So many of you may already be aware of a devastating new Death Guard combo making its presence felt. With 9th edition missions being focused largely upon board/objective control, movement is a huge factor. The movement phase is arguably the most important phase now in Warhammer 40,000. If you make big mistakes with the movement of models in terms of positioning, you can find yourself in dire straits for scoring points. That’s exactly what this Death Guard combo seeks to do, hurt your ability to move your army well enough, and far enough, to score points and win the game.
The combo is built off a few key components, the first of which is the 6th Plague Company, better known in the rulebook as the Ferrymen. The Ferrymen have a special Warlord Trait called “The Droning” which is a Contagion that affects enemy units’ movement characteristics. “While an enemy unit is within Contagion Range of this unit, at the start of your opponent’s Movement phase, halve that enemy unit’s Move characteristic until the end of the phase.” Ok, so one unit, a unit with this Warlord Trait so a character can halve movement as a Contagion. Big deal. What Warlord are you going to send into the heart of your enemy’s army so they can deny movement for a single turn to units within 1in of them on Battle Round 1, or 3 inches Battle Round 2 etc? Well, you’re not. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is a stratagem.
Flash Outbreak is a 2CP Command Phase Stratagem. For Flash Outbreak you select one <Plague Company> unit for your army. That unit then gains access to all the Contagion abilities that the unit does not already possess until the beginning of your next command phase. Additionally, for the same duration, units from your army count the Battle Rounds number as 1 higher for the purpose of determining the Contagion range. So on Round 1, you would be 3 inches, not a 1-inch range, on Round 2 the range would be 6 inches, not 3 inches etc. Ok, that’s pretty good. You obviously aren’t going to missile an expensive HQ like a Daemon Prince into the enemy turn one for a 1in AOE to halve movement. However, you might missile something else into the enemy Battle Round 1, or even 2, especially if we look at a potential third cog in the wheel for this strategy. A psychic power.
Gift of Plagues is a Warp Charge 6 psychic power that targets one friendly Death Guard unit within 18 inches of the Psyker. Until the start of your next Psychic phase add 6 inches to the Contagion abilities of that unit to a maximum of 12in. Oh boy. So now we have the potential of a unit with a 9in AOE power that halves the movement of the enemy. We are definitely entering the 2 realms here, one is potentially game-changing, the other is the realm of the difficult to pull off perfectly. But, it’s only really difficult on Battle Round 1, and there might be a way to make this work reliably well for multiple turns. If you really want to try and pin your opponent in their own deployment zone on Battle Round 1 you might consider a Rhino full of Plague Marines. If you can work it right you can move the Rhino 12 inches, advance d6, and perhaps get Gift of Plagues off on it so with the Flash Outbreak Strat your Rhino is now pushing the halve movement distance to a 9-inch bubble. Granted, a good opponent will probably not let this happen to them, which means this might be better saved for a Battle Round 2 attempt.
Either way, if it’s Battle Round 1 or 2, the Rhino has now effectively halved your opponent’s movement within a large Area of Effect and once it is destroyed, has planted a nice unit of Plague Marines, which could be hard to shift in a single turn, who can then be the target of the Stratagem and Psychic power on the next turn with an even larger 12-inch area of effect. The best part about this strategy is it doesn’t rely on a specific unit to work. You can attempt the Battle Round 1 Rhino rush, and if it doesn’t quite work due to the variables involved the Plague Marines inside the Rhino can try on Battle Round 2, or an entirely different unit can be used. A Foetid Bloat-drone for example is a good target for this Stratagem and Psychic power combo. Dropping 10 Death Guard terminators in on an opponent Battle Round 2 and getting off a charge into them would make a nasty 12-inch bubble of halved movement if you get them stuck into a unit that’s near the rest of the enemy army. Death Guard is definitely an army that wants to sit on the objectives and not die, wracking up points round after round, having a tool to keep your opponent stuck and unable to shift you more easily is a major boost to your chances of winning.
It also seems from the FAQs and the Forgeworld rules, that you can conceivably use the Flash Outbreak Stratagem on a Chaos Hellblade or Chaos Xiphon Interceptor etc to make 100% certain that you are halving the movement of something in the enemy army on Battle Round 1! That seems pretty nasty, open to abuse, and likely to get FAQd in my opinion, but you never know, and until it is FAQd you better watch out for that combo or just do something about it with your own lists’ tools.
Ok, so why is the article title having to do with Eliminators? Simple, all of this great Death Guard tech is reliant on a single Ferryman Warlord with The Droning Warlord Trait being alive. So if you are concerned about going up against this particularly nasty Death Guard trick in your local meta, or perhaps at a tournament as those start being held more often, then some Sniper units might need to find their way into your list! Eliminators were almost ubiquitous in 8th edition Space Marine armies, so if you’re a Space Marine player you should have plenty of them in your collection gathering dust. Well, dust those bad boys off, throw them into your lists, and get ready to pop some Death Guard Ferrymen Warlords! What’s nice is many of the new 9th ed Codices so far have plenty of Characters with nasty AOE, and other, powers that you really want to remove from the table so firing some of those rounds that ignore the benefit of cover, while also ignoring the “Look Out Sir” rule, will be awfully helpful in removing all these pesky new characters. Add in the fact these Death Guard characters can’t hide in cover because Eliminators can fire at targets out of Line of Sight and you can just rain on the DG players’ parade! What’s that?… Eliminators don’t ignore Line of Sight anymore?… Well, why the hell did I write this whole article then!? Fine, whatever, you now know about a disgusting trick the Death Guard Ferrymen Company can use to halve your army movement and you need to find some sniper units, or tricks, in your army of choice to deal with them. You’re welcome.