Busy week this one. A lot of painting to do, despite the fact that I've resigned myself to not being able to complete my quota for Age of Armies. I have a presentation on Thursday and 2 pieces of coursework on Friday for my Degree, and I have a tournament on Monday, so I'll be sure to report back from that. All of this really means that I'm lagging behind on Codex analysis, and with Tau still not even started, I need to hurry up. So, with the FAQ fixed, it's time to move onto Fiends.
I'm going to make a direct comparison between these and Bloodcrushers, as they both occupy the same slot, they are both quick and they are both close combat units.
Starting with the unit type. Bloodcrushers are Cavalry whilst Fiends are Beasts. This gives Fiends the advantage already as they completely ignore difficult terrain whilst Cavalry does not. Additionally, as Daemons of Slaanesh Fiends can run much faster than Bloodcrushers can.
In terms of the statline. Bloodcrushers have a higher Weapon Skill, a Ballistic Skill, a higher Strength and a 6+ armour save that never gets used. Fiends on the other hand have a higher Initiative, so Bloodcrushers have the stronger statline.
Special rules and wargear. Bloodcrushers have the Hellblade, making them consistantly AP3 whilst the Fiends have Rending. I think that this is a tough call to decide which is better. My personal preferencing is Rending, simply because now you're making any unit (with the exception of ones relying on invulnerable saves or weight of numbers, the latter would be wary of your weight of attacks anyway) think twice before getting into combat with you. This is doubled by their additional USR.
Whilst Bloodcrushers have Furious Charge, which is nice when considering that you'll be striking at S6, Fiends have something called Soporific Musk. This has changed considerably from the last Codex, as it now reduces the initiative of a unit by 5 when it is charged by Fiends. This doesn't matter too much for Fiends, as you'll be striking first most of the time anyway but before it used to reduce Initiative to 0 meaning that you couldn't attack, thankfully the FAQ cleared that up (main rulebook).
I was thinking that the Musk would be really useful when coupled with other units, but then what isn't striking first anyway in the Daemon Codex, Beasts of Nurgle maybe? I originally got excited when I thought about allying Daemons with Necrons and combining this with Times Arrow on a C'Tan shard (I want to use my Nightbringer!), before being thoroughly disappointed when I double checked and saw that they can't ally.
However, an additional bonus of the Fiends is that psykers casting psychic powers within 12" of them must do so at -1 to their leadership. In essence, although it's not extremely powerful, it is an extra little bit of psychic defence that you're not going to complain about.
Comparing them directly to Bloodcrushers then, they're quicker, they have more utility and they're a little bit more versatile, although not quite as consistant in the way in which they hit, as they don't permanently get an AP and they also don't strike on 3s against most units. However, now consider that they're 10pts less than a Bloodcrusher per head. This is the kicker really, as now every time a Missile hits you you aren't losing about 50pts worth of model.
The Fiends are definately an incredibly viable unit, they were even more so before the latest FAQ came out, however we already knew what was going to happen with them and that doesn't mean that they're a bad unit. They're exceptionally quick, relatively cheap for what you get and can hit well against almost any target.