I’ve been working on a Disciples of Be’lakor list to counter Custodes and T’au, and the early results have been amazing. My list has been simply walking all over Custodes. I simply don’t think Custodes can beat a swarm of Pink Horrors. I will acknowledge that I’m always very optimistic about Chaos armies relative to most people, but my Disciples really have been crushing them on the scoreboard. I’m thankful the War in the Webway wasn’t this one-sided, or humanity wouldn’t have even survived to the 41st millennia and we wouldn’t have the 40K setting.
T’au feel like a very fair fight for Disciples, and that matchup goes either way in practice games. T’au and Custodes certainly don’t appear to be nearly insurmountable challenges for my beloved Daemons, like they appear for many other codices.
After plenty of reps in practice games in-person and on TTS, it was time to take my Disciples back out into the tournament streets. Will Be’lakor, The Lord of Torment, be able to torment the rest of the meta?
My Disciples of Be’lakor List
- Daemons Battalion
- Be’lakor: Penumbral Curse, Pall of Despair
- Contorted Epitome: Shrouded Step, Wreathed in Shades
- Fluxmaster: Gaze of Fate, Flickering Flames
- 30 Bloodletters: Icon, Instrument, Banner of Blood
- 30 Pink Horrors: Icon, Instrument
- 10 Plaguebearers
- 10 Daemonettes
- 10 Bloodletters
- 2 x 6 Furies
- Chaos Space Marines Patrol
- Dark Apostle: Illusory Supplication
- Dark Disciples (they count as a non-Character Heretic Astartes unit to unlock a unit of Cultists)
- Sorcerer: Delightful Agonies, Warptime
- 25 Slaaneshi Cultists
- Reinforcement Points: ~150
Disciples are a really great control list, relying on our debuffs and movement shenanigans to outscore all the stronger lists out there.
I decided to experiment with something different this time. I added a Chaos Space Marines detachment with a blob of Cultists for this tournament. I thought it was cute that they could get a 5++ invuln/5+++ FNP and potentially Tide of Traitors if they weren’t fully killed. The Cultist blob basically replaced the Plaguebearer blob, offering a bit more shenanigans and offense in exchange for losing more reliable durability.
In practice, it just felt like something else to worry about instead of just bringing more of the excellent Daemon troops. That detachment could have been replaced by beefing up the MSU Bloodletter and Plaguebearer squads both into nearly full sized squads, and I think that is a much stronger list overall.
Bloodletters, Horrors, Plaguebearers, Furies, and MSU Daemonettes have always performed brilliantly in my Disciples lists. Once I leave the comfortable confines of the Daemon Troops and HQ slots, it gets a lot dicier. Plenty of units like Flamers, Beasts, Exalted Chariots, Fiends, Skull Cannons, Soul Grinders, and Screamers can perform very well, but they’re not as consistently excellent as the Troop options. I still love all my Daemonic children regardless. On to the games!
Spoiler alert: Among the 12 attendees of the event, we had 3 T’au players. I didn’t get paired against them once, which was a bit disappointing because I wanted that challenge. On the upside, I faced 3 strong and interesting armies played by wonderful opponents. It’s always a great time when I get to play my Daemons.
Round One: Sisters of Battle
Sisters of Battle have traditionally struggled to clear hordes at range. This game was no exception. Retributors with meltas are no joke, but they don’t have access to an equivalent unit that kills hordes at range. This made my gameplan very easy. I could start my squad of Bloodletters on the board because he literally couldn’t reach them turn 1 on the back line. The Horrors basically started on the line because he didn’t have the volume to punish them.
The biggest decision point was that pre-game, Jean put a unit of Battle Sisters with the Dominions in his pre-game moving Rhino instead of the flamer Retributors. We chatted afterwards, and he wanted to get some ObSec and screening up the board against my teleports as quickly as possible. I see where he was coming from, but it made my deployment a lot easier than it should have been. His flamer Retributors in a Rhino have a threat range of 6″ + 3″ + 6″ + 12″ + 4″ turn one. That’s 7″ deep into my deployment zone if they get a pre-game and disembark. Without the 6″ pre-game move, I could freely deploy wherever I wanted as long as I started 1″ behind the deployment line (25″ threat range with a 24″ gap between deployment zones). Ebon Chalice Flamer Retributors will take huge chunks out of a horde unit, so I was very thankful I didn’t have to play around them during deployment.
Sisters went first, and did some chip damage into my Horrors up front that was mitigated by splitting points and returning d6 models (rolled a 1, of course) during morale. I gained some extra movement up the board by splitting and returning models. On my turn, I got 3 wraps off between the Horrors and the Bloodletters and he just didn’t have the volume of melee attacks to dig me out.
Jean got really unlucky with some rolls, and that ultimately culminated in Celestine trying and failing to turn the game around turn 3. Celestine charged Be’lakor to stop him from collapsing a flank. Slaanesh tried to distract Celestine from attacking Be’lakor, and my Contorted Epitome spiked the leadership check for the Forbidden Gem. Celestine ended up just watching helplessly as Be’lakor ate her and her Geminae. To put a bow on Jean’s run of bad luck, he rolled a 1 on her resurrection roll and she didn’t get back up. The game was over shortly after that.
Jean deserves credit for laughing and smiling in the face of some unlucky rolls, and hopefully his Celestine remembers how to stand back up next time.
Final Score: Win, 97-52
Round Two: Alex’s Drukhari
My list counters Custodes and T’au very well. Unfortunately, the way Daemon hordes works leaves them vulnerable to some less prevalent armies. Drukhari (fast melee versions, I still feel great into Covens builds) and Thousand Sons are my two worst matchups. It’s not so bad that it’s hopeless, but I would much rather face Custodes three times than Drukhari once.
My Disciples usually have a big advantage in that I have gotten practice games in against and beaten any faction I will face, but no opponents have really practiced against my weird Chaos jank. I don’t play gotcha-hammer at all and make opponents aware of our main tricks, but there is generally an edge in practice reps in my favor even against equally experienced opponents. It just so happened that Alex is my main practice buddy and has played against variants of my Disciples lists many times.
My Horrors did a good job barbequing his Wracks, but ended up collapsing under the weight of attacks when his Wyches and Hellions and Court hit them together. Everything else behind the Horrors collapsed under the weight of attacks next turn.
I was able to score decently on Warp Ritual by summoning a Slaanesh Herald early, and then spending a few turns running her into the middle to do the psychic action and then teleporting her back to safety with another psyker. If we had been able to hang on for one more turn we could have run up a lot more points, but unfortunately we got basically tabled turn 3 and our Primary and Grind Them Down scoring ground to a halt.
I have no real regrets about this game, and feel fine taking Disciples to an event if we can still score ~70 points in our worst common matchup.
Final Score: Loss, 69-100
Round Three: Erik’s Forces of the Hive Mind
This was a really interesting matchup. Erik was running a mixed Leviathan/Twisted Helix list, leaning into the strengths of both codices. His Tyranids had two Devilgant bombs, a max unit of Hive Guard, a Swarmlord and ignoring invulns Hive Tyrant, and some supporting Warriors and chaff. His Genestealer Cults had a Genestealer squad with a massive turn 1 threat range, some Biker units to pre-game move and screen, and some action squads.
I had the perfect counter to Return To The Shadows, the GSC stratagem to leave the board after a unit fights. I needed to start one unit within turn 1 charge range of his Genestealers or I wouldn’t be able to reliably score Stranglehold turn 1 on the top left objective. What I decided to do was put my unit of Cultists forward, and leave holds in the squad to place my Dark Apostle and Dark Disciples so that all the Cultists were within 5″ of the units inside (and thus within 6″ of any unit within 1″ of the Cultists). That meant that even if the Genestealers one-shotted the Cultists, they would be within 6″ of the Dark Apostle or his Disciples. They were also deployed at an angle so his Devilgants couldn’t see them turn 1.
I placed the 10 Daemonettes and 10 Bloodletters in Strategic Reserves for 1 CP. I wanted to use the Strategic Reserves ability to set up less than 9″ away on your own board edge to punish any elements of his mobile army that got too aggressive. This never came into play, but I think it’s a cute idea in some matchups.
Hive Guard are so ridiculous that I knew Be’lakor was in severe danger anywhere on the board. Spoiler alert, the Hive Guard were only able to shoot for one of the first four turns, and took 9 Wounds off Be’lakor that one turn. I had an advantage on quarters deployment, because that made it a lot harder to hide his Hive Guard far away from me. I teleported my Bloodletter bomb turn 1 to kill some Bikers, 10 Gants, and a Warrior squad, while also tagging one of the big Devilgant squads and his Hive Guard with a double fight. I also teleported my Fluxmaster near the Bloodletters and strong some out so he could provide the no hit rerolls benefit to them when Erik shot next turn. In his turn, the single Devilgant squad still annihilated them in one activation. Blood For The Blood God.
One of the key moments of the game came in turn 3, when I set up the 10 man Bloodletter squad out of strategic reserves and charged into a small Warrior squad. The Warriors were screening his Hive Guard in the backfield. I spiked a nat 9 on the charge roll and thus wiped the Warriors. The Bloodletters were then able to consolidate into the Hive Guard behind them. This led to a huge swing, as Be’lakor survived with one Wound the following turn on the middle objective. Those Bloodletters were hungry, and Erik’s Tyranids looked tasty.
Final Score: W, 86-66
I absolutely love playing Disciples of Be’lakor. It’s a perfect army for long term Daemon collectors, as units from every single God get to shine.
They are a very good singles army but absolutely pure gold in a team setting. Every team is going to run something like T’au/Custodes/Harlequins/other armies. Being able to say “I’ll handle the T’au and Custodes, use our own T’au and Custodes players to rack up huge points on weaker armies” is really valuable. Harlequins seem like an uphill matchup for the same reason Drukhari were, but we should do pretty well into Craftworlds.
This tournament also confirmed my belief that Disciples are best when they eschew all the mediocre CSM datasheets and focus on maximizing units that benefit from the incredible Daemon locus. There’s definitely space to mix in units like Obliterators and Warp Talons and cheap Chaos Space Marines for creative players, but be aware that you’re not focusing on the strength of the army.
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 and content, feel free to check out Patreon.com/Warphammer and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available.
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Published: March 8th, 2022
Last Updated: March 8th, 2022
This Post Has 25 Comments
I think your list is illegal, but i feel every time i say something about rules in warhammer (especially Chaos rules) there is a special clause in a long forgotten tome within the black library that allows the interaction or alters the univers and/or time around this rule.
You cannot include more CHAOS CULTISTS units than other HERETIC ASTARTES INFANTRY units (excluding CHARACTER units) in each Detachment in your army.
Wahapedia DoB RESTRICTIONS
Hey Katzophant! Half the reason I wanted to run this army at an event is to show off this neat little trick:
Dark Apostle comes with two Dark Disciples, and those Dark Disciples are non-Character Heretic Astartes Infantry. So one unit of Cultists + a Dark Apostle’s Dark Disciples have that covered and is legal.
It’s cheeky but it works, and hardly something game breaking that will get FAQ’d haha
Thanks for the Insight. I did not see them because they have no bullet point in your list 🙂
Good point, I’ve updated the list to make it clearer. Thanks!
The Dark Disciples said:
“Why be a cultist when you can be an occultist?”
And you know what? They’re gods-damned right, even if not really.
I did the same with 2 single spawns. Strangley they are astartes too.
Hey man! I love this, I’ve been running word bearers and Be’lakor with a bloodletter bomb with a little success, but I’m gonna go full daemons for disciples. Saw you on Goonhammer and came here. These articles have been really helpful thank you!
Not surprised a Word Bearers fan would be drawn to Daemons! Thanks so much for the kind words, and best of luck on the tabletop
I don’t know enough to say, but I’m told that speccing for Custodes leaves one vulnerable to Tau and vice versa, so it’s impressive your list is able to put work into both matchups.
And then imagine your army’s fortunes after the inevitable nerfs to the meta terrors – the faithful will indeed be rewarded.
Definitely an interesting point DP!
I would say that Daemons are innately very good into Custodes. The disparity waxes and wanes based on the strength of both codices, of course. But we’re one of the few armies that doesn’t need to change much in a Custodes meta
T’au on the other hand definitely need to be teched against. They’ll simply table you if you’re not extremely prepared
So Daemons have an advantage in that we only have to tech against 1 of the current “big bad wolves”
This may change in a couple weeks as Harlequins hit the scene because they look terrifying. We shall see!
Hey, I’m just curious. Since DoB detachment never counted as detachment, will all the prayers of Dark Apostle and other auras which have keyword in it will work normally?
Hello Mike – a basic question re DOB, do I understand correctly that only characters grant the locus of shadows and its not army wide? that makes protecting the units harder than it looks as out of the 3 hq, Belakor is going into melee asap, same goes for the contorted epitome. That leaves a single caster to grant the locus? Is this correct? Thanks!
the epitome wants to stay fairly safe behind you frontline guys, to proc the ‘no fallback’. Personnally, I’ve been keeping my bele back for a couple of turns, partly as a threat to deepstrikers, and to gives my bloodletters their hit rerolls before they teleport up the table. Also the dark aposle will give the aura, who you also want close behind your frontlines, to allow use of the auto pass morale strat.
Hey Mike, just took Disciples for a spin for the first time against my buddies custodes. Got the win and Be’lakor lived through out! Your articles on secondaries and how to play the army really helped, thanks!
That’s awesome BW! Way to rep the Dark Gods mate
I know you didn’t fight any on this tourney, but how have your practice games gone against Tau? My buddy and I and working on a doubles list for a local tourney.
Against tau. Theyre seem silly powerful. I had them game 1 at my first every tourny a couple of weeks ago. I am no where even near pro, but won 100-54. They have no answer to 3d6 letter charges, no fall-back from the epitome, and splitting pinks (the real hero of that weekend). They managed to tag so many extra units with conga lines that end 1.1″ from units, then pile-in during the fight phase.
Well said Tom!
A rules question for you Mike, on the forbidden gem. What should it switch off in this situation, as my opponent said none of it. Against black templars, an apothacary heroic’d into bele with the gem in range. He used a strat to make me only attack him. Instead of the bladeguard, and had all damage reduced to 1. Would switching him off negate the strat, and his 1 damage thing?
Hey Tom, unfortunately the Forbidden Gem wouldn’t help there. The Forbidden Gem only affects what it lists in the relic’s rules so stuff like their stratagems or relics would still work.
The combo of the relic to reduce damage to 1 and forcing you to fight that character is one of Black Templar’s strongest tricks (Blood Angels can do something similar, their version isnt locked to enemy Characters but they can’t make as durable Characters). Definitely something to keep in mind and play around when possible.
Good luck bringing death to the false emperor next time!
I did really well when I went 1st. Pinks in the middle of the board with the epitome and sorcerer close behind. They stayed alive all game. My trouble was going 2nd, either I was trapped in my deployment by pregame redeploying units, or the enemy already had the middle and I cant get that main group close enough/fail the charge. TS with a 3d6 undeniable death hex ruined the last game. Thankyou for giving me the answer to both problems without even asking! A unit in reserves would solve the pregame guys, and leaving pinks poking out a little can give me some pre-turn movement with splits. No idea how to deal with TS though…
What relic were you running with this list? If you weren’t running a big blob of cultists what would you replace it with?
Hey Gregg, I was using the Forbidden Gem on the Epitome. And honestly instead of Cultists, just more Horrors! Can’t go wrong with them in DoB
Been loving all the articles recently, really inspiring to not give up on Chaos…. Do you think there’s any play in using Obliterators as part of a patrol of CSM alongside Daemons or would I be better off adding more Daemons? Cheers
Thanks Garth! Always fun waging the Long War regardless of codex power.
Obliterators can definitely have a place, but they need Wreathed in Shades every turn because they are so fragile, and they are much less consistent offensively in Disciples than Iron Warriors. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them, just that you have to use them carefully