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 Troops section is home mostly to melee-oriented units that tend to be very cheap, and also quite fragile - much like the Heralds of their respective deities. All but one are incapable of ranged attacks, and most can - and should - be taken in large numbers both to satisfy their odds of survival, and maintain high effectiveness once they are able to commit to battle. Mostly, each unit has their own specific role - one that they perform far better than the other units of their kind, but with their unique and innate drawbacks to consider. However, again, they are all quite cheap for what they do - unlike other armies, our units lack armour saves, but they all have an invulnerable save, meaning a plasma gun is no more threatening to our Troops than an autocannon. They are as such quite susceptible to massed anti-infantry firepower, and seeing as most of these units need to get into combat to make a difference, this can pose a problem. We lack transports for our Troops, but all Chaos Daemons can deep strike; to really make the most out of our Troops, you will need to consider more than just how they perform when running up the field and getting shot down, or what their strict combat effectiveness is like against certain units. Whilst arguably the hardest section of the codex to make do with - and also one of two mandatory ones - our Troops are quite brutal in the right hands, and a calm, tactical mind is required to use them to their fullest capacity. As far as the comparison between Bloodletters and Daemonettes goes, my general opinion is that Bloodletters are better against power armoured Space Marines, whilst Daemonettes are the more reliable and useful overall. However, this can come down to preference, and your dice may disagree. My advice - try them out for yourself!
Bloodletters of Khorne - Perhaps the most iconic of all Chaos Daemons, and one of whom graces the cover of the new codex, Bloodletters symbolise all that is thematic and stylish of both Khorne, and Daemons overall - humanoid, a carnal fusion of primitive imagery, roaring in rage and wielding a blade bound by terror itself. This is indicative of their rules as well, as they are strong and fearless combatants, yet brittle and perhaps too easily banished unless they have greater numbers. Most players know and fear Bloodletters for their capabilities in close combat, and as such, they will often be the target of many ranged attacks - in essence, they are a terror weapon that functions simply because it exists, because it is both visually frightening and deadly. They will be an obvious focus for enemy shooting, and as such you will need to protect them. But enough of that for now, what exactly makes them so darn imposing aside from being perfect caricatures of modern interpretations for daemons? Firstly, and significantly, each member of the squad carries a 'hellblade' - an AP three melee weapon with no other rules. Obviously, this would usually paint such a unit as elite infantry, considering power weapons are often at a rare premium in other armies. However, of course, this is not the case; Bloodletters, despite being the most costly of the Daemonic Troops choices, are each cheaper than what taking a power weapon would cost in any other army. When one considers they are each Weapon Skill five and Initiative four, they are quite obviously intended to slaughter Space Marines and their equivalents - in fact, almost any unit that isn't in +2 armour will likely be cut to pieces by a Bloodletter charge of any significance. Combined with Furious Charge from being a Daemon of Khorne, and even a minimum sized squad will butcher a ten-strong Tactical Squad with impunity in one round of combat. Monstrous creatures such as Tervigons and the like aren't safe either, despite their whopping Toughness and amount of wounds - statistically, sixteen Bloodletters will kill a Tervigon outright on the charge, making their points back in one go, which is obviously advantage as many other power-weapon wielders wouldn't stand a remote chance due to their lack of both numbers and Furious Charge. When one considers such abilities can be boosted further due to the inclusion of Heralds and the like, Bloodletters are quite a devastating unit once they get into combat.
Of course, getting into combat is the major concern you will have when fielding any kind of deadly melee unit - your opponent simply isn't going to sit around and let them charge without first inflicting immense casualties. The first and most prominent feature to note is the fragility of Bloodletters - a Toughness of three and only a +5 invulnerable save means that even lasguns can cause significant damage, whilst bolters and the like will shred them with impunity. Of course, the trade-off here is that a +5 invulnerable save works against any wound, even those that other armies wouldn't get a save against without the immediacy of cover - in melee, where the Bloodletters are at their finest, this becomes quite important, and even allows them to move up the field without worrying about cover against enemies such as Thousand Sons or Psycannons. Bloodletters fear any gun that is strength five or higher as much as they would all others - the only difference comes down to how many wounds they can put on the unit at any given time. Elite armies that focus on such weaponry may thus find they are incredibly lacking in the numbers of small arms fire needed to actually cripple Bloodletter hordes. Still, they are quite fragile and there is no way around that. The other area they find themselves lacking in is by being an assault unit that lacks any form of dedicated transport - the codex has no means of transporting any unit that is not a Herald or Exalted minion, and the Allies rules preclude one from embarking upon any friendly transports. As an assault unit, that is a middling disadvantage that means Bloodletters have no truly reliable way of getting into combat without first being shot at, of which they thus die in droves. When one also considers they lack assault grenades - the means to charge through cover without penalty to Initiative - in conjunction with their fragility makes them very much an unreliable glass cannon, one that has to be treated with care. It doesn't help that they lack anti-vehicle weaponry, though it must be noted that a decent-sized squad should still reliably destroy an AV 11 vehicle or lower when assaulting - just don't expect miracles against walkers, even though wielders of krak grenades tend to struggle against such enemies anyway. Given that, per the Daemonic Instability rules, Bloodletters can't break from an assault in which they cannot harm the opponent, you need to be very selective and considerate of how you use them.
So how can these issues be mitigated? Well, much like most of this codex, you need to consider the potential combinations involving them, not the strict advantages they provide as a unit over others of their kind. Firstly, you need to get them into combat without taking too much damage by foot-slogging. What special rule do all Daemons have that comes into play here? You guessed it - as any Chaos Daemons unit can deep-strike, this gives Bloodletters a much quicker and safer, if slightly unreliable method of getting up close. This works best when combined with certain units, ones that carry icons - in this role, you need mobile cavalry or beasts that can get an icon where to at least the halfway point of the board in their first movement phase, and have the numbers, durability or placement to survive. Such units need to be used carefully, as even such quick and large Daemons are deceptively fragile - abuse cover and move smartly to minimise enemy fire, and thus casualties, with these units. The obvious choices are Bloodcrushers, Seekers and Plague Drones - each unit can be taken in significant numbers at an affordable price, or have a lot of wounds to compensate. Importantly, each unit can carry an icon - this means reliable deep-strike scatter reduction for any friendly Daemon unit clawing into reality within six inches of the bearer. For Daemons of the same alignment, they do not scatter at all, allowing for perfect precision; conversely, those unaligned to the same god as the icon wielders instead scatter only D6 inches, which means they shouldn't risk a mishap most of the time. Obviously, you need to pick such place carefully; a horde of twenty Bloodletters deep-striking near enemy lines is sure to draw significant attention, which means you need to look to prevention and tie-up strategies. What were those fast-moving units doing again? Strictly speaking, to use Bloodletters (or Daemonettes) in this way, you should combine them with several mobile and hard-hitting units that can at least survive a round of combat and reliably tarpit a potentially nasty ranged unit - even Tactical Marines are wise choices for a unit such as Bloodcrushers to engage (even if the Bloodcrushers will win overwhelmingly here anyway). As those units launch their assault, run your Bloodletters into cover or, at the very least, closer to enemy units so as to guarantee a next-turn charge. This strategy is proving to be the most effective when using assault-based Chaos Daemons units, as it aims for a brutal two-turn assault over the second and third game turns; firstly by cavalry and beasts, and then by the masses of infantry. Taking instruments on your Bloodletter units is also wise, as it allows a second unit to deep-strike in without rolling - useful if you want to guarantee most of your units come down, given you still need to roll for reserves.
There may be other ways to get Bloodletters into combat, but this is proving to be the most popular of all due to its reliability and reduced risk compared to any other known strategy. Of course, that still doesn't solve their lack of assault grenades and fragility - even in big units, striking last can very much mean the difference between victorious slaughter or banishment, especially when Overwatch is in play. A failed charge can lead to a lost unit in short time, as can the availability of cover. Being Daemons, there are, however, ways to mitigate these issues. In keeping with the theme of Khorne, the aptly-placed new Skull Cannon solves the issue of assault grenades quite reliably - firing a Ballistic Skill five large blast that, as long as it even hits a model from any given unit, all Chaos Daemons units launching an assault against the affected target do not count the usual penalties to Initiative for charging through cover! Given that the gun has a thirty-six inch range, and its unusually high Ballistic Skill for a blast weapon, it is incredibly unlikely to miss, meaning your Daemons can charge through those forests and ruins with impunity, laughing at your opponents reliance on them.
|Blood shall be spilled. Death shall be granted.|
In terms of maximising their combat potential, Heralds of Khorne are excellent additions that make for great offensive tools to a unit in terms of both combat ability and improving the units' chances of winning any given combat. Typically speaking, a Herald of Khorne is an efficient carrier of an AP two at-Initiative weapon, as even one such model with that kind of weapon can make Bloodletters far, far more dangerous against units such as Terminators - the sheer weight of attacks from the regular Bloodletters would likely clean up the rest of any given squad after the Herald has done their work. As well, their Loci can make Bloodletters even more ferocious in the first turn of assault - the best of which is Rage, making each Bloodletter unit strike with three attacks on the charge at Weapon Skill five, Initiative four and Strength five owing to Furious Charge, coupled with AP three melee weapons. To boil it down - blood flows like an ocean if you do this. Karanak makes for a particularly brutal combination with Bloodletters, owing to its Scout special rule; by conferring it on the unit, you thus allow your Bloodletters to effectively start at the half-way point of the board before any other unit can even move, meaning you don't need to worry about deep-striking them - take an icon with them and they become an excellent anchor for your other Bloodletter units and the like to deep-strike off! Make sure to move into cover or line-of-sight blocking terrain so as to minimise the damage they may take, and be sure to be aggressive if you go second - remember, unless you have the first player turn, your Bloodletters and Karanak will be able to launch an assault after the Scout move and their regular movement! Combined with other units like Bloodcrushers and Flesh Hounds, this can mean your second turn - or even the first - is absolutely devastating. Heralds of Khorne - particularly Karanak but even Skulltaker, make for an excellent addition as they boost the squad and have an accurate wall of bodies between them and death.
As far as actual upgrades that the unit itself has access to, all of them are quite useful - the most obvious of which is the Bloodreaper, essentially the squad leader that can be bought for less than ten pistachios. Aside from having an extra attack and being a character, there is no real difference - however, what may really strike your fancy is that you can take Daemonic Gifts worth up to twenty bacon strips. Though I wouldn't usually recommend splurging on squad leaders, there is a notable exception here - the fact that you can take an AP two at Initiative weapon for much less than you would ever pay for in any other codex, regardless of already having a hellblade. There are three available, but to keep the Bloodreaper as efficient as possible, I would recommend only two - the Axe of Khorne, with a chance to inflict instant death on a to-wound roll of a six, or an Etherblade that has master-crafted and thus grants a single re-roll to hit. Given that you can pick this weapon before a game starts as opposed to when writing your army list, it gives you a degree of flexibility - the Axe of Khorne would be quite useful against Tyranids, for example, whilst the Etherblade is probably more useful in most other cases. It is also useful to take the cheap character additions for the purposes of a specific Warp Storm roll, namely to keep your Greater Daemons and Heralds safe - it is also useful to tie up enemy characters, and even though they will likely die, Bloodreapers will often strike their opponent down, especially if the Bloodletters charged that turn. The icon and instrument are both used for specific reasons - the icon to allow friendly units to deep strike with reduced or no scatter, depending on their daemonic alignment, and the instrument to allow friendly Daemons of Khorne to deep strike immediately after the Bloodletters wielding one to maximise the units arriving on any given turn. Having both an icon and instrument is a great idea if you are deep-striking the Bloodletters amongst other units, though they are unnecessary otherwise. The Banner of Blood is an interesting option to maximise the charge distance of the unit when you need it most, but you need to weigh up whether those points are better spent elsewhere - especially given an Etherblade could be given to any character for the same cost. As far as unit size goes, you should take a minimum of fifteen Bloodletters in any given unit - you need the numbers to both make and win an assault, and any less is setting them up for failure. Taking twenty may be expensive, but it will likely be worthwhile, especially in bigger games - even in small games, taking Bloodletters in large numbers is a very good idea. As for actually capturing objectives, you should use Bloodletters to clear out the enemies' objectives - Bloodletters can and should wipe out most enemy Troops units, and can then proceed to wreak havoc elsewhere or sit on those taken points.
Overall, Bloodletters are a strong and efficient melee unit that is crippled severely by its lack of assault grenades, fragility and lack of means to make an assault reliably. However, when used in conjunction with the appropriate units and tactics, they make for a devastating part of a synergy-based force - one you would be remiss not to consider. Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne! Let the Galaxy burn!
Pink Horrors of Tzeentch - The twisting pranksters and comedians of the Daemonic force, Pink Horrors are as crazy in their rules as they are in their background - the essence of Chaos itself made real, Horrors are strange creatures that shift and attack without rhyme or reason. Tossing fireballs and bolts of energy at their foes almost carelessly, with clamoring laughter regardless of whether their power harms or heals their opponents, Horrors are quite a strange unit to employ - and one that should give you as much unexpected mirth as mind-numbing frustration. First and foremost, they are the only unit in the Troops section with access to ranged weapons, making them ostensibly unique - they are also the most quantitative source of shooting in the entire codex, making them a crutch for certain players for those reasons alone. They are a really strange unit to consider though, when one studies all of their special rules and options - there is a sense that they don't work as well as one would hope, though they have some very nifty rules and potential combinations that make them more viable than they might be at first glance. To say the least, they are a divisive unit that I would recommend testing and working up any decent strategy with before using them en masse, as they are also strangely a unit that works both in a horde and as minimum sized unit, even if the extra numbers are near-mandatory - if that doesn't make sense to you, then don't worry, as I don't think even Pink Horrors know what they are up to half of the time! Chaos indeed.
First up, let us cover the basics and allow me to explain why their standard profile is almost meaningless. Unlike the other Troops units - excluding Nurglings - they do not innately have or wield a special kind of close combat weapon, nor do they actually have a ranged weapon listed on their profile. Their stat line is unimpressive, though for their very low cost, it isn't surprising - almost all of their stats, barring obvious exclusions such as Wounds, Attacks (both of which are one) and Leadership, are three, meaning they are middling in almost every sense of the word. So why isn't this important, really? Whilst it isn't a bad profile for what essentially amounts to a light infantry unit, you don't want them in combat, nor do you need to really worry about losing combat or anything like that - they are a ranged unit, and the sheer number of shots they put out is more than enough to balance out their mediocre Ballistic Skill. They should always be kept out of combat unless absolutely necessary, as even Guardsmen stand a good chance of beating them off - though it must be noted that the +5 invulnerable save of the Horrors, coupled with the commonality of counter-charge units in the codex such as Beasts of Nurgle, means an assault isn't a death-trap for them. The gravy for Pink Horrors that distinguishes them from their peers is in the special rules - first of which, as Daemons of Tzeentch, they can re-roll all saving throws of 'one' and add three to their Leadership for the purposes of psychic tests. This actually makes them more survivable in most cases than Bloodletters and Daemonettes, at least outside of combat, where they lack the killing power of either of those units to win their weight in wounds back. A nasty tactic that has arisen is to stick them in a ruin or behind an Aegis Defence Line, go to ground, and enjoy +2 cover saves that re-roll ones, making them much like cheaper, less offensive-minded Pathfinders that can be plonked on a home objective without fear of anything excluding flamers - and unlike Pathfinders, you have an invulnerable save to....well, save you! (I am so sorry.) So as far as soaking up shooting - which most Daemons do badly - they aren't all that bad, at least in comparison to other units in their slot. However, it must be noted that what you really want from the Daemons of Tzeentch rule is the bonus to Leadership for psychic test purposes, as Pink Horrors are just that - psykers.
|Pink Horrors may or may not have been involved.|
Much akin to Grey Knights, a unit of Pink Horrors counts as a single psyker - and they are the first unit to use the new Brotherhood of Psykers/Sorcerers special rule from the 6th Edition rulebook. As a unit of psykers, they are only ever counted as one psyker for all intents and purposes - if they suffer Perils of the Warp, it is only ever resolved against one model, and the entire unit takes one psychic test. This has some big disadvantages - notable amongst them that your powers can be denied by enemy psychic defences or even mere Deny the Witch saves. Given that their witchfire powers are their only means of shooting, this means that on average at least one enemy unit will Deny the Witch against them in any given game, essentially making them useless for an entire shooting phase due to one dice roll. If enemy psykers are present, particularly Rune Priests and Farseers, the odds of being denied or otherwise stopped in your attempt increase dramatically. However, as psykers, they do have some very interesting rules that justify my earlier statement about the potential employment of minimum sized squads. Counting as Leadership 10 for psychic tests, Pink Horrors should rarely fail and due to most Deny the Witch saves being only a +6, they should get their psychic attacks off more often than not. What is important to note here is that, considering they count as only a single unit of psykers, a unit of ten maintains maximum fire efficiency even if it has sustained casualties amounting to ninety-percent of the unit - one model fires as effectively as a unit of ten! This is why Pink Horrors will be a thorn in your opponents' side no matter how many casualties they have sustained - leaving even a token few alive is a mistake, and given that Chaos Daemons do not run away from shooting and cannot be Pinned, this means enemies have to deliberately focus fire on even the smallest gatherings of Horrors to remove them and the damage they deal. What is interesting to note here is that per their 'Magic Made Manifest' special rule, the unit generates additional Warp Charge points - not Mastery Levels - depending on the squad size; a unit of ten or less generates one, whilst a unit of eleven to fifteen generates two, and subsequently a unit of sixteen or more generates three. It is important to specify that they do indeed lose warp charge points if any are lost - a unit of sixteen that loses two Pink Horrors instead generates two warp charge points, rather than three, until they are subsequently reduced to ten or less models.
What this means is that you need to weigh up whether the extra numbers are worth it, especially given only two potential powers out of four available actually make use of the extra warp charge points, one of which is the Primaris power. Pink Horrors, unlike Heralds of Tzeentch or their deities' Greater Daemons, are restricted to the Change discipline - an unimpressive psychic pool that is exclusively comprised of witchfire powers, meaning Pink Horrors can never be used to cast psychic blessings, maledictions and the like, which is quite a drawback. Of the powers available to them, I would say that should you roll up Tzeentch's Firestorm, I recommend swapping it out for the Primaris - aside from that, you can feel contented with the other powers, though it should be based on what you think your Pink Horrors are best targeting in any given game (though of course the random nature of rolling for psychic powers means you need to adapt these tactics on the fly). Bolt of Change should only really be used if you are expecting Terminators and vehicles, whilst Infernal Gateway is quite nasty against most targets - much like Bolt of Change though, if you are expecting vehicles, you need to hope your random D6 roll for the Strength of the power (in addition to a basic four) is high, thus making it unreliable. For the most part though, the Primaris is where it is at - it is typically used for anti-infantry, though it can be used reliably against both light vehicles and monstrous creatures and do some nasty damage in the right hands. The Primaris benefits from the increased numbers of Horrors in the unit by adding an extra D6 shots for every warp charge point you expend after the first one - given that Horrors only ever have one power, you would be wise to do this, and it adds a layer of depth to the unit that makes you truly question what size works best. My personal recommendation, if you are going all out on the Horrors, is to take between sixteen and eighteen - sixteen for the cost, eighteen for fluff reasons, and go from there. That unit then spouts out 4D6 Strength five AP four shots that hit on a four and up, which for the cost isn't too bad at all, though it is definitely random - the average is around fourteen I believe, but that can vary greatly. For the most part though, they should be reliable, if uninspiring shooters - to really make them buzz, you need to consider 'additions' to the unit.
The most important of such options to make them more effective is the Herald of Tzeentch packed with Prescience, granting re-rolls to hit to the unit even if he isn't joined up with them. For a unit that is all about the shooting, this is really important as it allows you to maximise their damage output and wrack up some good numbers - and believe me, you want to be wiping out as much of a unit as you can in each round of shooting. The reason for this is the brow-raising Warpflame rule that all of the Change discipline powers have; essentially, a unit that suffers an unsaved wound from a weapon or attack with this special rule takes a Toughness test at the end of that phase - fail, and they suffer D3 wounds with no armour or cover saves allowed, but pass, and the unit immediately gains either +6 Feel No Pain or a +1 bonus to their usual Feel No Pain save. Yep, you guessed it, this means you really need to focus fire units down with Horrors - most enemies will pass the Toughness test two thirds of the time, and even infantry from codices such as Eldar and Tau have a fifty percent chance of passing. It adds an unwelcome effect to their witchfire powers that is quite unnecessary, however it must be said that it is not guaranteed that enemies will pass this test, and failing it can lead to a severely crippled unit being wiped out - take Terminators for example, those extra armour-ignoring wounds can make a massive difference.
Still, it is unwise to allow units to potentially benefit from this rule more than once in a game, and as such focus fire really is a key tactic you need to employ, even though I would usually recommend it anyway - it just happens to be that not using it in this case will be more harmful than it might be typically. So, aside from Prescience and adding extra shots to the unit, how else would I recommend increasing their damage output to hopefully wipe out squads in two turns or so - with added support from other units of course - without expending too many units? Again, the answer falls to the Herald of Tzeentch, specifically the third Locus it can take - the one that boosts the strength of its unit and its own psychic powers by one. If you take more than one mastery level on the Herald of Tzeentch, it can also be used to add an extra 2D6 or 3D6 shots to the unit, and combined with the Locus, this can dramatically increase any given units' damage output. Though it is costly, that is a potential 7D6 Strength six AP four shots, re-rolling to hit that can literally tear almost any infantry or monstrous creature unit apart provided decent or above average rolls. Given their high leadership for psychic tests and the unlikelihood their powers will be denied too often, Horrors can dish out the damage in an extreme way very quickly - and the range of their attack, twenty four inches, is good enough to keep it coming for a while.
In general, Horrors aren't a bad unit at all - unlike almost any other unit in the game, they can maintain maximum fire efficiency (depending on initial squad size) despite suffering intense casualties, meaning they can lay down the hurt even with a sole survivor. They are the only Troops choice in the codex that can put the pressure on at range, and for what they cost their damage output is decent - just be aware that they aren't the most ideal tank-hunters, though they can make mince meat of anything with a Toughness value given enough luck and dice. Their survivability is also ok, especially seeing as you can keep them in cover and hang back, meaning they are less likely to die than Bloodletters or Daemonettes for the most part - just remember not to allow them to be charged, or at least not without friendly support. However, it must be noted that to make them truly work, you need to invest a lot into them - as in, you should probably take sixteen-strong or more squads with an attached mastery level three Herald rocking Prescience and the Primaris (alongside the Horrors) with the psychic-boosting Locus. The cost of this unit is a shade over two hundred and fifty tacos, and for what it does, it actually isn't bad at all - it stands a decent chance of wiping out an entire ten-strong Space Marine squad in one round, and Prescience gives some leeway to make up for bad rolling. I would recommend that, if you do attempt this approach, taking at least two units of Horrors in this way - you need to ensure your units can fire optimally for most of the game, and doubling up on them increases such chances. Each of those units puts out a whopping 7D6 Strength six AP four shots re-rolling to hit each turn, which is more than capable of annihilating any infantry or monstrous creature unit in a single volley, and at a price that would make any other Troops unit in the game blush. Some nasty tricks that have arisen about Horrors revolve around their Brotherhood of Psykers special rule; that one shoots as well as ten is simply sublime, and makes them the perfect choice for spawned units from a Portalglyph. Also, if you hide all but one model of a unit, that one allows you to shoot at full effectiveness, and only that one model can be killed from shooting - just move another single model out if that one dies! Horrors are best used when exploiting these little tricks - every advantage counts, here.
There are a few considerations though - against enemies with lots of psykers or psychic defence, you may find your Horrors do not pull their weight as they are consistently shut down, effectively ruining their usefulness. Fast assault units can ruin your day, and unless your army has other ways of dealing with medium to high armoured vehicles, you will struggle - though it should be noted you put enough shots to worry even Dreadnoughts and the like. However, I think it must be said that the sheer weight of high-strength AP four shots will absolutely obliterate any light infantry army in the game in the blink of an eye - Dark Eldar, Tau and the like would do well to stay right away from Horrors. Though making them work optimally does make them the most costly Troops choice, I think it is well worth it based on their role in the army - play smart with them, and they will do just fine. Eighteen is my recommend number, or seventeen with an attached Herald. You know why. Oh, right, before I forget, I wanted to keep this to its own little segment, as it is just pure awesome. Remember how Pink Horrors used to split into Blue Horrors? Well, Phil Kelly and Robin Cruddace remember, and they have brought them back in a nice and touching way. Basically, whenever a Pink Horror dies in melee, you put a token next to an enemy unit in the same combat. At the end of the Initiative one step in combat, for each token placed in this way, a single Strength two AP nothing hit is inflicted on the enemy unit, and any unsaved wounds caused count towards the combat result. Though this won't usually do too much unless the Pink Horrors are being slaughtered, it is a nice touch that I think gives them a tiny bit of melee reinforcement - the aim here is not so much for the benefit it gives to the unit, but more the little touch that makes me like the more fluff-based approach to the codex. Kudos to you, fine authors! And yes, I would recommend Horrors - but only if you are willing to invest in them!
|Your probable reaction to Plaguebearers as well.|
Plaguebearers of Nurgle - There's something to be said about rotting, bloated walking carcasses clouded by flies, persistently keeping tally of the toxins and diseases present on the battlefield; their occasional bouts usually resolved at a plodding and frustrated pace. Nurgle is nothing short of humorous, and the sight of Plaguebearers will no doubt illicit such a response from you - at least, between the vomit and allergic reactions. As you might have guessed, the Plaguebearers are the most durable of the Daemons Troop choices - firstly, they are the only choice with a Toughness of four, meaning they aren't simply bolter bait and can laugh off lasguns reasonably well. This makes them far less vulnerable to a lot of anti-infantry firepower, at least in comparison to their peers, and as such this makes them quite an interesting unit. Their drawback, as you may have guessed, is their offensive power - though they are better in combat than Pink Horrors, they too cannot shoot and they do melee much worse than either Bloodletters or Daemonettes. This isn't to say they can't be used in an offensive-minded role, as their Poisoned (+4) melee attacks do make them somewhat useful against monstrous creatures and the like, albeit their low Initiative and Weapon Skill make them ineffective against a lot of enemies. However, much like all the other Daemons, they are very cheap, and their combat abilities probably aren't the real reason you should take them anyway. Though their natural Toughness does make them quite durable, what really makes them tick is that, as Daemons of Nurgle, they have the Shrouded special rule - they count any cover save they have as two higher than normal, or they otherwise receive a +5 cover save out in the open. Though their +5 invulnerable save is present and still a decent deterrent in combat, it is obvious what Plaguebearers are designed for; take them in a block, chuck them in a ruin, and they can enjoy +2 cover saves without even having to go to ground!
This simplistic view of Plaguebearers is actually the most accurate summation one can give about them - compared to other armies, they are cheap and hardy scoring units designed to sit on objectives, preferably in cover, and act as a 'bunker' that is very hard to shift save in a protracted melee or with a massed quantity of Ignores Cover weapons. Against most armies, you should find yourself in luck; melee may not be 'dead' in 6th Edition Warhammer 40000, but it is by no means a big component of most competitive armies nowadays. On the other hand, a significant amount of Ignores Cover weapons are typically found only in certain armies, such as Sisters of Battle and Space Marines - the latter usually when a Salamanders army is present, or a mass of Thunderfire Cannons and/or Whirlwinds. The likelihood anyway is that, if you are playing a common kind of Daemons army, most of your forces will be up in your opponents' face and thus taking the pressure off of your Plaguebearers anyway. Either way, Shrouded gives Plaguebearers a clear purpose that makes them very effective defensive units for holding back-field objectives and taking midfield objectives, allowing your Bloodletters, Daemonettes and the like to move up and focus on your opponents' forces. Of course, that is most definitely not all there is to the unit - though they are perfect scoring units (seemingly designed specifically for that role), you can think about what ways to make them work as a shambling horde. First off, Plaguebearers are very cheap, and with a squad limit of twenty, they can be taken in massive numbers without compromising your ability to take more damaging units elsewhere in your army list. Though I don't think running them up the field in such a way is a good idea, due to being Slow and Purposeful, it is nonetheless an option that you should supplement with Plague Drones, Beasts of Nurgle and the like. On that note, Slow and Purposeful also means they are incapable of Run moves, sweeping advances and the like, though their low Initiative and objective-focused nature means this is rather rudimentary.
If you are using Plaguebearers as your main core and as a supplement to your other forces, they work best in larger units that can either move up the field and soak up some damage by moving through cover, or deep strike up close off of faster units such as Plague Drones and the like. Again though, I would recommend keeping them as the counter-point to units such as Daemonettes, simply because they are outperformed quite significantly by such units in terms of raw offensive capabilities. Plaguebearers really do work best as objective campers, and I simply can't stress that point enough. They are also uniquely the only unit that really doesn't need any reinforcements, particularly if you have cover and objectives available in your deployment zone for them to sit on lazily. A cheap, basic ten-strong unit can be used for that purpose and do it very well - it leaves you a significant amount of points to spend elsewhere, and you are getting some very tough infantry that can simply be left alone, or be supported by the nearby presence of a Nurgle Soul Grinder to dissuade close assaults. Even though they do have Poisoned melee attacks, a good Toughness and an invulnerable save, their low Weapon Skill and Initiative make them mince even for units such as Tactical Marines in combat, though surprisingly decent against enemies such as Wraithlords if taken in decent numbers. As such, you don't really need chunky units, though taking fifteen or more is certainly a good idea, making them much tougher to remove from any given point and also more stoic in combat. Again, their low cost means this is both viable and possible within the context of any given army list. It is important to note the options available to the unit, ranging from the champion, icon and instrument - whilst the latter two are most useful if you are starting them from reserves (albeit an icon is quite good in general), the champion is a good, inexpensive way to add a decently nasty weapon to the unit. A few extra attacks with an Etherblade for only a small investment can scare off some enemies, though if you are using Plaguebearers as 'baby-sitters', this is unnecessary and the points are better spent elsewhere.
The meat to improving the durability or offensive performance of the unit is through Heralds of Nurgle, particularly by way of their available Loci. In terms of actually adding to the damage output of the unit, a Herald of Nurgle upgraded with the psychic lore of Plague is a very good, and relatively inexpensive option; the witchfires are deadly and should activate somewhat reliably. A simple Poisoned AP three template as a Primaris power is very nasty, and can really soften a unit up before a Plaguebearer unit charges, turning the odds in their favour. The large blast witchfire, whilst devastating, is probably a bit riskier to use due to its diminutive range and, if you are intending to charge the targeted unit, it will likely mean a failed charge or a few dead Plaguebearers depending on their initial proximity. The 'blessing' that is really a malediction can make a big difference to the combat effectiveness of the Plaguebearers, typically allowing them to at least either hit on threes or strike at the same time. The Nurgle Herald is good in this way, but perhaps the best part is the Greater Locus - granting Feel No Pain to both the Herald and the unit. This is a fantastic, and cheap, method of adding to the units already considerable durability, making them far more difficult to shift against any army that doesn't involve blastmasters and the like. For its cost, you really can't go wrong here. It is also important to note that per their Plagueswords, Plaguebearers can glance vehicles on a +6 much like Necrons can with their funky gauss weaponry, allowing them to stand a good chance against vehicles, which makes them the only Troops choice that can reliably destroy vehicles - including Land Raiders and Monoliths - which makes them quite a bit more versatile than they initially appear. Given their cost, durability and mediocre combat abilities, I think Plaguebearers are a pretty good unit that should work in almost any configuration depending on their role in your army - again though, they are best suited as your defenders, your holding 'players'. Oh, and their smell will probably annoy the Daemonettes. That's not nice.
Daemonettes of Slaanesh - The comparisons will likely come thick and fast between the lithe and graceful handmaidens of Slaanesh and Khorne's brash minions, and it is actually quite relevant seeing as each unit fulfills the same purpose in the army with few exceptions. Daemonettes are, first and foremost, a melee unit that works best in large blocks due to their cost and fragility, however, where they are lacking in raw power weapon, high strength carnage compared to Bloodletters, they make up for that with speed, more reliable assaults and weaponry that can puncture Terminator armour. Much like Bloodletters, Daemonettes have their highs in combat against a wide range of opponents, and their obvious lows against shooting, especially when attempting to foot-slog across the board. But oh yes, they do indeed excel in combat, and for the most part, they outperform their bloody-handed brethren with style and substance (cough). Notably, each Daemonette has a Weapon Skill of five and two attacks base at Strength three, resolved at Initiative five; they strike before most opponents, they will hit on threes, though they tend to have a tough time in terms of wounding. However, it must be noted that Daemonettes, as patrons to Slaanesh, have Rending melee attacks - for every to wound roll of a six, their attack is resolved at AP two as opposed to AP nothing which, in comparison to Bloodletters, makes them far deadlier against Terminators and their ilk. Even against monstrous creatures, and Rending attack automatically wounds provided a six is rolled, meaning even Wraithlords are not safe from their attacks. Their sheer volume of high Initiative attacks makes them decent opponents for horde units as well, though the best application of Rending is probably more against heavy infantry. It must be noted as well that Rending has an altogether different effect against vehicles, instead adding D3 to the armour penetration roll on top of the six rolled, meaning Daemonettes in numbers can reliably take on armour eleven vehicles and lower, and even stand a decent chance against units such as Dreadnoughts.
|Ninj...I mean Kunoichi! Awesome.|
In terms of raw combat ability compared to Bloodletters, they are outperformed mostly against Space Marines and their ilk, but Daemonettes have a wider effective threat range and are more deadly to units such as Terminators. It is also very important to note that due to having Initiative five, Daemonettes, whilst less likely to wipe out a unit of Space Marines on the charge than Bloodletters, should actually kill quite a few before they get a chance to strike and thus reduce the casualties they will in turn suffer, whereas Bloodletters tend not to have such an advantage over common enemies. Daemonettes are better than most other Troops choices in the game when strictly concerning melee combat, though of course there are many other factors to consider - Daemonettes, whilst good against many differing opponents, are nowhere near as versatile as units such as Tactical Marines and Devastators. You need to keep them focused on engaging enemy units that they should defeat - even despite their cost and probable squad sizes, there are definitely some targets they should avoid; Paladins and actual death-star units will give them a run for their money, though it must be noted that Daemonettes laugh at thunder-hammer and storm-shield Terminators. On the charge, a very decently sized unit generates an incredible weight of attacks that, given their high Weapon Skill and Rending, allows them to bog down most units even through taking a sheer amount of armour saves. The simple truth is that you can take twenty Daemonettes with an added champion and reliably defeat a more expensive, five-strong Terminator unit kitted out in the afore-mentioned fashion.
So, aside from performing very well in combat given their low cost, Daemonettes have the general edge over Bloodletters in terms of actually making it into combat - not only do they add three inches to any Run move they make, giving them some serious mobility, but they also have the Fleet special rule, meaning they can re-roll both their Run moves and charge distances. Obviously, this means they can far more reliably make it into combat, reducing the turns they should have to endure enemy shooting. Minimising the risks of a bad roll is always significant, and given that combat is where Daemonettes make their home, this is highly imperative to their functionality. Given that they are equally fragile in comparison to Bloodletters, with a paltry Toughness of three and only a +5 invulnerable save, Daemonettes compare very favourably to the red goat people since they are also cheaper per model. In this sense, I think they share most of the same strengths and issues, with their own little added touches that make them unique - they are a melee shock trooper that needs to get into combat as quickly as possible to both survive and make their points back, and you should expect them to be targeted and thus die in droves.
What is noteworthy here is that Daemonettes are neither as physically or mentally imposing for your opponent, which is a great boon - the reason for this is that most opponents will typically fear the damage an entire unit wielding power swords with Strength five attacks can deal out, though the reality is Daemonettes are equally, if not more, dangerous against most enemies. This can be both an advantage or disadvantage based on what other units are in your force, though for the most part you will be happy to have higher numbers of Daemonettes left to fight an assault and thus reduce their chances for a secession of failed daemonic instability tests. There are multiple ways to deploy and use them, and unlike Bloodletters speed really is not an issue, though it must be noted that I feel the same tactical approach is as necessary here as it is with Bloodletters - deep-striking off of handily effective and available units such as Seekers and Bloodcrushers. They also do share the same weakness of assault grenades, negating their very handy Initiative value, meaning you need to really understand how these units will work with others to really maximise their effectiveness. You really need numbers when it comes to Daemonettes, and I would recommend fifteen as the bare minimum. A note, given that much of these points are exactly the same as those discussed for Bloodletters, I have chosen to retain the same paragraphs and structure, albeit with minor adjustments. In reality, I would be making the same points anyway, and the only even remotely noticeable difference would be the wording. Given that I have already made you all wait too long for this article (for the uninitiated, this article was a week late at the time), forgive me.
So how can these issues be mitigated? Well, much like most of this codex, you need to consider the potential combinations involving them, not the strict advantages they provide as a unit over others of their kind. Firstly, you need to get them into combat without taking too much damage by foot-slogging. What special rule do all Daemons have that comes into play here? You guessed it - as any Chaos Daemons unit can deep-strike, this gives Daemonettes a much quicker and safer, if slightly unreliable method of getting up close. This works best when combined with certain units, ones that carry icons - in this role, you need mobile cavalry or beasts that can get an icon where to at least the halfway point of the board in their first movement phase, and have the numbers, durability or placement to survive. Such units need to be used carefully, as even such quick and large Daemons are deceptively fragile - abuse cover and move smartly to minimise enemy fire, and thus casualties, with these units. The obvious choices are Bloodcrushers, Seekers and Plague Drones - each unit can be taken in significant numbers at an affordable price, or have a lot of wounds to compensate. Importantly, each unit can carry an icon - this means reliable deep-strike scatter reduction for any friendly Daemon unit clawing into reality within six inches of the bearer. For Daemons of the same alignment, they do not scatter at all, allowing for perfect precision; conversely, those unaligned to the same god as the icon wielders instead scatter only D6 inches, which means they shouldn't risk a mishap most of the time. Obviously, you need to pick such place carefully; a horde of twenty Daemonettes deep-striking near enemy lines is sure to draw significant attention, which means you need to look to prevention and tie-up strategies. What were those fast-moving units doing again? Strictly speaking, to use Daemonettes (or Bloodletters) in this way, you should combine them with several mobile and hard-hitting units that can at least survive a round of combat and reliably tarpit a potentially nasty ranged unit - even Tactical Marines are wise choices for a unit such as Seekers to engage (even if the Seekers will win overwhelmingly here anyway). As those units launch their assault, run your Daemonettes into cover or, at the very least, closer to enemy units so as to guarantee a next-turn charge, which is helped immensely by Fleet. This strategy is proving to be the most effective when using assault-based Chaos Daemons units, as it aims for a brutal two-turn assault over the second and third game turns; firstly by cavalry and beasts, and then by the masses of infantry. Taking instruments on your Daemonette units is also wise, as it allows a second unit to deep-strike in without rolling - useful if you want to guarantee most of your units come down, given you still need to roll for reserves.
There may be other ways to get Daemonettes into combat, but this is proving to be the most popular of all due to its reliability and reduced risk compared to any other known strategy. Of course, that still doesn't solve their lack of assault grenades and fragility - even in big units, striking last can very much mean the difference between victorious slaughter or banishment, especially when Overwatch is in play. A failed charge can lead to a lost unit in short time, as can the availability of cover - however, again, Fleet mitigates this and means your charge distances should be a lot more reliable. Being Daemons, there are, however, ways to mitigate these issues. Though it breaks with the Slaanesh theme, the aptly-named new Skull Cannon solves the issue of assault grenades quite reliably - firing a Ballistic Skill five large blast that, as long as it even hits a model from any given unit, all Chaos Daemons units launching an assault against the affected target do not count the usual penalties to Initiative for charging through cover! Given that the gun has a thirty-six inch range, and its unusually high Ballistic Skill for a blast weapon, it is incredibly unlikely to miss, meaning your Daemons can charge through those forests and ruins with impunity, laughing at your opponents reliance on them.
|Daemonettes are a great deal nastier than they look.|
Heralds of Slaanesh make for incredible additions to units of Daemonettes, though the benefits they provide are almost strictly based on either their combat potential or improving their speed. Though I wouldn't recommend them for their psychic potential, much like a Herald of Nurgle, I would definitely recommend them for their available melee weapons and Loci - an Etherblade or Greater Etherblade on a Herald of Slaanesh makes for a very dangerous character against Terminators and the like, though unlike Bloodletters, Daemonettes tend to deal with Terminators quite well. No, the real reason you take them are definitely the Loci; whilst the first is of limited use to Daemonettes, as Move Through Cover doesn't really help them when they are already much faster than most other Infantry, the other two can be quite beneficial. The second boosts the entire units Initiative by five, and whilst this means they will most definitely strike first most of the time, the reality is against most enemies they have a higher Initiative base anyway - it is also important to note that they are still reduced to Initiative one for charging through cover anyway, and given how hard it is to avoid such situations, this means you are probably best off with the third Locus. Well, you are in luck - it grants the entire unit re-rolls to hit, and allows the Herald to pick and force enemy characters to accept challenges against her. Given how dangerous Heralds of Slaanesh typically are, this can be quite a boon - however, for the actual Daemonettes, the re-rolls to hit are well worth the significant investment. Between Weapon Skill five and three rending attacks each on the charge that re-roll to hit, this can severely improve their damage output and allow them to really get the rending wounds churning. Excusing the bad pun, it is always a good idea to add such a Herald with the appropriate Locus to a horde of Daemonettes; it likely isn't worth it on small units, as the larger number of models is both more likely to make combat, but also win it regardless of the benefits.
Daemonettes don't really need upgrades to work a treat, though if you are deploying them in reserves, I would recommend both the icon and the instrument to really guarantee the arrival of multiple units with reliable deep strike scatter (or lack thereof). The minimal expense is well worth the increased chances of a guaranteed turn two/three combined assault that can devastate a lot of armies, though these tactics do require both precision and flexibility to adapt to the possible loss of certain units pivotal to the overall strategy. As far as the unit champion goes, it isn't perhaps as obvious an inclusion as with Bloodletters, seeing as adding an Etherblade to the unit won't really make much of a difference given their basic access to Rending attacks. However, I would say that the minimalist cost is worth it here as well not only for the bonus attack and ability to tie up enemy characters, but to also reduce the risk of losing a far more costly, and important, daemon character to the myriad effects of the warp-storm table. Daemonettes also have access to a somewhat costly Rapturuous Standard which grants a once-per-game reduction to enemy units' Weapon Skill by D3 until the end of the assault phase in which it is used. Generally speaking, Daemonettes already have a higher-than-average Weapon Skill and as such this isn't all that great, however it can be funny against certain enemies - such as Terminators and the like - by forcing them to likely strike your Daemonettes on fives, largely reducing the damage that should be dealt back to them. Generally speaking though, it isn't a fantastic addition and one you can live without, albeit it does have its uses and can make quite a difference in any given assault. However, Daemonettes work best as they are cheap, and as such you should endeavour to keep it that way aside from worthwhile or necessary upgrades based on how you want to run the unit. In terms of unit size, I would definitely recommend twenty as Daemonettes really rely on their numbers, in terms of both attacks and speed, to survive and destroy in glorious tandem. If you are strapped for points or trying to fit Heralds and the like in, fifteen is definitely acceptable and probably the bare minimum I would take in a unit, even in smaller games; those numbers are essential to our melee Daemon units, as they simply die too easily otherwise.
Overall, Daemonettes are a very efficient melee unit that is quite versatile due to their speed, high Initiative and Rending attacks - this allows them to engage a multitude of enemy units and reliably defeat them provided they are in numbers. They are a great choice and my pick for the best value Troops in the codex, though it is important to note that as a dedicated melee unit lacking in available dedicated transports, you need to think their deployment and movement through quite clearly. Whilst they can engage elite enemy units from other codices, I would also make sure to think through the average combat results if you can against such units - some may be deceptively good against your Daemonettes, and as such you should pick your engagements wisely.
Nurglings - Nurgle's analogy to gremlins, Nurglings are adorable fat little gnomes bursting with virulent disease that want nothing but to spread their masters' love. Their long grins and humorous manner are quite deceiving, as they are very nasty. No, really! As Daemons of Nurgle, they are both Slow and Purposeful and have Shrouded, meaning they get some excellent cover saves when moving through cover - the former really won't bother you. Interestingly, they actually are quite a bit better in combat than regular Plaguebearers despite the lack of Poisoned (+4) melee attacks, as they have a significant amount of attacks at a mediocre Initiative. It goes without saying that, as swarms, they also have a chunk of wounds as well, clocking out with four that, at Toughness three, makes them quite vulnerable to a lot of instant-death weapons, though it is worth mentioning that most combats shouldn't end too badly for Nurglings. As it is, they are quite cheap swarm units that, whilst neither as quick or devastating as Scarab Swarms, work very well in an army where tying up enemy shooting can really give your other Troops, such as Bloodletters and Plaguebearers, a better chance of making combat without sustaining heavy casualties.
What really gives Nurglings a kick aside from their decent stats and low cost is their ability to Infiltrate, allowing them to be deployed extremely close to the enemy after all other unit deployment has been completed. Given that they have Shrouded and a significant amount of wounds, deploying them in tight proximity to the enemy and in cover is a very smart idea. Though you risk forfeiting First Blood by doing this, your opponent will be forced either to ignore the Nurglings or risk units that are actually vulnerable to them being charged or otherwise tar-pitted - given how cheap they are, taking large 'squads' is certainly a viable tactic, and such units can reliably beat down generic Space Marine squads with relative ease through sheer weight of attacks. That they have so many wounds means they don't lose models as quickly as other units, though weapons such as force staves and power fists need to be kept in consideration. Given that the little beasties can charge in the first game turn provided the owning player has the second player turn, Nurglings pose a very serious early threat to enemies, and for how cheap they are, this really isn't a bad thing. Are those Autocannon-wielding Havocs going to focus fire down the Nurlging bases with + cover saves and ignore the advancing Lord of Change, or risk being charged immediately afterwards and lose their all-important subsequent rounds of shooting?
Even without Infiltrate, I would say Nurglings are quite a decent addition to an army list for tar-pit purposes, which is very important when you consider that you really need to protect your valuable units such as Greater Daemons, Daemon Princes and even your basic Troops. That they actually do possess Infiltrate means that they combine very well with other fast-moving elements, such as Seekers and Bloodcrushers, for what is a very saturated palate of targets for your opponent to deal with, forcing them to make some very tough decisions at the onset of the game. The little critters are quite a valuable addition to your army, and as for unit size, feel free to go with the basic three, six or even nine (or seven, if you are feeling pragmatic). Six bases should survive a torrent of fire early on, and provide enough of an immediate threat that your minimal points investment can make the difference between a living or dead Keeper of Secrets, for example. That and charging your opponents objective-holders and contest the objective for the rest of the game is sure to make them choke - though that could just be the gas.
Example Builds - Because I love you, and Tzeentch compels me not to vomit, here are some example builds for your potentially delightful emotional response;
Bloodletters of Khorne (16) w/ bloodreaper, etherblade - 165
Herald of Khorne w/ greater gift (greater etherblade), greater locus of fury - 95
Pink Horrors of Tzeentch (18) - 162
Herald of Tzeentch w/ mastery level three, exalted locus of conjuration - 120
Plaguebearers of Nurgle (15) - 135
Herald of Nurgle w/ lesser gift (etherblade), greater locus of fecundity - 70
Daemonettes of Slaanesh (20) w/ alluress - 185
Herald of Slaanesh w/ greater gift (greater etherblade), exalted locus of beguilement - 95
Nurglings (6) - 90
I tried writing too much, and I came to this stunning conclusion; I wrote too much. What did you think of this over-long wall of text inter-sparsed with various images that I may or may not have found in a friendly neighbourhood network near you? Comment and all that stuff - we enjoy your critiques as much as we enjoy eating cake. Wait, what?
"Where is the cake? I was told there would be cake! The cake is a lie...."