Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chaos Daemons: Daemon Prince

I've been breaking out the Daemons, and thinking about how to make them work best. Or, at least, work. Lost to Guard today, but that's no big surprise. They gave a decent accounting of themselves, but in Kill Points, all those Plaguebearers don't have a lot to do.

But, on to the Daemon Prince himself.

The Tzeentch Daemon Prince
The current loadout I've been using is Mark of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze, Bolt of Tzeentch.

To be honest, Daemon Princes are not shabby at shooting. They have BS5, which means you can rely on them to hit their target. However, Daemonic shooting in general is a bit 'eh'.

Gaze is a solid anti-infantry shot, mostly when they're out of cover.

Bolt is as good as it gets when you're hunting tanks at range. S8 AP1 is not GREAT, but it is at least something. The AP1 helps. might as well HIT with the stinking thing, at least.

This is the other issue with the Daemon Prince. Now, naturally, you want to bring in as many monstrous creatures as you can to make the enemy split their fire. Bringing one in is a great way to get one blown away in a turn; most armies can do this and they WILL.

The average daemon prince has four wounds, T5, and a 5+ invulnerable save. There are three options for increasing the durability of the daemon prince.

Iron Hide
Take a 3+ armor save.

Marke of Nurgle
Increase to toughness six.

Mark of Tzeentch
Improve invulnerable save to 4+

Which to take?
The iron hide is a 30 point upgrade. Now, 3+ is the best save you'll get on the Daemon prince, regardless of what you do.

The Marks are mutually exclusive; you can go up to T6 or to the 4+ invulnerable save.

Really, then, you're looking at Mark of Nurgle +Iron Hide, or Mark of Tzeentch.

Nurgle + Iron Hide
T6 with a 3+/5+ is durable to lower-strength, lower-AP fire. Against small arms, most stuff and most melee attacks wound you on 6's, and you save them on 3+. Any given S4 hit has a 5% chance of wounding you.

Basically, then, Nurgle + Iron Hide lets you ignore torrents, and pretty much anything S4. It also is moderately resilient against Psycannons, as they wound you on 4+ and you ignore them on 3+.

Mark of Tzeentch
T5 with a 4+ invulnerable. This is markedly inferior to T6 with a 3+ in terms of resisting small arms; any given S4 hit wounds you on 5-6 and you save it on a 4+, which means any given S4 hit has a 16% chance of wounding you. You're a little more vulnerable to small arms, then.

However, the mark of Tzeentch is more durable versus higher-AP tank-hunting weapons.

Consider the Meltagun (or powerfist, or thunder hammer)...S8, AP1
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 55% chance of landing the wound.
vs. Tzeentch: 41% chance of landing the wound
vs. T5/5+: 55% chance of landing the wound

Consider plasma: S7, AP2
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 44% chance of landing the wound
vs. Mark of Tzeentch: 41% chance of landing the wound
vs. T5/5+: 55% chance of landing the wound

Consider S6 (relic blades, GEQ powerfists?) S6, ignore saves
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 33% of hits stick a wound
vs. Tzeentch: 33% chance of sticking the wound
vs. T5/5+: 44% chance of sticking the wound

Now, mind you, if the weapon is NOT AP3 or better, then a higher-strength weapon will do more damage to the Tzeentch DP than the Nurgle/Armor DP.

Other Configurations
Khorne and Slaanesh marks necessarily combine a T5 and a 5+ save, and should probably get that Iron Hide upgrade. Note that they are more vulnerable to the high-end weapons, but are somewhat more resilient than the Tzeentch DPs against small-arms fire.

Conclusions on Durability
Truthfully, Daemon Princes are going to be a major target, so one best deal with the durability. Obviously, you'd best take a number of them. Target saturation, and all that.

Killing Things
Obviously, the Daemon Prince's other use (beyond taking up space) is KILLING things. So, the question is how to do that trick the best, then?

Daemon Princes boast WS7, S5, and I5. They can buy Unholy Strength to go up to S6. Against vehicles, S5+2d6 is like as not to pound AV10 rears into the ground.

If you're going to go into melee, the upgrade to S6 is worth considering, as it means wounding most things on a 2+ and bypassing their armor.

At any rate, there are two marks to consider. Khorne isn't one of them, as Khorne merely boosts you from 4 attacks to 5. Don't get me wrong; more attacks mean more cahnces to kill things. But, the Daemon Prince has a critical problem...NO GRENADES.

This is why you might consider the mark of Slaanesh or the mark of Nurgle. They may take offensive/defensive grenades as a single upgrade, which let you keep the lovely initiative bonus when you have to charge into cover. Believe me, the enemy's going to make you go into cover if they can.

Wings...yes, no?
Now, the big question is...wings. Wings let you move 12" a turn, but there is also the teensy little fact that wings, oh, y'know, cost you 70 points or so. This is a MAJOR price increase; as a mark + grenades + armor = 200+ points of unit.

Wings make you able to get to the enemy within a turn or so; there's that whole ability to assault the enemy faster.

The problem with assault....
Against a lot of things, a Daemon Prince should win combat, and have a decent chance at running them down. Now, the problem is that if you're winning in a single round, you're out in the open during your opponent's turn and they get to shoot you.

The other problem? A Daemon prince is not THAT badass in melee. You charge, you swsing 5 times, you hit 3-4 times, you wound 3-4 times. Against anything without an invulnerable save, you'll pulp some. They might hit you back, and some will do it hard.

Something like Grey Knights or Grey Knight Terminators probably has a better-than-even shot at beating you down. Something like Thunder Hammer termies will probably beat the pulp out of you (...recall the whole S8 wounding thing, and the part where you'll kill maybe a couple.)

Bottom line? Know that a Daemon Prince is a threat in melee, but don't necessarily throw it at some of the harder-core enemies. Some melee threats will beat your skull in, and use it as an ashtray when done. But, you're more than adequate when it comes to maiming up basic troops. Leave the bigger game for something else.

Well, the DP's stats in general make it solid at melee. You can't boost your WS or I, and WS7 I5 is pretty solid.

It also touts BS5. Sadly, there aren't exactly a lot of neat daemon shooting gifts. Gaze is good at killing troops, and the Bolt of Tzeentch is about all there is to use against armor.

The only other real shooting gift to consider is the happy little flamer template that wounds on 4+ and ignores armor saves. I tend not to be a big fan of it, for two reasons: 1) Cost. 2) If you're close enough to use it, you're looking at melee, and you'll either kill everything there (and there's that whole 'getting shot at next turn' thing) or you'll kill enough to leave yourself out of assault range.)

There's also the 'I Turn You Into a Spawn' power, assuming you're within 6" and the other guy can fail a toughness check. Then you get a spawn, which the other guy will probably promptly gun down, but there's always the chance you'll do something funny like turn a 'fex or a Marine HQ into a Spawn. Good for the stories, at the least.

So, ultimately, I'd keep Gaze and Bolt. Bolt can menace tanks, and Gaze can at least put wounds on infantry. Plus, for the prince, two powers is optimal as monstrous creatures get two ranged attacks.

I feel that the Daemon Prince is a reasonably solid choice. A Tzeentchian DP with Daemonic Gaze and Bolt of Tzeentch is not necessarily an optimum choice, but it IS a solid multi-role unit that can engage at range or in melee. It is not necessarily the BEST at either of those, but you'll be hard-pressed to find optimum multi-role daemon units.

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