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No doubt about it - last edition they rocked. When rending activated on the to hit side of things, rather than wounding, they made mince meat out of anything that came their way. Yet, 5th edition sees them struggling to take down a tactical squad despite getting 4 attacks each. And a Bloodletter costs only 2 points more and runs around with a S5 power weapon.
But can we still find the silver lining in an otherwise pitch black cloud?
Lets start off with the main reason why you take the girls: Rending. To make use out of rending you are looking at being able to hit with the vast majority of attacks and then hope that the odds are in your favour when it comes to 6's to wound. Seeing as only a 6th of all hits are going to be rending then things don't look too good. A unit of 10 daemonettes, assuming all magically hit with their 30 attacks, will only generate 5 rending kills.
That may sound like a lot, after all a 10 man tactical squad will only be getting 5 attacks back, but those 5 attacks could easily hamper the squads ability to launch a second effective assault. And those 5 kills are assuming that they get to charge with a full squad (not easy when entering deepstrike with T3) and said full squad hits with all of it's attacks.
A more Likely scenario (lets assume that you got lucky and only 2 got killed) would have (again, against a Tac squad but this time charging) 16 hit, but only 3 would be rending, (rounding up) add the additional failed armour save and if Ive done my maths right we have 4 dead space marines. 7 attacks back (5 space marines, + attack from sarge) would eventually result in 1 death, ish.
Not bad.... But then again - this is assuming it's your lucky day and you don't suffer a bucket of casualties, get to charge and hope that maths doesn't fail you.
The main weakness of the Daemonettes is the rending. It's too unreliable to be able to let the girls charge a unit of armoured people and make sure that they make mince meat out of them. Theres always a chacne that they will snuff every chance for rending.
Well... that and they are T3. Thats not good. Thats not good by any possible standard! Being T3, high points, deepstriking and without a ranged weapon too... When I deep strike a unit of 'nettes I never do so without expecting half the squad to kick the bucket. And unlike bloodletters they aren't going to be devouring a unit with only a few models.
So - what is the bright side in all of this? I believe that the rest of their profile is the reason to take them. An initiative that matches a genestealer, offensive and defensive grenades and fleet aren't anything to turn your nopses up at. The initiative will enure that they get their attacks in when they charge and won't get further depleted by other attacks. Offensive grenades will ensure that you can charge anything. Anything at all. Coupled with rending this means that they can attack anything, anywhere and have a shot at pulling it down. Defensive grenades will punish anything that charges you and greatly discourages counter attacks, helping with getting the extra attacks for the charge. And the main one - Fleet. It makes them the fastest troops choice in the codex if you haven't noticed.
Best way to take daemonettes? Well, seeing as they are both incredibly fragile and require masses of attacks to be fully effective (that tac squad will regroup if it runs) the best chance you have of seeing daemonettes fight like they used to is to take them in numbers of 20. It leaves enough model left from the barrage of shooting to do some damage on the charge, and will also punish any opponent that doesn't tackle them by having a whopping 80 attacks on the charge. If they do shoot at them then your Daemon princes and other assorted characters will arrive in combat largely unscratched, and thats even worse!
Any body got any contributions?