Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some Assorted Thoughts on Daemonettes of Slaanesh

Daemonettes of Slaanesh have some awesome plastic models and historic metal miniatures to represent them on the Warhammer 40,000 battlefield. Having played a good few games with them in a mixed Codex: Daemons army list, I felt it was time to have a look at what tactics generally worked for me and what didn't.

A Matter of Scale.
In my experience, Codex: Daemons is a matter of scale when playing mixed daemons. What works at a low points value may not be so effective at a large points value (and vice-versa).

In that regard, I've only been tempted to play daemonettes of Slannesh at larger points values in mixed daemons armies. In mono-Slaanesh armies, they will (of course) have to be there since they are the core troops. At lower points values, I find that daemonettes are not so worth while in mixed armies. Why?

The main problem with daemonettes is their general frailness to points value ratio. With toughness 3 and a 5+ save, they will be toasted by most armies. That, and coupled with the fact that they cost 14 points each; compare that points cost to a standard ork or chaos space marine and their overall frailness is obvious.

In larger armies (i.e. bigger points value games), daemonettes can be much more deadly. The principle reason for this is that any opposing general should be targetting other parts of the daemonic army in preference to daemonettes if they know what they're doing. Bloodletters of Khorne, Screamers of Tzeentch and Daemon Princes all seem to get prioritized over daemonettes for various reasons (e.g. hellblades; the ability to melta bomb tanks; simply being big and bad monstrous creatures respectively). Hence in a larger points value game, daemonettes can readily be over-looked. However, by not paying attention to them, the daemonettes can more readily get stuck in to their opposition.

Advantages of Daemonettes.
There are benefits to spending 14 points on a daemonette. Principle amongst them are the sheer number of attacks each (3 base; 4 on the charge), high initiative, rending attacks, fleet special rule and sheer other-worldly mind-altering beauty aura (variously known as Aura of Acquiescence, or assault and defensive grenades).

On top of that, they can take icons (probably not worth it outside of mono-Slaanesh armies); instruments of chaos (again, probably not worth while - see my previous discussion on this matter); and transfixing gaze.

Let's have a brief look at transfixing gaze. Mechanically, it reduces the number of attacks from an opponent in base-to-base contact with the daemon by one. This can be useful with a carefully positioned charge (e.g. against a power fist space marine) or against a monstrous creature / independent character. But otherwise might not be worthwhile. It is cheap though, so if you have the spare points and can't find another valuable place to spend them, then I think its better than spending the points on an instrument for the daemonettes.

An example combat.
A unit of 10 chaos space marines is facing off against 10 daemonettes (with transfixing gaze and an instrument - to make it equal points value).

The daemonettes have the charge (which they should always be aiming to have regardless given their fleet special rule). That means they have an impressive 40 attacks. Statistically, 20 of them will hit their mark.

Of the 20 hits, 3.33 will result in a rending wound and 3.33 ordinary wounds will be scored. That results in 4.44 dead chaos space marines on average (only a third of the chaos marines will fail their power armour 3+ save against the ordinary wounds).

The chaos marines now strike back at lower initiative. Each has two attacks apart from one of them in base-to-base contact with the transfixing gaze daemonette. That yields approximately 10 attacks back in total. That results in 6.67 hits and 4.44 wounds. About 1.5 daemonettes pass their saving throws which result in about 3 daemonettes fleeing back to the Immaterium. The daemonettes have won, but only by 1.44 wounds.

In the next round of combat, things get tougher for the daemonettes. They get a mere shadow of their previous number of attack: 21 from 7 surviving daemonettes. Of these, 10.5 will hit and 1.75 will rend alongside 1.75 ordinary wounds. That means there will be 2.33 more dead chaos space marines.

They're probably going to need some help in the next round to finish off these pesky chaos space marines in their shiny power armour.

Making best use of daemonettes.
Okay, daemonettes do very well in the first round of combat on the charge. No doubt about that. But later on, they will struggle as their numbers get whittled down very fast. So the first rule of thumb that I discovered about using daemonettes is that they need to be supported or they should be the support unit of something else. Bloodletters of Khorne spring to mind - they make a remarkably good tag team together regardless of whether the daemonettes get stuck in first (the most likely scenario) or the bloodletters do.

Heralds of Slaanesh can also help out somewhat, but are expensive (compared to the sheer number of attacks you could have purchased for the same points value of daemonettes).

Depending on the exact points value of the game that is being played, having large squads of daemonettes can be a boon or a draw-back. The boon is that they really optimize the first turn number of attacks they get (especially when charging). The draw back to a large squad size is that they get more noticeable and are more likely to be targeted. In a number of my army lists, I've tried running a single unit of about 10 daemonettes to provide extra support for other units (bloodletters and plaguebearers). They've been deadly when deployed as the bloodletters usually come in for the rapid fire bolters rather than the daemonettes. Opponents are often surprised by 4 rending attacks by charging daemonettes.

Daemonettes also have to make the most of cover saves and terrain to make them more survivable. Deep strike nearby to cover. Use turn 1 to run in to (or behind of line of sight blocking) cover. And then use said cover to get in to combat as quickly as possible on the next turn. Either that, or hide behind a bunch of (cover save providing) bloodletters.

Tank Busting?
I should note that daemonettes can also be used for a little bit of light-tank busting in a pinch. But this should only be attempted if desperate and there are still a good number of daemonettes in a squad since they only have strength=3. Here's an example:

Ten daemonettes charge a rhino (rear armour value=10) that moved in the previous turn. Of their 40 attacks, 20 will hit. Out of these hits, only armour penetration rolls of a 6 will have any effect -- there will be 3.33 of these. Thanks to rending, these 3.33 hits add an extra d3 to their armour penetration value. That means there will be an average of 1.11 glancing hits and 2.22 penetrating hits from the 40 attack! I'll let you figure out if you think that result is worthwhile or not. It might work out well!

A Small Nod to Planetstrike.
With planetstrike, I think I've also rediscovered a new love of daemonettes. With a fortunate deep strike in followed by an assault, these daemons are looking wickedly good, first-choice first-wave troops.


Raptor1313 said...

I'm pretty much with you on the 'eh' factor of the Daemonettes.

I do disagree about Transfixing Gaze, though. If you're hitting a monstrous creature? You need to do an amazing 3-4 wounds to kill it. You'll do those with rending. Unless you're trying to tackle something like an Avatar (with its WS10 AND 4+ invulnerable) you'll probably flatten it in a round or two with rends.

Beyond that? My beef with the girls is that they're just too fragile, and too reliant on the rend. If you don't see the rends, the girls don't kill as well (Unless you're doing something like hitting up Orks or Guard in melee...where they have negligible saves).

For Daemonic troops, I think I'm just more likely to slap down Plaguebearer squads to at least claim objectives.

jabberjabber said...

Hi Raptor1313-
I take your point about monstrous creatures! They certainly can hunt them down effectively.
Overall, fragile is certainly the keyword.

Mitch said...

Yeah, I fully agree on your deamonette ideas. There nice models too, but its unfortunate they are really frail! :(


Sammy said...

I have used all these daemonette tactics with some success. As until recently all I have had for core troops were daemonettes. I am pulling my hair out trying to make my slaanesh devoted daemons army work well, some days are great some days are horrific but most of the time im just frustrated. I love the models and I have so many great conversion ideas for my army but the deamons codex is just not meant to be used with an army devoted solely to one god, if you do so you play severely handicapped. so I guess now I come up with more conversion ideas to change all the other units available into devotees of slaanesh, which will mean that I end up with a counts as army, with as much wysiwyg as i can manage. Thanks for posting the daemonette tactical advice i will keep watch for more. who knows maybe ill become a better general one day.

jabberjabber said...

Hi Sammy,
I think a mono-Slaanesh army can work well, but the fragility of the daemonettes is a big concern. I like the idea of using counts-as models from the rest of the pantheon -- a mixed daemons army does work better on the whole.

phoenix83 said...

I have had success recently with daemonettes in a battle against tyranids. Two squads of 10 waded their way through around 30 termagants, a mawloc and a tervigon with I think only losing about 3 models. They are amazing if they can keep in cover until they strike and do well with the rends. Monstrous creatures are easy prey to these ladies (and fiends as well) because of their sheer number of rending attacks. But, as noted, keeping them safe is key due to their fragility.

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