- Chaos Spawn Review – Mutated Beyond Reason
- Obliterator Review – Weapons? We Got Weapons
- Chaos Space Marines Unit Review – The Few, the Proud, the Fallen
- The Chaos Sorcerer and How to Make Him Effective
- Maulerfiend Review – Unleash the Daemonic Hound
- Defiler Review – What’s My Battlefield Role?
- Forgefiend Review: So Much Dakka
Ah, the Defiler. You want to love it – it’s a big giant spidery Daemon, but in the current Chaos codex it’s hard to ignore its problems. Still, you can get some mileage out of it, just don’t expect anything amazing either.
Rules & Info
OK, so this beast has a lot going on with special rules, and they’re all great. The Defiler is a Daemon, so you’ve got a 5+ invulnerable save. It’s because of that 5+ invulnerable that I’m a fan of the daemonic engines like the Defiler, Maulerfiend, Forgefiend, etc. It’s never anything to bet on, but it can definitely swing things in your favor with some luck.
Like the other daemon engines, it comes with Daemonforge. I admit, I forget about this rule on the Defiler, probably because it’s a new rule to him with this codex. Don’t be like me and remember he has it. Getting a once per-game chance to re-roll failed wounds or armor penetration rolls is a great asset, especially if you’re tossing the Battle Cannon onto the heads of some Marines.
To continue on with the daemonic engine benefits, the Defiler has It Will Not Die. If you’re like me then you won’t roll that 5+ when you need it, but it’s there, it’s useful, and sometimes it even works.
With so many legs, it’s not surprising that the Defiler comes with Fleet. The problem, which I’ll get into below, is the odd mix of close combat and shooting. Fleet is great, don’t get me wrong, but getting too close to the enemy is often how it goes down.
I almost forgot about Daemonic Possession. This will let you shake off a Shaken or Stunned result on a roll of a 2+. Daemonic Possession will be used a lot considering how much attention a Defiler gets. It’s truly a game changing rule in my opinion.
Stock the Defiler comes with a Battle Cannon, Reaper Autocannon, Twin-linked Heavy Flamer, and two Power Fists. Oh, he also has a Searchlight and Smoke Launchers, but who cares about those?
Keeping with the stock setup on the Defiler is what I always do. You have the option of changing out the Twin-linked Heavy Flamer for a Havoc Launcher or Power Scourge. Neither are worth it to me. See, a big problem is the Battle Cannon being ordnance. Firing the Battle Cannon means snap firing all of its other weapons. I know, I know. An ordnance weapon hindering a giant walking spider is silly. As a result, paying points to replace the Heavy Flamer, which you’ll hardly use anyway since it can’t snap fire, to get another weapon that can’t snap fire just doesn’t make sense.
The Power Scourge is neat, but not worth the 25pts it costs to me. The benefit of it is that any models basing the Defiler will lose D3 from their Weapon Skill from the Flail rule. A Defiler is WS3, and not being hit on 3’s, and having the chance to actually hit something on 3’s, is great. However, that’s where the usefulness of the Power Scourge ends. It does also have the profile of: S8, AP2, but it’s not a Specialist Weapon and therefore does not grant another attack. If both Power Fists are gone then you’d attack with this weapon. The Flail rule is in effect just by having the weapon. It’s just not worth paying 25pts to be hit a bit less, and hit a bit more, on a model that’s already too expensive at 195pts.
You can also replace the Reaper Autocannon. The choices there are Power Fist, Twin-linked Heavy Bolter, and Twin-linked Lascannon. The Power Fist is free and isn’t a bad idea to do. Losing the Reaper to get another attack will help the Defiler where it struggles, in close combat. The Heavy Bolter option is also free, but I’d rather keep the Reaper for the S7 shots.
Then there’s the Lascannon, which is a 20pt upgrade, and it’s just not worth it. Remember, these extra guns are snap firing when you fire your Battle Cannon, so paying points for weapons that will almost always be snap firing is rather silly. It is an option though. You could always forgo the Battle Cannon shot to fire the Lascannon if you want to try one-shotting a vehicle. With a Twin-linked weapon the odds aren’t bad, even with a BS3. Still, it’s a single weapon and we all know how reliable banking on one ranged weapon is for cracking a tank.
Lastly, the Defiler has Chaos Vehicle Equipment access. The only thing worthwhile there is the Dirge Caster. The Dirge Caster is 5pts, and enemy units within 6″ of you can’t fire Overwatch. Not getting immobilized or destroyed by Overwatch is worth the 5pts every single time.
Use on the Battlefield
This is the big dilemma with the Defiler, what to actually do with it. At only AV12, your basic Krak Grenade toting Marines can pretty handily glance it down in close combat. Happens to me all the time. Also, Melta Bombs are extremely deadly because of the modest armor value. Pitting the Defiler against any Dreadnought that has a higher initiative, Defiler being I3, is almost a sure way to lose it as well. Of course, being AV12 also means that S7 ranged weapons can penetrate it. As you can tell, I take issue with the it only being AV12.
Honestly, the best use I’ve found for a Defiler is to park him way back and just lob in the Battle Cannon. A S8, AP3 Ordnance shot that’s has a 72″ range is its best asset. It’s sad but true. I will use him to threaten things that come too close, and play bodyguard to units that don’t want to be in combat, like a Forgefiend. A Defiler being blown off the board turn #1 or #2 is not uncommon. That Battle Cannon tends to draw a lot of attention its way.
I really want to love the Defiler, but in the current Chaos codex it’s just too hard. With the low armor, high cost, and such a mixed combat role, getting anything of value out of him is a struggle. It’s too bad because it’s such a cool model. Here’s hoping GW makes putting it on the table a viable option in the next codex.
Anyone have any real luck with their Defiler? If someone finds the current Defiler extremely useful then I’d love to hear from you.