Thursday, February 18, 2016

Daemonkin Troops

I have been toying with the idea of building a Khorne Daemonkin army for a while.  Since I am finally about to pull the trigger I decided to start analyzing the daemonkin units to figure out what is most effective.  I decided to start with troops since they form the core of any army.

Melee Marines Vs Berzerkers:
Comparing these two units is easy because they have the same survivability and only their offensive ability is different.  A Khorne Berzerker has a 26% increased cost, so it needs to do at least (1.26*1.26= 1.60) 60% more damage than a regular marine in order to compensate for both the the increased offense and defense that the regular marines will get from more models.

Against Guardsmen:
On the charge, an attack from a Khorne marine will kill a guardsman 29.63% of the time and a berzerker will kill one 37.04% of the time.  This is only a 25% increase in damage, and it doesn't even surpass the increase in cost.  Berzerkers do have the option to take chainaxes, which would ignore the guardsmen's armor.  This increases their damage (compared to a marine) by 87.5%, but the upgrade also increases their cost.  We would need to increase their damage by 96% to make the upgrade worth the points.

Bottom line, having more marines is going to be better than having fewer berzerkers when facing a guardsmen equivalent.

Against Marines and Terminators:
Once your opponent starts to have better stats the Berzerkers start to stand out a bit more.

In both of these situations the Berzerkers are going to do 77% more damage than the traditional marines.  Since this is above the 60% minimum Berzerkers are going to be better at fighting marines and terminators.

What we see is that the cheaper option (Khorne marines) are better at fighting cheaper troops, and the more expensive option (Berzerkers) is better at fighting stronger troops.  The reason for this is that a regular marine already has better stats than a guardsmen and the additional weapon skill and strength (on the charge) aren't necessary when fighting cheap troops.

The balance between these two units will depend on what you want to do with your army and what you expect to face.  Traditional marines also have the added benefit of taking ranged weapons, so they are quite a bit more versatile than berzerkers.

Cultists Vs Bloodletters
It may seem strange to compare these units, but both of them fulfill the same roll of grabbing objectives.

Daemons gain survivability because of their invulnerable save and cultists gain their survivability from numbers.  In open terrain, or against weapons that ignore cover, the two units are almost dead even in survivability.  A unit of 12 cultists costs 82 points and a unit of 8 bloodletters costs 80 points.  Looking at averages, something that does 12 wounds to the cultists should do 8 wounds to the bloodletters.  Once the cultists get into terrain they have better survivability per point than the bloodletters.

This is where math becomes less helpful.  Troops are only going to be better at capturing objectives if you are running a combined arms detachment, and if you are trying to capture a non-contested objective there is no benefit for troops.

It is also difficult to estimate where objectives are going to be placed, but you need to be prepared to capture objectives in your opponent's deployment zone, your own back line, and way off in the middle of nowhere.  Bloodletters have a district advantage because they can deep strike.  They can go after objectives that are far beyond the range of cultists.  If your back field has decent cover, then cultists are going to be better for holding your home objective.

Squad Sizes:
When comparing chaos space marines to daemons it is important to note that all chaos space marine squads pay a tax (usually 10 points) for their squad leader.  As a result, ideal squads look slightly different.  With cultists you usually want fewer squads with bigger numbers, but bloodletters benefit from having multiple minimum sized units.  These minimum sized squads will help generate blood tithe points and force your opponent to split fire between multiple squads.

Ultimately, the troops you choose are going to be based around what style of army you are planning on playing.  Bloodletters can provide cheap units capable of deep striking and generating easy blood tithe points, Chaos Marines offer some much needed mid to close range fire support, Cultists can drown an opponent in bodies, and Berzerkers can put out a boatload of attacks.  For my army, I plan on having a variety of units.  I am going to be building this army around what I will enjoy painting and what is fun, rather than what is most effective.


  1. Cultists and Bloodletters are about the only troops I would recommend with Daemonkin. Neither marines nor Khorne berzerkers tend to get equal value for their investment. Especially because KDK forces the marines to take a mark of Khorne which makes them even more inefficient.
    I like to get the bare minimum requirements out of the way for the Slaughtercult as quick as possible so I can spend more points on the auxiliary formations which tend to be the best. Spamming vehicles or using the hounds/bikers formation usually works well.

    1. I had my eye on the hound/biker formation, but also the Carnal Cohort.

      What vehicles do you spam?

    2. Mostly the Maulerfiends. Partially because I just love the models, but also because they're pretty effective when you take multiple. I usually take 3 (I've got mine modeled with 2 with lasher tendrils and 1 with magma cutters). A pack of them can handle a knight pretty well and the lasher tendrils make it very easy to tarpit most units. They stack so two of them will reduce enemy attacks by 4. I'm also a big fan of Skull Grinders.
      I just wish they put Helldrakes in the vehicle slot so you could take them all by themselves. Instead if you want one within the overall detachment, you have to take the formation with the Raptors. Raptors are cool models but they don't ever seem to do much for me.

  2. I like very much the KDK...!
    The thing that I love more (and that none seem to understand and use) is the goredrinker used by a Chaos Lord in group of cheap cultists (he also prevents them from running away). Remember that kdk cultist has rage, so 10 of them do 40 attaks on the carge... I've seen a Reptide been killed for this! The gore drinker is really fun, the more wound your lord does, the more powerfull he becomes... then is +1 s and vp2, and this is a good balance to the many cultist attaks/no vp. The mai n problem whit this unit is how to make them reach the front. if Rino would be an assault vehicle it would be perfect. but it is not and thi mean that they cannot charge before turn 3. Putting a lot of pressure with the other units can be the way to let this cultists ignored.

    1. If you want to go full hog... A juggerlord with a goredrinker, combat familiar, lightning claw, and 4++ invul is the way to go. The trick is - you don't even have to use the Goredrinker ever (or at least to start). It stacks on every wound THE MODEL causes, not just the wounds caused by the weapon. So you can start out wracking up tons of wounds with the lightning claw at full initiative (that's also what the combat familiar is for and any HoW attacks). And the bonuses also affect the model, not the weapon so you don't have to use it to get them. Put the Lord in a unit of Hounds and watch him wreck.
      Unfortunately as much as he wrecks this makes him only like 60 points less expensive than a kitted-out Daemon Prince with the goredrinker who would also get to ignore the unwieldy on the weapon. So it's a horse apiece.

    2. The customizable options for chaos lords are always great, but then you run the risk of having a 300 point model.

      Back in the day a friend of mine rarely had more than 15 models in his chaos army.

    3. But where's the Kharn and the Khorne Chaos Knight? I vote take a CAD with kharn and stick him in a BFTBG troop in rhino along with a juggerlord with axe of blind fury to go with BFTBG hounds (GOREPACK) then take 2 units of vanilla cultists for back field objectives (stick KDK heralds in them if you really really need the fearless and BFTBG on them. LOW Khorne Daemon Knight who rerolls his stomps wooooo. I know he doesn't generate tithe but he's a fire magnet who has that great dirge caster for 5 points. I hear he does great against enemy monstrous creatures... DIE RIPTIDES DIE! The only thing that's really left is to squeeze in a Dthirster somehow but I feel like Knight can do that role better sometimes... plus shooting!

    4. Thank you Thrallen, I will try it! Even if I am a bit worried about points cost, as Andrew says...
      Beau malnack, BFTBG means...?

  3. About guardsmen: remember that you don't need to kill too many of them, you just need to kill the priest and enaugh of them to make them lose combat. Initiative would be important, so we can look if there is some initiative difference.

  4. General question to anyone who plays Daemonkin regularly...
    What are your preferred choices for killing lots of armor? Just played a game against my friend who plays GK this weekend and I got stomped because he brought entirely armor. It was a 3k points list and I wasn't exactly making a power list (I mean I included Lord of Skulls... that's like an auto-lose) but I don't know if I could have brought any list that would have beat him.
    My list:
    2 CADs with:
    Juggerlord (goredrinker, LC)
    Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
    2 x 10 bloodletters
    2 x 10 cultists
    Lord of Skulls (skullhurler, basic hellfire weapon)
    3 x Maulerfiend (2 lashers, 1 magma)
    Soul Grinder (phlegm bombardment)
    2 x Heldrake (both flamers :-( )
    3 Bikers (2x flamer)
    3 Bikers (2x melta)
    14 Flesh hounds

    His list (approximate):
    Grey Knights:
    3 x 5 Terminators
    2 x Dreadknight (with the cursed force gatling gun)
    2 x Land Raider (one lascannon, one bolters)
    Razorback (used to house his SM techmarine)

    Imperial Knight (thermal cannon, gatling cannon, autocannon)
    SM Vindicator formation with 3x Vindicator + techmarine

    I knew the game was over the minute we rolled Purge the Alien but the entire game was just sad. Didn't help I rolled no better than 10% on my Daemon invuls over the course of the entire game. I think I failed about 19 of the first 20. Skullhurler routinely hit all three Vindi's but the stupid formation allows him to ignore crew shaken and I couldn't get all three hullpoints down for a while. 2 Landraiders, a Knight, 3 vindicators, and a skybus is an insane amount of 13+ armor (12 in the case of the bus) as well as T6 2+ MCs in the dreadknights. Maybe if I had brought 3 d-thirsters and about 6 Maulerfiends I would have had a chance but even then his dreadknights would just force weapon the thirsters to death... I don't know if there's enough anti-tank in the entire KDK book to take all those targets down. (I jokingly told him if he tries that again I'm bringing Be'lakor along and giving my LoS invisibility so I can watch him cry).

    1. I should mention he also has about 10k points of Eldar which is why I loaded up on fast units, AP3, and Ignores cover as much as I could. I didn't expect him to play Grey Knights.

    2. I think things would greatly depend on deployment and how you approached him. GK's have incredibly short ranged shooting, so hitting him on a flank with the thirster and maulerfiends would let you engage sections of his army at a time.

      As for changes to your list? I don't have much other than switching out the bike flamers for more meltas.

    3. I feel your pain as you recently read about my vs Eldar endeavors. I feel like making an all comers list as Chaos Faction right now is completely impossible. Lord of skulls of course especially against eldar would be instantly killed I think?

      I have really been liking Chaos Knights lately, I have a Nurgle and Tzeentch one and for 455 points they can do good things. You just need to be able to take invuln Saves (which is fantastic if grimoire goes off) but that of course would be a Daemon Cad? The foe reaper chainsword is just so fun (especially with tzeentch rerolls to hit) against Monstrous creatures. You could bring Belakor and Fateweaver with that guy then leave the other CAD for your KDK stuff.

      Honestly though he has alot of psychic dice to deny with so from my experience of 5 dicing invis into a perils then rolling 1 then failing leadership (I do this so much) its kinda scary with big points units.

    4. GK do have fairly short range but it's still tough for a melee combat army. No matter where I try to flank with my bloodthirsters he can always use the 30" jump on his dreadknights and attempt to instant death me (not too hard considering he gets preferred enemy against everything.) the maulerfiends would have actually done well On their flank except two were killed before they got the chance to charge thanks to focus fire from the imperial knight and the only thing the other got to charge was the land raider. Even with the automatic melta hit I didn't pen the land raider...
      Sadly the units that got the most wounds for me were the heldrakes. Consistently pulled hull points off his vehicles with vector strike and managed to kill 4 of 5 terminators in one squad in one turn. Too bad the vector strike nerfs and the firing range nerfs hit them so hard. They should really come down from 170 points now. Back when they were launched they could take down any vehicle with 10 rear armor in a single turn just by striking over and shooting the autocannon into their rear...