Skargit’s V1.0 Daemon Legions Review
Well folks, it’s here… it’s really here.
After months of testing, list building, min-maxing and double-daemon engine, D6 Igniter shot lists… we’ve finally arrived. Our Official 1.0 army book is complete.
It’s been an interesting journey. I was never a Daemon player in other systems, but was always intrigued by the modelling and painting opportunities the army presented. As of 9th Age, I’ve gone full-bore into the Daemon Legions and couldn’t be happier. The army, since its onset in 9th, has been one of careful decisions and maddening (but fair) restrictions; something we’ve gotten used to. This is an army that doesn’t quite build like the others, doesn’t quite get the panacea’s offered to literally everyone else- but, somehow-someway, is probably better for it.
One thing to keep in mind; every unit of ours is Otherworldly and has Daemonic Instability. This means a 5+ ward save for the entire army (!), immune to psychology and our break tests don’t make us flee, but cause extra wounds. That is a huge, huge mechanic change for our army compared to just about everyone else.
Keep that in mind regarding balance; our Army Book Committee had to create a balanced army that breaks multiple key rules of the game by just existing- which is perfect for the aberrations that are the Daemonic Legions.
So let’s have a look at the book itself, shall we?
Marks and Aspects of the Dark Gods
Being little balls of concentrated evil, most of our units can (and will) be marked by their patron deity of perversions/pestilence/pugilism/p’xtuasnjf. These are a great little flavor builder; daemons of one god don’t like daemons of another god… and won’t even pay heed to their force’s commander/battle standard bearer unless they are marked the same (or unbound). Daemons are a prejudicial lot… who knew?
Each mark gives a benefit to the bearer. For example, Wrath turns a Daemon into a furious combatant in the first round of combat (+1 Strength), while Pestilence creates opportunities for further longevity via Regeneration (with proper support) and slightly scary in the close combat phase with Poisoned Attacks.
The Aspects are divided into minor and supreme. These augment the trademark abilities and skills of the unit or character they are given to; that said, not all aspects are created equal. One of the minor quibbles I have with the army book are the Aspects- they seem a bit stilted. Change, for example, has an interesting (though, not Core-friendly) minor aspect and an all-but useless (and expensive) supreme aspect. Wrath’s minor aspect also brings great value… while the supreme aspect (hatred) is very, very expensive for its worth.
There are some interesting combos you can make- so I encourage you to play around.
A Word on Mono v. Poly Lists
For the Daemon-neophytes, a Poly list will include multiple marks while a Mono list will include daemons from only one Dark Lord. Poly lists take a few hits regarding army composition. For example, you are only allowed ONE choice each in rare if the unit is not marked the same as your general. There are obvious ways to game this to your desires- though, no double blazing chariot, double wrath chariot builds for you- and that is a good thing.
Mono lists throw the restrictions right out the window and offer the ability to buy minor aspects for every unit in the army, absent a Harbinger. That’s the big advantage of the Mono list and one not to be taken lightly- an entire Pestilence army with 5+ poisoned attacks? Yikes.
Some very interesting gifts have been bestowed upon our Infernal legions. The Army Book Committee have done a pretty good job in offering us utility and intrigue with our items. Scrolls of the Eighth Pact (admittedly, one of my favourites) gives the bearer a choice from all of the basic paths of magic (except for Light) while the trio of tokens have some very synergy-specific (all based on mark) bound spells with a low casting value.
The one real knock against us is, except for magical banners, we have literally no access to basic magic items. That means we are the only army in the entire game without access to a proper 4+ ward save. Ouch. We can still have pestilence units with 4+ regenerations, with the right Aspect, but with the abundance and ease of access of flaming attacks…
Daemons have three main flavours of character: Daemon Princes (lords), Greater Daemons (lords) and Harbingers (heroes). As we’ve gone through the testing phase of 9th age, it has become apparent that the Daemon Prince and Greater Daemons are a bit…well… easy to pick out and kill, giving a 500+ point swing quite easily. That said, Daemon Princes can be geared up to fit pretty much any role you want (Close Combat Support, Tank, Support Magic, Blasting Magic, Hybrid, etc.), but it really, really costs you.
Greater Daemons are usually a little more specific in their roles. The Scourge of Wrath, for instance, is an absolute beat-stick of a character. The Courtesan and Father of Pestilence each have specific roles (flanking and tanking), and execute them with aplomb. The Weaver, unfortunately, has not fared well. He has been given a +1 to cast for the final version, but still feels far too expensive and easy to kill for his points value. Also, his basic path selection is less than optimal. If there’s one real disappointment in the book for me, this is it.
Harbingers, on the other hand, are fiendishly enjoyable. All four flavours have an intriguing amount of customization and utility. Poly lists are truly spoiled for choice; need a close combat master? Harbinger of Wrath on a Crusher. Need some magic and shooting support? Harbinger of Change on a blazing chariot. Want a proper outrider? Harbinger of Lust on a Seeker with the Lash of Lust.
You pay for the expertise of utility and, in all honesty, many of the Harbinger builds are very, very specific in their usage. That said, they are a blast when working in concert with one another and their respective units and can be terrifyingly effective.
We have four selections- all infantry, all aligned to one of the four Gods. Now, this is probably one of the sorest spots for Daemon players, and here’s why:
- If you play a Mono-List, you have one core option.
- Other than Tallymen, the options are rather flimsy.
- They are all quite pricey, except for basic Horrors of Change.
- Some aspects and upgrades are of questionable use.
- Most of the selections REQUIRE a Harbinger to babysit them if they’re to fulfill their role, competently.
- Tallymen are slow, but can pump out respectable damage and, with the proper support, are damned near impossible to delete.
- Horrors are great for massed-rank tarpitting and, with the Conclave (Champion) upgrade, gain access to Blue Fire and Pink Fire. Great, great spells.
- Sirens are fast, have a load of attacks on profile, but tend to be a bit squishy, and are generally not great at killing things.
- Slaughterers...well, they can have a high S value, decent mobility and speed... lackluster attacks. Their upgrade takes away their Lethal Strike, as well. Probably decent in MSU or with big time Harbinger support... but, then again, almost everything does well with Harbinger support.
Daemon players are used to this- our core really, really is a tax on the army. Our Special and Rare choices have so many fun, effective and dangerous options that it really does feel worth it. So, pay your 25%, make of it what you can (I suggest Tallymen with a Harb and Horrors if you’re running Poly) and move on!
This makes me both love and hate the book. I love every bloody option here… and hate it all because I can’t take it all. Completely unfair.
We have everything from fast moving monstrous infantry (Clawed Fiends), fighty tanks (Pestilent Beasts), Harassers/Hunters (Plaguelings, Helhounds, Sky Serpents), Fire Support (Igniters)…chariots… monstrous cavalry…way too much stuff to go into detail about here.
The ABC has done a wonderful job of making our specialty troops feel like specialists. If you need a job done, there is a tool within this slot for you. This is also where points go to die- because of the functionality and plethora of choices in this section, one must be judicious about their choices.
Like all things in this army, it has been created to challenge you in the pursuit of balance - what can support each other, and the rest of your force, the best?
Personally, I take a unit of Igniters, Plaguelings and Sky Serpents from this part of the book… and really wish I could fit more. I use my Special points on chaff, hunting and fire support- three things that fit well into my list. That said, I would love the ability to throw down a unit of 5 Crusher Cavalry to rip down my flank… but alas, points are sparse.
A special word on Crusher Cavalry- they are fairly fast, hit like a truck and have moderate survivability. They won't take on a max-size unit of Imperial Guard and come out the better for it, but can certainly roll through most core, and smaller special/rare units, fairly easily. Also, they are a scoring unit- something we lack much access to.
The way this portion of the book is designed really feels like it’s forcing you into Need versus Want, mode. I really enjoy that aspect of the decisions, here. Any Army Book that makes me feel slightly pained to leave something out has done a great job with choice, in my opinion.
This section seems to have been written to find that missing piece in your army. The options aren’t exactly legion, but there’s enough here to keep things interesting. The Daemon Engine (now One of a Kind), in particular, can function as a Swiss Army knife based on its upgrades, though suffers from the same issue as most large targets (a multi-hundred point cannonball catcher). Blight Flies give you a mobile (if a tad slow) anvil, and with Harbinger support, can be an absolute rock of a unit. Blazing Chariots are my personal favourite- mobile, flying, fire support that when taken in multiples (especially with Change Harbingers on similar Chariots) can become a mobile gunline that can skirt the edges of the field and cause a ton of havoc.
The Wrath and Lust alters have some interesting utility, but aren’t seen too often on the field, currently. That said, they are far from useless- maybe just not optimal.
I am more than happy with how our book has turned out. One must remember, there has always been a schism within the book itself- it must be balance, first, around Poly and then, later, optimized with add-ins and changes for Mono lists. That’s five army book sin one, in a way.
As it currently stands, Poly-God lists have loads of potential and variety. Mono-Lists vary in functionality; while Mono-Change can be pretty terrifying, Mono-Lust is rarely seen and, while playable, is certainly not super competitive. Your mileage with the current mono lists may vary.
All in all, our Army Book committee have come a long, long way since the days of the Dual-Engine lists of yore and created a set of units that require careful planning and tactical play to get the most out of. Our core still feels like a work in progress and our items selection can be a bit disheartening, but those, as well as the general issue of large targets, are the only real blemishes on the book, overall.
For those of you already playing Daemon Legions, it’s been a fun ride getting to where we are. For those who are thinking of giving this army a shot, I really encourage you to do so- it’s a very different mindset that goes into the list building as well as so many units that seem to go contrary to your normal expectations (5+ ward save, sort-of-unbreakable across the board will do that).
I look forward to continuing the Daemon Legions with all of you, and a huge thanks to our ABC, Supporters and everyone involved with Ninth Age; you’ve proven that this is a project that listens to the community- even when we do get rambunctious, regarding changes.
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