Chaos Renegade Tactics: Who's your Demagogue?
Imperial Armour 13 brought us Chaos players an incredible new army in the form of Chaos Renegades. I feel like I've been waiting for their triumphant return ever since the Eye of Terror campaign rules disappeared, so it goes without saying that I'm quite excited for it. The new army list for Renegades and Heretics brings an army much like Imperial Guard, though it does have some distinctive chaos flair. The single most important model in the Renegades and Heretics army is going to be your Warlord, the Arch-demagogue. Depending on what upgrades your Arch-demagogue has, you will have access to some units and not others. These upgrades come in two varieties, your Demagogue Devotion, which is much like what you'd call his Class in RPG terms; the other upgrade is which Chaos Covenant your Arch-demagogue takes, so which god he follows.
There are 6 Demagogue Devotions that your warlord may have, taking any of them means that the Arch-demagogue MUST be your warlord, so that means you cannot take any of them in an Allied Detachment.
Taking this upgrade makes your warlord into a psyker, level 1 or 2, but you only have access to Malefic Daemonology, Biomancy, Pyromancy and Telekenesis. In addition to this, it also makes him Fearless, which is pretty nice considering the leadership issues that the Renegades and Heretics frequently have.
Units Unlocked: The Primaris-rogue Witch allows you to take additional Rogue Psyker Covens as Elites (instead of just an HQ choice). Unfortunately, as far as unit unlocks go, this one isn't that spectacular since Rogue Psykers themselves aren't that useful... If they could join squads, then I'd actually be far more impressed by this, but since the Aura of the Witch prevents that.
Lord of War: In addition to the standard choices, a Primaris-rogue Witch allows you to take the Daemon Lords, which would also be awesome, except now they cannot exceed 25% of your army... So that basically means nothing in games under 2500 points.
The cheapest upgrade you can take, the Mutant Overlord gets 3 random boosts to his profile, and gives his command squad the Curse of Mutation special rule. When you take a Mutant Overlord, you must take at least 2 units of Mutant Rabble, which isn't bad considering they're only 3 points per model. Additionally, he allows you to upgrade your Renegade Ogryns to have the Curse of Mutation rule.
Unit Unlocks: The Mutant Overlord allows you to take a single unit of 3 spawn as a non-compulsory troops choice. If you're running a Combined Arms Detachment, this means a unit of 3 T5, objective, secured beasts... Not too shabby.
Lord of War: You actually don't get any additional super-heavy Lords of War, but you are allowed to take 1-3 Giant Chaos Spawn, or 1-3 Spined Beasts as a single Lord of War slot. Neither of those units really impress me, but could be fun, and Giant Chaos Spawn are still quite inexpensive.
Master of the Horde
The Master of the Horde is potentially an extremely powerful option for your Demagogue. Each unit of Renegade Infantry numbering 15+ models that is wiped out during the game, comes back on a 5+. The downside to this guy is that he requires that you have at least 2 Renegade Infantry Platoons, which is a minimum of 60 models (90 if you want to use his rule on all of them), so he will strongly influence how you build a list.
Unit Unlocks: Renegade Infantry squads go up to 30 models, instead of the usual cap of 20.
Lord of War: None, only the standard ones available to all Renegade armies.
Arch-heretic Revolutionaries are your typical rabble rousers of the 41st millennium. They have the Zealot rule, which means your command squad will be fearless (and slightly better in melee), and gets a free Covenant of Chaos, which will save you a few points. That also means that you probably wont leave him without a Covenant, which means no Marauders. For an additional 20 points, each of your Renegade Infantry or Veteran squads can also buy Fanatics, letting them roll 2 dice and pick the highest for Leadership, but I think that is far too expensive of an upgrade to bother with.
Unit Unlocks: Up to 10 Enforcers instead of 5.
Lord of War: Marcharius variants open up, allowing the standard Marcharius Heavy Tanks, Marcharius Vanquishers, Marcharius Vulcan and Marcharius Omega. Of these, I only really care for the Marcharius Vulcan, which might be enough reason alone to take an Arch-heretic Revolutionary.
The most expensive upgrade for your Demagogue, the Heretek Magus makes him far more difficult to kill with power armour, T4 and FNP (6+). For a fairly inexpensive upgrade, the Heretek Magus allows you to upgrade most squads of infantry in the army (all but Mutants) to have FNP (6+) as well.
Unit Unlocks: Being a master of infusing daemons with machines, the Heretek Magus allows you to also take Defilers and Decimators... neither of which are something I'd jump on right away. They're fluffy choices, but nothing that you can't live without.
Lord of War: The Heretek Magus has by far the most powerful Lords of War, the Valdor Tank Hunter, Chaos Warhound, Chaos Reaver, and Greater Brass Scorpion. Of those available the Greater Brass Scorpion is by far my favorite, and when backed up with a lot of artillery, can potentially be a very devastating addition to your Renegades.
Finally we have the Bloody-handed Reaver, who represents a fallen Imperial Guard captain, Rogue Trader or other well armed and trained soldier. He comes with a refractor field, which basically means that his upgrade is only 5 points, he can also swap his pistol for a hot-shot laspistol or hot-shot lasgun.
Of any of the Demagogues, he has the most profound affect on your core army list... Allowing you to upgrade your Infantry Veteran Squads into basically Chaos Scions, carapace armour, hot-shot lasguns, and all. The downside to this Demagogue is that every unit that can be upgraded with Militia Training, must, which can add up to a lot of points, especially on units like Wyverns that don't need the extra point of BS. Lastly, he allows the squads that are able up upgrade to Subflak to upgrade to real Flak instead for about the same points.
Unlocked Units: None, but modifies Renegade Veterans into Renegade Grenadiers.
Lords of War: While the name would imply otherwise, this guy doesn't always need to take the Covenant of Khorne, which is even stranger when you realize that he opens up the Greater Brass Scorpion and the Khorne Lord of Skulls. Both of which are actually pretty good this edition, though clearly I still prefer the Brass Scorpion.
Master of Renegades
Okay, with all that out of the way, we have another variable to mess things up with:
Simply taking no covenant allows you to take Renegade Marauders. They're actually pretty good for their points, excelling in combat, plus they can have some nice special rules and some special weapons or power weapons, the huge downside being that if they ever break, they can NEVER regroup for ANY reason whatsoever. If you're trying to save points, or want some interesting veteran units, this isn't a bad way to go, and it's neat to get a bonus for nothing.
Covenant of Khorne
The Covenant of Khorne allows you to take a single unit of Blood Slaughterers as Elites, unfortunately they're too unpredictable for my choice, as they must always move towards and charge the nearest visible enemy unit. It could be kind of fun as a distraction unit, but it's not really going to affect your army that much.
Covenant of Nurgle
The Covenant of Nurgle unlocks a couple really good options. It allows you to take a single unit of Blight Drones, the only flyers besides Valkyries available to the Renegades. Your're also allowed to take a single unit of Plague Zombies, which are dirt cheap, FNP (4+), bodies that are fantastic for just sitting on an objective somewhere.
Covenant of Slaanesh
The Covenant of Slaanesh is the only way to get Chaos Marines in this list without allies, giving you access to a single unit of Noise Marines and/or a Sonic Dreadnought. While both choices are pretty solid, with Wyverns in the army, you wont need much else for killing infantry in cover.
Covenant of Tzeentch
Definitely in the running with Nurgle for the best option, the Covenant of Tzeentch allows you to take up to 3 additional units of Chaos Spawn as non-compulsory troops. If you combine this with Master of Mutants, you're talking up to 4 units of 3 Chaos spawn, which isn't much over 200 points... Definitely something to consider.
My favorite combinations are Mutant Overlord + Covenant of Tzeentch of Nurgle. With Nurgle, you get one unit of spawn, zombies and blight drones, but with Tzeentch you get access to 4 units of Chaos Spawn as troops (but your other 2 troops must be mutants), which is just awesome! I'm equally tempted by a Primaris Rogue Witch with Covenant of Tzeentch so that I can get spawn as troops, but also have a more useful HQ and not be tied into taking 2 units of Mutants, plus it's fluffy!
The Heretek Magus plays well with all the others, except Nurgle, because it basically allows all your units to take the Covenant of Nurgle bonus (FNP 6+), in addition to another Covenant, though you risk getting yourself into a position to spend a lot of points on bad infantry.
Because I'm a visual person, here's a little summary I made: