Short Daemon Tactica: Fiends of Slaanesh

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Whilst hardly the toughest of units, for a mono Slaanesh army, this is now your linebreaker, capable of delivering a knockout blow to your opponents forces if played right. All wrapped up in one, at least to me, ugly package.

Games Workshops ‘fiendishly’ ugly model. I’m so funny.

Swift and deadly

Coming in at 105 points basic for 3  Fiends, the unit does seem like a big initial investment. But when the unit has 9 wounds between them, its not too bad of a thing. What’s better is the Strength 4 the unit comes with, meaning that any non rending wounds will have a better effect on enemy units than the average  Strength 3 of most Slanneshi models.

The key part of this though is the delivery system. Being Beasts, Fiends can move 12″ and aren’t slowed by terrain in the slightest. Add a D6+ 3 run move and a 3D6 charge range (which can be re-rolled thanks to Fleet)  and they will be competing with Seekers of Slannesh as the fastest models in your army.

Its something I’m tempted to use as a one two punch, letting the main army advance up the board, whilst Seekers and Fiends  go up the flanks, confident they can keep up. That, or send them ahead as advance scouts, to wreak havoc on the enemy lines, confident they can keep them busy whilst the rest of your army (which won’t be far behind) catches up.

Fiends of Slannesh conversion by DrunkenBoxer on Dakka Dakka

Dazed and Confused

I haven’t even gotten to the best part of them yet either. Though a little reliant on the right circumstances, unless your opponent is Initiative 6 or better, even if charging a unit in cover you will be striking, at the very least, simultaneously, thanks to  Soporific Musk.

A unique special rule that means that any unit charged by Fiends will strike at -5 Initiative in combat. Its perfect for ganging up on one unit, as this will affect the entire combat, meaning that friendly units will also get its benefit.

I’ve even seen a somewhat sneaky interpretation of their rule too. As any unit reduced to Initiative 0 cannot attack that turn, most units will be unable to strike back in the first turn you charge them, which is a great is a great way to demolish a large number of the games best assault units. I wouldn’t use the tactic myself, but its something you can perhaps exercise when playing a very competitive person.

Slannesshi artwork from the Daemons Codex

So there you have it- a unit with a trick in its tail, Fiends of Slannesh are a great way of adding versatility to a force. Though a little squishy compared to the other gods’ elite units, they do enough to justify their inclusion in any Slannesshi force. The only problem for me is finding an alternative model!

Fiends of Slannesh are available exclusively from Games Workshop for £15.50

Short Deamon Tactica: Seekers of Slaanesh


My lord, what a stunning unit. Lithe, fast and very, very deadly. If you wanted a killer unit, you could go a lot worse. A canny opponent knows it too.

I’m taking a ride, with my best friends…

Do you like Daemonettes, but just get annoyed that they don’t move fast enough? Say hello to the Seekers of Slannesh. Daemonettes with an 18″ move, they WILL be assaulting your opponents units turn two, something really bad happens. Now admittedly terrain is still a bugbear, as you have no grenades and treat all difficult terrain as dangerous.But considering you are getting Actue Senses, Outflank, Cavalry movement and an extra attack for only 3 points more (on top of the very respectable Daemonette stats and abilities), its something that can be overlooked.

For the points, its mighty tempting to take a unit of 20, which will cost you just over 200 point and net you 120 attacks with Rending a turn. Thats painful for anything in the game and even units with 2+ saves are statistically likely to lose a large number of their squads. Throwing in a Rapturous Standard and Heartseeker almost seems like overkill.

A Pain That I’m Used To

After all the advertising of how good they are, it may come as no suprise that as soon as you plonk them down on the table, a smart opponent will make them priority number one. Even in a unit of 5-10 models, they can cause carnage, so the last thing they will want is a unit of two getting their uninjured. This is why you need to start getting tricksy.

The metal Julian Diaz Seekers of Slannesh, painted by LadyCassandra

For a start, unless you are over 2000pts, have several smaller units. If you are going to be running a mono Slaanesh force, its not as if you have anything else to fill Fast Attack with anyway. Outflank at least one unit with a Herald- it will allow for a multi wave approach and keep your opponent guessing what table edge you will be attacking from. With Acute Senses, whatever hole in their defences your opponent reveals, you should be able to exploit it.

Now talking of Heralds, like Daemonettes, they can have an important role to play in making the unit just so much better. Mounted on a Steel with the Locus of Beguilement probably enhances the units potential most, with a Herald and Heartseeker probably being able to rip the heart out of a combat focused squad whilst the Seekers (probably hitting on 3+’s re-rolled) mop up the rest.

Due to the squads speed, I’m even tempted to give them Pyschic Powers, as there are powers from both the Excess and Telepathy disciplines that rock. You are more likely to get something usable out of the Excess powers, but Telepathy makes up for it with some really powerful powers (Invisibility to name one) that synergise with a Seeker and Herald squad, should you be lucky enough to roll them.

Whatever you do, use terrain to your advantage and try to lock down an opponents movement before they can get into some and use it to negate your advantages. Seekers are still squishy and S3, so you need to use your speed to channel enemy units and more importantly, attack where you can do the most damage.

Daemonettes on Seekers by slaanesh-goddess

My next article will focus on the few models that break the S3/T3 barrier for Slaaneshii models- Fiends of Slannesh.

Seekers of Slannesh are available from Firestorm Games for only £15.75 . 

Short Daemon Tactica: Daemonettes

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Where else to start with Slaaneshi Daemons but their most iconic unit? Nimble and deadly, these beautiful horrors can cut a swathe through an army without even breaking a sweat. That’s if they can get there first though.

Graceful yet Deadly.

I really love Daemonettes. These fast but very effective killers are probably the armies best troops unit, due to just how good they are in the assault phase. Coming with Weapon Skill 5, Initiative 5 ,two attacks and rending for just 9 points a model really is a steal, when you consider how all of their downsides (poor save, low leadership, low toughness) tend to be shared with the other troop choices of the army.

Now by themselves they are a pretty effective troops killer – I find it hard to believe that anything that has Toughness 3 will have much of a chance of standing up to them, or running away from their either. Attack +3″ to the units run move, that can then be re-rolled thanks to Fleet is something not to be underestimated and it means units will positively fly up the table.

I’ve seen games where players have managed to pull off a two wave effect, with a few units deep striking in to cause havoc, leaving an opponent to decide if they need to deal with the units about to assault them this turn, of the units that will assault them the next one. It’s a great psychological tactic and one that’s only so effective due to how fast the unit can move.

Metal Daemonette models, painted by Redbeard of Dakka Dakka.

Excess or restraint?

Now I recommend taking them in large numbers, or else having lots of small units. First of all, their base cost is so good, it would be a waste not to – a unit of 20 with a champion and a banner is just over 200 points, which is a steal.  Secondly, with only T3 and a 5+ Invulnerable Save, you will be losing a fair few models before you get to combat, so its best you either split an opponents fire with multiple small units, or have large units able to soak up that firepower.

As with Plaguebearers, I recommend the ‘less is more’ trend for what to give your Alluress. A single Lesser Reward roll is all you will usually need to give her some extra combat kick, if you even decide to get one at all due to the unit being so great at combat to start with. I suppose it may be useful to draw any hard-hitting characters into a challenge, where they will be denied inflicting damage on the unit for a turn- more often than not there’s a good chance you may be striking at the same time due to the champions great Initiative stat!

Now whilst their base stats are nothing to be sniffed at, to reach their full potential of nightmare inducing hellions, they need the addition of a Herald.

Converted Daemonettes and Fiends, by isotope99 of Warseer.

Masters of pain.

Where to start? Shall I lead with the amazing stats, the Locuses that give them so much flexibility, a pretty great set of psychic powers, or that all of this is available for 45 points base?!

Okay, okay, I’ll calm down. Exciting as all of the options you have for your Herald of Slaanesh, it’s also the main weakness of them, as you can easily find yourself adding more and more rewards until have a 150+ points monster…that still has only Toughness 3 and a 5+ save.

So its finding the best way to compliment the unit you are adding the Herald to and deciding what role you want the model to fulfil and sticking to it rigidly. For me, that means you should probably stay clear of the Psychic powers as they will slow down the unit and focus on having the Locus.

The Games Workshop Herald of Slaanesh model.

Again, theres no clear winner here, but if you want a cheap unit upgrade that helps with them getting to combat, you can’t go wrong with the Lesser Locus of Grace. Giving the unit they join Move Through Cover, means terrain is no longer a hindrance and you can safely shelter behind it, knowing that next turn you can comfortable walk through it and assault the following turn. The Greater Locus of Swiftness isn’t as useful because of their natural Initiative 5 (Initiative 7 for the Herald), but then if you feel like being able to strike in combat before almost everything else in the game, you couldn’t go worse than this.

Now onto the last Locus, the Exalted Locus of Beguilment. This is a good one, letting you choose your challenge opponents (which cannot be refused) and giving the Herald and the unit it joins re-rolls to hit in combat. It’s probably the best of the lot, but coming in at two thirds of the base cost of the Herald, it’s only worth taking if you have a large unit, to spread the cost of the upgrade out.

In the end, if you are thinking of taking a Mono Slaanesh army, well you lucked out with one of the best troop choices in the game.

If you can avoid cover as the unit have no grenades, a full unit of Deamonettes should have very little to fear except excessive firepower. I’ve seen these lovelys kill everything from Greater Daemons to those pesky Storm Shield Terminators. No go forth and enjoy!

Daemonettes are available from Firestorm Games, for only £16.20

Short Daemon Tactica: Building Nurgle Lists

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Before I head onto the Prince of Pleasure, lets talk mono Nurgle Lists. Due to the troops you have available in you choose to stick with just the god of pestilence, you won’t be able to make massive variations to your force. But you can have some mini themes regardless, that will still allow for quite a bit of variance in play style and tactics required.

All the lists will be 1,500 points, because that’s what the Throne of Skulls in the UK uses and I don’t see too many tournaments in the UK using a higher points limit.

Monstrous Hoard

A Monstrous Creature heavy army, from the NurgleonBass blog.

Theres nothing of subtlety here. Just walk forward and crush anything that gets too close. Use the Daemon princes with wings to lock down your opponents movement options.

Great Unclean One. Level 3 Psyker. 240 points

Great Unclean One. Level 3 Psyker 240 points

12 Plaguebearers. 108 points

12 Plaguebearers. 108 points

5 Nurgling bases 75 points

Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings, Warp Forged Armour. 1 Exalted Reward. Level 2 Pysker. 300 points

Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings, Warp Forged Armour. 1 Exalted Reward 250 points

Soul Grinder of Nurgle. Warp Gaze. 175 points

Total: 1496 points

The Pestilent Hoard

Weight of numbers and survivability is the name of the game here, with some armoured support to help crack tough nuts. Bog down your opponent and wear them down by simply being able to outlast them, along with a few surprises.

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Greater Locus of Fecundity. 80 points

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Greater Locus of Fecundity. 80 points

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Greater Locus of Fecundity. 80 points

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Lesser Locus of Virulence. 65 points

20 Plaguebearers. Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward 215 points

20 Plaguebearers. Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward 215 points

15 Plaguebearers. Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward 170 points

4 Plague Drones. Plaguebringer with Lesser Reward. 183 points

Soul Grinder of Nurgle.  Warp Gaze, Phlegm Bombardment. 205 points

Soul Grinder of Nurgle.  Warp Gaze, Phlegm Bombardment. 205 points

Total: 1498 points

Now thats a Hoard! Models painted by the This – is – PAINT! Blog

Creeping Death

It’s not as if you will ever have a lightning fast force using Nurgle only models. But by emphasising the faster elements of the force, hopefully you can lock down an opponents powerful units, allowing Troops to Deep Strike in late to the game for some sneaky objective claiming.

Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings, Warp Forged Armour. 1 Exalted Reward 250 points

Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings, Warp Forged Armour. 1 Exalted Reward 250 points

10 Plaguebearers 90 points

10 Plaguebearers 90 points

10 Plaguebearers 90 points

3 Beasts of Nurgle 156 points

3 Beasts of Nurgle 156 points

4 Plague Drones. Death’s Heads. Plaguebringer with Lesser Reward. 203 points

4 Plague Drones. Death’s Heads. Plaguebringer with Lesser Reward. 203 points

Total: 1488 points

Bringing it all together…

A bit more of a balanced force than any other of the forces, this utilizes fast and hard-hitting elements to support a solid defensive troops section that can defend objectives.

After all, its objectives that win a game in most scenarios.

Great Unclean One. Level 3 Psyker. 240 points

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Greater Locus of Fecundity. 80 points

Herald of Nurgle. Lesser Reward. Greater Locus of Fecundity. 80 points

10 Plaguebearers.  Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward. 125 points

10 Plaguebearers.  Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward. 125 points

10 Plaguebearers.  Icon and Instrument of Chaos. Plagueridden with Lesser Reward. 125 points

6 Plague Drones. Plague Banner. Plagueridden, 1 Lessser Reward. 307 points

Soul Grinder of Nurgle. Warp Gaze. 175 points

Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings and Armour of Damnation. 1 Greater Reward.

Total: 1497pts

A great Nurgle themed army, first displayed on the Spikey Bits site

So there you have it- some list ideas to go with my prior Nurgle Tacticas. Combine the two and get gaming already!

Atlas Infernal- A review

Whats the point of reviewing a book that’s two years old at this point? This irregular review series recognises excellence – and Atlas Infernal is most certainly excellent.

To a lot of newer readers, the name Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak won’t mean much. But those of us who have been playing through the 90’s and early 2000’s Czevak was an enigmatic character.

Always in the background somewhere (even if it was just the a quote here and there) he seemed to be everywhere, yet nowhere all at once. Add in mysterious background like him being allowed to visit the Eldar Black Library and being pursued all over the galaxy by Ahriman for the knowledge he possessed and he was pretty cool dude all round.

Rob Sanders’ book takes us through the somewhat potted history we have of the character, whilst fleshing out his other adventures in the Eye of Terror as he attempts to escape the grasp of Ahriman, who wishes to use the knowledge in Czevak’s head to ascend to godhood.

Perhaps it was an unconscious thing, but in between the unreliable sense of time and the way a lot of the story seems to separated up into short adventures, I got a very Doctor Who feeling from the book. This was actually playing through my head a lot whilst I read, especially in the sections based on the plague planet.

At the same time, it’s certainly not a PG version of the 40k universe. Instead, Sanders uses Czevak’s unusual methods to highlight the weird crazy parts of the 40k universe we rarely get to hear about.

Pariahs, a Techpriest from the Relictors chapter (who reminded me very much of Brian Blessed for some reason), an Imperial Saint, a virus that makes one compulsively hunt for knowledge all make regular appearances and the final confrontation very aptly takes place in the mind more than on the battlefield.

There are a few problems with the book: mainly that towards the middle narration and sense of time starts getting confused and jumbled up, which was jarring at first. Before I read on I even thought it was a massive error that the editors had failed to notice.

When it becomes apparent what is happening though, it rewards repeated readings, which were far more rewarding than most books I’ve read in the Black Library range.

Impossible to categorise and a real page turner, Atlas Infernal is much like the titular Inquisitor himself. I really look forward to reading what trouble Czevak gets into next.

Atlas Infernal is available from The Black Library and all good high street bookstores. You can also purchase a few short stories featuring Inquisitor Czevak on the Black Library site. They really are worth your time.

Short Daemon Tactica: Beasts of Nurgle

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My continuing look at Codex Daemons focuses on Beasts of Nurgle. A mass of contradictory special rules, how on earth can you use this very odd unit? Truth is, I’m not exactly sure myself.

The current Games Workshop model. Not brilliant in my opinion.

So let’s get into this. What makes Beasts of Nurgle such a hard choice to justify is how they almost seem to fulfill the same role as Plague Drones, yet do it far less elegantly. Being cavalry does give them some advantages, and compared to most of your force they will seem to dash across the board in the blink of an eye. By other armies standards though, that’s still a little on the slow side.

It also seems counter productive for them to have that speed when you consider their special rule Attention Seeker, which allows them an out of turn sequence activation to charge any enemy unit that has charged one of your own within 12″. It’s a nifty little rule that will allow for some much-needed line defence of your force, which otherwise may occupy units with more important tasks like  Plague Drones or Greater Daemons.

Combine this with the It Will Not Die special rule and 4 wounds and you have the potential be a thorn in a units side due to them being immune to instant death from anything but Strength 10 weaponry and, sadly, force weapons. But then why the speed that will move them out ahead of the rest of the force? I can only assume its to help positioning and maybe if you want to use them as a flanking unit to your main battle force, slipping around to catch opponents squads in lovely no retreat scenarios.

The original Shaggoth like model, painted by Utan on Dakka Dakka

But then you take a look at the cost and well… a single Beast of Nurgle is not worth more than a Plague Drone. Not at all. Especially as they have no upgrades, what you are left with is a big lumbering beast that can take a hit whilst dishing out a random number of poisoned attacks. At least its D6+1, but even then, spending over 450 points for a full squad and a bad dice roll giving you only 18  poisoned attacks…well its not great. So what can you use Beasts of Nurgle for then?

Distraction and delays mostly, along with some defensive play.

A Beasts of Nurgle converted from Reaper purple worms by deathsalvo. Amazing!

Using the speed of the unit, you can race ahead of the main force, or else Deep Strike in and distract an opponents firepower for a turn or two. Either way, there’s a good chance you will survive most shooting short of a Railgun or Demolisher shell (and if your opponent is using them on you, it’s win win for the rest of your force), panicking your opponent. No-one wants a unit that can’t be easily killed holding up their key combat units or assaulting a firebase. Even if they don’t do much, they should comfortably be able to hold up terminators for a few turns, neutering their effectiveness, or else taking down a low initiative Monstrous Creature or two.

If at all possible, you could even Deep Strike behind or into cover, which will increase your existing cover save provided by Shrouded, all ready for a next turn assault to add to an opponents woe even more! 

Then there’s the idea that you can use them to just support your line, acting as a deterrent against enemy units assaulting yours units. You will get defensive grenades anyway regardless due to Slime Trail, so even if an opponent then counter charges the Beasts of Nurgle, they won’t get any bonuses for charging, taking the bite out of many assault units.

Still, it’s really hard to recommend Beasts of Nurgle, especially as you can spend the points on things like Plague Drones or Daemon Princes instead. Perhaps proxy them first and see if you can find a role for them in your force.

In the end, their Attacks characteristic sums them up all too well. On a good turn, a full squad can munch through anything (64 poisoned attacks at turn!) whilst being a great road block to your opponent. On a bad day, it’s just a 450 point lump you throw at your opponent so they can’t get to the good stuff.

So that’s it for my exploration of Nurgle units! Next week I will be talking Mono Nurgle Lists and Tactics. The week after that it will be Slannesh – just in time for New Year!

Beasts of Nurgle currently aren’t available even from Games Workshop! Go ebay the lovely old models instead.

Short Daemon Tactica: Nurgle Characters

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As its the Christmas season, lets catch up with those characters in a Daemon army that are just like a cuddly Santa Claus. Except for the decay and pestilence. Nurgle’s made that his own.

A festive Greater Daemon of Nurgle in the GW Battle Bunker in Maryland, USA

Great Unclean One: Greater Daemon of Nurgle

So, what else needs to be said? One of the most powerful units of the entire game and one of the toughest too, his only downside is that he’s hampered by being Slow and Purposeful. However, a lack of wings means he does come in considerably cheaper than other greater demons, and when you consider he can Deep  Strike…well there’s very little reason not to, unless you plan on using his bulk to intimidate an opponent as he waddles up the battlefield.

His other great advantage is Psychic Powers. Whilst it is tempting to spend all your points on Daemonic Reward rolls, as all Nurgle Psycher’s have access to Biomancy, you could end up having a pretty much unstoppable model with a few luck rolls. Toughness 10, Strength 9 (all the better for those poison re-rolls against other Monstrous Creatures), 8 Attacks, Initiative 7 and Feel No Pain! All for under the base starting cost of a Bloodthirster!

Again, he’s a slow model, so depending on what Psychic Powers you roll, he may just be useful as a line-breaker for the the rest of your forces, creeping slowly on but almost impossible to put down. In the end, he’s so versatile I can’t imagine not taking him in games over 1500 points. 200-300 points is an investment, and if you want a faster but more fragile option its better to stick with a Daemon Prince, but I’m pretty sure the models is capable of earning the investment back. Even if its just to keep the rest of your force alive long enough to get close enough for combat. It’s a purchase that’s pretty much mandatory.

Greater Daemon Character: Ku’Gath Plaguefather

This guy though, I’m not too convinced on. He’s a little too pricey for what is being offered in his special rules. Overall, whilst he is cheaper and has some stat increases over a basic Great Unclean One, the general downgrading of his abilities (and him being merely a level 1 Psyker) means that for 260 points, he’s probably not worth it unless you are dead set on a theme that includes him. In almost all respects, even with his ranged weapon, the basic Great Unclean One is better. That Ku’Gath doesn’t have his own model yet just seals the deal for me.

Daemon Princes of Nurgle

Daemon Prince model by Forgeworld

Now, onto the last big scary beastie you can field in a mono Nurgle force. Along with Heralds, Daemon Princes are probably one of the most customizable units in the entire list. With the wings he can be given, it’s tempting to just zoom him up the board casting psychic powers before leaping into combat. This does leave him pretty vulnerable and a priority target, but I’m convinced that if advanced in concert with some Plague Drones or a few Deep Striking units, well, your opponent will have a much harder time deciding what he needs to take care of first.

As, if he takes wings, he becomes one of the most manoeuvrable units in your army, I would be tempted to give him an roll on the Exalted Rewards table. He’s a big enough being to not need a special close combat weapon, and the Exalted Rewards table gives him access to Hellforged Artefacts, with the very tempting PortalGlyph or Eternal Blade. It comes down to preference, but I quite like the ability to get an extra small unit of Plaguebearers a turn for free.

Otherwise, without wings (or with them for that matter) grab the armour upgrade, as a 3+ save will go a long way towards keeping him safe from small arms fire like bolters when combined with Shrouded and an Invulnerable Save. Whatever your choice, he will be pricey, which means that that unless you making an army of mostly Monstrous Creatures or having a game at 2000 points or above, you really only have room for him or a Great Unclean One, not both.

Herald of Nurgle

Games Workshops Champion of Nurgle, as painted by Mengel Miniatures

My choice of go to guys for a Nurgle list, Heralds are the workhorse characters, accomplishing things that their Monstrous Creature counterparts couldn’t dream of. Versatile, cheap and deployed in 4s as a single HQ slot. I’ve already covered most of their uses in an earlier piece I wrote. To avoid repeating myself, it’s best I just link you to it here.

It is worth noting in addition though, that unlike the other gods Heralds, the ‘mount’ (does it even count as that?) that Heralds can take doesn’t really add much in the way of movement or added value, so they are best off staying in Plaguebearer units where they can be best utilized.

Herald Character: Epidermis

A sort of ‘Super Herald’ this character was a lot of players model of choice in the last codex because of just how broken he was and how loose rule wording meant you could end up having apocalypse games where all your Nurgle models (even from other lists that weren’t Chaos Daemons) had Feel no Pain and power weapons that wounded on a 2+. The models rules have been understandably toned down since then, to a 12″ radius with very reduced bonuses. In the end though, it means that now he’s not broken, and he’s not worth taking really!

Costing about 2 and a half times the cost of a normal Herald may have been excusable when he had the abilities to match, but now he’s very much a situational character, dependent on getting the kills in and being able to get close enough to the enemy for the effects to be useful.

Perhaps worth taking him in fun lists, as your opponent still won’t like it when his Hive Tyrant gets taken down by Nurglings if he’s at full steam. But his lack of mobility means that your opponent, if he’s careful, will be able to just engage units in combat outside of Epidermis’s 12″ range, negating any advantages.

Nurgle forces are slow enough as it is- the last thing you want is to be clumping up so you can be destroyed by blast weaponry.

So that’s it for my exploration of Nurgle units! Next week I will be talking Mono Nurgle Lists and Tactics. The week after that it will be Slannesh – just in time for New Year!

Firestorm games have most of the Nurgle range for sale on their site- all at a minimum of 10% off.

Short Daemons Tactica: Plague Drones

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Buboes, phlegm, blood and guts! Boils, bogeys, rot and pus! Blisters, fevers, weeping sores! From your wounds the fester pours.

My look at units from the Daemons codex continues with Nurgle Plague drones. A hefty price tag comes with these flying carriers of death, but its worth it due to the speed and flexibility they can bring to an otherwise pretty slow force.

The big surprise starts with the stats. Though they come with the standard low Initiative, Weapon and Ballistic Skill of most Nurgle Daemons, Toughness 5 with multiple wounds and attacks more than makes up for it. Along with this, they are Jetpack Cavalry, which means that nothing will be slowing them down and if they choose to Deepstrike in, they can avoid being pie plated to death by using their free assault move.

Plague Drones painted by DeathShadowSun from DeviantArt.

Having a few attacks each and actual delivery system means their plagueswords can be used to target units that they can be used effectively against, rather than hoping for the best and taking it as it comes like you would with Plaguebearers. Take a Plaguebringer with a cheap Etherblade and equip one of the unit with a Plague Banner and watch your opponent do a double take as you cause 4, AP2 attacks wounding on a 2+ along with a bunch more poisoned attacks to follow! It’s perfect for an assassination run on an Independent Character or Monstrous Creature, as the wounds and toughness of the unit champion should allow you to shrug off most attacks.

Alternatively, you can take Death’s Heads, which give them a nice ranged poisoned attack that you can use to weaken more powerful units before moving in for the kill.

One word of caution though. Despite their seemingly impressive toughness and wound characteristic, with only a daemonic invulnerable save and Shrouded to protect them, don’t expect them to last long against really tough or numerous units. They are the definition of a glass hammer, being able to dish out the hurt for a turn or two before losses make them pretty ineffective. Advance carefully up the battlefield (or if you can, deep strike them behind cover then can jump over the following turn) and pick your target well.

Larger games you can afford to have massive units of them, but in a smaller game of 1,000-1,500 points, a unit of 6 is going to be well into the 250 points range, so its a big investment and you will have to think long and hard about how to use them effectively. 

All in all, Plague Drones provide a Nurgle force with something it really needs, which is speed, flexibility and a nasty combat bite against heavy infantry and power armoured opponents in a pinch. For that, they are sure to be your opponents top priority. With good reason too – once your opponent experiences what Plague Drones can do, it won’t be an experience they will be happy to repeat.

Artwork by Les Edwards

Plague Drones are available from Firestore Games for £31.50

Short Daemons Tactica: Plaguebearers

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As my (not so) short tactica series rolls on, I’m taking some time out to wrap my head around how best to use Daemon units in 40k. Now that it’s finally possible to field mono god lists now that every god has units for each slot of the Force Organisation chart, certain armies are viable where as before they were not.

As I’ve always been a fan of Nurgle, but have never really found Nurgle aligned daemon units to be great in anything but a defensive position, it seems the best place to start. After that I shall move onto other gods and their units, followed by the concept of having multiple god units in one list. But not Tzeentch. That guy is weird.

So where else is best to start but the humble Plaguebearer? Having slightly average stats with the only standouts being Strength and Toughness 4, the cost of the unit is slightly offset by having a Plaguesword, which lets the unit wound anything on, at worst, a 4+ and glancing vehicles on rolls of 6s’.

Plaguebearers, painted by Moon Dog Studios.

But still, with only 1 attack and as Plagueswords have no AP, everything points to them being defensive in usage really and being able to be swept away by even average combat units like Assault Marines. They certainly won’t be killing things from afar, unless you count being ugly as a ranged attack.

The Plague Waxes…

So how to buff them up, or is there even a need? The unit on its own is never going to be great at what it does due to its very limited additional options. But use that to your advantage. Bulk up on extra bodies to overwhelm your opponent and absorb incoming blows. Take a Plagueridden and spend the 10 points needed to surprise your opponent with some AP2 master crafted close combat attacks. Take that icon for +1 to your combat score. All in all, just over 200ish points will net you 20 Plaguebearers, the afore-mentioned champion with his stabby sword of death and a banner. But it can only do so much, which I when we need to start turning to outside forces.

Converted Plaguebearers by Valhallan42nd

We’ve two options in this case, a Demonic Herald of Nurgle and Epidermis. Epidermis is pricey and his sphere of influence has been reduced since the last codex, which makes me somewhat reluctant to recommend him. Regardless though, if you can get the kills in, you suddenly have a few units with lots of extra attacks that would everything on a 2+.

This leaves the Herald of Nurgle, as last time I checked, Monstrous Creatures can’t join Infantry units. Which is just as well, as a Herald can give you a great deal more flexibility that you may expect. For a start, he can start adding the attacks in with Locus of Contagion, which gives extra Strength 4 hits on rolls of 6, or else make them far more survivable against the opponent with the Locus of Fecundity (which I would always plump for regardless of use personally just for the name alone) which gives them Feel No Pain.

Plaguebearer artwork from Games Workshop

As with the unit champion, unless you are hot with your dice, its only ever work investing a few points in your daemonic table rolls for me, as it can help him get a bigger  stick of whacking, but the random nature of the rest always makes me a bit wary of spending too many points . Keep your Heralds cheap and plentiful is my motto, which is why, unless you are forgoing the use of a greater daemon, I tend to skip out on Psychic powers for them. They get pricey fast and the Biomancy powers will be replicating a lot of what you have spent points on via locus’s and deamonic table rolls anyway (or else is redundant as you will be wounding most things on a 4+ or better). The Nurgle powers are pretty good, but again, are a bit reliant on circumstance and being close enough to the enemy without them charging you first. With Slow and Purposeful, that’s always a gamble and its their biggest weakness as potent combat unit.

Still, if you can get a large unit and can get a few enemy units too engage them whilst Miasma of Pestulance is cast, well, its time to have some fun. Most Nurgle units may even go first in combat for once!

..And It Wains

Now lets move onto probably is the best use of Plaguebearers, which is that of a support unit. Like Dark Eldar Wracks, these guys are begging to be hunkered down in cover, especially as they come with Shrouded as standard. If you want to stick a Herald on them with Locus of Fecundity, then all the better! In this scenario, Plaguebearers, as well as being objective claimers, act as ways of getting your more devastating units onto the board without a scratch on them. In a mono Nurgle force, this means pretty much every single unit bar Nurglings.Take a banner and an instrument to help with getting units onto the board fast and hug that cover! With Toughness 4, Feel No Pain and a cover save on them, they should be pretty hard to kill unless significant time is spent on killing them.

At the end of the day you are Slow and Purposeful anyway, so it’s not as if you will be needing to rush up the board. Perhaps Deep Strike a few more units up the board if you feel adventurous for extra pull. The Nurgle psychic powers will start coming into their own too, as you can be counting on units coming to them rather than the other way around.

In the end, Plaguebearers can be used offensively in a pinch, but all the points spent on them would be better equipping them to play a little more conservatively, whilst your more hard-hitting units do the work of killing things. A units of 20 is still nothing to be sniffed at though, and in games in excess of 2000 points, its worth having at least one to counter attack units that get too close to anything important.

You can get Plaguebearers from Firestorm Games, priced £16.20.

Codex Chaos Daemons – A Review

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So how to describe Chaos Daemons as an army? Well, random I suppose is the best word. But random in a way that can be pretty much mitigated if you know how and are willing to pay the points. Playing a Chaos Daemon army is a bit like being an accountant.  A daemonic one. So like an accountant. Figuring out the best margins, cost to risk ratios and how to spin the random tables in your favour is half the fun of this book.

DaemonsCodexENG01_873x627 copy

But let’s start with the basics before I get too ahead of myself. It’s a very pretty book. Finally having a codex in full colour gives the artists and designers full licence to go to town on how much craziness they are allowed to inject into an otherwise pretty standard codex template by this point. Each section for the four Gods has slightly different border designs and the inclusion of a fold out with a summary of most of the salient points of the Codex is particularly useful, given the number of tables a player will need to roll on pre, and during, a game.

Another new (or at least something I at least haven’t seen for a while) addition is designers notes in a vein similar to Privateer Press’, that clarify points that may not be immediately apparent. With a lot of arguments about things like “Rules As Written” and “Rules As Intended” on the net, its nice to see Games Workshop’s designers spending the time to clear up some points that, due to the loose nature of 40k’s rules, may seem ambiguous otherwise. I just wish it was for everything rather than just a few entries, as my first glance through revealed some pretty broken combos if the interpretation is taken as RAW rather than RAI.

There isn’t much additional background text added to what exists unfortunately, though with the colour text and illustrations it’s still of a pretty high calibre, if not great compared to what came before in my opinion.

What does seem to be becoming clearly defined now is how Games Workshop view the Chaos Gods. In the past they were sort of loosely defined as omnipresent and unknowable beings that existed in the warp. Now it seems that there is The Warp, as controlled by Chaos Space Marines and other renegades like Daemon Princes and the Traitor Primarchs.  Then there is a deeper part of The Warp which has fantasy realms controlled by the Gods (as in, not planets, just plains) where the Gods literally reside in structures created by their whims.

Though in the past it was easy to see these as allegorical in some way: someone’s mind entering the warp and trying to make sense of it. Games Workshop are clearly trying to re-sculpt a lot of the Gods of the 40k Universe as more of the Greek and Roman variety, prone to squabbling amongst one another and capable of very human emotions, if admittedly emotions that can result in entire worlds being destroyed. In the end it’s a personal preference and whilst I don’t quite like it, I can see many more people quite liking Gods they can engage with as maniacal villains, eyes poised over the galaxy like hungry sharks.

As for the list itself, well it’s pretty solid, if nothing exactly stands out. The many new additions seem to add a lot of options to the army without overpowering it significantly (though the idea of  Plaguebringers being jumpack cavalry sounds like something I will have to check out), with perhaps the only dud being the Skull Cannon of Khorne. Even then, that’s just because it’s outshone by the far more appealing Slanneshi chariots. In the end, it’s just nice that mono God armies finally have more options to their lists than the prior codex, which will reduce a need to have mixed God armies for those that would rather not.

There’s also been an effort to make Daemonic Heralds a real alternative to their Monstrous Creature counterparts, as Heralds are now able to grant abilities to units via Locus’. Whilst this may anger some long time players, as many of these Locus’ were what units came with as standard in the past, I see it as an advantage. Now each unit has a wealth of new options open to it depending on what Locus is selected by the Herald and each unit is a part of a larger piece of the army. To this end you can now take four, yes four, Heralds per HQ choice. At a base cost  of all four without upgrades being just under the cost of a single Greater Daemon, you may find they will aid your army a whole lot more than just one monster.

Of course some units, like Bloodcrushers and the ever reliable Greater Daemons, can eat squads a turn, but you will pay through the nose for them. Now it’s probably much better to have one of those units and have lots of smaller squads to help them achieve that. There are token efforts to combat fliers by giving Soulgrinders an anti-aircraft weapon and making the winged big beaties Flying Monstrous Creatures. As always too, Tzeentchian squads are more predisposed towards psychic powers and shooting. But overall, most of your squads will be racing across the board to get stabby as quickly as possible. As Deep Strike is no longer mandatory either, it’s a lot easier to set up plans for a game, instead of hoping that a single dice roll goes in your favour.

However, this is where the fun starts. Characters no longer buy equipment, but instead buy rolls on tables. The default choice is usually an okay close combat weapon (an AP 2 master crafted weapon for 10 points is pretty nice), with the better rolls allowing for stat increases, psychic powers or things like the ability to summon more daemons. The default roll is useful in that when tailoring a unit a certain way you can have a backup in case your roll something not usable to the model. Still, it would be nice to know that when you are spending 50 plus points, something useful will come of it!

Add to this the Warlord trait rolls, the mission rolls, the Warpstorm table that is rolled each turn and as you can see there’s a lot to keep track of at any one time. This reliance on randomness has, unfortunately, left an army list with few additional options. Thanks to Phil Kelly’s deft touch, key designer Robin Cruddace has managed to avoid making any one unit a must buy and I can see many different types of list coming out of this Codex. It’s just 60% of those lists will amount to a core of multiple, almost identical units due to a lack of afore-mentioned options.

In the end the Chaos Daemons book isn’t what I would call a crowning achievement, mainly due to the reliance on being lucky at rolling on tables. Those who have played Chaos Daemons for a while will be used to this though and I’m sure will be hitting the top places of tournament tables soon enough. The codex has also opened up a lot of new options with the addition of just a few new units. I just wonder if said reliance on random may put off new players from what is otherwise a really interesting army with a unique hook. I’m certainly going to be adding a few units to my Word Bearers force soon, which in time will bloom into my own miniature daemonic incursion.

Now, how to explain to the misses that, yes, I DO need another 60+ models…

Codex Chaos Daemons is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.