Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Beat Chaos Daemons with Space Wolves

6:00:00 PM by Adam Smith ·
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Chaos DaemonsIt's not easy trying to beat Chaos Daemons with Space Wolves, because while the Wolves are a good close combat army, Daemons will quite literally tear them to pieces!

So in this instance, discretion is the better part of valour...including as many bolter as you can muster. Then choose what you charge and when very carefully.

The Chaos Daemons army is full of models with AP3 shooting attacks, power weapons, rending claws and lots of wounds, making them a challenge for the Space Wolves -especially when they could Deep Strike virtually anywhere on the board.

Based on my gaming experience, I'm going to explain how to beat Chaos Daemons with Space Wolves, what to look out for and which of the common Space Wolves units are the best for taking down some of the most common Chaos Daemon units.


Close combat
This army is designed for one thing and that's ripping through your Space Marines in close combat. In order to win the Space Wolves will need to employ a defensive strategy and only charge into combat when the odds are massively in their favour or as a last resort.

Attack Waves
Because Daemons always arrive via Deep Strike, they can arrive absolutely anywhere. So your Space Wolves need to be deployed in order to receive the first wave and neutralise it with firepower (and charges). Because once you get bogged down in the first wave, there will be nothing to stop their reinforcements from overrunning your army.

Remember that the first wave of Daemons arrives on TURN 1! So you will not always have a turn to get everything into position.

A clever Daemon player will do their best to win the roll off and screw your deployment. If you can't deploy effectively and the Daemon player gets the first turn, your firepower won't be as effective and you'll have a tough time fighting off the first wave.

But, if you get the first turn of the game and set up accordingly, you should be able to gun down the major threats which will put you in good stead for the rest of the game.

Just remember that a game against Chaos Daemons with Space Wolves can be lost on TURN 1. If the Daemon player can turn the game into a huge punch-up then you've lost.

MSU - Many Small Units
Small units of Plague Bearers are common sights in Chaos Daemon armies and exist purely for objective grabbing. This is because they are incredibly tough to kill and with Feel No Pain it will take a lot of resources to get rid of them.

Expect to see lots of Tzeentch Heralds riding Chariots zipping about the board and providing supporting fire. These are equally troublesome due to having 3 wounds each.


As mentioned above, if you can deploy an effective 'firebase' at the start of the game, you can start gunning down the Daemons as they appear on Turn 1 with your missile launchers, lascannons and bolters. Not to forgetting Psychic Powers of course.

Even with all those Tzeentch Heralds riding Chariots and Soul Grinders, they will have a tough time trying to match you for firepower -especially if you've sensibly deployed in cover.

Daemons don't have frag grenades, which is great news for Space Wolves. Simply sit in cover, keep firing and when they charge you, not only can you Counter-Charge, but you get to strike first too! That upsets Daemon players when they often have the higher Initiative. Just watch out for Slaanesh Heralds pulling units out of cover to get charged.

Deep Striking
If you've created an effective 'firebase', Deep Striking becomes a weakness for the Chaos Daemons, because they will want to arrive as close as possible to your lines, but without scattering on to your units. But if the Daemon player plays it safe and arrives a reasonable scatter distance away, it will take too long to reach your lines.

Once again, it all depends on you creating an effective 'firebase' from the start of the game.

This is the typical kind of Daemons list you can expect to see. Although Khu'Gath The Plaguefather and Flamers of Tzeentch are also popular choices to break up any closely packed models in your 'firebase'. So watch out for those.

As you can see this list is really varied...not!

Herald of Tzeentch riding Chariot with Bolt of Change and Doom Bolt
Herald of Tzeentch riding Chariot with Bolt of Change and Doom Bolt
Herald of Tzeentch riding Chariot with Bolt of Change and Doom Bolt
Herald of Tzeentch riding Chariot with Bolt of Change and Doom Bolt

5 Plaguebearers
5 Plaguebearers
5 Plaguebearers
5 Plaguebearers

5 Blood Crushers

6 Fiends of Slaanesh
6 Fiends of Slaanesh

1 Daemon Prince with wings

1 Soul Grinder
1 Soul Grinder

Chaos Daemons Strategy VS Space Wolves
Getting into close combat is the objective. Trying to win the roll off and screw the Space Wolf player's deployment is key. The next step is to get as many tough units into the first wave as possible and dump it as close to the Space Wolves as possible.

Tzeentch Heralds will zoom about at the back firing at any Long Fangs. Because taking out the Long Fangs will remove the Space Wolves advantage of massed long range firepower.

Soul Grinders will take the midfield. Blood Crushers will land straight in front of the Space Wolves to cause as much carnage as possible and hopefully hold them up with all those wounds and 3+ saves.

The Fiends of Slaanesh will follow the Blood Crushers and do their best to get into close combat without being shot at.

Meanwhile the Plaguebearers will aid in swamping the Space Wolves and grab any objectives.

Space Wolves Strategy VS Chaos Daemons
A good deployment is the key to defeating Daemons with Space Wolves. You will need to deploy your Long Fangs in cover with a good field of vision. Meanwhile the rest of the army needs to be flexibly positioned to move in any direction and intercept any Daemons with lots of Rapid Fire weapons.

Bear in mind Chaos Daemon 'landing zones' when you are deploying. You need to position your units around the terrain to dictate where the Chaos Daemons are likely to appear. For some reason no Daemon player is willing to take Danger Terrain tests for any Deepstriking units that scatter into terrain. I have no idea why this is the case when most units have lots of wounds! But anyway...

Fire all your smoke launchers on the first turn, otherwise a smart Daemons players will nail your transports to limit your movement so that they can trap you and eventually bog you down with their reinforcements.

Also, plan two routes that you can fall back to. So deploying from the centre towards one flank will allow you to fall back firing in either direction.

The Daemons will come at you from both flanks, but if you can move your whole force to wipe out any threats that block your way with focussed firepower, you have the freedom to keep moving about the board.

In an objective grabbing game, it's likely that you will have to advance. So make sure you put those objectives in cover. Because if the Daemons charge you in cover, you get to counter-charge and strike first thanks to your frag grenades.

Grey Hunters are brilliant in this role, but don't forget that massed bolter fire can work wonders too. After all, Daemons only have a 5+ invulnerable save.

But ultimately your Long Fangs and any other long ranged units are key to your success. Long fangs should nail one target at a time with their krak missiles. Preferably monstrous creatures or chariots.

Living Lightning is amazing for reaching those sneaky chariots and can fry one in a single turn if you're lucky. Lastly, don't forget that casting Jaws Of The World Wolf on a tightly packed group of Blood Crushers is a great way to get rid of them!

So be sure to use all the guns at your disposal to remove the most dangerous (or closest!) elements of the first wave of Daemons. The more damage you can inflict early on, the better you will do later in the game.

And don't forget to charge in as an effective way of 'mopping up' if you know that your Grey Hunters won't become bogged down in close combat in the following turn.

In order to beat Daemons with Space Wolves you need to set up your firebase, gun down as much as you can and hug cover wherever you can find it.

The Chaos Daemons army will tear you apart in close combat. I know we're Space Wolves and we're awesome in close combat, but when you have no armour save and the Daemons are attacking first, then have 2-3 wounds each when you strike back, you're going to be in trouble.

Unfortunately so much relies on TURN 1. But if you can lay down a good dose of firepower and cripple the first wave the rest of the game will be much easier.

If you screw up your deployment, can't get your Long Fangs set up properly and as a result, can't really kill anything on the first turn, then you're in serious trouble. Unfortunately, that's just how it goes when Space Wolves fight Chaos Daemons.

I know its not very heroic, but sometimes it's worth playing Space Wolves like a Tau army against Daemons. Just keep falling back and firing. Let them chase you round the board as you wittle them down with your guns and only close for the kill when the odds are in your favour.

Lastly, don't forget that casting Jaws Of The World Wolf on a tightly packed group of Blood Crushers is a great way to get rid of them!


Ataraxean said...
March 12, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Adam. Great article, I really enjoyed your analysis of the match-up. One quick thing though.

In the article article you emphasize how important getting the first turn against demons is. My experience playing against demons however has been that you're better off if you get the second turn.

Firstly, going second means that you will have the final player turn of the game, which can be critical for last minute contests and assaults.

Second, if you go first then you end up spotting the demon player an entire player turn to act in. Because demons are a null deployment army, they will go 'first' regardless of who has the first turn. A demon player who goes second will get both the 'first' player turn, and the last player turn of the game.

Regardless of whether you're going first or second, the demon player gets to see your setup before he starts deciding where to rip his way out of the warp.

It seems to me that the only benefits a SW player would get from going first are the ability to choose his deployment zone, do a bit of movement, and possibly pop some smoke launchers. The only disadvantage to going second is the demon player choosing your deployment zone, and the lack of smoke launchers.

All that being said its certainly possible I'm missing something, as I don't play demons very often. Do you have any deeper thoughts on this?

Adam said...
March 12, 2012 at 7:23 PM

You're spot on, you've just failed to realise the importance of choosing your deployment zone, doing a bit of movement, and possibly popping some smoke launchers.

If you can't set up your army to shoot Daemons and kill as many as possible on Turn 1 with your Long Fangs, then it's all over.

Steven Morrow said...
March 12, 2012 at 11:11 PM

i play daemons and this is absloutely correct. look for a very strong first turn or it will be a hard fight. i use a big group of plaguebearers as a meat shield for my army. Bolters really struggle to take them down. focused fire en mass to cripple the first wave works well. Bolters are really dangerous against monstrous creatures. i have lost more daemon princes to bolters then long fangs. i also use hounds to tie up long fangs and bloodletters which will shred grey hunters without the edge of cover. the little shooting that a daemon has can ruin your day.

sound tactical principles are massed fire, a way out and smart use of cover/spacing will see you through.

Steven Morrow said...
March 12, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Blessing,Unholy Might

5x Bloodcrusher
full options

5x Fiend of Slaanesh might

16x Bloodletter

5x Pink Horror icon, bolt

5x Pink Horror bolt, changeling

10x Plaguebearer

8x Flesh Hound

Soul Grinder of Chaos

Soul Grinder of Chaos

Ranulf Deathclaw said...
March 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

I remember one battle where my wolf scouts decided after marching on the field and shooting at a massive squad of bloodletters, they charged.
Now, taking into account that bloodletters are bad ass and have power weapons, I thought "what am I doing?"
Well, Russ not only smiled on these seemingly hapless stealthy hunters, he gave them the close combat round of the battle by taking out not only the squad, but Skulltaker as well.
Haha, Khorne received no skulls that day, though Morkai took the offering of unworthy damned, leaving the meat for the feasting table in the Fang.
"Tastes just like chicken!"

Icereaver said...
March 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Thanks alot for a very helpful article :) There's no one playing chaos daemons around my city that i know of, but i'll prolly get to play someone who does in the future. Best regards from a true(a bit skinny,but nonetheless real) norwegian viking^^

eyeslikethunder said...
March 13, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Surprised you did not mention tempest dangerous terrain fo r all deep strikers is a powerful weapon and hurricane as method stopping them getting iniative

Mike Harrison said...
April 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I am very surprised that the fact that rune priests have a 24" radius nullify to psychic on a 4+ wasn't mentioned. Seeing as most daemon lists i've gone up against included something like 3-5 psykers with total mastery lvl (all mastery lvls added) of about 12, being able to nulify half of those is huge to any army, especially if it means that their screamers dont get their broken 2++ re-rollable

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