"When I was a child I played with childish things. Now that I am a man I still play with childish things, just bigger more expensive ones..."

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Month in the Company of Daemons

It all started with a Storm of Magic game about four weeks ago. While picking my army I flicked a couple of pages too far and arrived at the daemonic pact page. We’ve acquired quite a few daemon models second hand in preparation for a 40K army but mostly they sit untouched in boxes waiting for us to get round to them. At that moment I suddenly thought, ‘They won’t be expecting this, I wonder if I’ve got the models to make this work?’.

The subsequent horde of horrors that fought in the battle were not overly successful, but they were different and they were fun. Days later I found myself starting to take stock of what we had and seeing how close we were to a viable army. I was pleased to find that my intended theme (Tzeentch with Nurgle support) was indeed possible and the process of stripping, rebasing and painting up these neglected models began.

Four weeks later and the daemons have now fought three battles on their own, twice going up against the Skaven hordes and once the Ogres that rule the roost in my little gaming group. After a difficult start they have proved a real threat with evolution of the list granting them their first win in my most recent encounter with the ratmen. So what have I found so far, what are Daemons really like?

Elite army or Horde Army?
Elite Horde would be the best way of describing them. Overall you are going to have fewer models than most opponents, the average cost per unit is significantly higher and lets not even discuss the lord options! However in order to really make the army work you are going to need one horde to pin the rest of the army around.

Multi God or Single Patronage?
Two seems to be the tipping point. I have no doubt a single god army is viable to the skilled and I’m sure the number crunchers will say the best players get the best from all four, however for those that want to balance viability and theming I’d try to come up with a plan that uses  any two of the four.  In my case my horde of plague bearers provides my core while Tzenntch gives me just about everything else in support. Its also worth noting that with fewer models you might be able to build a couple of sub armies that can be played alone and combined for bigger fights.

Fight or Think?
One of my initial concerns with the daemons was it would just be a ‘march forward and role dice army’.  However having played them this could not be further from the truth.  With significantly fewer elite units you’ve already got the possibility of being able to put your full strength into a weaker enemy equivalent unit count. However the contrast is that the weaknesses in daemons are very significant meaning its vital to make sure you protect these vulnerabilities at all costs. Fight a daemon army for me has been the most tactical of all my games.

Part of the Fantasy world?
The final concern I had with Daemons was the way GW present them can sometimes make them feel more like a very commercially motivated army that somehow didn’t seem to fit into the Fantasy world. Again I think this is a product of the four god approach and a limitation to just a couple of gods provides a much more believable force for those that want an army that thematically feels right.

So there you have it, my view of Daemons. In a nutshell they are make a good second army for the player who has something a bit more traditional already, or a good main army for the adventurous tactician. Hopefully over the coming weeks some of the painted units will also make it onto here too.