Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Daemons, Daemons, and more Daemons

I'm still alive, and actually playing quite a bit more than I used to, both on Vassal and I've joined the Battle for Salvation club, and have been having a great time playing there on Monday nights!

My new Daemon list is still evolving, and all these practice games are helping. I'm down to deciding if I want 2 units of Fiends and 2 Grinders, or 1 unit of Fiends and 3 Grinders. Painting has started in earnest this weekend...lots of Army Painter Quickshade in my future!

I used an earlier iteration of my list (using only one unit of Hounds with a Khorne Herald) vs. a very shooty foot Ork army several weeks ago: I basically got blown off the table, but managed to fend off his troops enough with the Grinders to eek out a draw. This was the game that convinced me that I needed more Hounds!

I played against another Daemon player, he had a Bloodthirster and a flying Daemon Prince, a few large units of Bloodletters (one with Skulltaker, another with Khorne Herald); big unit of Horrors with a Herald, and a big unit of Plagues with a Herald along with Flamers and Screamers. This was a really tough fight, the Bloodthirster ate many of my Hounds before the Seekers got in to free him. I made a super critical mental error that allowed him to get Skulltaker and a giant Bloodletter unit in to melee with my Seekers who were trying to kill off his Daemon Prince...I had a Grinder all lined up to assault them, then mindlessly shot something else. This cost me the game, as the Seekers killed, and I ended up folding on both flanks. Flamers are nothing like what they were, but they're still no joke!

I then played against the same player but using an interesting Space Wolf list. I believe he had a Wolf Lord, a Rune Priest, and a Wolf Priest. A big unit of Blood Claws in a Land Raider, some Grey Hunters on foot, some Long Fangs on foot, a Dreadnought, and a Vindicator.

The game went pretty much as expected. The GH are a tough nut, but the list lacked the shooting to thin me out enough before I got in to melee, and I had enough melee oomph to chew thru power armor pretty well.

I deployed only some Plagues and Grinders left, everything else went to the right; squared off against his Long Fangs and Grey Hunters

After enduring some fire, I'm ready to strike bottom of 1...

The hounds crash in to the Aegis

Bloodclaws jump out of their Land Raider, and are beset by Fiends. The narrow frontage limited my attacks a lot, but not insurmountable.

The Assault Cannons, Multi-Melta, and Vindicator killed one Grinder, but the other made it in to attack the Land Raider, and immobilized it before dieing.

Deep-striking Daemonettes claim objectives as the remnants of the fast movers clear out the last of the resistance.

The Vindicator died to Dogs, the game ended after the Grey Hunters assaulted and wiped out those dogs, consolidated back on to their objective, and me running Fiends to contest it...I held 4 objectives, he held none!

So with about 2 months of trigger time with the new Daemon book I'm unconvinced it's a "top-tier" codex for tournament play. That sounds a lot more negative than the book deserves, as I think it has great internal balance and is in-line with most of the other recent books (with one notable exception...). That seems somewhat contradictory, so let me explain....

I am of the opinion that the emerging meta in 6e 40k is one in which you can not make an army that has no bad matchups...the true 'take-all-comers' lists are things of the past (particularly at lower point levels). There are very few lists that can manage a way to handle any possible threat thrown at them. From that perspective, Daemons will have a harder time than most making an all-comers style list than many other armies because of their almost exclusive reliance on melee, and in the shooting-gallery that is 6e, assault is not the ideal way you want to interact with the enemy.

So while your Daemon army my plow right over many opponents, you will invariably then run in to someone that will plow right over you (and yes, this might be true of many armies, not just Daemons). In a tournament, you pretty much need to win 5-6 games in a row, you can't tolerate being at the mercy of the pairings in hopes that you don't draw the opponent with the list archetype that will kick you off the podium.

As an example, my list has a shortage of ways to deal with high AV, like Land Raiders. The only thing I have is Soul Grinders, which are themselves vulnerable to other folks anti-vehicle weaponry. In a similar vein, I've shied away completely from the potentially very potent psychic powers that a Daemon army could include because when I have to face Eldar, Space Wolves, or Tyranid (which is already a bad matchup, I feel) I don't want all those Psy powers to be wasted points.

Moreover, I've shied away from the more random (though potentially extremely potent) Exalted Powers. The Grimoire has the potential to make units incredible, particularly when paired with Divination...a popular build is Screamers, who get to reroll saving-throw rolls of a 1 due to the Tzeentchy nature: with the 4+ Invuln from Divination and the Grimoire, they're as close to unkillable as anything in the game.

But then on the other hand when you don't roll that 4+ invuln, and/or the Grimoire fails you (which it will do...often, and at the worst possible times: Murphy's Law applies!) then those Screamers are easy kills, or at least force you to Turbo them out of harms way, where they are wasted points.

In a tournament, I don't want to be at the mercy of the one Grimoire die roll on the turn I really need my Screamers to be the ultimate badasses, because when I do roll the 1 or 2, and I lose because of it, well...that would just frustrate me too much.

No, I've tried to find things that will work every time. As of today, the list I'm painting up is as follows:

Herald of Slaanesh (Steed, Locus of Beguilement, Greater Reward)
3 Fiends
10 Daemonettes
10 Daemonettes
10 Bloodletters
10 Plaguebearers
10 Plaguebearers
18 Flesh Hounds
18 Flesh Hounds
19 Seekers
Soul Grinder (Slaanesh, Torrent)
Soul Grinder (Slaanesh, Torrent)
Soul Grinder (Nurgle, Phlegm)

I've gone minimal on the HQ choices. Tau have convinced me to not try the FMC route, and the Heralds, while potentially very killy, are so squishy I don't want to spend the points, as well as avoiding reliance on Psy Powers (Note that this is going to most definitely change when/if Runes of Warding are removed/nerfed).

The Slaanesh Herald almost always takes the Greater Etherblade as her Reward, giving her five S5 AP2 attacks that reroll to-hit, plus her Challenge tricks. I know many feel the Locus of Grace for MTC is the wiser choice, and it may be, but I sure do like that Challenge trick! She dishes out good damage, adds great ability to her unit, and is not very costly, only 110 I believe.

I love Fiends. I wish I had a good way to include more of them. Their anti-Psy power tricks are nice, but dropping folk's Init by 5 is such a good synergy with the Hounds, and even the Fiends. Even charging thru terrain I can almost always get to swing at the same time as the unit I've charged.

The Troops, on one hand there's far more troop models than I'm used to having, so I feel somewhat spoiled. On the other hand, I'm unhappy with Plaguebearers in the age of the SMS; the Daemonette units I think are too small to pull their weight in a fight; and the Bloodletters where a big Shoot Me sign when fighting anyone that has an armor save (which, admittedly, is why I took them...bullet magnets can come in handy!). I've not had the problem I had with the old daemons, where my troops are easily killed from afar leaving me unable to hold objectives, but I still feel like I want more bodies.

I can't say enough good things about Flesh Hounds. Hard to kill with shooting; fast to the point of obnoxiousness; hit hard in melee; can engage virtually any target type. If I weren't concerned about Iron Arm on Monstrous Creatures, I'd have three units of these guys instead of Seekers. I know 18 is a random sounding number...that's just how the points-trimming worked.

Seekers are the epitome of the "melee-glass-cannon" army that the Daemons have become. This unit, with the Herald, dishes out almost 12 rends on the charge. Not much lives thru that. Sadly, they then die to whatever points a gun at them. Combined with the Hounds, though, this works out, as the opponent has the unenviable choice of having to decide which of these super fast beatface units to shoot at. Hopefully, there are no good choices!

And last, but most certainly not least, the Soul Grinders. I resisted these for a long time...I like the idea of making all the anti-vehicle weaponry someone brings useless. But then I used them a few times, and they did well, so I used them a bit more, and they continued to do well. Now I've added a third one, because it seemed in so many games they were SO hard for enemies to kill at range, and if they made it in to melee they're nearly impossible (assuming I've not thrown them at someone with a Melta Bomb because I was too lazy to be bothered to read an army list...sigh...). In so many games they've been MVP.

I use the one Nurgle guy now to hang back behind cover, lob the Large Blast at appropriate targets...bunched up MEQ, vehicles (ordinance, so rerolling pens!), or anything else that needs a S8 wad of spit shot at them. Moreover, he can help protect backfield objectives from non-linear movement (outflanking stuff, for example) that don't typically come equipped to deal with AV13.
The Slaanesh Grinder's jobs are different, though...they follow the fast stuff, using the first turn usually to Run, enjoying the Slaaneshi speed, and are able to use the Torrent flamer to clear out bubblewrap so I can assault what I need. Then they're right there to help finish off whatever the Dogs and Seekers are stuck on, and tear around the enemy backfield.

All three Grinders together actually put out some respectable anti-air fire, at least vs. AV10/11, helping with that dimension of the game too.

So what are the bad matchups? Anything that focuses on anti-infantry firepower is going to give me a hard time, as well multiple Land-Raiders, as the rest of my army can be ignored while they kill threatening Grinders and I lose. Necrons with Haywire shooting and Wraith tarpits may be able to focus on killing my troops while I struggle to get to his. Ravenwing with the Shooty banner can go just as fast as me and dish out tremendous firepower. Ironically, I think the Psy-heavy FMC Daemon lists that I've not chosen to use will eat this list alive.

Some other tips and tricks with this list that I've learned, is that since everything can Deep Strike, I can keep things (primarily the Troops) in reserve to deep strike for objectives of opportunity. I had an Icon in the army for awhile, on the Seekers, and enjoyed deep-striking the Soul Grinders: hilarity. I can outflank the Seekers for good times vs. some armies, particularly Vanguard deployment.

I've got a few more reports from practice games that I'll hopefully get posted soon. I'm prepping for Killadelphia next month; Connecticon in July; then hopefully NOVA, BFS, and 11th Company GTs thru the rest of the year.

But who knows...a lot can change by then!

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