The Horus Heresy: Slay Your Daemons

Since the Daemons of the Ruinstorm were unleashed in The Horus Heresy Book Eight – Malevolence, Space Marine Legions have been searching for a way to deal with this new threat. Fortunately, Greg Dann from the Imperial Truth Podcast is on hand with some advice on how to deal with the Neverborn.

Greg: The Daemons of the Ruinstorm army offers a unique challenge in the Age of Darkness, with new rules that combine elements of play that appear in other armies individually. On top of this, each unit in the army can take at least one of the Emanations of Horror,* meaning that between two opponents each unit choice might have a completely different role.

Much like when the Legions first encountered Daemons, it can take a while to adjust to this new threat, and in the meantime they can be daunting to face. Here are just three areas of consideration when taking on the forces of the Primordial Annihilator.

Hard to Kill 

Where a Space Marines army might find its resilience in heavily armoured vehicles and 2+ armour saves, a Daemons of the Ruinstorm army brings high Toughness, multiple Wounds and a 5+ invulnerable save. As a result, you’re going to need different tools to deal with them.

The humble autocannon is an example of a weapon that can be overlooked in Legion armies, but it comes into its own against Daemons. It provides 2 shots that ignore the base armour save of all but Ka’bandha and Samus and reliably wounds the majority of unit choices. Doing all of this from 48” away makes a very attractive alternative to much more expensive weapons. 

Another way to get around these challenges is to make each hit really count, and nothing works better at that than the Instant Death special rule. This might come in the form of a weapon profile like a Paragon blade, but can also be achieved by the Strength of the weapon being double the Toughness of the target. Strength 10 weapons can do this to Lesser Daemons from the first turn, and by turn five they can even take out Greater Daemons.** Of course, even with the best planning, it’s still possible that the Dark Gods will bless your opponent and they’ll pass all of their invulnerable saves!

Finally, never forget that quantity is a quality all of its own. Most Legion armies are dripping with bolters and, combined with a well-timed Fury of the Legion attack from your Tactical squads, can bring down even the biggest of targets.


The Assault phase is where most Daemons of the Ruinstorm armies pose the greatest threat. While they have a limited number of shooting attacks and can pump out a LOT of psychic powers, when it comes to killing, they do it best up-close and personal. Dealing with this threat is very similar to taking on any assault-based army.

Avoidance is the most obvious solution – if they can’t charge you then they can’t kill you! Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Finding ways to slow down the enemy is key, and one way to achieve this is through the valiant sacrifice of a unit. A well-placed Rhino can force a unit to move sideways rather than forward in the Movement phase, and while they can still charge, you can restrict them to only charging that Rhino. By sacrificing a small number of points and some of your own manoeuvrability you can hold up a deadly enemy unit, buying yourself some time and another crucial round of shooting.

If you have access to Fearless or Stubborn units you can take the initiative and charge the enemy yourself, pinning them into position. This allows your other units to tactically withdraw or to concentrate on the remainder of the enemy force.

Of course, Space Marines are no slouches in combat themselves. For example, Firedrakes will give any Monstrous Creature pause, as they have the potential to absorb their attacks and deal the damage back. A World Eaters Rampager squad is a threat to a unit of Lesser Daemons due to the sheer weight of attacks they can bring to bear at a decent Initiative. Speaking of Initiative, one other thing to remember is that Cor’bax is the only Daemon of the Ruinstorm that counts as being equipped with assault grenades – make the most of your terrain in these combats.


Never take your eye off the mission! Obviously this is true for all games, but it has a different feel when playing against Daemons. Each Aetheric Dominion*** has the ability to ignore the mission that was rolled and play their own. This means you might be trying to hold objectives while your opponent can choose to ignore them completely. 

Whether your opponent receives victory points for units destroyed by psychic powers (as with the Maddening Swarms Aetheric Dominion) or by causing enemy units to fail morale checks (as with the Lurid Onslaught Aetheric Dominion) should fundamentally change the way you approach the game. In the face of a Crimson Fury list, for example, where the enemy wants to see units (friend or foe) killed in combat, you may have to resist moving forward onto objectives until later in the game even though it feels counterproductive. If your usual plan plays into the strengths of your opponent to the extent that you do not think you can win, then you need to adapt. 

Daemons of the Ruinstorm can be a challenge to face, but if you choose your weapons wisely, pick your combats and never take your eye of the mission, then you’ll be able to carry the day.

Thanks, Greg! If you’d rather fight for the Ruinous Powers rather than against them, make sure you pick up a unit of Ruinstorm Daemon Brutes.

* Emanations represent the vast number of mutations and manifestations of Chaos evidenced by the minions of the Warp and offer individualisation on a huge scale to Daemons of the Ruinstorm armies.
** The Daemons of the Ruinstorm have a special rule called Tides of Madness that symbolises how hard it is for Daemons to remain in realspace. In turn five, they suffer a -1 penalty to their Strength and Toughness.
*** Each Daemons of the Ruinstorm army is drawn from a Warp power, and these powers have their own agendas and goals. The six different Aetheric Dominions provide rules that represent the influence of those Warp powers. 

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