Short Daemon Tactica: Bloodcrushers of Khorne

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Bloodcrushers of Khorne are pretty deadly, even though they have been somewhat downgraded since last edition, and are still a prime assault unit of any Daemon force.  There are even a few ways to overcome the units’ new problem with 2+ armour saves. Plus, it also gives me an excuse to break out a  MegaDeth song.

Ok, lets start from the beginning, because it colours a lot of people’s perceptions about the usability of Bloodcrushers. It will also explain why, depending on where you play, Daemon players are likely to throttle you if you try to bring up the unit in a conversation.

Bloodcrushers useful
A typical reaction to “I still think Bloodcrushers are useful”

Now, last edition the unit were god level good. They had a one point higher toughness, a 3+ save and power weapons still ignored all saves completely instead of just being AP3 Hellblades like they are now – so naturally every Daemon force had a unit or two.  But instead of screaming ‘Worst.Unit. Ever!’ like some parts of the internet, I’ll be explaining how to use them best, despite their diminished status. Call it an act of spite for having to wade through a year of forum after forum saying Phil Kelly is the worst human alive [I thought it was The Cruddace? – Ed]

For a start, Bloodcrushers are now Cavalry, making them able to cross the board by Turn 2 instead of being late game challengers as they were in the past. This increased speed somewhat makes up for a diminished survivability and means that the unit is now able to do flanking attacks or surprise a unit or two (not to mention they can pick and choose their targets more readily to avoid those pesky 2+ saves). Combine this with the ability to strip a unit of cover from the Bloodcannon and they can still kick a lot of arse.

Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop
Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop

Now, whilst their use is mostly limited to killing 3+ save units (of which there are many), the addition of a unit champion or Heralds gives you access to AP2 weaponry. The Axe of Khorne is one of the few god specific weapons I would consider trading the humble Etherblade for, as it has the same stats and swaps Master-Crafted for Instant Death on a 6 to
wound. What your play style is will determine which upgrade you choose I think.

One big change to Bloodcrushers is that I would now consider Deep Striking them, or at the very least hugging cover. That increased vulnerability, paired with their reputation from the last codex, means they will attract a lot of firepower – especially in Space Marine or Necron armies where AP3 close combat weapons are a scary prospect.

All in all, Bloodcrushers aren’t the strongest of units you can have in a mono Khorne force. But use them well as they will still eat a few units before their demise and draw a lot of firepower. For that, and the awesome models, they are worth trying.

So what are you waiting for? Its time to crush ’em!

Bloodcrushers are available from Firestorm Games, priced £30.15.

Short Daemon Tactica: Fleshhounds of Khorne

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Flesh Hounds offer a Khorne player many things. Speed, power, resilience (and used to have hair Fabio would be proud of). But most importantly- a Turn 2 assault anywhere on the board. In this lies the units power. That and their hair.

Khorne_Flesh_Hounds
Seriously, check out those luscious locks. 

There’s something you’ll notice upon looking at the stats of Flesh Hounds- these guys are pretty brutal. Strength 6 and a decent number of Attacks gives you the ability to hurt almost everything in the game. An uncharacteristic Weapon Skill 5 (these are Beasts after all) means you will be able to deliver on that threat in combat and being Beasts means you can get there in time, before the unit gets worn down by these newfangled “ranged weapon” things I hear all the kids in the 40k universe are playing with these days.

Lord of Khorne's armies Fabio spits on you sir!
Lord of Khorne’s armies Fabio spits on you and your cowardly ways sir!

Then there’s the wonderful Scout rule the unit has. Sure, you can’t get a first Turn charge like you could in the days of old, but a free 12″ redeployment before the game starts isn’t too shabby. What’s more, as it’s a redeployment instead of a move, you can start in difficult terrain for the cover saves, confident it won’t be too much of a hindrance.

I would use Flesh Hounds as as smallish units of interceptors, picking off Heavy Weapon toting squads that can cause major pain to the rest of your army. They can mix it up with most units but assault specialists are probably beyond their capabilities most of the time.

Now available with fins!
Now available with fins!

Which brings us to the units only possible ‘upgrade’, in the form of Karanak, who can be purchased as a HQ choice and added to the unit. Though by ‘upgrade’ I mean ‘He costs HOW MUCH?!’

Coming in at just over the cost of 7 regular Flesh Hounds, he’s a little too pricey for me, even if by adding him in gives the unit Rage, re-rolls for himself against one enemy unit and his extra resistance to psychic powers.

Looking at the stats yourself, you may feel the model is worth those points, in which case bulk up the unit size wise and just make the most of it. Including Karanak changes the units focus to more of a character hunter, so use them as such, lest you miss out on the investment you made in getting him. It will turn the unit into a prime target though, which I’m not sure they will be well disposed to cope with – hence the need to increase the unit size.

All in all, Flesh Hounds offer a Khorne Daemon army flexibility and disruption abilities, getting up close and personal and locking down those which may hurt your army most.

Whilst they got unfairly overlooked in the past, now that Blood Crushers are no longer an auto include in every Daemon army you should try them out. Khorne is the god of all types of war after all.

Next Daemon Tactica, its Blood Crusher time.

Flesh Hounds of Khorne are available from Games Workshop, priced £30.

Short Daemon Tactica: Bloodletters

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Khorne units seem deceptively easy to use. Blunt, simple and direct, but there’s more nuance to them than first meets the eye.

The first thing you will probably notice about a unit of Bloodletters is that Strength 4 and Weapon Skill 5 they’re packing. Combined with Furious Charge and a close combat weapon with AP3 leaves no doubt as to how they are intended to be used in the game. It goes some way towards explaining why the unit will cost more at base than other Troop choices in a Chaos Daemon army too.

But regardless of this, they have some fundamental weaknesses and redundancies that make me unsure if they are the combat powerhouses people take them for. Make no mistake, they’re very awesome for a troops choice. But they are only good at one type of combat alone, so I would hesitate to say they are as good as something like Daemonettes, which stand a better chance in all sorts of combat situations.

Bloodletters, painted by the MyTraitorGuard blog

Regardless though, the unit still has a darn impressive stat line – even if Toughness 3 is something that means that Imperial Guard stand a good chance against them in combat with sufficient numbers. Still, with Ballistic Skill 5 you can be assured that any daemon army that needs some protection from fliers can look no further. Khorne cares not where the blood flows from after all, even if it takes a while for it to fall from 50,000 feet.

I’m tempted to take the unit in large numbers to not only terrify your opponent, but to also soak up the losses that having a Toughness 3 and only a 5+ Invulnerable save brings. It also means that if the unit encounters something with a 2+ save, there’s more wounds to soak up the damage whilst the mandatory champion upgrade with the Etherblade upgrade hacks through them.

It’s either that or Deepstriking smaller units in, letting faster units like Bloodcrushers with icons create precision strikes.

Converted Bloodletters, by Alex Kolodotschko on Dakka Dakka.

When it comes to including a Herald in the unit, whereas other Heralds add different dimensions or utilities, the Khorne Herald just makes then better at killing things. The Greater Locus of Fury never seems to bring enough of a benefit to outweigh its negatives and whilst the Exalted Locus of Wrath is fun, I would be tempted, if going for a mostly infantry force, to stick him on a Blood Throne of Khorne instead. Whereas the cheap and cheerful Lesser Locus of Abjuration can make a large section of your army pretty resistant to Daemonic Instability.

In the end, Bloodletters can be seen as a specialised troops choice for taking out medium to heavy infantry units. They will suffer against anything too hard due to their low toughness, high cost per model, and AP3 in combat – but will give everything else a run for their money. They’re a unit that needs other things to work alongside them to let them fulfill their role well.

But when you manage to pull something off with them, your opponent won’t forget in a hurry.

Bloodletter artwork used by Games Workshop for the Daemons Codex.

Next time I’ll be taking Flesh Hounds of Khorne

*Lets not talk about the token 6+ save wooo, Bloodletters are safe if one day Imperial Guard rifle butts negate invulnerable saves.

Bloodletters are available from Firestorm Games priced £16.20.

Short Daemon Tactica: Building Slannesh Lists

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It’s time to break out the bondage gear, zip up the gimp masks, and think on the kinds of  Slaaneshi lists one could construct.

Overall when you go for mono Slaaneshi lists, it’s not a case of if you can build a fast army, it’s just asking yourself how fast you want it to be. Because make no mistake, Slaaneshi units are some of the fastest units a daemon player can field and an entire army of them will be across the board in three turns at most. But with that comes vulnerability, namely a low Toughness stat across the board for all of its aligned units.

So around this thought comes my first potential list. As per my Nurgle list article, all of them will be 1500 points.

The Fast and the Furious

Superbly painted models, posted by gonzosbignose on Warseer

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

 6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

Seeker Cavalcade. 3 Seeker Chariots

Total: 1486 points

Fragile but deadly and almost entirely mounted, the idea of this army is for it to smash into your opponents army before they have a chance to take advantage of this lists fragility.

The Daemonette units with Instruments of Chaos are to help with not only Deep Striking, but to reduce the effects of a bad roll on the Warp Storm table, which will affect this type of army more than most.

The inclusion of chariots is a bit of a hypothetical at the moment as I’ve not gotten the chance to using them in a game – I hope to remedy that soon!

Death by 1000 Cuts

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement, Steel of Slaanesh

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

15 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

Total: 1500 points

This army is very much the hoard, relying on cheap Deamonettes to do most of the work. Throw in the odd Herald or tougher unit like Seekers to deal with or delay any tough units the army encounters and the jobs a good’un.

Killer Queen(s)

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward, Warp-forged armour

Total: 1499 points

If you will forgive the slightly ludicrous title, this is a Monstrous Creature heavy list. A small few units of Deamonettes are around to act as objective holders whilst the heavies do their job and scare the bejezus out of your opponent!

Bringing it all together…

A balanced Slaanesh force painted by ArbitorIan from Dakka Dakka

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker- 250 poin

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement, Steel of Slaanesh

12 Daemonettes.Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

12 Daemonettes. Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

12 Daemonettes. Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

Total: 1496 points

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Having a more balanced force has its advantages. By combining the many different elements, you can get the hard-hitting and staying power of Monstrous Creatures and the speed of Seekers of Slaanesh. The only problem is fitting it all in  a 1500 point limit!

And with that, I’m done with Slaanesh for now. Come back next week when I will start (finally!) talking about Khorne. He’s already angry he’s been waiting his turn this long, so it will have to be a good one – or else!

The Slaanesh range from Games Workshop, along with many alternative models,  is available from Firestorm Games for a minimum of 10% off!

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!

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 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.