Codex Chaos Daemons (2022) Review – Warhammer 40k 9th Edition
The Daemons of the Chaos Gods boil forth into real-space from the madness of the warp in order to corrupt and subvert the very fabric of reality. When these beings march to war, a mighty daemonic legion forms, bringing chaos and torment to those they face.
Today, Codex Daemons is up for pre order for Warhammer 40,000, and in this review we will be looking at what has changed, what upgrades they have had over the previous book and what is new for commanders of the Daemonic hosts!
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us an early review copy for free for us to take a look at a little ahead of time so we could write this post! If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy of Codex Daemons through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too
I have also filmed a full Codex Daemons Review video to accompany this post which you can see below or over on YouTube
Still with us? Then pledge your allegiance to your Chaos God of choice, drop your gellar fields and prepare yourself for a Daemonic incurssion.
Codex Chaos Daemons Review
Codex Chaos Daemons (2022) has been a long time coming with the previous volume being released in 2018! 4 years is a long time in Warhammer 40k, and in that time we have seen numerous codexes, each with new features and styles and an entirely new edition of the game get released. While the Daemons have had some patches in the form of new profiles, updates and supplements, it had got to the point where to play Daemons at any sort of level required a small library of tomes in order to gather together all their rules.
But the time of waiting is over and Codex Chaos Daemons is finally here bringing the army up to scratch for the 9th edition of Warhammer 40k!
We see some considerable changes to the way the army works, core mechanics and even how the army will look spread out on the battlefield – In this review we will be taking a look at all of this and exploring how the army now plays. I’m a massive Daemons fan with thousands of points of each god and a love of the entire model range, so this is the Codex I was the most looking forward to this edition, and it’s safe to say I have not been disappointed.
As with other 40k books, we open with a section covering lore and background of each of the Chaos Gods and their Daemonic Legions along with various warzones where they have been encountered and even some narrative passages. While a lot of this will be common knowledge for existing players, I really do think the lore section plays an important role of giving the army a personality and identity for new players, allowing their imagination to start bubbling at the potential of what you can create in a daemon army. This is further backed up by the miniatures gallery showcasing the models with stunning photography and a range of different schemes on show giving you ideas on how to paint up your army.
What most people will be interested in however are the rules themselves – so let’s take a look at what Codex Chaos Daemons has on offer…
We get a number of special abilities added if every model in the army shares the Legiones Daemonica keyword (Excluding models with the Agent of Chaos or Unaligned keywords) – Firstly, as with most books all troops (But not swarms) get the Objective Secured ability.
Secondly we get Daemonic Legions – this means that if you have a Greater Daemon or Be’lakor in your list then one of them must be your warlord. This also allows you to take a Herald of the same God Allegiance without using a force organisation slot for each Greater Daemon you take – So for example if you took 3 Bloodthirsters then you get to take 3 Heralds without using any HQ slots. This makes list building much easier without needing to take multiple detachments. Earlier rumours about only being allowed to take a single Greater Daemon per detachment are bobbins, you can take as many as you like!
Daemonic Allies is a great rule and something that Chaos players have been crying out for since this edition came out – Essentially if you take a detachment containing Daemons (Except for Be’lakor), and that detachment is no more than 25% of the combined power level of the entire army then all models in the Daemon force get the Agents of Chaos keyword, allowing most chaos armies to use their detachment abilities without breaking them. This is a great change as finally allows you to include a Daemonic element to your army without hindering yourself. Building on this further is the rule that if a god specific army has daemons of their god’s mark then they can use any rule that requires all models to have the same keyword – So for example World Eaters and Khorne Daemons, Death Guard and Nurgle Daemons, Thousand Sons and Tzeentch Daemons and Emperor’s Children and Slaanesh Daemons. This is amazing as allows you to take 500 points of Khorne Daemons along with 1500 points of World Eaters when the new Codex comes out without breaking any rules within the World Eaters book! I can see lots of players wanting to bring along an allied detachment of Daemons, and I’m interested to see what happens to how people choose to send their command points to allow for this.
In a great change to book layout, these are contained immediately after the Detachment Abilities rather than having the Crusade rules between them (Which are now moved to the very end of the book)
One new mechanic introduced are Malefic Weapons – These are essentially weapons that make additional attacks on top of their base weapon. In previous books this was always worked with something along the lines of “The user makes x extra attacks with this weapon” but now they are defined as a weapon type and explicitly state they cannon get any extra attacks from other sources. So for example a Malefic 5 weapon would get 5 attacks with that weapon in addition to attacks made with the primary weapon. I can see this being expanded to a core rule in the next edition of the game as this makes it much clearer how those types of “bonus attack” weapons interact with the core rules
Daemonic Terror is a new ability that represents the primal fear that creatures of the warp cause, giving units within 6″ a -1 leadership penalty. This may need an FAQ but the wording suggests this may be cumulative the more Terror causing units are near a target too!
Daemonic Invulnerability is a new class of save exclusive to Daemons, essentially this is a normal save but cannot be modified in any way (and as it is not an invulnerable save then it cannot be negated by any rule that specifically ignores invulnerable saves) – these have different values for melee and ranged so a 5+/4+ Daemonic save would allow a 5+ save in close combat but a 4+ save at range. This is a great way of making Daemons much more resilient to shooting, while still making them easier to wound in close combat.
Manifestation is a new deployment method for Daemons – At deployment you can place any daemon model in the ward, then basically deep strike with the usual “Further way than 9″ from enemy models”, however there are a couple of things that make this more reliable.
Firstly if a model manifests within 6″ of a Warp Locus (There are these in this book and in the Chaos Space Marines book) then they are allowed to deploy outside of 6″ of enemy models – making those post manifestation charges easier.
Secondly if every model in the army has the Legiones Daemonica keyword then you get 2 pick from two further deployment options:
- Bring them down in your deployment zone outside of 3″ of enemy models – an amazing way of putting a threat on the enemy deep in your deployment zone
- Anywhere outside of either deployment zone and outside of the current leadership of enemy models – Keep in mind that Daemons reduce the leadership of enemy models and you can place your models very close to their targets!
So for example your Daemons could land outside of 4″ of a unit of Gretchin, or 3″ if there is another daemon model near them! Obviously this favours low leadership armies, however with enough leadership penalties you can make your opponent feel very uncomfortable about where your bloodthirster can appear!
The final core mechanic is the Warp Storm table. This harkens back to previous incarnations of the daemons, however rather than being random effects, this is in essence a resource that is gained at the start of the battle round and is spent on various abilities. You roll 8 dice at the start of the battle round with each 4+ giving you a Warp Storm Point – so on average you will get 4 points, though others can be earned from other sources and while they all go at the end of the battle round there are some ways of keeping hold of them too.
There is a list of generic undivided abilities you always get such as healing every model in your army D3 wounds (Or regaining models equal to the wounds rolled) for 5 Warp Storm points, or manipulating the severity and range of terror in order to play with your opponents leadership.
In addition to these if your entire army is from a single god then you also get an additional 3 god specific ones per allegiance such as Khorne adding 1 to all your attack characteristics for 4 points, Nurgle getting an army wide +1 to hit, Tzeentch adding one to all psychic tests made that turn or Slaanesh making any enemy unit trying to do an action have to pass a leadership test or fail the action and take D3 mortal wounds! This gives you between 7 and 10 different Warp Storm Effects you can pick from in a game, and they will be brutal in the hands of a good player who knows when best to use their effects.
The army list is a little different in this codex being split into 5 “books” one for each god then an additional one for Chaos Undivided – this makes it much easier to find the profiles than in the previous book, where they had been sorted by force org slot and then by god! Now you simply need to flick to The Book of Blood to find the Khorne rules for example
Each of these books has Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems relevant for that god, and in an interesting move massively reduces the number of strats available to a mono god army to no more than 8 – this is something I’d like to see continued to other Codexes as I do feel that Stratagem bloat is one of the stumbling blocks of the current edition.
The Book of Blood
The Book of Blood, as the name suggests, gets all the Khorne rules – let’s take a look at some of the entires:
Skarbrand is an absolute beast now, clocking in at Toughness 8 and 22 wounds with a 4+/4+ Daemon save he will be able to tank a lot of damage now, he also cannot be affected at all by psychic powers! He gives units within 6″ +1 attack (including himself) and can cause units to be trapped in combat with him. And trapped in Combat with Skarbrand is somewhere you really dont want to be – Striking at S16, AP-4 and D3+3 damage while ignoring Inv saves makes him very scary indeed. Oh and including his bonus attack he starts at 9 attacks! Ouch. He is also a Warp Locus allowing units to use him as a beacon for manifestation
Unlike their Age of Sigmar brethren, Bloodthirsters now share the same profile with the various loadouts offered by the kit now represented with different weapon loadouts. I suspect this is a way of limiting the amount of Bloodthirsters you can take in an army, in the new book this would cap at 3 rather than 3 of each type of Bloodthirster in the previous book. Like with Skarbrand they are now tougher at T8 and boast 20 wounds each. the Great Axe is now more reliable doing D3+3 damage and they now cause D3 mortal wounds after fighting on a 2+ with their Relentless carnage ability.
You can pay a points upgrade in order to turn Bloodthirsters into Exhaulted Bloodthirsters, with 3 options available – capping the wounds they can lose in a phase at 8 wounds, giving it +1 S and A on the charge, when the are charged, or Heroically intervene or counting the number of wounds remaining as twice as they should be for the purposes of profile.
All of the various heralds are considerably tougher, a standard Bloodmaster now having S6 T5 and 5 S6 AP -3 Dam 3 attacks! He also makes a nearby Bloodletter unit automatically wound on a hit of 6! Skulltaker has a similar profile but can reroll hits and wounds against characters and ignores inv saves
Karanak is pretty cool – you select a character at the start of the game and each wound that Karanak causes to them deals 2 mortal wounds!
Bloodletters are now something of a Primaris killer unit, they now hit at S5 AP -3 2 damage with 2 attacks each making them pretty scary – one thing to be careful of with all lesser daemons is the fact that the banner no longer brings back models on a leadership roll of a 1 and they are now capped at 10 models a squad, however they do have a 4+ Daemon save against ranged attacks making them a tad more survivable
Bloodcrushers have had a little boost with higher toughness and wounds, and benefit from the better swords Bloodletter now have, in addition the mounts now get 4 Malefic attacks that hit at S7 on the charge!
Flesh Hounds like most of the Khorne units are now quicker and hit harder, dealing 2 damage on the charge and boasting 3 attacks each at S5!
The Skull Cannon is still our dedicated gun for high toughness targets, though sadly is still only AP -2 however it is now a much more reliable D3+3 shots and a fixed damage 2
Finally the Skull Alter is an immobile Transport for a Herald that can be used to generate Warp Storm points based on how many Khorne units are within 12″ of it – nice for Warp Storm generation, but I imagine in most games your units will go beyond the 12″ range to get the benefit from it, though may be worth it for an easy turn 1 attack boost or to fall back to to generate an easy army wide heal late game.
The Book of Change
Tzeentch is the patron god of the Book of Change, and their main gimic is as a magical gunline army resistant to incoming fire
We get a unique Pandaemoniac spell discipline, with suitably Tzeentchian abilities such as giving a unit a random buff with Boon of change, dishing out Mortal Wounds with Bolt of Change and Internal Gateway, making your units +1 to wound with Infernal Flames, gain the ability to save Warp Storm points with Gaze of Fate or shutting down enemy auras with Treason of Tzeentch.
Nearly all Tzeentch units get a 3+ Daemon save from ranged attacks making them very, very tough to shift – especially considering the majority of these units will be hanging back and shooting and/or casting powers. Careful however, they only have a 5+ save in combat so make sure to keep away from Melee
Both the Lord of Change and Kairos both get profile increases getting boosted to 20 wounds on the Lords and 22 on Kairos. Speaking of Kairos he also can once per game make an enemy stratagem cost an additional command point every time they use it! Really nice to use on a strat your opponent might rely on during a game. Like with Bloodthirsters they can be upgraded with Exhaulted abilities to further enhance them
The Heralds are surprisingly good at shooting with their staffs getting 3 shots at S7 AP-4 and 2 damage, making them a dangerous threat if you don’t know it is coming! They can also make hits of 6 into auto wounds, with each herald specialising in doing this for either shooting or melee.
Horrors have had a complete rework – like the other lesser daemons they are limited to 10 models, however splitting is now baked into their rules without having to save points aside for blues. Instead whenever a pink is slain on a 4+ you add two blues to the unit, and when a blue is slain a brimstone is added to the unit – while the stats of the units drop as they split, they all retain the same decent ranged attack – 18″ range, Assault 2 S+1 -1 allowing them to pump out some pretty decent firepower!
Flamers are amazingly good, D6+3 auto hitting attacks each at S5 and AP-2 (and this can be boosted to 9 attacks each with a strat) a large unit of these can really hose down a unit you want taken out. With movement 12 and Fly they can get where they need to be pretty quickly too
Screamers are also pretty mobile, with a base move of 16 then can also advance to redeploy anywhere on the battlefield outside on 9″ of enemies making them really good objective hunters!
The Book of Contagion
The third book we get to is Nurgle, and while Disgustingly Resilient is no longer a thing, they are still really tough with some great abilities that keep them on the battlefield.
These also get a unique discipline, Stream of Corruption does mortal wounds to a target, Fleshy Abundance makes you even more resilient by increasing the toughness of a core target, Nurgle’s Rot rolls 2D6 against the targets toughness and deals Mortal wounds depending on how high you roll, which combos quite nicely with Shivelling Pox which reduces a target’s toughness. Virulent Blessing increases a core unit’s damage, and finally Malodorous Pall turns off Objective Secured and stops the target from completing actions.
Like with the other gods we see some sweeping changes over the entire range with most Nurgle Daemons gaining more wounds and toughness. Great Unclean Ones and Rotigus are T9 now with 22 and 24 wounds. Doomsday Bells are also used to return slain models to units – with one allowing you to return a dead Plague Drone or D3 Plaguebearers to a target unit each turn which is a great benefit
Speaking of Plaguebearers, they are now T5 with 2 wounds each making them very tough to chew through, backed up with a Spoilpox Scrivener they also count as 2 models for the purposes of objectives which again combos quite nicely with the Sloppity Bilepiper whocan remove Objective Secured from a target unit. Add a Feculant Gnarlmaw to the mix and while within 6 inches you roll 7D6 with each 6 returning a slain Plaguebearer. While this is a lot of different units to work together, it results in an excellent core unit that can win a war of attrition!
The Book of Excess
For Slaanesh we see excellent speed across the board along with some very good WS values and a lot of attacks meaning that while they may not have the brute strength of the Khorne units that they can still drag a target unit down through a thousand cuts
Their discipline has some tricksy abilities – Cacophonic Choir and Pavane of Slaanesh are both excellent sources of Mortal Wounds, Hesterical Frenzy gives a target extra attacks and exploding 6s to hit, Symphony of Pain can neuter an enemy unit by reducing their hit and wound by 1, and Delightful Agnoies gives your units a 5+ wound shrug!
Both Shalaxi and the standard Keepers of Secrets can put out some decent damage with a good profile and some strong weapons, they are also lightning quick and are -1 to hit (and -1 to wound in the case of Shalaxi) making them surprisingly durable
A standout unit is the Infernal Enrapturess who in addition to having a decent shooting profile can return a dead Fiend or Seeker each turn, or D3 Daemonettes – for only 80 points this seems a must take to keep those relativly fragile units ticking along
Chariots of all flavours are very quick and hit hard with a combination of multiple attacks and impact hits, they are also difficult to hit with a -1 to hit from ranged attacks. They are also one of the few units with a 4+ save in melee making them rather good!
Fiends hit a little harder and still hand out -1 to hit to units in engagement range, making them great at scouting alongside your main battleline
And even our basic Daemonette is now S4 with 4 attacks at AP-2, making a unit of just 10 quite a threat!
The Book of the Warp
The final book contains all the unmarked daemons such as Daemon Princes and Soul Grinders – Sadly Furies are no longer here, now only existing in Age of Sigmar. Be’lakor also lives in this section of the book, and he is even better than his previous iteration. with 20 wounds, T8, and an innate -1 to hit him, -1 to wound him, -1 damage against him and shutting down any hit rerolls, he is very very tough to hurt!
Add onto this a S12 Ap-4 D3+3 damage sword that ignores inv saves and you have yourself an excellent threat
His Army of Renoun the Disciples of Be’Lakor is also included here, and is much the same as it was, essentially allowing you to do a Space Marine and Daemons army with the marine units getting a -1 to hit as long as they are more than 12″ away from the enemy. Do keep in mind however that there are a number of restrictions such as not being allowed to take Greater Daemons. There’s nothing to stop you including Be’lakor as a HQ choice outside of this Army of Renoun though
One of our favourite things about the latest edition of Warhammer 40k is the Crusade system, which allows you to tell a story over the course of a number of games – in these you “level up” your units, manage resources and earn some unique rewards. For Chaos Daemons we see the Great Game, the eternal conflict between the four Chaos Gods. Essentially over the course of the Crusade you track the standing of the gods as they wax and wane between battles – While Khorne may start as the dominant god, over the path of the Crusade he may fall to last position as his brothers ascend in power. After 8 games you take a look at the standings and are granted bonuses and upgrades to daemons who share that mark based on where they fall in the current standings. So for example Greater Daemons who share the mark of the ascendant god may gain extra power, while the daemons of the god in last place actually lose leadership characteristics as their hold in the real world gets weaker. This is a really cool mechanic and captures the eternal battle of the gods really well!
So what do I think I of the new Daemons Codex? I’m a huge fan of the army and models, and I am so happy we are back at a competitive standing again! Just like the Great Game, certain units are ascendant, in particular Khorne are very very strong now – But I honestly think you can put together a decent army of any god, most units in the book have had some great changes and mechanics such as the Warp Storm offer Daemons new ways of playing and interacting with the game! I’m looking forward to hitting the battlefield with my Daemons again and trying lists featuring all 4 gods!
Codex Chaos Daemons is up for pre order today and is released Saturday 3rd September
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a free copy for review purposes