I want to be excited about this upcoming Khorne minidex. I want to be pumped because: A) More Chaos is good and B) When you have a tetra-system like the Chaos guys have, giving something to one God is a great way to presage every other god getting theirs.
Except, you know, that’s not what we’ve seen so far. With the End Times, Nurgle got his with some genuinely gorgeous models and a mix of “Unholy Crozier dripping with filth, that’s strong,” and “Flavorful, like a week-old corpse marinating in warm mayonnaise!” rules. If you were playing Chaos in Fantasy and wanted some big, beefy, gnarly models, you got that. Then the Skaven dropped some more Nurgle-friendly stuff, and Archaon gave you more justification for using it.
Archaon, of course, also beefed up the Khornate Quadrant with a Blood-God-Approved version of the Putrid Blightkings and some new—albeit precariously-perched—Greater Daemon options.
That’s cool! That’s cool for folks who like Khorne, and I get that lots of folks like Khorne. At my LGS, since I started playing in October 2013, there have been roughly six Chaos players for 40k (contrast this with maybe 6 people actively and currently running Eldar or their Dark brethren). Of that group, three are in the same family; two brothers and the elder brother’s son. They have the models, but play extremely rarely, and of course have other armies to fall back on. Both of the remaining two were gentlemen new to the game, and super-excited to hop on the Chaos train, and drive it right into Khorne Townne (Where the first beating’s free!).
However, they quickly grabbed another ticket out; one moved away but was ready to melt his CSM/Daemons down even before he did due to what was done to Heldrakes. The other jumped onto Space Wolves, then Blood Angels, all asking for advice on how to improve his Chaos forces and ignoring the continual response of “Get more than a thousand points of models for them.”
The last guy, of course, is this guy. I don’t particularly blame the kids who abandoned Chaos, because playing CSM in particular means a lot of getting your ass kicked. The first guy, he bought up Heldrakes en masse and was utterly devastated when I explained how 7th changed them. The second one kept trying to buy Heldrakes, and I kept gently, patiently explaining he’d be better served with a Soul Grinder, which is more survivable, about equally capable of dropping fliers, and can serve other roles on the table as well. I should disclaim that I’m not flapping around instructing folks on how to play Chaos. I’m the Chaos guy, so they come to me, they have the questions, and I do my best to be very honest about their prospects.
Of course, some of what limited both of these lads in their success was the focus on Khorne. Khorne’s moderately good at assault. That’s the whole thing there. The guns are shite, and the daemonic iteration can’t even get grenades to allow for charges through terrain. You can employ a Skull Cannon to blast a target and then remove the init penalty for charging through terrain, but sweet noxious censers that’s a Byzantine workaround for an army that wants to be charging early and often. For mobility your options prior to 7th were deepstriking and there you go, which would have been awesome and flavorful if, you know, daemons could charge out of a deepstrike. But of course they cannot do this thing, and even if they did, still no grenades!
Now, in 7th, we at least have the option of doing clever things like packing Bloodletters into a rhino—at which point there’d be no charging on the disembark and you’d almost want to let the tank blow up around you, since you’ll pass the pinning test. Of course, in suffering that wreckage you risk an explosion, and if Ork players thought their trukks blowing up was bad, I’d love to show them the world where our toughness is one lower. You can throw your ‘letters into a Land Raider, and I’ve even thought about building an 8-man unit of Heralds to ram down my opponent’s throat in a spray of flaming swordery. However, that’s a tremendous amount of points to deliver a unit which is still going to lose a significant number of its troops to any MEQ it charges into; the AP3 on the swords is great, but you’re striking at the same initiative at best, and even overwatch has a great chance of stripping one or two models. Since the transports limit how many troops you’re bringing on that charge, your overall results are likely about as bad as just footslogging 20 ‘letters.
Something like a durable flying assault transport would be cool, but of course Chaos Marines don’t get that. Daemons don’t get transports. If this new minidex release comes with some sort of open-topped daemonic skimmer, maybe AV 12 on the front, then suddenly I’m excited. But as long as I’m wishlisting, I’ll just give all the ‘letters some sort of ranged weapon attack to take advantage of their BS5 and give them something to do on deepstrike turns.
Naah. That’s not really realistic. I read a rumor that the Bloodthirster rules for the new models in 40k will provide at least one StrD option, and that’s cool. I don’t run Bloodthirsters, or particularly want to, and unless their survivability is dramatically increased they probably won’t survive to reach many assaults. Again, you could always give them something like “Meteoric Pounce,” where they have the capacity to drop from Swooping to Gliding under a particular condition and still assault; maybe if they first-turn deep strike, for instance. Even if doing so cost you a wound I think players would take advantage of using that to get their rather expensive murder-machine into close combat.
Still, though, none of this does anything for the humble Slaanesh fan. Where’s my hotness? I feel for the Tzeentch players too, of course, particularly with so many of the rules they’ve been handed—from Warpflame to the rules for Rubric Marines—being pretty dross. Again, though, my T3 super-fast troops with insanely high Initiative values forget how to dance with deadly grace if they have to wade through a puddle, whereas Tzeentch is at least bad at being far away and shooting people, which is innately a state of greater survivability than being bad at assaulting in a fragile fashion.
I get that people are excited for Khorne, because he’s an easy god to get behind. He’s big and red and hits shit, and even when he does tactically incomprehensible things (like the aforementioned absence of guns on his troops) you can still say, “Well, he’s a berserk dude.” I also get loving Nurgle, and indeed I do enjoy Papa N and his squamous works. But I remember reading about Slaanesh when I was a sophomore in high school and thinking, “Yes, this is great. It’s distinct, it’s unusual, it’s far from overpowered.” I was sold then, and had no idea I was getting into such a depressingly unsupported niche. The Daemon codex has one named Slaanesh character, which you are not going to be taking or playing. The Greater Daemon model is ridiculous, but don’t worry, the monster’s fragile enough that it won’t be making it into a fight before it’s shot off of the board! Plus, even if it did…that incredible Initiative 10 and all those attacks aren’t especially useful when, you know, no grenades.
The big surprise at the tail of the Advent Calendar for 2014 was Khorne stuff. The last CSM supplement (Crimson Slaughter) is basically Khorne stuff. We’re about to get more Khorne stuff, after double-dipping into Khorne in Fantasy.
I just want to feel pretty. Is that so much to ask?