Monday, May 28, 2012

Army Comparison: Daemons of Chaos vs. Warriors of Chaos


This Fantasy Battles Army Comparison pits the forces of the Chaos Gods against each other in a battle royale.  Each of these armies fared rather well in 7th Edition, where Daemons were widely considered one of the top tier armies.  In 8th the Daemons have fallen from the top of the pedestal but are still considered quite strong.  The Warriors have had a rougher transition to 8th Edition, as the units that were considered powerful or weak respectively are almost completely reversed.  This change took a while for players to understand, but it appears that Warriors of Chaos are also quite competitive.

Warriors of Chaos’ Advantages

The Warriors chief strength in this edition are their infantry.  The heavily armored warriors are as hard as any infantry in the game, while the Marauders may not be tough to kill, but on a point for point basis, few units in the game can match them for offensive potential.  Add into the mix the possibility of a Chosen unit that can easily be configured to become a near unstoppable deathstar, and you have some of the strongest infantry contingents available.  Unless you count throwing axes, the WoC don’t have any shooting to speak of.  They will primarily close out games in bloody close combat.

Unfortunately, there is no much to support this infantry with.  The Chaos Knights, in 7th Edition on of the most powerful units on the battlefield, are relegated to nearly unplayable thanks to Steadfast.  Being unable to break ranked infantry and costing a ton of points means that their practical applications are far and few between.  Chaos chariots are fine items, but rather expensive, nothing to be especially excited about.  Chosen are fine choices, but they basically do what the Core infantry already does, but slight better and for slightly more points.  The most compelling reason to take Chosen is crafting a deathstar, but that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

In the Rares, the Warriors have two lines.  The Hellcannon packs a huge punch and packs serious firepower.  Hellcannons do enough damage that they are usually priority number one for the opposing army.  Alternatively, you can bring Warshrines, which are essential for the Chosen, but not terribly bad with normal Warriors.  Warshrines are definitely an “all in” infantry approach, and could lead to blowout games one way or the other.

Magic was such a huge part of Warriors in 7th Edition.  A Tzeentch sorcerer lord could generate more power dice than almost anybody, and Gateway was the most powerful spell in the edition.  Now, Gateway is merely average among powerful spells in each Lore, and the Sorcerer Lord doesn’t generate enough extra dice to dominate the magic phase.  A further knock, Sorcerer Lords are the fightiest wizard in the game, and you pay points for that.  What that means is, you are forced to waste points on a trait you aren’t going to take a great advantage of.  Lastly, if you want to take a rulebook Lore, you have to play unmarked, which means that you lose access to several of Tzeentch based buffs that give the Lord a chance during the magic phase.  That said, Gateway might not be quite as powerful as Purple Sun, or Dwellers, but it is still quite a threat.

It kinda sounds like I listed the disadvantages of Warriors, and to an extent that is true.  While their cavalry got the shaft, and their wizards are no longer the kings of the battlefield, their infantry are so much stronger than most opposition that it makes up for these disadvantages.

Daemonic Advantages

Foremost, the Daemons have a very strong magic phase that the Warriors have to be jealous of.  Pink Horrors are a rock solid core unit that also doubles as a wizard.  Tzeentch magic, thanks to Master of Sorcery, means that the Daemons don’t have to even bring a Level 4 to dominate the phase.  Master of Sorcery grants Loremaster to the Herald of Tzeentch, so with two Heralds you can construct an array of spell choices that give you “must-dispel” threats against nearly any opponent.  This also gives access to Lore of Life which…

…makes Bloodletters absolutely insane.  A large unit of Bloodletters lead by a Herald for Hatred and buffed with Life spells, or with opponents debuffed from Shadow means they can beat nearly anyone in close combat.  The Bloodletters high strength and high weapon skill plus Hatred mean that they should be able to beat down on Warriors in close combat.  Only units of truly cheap hordes can really stand up to them in close combat.

Daemons don’t have terrific cavalry, as Juggernauts are insanely expensive and Fleshhounds suffer from the same nerf as Chaos Knights.  However, Flamers of Tzeentch are golden.  They are expensive, but they have absolutely withering firepower.  That and a 4++ ward save means they can outshoot even the shootiest enemy units.  Plus being Skirmishers, they are hard to pin down in close combat.  They are probably the best flank protectors available.  They chew up and spit out units like fast cavalry or war eagles. 

The characters are extreme.  The Tzeentch Heralds are super powerful casters who can dominate the magic phase from the Hero choice slot.  Khorne Heralds are among the fighiest characters at the Hero level.  Not too many Lord level fighy character can hand a Herald of Khorne, so on a point for point basis they are nearly unbeatable.


This match clearly advantages the Daemons.  Their choppy infantry is cheaper than the Warriors and has high enough strength to make the armor advantage rather inconsequential.  Additionally, the Daemon magic phase has more potential to dominate the game than does the Warriors’.  The Warrior’s main trump card is the ability of the Hellcannons to inflict enough casualties to the Bloodletters to make the inevitable infantry combat winnable.  The Daemons lack of long range threats outside of Magic means that the Hellcannon should be able to do their thing, and could have a strong influence on the outcome. 

Additionally, the Warriors can bring more close combat potential to the field than the Daemons.  Multiple large warrior units, alongside multiple large Marauder units put the Daemons who will have at most two units of Bloodletters in a quandry: without significant magic support, the ‘Letters will lose through attrition eventually. 

The bottom line is these armies facing each other will come down to how effective the Daemons magic is vs. the Hellcannon’s ability to wither the Bloodletters.  Whichever side asserts their dominance in these respective areas should be able to parlay that into a win.  That said, my conclusion is that Daemons have a far easier time enacting their gameplan than the Warriors will with theirs.

Comments, questions, thoughts?

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