So my troops-heavy list could not defeat a rather unspectacular Dark Angels army. In fact, I think I killed about 14 models over the course of the game while losing everything but my Bloodletters. Even I didn't expect it would go that badly. Looking back, I think the only thing I would have done differently was to charge the 6 bikers with my Seekers, because even though those flamers would have fired overwatch, I still could have tied them up and my Daemonettes would not have gone up in a puff of pink smoke.
With only 14 dead models to their credit, it would seem Daemon troops really are that bad. Perhaps if I had taken two squads of 10 Bloodletters instead of a pack of 20, I could have done better. I really needed either the Screamers or the Bloodletters to engage the large bike squad with the flamers because those Seekers proved that Daemonettes are not up to the task of killing more than a few marines in a game. Since my Bloodletters came in first turn, I couldn't put them in a risky spot or I'd just get picked apart.
The Pink Horrors managed to kill a single Land Speeder, one biker and one terminator for the almost 300 points I paid for them. 300 points!!! Horrors are an amazingly points-inefficient squad. I didn't fully realize they were a mere 6 points less than Flamers until last night.
My 20 Bloodletters killed two bikers and were unable to drop Sammael despite lots of attacks. Their slowness, low T, lack of grenades, wound allocation rules and the Hellblade nerf are just too much to overcome. They have to drop in exactly the right place to be effective. That's a tactic I have never relied on.
Daemonettes are underpowered for their points. They're more expensive that Hecatrix Bloodbrides, but worse because they can't take a transport, have no pistols, no combat drugs, no good upgrades and don't have a 4+/5+ (with a pain token) in combat. Slaanesh's reliance on the rending mechanic is a huge disadvantage. Even Fiends struggle in prolonged combat with tacticals, never mind Grey Hunters with counterattack and two weapons each.
So, long story short, Daemon troops are just bad compared to the rest of your army, so I don't think I'll be changing my strategy of running squads of 5 'nettes and hiding them out of sight for the time-being.
I lost that game the moment my Keeper of Secrets mishapped. That literally made all the difference. If she had landed safely, my Screamers, Seekers and the Keeper would have been right on the enemy, and he would not have had the shots to deal with all the threats. The Keeper or the Screamers would have killed the bikers while the Seekers held down the Tacticals until help arrived. Then he would have had nothing left but Sammael, a Land Raider and a Rhino.
Once the Keeper did land, it was too late because there was nothing else to shoot at, so all of the shots went at her and she died fast. Even when she did make it to combat, she missed four of her six attacks and was lucky to kill a single terminator. Monstrous creatures are super overpriced compared to large squads of your best units.
Daemons are very potent, model for model, but aside from Bloodcrushers and Beasts, they are glass cannons. Low toughness, low save and low model count are challenging to overcome. You can overcome this using some techniques that allow you to hit the enemy hard. Turns 2 and 3 are the most important in the game for you. You need to present your opponent with more threats than they can kill in a single round of shooting and hit them hard with as much stuff as you can at the same time.
I like to split my waves evenly. If I have Crushers, I usually have Fateweaver, so I usually drop them right in front of the foe. If I have Screamers, I drop them somewhere safe and turboboost somewhere safer. If I have no Crushers, I always try to keep the first wave out of sight unless there is a target of opportunity I can use to get first blood.
The first wave must favor staying safe rather than positioning for the turn 2 charge unless there is nowhere to hide. Once the second turn reinforcements drop, they come in close to the enemy and my first wave moves up to charge if it can, or to at least provide target saturation. If I can, I kill a little bit more stuff, but this isn't where most of your damage is caused unless things are really going your way. Turn 3, we start wiping stuff out. What survives should not have enough shooting ability to kill off the rest of your army. You can't let your opponent pick you apart piecemeal.
You can't pull off that tactic with lousy units, and Daemon troops are lousy. In fact, most stuff in the Daemon codex is lousy, sad to say. If you want to win consistently, you need to load up on as much high-threat stuff as possible and throw it all in your opponent's face at once. You can't afford to waste points on crap like Horrors, Seekers or Tzeentch Chariots. I'll talk about marshalling your forces for the crushing blow in future posts because there's a lot of variables to the equation.