Arks of Omen Faction Focus: Nick Nanavati Talks Chaos Daemons

With a new batch of rules updates comes the need to revisit the strategies and tactics of each faction. Today we’re joined by Nick Nanavati from the Art of War, and he’ll be talking about Chaos Daemons.

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Today we are going for another deep dive on a faction in the Arks of Omen meta, this time looking at Chaos Daemons. In this article we’ll be looking at the new Arks of Omens detachment, points adjustments, and balance dataslate to figure out exactly how Daemons fall out. Then after reviewing the major changes to the faction we’ll take a broad look at the game as a whole, and give a quick overview of what the meta may look like in the upcoming future. Finally we’ll wrap things up with some sample lists.

Buckle up everybody, we’re going straight into the warp!

The Arks of Omen Detachment

While most armies are rejoicing at the fact that list building in Arks has become a bit simpler and you don’t have to pay for units you don’t actually want to take in order to fill detachments, Daemons are not among them. The unfortunate reality of the new AOO  detachment is that you need to play as a mono-god list in order to unlock the god-specific Warpstorm effects. Most notably, you’d previously see a small Khorne patrol in many Daemon lists to unlock the potential for +1 attack and preventing enemy units from Falling Back. This was a key factor for many Daemon armies in specific match ups, where trapping gunlines in combat could be game winning, or the extra attack on Bloodletters was critical to hitting certain damage thresholds. Another limiting element of the new Arks of Omens detachment is that we only get 4 HQ slots to work with. While this is not the biggest deal in most cases, those who wanted to absolutely spam Greater Daemons are now slightly more limited.  

It’s not all bad, however: The new detachment also opens up opportunities to take Nurglings as your troops without being concerned about them not filling your minimum Troops requirement. This is a nice boon, especially for Disciples of Be’lakor, where your nurglings both gain Objective Secrured and fill that pesky Nurgle requirement for keeping the number of god-specific units in your army even. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Points Adjustments

Daemons largely benefited from the various point changes in the January update. The only real increases daemons received was a token 10 points on Indomitable Onslaught which makes the good ol’ phase cap Bloodthirster 360 points, and some slaps on the wrist for the Lord of Change. We also received many quality of life changes as well:

  • Fiends 35 → 30
  • Flesh Hounds 19 → 15
  • Plague Drones 45 → 40
  • Bloodcrushers 45 → 40
  • Pink Horrors 150 → 140
  • Plaguebearers 150 → 130
  • Screamers 30 → 25
  • Rotigus 320 → 300
  • Great Unclean One 300 → 280
  • Beasts of Nurgle 80 → 70
  • Syll’Eske 200 → 180
  • Seekers 20 → 17
  • Karanak 100 → 90
  • Skull Cannons 100 → 90

That’s a lot of changes, some much more impactful than others. Let’s quickly go over the less impactful ones: Rotigus, Syll’eske, and Great Unclean Ones all saw 20 point decreases. These are very much welcome for anyone who was already running them, but largely these come with the new opportunity cost of only having 4 HQ choices total. Great Unclean Ones are the slowest and least maneuverable of the Greater Daemons which really limits their uses on the table. You could theoretically run 3 of the big guys for 840 base cost, which is actually pretty decent for the amount of meat you get, but ultimately they don’t do much. Syll’eske for 180 is a bit hard to keep alive once they’ve committed to combat – they’re overcosted to use as a trade piece that only gets a single charge off, and overpriced as a support piece. She’s just trying to do too many things. Lastly, Plague drones got a 5 point decrease as well, which is absolutely the right direction, but when you compare it to your other Fast Attack options, they just don’t meet the mark.

Now for the good stuff. Fiends and Flesh Hounds both got significant drops, and both were already units that saw play. Five Fiends for 150 points gives you 20 wounds which can move fast, hit hard, move through walls (an issue for many Daemon units), and be pretty durable with Delightful Agonies. Flesh hounds at 15 can really function in three ways:

  1. You can use 5-model units to be cheap screens / skirmishers
  2. You can run 7 model units for 105 which can really function like a 5-model but it can take some hits and still be a threat, as well as punch above its weight class for not much more.
  3. Finally, a full 10-model unit is 150 as well, which is absolutely fantastic when you look at how fast, hitty, and tough they are. 

The big challenge here is when you start lists at 30 Flesh Hounds and 15 Fiends you are essentially stat checking your opponent with T4 multi-wound models which realistically won’t always work. Finding the right ratio of Flesh Hounds and Fiends : Rest of army is going to be critical.

Screamers got a lot better as well with their 5 point decrease. They offer a nice alternative to flamers (more on that later), and they have lots of utility due to their speed. A 3 man unit can fly out to reduce enemy leadership, score reality rebels, and screen effectively at 75 points. A 5-6 man can largely do the same, with the added bonus of actually hitting decently hard in Disciples of Belakor with rerolls to hit.

Speaking of Disciples of Be’lakor, this is where you can get a lot of mileage out of Bloodcrushers and Seekers going down too. Bloodcrushers and Seekers both saw some nice, and badly needed points drops, however they still have the fundamental error of needing to move around walls thanks to being CAVALRY. Well, in Disciples of Belakor you have access to a 1cp strat to simply move through terrain and models as if they weren’t even there! I dream of the day I can take a 5 man bloodcrusher unit, make it untargeable with Wrathed in Shades, and then Frenetic Bloodlust up the table for 10”, move another 10” through enemy models and terrain, and then charge through enemy models and terrain. This coupled with the points drops, re-rolls to hit, and the usual daemon buffs you have access to can really create some savage combos. 

Disciples of Be’lakor also does a lot to add value in the form of reviving lost models. For 1 CP you can heal wounds and even revive models as models flee form enemy units. While this Stratagem is very niche, reviving a Beast of Nurgle and then having it auto heal to full health at the end of the morale phase can be awesome! Beasts of Nurgle with reroll to hits from the Big man also hit shockingly hard, and are now a significant amount cheaper. 

Pink Horrors and Plaguebearers going down is nice too since they were the least viable of the troop units. Not sure if they will be very useful still though. Perhaps for niche rolls, or in mono-god lists.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Balance Dataslate

This brings us to the the final document that changed on us overnight, the balance dataslate. We all knew it was coming, but I don’t think any of us knew how. The only update we got in this packet was the much anticipated nerf to Flamers. Flamers now have to roll to hit. This is such a great change I can’t even words. It still gives the unit purpose and playability. It creates synergy with the Tzeentch warpstorm for +1 to hit. It means they suffer the penalty to hit for advancing and shooting. It means Be’lakor giving them reroll hits is very useful. It means their Overwatch went from game ending to normal.

I am genuinely so impressed that James Workshop nerfed Flamers elegantly, didn’t nerf it out of existence, AND made other units and build options more viable. Well done James. The question is now, how do we adapt?

The Meta

This brings us to the final piece of the puzzle… everybody else. The scope of this tome is not to try and accurately predict how the game is going to shake out, or to process every change. That’s a job for the entire Warhammer community collectively! Instead, we’re going to take what we know as facts, and them make some logical extrapolations from there.

  1. Armor of Contempt is gone! This will likely mean that AP 1, and AP 2 weapons get a lot better. Previously, we had to take bloodletters and other high AP units in Daemons before to really have a chance vs some of the more durable AoC based lists. That’s just not a factor anymore which opens up viability for many Daemon units, but also many units across the entire game.
  2. Space Marines got WAY cheaper. With Marines getting way cheaper we will likely see way more of them. They have free upgrades out the wazoo, and their base cost got a lot lower. Stormshields are back on the market with no AoC and cost reductions. Being able to kill Marines effectively and quickly will be paramount to success.
  3. Harlequins got an armywide nerf to their invulnerable saves, dropping them by 1 (to a 5++ on most units). Fewer clowns in the meta is great for Daemons since they were one of our more challenging match ups.
  4. Aircraft start in reserve. This largely doesn’t impact Daemons as a faction, but it does help knock Tau down a peg because of those pesky sunshark bombers. Planes in general were a unit type that really required Flamers to deal with effectively. Since Flamers were nerfed substantially we will see less of them, which would create a theoretical plane weakness, but thanks to the new rules that’s just not a problem!
  5. Anti-reserve hate is at an all time high. Unfortunately for Daemons, Space Marine Infiltrators got cheaper, and the full release of Codex: Astra Militarum means they’ll be adding another army that can screen out units at 12″. 
  6. Thousand Sons aren’t what they used to be. Thousand Sons were an army which really forced Daemons into running Skarbrand to compete because of his destructive nature and being immune to psychic powers. Thankfully, Thousand Sons lost AoC, got their allied Flamers nerfed, and just straight up lost the secondary Wrath of Magnus which would have been a free passive 15 in this match up. This is a huge boon for us!
  7. Swooping Hawks went up 5 points per model. Swooping Hawks were previously one of the best counters to Daemons. The rule, 6 to hit auto wounds is just so bad for our 4+ save T8 greater daemons, and then to top it off they did mortals when you got near them, and you can never actually catch them. While all of those rules are still in play, the price hike will certainly see fewer hawks on the table. 

There are a lot more changes. I know I didn’t cover them all, or the ramifications to each change. Like I said, that’s outside the scope of this article. I just wanted to highlight some of the big changes the game experienced and how it directly relates to Daemons. But, with all that information it does leave the burning question. Where do we go from here?

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Some Lists

+++ AOO Detachment +++

Bloodthirster: WL Brazen Hide, Relic: Angarath King of Blades, Indomitable Onslaught 360

Skarbrand 330

Karanak 90

10 Bloodletters 130
10 Bloodletters 130
10 Bloodletters 130

10 Flesh hounds 150
10 Flesh hounds 150
10 Flesh hounds 150

5 Bloodcrushers 200

Skull Cannon 90
Skull Cannon 90

Previous points = 2165

New Points = 2000

This is mono Khorne to make use of the strongest Warp Storm Table. It’s pretty straightforward in strategy: Blood for the Blood God. Note that straightforward does not mean ineffective, though. With all of the various trapping in combat abilities, deep strike charges, and how hard this army hits it can absolutely run someone right over.


+++ Arks of Omen Detachment +++

Lord of Change: Architect of Deception, WL Incorporeal Form, The Impossible Robe, Infernal Gateway, Bolt of Change, Gaze of Fate 360

Skarbrand 330

Tranceweaver: Delightful Agonies 70 

Infernal Enrapturess 80

10 Daemonettes 120
10 Daemonettes 120

3 Nurglings 60

5 Fleshhounds 75
7 Fleshhounds 105
7 Fleshhounds 105

5 Screamers of Tzeentch 125

5 Fiends of Slanesh 150
5 Fiends of Slanesh 150
5 Fiends of Slanesh 150

Previous points = 2165
New Points = 2000

This list is really trying to take advantage of many of the various different strengths Daemons have. The Lord of Change is a nice alternative to the standard issue Bloodthirster since he’s immune to shooting from most factions and adds a differetn element to the army in the form of active mortal wound output. Skarbrand is still great for the various shooting armies out there, and I think ignoring invulnerable saves is incredibly useful in a world without AoC and Storm shields everywhere.

The Infernal Enrapturess synergizes very nicely with all the Fiends since not only does she act as a Warp Locus for brining them in from reserves, but she can also revive them as a method of holding objectives in the open and extending charge ranges. 

Flesh hounds and fiends as covered above are very good points per models, and by going skimpy on the Flesh hounds and using I’m hoping I can keep my armies foot print relatively small to avoid being shot in the early turns.

Final Thoughts

These are all just initial impressions and thoughts. All in all, I’m very excited to try out the new world of 40k, and see how the Meta adapts. You can follow along with all of the Art of War coaches in the War Room as they break down all the changes, publish their playtesting experiences, and generally adapt to the game. In our discord community you’ll have first hand access to the game’s greatest players who are all processing the new information and teaching it to you in real time! You don’t want to miss the excitement.

Next Time: Deathwatch (for Reals)

That wraps up our look at Chaos Daemons but we’ll be back in a couple of days with more great coverage of the changes in Arks of Omen. In the meantime if you have any questions or feedback drop us a note in the comments below or email us at