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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary 
 

The Secrets of the Warp: Chaos Daemons Unleashed!  by Stephen Newman
It does not seem that it was almost 5 years ago that we got the very first copy of the Chaos Daemons book, which was very negatively received (obviously this was around the same time Chaos players were getting used to the loss of so much stuff from their new codex) and which struggled in competitive Fifth Edition games.  While the old Codex: Chaos Daemons got better in Sixth Edition (namely due to changes like Flying Monstrous Creatures and the reduced risk that Deep-Striking units would be killed before they arrived on the table) there was still room for improvement. I personally like running mono god armies and have 1,500 point armies for Khorne, Tzeentch and Slaanesh.

With the new Codex; Chaos Daemons, some minor changes (such as stat increases and decreases, as well as points-tweaks) were expected, as well as a few new units and models. In short, there are a lot of changes from his book and the last, so much that the entire army feels and plays completely different from what it once was. Enough rambling from me though, let’s get a better idea of what I mean.


The new Daemons: Part time evil master minds, part time hangers out to the material universe, full time beauty issues (Even you Slaanesh!)

What I Like
Loss of Daemonic Assault: Under the old book, the Daemons set up in a unique and rather stupid manner. All units HAD to Deep Strike and you only had half the units in the first turn arrive whilst the rest trickled in later. This not only made it hard to use certain units in dense terrain (I was never going to land a Soul Grinder in a Cities of Death battlefield like-arena, for example) but added on the misery that you might not even get the half you want arrive in the first turn. Now Daemons can set up like every other army although all Daemon units CAN Deep Strike if you still wish. I won’t though, and all the merrier for it.

Daemonic Loci: A new rule that will be very familiar to those who have played Fantasy Daemons. Daemonic Loci are an upgrade for Heralds (Special Character Heralds get one in their points cost now) that benefit them and the unit they hide in. Loci come in 3 stages (lesser, greater and exalted) ranging from 10 points to 25 points. These last as long as the Herald is still alive and provide buff in many forms, such as Hatred, Feel No Pain and Move Through Cover, among many others. However, beware that only one Loci can affect a unit at any one time, and that the bonus is lost as soon as the Herald dies.

Screamers: Those who had the Daemons update book will be familiar with the changes that drastically improved certain units (mainly looking at Screamers and Flamers here; Screamers remain so, Flamers have not). The flying shark-mantas are now treated as Jetbikes and come with 3 S4 AP- attacks each in close combat, as well as a special S5 AP2 Armourbane attack for opening tanks with. They also get a slashing attack if they turbo-boost over an enemy unit, making them one of the few units better off Deep Striking in the first turn.



Also packing eyes so creepy that even nose-less Voldemort looks quite normal in comparison

Shiny New Toys!: The new codex has done away with the previous armoury for the Daemons, which allowed one to tool up certain units with upgrades from a list for a certain points for each. Now Daemons are allowed to purchase “gifts” (either lesser, greater or exalted) for a set amount of points and randomly roll for a gift. This sounds rather bad, but first of all, I don’t think any of the results suck for the points you are paying for them. Most are special rules, but there are some special artefacts and weapons only attainable here.

Skull Cannon of Khorne: One of the shiny new units that I really look forward to using. A new chariot and unique in the fact that it has no rider and actually has a half decent armour value (although it is open-topped), but what really makes me excited is the shiny gun on the model itself. Unable to be disabled (since it’s listed as a gift rather than as a weapon, although I may be reading this wrong), and a large blast to boot at Strength 8 makes it fearsome to face (although having an AP of 5 does neuter it somewhat). It also Ignores Cover for those pesky units that hug terrain. What really makes it stand out is that units hit by it pick up a “dreadskull” token until the end of that turn. Any unit charging a unit with a dreadskull token counts as having assault grenades. Might not be a good deal for those many Marine players, but those who love xenos armies (especially Nid players) would kill for such an ability.



Plus, you know that it would make an awesome motor bike for a Daemon Prince!

Warlord Traits: Another no-brainer, as we all expected the new Daemons come with their own Warlord Traits table. The results range from all melee weapons having Instant Death to the option of re-rolling that dodgy Warpstorm table (Will explain this one later. It rather irks me). In fact, the only result I would not want is one that imposes a –1 modifier to Fear checks. Cause you know, it’s not like most armies just simply don’t care about it.

Heralds, Many, Many Heralds: Heralds became awesome for many reasons. I have already mentioned my liking of their shiny new Locus powers as well as their amazing points costs (mostly as little as 45 points). However, the designers have decided that if your primary detachment is from the Daemon book, then you may take up to 4 Heralds as a single HQ slot. That includes most of the special character Heralds (including the “new” ones such as Karanak and the Changeling). Definitely worth a look for me and a potentially better investment that the Greater Daemons (who lost out in many ways)

Things I Don’t Like
Reduction of Saves: All Daemons have been hit hard by this. Basically, rather than in the old book, which stated what invulnerable save came with Daemons in their profile, now ALL Daemons have a standardized 5+ for EVERYTHING (except Kairos, who got a 4+ instead), which means that all Daemons are that little bit squishier now. This would not be such a bad thing if it was the only thing that got reduced BUT…

Loss of Eternal Warrior: …they also lost Eternal Warrior for no apparent reason, either. This makes Daemons very susceptible to many new threats they did not have to worry about before, like say Force Weapons and their ilk. This makes Daemons RIDICULOUSLY unbalanced against Grey Knights since every basic squad has the potential to take out even the best Greater Daemon with potential ease (remember they only get a 5+ save against said weapons and then all the Grey Knights have to do is pass a LD test, on a 8 or better). I get that Grey Knights are the premier anti-Daemon army and this should be shown, but when it gets to the point that it is this unbalanced I see very little reason why I should set up my army if I spot Grey Knights on the other side.

Flamers of Tzeentch: A unit also familiar to those with the Daemon supplement released in White Dwarf. However, unlike the Screamers that retained their awesomeness, Flamers were hit hard. And rather deservedly so. The current crop of the weird goons replaces the ignoring- armour-saving-template attack with another template attack that operates at straight up S4 and AP4 with the stupid Warpflame rule. They still keep the cheap points cost and 2W apiece, but I feel the poor guys provide little in the way of threat, unless playing hordes of cheap infantry like Orks.


You might no longer strike fear in the heart of enemies, but you still have that pyromaniac theme going for you!

Daemonic Instability: Yet something else that gimps Daemons for no apparent reason. Familiar to those who played older editions, Daemons that lost a fight have to take a LD test, and however much they fail by, they suffer an equivalent amount of wounds with no saves allowed. Not that it’s generally a bad thing, except that Daemons now have reduced LD values and reduced Toughness on most units, making them more vulnerable. No, I don’t care that I have a chance to restore all wounds to the squad, since even a bad roll can see your units disappear in a puff of brimstone.

Burning Chariot of Tzeentch:  The Chariot has the potential for some serious firepower (either D3 S9 AP2 shots or 1 Template [with Torrent] at S5 AP3) BUT is over 100 points for a 3HP all-around Armour 10 vehicle which has the Warpflame special rule for its attacks (more on that later as well). It’s almost like GW wanted to make something that was more fragile than a Dark Eldar Raider. The model is nice, but with its rules I am not so sure about fielding it.

Tzeentch apparently makes his Chariots out of papier-mâché and hopes and prayers


Khorne Stuff Being Weaker: What I like in one way about the new codex is that mono-god armies are more viable, in my opinion, and each one was strengthened with new units and abilities. Except Khorne. It seems poor Khorne (arguably the weakest mono-god army from the previous book) got hit rather badly. Most Khorne units lost Attacks, so they don’t hit as hard as before, and even dropped a point of Toughness (except for Flesh Hounds). The Bloodcrushers lost their 3+ armour save so the Jugger, despite being a massive bull-like monstrosity that looks like it would protect its master well, makes the riding Bloodletter a measly Toughness 4. For an elite unit costing 5 points MORE than they cost before, I find this simply unforgivable. Bloodletters suck more than they did previously, despite the 6 point drop (now the same points cost as a Fire Warrior). I would have rather just kept the stats the old Khorne Daemon models had rather than these weaker offspring that we have been given instead. Also rather weirdly, each Daemon of Khorne also has an unexplained 6+ save that serves absolutely no purpose, since I can’t think of any time I would choose a 6+ save when I have the 5+ invulnerable, which is more points I am paying for that do nothing for me.

Epidemius: I know some (like your dear Wicked Uncle Kenton) do not like to use Special Characters at all. However, I single good old Epi out because he was central to many players starting Nurgle armies when the new edition hit the shelves because of his ability to bless entire armies with bolter-wielding Death Guard who wounded on 2’s (with the occasional re-roll depending on target Toughness) and then ignored armour saves. Whilst this army held itself well in the tournament circuit, I heavily doubt it will work so well now. The benefits have been strictly kept to only Daemons of Nurgle that have units within 6 inches of the guy are now affected. This topped onto a much weakened table for the Tally special rule means I see little point in taking the poor guy now.


Sorry, old pal, but your days of ruling the dung-heap just died out


Things I am Unsure About

Warpstorm: Yet ANOTHER random event introduced into the book, and one I have very mixed reactions about. The Warpstorm table is rolled every Daemon Shooting Phase (including your opponent’s if they are also using Daemons) and a weird variety of results turn up. Some are useful (such as increasing Invulnerable Saves, spawning new units or new Heralds) whereas some can ruin a perfectly good game for you (by rolling Daemonic Instability on one of your characters on 3D6, or even reducing your pitiful Invulnerable Save to a 6+ on even a mighty Bloodthirster!). Finally, some results only affect units with certain marks as well as the enemy, as the gods unleash their wrath on the battlefield. I am all in favour of having fun in our games, but having a table where half the results gimp your own army (quite badly in a unlucky streak) is not the way I would have done it. If the table had mildly good results like the Warlord Traits table in the main rulebook, I would not mind, but again, I would rather win a game by beating my opponent by tactically outthinking them rather than a random event tipping the balance drastically.

The Fluff: I bring the fluff here because not much of it has changed at all since the book. Although to be fair, the old book had some great fluff pieces in it and the majority of stories have been kept. Also, the writers found a way to make the Changeling funnier than before (which I did not think was possible) with new stories, including an impersonation of Lord Commander Solar Marcharius as well as planting Nurglings on the throne of Khorne in a daemonic equivalent of a whoopee-cushion prank. In short, if you enjoyed it before, you will do so again, but if you weren’t a fan before, you will be little-pleased by what is in the book.

Plague Drones: Nurgle’s new Fast Attack unit, using a fancy new unit designation (Jet Pack Cavalry, which baffles me) and being rather sturdy at T5 and 3W each. However, the unit does not hit that hard (although they do have the option for 3+ poisoned attacks) for quite a weighty sum of 42 points each (not to mention the impact on your wallet). Drones leave me very apprehensive about them. I guess I would have to see them on action on the table before coming to a decision, but as it stands, they look all right on paper, I suppose.


Cool models as well, except the little tails which look like organs not suitable for a family-friendly site...


Psychic Powers: Also expected, the new Daemons have three lores for their own crazy spells, and out of the three, Nurgle gets my vote for best. Oddly, Tzeentch looks the worst with the annoying special rule called…

Damn Warpflame: …Warpflame! A rather exotic new rule tacked onto all spells from the lore of Change as well as attacks from certain Tzeentch units (like Flamers), which results in enemies that suffer casualties from attacks caused by Tzeentch units to take a Toughness test. If the test is failed, then the attack causes an extra D3 wounds with no armour saves allowed. However, if the unit passes, it gains the Feel No Pain (6+) for the rest of the game. If the unit already has a FNP save, it instead increases by 1 for the rest of the game. With no maximum limit either, it means that certain units that were hard to shift before thanks to FNP chicanery (Grey Knight Paladins as well as Nob Bikers with a Painboy for example) just became that much tougher against Tzeentch, since there is little in the way of Instant Death in the book for the Daemons.

Hellforged Artifacts: A new part of the armoury. When rolling on the exalted gift table, instead of accepting the rolled result, the Daemon can take an object called a Hellforged Artefact. There are four to choose from, and to be frank I would only pick one of them, and even that can be unreliable at times. The themes behind each of them are cool and certainly worth a look, but I feel they are mostly either too situational or a canny opponent will simply negate it before it has a chance to prove its worth.

Conclusion
So to finish off, I have very mixed feelings towards the new book. Some changes were necessary to tone it down, whereas some of the game designers’ efforts have come down a bit too hard on some units. Like Kenton’s review of the new Chaos Space Marine codex, nothing really stands out as a must-have choice in every army; unlike Nathaniel’s look at the Dark Angels, I can’t say that I feel very positively about the book. Those who disliked the old book will do well to stay away from this one, but I certainly suggest to every Daemon fan to pick up this new one.



Posted March 2013. All images are copyright 2012 by Games Workshop and used for review purposes. 

Top

Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle