This week on the Warhammer Community site, we’ve seen some great previews for the upcoming Death Guard codex.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been discussing how Games Workshop could change T’au Troops units in order to make the faction more competitive, and here we have GW taking what was already a respectable Troops unit, Plague Marines, and tweaking certain rules and adding other rules in to make the unit more competitive in the 9th edition meta.
These changes do give me some hope, then, that T’au Troops will improve in 2021, but let’s remain with the issue at hand.
We know that Plague Marines will get an extra Attack and an extra Wound in the new Death Guard codex. While we’ve known about the Wound increase for a little while, the increase to the unit’s Attacks is a welcome addition for Death Guard players, especially if you intend to take your opponent to Candyland, but that’s a whole different conversation.
But let’s get into it. The change to the Disgustingly Resilient rule is significant. At the moment, when a model with this rules loses a Wound, on the roll of a 5+ the Wound is not lost. Simply put, Disgustingly Resilient is one of the most powerful abilities in the game at the moment.
However, the new Disgustingly Resilient rule is going to reduce all incoming Damage by one to a minimum of one. In my opinion, this is still a very strong rule, and it could even be better than the original. There are a couple of different ways to think about this change, which I want to explore further.
First of all, I think that it is important that we consider this change in the context of the increased Wound count for Plague Marines. This much is obvious. But let’s get into why this is the case. If Plague Marines still had one Wound, this new incarnation of DR wouldn’t mean anything at all. Indeed, this would have been a bit of a slap in the face for Death Guard players when compared to the excellent Troops choices that their loyalist foes have to choose from.
But with these two Wounds, Plague Marines are going to be so much more resilient to the weapons that opponents use to deal with Primaris Marines — and, as we will continue to see, the new versions of the traitor Marines.
For example, most skilled Drukhari players know exactly how to deal with infantry in Power Armour. Ravagers armed with Disintegrator Cannons are absolutely lethal in this territory. They do everything that they need to in order to destroy these models: they hit on 3s, often re-rolling 1s; they wound on 3s; they take the Marine’s save to a 6+; and they deal 2 Damage.
What’s more, Ravagers will usually be at the back of the board, using their excellent range to best effect, and Drukhari players also have a stratagem to move one of these gunboats after it shoots to further take advantage of cover.
But the new DR rule cuts the effectiveness of the Ravager in half. Drukhari players must now expend more time and energy dealing with those obsec Plague Marines.
Let’s take another example. The Riptide is the T’au’s foremost asset when dealing with Marines. The Heavy Burst Cannon has a high rate of fire, good Strength, solid AP, and deals 2 Damage. But again, Plague Marines with the new DR rule will inexorably advance through some of most fearsome firepower that the Empire has to muster.
Indeed, it won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t think the T’au will have many effective tools to deal with the new Death Guard until our own codex is released. But, to be fair, we T’au players can say that about many factions, so let’s just move it along.
But we should consider some of the downsides to this new rule. And, of course, there are a handful, but let’s take perhaps the most obvious: Plague Marines are now more susceptible to single-Damage weapons.
Mass anti-infantry firepower with some AP will do more damage than it does at the moment. Granted, Plague Marines still have a respectable Toughness of 5, meaning that these models will remain quite tricky to Wound, but throwing enough dice at that problem will certainly get players some of the way towards destroying the unit.
Wound-for-wound, then, weapons like the humble Lasgun are now more effective against Plague Marines. But as we don’t know the points cost of the model, we can’t yet say how much more resilient this unit will be against such firepower. This much is true: we know that Plague Marines are getting tougher, but we just don’t know how much tougher they are getting point-for-point.
And here’s another point in the column of the new rule: the game is going to play much faster. Taking away a whole layer of saves is going to speed things up quite a bit, especially against those pesky two-Damage weapons against which Plague Marines will become yet more resilient.
Any change to a well-established rule can be jarring, and I don’t blame Death Guard players at all for feeling some trepidation about these changes to their codex. But all things considered, I would argue that the new DR rule is going to make the Death Guard as a whole all the more powerful.
Any competitive player worth his salt knows the value of a good Troops-slot unit. As I’ve said many times before, one of the many elements that put Space Marines at the top of the meta at the moment is the excellent choices in the Troops slot.
And judging by these previews, the Heretic Astartes aren’t far behind when it comes to this basic building block of a strong army.
I want to briefly mention the new rule that Death Guard players have to look forward to, Contagions of Nurgle. Simply put, this looks like a great addition to the codex. Not only is it a powerful ability — reducing your opponent’s Toughness is nothing to sniff at — but it also feels very appropriate to the faction itself, and this is a great thing.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked about how I don’t want to see factions with overly similar abilities and units. While a little of this is unavoidable, most factions should have certain options that are unique to that faction. And Contagions of Nurgle really fits the bill in this regard.
Of course, there is more to go into with the updates to the Death Guard, but just taking these two new elements of the codex, the faction is looks like it’s going to be in strong position once the codex is released. Indeed, Death Guard is a respectable faction as things stand right now, but by the looks of things the only way is up.
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