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An employee of my local store pre-ordered the Daemon Spearhead box set, and I got to see the codex in action today.
The battle was 2k pts vs. 1k of Blood Angels and 1k of Vanilla Marines. The BA had 3 Jump squads, 2 land speeders, a bike, and a few death company. The other marines had a drop pod dreadnaught, tricked out commander, dev squad with 4 plasma cannons, dev squad with 4 lascannons, 5 man scouts, a predator, and 2 tac squads in drop pods.
The Daemon guy had the Plague Father, 3 squads of 20 plague bearers, 5 screamers of Tzeentch, 5 flamers of Tzeentch, a Tzeentchy Daemon Prince, and a Soul Grinder.
Damons went first, the guy rolled less than the required number, and so had the drop the other half of his army. (You pick half, and if you roll high enough, you get that half). The Tzeentch stuff came in, along with some plague bearers and the plague father. Chaos had a great first turn of shooting. The Plague Father has one helluva nasty shooting attack. The Damon Prince took out the tank.
Marines charged into combat with the plague bears but didn't do much.
Turn two for Daemons the Soul Grinder came in, and along with the Plague Father and Daemon Prince, continued to roast marines. The plasma cannon squad was destroyed, along with a good chunk of a BA vet assault squad.
A marine tac squad came in and did 2 woulds to the Daemon Prince.
From here the rest of the battle became a real grind. The chaos forces got locked mostly in hand to hand. The soul grinder ran short of good targets and the Daemon Prince was eventually killed in a epic hth with some BA Death company. Both sides wiped the other out. The Plague father, after getting pummeled by a couple of thunder hammers, and several power weapons, finally died. The flamers and screamers got killed by bolter fire. They didn't have many targets to shoot and floundered for the game. The plaguebearers performed well for the most part, but two squads got wiped out. One from 3 marine squads attacking them, and another by the tricked out marine commander and dread. The Soul Grinder died turn 5, and the marines cleaned up after that. Narrow win for the marines, and scary considering it was two veteran marine players versus a new army.
Overall, I'm impressed with the new Chaos dex. The Plague Father is a real monster, however he is slow, and can be overwhelmed if he is by himself. The Daemon prince was also just plane nasty, but goes down to bolter fire. The smaller Tzeentch units would have done better if they had had better targets. The way the deep struck and scattered, it left them to just get shot up. The real winner here was the soul grinder. With it's phlegm attack and harvester, combined with it's great armor and reasonable cost, it's quite the daemon tank.
As an IG player, Nurgle bothers me the most out the 4. The Tzeentch stuff was good for shooting, but expensive and fragile compared to Nurgle. Nurgle's biggest weakness is that the units can take far more punishment than they can dish out. Plague bearers only have one attack at S4 W3. Against elite characters and walkers, they don't do much. However, against my IG where power weapons and S10 weapons are hard to come by, it's scary stuff.
The Daemon army is highly variable. Because the whole army has to deep strike, it can really impact how well the game plays out for them. All of their units really excel at whatever they're designed to do, and are decent to average in other areas. (i.e. Nurgle is great for taking a beating, dishes it out ok, and has a few good shooting things) I'd say if you're planning to play Daemons, it's especially vital to play to their strengths. Daemons are tough, but they're not well rounded units. And for their cost, and variable deployment from deep strike, they have to make it up by really excelling at what they were meant to do.
Facing Daemons, a Daemon player does not have a lot of control over how his army comes in, you do. Use that to your advantage and force the Daemon player into situations where he's not playing to his strengths. Blood letters should fight fodder, plaguebears against elites, and quickly engage Tzeentch in hth. Their stuff is very scary at first, but can be taken down eventually.
Hope you guys find this interesting.