BLOOD & SKULLS: A Khorne Daemonkin Review, Part 1
It's finally here, after what felt like eons of waiting (really just a few weeks since rumors hit), we have Codex: Khorne Daemonkin. I haven't had a chance to delve into the fluff just yet, but I have read through the army list a few times, and I'm pretty excited (as usual). So without further adieu, I'm going to write a review of the Codex, though I'm not going to waste time comparing it to the CSM or Daemons Codices, or complain about what it should or shouldn't have, none of those really contribute to an understanding of the army. To get the ball rolling, I'm going to talk first about the big things that make the army more than just a handful of Chaos Marine units mixed with a few from the Daemons codex.
Army Special Rules
Blood for the Blood God!
This rule is a critical component of Blood Tithe, which I'll get into sooner, but essentially it means whenever a unit with this rule is killed, or kills an enemy unit you generate one point of Blood Tithe. Additionally, when a character with this rule kills an enemy in a challenge, or is slain in a challenge, you also get a point, so killing an enemy independent character in a challenge will count for 2!
Skulls for the Skull Throne!
Much like Chaos Space Marines, Khorne Daemonkin characters must issue and accept challenges whenever possible. Unlike Chaos Space Marines, you absolutely want to get into every challenge you can for that sweet sweet Blood Tithe!
Alright, this is kind of the meat and potatoes of what makes this book absolutely freaking awesome!
- Adamantium Will
- Furios Charge + Rage
- Feel No Pain
- +1 Attack
- Summon 8 Bloodletters or 5 Flesh Hounds
- Summon 3 Bloodcrushers or a Skullcannon
- Sacrifice a character, take a LD test: pass, become a Daemon Prince, fail, become a spawn.
- Sacrifice a character, take a LD test: pass, become a freaking Bloodthirster!
Abilities 1-4 affect every unit in the army with the Blood for the Blood God! rule, which is everything in the book.
Obadiah and I played one test game so far, and without using the relic to get extra blood points, nor using the Slaughtercult Detachment (which gives you +1 Blood Tithe per turn), I was able to summon 2 Bloodthirsters, with the last one being on turn 4, so it was still quite handy that game.
NOTE: It's important to note that while similar to summoning Daemons using the conjuration type spells found in Daemonology, it is NOT the same. Conjuration psychic powers specifically state that they treat the models as if it's coming in from Reserves, hence when you summon a winged greater daemon using Daemonology, it will be swooping (Deep Strike Reserves). This is not the case for the Blood Tithe table, the model does not come from Deep Strike Reserves, nor is it said that it is treated as coming in from reserves in any way, so it does not need to Swoop (Swooping is required when coming in from Deep Strike Reserves), meaning your Bloodthrister can charge the turn after it is summoned (Deep Strike still prevents charging the same turn), instead of 2 turns later as with standard Daemonology.
As far as codex-specific warlord traits, it really seems that following Harlequins, the writers seemed to be focused on some good and characterful traits.
Artefacts of Slaughter
Now lets talk about the all new toys that this book brings to offer! I'm quite pleased with the weapons specifically, but the non-weapons are all handy too... I just struggle to not take a weapon.
The Brazen Rune
For the price of a power weapon, this Artefact gives your character fearless, plus once per game can be sacrificed to create a powerful anti-psyker aura, causing enemy psykers to perils on ANY double. This is a pretty powerful little item when you start thinking about how many armies out there rely on some form of psychic support, like invisibility, or even against Tyranids where their flying Hive Tyrants could get downed in their psychic phase. If you aren't interested in any other relic for a character, I'd say this one is worth taking, though may be hard to justify with some of the other items.
The Skull-helm of Khorne
Some of us old-timers remember when the Axe of Khorne gave you extra attacks on 6's to hit, well, it's back in the form of a helmet! Another Artefact no more expensive than a power weapon, but could potentially be quite nasty, especially if you end up with re-rolls to hit somehow.
The Blood-forged Armour
The final non-weapon Artefact, this relic armour is quite expensive, grants only a 3+ armour save, but also gives Eternal Warrior and Feel No Pain. It can only be taken by a Chaos Lord and Daemon Prince, but considering it's cost, I think it's best reserved for the Prince who otherwise has to pay for a 3+ armour save anyhow.
Much like a relic of the Crimson Slaughter, the Daemonkin have an artefact power axe that gets more powerful the more you kill with it. The biggest issue I have with this weapon is that it is unweildy. It costs slightly more than a powerfist, and fully empowered may be worth it if you're facing a lot of multi-wound models. The rules don't require that the weapon itself cause them to get powered up, but I'm not sure it would be worth buying a different close combat weapon to use until then. It may only take a couple turns to get maxed out (8 wounds) for Instant Death if you're on a Juggernaut mount, so I could see the case for it.
The Blade of Endless Bloodshed
This is the weapon I want to love, for a little more than double the price of a power sword, you get a power sword... that also gives you +1 Blood Tithe point per turn that you cause at least one wound in combat. If you're making a Slaughtercult army, this could mean you're getting a ton of Blood Tithe every turn, definitely something I've been considering...
Kor'lath, the Axe of Ruin
This Axe of Khorne (see below) has a bit of a twist, when the bearer of the weapon dies, a Bloodthrister of Unfettered Fury (i.e. the generic Bloodthrister), is immediately summoned in his place. At the end of each of your own following turns however, it suffers D3 wounds, which armour saves are not allowed. If summoned mid-game, this can be a total game-changer, giving you another Bloodthirster when you're probably ready to summon one anyhow... Losing the wounds can be a pain, but at least you get a save, and when you figure that you've already lost the character with the axe anyhow, it's better than just not having a character! I could see this being fun to put onto a character that you plan on getting into combat quickly anyhow, though maybe spare a few points on survivability and watch the magic happen.
Other Unique Wargear
Axe of Khorne
For double the price of a normal power sword, you get one that's AP2 and causes instant-death on a 6 to wound. Not awful, but very expensive for what you get, especially considering some MC's that you face may not even be wounded on a 6! If it had rending I'd consider it, but otherwise, it's just too pricy for your typical Aspiring Champion, maybe on a Lord if you don't want to use one of the spiffy artefact weapons.
Collar of Khorne
While not an Artefact, I thought I'd mention the Collar of Khorne because it's a fairly new army-wide piece of wargear. Previously limited to Flesh Hounds, the power weapon priced piece of wargear gives anyone with access to Gifts of Khorne (Chaos Lord, Herald, Blood Throne and Daemon Prince) the bearer gets +2 to all Deny The Witch rolls, and it stacks wit the Adamantium Will Blood Tithe for +3!
I think that the writer did a good job making a selection of special rules which accurately portray the frenzied and damned nature of the Khorne Daemonkin. The Blood Tithe chart feels like it plays out especially cinematically during game play, and the Artefacts all feel pretty appropriate for the god they represent. I might have preferred a weapon that granted a ton of attacks from a competitive standpoint, though that seems like a pedestrian approach, something which the author did a good job at avoiding while creating some interesting alternatives.
Next I'll be going through the units available to the army and how I feel that they work in the book as a whole, so keep your eyes peeled!