Ahkris is back with more great Nurgle analysis and tactics. Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles.
As many experienced 40k players will be able to tell you it is often not just the individual units that make an army great, but the support you bring to let those units shine. I am Ahkris and today I am bringing you part two of my tactica series which is all about upgrading your Death Guard in fun and creative ways using items from outside the codex. I will touch upon the various Psychic Powers, both CSM and Daemon allies and give a list example.
Psychic Powers – Contagion Discipline
I have not yet given a full rundown of the Death Guard specific discipline, so I will go through all of the powers here.
- Miasma of Pestilence (WC 6) – Gives a DG unit -1 to hit. Right of the bat we start with one of the most important tools to your Death Guard army. Its low warp charge value means it is easy to cast and likely to go off, and it has very good range. This power boosts your durability against almost all weaponry other than automatic hit flamer style weaponry. It is also a great way to cancel out any enemy units that have “on a 6+ to hit x happens” style rules. Put this on Mortarion to have him last a lot longer, or if your enemy puts a bunch of wounds on one of your drones put this on the drone, forcing your enemy to choose between having his firepower reduced or having to switch targets to a different drone, perhaps ending up with two wounded but still functional drones. This power for me is always the first one I take with me, and its long casting range means you don’t have to put it on one of your more mobile casting platforms.
- Gift of Contagion (WC7) – Randomly debuff an enemy units Attack, Strength or Toughness. I feel like if I could pick the effect I would take this power pretty often, but its random nature really is what keeps this one down. Giving an enemy unit -1 Toughness so your Plaguespitters can wound it more easily would come in pretty handy. I would just be too scared of me lining up all my drones to go take down a hopefully debuffed tank and then rolling the -1 Attack or -1 Strength result. All three results will help you out in melee combat so I could see using it if you were playing with melee Plague marine squads. Overall though an unreliable power with a high warp charge value, there are better things out there.
- Plague Wind (WC5) – Roll a dice for each enemy model in a unit, on a 6 that unit suffers a mortal wound. Very low warp charge which makes this allright. However, let’s take a closer look. Smite has the exact same warp charge value of 5 and will do ~2 mortal wounds, with the additional possibility of going up to a whopping d6. So to be on par with smite the enemy unit you cast this on should be over 12 models large. This only pretty much leaves things such as conscripts and blobs of Ork Boyz. Pretty underwhelming units to use your mortal wound causing powers on, and against single tough models such as vehicles and monsters this is just strictly worse. You could argue you might want to cast it alongside smite on a character that gets to cast twice in a turn or just because you have a lot of casting and the rule of 1 prohibits you from casting some of the better powers a second time. All in all not a terrible power but definitely not something you should be grabbing first.
- Blades of Putrefaction (WC5) – +1 to wound in the fight phase and each 7+ to wound with a plague weapon deals a mortal wound. Combine this with the Veterans of the Long War stratagem for optimal hilarity! Again the low warp charge value makes this power quite likely to go off and it is pretty good! Cast this on Mortarion and between Death to the False Emperor and this his Reaping Scythe profile he will annihilate any conscript blob or gaunt blob. If you want the mortal wounds portion of this power to take effect its prime targets would be Blightlord Terminators or melee oriented Plague Marines. Do not forget however that there are other units without plague weapons that benefit from this quite a bit. A pox walker unit of 20 strong puts out 40 attacks, and assuming they are standing near Typhus casting this and using Veterans of the Long War on them means they start wounding pretty much all vehicles on a 3+, or any marine equivalents on 2+. This power being very flexible, easy to cast and just overall quite good means i will pretty much always find a spot for it in my army list.
- Putrescent Vitality (WC 6) – Gives a DG infantry unit +1 Strength and Toughness. Upgrade a units durability and potential damage output at the same time. I don’t feel going from T5 to T6 on Plague Marines or Terminators will make a huge difference, and usually this will not change their to-wound table that much in melee combat either. Casting this on a large Poxwalker blob to take them from T4 to T5 seems pretty neat and that will make a difference in melee combat quite often as well. Overall it is very dependent on your list, but often it is not as good as you would expect this to be.
- Curse of the Leper (WC7) – Target an enemy unit and roll 7 dice, every die that is higher than the units Toughness deals a mortal wound. This combines very well with Mortarion’s Toxic Presence ability, lowering the enemies toughness allowing you to kill some additional chaff. With Mortarion you could cast this on some debuffed T2 Eldar or T3 marines killing a unit, Smite a second unit and then charge in to go kill a third. Without Mortarion’s aura however this powers strength drops quite a bit and its high warp charge value keeps it from being a consistent damage dealer.
Overall the Contagion Discipline feels a bit lackluster, with the only two stand out powers being Miasma of Pestilence and Blades of Putrefaction. Luckily we can use some tricks to steal some other powers from our brother CSM codex!
Psychic Powers – Dark Hereticus Discipline
It is pretty easy to ally in a regular CSM Sorcerer to come cast some of these powers on or for your Death Guard units. Bear in mind that any of these powers upgrading Heretic Astartes units work on your Death Guard as well, as they still have the Heretic Astartes keywords. You can take this even a step further! As long as you have access to CSM stratagems which is easy to do – the bare minimum cost for this is any random HQ with a handful of cultists – you can use the CSM Chaos Familiar stratagem. This lets you drop any psychic power from any Heretic Astartes Psyker (which includes any of your DG psykers such as Mortarion or a Daemon Prince) and select a new power from the in my opinion way better Dark hereticus Table. I will only discuss the powers I personally think are very notably worth taking.
- Death Hex (WC8) – Target enemy unit no longer may take invulnerable saves. The Death Guard can already circumvent invulnerable saves pretty well with all of their ways to deal mortal wounds, but this still is a pretty important option to keep in mind. I personally do not start my games with this in my list as in most situations i get by using Smite, mortal wound auras, volume of fire from Plague spitters, etc. There however are units and situations where it is worth paying a command point to drop whatever power and grab Death Hex. Managing to cast this on an enemy Magnus for instance lets Mortarion or some Plasma or Melta just sweep through him in a single turn.
- Prescience (WC7) – Gives a Heretic Astartes unit +1 to hit. Use this to keep your drop plasma from overheating or make your melee unit start getting additional attacks from Death to the False Emperor on a 5+. A very solid power to take along with you on an allied sorcerer or the like.
- Warp Time (WC6) – Lets a Heretic Astartes unit move a second time during the psychic phase. Most Death Guard army builds will be mid field or close range oriented and struggle with getting there. This power is an absolute all star and I personally would never play Mortarion without taking this. You can warp time Drones or Crawlers with Plaguespitters forward, advancing twice and still being able to fire their weapons. You can get Mortarion into enemy lines turn 1 using this. You can move up a drone and then warp time it over the enemy lines, moving it closest to whatever character and kill it for an easy first blood or removing an important aura. You could have a unit terminators drop from deepstrike and warp time them forward for a pretty much guaranteed success on a charge. Need to suddenly grab an objective that is far away? Have your sorcerer move 24+2d6”. Mobility and movement are key to 40k, and this makes you a lot better at it. The biggest restriction on this power is the low range of only 3”, so you are best taking it on something like a daemon prince with wings, sorcerer with jump pack (can deepstrike anywhere to warp time them and then has enough mobility to go assist other units in subsequent turns). I also love paying a command point to give this power to Mortarion, or to suddenly have an outflanking daemon prince who was out of range to do anything important suddenly move up tremendously fast and take my opponent by surprise. Warp Time is a very useful power that comes in handy in a variety of different ways. It almost always is worth trying to slot this into your list in my opinion.
Psychic Powers – Chaos Daemons
A new Chaos Daemons book will come out soon and I am guessing we will see some extra psychic powers and stratagems in it that will work great with a Death Guard army. Using the Index however we already have some really potent and overlooked powers. These powers target Nurgle Daemons which the Death Guard have a lot of: Foetid Bloat Drones, Plagueburst Crawlers, Daemon Princes, Mortarion, Defilers amongst others.
- Virulent Blessing (WC6) – +1 to wound in the fight phase and any 7+ inflicts double damage. Pretty darn good, and you can combine this with Blades of Putrefaction to add another +1 to wound, meaning any roll of a 5+ will do double damage and a mortal wound. A defilers claws or Mortarion’s Silence suddenly start hitting for 2d6 damage plus a mortal wound on any wound roll of 5+ (and dont forget you have rerolls to wound). This will pretty much be overkill against anything other than the really big boys in apocalypse games, but you could also cast this on a Foetid Bloat-Drone with fleshmower, having it wound virtually anything including imperial knights and Land Raiders on a 2+ and often upgrading it from damage 2 to damage 4. This can also make a Daemon Prince with a Daemonic Axe an absolute titan killer.
- Fleshy Abundance (WC5) – A Nurgle Daemon unit recovers D3 lost wounds. The low warp charge value makes this very likely to go off and using this to keep Drones or Mortarion alive longer is pretty good! You can also use this to go up in the damage chart when necessary, making Mortarion’s aura go off on a 4+ instead of a 5+ again for instance.
Nurgle Daemon Synergy
As mentioned previously the Death Guard have a lot of units that share keywords with Nurgle Daemons, and they really do benefit from each other quite a bit.
Epidemius. His Tally of Pestilence rule can really give your Death Guard army some bonkers buffs. For each unit slain by a Nurgle Daemon he gives all Nurgle Daemons army wide cumulative buffs depending on the tally. Lets take a look at what he offers.
- 0-1: No effect
- 2: Reroll hit rolls of 1
- 3: +1 Movement
- 4: +1 Strength
- 5: +1 Toughness
- 6: +1 Attacks
- 7: Reroll 1’s on Disgustingly Resillient
Rerolling hit rolls of 1 wont do much for you. The daemon princes and Mortarion already innately have this aura and the Drones and Crawlers should be auto hitting with Plague Spitters. It might help the occasional Plague Mortar shot but overall its not the greatest.
Improving your movement by an inch is pretty good! Obviously down the line some better things start happening but it gives your already quite mobile daemon engines some increased mobility, lowering charge ranges, letting them get into flamer range better, etc.
Going up in strength by 1 is a big big big deal. And it is not because your prince with an axe and Mortarion go up to strength 9. Those plague spitters i love going on and on about are strength user, so the spitters suddenly go up to 2d6 strength 7 auto hits rerolling 1’s to wound on drones and even strength 8 on the crawler, suddenly turning them into real threats for enemy armour as well. You can even use some other tricks to bump this even further!
After that we get to the real meat of this buff table: going up in Toughness, Mortarion and your Drones go up to T8, cutting damage from small arms fire such as bolters flamers etc in half. It also takes overcharged plasma to wounding on a 4+ instead of 3+. The plagueburst crawler even goes up to T9, making it shrug off even las cannon fire like it is nothing!
After that the last two additional buffs are just icing on the cake.
Herald of Nurgle. Has an aura that adds 1 Strength to Nurgle Daemon units within 6”. This guy is not the fastest so you will have to think for a sec about if it is worth using him and how you get him into position. Perhaps the upcoming Chaos Daemons codex offers some deepstriking or infiltrating capabilities, but for now you could always summon one in. Combined with Epidemius you could get your flamers up to strength 9, wounding even landraiders on a 3+. He also is a psyker so can help out by throwing out Smite, Fleshy Abundance or Virulent Blessing as needed.
Nurglings. Board Control. Boy do these little buggers give you lots of it. If the enemy has a deepstrike focussed army these little buggers can really throw a wrench in the gears, or if the enemy plays a mechanized list you can get these guys all up in their face turn 1 to force the enemy to fall back and not be able to shoot.
Chaos Space Marine Synergy
So lets take a look at some of the things that the CSM codex can offer us. Most of the buffing auras target <Legion> units which means it is of no use to us Death Guard. The main thing of interest in this book are the psychic powers we discussed earlier, and a variety of stratagems. You can use any of these as long as you have access to the CSM stratagems, which you can do by fielding a minimum size detachment if you want.
Daemon Shell (1CP) – Lets a Heretic Astartes Character with any bolt weapon shoot this special shot. This shot can not be rerolled to hit. On a hit the enemy takes D3 mortal wounds, on a miss the character shooting the shell takes D3 mortal wounds. Pretty risky and not something I would be doing every turn. One game I had an enemy Magnus standing with 2 wounds left and his 3++ invuln save rerolling 1’s. I had shot pretty much everything I could into him and did not manage to get all the way there. Daemon Shell to the rescue! This is a neat risky little stratagem that lets you try to finish off that big bad Daemon Primarch or Landraider or whatever need be with a bolt pistol.
Chaos Familiar (1CP) – Lets you drop a power and grab a new one from the way better Dark Hereticus table. Really good.
Tide of Traitors (2CP) – Lets you pick a unit of Chaos Cultists and remove it from the battlefield. You can then set it up again coming in from any board edge. Offers really good mobility to your ObSec cultists. You could have a blob of 40 of these guys rapid firing at 18” and possibly using Veterans of the Long War to boost their damage, and then once they get cut down significantly in numbers walk them onto the board again at full strength, possibly in your opponent’s backfield. Running 40 cultists is probably better as Alpha Legion due to Forward Operatives, but this still is a great option to have regardless. Two command points is expensive but teleporting 10 guys with ObSec onto an objective to score domination or supremacy can be gaming changing.
Daemon Synergy Sample List
Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment – Death Guard
- LoW – Mortarion
Outrider Detachment – Death Guard
- Daemon Prince w/ Wings
- 10 Cultists
- 10 Cultists
- 10 Poxwalkers
- Rhino w/ 2x Combi Bolter
- Foetid Bloat-drone w/ Spitters
- Foetid Bloat-drone w/ Spitters
- Foetid Bloat-drone w/ Spitters
- Plagueburst Crawler w/ Spitters
- Plagueburst Crawler w/ Spitters
Battalion Detachment – Nurgle, Chaos
- CSM Sorcerer w/ Jump Pack & Warp Time
- 3 Nurglings
- 3 Nurglings
- 3 Nurglings
As you can see pretty much everything in this list is a Nurgle Daemon and will start adding to Epidemius’ Tally. Epidemius and the cultists occupy the backfield while the rest of the army does its crazy flamespitter rush. The Poxwalkers in the Rhino can hop out and try to grow in unit size using the Curse of the Walking Pox stratagem if the enemy has large screening units. It is a very different list from what you normally see in the average DG army. It is extremely mobile and it tries to overload the opponents high strength firepower. You could easily swap around some units to work in a second Prince, Defiler, larger scary Nurgle Daemon (Cor’Bax or Scabeiathrax) or summoned Herald with Fleshy Abundance.
Are there any good buffs I missed? What is your preferred way of squeezing that extra 10% out of your Death Guard units? Join us next time where we will probably start looking at some units in detail.
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