Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Codex: Khorne Daemonkin review

Well well well, here's a nice surprise. I've lost track of how many comments I've read over the years from people yearning for a mono-God book and now finally it's here. Although I don't plan on moving onto chaos worshipping until next year I couldn't help but pick up the book just to get a feel for what they're doing with things. I'll go over things in some detail but seeing as there are few new units included in the book I won't dwell on them too much and will instead focus on the other aspects to the book.

The Overall look of the book is the same high standard we are now used to. The pages are replete with colour artwork both old and new and detail the Daemonkin hosts of Khorne while giving us the usual timeline and force disposition pages. I found the new fluff on Khornes 8 hosts and how each type of Bloodthirster comes from a specific one particularly interesting. What's also nice (and a throwback to the codexes of old) is a section giving a one-page description and artwork of each unit (the Heldrake is oddly missing). A few pages focus on the markings and colour schemes of the hosts before we are treated to the colour gallery (with a few 'eavy metal spotlights) and then on to the datasheets and rules.

As the title suggests, this book is dedicated to all things Khorne, namely various CSM units and the Khorne Daemons from their respective books, plus a few new entries (Bloodthirsters) and notable absences (Kharn, Karanak, Skarbrand, Oblit/muties). Skarbrand I can understand as he has no model but the muties/oblits are odd as they have the MoK option in the CSM book and both Kharn and Karanak are so quintessentially Khorne that their absence is baffling. Both the predator and vindicator are also absent, as are havocs and chosen. The mark and daemon of Khorne rules are the same as their parent codexes which provides nice continuity and from what I can see most point costs are also uniform in that, for example, a Chaos Marine costs the same as in the CSM book plus the cost of MoK. Difference is that the following rules replace the rules found in the parent Codex. Skulls for the skull throne is effectively the same chaos champion rule regarding challenges. Blood for the Blood God is the real big difference here though and allows you to generate Blood tithe points for each unit you destroy or is destroyed with the BftBG rule, plus the same for characters in challenges. You tally these points to a max of 8 then expend them by picking one reward off the following table - the points are then zeroed and we begin again.

1 - Infernal contempt - all BftBG units have admantium will this turn.
2 - Insatiable bloodlust - all BftBG units have furious charge and rage this turn.
3 - Unstoppable ferocity - all BftBG units have FnP this turn.
4 - Apocalyptic fury - all BftBG units have +1 attacks this turn.
5 - Daemontide - 8 Bloodletters/5 fleshounds are summoned within 12" of a BftBG unit.
6 - Harbingers of blood and brass - 3 bloodcrushers/skullcannon are summoned within 12" of a BftBG unit.
7 - Dark apotheosis - a non-daemon BftBG character must take a Ld test - if failed, a spawn is summoned in 6", if passed a daemon Prince with daemonic flight and warp-forged armour is instead. The character is removed but slay the warlord is not awarded and a warlord trait / relic is retained.
8 - Fury unbound - as for 7 but a Bloodthirster of unfettered fury is summoned instead.

Before I go any further just a note to say that both the warp storm table and daemonic instability are gone from this codex. Not only that, but the chaos boon table is gone also. This removes some flavour but also is adequately replaced by the above table to provide the player with bonuses and ways for psychic-hating Khorne to summon in reinforcements. For the most part the armoury is a streamlined amalgam of the two books with new relics and an absence of chaos rewards. A collar of Khorne can be taken as can ichor blood. The axe of khorne, normally reserved for bloodthirsters, is a welcome addition to the melee weapons section, granting ap2 at initiative and instant death on a 6 to wound. Chaos Lords seem to have the least restricted access to wargear on the list. Unless specifically mentioned assume all the units below have the Blood for the Blood God rule and either mark of Khorne or Daemon of Khorne.  

Let's take a look at the HQ choices as there are plenty. The Chaos Lord, Daemon Prince, Herald, Blood Throne, Skulltaker and all 3 Bloodthristers are in there. Things to note include the lack of rewards for the Herald and the FOC changes in that he takes up a single slot and doesn't need to upgrade to a Blood throne any more - it's a separate entry. Also, though loci are still in the daemonic gifts are gone though the relics compensate for this. The Bloodthirster of unfettered fury is verbatim the regular Bloodthirster we know and love. The Slightly more costly BT of insensate rage is the chap with the D strength AP2 mega-axe (piles in and fights at I1) who also has the rage USR. Lastly, the slightly more expensive Wrath of Khan, I mean Khorne, BT has Admantium will, hatred (characters) a bloodflail and hellfire as well as an axe of Khorne. These provide a 12" s7 Ap2 assault 3 and a S5 ap4 soul blaze template respectively.

Troops consist of cultists, Chaos Space Marines, Beserkers and Bloodletters, though note that the starting size of all these units is 8 (upgradable to standard maximums) and that the Bloodreaper can't take rewards as per the Herald. A small elites section only contains Terminators, possessed and Bloodcrushers, again oddly lacking chosen who are, after all, the chosen of the Chaos Gods after all. Fast attack is pretty crowded with rhinos, Heldrakes, Bikers, Raptors, Warp Talons, Flesh hounds and spawn. Heavy support contains Land raiders (also a DT for terminators), Forgefiends, Maulerfiends, Defilers, Soulgrinders, Helbrutes and Skull cannons. Finally, we couldn't go without mentioning the big guy. Indeedy, the Lord of Skulls is in there as a Lord of War.

Now we've looked at the FOC it's time to look at another new feature first introduced to us in the Necron codex. Rather than a simple detachment with an alternative FOC this book packs a Blood Host detachment, which works in much the same way as a Necron decurion. The core element is a Slaughtercult (covered momentarily) for which each entitles you to a Lord of Slaughter - either one of the 3 Bloodthirsters or a Lord of Skulls. You can then choose 1-8 formations (again, detailed below) per Slaughtercult. One of these 5 isn't actually a formation and is a war engine, entitling you to a Helbrute, Defiler, Soulgrinder, Forgefiend, Maulerfiend or Lord of Skulls. While I think these new style detachments have their place, I'm not so sure this one works very well due to the limited units available and the points costs involved. The perks (as well as the individual formation perks) are that you get to reroll warlord traits and you get a bonus blood tithe point at the start of each turn.

The Slaughtercult is your core detachment and is effectively one HQ chosen from all the options except the BTs, 2-8 troops (except cultists), 1-4 possessed (sales pitch? at least tomb blades were good!), 0-2 cultists and 0-2 spawn. This actually has some good perks in that as well as the Warlord reroll you also get to auto-remove cultists who fail morale checks to bolster that blood tithe and you can choose a second reward on the Blood tithe table as long as it has a lower value that the first to a maximum of 3. I can see this being particularly useful to really milk all you can from that tithe table.

The Brazen onslaught is 1-4 Terminators and 2-4 Bloodcrushers, who benefit from +1A if outnumbered in combat. Khorne's bloodstorm is 2-4 Raptors, 1-4 Warp Talons and 0-1 Heldrakes, allowing +1S to any hammer of wrath or vector strikes they make - nice! The Gorepack is 2-4 bikers and 1-4 Flesh hounds, who gain move through cover, preferred enemy (psykers) and the Fleshounds gain HoW, while the bikers HoW attacks gain shred. Lastly, the charnel cohort is a Daemon-exclusive formation granting counter-attack, rerolls to warlord trait, -2 to fear tests and the ability to reroll deep strike for the HQ and use him to stop other units in 6" from this formation scattering. Overall they're pretty nice if you happen to have the right quantity of models to arrange in this specific way.

Warlord Traits:
1 - Icon of War - reroll failed charge rolls for warlord and all BftBG units in 12" - nice!
2 - Disciple of Khorne - Warlord has zealot.
3 - Arch-slaughterer - Warlord has +1A.
4 - Favoured of Khorne (Skulltaker) - Warlord generates one extra blood tithe point if wins a challenge.
5 - Butcher King - Warlord has preferred enemy.
6 - Destined for Glory - automatically passes LD rolls on results 7/8 on the blood tithe table.

Tactical objectives
11 - Khorne cares not - 1vp if a unit, friend or foe, was destroyed. 3-5 = D3, 6+ = D3+3.
12 - Altar of gore - 1 Vp if an enemy that was controlling an objective is destroyed (D3 if you now control)
13 - Blood and skulls for Khorne - 1VP if an enemy character killed during a challenge (D3 if an IC).
14 - Unfettered butchery - 1 VP if an enemy unit killed during assault phase.
15 - Murder-call - 1VP if a daemon unit summoned or deep struck.
16 - Blood God's scorn - 1VP if 1+ enemy units falling back or if a psyker destroyed.

Artefacts of Slaughter
Goredrinker - S+1, AP2, unwieldy. Blood feast rule means it gets stronger the more it kills. 1-2 wounds = +1 strength, 3-4 =rampage, 5-7 = double strength, 8+ = instant death.
Blood-forged armour - 3+ armour save, eternal warrior and FnP.
Brazen rune - Admantium will and once per game can cause any psyker in 24" to perils on any double, though the bearer loses admantium will after.
Blade of endless bloodshed - AP3 - generates an additional blood tithe point if caused any casualties in melee.
Skull helm of Khorne - bearer has fear and also gains additional attacks for every 6 he rolls to hit in melee.
Kor'Lath, the axe of ruin - AP2 specialist weapon with deapitating blow (instant death on to wound roll of 6) and caged fury, which means a Bloodthirster of unfettered fury will be summoned in 6" if the bearer dies! It suffers D3 wounds per turn (++ saves allowed) however.

In conclusion this is a pretty good release that has done well to piggy-back onto the Bloodthirster release and also helps to make playing a mono-God Chaos list a lot easier through needing only one book, working synergistically within a God-specific ruleset and also eliminating more complicated rules like the warp storm and boon tables. I think enthusiasts may feel that it fell short of the mark (pun intended) with Kharn being left out and therefore even if allied in being unable to add to the BftBG tally. However, that aside let's hope that this book is the first of the four to be released and not a one-off.

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