Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Daemon Prince Distraction

To some greater or lesser extent, every codex has a monstrous creature or unit combo that screams "Deal with me or suffer!", ranging from Ork Nob Bikers, and Assault Terminators, through to C'Tan (etc.). In Chaos Space Marine Armies, Daemon Princes do that screaming role very well. Having played a number of games where the daemon prince in my Death Guard army has been used for this distracting purpose alone, I wanted to share a few thoughts on it.

Daemon Prince Build.
One of my regular Death Guard army lists can be found here. In that list, I've built my Daemon Prince of Nurgle with wings and Nurgle's Rot for a grand total of 165 points. This is my default build when I don't know what opponent or army I'll be facing off against. Sometimes, I favour switching Nurgle's Rot for either Doombolt (making the total = 160 points) or Warp Time (for a total of 175 points). Occasionally, wind of chaos.

I tend to use Doombolt against armies that have a good number of high armour save troops that are out in the open (e.g. Space Marines on foot) and Warp Time when he needs to go toe-to-toe with other "Deal with me or suffer" units (e.g. Lysander!).

The Plan.
Almost regardless of the build, I now like to try to play the daemon prince slightly dangerously: I like to deep-strike him in to the heart of my enemy (or, at the very least, near the outskirts of a large number of them that have "castled up" in a corner). This is not always an option - sometimes I just need the daemon prince as a support unit to come and help out some bogged down plague marines. But when I have the initiative and he's in reserve, then taking a risk is not so bad. Even if a dangerous terrain test is needed, it generally doesn't bother me too much. Only the "mishap table" can be problematic for the plan!

If the daemon prince has a suitable shooting attack, then I start to pick off a likely looking target -- not necessarily the toughest looking target though. All I want to do is frighten, scare and draw attention to the daemon prince, thereby building a feeling of "this thing can slaughter lots of stuff easily!". I tend to look toward space marines in the open (in the case of doombolt), or just activating Nurgle's Rot near a whole bunch of tyranid gaunts. Sadly, warptime (along with Gift of Chaos) doesn't help with this part of the plan. Conceivably, Wind of Chaos would work very well (as well as Tzeentch's Bolt of Change).

What's the upshot of this? Well, the daemon prince gets noticed. It gets prioritized as a target. Everything (especially with more inexperienced players) nearby decides to target the daemon prince. That's the point. It's going to be a sacrificial and expendable unit. It takes firepower away from other real threats in my army such as the vindicators, thereby allowing everything in my army an extra turn to move forward or otherwise maneuver in to a superior position. (The younger opponents I sometimes play also get a real kick out of killing my HQ!)

Survivability.
With an extra point of toughness (T=6), the Nurgle Daemon Prince stands a good chance of surviving against small arms fire. Rapid firing plasma guns, meltas and twin-linked las cannons are not so much fun for him though. But that's all good. Other-aligned daemon princes are not as survivable for obvious reasons.

If he survives, I then use him in my next turn to activate the shooting psychic ability again before charging at a tank or some unluky unit that is still out in the open. If he's already dead, then he's done his job.

In the turn that the daemon prince has bought me, my threats are already looming very large and I've (hopefully) managed to put a severe dint in the opposition. In short then, I often feel that this tactic can purchase me 1 game turn. That might be all that is required (late game) to contest or take objectives, or keep multiple other kill-points alive.

Daemons Armies.
Of course, this action can also be pulled in a codex: daemons army list. But here, you don't even need the wings (given that everything will deep-strike in regardless)! In my builds where I use three daemon princes, I regularly use one or more of them as "distractions" whilst the other two get in to position for an alpha strike.

2 comments:

Old School Terminator said...

You are absolutely correct about the DP being a major distraction from the real teeth of your army. For me, I run two DPs and I run them aggressively so that even an experience opponent had to deal with them, which sometimes can take the majority of two turns of fire away from him, allowing my Obliterators to lascannon all the tanks off the board or soak a squad up in plasma-cannon goodness.
Great article and I am glad you enjoy what is possibly the best non-SC HQ unit in the game!

oni said...

IMO they're not really a "distraction", they have to be a target priority, if they're left alone then they're going to seriously mess stuff up.

And if you're like me and are only good at consistently rolling bad then it'll take you 3 to 4 turns to kill him if at all. :(

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