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New Chaos Daemons Army Book Review

The below Warhammer Daemons Army Book review and analysis was taken from with the permission of the writer Dr. Who. It is a thorough, professional and yet passionate review and comes with a handy* summary of Daemonic Gifts and the reviewers opinion of them.

* handy for all the enemies of Daemons :)

It's a fabulous read for Daemons fans and general Warhammer Army book devotees. It comes unabridged, all I have done is format it and changed some titles a little for the sake of presentation/easy reading.

Daemons of Chaos (A review)

A new army book dawns on the gaming table. Will it be any good? Will it be balanced? Will it need an FAQ yesterday? Read on and get an idea.

Chapter 1: The Book
Written by Mat Ward and with additional text by Rick Priestley. The new Daemons of Chaos army book is 96 pages long – same as the Vampire Counts book, and with the same type of layout as the High Elf book. Background followed by a bestiary, magic lores, colour section, army list and daemonic gifts (magic items equivalent) Nothing earth shattering here.

There are a few bits of new artwork and a fair bit of reruns, primarily from the old Realms of Chaos and Hordes of Chaos books. However most of the artwork is cropped to fit the columns and one gets the sense of incompleteness because parts are either missing or just do not show a whole lot of what it could have. This is especially evident on the artwork we have already seen before. Just like the VC book, there are small pieces of recurring artwork in the top border and the backdrop behind the text is shades of grey.

There is quite a bit of John Blanche’s artwork, mainly in the special characters and bestiary sections. Love it or hate it, I actually think Blanche’s work is better in black and white because you do not get to see the limited colour palette Blanche usually works from. For those who do not know, John Blanche prefers warm colours like red, yellow and brown and uses them almost exclusively in his sketch artwork. I like Blanche’s older, more conventional pieces, but his sketchy artwork, while atmospheric, is a bit too busy and caricatured for my taste. The rest of the artwork is by in-house artists Alex Boyd and Paul Dainton. Additionally, some of the old recurring artwork is by Ian Miller and Mark Gibbons. And the cover is by Adrian Smith. All of it is up to GW’s usual fine standards.

Overall it is not nearly as boring as the seemingly all white High Elf book but I miss some of the atmosphere you could find in, say, Ogre Kingdoms, Vampire Counts (the old 2001 version) or Tomb Kings army books. The artwork does at lot to set the tone of the army book. However the current style looks more like the old 4th and 5th edition army books. It is not at all bad but it leaves you wanting when you have been spoilt for choice previously.

The layout of the army list is almost the same as the previous efforts. Almost. Each character and unit entry now has each Daemonic Gift and Icon options listed in its entry much like you would find in a 40K codex. This is done because characters and units only have a rather limited access to the Daemonic Gifts. Consequently the Daemonic Gifts section at the end of book is not organised in the usual manner but rather alphabetically and according to points cost. The icons have a section to themselves though. It makes it slightly confusing at first but once your memory of the details starts to kick in, it is not much different than any other army book. And it actually makes army list creation slightly easier because all of the options are listed in the entry. Also, the summary page at the end of book is also done alphabetically, which is new.

I fear the production quality of the book is somewhat shoddy. The High Elf book had problems with the book falling apart and my HE book, while not coming apart at the seam, did receive some preemptive scotch taping because otherwise it would have fairly soon afterwards. My copy of the Daemon book is suffering the same problem – it is mainly the last couple of pages that is at risk so far. That is disappointing.

Chapter 2: The Background
There is quite a lot of it when compared to previous Chaos army books. It starts off with a description of each god, their mentality and their surroundings. Unlike previous Chaos efforts (after 3rd ed.), the gods are better fleshed out and less two-dimensional throughout the background and bestiary sections. And they are closer to the 3rd edition version on which they are quite clearly based. Khorne especially benefits from this. It is a decent read too, though I expect this is the part that Rick Priestley contributed to the most.

It is followed by a section on events of daemonic incursions and battles with the Warhammer world during the times. A lot of this is new too though in part based on previous work from other army books. A nice read but you get the sense that GW has tried to shoehorn in the special characters from the army list, as a lot of the stories center around them with Kairos Fateweaver and Ku’Gath Plaguefather being the prime agitators. Only N’Kari – the iconic Keeper of Secrets from the High Elf background – I remember from past fiction but he/she is not featured as a special character. The bestiary section follows suite and is appropriately funny in places – Nurgle parts primarily. Again an okay read in my opinion without being too simple or verbose.

The view of the gods has changed too. As described by Jervis Johnson in WD #340’s Standard Bearer article, it is now a pantheon of gods with their own internal squabbles but also with a united front – much like you can find in Norse or Greek mythology – and the stories reflect this. But again you get that “shoehorn” feeling that it is designed to support the armylist and not the other way around. You can like this approach or not, but if you go back and read fantasy Chaos background material from the various army books, there is a fairly clear trend that softens the rivalry between the Chaos gods. Never mind the fact that through 6 iterations of Chaos army lists (3rd, 4th, 5th, Ravening Hordes, 6th and 7th edition) there has been 6 different interpretations of what a Chaos army should look like and what parts of the backgrounds they were based upon. GW and Chaos: Consistently inconsistent!

A funny thing is that Be’Lakor is not mentioned at all and the Storm of Chaos is only mentioned in the timeline roundup, which hilariously enough mentions that the Daemons of the four ruinous powers mustered behind the banner of Archaon. Which is not what really happened according to the Storm of Chaos background. Does anybody else get the sense that GW is trying to exorcise background mistakes made during the 6th edition?

Chapter 3: A View From Above
The daemon army has basically been structured as one big army list with 5 lords (the 4 Greater Daemons, Daemon Prince), 4 heroes (the 4 Heralds with one for each god), 5 core units (Bloodletters, Plaguebearers, Horrors, Daemonettes and Furies), 4 special units (Flesh Hounds, Nurglings, Screamers and Seekers of Slaanesh) and 4 rare units (Bloodcrushers, Beasts of Nurgle, Flamers and Fiends of Slaanesh) and it is designed to work as such. This is all done to fit the new “United We Stand” design approach better. Just read the developer’s notes in WD #341 for confirmation. In fact Mat Ward goes as far as discouraging pure god lists because of their inherent deficiencies and weaknesses. Otherwise known as the “Please buy more models” sales pitch. At the end of the day the army is now structured with the units found in the two 3rd ed. Chaos books – only with Screamers replacing Discs of Tzeentch as a unit entry, albeit with the same stat line as a Disc of Tzeentch. It also somewhat explains why Pleasure Seekers and Changebringers did not make the transition from the Daemonic Legion army list. It is also worth noting that all rare units, save for Flamers, are 1+ in unit size thus unlocking further tactical options.

The Daemon army is still very much an elite army with the cheapest units clocking in at 12 points per model and you are likely to spend a bucket load on characters – if you do not restrain yourself. You cannot afford to lose much and you will need a combined effort from your units and characters to get the most from them. Not really news nor anything that is not fairly obvious to the trained Warhammer eye.

Other than the fact that Heralds cannot join units of a different god, Furies do not count towards your core minimum, and that characters in general only have limited access to Daemonic Gifts, there are no limits (other than the standard limitations) to how you can compose your army. There has never been this much freedom in a Daemon army and you are basically spoilt for choice unless your wish to adhere to the structure of the Storm of Chaos list. Regardless, your standard 2000 points army will include 3 infantry units any which way you look at it. But since each infantry core unit each has their specific uses (hammer, anvil, spell caster and speed) it is not really a problem if you mix it up. You can still do pure god (mono) lists (with or without Furies) but they can seem less effective because, on the surface at least, they can become very match up dependent as well as one-dimensional. But that is not really much different than the previous Daemonic Legion army list from the Storm of Chaos book.

Units were moved around a little and all units and characters had their stats changed for better or worse from their older counter parts and they lost all or most of their previous abilities while gaining new ones. One change that is repeated throughout the book is a loss of leadership. Greater Daemons lost 1 point, while Daemon Princes and all units, except Furies, lost 2 points of leadership when compare to the old Daemonic Legion army list. Units subsequently received a change in points cost to reflect their new stat line and abilities. For example, all core units are now the afore mentioned 12 points per model and their command options got slightly cheaper as well.

The Daemonic special rules changed a bit too. Instability is now a form of break test, but instead of fleeing, you now lose wounds (without saves - what, you thought you were going to have you cake and eat it too?!) equal to the number of points you failed the break test by. The Daemonic save is now a true ward save for the sake of ease and they still cause fear and are immune to psychology.

All Greater Daemons got cheaper by around 150-225 points and all of them are now 450 points base. The price cut is however somewhat of an illusion since they lost most of their abilities, including 3 of their 4 magic levels, and had their stats altered, mostly downward – mainly losing a wound or two in the process. They now have to pay for all their gifts and most of their old inherent gifts are no longer available, or if they are, then in name only. On the upside you are no longer forced to use the old “standard issue” Greater Daemons as they are now much more customisable, but you still pay through the nose for them if you want everything. In fact, with the exception of the Bloodthirster, you pay roughly the same or more for fully kitted out Greater Daemon as you did previously but with a slightly worse stat line. It is a good thing too that Greater Daemons became a better alternative, since the Daemon Prince is no longer a viable alternative – in my opinion at least. And if you do not plan on using a Greater Daemon, then a combination of Heralds can do most jobs better than a Daemon Prince in most instances. It is also worth noting that Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes cannot join units as they are treated as monsters which just happen to be characters as well. If you cannot find it, look to the text box on page 30 of the Daemon rules. It looks like a “Fluff Box” but does in fact contain rules.

I found it annoyingly odd that GW chose to include the Daemon Prince in the army (other than the fact they still sell the model) when they so blatantly are trying to steer you in the direction of Heralds and Greater Daemons. Daemon Princes got nerfed so much, in my opinion, that it is now on par with an Empire Engineer in terms of being a viable character choice; though others may disagree. It costs the same, better movement, but no flying (it is a gift option), less leadership & initiative and roughly the same amount of Daemonic Gift options. You can dedicate your Daemon Prince to a specific god, but all you do is pay 35 points in order to get access to gifts from its patron Greater Daemon and their magic lore with no other apparent bonuses. 35 points for what appears to be absolutely nothing! Way to go Games Workshop! You are also limited to only 2 levels of magic and only 75 points of Daemonic Gifts. Why? Did anybody think that Daemon Princes were over powered before?

The Herald has been split into 4 different Heralds – one for each god, costing between 90 and 115 points – each with different stats and abilities in league with the 4 corresponding core units. Each Herald has a “Locus” ability, which is passed along to certain units as long as the Herald is alive and with said unit. Each Herald also has access to a set of Daemonic Gifts and two mount options, Heralds of Nurgle excepted. A Herald can be mounted on a Daemonic Beast of his god or a chariot. The Daemonic Beast counts as a cavalry mount with 1 wound even though it is on a bigger base and with all of the bonuses and liabilities associated with an ordinary cavalry mount. The Daemon chariot option is basically a chariot and a monstrous mount all rolled into one. It follows the rules for chariots obviously, but from a tactical perspective it “feels” more like monstrous mount option in my opinion. Also it is the only way to include chariots in your army. Heralds of Nurgle only get access to a Palanquin of Nurgle. It is treated like the other Daemonic Beasts, but the model is not a cavalry mount in the traditional sense.

Furies are still the only non-aligned Chaos unit and they are still worth it. Got a nerf (-1 WS, -4 Ld), but they are 3 points cheaper and there is no limit to how many units you can have. They are still good and useful as it is the closest thing the army has to a throwaway unit and a cheap hunter of light units, mages and war machines.

Chapter 4: Barstewards, They Killed Kenny!
With Kenny being my converted Chariot of Nurgle. The casualty list of units, which got cut from the Daemonic Legion list, is not particularly long. But whenever you find yourself with a model you cannot use in an army anymore, then you get annoyed quite a bit – especially when you happen to like the model. Well, I do anyway.

No more chariots as unit choices and no more Nurgle Chariots. Period. Pleasure Seekers, Changebringers and Exalted Daemons got the boot too, a long with many of the old Daemonic Gifts – most notably Cloud of Flies. You can probably put the Daemon Prince on the UN’s endangered species lists too. All models save for the Nurgle chariot can be used in another capacity in a Daemon army, though I think many will find themselves with an excess of models. I feel annoyed and sad, especially for people with converted and painted daemon models which is of little or no use. I also think it lacks a reasonable explanation as, for example, including a Nurgle chariot would not have been out of the way as every other Herald has two mount options. As for Kenny, he may be resurrected as a mortal or beast chariot down the road. But I am still going to be annoyed, damn it!

Chapter 5: The Toys That Make the Noise
Gifts are back in roughly the same form as before but practically all of them are new and/or changed. There is one big list, as mentioned earlier, from which characters have a limited access to. The lord choices have 9-10 options and the Heralds have 6-8 plus the option for one of 5 Icons for the Battle Standard Bearer. This is roughly the same number of options characters had in previously. Each core unit except Furies also have access to one of two Icon options, which are exclusive to these units, but it appears you can have multiples of them in the army. Seekers (special) and Bloodcrushers (rare) also have Icon options. Daemonic Gifts (and Icons I presume) are not treated like magic items and cannot be nullified (which is not a change from the 6th edition).

The Daemonic Gifts are no different than magic items or abilities from other armybooks. Some are nice, some odd, some overpriced, some underpriced, some a no-brainer and some situational or almost useless. It is the same as with every other army book. Overall I found around two thirds of the 40 Daemonic Gifts that I would consider using but I think your mileage will vary. The Daemonic Icons are however all useful – all 13 of them – in one way or another, which I think is the first time I found all options in a category worth considering.

See the appendix for a roundup and brief commentary.

Chapter 6: I Feel the Need. The Need for Speed!
Slaanesh. Fast, very fast, insanely fast, fragile and lacking hitting power are what sums up the Slaaneshi part of the army list, which is represented by the Kipper, sorry, Keeper of Secrets, Herald of Slaanesh, Daemonettes, Seekers (Daemonttes on Steeds of Slaanesh) and Fiends of Slaanesh – the replacement for Pleasure Seekers – makes a comeback.

Daemonettes lost a point of strength and Aura of Slaanesh while gaining armour piercing – as did all the rest of the Slaaneshi daemons – and a point of weapon skill and movement. Steeds (mounts) of Slaanesh lost Always Strike First (ASF) but are otherwise unchanged apart from the mandatory deduction in leadership. Fiends have roughly the same cost and stat line as the old Pleasure Seekers and also gained the Soporific Musk Daemonic Gift. Seekers of Slaanesh – the old Daemonettes on mounts of Slaanesh got cheaper and gained command and icon options. Off hand, I would say a pure Slaanesh army actually got a little better because it got a little cheaper overall. The biggest caveat is the loss of strength on the Daemonettes, but I think it is partly offset by gaining armour piercing and better weapon skill as well as getting cheaper and faster. Also the icon options are fairly good. A Slaaneshi army will still need to rely on characters for its heavy hitting though. That is not much of a change. Previously chariots could also deal out some decent damage, but they are Heralds only now.

The Keeper of Secrets also got slightly better even though it lost a wound and Soporific Musk from the old version. The Keeper did gain extra movement and ASF to make up for this, which I think it does. However if you buy it a full load of bling it will be about 50 points more expensive than before, though you do not need to tool up completely to make an effective Kipper. The Herald is a souped up Daemonette with the combat stats of an Elf Prince with ASF and its Locus of Slaanesh ability gives ASF to Daemonettes and Seekers. It is also the cheapest of the Heralds and fast as hell with movement 10 if you mount it. There are quite a few nice Daemonic Gift options and combinations too, and you can make it a 1st level spell caster should you wish.

The magic lore of Slaanesh has changed quite a bit too. No longer is it mainly variations of movement and psychology magic. Rather it is variation of spells, which affect leadership (2) and damage spells (3). The last one is rerun of Hellish Vigour. A little ho-hum but spells 1 and 6 are potentially game winning or at least annoying as hell. Acquiescence causes stupidity tests and Phantasmagoria causes the enemy to take all leadership tests with an extra D6 and discard the lowest until the caster’s next magic phase. They are easy to cast too at 5 and 10+ and the lore of Slaanesh is generally easy to cast. It is not as nasty as the old lore but it will get the job done in my opinion.

Chapter 7: Can a Cloud of Flies Be Wrong?
Apparently yes, as it got cut completely from the list for no good reason. It was big reason for the success and survivability of the Nurgle Daemonic Legion army. Slow, expensive, tough, a bit less hard than before with lower stats and very character dependant sums up Nurgle. Nurgle is represented with the same units as before: Plaguebearers, Nurglings, the Beasts of Nurgle sans rider and rounded out by a hard as nails Herald and the Great Unclean One.

Plaguebearers got nerfed big time, as did everything else in the Nurgle part of the army. Not only did they lose Cloud of Flies (and their puke ability), they also got took a hit stat wise with WS3 and I1. Yes, they are cheaper and gained poison, but on their own they just seem between average and poor. Their icons do help though giving them either re-roll to wound or poison counting double for combat resolution. By adding a Herald with Locus of Nurgle you can make them a lot stronger – about as strong as they used to be – as it gives them regeneration in addition to their ward save. Anyone who has met the Banner of Drakenhof in a VC army knows what a pain in the bum that can be. The downside is that, like a lot of Nurgle options, it gets fairly expensive and you tie up a lot of points in one unit. Nurglings got a little cheaper but also lost a wound and an attack. On the plus side they are now poisoning and scouting. By gaining the scout special rule, Nurglings have been given a little different and additional role in the army by potentially march blocking early on and hunting light units and mage assassination. Nurglings cannot hold up units as well as before but they can still provide a decent speed bump if need be in addition to being a general support unit. Beasts of Nurgle changed a little by gaining a wound, regeneration and 20 points while losing its rider. Like Plaguebearers, they are now WS3 and I1. It is still hard but less so than before.

The Great Unclean One (GUO) did not lose wounds like the rest of the Greater Daemons but lost a lot of its close combat prowess instead by losing 2 attacks and having its weapon skill halved. However it also gained poison, a flail and movement 6. The extra movement is a very welcome addition since the GUO can no longer join units. The GUO can get very expensive since you will likely make it a 4th level spell caster due to the vastly improved Lore of Nurgle and quite a few of the Daemonic Gifts, while expensive, are pretty good too. You can really make the GUO very hard to take down both by shooting and close combat – even without Cloud of Flies. The Herald of Nurgle is the most expensive of the Heralds but also the toughest with toughness 5 and regeneration. Ironically the Herald has a better weapon skill than its big brother Greater Daemon. The most important aspect of the Nurgle Herald is, in my opinion, to pass its Locus ability of regeneration to Plaguebearer units, as they really need the boost if they are to function well as a mainline or anvil type of unit. In all, a pure Nurgle army is probably the most character dependant of the Daemon army variations. It can still be a hard army but I do not think it will continue being thought off as a top tier tournament army.

The tried and true GW tradition of over compensating when it comes to nerfing armies, which are perceived as too hard, is in effect here. Nurgle Daemonic Legions certainly had that dreaded reputation. So, did it deserve getting nerfed? Yes, to a degree, but removing Cloud of Flies entirely from the army list I think was the wrong decision since it is one of the iconic Nurgle gifts. I understand removing it from some or all of the units from a balance perspective but then the stat decrease was not necessary in my opinion, even with the added poison, because their attacks have been limited too. But then again it must also be considered that the new Daemon book has been designed to work as a whole and in that context perhaps Plaguebearers and the rest of Nurgle units will do just fine. But is it really so hard to find reasonable compromises that ensures the old options being retained in some way? Sadly, it would appear so.

From bad news to good news: The Lore of Nurgle got an upgrade. It is still a little situational and but with better range as three of the six spells have a range 24”. Letting Nurgle spells go is not recommended for the opponent, as Rancid Visitation cause potentially a lot of damage, Pit of Slime can stop enemy movement, Miasma of Pestilence reduces enemy combat stats to 1 and Plague Wind affects entire units and creates Nurglings. The spells are fairly easy to cast too as only Plague Wind has a casting value of more than 10 (13+). The rest of the spells range from 3 to 9+ to cast. Two of the spells (Rancid Visitation, Plague Wind) are variations of spells from the Slaaneshi and Tzeentchian lores. A touch more originality perhaps?

Chapter 8: Combat Elves
Khorne. Hits hard, dies fast. Just like elves if you punch them straight on the nose. Fairly fast and with decent hitting power. But also frail, expensive and most ironically of all: Lacking overall magic defence. Yes, you have Magic Resistance, but it will not help you against the “subtle” (movement) spells that win games. All Khorne units lost frenzy, making a Khorne army a lot easier to control – hatred not withstanding – and the amount of damage a Khorne army can dish out is little higher than before even without the frenzy.

Bloodletters are basically the same as before combat stat wise, but with Killing Blow instead of the extra attack gained from frenzy. But more importantly, they got cheaper and gained movement 5, hence the elf comment. The Icon options are great: Either D6” extra on the first charge or always march. Overall it is a decent improvement. Flesh Hounds have changed a lot. From being out of control, manoeuvrable harassment troops, they are now roughly on par with Chaos Knights of Khorne in terms of hitting power and survivability. True they only have a 5+ ward save, but they gained an extra wound as well as extra movement and more than doubling in price. If Flesh Hounds are the knights equivalent, then Bloodcrushers are the Chosen of Khorne’s army. The are now cavalry as well despite being on 50 mm bases, but with 2 wounds and 2+2 attacks at strength 6 and 5 respectively. The Bloodletters on Juggernauts still have parts of the old Bloodletter stat line, which did not make it through playtesting. They hit like a ton and keep on hitting but you pay dearly for it at 70 points a pop. They are great models, but a few points too expensive in my opinion, especially since they lost a point of toughness. They do get the same command and Icon options as normal Bloodletters, albeit a little more expensive.

The Bloodthirster is a happy camper! No more Michael Jackson impressions and a customisable set of gear. He did slim down a bit by losing two wounds, so no more laughing at war machines anymore. Overall a major improvement though and he is cheaper as well with a full kit, unlike his brethren. The Herald of Khorne is good too with lord level weapon skill and strength. His Locus ability of Hatred is bit of a double-edged sword, but I think a Khorne army needs to be played aggressively, so I’m happy with it. Also it benefits his Juggernaut or Chariot too.

Khorne does not use magic for obvious background reasons but it also makes magic a Khorne army’s greatest weakness since you do not gain much in the way of magic defence as a result. The old Khorne Daemonic Legion suffered the same problem, but at least you gained extra dispel dice from your characters sans Bloodthirster. Those dice are gone now as well and Magic Resistance won’t take you very far when you only have you two base dispel dice. You can have a single Spell Breaker (Dispel Scroll) on your Bloodthirster, but that is it. To mitigate this, you will have to mage hunt aggressively by using Flesh Hounds or perhaps Furies. Or you can try to whether the storm and make sure you charge your opponent and not the other way round.

At first I did not think Khorne got better overall, but after messing around with the list, I have changed my mind. While Khorne still may not be a top tier army, I think it will provide adequate close combat carnage and the lack of magic defence can be overcome by well-timed hunting expeditions and the Great Standard of Sundering.

Chapter 9: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
The Flying Circus is closed for business and the Changebringers and Chariots got laid off. Instead Tzeentch has set up shop in the Daemon Carnival with his shooting tent of death, doom and destruction. Tzeentch is described as the rather subtle, manipulative and intrigant god of magic. Always has been. Somehow this manifests itself in the army as the subtlety of a sledgehammer meeting a brick wall – a magic and shooty army of death (SAD’n’MAD). And that is just about all a pure Tzeentch army can do.

The Tzeentch part of the Daemon army is made up of Horrors, Screamers and Flamers. That is your lot. Horrors are you basic infantry unit with human stats. They are back to being wizards, with the units power (magic level) and knowledge depending on its size at the start of magic phase. The spells have been predetermined and are also depending on size. You will need a very large unit of 36 or more to become 4th level Tzeentch caster, but most units will either be 1st or 2nd level from the start at 10-20 models per unit. The Icon options are hard too with a bound damage spell or +1 to casting for unit for very little points. Screamers got knocked silly by Nurgle’s nerfbat and are now a very, very specialized unit. They are worse in combat than Furies and more than twice as expensive while not being nearly as survivable as before (T3, W1). What they got going for them is better leadership and their Slashing attack. It basically works the same as before except you can affect more than one unit at a time and it is now strength 5 and flaming. So they can march block then bomb the enemy to smithereens and annoy you and make you life generally irritating! A Warhammer unit Monty Python would be proud off. I think some players will swear by them for their tactical uses though I am not one of them. Flamers have been touted online as the best thing since Salamanders and sliced bread. I’m not sure I agree with them. That is not to say they are not hard, just not completely broken. Each Flamer can fire D6 strength 4 shots with a range of 18” but you still need roll to-hit as normal; meaning that with ballistic skill 4 you will most often be hitting of 4s and 5s as you will usually suffer penalties for either moving and/or long range. Their close combat abilities got changed as well with weapon skill 2 and strength 5 with 2 attacks. Not particularly imposing but close combat is not where Flamers are supposed to be.

The Lord of Change is about the same minus a wound and toys. He does however know all Tzeentchian spells from the get go and he has got an extra magic level to start with. His Daemonic Gift options include some pretty spiffy ones like Tzeentch’s Will, Master of Sorcery, Spell Destroyer and Iridescent Corona (no, that is not a magic beer). All tooled up he will actually be cheaper than before by some 40 points with roughly the same power. The Herald is the weakest of all Heralds yet still worth his 115 points since he start starts out as a 2nd level wizard with a 4+ ward save. His Locus ability is that of improving the ward save of the Horror unit he has joined to 4+. Like his feathered big brother, the Herald also has some spiffy options and Master of Sorcery on a Herald is just plain broken. At the start of the chapter it was mentioned that the Flying Circus from Storm of Chaos has been disbanded. That is not entirely true since Discs of Tzeentch and Flying Chariots still options for Heralds. In addition, the chariot is a full 20” flying, unit strength 5, rank cutting chariot for 60 points extra. Gulp! It is “only” strength 4 impact and 4 strength 3 attacks in close combat though.

The Lore of Tzeentch is one of almost pure damage. Four of them are damage spells with three of them being variations of magic missiles. Then there is Boon of Tzeentch and Glean Magic. Boon can give you extra power dice on 3+, as if you did not have enough already. And Glean Magic can make you cast one of you opponent’s spells at its basic casting value. Basically it makes you cast two spells for the price of one and is potentially game winning with the right enemy spells. Try imagining casting Vanhel’s Danse Macabre on your VC opponent and moving one of his units around! Or pummelling your Empire opponent’s Inner Circle Knights with Spirits of the Forge! Ouch, but alas, it is only theory hammer.

Pure Tzeentch armies still look boring beyond words.

Chapter 10: The Daemonic Stew
The previous presentation of the armies of the four gods has been written more or less from a pure god/single army perspective. But that is not the way the new Daemon army is meant to work. It is designed as a whole and what we are used to view as four fragments of the same army is now meant to cover each others weaknesses. And that it does very well. Examples: Do not like your lack of magic defence in your Khorne army? Add a pinch of Tzeentch to the mix. Do not like pansy toughness 3 in your Slaanesh army or need an anvil to go with your Khorne hammer? Sprinkle Nurgle ad libitum. Want to make Tzeentch interesting? Add anything but more Tzeentch. Want to make an army that moves faster and hits harder than an all knight Bretonnia army? Take an unholy Khorne/Slaanesh alliance. Want Scouts? Call the Nurgle hotline and ask them to send some Nurglings. Want machine guns? Add Flamers of Tzeentch.

You get the idea by now. Just about the only things you cannot do with the new Daemon army is field a true horde army or a cheap 3 wound lord choice. Otherwise it is like designing your own pizza: Just take whatever you fancy! Which leads too… Shooowwww Meeee The Cheeeeessseeee: Any pure Tzeentch army because it probably has more power dice and spells than your average VC army – 15 to 20 power dice is not that hard to get. Some, but not necessarily all, Mix’n’match armies because you can cover you own weaknesses well except for the number of models on the table – it is still an elite army after all. Some Daemonic Gifts and their possible combos; see the appendix. There are no doubt more to be discovered in due time.

Chapter 11: Special ED class
I cannot stand special characters and the way GW now uses them in a Privateer Press rip off sort of way and pushes them down people’s throats. But the review wouldn’t be complete if they were not mentioned too. There are 9 of them in all – 3 Greater Daemons, 4 Heralds and 2 as champion upgrades.

Skarbrand is you basic fallen angel analogy. A very angry Bloodthirster who had his wings curbed and his special ability of hatred benefits the opponent as much as his own side. He is a little better in close combat than a normal ‘Thirster though. Ku’Gath Plaguefather is a happy extroverted Great Unclean One with a build-in Palanquin and Nurgling stone thrower. Kairos Fateweaver is a Lord of Change with souped up magic abilities and non existent combat abilities. Think Daemonic Slann with about as much power as Teclis or a tooled up 2nd generation Slann. Neither Skarbrand nor Ku’Garth seem worth their points while Kairos does. They cost about the same as a normal Greater Daemon with all the trimmings but are certainly not under priced. Slaanesh is curiously absent amongst this category.

The named Heralds are tooled up versions of the normal Heralds but without the Locus abilities. They are made up of Skulltaker, The Masque, Epidemius and the Blue Scribes of Tzeentch. Skulltaker is okay for a Khorne Herald with better combat stats and a potential Killing Blow on 5+ in challenges. The Masque is hard and underpriced even if she cannot join units. She features a 3+ ward save, M10 and the option of reducing enemy movement and leadership. Epidemius is best served in a Nurgle dominated army as his army boosting abilities are tied to the killing potential of the rest of the Nurgle troops in the army. Likewise with the Blue Scribes. In and of itself the Blue Scribes are not particularly imposing, but put them in a magic heavy environment and you start to benefit from the power dice generating ability. Overall the named Heralds offer a fair deal.

The champion upgrades are a little pricey but not without potential. The Changeling is a walking Van Horstmann’s Speculum except it works all the time and you select which stat you want to use. Karanak offers hatred, extra attacks and re-rolls against a nominated enemy character.

Chapter 12: FAQ on Q&As
Once again imprecise wording and grey areas rear their ugly heads again. RAI vs. RAW? Oh yeah, the Vampire Counts and FAQs will not have exclusive rights on vague and crappy rules writing.

Questions are already starting to rise about Siren Songs vs. Immune to psychology. Was it intended on all units and what happens when a unit, which cannot flee otherwise, flees? And just how many suits of armour can you put on a Bloodthirster anyway? Does Great Standard of Sundering work in “inherent” spells like Drain Magic. Are Icons the same as magical standards and can you have multiple of them? How does Enrapturing Gaze work when the whole unit is not affected – can they still use the leadership of the general? Is Daemonic Instability a break test? Again there are no doubt more, but that is what has been discussed online so far. If in doubt, I recommend using the old adage of aspiring to the interpretation that is least likely to cause trouble or be a loophole – until the Q&As arrive in which case we will probably more confused and angry.

And all this before the book is official released as a stand-alone product – and just like what happened with the VC. One has to wonder how all these questions get past the play-testers? Or if they bother listening to them at all? Then again, given the latest batch of Q&As, inconsistency is the (new) norm.

Chapter 13: And Now a Word From Our Sponsors
As GW is a miniatures company first and foremost, it would be a miss not to take a look at the new models. All save for the Plaguebearer command and the mail order only Herald on Juggernaut, is included in the spearhead box.
Bloodletters (by Brian Nelson) are now plastic and quite a bit different from their previous counterparts. They now look a lot more like the artwork from the 3rd ed. Chaos books and the models that were released back then. As do the Juggernaut (by Jes Goodwin and Mike Anderson) and its rider. Looks good but the Hellblades are a touch too big for my taste as the Bloodletters got smaller than their previous steroid version and it now looks like they are trying to compensate for something! There are a fair few bits on the sprues as well. The Juggernaut is great, if a little slimmer and longer than the previous squared, bulky version. Getting it to fit on 50 mm base is a pain though. The Flesh Hounds (by Trish Morrison) are ok too, including Karanak. Again a hark back to the 3rd ed. version. Skulltaker (by Mark Harrison) is big and busy with an okay pose. But what is it with GW and tongues? Just about everything is sticking their tongue out like a panting dog.
Daemonettes (by Alex Hedström) went from naked goth chicks with claws and knives to half naked goth chicks with just claws. The old ones were more harmonic but less family friendly. The new ones are the other way around. Not bad, but I prefer the more harmonic models – regardless of the nudity, if you can believe that! Like the new Bloodletters, there are a fair amount of plastic parts. The new Fiends of Slaanesh (by Trish Morrison) are surprisingly big, but are otherwise a more modern rendition of the Fiend models from the 4th and 5th edition. The Masque (a rare Juan Diaz sculpt) is very detailed but the face is (perhaps intentionally) butt-ugly.
Epidemius of Nurgle (by Aly Morrison) looks literally like a giant turd in more ways than one. Though for a Nurgle model I guess that is compliment either way. I prefer the old, old version though. It is hard to figure out what is what on the Beast of Nurgle (also by Aly Morrison) let alone putting it together. Again you get feeling of looking at excrements when looking at the poor puppy. Luckily they don’t smell!

Chapter 14: Well… So… Now What?
Well, is Daemons of Chaos any good? Yes and no in my opinion. There are parts I like and parts I do not. It is great that GW finally did something about the Chaos background and restored it to some of its former glory and even expanded on it a bit. They may have tried to nudge the reader in certain directions (special characters) but as a whole it works well I think. The army list is good too – from a certain point of view. If you take off the glasses of preconception, and forget what the army list represents, and only look at how it works internally, then I think you will find an army which is mostly well rounded with units that complement each other well. It is still an elite army, mind you, and it will still suffer from a low model count. But without the liability of psychology and Break tests, what you basically get is an army that is good at covering its own butt!

So, what happens when you put those glasses back on? It starts to go wrong that is what. A lot of Chaos players have a preconception of what a Chaos army should look and play like and I am no different. I think a lot of players (with preconceptions) today mostly views Chaos and especially Daemons as 5 armies in one and that the “right” way to play it is as a pure god army with only one god represented. That is the way most Daemonic Legion armies were played and I think a lot of players with Daemonic Legion armies will continue to play it that way. Personally I liked the dichotomy of the old Daemonic Legion better, but that is not what the new Daemons of Chaos army book and GW are aiming for. They are aiming for one book, one army. We can take GW’s word for it by reading White Dwarf and the comments of the development team. Or we can concoct conspiracy theories as to the real reason – be it to sell more miniatures (well, d’uh), dumb down and simplify the rules for Jack, Kevin and the rest of the kids or not wanting to use the resources to design and test it properly. Unfortunately it serves little purpose other than to satisfy our vice of complaining about all things Warhammer and how good the past used to be. We are stuck with what we have got, so we might as well use it. I don’t like GW’s recent tradition of “MacDonalds” army list design. You can “eat it” and it may taste good at first, but it will not sustain you for very long. I think GW’s approach makes for bland, boring army books without much of the taste and flavour of the army books predating the 7th edition – regardless of whether the armies worked or not. I think they had a lot more to them, army and atmosphere wise, than they do now. Colour me an old cynic with one too many conspiracy theories but I think that is the way GW wants it to be. That being said, I do not think Daemons of Chaos – and Codex: Chaos Daemons (40K) as well – are not the worst examples of this approach.

I find Mat Ward a bit uneven as a Warhammer designer. Much like his Orcs’n’Goblins book, there are characters, units and items that just seem either too powerful and must have, or too lame and no way in hell. I do not think Daemons of Chaos is as bad, but it suffers from the same tendencies. That is not to say Mat Ward is the only designer with that problem, but his book is the one “on trial” here. So, does it work? Yep, it works. I still think you can do pure (mono) god armies with the new Daemon army list. Slaanesh, and Khorne armies can still work just fine – with or without a sprinkle of Furies – or maybe even a little better than before. Nurgle can work too, but it will not be as hard as before. I do not think either will be top-tier armies – at least not on a consistent basis – but they will work and provide a fair bit of fun. Tzeentch changed the most (perhaps appropriately) but not for the better. I think the Tzeentch army can do about as well as the other pure god armies. But I also think it will be so incredibly boring to play with and especially against because it focuses on the part of Warhammer which players tend to dislike the most: Points denial and excessive amounts of magic, and to a lesser degree, shooting. Tzeentch is the only god the design team still cannot get right. But for the umpteen time Deamons of Chaos where designed to be played as one army, not 4 individual ones. Mix’n’match armies will be where it is at! There are a lot of combinations to try out and once a few “internet efficiency tournament” builds have surfaced, they will become a common sight.

Now what? Will the rest of the Warhammer world be crying cheese and foul when Daemons of Chaos hits the street? Probably yes, but that is “new army book” syndrome for you. It will always take some time before players get to grips playing with and against it. It will probably give the Vampire Counts a run for their money as top dog – until Dark Elves and Warriors of Chaos roll around the bend.

I do not agree with either GW’s design strategy or its design choices, as if that was not already painfully obvious. But we are stuck with what we got. If you can look past the substantial change to the background, the army rules and its effect on army inter mingling, then you got a powerful army indeed. Both you and your opponent will have to swallow a few camels when playing Daemons at least from a background perspective as I do not think most players will be accustomed to this new version of Chaos Daemons. If not, then you can still use the book and most of your old Daemonic Legion armies. Just don’t expect to wipe the floor with the big boys – at least not consistently. And if you got models you can no longer use, then flip the bird in the direction of Nottingham, England and utter a Daemonic curse!

If you read this far, then thanks a bunch.

Daemonic Gifts Overview

(Note: Some gifts appear more than once because more than one god has access to it and often provides different value depending on which character has the gift)


Spirit Swallower

(Regain wounds for unsaved wounds caused): Way too expensive for what it does. Better alternatives.


(no armour saves allowed): The ubiquitous can opener. Always useful but much better value on a herald than a Keeper due to the difference in base strength and armour piercing.

Many Armed Monstrosity (+2A): Heralds only.

Compared to a 15 point Sword of Battle, this seems a bit too expensive.


(Character must pass Ld test. If failed he attacks own side. Otherwise he does not attack). Potentially nasty but situational. Can be combined with other Ld test gift for some nasty combos (Allure, Torment Blade, Enrapturing Gaze).

Allure of Slaanesh

(Models must pass Ld test to attack) Better value than Temptator and more useful overall.

Daemonic Robes

(Cannot be wound on better than 3+): Definitely worth considering on a T3 Herald. Less so on a Kipper unless you are afraid of S8+.

Enrapturing Gaze

(Models in btb may not use other Ld values). Either potentially nasty or too situational. What happens to an enemy unit when there are models not btb contact. Can the unit use the Ld of general for Break tests for example? Combining it with Allure and/or Torment Blade does lend it some potency.

Soporific Musk

(Enemies roll an extra D6 on flee rolls and deduct the highest): A little ho-hum.

Soul Hunger

(Re-roll failed to-wound in 1st combat round): Kippers only. A bit expensive when you are S6.

Siren Song

(One enemy unit must charge or flee): Very useful. Just make sure you agree on whether it works on ItP.

Torment Blade

(Wounded models must pass Ld test to attack): Dirt cheap and useful when combined with ASF and Enrapturing Gaze.

Banner of Ecstasy

(Icon. Stubborn on first Break test): Useful.

Siren Standard

(Icon. Charged enemies may only hold): Useful, especially on Seekers hunting missile units or fast cavalry bait.



(Auto wound, unsaved = D6 wounds): Expensive, but potentially effective when combined with Miasma of Pestilence and/or Noxious Vapours. GUO only.

Nurgling Infestation

(One new Nurgling base in Nurgling unit within 6” on 2+): Works in both magic phases. Worth considering. GUO only.

Staff of Nurgle

(Bound spell (PL3), casts Rancid Visitation): Wicked!

Trappings of Nurgle

(4+ AS, regeneration): Extra saves for the GUO, making it even harder to kill. Worth every penny. GUO only.

Noxious Vapours

(enemy gains ‘strikes last’ and lose ASF): Very, very useful for the otherwise initiative challenged Nurgle characters.

Nurgle’s Rot

(Enemies in btb suffer 1 wound with no AS on 6+): Works in both magic phases. Ok.

Pestilent Mucus

(Enemies suffer 1 wound wound with no AS on 6+ for each unsaved wound caused on bearer). A bit ho-hum since your already tough character needs to be wounded first.

Soul Hunger

(Re-roll failed to-wound in 1st combat round): A bit expensive when you are S6-8. On Heralds, use the icon Standard of Seeping Decay instead.

Stream of Bile

(S4 breath weapon): Nice on a GUO.

Slime Trail

(no CR bonus for flanks and rear): Cheap and useful, especially on a GUO.

Icon of Eternal Virulence

(Icon. Wounds caused by poison count double for CR): Useful.

Standard of Seeping Decay

(All models may re-roll failed to-wound): Very useful since it also works on Heralds.


Awesome Strength (S10)

An expensive joke.

Dark Insanity (2D6+2 attacks)

Best Daemonic Gift name in the book. Ok, potentially game winning if you feel lucky. Well, do you…?


(no armour saves allowed): The ubiquitous can opener. Herald only. Useful.

Obsidian Armour

(3+AS, no magic weapon in btb will work): Nasty if you are hunting characters with you BT. On a Juggernaut mounted Herald with a 0+ AS it is great too.

Axe of Khorne

(Killing Blow): ‘Thirster only. New axe, same as the old axe.

Daemonic Robes

(Cannot be wound on better than 3+): Worth considering on a T4 Herald. Herald only.

Firestorm Blade

(+1S, flaming): Brown trouser time for Treemen, Tomb Kings, Trolls and Drakenhof toting Wights. Very useful overall though you may want to leave it at home when the Dragon armoured High Elves come to town.

Immortal Fury

(Re-roll failed to-hit): Mandatory gear on Bloodthirsters?

Soul Hunger

(Re-roll failed to-wound in 1st combat round): A bit expensive when you are S6. Heralds only.

Spell Breaker

(Dispel Scroll): Bloodthirster only, sadly. Useful? D’uh!

Armour of Khorne

(3+AS): Good on BTs. Awesome value on Heralds.

Collar of Khorne

(MR3): MR upgrade for BTs. Ok.

Icon of Endless War

(Icon. +D6” on first charge): Always useful. Always.

Skull Totem

(Icon. May always march): Very useful when you are M5-7.


Twin Heads

(+2 to cast): Expensive and nasty. Better alternatives. LoC only.

Tzeentch’s Will

(one re-roll per player turn): Expensive yet great value for money. LoC only.

Spell Destroyer

(Dispel Scroll, kills spell on 4+): Same old, same old. Useful. LoC only.

Power Vortex

(+1 PD): Expensive, but has to be when got more PD than God!

Daemonic Robes

Cannot be wound on better than 3+): Definitely worth considering on a T3 Herald. Less so on a LoC unless you are afraid of S8+.

Dark Magister

(Immune to first miscast): Definitely useful if you are not using Tzeentch’s Will. LoC only.

Flames of Tzeentch

(D6 S4 shots): A portable Flamer of Tzeentch!

Iridescent Corona

(One S3 flaming hit on models in btb in CC): Great if used on a LoC, Disc or Chariot.

Master of Sorcery

(Know all spells from chosen lore – either Tzeentch or lore from BRB): One of those things that makes you go: WTF! Downright broken at its points cost.

Spell Breaker

(Dispel Scroll): Herald only. Useful? Double D’uh!

Winged Horror (Fly)

: Alternative to a Disc. Same price.

Banner of Change

(Icon. Bound Spell (PL3). 3D6 S3 hits on one unit in btb. An evil surprise!

Icon of Sorcery

(Icon. +1 to cast for the unit). Useful and cheap, especially for smaller Horror units.

Daemon Prince

Unnatural Swiftness
(ASF): Great… Oh wait, it is Daemon Prince only. Never mind then.

The Daemon Prince also has access to Etherblade, Many Armed Monstrosity, Daemonic Robes, Enrapturing Gaze, Immortal Fury, Iridescent Corona, Soul Hunger and Winged Horror.

Battle Standard Banners

Standard of Chaos Glory

(Stubborn within 12”): Expensive but can make the parts of the army next to unbreakable.

Banner of Hellfire

(Bound Spell (PL5). D6 S6 hits on enemies within 12”): Powerful and deadly, but expensive.

Great Icon of Despair

(-2 ld to enemies within 12”): Very mean on anything but the Undead.

Great Standard of Sundering

(-2 to cast for one enemy magic lore. Lore of Light miscasts double 1,2,3): Great bargain, especially against armies with only one or a few lores to choose from.

Banner of Unholy Victory

(+D3 CR): Poor man’s Battle Banner.

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