Unit Review, Forces of Chaos, Death Guard: Poxwalkers!

Hello fans of Frontline Gaming and TFGRadio, SaltyJohn  here to bring you a review of the new 8th edition Death Guard rules for Poxwalkers! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!

The diseases employed by Nurgle and his devotees are many and varied. They can run the gamut from festering pestilence to mind control to virus’ of a virulent death on a scale that makes the virus bombs of the Imperial Inquisition look like children’s toys. Among the contagions of Nurgle one is feared by the agents of the Imperium more than any other. The Walking Pox is an amalgamation of the worst of Nurgles gifts. Rot, Weeping, Mutterflux, the Slithering, Scourge and many others combine to create a terrible malady that leads to the creation of the Zombie hordes of Poxwalkers. The pox will eventually lead to death but even in death the victim is not relieved, instead the sufferer remains conscious and aware, trapped in their own grinning, reanimated corpse. Utilized as both terror inducing troops and cannon fodder in equal measure the hordes of Poxwalkers are a terrifying danger to the denizens of the 41st Millennium.

Much like their fluff in the Death Guard codex suggests units of Poxwalkers make great meat shields and shock troops in equal measure, filling two separate, but important roles in Death Guard and Chaos Space Marine lists. With special rules and stratagems that allow them to become nearly impossible to shoot at, but at the same time swell their ranks well beyond their starting numbers for no additional points costs the Poxwalkers can be a great tool, or near insurmountable enemy, in your games of Warhammer 40k.


  • Improvised Weapon

Special Rules:

  • Disgustingly Resilient: when this model loses a wound roll a die, on a 5+ the model doesn’t suffer the wound.
  • Curse of the Walking Pox: Each time an enemy Infantry model is killed by a Poxwalker in the Fight phase, add one model to the Poxwalker unit.
  • Mindless: Never take moral tests.
  • Diseased Horde: You can add 1 to all hit rolls for this unit in the fight phase if the unit has more than 10 models.


On their own the Poxwalkers can be a fairly tough meat shield to bubble wrap your army. If you’re unfamiliar with what bubble wrap is let’s break it down quickly before moving on.

Bubble wrapping isn’t anything new to 40k but it has become an almost universal necessity in 8th edition due to the uber Alpha Strike potential of many armies and the power of the first turn. Even if you’re playing the new ITC Champions missions that help boost the 2nd turn potential you need a way to wrap your army to protect it from turn 1 deep strikes and chargers. That’s where the bubble wrap comes in. From massive units of Conscripts, though less prolific with the newest changes tot heir rules, to masses of Cultists, herds of Gaunts, mobs of Boyz, swarms of Brimstone Horrors, and in this case hordes of Poxwalker zombies; the ability to wrap your armies’ most precious elements in a shield of cheap and expendable chaff is important to weathering the First Turn should you not get it yourself.

This being the new paradigm of 8th edition 40k makes a unit that is large, cheap, resilient, and capable of dishing out the pain too a boon to any army able to take it. Poxwalkers fit just that description, especially when two stratagems are used in concert with a large unit of Walkers and a large unit of Cultists.

  • The Dead Walk Again: 1CP Use this Stratagem at the beginning of your Movement phase. Select a unit of Poxwalkers. Until the start of your next Movement phase, replace that unit’s Curse of the Walking Pox ability with the following: ‘Each time an infantry model (other than a Poxwalker), friend or foe, is slain within 7″ of this unit, add one model to the unit.’
  • Cloud of Flies: 1CP Use this Stratagem during your Movement phase. Select a Death Guard Infantry unit. Until the start of your next Movement phase, enemy models can only shoot this unit if it is the closest visible target.

To make the best of these stratagems with Poxwalkers two large units are necessary. A large blob of cultists, preferably Alpha Legion, and a large blob of Poxwalkers. At only 1 CP each these stratagems are a steal when used together. Be sure to infiltrate the Cultists in front of the Poxwalkers (this is why Alpha Legion cultists would be best so they can infiltrate in using their Stratagem), and surround them with any other Infantry you’ll be using in the list. As your army plods forward Cloud of Flies will protect the Poxwalker unit from being targeted and The Dead Walk Again will insure that any other infantry casualties within 7 inches of the large blob of Poxwalkers will increase the size of the unit. When the unit of Poxwalkers finally hits your opponents lines it could be a veritable horde of zombies in actual size and not just name. In this way you create for your opponents a real problem from the very beginning of the game, they have to figure out a way to deal with the Poxwalkers, without being able to target them directly, and deal with the rest of your army without swelling the ranks of the Poxwalkers so much that the unit becomes too big for them to effectively deal with later in the game when they either can target them or they can assault them.

There’s a few things to note when using a strategy like this with the Poxwalkers. First, you absolutely can grow the unit beyond it’s starting size with the stratagem and you do not have to leave points in your list to pay for these new models. You will need to make sure to design the list to have the necessary CPs to keep the Poxwalkers invisible and growing.

If you want your Poxwalkers to have a bit more staying power, and perhaps a bit more punch consider adding the following to pal around with them: Typhus, Chaos Lord, Sorcerer. Each of these units can buff the Poxwalkers in a beneficial ways. Typhus, and the Sorcerer through Putrescent Vitality, can boos the Toughness of the Poxwalkers. The Sorcerer can also increase their strength characteristic. Using Typhus in conjunction with a Sorcerer will provide and even bigger boost to the Poxwalkers. The boost to their stats from the two characters stacks, making them even more difficult to destroy in combat, or through shooting if Cloud of Flies isn’t turned on, when combined with their never having to take moral checks. A Chaos Lord would let the Poxwalkers re-roll to hit rolls of one, which will be useful when you eventually get the Poxwalkers into your opponent’s lines.

There’s ultimately many ways to run a large blob of resilient chaff in a 40k army, but having a large blob of resilient chaff that can be made far more effective through use of stratagems and characters can truly take a list to the next level.

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About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

11 Responses to “Unit Review, Forces of Chaos, Death Guard: Poxwalkers!”

  1. Avatar
    Blight1 December 3, 2017 4:06 pm #

    Surprised you didn’t mention blades of putrifaction to make your horde super dangerous.
    Also since Typhus is a 2 spell caster he can essentially be the sorcerer if you want. Makes him very efficient. Though if you bring an alpha legion sorcerer for warptime and prescience the unit becomes a ridiculous horde of death.

    • Avatar
      black mage December 4, 2017 4:57 am #

      blades cant be casted on poxes, it works only with plague weapons

      • Avatar
        no_wegian December 4, 2017 8:29 am #

        I believe it can still be used on poxwalkers, they don’t get the 7+ for mortal wounds that’s all.

      • ChrisG
        Ahkris December 4, 2017 8:31 am #

        You re wrong, it only does mortal wounds with plague weapons.You still get +1 to wound which can be huge!

  2. Avatar
    BlazeRaven December 3, 2017 5:35 pm #

    Does anyone else think that it’s weird that poxwalkers do not need to pay reserve points even when they exceed their initial unit size? I was under the impression that reserve points were put in place to remove “free points” from matched play.

  3. Avatar
    Beau December 4, 2017 1:21 am #

    Don’t forget if you have another CSM legion you can Tide of Traitors the cultists back to life on the opponents board edge.

    Also instead of a Chaos Lord I have a footslogging DP always baby sitting my pox walkers/cultists/Typhus. The reroll 1’s is of course great, but then it can also cast/deny a spell too. Plus a DP with 2 sets of malefic talons is just scary for anything your opponent thinks about coming close with. The DP could be DG with suppurating plate, or AL for warptime (most likely to get cast on Morty), or IW for the 2+ armor that regens a wound (You could also make this guy your WL and give him the fearless bubble so you don’t lose cultists to moral).

    • Avatar
      Blight1 December 4, 2017 9:36 pm #

      Granted if it isn’t deathguard the DP can’t grant re-rolls of 1.

  4. Avatar
    Richard mellor December 4, 2017 2:06 am #

    Why a chaos lord when you could have a tallyman? Reroll all to hit rolls, and a chance to get back stratagem points.

  5. Avatar
    Wayniac December 4, 2017 7:59 am #

    My only problem with this concept is that it’s kind of a huge gimmick. I mean, so you have 40+ poxwalkers. What do they actually do? Is it just hope to roll a bucket of dice so your opponent can’t make enough saves (the AOS death mantra, basically)?

    Also I didn’t quite get the deployment outline, I got the poxwalkers and cultists infitltrated above them. Where does the rest of the infantry go, in front of the poxwalkers/behind the cultists or behind the poxwalkers?

    Honestly, other than that gimmick approach I think Poxwalkers are better than Cultists for a Death Guard force. They are more expensive, this is true, but both units will hardly ever get a save (Cultists with only a 6+ and Poxwalkers with a 7+), but Poxwalkers have the 5+++ Disgustingly Resilient save against all wounds, and being immune to morale it means that if you lose some, the rest won’t run away which can be an issue with Cultists since their leadership is terrible so even with a big blob, you lose say 10 and you’re likely losing the rest of the unit, unless you get some way to make the cultists ignore morale.

    • Avatar
      no_wegian December 4, 2017 8:27 am #

      Abbadon makes Cultists fearless. I am toying around with a blob list with him. He also provides the rerolls which is nice too.

    • Avatar
      Beau December 4, 2017 8:53 pm #

      Well let’s say you take a DG battalion with typhus, 2x winged DP, full poxwalker blob, 2x full cultists blobs, and hey let’s add a supreme command detachment or 2 full of malefic overlords. Bubble wrap everything with cultists but space them out so the units are still close enough for the zombie stratagem, then keep the walkers untargetable from that other stratagem. Only the cultists can be shot at while you march, smite, and rapid fire for 6 turns. And you will last 6 turns, trust me. Just make sure not to run out of command points.

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