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Khorne Daemonkin: A Competitive Analysis

In this article, I will discuss the various units, formations, and wargear available to the servants of Khorne, as found in Codex: Khorne Daemonkin. I will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the army as a whole, as well as possible allies to take that can synergize well with Daemonkin. I will also list pros and cons for each entry. I will use the following rating system throughout the article:

Outstanding: The most competitive options in the codex, could be called "Must Take" items.

Competitive: Very good item, although not as amazing as others. Can still find a place in most competitive builds.

Solid: These items, while not terrible, have less usefulness and are less often seen in competitive play.

Situational: These are usually not useful at all in competitive play except in one or two specific builds/lists. Still fine for casual play.

Useless: These are the terrible choices, never useful in competitive play and hardly so in casual play except for fluff purposes or to handicap your army when playing against a newbie.


UNITS

HQ

Chaos Lord

Rating: Outstanding

Herald of Khorne by monkeyh
Herald of Khorne by monkeyh

The Chaos Lord is the most versatile HQ in the Khorne Daemonkin codex. He can take almost any wargear in the Codex (the only wargear he can't take are the Daemonic Loci), meaning he can be tooled up to take on any battlefield role you need. He is the only character that can choose from all of the Artefacts of Slaughter. Of all of the HQs in the codex, he is probably the best suited to be an army's Warlord, as he can benefit from any of the Daemonkin warlord traits, and indeed some of those make him absolutely fearsome when combined with certain wargear loadouts. He is best used as a melee beatstick, taking a Juggernaut for some extra speed and joining another fast unit (usually Flesh Hounds or Spawn) to rampage around the board.

Pros:Extremely versatile, can be loaded out to pack a very mean punch in combat, and good synergy with a lot of other units.

Cons: Can be fragile for his cost, most good loadouts can get very pricy.


Herald

Rating: Competitive

Heralds are like a lite version of a Chaos Lord. They are much more restricted as far as wargear, and have a weaker overall statline. However, they are less of a beatstick and more of a force multiplier thanks to the fact that they can take Loci. They have access to some of the Artefacts of Slaughter, and indeed some of them might actually be more appropriate on a Herald than a Chaos Lord. Still overall not a bad choice for competitive lists, especially if running many Daemon units rather than mortals.

Pros: Cheaper than a Lord, has access to Juggernauts for increased mobility and durability, has access to Loci to give his unit a boost.

Cons: Less wargear options than a Lord, no access at all to AP2 weaponry, meaning he needs to steer clear of anything with a 2+ armor save.


Daemon Prince

Rating: Situational

Daemon Princes are a shadow of what they once were in today's meta, especially Khorne-aligned ones since they cannot be Psykers. They are pretty nasty in combat, but anything with a S10 attack will end them. Their other problem is the fact that they are pricy if kitted out, and they really need to be kitted out well to be useful at all. Wings and armor are must-take items, with the Goredrinker artifact weapon being a good buy on a Prince as well. This is where the problem lies, as this loadout costs as much as a basic Bloodthirster (Unfettered Fury). This is the real nail in their competitive coffin; they share the codex with the Bloodthirster, which fulfills the same role but is usually superior in every way. Their best use in competitive play would be to summon one if you don't quite have enough tithe to get a Bloodthirster, as they cost too many points for what they do. Still, they can be fun in smaller, non-competitive games.

Pros: Strong in melee combat, can jink with impunity if they take wings since no shooting ability, can deal with FMC's like Flyrants by Vector Striking them.

Cons: Good loadouts cost as much or more than a Bloodthirster, which usually does the same job better. Far too fragile for their point cost.


Blood Throne

Rating: Situational

A Blood Throne is basically a Herald on a chariot. Khorne Chariots get some mean melee stats, but this one is overcosted for what it does. Having your Loci affect all units within 6" is great, but most opponents will target the rider with high-strength attacks and double out his toughness, making it too easy to kill the model. There may be some builds that make this thing work, but in competitive play you are better off skipping it and taking a Herald on a Juggernaut instead. A shame, as the model is pretty nice!

Pros: Good mobility to keep up with Flesh Hounds and other fast units, hits like a freight train in the Assault Phase due to d6 Hammer of Wrath attacks, Loci affect all units within 6" rather than just one unit.

Cons: Overcosted, overshadowed by other, better, HQ choices in this codex, very few upgrade options.


Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury

Rating: Competitive

This is the classic Bloodthirster, now with a spiffy plastic kit instead of the old metal one. He's somewhat pricy, but will murder many enemies in CC and with his lash he can reach out and touch enemy units up to 12 inches away, albeit only with one shot. This is also the only variant of the Bloodthirster that can be summoned during a game, making him the most widely used of the three. This guy can kill just about any other MC in the game in one round of combat, usually before they get to swing, since he has very high initiative, has a lot of attacks, and causes Instant Death on a To Wound roll of 6. Gargantuan creatures have less to be afraid of due to often having higher Toughness and more wounds, as well as being more resistant to Instant Death. Just don't try to fight a dedicated assault unit with good saves (like TH/SS termies), as they can weather his attacks and then mash the 'thirster!

Pros: Fast, tough, and hits hard. High initiative means he can kill most things before they can even fight back. Can be summoned during the course of the game with Blood Tithe or the Axe of Ruin.

Cons: Expensive. Difficult to hide in terrain due to sheer size. Dedicated assault units and walkers can sometimes be a real problem.

Bloodthirster by Thirdeyenuke Studio
Bloodthirster by Thirdeyenuke Studio

Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage

Rating: Competitive

This variant of the Bloodthirster is a purely melee monster, and with his Strength D weapon, he can fell even the strongest of foes. Problem is, most of said foes can strike him first. Still, he is a threat that cannot be ignored, and can soak a fair amount of punishment before dying. Most enemies are needing 5's to hit him in close combat (including Imperial Knights, a very favorable target), so the D-thirster does have that going for him. Just stay away from any punks with Force weapons (such as Grey Knights), as they can usually insta-gib a D-thirster before he swings the big axe.

Pros: Strength D weapon, fast moving, fairly tough. Good distraction to take a lot of hits, meaning the rest of the army can advance unmolested.

Cons: Serious bullet magnet. Often does not make it into combat with anything of worth before being focused down and killed. When fighting SHW/GC's, vulnerable to Stomp attacks. Can be tarpitted by units like Ork Boyz or Guardsmen fairly easily (Strength D is major overkill against such targets...)


Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster

Rating: Solid

The third Bloodthirster variant is basically an Unfettered Fury one with a little bit of extra kick. For the extra 50 points you get a heavy flamer, a slighly better lash that also functions as a second melee weapon, and Hatred: Characters. Gets a Solid rating because it is still a Bloodthirster and thus very scary to most opposing units, but really not worth the extra 50 points over the basic one. Still, for some these work very well.

Pros: Bloodthirster statline, so very durable and powerful. Flamer weapon can increase casualties and soften up an enemy unit before the Bloodthirster charges. Hatred: Characters helps deal with pesky Warbosses, Chapter Masters, etc.

Cons: Even more expensive than the Strength D version. Statline and survivability is no better than the others.


Skulltaker

Rating: Solid

Skulltaker is the only special character in the Khorne Daemonkin codex. He is basically a Herald with a better statline, better wargear, and a built-in Lesser Locus of Abjuration (granting him and his unit Adamantium Will). For his points he is not bad; the problem is that he is stuck being a footslogger and he takes up an HQ slot that could hold a Juggerlord or Bloodthirster instead. Anything without a 2+ armor save had better stay away from this jerk! He's probably best used in a unit of either Bloodletters or Possessed.

Pros: Better stats and save than a Herald, Eternal Warrior, all attacks have Soul Blaze, can really hurt enemy characters of MEQ strength or less.

Cons: Cannot take a mount, only has the weakest Locus, shares a Force Org. slot with other, better choices, lack of an AP2 weapon.


Troops

Chaos Cultists

Rating: Situational

Chaos Cultists are basically Guardsmen or Ork Boyz with a worse statline, depending on how you run them. They usually are played to die and give up a Blood Tithe point. Aside from this, their main use is to be cheap objective holders, as in a Combined Arms Detachment they do have Objective Secured since they are Troops. If they can camp out in a Ruin, they can last a little longer, and if they take Autoguns and/or Heavy Stubbers, they can add some (admittedly weak) ranged firepower to an army. They can get some teeth in melee against enemies weaker than Space Marines, as they do swing ahead of Tau or Ork Boyz, and their built-in Mark of Khorne gives them lots of attacks on the charge. Usually they will not survive to reach melee, as any decent overwatch (especially Tau or Dark Angels) will murder them, usually without them even getting a save.

Pros: Cheap, can sometimes get more than one Blood Tithe in a turn if they can get into melee and challenge an enemy character.

Cons: Die to a stiff breeze, abysmal stats, upgrades are simply not that good.


Chaos Space Marines

Rating: Solid

Chaos Space Marines are really kind of a worse version of the Space Marine Tactical Squad. The ones in Khorne Daemonkin have the Mark of Khorne as standard (and they do pay for it), making them more expensive than their loyalist counterparts as well. One thing they can do is trade in their bolter for a chainsword, which in Khorne Daemonkin is a good idea since they want to assault things rather than stand off and shoot. They also can take two special weapons if they take 10 men, which can come in handy. Meltaguns are probably the best option, as they can potentially go tank hunting, but flamers have their uses as well. Plasma would be better taken on a shooty squad, but since Daemonkin want to be in CC, plasma is better taken on bikers instead. The Aspiring Champion can be given a wide variety of options, but most good loadouts are really expensive on a single wound character with only a 3+ armor save, so it is better to keep them cheap. On the other hand, since characters have to challenge, it could be worth it to take a power weapon or something to give the champion a chance to do something. The unit should almost always take a Rhino, as they need the mobility to move up the field on the first turn. Ideally the plan would be to move up on turn 1, disembark on turn 2, charge on turn 3 (if they don't get blown away).

Pros: Space Marine statline, Mark of Khorne gives them some teeth in CC even if charged, 2 special weapons in a 10-man squad is nice!

Cons: Lack of the "And They Shall Know No Fear" rule gimps them badly compared to loyalist marines. Most upgrades make the unit very expensive. Being forced to challenge with the champion is sometimes a bad thing.


Berzerkers

Rating: Useless

At first glance these guys look like solid melee attackers. Then you look closely and see that they cost way too much for what they do. The main good thing the unit has is Fearless. That is about the only good thing. They can't take special weapons and they have to pay extra for their signature weapon, the Chainaxe. If the Chainaxes were standard free equipment Berzerkers might actually be okay. As it is, Chaos Marines are a better alternative, as at least you don't have to sink as many points into the unit to make it good.

Pros: Fearless, nasty in CC (at least on the charge)

Cons: Way too expensive for what you get, just as squishy as regular CSM

Bloodletters by garglechum
Bloodletters by garglechum

Bloodletters

Rating: Solid

These are probably the best troop choice in the codex. Their weapons, combined with the Furious Charge rule thanks to being Daemons of Khorne, make quick work of MEQ without an invulnerable save. They are also very cheap for a minimum squad, although you should probably always take a Bloodreaper for challenge purposes (in a challenge you get a Blood Tithe point even if your guy dies after all). Low toughness is the main weakness of Bloodletters, although they do get the standard Daemon save to help make up for it.

Pros: AP3 weapons, Good strength on the charge, can Deep Strike, have Objective Secured in a CAD

Cons: Low toughness, melee-only loadout means they have to sit in the open for a turn after deep striking, low number of attacks hurts them if combat lasts multiple rounds, especially if the enemy models have either a 2+ armor save or any kind of invulnerable save


Elites

Possessed

Rating: Situational

Possessed get a very bad rap on the Internet, which is only partially deserved. They are expensive for what they do, but they can catch opponents who underestimate them and make them very sorry. They are best taken in a Rhino, as they are otherwise having to footslog around the board, which means they will most likely get killed before they can even reach combat. If they do make it into combat and get the charge, the combination of Mark of Khorne and Daemon of Khorne (so Rage and Furious Charge) means they can have a stupid number of S6 attacks in the first round of combat. Moreover, their Vessels of Chaos table can give them either Shred, AP3, or higher Initiative and more attacks! The cost for them is a big turnoff, as they are just as squishy as marines to small-arms fire but cost twice as much as a baseline Chaos Marine from this codex. The reason they get a Situational rating instead of Useless is due to the fact that they are necessary for a Blood Host detachment, which is a very good way to run Daemonkin.

Pros: Fearless, Mark + Daemon of Khorne is very spicy

Cons: Just as squishy as regular Marines (same armor save), very expensive, footslogging means they can't catch much without taking fire, random table for special ability can be less than helpful in some situations


Bloodcrushers

Rating: Useless

At first glance, these look quite good. Basically Bloodletters on Juggernauts with 3 wounds. Unfortunately, they are far more squishy than they appear. 3 wounds is nice against small arms, but if any competent opponent sees these coming they will point the meltaguns and lascannons their way, and the only defense these guys have is a 5+ invulnerable save. Even this would be acceptable if they weren't 45 points per model. The only way I would ever use these is by summoning them with blood tithe. If you need a retinue for a character on a Juggernaut, take Flesh Hounds or Spawn instead.

Pros: 3 wounds, fast moving and hard hitting, weapons are AP3

Cons: Far too easy to double out their toughness and kill them with one hit, very expensive


Chaos Terminators

Rating: Situational

Chaos Termies have pretty much the same perks and problems as their loyalist cousins. One advantage they do have is the ability to take multiple combi-weapons in one squad. This may in fact be their best use, dropping a minimum unit of terminators with combi-meltas and popping a key enemy vehicle. Unlike loyalists, minimum squad size is 3 models instead of 5, allowing for cheaper squads. They also can take regular power weapons instead of fists to save on points. However, they do have the same weaknesses as other terminators, notably the fact that they are still expensive per model for what they do and they can die to massed fire of weak weapons. The real nail in Chaos Terminators' coffin (indeed, a reason even loyalists shun Termies) is Grav weapons. Grav absolutely murders terminators, turning that sweet 2+ save into a death sentence.

Pros: 2+ armor save, good variety of possible weapons loadouts, can take a Land Raider as a dedicated transport

Cons: Susceptible to grav, antitank weapons, and massed small arms fire, expensive, cannot make Sweeping Advances, no access to Teleport Homers makes deep striking them a risk

Fast Attack

Chaos Spawn

Rating: Solid

Spawn are somewhat of an odd unit. At first they seem very weak because they are melee only and have no save whatsoever. With a Toughness of 5 and 3 wounds, however, they can be reasonably durable, and make a pretty solid retinue for a Chaos Lord on a Juggernaut. Like Possessed, they roll on a random table in melee to determine their abilities, which can be a mixed blessing. They also roll for their number of attacks. There are multiple good ways to run Spawn in a game. One way is the aforementioned retinue for a Juggernaut character. They can be taken in units of up to 5 and have three wounds apiece, making them quite good for this role. Another role can be to run them singly as a nuisance unit. They become one of those things that opponents don't want to waste shots on, but if they don't shoot it it will kill something or take an objective. This versatility is what earns Spawn a Solid rating.

Pros: Fast, good toughness, can get lots of attacks, especially on the charge due to Mark of Khorne

Cons: No save at all, except sometimes in melee depending on the random chart roll. Random rolling can sometimes be a curse instead of a blessing, as if you roll poorly for number of attacks it can really hurt.

Chaos Bikers

Rating: Outstanding

Chaos Bikes are one of the fastest units in the codex. They are pretty durable, having the same statline as a Space Marine biker, while also having the Mark of Khorne as standard, meaning they can get plenty of attacks in CC on the charge. They can take up to 2 special weapons per squad, and all of the special weapons have their place on bikers. Flamers are great against hordes of weak models like Ork Boyz, Tyranid gaunts, or Guardsmen, while Meltaguns are great for popping tanks and Plasmaguns are good for taking on harder non-vehicle targets like Terminators, Tau Riptides, Dreadknights, and others. Meltaguns may be the best option, as there is not a whole lot of anti-tank in this codex. Bikes make the best platform for meltas or plasmas as they can move quickly and reach the side or rear armor of enemy tanks easily. Of course, this means that they will draw fire, but if you have enough other stuff running up the table, your opponent will have to make some tough choices about what he shoots. The champion can be kitted out for almost any role as well, taking a combi-weapon or some upgraded melee weapons, and of course melta bombs. The best way is probably to take a combi-weapon that matches the special weapons in the squad, giving one volley a little extra punch. Melta bombs are probably also a good buy, as the speed of bikers means it is pretty easy to catch enemy vehicles and slap a bomb on them. Bikers really shine in the Gorepack formation.

Pros: Fast, tough, and versatile. Nasty on the charge, especially in the Gorepack formation.

Cons: Somewhat expensive, weapons with good AP will force you to Jink, spoiling your aim with special weapons. Special weapons replace close combat weapon, reducing their effectiveness in close combat.

Raptors

Rating: Competitive

Raptors are a pretty solid unit in the Khorne Daemonkin codex. They make a decent alternative to bikers, although most would agree that bikes are better than jump infantry. Raptors, like bikers, can take 2 special weapons in a squad. However, Raptors always count as having 2 close combat weapons as their specials do not replace anything. Although Raptors can take any of the special weapons (flamer, melta, plasma), their real best use is in CC, so keep that in mind when outfitting them. Flamers may really be the best choice, although Meltaguns aren't bad either, especially if you are facing Walkers. Plasmaguns should never be taken on Raptors, as they are Rapid fire and thus prevent charging, which your Raptors REALLY want to do. There are many ways to outfit the Champion in the unit, too. Power weapons are not bad, although the best idea may be to take melta bombs and nothing else, keeping the unit cheap.

Pros: Fast, lots of attacks in CC, good selection of options.

Cons: Deceptively fragile, have a tendency to run off the board when they fail a morale check due to being Jump infantry.

Warp Talons

Rating: Useless

Warp Talons, at first glance, are really nasty. Each model comes with a pair of lightning claws, they can deep strike (potentially with no scatter if there is a banner of blood nearby), and they force a Blind check on nearby enemies when they deep strike. Then you look at the cost for the unit and their statline and realize that they are, in fact, one of the worst examples of overcosting in the entire game. Worse even than Possessed. Honestly, Warp Talons are just as squishy as regular Marines, but they cost over twice as much. If they somehow do reach CC, they will destroy anything without a 2+ armor save partially thanks to the sweet Mark + Daemon of Khorne combo, but they are the ultimate glass cannon. Any opponent with any sense will never let these guys reach something important, meaning you paid almost 200 points to accomplish next to nothing apart from drawing some enemy fire away from your other units. It's a shame, too, as Warp Talons have some of the sexiest models in the entire Chaos range.

Pros: Fast, can Deep Strike, hit very hard on the charge.

Cons: Horribly expensive, very squishy for their cost, no customizability at all

Heldrake

Rating: Outstanding

The Heldrake is one of the meanest toys Chaos has to play with, and Daemonkin can use them to really reap some blood and skulls for Khorne. With the Baleflamer, a 'drake can roast an enemy squad of MEQ or less and absolutely destroy it up to 12 inches away thanks to the weapon having the Torrent rule. This destruction can be further assured by popping the one-use Daemonforge ability, although you do risk taking some damage in the process. Add to this that a Heldrake can Vector Strike at Strength 7 and you have a murderously effective killer. While the Heldrake can opt to take a Hades Autocannon instead, this is not a good idea because the flamer is just so much better in almost every situation. One of the few drawbacks of the Heldrake is the fact that you can't take one in a Blood Host detachment without taking a squad of Warp Talons. If you want one in a competitive game, you should run a CAD.

Pros: Good front and side armor, devastating weapon, 5+ invulnerable save, can Vector Strike, can potentially drop into Hover Mode to cap an objective late in the game.

Cons: Jinking nullifies the flamer weapon, hard to run in a Blood Host, slightly expensive.

Flesh Hounds

Rating: Outstanding Flesh Hounds are one of the top units in this codex. They cost 16 points a body and only have a 5+ invulnerable save for protection, but they have 2 wounds and therefore can soak a fair amount of fire before going down. If taken in a Gorepack, they gain Hammer of Wrath (among other things), making them quite mean on the charge. Being Daemons of Khorne, they have the Furious Charge rule, meaning that they hit especially hard in the first round of combat if they get the charge. There really are two ways of running them: multiple small units of 5 dogs each, or a large blob of 10-20, usually accompanied by a character on a bike or Juggernaut. They make a great entourage for a Chaos Lord or Herald on a Juggernaut, as due to having 2 wounds they can absorb a fair amount of small arms fire, and they are fast enough to keep up. And in this codex they are regular Fearless instead of having to deal with Daemonic Instability, making them more resilient than the (still excellent) versions found in Codex: Chaos Daemons.

Pros: Fast and cheap, hit hard on the charge, can Scout forward to help guarantee a turn 2 charge, 2 wounds makes them pretty durable, the Gorepack formation gives them some serious teeth, can be summoned with Blood Tithe

Cons: Vulnerable to being doubled out by Strength 8+ fire, large unit footprint can potentially cause problems (they catch scatter easily), no AP value or Rending means some targets will laugh at them.

Chaos Rhino

Rating: Solid

The bog standard metal box available to both the Loyalists and regular Chaos Marines. The ones in Khorne Daemonkin have an inferior selection of wargear compared to the regular CSM ones, with the most painful loss being Dirge Casters. Still, they have access to Dozer Blades and Havoc Launchers, although those are hardly must take items. Usually it is probably best to take Rhinos naked and save points for more boys or toys on other units.

Pros: Cheap, provides protection to troops to enable them to move up the board safer and faster than they could footslog. Available to a variety of units.

Cons: Not terribly hard to kill, usually gives up first blood to your opponent, no Dirge Casters, cannot charge on same turn as disembarking (which really hurts this codex as most units very badly want to be in CC).

Heavy Support

Chaos Land Raider

Rating: Useless

Khorne Daemonkin only have access to the worst Land Raider variant in the game. It is difficult to get all the weapons to be able to hit a single target, and Chaos Land Raiders don't have the nice Power of the Machine Spirit like Loyalists to be able to split off one weapon. Like the Chaos Rhino, the Land Raiders in this codex lack access to Dirge Casters, which is even more egregious on an assault vehicle (the only such vehicle in the Codex, except for Forge World). Add to this a transport capacity of only 10 and a ridiculous point cost and you can see why no one takes Land Raiders in competitive games.

Pros: Good armor value, strong weapons, embarked units can charge after disembarking since it is an Assault Vehicle.

Cons: Expensive, no Power of the Machine Spirit or Dirge Casters, bad weapon arcs.

Forgefiend

Rating: Situational

These machines are something of an anomaly in the Khorne Daemonkin codex: a shooty unit in a primarily assault-based army. They carry reasonably powerful weapons, but their armor value is low enough that Strength 6 weapons can glance them to death relatively easily (meaning stay away from Eldar...). Having It Will Not Die does not help if you take 3 glances in one turn. One saving grace is that the Forgefiend has the Daemon special rule, granting a 5+ invulnerable save. Still, they are really too expensive to see much use. If they are used, they are best kept in the rear, using their ranged weapons to good effect and avoiding strong melee units. The Hades Autocannons can even potentially threaten flyers by sheer number of S8 shots, usually getting a couple of hits even when snap-firing. The Ectoplasma Cannons have pretty short range, which generally makes them less useful, especially when you consider Gets Hot.

Pros: Powerful weapons, Invulnerable Save and It Will Not Die help with durability, very cool model.

Cons: Slow, very expensive, AP2 weapon option has to deal with Gets Hot, AV12 is just not that good in today's meta (same reason Space Marine players' Dreadnoughts are usually doing shelf duty).

Maulerfiend

Rating: Competitive

The Maulerfiend is the Forgefiend's melee cousin, built from the same kit. It is a far superior unit, especially in Khorne Daemonkin. The Maulerfiend has a great combination of special rules allowing it to make its way up the table very quickly and be in your opponent's face early on. Its power fists can threaten even an Imperial Knight (especially with Magma Cutters), although the Knight's initiative and WS are higher, meaning you will want to double team them to have a reasonable chance of even getting to swing. The statline is identical to the Forgefiend. Wargear options are merely a choice between magma cutters and lasher tendrils; the Magma Cutters are better against vehicles, whereas the Lasher Tendrils are probably better against Monstrous Creatures. Maulerfiends are probably best taken in multiples, as target saturation will be critical for their survival, especially if facing Tau or Eldar.

Pros: Very fast for a vehicle, more durable than most AV12 vehicles due to invulnerable save and It Will Not Die, cheap enough to spam

Cons: Lack of ranged weaponry means an Immobilized result takes this unit out of the game. Low Weapon Skill and Initiative can cause some problems in melee (at least against other walkers/Monstrous Creatures).

Defiler

Rating: Useless

The Defiler is yet another example of an overcosted unit in this codex. It has plenty of weapon options, but its main weapon basically renders the others useless due to being Ordnance. In melee combat, it is unremarkable, although not totally worthless. At least it has a Daemonforge to make it easier to wound stuff (for 1 turn). It is still quite possibly the worst unit in Khorne Daemonkin, mostly due to the egregious point cost. The final nail in the Defiler's coffin is the fact that it shares the codex with the far superior Soul Grinder.

Pros: Plenty of weapons, not terrible in close combat, 4 hull points

Cons: Horribly overcosted, main weapon (Battle Cannon) forces other weapons to snap-fire, AV12 leaves the unit vulnerable to krak grenades and Scatterlaser fire, weapon upgrades are not too enticing and many increase the cost of the unit further.

Soul Grinder

Rating: Competitive

The Soul Grinder is basically what a Defiler should be. It has the same 5+ invulnerable save, better AV, and a much more competitive point cost, even with upgrades. It comes with a Harvester Cannon stock, which is basically a 3-shot Autocannon that has a Skyfire option, thus becoming one of the few units in the Khorne Daemonkin codex that can reliably hit flyers and FMC's. Soul Grinders can be run with no upgrades at all and still be good, but some of the upgrades are definitely worth considering. Baleful Torrent is basically like the Heldrake's flamer weapon, except that it is only AP4. It's still pretty good though, as it'll deny Fire Warriors, Guardsmen, or Orks their armor and cover saves and can force Marines to have to take plenty of saves (of which some will inevitably fail), and it is very cheap. Warp Gaze is less useful, as the Soul Grinder suffers from the mediocre Ballistic Skill of most Daemon Engines, meaning that a one-shot weapon has only a 50% chance of hitting anything. Phlegm Bombardment is expensive, but nasty. Its strength and AP will make Marine players cry, but, being a large blast, will often scatter badly. It is also an Ordnance weapon, which makes it pretty good against light vehicles, although you'll be snap-firing the Harvester Cannon (usually not a problem). The Warp Sword is really not worth taking, as it basically only gives the Soul Grinder an extra attack in melee, but costs as much as a Power Fist. Melee is probably the best use for this beast, as its attacks hit at Strength 10 AP2, and it gets plenty of them. Add to all this the ability to Deep Strike (which can be dangerous considering the size of the model) and you've got a very solid unit.

Pros: Very robust with 4 hullpoints, AV13, and a 5+ invulnerable save. Strong in melee, and can be good in the shooting phase if upgraded.

Cons: Low BS/WS make the Soul Grinder easy to hit, so watch out for Marines with fists or hammers.

Helbrute

Rating: Situational

The Helbrute is Chaos' answer to the Space Marine Dreadnought, and suffers from the same problems. It can be useful in some games, however, if used right. The most commonly-seen loadout for Helbrutes is the Multimelta/Power Fist loadout, as seen on the Dark Vengeance Helbrute model. This is a pretty decent setup, and is cheap enough. The main problems with Helbrutes are mobility and durability. AV12 is just not that great in a meta that sees a lot of Eldar jetbikes with Scatterlasers. This can be mitigated somewhat by keeping your Helbrute in cover, but then you risk immobilizing yourself, and an immobilized Helbrute really doesn't do anybody any good. Mobility-wise, Helbrutes pretty much have to footslog everywhere, and that can be a problem with short-ranged weapons. At least Marines can take Drop Pods for their Dreadnoughts, but Helbrutes have no such option. Helbrutes got a bit of a boost with the latest FAQ from Games Workshop, giving them 4 attacks to match Dreadnoughts, but this still does not make them good, just less bad.

Pros: Weapon options are very versatile. Hits very hard in CC.

Cons: Not terribly durable, despite AV12. Very slow-moving. Some weapon options are pricey.

Skull Cannon

Rating: Solid

Skull Cannons are a valuable addition to a Khorne Daemonkin force. Their weapon has high enough strength to double out Space Marine characters, although it won't deny their armor saves. In addition, enemies hit by it become more vulnerable to being charged, as units that charge the hit unit count as having assault grenades and thus strike at initiative even against enemies in cover. This can be clutch, as some of the best melee units in the codex lack assault grenades. In addition, the weapon itself has Ignores Cover, meaning enemies that rock 2+ cover saves (like Tau Ghostkeels or Stealth suits in cover) or rerollable saves (such as Ravenwing) don't get those. Usually it's a good idea to summon a Skull Cannon, as then you can spend your list building points on other things and get the cannon when you need it (such as right before you charge a unit in cover). If enemies get too close to the Skull Cannon, you can charge them, and Khorne Chariots are nasty on the charge.

Pros: Strong weapon, good BS and WS, can be summoned with Blood Tithe, can really help Daemon units charge enemies in cover.

Cons: Deep striking (including summoning) can be risky without a Banner of Blood nearby, most enemies still get their Armor saves against it. Firing at an enemy unit that is about to be charged can cause friendly fire casualties it the scatter goes wrong.

Lord of War

Lord of Skulls

Rating: Useless

The Lord of Skulls is a bit of an oddity. It's huge point cost mostly relegates it to Apocalypse games, as it is actually more expensive than a Warhound Titan. Its weapons are absolutely devastating, especially to Marines and their like, and in close combat it actually gets stronger the more damage it takes. The prohibitive cost keeps the unit out of most armies, however, and many tournaments (including ITC events) ban such units (due to LoW points cap and other things). One huge drawback it has is the fact that unlike many other superheavy units Chaos has access to it cannot Stomp. The ranged weapon options are quite powerful, but when you consider that for the same cost an Eldar player can take three Wraithknights or a Tau player can take two Stormsurges, both of which have destroyer weapons at range, the Lord of Skulls suddenly doesn't look all that great. The bottom line is that while it is powerful, it is not points efficient. It is still good fun in Apocalypse games, though!

Pros: Weapons are pretty strong, actually gets nastier in melee the more damage it takes.

Cons: Cost is way out of proportion to firepower. Despite having Strength D in melee, the lack of Stomps hurts badly, considering how many points it costs. Lack of ranged destroyer weapons is criminal for this class of unit.

FORMATIONS

Slaughtercult

Rating: Competitive

The Slaughtercult is the core formation of the Blood Host detachment (discussed later in this article). It is best taken in that detachment rather than run on its own, but it is worth taking a look at the formation-specific benefits and liabilities. The mandatory units are an HQ choice (any except the two higher-cost Bloodthirsters), two Troops (other than Cultists), and a squad of Possessed. Many of these are things you would want to take anyway, and there are optional slots for up to two units of Spawn, up to two units of Cultists, as well as additional non-Cultist troops or Possessed, should you wish to include any. The formation benefits include the ability to reroll a Khorne Daemonkin Warlord Trait (if the HQ in this formation is the Warlord), the ability to sacrifice a unit of Cultists that fail a morale check for a Blood Tithe point, and perhaps best of all, an additional free boon from the Blood Tithe table any time you spend Blood Tithe points (the extra ability only affects the Slaughtercult, not the entire army). The Cultist-sacrificing ability may not seem that great, but it can come in handy to get that extra Blood Tithe point immediately rather than waiting for those Cultists to run off the board (which could take a turn or 2). Rerolling the Warlord Trait is pretty solid as well, as certain HQ's cannot benefit from some of the traits. Overall the formation is good, but it really shines in the Blood Host.

Pros: Decent selection of units, good formation abilities.

Cons: Possessed are not ideal for a competitive environment, must take two non-Cultist Troops units, meaning that you cannot simply take the least-expensive troops.

Brazen Onslaught

Rating: Useless

This formation is probably the worst in the codex, mainly because it requires a lot of subpar units. Barebones, it requires two units of Bloodcrushers and one unit of Terminators. The only formation ability is +1 attack for models in combat that are outnumbered. While this is not hard to achieve with elite units like Bloodcrushers and Terminators (which have low numbers of models in general), keep in mind that these units will not often survive long enough to reach combat, and even if they do it requires a hefty points investment. Terminators in this formation pretty much always need a Land Raider, as they are too slow to footslog and have to wait a turn to charge after Deep Striking. Still, if you are dead set on using Bloodcrushers and Terminators anyway, you might as well take the formation, as it does give those units a little extra bang for your buck. In competitive games, you should probably look at better units, though.

Pros: Units in this formation will almost always be outnumbered in combat, so they will get plenty of swings and can destroy even large enemy units.

Cons: The formation makes use of expensive units that are not all that durable. The special ability is somewhat situational (useless against monstrous creatures, for example).

Khorne's Bloodstorm

Rating: Solid

Khorne's Bloodstorm is a very fast-moving formation, consisting entirely of jump units and an optional Heldrake. The Heldrake is the main reason for taking the formation though, as it is the only way a Blood Host detachment can get its hands on one of them. The formation rule gives +1 Strength on Hammer of Wrath and on the Heldrake's Vector Strike. This means that the Heldrake can double out T4 characters when it vector strikes. The Raptors are not too bad, but the mandatory squad of Warp Talons is definitely a tax, and not a small one. If you play them right, they can still do something, though. All in all, the Bloodstorm is not too bad, and can work okay in less competitive tournaments or casual games.

Pros: Fast-moving units, can include a Heldrake, makes getting the charge that much sweeter thanks to better Hammer of Wrath.

Cons: One squad of Warp Talons is mandatory. Raptors are inferior to bikes. +1 strength to HoW is only useful if you use your jump packs to charge, meaning you can't use them to move further during the movement phase if you want to get it.

Gorepack

Rating: Outstanding

The Gorepack is hands-down the best formation in the Khorne Daemonkin codex. It features Chaos Bikers and Flesh Hounds, two of the best units in the codex, and gives them great abilities. The whole formation gets Move Through Cover and Preferred Enemy: Psykers, which is a good way to remove those pesky psychic buffs from your opponent's army. Bikes gains Shred on their Hammer of Wrath attacks, and Flesh Hounds gain Hammer of Wrath (meaning they just got even deadlier). This formation can be run in more than one combination, from taking multiple small groups of hounds and bikes to taking a full blob of 20 hounds to act as a small deathstar with a Chaos Lord or Herald attached (possibly both). The Gorepack is also the only formation from Khorne Daemonkin that makes a good stand-alone add-on to a Chaos Space Marines or Chaos Daemons force.

Pros: Fast, and hard-hitting. The abilities make this formation one of the best tools Khorne Daemonkin have for dealing with enemy psykers. Hammer of Wrath on Flesh Hounds is very nice.

Cons: None.


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