Monday, 27 November 2017

Codex Review: Death Guard

It has taken me quite some time to post this up as quite frankly I find reviewing anything really difficult. But now I have had enough time to play most of what is in there, and although I am still missing a few units, I feel I can do some basic thoughts on the army.

First things first. This is a very different army now to the Nurgle chaos space marines that we are used to. With only a couple exceptions the Death Guard have entirely new toys to throw into battle. I still moan about the lack of a Nurgle heldrake but I can understand that Games Workshop were trying to make Death Guard a very different animal to other chaos marine armies.

The big thing about 8th is that every army has a specific way of doing things, whether it be re-rolls, a focus on stratagems or what have you. For the Death Guard you are looking at throwing out mortal wounds to units that get far too close to you. The psychic phase is full of mortal wounds goodness, plague weapons reroll 1's to wound and the proximity of a lord of contagion ensures that someone in the enemy unit is going to corrupt and rot away before your eyes. Disgustingly Resilient - aka the old Feel No Pain - is used to keep your expensive units alive just a little bit longer. These two abilities are what make the army work.

HQ options.

Chaos Lord and Sorcerer.
These two are a complete waste of time in this codex. The lord does the reroll of 1's to hit but the army is built around ensuring that mortal wounds go off. I could see a possible combo between the lord and anything that gives the reroll to wounds but that does not compare to the big disadvantage that it and the sorcerer have - no disgusting resilience. Without that ability they are too easily dropped by the enemy. The sorcerer also seems somewhat irrelevant when you have the plaguecaster.

Daemon Prince of Nurgle.
The daemon prince seems like a replacement for the chaos lord and sorcerer giving both the rerolls of 1 to hit and having some psychic potential, in addition to having DR. I haven't used one thus far simply because I prefer to use Typhus. I might be tempted to field him in a low point game just to give me a step up on my opponent.

Typhus is the go to character in this codex. Even if you don't field poxwalkers (and why aren't you?) his array of special rules make him arguably the best HQ option available to you in this codex. Typhus has done me proud in every game that I have played with him.

Lord of Contagion.
These are like lesser not so good versions of Typhus. No psychic ability and only the basic Nurgle character special abilities. They are still good but if you have Typhus he is a better choice.

Malignant Plaguecaster.
This character is your replacement for the sorcerer and is the obvious choice over that choice. The reason you take it is because DR and a rather nice power that throws out mortal wounds every time it manifests a psychic power with a roll of 7 or higher. Why would you take the basic sorcerer?


Plague Marines.
These are your basic troop option as you have no default chaos space marines. They are a little expensive but you have a multitude of potential options with this codex including some nice new melee plague weapons. Also nice is that by having DR you don't need to field the traditional ten man squads and In fact I have done well taking just seven plague marines!

Chaos Cultists.
I know that many do not like cultists but I have found having one reasonable sized squad is very handy. Mainly because if you have an objective based mission you can drop a unit of these on it at the start of the game and leave them. Secondly they are cheap enough that you can throw them at the enemy and if they waste their shooting on the cultists then your better units are being left alone.

The new plague zombies. You can take these as a troop choice but they are much better if you include Typhus as their leader as he boosts them slightly and possibly again with the right psychic ability. Max size squads are the way to go and it is a shame that you can't start with thirty! The best thing is that their Curse of the Walking Pox ability will, if you are lucky, allow you to go over that starting score.

Nice to have Nurgle daemons included in the codex but it does feel like Games Workshop have let us down a bit here. Plaguebearers do not have the Death Guard keyword meaning you cannot include them without losing your battle forged status. You have to summon them which under 8th edition is a waste of time.
The unit itself is nice and I have taken them as an allied detachment where they have done reasonably well. They are as strong and tough as a space marine so you can't argue should you be able to get them into combat.

I guess that these were included for those players wanting to summon but I find them a waste of space at least on paper. I could see perhaps using their mischief ability being used to draw enemy fire at the start of the game but I doubt I would ever use them in a Death Guard force as there are far better options.


Noxious Blightbringer.
An interesting new character type. The Blightbringer walks alone ringing his giant bell causing psychic pestilence to all who hear it. I've only played this option once or twice but both times it proved it's worth but you have to know how to use it. It's ability works well when supporting a plague marine icon bearer for instance.

Foul Blightspawn.
Another elite character but one that is perhaps not so good. It's role seems to be to boost a single Death Guard character grenade thrower which isn't worth the effort. It's plague spewer weapon is nice but again not worth taking for just a single character.
Edit: 22/02/18 - I take this back. After watching this unit used a couple times in games (not mine) I have seriously undervalued this character.

Biologus Putrifier.
A much better character option than the Blightspawn. This one boosts all nearby grenade throwers and in conjunction with the stratagem which allows a whole unit to throw them in overwatch could be quite nasty. Still not a great option but an okay one.

Plague Surgeon.
The Plague Surgeon is basically a Death Guard apothecary boosting nearby DR rolls. He is the sort of Elite option that you could do with a couple off to help keep your units going but you have to decide whether or there are better options. I'm thinking that having two in the collection to boost plague marines could be viable in the right size game.

The Tallyman is yet another elite character but one which if you are lucky can regenerate your just spent command point. The problem is that you need to roll exactly 7 on 2D6 which despite being an average roll is not guaranteed enough to be fully worth it. It's the sort of option I would include one of just to try and it though.

Deathshroud Terminators.
Now we are talking about the cool Elite options. The Deathshroud's are a must have if you include Mortarion in your army as they are going to be your main, if not only, way of ensuring that he survives long enough to get into the enemy. They are expensive but worth it. You can also use them to safeguard your other HQ characters but their best use to is to keep the Primarch alive.

Blightlord Terminators.
These are the Death Guard version of regular chaos terminators. They are not too dissimilar and on paper certainly look worthwhile. Probably one of the better options in the Death Guard elites section and I would consider them over the characters above.

The Helbrute is certainly one of the more useful options in an army that doesn't really get too much in the way of anti-vehicle options. Every army needs a dreadnought and I would certainly consider fielding multiple in the right list. Even just one is a great option.

Beasts of Nurgle.
Another daemon option that may or may not be worthwhile. When you have terminators and a helbrute do you need these? Even as a unit to be summoned they do not seem worth it for the reasons I mentioned above. I would certainly get a unit for the collection but whether I would bother to field it very often is another matter.

The Possessed are not worth the time and effort in this army. Even as Death Guard they do not receive the benefits of DR, something everything in your army is built around. Make them Toughness 5 and have DR, then you would have a unit that would be see play. For now though they are best forgotten.

Fast Attack.

Foetid Bloat Drone.
Although I have three of these thus far I have not been able to field more than one in a single game but I really like them. In assault they are not all that but you don't field them for that. You want them for the plaguespitters. Fire, charge, leap of combat and fire again. It is a nice tactic and I've found that it makes the inclusion of at least one to be worthwhile.

Myphitic Blight-Haulers.
These are an odd choice. They are a fast attack option but it seems to me that they are your heavy weapon support units. At this time Games Workshop haven't released any models for them but I am definitely interested in adding these to my army. I think they you are going to want to field a full three of them to make them worthwhile. That they also provide cover save bonuses to Death Guard units nearby means they make great plague marine support platforms.

Chaos Spawn.
I'm in two minds about Chaos Spawn in a Death Guard army. Read the entry and they look quite good. But like Possessed and the basic chaos lord/sorcerer they don't come with Disgustingly Resilience which gives me pause. Everything in this army which isn't a vehicle should come with this ability. The lack of it makes me think again that there are better options although in case I might consider building a single unit of them.

Plague Drones.
Plague Drones are the daemon entry for the fast attack slot. For the fluff reasons I like these but they don't look good enough to include in a Death Guard army. They are a daemon unit which means you have to summon them or take a daemon detachment. Neither of which strike me as good options. That they don't do enough damage is something else that turns me off of them.

Heavy Support.

Chaos Land Raider.
The Land Raider has become a lot more expensive under this edition which has prohibited my using it. It is a very tough unit now and well worth including if you can find the points for it.

Plagueburst Crawler.
This at first glance appears to be the replacement for the vindicator. It could do that job very well. Due to it's lower Ballistic Skill (only a 4+ to start with) I would consider taking multiple of them to ensure that you get the best use of it. The Crawler is one of the new units that I would seriously consider worth fielding in the right mission.

In previous editions the Defiler was a complete waste of space. 8th edition has breathed new life into it. It can put out a lot of damage at range and if you take the scourge as a melee weapon it is a real monster in the assault phase. The regenerative ability is fantastic as well meaning that you can keep it in the game a lot longer. Big thumbs up.

Chaos Predator.
The Predator has been a mainstay of my of army of late. Vehicles now survive a lot longer and the ability to split fire makes them very handy. My favourite option is to mix the weapons - lascannon turret with heavy bolter sponsons - giving the unit more versatility in battle.

Chaos Rhino.
Now that vehicles can survive the initial volley of incoming fire the sturdy Rhino is now another worthwhile option that was rather poor in previous editions. It now survives to get the embarked unit to it's destination.

Lord of War.

At long last we get our own daemon primarch and he does not disappoint. The Lantern, his plasma pistol, is not as good as it first appears. His strength lies in close combat. Unwounded, he can achieve an impressive 18 attacks with Silence!  The scythe is fantastic against puny infantry and armoured vehicles both. If there is any weakness to him it is that he can be gunned down far too easily. You need the Deathshroud Terminators to keep him alive long enough to get him into combat. After that Mortarion should literally scythe through your opponent with ease.

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