BLOOD & SKULLS: A Khorne Daemonkin Review, Part 2
Pappy Adam here. Lets sit back and I'll tell you a tale... Back many years ago, before some of you were even born, there was a magical book called Codex: Chaos. That's right, it had one word, Chaos, none of this newfangled "Chaos Space Marines" or "Chaos Daemons," just Chaos. Well, it was a simple time, where Chaos Space Marine and Chaos Daemon walked hand-in-hand, where even mention Chaos was wrought with sour faces and moans. Well boys and girls, I'm here to tell you that time has come again! Well, I'm 3 games in and holy crap, I'm totally, 100%, in love with this book.
Now that I've talked about the juicy rules and wargear, lets get to brass tacks and talk about units that make up this book.
Simply put, this is your generic chaos marine commander. He's not very expensive, though can add up after getting him geared up. He's fearless, and come with all the fun Khorne rules. I don't particularly care for a Chaos Lord on foot, he's too slow to get into combat, maybe if you want him in Terminator Armour with some Terminators in a land raider, but special cases aside, I'd always mount him. To get him moving 12" a turn, you have 3 options: jump pack, chaos bike, and the Juggernaut of Khorne. For my money, it's Juggernaut 100% of the time, it gives him +1 T/W/A and cavalry, making him faster, harder to kill, and more killy all in one package. After that weapons are up to you, I like the classic fist/claw combo, though the new relic weapons are all pretty fun.
As far as Monstrous Creatures go, the Daemon Prince has some amazing stats, while simultaneously having some dismal ones. With WS9 S6 I8 and A5, you're one rude close combat machine, but with T5 W4, you're surprisingly vulnerable. The Daemon Prince can buy wings and a 3+ save, and should basically always have those upgrades. Unlike a Blood Thirster, the Daemon Prince has access to relics, including one that gives him Eternal Warrior and Feel No Pain, making him significantly harder to kill, the downside is that by the time you get him this armour, he's the cost of a Bloodthirster anyhow, and still easier to kill! Unfortunately, as much as I like the Daemon Prince, I think they're too expensive when compared to Bloodthirsters.
Herald of Khorne
This is the dirt cheap HQ in the codex, he has some good stats with WS7 S5 and comes stock with a power sword. He's extremely low on the survivable scale with T4 W2 and a 5++ save, but on a Juggernaut you can make him at least a little bit tougher. His big deal though is that he has access to the Loci of Khorne, meaning he can give his entire unit Adamantium Will, Rage, or Hatred. Of the 3 Loci, I think that Hatred is the only one worth taking as the other two are quite easy to come by through other means. Taking a Herald on Juggernaut with Exalted Locus however is starting to get close to a fully kitted Chaos Lord in terms of points, but nowhere near as tough.
I really do want to love this unit, I really do, but man is it a stinker. At range it's kinda tough with AV12 HP3 and a 5++ save (and it is open-topped), but in combat you only need to kill the Herald (T4 W2 5++) to wipe out the whole model... ugh. In combat, it can get HP back from it's (D6 S7) hammer of wrath attacks, and generates a couple (2) extra standard Bloodletter attacks, so it doesn't add a whole ton offensively. Okay, so what's the good thing about this? Totem of the Chosen Legion. While it's alive, if the Herald riding it has a Locus, it affects all units within 6". That can be awesome to get things like Blood Thirsters, as well as multiple units in combat simultaneously, all affected by Hatred, but in combat itself, it's laughably easy to kill and at range it isn't exactly a Land Raider (or even a predator).
Oh the Skulltaker, the Champion of Khorne, this is what a Herald should feel like. He has an impressive WS9, and in combat his S5 AP3 attacks also cause instant death on a 6 to wound, and his Warlord Trait lets him generate additional Blood Tithe when killing enemy characters in challenges. He's slightly tougher than a standard Herald with a 3+ save and Eternal Warrior, but unfortunately, he cannot take a Juggernaut, making him painfully slow to get across the battlefield outside of putting him in a Rhino or Land Raider. For his points he's really not awful, and might even be fun to take from time to time.
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
Budget Thirster standard Bloodthirster. Boasting an impressive stat line with WS10 I9 and A6, plus decapitating blow from his Axe of Khorne, the Bloodthirster is a truly a monster. The budget thirster is what you summon when using the Blood Tithe table and overall is a solid choice. It can whip one model to death a turn with it's... whip, and hack at units in close combat. Being WS10 means that tactical marines trying to krak grenade him to death are going to have a hard time hitting, and when they do, his 3+ armour save will ignore most of what hits. Since he has Blood for the Blood God!, he is affected by the Blood Tithe table just like the rest of your army, so giving him FNP is an option that is quite nasty. Overall a good unit, though since I'll probably get at least one per game from summoning, I prefer to buy one of the other variants when I'm building my army.
Bloodthirster of Insatiate Rage
This is my favorite Bloodthirster, probably because he carries a gigantic axe. Instead of having a whip and silly little Axe of Khorne, this guy comes replete with the Great Axe of Khorne, which is a Destroyer weapon in melee, but forces him to strike at I1 (boo freaking hoo), and also Rage, because why the hell not, 8 attacks seems so Khorne. So far, he has killed both super-heavies he's come across (Imperial Knight and Scythed Hierodule), as well as scores of Space Marines and an enemy Bloodthirster. What he touches, he dies, and his high WS goes miles to keep him safe from retaliation... watch those stomps though (okay, so the IK and Hierodule both stomped him to death on their way out).
Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster
The final Bloodthirster is the most expensive, weighing in at 300 points. He shares the same stat line as all the other Bloodthirsters, come with an Axe of Khorne, Hellfire (Soul Blaze heavy flamer), a Bloodflail, as well as Adamantium Will and Hatred (Characters). At first he seems a bit schizophrenic, the Bloodflail gives him basically a D3 shot Lash of Khorne, but also a second close combat weapon, and the heavy flamer is cute, but kind of an odd thing on this guy. With the flail and vector strike, he can perform some light AA duty in a pinch, but if he charges into combat with a character who accepts the challenge (because he wants to die), you've got a whopping 8 attacks that are going to re-roll to hit. Of the 3, he is by far the most flexible, and really, the more I play, the more I find myself wishing I was using him. Time will tell if he's really worth his hefty price tag, but when compared to a standard Bloodthirster, he is a very interesting option.
First up are the fodder, Chaos Cultists. They come stock with Mark of Khorne, giving them rage and counter attack, but being the price of an Ork (plus a 10 point mandatory champion) I have a hard time justifying adding more models to the unit. They're decent at being cheap objective holders, or for sacrificing to get Blood Tithe, though for only 22 points more you can get a unit of 8 Bloodletters, which are harder to kill, and significantly more effective in combat.
Chaos Space Marines
These seem to be the laughing stock of the edition, though I always find myself wondering why. They do not have And They Shall Know No Fear, but in my experience, that's not all that significant, now that we have fearless daemons, if the Chaos Marines want to flee, they can do it safely as the enemy is tied up by the daemons. They have a minimum size of 8, which is my biggest issue with them, but being T4 3+ and probably in a Rhino, they're decent for mid-field objective holding units, since they're fast enough to get around and tough enough to stick it out when necessary. They have mandatory champions like Cultists, but it's not all bad since you want champions for both generating Blood Tithe and to sacrifice to summon your sweet Bloodthirsters. With Blood Tithe potentially giving these units FNP, they're actually surprisingly durable, and when used in a Slaughterhost (I'll get to this next time), you can both summon daemons and make your core scoring units harder to kill, so bonus! They're not the best troops in the game, but I like them and wouldn't shy away from them.
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME MAKING FUCK? BERSERKER! Probably the single most iconic chaos unit, the Khorne Berzerker, is a brutal close combat killing machine with WS5, 2 combat weapons, rage, furious charge, and counter attack, the problem is that home boy can't run. On the charge, there's no denying that Khorne Berzerkers are devastating, the only downside is that getting them in charge range can be a little tricky. For 4 points over a regular Chaos Space Marine (in this army) you are getting Fearless, Furious Charge and WS5, which seems like a good deal, but the problem is that it just make the entire unit a bit too expensive for my blood. Maybe if you're going to use Land Raiders, but in most situations, I'd rather save my points and get Chaos Space Marines.
Bloodletters are not horribly priced for what you get, at 10 ppm you have S5 Ap3 on the charge, the ability to deep strike and a 5++ save. If you're trying to save points, you can get 2 units of 8 Bloodletters for every unit of 8 Chaos Marines in a rhino you take. I personally don't own many Bloodletters, so I haven't tried using them in number, but as a cheap, deep striking, scoring unit, they're not awful.
Who likes special rules? WE DO! WE DO! Seriously, a mountain of special rules, combining their own with Daemon of Khorne and Mark of Khorne gives you a unit of Fearless, Fleet, Daemon, Rage, Counter-attack Furious charge maniacs with another table just for rolling up more rules! They have an impressive stat-line with S5 and A2 base (though no pistol + ccw), meaning 4 S6 attacks each on the charge, and if you're lucky, a 1:3 chance of rolling up AP3, or hell, another attack and initiative. They're immensely expensive at double the cost of a standard Chaos Marine and not much tougher, plus are just infantry for movement so the only option to get them into combat quickly is through a Land Raider (or rhino, but you'll have to disembark first). Overall, I wouldn't take them when not required, but when required (by the Slaughtercult), I've actually quite liked them, they've hit hard as hell, and are often ignored because the rest of my army is a bigger threat.
Another Iconic unit, Chaos Terminators are only a few points more than Possessed and come standard with a twin-linked bolter and power weapon. In combat they can be really nasty, and with Deep Strike might actually be able to get there. You can take them in small 3-man squads with combi-meltas, which will force your opponent to respond, as even 1 of these charging into something can cause some serious problems. They're still fairly on the expensive side, but I could see taking them as a contributor towards threat overload.
Back towards the daemon side of things. Bloodcrushers are absolutely devastating on the charge, with each model generating 3 WS5 S6 Ap3 attacks, you're talking about whole sale slaughter. They're moderately survivable with T4 W3 5++, and with fearless you don't need to worry so much about losing combat. Because they don't have grenades, you have to be careful when you charge, but anything short of enemies with a 2+ save, they're just going to wreak havoc when they make it in. If you could increase their survivability with a tanky Chaos Lord in front of the unit, you might have yourself a very upset opponent. Their price tag is steep, a fair bit over even a terminator, but you can summon them with Blood Tithe, and I'd definitely consider doing so.
My old #1 favorite unit and favorite of Chaos Marine players everywhere, chaos spawn mix a decent price tag (little less than a terminator) with survivability (T5 W3), and raw damage output (D6 Attacks and Rage), plus a low minimum investment of a single model, up to 5. Chaos Spawn are great at being tough bodyguard for a character, a low priced shock attack unit, or, if taken in units of 1, obnoxious scoring units that give up a Blood Tithe point. Your Fast Attack choices in this army should always be at capacity, if you have any left over, start filling them with single spawn at the very least!
Old reliable. Not much can be said about the rhino that hasn't already, it's a low priced transport unit that gives up Blood Tithe. I always take them for my Chaos Marine squads, though I don't think I'd consider taking one as a stand alone Fast Attack choice.
All of the killing power of a Chaos Marine flinging itself at the enemy at full throttle. Very competitively priced, Chaos Bikers are absolutely never a bad choice, they can be taken in small squads, can have multiple special weapons (meltaguns!), and in combat deliver quite a punch. Small units of 3 with 2 meltaguns are decent at hunting tanks and generating Blood Tithe, while bigger units are awesome at just butchering the enemy up close. Win-win.
Very similar to Chaos Spawn, flesh hounds cost half as much, have a stat line more similar to a Chaos Space Marine, though with WS5 and W2, plus A2 base. They can Scout and are Cavalry, so they are fast as all hell, and as a small added bonus, get +2 on Deny the Witch rolls. Small units of 5 Flesh Hounds are extremely inexpensive and put pressure on the enemy from the very get-go, essentially deploying halfway up the board before the game begins, and if you go first, you can be in your opponent's deployment zone before they have fired a single bullet. I absolutely love Flesh Hounds and cannot speak positively about them enough. They don't have the damage output that Chaos Spawn do, but they're incredibly threatening and can very much disrupt an opponents plans. Plus hey, if they get shot to pieces, that's Blood Tithe!
Hey, look at that, another assault unit that moves 12" a turn in the Fast Attack slot, noticing a trend? Raptors are a few points cheaper than bikes, but obviously lose the T5 that the bike has. They cause fear though and can be taken in larger units... While I absolutely love the models though, I just can't justify them in a world where Bikes exist, outside of just for fun.
Possessed with wings! Honestly, at only 4 points per model over the price of a Possessed, the Warp Talons don't end up looking that bad on paper. They each have Rage, Counter-attack, Furious Charge and a pair of lightning claws, so it goes without saying, if they make it into combat, they will annihilate nearly anything they come across. Avoid terrain as they can't toss grenades with their salad fingers, or make sure a Skull Cannon has chased them out of cover first. The biggest downside is that they're so incredibly threatening that your opponent will probably prioritize killing them, and with only T4 3+/5++ keeping them aloft, it wont be that difficult to wipe a small unit of them out. I'm not going to write them off just yet though, because in an army with a mountain of fast combat threats, it's also possible that your opponent will neglect them.
The Infamous Heldrake. A very well placed flyer, which sets the benchmark that other flyers are measured by. It's yet another fast attack choice that is incredibly deadly, and rightfully feared. It can vector strike like a Monstrous Creature, the incinerate enemy infantry on the ground with it's Baleflamer. There might be some value in taking the Hades Autocannon for AA, but since it can no longer fire 360°, you wont be shooting at what you vector strike, making it a far weaker option, in my opinion. I've actually recently shied away from the Heldrake, not because it's ineffective, but because I'm almost always in combat with so much of the enemy army on turn 2, that there isn't' a lot to shoot at!
Chaos Land Raider
The iron behemoth itself, the Chaos Land Raider is the most impregnable tank available to the army, boasting a mighty AV14 and HP4, it's sure to get what you want, where you want it. It has the noted distinction of being the only Assault Vehicle in the army, and with it's hefty price tag, you've got to be sure what you're transporting is worth getting there. It has some decent firepower with its pair of twin-linked lascannons, though often you'll be barreling down the field as fast as you can, so stopping to shoot might not be an option. Generally, I don't think they're bad, I just haven't had much need for them.
Who doesn't like a dinobot festooned with guns? The Forgefiend offers some decent anti-transport firepower with its pair of Hades Autocannons, and if you want to get really nasty, you can take it with up to 3 Ectoplasma cannons instead. Much like the Heldrake though, I find that it's a few more points than I'd like to spend on shooting, in an army that is so well focused on assault. If I were to add one to an army, it would have the Hades Autocannons and be sued for busting transports open so that my other units can assault the enemies in side.
The second, and more popular, dinobot variant, the Maulerfiend is another assault unit that moves 12" per turn, is very low priced (about 4 Chaos Spawn), but is thankfully located in the Heavy Support slot! This gives you even more fast assault units without having to take a second detachment. I always take these in at least a pair, as one tends to get shot to pieces, and frequently with the Lasher Tendrils, which reduce attacks of enemies in base-t0-base by 2, letting them tie up monsters, or reduce attacks a Knight might get against my Bloodthrister. If you want them more for tank busting, instead of the lashers, keeping them with the magma cutters will give you an extra 1-2 meltabomb hits, and having 2-3 of these gang up on an Imperial Knight is incredibly amusing to watch as they rip it down. Maulerfiends are absolutely my customary Heavy Support choice.
Sadly, another expensive, schizophrenic unit choice, the Defiler has some great offensive potential, both in close combat and at range, but is too expensive to be left doing either one. For it's price tag, if it had the AV13 of it's brother, the Soulgrinder, we might actually see it on the board, but as is, it's about 30 points too expensive. I would honestly, never recommend taking one over the other options available.
Similar looking to the Defiler, the Soulgrinder comes in far cheaper, and just slightly more than a Maulerfiend. It has a fantastic AV13/13/11 with 4 HP and a 5++ making it quite hard to kill for it's price tag. In combat it has a decent number of attacks, is totally immune to krak grenades, and for a the price of a power fist, it can get another attack, as well as Master-crafted to let it re-roll a single to hit dice (which means essentially yet another attack). It's main gun is a skyfire 4-shot autocannon, giving you a little bit of anti-air, and can take a variety of secondary weapons ranging from a Phlegm Bombardment (roughly a battle cannon), Warp Gaze (S10 Ap1, Heavy 1), or a Baleful Torrent (S6 Ap4 Torrent). Personally, I keep them cheap as chips, though I could see mixing in a sword or other weapon for laughs.
I mean the Chaos Dreadnought. While not very expensive, the Helbrute isn't fantastic at range, and has a sad A2 in combat. Unfortunately, it's overshadowed in every way by the Maulerfiend and Soulgrinders, which are only a few more points, but significantly more useful in the game. Just like with Chaos Space Marines, I'd only really consider using them in the Mayhem Pack dataslate, and unfortunately, moving them to Heavy Support means it will be a rare sight in a Daemonkin army.
We are almost done, if you've made it this far you deserve a cookie! The Skull Cannon is a low priced vehicle which offers a very interesting gun. With a 36" range, S8 AP5 and ignoring cover, it's large blast can really put the hurt on low armoured units relying on cover to keep them protected, such as rippers near a Malanthrope, or a jinking vehicle. It's gun has an interesting secondary effect of making it so that any unit hit by it's attack, run out of their cover, meaning that when you charge them, you count as being armed with assault grenades. It's not a bad unit, it's not an amazing unit, but it's worth taking if you're using a lot of daemon units, or other units that don't have grenades, plus you can always summon one if you really need it in a pinch!
Lords of War
Lord of Skulls
Finally, the last unit in the book! The Lord of Skulls is one of my favorite models in the army, resembling a massive GWAR prop left over after a road tour. In combat against enemy monsters and super heavy tanks, it just annihilates with it's Destroyer melee weapon. At range, it's Skullhurler (60" S9 AP3, 10" blast, re-roll cover saves) alone is enough to end friendships, but when you stack on the Daemongore Cannon (Hellstorm, S9 Ap3, gets hot, INSTANT DEATH), you'll really piss off some Tyranid players. It's armour isn't' as high as I'd like for it's 888+ point cost, but having a 5++, IWND and HP9 help it a bit too. Since it's rolling around on treads, this Professor X of Khorne can initiate Tank Shock or Thunderblitz attacks like a super heavy tank, but unfortunately due to its spinal cord injury, it cannot stomp! That's right, if you find yourself in combat with 30 termagants, and you haven't suffered any HP of damage (each HP it suffers you get +1 Attack) you will be fighting off those little bugs for AT LEAST 8 ROUNDS! I absolutely love this guy, but man, it's point cost and the threat of getting locked in combat with weedy little troops is just too much to ignore in non-apocalypse games.