Wow, looking back the last time I did one of these was back in May. Anyway....
Chaos Daemons only have two heavy support choices; Soul Grinder or Daemon Prince. I've been thinking of middling with Chaos Daemons lately, and I want to get to the nitty gritty and open these two units up and see which one is the best.
The Soul Grinder is the possessed remains of a Chaos Space Marine Defiler, and as such has a profile almost the same. The only real difference is the Soul Grinder has av13 on the front and +1 attack, other than that everything is the same as a Defiler stat wise.
The Soul Grinder has the daemon special rule, which means it gets a 5+ inv save and also causes fear. In addition it is also immune to shaken and stunned results.
Speaking of special rules, the Soul Grinder has fleet, which lets it re-roll assault distances (one or both dice), which can be handy.
Standard wargear are two dreadnought close combat weapons (additional attack included in profile), harvester (think assault 6 storm bolter), and a S6 AP4 flamer attack.
All the above costs 135 points, which isn't too bad.
The mawcannon (flamer weapon) can be upgraded so it can use tongue (S10 AP1 shooting attack) or phlegm (S8 AP3 large blast) profile. Both of these cost 25 points.
Tongue at first leaps out at you, and it is badass, but the Soul Grinder only has 50/50 chance of hitting and 25 points for a single shot is a lot of points. I probably wouldn't take the tongue gift.
Phlegm, while less appealing than tongue, is probably the more tactical choice. It's great for smashing infantry, but vehicles not so much, as it is not a ordnance shooting attack. Add the Soul Grinder's mediocre ballistic skill and you're talking about some fair scattering.
Ok, so shooting isn't the Soul Grinder's bag. What about assault?
Well, that av13 front armour is going to make it very tough to take down in assault. Only S10 attacks have a good chance of taking it down and also melta bombs. So, pick your targets carefully, though more often than not the Soul Grinder is going to wade into enemy units and smash face.
Unfortunately it's not all roses and sunshine for the Soul Grinder in assault. On the charge it is going to have 5 attacks, but it is only WS3, the same as a lowly Guardsman. On average the Grinder is going to be hitting on a 4+ and will score 3 hits and 3 wounds. Not exactly wiping the floor is it?
Time to look at pros and cons:
* Anti horde support with phlegm attack
* Can tarpit enemy units
* Will auto pen majority of vehicles in the game (combat)
* Can I.D T5 models
* Can absorb enemy fire power leaving the remaining of your units untouched
* Large model, so higher chances of deep strike mishap
* Ballistic skill is average
* Weapon skill is below average
* Only vehicle in the Daemon army, so all anti tank guns will be pointing at it
* Can be destroyed by a single shot
* Can be immobilised in dangerous terrain (gets 5+ save though)
At base cost the Daemon Prince is a lot cheaper than the Soul Grinder and has better weapon skill, ballistic skill and initiative.
The only special rule the Daemon Prince has is the daemon special rule; though as a monstrous creature, the D.P has fear anyway, amongst other rules.
The Daemon Prince is highly configurable and more so than any other unit in the Daemon codex. This can make the Daemon Prince extremely costly, but you gain a helluva lot in terms of flexibility and all round goodness. You can find a Daemon Prince tactica here, though a Nurgle or Slaanesh build are probably the best available and offer more options.
Like the Soul Grinder's gifts, the Daemon Prince's are also expensive. The D.P hasn't got a huge amount of shooting gifts to chose from (bolt of tzeentch, death strike, pavane of slaanesh, daemonic gaze and breath of chaos), and while those shooting attacks are expensive, the D.P only needs a 2+ to hit (except breath of chaos). That's a lot better than the Soul Grinder.
Assault wise both the Prince and Soul Grinder have the same amount of attacks, however the Prince is WS7. So mostly the Prince will be hitting on a 3+, so will hit 3 attacks and wound twice. Well, that has come as a surprise as the Prince will only wound two MEQ models, while the Soul Grinder will kill three. I guess if you add unholy might, then the Prince will kill three models too.
One advantage the Prince has got and that's daemonic flight. The Prince has a superior assault range and of course becomes a flying monstrous creature; so it can do vector strikes and of course only snap fire can hit it.
Also, unlike the Soul Grinder, it will take several shots to put down a Daemon Prince instead of one (don't forget the D.P has eternal warrior). But, the Prince can be T6 with mark of nurgle, so weight of fire from small arms can bring it down in time.
Pros and cons then:
* Larger variety in daemonic gifts
* Not as easy to kill as the Soul Grinder
* Better at shooting
* Can be harder to shoot at if using daemonic flight
* Ignores dangerous terrain
* Lesser deep strike mishap risk
* Can be torrented to death by small arms fire
* Gifts can get really expensive
* Combat wise the Soul Grinder still works out to be the same
When writing this article I thought it was going to be cut and dry and to be honest had already made my mind up and really had written this article with a biased view point. Now I am not so sure.
The Soul Grinder has got a lot more negative points than the Daemon Prince, but combat wise it works out the same.
The Prince is really superior in every way, but the points cost is a big issue and small arms fire can bring it down. I guess the big negative for the Soul Grinder is it will attract all the enemy anti tank on the table and it only takes a possible single hit to kill it.
I think what it boils down to is what config you're using your D.P as. If you're doing a shooty support Prince, then there's no contest - the D.P is superior. If you're using the Prince for hassling enemy units and then assault, then it maybe worth looking at the Soul Grinder. However, both best D.P assault builds (Nurgle and Slaanesh) offer benefits which the Soul Grinder cannot access i.e aura, cloud, musk, gaze and also noxious touch. Also not forgetting that monstrous creatures have the smash rule and can be S10 if they wish.
I guess the end paragraph has put the nail in the coffin; the Daemon Prince is a superior unit. But, the Soul Grinder isn't as bad as originally thought. If you do not want to pay high points cost, then consider the Soul Grinder. If you're ok getting plenty of cool gifts along with a superior and more flexible unit, then the Daemon Prince is for you.
So what's it for you, Daemon Prince or Soul Grinder? Or would you not bother with heavy support and load up on some other Daemon units?