as their mind-bogglingly attractive model would indicate; in the battle report and practice game between the two White Dwarf editors, the Burning Chariot was quoted as 'wiping out an entire Tactical Squad easily' and is capable of 'destroying a Land Raider reliably at range'. It appears that the Burning Chariot has a Torrent AP3 Template - much like the Heldrake - that is oddly dissimilar from the established Breath of Chaos that current Chaos Daemons - and Chaos Space Marines - have. It may very well be it has a high Strength value and re-rolls to wound, but we can't be certain of that as yet. However, the other point is quite interesting - the ability to "reliably" destroy a Land Raider with a ranged weapon is something Chaos Daemons have sorely lacked. Their only hope in that department has been through massed glancing by Flamers or a lot of lucky Bolts of Tzeentch. My best guess is that it fires multiple S9 or S10 shots, or that they have the Lance special rule. Despite the awesome firepower, the Chariot is predictably fragile - its cost and speed are as yet unknown, but it is a good guess that, with the Deep Strike special rule, it would make an incredibly nasty offensive unit in a Daemons army.

Herald of Tzeentch on Chariot - This can be assembled from the same kit as the Burning Chariot of Tzeentch, meaning it is a very cheap and attractive purchase. It is similar to the Burning Chariot in terms of the Screamers pulling along the Chariot, as well as the 'disk' shape of the chariot itself. The chariot has multiple tendrils and spikes rearing up from its outer rim, giving the impression of a very archaic, ornate and magical design. It is a less cluttered and perhaps more striking counter-part to the Burning Chariot, and its rider is a very nice looking model - a Herald with multiple pose, weapon and head options. The Herald himself is staring into books held aloft by the chariots' tendrils, whilst his weapon of choice - likely a staff - is pointed downwards to any possible enemy. As any learned Tzeentch Daemon, it seems ignorant of its prey and is invested in the tomes of knowledge presented to it - in this case, they are likely spell books that bring the Herald some measure of joyful psychic learning. It is a well crafted model that doesn't stand out more than it should, whilst keeping up the high quality of detail and a multitude of potential colour schemes as the Burning Chariot. A nice note is that if the Burning Chariot is assembled, the kit comes with bases to model your Herald on either a rounded or square base for play in either game system!

We do not yet know the rules of either of the new chariots, though it is safe to assume they function similarly to the Slaanesh chariots. I would hazard a guess that the Tzeentch chariot does not provide the same kind of effect in regards to impact hits, and is more likely based around protecting the Tzeentch Herald or giving it increased psychic buffs.

Blood Throne of Khorne - Part of another dual-kit chariot that has some interesting options, the Blood Throne is a simple, if uninspiring, model that is mostly let down by the design of the chariot itself. Its appearance is disheveled and strange, with a seeming mixture of flesh inundated with skulls, as well as mechanical segments that are seemingly powered by an engine. The wheels and front of the chariot look oddly out of place, especially as the back of the chariot appears to be laying on the bottom of the base - giving the appearance that the Blood Throne is being dragged through the earth rather than powered or tethered. There are a lot of pipes and spikes that give it a very distinctive and themed look, though I think it is a little too bland in comparison to the more garish Tzeentch chariots. The two Bloodletters at the front of the model are on a lowered platform, holding onto chains, seemingly ready to jump right into the fray - whilst this does give the impression of a very brutish chariot that rushes into the fray, the fleshy Bloodletters also seem to clash too heavily against the more ornate chariot itself. Whilst this may be down to the bright colours used in the White Dwarf preview, it still irks me and it is probably the most frustrating aspect of the model. If the chariot was actually being pulled along and wasn't so low to the ground, they probably would look much better - I am sure many players are already considering adding Juggernaughts of Khorne to the Chariot. The Herald himself is the most impressive piece of the model - boldly standing tall between two different parts of the chariot. Holding his blade aloft with a steady hand holding a chain, the Herald looks almost as if he is riding a beast rather than a machine - enforcing the seeming concept of a living chariot. His horns are gloriously adorned with a well sculpted and appropriate icon of Khorne, whilst the necklace of skulls he bears paired with his ornate armour make for a very impressive, brutal and primitive character.

Rules-wise, much like the Herald of Tzeentch on a Chariot, we don't know anything aside from the obvious similarities it will have to the Slaanesh Chariots with its own thematic twist to suit the needs of the Blood God. I would assume it either provides a lot of high strength impact hits or otherwise boosts the close combat potential of the rider.

Skull Cannon of Khorne - A more pronounced and less cluttered kit-partner to the Blood Throne of Khorne, the Skull Cannon is a strange fusion of flesh and machine that comes to life with the head at the crest of the chariot - with mouths on the side of its 'face', it literally begs to gorge on enemy flesh. Atop the chariot is a more centralised raised platform with a chain-adorned cannon mounted towards the middle of the model. The Cannon itself is comical in the best way possible, with close inspection revealing the fleshy centre of the cannon to be loaded with skulls - hence the name of the cannon. The image of skulls crashing into and annihilating enemy forces is one any Khorne fan should rightfully salivate over, and this model brings that vision to life. The Bloodletters are much better situated at the rear of the chariot as opposed to the front, as is the case of the Blood Throne - they seem to be less awkwardly balanced and more intimidating as a result of their height and posture. Their grip on the chains entangling the cannon give the impression of them not only trying to hold on to the chariot, but almost seemingly control the beast itself. As with the Blood Throne, pipes and spikes are evident everyone - the mixture of skin and metal provides an interesting contrast, though it looks more sickly than perhaps it should. This could be more down to the paint scheme used in the White Dwarf than anything else though. Much like its counterpart, it does suffer from looking like a wheeled cart being dragged along - however, the actual 'head' at the front of the chariot lessens the impact of this, making it look like a monster that is pulling itself along. Whilst I do think it is more impressive than the Blood Throne, I am still somewhat disappointed with the end result. The execution isn't perfect, but it is still a nice model. That, and as far as I can tell, it is similar to the Burning Chariot kit where building the ranged platform alternative allows you to build a Herald of Khorne on foot - I am unsure if this is the case though.

Interestingly enough, the Skull Cannon has a surprisingly high Ballistic Skill equal to most commanders, and lobs a battle cannon shell with a higher AP value - it won't ignore Space Marine armour is about our best estimate of its AP. However, though this might seem a detractor, it is still a good weapon to use - the high Strength and good range mean it is able to put a lot of wounds on a unit, and its massive reduction to scatter rolls mean it will hit a lot of models more often than not. It is also devastating against any non-power armoured foe, providing it is AP4, as it can reliably instant-kill entire squads in a single salvo. I get the impression that it may be an Ordnance weapon, but I believe this likely won't be the case - it would certainly make it a big threat against vehicles though. With its range and accurate bombardment, I think it will make a great, much-needed long range unit for Khorne Daemon armies.


Herald of Slaanesh - The other Finecast character release for Daemons, the Herald of Slaanesh epitomises all that is disturbing and iconic about the current range of Slaanesh Daemons - crab claws, a sensuous appearance, archaic clothing, reptilian feet and daemon horns. The Herald displays all of these elements in a more pronounced and stylish way, with a pose reminiscent of a dancer, her great height allowing her to seemingly stare into the souls of puny mortals. Her elegant robe and armour are more extravagant than for usual Daemonettes, giving her an almost regal appearance that, when paired with her stance, make her truly stand apart from the rank and file lesser daemons of Slaanesh. The symbol of Slaanesh is clearly emblazoned above her forehead, flanked by almost tentacle-like horns and a strangely rising tuft of hair. In fact, her hair looks strikingly similar to flames, intimating the ideas of anarchy that Slaanesh embodies. Unlike other Slaanesh Daemons, her forearms are not shaped like 'crab claws', but are more akin to regal blades adorned with teeth - these are shaped almost as opposite-facing halves of crescent moons. Typical of a true Slaaneshi Daemon, her face is horrifically beautiful - smooth flesh, a nice facial structure, all marred by piercing eyes and a maw harbouring multiple fangs. All of these elements combine to make for a Herald that personifies the perceived image of Slaanesh - that of a corrupted, deadly beauty that is both graceful and bestial.

There is even less information concerning the Herald of Slaanesh than the other Heralds, with not even an army list reference from the battle report to indicate what kinds of Loci or Daemonic Rewards they have access to. However, again, it is safe to assume that a wide range of customisation options primarily geared for supporting and buffing friendly Slaanesh Daemons are available. I also expect a Herald of Slaanesh to be decently powerful in combat based on her speed and rending, with the Loci likely to buff the speed or durability of Daemonettes and the like.

Herald of Nurgle - The denizens of Nurgle are shambling to glory, with this Herald at their head. Like the Chaos Space Marine Aspiring Champion, the Herald of Nurgle is a plastic clamp-pack character model that is exquisitely detailed and exaggerated without being too repulsive or cluttered. From the lichenous growths across its body, the long tentacles of guts streaming from its exposed belly, to the leprous left hand pointing at its prey, it literally cries 'Plaguefather'. A cyclopean creature with a large horn and little 'bat wings' around its face, it has a head that is very reminiscent of the inspired Khorne Daemon designs whilst retaining a very obvious Nurgle theme. It's long, slathering tongue seems almost mechanical and is disgustingly leering, almost searching for faces to swallow. The Herald carries a large, archaic sword that despite little decoration or ornamention still manages to draw the eye. The spiny growths emerging from its back are intriguing, with one holding a loft a bell - giving the immediate visual effect of a gong ringing as Nurgle's Champion strives into battle. It is a very cool effect that is complimented nicely by the little Nurgling nestling on the spine adjacent to it - the smiling little monster is seemingly lackadaisical as it rests there, carelessly holding aloft a maggot-infested head. Overall, the many different elements combine to express perfectly what one associates with the Leper God - death, disease, carrion, fleshy corruption, gore, and so on. It is a fantastic model that will fit in very well with Plaguebearers, or converted to be mounted on a Plague Drone.

There is little I know of the Herald's rules in particular, aside from what Heralds of each god do now - Heralds now provide special bonuses to their units that they pay for separately, and have access to a wide range of random buffs based on how many points you are willing to spend. All in all, it sounds like Heralds will be used much more for their ability to increase the effectiveness of your Troops rather than the premise that they are cost-effective and ridiculously cheap HQs. The Nurgle Herald in particular has access to a bonus - or 'Locus' - that provides itself and its unit the Feel No Pain special rule.

Herald of Khorne - The model I was most surprised - and impressed - by, the Herald of Khorne proves that "less is more", with a focus more on style than substance that pays off to great effect. The posing and detail are what set this model apart, with the large goat horns, long slavering tongue and narrowed eyes providing a truly daemonic, fearsome image. It is literally standing on a pile of skulls littered as if rubble - this effect is done nicely and not taken too far, with only a few skulls making them seem more like fresh kills rather than an over-exaggerated scenic base. The Bloodletter is hunched over, with its right arm and blade sweeping out behind it - giving it the appearance of running, almost leering at any champion that dares to face it. Its left arm synchronises well with this image; it really looks like it is storming into the thick of battle, enraged, preceded by gore and death. Unusually for a Bloodletter, it is clad in armour plating, but this too was employed using the minimalist approach - the iron only covering its thighs and forearms, making it look more like a truly bestial warrior from legend as much as it does a terrifying daemon. The spiked ridges on its back are emphasised with the leaning pose, exposing them; they are acute, rocky and tidy, contrasting nicely with the mess of flesh and muscles on the Herald's back. The long sinuous shape of its head is iconic of Bloodletters, and gives the model a very classical, almost reverent image of the Blood Good and its many minions over the years. It is a fine model that would serve well as a Bloodletter Champion or a Herald. My only reservations are that it is a Finecast - and thus very expensive - model, and that it costs as much (in Australia anyway) as a character like Lord Kaldor Draigo.

Much like the Herald of Nurgle, there is little we know about the Herald of Khorne particularly. However, we do know that it can be used to provide great benefits to friendly Bloodletter units - though what these are, we aren't aware of at the moment. I will make an educated guess and say they will provide rules such as Rage, Hatred and the like - going off one of the Loci names, and the gameplay theme of Khorne, this would only make sense. However, again, we don't really know at this point - however, it does seem like Heralds will have a larger role to play in Daemon armies than before.

In Closing
The new Daemon kits are positively sumptuous models that are teeming with both detail and elegance, with the marked stylistic differences of each god personified clearly by each dedicated unit. The Herald of Slaanesh is an alluring and yet monstrous creature to behold, whilst the Plague Drones of Nurgle are bloated, disgusting wasp creatures that would make a fine centre-piece for a Nurgle army. Though I've been most impressed by the Herald of Khorne and Tzeentch Chariots, the other models are of a very high quality too - the only kit that is somewhat disappointing is the Khorne Chariot, though I am certain some conversions or good colour schemes will make it a more appealing visual treat. Overall, I am very excited about the Daemons codex, and I am glad that the models are of a high quality to match what will likely be a fun, powerful and well balanced army!

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