Sunday, August 8, 2010

Email in: 600 points of Daemons

I get a number of emails here at Warpstone Flux but I honestly don't publish many of them since others (Kirby, YTTH, et al.) do a grand job of answering general army list questions on their own blogs. But I do tend to get emails about daemons quite a bit and I'd like to share this one with you guys (with permission of the writer).

Email In:

I am considering collecting a Daemons army in 40K and will be soon taking part in a campaign designed for helping people build new armies.

We start out with 1 HQ and 2 Troops with 600 points to spend on the three. We then play a game against each other player in the campaign before adding a new unit in the next round and then repeating the process.

I was thinking of the following list for the starting 600 points:

HQ: Keeper of Secrets – Pavane of Slaanesh, Transfixing Gaze – 235

Troops: 10 Daemonettes – Icon, Instrument – 170

Troops: 10 Bloodletters – Icon, Instrument – 190

Total – 595 points

What do you think of this as a starter army? Is there anything you think I should change?

What do you think I should add to the army first for the next rounds?

I am aiming to include all the chaos powers eventually rather than limiting myself to one or two.

Sorry for all the questions but going by your blog you seem to know what you are doing with Daemons and I could use some help as they are so different from all the other 40K armies!

Thanks for your email! Daemons are a great army choice and I love them - but I'm biased as well! I'm glad you like the blog and hope you continue to follow it. What follows is a number of opinions gathered from playing daemons.

The first thing that I'd note is that daemons can play differently at different point values, in my opinion. So what you might want to play at low points value may be different at 1500+ points. For example, I would only take Great Unclean Ones in a higher points value game as they're simply too slow at low points to be worthwhile (unless playing mono-Nurgle... but that's a different story).

The second main point to make is that daemons can struggle against mechanized armies (e.g. space marines all holed-up in rhinos and razor backs). This is principally because they lack the tank-busting firepower that meltas, las cannons and so forth can pump out.

And finally, daemons on the whole lack the sheer firepower of other armies. This can be dealt with via good use of cover saves and optimizing stratagems. They make up for this deficit in close combat ability though.

Given that you want to expand your army to all the chaos powers eventually gives you a lot of flexibility. In the long term, you will need units that are capable of taking care of tanks quickly and efficiently. This means that you will eventually need either monstrous creatures with wings (e.g. bloodthirsters, daemon princes) to move in quickly and destroy them in close combat, or units that have strong ranged attacks (e.g. lord of change, herald of tzeentch, flamers of tzeentch, soul grinder). It is also worth noting that some rending daemons (fiends of slaanesh in particular) can perform the job of tank-busting minor tanks such as rhinos with efficiency.

Okay -- on to the army list you wrote.
All the choices are solid ... but it depends entirely on what the opponent fields as to how effective they might be, especially at 600pt. If you think you're going to be facing marines or chaos marines without rhinos, then the list should be very effective. If they bring a pair of rhinos, it could be a struggle.

Bloodletters are great at killing miniatures with power armour. Just ensure that you get the charge before opponents do to maximize their potential.

Daemonettes are very fragile -- with a toughness of 3, some rapid firing from bolters will likely wipe many of them out. Ten might be enough to make close combat. Just remember that they have fleet, so be prepared to hide them behind scenery as they close for the kill. In the longer term, you may like to invest in some plaguebearers for their potential to capture objectives (if that is the flavour of game you envision playing).

The Keeper of Secrets is a solid choice, but maybe a bit expensive in a 600 point game. Two heralds on chariots might be a better choice (1xSlaanesh for extra kill and light tank busting, and 1xTzeentch for long range shooting perhaps? or even 2 Tzeentch heralds for great shooting potential-- see here). But making the chariots would involve some conversion work (e.g. here).

Alternatively, one of my favourite tactics is to place a herald of Khorne on a Jugger and have him lead a squad of bloodletters. The bloodletters can then die to rapid fire, leaving the herald and whoever survives to finish off the rest of the opponents.

Regarding the options on the troops squads: I don't think instruments are worthwhile on bloodletters on the whole -- they should win their combats by a good margin, or not at all. Daemonettes in sufficient numbers should do likewise. See here for a full discussion on instruments.

Icons are expensive. Even in 1500 point games, I only usually field up to 2 of them. In a 600 point game, you might like to just "take a chance" and do without them. Chances are that only one of your units will make use of the icons.

Between the icons and instruments, you'll then have 60 extra points left over to spend on more troops (bloodletters and/or daemonettes, thereby decreasing the percentage of casualties they'll take before engaging in close combat), or options for either your greater daemon or heralds (whichever option you end up choosing).

Regardless, I'd be very interested in hearing how your army progresses and how you fare. Daemons are a fun an unusual army that takes practice & patience to get good at, but they're well worth while.

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