Mar 6, 2013

Daemons - Intro

So, I finally got a hold on the book. I thought to write down my first impressions of the book, much like I did with Chaos Space Marines, because well... why not? Note that these are first impressions, I have not playtested anything and these are just my ideas while reading. I find it helps me think to write down my thoughts, so here goes.

First post will be a bit general though, about all the stuff except for the units. Because Daemons are quite special that way, they have some very special mechanics that can change how you play the army. So lets start with those.

So, Daemonic Assault is gone the internet writes. The way I see it, it's here and stronger than ever. It's true that there's no longer any special rule which forces you to divide your army before deployment and having no idea which part of your army you'll get for first turn. But. Instead every unit in the army has Deep Strike, and as you're only allowed to put half of your units (rounding up) in reserve - that means you'll still be able to start with as many units in actual reserve. The difference here is that it's a lot more reliable. You know for sure which half you'll deploy, and you know for sure exactly where they will be standing because instead of scattering all over the place they're deployed like normal units. This is a good thing in my opinion - but it also forces you to really think about your choices. Because you actually want to start in reserve with everything more than ever, since Daemons are weak. With T3 being standard and a 5+ save your troops are extremely fragile. But if you ever played Daemonettes you probably know how to handle this anyway.

Now, what is really interesting is this second wave. Because now there are ways to almost guarantee that you'll get a full wave on turn 2. Instruments of Chaos. Oh wow, have they become powerful? With the instrument you can pull one more unit than normal from your one reserve roll. So if you make your reserve rolls in the right order you'll get a lot more on the table more securely. If this isn't certain enough, you can now also actually use a Aegis Defence Line with a Comms Relay effectively (you'll have troops on the board in turn 1!) granting you a re-roll. And not only that, but Icons have made their return to glory. Not having to scatter is a quite big deal - as this way you have a secure way to get those fragile units of yours up in the enemies face unharmed. Especially as it seems that Icons work even if they've just come out of Deep Strike themselves the same turn (but we'll see if that'll get FAQ, I sure hope it doesn't as the way it is now really compensates for the lack of transports and such - but even if it does get FAQ'd there are ways around it, you just need to plan what you deploy even more carefully). Suddenly you can actually start to consider using all of your army to kill stuff, instead of reserving some stuff for objectives only!

Next up is wargear. Now, this is a odd one. Unlike other armies you don't chose your wargear... you pay to roll a dice on a table. I'm not super-fond of this idea because it feels like randomness just for the sake of random. But in this case I still think it's okay, since you always get an option "0" with which you can replace your roll with - and all of those are really nice. As the different "rewards" are mostly pretty situational it can give an edge in certain match ups - but you can't count on it. The Exalted Rewards however, you can count on and build your strategy around - because those are the way to get Hellforged Relics and those are powerful enough to change how you play the game!

The Eternal Blade is by far the weakest of them. It's nothing special really, a way to boost a Herald in combat and not all that useful. The other three however...

Lets start with the Portalglyph. This thing is awesome. It'll start spawning small units of Lesser Daemons in every Movement phase. Only D6 each time, so obviously they'll be easily wiped out. But your opponent has to waste one units shooting at them - because they are Scoring and they won't run away. I was a bit bummed when I saw that the minimum squad sizes has been capped to 10 for all the Troops, as I like relying on sneakyness sometimes and hide those small units - out of sight out of mind, and then grab an objective just by the end. But now, with the Portalglyph it's still valid to do so which is awesome. One more reason to actually use your Troops in the killing, because you'll still be able to get backfield scoring units with this thing.

The Doomstone. Now, this thing is actually scary for characters. This item alone might be a good anti-deathstar weapon... if you can just keep the bearer alive for long enough to make the enemy fail a couple of Ld-tests. This is also boosted by the fact that there are some ways to lower enemies Ld with the rest of the army, and in combination you might get results quickly. On average it'll require three failed Ld-tests before a character is outright killed by the Doomstone though, so it might not be the most effective way to get rid of those characters, but it's quite reliable...

Grimoire of True Names. This and the Portalglyph I feel will be almost obligatory in many armies. You can potentially boost one units invulsave by 2. With a glass army like this, that is incredibly useful. Like most things in this book it's not without risks however, as you could also lower the save by one instead... and if you happen to do this just when the Warpstorm decides to lower your entire armies save by one you're suddenly left with a unit with no save. That hurts a lot. And that's also why you probably should use the Grimoire on your tougher units, T4 or higher at least - and probably prefer Khorne-units as well as they'll at least have their 6+ Armour if the Warpstorm decides to screw you over at the same time... Of course, the Warpstorm can also decide to increase your invulsave, and if you then use the Grimoire on a Tzeentch-unit you suddenly get a 2++ with a re-roll... Now sadly, you use the Grimoire in the Movement Phase and the Warpstorm doesn't happen until the Shooting Phase so it gets a bit harder to plan stuff.
So, the obvious use of it is in a defensive role where you want to protect one of your hard hitting units or draw some extra fire away from the rest of your army at least. But what if you don't have such a unit? Either because you designed your army without one or because it's been killed all ready? The Grimoire can be used offensively as well - and then it always takes away one from the invulsave of any enemy Daemon. Yes, anything with the special rule 'Daemon' can be affected. Maybe it's time for that Avatar to die? Or have that Heldrake annoyed you enough? Lowering the invulsave might cause it to at least dive (which in case of the Baleflamer, makes it useless) if you have something else to shoot at it as well. Obviously that's very situational since the enemy needs to have something that is a Daemon - but don't forget about it as it can be very useful indeed!

So I all ready mentioned the Warpstorm table, lets talk some more about that. Every Daemon Shooting Phase stuff happens. Most common is that you and your enemy will probably lose a couple of models to the wrath of the Chaos Gods hurling death around them. This is a good thing for you, because Daemons are quite lacking in the Shooting department, so here we get some free shooting that has the possibility to hit every unengaged unit. Awesome! So it's a small price to pay that some of your units might get hit as well I feel... Everything that weakens the enemy before your assault is a good thing indeed.

However, that won't have any major impact of the game I feel. What WILL impact the game immensely are the very lowest results and the very highest results. Every model with the Daemon special rule on the board may have their invulsave either lowered by one or improved by one. Every model. So you're playing CSM and he has three Heldrakes and you just rolled 10 on the Warpstorm table. Congratulations! You won't kill those Heldrakes this turn. On the good side you'll be less of a glass army yourself this turn as well of course. Then there's those two results that punish a single character on the board. Either one of your characters or one of the enemy Psykers will most likely simply die with nothing you can do about it. And then there's of course the possibility of your entire army disappearing or new units being created. These four last ones have the potential to be game changing - and you'll probably win and lose some games just because of this roll. But it'll be quite rare. What it does do however, is making it hard to plan when playing Daemons. But more importantly, it's even more hard to plan when playing against Daemons. Because as a Daemon player you know about this stuff, and you're used with it and thus you build your army in such a way as to be ready for all this randomness because you know it will happen. The enemy however, is more likely to be unprepared. Especially those armies that relies on a strong character like Eldrad or Mephiston... what will they do when by random chance their character simply became a Herald in turn 1? I've seen many people raging about the Warpstorm table and how it makes Daemons "unplayable"... but really, it helps you more than it helps your opponent even though it creates chaos in the meanwhile so... use it to your advantage.

This also leads into the Daemonic Instability. Another thing that has been really exaggerated I feel. So you're basically Fearless until you reach combat, where if you lose you'll lose extra models. Your average Ld is 7, which is coincidentally the average roll on 2D6. Against most opponents you'll probably not lose combat by very much, because you take most of your causalities moving into combat - once in combat pretty much every unit is decent in the army. So if you do lose it'll probably be by a small margin, causing you to lose a few extra models. Remember also that Icons give +1 to Combat Resolution, thus causing one less model to die. And then you have Heralds of course, boosting your Ld. Because that's what they're there for, they're basically unit Champions anyway - just slightly more powerful. So yeah, not a big deal really. Some games it'll hurt - but no more than Sweeping Advances does anyway. Just make sure to pick combats that you'll win instead! Two units against one is totally justified if you need to kill something.

Ah, that's my initial thoughts about the army wide special rules and such things I believe. Next post will be about the HQ's... All 18 of them...

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