How Useful Are The Daemon Hellforged Artefacts?

A short list of unique and (ideally) flavourful items, which represent highly iconic weapons, relics and artifacts of an army, have become a standard feature in Warhammer 40K with all 6th Edition Codexes. For Chaos Space Marines, the artefacts were largely alright, but at times a bit on the timid (and pricey) side. For Dark Angels, GW’s team dropped the ball badly.
So how do the “Hellforged Artefacts” turn out for the new Chaos Daemons?

Well, before answering that question, it bears reminding that Hellforged Artefacts differ noticeably from their Chaos Space Marines and Dark Angels equivalents.

  1. There’s only 4 of them (CSM got 6, Dark Angels 5.. hope it’s not a trend)
  2. They aren’t purchased as equipment, but as “exalted rewards”. This means they are taken (or not taken) as the default option from the random reward table
  3.  As a result of the above, they all cost the same amount of points

On to the Artefacts!

#1 – The Eternal Blade

The lesser and greater rewards for Daemons can all default to a weapon, either an Etherblade or one specific to your Chaos God of choice. There’s many good weapons to be had for less points, so the Eternal Blade finds itself in some tough competition.

Even the cheapest Etherblade give you AP2. The Eternal Blade has AP – . I guess it’s a droll way of GW telling you to only bother using this on Monstrous Creatures.

It doesn’t have Instant Death or similar goodies either. What is does is give it’s bearer a mostly random stat-boost to WS, Str, I and Attacks.

Though extra attacks are always nice, the “fighty” MCs among the Chaos Daemons come with stats near 10 anyhow. Bloodthirsters or Keeper of Secrets will not be able to benefit from the whole bonus on a good roll. The less close-combat minded Lord of Change would benefit more, though he’d be an odd choice for a mean sword to begin with. However, the prospects of a Great Unclean One with (up to) I7 dancing circles around Eldar might in itself make this worthwhile.

In short, it’s not necessarily bad (on a MC), but there’re better weapons available for less.

#2 – The Portalglyph

It’s getting a bit more exotic with the Portalglyph. Or, rather, getting a bit more to what I would have expected: A rift bleeding Daemons? Sounds like archetypal Daemons stuff.

In short, you give this to a character, he places it in his movement phase, it scatters (a lot, but fail-safe) and every turn thereafter churns out a small unit of Daemons on a 4+ unless destroyed.

Could be fun, but suffers (I believe) again from the “too timid” syndrome. Those D6-strong Daemon units it may produce aren’t going to do much but grab some late-game objectives (at best).

On the face of it, it appears easier to save yourself the Portalglyph and a few points elsewhere to buy another minimum unit of troop-Daemons to reserve. They offer much the same and don’t bog you down protecting a relatively frail glyph in (most likely) your deployment zone.

On the other hand, as you don’t buy the glyph directly, but only commit to an “exalted reward”, the Portalglyph might be an interesting choice to keep in mind if the opportunity presents itself in an objective game with lots of things on the table to take and hold.

#3 – The Doomstone

The Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooomstone!

Yeah baby! Too bad it’s not much good.

The idea, I guess, is a little character-assassination relic that kills enemy characters by sapping their leadership instead of doing “physical” damage.

Say you want to use this to take out a character hard to kill the traditional way.. say Lysander.

Each “combat-sub-phase” (Fight-sub-phase, I assume?) he’s in base-contact with the Doomstone-wielding Daemon, he rolls LD and, if he fails, loses D6 LD. On average, Lysander will thus looses ~0.3 points of LD per sub-phase (3.5 times 8.34%). This means you’ll need, on average, well over 30 sub-phases to “kill” Lysander with the Doomstone.

Anything that can stand toe-to-toe with Lysander even half that time, would’ve likely gotten the job done much, much faster with.. say.. the Eternal Blade.

Not sure what the idea behind this one was. It might cripple LD-dependent characters, Psykers most notably. Yet again it shouldn’t be hard to just kill them for less points. It doesn’t work as a weapon-of-mass-LD-destruction for Gaunts or Orks either, as it’s limited to enemy characters.

Am I missing something here?

The Doomstone is the one artefact here that seems well and truly “Dark-Angels-bad”.

#4 – The Grimoire of True Names

I am not sure if the Grimoire is “good”. It sure looks like the most fun.

The Girmoire allows you to manipulate Daemonic invulnerability saves. In a Daemons-vs.-Daemons (or CSM?) match, you can use it to lower a nearby enemies inv. save by 1.

More commonly however, the Grimoire allows you to (try to) boost the inv. saves of one of your own units on the roll of a 3+ by 2. On a 1 or 2, the Artefact “backfires” and reduces the units save by 1.

The potential, especially for Daemons of Tzeentch, who re-roll saves of 1, is obviously there (and much more enticing than the “best-possible results” of the other artefacts).

20 Horrors with 3++ and re-rolling 1s? Yes please!

Of course, 1/3 of the time you’ll consign your Horrors (or whoever else) to a quick death by reducing their save to a 6++. That alone, will likely keep more conservatively minded player away.

The Grimoire is utterly random, true. Unlike other artefacts (such as Portalglyph), the potential boon it promises is far more worth it!

#5 – Verdict

Hellforged Artefacts are not a total train-wreck like the Dark Angels Chapter Relics (except for the Doomstone?), so that is good.

None of the Hellforged Artefacts are “no-brainer” good, but I believe there is enough goodness there to make these worth a try.

One of the best things they have going for them is that you don’t need to call it until after all rewards have been rolled for (when rolling for Warlord traits). As with the new way of handling psychic powers, this is an underestimated advantage of the Warhammer 40K 6th Edition random-tables, which leave you with a choice until you already know who and what you are facing.

Still, the selection of Hellforged Artefacts is small and I would’ve liked to see a bit more diversity. I sure hope the next Codex (Tau?) isn’t limited to a choice of only 3 of these “special items”.

What do you think? Have you tried on of those Daemon-artefacts in a game?

I’d love to hear your opinion!




I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at
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  • Hive Seteniel

    I think the main issue with artefacts is just the absolute randomness of it all, granted some have excellent potential but others not so much. I love it from a fluffy perspective but from a gamers perspective it’s anathema. Hellforged artefacts are great but I’d hate having to cross my fingers for the one I want, rather than simply just choosing it.

    • wibbling

      Precisely. There’s a flipping points system. Why didn’t they use it?

      It’s just one roll too many. What other army has to roll on endless charts for war gear?