Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again, to discuss a lynchpin of common Nurgle Daemon detachments and one of the best-named units in the game, the Sloppity Bilepiper. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!
Sloppity Bilepipers are a variant of a standard herald of Nurgle with, is as typically the fashion with Nurgle, and disgustingly whimsical twist. To start with, they’re infected with the Chortling Murrain disease which causes its victims to laugh themselves to death. They bring jolly spirits to Nurgle Daemon battlefields across the universe and routinely joke with the other Nurgle Daemons. Wading into battle with little in terms of actual weapons, the Bilepipers’ main roles are to support their fellow plaguebrethern with the moist and tangy tunes of Grandfather Nurgle himself, played with the set of bagpipes they carry around. When they either succumb to their disease or are otherwise killed, the body of the fallen piper is used to create the next set of Bilepiper’s bagpipes – ensuring that their mirth lives on.
On the tabletop, a Sloppity Bilepiper is an HQ choice and a single model unit.
Bilepipers attack with their Marotter (melee S[User] AP0 D1, reroll wound rolls of 1).
- Disgustingly Resilient (DG)
- Daemonic Ritual
- Can be summoned
- Disease of Mirth
- Whenever a Nurgle Daemon unit within 6″ of the Piper takes a Morale test, roll 2 dice instead 1 one and discard the highest. Also, each time a unit fails a morale test within 6″ of the Piper, an extra model is removed from that unit.
- Jolly Gutpipes
- Add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of Nurglings and Great Unclean One units that are within 6″ of any friendly Sloppity Bilepipers. Also, Nurlgings and Great Unclean ones can declare a charge even if they advanced if they are within 6″ of a friendly Piper.
The Sloppity Bilepiper is a support character. His lack of damage-dealing potential and low wound-count, along with his special rules that buff nearby Nurgle Daemons should make that clear. In competitive play, you can pretty much completely forget about the Jully Gutpipes rule as GUO’s are too big of a target and too hard to protect to make their points back in most cases. Buffing Nurglings is also pretty questionable because they’re only S2 and the extra attack is not going to menace much. If you want to take 27 Nurgling Swarms and a Bilepiper to go and try to prove me wrong, have at it.
The main use of a Bilepiper in the current competitive scene is to support large units of Plaguebearers. Because Plaguebearers can be taken in sizes of up to 30 and their leadership is only 7, they can be susceptible to large Morale losses. This is further compounded by the fact that large units of plaguebearers are usually on your frontlines and should be expected to die in droves. An alternative to spending 2CP each turn to combat this (and in the event that you have multiple large groups of plaguebearers that are in danger of crippling morale issues and thus cannot use the 2CP stratagem on them both) is to use the Sloppity Bilepiper and his Disease of Mirth ability. When your units of plaguebearers take an Icon (which normally allows them to auto-pass Morale tests on a 1 and then you can get d6 slain plaguebearers back) and they are within 6″ of a Bilepiper, they now have twice the chance they had in auto-passing a Morale test. In fact, with a 1CP reroll, you’ve got a ~47% chance of rolling a 1 and thus regaining D6 slain plaguebearers. Compared to the ~30% chance of a 1 (with a reroll), you can see it’s a significant improvement.
The value of the Bilepiper is not completely in the number of plaguebearers he brings back, which is how I looked at it initially. Let’s imagine a scenario in which your opponent had killed 11 of your 30 plaguebearers within a unit (enough to stop their -1 To-Hit bonus). On leadership 7 and average rolls, you’re expecting to lose another 7 to 8 models (~50 points of models). You now have nearly a 50% chance to not only NOT lose those 7 to 8 models, but also gain D6 models back, an average point swing of 77 points (denial of 52.5 points in Morale losses and gaining back 25.5 points worth of model – Nurgle would be stoked). The Piper comes in at a fair chunk less than this, for a positive gain. The Bilepiper also has a big advantage in games against Dark Eldar, which could Vect the 2CP auto-pass stratagem, but cannot Vect the Bilepiper’s special rule. Depending on the circumstance and your meta, this could be huge.
All this being said, it’s still less than a 50% chance of happening and not something to bank on. When it works, it’s great – when it doesn’t, don’t’ sweat it. In fact, there are still many circumstances when you’ll still want to auto-pass. First-turn losses for large units of Plaguebearers can be particularly rough and if it comes down to potentially wiping the unit if you don’t get that 1, I’ll still spend the 2CP for a guarantee.
With only 4 wounds, a Vindicair (or any other sniper) will be able to threaten a Bilepiper left out in the open. Trying to chew through the 60 to 90 plaguebearers to get to the Bilepiper is exactly what the Daemon player wants you to do, so don’t do that. Deepstriking around behind the screen to get an angle on the Bilepiper could work. Using close combat units with Fly and that can fly over the Plaguebearer screen works pretty well too. A Bilepiper is the kind of tactic that if you didn’t bring the right tools, it’s a tough nut to crack, which is why we’re seeing their popularity with large plaguebearer screens.
A Sloppity Bilepiper along with a massive hoard of Plaguebearers provides a lot of board control, CP (if taken in a battalion), and is the best screen tactic Chaos have at the moment. It’s no reason why we see them pop up in some form or fashion at any event with a Chaos player. The right tools can eliminate this support character and would, therefore, remove a key component of the Nurgle Daemon player’s strategy, which in most games, might be enough to get that “W”.
How are you dealing with Bilepipers?
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