Killing Grey Knights with Daemons - Part 1: The Problem with Daemons...

Editors Note : I've added the two extra sections which for some reason disappeared when I posted this the first time.

So I've been arguing in various locations that giving a particular army (Grey Knights) rules that allow them an advantage against a specific codex (Daemons) is inherently unbalancing and smacks of laziness on the designers part.

One of the places I've been having this debate was here. Though the general consensus was that I was correct, a couple of people pointed out that many other things also kicked the crap out of Daemons and did so without the help of any Daemon specific rules. Though Gx1080* made some good counter arguments, It didn't change the fundamental basis of my opinion which was that there was no need to give them those rules as 1) they didn't need the help and 2) Daemons were having enough trouble as it was without needing the extra kick in the bollocks.....

* Who I can't link you to as he doesn't appear to have a Blog or if he does I can't find it.

But how bad is it for the Daemons really?

I'm going to attempt to show some of the problems with the Daemon Codex, how Grey Knights compound these issues by virtue of their special rules and hopefully find some ways of countering these issues with appropriate Daemon units, combinations or army builds. As this is quite ambitious I'm going to be spreading it out over a few articles for ease of reading.

Part 1 - The Problem with Daemons : This will cover what inherent problems Daemons have in general as a sort of 'worst case scenario' primer.
Part 2 - Grey Knights Toolbox : In this article I'll go into some detail about the anti-daemon special rules that Grey Knights have and what issues this will cause for you the Daemon player
Part 3 - Grey Knights Vs. Daemons : Finally I'll discuss what Daemon units are going to be effective against Grey Knights and why.

Depending on how long those articles get, they may end up being split up even further ;-)

Let's get on with it then,

Well in this first part lets look at some of the problems with the Daemon Codex that aren't Grey Knight specific* but rather are in-built design flaws and weaknesses.

* I may mention them in passing though ;-)

1) Unreliable Deployment.

So your going to be fighting for at least one turn with only half an army and due to the 'Daemonic Assault' rules that will be the wrong half 33% of the time, also any army that can interfere with reserve rolls will compound this issue. This is even worse if they have ways of disrupting your potential landing zones as well.

The other problem with deployment is that the half that you get has no way of increasing the accuracy or reliability of their drops. Other armies that have 'Drop' builds also have ways to increase their reliability. For example, Blood Angels Jump Pack units have the 'Descent of Angels' special rule and Drop Pod armies don't have to worry about landing on other units because of the 'Inertial Guidance System' rule. In the case of Daemons, subsequent reserves can be guided down by Icons but these are expensive (25 points) and could unfortunately be unavailable if you got the wrong wave in the first place unless you burn points putting them in lots of units 'just in case'.

2) De-meching the enemy.

Daemons have a number of ranged attacks that range from rubbish to really quite rubbish. The only two semi-reliable anti-tank weapons they have are Bolt of Tzeentch or the Soul Grinders Tongue attack both of which are in short supply in a Daemon list as well as being somewhat unreliable themselves - More on the reasons for that later ;-)

De-meching units in assault has a number of problems of its own. The first being that Vehicles don't have a tendency to stay still if something that is capable of punching them to death is nearby and secondly that after destroying the transport the Daemon or Daemons are invariably damaged by the explosion due to their crappy invulnerable save or even worse being shot to pieces by the unit that was inside the transport (or more likely, some combination of the two). The added disadvantage of that when playing against Grey Knights is going to be that you really don't want them to be charging you......No really, you don't.....

2a) Bolt of Tzeentch (Range 24", S 8, AP 1).
In order of accuracy our units that can have BoT are Daemon Princes of Tzeentch (BS 5, 0.83 chance of a hit), Herald of Tzeentch (BS 4, 0.67 chance of a hit) and Horrors of Tzeentch (BS3, 0.50 chance of a hit). The fact that the attack is S8 makes taking out Land Raiders with it unlikely but not impossible (the AP1 helps a little).

Lets use our old friend Mathshammer to see just how reliable this anti-tank weapon is,

Editors Note : I'm not going to bore you with the Maths for every BoT capable unit I'll just show you how crappy the best one is and you can extrapolate the rest yourselves.

Heavy Support: Daemon Prince of Chaos (1#, 140 pts)
   1 Daemon Prince of Chaos @ 140 pts (Mark of Tzeentch; Bolt of Tzeentch)

Vs Armour 10, 0.83 to hit, 0.55 chance of pen, 0.275 chance of vehicle destruction.

Vs Armour 11, 0.83 to hit, 0.42 chance of pen, 0.21 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 12, 0.83 to hit, 0.28 chance of pen, 0.14 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 13, 0.83 to hit, 0.14 chance of pen, 0.07 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 13, 0.83 to hit, 0.14 chance of glance, 0.02 chance of vehicle destruction.

So our most likely candidate for the use of BoT isn't exactly reliable. Unlike other armies that can generate a lot of this strength fire-power, Daemons cannot. To reliably destroy vehicles with shooting were going to need a lot of it which in turn forces us to consistently select certain units over others which is an example of poor codex design (imo). For the same points a Space Wolf player can get a unit of 6 Long Fangs with 5 S8 Missile Launchers. Also due to Daemons poor saves few units are likely to get a chance to have a 2nd go at making that shot.

2b) Tongue (Range 24", S 10, AP 1)
The only unit that has this weapon is the Soul Grinder. As the only 'vehicle' in the Daemon codex expect this to eat melta and die very early on. It's also only BS3 which isn't going to help much.

Heavy Support: Soul Grinder of Chaos (1#, 160 pts)
   1 Soul Grinder of Chaos @ 160 pts (Mawcannon - Tongue)

Vs Armour 10, 0.50 to hit, 0.50 chance of pen, 0.17 chance of vehicle destruction.

Vs Armour 11, 0.50 to hit, 0.42 chance of pen, 0.14 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 12, 0.50 to hit, 0.33 chance of pen, 0.11 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 13, 0.50 to hit, 0.25 chance of pen, 0.08 chance of vehicle destruction.
Vs Armour 14, 0.50 to hit, 0.17 chance of glance, 0.06 chance of vehicle destruction.

So it's somewhat better at destroying armours 13 and 14 but worse at destroying armours 10 to 12 when compared to the Daemon Prince. Given a choice I'd take the Daemon Prince over the Soul Grinder mainly due to the Daemon Prince being more flexible in other areas. Of  course if nobody in your area takes Melta weapons or reliable ranged anti-tank then by all means take the Soul grinder instead.....

So our anti-tank is minimal and destroying vehicles in assault is unreliable. Unfortunately in the mechanised world of 5th edition that's a big fucking problem.

3) A distinct lack of saving throws.

With most units your going to just have to accept that your going to lose a lot of your models to shooting long before you get to do anything with them. The average saving throw in the Daemon Codex is a 5+ invulnerable save. Some small comfort can be taken from the fact that you still get your rubbish save against almost anything that's shot at you because it's invulnerable but believe me when I tell you that you'll be more scared of the torrent of anti-infantry weapons from your opponent than that one Meltagun hit.
This doesn't just apply to the smaller units either. Your multi-wound models are still VERY vulnerable to torrents of fire.

For example,

'Dakka' Predator Vs. 'Generic' Daemon Prince.

6 S5 shots, 4 hit, 2 wound, 1.67 wounds generated after 5+ saves.
2 S7 shots, 1.33 hit, 1.1 wounds generated after 5+ saves .

So your Daemon Prince is down to 1 and a bit Wounds. The next thing that shoots him is going to finish him. A standard Tactical squad with a Flamer, rapid firing at a unit of 10 Daemonettes will kill half of them before the Flamer even has to think about firing and that Flamer will probably kill the rest of them anyway. Landspeeders with Heavy Flamers are an especially big pain in the arse as your for the most part hitting them on 6's and needing 6's to glance before you even get to roll for damage.

No matter how fast your units are, your going to spend at least one turn getting shot to shit because there's nothing you can do about it due to the way you have to deploy. A bad scatter can make this 2, 3 or even 4 turns as there's no rule that says your opponent has to stay in the same place and wait for you to get there.....

Another armour save related issue is that units with a higher initiative than you will put a considerable hole in your unit as pretty much every wound will kill a model and you don't have the numbers (like Orks do for example) to whether those kind of casualties.

4) What No Grenades?

Yet another problem is that very few units in the Daemon codex get any form of 'assault' grenades. This puts certain of their close combat units at a disadvantage should they be charging into cover. Bloodletters for example will be going last against pretty much any Marine unit that's in cover as will certain of their other effective assault units such as Fiends of Slaanesh and Fleshhounds of Khorne. This means we are forced to decide between a squishier unit that gets assault grenades (Daemonettes) or a slightly tougher unit that doesn't (Bloodletters).

5) Unit Costs.

Most units in the Daemon Codex are imo over-costed by a few points when compared to equivalent units from other codices. When it comes to upgrading units like Daemon Princes certain of their upgrades are stupidly expensive. A generic Daemon Prince with the 'Wings' upgrade from the Chaos space Marine codex is 130 points, to create an equivalent Daemon Prince using the Daemon Codex would cost 190 points.....

In Summary.
Your fighting with half an army for at least a turn, are going to get shot to pieces for that turn and will probably spend most of your early game trying to get to your enemy and/or get him out of his transports. Also bear in mind that these are issues against any army your up against not Grey Knights in particular, though Grey Knights will compound certain of them.

So it's not looking good for the Daemons and there not even facing an army that's designed to kill them yet.....Don't lose hope, however. Daemons do have some tricks up their sleeves, they just need a bit more thought to use than other more user friendly armies *cough* Space Marines *cough* ;-)

That will do for Part 1. Part 2 should appear in the next couple of days as I've got to come up with a HoP article for next Tuesday first and as usual I haven't even started it yet, lol.

Thoughts and Comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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