5 Mar 2013

Chaos Daemons Tactica - Heralds and Princes (HQ)

Howdy all, Learn2Eel here and I am back to offer my thoughts on the awesome Chaos Daemons. This time, I will again be exploring the incredibly extensive HQ section, particularly the Heralds of Chaos; 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!
A quick note; this Tactica was written during the release week for Chaos Daemons. Thus, the Tactica does not account for the new Tau release.


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 Heralds, Daemon Princes and their equivalent special characters solely. 

Generally speaking, when one wishes to take a Herald of the Chaos Gods, one should do so with the knowledge that they are best used as 'force multipliers' - with the possible exception of the Heralds of Khorne and Slaanesh, they are not designed to do combat fantastically well, and regardless of which you pick, each is a great force multiplier for a Daemons army. As such, you should take Heralds based on your army list, not on what they themselves do - keep this in mind, and they should consistently do the job you want them to. 

Daemon Prince - Why aren't you getting a Greater Daemon? But seriously, Daemon Princes are a decent option that will usually prove to be cheaper - but far more fragile - than a Greater Daemon, typically with reduced effectiveness in any particular field. This isn't to say that Daemon Princes are bad, it is more so a compliment to how powerful the other monstrous creatures in this codex are. First up, they have a Toughness of five, four wounds and only a +5 invulnerable save - ergo, they are much less durable than other Greater Daemons, and unlike Fateweaver, a Daemon Prince can't reliably save itself from situations involving Strength ten weapons. Despite rocking a crazy Weapon Skill of nine and Initiative of eight with five attacks, a Daemon Prince's considerable combat prowess does pale in comparison to both a Keeper of Secrets and a Bloodthirster - in fact, a Keeper of Secrets costs little more than a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, yet is far more effective for the price. Of course, a Daemon Prince benefits majorly from its upgrades - two of which are near mandatory, those being warp-forged armour and daemonic flight. The first grants it a +3 armour save, much like a Bloodthirster, that makes it far more resistant to small arms fire, of which it is especially prone due to a meagre Toughness. The second turns it into a flying monstrous creature which dramatically improves its survivability against most targets, whilst giving it a serious edge in terms of mobility - allowing it to pick any potential engagements and charge the best available target. When upgraded like this, a Daemon Prince's cost quickly exceeds that of the two cheaper Greater Daemons, though it is still arguably not as useful an addition. One must also consider that a Daemon Prince needs to be dedicated to one of the four Chaos gods - these provide the same benefits as with all other Daemons. There are some very interesting possibilities to consider here, as certain dedications can make way for very specific and powerful builds - one of which is to venerate Tzeentch and take the Staff of Change, granting the Daemon Prince Strength eight and Concussive melee blows, making it a far deadlier opponent in close quarters combat. This is also at a great price, even though for the same cost one could take a Lord of Change that performs almost as well in combat, is tougher and is a powerful psyker to boot.

Much like Greater Daemons, a Daemon Prince can take Lesser, Greater and Exalted Gifts, following the same allowance and restrictions. I would typically recommend two greater gifts, simply for the much-needed resilience boosts it should reliably grant to your Daemon Prince - a model which really suffers from a lack of durability. Though it does boost the cost of the Daemon Prince even further, it is well worth the investment. As before, some of the other gifts can make for fantastic combinations - Daemon Princes of Nurgle, for example, can take the Balesword, inflicting instant death whilst striking at an insanely high Initiative, effectively guaranteeing death for enemy monstrous creatures. Daemon Princes also have access to psychic powers, though they do start with a mastery level - they can go all the way up to mastery level three, though the price is exorbitant. With access to Biomancy, Pyromancy and Telepathy, they are quite versatile - however, it is usually worth the price to go for Biomancy, especially considering you do not need to take a mandatory psychic power from your chosen chaos god (unlike Chaos Space Marines), which is very helpful. They can also take the disciplines of their respective deities, meaning you can take the very powerful Plague witchfire powers, or the useful Change Primaris power for anti-flyer duties. As much as I want to stop repeating myself though, a Greater Daemon kitted out fully will actually prove not only to be cheaper, they will also be tougher and far more effective in that role. This is why I think that, as cool as they are and as good as some of the builds are, Daemon Princes are best relegated to supporting members behind Greater Daemons - they aren't too bad, though they are quite over-costed compared to their warp-spawned brethren for fewer returns.

Possibly the best application for a Daemon Prince is to use them in Heavy Support - in this way, one could reliably run five flying monstrous creatures, or something to that effect. It also frees up the congested HQ slots for more important options, though I believe Soul Grinders and Skull Cannons will likely also be crowding into the Heavy Support slots. As such, even though Daemon Princes aren't too bad in terms of what they bring to the table, I definitely feel that Greater Daemons are a better investment - not to mention that Heralds are far more useful in terms of helping your army. To be entirely fair though, there are some very good combinations that Daemon Princes can take - some of which should definitely be considered. Another one to mention is a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh with the lash of despair; you get this by swapping out a greater gift, and it is a Strength (user) Assault 2D6 weapon at twelve inches. On a flying Daemon Prince, this gives it a very powerful ranged attack that should reliably do significant damage to enemy ground vehicles and flyers alike, provided one fires on their exposed rear armour. This is definitely a good option to consider in terms of mobile anti-tank and anti-flyer firepower. Perhaps the best asset a Daemon Prince has is its versatility - there are a massive array of options available to it, more so than any other monster in the codex. My best advice is to seek out and formulate your own awesome builds for them.

Skulltaker - This blood-soaked warrior is pretty nifty in combat, and holds a few important distinctions that make him quite a bit better than would be initially obvious. First up, he has an incredible stat-line that should make almost any commander jealous - Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill and Initiative of nine, with four attacks and a Strength of five. In a nutshell, most enemies will both struggle to hit him and strike well after he has done his damage, of which he can dish out a considerable amount. With an AP three sword that inflicts instant death on any to wound roll of a six, whilst also causing Soul Blaze for a few sneaky potential wounds, Skulltaker is designed for one thing - challenging non +2 armoured characters, and proceeding to maul them with relative impunity. This is reflected in his special rule that, like Chaos Space Marine characters, forces him to always issue and accept challenges wherever possible - this can be a harmful trait, especially against characters that he will natively struggle against, though Skulltaker should do well for the most part. In addition, he is also the only in-codex Eternal Warrior, owing to his aptly named cloak of skulls; however, he only has a Toughness of four and two wounds, meaning he can't take too much punishment anyway. Fortunately, he does have a +3 armour save which, in combination with a +5 invulnerable save, makes him a lot more durable than a regular Herald; still, having only two wounds means you need to treat him with care.

Skulltaker also has a Locus built into his basic profile, which is quite useful - giving Adamantium Will to both himself and his unit - albeit probably not the one you would hope for, given the immense benefits the Rage and Hatred Loci provide. When compared to a regular Herald of Khorne, Skulltaker actually does stack up quite nicely, what with a Weapon Skill and Initiative that means most enemies will hit him on fives and strike several Initiative steps below him, a very good armour save, as well as a weapon with the decapitating blow special rule. However, I do think that a Herald of Khorne with an Axe of Khorne - similar to Skulltaker's weapon, except that it is AP two - and a Locus granting Rage or Hatred may prove to be more useful overall, though Skulltaker is still nonetheless a good option. Khorne's champion can also be mounted on a Juggernaught, granting him a +1 bonus to his Toughness, Wounds and attacks values. Though it is expensive, it does serve to make Skulltaker both twice as mobile and also makes him far more durable - a three wound Eternal Warrior model at Toughness five with the decent saves he possesses makes for a very killy, hardcore and relatively cheap butcher. This also works wonders for Bloodcrushers, who are now prone to instant death from readily available missile launchers and meltaguns - stick Skulltaker up the front, or wherever else is necessary, and soak up said wounds if you can afford to, making sure to abuse cover of course. Look out Sir any other wounds onto your three-wound Bloodcrushers! This should prove to be a nasty tactic, and makes both Skulltaker and Bloodcrushers far more effective. I really think Skulltaker is a good choice, even if many others may point to the fact that he lacks an AP two weapon in melee - despite this, I think he is good value in terms of both surviving and dishing out the damage, as his unnaturally high Weapon Skill and Initiative can make a big difference in a lot of engagements. Just be careful not to send him against the wrong opponent - such as one clad in Terminator armour - and he should do just fine.

Karanak as a puppy. I feel sorry for the guy on the left.
Karanak - Previously a unit upgrade for a unit of Flesh Hounds, Karanak is now a separate character, and the most expensive base of the Herald-level characters. He has a host of reasons for this; namely, he is a Strength and Toughness five, three-wound Beast that, between some high close combat-centric stats and several unique rules, is quite a handy challenge character. With Weapon Skill seven, Initiative six and four attacks base, Karanak should reliably maul squad sergeants and the like in one round of combat, regardless of the fact that he lacks any kind of AP on his melee attacks - though this is an issue, and can prove costly against certain enemies, I think Karanak puts out enough attacks to mitigate this issue. Khorne's favoured hound also has some unique rules that make him a nightmare for certain enemy characters - notably, he may pick a single enemy character before the start of the game and 'mark' him; gaining re-rolls to hit and to wound against that foe. This maximises Karanak's damage output, and helps to make up for his lack of power weapon attacks - against a marked Captain, for example, Karanak should kill them with little difficulty, dependant of course upon their wargear load-out. Similarly, power-armoured Librarians will statistically be killed before they can strike, assuming Karanak charges - which, as a Beast, is very likely. Being a Daemon of Khorne and having Hatred innately, Karanak also strikes at Strength six on the charge, whilst re-rolling to hit in the first round of combat even against non-marked opponents. This makes him a lot more dangerous than a first glance would intimate.

Karanak also works very well as a force multiplier by being equipped with the Locus of Fury, providing Rage to both himself and any unit he attaches to. Given that he is an Independent Character and is unrestricted in what units he can feasibly join, you can pair him up with Bloodcrushers, Bloodletters or Flesh Hounds alike, though the latter are probably best to run amok. Giving Rage to an entire unit of Khorne Daemons is very nifty indeed, as they already tend to dish out a lot of high Weapon Skill, high Strength attacks - power weapons or not, this makes them even more devastating on the charge. In this way, Karanak can work well with multiple units, though I would usually recommend Flesh Hounds - not just for fluff reasons, but also because Karanak and Flesh Hounds have the Scout special rule, and owing to their fast movement speed and significant durability considering their cost, they are not as obvious a target for an opponent. However, this is also a nasty way to make Bloodcrushers even more deadly - pair Karanak with them, and the entire unit can redeploy within twelve inches of their original position, either going into handy cover to block enemy shooting and get even closer, or simply force your opponent to waste no time in trying to get rid of them, allowing other elements to advance uncontested. This is also possible with a Bloodletter horde, giving them that extra bit of movement needed to get them into glorious combat quicker. Given that the Scout rules allow you to charge on the first game turn provided you go second, this can create some serious issues of target priority for your opponent. For these abilities alone, I think Karanak is well worth the investment - however, it is also important to note that by having a Collar of Khorne, him (and by extension his unit) have a +4 Deny the Witch save, which is quite handy. What is of note here is that any psyker taking a psychic test within twelve inches of Karanak suffers Perils of the Warp on any double, owing to the unique collar he wears. I think he is quite a good unit that you should consider, despite the lack of a power weapon - what he does for any given unit, and how deceivingly good in combat he is, more than make up for that deficiency.

Herald of Khorne - What is it with Chaos Daemons and having amazing profiles? Seriously, when one looks at a Herald of Khorne, one might be surprised that they aren't looking at a special character - a Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of seven, an Initiative of six and Strength five on a cheap as chips HQ with two wounds and a +5 invulnerable save? Despite their relative fragility, many characters unique to other codices would give an arm and a leg for such a profile - this is made even more impressive by the fact the Herald of Khorne comes standard with an AP three melee weapon, and can take an AP two close combat weapon that inflicts instant death on to-wound rolls of a six. Did I mention those tools also strike at Initiative order? You guessed it - a Herald of Khorne, for very little, is a character that can stand toe-to-toe with even more expensive characters from other codices and defeat them with little difficulty. Though their Toughness four, two wounds and lack of an armour save does mean they can't take too much damage, they dish it out in spades and will be relatively hard to hit for a lot of enemy units. They have a very decent chance of slaughtering Terminator Space Marine Captains, despite being much cheaper, and work very well against elite units that rely on their high armour save. In effect, they are almost like a glass cannon that will punish unwary enemies - a theme that runs throughout the codex. One of their best uses is to add an AP two weapon to an AP three wielding squad, making them far more of a threat against Terminators - just be careful to hide the Herald appropriately, of course.

In addition to this, much like Skulltaker and Karanak, Heralds of Khorne also serve to buff their units through 'Loci' - you can select one out of three, and each provides their own unique benefits to both the Herald and whatever unit it attaches to. The first, and cheapest, provides Adamantium Will - this is helpful against highly psychic enemies, such as Eldar and Tyranids, though it is of limited use elsewhere. The second grants Rage, meaning your high Weapon Skill and Strength Khorne units dish out ridiculous amounts of attacks which, in conjunction with Furious Charge, makes them absolutely devastating on the charge. The third gives Hatred (Everything!), and thus serves to maximise the potential hits that any given unit can put out in their first round of combat. Given that it is the most expensive, you need to weigh up its effectiveness against Rage - whilst Rage means you will actually average a lot more hits, it also only applies if the Khorne Daemons charged, which, if any smart opponent knows, it can be a good idea to deny them the charge and instead launch an assault themselves. Personally, I think that once you are in charge range, most enemies will either want to move away from your or rapid fire anyway - providing you are heading for a unit you should be able to deal with, of course. In that sense, I think the Locus providing Rage would be the most useful. Be mindful that even though the Loci provide amazing benefits for the Herald and a unit, they aren't necessary to achieve victory - our units tend to do well anyway, though the extra buffs do certainly help to sway things in our favour, which can be quite critical in an assault-focussed army.

Heralds of Khorne also have access to two 'mount' options - they can either take a Juggernaught and become more difficult to kill, and mobile, or a Blood Throne that gives them some good protection and increases the potential units affected by their chosen Locus. Both are expensive, though I would say they are somewhat reasonable - the Juggernaught makes the Herald a Toughness five, three wound Cavalry model that dishes out even more pain through an additional attack. Given that a Herald of Khorne is already quite nasty, especially when given a cheap weapon such as an Aetherblade, this can serve to make him a cheaper, and arguably more dangerous equivalent to some of the more powerful 'mounted' commanders in other armies. His speed, improved resilience - despite the lack of an armour save, Toughness five, three wounds and a +5 invulnerable save does make for a decently hardy model - and high damage output at such a good price is quite good. However, again, the lack of an armour save is crippling - the Juggernaught is very expensive, and one would say over-costed - which I am hard-pressed not to agree with. The trick is finding the best unit to roll with - Bloodcrushers are a good and visually striking option, though you need to be aware that they will likely be targeted by massed Strength eight or higher shooting.

Flesh Hounds are yet another option, being a very fast unit with a lot of wounds and good damage output, all for very little points-wise. The choice is yours - remember that adding Rage or Hatred to any of these units can make them far deadlier! As for the Blood Throne, I think this is best used in a primarily foot-slogging army, or at least one where hordes of Bloodletters and the Herald himself deep-strike down near enemy formations through the help of Seekers (heresy!) or Bloodcrushers. Providing your chosen Locus to every friendly Khorne daemon unit within six inches is quite good, though the range is arguably too limited considering the chaotic nature of assaults in 6th Edition Warhammer 40000. When one also considers the relevance of blast markers to such a congested army, and the fragility of Khorne Daemons, this is one that you might want to avoid. Ultimately, I think Heralds of Khorne are great value that work very well not just as strong combat characters, but as unit buffers that make the already nasty Khorne Daemons even more destructive. Just keep in mind that like all other Heralds, you need to be careful which engagement you throw them in - they aren't the toughest unit, though they do offset this by hitting hard and being quite cheap. Oh yes. Blood shall be spilled!

The Changeling - One of the more quirky characters in the codex, the Changeling is an interesting option that suffers in terms of versatility and customisation compared to a regular Herald of Tzeentch. Its unique ability is to assume the 'identity' of enemy models - the Changeling can choose a single enemy model in base contact with itself at the start of the Fight sub-phase in an assault, and take all or some of its Weapon Skill, Strength, Toughness, Initiative and Attacks for the remainder of that player turn. Obviously, this has a lot of hilarious applications - something that is tougher than it is strong and has few attacks, such as a Tervigon, can be mimicked for laughs and kept in combat for a while. Characters that rely on their high Initiative, despite being fragile, may not have such a fun time when they find themselves duplicated. There are a lot of ways to use this rule effectively, though it is important to note that special rules and wargear do not carry over - a monstrous creature can still Smash, whereas the Changeling can't, whilst a Chaplain would receive their armour save, and the Changeling would have to rely on its invulnerable save. In this sense, though it is cool and can dissuade quite a few enemies from charging the Changeling's unit - this is invaluable when attached to Pink Horrors and the like - it isn't really worth the price that you pay. It is also important to note that the Changeling comes standard with the cheapest Locus - for every 'Blue Horror' marker you would place, you instead place D3 - this can lead to some extra potential wounds, but the difference is mostly negligible.

Hey, what's happening? Wait a minute....

A regular Herald of Tzeentch is almost half the Changeling's cost, and has a lot of options that more than make up for the loss of such an ability - for one, the Changeling's inability to use Divination powers critically limits its effectiveness in terms of support, a key role for a Herald. Though the Change discipline's Witchfire powers aren't terrible, they are particularly unimpressive on a lone mastery level one psyker. Because it is capped at mastery level one, and because Divination works wonders with Pink Horrors and the like, the Changeling isn't as versatile and useful a unit as a Herald of Tzeentch - particularly because a Herald can also take some very helpful daemonic gifts, including an AP three sword that creates Chaos Spawn when it is used to slay a monstrous creature or character. As such, I think you are better served taking a standard Tzeentch Herald for the purposes of supporting your units - a mastery level three Herald of Tzeentch with three Divination powers is a decent chunk more expensive than the Changeling, but should prove to be far more beneficial for your force, as an example. However, it is important to note in a game that can sometimes be about 'hold up', the Changeling can perform this task reliably to an extent - just be aware of its weak save, and it should do just fine.

The Blue Scribes - One of the more comical models in both background, appearance and gameplay, the Blue Scribes are an odd choice to take for a wide number of reasons. First and foremost, they are not an Independent Character - this means that, due to their Toughness four and lack of Eternal Warrior, they will statistically die if at most two krak missiles, hades autocannon shots or the like hit them. Though they have a +5 invulnerable save, their meagre Toughness and only two wounds means that they are very easily killed. In addition, their abilities are random and thus you can never be quite sure whether they will do anything useful in any given turn - they roll on a psychic discipline from the main rulebook of their choice, roll a D6 and see which power they get to use; they cannot swap out for the Primaris power, sadly. However, this is offset by the interesting fact that they neither need to take a psychic test or expend any warp charge points to use the psychic power - if you roll that power, you can use it, without any restrictions whatsoever. Your opponent can Deny the Witch as normal, but seeing as the best means of preventing the use of psychic powers revolves around psychic tests themselves, this means they can sneak in a few cheaky powers. Imagine this - you roll on Telepathy, and roll up Hallucination. Aside from what will be an unlikely Deny the Witch roll, you can essentially render a unit useless for a turn, just like that. This means they can, at a whim, have a significant effect on the game - rolling on Divination or Biomancy will usually reap some big rewards, for example. However, obviously the very thing that makes it work is what undermines their effectiveness - it is inherently random, and is as likely to give you a near-useless power as one that can change the game.

The Blue Scribes do have the advantage of being exceedingly quick - they are treated as a Jetbike, and as such can turbo boost each turn into great positions to not only give them great cover saves, but reduce the amount of units that can potentially fire on them. They also have a unique ability that allows you to place a token for every successful enemy psychic test taken; in their turn, for every token, on a D6 roll of a six they can give an extra warp charge point to any friendly psyker within twelve inches. This is useful, albeit the number of enemy psykers needed for this to truly make a difference is significant - it will work best against armies such as Grey Knights, Eldar and Tyranids, though it isn't something to bet on even in such circumstances. It can be useful to grant extra shots for a Pink Horrors unit - what I imagine to be its primary purpose. Still, given that the Blue Scribes are so easily killed and provide such random abilities, this means they are a risky unit to use - one that should probably be reserved for more 'fun' games, though they are by no means a bad option to use in an Allied contingent if the ruling that Heralds can't be taken for Allies stays.

Herald of Tzeentch - Dissimilar to the Herald of Khorne, Tzeentch Heralds typically do not want any daemonic gifts, as their greatest advantage is their ability not only to fire out an impressive amount of witchfire from the Change Primaris power, but to take a wide array of abilities from the Divination discipline - and they do this at a cheaper price than can be found anywhere else. His basic profile is the most unimpressive of the Heralds, with low stats across the board, albeit a decent Ballistic Skill of four. Much like Pink Horrors and most other Tzeentch Daemons, they are not at home in close combat and as such you should make the effort wherever possible to keep them out of it. Unlike the other Heralds though, Tzeentch's plaything comes stock with psychic mastery level one, and is the only Herald that can take up to psychic mastery level three - given that you typically don't want the daemonic gifts on a Herald of Tzeentch anyway, this means they should still clock out at about the same price or cheaper than other Heralds. And trust me, you want those extra mastery levels - as stated before, Divination is amazing, giving the Herald the ability to grant a +4 invulnerable save to a horde of Pink Horrors, or give re-rolls to hit to a unit of Screamers, or give Ignores Cover to an attached Horror' units ranged attacks. There is a wide range of permutations and combinations available, many of them more discrete than you might initially think - when taken either in an allied contingent or a primary detachment with allied Chaos Space Marines, a Herald of Tzeentch can provide some amazing buffs to units in the codex that need them. Promptly, you can give Prescience - re-rolls to hit in combat and shooting - to units of Havocs or Obliterators, significantly increasing their damage output. You can grant a unit of Khorne Berzerkers a +4 invulnerable save, making them so much scarier against power-weapon wielding enemies. You can force an enemy unit to re-roll successful cover saves against Thousand Sons.

As you can see, Heralds of Tzeentch really aren't about what offensive powers they can bring to the table - even if they can use the mediocre Change witchfire powers - but more the support abilities, all of which comes for little cost. Dark Angels Librarians and the like are so popular for this very reason, and Heralds of Tzeentch are no different - especially given Chaos Space Marines are such a popular army and can benefit from Divination immensely. Their supporting effects, especially when combined with Pink Horrors, are doubled when one considers the various Loci that are available to them. The first treats 'Blue Horror' tokens as D3 per one, rather than just one, and can thus inflict some additional casualties on enemy units in an assault. However, these are of such a low Strength that they are unlikely to change the combat result, and for them to be in such numbers as to truly make a difference, that would usually mean many Pink Horrors have died anyway and the remainder will thus be highly susceptible to a Daemonic Instability test. As such, given it only provides very slight melee defence against a ranged-centric unit, I would avoid it, despite its low cost. The second Locus is interesting - you roll a D6 at the start of each turn, and the result replaces your Strength value for the remainder of that turn. As it is player turn, this means that a bad result can be quickly mitigated - it would be funny to see a unit of Horrors suddenly have Strength six or five. Though it is very random, it has a 50% chance of making them a lot more damaging in combat, and for that reason, I would say it has its place. However, seeing as a bad roll can severely cripple the squad, and that they should stay away from melee anyway, this isn't the best option either.

The third Locus is definitely the most useful - the Herald and its unit add one to the Strength of any psychic powers they manifest. Obviously, considering Horrors can put out absurd numbers of shots when using the Change Primaris for a low cost that are already Strength five, this is quite a deadly tool that can increase the damage done to certain units. As an example, twenty Horrors using the Primaris power with the help of Prescience from a Herald will average about two unsaved wounds against typical Space Marines. With the added benefits of this Locus, the same unit will average three unsaved wounds. The difference is more pronounced against units with weaker armour saves and a lower Toughness - as such, against your common foe, the extra casualty or two is decent and one would say it pays for the Locus. I do agree, as it can be especially devastating to have 4D6 shots at Strength six - it also obviously makes the unit far more threatening to monstrous creatures. Though the third Locus is the best, it isn't entirely necessary - it is good to have, but if you need the points elsewhere, feel free to drop it. Realistically, a Herald of Tzeentch will do perfectly fine with or without a Locus - they can provide such amazing and consistent buffs to a wide range of units even when discounting Loci, a unique distinction amongst the Heralds. The Herald of Tzeentch also has access to a Disc of Tzeentch - making it a Jetbike - that allows it to roll with faster units such as Screamers and Flamers, which is very handy, as well as making him tougher. It is also reasonably expensive, and allows the Herald to have a greater range of units it can affect with its handy Divination powers, as well as allowing it to get closer to employ and powers from the Change discipline it has. The most common tactic here would be to give Prescience to Screamers, making an already effective melee unit even more deadly. You can also take a Burning Chariot of Tzeentch, which unfortunately is a very fragile platform - albeit a mobile one - that is probably best left alone when one considers you can take a Disc of Tzeentch and still be hidden in units for less. It works mostly to get him where he needs to be to cast his powers, but again, I think the Disc is better for that. However, it is important to note that taking an Aetherblade and using the Chariot for sweep attacks is a viable strategy, though it does make your fragile platform quite exposed at short range. All up, whether you run him on foot or on a Disc will largely depend on what units you want to buff, and how many points you are willing to invest. As always, he is a great unit regardless of the path you choose.
So much cuddly goodness....

Epidemius - Looking at Epidemius can be very frustrating for Nurgle-loving Chaos players, at least in his new incarnation anyway. It is no secret - a lot of army lists, particularly allied forces composed of Nurgle Daemons and Plague Marines, were centred around the inclusion of Epidemius. Whilst I don't think he is a terrible unit, the Tallyman is definitely not as beneficial for such an army as he was previously. Well first off, he is essentially a souped up Herald of Nurgle - his stat line is almost exactly the same, albeit having two extra wounds and an extra attack makes him a lot harder to kill against anything that isn't Strength ten, which is a very useful bonus. He also comes stock with the Lesser Nurgle Locus, meaning that every to hit roll of a six made by his unit and himself is treated as Poisoned (+2) - not bad, but you would generally prefer one of the other two Loci. However, the main reason you would take him is for his namesake ability - the Tally of Pestilence. For every unsaved wound caused - even those negated by Feel No Pain and the like - by Daemons of Nurgle, you add one to a 'tally'. The number of unsaved wounds provides many different cumulative bonuses to any friendly Nurgle Daemon unit within six inches of Epidemius - these can range from adding one to their Toughness, giving them Poisoned (+2) melee attacks, or granting Feel No Pain (+4) to entire units! Obviously though, the more powerful results require a massive number of unsaved wounds to come into effect, meaning that you need to maximise the kills as quickly as possible to reap the benefits when it counts. This rule has two fundamental flaws that you need to be aware of - the first is its limited range, forcing any unit you want to buff to stay packed around Epidemius. Though the requirement is only for one model to be within six inches for the entire unit to get the effects, you obviously need to be aware of blast weapons shot at Epidemius, sniper wounds and the like that will likely force you to huddle closer. This makes a Nurgle Daemon army even more vulnerable to blast weapons, meaning that you will need to abuse cover as much as possible - given that they are already slow and mostly a melee army, this means you are likely to take severe casualties before you can even really start the killing. Thunderfire Cannons, Whirlwinds and the like will have a field day with you regardless - though Shrouded will make a big difference against other common blast weapons. As well, Manticores and the like will have a field day against Epidemius - instant death, barrage rules that snipe him out, and so on. You need to treat him, and your army, with care, and it is very difficult with such limitations.

The other issue is actually getting the kills needed to boost your units - in an army that wants to exploit Epidemius' ability to its furthest extent, you will need lots of infantry, both to protect and benefit from Epidemius, and a lot of either fast-moving, dangerous units or others with strong firepower. In a Nurgle themed army, this can be difficult - your only real options here are to take Nurgle Soul Grinders and Plague Drones; though both of these units are either fantastic or very good, relying on them to get the kills quickly means a smart opponent will know to focus fire on them early on, as they are hardly infallible. In addition, wracking the Tally up to where it truly makes your units as tough as Epidemius' price tag demands is very challenging, even with a large quantity of those aforementioned units. You need the added durability immensely on the early and mid-game turns, and I am not sure a typical game will feature enough units for you to get what you need at such a time. And even then, the effects aren't strictly amazing - though they are pretty good, you need to ask yourself whether it is worth the price of two decently upgraded Heralds of Nurgle. My guess? I would say that you should take the pair of Heralds - they are better value in every sense of the word, they can take a wide range of potential gifts, and have access to the very useful Biomancy and Plague psychic disciplines if they choose to be a psyker. As such, I wouldn't recommend Epidemius mostly because of the fact that Heralds of Nurgle can and will serve your army much better in most cases. Whilst an Epidemius army can work pretty decently, I think you are better off looking either at a Great Unclean One or those ever adaptable Nurgle Heralds. An ok choice, but outweighed by compatriot options.

Herald of Nurgle - A Plaguebearer that wants to hug you a bit less than usual - they are busy bodies after all - Heralds of Nurgle are very useful models that are quite tough and can pack a punch with the right upgrades. First and foremost, he is Toughness five, and has two wounds and a +5 invulnerable save much alike to other Heralds - he is decently more durable than other Heralds, though is generally less dangerous in combat to compensate. As with Plaguebearers though, he comes standard with a Plaguesword, meaning he can do decently well against both monstrous creatures and most characters - re rolls to wound on threes against most characters is quite advantageous - as well as glance well armoured vehicles in a pinch, if unreliably. However, the two best reasons to take a Herald of Nurgle - aside from being a cheap as chips commander and potential Warlord - are that it can be a decently powerful psyker, and it can take an awesome Locus. With access to the Plague and Biomancy psychic disciplines, a Herald of Nurgle has quite a bit of room to move - it can take some powerful witchfire powers from Plague, or hope for the blessing that can dramatically reduce the combat effectiveness of enemy units, or reap the benefits of more random rolls on Biomancy through insane durability boosts to both units and itself. Unlike a Herald of Tzeentch though, Heralds of Nurgle do not start off with a psychic mastery level - they need to purchase the first level, and are capped at a maximum of mastery level two. As such, they can't provide cheap benefits like Prescience right off the bat, but that isn't to say the investment is not worth it - Leadership eight means that you will fail the odd psychic test more often than you would hope, though the Plague discipline gives you some very nasty witchfire powers, notably including an AP three Poisoned (+4) template weapon and a large blast AP two Poisoned (+4) attack that can each do significant amounts of damage at short range. Biomancy works mostly to get Endurance or Enfeeble - either a significant support ability or a strong de-buff power - as the witchfires are inferior to those found in the Plague discipline, and the abilities that buff the Herald itself aren't as useful as they would be elsewhere due to their lack of wounds and good saving throw.

As for Loci, the Herald of Nurgle has some interesting options, though one shines above the rest. The first Locus treats any to hit roll of a six made in combat by the Herald and its unit as Poisoned (+2) which can be a useful - and cheap - way of doing a few extra wounds here and there. However, considering such wounds do not ignore armour saves, and seeing as typical enemies will be wounded on a +4 with re-rolls by Plaguebearers, this isn't too great, especially considering it is only on to hit rolls of a six which, given the few attacks generated by most Nurgle units, means it isn't that useful. The second, and easily most attractive option is to give the Herald and its unit the Feel No Pain special rule; obviously, this significantly increases the durability of any given unit, particularly for a unit such as a horde of Plaguebearers. Given that Nurgle Daemons, particularly Plaguebearers, already work very well as objective-sitters in cover due to Shrouded, adding Feel No Pain into the mix makes them nearly impossible to shift against typical ranged attacks. Just be mindful of weapons that ignore cover and/or inflict instant death, which are more common place than you might think - still, this is great value and should be your first choice if considering a Locus for the Herald. The third, which is unusually the same cost as the second Locus, is quite similar to the first Locus - namely, every to hit roll of a six made in close combat by the Herald and its unit automatically cause an additional Strength four AP nothing Poisoned (+4) hit on an enemy unit. This is, again, very unreliable and unlike the first Locus, it does not have the benefit of being very cheap, even if its output is similar.

As such, though the first and third Loci are middling, the second is fantastic and is a great addition to a Herald of Nurgle provided you intend to make full use of its benefits. You can also take a Palanquin for the Herald of Nurgle, making them a lot harder to kill, for a pretty decent investment; just remember that unlike the mount options for other Heralds, this doesn't boost the Herald of Nurgle's speed. Overall, Heralds of Nurgle are quite good - much like Heralds of Tzeentch, they are there primarily to buff your units, though they do have access to Gifts that can make for interesting offensive combinations. You could, for example, take an AP two at Initiative weapon for cheap, but generally speaking, the Herald of Nurgle is best used for providing great defensive boosts to a unit, rather than strictly being a good combat character. Much like the Herald of Khorne though, that cheap AP two weapon can be very handy against units such as Terminators - units that would usually bog your Herald and its unit down for a while, but would now be killed much quicker due to the decent combat abilities of the Herald being combined with a very good weapon. Weapon Skill five, Initiative four and his naturally high Strength and Toughness mean a Herald can quite easily over-come squad sergeants and the like, though he will probably need to rely on his Toughness to combat someone like a Captain. Again though, the Herald isn't there just for challenges - support your units, and they will make their points back every time.

Kid-friendly Slaanesh picture? Huh?
The Masque - Do you like the idea of having a lone, easily killed model that dances people either to death or to not know how to fight? Then good news - the Masque is here! As you may have guessed, the Masque is essentially a Herald of Slaanesh with two key attributes that distinguish here from a regular Herald, excluding the obvious disadvantages of being a special character - firstly, she cannot join units. This is a crippling distinction that, when combined with the fact she is only Toughness three, has two wounds and only a +5 invulnerable save, she is quite easily killed - a squad of ten Guardsmen can reliably do it in one round of shooting, or even two or three plasma guns. Given that all of her abilities revolve around a twelve inch or less range, this means any savvy opponent will simply kill her before she even has a chance to work her magic. On that note, she's quite a seductress - her unique trait is that her dancing is so alluring, so enchanting, that it disarms, or even harms, those (un)lucky enough to witness it. The three potential dances she can use are quite nasty - one reduces an enemy units' Weapon Skill by five and cripples them so badly that they can only move, run, assault or flee D3 inches. Seriously. This one works very well to help units such as Daemonettes who lack assault grenades - there are no penalties to Initiative, but generally speaking, reducing an enemy units' Weapon Skill by five means they will be hitting your Daemonettes, Seekers and the like on fives; this makes them far harder to kill in that first round and should, importantly, reduce the amount of casualties they suffer before getting to strike.

Another dance similarly weakens the unit by lowering their Ballistic Skill by five - a note that this and the prior dance reduce such stats to a minimum of one - and prevents that unit from firing Overwatch. Obviously, this can be pretty amazing if used correctly - against a unit such as Flamers of Tzeentch or Burna Boyz, charging Daemonettes would be absolutely reaved by Overwatch fire. This both makes them more likely to get into combat, but generally harder hitting once they get there too. In addition, it is also insurance against a failed charge - a squad of Tactical Marines won't look so nasty when their bolters and plasma guns hit on sixes. Her third and final dance is also amusing, as it literally forces the enemy unit to kill themselves - every model in the unit suffers a Strength one hit at AP two that has the Ignores Cover special rule. Though it can reliably kill one or two Space Marines - or even a Terminator - here and there, it is best used against units in bigger numbers, such as larger Chaos Space Marine squads and the like. It is useful, albeit reliant on a bit of a lucky roll to do any real significant damage. Her dances work against a single enemy unit within twelve inches - ergo, you need to be very close to use them, and given how fragile the Masque is, that is a good way to get her killed. So how does one mitigate this problem? The short answer is to deep strike her by using fast-moving 'homing' units, such as Seekers, to guide her in safely and allow her to provide - probably - one turn to do her work. She can turn a potentially disastrous assault into a guaranteed victory, and for that reason alone she is an option to consider.

Unlike a regular Herald, she also has Hit and Run, which combined with her very high Initiative of seven means she can reliably get out of a sticky situation - i.e. a joint assault that hasn't worked as hoped. She can re-roll failed invulnerable saves, much like one of the greater gifts available to Heralds and the like, though it is still only a +5 save. As much as she does have abilities that make more survivable than she would initially appear, the fact is that even a standard, readily available Tactical Squad rapid-firing at her will kill her without a fight. That she is only Toughness three means that massed strength six and higher shooting - i.e. massed autocannons - means she can die on turn one of the game if you don't hide her or deep strike her. As such, I would always deploy the Masque in reserves, and have her help out a particular potential assault you really need to win. Aside from that, you are far better off with a regular Herald of Slaanesh, which is a shame because the background and theme behind the Masque - stop dancing yourself to death! - are quite awesome. She is over-costed for what she does, and having her around is a risky investment - especially if she is your armies Warlord (don't ever do it)! She simply doesn't provide for your units as much as Herald with a Locus would, who is cheaper to boot. Much like the Blue Scribes, whilst she isn't terrible, she's far outperformed by her counter-part Heralds in terms of what those particular units need to perform at their highest efficiency. Again though, she can work very well with certain units; just be aware that Fiends of Slaanesh can perform a similar role - in terms of mitigating the lack of assault grenades anyway - and are far harder to kill as well.

Herald of Slaanesh - Being yet another generic character that can make special characters blush, the Herald of Slaanesh is a less 'overt' unit in combat compared to a Herald of Khorne, but arguably provides larger benefits to her units due to the Loci she has available. In addition, like a Herald of Nurgle, she can be a psyker too, and owing to her and other Slaanesh Daemons' great speed, this has a lot of useful applications. In terms of raw combat ability, a Herald of Slaanesh is quite decent - rocking a Weapon Skill and Initiative of seven, with four Rending attacks at Strength four. She should butcher squad sergeants - who often cost almost as much as she does before upgrades - and even stands a very decent chance against less suitably equipped commanders owing to her speed and weight of attacks. That she has Rending melee attacks is quite useful, as it means you don't need to take an AP two weapon that strikes at Initiative, much like a Herald of Khorne works well with - however, unlike other Slaanesh Daemons, a Herald does have Strength four, and as such a standard Aetherblade or even a Greater Aetherblade can make her extremely dangerous in combat owing to having four attacks base at such a high Initiative. Given that she, like the Heralds of Nurgle and Tzeentch, is also cheaper than a Herald of Khorne, she can made to be as good, if not better, in combat against certain enemies for less. Rending also allows her to engage high Toughness enemies, albeit a bit unreliably - however, again, combat ability isn't strictly what you should be taking a Herald for, even if a Herald of Slaanesh is quite good at it. Just the fact that a cheap weapon does make her very nasty, especially when engaging Terminators, on top of the already highly cost-effective melee-oriented Daemonettes, is quite a good trait to have.

Like other Heralds, the main reason you probably want the Herald of Slaanesh is for what strong advantages she can give to a unit, whether through psychic abilities or Loci. Like the Herald of Nurgle, she does not start off as a psyker, but she can be upgraded up to mastery level two - it adds to her cost quite significantly though, more than doubling her standard price in points. She has access to the Excess and Telepathy disciplines, which means her available powers are generally more focussed on maledictions and the like. Excess suffers by being used primarily to attack enemies based on Leadership tests, and owing to the high Leadership of most armies nowadays, this makes such powers unreliable at best. However, the first and most useful power is a malediction that essentially does what you would take the Masque or Fiends of Slaanesh for - it reduces the Initiative of an enemy unit by five, and prevents them from Overwatching or using Counter-Attack. Obviously, this is a fantastic power that given its range of eighteen inches can be used to help out other units that are launching assaults this turn, not just the Heralds. Overwatch can inflict quite a few casualties on Slaanesh Daemons, and denying the enemy bonus attacks can help to shape the combat result, and as such the power is worthwhile for that alone. However, the penalty to Initiative is its best - and perhaps broken - aspect, as the power does not reduce their Initiative 'to a minimum of one'. This means that, against a unit such as Tactical Marines, Paladins without Nemesis Halberds, Wraithguard, Orks and the like - i.e. almost any unit you can think of - you can prevent them from attacking completely as there is no 'Initiative 0' step in an assault! If you can get this power - and I would recommend taking only mastery level one for that purpose so that you can re-roll the five-six result - you can effectively guarantee a won combat against any enemy unit, and even against those that would be able to strike, it will likely be at Initiative one and thus put your Slaaneshi Daemons charging through cover on an equal playing field with their opponents! The Telepathy discipline is also highly useful, if mostly for the warp charge two powers - the rest are fine, but as a Daemons player, Invisibility and Hallucination provide incredible value. Remember that, like the Herald of Nurgle, there is quite a decent chance of failing your psychic tests and as such you need to be careful.

As for Loci, the Herald of Slaanesh predictably has three to choose from - and these are home to the most expensive available to any Herald. The first, and cheapest, grants her and her unit the Move Through Cover special rule. Given that all Slaanesh Daemons have Fleet and add three inches to their Run moves, this isn't really going to affect them as much as you might think - however, it is important to note that this will make Seekers of Slaanesh immune to dangerous terrain checks if your Herald joins such a unit, making them able to go through terrain without reprimand. In that sense, it is useful for one or two units only, and not really necessary elsewhere. The second Locus grants the Herald and her unit a staggering bonus of five points of Initiative on top of their basic profile - though this means they will usually strike at Initiative ten, it is very important to note that they will still strike at Initiative one when charging through cover. Given that Slaanesh Daemons will usually strike first against most opponents anyway, this isn't the best option - your units should be more worried about charging through cover, rather than striking at the same time as Howling Banshees; however, it is important to note that this does have its uses. The third, and perhaps best Locus overall is also the most costly any of the Heralds can purchase; the Herald and her attached unit can re-roll all failed to-hit rolls in melee, and the chosen Handmaiden forces opponents to accept her challenges, with the unique distinction that she can also choose who accepts those challenges. Obviously, these benefits are pretty significant - though Slaanesh Daemons tend to have high Weapon Skill, the re-rolls to hit do serve to maximise their damage potential and can lead to an incredible amount of extra unsaved wounds inflicted, particularly when using larger squads of Daemonettes or Seekers. Effectively, it makes them even more deadly in combat than they already were for the cost.

The second ability of the Locus is also quite hilarious - there is no rule saying the Herald must accept or issue challenges, yet she can force enemy characters to accept hers and pick which one does it at that! Remembering that the Herald of Slaanesh will mulch through many characters almost twice her cost, and this is a great ability to have. Spiritseer in a Wraithguard unit trying to hide so that they don't suffer from Wraithsight? Laugh at the poor Eldar player and kill their Spiritseer in a blink. Two Necron Lords in the unit, one with Mindshackle Scarabs? Force the other one to accept and butcher him. A Dark Apostle trying to hide in a blob of Cultists, being the only thing keeping the squad from running and granting you an objective? Make him accept and wipe him out - just be careful not to fluff your rolls, of course, as he stands a decent chance of killing you. Or you can make the Dark Apostle challenge your unit champion, allow him to waste his Hatred on her and potentially suffer a wound or two, and then mop up with the Herald who still gets her re-rolls to hit. In short - it is fantastic, and as long as you can get into combat and not suffer too many casualties as well as strike at your base Initiative, it should pay for itself doubly. It is interesting to note that a Herald of Slaanesh has access to three mount options - the first and most obvious being a Steed of Slaanesh that not only makes her insanely quick, but boosts her attacks and allows her to join up with the incredibly efficient Seeker units, making them even more deadly provided she takes a Locus. This is a great option that is also hilariously cheap - just remember that, unlike a Juggernaught of Khorne, it does not boost her survivability and as such you need to be as careful with her as you usually would. The second is to mount her on a Seeker chariot, which is an interesting option - it can get her into combat quicker, but it leaves her out in the open as she cannot join a Seeker Cavalcade and, owing to the fragility of the chariot, is likely to be blown up quickly. It is cool, but you are probably better off with a Steed or simply running with Daemonettes. My opinions of the Exalted Seeker Chariot are similar, and though it can do a lot more damage, you are paying quite a bit more for something that was already of questionable value for a Herald of Slaanesh. In short, whilst the chariots aren't bad, I think the Steed of Slaanesh would be the best mounted option, especially since Seekers of Slaanesh are amazing now. All in all, the Herald of Slaanesh is a fantastic unit that will serve to make whatever unit she joins - provided you take one of the awesome Loci or certain psychic powers - that much better.
You know it is awesome. Take a Herald!

Example Builds - For your viewing pleasure, I have compiled some example builds that I think you will find most interesting.

Herald of Khorne w/ etherblade (lesser reward), greater locus of fury - 85

Herald of Khorne w/ etherblade (lesser reward), greater locus of fury, juggernaught of Khorne - 130

Herald of Tzeentch w/ psychic mastery level three - 95

Herald of Tzeentch w/ psychic mastery level two, exalted locus of conjuration - 95

Herald of Nurgle w/ etherblade (lesser reward), greater locus of fecundity - 80

Herald of Nurgle w/ psychic mastery level two, greater locus of fecundity - 120

Herald of Slaanesh w/ mighty etherblade (greater reward), exalted locus of beguilement - 95

Herald of Slaanesh w/ mighty etherblade (greater reward), steed of slaanesh, exalted locus of beguilement - 110

What do you think of Daemon Princes and the Heralds of Chaos? Do you think I have judged each unit accurately? Sound off in the comments below - we are eager to hear any critiques you may have! Thanks for any and all feedback, as well as taking the time to digest this long-winded article :)


  1. I think Epidemius just made acid blood better for the tyranids. Now feel no pain doesn't stop the reflected wound. So for a bad example FNP on pyrovores and charge into combat.

  2. I'm liking a herald of Khorne with the locus of fury, lesser reward on a Juggernaught with a big unit of hounds. Hard hitting unit that is reasonably cheap! Just a shame you only get 4 heralds in one HQ as primary since I'm looking to use Daemons as allies to my Chaos marines.

  3. Why are you giving a Aetherblade to a Herald of Khorne? Surely their very own weaponlist are better than the generic ones. Axe of Khorne simply does the same for the same amount of points. Not to mention you got Decapitating Blow as a bonus.

    Regarding the Juggernaut-build, adding a Locus heavilly depends on which unit he joins. If he joins a unit of Bloodletters then it's recommended to purchase a Locus, as you maximize it's efficiency due to the large number of models you usually field. If he joins a small unit, such as Bloodcrushers, then a Locus would be wasted points. If this is the case I would advise to get a Greater Reward instead. Afterwards swapping the result for a Blade of Blood as offhand weapon soley for the Rampage bonus.

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  5. Very accurate and balanced analysis, congrats. But your nasty tactic with the Herald of Slaanesh about reducing the initiative below one doesn't work anymore. In the rulebook FAQ, it's said that initiative can't be smaller than one, but it was a very good plan though.

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  7. I think that this is a great review with a very balanced and objective opinion that states both the advantages and disadvantages of each character.
    I myself have a force of chaos spacemarines (primary detachment) and chaos daemons (allied detachment) that has proven to be quite successful.

    I am looking to get one of each herald building towards a chaos daemons army as a primary detachment. Having read this I am considering a Khorne Herald on a Juggernaut leading some flesh hounds. For Slaanesh I am seriously considering a Herald on an Steed of Slaaesh and for Nurgle I was thinking of running him on foot in a large unit of Plaugebearers.

    KLN B)