This week’s Hammer of Math feels the warp overtaking us and embraces the chaos that is the new Warp Storm Point for Chaos Daemons.
Every now and then I wonder why I don’t have a Chaos Daemons army. They look amazing, especially the newest models. They’re incredibly flexible, opening up opportunities to incorporate Traitor Legions and other cool stuff. And they work in multiple games, meaning that you double your return on investment. Plus it’s not like Chaos Daemons are going anywhere, as the manifestations of the Ruinous Powers are a core element of the Games Workshop product line. I wish I had a good answer for why I don’t have legions of Bloodletters and Nurglings rushing forth on a field or pure white snow in some kind of abominable Christmas special. Maybe I should.
While I don’t have an answer for my own personal conundrum, what I do have an answer for is the new core mechanic discussed in the latest release of Codex: Chaos Daemons. That mechanic is called Warp Storm effects and it represents the swirling maelstrom of raw Chaos that accompanies the denizens of the Warp as they step upon the material plane. If every unit of the army has the proper keyword (or is an Agent of Chaos or Unaligned) then you can make a Warp Storm roll at the beginning of every turn. You roll 8 dice and every 4+ gives you a Warp Storm point (WSP) to spend during that round. Unless the WSP is retained from an effect (every Chaos god has their own way of retaining 2) then they are lost at the end of the round. On average this this means you’ll get 4 points per round.
Spending the Warp
Players have several options when it comes to how to spend the accrued WSP. Every army gains access to the Undivided effects, which cost between 2 and 5 WSP and provide a multitude of effects. Players who have a permitted detachment dedicated to a particular Chaos god gain access to three additional effects which only apply to units dedicated to that god. For the most part these effects are pretty straightforward, although there are a few that are worth noting.
Dark Invigoration is an Undivided effect that is the most expensive effect at 5 WSP and also potentially the most powerful. At the start of the Morale phase (it does not specify yours or your opponent’s) you allow one model from each unit to gain 1d3 wounds. In the case of units in which every model has a Wounds characteristic of 1, 1d3 models are returned instead. Note that the chance of getting 5 or more WSP is 36.3%, so without help a Daemon player will be lucky to invoke this effect more than once per game.
Insidious Whispers is an Undivided effect that costs 2 WSP and is particularly brutal against Psykers. Used at the start of the opponent’s Psychic phase, every Daemon unit gains a 12″ aura that causes Perils of the Warp to occur on any Psychic test that results in a double instead of a double 1 or 6. This increases the chance of a Perils from 5.5% to 16.7%, or one in 6.
Burning Terror is a 2 WSP Khorne effect that happens at the start of your Shooting phase. A D6 is rolled for every enemy unit within 24″ of any Khorne daemon units, and on a 6 that unit suffers 1d3 mortal wounds. On average this inflicts 0.33 wounds per unit, which seems like a waste of WSP unless you know you won’t have another reason to use them. This effect is identical to Wave of Sickness in terms of effect and cost, which really makes that Christmas-themed army I was debating even more amusing.
Overwhelming Rage is a 4 WSP Khorne effect that’s neat because it forces a 50% chance that a given unit won’t be able to Fall Back (4+ on a D6).
Mesmerising Dance is a 4 WSP Slaanesh effect which guarantees that every Slaanesh unit can fight first.
For the most part the other effects are pretty simple bonuses, like improving certain tests or characteristics or inflicting mortal wounds in other ways. There are a lot of synergistic effects that could be fun, assuming you can afford them.
Capturing the Warp
Curiously only two Chaos gods have a means of generating WSP from sources other than the 8 dice rolled at the beginning of the round; that would be Team Christmas.
- Khorne armies can bring the Skull Altar, a 50 point T8 Fortification with a 4+ unmodifiable save that messes with Psychic tests within 18″ and has the option to transport a single KHORNE INFANTRY HERALD model (Skulltaker or Bloodmaster). The transported Herald grants the Altar their Aura abilities, and also allows the Ritual Slaughter action. The action is started at the end of the Movement phase and ends at the end of the Charge phase. At that point every Khorne Daemon unit wtihin 12″ of the altar and in Engagement range of the enemy will grant an extra WSP on a D6 roll of 4+. The big challenge here is usability; if the player goes second then any WSP generated will be usable for only a very limited period of time.
- Epidemius keeps the Tally of Pestilence, which has you keep track of how many enemy models are destroyed by Nurgle Daemon units. At the beginning of each round, if that number is 7 or more, you gain an extra WSP and reset the tally to 0. Since this ability is passive it’s probably one of the more reliable options for generating WSP.
Retaining the Warp
Every Chaos god does have a means of saving 2 WSP at the end of the round. The bonus this offers is significant; averaging 6 WSP in the following turn opens up a variety of powers and effects.
- Khorne has access to The Crimson Crown Relic which allows up to to 2 unspent WSP to be retained if the bearer destroyed any enemy models that round.
- Tzeentch allows you to use the Gaze of Fate psychic power to retain up to two unspent WSP if you get past the warp charge value of 7.
- Nurgle allows you to retain 2 WSP if you give a Great Unclean One the Bountiful Gifts exalted ability.
- Slaanesh permits a Warlord to retain up to 2 Warp Storm points using the Warp Mists Warlord trait.
Warp Storm effects are an interesting and accessible army ability which offers a lot of flexibility to the player. While the 8D6 mechanic means that there is some variability between rounds, the ability to retain unspent points and the generation mechanics do help quite a bit. Of the four gods I would say Nurgle benefits the most from these effects. Nurgle armies have a fairly reliable means of generating extra WSP through Epidemius, and giving a Great Unclean One Bountiful Gifts means you can be much more flexible in how you allocate WSP.
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