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PostSubject: The Screamerstar!   Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:52 pm

A guest tactica by Anonymou5

A few months ago the Chaos Daemon codex was released and there was much rejoicing. Flamer/Screamer was dead and the ridiculous Games Workshop cash grab was over  (We were told the reason those units were so OP was actually because the rules were written by White Dwarf staff, not game designers -ed) . Following the release, the general Internet wisdom on Daemons was simple: “Too random, not good” “Flickering Fire is stupid” “Terrible dex.”
A few months went by, Runes of Warding went away, and Wargamescon happened. All of a sudden a little secret became well known. Daemons are good. Second and Fourth place at a major con. With two entirely different builds.
http://testblog.belloflostsouls.net/?p=7744

So, now everyone at least knows about the Flying Circus and the Dog Rush…And those two lists really demonstrate what Daemons do well. Dominate the Psychic Phase and overwhelm with pure speed. I would actually argue that a Nurgle Circus is actually the worst version (well, aside from Khorne), and that the Wargames list could have been significantly scarier, and the fact Mr. Boucher got as far as he did is both a testament to his skill as a General and the overall internal balance of the book.

Today though I’m not writing about Flying Circuses, nor why Nurgle Princes make no sense, but about an entirely different Daemon unit. That’s the thing about the book, much like Tau (a comparison I bet you’d never see), the codex has multiple combos that can be terrifying. Units that on their own may not be scary, but when paired with a friend, become very strong. It is better to know what is out there, rather than to see it for the first time at a tournament.

Composition and Capabilities

Today I will focus on the Screamerstar. It’s a unit I’ve never seen in action, but it certainly has potential. It is also referred to as the “Screamer Council,” and honestly, I thought I had invented it….but, it’s being discussed a lot now; so I am no longer a creative genius who is ahead of the meta. That said, it’s still a dangerous and rare build, and one that many people have never encountered.
In short, it’s a unit of invincible jetbikes that drop buckets of strength 6 shooting.

In long, it is this:
1 Herald of Tzeentch (Lvl 3 Psycher, Disc, Exalted reward)
1 Herald of Tzeentch (Lvl 3 Psycher, Disc, Exalted Reward, Exalted Locus of Conjuration)
1 Herald of Tzeentch (Lvl 3 Psycher, Disc, Lesser Reward)
1 Herald of Tzeentch (Lvl 3 Psycher, Disc, Lesser Reward)
9 Screamers of Tzeentch.

In concept, this unit is similar to JY2’s Pinkstar. Which you can see in action here:

http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/520839.page
http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/522250.page

However, it is much more of a “True Deathstar” than the Pinkstar, both costing far more points, capable of dishing out more damage, and significantly more mobile. Unlike the Pinkstar, the Screamerstar is not completely useless in assault.
As the Daemon codex is still a mystery to most players, we need to delve into the various upgrades on the Screamerstar before we discuss how they synergize together.

Most of the power in the unit comes from the Heralds. The four of them encompass one HQ slot (in a primary detachment only). The Discs make them Jetbikes and grant one additional attack. One exalted gift will always be the Grimoire of True Names. The Grimoire is the most important piece of wargear in any Daemons build. You roll a D6 at ANY time in the movement phase, on a 3+ it improves the unit’s invulnerable save by 2 (for a 3++ normally), and on a 2- it reduces the save by 1 (for a 6++ normally). The second Exalted Reward will generally be the Portaglph, which the unit is fast enough to drop off wherever the player wants it (subject to a 4d6 scatter). The two Lesser Rewards are there to be traded in for Etherblades, which is an AP2 at initiative sword, primarily to give the unit a little additional punch in assault (six AP2 attacks at I4). That said, this unit’s job is not assault, so those 20 points are not required.

All four of them are level four psychers, and are allowed to roll on both Divination and Change. Generally that’s going to grant you 8 rolls on Divination and 4 Flickering Fires, although what you roll for and how is part of the strategy of the unit, and will be discussed a little bit later. The Locus increases the strength of the Change powers by 1, making Flickering Fire a Strength 6 shot.

The Screamers are jetbikes, who are essentially in the Screamerstar to provide wounds to the unit. However, they do pack pseudo melta bombs, 3 attacks per, and have turbo boost attack similar to Reaver Jetbikes (which generally will not be used by the Screamstar, as it wants to be shooting as much as possible).

Flickering Fire is a much insulted power, but anyone who has faced my Fateweaver circus can attest to its power. That is not to say that it does not have weaknesses, some of which we discuss, but this article will also demonstrate how powerful it can be. In short, Flickering Fire is a 24 inch Witchfire. At one Warp Charge it is 2D6 shots, AP4, and with the locus it shoots at STR6. It scales depending on how much WC is spent, 2 Warp Charge is 3D6, and 3 is 4D6. That means with full warp charge, the Screamerstar puts out 16D6 AP4/STR6 shots. Now, as a witchfire it can be denied. Also, after all Warp Flame attacks are resolved (Flickering Fire and the rest of the Change discipline), and assuming wounds are suffered, the targeted unit makes a toughness test. On a fail, D3 more wounds are taken, no armor or cover saves allowed. On a success, the unit gains 6+ FNP (or has its existing FNP improved). However, generally the Screamerstar overkills its preferred targets, and this is not an issue. However, when shooting at some targets, it is important to keep that in mind.

The majority of the Divination Powers are beneficial for the Screamerstar (Perfect Timing and Prescience being key), but Forewarning is where the unit becomes insane. Forewarning grants a 4++, which the Grimoire turns into a 2++ and Daemons of Tzeentch reroll saves of 1. This means that the Screamerstar will have a rerollable 2++ Thus, when I described the unit as an invincible unit of jetbikes, I was being literal. This is not to say the unit does not have weaknesses, which it does, and we will discuss them in more detail. However, to the unprepared opponent, the Screamerstar can seem very broken indeed (as can it’s younger cousin, the Pinkstar).

But before we delve into the weaknesses of the unit (and how to mitigate and exploit them), I am going to break down the unit’s damage output in shooting.
For the sake of this demonstration, I am going to assume the unit used 1WC on Divination, Perfect Timing and Forewarning. The rest is going into Flickering Fire. This generally means three heralds are shooting 3D6 and one is shooting 4D6, although this can change depending on how the powers are broken down. The average roll on a D6 is 3.5 and the unit is rolling 12D6 for the power. This comes out to 42 shots. Now, I will be calculating the Deny the Witch Results on the aftermath (at a 6+ unless otherwise noted), because I am more interested in general performance. However, game results will show more variance (as they always will, just due to the sheer number of dice involved)

Thus, in general we are dealing with 42 STR6, BS4, twinlinked shots with the Ignores Cover rule (which against some targets Perfect Timing would be pointless, but for simpler calculations I will leave it in). The Screamerstar will also often have Misfortune, which would be very effective against certain targets, but for the sake of one general “capabilities brief,” I will stick with the base powers assumptions.

Thus, against Firewarriors or worse, the Screamerstar will kill 25 in one volley of shooting.
Against Marines and their equivalents, the Screamerstar will kill 8-9 in one volley of shooting (likely leaving 1-2 with a 6+ FNP)
Against Terminators, the Screamerstar will 4.
Against a Riptide, it will do 2 wounds (and almost certainly grant FNP)
Against an unbuffed Tervigon (with a 5+ Deny) it will do 4 wounds.
Against AV10 it will do something like 15 HP of damage. AV11 it will remove 10HP, and AV12 it will do 5HP of damage.

Thus, ignoring some of the other Change Powers (as Gate and Bolt are both very good against Terminators), the strengths and weaknesses of the the Screamerstar’s shooting are very easy to break down. It absolutely murders light infantry. Any squad of Firewarriors, Guardians, Guardsmen, or the like that it points at is dead. No saves allowed.
It’s pretty good against Marines. If you kill nine in a volley, it hardly matters if one has a 6+ FNP.

Any vehicle it can hurt, it will kill. Thus, like most of the meta, it has no issue with Chimeras or Razorbacks (or Waveserpents, as it doesn’t care about jink or a reduction of pens to glances), but cannot affect Annihilation Barges or Land Raiders in shooting. Interestingly, it’s still pretty effective against AV10 and 11 fliers (dropping 5 HP and 4 HP respectively, no jink allowed), but struggles against AV12 fliers (dropping just under 2 HP, less for a Heldrake)

It struggles against MCs and TDA. Although as most Terminator Squads are 5 man, killing 4 and granting 1 a 6+ FNP isn’t the end of the world. That said, it clearly is not the tool to use against the various monsters all over the meta.
Thus, in shooting, we know what it can do and what its weaknesses are. Thus, we must ask, can it cover up for those weaknesses in assault?

The Heralds bring a little bit to the fight in assault, WS3/S3 with 3 attacks each. 6 of those attacks are AP2. All at initiative 4. The Screamers bring 27 attacks at I3, WS3, S4. The Screamers can also make a single STR5, AP2, Armorbane attack instead (or 9) for the squad. With Prescience, this is probably enough to kill a Riptide or a Tervigon. There is some debate as to whether the Screamers still get the bonus attack for charging when they use their “meltabombs,” but assuming they do, the Screamerstar (ignoring the non AP2 attacks) do 4 wounds to a Riptide on the charge, and another 2 on the following turn. Freeing them up on their own turn to engage something else (assuming a smart opponent does not tie them up with a Kroot Blob or something). They also easily kill a Tervigon on the charge if he lacks endurance, and if he has endurance, the results are the same as the Riptide.

That said, they’re not going to do very well attacking anything tougher than a Riptide (buffed up Lord of Change, Iron Arm Flyrant, Wraithknight, etc), and should generally avoid assault. But, it is still important to know what they can assault if they must.
Weaknesses and Mitigations

Thus, the unit has a few obvious weaknesses in what it can kill simply through shooting, which the rest of the hypothetical Daemon list should address (and a smart opponent can exploit). It also has a few other weaknesses that I will discuss.

First, to become worth the points investment (about 800), the unit MUST get Forewarning. While a 3++ rerolling 1s (just the Grimoire) is really good, it is not 800 points good. The Heralds have 12 rolls to get it, but must do them 1 at a time by Herald. There are two general strategies for pre-game psychic rolls. Either roll nothing but Divination until Forewarning is rolled. Or roll Divination two per herald, and taking Flickering Fire, then repeating on the process on each herald. The first risks cutting into the shooting power of the unit (as at least three heralds need Flicking Fire), and the second lowers the overall odds of getting Forewarning. Neither answer is right, but it is worth bearing in mind. I personally would roll the first herald 3 times on Divination, and then switch to two per Herald. Either way, most of the time the unit will get everything it needs, but there will be the occasional game where the unit is not operating at peak effectiveness, which I believe hurts it’s viability in a GT style tournament.

Second, the Grimoire only has a 2/3 success rate on it’s own. There are two ways the Daemon Player can mitigate the risk. The first is with movement. If the Grimoire fails, use the jetbike speed/turbo boost to hide the unit (and actually use the Turboboost attack the Scramers have). The second is to use the other HQ slot to take Fateweaver (who, in my opinion is an auto take in any Daemon build anyway). Fateweaver grants one D6 reroll per player turn, which is perfect for a Grimoire build (and if the Grimoire succeeds on its own, it becomes perils protection). With Fateweaver in the Army, the success rate of the Grimoire goes to 8/9, which means the Screamerstar will spend less time hiding, and more time killing.

The second biggest weakness of the Screamerstar is the relative vulnerability of the Herald carrying the Grimoire. He does not benefit from the Grimoire, so most of the time he is only rocking a 4++ (with reroll 1s). Now, he will obviously be at the center of the unit, so he will not be the first target for wound allocation. However, barrage weapons and precision shots can still snipe him. He does have a 2+ Look Out Sir, so he can pass those wounds off if he needs to, but that is not as good as a 2++ rerollable that the rest of the unit possessed. Thus, STR8+ Precision Shots and Barrage Weapons have a fairly high percentage of killing him (something like 10%). Now, a Vindicaire Assassin and a Tau Warlord Trait deny Look Out Sir, so that’s something for the Daemon player to realize. Of course, the Screamerstar is not going to have any issue killing a Vindicare, and can easily kite most Tau units packing a Warlord.

The biggest weakness is Mind Strike Missiles, as a 2++ does no good against wounds that ignore saves. A Daemon Player would be well served to hide in assault on the turn a GK Storm Raven is expected to come onto the board or spread the unit out such that only one herald can be hit by the blast at a time (put heralds into coherency with Screamers only, alternating the Heralds throughout the unit).

As discussed above, the Screamerstar is not very good at killing tough MCs, large TDA squads, and AV12 fliers. It also generally cannot hurt AV13 or 14 at all with shooting (unless it takes Gate or Bolt) Additionally, it has no hit and run, and is very subject to being tarpitted. However, it is very fast and can easily avoid most of the assault units that could tarpit it (Power blobs, Walking MCs, Gaunt mobs), but is still subject to tarpit by fast and durable assault units (Hounds, Wraiths, FMCs, and the like). Thus the Daemon player needs to mitigate those weaknesses, I think Soul Grinders make the most sense here. Soul Grinders have a huge footprint, and can be used to completely block maneuver and assault lanes (allowing the Daemon player to create lanes across the board for the Screamerstar to use to kill things and avoid trouble). Grinders also add a skyfire option, and as the Screamerstar can hand out prescience like candy, will be fairly effective in that role. Plus, a lot of the fast assault units that can actually catch the Screamerstar, have no chance against a Soul Grinder, and will spend the rest of the game dying one or two at a time. Finally, Grinders are extremely durable, and add to the whole “You can’t kill this list” idea of running the Screamerstar.

I think Grinders work best in a configuration of 2 Slaneesh (torrents) and 1 Nurgle (Phlemg), with the Slaneesh Grinders using their somewhat absurd speed to advance, and the Nurgle Grinder staying back somewhat and using cover from the Slanseesh Grinders to be very difficult to kill. This creates a triangle formation that the Screamerstar can stay in the center of for protection.
Build and General Use

Thus we know our Screamerstar build will have its HQ slots maxed out (4 heralds, 1 Fateweaver), its HS slot also maxed out (3 Grinders), and one FS slot used (the Screamers). Personally, I think Seekers would make a ton of sense in this build, as an incredibly fast counter attack unit that can kill anything on the ground. However, the points aren’t there. At 2k points, even with a portaglyph, I feel you need four units of Troops. In my opinion the best Daemon Troops are Horrors and Daemonettes. In this list that is doubly true. The Daemonettes serve as a fast moving counter assault unit, who can be used to remove tarpits if needed. The Horrors are an additional place to stash Heralds if the need arises. They also can pour additional Flickering Fire attacks into the same units the Screamerstar targets (as only one warp flame test is initiated in a shooting phase).
Thus, my 2k Screamer Star list would look like this:

Heralds of Chaos

• Herald of Tzeentch: Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Disc of Tzeentch; Exalted Reward.
• Herald of Tzeentch: Exalted Locus of Conjuration; Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Disc of Tzeentch; Exalted Reward.
• Herald of Tzeentch: Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Disc of Tzeentch; Lesser Reward.
• Herald of Tzeentch: Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Disc of Tzeentch; Lesser Reward.

Kairos Fateweaver

11 Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
10 Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
10 Daemonettes of Slaanesh
10 Daemonettes of Slaanesh

9 Screamers of Tzeentch

Soul Grinder: Daemon of Slaanesh; baleful torrent.
Soul Grinder: Daemon of Slaanesh; baleful torrent.
Soul Grinder: Daemon of Nurgle; phlegm bombardment.

1,999 points

I would be the warlord, of course, for the Warp Storm re-roll. I would generally start Fateweaver and all the Troops in reserve. The Horrors would walk onto my board edge and claim rear objectives (I will later break down why they are better backfield campers than Plague Bearers), the Daemonettes would be in DS reserve most of the time, to claim downfield objectives and function as counter assault. The Grinders would control midfield, and create lanes for the Screamerstar, the Nurgle Grinder would also serve as backfield bodyguard for the Horrors. The Screamerstar would delete a unit of Troops each turn, and cast out buffs to the Grinders as needed.
In conclusion, it’s a nasty build, but not unbeatable. In my opinion 800 pts is probably too much to spend on something that is only incredibly good at killing Fire Warriors and their equivalent. That said, there is some value in a unit that is effectively impossible to kill, and I do plan on play testing it a bit.

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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:18 pm

Interesting. I was toying around with something like this as part of an all Psyker army. Mostly as a for fun army, as I would be afraid to run that against gray knights or some one with strong anti-Psyker abilities. I'll definitely give it a look.

The only part I disagree with is the troop load out. If I'm taking a portalglyph, I tend to go light on troops. 1x10 bearers and horrors, then an ADL or skyshield.

Also, I probably would not start with Fateweaver off the board. Reserve rolls have not been kind to me ever. I need them out there to get me first blood or distract my opponent. Every shot at them is a shot not at the Screamer Council. (I really like that name)
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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:43 pm

if you start fatey on the board he's the primary target.. You'll have to hide him.. remember your using the book on the screamer star so once you get the 2++ going its a waste to shoot it with most armies anyway.. If you give a good player a chance he will kill your fateweaver he is a prime target..

Slay the Warlord
removes your reroll
removes your warp storm reroll.


I think that is why most people leave him in reserve for this build.
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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:42 pm

Do you get your rerolls without Fateweaver on the board? I didn't think it worked with him in reserves. It's not a big model, so not too difficult to hide. And with my reserve rolling track record, he won't be out until he auto comes in.Evil or Very Mad 
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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:54 am

Yeah, Fateweaver's re-rolls work when he is off the board. It is a granted ability to you the player not a model. Along the same lines as Astropath or Officer of Fleet for IG.

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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:41 am

I linked this page to the Daemons Gone Wild thread on Warseer to get more perspective. One of the regulars posted this rebuttal to the list.

HERE

Now that the newness of it has worn off, I think I agree, that it is too many points for one unit that can only target one unit. I'll still put one together. It's be awesome to have such a solid unit in an Apoc game.
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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:08 pm

If you start seeing more of them on the tables, you should start seeing more Space Wolves.
4+ Nullify will castrate the army.

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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:50 am

This big ass unit can also assault pretty well. The idea is that they win combat by taking no wounds. I don't like the original list though. I'm running the Screamer Star allied with Chaos Marines to get a Black Mace Prince and an Auto-Cannon Helldrake. Now if I could just get the damn things built.

Also, Mindstrike missiles are bad.
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PostSubject: Re: The Screamerstar!   Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:47 am

This is a gt level list that's all, running it at a lower level with get you random results. Because the meta is different. You don't see GK at the gt level because they get smashed by the popular elder and tau builds at that level plus triple Heldrakes gives it fits. . You also see very few sw because of that meta so the list does decently, several people are running it at that level currently. Also in Europe they just had a gt and 3/4 the field was elder tau and demons.

The list has other issues though and suffers from Death Star syndrome since it doesn't have hit and run you can tarp it the unit or feed it units for a few turns while you kill his other units. Depends on player skill and his list of course.
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