40K: Daemons Ascendant?
Howdy doodly, doo neighbors, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to talk about a recent trend in 40K: Tzeentch Daemons stomping everyone’s face in!
A lot of folks are talking about the recent events at the Feast of Blades tournament held in Colorado this past weekend. First of all, a big shout to Chandler and the Feast of Blades crew for running what I have heard was a great event by all who went. Unfortunately no one from Team Zero Comp was able to attend this year for family and financial reasons (as I am sure most of you reading this can relate to), but we plan on going next year.
Besides being a fun event with a ton of gamers in attendance, what was interesting about it? Daemons won (Congratz, Whigwam!). Not only did they win, they took a lot of the top spots, and were on the top table almost every single round.
This is interesting because the Brawl in the Fall RTT held last month was also won by Daemons (and the other Daemon player there placed very well). A friend of mine in Ireland (Hey Paul!) also related to me that a recent 40 player, 2 day GT there was won quite soundly by Daemons. The Midwest Massacre in September was also won by Daemons.
Interesting, isn’t it? What did all of these armies have in common? Most of you already know the answer: Tzeentch Daemons, and lots of them.
So what is so hot about the Tzeentch Daemons? In the White Dwarf update Flamers went down a ton in points, gained a wound and their invul save went down to a 5++. With the changes to template weapons in 6th, they are utterly brutal. Assaulting them is a joke for most units as they average 1 wound per model, and that wound ignores cover and armor saves. That means assaulting a 9 man unit of Flamers is pretty much suicide for your average unit.
Screamers also gained a wound, are Jetbikes and got just nasty in assault, with 3 strength 5, ap2 attacks each with the Armor Bane rule. Plus they have a sweep attack which is very powerful, and as they can turbo-boost the turn they come in, there is little to nothing you can do to stop it.
The issue is that the BRB defines Daemons as ONLY having a 5++ and causing Fear. Nowhere does it state that they are Eternal Warrior or Fearless. The Daemon units in the Daemon codex, however, have those rules. I have been predicting for a while that Daemons will lose EW and Fearless in their new book (rumored to come out in January). I for one think this is a good thing as an entire army that ignores so many core rules of the game really is a bit much. When you factor in the loss of those rules, the points cost of the Flamers and Screamers really isn’t so crazy.
However, the rules don’t indicate that at this point in time that they wouldn’t benefit from their Codex wide rules and so they now have EW and Fearless. It makes these units incredibly powerful. You further add in the fact that units like the Masque (or anyone with Pavane) can clump units up to make them even more susceptible to Flamers, Fateweaver to give them rerolls on their saves, and a Skyshield or Comms Relay to influence Deep Striking and reserve rolls, and you have a brutal combination of units. Plague Bearers are one of the best objective camping units in the game, and cheap, so you have plenty of points to dedicate to those offensive units. When you also consider the fact that you can’t reserve your army fully anymore, and the trend towards more and more infantry heavy armies, Daemons are hitting a zenith in their power.
The fact is, the average army is going to have an extremely tough go against lists using these units, and to further exacerbate the issue, most players are not familiar with playing Daemons. What this adds up to is the first encounter with a tooled Tzeentch heavy Daemon list at this point in time is a severe butt kicking! Feast of Blades also used a Battle Point format day 1 with a lot of Kill Point focused missions, which favors armies that can really just crush their opponents. Daemons do that well. That in all likelihood has a lot to do with the why so many Daemon players were in the finals day 2.
So what to make of all this? Should we all overreact and run around wildly in circles, claiming that the sky is falling?
No, of course not. This is the latest hot thing in 40K, and while it is extremely good right now, possibly even OP, it is not unbeatable. Flamers suck in combat, it’s just getting there that is tough. If you have throw away units to absorb their overwatch, you can then beat their bottoms with dang near anything. You can more importantly keep them tied up in combat where they’re not blow torching your army. Screamers are tougher as they pack a wallop in combat, but as with Flamers, small arms fire will take them down. Their speed is difficult to deal with, but screening and model positioning to deny them movement lanes where possible is a sound tactic. Fateweaver is a serious PITA. To me he is easily the most annoying unit in the game, but he is vulnerable to going poof with bad dice. As with any FMC, you focus on dropping him out of the sky with throw away shooting hoping to ground him. Once he hits the deck, he is a weakling in assault and you can keep him tied up all game with 5 Scouts, I’ve done it more than once!
Plague Bearers are tough, but not unkillable. Focus on taking them down and in most missions, you take away their ability to win.
Deployment is also hugely important when playing against any Deep Striking army. With an army like these Daemon lists, if you have some throw away units, or units that are less valuable to you such as Transports, you can form a wall around your army to protect you from the Flamers and make it difficult for Screamers to use their sweep attacks. You then counter the Daemons in your turn, focus firing one unit down at a time. It is no easy task to be sure, but with smart tactics, this army (like any) can be beaten.
At Feast of Blades, the runner up Daemon player was beaten quite soundly by an Ork/Cron player who had Hordes of Orks, Cron Wraiths and Flyers and knowledge of how to play Daemons. I think that these Daemon lists while tough, will struggle with Flyers, Eldar/Dark Eldar combos (Doom and Poison is just brutal) and with Nids, who have the bodies and board control to counter them, and throw a lot of dice which is what takes these guys down. Horde IG will also do the job quite well, IMO, and any army can pull it off when played well, it just may be more challenging than for others.
So get some practice games in against Daemons with your buddies, even if only in proxy, and be prepared for yet one more list you need to be prepared for at your next event!