When I wrote this list I wrote it with one purpose in mind—to win the GT Final. It was a list born out of Byron’s success in the previous year, a list I played and was blown away by—both on and off the table—at Heat 3 of the same year. He played that army all year, tweaking it slightly between events but fundamentally keeping it the same. He played it until he knew the list and all of its compenant parts inside out and as a result he did incredibly well with it. I decided right there at GT Final ‘17 that next year I would buy, build and play only 1 army and that I would write my own list and that I would play that list as many times as possible with as few a changes as I could get away with and then I would take it to the GT Final and I would try to win.
And as vainglorious as it sounds, that’s exactly what the the list did.
I think it’s worth mentioning that I wrote this at the tail end of the First Age and I wrote it to beat the likes of Vangaurd Wing, Changehost, Kunnin’ Rukk and Clown Car. The one thing, I think, that each of those armies had in common is the potential for huge damage output and so I had to build an army that could withstand that, which is exactly what this army can do. So, as this list was designed to beat the end of level bosses of an edition we’d all been playing for three years the jump to AoS2 and the death of old meta put it in a very favorable position as on the whole the changes that it brought made the army better, not worse.
When I first saw Allegiance Abilities for Daughters of Khaine, I had the same reaction as to when I first browsed the Warscroll pdfs on the .nz site at midnight of release day, I was underwhelmed. And I still think, to a certain extent, that if taken on their own and out of context, the Daughters of Khaine warscrolls and abilites are far from the most powerful. The battletomes main strength—and for me, its main attraction—is how beautifully all the pieces fit together and interact to create a worth much greater than the sum of its parts.
The Blood Rites ability, which allows you to reroll 1s to run in your first turn, charge in your second, hit in the third turn, wound in the fourth turn and save in the fifth turn, is a mechanic that, combined with a few other abilities which we’ll get to later, essentially has you rerolling almost all of the 1s you roll by the fifth battleround. On paper I always thought rerolling 1s didn’t seem that powerful but what this ability means in game is that your whole army, across the board, is mitigating the effect of bad dice, making everything you do or attempt to do, that little bit more reliable. Add to this that the Hagg Nar temple allows you to reroll ALL hits from Turn 3 onwards, for shooting and melee, for the entire army, board wide and you have the first example of that jigsaw coming together.
That said, in and of its self, the Fanatical Faith save, which gives all your units a 6+ DPR, isn’t something to build a list around. It’s better than the Death save because it doesn’t require the unit to be within X inches of a hero and so it is always guaranteed and doesn’t require you to play around it. But once again, you call into play the Hagg Nar temple abilities and now that DPR in a 5+ and add to that the prayer Blessing of Khaine, which allows you to reroll that 5+. A 5++/5++ save on average, on its own, reduces 56% of all incoming damage (apart from Steel Rain). Consider that the unit with these buffs could also have a 4+ save in combat and you’re closer to reducing 80% of incoming damage. That’s now considerably better than a Death save. Circles within Circles, wheels within wheels.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
As discussed above, Hagg Nar forces you to take the Devoted Disciples command trait which is a shame because the Battletome has probably 3 or 4 generic command traits that would be worth taking and building lists around. That said, this particular list is built around maximizing the efficiency of Devoted Disciples and as such wouldn’t work without it.
After playing almost 50 games now with thie list, the artefacts for me are a no-brainer. How better to illustrate that than to tell you that every Daughters list I’ve written to date has included Shadow Stone. Mindrazor is without a doubt one of the most powerful spells in the game and it will, in certain matchups, win you games a turn or sometimes 2 turns earlier than you would have. Having Mindrazor up can be the difference between wiping a unit and leaving it alive, or in some cases, wiping three units at once instead of one.
The combination of the Bloodwrack Medusa and Shadow Stone, which gives you +1 to cast spells from the Lore of Shadows and allows you to reroll 1s when casting all spells, is the most reliable way to get Mindrazor off. Yes, Mortathi gets +1 to cast when she’s in High Oracle form but she doesn’t reroll 1s and as we have already established, reroll 1s are great. So for me, it’s a simple choice. Even with the prevalence of Grimghasts in the current meta, which makes Mindrazor essentially useless, it’s still the sharpest knife in your toolkit and as such you want it in play as often as possible. That’s why Shadowstone is in every list I write.
For my second artefact—and to have a second artefact is now the main reason the list still includes Slaughter Troupe—I have Iron Circlet on the Cauldron. In previous versions of the list I’d been running Blood Sigil to allow her to take a second Prayer of Khaine, Sacrament of Blood, which allows you pick one unit and have them count as being one turn forward on the Blood Rites table. This would mean that you could have your buffed up unit rerolling all hits in turn 2, which granted is very powerful, but it is also the only time that prayer has a meaningful impact on the game. Taking a prayer which is only really useful in one turn and only has a 66% chance of going off doesn’t seem like the best use of what is probably the rarest resources in the game.
I swapped the artefact on the cauldon to Iron Circlet right before attending my first tournament as my practice games showed me just how important Blessing of Khaine is to the armies overall success. Iron Circlet allows to me to reroll 1s for that prayer. That single dice roll is the easily most important roll you make each turn as it often dictates how you then play that turn. For the Hagg Nar player, the roll to get Blessing of Khaine off is often more important even than the roll for priority—the army can easily eat a double turn if you have Blessing of Khaine up.
Slaughter Queen on Cauldron of Blood w/ Blessing of Khaine
She is the beating heart of the army, the piece which the whole defensive buff engine in centerer around. Like all those roads that lead to Rome, all conga lines lead back to the Cauldron. Not only does she change the DPR from 6++ to 5++ for all units within 7″, which after deployment is more often than not, the whole army. She also gives out the Bloodshield aura, which when she is unwounded, increases the save of units wholly within 18 by +1, which in AoS2 is one of the few remaining sources of +1 save. Finally, being the hardest model to kill, she’s the one who takes Blessing of Khaine.
Her roll in this list to provide and maintain these buffs, which involves her staying alive for as long as possible. This means keeping her behind the lines, not throwing her forward and keeping her out of combats that she can’t win. I ultimately think that I play too defensively with this piece as her offensive power, especially when she has all the offensive buffs, is often as good as the Witches and almost always better than Morathi. But while it’s a shame to not use to her to her full potential, she has her roll and she excels at it. At 13 wounds with a 4+/5++ save and -1 to hit in the shooting phase she is as hard if not harder to kill than a GUO. In the 50 games I’ve played I’ve lost her less than 5 times and even though in most of those games she’s sitting behind the lines not fighting, she is not dying and as a result the army is not dying.
Bloodwrack Medusa w/ Shadowstone.
Her roll is simple, she casts Mindrazor. Nothing more, nothing less. She always deploys behind the 6″ line in my deployment zone so that shes definitely be out of range of Unbinding turn 1. If she moves, she moves to make sure Mindrazor is within 18″ of where it needs to be while trying to remain out of unbind range. If she can’t get out of unbind range or there is a juicy target for her Bloodwrack Stare ability, occasionally she moves forward but more often than not she stays in my deployment zone and where possible, within range of Devoted Disciples so that she can’t be easily sniped.
Hag Queen w/ Catechism of Murder.
Or Witchbrew w/ Catechism of Murder. She needs no explanation, she’s a 60 point model that provides Battleshock Immunity and reroll all wounds on one unit. If she manages to ever get Catechism of Murder off she also provides that unit with a natural 6s to hit become 2 hits buff, which often times is overkill anyway. And so we forgive her for always failing that 3+ roll.
No longer will she be ignored, no longer will she be denied. Except for in this rundown. Morathi is at once such a fantastic and frustrating model she deserves nothing less than her very own rundown.
This was the first unit I committed to and as a unit, I find that they are often just as effective off the board as they on it. The Mixed Destruction list I used to run included the Beastclaw Raider battalion Skal, which allows a Hunter and 2 x Frost Sabres to infiltrate and in the Clan Skryre army I took to the GT Final last year I ran 2 x 30 Skryre Acolytes both deployed off the board using Warpgrinder Weapon Teams. In an objective based game the benefits of having a unit that can stay off the board are and pop up to harass or capture objectives is invaluable.
The Heartrenders Fire & Flight ability, which on a 4+ allows them to move 6″ after they have shot, is not guaranteed but it has won me games all by itself. It means if they drop 9″ away from the enemy they can still move within range to claim an objective that lightly defended. Often, they only need to shoot off one model from a unit of 5 to outnumber them too. The -2 rend they get when they Descend to Battle helps get through high armor of Stormcast or Blood Warriors, if they so happen to be the 5 models defending that objevtive. You usually want to keep them in the air until turn 3 at least, partly for the disruption they cause while off the board and partly because they’ll be rerolling all hits from turn 3, so it makes their chances of killing one those 5 Sequitors more likely. In all honesty, even with -2 rend their shooting is pretty bad, but you’re not taking them for their shooting anyway.
I included 2 units of these girls initially because that’s what Slaughter Troupe required and had I not been so set on including that battalion I might have built and ran more Witches, which ultimately I would have come to regret. I can’t overstate how incredible Dance of Death is, especially when combined with the ability to retreat/run/charge or, as it more often plays out, retreat/run/pile in. The ability, unlike so many of those that extend the range of pile-ins, allows you do so, even if you’re outside of 3″. What this means is that if you play it right, you can set up a sort of mini High Tide, where you are always striking first in your turn because the opponent can’t reach the Sisters. It also makes it really difficult for anyone to break their coherency and thanks to their 25mm bases, means they will rarely get outnumbered on an objective because all models are piling in 6″ closer to it
Public enemy #1. That is their roll in this list. They are there to distract and intimidate the opponent. They are there to divert and demand your their attention and the more they vilified by the community, the better they achieve this roll. Granted, they are very good at what they do, which is weight of attacks and weight of attacks that can come with reroll hits and reroll wounds and potentially rend -1 and exploding attacks on 6s and battleshock immunity and maybe even 2 damage a piece if their bravery is higher. They attract attention for a reason. People have to deal with them and this is why you almost always put Blessing of Khaine on them. This means you’re reducing 56-80% of the incoming damage and if the majority of your opponent’s resources are being used to kill the Witch Aelves because the Witch Aelves are public enemy #1 then the opponent is wasting the majority of their resources. Meanwhile, the rest of your army is getting the gold.
As mentioned above, the main reason I first looked at and took this battalion is because it includes Heartrenders. The other reason is that I feel one of my weaker areas is deployment and so lowdrop lists have always been a priority for me. I’ve never ran a list over 5 drops and while a 5 drop was good but not great in AoS1, in AoS2 it’s the new 3 drop. This list only ever gets outdropped by Slyvaneth or Murderhost. And while it’s the combination of Heartrenders and drops that made come to Slaughter Troupe, it’s the additional artefact and how important that is in the list, that made me stay.
The rest of the choices are already made for you but one thing I like to do when choosing a battalion is to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of by building for and around its benefits. The main ability from the battalion, other than those listed above, is that you can retreat and charge and because Sisters of Slaughter‘s musician allows them to run and charge, you can retreat and run and charge. How many times have you won a game from retreating onto an objective? Now imagine you can do that with a unit of 30 that can pile in from 6″ away and have a 4+ save in combat and a 5++ save if they string out to the Cauldon. Even the threat of it is enough to force your opponent to consider this. On paper, the battalion might not seem like a lot, but then like the rest of everything in this list, it is a cog in the machine. Circles within Circles, wheels within wheels.