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40K: Chaos Daemons: Comprehensive Overview

11 Minute Read
Feb 27 2018
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Enjoy a comprehensive Tactics review of the 4 Chaos gods and what their minions can bring to the table!

CaptainA here to talk Daemons. From the warp comes your worst nightmares. Beings whose only desire is to consume, gain power, shed blood, or cause pain flood through the slim rift that separates the world of man from the world of the Daemon. The four Chaos gods look on in delight at the havoc their minions wreak, each devoted to their own branded form of chaos, each devoted to reigning supreme amongst all the gods. The Daemons are here and they are hungry.

Chaos Gods Overview


The Lord of Decay. Nurgle focuses on a few things. First and foremost is being resilient. They not only have a invulnerable save able to be taken against most forms of damage, but also have the rule Disgustingly Resilient, referred to by anyone playing for any length of time as Feel No Pain, its old namesake, allowing Nurgle units a chance to shrug off damage even the most hearty units unable to withstand.


Second they focus on increasing close combat damage output. They have many ways to increase the amount of damage they do in combat with their loci, psychic powers,  and characters, this gives them a chance to increase their damage output in extreme ways. Even the simple Plaguebearer can put out 5 damage on one swing if the stars align.

The last thing that Nurgle focuses on is Mortal Wound generation. They have many ways to bring about causing Mortal Wounds and this slow seep of damage can easily overtake an enemy out over time.



Hungry for power! Tzeentch focuses a lot on randomness. With their higher invulnerable saves, a hot turn can leave your opponent very frustrated by not having caused any damage. Their locus also allows a random chance to negate attack rolls in close combat, which may just be the thing that could save an otherwise doomed unit.

Tzeentch also has a focus way more than most on shooting. Pink Horrors have a great basic shot with their Coruscating Flames shooting power, replacing the Flickering Flames of the past. It is an 18” Assault 2 (that goes to 3 when more than 20 Horrors) shot that uses the strength of the user as the basis for its strength. This is key as there are many ways on increase that with characters and psychic powers. Most every unit has a way to shoot with one of my favorite being the Flamer. It puts out a 12” pistol flamer that is again strength user but is also -1 AP and auto hits it target. Great for deep-striking and clearing out chaff or other pesky units when each model shoots D6 times.


Another focus of Tzeentch without a doubt is in the psychic realm. When put in the right place, psykers of Tzeentch can put out some scary powers that can damage the opponent. Flickering Flames is a key power for Horrors or Flamers giving them +1 to wound which is very powerful. My personal favorite is Gaze of Fate, which gives you a reroll of any die later during your turn. A free CP per turn! You also have ways via CP of casting even more powers if you want to.



More blood! Khorne focuses on carnage and laying waste to any opponent in the assault phases. With many sporting high AP weapons and always getting bonuses to attacks and strength on the charge or if they are charged, Khorne delights in bloodshed….through volume.

Another great thing Khorne focuses on is shutting down the psychic phase. They have many ways to deny powers, such as each Flesh Hound unit being able to make a deny test, and the formidable Karanak who for 70 points can deny two psychic powers a turn!



Delightful agonies. Slaanesh focuses on speed. With the ability to advance and charge with every unit 6” from a character in a mono-Slaanesh detachment, Slaanesh unit can fly across the field in short order and be in your opponents face by the end of turn one.

Slaanesh also focuses on the 6. 6’s typically have some extra rending ability so anyone without an invulnerable save should watch out! These monstrous creatures can tear through armor in short order.


Lastly, Slaanesh focuses on debuffing your opponent. They have many powers and abilities that reduce the attacks, to hit, and damage output of their enemies. Slaanesh focuses on making you worse so they survive longer.

Daemons Special Rules:


Disgustingly Resilient – Nurgle units with this ablity can shrug off a wound on a 5+. Great against mortal wounds and just general damage. I’ve had many a player scratching their heads at how much a Nurgling unit can take and still keep on truckin.


Ephemeral Form – Tzeentch units have a +1 to their invulnerable save. Excellent, especially when combined with the stratagem for +1 invul save. A little luck will keep these guys going for a long time.


Unstoppable Ferocity – Khorne units get +1 attack and +1 strength when they charge, are charged, or performs a Heroic Intervention. Great for the opponent to be in a damned if they do or don’t as Khorne doesn’t care who charged!



Quicksilver Swiftness – Slaanesh units always fight first in the fight phase, even if they didn’t charge. Given the right situation, you will want to be able to maximize this so as to limit the damage they can take.

Daemons Key Strategems


The basic Daemon strategems are great. You get to deep strike any daemon for 1-2 command points based on their power level. The next one is also clutch in a daemon army giving any unit +1 to their invulnerable save for a phase. 30 Horrors with a 3++ can be very frustrating to remove. Another great one is the 2d3 mortal wounds on an enemy that failed a psychic test. Very good indeed. You also have options to summon a more powerful unit and summon twice a turn, as well as being able to resurrect a unit killed by Grey Knights. One to keep in your back pocket on a rainy day.


The Nurgle strategems key into the focus of Nurgle in limiting damage and making more damage themselves. One allows for regeneration of wounds, another allows re-rolls of 1 for Disgustingly Resilient within 6” of a character, and another activates the banner of a Plaguebearer unit, adding 1 to their damage characteristic for that phase.


Tzeentch stratagems impact the psychic phase. Their first allows a unit with an icon to have a once pregame attack on the closest visible unit, rolling 9 dice and suffering a mortal wound on 6’s. Another allows for an additional psychic power to be cast and the last allows re-rolls of casts within 6” of a character.


People have known of their main stratagem, the Banner of Blood, for some time now, giving a unit of Bloodletters with an icon a 3D6 charge once per game. Another allows rerolls of hits for any unit within 6”, and the third allows a unit to fight again. All great stratagems, albeit expensive, that impact the assault phases.



The Slaanesh strategems also impact the assault phases. You get exploding 6’s with one, -1 to hit on a unit 3” away, and the ability to reroll failed hits for a phase.

Daemons Tactics

Let’s discuss mono tactics for the Daemon Codex.


I feel Nurgle perhaps will be the best mono build of the Daemons factions. The buffs and combos present make them a formidable force in the right hands. Take a look at a recent Frankie Nurgle Daemons list.

Nurgle Battalion

  • Great Unclean One
  • Poxbriner
  • 30 x 2 Plaguebearers – Icon/Instrument
  • 3 Nurglings
  • 9 Pox Riders

Nurgle Battalion

  • Spoilpox Scrivener
  • Epidemius
  • Sloppity Bilepiper
  • 3 Nurglings
  • 2 x 4 Nurglings
  • Feculent Gnarlmaw

By the end of the game, the Pox Riders were doing at times 4 damage per attack and were being regenerated by the bell relic from the Great Unclean One. Also the unit was -2 to hit most of the game. Nurgle has some amazing buffs and combos that can leave many opponents stunned at how much damage they can take.



Tzeentch to me seems about overwhelming firepower, psychic buffs, and psychic damage output. You have some heavy hitters in the Lord of Change, but will be relying on command points to get him to a 3++ and then relying on luck ( a Tzeentch theme) to keep him in the game.

Tzeentch will require some good screening in the form of cheap Brimstone or Blue Horrors and perhaps even Flamers could provide a great screen. If you are facing an assault heavy army, then having a good unit of Flamers in front could easily keep a lot of units at bay. Pop a CP to get a 3++, then flame then when they come in. If they survive, fly out and flame them again.

Other than that, you will be relying on Exalted Flamers and Burning Chariots, probably deep striking to get into range for your heavy guns. One of the big limitations I see with all Tzeentch is they have a lot of low strength shooting, but lack a lot of quality high damage shooting.


With Khorne focusing on close combat and getting the charge off, you will certainly want a mixture of characters with their loci, instruments to give +1 charge, icons to help give a 1 in 6 of being fearless and getting back slain models, and the Banner of Blood. There is some talk that the Banner isn’t a relic and can be taken multiple times. I doubt GW is for that, but we will see.

Khorne has a lot of units that can get certainly overwhelm an enemy if the stars align. They take up a lot of CP to fully deep strike in and rely a lot on luck, but can put a ton of pressure if they get those charges off.

The Blood God has also blessed his army with a great backfield unit in the order of the Skull Cannon. It puts out a nice volley of shots at S8, -2AP, and D3 damage for 100 points. It’s a great backfield unit that can help put pressure on from a distance as your Bloodletters deep strike in to put pressure on their front.

Your heavy hitters in Skarbrand and Bloodthirsters are quite powerful in close combat, but are also quite squishy against the kinds of shooting out there nowadays. You’d likely need to either have an overwhelming presence and a maximum threat overload style list or one that deep strikes in to mitigate damage.


Slaanesh is my jam. I have a large Slaanesh goat themed army that I adores. Slaanesh is considered by many to be the weakest of the Chaos Daemons factions and I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I’d say they are the most challenging and finnicky to play, but you could have good success with them with practice. You would also probably need a table that has enough line of sight blocking terrain to make them work, which to be honest is probably the biggest detriment to playing a solely Slaanesh army.

Slaanesh has speed, their loci, and debuffs to work with so you will need to set up charges that allow you to lock a unit in combat, but doesn’t kill the unit. The goal would be to lock the unit up and kill them in the opposite players turn. Slaanesh must not be shot as they will crumble to focused fire, especially from things like bolters.

The key thing for Slaanesh, in my opinion, is going to be Herald placement for the use of their Loci to advance and charge, psychic powers to debuff the most potential threats that can damage your units, and key charge placement to tri-point and minimize damage all at the same time. Tricky but possible.

Another key art of the Slaanesh strategy in my opinion is going to be Fiends. Yes, they are expensive, but they have a power unrivaled in just about codex out there. I don’t think I can recall another unit that has the same power. Units cannot fall back from a unit of fiends unless they have the fly keyword. You aren’t going to use this with units that can tear through Fiends, but rather the chaff that surrounds the meat of their army. If you can lock that screen down and keep them from breaking, then next turn wipe them out (using stratagems like the Locus of Grace for exploding 6’s and the Rapturous Standard to re-roll hits), you will have a better chance of wiping out that screen in their turn, move forward again into the meat, and then charge again.

Again, this is tricky, but I think with the right practice and mindset you will have some tools that will upset many players into thinking they will wipe you off the field.


Armies/Situations To Watch Out For

Having played against a lot of different armies out there, here are some armies, unit types, and situations to watch out for when playing with your Chaos Daemons.



High output artillery that does not need line of sight, like the Heavy Quad Mortar (Thudd Gun) will wreck your day. They only need to get you down to an auto fail for morale and the unit is done.



These units, especially the jetbike squad and captains, are Daemon killing machines. The jetbikes a 2+ save, 4++ invul save (with some captains having a 3++), are toughness 6, and sport high attacks combined with Hurricane Bolters. They will tear through your core units and survive what you can dish out quite easily. Watch out for savvy players that put a lone captain outside next to a squad and when you charge activate the other squad to charge and go first before your chargers to wipe out that powerful unit. You will need to isolate and focus fire to take them down.



As has been stated, most daemons are pretty low in toughness and need some good terrain to stay hidden and out of sight from the enemies pew pew. If you don’t have enough terrain on the table (start asking your store or TO for more) just know you will have a hard time and an uphill battle and will probably have to use more CP’s to deep strike in key units. Good luck!


Magnus/Morty/Lords of War

These units, especially in the right hands, can cause a lot of pain for you. The Daemon codex has some things that can help, pushing out mortal wounds, Skull Cannons, Exalted Flamers, beefed up Pox Riders or Plague Drones, etc. I think Nurgle has the best tools against these, but again, will need to have certain buffs in place to be most effective. Otherwise, you are relying on 6’s for things like Slaanesh rending or Bloodletters 2 damage power swords to really bring them down. Anything that relies on luck is not the best strategy, but can certainly be fun when they go boom.


I am super excited for all the combinations available for my Daemons. It is almost like having 4 armies in one! With some strong allies and savvy play, I think Daemons have a shot at being in the top of many a tournament so give them a try.


~What do you think are some of the best combos in the book?


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Author: Pablo Martinez
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