Chaos Daemons Review Part I: Introduction and Army Rules.
Chaos Daemons. The internet’s opinion of them ranges from a laughingstock, to subpar but playable, to, rarely, OMG OP!1!!
I’ll say that two of those are wrong, right off the bat. The former opinion is held by people who haven’t played against them or read the codex, the latter is held by those who have played against an experienced Daemon player whilst holding the first opinion, and the middle(r?) is held by those who know the codex inside and out, and have played against a wide range of skilled opponents.
I’m writing this review to educate people about this codex: this review will provide advice to those playing as Daemons, and those playing against them.
We’ll tackle the big one first: Daemonic Assault is what defines the codex. You split your army in half at the beginning of your first turn, by unit, and the player gets to choose any odd units. All independent characters must be declared if they are joining a unit, or if they are a separate unit. You nominate one half (or “wave”) as being your preferred wave: on a 3+, you get your preferred wave, but on a 2-, it’s the other one. Whichever wave is chosen deepstrikes on your first turn, and the other goes into reserve and dribbles in as normal.
This rule has several implications: your army isn’t on the board until your first turn, which (aside from giving enemy infiltrators and scouts total freedom of the board) gives you an interesting choice of whether to go first or second. If you go second, your opponent loses an entire turn of shooting, but a canny opponent will use that turn to use smoke launchers, defensive psychic powers, turbo-boost, move flat-out, redeploy heavy weapons and vehicles moving at cruising speed, ANYTHING that they would normally do instead of shooting, there is absolutely no penalty for doing.
Another impact of this rule is that you can tailor your waves to your opponent, as the decision isn’t made at list-building, or deployment, but at your first turn. I prefer to do it at list-building, because it takes a lot of thinking, and you might be accused of slow-play if you do it during the game.
Also, you need to roll to see which wave comes in: 1/3 of the time, you won’t get your preferred wave, so you can’t just stack your preferred wave, unless you want to be screaming obscenities to an uncaring sky when you roll a 2. I put equal anti-tank, normal shooting, and CC in each wave, with a bias towards the preferred wave. Plan carefully: think “If I get my nonpreferred wave, will I be screwed over?”
Next rule! Daemon. This actually is just a short way to say 2 USRs, and something else. Everyone has Fearless, Eternal Warrior, and the Sv stat is invulnerable! How awesome! I know tyranids would KILL for eternal warrior and a 4+ invul, and we have them on 1-wound basic infantry!
Anyways, Fearless means you don’t have to worry about getting scared off by shooting or tank shocks, but you have to be more careful about who you assault: you’ll either murder or get murdered, as No Retreat! is a cruel mistress, so it’s very important to know EXACTLY what your CC units are capable of: if you lose a little, you lose more, essentially.
It’s surprising how many people forget that daemons are EW. It’s amusing when people realize that their missile launcher doesn’t insta-gib 5-wound T4 models in OUR army! This is purely a good thing, enjoy it on Heralds, Greater daemons, fiends, bloodcrushers, and Daemon Princes.
Invulnerable saves. Now, it’s nice to always get a save, but most of the time, it’s a 5++. Whether or not you always get it, it’s still a bad save, so stick to cover. Tzeentch stuff and Greater Daemons, however, have 4++’s, and THAT’S incredibly helpful, especially on flamers and horrors: you never have to go into cover (ok, unless you go to ground, nitpicker.)
Daemonic Rivalry: Doesn’t let independent characters join the units of different gods or furies. Doesn’t really come up very often, as you wouldn’t want them together anyway.
That wraps up the army special rules. We’ll do Greater Daemons next.