My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless to call out ego or pretension.
The new Chaos Daemons codex is in many ways a sea change from its first incarnation. The Chaos Daemons codex accomplishes something striking: the design team has amplified how each unit functions, without changing any the roles they fill. Flamers still drop templates, Plague Bearers still hold objectives, Seekers still Rend everything, how each unit executes its job is what has changed.
Much of the change goes into everything surrounding the Chaos Daemon; like Loci, Daemon Rewards, standard deployment, and the Warp Storm table. This all can mask Chaos Daemons play style, but the truth is, they're still just an assault army.
So, what concepts help to explain just how this new codex plays?
Concept Number One: Chaos Daemons greatest Strength is also their greatest Weakness
Daemonic Instability is a perfect example of the blatant balancing mechanics that Phil Kelly is known for in his codexes.
The Chaos Daemons codex accomplishes something striking: the design team has amplified how each unit functions, without changing any the roles they fill.
If you look at the rule, on one hand it would be an overpowered mechanic for any shooty army. It is worded in such a specific way that not even the psychic power Terrify effects it. The goal is to make sure (win or lose) Chaos Daemons make it to assault. Once in assault though all bets are off. This makes Chaos Daemons a very tactical assault army. You have to make sure the odds are in your favor or be left decimated by one bad roll. This is an internal balance that keeps Chaos Daemons from being broken and is the main reason why so many units got extra wounds from the previous codex.
Concept Number Two: Let the Horde lead you into temptation
True codex creep has never been the newest codex being more powerful than the previous, it has always been about making units cheaper so you must buy more of the them. Chaos Daemons codex gives you some of the cheapest troop units in the game. Every basic troop unit cost has dropped by at least 1/3. All this cost reduction comes with increased minimal unit size, with at least 10 dudes per unit.
There collective cheapness and ability to take 20 per unit makes Chaos Daemon troops some of the best in the game. No coincidence you can still take four Heralds; you will need them to lead the mass of troops this army requires.
Concept Number Three: Find your Loci and keep it safe
The most flexible unit in the Daemon codex is the Heralds, not only can you take lots of them, but they also provide powers many units have lost. Daemonic Loci allow you to mix and match Heralds giving buffs to the units that need them most. Like everything Phil Kelly there is a catch; while your Plaguebearers can get use the Feel No Pain Loci, it only operates if you the Herald is alive and joined to that unit. Balancing what units need what Loci is very important, and understanding the potential combos they create only starts to scratch the surface of daemonic potential. Then you throw in the Daemonic Rewards and you have a gravy train of destruction.
Concept Number Four: When all else fails Monster Mash
Building a Chaos Daemon army doesn't have to be all about Heralds and Troops, itt can be about Monstrous Creatures too. Before, most of the Greater Daemons were mediocre at best, now with the help of Psychic powers and Daemonic Rewards your Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes are aces! From rolling on the Greater Rewards table you can have a Bloodthirster with 4+ Feel no Pain and re-rolling saves to Iron Armed Mastery Level three Great Unclean Ones. Both Greater Daemons and Heralds have huge roles to play in list design and provide necessary diversity the old Chaos Daemon codex lacked.
Concept Number Five: Warp Storm embrace it don't Fear it
The Warp Storm Table is (for the most part) going to help your Chaos Daemons more than hurt them.
Here, let us break it down.
- Storm Abates: Only real bad one causing the potential to lose a big chunk of your army, but remember even only the worst of roles for Leadership will cripple your units, unless you are a Fury.
- Punish by the Gods: Once again pretty bad, but you get an out by hurting your opponent if he has a Daemon character. Remember it means all characters so put it on that upgrade character not your Heralds or Greater Daemons.
- Warp Ebb: Actually the worst of the bunch and hope for it to happen early in the game.
- 5,6,8,9 rolls: Unless you are running every Chaos God these rolls will do more to your opponent than they ever could to your army. Every turn you're encouraged to get into assault as it won't affect you and can still cripple pesky enemy units that attempt to avoid your grasp.
- Warp Surge: Please, can I have another? The best result you can get, as your Daemons go from saving 1/3 of the time to 1/2 of the time.
- Daemonic Possession: Mindshackle on crack! This result will do more to piss off any opponent and compensates for one time you cried rolling a two on the chart. Against Grey Knights very annoying, but against most armies with only one Psyker this is just devastating.
- Summoned from the Warp: Who doesn't want more scoring units? This result not only encourages you to buy more models, but can provide that extra unit you were missing.
The Warp Storm table has like three bad options and everything else is going to help you. This is "controlled random", and it is not to say your aren't going to have the game you roll double 1s three times, but with perspective it is all for the better.
If you follow and understand these general concepts, I think you will be on your way to making fun and competitive lists with ease.
So, where does each Chaos Daemon unit rank within the codex?
- All the basic Heralds
- Flesh Hounds
- Seekers of Slaanesh
- Soul Grinders
- All the Greater Daemons
- Kairos Fateweaver
- The Masque of Slaanesh
- Fiends of Slaanesh
- Chaos Furies
- Burning Chariot
- Skull Cannon
- Ku'gath Plaguefather
- The Changeling
- Daemon Princes
- Beasts of Nurgle
- Flamer of Tzeentch
- Plague Drones
- Seeker Chariots of Slaanesh
- Pink Horrors
- The Blue Scribes
- Hellflayers of Slaanesh
- Exalted Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh
There you have it, my break down of the Chaos Daemons codex. Next up a unit by unit analysis and bonus features along the way!
It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.
For tactical articles feel free to email me to continue the discussion or if you discover an inaccurate interpretations of the rules-- edits will be made accordingly.
Also check out other articles in this series...
- Chaos Space Marine Tactica Link Page
- Chaos Daemons Impressions
- Breaking Down Chaos Daemons
- Bloodletters of Khorne Review
- Pink Horrors of Tzeentch Review
- Plaguebearers of Nurgle Review
- Deamonettes of Slaanesh Review
- Bloodcrushers of Khorne Review
- Flamers of Tzeentch Review
- Beasts of Nurgle Review
- Fiends of Slaanesh Review
- Flesh Hounds of Khorne Review
- Screamers of Tzeentch Review
- Plague Drones of Nurgle Review
- Chaos Furies Review
- Seekers of Slannesh Review
- Soul Grinder Review
- Skull Cannon of Khorne Review
- Nurglings Review
- Skarbrand Review
- Kairos Fateweaver Review
- Ku'Gath the Plaguefather Review
- Bloodthirster Review
- Lord of Change Review
- Great Unclean One Review
- Keeper of Secrets Review
- Daemon Prince Review
- Skulltaker Review
- The Changling Review
- The Blue Scribes Review
- Epidemius Review
- The Masque Review
- Herald of Khorne Review
- Herald of Tzeentch Review
- Herald of Nurgle Review
- Herald of Slaanesh Review
- Exalted, Seeker, Hellflayer Chariots of Slaanesh Review
- Burning Chariot of Tzeentch Review
- A Look Back and Final Chaos Codex Daemons Breakdown