But at what cost?
A few weeks ago I posted my rambling thoughts on shedding all inhibition and making Daemons as mean as I could. I then used one of the two list ideas I came up with, and did very well in a decent-sized tourney against some tournament veterans.
And felt dirty doing it.
Yes, even beating up Brother Captain James I felt a bit dirty!
But only a little...
So now comes the hard introspective question(s) that I don't know the answer to...
See, this is the first time I've found myself with an army that is super duper top tier. I'm now feeling the other side of the spectrum from what I'm used to...when I had to face off against IG or GK over the last two years, I felt what my opponents feel now.
Do I care? I've got to be honest...no, not really. I'd been playing (or at least trying to play!) Daemons for years. Many of my models are older than many of you readers! I'm not a bandwagoner. There are many other players that will be bringing armies that are as mean as they can make them. I intend to do the same.
So am I going to keep playing the Daemons? Well...yeah...sort of. I can leave the Screamers and Flamers at home and load up on troops and Soul Grinders for 'friendly' events. For more competitive environs, the Flamers and Screamers come out in force!
See, there's this 'time constant' for 'powerful units' in "the meta". When IG came out, they were dominant...for awhile, then folks learned to deal with it and they became the benchmark for an army. Can it deal with IG? Yeah? Then it will do ok.
Grey Knights were the same. They were dominant...for awhile...then folks learned how to deal (and 6e happened) and things got back to a more even keel...can your army deal with GK? Yeah? Then it will do ok.
Now we're in that Daemon phase. I think the Time Constant is about 6 months, give or take, and we're nearing the end of that now. I think folks will start building armies to deal with Daemons (personally I have a hard time dealing with massive small arms fire and hordes...things I'll expect to see more of, since they're already powerful anyway!) Soon having Daemons will not have the Stigma it does now, and my conscious can be clear! :)
So any changes in mind? Yes! Yes there are!
After the two tournaments I've been to where I've used Plaguebearers, I'm back to not liking them. Not that I think they're bad, but they just didn't seem any more survivable to the guns that were shooting them than Horrors, and they do NOTHING. And they're ugly.
I've also been thinking about what I'm going to do when I have to actually face an army that's tooled up to fight Daemons...again I think the answer is massive small-arms fire, blowing units off the table en masses. Think splinter-spam with a sprinkling of psybolt ammo topped off with Sternguard rapid-firing. Add in some Battle Nuns with a million flamers. Something like that. :)
My answer is "critical mass".
Up til now I've been splitting up my waves so Screamers come in with Fateweaver and two troops, and Masque comes in with Flamers and two troops. Whichever one drops in is decently respectable and will be shot at. A lot.
The problem is, if one of those waves comes in, does some damage, then gets shot up to the point of uselessness (which is easily doable for heavy shooting armies) then the next waves (which come in even more piecemeal) will get shot up just as easily.
I feel like I need the "critical mass" of all the screamers and flamers coming in at the same time. That, almost by definition, leaves all the troops in the other wave. I've shied away from doing that too often, as it can lead to the troops getting blown off the table while the rest of the army tries to play catchup and then can't get any objectives (right, Neil?). But if all the "Real Daemons" come in first turn, then I get the awesome alpha-strikek potential, and Turn 2 is the decisive turn that, if the enemy's shooting has not been extremely overpowering, will usually mean the end of the game.
If I can find a way to play such that my non-preferred wave coming in on turn 1 does not result in all my troops imploding and my opponent saying "Good Game", then I'd feel I could almost always achieve that critical mass.
Consider that if the Screamers and Flamers don't come in on turn 1, then I should get 2/3 of them on turn 2...which is better, in my opinion, than half of them on turn 1.
So what can we add to the list to give our opponent something to shoot at on turn 1 besides our troops when the fickle Chaos Powers choose that the troops should be first?
I'm thinking Nurglings. Two big fat units of 9 Nurglings. 27 Eternal Warriors 5++ wounds that will tie you up for a few turns while the Flamers and Screamers come in to get Critical Mass. If you don't shoot down the Nurglings, they'll assault you, and die slow, painful, pus-addled deaths while your super shooty unit is prevented from shooting at my troops...and my "real" Daemons (Flamers and Screamers, of course).
So here's the list I have in mind:
5 Horrors (Changeling, Bolt)
5 Horrors (Bolt)
5 Horrors (Bolt)
5 Plaguebearers (I know, I know...but I they have a purpose!)
I'd almost always want Screamers and Flamers to come in first, with The Masque, getting the solid Alpha Strike and have enough badassness on the table that turn 2 things start to get very difficult for the opponent as they should be overwelmed with multi-wound models that can kill anything they want.
If the other wave comes in, the Nurglings and Plaguebearers would drop in as close to the enemy as I dare, the Nurglings can then run to spread out a bit, while the Horrors drop in "the rear". If the opponent chooses to kill off the scoring models, then next turn he'll get multi-charged by Nurglings, who should tie things up for some time...about the time the Nurglings die off the Flamers and Screamers should be on the table ready to rip off faces. On the other hand, if the opponent chooses to shoot up the Nurglings, they'll probably still survive, the Troops will be ok, and I can still expect to get 2 Screamer and 2 Flamer units on turn 2!
So next on my painting agenda is finishing off a unit of Plaguebearers and painting up a whole bunch of Nurglings! By the way, for anyone else interested in Nurglings, you get enough models to make up 9 bases easily in one box, but it only comes with 3 bases. Get some extra bases, and one box does you a whole unit!
This is what I intend to paint up and take to Templecon (and Conflict, if it happens, which is looking doubtful, as well as possibly Colonial!)
Let me know what you think!