Well, every so often it seems as though the same questions come up in regards to Chaos Daemons. Its understandable. They're a weird army with weird rules and don't follow any of the norms for other armies. I've played Chaos Daemons for about 2 years, so I figured I'd write a sort of tactic to help clear up any questions or help newer players better understand the army as a whole.
First off I thought I would clear up a disclaimer. I am by now means a "pro" or "power" gamer. I consider myself to be mildly competitive, IE I like to win, but at the end of the game, I could care less about the turnout. What I mean by all this is; I may not be the best person to get advice from, but I'll do my best.
Second off, a little bit about the army. Chaos Daemons are a specialist army, they are by no means like Space Marines where you can throw tough units at the enemy and just muscle your way through. Chaos Daemons require finesse and forethought. Each unit is essentially the best at what it does. In general the army can be compared to the Eldar.
Daemonic Assault-- Pros and Cons
Daemons get to do a really cool thing. The entire army deepstrikes. You probly know this, but it truly is an amazing advantage. For starters, during deployment, you don't deploy! In that regard, you should always go second unless otherwise forced. This will limit an entire round of shooting that your opponent has on your troops. Also this gives you an insight into what your opponent will send where, and a little bit on their play style. Are they defensive? Or do they they throw everything they have across the table? Deepstriking allows you a unique ability to counter enemy movements on the fly. Rarely will you be in a position where you have no way of getting troops to a particular area to stave off your opponents assaults.
The unfortunate part is that Daemons are almost entirely a close combat oriented army (other than Tzeentch based units of course). With that, Deepstriking comes with a price, you can't assault the turn your units come in, and this leaves you particularly vulnerable to shooting and in worst case scenarios, close combat assaults. Because of this disadvantage, you should always be planning ahead to your next move.
This is where deepstriking and movement play a huge role in Daemons, and if you don't play Fantasy, I suggest you try it out sometime. It will teach you a whole new dynamic to movement that will better your 40k game overall. When you deepstrike, you want to make sure you'll be outside of your opponents 12'' assault range (6'' movement, 6'' assault). Of course if there are other units with a larger active radius, then you want to avoid them as well. This can get pretty tricky, but remember you're rolling on a D6, of which the average roll is about a 7 combined (Between a 6 and 8 ). It would work nicely if you could just plop down your units 19'' away from any other enemy unit, but it doesn't really work like that because you also want to ensure that you can get the assault next turn. Essentially, you need to weigh the risk and reward situation and find a happy medium. Basically there is no foolproof way to ensure good placement when deepstriking, you just have to get a good feel for it.
Now I think its time I start talking about individual units, I was thinking of going in order that they appear in the book, but I think a god, by god method would be much easier to do and more organized. First up is Khorne
[Khorne's Troops]--Bloodletters - These guys are your Khorne troops and wow, are they mean. I have got to say I love these guys, not only do the minis look great, but the units play very well. Bloodletters have an astounding stat line, not to mention the fact that they all carry power weapons and have furious charge. Basically, this unit wants the charge more than anything. They'll hit any squad with 3 power weapon, Strength 5, initiative 5 hits per model. Essentially Bloodletters will tear through any unit you throw them into and will eat scores of Marines for breakfast. They will undoubtedly be your elite troop killers and are fa nominal at tearing through Terminiators, although be wary of those 3+ invuln saves. Unfortunately they are a very fragile unit as well. With only a 5+ save shooting will tear them to shreds before they even get close. For this reason you want to deepstrike them either near to or in cover and keep them behind or in cover until you can cross the gap and get the charge.
[Khorne's Elites]--Bloodcrushers - These guys are Bloodletters 2.0, hell, they're Bloodletters 5.0. If you can afford these models, which is no small feat, they are simply amazing. They have superior toughness, more attacks, more wounds, and even an armor save of 3+. You don't need to be careful with these guys, if you have enough of them just throw them into your opponents face. They will absorb a surprising amount of fire and still pack a punch. These guys want the charge just as much as bloodletters, but the fact that they are much hardier and already have 3 attacks base makes them a much less fragile unit. Basically, as I said, you can just throw this unit in front of your opponents face and they either deal with them or die.
[Khorne's Fast Attack]--Flesh Hounds - To be honest, I have not exactly used these guys and they don't look that good on paper. Essentially they're a Chaos Space Marine with a 5+ save, albeit they do have a 12'' assault range. If I were to use them, I would use them in squads of 10 with the Karanak upgrade model (So that they get Move Through Cover). Then you stalk them from cover to cover until you can bound out and take the charge. They probly won't do a whole lot of damage to highly armored units, but they could definitely take on light infantry or swamp single models in attacks. The problem is that unit would total at around 185 points and basically there is no situation (at least very few) that I would want a unit of Flesh Hounds assaulting rather than a unit of Bloodletters. Bloodletters are just plain better overall, and also count as troops, which is definitely important in 5th edition.
[Khorne's HQ]--Bloodthirster - This is the big bad Greater Daemon of Khorne. As far as Greater Daemons go he is decent, albeit spendy points wise. The trouble is he can still go down very quickly, and when opponents see a huge winged beast on the table they're going to throw every big weapon they have at him. If you do manage to keep him alive I wouldn't just throw him blindly against your enemies HQ model and unit, the Bloodthirster just doesn't have that kind of staying power. He is better used for cracking open tanks or annihilating small squads. Chaos Daemons are what I like to call "Anti-Tank Challanged". IE, they have very little in the ways of taking out heavy armor, so the Bloodthirster is a great way of doing that. As for upgrades, I really don't see any viable options except for the additional strength and only if you can spare the points. The reason being not that you need the better chance to wound, the bloodthirster is almost always going to wound on 2+s, however a jump from Str 7 to Str 8 is huge. Now you're instant killing a lot of HQ or multiwound models, even Space Marine captains or Chapter Masters. *Edit: Another potentially good upgrade for this character is Blessing of the Blood God, which gives him a 2+ save against force attacks. You'll probly never encounter this, however with the rise of Tyranids and their new codex you certainly will encounter Zoanthropes. The 2+ save will definitely keep their Str 10 AP 2 attack off your back.
Khorne Special Characters
Skarbrand, The Exiled One - I have never used this special character, but as far his stats go, he is essentially the same as a Bloodthirster (He has fleet instead of winged flight, so a little less maneuverable), but he does have quite an interesting special rule making any model within 24'' reroll all failed attacks. I am not sure how well this plays out, but considering the majority of Chaos Daemons are close combat oriented this definitely comes out to your advantage. One combo I have heard of is combining Skarbrand with a Slaanesh army. The fact that Slaanesh units have a staggering amount of attacks makes them prime candidates for this little "trick"
Skull Taker - This special character is quite the unit. He is Super Bloodletter in every sense of the word and is essential to a Khorne based army. He is the ultimate character killer, rending with instant death on a 4+. You can also give him a Juggernaut and attach him to a unit of Bloodcrushers (this is exactly how I run him) and this unit is, as my friend says "Rude". He will definitely tear up anything you throw him at. I recommend using Skulltaker and his unit of Bloodcrushers to go after your opponents HQ unit. Its sturdy and killy with a badass character killer in it. Everything you need.
[Nurgle's Troops]--Plaguebearers - Another one of my favorite units that I can rarely write an army list without, these guys are the bread and butter of any daemon army. Basically Plaguebearers are your "landing pads". With a toughness of 5, Feel No Pain, and a 5+ invuln save it takes an extraordinary amount of fire power to bring down a unit of 10. This unit will undoubtedly be your objective holder, just deepstrike them into or near terrain and have the shamble over and squat on your home base objective. They won't be going anywhere anytime soon. As far as close combat goes, they're not exactly stalwart, but they can still get the job done. Don't expect them to win out on any of your opponents tougher units though, they always strike last and have a measly 1 attack base, (They'll probly also never get the charge) so don't expect them to win you many close combats. The way I run Plaguebearers is I usually take two units of 10 with an Icon in each. When I split up my army for Daemonic Assault, I put one in one group and one in the other. That way I for sure have an Icon in one wave. Despite the fact that Plaguebearers aren't going to slaughter your enemy, they are still extremely important as they hold objectives and allow your other units to come down on target.
[Nurgle's Troops]--Nurglings - These cute little buggers are actually an interesting unit and have certainly won me some games (oddly). As far as Swarms go, I would venture to say they're the best swarms in the game. They come with a 5+ invuln save and they are immune to instant death. Talk about a tar pit! Nurglings probly won't do much other than stall units or potentially take down light infantry, but I've used them for more important tasks. In about 5 games (all with different people) I've ran a unit of 7 of them and plopped them down in front of a command squad's transport (For example, a Land Raider) and much to my surprise the opponents actually disembarked and charged them. The whole unit of Nurglings was about 100 points going up against a 300+ point command squad unit. Of course the Nurglings were slaughtered, but the great thing was the command squad was now out in the open. With Flamers still to come in, and two soul grinders on the table, I made short work of the command squad and dealt some serious wounds to the HQ model. In short, Nurglings make great distractions, people just really want to kill them and I don't know why, but hey, I can't complain.
[Nurgle's Elites]--Beasts of Nurgle - I've never used these models, and frankly, there is a reason for that. They're simply not very good. At 35 points a pop, they're big, slow, and very fragile. Even though they have T5 and FNP your opponent is probly going to blast them down before they can do much and they strike last with a random amount of attacks in close combat. Like I said, I haven't used them, but I can't imagine them taking down a whole lot on their own, maybe some light infantry, or swamping some single models in attacks, but overall they're the worst of the Elite choice for Chaos Daemons and I don't think I would ever want a unit of these over say Bloodcrushers or Flamers. If you're running an entire Nurgle army with Epidemius I could see taking a few of them then, but I personally would still rather have either more Plaguebearers or Nurglings.
[Nurgle's HQ]--Great Unclean One - These guys are big, smelly, bubbly, and gross. Everything that embodies Nurgle and they no doubt do. As far as their points cost goes, they're incredibly cheap and incredibly tough. The unfortunate bit is that they're super slow, so getting them into the battle is somewhat tough, but at the same token, since they're so tough you can literally deepstrike them inches away from your enemy and either weather the charge or get a charge of next turn. The only upgrade I would give this model is Cloud of Flies which makes him much better in close combat. Because he is probly going to be charged, having defensive grenades greatly improves his odds of surviving and striking back.
Nurgle Special Characters
Epidemius - If you're running a straight up Nurgle List, you must have this special character. His tally can turn your basic troops into some of the toughest, most badass units on the table, and if you're running a horde of them, it makes them even better. The idea with Epidemius is to take a lot of Plaguebearers or Nurglings (which benefit most from the Tally) and then some heavy hitters to rack up the tally. Ideally you want two or three Daemon Princes of Nurgle and run them into small squads to annihilate them, bumping up the tally. The trouble is, Epidemius is essentially the head of this very nasty snake, and people will figure this out and attempt to cut off your source of power at the source. For this I usually stick Epidemius in a squad of Plaguebearers all his own and stick him in terrain far, far away. If your opponent has Outflankers or units that can get across the board quickly, you may want to leave some extra defense. The key to playing this character and this army in general is to protect Epidemius, and also use your heavy hitters to rack up the tally. Once your Plaguebearers or Nurglings are wounding on 2+s, with Power Weapons, and FNP on a 3+ your opponent will have an extremely difficult time dealing with you.
Ku'Gath, The Plaguefather - This Great Unclean One special character is to my opinion not very good in the least. He's a little tougher that normal Great Unclean Ones, but at nearly twice the cost. The only special ability he gets is a blast template. Despite the low AP value of the attack, it is still poisoned so you're only going to be wounding on 4+s anyway. Granted they're re-rollable 4+'s, the fact remains that this character is not very likely to make up his points and you could take an additional 20 Plaguebearers or a horde of Nurglings for his points. Generally speaking, he could be fun, and not a terrible choice in friendly games, but all in all there are just things I would rather take in a Nurgle list than him.
Tzeentch's Troops--Pink Horrors - Horrors are the Troop choice for the Tzeentch side of the army and as such they are insanely shooty. Essentially, the only form of shooting you're going to get in a Chaos Daemon army comes from Tzeentch units. Pink Horrors are a fairly solid choice, if a little on the spendy side at 17 points a model. Their stat line is a little weak with essentially a 3 or lower on all stats. Despite their lack of stats, they are a particularly hardy unit with a 4+ invulnerable save. Also, you never need to hide these guys in cover for a better save. The shooty attack this unit gets is pretty dang good at assault 3, Str 4, AP 4. Granted they are whiffing half their shots, on a normal stat line unit (like Marines for example) you're gonna average anywhere from 7 to 9 wounds. The whole idea behind Pink Horrors is to swamp your enemy in saves, and with an 18'' range you'll be able to avoid getting assaulted fairly well. I find that Pink Horrors work best at taking down medium infantry, such as Genestealers or Tau. Essentially anything with a 4 up save is going to feel the pain of this unit right away, and I specifically take them for dealing with Tyranids. On more than one occasion I have had this unit wipe whole units of Genestealers. Because this unit is Tzeentch, they're about as good as Tau in close combat, so needless to say, you want these guys to avoid CC at all costs. Sometimes however a large enough unit of them can stave off an enemy HQ model or Monstrous Creature for example; They can do this because generally those models only have 4 to 5 attacks, they'll whiff probly 2 or 3 and then get maybe 2 wounds, of which statistically only one horrors will die. You can just swamp them in CC until you can move something bigger and better in to take care of the enemy model. Icons of Chaos in this unit are also supported fairly well, as said before all things considered they are a surprisingly sturdy unit with that 4+ invulnerable save. Plaguebearers and Pink Horrors are the only Troop choice I would stick with an Icon.
Tzeentch's Elites--Flamers of Tzeentch - The Elite choice for Tzeentch is a must for any army. At 35 points a pop, they can be spendy and overall the unit is probly the most fragile unit in the army as they don't sport high numbers to take a large amount of shots and whether they make they're save or not could essentially be done with a coin flip, but they're so worth it. This unit gets a particularly nasty breath weapon attack which ignores cover and armor saves, auto wounds on a 4+ and auto glances on a 4+. These are marine killers for sure. Typically I think most people deepstrike these guys close to home base and then use their jump 12'' movement to close in for the kill on one turn, and this is certainly a solid tactic; one to certainly live by during kill points games, but for me I find these guys pay off if you go big or go home. Frequently I deepstrike them mere inches from enemy units, such as a Space Marine firing base or a mob of Tau Firewarriors. I actually rarely mishap them and usually they end up performing amicably. You want these guys to go after heavily armed infantry or command squads. You want to run these units in groups of 3 and no more, otherwise its a waste as they probly won't live much longer than a turn or two and no matter how you have these guys in formation on their deepstrike, you can only ever get 3 templates out.
Tzeentch's Fast Attac--Screamers of Tzeentch - This is probably the only unit in the Chaos Daemon codex that is designed to rip apart tanks, and rip them apart it does. Each model is armed with Warp Jaws (Melta Bombs) and if you run them in small to medium sized groups, they can be quite the threat on the board. They are also treated like Jetbikes, so they have fantastic movement capabilities and should probly be played much like they are in Fantasy. Use them to quickly get behind enemy lines and harass the enemy. You can also Turbo Boost them giving them a 3+ save, but keep in mind that if you're running them in small groups (like batches of 3) that it still won't take that much fire to bring them down. When running these I usually try to keep them out of range of the units that can place large amounts of fire on them and swamp them in saves. If your opponent is left with just pinging them with high strength weapons then a lot of them will survive and make their mark on the enemy tanks. They also can make great distractions. There is something about having a unit just shoved right in front of your face that really messes with people and most players will utilize a lot of firepower to bring down whatever is close. This works in your advantage two ways: If they do opt to shoot them down, a lot of their fire is going away from the bulk of your army and away from your more fragile units. If they leave them alone, then any tanks that they have are likely to not survive long, these units can tear down Landraiders with ease, so nothing is really out of league for them. There is one major exception though. Keep them away from Walkers. You may think "Oh its a vehicle" but remember that when attacking with grenades against walkers you always need a 6 to land that attack. The odds are simply not in your favor.
Tzeentch's HQ--Lord of Change - The Tzeentch Greater Daemon is, as you suspect mainly shooty based, but does have some good stat lines to keep it alive in close combat. However it only has 2 attacks, so the while it might survive CC, it certainly won't win against anything but the weaker troop choices against your enemy. The 3+ invulnerable save is rather nice, but it is of my opinion that shooting in Warhammer is largely ineffective (on a singular model basis, whole squads can of course do well) and that is why most HQ characters are kitted out for the assault phase. The majority of games (unless you're against Tau....) end up with both sides locked in close combat and the only true advantage to shooting is to soften up enemy units, or take down their armored vehicles. With this in mind, I don't recommend the Lord of Change unless you are running a purely Tzeentch army and need an HQ. To kit them out properly, they can get pretty expensive and I highly doubt that a Lord of Change will make up the points you spend on them.
Tzeentch Special Characters
The Changeling - There really isn't much to say here, he is an upgrade model for your basic Pink Horrors. His ability will probably NEVER work, but there is that chance, and since he's only 5 points, I don't see a point in ever not taking him, unless you desperately need that 5 points somewhere else.
The Blue Scribes - I have honestly never used this unit and the reason being, they kind of suck. They are simply too expensive of a unit and they're highly random nature makes them not worth it in my book. They also don't have much staying power and can be taken down with ease.
Fateweaver, The Oracle of Tzeentch - I really like this special character fluff wise, and in friendly games he isn't that bad, but he is simply too expensive point wise for what he does. He essentially is everything a good Lord of Change is, but his entire stat line gets a bump down and if he takes a wound you may lose him all together. His rerollable cover and invuln saves is really nice, and I would probly use him in a massive Tzeentch army with lots of horrors and flamers to utilize the invuln save reroll, but again, he is 333 points and that frankly is just too expensive.
Slaanesh's Troops--Daemonettes - The Slaanesh troop choice is fairly good, but definitely the most fragile of the troop choices. With only T3 and a 5+ save they will definitely drop lie flies. Luckily they have Fleet, which makes them much faster at getting into Close Combat where they are probably the most well rounded CC units in the codex. They sport a lot of attacks, offensive and defensive grenades, and rending. Basically, they have enough attacks to take compete with large hordes of enemies, and the rending ability to even take down armored units. I wouldn't run them into anything stronger than Space Marines however, simply because they really need to ruin the enemies numbers on the charge and then mop up in the next round. If they get locked in combat, you will probly take heavy losses and maybe even lose the combat.
Slaanesh's Elites--Fiends of Slaanesh - Arguably the best Elite choice in the codex, Fiends of Slaanesh are pretty nasty, however again, they are relatively fragile and certainly don't have the staying power that Bloodcrushers do. At T4 and S5 with a handful of attacks and rending, these guys can be quite the problem, and in units of 6 they will seriously ruin whatever they charge into, and trust me, you'll get the charge. Fiends count as cavalry, meaning they have 6'' movement D6 fleet, and then a 12'' assault. They can certainly fly across the board with surprising speed and get into the units your opponent is defending in their backfield with ease. Unfortunately, like Bloodcrushers, Fiends are very expensive and its difficult to field full, and multiple units of them.
Slaanesh's Fast Attack--Seekers of Slaanesh - On paper, this unit seems very good, and I would certainly take them over Daemonettes. Unfortunately I have not used this unit yet (Luckily they come out soon), but they're essentially a faster version of the Daemonettes (duh) with more attacks. With the range of the Fiends at half the point cost, Seekers can be a good alternative to getting into your opponents backfield quickly and dealing some serious damage. Keep in mind however that Seekers are just as fragile as Daemonettes, so drop them behind cover or out of LOS, and then lurk them until you can get the charge, which if you're getting them mid game, your opponents units should be mid way up the table and you should get the charge the next turn.
Slaanesh's HQ--Keeper of Secrets - The Slaanesh Greater Daemon is probly my favorite, and I personally think the best Greater Daemon in the army. They're super fast, have high toughness, a crap load of attacks (I think 7 or 8 on the charge) defensive and offensive grenades, and an Initiative of 10, so he's ALWAYS going first. With the insane amount of attacks, he can slaughter whole combat squads, or mash down your opponents HQ models in one turn. Since he has Fleet and Hit and Run, you'll be able to crash into enemy units, kill large amounts of the squad, and then ditch the combat and charge into another, leaving your backfield units to mob up the survivors. I think any army containing Slaanesh could easily run two of these Daemons and your opponent would have a significantly difficult time dealing with this super fast, tough, and killy HQ choice.
Slaanesh Special Characters
The Masque - The only Slaanesh special character in the army is somewhat hit or miss. Running her in an army with 3 Soul Grinders all with Phlegm, some Flamers of Tzeentch and perhaps some slower, hard hitting units needing that extra D6 to get the charge would ideally be best, BUT the Masque CANNOT join any unit. So she will not survive turn one, and with only T3, a 3+ save, and 2 wounds, she will be boltered down with ease. Ideally you want her mid game when all your template attacking units on are on the board and you can grab (hopefully) 3 units, lash them together, and then blast them to bits with Str 8 and AP 3. I personally do not like fielding this unit because she is an expensive ~100 points for something that is only going to last 1 turn. I just don't think her ability is worth the point cost. If she could join a unit of Daemonettes, she would definitely be amazing.
Oddballs Heralds - I'm not going to talk about each individual Herald, but just all of them as a whole. I personally don't ever run them, but if you're looking for a super cheap HQ then this is about as cheap as it gets. They do get one unique ability in the sense that they are only "half" an HQ slot, so you can run 4 potentially. I haven't tried out very many builds, but the most competitive seems to be a Herald of Khorne on a Juggernaut. The other Heralds just don't seem like they would do very much, and in all honesty, there is no reason not to want to take a Greater Daemon.
A note that I gathered from Zeruel13 (If I may be so bold as to use your idea Z) is that a good Herald build is as follows.
Herald of Tzeentch - 110 Chariot of Tzeentch Bolt of Tzeentch We are Legion Mastery of Sorcery
Another good Herald that I have recently started using for my Nurgle based lists is a Herald of Nurgle with Coud of Flies, Aura of Decay, and Breath of Chaos. This guy provides some much needed charge protection to any unit of Plaguebearers by adding Defensive Grenades. Secondly Aura of Decay is actually a relatively good weapon. Being able to be used in CC it can take down lightly armored units well enough and even space marines from time to time. Keep in mind as well that Epidemius' Tally also applies to this special attack, so if you end up getting the tally maxed, this attack will wound on 2's and ignore armor saves! Talk about a field sweeper.
For very few points you have a pretty tough 5 wound HQ unit that could certainly deal out some damage. A funny idea would be to take 4 of them (if you wanted).
Furies - They're awful. Don't ever field them. Ever. They're basically horrible Space Marines in CC, without a 3+ save. It would have been nice if GW had at least made these units remotely good, but I cannot ever find a reason for fielding them, not when there are so many other, much better choices.
Soul Grinders - Looking to scare your opponent? Do you want something that absorbs massive amounts of fire and shrugs it off? Then buy Soulgrinders! With an Armor Value of 13, this Walker is laughing at most anti-tank weaponry, not to mention he ignores 1 and 2 results (1/3rd of the vehicle damage chart). Basically, this unit is a stable for any Daemon list. They give you some much needed shooting support as well as some pretty nasty close combat power. They even have fleet for when they don't wanna shoot and simply charge down units. They are great for cracking open tanks. One disclaimer is, they only have a BS of 3, so don't upgrade to the Tongue weapon. Sure it looks good, but its 25 points for an ability that will miss half the time. Soul Grinders also are relatively cheap, at only 160 points for them with the Phlegm upgrade it is easy to field 1, or 2... Or maybe even 3.
Daemon Princes - The Chaos Daemon princes are essentially "lesser" Greater Daemons, but can be upgraded to be fairly comparable to a Greater Daemon. Ideally you want Wings and Iron Hide for these guys because you want them to get into close combat quickly, and survive long enough to get there. Without Iron Hide they can be quickly shot down and nobody wants to see that. Well.. Except for your opponent.. As far as the other upgrades go, I could say what I think is the best Mark, and the best things to add on, but most people just go ahead and place the mark on them for whatever army they are fielding. Since it is important though, I will list my favorite Daemon Prince build.
Daemon Prince - Wings Iron Hide Mark of Nurgle Cloud of Flies Noxious Touch
This is one bad dude. He's fast, tough to kill, and wounds a rerollable 2+, and with a high WS, he's probly going to be hitting on 3s as well. Like I said, you can kit Daemon Princes out whichever way you want, but I find that shooty princes suck, and princes without wings or hide will either be shot to death or get nowhere.
Well, that is the breakdown on all the units in the army, I will next start focusing on general tactics and good list making tips, because building lists for Daemons is a little different than building lists for other armies.
Good list building stems from knowing how your army performs and good forethought. I am not going to teach anyone how to build a list tailored to a specific army. A monkey can do that, and personally its no fun to play against people who do that. A good army list is something that can handle anything you throw at it. With that in mind, when I sit down to write a list I generally am thinking of 5 things. 1. How will I handle enemy vehicles? 2. How will I handle enemy Troops (or large mobs of units)? 3. How will I handle enemy Heavy Infantry (Space Marines, HQ Units, etc) 4. How will I take and hold the objectives? 5. Redundancy.
In Warhammer 40k, Redundancy is extremely important, and it couldn't be more important than with Daemons. If you lose your only anti-tank squad, how will you handle 2 Land Raiders or 3 Baal Predators? Due to the inherit randomness in Chaos Daemons and their fragile nature it behooves us to sometimes kick the redundancy meter up a notch and take back ups for our back ups.
Another important tactic worth mentioning is NEVER choose your two Daemonic Waves prior to entering the battle! It is natural to choose which will be your first and second waves while you're making the list (I know I did at first), but it severely hinders you. A great advantage of Daemons is that we get to do this, we get to decide what we want on the board after we see what the enemy's list is. This allows us to make tactical decisions on the fly and keep units that might otherwise be decimated in reserve until the coast is clear.
I am going to go through my list building process for a particular list I recently brought to a Tournament and did fairly well in. Its not the list itself that I want to show, it mainly is why I am taking certain units and what role they fill in the army. So, here goes nothing, but first a small clarification of my notation.
Unit Name [#of models] - Point Cost Upgrades
This will become more clear when I actually get into building the list.
First off, I like to think about how I am going to get my units to the board. Sure, we deepstrike, but sometimes that be wildly inaccurate. One of the first things I almost always write when making a list is:
Plaguebearers  - 175 Icon of Chaos
Plaguebearers  - 175 Icon of Chaos
Here I have two strong units of decent unit size and Icons so I can eventually land more units down without scattering. The Plaguebearers essentially fill two roles for the list, the first being a solid Troop choice that will stubbornly stick to any objective you throw them on, the second being landing pads for my future units. Notice I am taking two and not just one, this is for a couple of reasons. The first, it is nice to have two strong troop choices for those pesky multi-objective games, and the second is now when I split my army into two waves, I can essentially always have an Icon coming in. This is the only exception to pre-determining what units go in what waves that I have found. I always put one unit of Plaguebearers in the first wave, and the other unit in the second wave.
The next thing I need to think about is enemy Troops and Heavy Infantry. For this, I definitely like Bloodletters. They're cheap and when they get the charge, they butcher the enemy ranks, so i am going to throw in two squads of Bloodletters.
Bloodletters  - 160
Bloodletters  - 160
Well, now I certainly have some solid units that are not only troop choices themselves, bu nasty in close combat, but these units really aren't meant for dealing with horde types. If they get bogged down in combat they can drop very quickly, so I am going to add another unit.
Pink Horrors  - 175 Changeling
Another solid Troop choice, this unit can hold objectives almost just as well as Plaguebearers can, and they have an 18'' range of alarming fire that will make anything think twice about coming too close. With their assault 3, Str 4, AP 4 shooting attack, Pink Horrors can really dole out the damage to Orks or Tyranids, and this is the sole reason that I bring them.
Now I think I am done adding Troop choices in, I have a rather diverse selection so far, something sturdy, something killy, and something somewhere in between. I am going to now move on to the Elites.
While I have some Heavy Infantry killers already, Bloodletters are very fragile and can die very quickly, especially if they scatter wrong. I need something a little sturdier, not to mention there are A LOT of space marine players out there, so I usually go a little heavier on the Heavy Infantry killers. Bloodcrushers seem like a good choice.
Bloodcrushers  - 160
I could give this unit a Chaos Icon, but I already have 50 points invested in those, so I rarely like to get too many points invested in them. The bloodcrushers will be able to handle Heavy Infantry with ease, and even some lightly armored tanks as well (Str 6 on the charge is nothing to snuff at). They can also hold their own against a horde, but I would not like the idea of this unit being bogged down in combat for a few turns.
The Elite choices for Chaos Daemons are simply amazing, so I'm going to take a few more. Hmm.. Flamers seem like a good choice. They're anti-Heavy Infantry, somewhat anti-tank, and can even dish out some damage with Warpfire to small lightly armored units.
Flamers  - 105
Flamers  - 105
I like to take two of these units simply because they are fantastic at dealing with almost anything, but they are insanely fragile, and I typically deepstrike them closer to the enemy than I should, so mishapping is definitely possible.
So far I've got good sturdy Troops, some very good methods of dealing with Heavy Infantry and back ups for them as well, and some okay methods of dealing with Hordes, but I am distinctly missing some Anti-Tank. Onto Heavy Support! For this, nothing says "I eat you for breakfast" more than a Soulgrinder, so I'm going to add two of those.
Soulgrinder - 160 Phlegm
Soulgrinder - 160 Phlegm
With their Harvester guns and Str 8 AP 3 Template this unit can deal with hordes and Heavy Infantry as well as dealing with tanks. The template is unfortunately unreliable for dealing with vehicles, however Soulgrinders are incredibly versatile in the fact that they have Fleet. I can have them deepstrike onto the table, shoot down some hordes or some Marines that the enemy hasn't gotten into cover yet, and then fleet and charge some vehicles the next turn. I could add a Daemon Prince to this list for some further power, but I have yet to add an HQ model, and I think its about time I start looking into that (points could be getting thin!)
So, lets look at some HQs. The Keeper of Secrets is probably the best one, but I don't have any Slaanesh in this army, taking a Keeper would seem kind of cheesy to me. Another great option and definitely sturdier is a Bloodthirster.
Bloodthirster - 275 Unholy Might Blessing of the Blood God
This guy will crack open any tanks he sets his axe to. Notice I give him the Unholy Might so that I can potentially instant kill T4 models. It is definitely helpful to one shot Space Marine Captains or Chaos Terminator Lords. I also give him Blessing of the Blood God because Tyranids are fairly common, and I think its worth the 5 points to get a 2+ save from their Str 10 AP 1 shot. I am also going to add in another HQ model solely for seeking out and destroying independent characters, not to mention he goes very well with my Bloodcrushers.
Skulltaker - 175 Juggernaut.
So now we're probly somewhere around 2,000 points, and I think we've satisfied all the 5 requirements. Lets look at the list as a whole and what units fulfill what roles.
Troops Plaguebearers  - 175 Icon of Chaos Roles Fulfilled: Troops/Objective Takers, Landing Platforms for other units.
Plaguebearers  - 175 Icon of Chaos Roles Fulfilled: Troops/Objective Holders, Landing Platforms for other units.
Bloodletters  - 160 Roles Fulfilled: Good Objective Takers, Anti-Heavy Infantry, Somewhat good against Hordes.
Bloodletters  - 160 Roles Fulfilled: Good Objective Takers, Anti-Heavy Infantry, Somewhat good against Hordes.
As you can see I have covered all of the 4 main points, by having Objective Holders and takers, Anti-Heavy Infantry, Anti- Tank, and Anti-Horde. Not only does this list meet all the requirements there are several units that are redundancies for each role fulfillment so I will never be without a particular unit type on the field.
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:14 pm Posts: 413 Location: Inside your mind
Never forget this:
Sun Tzu wrote:
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
EDIT oops, just realised this is threadcromnacy lol
_________________ Blue, you're like the Higgs-Boson particle: you work in mysterious ways. -Airman ┌─┐ ┴─┴ Evnen' Guvna! ಠ_ರೃ
Technically its not thread necromancy if the topic is stickied, which this one is
I fully encourage people to talk, debate, even tell me I'm plain wrong on stuff so that this entire thread can grow into a cohesive tactica. If it only has my opinion, well that is somewhat limited, but if more people are giving their experiences with particular units, giving advice, or tidbits of tactics they've picked up, then the whole thing takes on a whole new dimension.