Defiler Review – What’s My Battlefield Role?

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.

DefilerLike 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.

Defiler Wargear

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.

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  • …I still want one! One day I shall have all the demon engines I want. Regardless of how bad people think they are ;)

    • It’s an awesome model. For that reason alone it’s worth having. It’s not useless, but it really should be cheaper. Still, against the right opponent a Defiler could prove devastating.

      • The rules are a bonus of course. Mainly for the model.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I have occasionally used one for fun,but it loses out to the Soul Grinder on every count.

    I generally put it in a ruin, its spidery legs mean its easy to get 25% obscured whilst still being able to shoot, and the cover save, 4 hull points, IWND and 5++ make it reasonably durable even with AV12 and since its a walker it can move around the ruin without immobilising itself. I always swap out the Reaper for the free Power Fist.

    I use it the same way I use loyalist Dreadnoughts, as a babysitter for shooty units, generally my IA13 Rapiers or Artillery. It isn’t bad against deep striking Terminators for instance as it hits at I3 and will chew through sternguard etc, and can hit clumped up deepstrikers with that heavy flamer before charging them. Now infantry can only use one grenade per turn against it it is more robust, along with other walkers, and better in this countercharge role.

    Might be cool to combine a Defiler or two with a Warpsmith, the Warpsmith can use ‘shatter defences’ against the terrain on the other side of the board reducing the cover save enemies will get against the battlecannon, and he can repair the Defiler. The two together, along with a rapier battery to make the Warpsmith T7, would be a good fire base and a pretty mean CC proposition if the enemy got too close.

    • Pretty well the way I’ve used it when I do as well. For AV12 it’s resilient, but it’s still only AV12. Hitting that AV13 mark, like the Soul Grinder, makes ALL the difference in the world though.

  • Berman

    They really really need to give it a rule called stabilizing legs or something so it doesn’t snap fire the rest of the weapons. Also 200pts (near enough) for AV 12 is sad face.

    • Completely agree. If you have a Soul Grinder as an option then it’s hard to look twice at the Defiler.

  • I was close to picking up a Defiler the other week, it’s an awesome model. But it suffers. The rules just don’t cut it. It should have an option to exchange the Battle Cannon for a chaos version of the Punisher Gatling Cannon or a light version of Hades Gatling Cannon that the Lord of Skull is toting. Something that would reward you going forward and mesh well with its close combat prowess.

    And av13 for crying out loud.

    • Exactly. It’s like all of its weapons are at odds with one another. Battle Cannon is for keeping your distance, but you have a walker with fleet, and a fair amount of attacks. The Battle Cannon prevents the other weapons, the ones that make more sense on it, from firing. He wants to get close, but the crazy weapon configurations, and that AV12, make it hard.

      Please GW, make the Defiler good next codex. OK?

  • I find using a defiler as the daemon walker is the best use of it. (counts as the av13 walker…dang i am horrible at names today)

    • Soul Grinder, and I think every Chaos player would agree.

      • I give up shooting the nurgle ones. They are ridiculous.

        • hah! Nurgle anything is pretty much that way.

  • Yeah, the comparison with the Soul Grinder just kills it. Give a Soul Grinder Phlegm and the Torrent, and it’s basically the same, except it’s 10 Points cheaper, and it trades in a bunch of rarely used things for an extra Point of Armour everywhere, which is huge.

    It needs a price drop, or Front AV13, at the bare minimum. Being able to start with something cheaper and non-Ordnance, like a Hades Autocannon, instead of the Battle Cannon, would be a big help, too. If it were like 130 with the Hades Autocannon, I’d be all over it. Also, the Power Scourge should either be like 5 Points, or a Specialist Weapon for maybe 15.

    • Yep, yep, and yep. It wouldn’t be hard to make it a viable option, if only GW recognizes that.

  • JD Brink

    I’m coming into this conversation late, but I have similar concerns.
    I love my defiler! I just wish it worked out better. It sure seems like it should be an evil engine of massive destruction, but it just never works out like that. Usually dies too soon.
    I agree on the general juxtiposition of the battle cannon vs a fleet heavy combat hitter. Do I move forward to smash stuff or use my turn to lob a big shell into the enemy? It usually turns out that i fire the big gun and inch forward, or end up going into smash mode when the enemy comes too close. I’ve done some great things with this thing (like smashing in the hood of vehicles with my big claws), but not very often. it usually gets gunned down before i can make great use of it.

    • I bust mine out every now and then just because I love it. I try and try to make it work on the table, but it rarely ever does anything worthwhile. Generally, it’s the Battle Cannon that does anything of note, and that’s if it’s not dead on turn #2 because he has it.


      CSM have so many units I WANT to like but can’t. Mutilators are another such unit, so are Chosen. Some day…

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