CHAIN MAIL: Daemonhunters Playable?

"I love the Daemonhunters book. I open it up and love all of the character and neat little abilities, wargear and units that are inside. Like your series on assassins, there's a lot to love. Until I fire up Army Builder and start making a list. What a bunch of garbage!"

In making a pure Daemonhunters force, what do you start with as the core? GKs? Stormtroopers? Is a pure DH force even viable anymore? Should I just induct a boatload of new IG? Please enlighten me, old man on the mountain!"

I'm glad to see that other people still love the old Inquisition codices as much as I do.

Mini-Rant: I always hated the "pure" army distinction. Yes, I know the phrase comes from the DH codex, but has an elitist ring that just doesn't belong in a tabletop game. Inducted Imperial Guard and Allied Space Marines are unit choices in the Daemonhunters codex and there's nothing wrong with taking them. Personally, I'd like to get people to drop the "pure" distinction and start seeing the IG and SM units as part of the Daemohunters codex.

Question #1: Are Grey Knights viable in 5th Edition?
Answer: Grey Knights (in all their incarnations) were overpriced in 4th Edition, and 5th Edition hasn't done them any favors. Their high price comes from the fact that they are decent at two opposing roles -- shooting and close combat. Since you pay for both the WS5 Nemesis Force Weapon and the BS4 Storm Bolter (as well as the shiny Grey Knight special rules), you end up paying 25pts for a model that dies as easily as the 15pt Space Wolf. Even with the Shrouding, they die faster than Space Wolves because they don't have a dedicated transport option.

The strangely popular "way of the water-whatever" nonsense doesn't work in 5th Edition. So the only viable all Grey Knights option is to try the following 3-Card-Monty trick: 1) convince your friends to play at low point levels, 2) take as many Land Raiders as possible, and 3) use peer pressure to convince your friends not to take anything that can wreck your Land Raiders (e.g., "Dude, taking all those meltas isn't cool -- I'm playing a gimped Grey Knights list."). Not exactly a competitive strategy.

Grey Knights just can't compete with 5th Edition armies on price, volume and quality of shooting, mobility or durability. So, no, I don't recommend building a Daemonhunters army solely of Grey Knights in 5E. But, in moderation, they can be part of a fun and tough Daemonhunters army.

Question #2: Do I have to use Allied Space Marines or Inducted Guard to make a competitive army?
Answer: Short answer -- Yes. Long answer -- No.

Short Answer: In general, the best way to compete with 5th Edition armies is to use a 5th Edition army. For a Daemohunters player, that means Allied Space Marines and Inducted Imperial Guard. You want something that can win tournaments, then that's the lowest hanging fruit.

Long Answer: It is possible to build a moderately competitive army using Daemonhunters units, but you are really shoe-horned into an army build that's not very creative and not much fun to play. Max Landraiders (with some GKTs) and spending the rest of your points on cheap IST units (spamming BS4 meltaguns and/or plasma guns). Trust me, it's not a fun list and relies way too heavily on getting lucky with your 3-4 Landraiders.

Question #3: Which should I pick? Inducted Imperial Guard or Allied Space Marines?
Answer: Imperial Guard are a much better match for Daemonhunters than Space Marines. The main reason is unit selection. Inducted Guard gives you access to the awesome Infantry Platoon; opening the door to infantry squads (and combined squads), heavy weapon teams, special weapon teams and conscripts.

Imperial Guard also gives the Daemonhunter General the much needed long-range shooting without sucking up all of your points and your heavy support choices. Inquisitors, Assassins, Grey Knights and ISTs work really well with IG and you have a TON of different competitive builds you can make.

While you can probably make a decent army with Allied Space Marines, you don't have access to the coolest stuff from the codex -- especially the awesome Space Marine HQ and Elite choices.

Question #4: What's the best option for your Daemonhunter "core" choices? Grey Knights or ISTs?
Answer: ISTs are the better choice for most army builds. For 70pts, you can get 5 ISTs with 2 BS4 Meltaguns -- that's not a bad deal. Take two of them and put them in Chimeras that you bought with your IG Infantry Platoons. Now you've got a pretty solid 124pt mobile scoring unit.

Note: Every Infantry Squad in your Inducted Gard Infantry Platoon can bring along a 55pt Chimera to use as a transport. This is just about the only way to build a viable Grey Knight (non-GTK army). You can put 6+ Grey Knights (with an Incinerator or two) in a Chimera -- while you close the gap, you can fire your Storm Bolters from the hatch and then use the Incinerator when you get close. However, even in 55pt Chimeras, Grey Knights are still overpriced, but this is the best way to get them across the board.

Thanks for the email, Jim! If you dust off your Daemonhunters and play a few games, please let me know -- I'd love to hear how the games go.

>>Comments are welcome and feel free to email me your lists or questions -- I'm going to endeavor to respond to every email. Just send them to me at And, as always, your mileage may vary.

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