Monday, January 23, 2017

Khorne Daemonkin - First Impressions

As a contrast to Tau (and because I want something to model) I've opted to pick up some Khorne Daemonkin.  Because what's the opposite of shooting and alliances? BLOODSHED!  Also axes.

Why KDK?
I have a few reasons - the Bloodthirster kit is friggin' sweet, and after a quick once-over it looks like the Blood Tithe mechanic is fun (and actually fluffy, since Khorne gives approximately two tugs of a dead Khorne dog's tail about where the blood comes from*) and actually encourages fluffy play while not being that useless at all.

Also, I got tired of painting up robots, so now I'll be painting demons, space-bobs and the occasional possessed robot.

So with that out of the way, let's take it from the top - the Slaughtercult - and then get into formations.

But First, Blood for the Blood GOD!
Remember how I mentioned fluff?  BLOOD TITHE!  Remember, Khorne doesn't care where the blood comes from, so long as it flows.  Everything from KDK has a rule that generates a point for dying or killing stuff, and for killing a character in a challenge.  Khorne's watching, and might like what he sees.  You've got access to 8 buffs out of this (and a max of 8 Tithe); you can get 1 per turn unless running a Slaughtercult, which lets you spend leftover points.  Lower levels involve army-wide Feel No Pain and bonuses to attacks.  Once you've got 5+ points, you're summoning stuff - bloodletters/khorne dogs, 3x Bloodcrushers OR a skull cannon, a Daemon Prince, OR ultimately a Bloodthirster.  Note that the Prince and greater daemon require a non-daemon character - which can be inconvenient if you're out.

The Slaughtercult
Blood Tithe is great - you can get anything from army-wide Feel No Pain or attack buffs to summoning stuff (ranging from Bloodletters to a Bloodthirster).  The Slaughtercult does two things for you - it generates a free Tithe point each turn, and lets you use multiple benefits in a turn - so you're unlikely to lose 'excess' points, as otherwise you get to buy one benefit and call it.

So, what's the Cult gonna cost you?  Short answer - unit of possessed.  Even with a CAD, you'd have to take an HQ - and you'd be taking troops also.  Slaughtercult requires at least two troops-type choices, outside of Cultists (which are Tithe points, but just don't know it yet).

If you want to go absolute minimalist, you can get a Slaughtercult for under 400 points, though your 'letters have a Herald and your Possessed are walking.

A Slaughtercult requires 1-8 choices of extras, though one of those is the War Engine - which essentially your heavy support category.  So, y'know, you could always drop a minimal cult and 8 heavy support choices, but I'd be surprised if you own all of that AND can avoid the surprise gonad-attack that might result from fielding that.

Honestly though, I'm favoring the Slaughtercult as a default option for armies versus a CAD, and this army prefers a pure KDK army versus allies, because of the Blood Tithe mechanic. FLUFF!

Leadership - The Chaos Lord
Here's your choice with options.  On the one hand, he can turn into a Daemon Prince or Bloodthirster if you do well enough, and the other guy's got to kill the resulting daemon to get the Warlord kill.  This guy's wide open, and it's a question of "What do you want him to punch?"

Want to get into combat quickly?  There's the Bike or Juggernaut, which meshes neatly with your bikes and Khorne Dogs.  Note the Juggernaut offers more buffs, but the bike's cheaper.

Want to deep strike?  Grab Terminator Armor or a jump pack.  I'm calling these out for deep strikes because they allow it, and you can hang out with daemons OR fast stuff (assuming you have a jump pack lord).  Problem is that of course the other dude gets a turn to shoot at you after deep-striking, which can be sad.

In addition to the usual power weapons (including fists and lightning claws) you can also grab the AP2 Axe of Khorne, and you can also get the Axe of Ruin that summons a bloodthirster after you die - note that the axe ain't cheap, and its chief buff while you are alive is AP2 melee.  And the 'thirster takes wounds when it's out there.

People really seem to like the idea of killing their Axe-of-Ruin-bearing Lord to summon a Bloodthirster via tithe AND getting a 'thirster out of the axe, but let's be honest - that's an ideal scenario that's AWESOME when it happens.

Leadership - The Daemon Prince
Grab wings, expect to pay a chunk.  They're kinda nasty, but if you're going to take one you need to commit to taking multiple threats.  You're going to want wings and armor, and after that you're more expensive than your Heavy Support melee choices - and you aren't a ton cheaper than a Bloodthirster, who's more durable and killy.

I'd recommend keeping one around as a Blood Tithe reward.

Leadership - Heralds
Heralds are cheap - they're your cheapest option for an HQ, and already have a nifty power sword.  Otherwise, the only thing they have over a Lord is initiative - which doesn't include armor.

Leadership - Blood Throne
It's a chariot.  It's got a herald on it.  If you aren't going cheap, and want to throw a chariot into the mix, then go for it.  It will draw anti-tank fire (since it's comically immune to small arms because of AV12) so if you're set on it, build around it.  I don't have a desire to run one, but that's me.

Leadership - Skulltaker
He's a Herald that figured out how to wear armor, and hit the gym before picking up the sword.  If you can deliver his footslogging self to melee, well, he's liable to wreck non-Terminators in challenges.

Leadership - Bloodthirsters
Note that you can take any of 'em as HQs in a CAD, but in the Slaughtercult you can take the base model (unfettered fury) and the one more heavier hitter (pro tip - INSENSATE RAGE for the D axe).  They're all 5-wound flying monstrous creatures with reasonably toughness and saves, and a jolly WS/BS10 on top of power armor and daemonic saves.  Seriously though, you should be flying until assaulting.

You've got three basic flavors - and they demand to be spelled in all-caps, because Khorne.

This is the cheapest one.  You basically get a pistol and an AP2 melee weapon with instant death on 6's.  This is also the one that you get through Tithes and the Axe of I-Died-And-Gave-You-An-Expiring-Greater-Daemon.  It's sick unless it's going against walkers, at which point you'll be using Smash.

Here's your odd-one-out.  You lose your initiative, but your have Strength D on melee.  Which is something you get either here, or on an allied renegade Knight. This guy will wreck whatever he gets to hit - but note his weapon makes him I1 here.

He's the most expensive one - so what do you get?  It's essentially an upgraded version of Unfettered Fury.  You get a d3 pistol (...yay?) and a heavy flamer, and that pistol (actually a whip) is a specialist weapon like your axe, so +1 attack?  Honestly, I'd rather shave the points.

Fodder - Chaos Cultists
So, these guys are cheap - which is nice, because they're kinda sad.  In a CAD, they're the cheapest thing you can get for troops.  If you're taking a Slaughtercult, they're extra on top of your killy troops - but if they botch a morale check (...which isn't that hard, considering the average Guardsman has better armor and leadership) you can just flat-out sacrifice them for a Tithe point.

They have the potential to be screening units - IF you're taking footslogging guys who would like the cover.  You can buy rhinos, or you can get Khorne Dogs.  If you want a cheap camping unit you could always go up to 10 guys and grab a heavy stubber, at which point you're about as much as a Bloodletter squad, but have a stubber.

Troops - Chaos Space Marines
Hey, they're the same basic thing out of the CSM book!  You can go up to a ten-man squad and grab a couple of special weapons (or a special and heavy).  If you're going to go melee, then everyone might as well grab a close combat weapon as well - which costs extra.

Honestly, I feel like there' a bit middle-of-the-road for this book.  You can grab a heavy weapon and sit back, but at that point the rest of the squad is just babysitting an objective.  Or, you're trying to be Berserkers - which have are two points more than you for better WS and Furious Charge.

Troops - Khorne Berserkers
Compared to the bog-standard marines, you're just more focused - you skip out on weapon options outside of plasma pistols, but have a better WS and Furious Charge.  You want a delivery system, you're either going with a Rhino, or fitting in a Land Raider (...which means you're going CAD, because they're a bit of a pain to get into a Slaughtercult without Terminators taking it as THEIR designated ride).

Troops - Bloodletters
Bright side - they're you're cheapest option for a Slaughtercult, and they deep strike.  On the downside, they're kinda one-trick ponies - they have a power sword (I mean Hellblade) and deeps trike.  You can summon them via blood tithe in 8-thing squads.  Note that the enemy WILL get a chance to shoot at them, and they've the durability of guardsmen.

Also note that in a pinch, you can deep-strike an HQ choice in a Bloodletter unit.  But unless they're deep-striking, they're walking.

My first impression is that I'll be taking a Slaughtercult with a pair of minimum-sized units of these to fill out my troops, and these blokes will grab objectives.

Slaughtercult Tax (I mean Elites) - Possessed
So, on the one hand, these guys ain't cheap.  You may be asking "why should I bring these guys?"  You look at the stat line, and they look kinda like a marine with an extra attack and +1 strength.  Then you should look at their special rule list - furious charge, 5++ save, fearless, fleet...and the possessed table.  The bonus changes each assault phase, but you could end up with AP3, a bonus attack/initiative, or re-rolls and failed wound rolls.

The only problem in my mind is that you're going to grab a Rhino with them - because you want 'em in there.  If you feel like splurging, grab an Icon of Wrath for re-rolls to failed charges.

Overall - not that bad; just grab a Rhino.  And maybe another body or two.

Chaos Terminators ('elites')
So, these guys are actually reasonably versatile - you've got access to a plethora of melee weapons, and you've got combi-weapons along with heavy weapons.

The challenge lies in delivery - you can either splurge on a Land Raider as a dedicated transport (and go for melee broke), walk (...why?) or deep strike.  If you deep strike, grab combi-weapons (...probably combi-melta) and maybe a chainfist.

Note that with deep striking, you're gonna run into the challenge of delivery - you don't have a good way to mitigate scattering.  At that point, I'd advocate for keeping 'em cheap and grabbing multiples.

If you are going to run 'em, you're leaning towards a CAD - otherwise you have to take two units of Bloodcrushers to get 1-2 units of Terminators, and that's sometimes sad.

Bloodcrushers (...wait, what?)
Bright side - they're cavalry with S5 power weapons and a reasonable volume of attacks.

Cons - they have a whopping 5++ on top of three wounds.  Volume of fire WILL cut them down in a hurry.  A Lord gets away with a 'crusher because of his armor and the fact he's hiding in a unit.

Overall, they're a little underwhelming - you've got speed, but not each one's got three wounds on T4 with a 6+/5++, which Yeah.  You need target overload, or you need an overload of targets.  And the cost of these guys makes target overload harder.

Chaos Spawn (GRIBBLE GRIBBLE fast attack GRIBBLE)
These guys exist to eat bullets.  They have no save, period.  They're swift because they're beasts, and as a perk they've got T5 so you can hide a Lord in 'em.

Also, you may want at least one for if/when your character fails his leadership check to ascend to daemonhood.  Though there's at least one KDK cult in the book that actually aspires to become spawn,  Yeah, there's that.

Though these guys do get a random perk each turn - they can fart out a 4+ armor save, higher attacks (2d6 pick the highest, versus 1d6) and 4+ poison.

Chaos Bikers (Fast attack)
So, these guys are solid - you've got speed, and they can deliver a couple of meltaguns into melta range without a ton of pain.  You can keep 'em minimal, or grab a heap of guys and then either get into CC with non-melee troops, or hide an HQ in there.

Also, they're in the Gorepack formation, which is arguably one the most useful for the Slaughtercult.

Flesh Hounds (Fast Attack / GOREPACK MVP)
These guys exist to do one thing, and do it well - get across the board and be fearless.  You could deep strike them if you wanted - OR, you could deploy them, and get that sweet 12" scout move.  Grab cover, move towards the enemy.  You want cover because while you ARE fast and you have two wounds, you have a whopping 5++ save.

These exist to be rammed down the other guy's throat and either absorb shooting, or tie up something scary in melee.  This is something a melee army needs.

IT's like assault marines, but they can pick up meltaguns.  On the bright side, they're swift and not too hard to hide.  However, they compete with hounds and bikers - and bikers get to go in the Gorepack.  It's not that Raptors are bad (...and they're named after me, so there's that) BUT they're stuck competing with the 'hounds and bikers.

Warp Talons
Raptors got more expensive, but picked up a 5++ and gave up their weapon options for lightning claws and the ability to blind anything they deep strike close to.

Remember how you don't have a means to get a scatter-free deep strike?  Well, technically, these guys have Daemon of Khorne, but that involves getting Bloodcrushers with a banner of blood nearby, and that'  Yeah, a lotta points.

If you must take talons, consider a CAD versus a Slaughter cult.

FIRE!  At BS3 you're taking the baleflamer, and otherwise fling around executing vector strikes on stuff.  Or you're going into hover and torching stuff.  I'm not saying it's bad, but again, you have plenty of ways of murdering infantry, and getting these guys in a Slaughtercult either involves a formation OR a War Engine choice.

 Chaos Land Raider
It's a heavy support choice in a CAD, or it's a dedicated Terminator delivery system in a Slaughtercult.  Note that it's still conflicted - you're an assault transport with standoff weapons, and want to get in close.

I'd wave off it in a Slaughtercult, and outside of it they're confused in a regular army - not bad, but I think we can do better.

Pro - it's a walker with guns.

Cons - it's BS3.  You're either kicking out eight S8 shots, or going for plasma cannons.  And they're expensive.

Pros - it's fast.  These guys care not for difficult terrain and barrel across the field at 12" a turn.  I'd go ahead and upgrade the magma cutters to lasher tendrils, because they help mitigate incoming attacks.  You're still an AV12 walker, after all.  You get a 5++ and It Will Not Die as well.

Cons - you're not actually that badass in melee - you have three attacks after counting for your paired powerfists, and with infantryman WS and initiative you need to be careful about who you fight.  These guys can and will draw fire and get across the field, but may not stand up against other enemy walkers/etc.

That's why you take multiples, or none at all.  Remember how we've talked about taking multiple big gribblies into melee, and using hounds to tie stuff up?  That's what these guys are for.

Remember that part about the Land Raider, where were saying "It's kinda conflicted?"  This is a walker with some nasty melee potential (flamers and powerfists galore) AND some shooting capability (Battle Cannon plus an autocannon to snap-fire).

Pros - battle cannons make multi-wound T4 models cry and make people stick to cover, and while you're AV12 you also have 4 hull points, a 5++, and It Will Not Die.

Cons - you're multi-role.  You're so-so at just about everything, other than taking up space.  And you're already close to a Land Raider in cost.  Also, seriously, who made Extra Armor an option for something that's got demonic possession?

Soul Grinder
Hey, it's your one source of anti-air in the book!  On the outset, it looks both cheap and nasty, but you're still dropping points in there to get a better gun.

Pros - durability - you're AV13 with four hull points, a 5++, and It Will Not Die. You can also grab mastercrafted melee weapon (you trade powerfist strength for accuracy, which isn't a bad thing)

Cons - it's not as cheap as it looks; if you want more than a heavy 3 autocannon you're paying for it, and you'll end up close to a Defiler's cost.

Overall, these guys are a bit pricier than Maulerfiends but you get some fire support.  Target saturation is still a thing to consider with 'em.

Previously known as Dreadnoughts, these guys are your cheap war engine choice.

Pros - they can provide fire support with a solid BS4 and variety of firearm options.  If you're going for shooty, you're going to be more accurate than Forgefiends, but you aren't getting the S8 volume of fire that the 'fiends can bring.  Then again, hey, twin-linked autocannons are great.

Cons - they're slow.  If you're bringing shooty bits, you aren't bringing melee.  Focus is an issue.

Skull Cannon
Summon these for fire support / objective camping.  They bring an S8 AP5 large blast that ignores cover.  Moreover, if you just HIT the other guy (no need to wound / kill) you get frag grenades for assault the target.

So, y'know, you summon it, camp in the backfield, and scream 'danger close' while doling out pain and free frag grenades.

Lord of Skulls
Hey, want to pay almost 900 points for a stupid durable Lord of War?  Then buy this.  Or consider allying in a Knight (or go Forge World for a Kytan Daemon Engine).  It's killy as all get out, but it IS almost 900 points before options.

It's your basic building block.  It's not too restrictive, and you get to economize on Blood Tithe points by using up to two boons in a turn AND generating a free point a turn.

Brazen Onslaught
Here's how you get Terminators in a Slaughtercult.  Take at least a unit of terminators and two units of crushers.  If you're outnumbered in melee, all your guys get an extra attack.

It's about the only way you get terminators into a Slaughtercult (outside of getting another CAD), but I'm not feeling the Bloodcrushers.

Khorne's Bloodstorm
Grab a couple units of raptors, a unit of Warp Talons, and maybe a Heldrake.  This is how you get Raptors and Warp Talons into a Slaughtercult, and the perk is +1S to Hammer of Wrath or Vector Strike attacks.  If you like jump troops, go for it.  Otherwise, skip.  You can get Heldrakes in just as War Engine choices.

Grab a couple units of bikers and at least one unit of hounds, and everyone gets move through cover and Preferred Enemy (Psykers).  This is your mainstay speedy formation - all these guys dig Move Through Cover.  Hounds excel at crossing the board and tying up the enemy (or killing lightweight troops) and Bikers deliver melta and/or HQ choices.

Seriously, go grab the stuff for this formation.

Charnel Cohort
This is your demon-heavy formation.  You grab a herald or prince, some bloodleters, some hounds, some crushers, and maybe some cannons.  Why would you do this?

Well, you get counter attack (in case someone charges you when you deep strike).  You can make it your primary detachment (or slip it into a Slaughtercult formation).  You can have everything land without scattering near the HQ when the HQ is on the board (even if it fell out of deep strike first).

So, the perks aren't bad, but you're still trusting reserve dice and hoping that the other guy doesn't nuke your HQ off the board to deny you accurate deep strikes.  Also, everything you're deep-striking has crap for saves (unless it's a Daemon Prince swooping the turn it arrive).

I'd have to experiment with this but I'm not sold, and if you take this in lieu of the Slaughtercult you're missing out on the Slaughtercult's stupid-useful perks.

Closing on the First Impressions
I'm planning on building around a Slaughtercult and Gorepack to begin with - get across the board fast.  First SWAG at a list involves Possessed in a Rhino, a couple of Bloodthirsters, deep-striking Bloodletters, and a Gorepack.  Next steps involve possibly a Renegade Knight (because guns AND melee are hilarious) and bulking out the bodies.

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