Striving for Perfection: Reviewing Reader Lists to Identify Common Mistakes and Provide Tips for Everyone

Hello spikey friends! Today we’re going to be doing something very different. I had some Warphammer readers submit their own tournament lists through Discord so I could publicly give some feedback. I think this process will be helpful for people to read. It will give everyone a chance to learn from some common mistakes I see Chaos fans make, and get some ideas for how to tweak their own lists.

Perfection in list-building pleases Slaanesh. (Artwork Credit: Kklymos)

Two quick notes before we start: This article idea isn’t something I normally do, so please let me know in the comments on the page or on social media whether you enjoyed it and thought it was useful. I also got a request from two readers to not list their full name. Because of that, I just decided to list everyone by an abbreviation and keep things anonymous.

I also quickly realized I didn’t plan this out well, and soon got way more lists than I knew what to do with. So I just want to give a thank you to everyone who submitted a list through Discord. In particular, someone abbreviated as DIS submitted an Alpha Legion list with a lot of love and fluff reasons for all the choices in the list. While I went with more tournament focused lists for review, I loved all the thought that went into the list and want to give a shoutout to everyone running their fluffy lists out there.

With all the caveats out of the way, let’s dive in!

S’s Daemons List

  • Slaanesh Daemons Battalion
    • Be’lakor: Penumbral Curse, Pall of Despair
    • Keeper of Secrets (Shining Aegis): Warlord, Bewitching Aura, Forbidden Gem, Phantasmagoria, Symphony of Pain, Exalted (Blessing of the Dark Prince)
    • Keeper of Secrets (Shining Aegis): Exalted (Quicksilver Reflexes), Phantasmagoria, Symphony of Pain
    • 3 x 10 Daemonettes
  • Undivided Daemons Patrol
    • Keeper of Secrets (Shining Aegis): Exalted (Realm Racer), Delightful Agonies, Hysterical Frenzy
    • Lord of Change (Rod of Sorcery): The Impossible Robe, Exalted (Lord of Flux), Gaze of Fate, Internal Gateway, Bolt of Change
    • 10 Brimstone Horrors
    • 2 x 6 Nurglings
    • 2 x 5 Tzeentch Furies

First of all, I love this list. It’s really fun and dynamic. I’ve been personally focused more on Chaos Space Marines than Daemons this year to explore a new side of Chaos, but Daemons are my original love and I still make sure to play them when I get the chance.

The first thing that stands out to me is S has picked all their Exalted traits. I don’t hate this choice, but it’s worth considering all our options here.

The general rule of thumb is pick the two defensive buffs for Keepers if running 2, and roll randomly for your Keepers if running 3. This is because your will have a third Keeper without any guaranteed defensive buffs for them to target if you run 3, so you might as well go for more overall value. S clearly values the third Realm Racer reward much higher than most people. I can definitely respect loving Realm Racer if that has been their experience. They probably love the ability to nearly guarantee a turn 1 charge. But the general principle to keep in mind is that if there is a specific Exalted reward that you want at least 1 Keeper to have, rolling for all 3 Keepers means at least 1 Keeper will get that Exalted reward 71% of the time. Rolling for all 3 means you’re very likely ending up with every trait you want somewhere plus a ton of extra value.

I think the spell selection is great on the Lord of Change but could be tweaked on the Keepers. Hysterical Frenzy is by far the best power, and one you want to have available everywhere. I would probably put Hysterical Frenzy on all 3 Keepers and then pick a mix of spells in the second slot. Phantasmagoria is only needed on the Forbidden Gem holder. I wouldn’t even cast it and risk a perils most of the time on the other Keepers.

The last item that stands out is the Nurgling units. I don’t mind going a bit bigger to punish opponents for not killing the unit and regenerating some bases, but squads of 6 are an awkward size. During game states that you want them to take up space, 5 Nurglings can actually spread out even further than 6 Nurglings because of the coherency rules. S’s list has 6 points left over. Dropping 2 Nurglings bases gives you 44 points, giving you 50 free points total. That gives S the chance to add a unit of Furies to the Slaanesh Daemons detachment, or even drop another Nurgling base and add a unit of Flamers to do some harassing/screening/actions or 2 solo Beasts of Nurgle to hold space behind all the monsters.

Great list overall S!

J’s Red Corsairs

  • Red Corsairs Battalion
    • Huron Blackheart: Warlord, Death Hex, Reaver Lord
    • Master of Possession: Cursed Earth, Infernal Power, Eye of Tzeentch
    • Warpsmith: Combi-melta, Intoxicating Elixir, Power Axe, Mark of Slaanesh
    • 3 x 5 Chaos Space Marines with Bolters
    • 2 x Decimators with Butcher Cannons, Mark of Nurgle
    • Venomcrawler with Mark of Nurgle
  • Undivided Daemons Battalion
    • Be’lakor: Penumbral Curse, Voidslivers
    • Lord of Change (Rod of Sorcery): Exalted (Random), Impossible Robe, Bolt of Change, Infernal Gateway, Treason of Tzeentch
    • Poxbringer: Fleshy Abundance
    • 3×3 Nurglings
    • 2×2 Beasts of Nurgle

Red Corsairs are a really cool faction, so I was happy to see someone running Lufgt Huron and this style of list. Unfortunately, I think this list has the same issue that a lot of Chaos lists have. It has a lot of cool pieces but is very unfocused. So let’s try to improve this list while keeping the overall feel that J is going for.

The ratio of “support” to “good stuff” is way off. The Master of Possession, Huron, Warpsmith, and Poxbringer are mainly there for the 3 Daemon Engines. But there are only 3 Daemon Engines in the list, and none of them are particularly threatening. I would drop the Warpsmith and Lord of Change and some Nurglings and Beasts to bring in some more Venomcrawlers/Decimator/Lord Discordant and add some redundancy.

If J wants to run the Lord of Change because it’s a great model, a really cool direction would be making all the Daemon Engines <Tzeentch> and dropping the Poxbringer for The Changeling. That will give lots of your army a 6+++ Feel-No-Pain, including your two big Daemons. Alternatively they could drop the Lord of Change entirely. This would make the Daemons detachment a Nurgle Daemon detachment, and give any Daemon Engines or Be’lakor additional damage on a 6+ to Wound in both melee and shooting. Dropping the Lord of Change + Warpsmith + some Beasts gives you a Lord Discordant and a pair of Venomcrawlers. At that point you’ve got a real Daemon Engine list going. I think the Decimators are only really worth it with the Soulburner Petards, but I understand they probably built the model a certain way and the Nurgle locus still helps the Butcher Cannons punch a bit harder.

Objective Secured Troops that can Advance and Charge makes Chaos Space Marines actually useful in Red Corsairs. So drop the Bolters and give them Chainswords so they can live their best life and run around punching Guardsmen and Wyches. Running Huron is great, but playing him is basically playing without a Warlord because his Warlord trait (get an extra relic) is abysmal. Getting an extra relic instead of a warlord trait is really bad in CSM, since we can buy extra relics but not WL traits. I would make the Master of Possession the Warlord with the Warp Lord WL trait to reroll 1’s to cast, and then as the free relic give the Warpsmith the relic Red Corsairs combi-melta if you’re still running him.

This list also has a ton of CP available because of the Red Corsairs trait and Huron as Warlord. I would like to see J explore a third detachment with something like an Emperor’s Children or Iron Warriors patrol to pump all that CP into. An Emperor’s Children Patrol with 10 Noise Marines in a Drop Pod and/or a unit of Terminators that can shoot twice and then auto-charge would give you really good results with all the CP that a Red Corsairs based list has.

Red Corsairs and Daemons are a really fun combination. Thanks for sharing the list J!

SE’s Daemons

  • Tzeentch Daemons Patrol
    • Be’lakor
    • Lord of Change: Warlord, Incorporeal Form, Warpfire Blade, Exalted (Aura of Mutability)
    • 6×10 Pink Horrors
  • Slaanesh Daemons Patrol
    • Keeper of Secrets: Exalted (Blessings of the Dark Prince)
    • Keeper of Secrets: Exalted (Quicksilver Reflexes)
    • 2 x 10 Daemonettes
    • 2 x 2 Fiends
  • Reinforcement Points for Horror splitting: 105

This list is AWESOME. I love everything about this.

Be’lakor in a Tzeentch Daemons detachment is an underrated terror. Gaze of Fate from the Lord of Change lets you reroll one of the dice from the Tzeentch locus roll. This means you can easily get two high rolls. A Be’lakor that is -1 to Hit, something like an unmodified 5 to Hit also misses, and no Hit rerolls is just untouchable in melee. He also can Advance and Charge from the Keepers of Secrets.

Lots of MSU Pink Horrors with splitting points are a target allocation nightmare. I would actually go all in on this concept if you’re running it, and bring The Changeling for a 6+++ Feel-No-Pain on Horrors and the Lord of Change. To get these points, you could drop an unnecessary unit of Daemonettes and a unit of Pinks for a unit of Furies.

I don’t really have a ton more to say on this list. It’s a fun concept and I wish SE good luck with it.

K’s World Eaters

  • World Eaters Battalion
    • Chaos Lord (2 Chainswords)
    • Dark Apostle: Violent Urgency, Brass Collar of Borghaster, Illusory Supplication, Warlord
    • 4 x 10 Cultists
    • 2 x 8 Berzerkers
    • 2 x Contemptors with Volkite
    • 2 x 1 Chaos Spawn
    • 8 Warp Talons
    • 2 x Rhinos
    • 2 x Hell Blades
    • 2 x Termite Drills

I love everything about this World Eaters list. It’s a board control focused list that also hits very hard.

Hell Blades are an interesting tech piece, but I do worry that the game isn’t very favorable to them these days. I would like to see some Heldrakes instead so they can tie stuff up in combat. Basically all of this army’s shooting is AP0 or AP1 with 2 damage, and there are some armies that will just walk all over you if all your shooting has that profile. At the very least, dropping a unit of Cultists to add Missiles to the Contemptors seems worth it. Upgrading to a Leviathan would also be an interesting choice. And if you’re going to bring Dreadnoughts, you really want to bring Kharn for their shooting rerolls. Kharn is just amazing value compared to a normal Chaos Lord, both in terms of buffing and his own combat prowess.

You don’t have the points to make all of these changes, but one or two would help adapt this list to beat armies you’re likely to face.

K mentioned they were taking this list to a GT soon, so best of luck to them!

Final Thoughts

It was really fun taking a look at all the reader submitted lists. Chaos fans are a creative bunch, and there are a lot of fun ideas to explore in the faction. Hopefully this list review gives you a few ideas for how to evaluate your own lists.

I really don’t like the mindset many competitive players have of “Oh, just play this other thing instead”. I think someone playing a Red Corsairs Daemon Engine list is well aware that they would be better off running them as Iron Warriors, or selling the entire army and using the funds to buy 5 Dreadknights and run Grey Knights. But I think that mindset loses a lot of what makes 40K so much fun competitively. There’s still a lot of value in finding the best ways to make subpar factions and units work.

In more “normal” content, I’m currently working on a writeup of a tournament I attended last week with my “Thicc Garden” Nurgle list that’s based around Daemon Engines and beat stick characters and Epidemius. I won an RTT with Emperor’s Children a few weeks ago, but the list was very similar to ones I’ve already written about extensively. I decided not to do a write-up on it. I also have some very exciting interview subjects coming on to Warphammer over the next few weeks.

As always, stay safe, have fun, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls.

Note: Excited to get your Chaos army on the tabletop? Me too! I’d love to work with you on making your fun or weird Chaos idea into a competitive list. If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer and quality 40K writing, feel free to check out and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available.

Interested in learning more about playing Chaos? Check out the Warphammer Discord here:

10 thoughts on “Striving for Perfection: Reviewing Reader Lists to Identify Common Mistakes and Provide Tips for Everyone”

    1. Insightful critique of all the lists. Definitely worth a read. Understandably, posts like this take time and effort but this would be a great regular feature.

  1. Warsmith Kythnos

    I liked this article and your feedback for the submitted lists. But I think that the focus of the lists was maybe a bit too broad with CSM (multiple legions) and Daemons combined. This makes it a bit more difficult to apply your feedback to ones own lists. From my gaming environment, most Chaos players Seen to play single legions or daemons, which makes advice for other codices and legions less applicable.

    So as a suggestion, how about looking at different subsets of chaos codices and factions for future articles?

    E.g. non-aligned legions, aligned legions, renegade warbands, daemons, combined lists. There is a lot to cover, though, which requires an equal measure of time.

    Personally I would love a take on Iron Warriors lists that are not just 2-3 Lords of Skulls plus support 🙂

    1. Thanks Johnny! Really glad you enjoyed it

      There are a ton of brilliant artists online with actual good-looking minis, I’ll leave the army showcases to people with real artistic talent haha!

  2. Big fan of the effort you go to to find new art for each post, Mr. Pestilens

    Does not go unappreciated

  3. Pingback: Taking List Submissions for the Next List Review Article! – Warphammer

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top