Khorne Daemonkin Game and Thoughts

On Wednesday I played an 1,850 game with my Khorne Daemonkin, Disciples of Twilight, against Orks. Instead of doing a full-on report I’ll just cover it briefly to move on to my thoughts, which is the focus for the article.

Khorne Daemonkin vs Orks

Gabe’s Ork list was very shooty. Between the Kill Bursta tank, Flashgitz, Lootas and Shoota Boyz there was no shortage of dakka. We lined this game up ahead of time and Gabe made sure he had a counter to the rampaging Khorne Daemonkin. Between his list and my amazingly bad luck, it was a rough fight for Khorne. I’m not saying I couldn’t have played it better, I could have for sure, but it just was not my night all around. Despite my shortcomings in the game I only lost by one point.

My Experience Thus Far

I’ve now played 10 games with Khorne Daemonkin and have won 5 and lost 5. For me that’s pretty good since usually I’m losing more than I win. The thing is, I started off really strong but lately I’ve been struggling. Some of it is no doubt people becoming familiar with how Khorne Daemonkin operates. For example, denying a challenge is a valid tactic to not give up a blood point, yet opponent familiarity with the codex is not my problem.

I’m at that point with the codex where I need to start honing in on an approach. There’s still a ton to experiment with but I’ve got the feel of how things operate at this stage.

The Successes

Utilizing Spawn, Flesh Hounds, Bikes and my Maulerfiend have proven to be effective choices for Khorne Daemonkin. These are fast resilient units that tend to hold up well in the face of fire. Occasionally they get nuked before getting into combat but usually that requires so much dedicated firepower that the rest of my army is maneuvering safely.

Kharn Approves
Image credit goes to Kain-Moerder.

Having some fire support, even as minimal as it might be, has also worked out well. The Forgefiend does well for this and a Helbrute with a twin-linked lascannon works reasonably well for the cost. The problem at the moment is my Maulerfiend is also my Forgefiend (magnet mounted), so I’m having to make the choice each game. I do want to try out a Soul Grinder in this role as well. It’s a well priced AV13 vehicle with some ranged options. It also can handle close combat and dual-purpose units are always great.

The Struggles

Now the struggles. There’s some great internal balance with the Khorne Daemonkin codex. The cheap units tend to lack the power to decimate in close combat (Flesh Hounds, Spawn), and the units that have some power are generally fragile (Bloodletters, Bloodcrushers). I’m very often fielding the former, the cheaper units, and getting bogged down in close combat. Most of the time my Chaos Lord is in with the Hounds to help out, or a Herald of Khorne with Spawn, but it’s not always enough.

Khorne Daemonkin Struggles
I’ve been spending too much time on this street lately.

On the other end, ideally I could make the more powerful fragile units tougher but I haven’t found a way. Getting Feel No Pain from the Blood Tithe can help but you’re waiting on it and having something from the start would be preferred but there is nothing. That’s why I’ve avoided those units mostly; they just get smoked to the point of being ineffective even if they finally get into combat. However, if I can minimize being shot in the face then that would also work.

Fixing the Problems

Something I’ve been overlooking with Khorne Daemonkin is the use of icons and instruments on the daemon units. I’ve never been a Daemon player and my previous experience was using them as allies. As allies I never took enough to bother with icons and instruments. So, this is an area that just flew by me with Khorne Daemonkin.

Icons allow you to Deep Strike within 6″ of it and not scatter. If you have a unit in Deep Strike Reserves that has an instrument and it makes its reserve roll then it can automatically pull in another Daemon of Khorne unit with it. Icons don’t have to be on the table at the start of the turn to be used either. So, if you Deep Strike a unit with an icon then any other unit coming in that turn can also use it.

Obviously that’s a powerful ability. This is what I need to be doing with those fragile units so they arrive safely where I want them and minimize them being shot prior to getting into combat. Then there’s the how of it to consider.

Starting a daemon unit on the board with an icon makes sense. That way I get a unit in who lands safely. If that unit has an icon and an instrument then I’m pulling in a second unit who also lands safely. I can daisy chain the icons to get good positioning but what unit to start with? There are only two options, Bloodletters and Bloodcrushers. Bloodletters are cheaper but T3 and die in droves when fired on. I would need a reasonably sized squad to start with. Bloodcrushers are more expensive, T4 but are calvary and thus have the speed to position well early. Of course any S8+ shooting on them can quickly remove those expensive models quickly.

The other thing I’m looking at is the Charnel Cohort formation for Khorne Daemonkin.

Charnel Cohort

  • Daemon HQ (no Bloodthirsters)
  • 2-8 Units of Bloodletters
  • 1-4 Units of Flesh Hounds
  • 1-4 Units of Bloodcrushers
  • 0-4 Skull Cannons

The big thing with this formation for what I’m looking at is that any unit deep striking within 6″ of the HQ does not scatter. If the HQ is in reserves then he can re-roll his reserve roll and he still works as a no scatter beacon on the turn he arrives. Other bonuses include everyone gets Counter-attack and -2 for Fear tests.

If I used this formation then I wouldn’t have to worry so much about starting an icon on the board as the HQ becomes one. The choice becomes which HQ to use? I’m leaning on a Herald on Juggernaut so he can join Flesh Hounds to have protection so he’s alive to be used as a beacon. I love Daemon Princes but once someone knows what’s going on then I expect he would die immediately.

Since the formation requires Bloodcrushers, I suppose that answers the earlier question of what unit to start on the board with an icon. I may as well make them useful in this role if nothing else.

Brain-Vomit Complete

As you can see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my Khorne Daemonkin. I feel if I can work out the Deep Striking element then I’ll shore up some of the issues I’ve been facing. Plus, I really like Deep Striking and it just feels more Daemony to me :)

As always, I’m open to suggestions and ideas from my fellow gamers. What are other Khorne Daemonkin players doing that is working well?


  • So lots of red daemons in your future so? Personally I love the drop pod dataslate that lets the Bezerkers assualt out of it*, have you considered using one or more of those?
    *Not 100% on those rules.

    • If you’re playing Daemonkin then a healthy mix of Daemons isn’t a bad thing. It will end up being roughly 50-50 depending on the game size.

      I’m not familiar with that dataslate. I’m a bit out of touch on the digital stuff.

      • It was just something I read somewhere when stuff was released. I will see if I can find any info on it for you.

  • Can you chain the instruments? So if in Turn Two, you drop a unit with an instrument next to your initial icon-bearing daemon unit, can that second unit then automatically pull in another unit with an instrument, hence flooding all of your units in with a single roll?

    • Unfortunately not. The instrument only works when a unit has successfully made a reserve roll and since a unit being pulled in by an instrument isn’t making a reserve roll, it wouldn’t work.

  • Been enjoying these articles thor! Especially since I’m intrigued by this codex so much!

    • Thanks.

      Army theory and concept is something I really enjoy. I make so many lists just for fun and not douchey lists either, as reading any of my lists would show.

  • ming2005

    Hmmmm. Try going MSU with some of your bloodletters or similar units. You can still run them in nearby packs (so they eventually hit the same units in assault), but the theme of MSU is that shooty armies waste a lot of dice, allowing more of your units to get into assault. 30 boyz shooting at 14 bloodletters might take them out. But 30 boyz shooting at 7 allows the other 7 to then assault them. What is the Khorne Magic Number? You can always just use that for thematic reasons to be MSU. Also keep those long distance shooters positioned better – 36-48 inches back vs right at the 24-inch mark. Objective placement is also key for you. Keep one in each potential deployment zone, and try to get the rest near the centerline. I think minor changes will yield big results!

    • Funny, you mostly mirrored my own thoughts when I built a list after I posted this.

      Khorne’s number is 8 and my list idea features a bunch of 8-man/daemon units. My thought was the same, saturate the field with a large number of units. With Daemons being fearless it that means you have to kill them all to be safe and with so many units it means you can’t get them all. By utilizing the formation for deep strike and putting icons on the table means the summoned units hit the field, hopefully, where I need them to reinforce and push.

      I always place objectives that way. I toss one in the backfield for a unit of Cultists and the rest go near board center to tag on the way through to the enemy.

  • Sadly, Chaos isn’t getting much love around my FLGS. The one guy we do have plays black legion, although I think he’s assembling some daemons for summoning purposes. I could be wrong on that.

    Can’t argue with your thought process or analysis! As Tyranids I struggle with Numbers vs. Quality. Presently I’m going Quality because quantity is quite a lot of work from a hobby perspective and will likely sort itself out over time…

    • I’ve never been a horde army fan. I don’t much care for the approach or to paint that many models either, especially since most of them are getting pulled off the table anyway. Of course, going too elite can be hard to pull off. There’s a balance to be struck but finding that balance is never easy.

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