Monday, May 20, 2013

Design dilema part 2: making an army list with CSM and Demons

This post is part 2 of 2 in exploring how to build and integrate a CSM/Demon army with this second part covering CSM as the Primary detachment with Demon allies, a sample list and a tournament battle report.

Having CSM as the primary detachment:

Where taking Demons as the primary detachment opened up more options for multiple HQ slots (notably heralds) along with multiples of other force org slots; taking CSM as the primary allows you to take a more fluffy cult army with the ability to take more support units such as Terminators, Helldrakes and Obliterators. Ultimately, whatever army you take as your primary, the allied detachment should be built around supporting the choices you take in that primary detachment. So what are the pros and cons of taking CSM as the primary?

For starters, taking CSM as the primary detachment allows you to take more of the better units in CSM, whereas CSM as an allied detachment can play a very limited supporting role. I actually think that if you want a Tzeench/Thousand Sons force, that taking CSM as an allied detachment is too limiting and restrictive, therefore as a Primary, you can get all of your Thousand Son units and throw in some Tzeench demon support for pizzazz...Taking CSM as the primary most notably gives you the following benefits:

-Access to multiple HQs:

Taking CSM as a primary detachment allows you to take full advantage of the HQ options available. specifically, the ability to unlock cult units as troops and take an extra sorcerer (which can be better than the Tzeench Demon ones thanks to the Spell Familiar). This also provides access to Telepathy which Tzeench Demons don't get.

-Access to more force org slots:
While this is a no brainer on the surface, it really translates into more flexibility and options in developing a cult themed army. Specifically, you can take Terminators in multiples in addition to the cult units of choice as troops (depending on the HQ choice). You can take up to 3 Helldrakes and/or 3 units of Obliterators as opposed to 1. Put all of this together and you take what is already a potent force to begin with and take more of what makes CSM good.

-Access to one of the cheapest troop units:
Something I think is rather fun and fluffy in addition to being a good idea, tactically, is having the option to take multiple units of Cultists. (1) They are dirt cheap; (2) they can be thrown at whatever you want in a pinch to buy time or soak up a charge; (3) they can be held in reserves out of the fight to avoid giving up a Kill Point or just hang around on an objective. The bottom line in any game is you will always need something that can claim objectives or be thrown around as fodder and Cultists do it for very cheap.


-CSM as primary can be rather cost prohibitive:

probably the biggest con to having CSM as the primary is how expensive CSM are to get the off the ground as well as how limited a Demon allied detachment can be...

-Limited access and use out of Demon codex slots:

Specifically, rather than 4 Heralds, you only get one. Rather than having options for multiple units of Flamers or Screamers, you only get 1 unit of each. This is ok in that you can probably only afford one of each considering how expensive CSM can be.


As I said earlier, if you take CSM as a primary detachment, you will want to build the Demon allies in a way that supplement and dovetail into your CSM list. What this looks like specifically is that whatever your CSM army is lacking in, take that element in Demon allies. I'll showcase this below in the sample army list and after the battle report I'll give more feedback as to how to streamline things.

Sample army list:

CSM primary detachment: 1434

HQ: 450

Chaos Sorcerer: 60(base)+50(Mastery 3)+15(Mark of Tzeench)+5 (melta bombs)=130

Demon Prince: 145(base)+15(tzeench)+40(wings)+75(mastery 3)+45(black mace)=320

The Sorcerer is there to unlock Thousand Sons as troops and hopefully get 2 good rolls on the Telepathy Discipline. The Demon Prince is there for some Close Combat support and another set of rolls on the Telepathy Discipline. Overall, I am hoping to get the #5/6 powers.

Troops: 494

Thousand Sons: 150(base)+92(4 more marines)+5(melta bombs)=247
Thousand Sons: 150(base)+92(4 more marines)+5(melta bombs)=247

It's a Thousand Sons army...Gotta have some Thousand Sons in it, right? All joking aside, they actually provide some durable scoring units I can send forward and their AP3 bolters actually come in quite handy. A nice Fearless scoring unit with a 3+/4++ and a force weapon.

Fast Attack: 340

Hell Drake: 170
Hell Drake: 170

Why take 1 when you can take 2? 3 is overkill IMO and actually starts limiting the rest of your army. The Helldrake adds a lot to the army in many ways. For starters, when they come on, you can pretty much take out a loota/Longfang type squad with their template attack or start hammering on some backfield scoring units that require cover to survive such as Pathfinders (both Eldar and Tau), Plaguebearers, Harlequins. They are also decent in that their Vector Strikes are S7 Ap3 and ignore cover so you can put the hurt on other Flyers, Flying MCs or any smallish units that you want to put some hits on. To clarify/reiterate: I don't expect them to be gold against Vendettas or Storm Ravens (stupid Imperials and their OP stuff); however, any other flying unit in the game is a good target for their vector strikes as some D3+1 S7 AP3 hits can really put the hurt on Flying MCs or AV 10/11 Flyers. 

Heavy Support: 150

Obliterators: 70(base)*2=140+10(Mark of Nurgle)=150

These guys add a lot of versatility to the army in so many ways. First, the ranged support they offer is quite unique and potent-you can always find a good target for these guys. Second, they have a 2+/5++ and come with Fists so you can charge weaker infantry units or even vehicles in a pinch. Third, with the Mark of Nurgle, T5 makes them immune to Instant Death from Missiles, Lascannons and other power fists which is a huge boon. This unit has surprisingly won me quite a few games and I don't look at it so much as a long ranged shooting support unit but rather a Swiss Army Knife unit that will do what I need most each turn. I know its not the most fluffy to give them Mark of Nurgle, but it just adds so much compared to any of the other marks...How dare Nurgle try to be more survivable than Tzeench!?

Demon Allies: 415

HQ: 125

Herald: 45(base)+50(Mastery 3)+30(greater gift)=125

A simple and effective support HQ unit. 3 rolls on the Divination Discipline means you will get at least Prescience which can help any and every unit you cast it on and there are so many other beneficial powers you can get. 

Troops: 90

Horrors: 9(base)*10=90

The only Tzeench Demon troop choice. Still, they are relatively cheap for what you get and are consistent in their effectiveness throughout the game until the last model goes down.

Fast Attack: 200

Screamers: 25(base)*8=200

This is a great anti-tank and anti-Terminator/Marine unit with the AP2 Armorbane hits while also providing good anti-horde with the multiple S4 AP - close combat/slash attacks. Use the slashing attacks on units until you are ready to charge and then strike at some key targets. I like boosting from LOS blocking terrain to LOS blocking terrain to get at backfield scoring units or problematic vehicles like Necron Heavies, Land Raiders or even Leman Russ variants. This is probably the best and most reliable anti-tank available in the demon codex so its an auto-take as far as I am concerned.

Battle report:

So I took the above list to a tournament at one of my favorite stores, The Realm. There was a good mix of players from Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Space Marines of all flavors, Necrons and CSM/Demon armies. The armies I ended up facing off against were Orks, Demons w/ CSM allies and Dark Eldar w/ Space Wolf allies. All the games were really fun and I learned a lot about using the army and how to make good changes as I go to other tournaments.

Game 1:

This mission was The Scouring (where the Fast Attack units are scoring/worth a Kill Point and you place objectives worth different values) with Dawn of War deployment (long table edge deployment). My opponent was an Ork player with a cool looking army (he won best army) with the following list:

-Warboss, Claw
-Big Mek with KFF
-Nob unit wth claws in Battle Wagon
-4ish large Ork Mobs, 2 with Claws
-Unit of Grots
-3 Dakka Jets
-Aegis Defense Line with Lascannon

Turn 1/setup:

I got lucky as I placed the objectives with the highest values on my side of the board and we got Night Fight for the first turn so all of my units were relatively safe from my opponent's first round of shooting (he went first). On my first turn I ran up and tickled him with my shooting, dropped the Portal Glyph and failed to make a unit.

I was expecting my opponent to bum rush my side of the board with all of his units but he held back and just shot at me with whatever was in range and I had to come to him to get in on any action. As you can see in the above picture, I moved my Demon Prince and Screamers to the right flank to try and engage the units by the Aegis and throw up a distraction while the rest of my army walks up.

Turn 2:

Opponent's turn:
This turn my opponent grounded my flying Demon Prince (but I passed all of my saves), charged him with the Nob squad with claws from the Battle Wagon and I used the Demon Weapon and Smash attacks to Instant-kill the Nobs and ended up taking 3 wounds in return before running down the surviving Nobs.

My turn:
On my turn, I walked everything up again and put some wounds on his units with my Thousand Sons and Horrors, however, the real carnage this turn came from my 2 Helldrakes and Screamers...They took out all of the Lootas behind the Aegis Defense Line. My Demon Prince charged an Ork Mob but rolled a 1 for the Demon Weapon, took a wound and died from it =(.

Turn 3:

Opponent's turn:
He shot up my Screamers that were wreaking havoc in the middle and he tank shocked a Thousand Sons squad while putting some wounds on it from the Mob that "took down" my Demon Prince on the right. He barely got a charge off on my Screamers and they survive combat with 1 model left while my Thousand Sons get charged by a largish mob and hold out in combat. His Dakka Jets come on as well and put more wounds on my Thousand Son units and almost wipe out my Demon unit with the WAAAGGGH. His Grots tried to shoot some Hell Drakes but they never got past the "you must be this tall to shoot a Hell Drake" requirement and failed (they missed).

My Turn:
I was lucky enough to get Sky-Fire Nexus on 2 objectives (thanks to the #6 Divination power) and shot down one Dakka Jet on the left with combined fire from Thousand Son Bolters and Horror Psychic Powers while my Hell Drakes slashed the other 2 out of the sky with the aid of Obliterator shooting. I manage to get the #6 Telepathy power off on the huge Ork mob thrashing my Screamers and roll a 4 so in combat, his Orks just sat around doing nothing while my Screamer flopped around confused. I also planted a Melta Bomb on his Battle Wagon from the Thousand Sons unit that was tank shocked and sent it back to the used car dealership it crawled out of.

Turn 4:

Opponent's turn:
This turn he shuffled around trying to hold his objectives while combats rage on. He charged my weakened Thousand Sons unit on the right and we hold our ground in every combat.

My turn:
I try to cast the #6 Telepathy power again but the Ork player passed his deny the witch roll. I then make more Horrors, shoot up some more orks, charge and wipe out the Ork unit that charged my Thousand Sons on the right with Obliterators/HQ sorcerer and my Screamer gets smushed by a Power Klaw.

Turn 5-end:

At this point, I have all but 2 objectives and killed all of his Fast Attack so once he does a little shooting and fails a charge (thanks to the Grav-Wave Generator my unit was holding). I return the favor by putting some wounds here and there and fail a charge and the game ends with more objectives and FA kills on my end, victory to the Thousand Sons.

Game 2:

The mission this game was Big Guns Never Tire (D3+2 objectives with heavy support scoring) with Hammer & Anvil deployment (short table edge deployment). This game I didn't take too many pictures but it was a crazy flying circus of a game. My opponent's army had the following:
Chaos Demons:
-Greater Demon of Nurgle
-1 unit of Plaguebearers
-1 unit of Horrors
-3Tzeench Demon Princes with wings
Allied CSM force:
-Flying Demon Prince
-2 units of cultists.

This was a random turn with a bunch of Demon Princes flying around killing stuff
This game basically consisted of us flying our MCs around vector striking things for a few turns followed by a lot of combat. Having to deal with so many WS9 MCs really made things difficult for me, however, I made good use of the #5 and 6 Telepathy powers which bought me valuable time while my Demon Prince used Smash Attacks to destroy all of my opponent's MCs. Specifically, since this was Big Guns never tire, I just needed to kill his Heavies and make sure he couldn't score (which my Screamers helped with as they destroyed all of his scoring units). My Demon Prince was the MVP this game because I cast the #2 Divination power on him (4+ invul save) and used the Grimoire of True Names to give him a 2+ invulnerable save (if it successfully activates, its +2 to your invul saves). This was pretty ridiculous as Tzeentch Demons re-roll 1s on saves so I basically had a re-rollable 2+ invul save for much of the game. Interestingly enough, I lost a Sorcerer to the Warpstorm table this game the one turn we remembered to roll for it.

Game 3:

The mission this game was Crusade (d3+2 objectives) with Dawn of War deployment (long board edge). This was a rough game where I had to weather a TON of shooting from a DE army of doom. The army had the following:

Dark Eldar:
-Archon with fixins
-3 units of Trueborn in some ati-tank capacity
-6+ Venoms, a few units of Wyches with Haywires and Warriors with Darklances/Venom Cannons
-2 Eldar Voidraven Bombers.
Space Wolf allies: consisting of an
-Iron Priest
-Elite unit of Wolves with lotsa combi weapons in a Drop Pod
-2 Troop units of Wolves in Drop Pods.

The early turns were rough as I had to weather a lot of shooting...

This game started off rough as it was Nightfight and DE ignore Nightfight...Plus he went first and did a ton of damage to my Demon units with his Venoms and Space Wolves that got great scatters when deepstriking.

I eventually pulled it off as my Helldrakes/Obliterators killed all of his scoring
units and I held onto one or two myself.

Overall, I wiped out the Space Wolves with my Thousand Sons, Obliterators and Screamers then proceeded to wipe out all of his scoring units with a unit of Obliterators that I got into combat early on and my Helldrakes that flamed everything of his to death. My Helldrakes took his Lance weapons like pros passing most all of their saves and regaining what HP damage my opponent did. At one point, my Tzeench Demons kept going to ground for 2+ cover saves with Invisibility cast on them and they didn't go anywhere while they were re-rolling the 1s. At another point, my Demon Prince got shot to heck by Venoms (good rolling on his part and bad on mine) while my Sorcerer HQ killed the Archon but turned into a Demon Prince with no upgrades and just sat around like a retard asking for Venom shooting to take him out.

Coming out of this game, I really DESPISE the chart you have to roll on after killing something in a challenge. It is either something utterly lame and useless or it ends up hurting you.

Tournament Conclusion:
All in all, I think the army was pretty solid though I noticed a few things that I would change/play differently:

CSM Demon Princes:
While the Demon Prince with a Black Mace and good Psychic Powers can single-handedly win games (like in my second game),  I will most likely still drop the Demon Prince if I want to make the army more competitive. The Demon Prince was too expensive for what it provided and often times seemed like a 320 point-sink...I would have been much better off with taking a Greater Demon of Tzeench (because it is T6 and 5 wounds) or more units from the CSM codex (like terminators or more obliterators) because I think I suffered from not having enough bodies on the table at times. Also, a 3+ save on a Demon Prince of Tzeench comes in more handy than you'd think (all that venom shooting made me wish I had one last game)...All in all, I think I really wanted a solid close combat unit and more psychic powers so an extra sorcerer and a unit of terminators would probably have been the best option.

Army positioning and use:
Another lesson I learned was how positioning is key. The first game I had the Tzeench Herald and Horrors off the the extreme left and they did not do much for me and were just dead weight. The second game I kept them more in a central position and they were able to benefit more units and played more of a central support role that definitely helped me win the game. The third game I over-exposed the demon unit and let the opponent do more damage to them than I should have-his drop pods got some flamer wielding marines into position to put a lot of wounds on them and I almost lost them off the bat. So putting all of this together, keep your demon allies/support elements of your army central to be able to meaningfully help your army win but don't overexpose them so that the opponent can just take them out without much effort.

1 comment:

  1. What is better to take instead of prince for anti-tank like against land raider.