We are a bit behind the curve on our Fate of Konor games, but we figured we would weigh in as the Death Guard invade Ultramar. Astaramis is being defended by the Marines Errant as Plague Marines, Poxwalkers, and Cultists all crash down upon their lines, ably assisted by a few Daemons of Nurgle.
We just used small 60-point forces (Power Ratings, heresy!) for a short afternoon’s worth of play, and I decided to forgo the most powerful units to take a small horde-ish ‘comedy’ force.
Army of Nurgle (Battalion)
Lord of Contagion (Tenacious)
Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Gift of Contagion)
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma of Pestilence)
Plague Marines x 7 (Power Fist, Plasma Gun)
Poxwalkers x 20
Chaos Cultists x 20
Plaguebearers x 20 (Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos)
We are going with a fair horde here, with 70 models racing across the battlefield to invade Astaramis. The Plaguecaster and Herald will be using Miasma of Pestilence during the advance to keep the Plaguebearers who will be at a -2 to be hit!) and something else relatively safe, which the Bloat-Drone will be buzzing about because I know how much the Marines Errant player likes to see it in an army (!).
Terminator Assault Squad (Lightning Claws)
Assault Squad (Sergeant with Lightning Claws)
Devastator Squad (Missile Launchers)
With the ability to use cover all round, this looks like the perfect defensive force for the Marines Errant.
We are using the Invasion! mission from the Fate of Konor campaign which sees the Death Guard pounding towards the Marines Errant who have deployed in defensive positions. Victory is based on victory points – the Marines Errant get a point for every unit they destroy, while the Death Guard gain one for every unit in the defender’s deployment zone at the end of the battle. Both sides get a point for the enemy Warlord.
The mission itself has two new Stratagems – the Death Guard can charge with a unit that advanced (that will certainly get used!), while the Marines Errant can use Suppressing Fire for more accurate Overwatch that also slows attackers down.
The Fate of Konor campaign also introduces yet another Stratagem (Inspired Tactics) that increases a Warlord’s aura abilities by 3″.
The bulk of the Death Guard advanced towards the ruins occupied by the Marines Errant through forests already starting to wilt from the pestilence of the invaders. Ever wary of Astartes trickery, the leaders of the Death Guard stayed close to their minions, a careful eye on the sky to watch for sudden attacks by Assault Marines.
For their part, the Marines Errant hunkered down in any ruin or behind any barricade they could find, the Devastator and two Tactical Squads looking pitifully small compared to the advancing horde.
The Marines Errant were expecting the Death Guard attack and reacted immediately as soon as they detected movement in front of them. The Tactical Squads repositioned themselves slightly to tighten their defence and unleashed a hail of bolter fire into the stumbling Poxwalkers, knocking down six of them as the Devastator Squad, positioned high within a ruined building, ravaged the swamp in front of them, annihilating the Nurglings there with frag missiles.
This did not deter the Death Guard in the slightest. The Herald of Nurgle manifested a Miasma of Corruption around the Plaguebearers, creating a thick swirl of flies and filth around the daemons that made them almost impossible to see. The Plaguecaster followed suit to shield the Bloat-Drone, then unleashed a powerful bolt of energy that blasted through the power armour of three Tactical Marines huddled behind the closest barricade.
Encouraged by the jocular demands of the Lord of Corruption, every unit except the Plague Marines ran forward, eager to get to grips with the Marines Errant.
The Plague Marines provided covering fire from the safety of a wood, keeping the heads of the Tactical Squad down long enough for the Poxwalkers to surge forward under the command of their Lord. A single Poxwalker fell to the hurried overwatch fire of the Marines Errant but as the Poxwalkers railed against the barricade, one marine was dragged into the horde and pulled apart, only to rise again as another plague zombie.
The Chaplain started to chant a battle hymn that galvanised the Tactical Squad and they lashed out with knife, boot and fist, smashing another four Poxwalkers into the ground.
Despite their losses, the Tactical Squad continue to hold the line against the Poxwalker assault.
Not wanting to get bogged down by the Poxwalkers, the Tactical Squad retreated under the direction of the Chaplain. Practicing well-rehearsed bolter drills, the Tactical Squad continued to fire into the Poxwalkers with their bolters, supported by the second Tactical Squad in the building above them. The sheer weight of fire began to have an effect, and another eight Poxwalkers dropped to the ground.
Descending from the sky on pillars of fire, the Assault Squad entered the battle, dropping right behind the Plaguebearers and Plague Marines, threatening the Lord of Contagion.
Meanwhile, across the battlefield, the Assault Terminators teleported into the fight, deploying on their left flank to halt the Death Guard advance that had, up to now, been completely unopposed.
The Terminators sighted the Bloat-Drone, but it was moving too quick for them to intercept, and many of the krak missiles launched at it by the Devastator Squad went wild, their guidance systems fouled by the Miasma that surrounded the daemonic machine. However, one missile flew true, and the Bloat-Drone shuddered as its armour was cracked open.
The Assault Squad quickly got their bearings and unleashed a flurry of fire into the Plaguebearers but, once again, the Miasma and cloud of flies kept Nurgle’s children safe. Seeing that they could not reach the Lord of Contagion, the Assault Marines gunned their jump packs and launched themselves into the Plague Marines lurking within the woods.
With war cries amplified by their helmet’s voxcasters, the Marines Errant smashed into the Plague Marines, only to find their chainswords and lightning claws skidding off thick power armour and getting lodged uselessly in the diseased and bloated bodies of their enemies. Unimpressed, the Plague Marines cut two Assault Marines down with their Plague Knives, while their leader crushed another with his Power Fist.
The Cultists of Nurgle and Bloat-Drone had no wish to tarry with the Terminators, and so they continued their advance towards the centre of the Marines Errant line, anchored by the two Tactical Squads.
They were soon joined by the Plaguebearers and, urged on by the Herald, began to climb over the barricades the Marines Errant had been hoping would hold them back. Flies filled the air with their bloated, buzzing bodies, all but completely obscuring the Plaguebearers as the Herald maintained his Miasma upon them.
The Lord of Contagion found himself torn. On the one hand, he knew he had to advance and his Cataphractii Terminator Armour was not built for running. On the other, their were some Assault Marines very close to him who were just desperate to have their heads sneaked off with his axe. Humming cheerfully to himself, the Lord turned round and closed in on the Assault Squad.
Though the Assault Squad could see the Lord of Contagion coming, there was little they could do but attempt a solid defence. It was to no avail; the Lord’s axe cleaved through three marines in short order, while the Plague Marines claimed another, effectively shattering the Assault Squad.
The Tactical Squads and Chaplain found themselves coming under serious pressure as well, two of them succumbing to the fountains of filth spewed by the Bloat-Drone.
This was but a precursor to the assault, as the Plaguebearers clambered over the barricades and stumbled into the Tactical Squad, energised by the close proximity of their Herald.
Three marines were cut down by their Plague Swords, though the Sergeant managed to dispatch one daemon in return – however, it was too late, as the Sergeant was now the only surviving member of his squad. Seeing the Sergeant waver, the Chaplain dove into the melee, bashing the heads of two Plaguebearers with his Crozius, and intimidating another into fleeing.
Forced to withdraw once again, the Tactical Sergeant ran for the second line of barricades alongside his Chaplain, hoping they could halt the Plaguebearers before they advanced even closer.
The Chaplain hurled a frag grenade into the mob of Plaguebearers, but blasted apart only a single daemon, while the Tactical Squad on the roof of a small Administratum building close by unloaded everything they could into the Plaguebearers before they started assaulting their position – unfortunately, even at point blank range, not a single bolter shell found its mark through the Miasma the Herald had conjured.
The Devastator Squad added their weight to stopping the Plaguebearers, but when the smoke from their frag missiles had cleared, only two more daemons had been slain. Things were beginning to look desperate for the Marines Errant.
Hoping to relieve the pressure on the remaining Tactical Marines, the Assault Terminators finally caught up to the Bloat-Drone and charged, but the daemonic machine whirled round and blasted them with both Plaguespitters, the insidious liquid finding its way even through Terminator Armour to melt the flesh of two marines.
Despite reaching their prey, their Lightning Claws proved inadequate to breach the Bloat-Drones armour, and they were left flailing helplessly as it started to float out of their reach.
Now it was the turn of the Cultists to clamber over the barricade, unloading a hail of mostly inaccurate fire at the approaching Terminators as they went. The Terminators shrugged off most of the small calibre shells, but one round did make it through their thick armour, and one marine started to limp as he continued to intercept the Nurgle horde.
Seeing this, the Plaguecaster summoned a bolt of energy that finished off the wounded Terminator but he tried to harness the power of the Warp a little too eagerly, and seriously injured himself as a Daemon of Tzeentch momentarily appeared to swipe at him.
As the last of the Assault marines succumbed to Nurgle’s Rot, the Plague Marines tried to support the advance of the Cultists by training their weapons on the Terminators. However, their bolter rounds simply ricocheted off the inches thick armour, and the overcharged Plasma Gun in the squad boiled its wielder.
As the Bloat-Drone smothered one Tactical Marine in the Administratum building with its Plaguespitters, the Plaguebearers shambled forward to attack the Tactical Sergeant and Chaplain.
Though the two marines managed to hold the Plaguebearers back and dispatched another two, the Chaplain was wounded in the fight.
Seeing the Plaguebearers beginning to surround them, with Cultists close behind, the Chaplain and Sergeant leapt over the barricade to confront the Herald of Nurgle, even as the last two Terminators moved to face the Cultists.
Knowing the back of the Nurgle force had to be broken or they would fall, the Marines Errant maintained their constant fire. As the Cultists turned to face the Terminators, the Tactical Squad raked their ranks with bolter fire, killing three.
The Chaplain hurled another frag grenade, killing the last of the Poxwalkers, while the Devastator Squad split its fire. Four krak missiles unerringly homed in on the Bloat-Drone, blasting it from the sky, while the other marines trained their bolters and frag grenades on the Plaguebearers who were now too close for comfort. The daemons moaned mournfully as they were pummelled by accurate fire, the last of them dissolving into nothing as the energy binding it to the material world faded.
The Assault Terminators feinted at the Cultists, then turned to rush the Plague Marines. Once again, the Plague Marines put up a solid defence, ignoring the flashing Lightning Claws as their leader crushed a Terminator with his Power Fist, leaving only the Sergeant still fighting.
The Marines Errant now only had two intact squads, the Tactical Squad in the Administratum building and the Devastators in the taller ruins, and while they had managed to counter the Plaguebearers and Poxwalkers, there were still too many Death Guard forces roaming the battlefield to be safe.
As the Plaguecaster through a Miasma around the Lord of Contagion the Cultists trotted to the Administratum building, intent on dislodging the Tactical Marines taking cover there.
Their autoguns and autopistols bounced uselessly off the building and the marines’ power armour but, undaunted, they continued their advance , ignoring the two of their number who fell to overwatch fire from the Marines Errant. With a cry to Grandfather Nurgle, they clambered up the ruined building to face the marines.
Surprised at the speed of the Cultists, two marines were quickly dragged down, but then the their training took over. Two Cultists were pummelled to death, causing another three to run in terror. However, the Tactical Squad had been seriously reduced in number and its position had been made untenable by the marauding Cultists.
With a grumbling moan, the Herald of Nurgle challenged the Chaplain to single combat, but neither was able to land a telling blow.
Further away, amidst the woods, the last Marines Errant Terminator was smashed apart by the Power Fist-wielding Plague Marine.
Surrounded by Cultists, the three surviving Tactical Marines leapt off the roof of the Administratum building, their Sergeant throwing a frag grenade behind him to blast three of their attackers.
Meanwhile, the Devastators continued their withering fire, this time using krak missiles against the Plague Marines. Though having weathered everything the Marines Errant had thrown at them up to now, even Plague Marines could not withstand sustained anti-tank fire, and three of their number exploded as they raced for cover.
In the centre of the battlefield, the Chaplain was aided by his Sergeant and, together, they managed to force the Herald of Nurgle on the back foot, wounding the daemon. However, the Herald recovered quickly and dealt the Chaplain a savage blow with its Plague Sword, sending the marine reeling.
Seeing what the Devastators did to their beloved Plague Marines, the Cultists withdrew from the Administratum building, taking cover in its shadow. They were immediately confronted by the Tactical Marines they had been battling on its rooftop, but their pitiful autogun fire simply rattled off power armour.
The Herald of Nurgle, already wounded, was hard-pressed fighting both a marine Sergeant and a Chaplain, steadily giving ground as they traded blows. The marines did not notice the heavy footsteps of the Lord of Contagion until it was too late.
Rushing forward as fast as his Cataphractii Terminator armour would allow, the Lord of Contagion hefted his axe and bisected the Chaplain with a single, solid blow.
Where once the sounds of bolter fire and missiles had raged over the battlefield, an eerie quiet now descended, broken only by the occasional snap shot – both armies had suffered greatly and the survivors began taking a great deal more care.
The Devastator Squad still commanded a view over the entire battlefield, their missile launchers promising death to any who stayed in their sights for too long.
Seeing his Chaplain’s body fall to the ground, the Sergeant retreated from the Lord of Contagion, hurling a frag grenade as he went that blasted the Herald of Nurgle apart in a shower of filth. On the other side of the Administratum building, the three survivors of the Tactical Squad charged the Plaguecaster, catching the psyker offguard. Weakened by the Perils of the Warp earlier, the Plaguecaster soon fell to their blows.
The Death Guard now had few units standing, but the Lord of Contagion was still intent on making the Marines Errant pay for stalling his advance. As the Plague Marines took shelter in a ruined tower, the Lord advanced upon the Administratum building, keen to wipe out any Marines Errant who lurked nearby.
Under the watchful eyes of the Devastator Squad close by, all the action of the battle was now to take place around the Administratum building where the remnants of the Marines Errant faced the Lord of Contagion.
The Tactical Squad quickly gunned down the Cultists lurking behind them, finally putting an end to the chatter of autopistols and shotguns, while the Tactical Sergeant rushed the Lord of Contagion, swearing an oath to avenge his Chaplain. With one contemptuous swing of his axe, the Lord broke that promise.
Seeing that the Devastator Squad was too far away, the Lord of Contagion lumbered around the front of the Administratum building, catching the Tactical Squad unawares. With deft swipes of his axe, all three Tactical Marines hit the ground, dismembered and disemboweled.
Both armies had been shattered, but the Marines Errant had managed to hold the line against the Death Guard. Elsewhere on the world of Astaramis, Imperial forces had triumphed, stalling the Nurgle assault – now the fight would move to Konor itself…
That was a close battle – both forces had just one intact unit each at the end (the Devastators and Lord of Contagion), with the Plague Marines hiding out of sight in a tall tower!
And speaking of the Plague Marines, they have to be the Men of the Match – first they were jumped by an Assault Squad, who just bounced off them and were dispatched with only a little help from the Lord of Contagion. Then they faced off a Terminator Assault Squad, again with no losses. In fact, up to that point, the only casualty they had sustained had come from an exploding Plasma Gun. It took anti-tank missiles to start knocking them down!
The final score was 7-3 to the Marines Errant, which may seem a bit lop-sided – there has been some criticism on various forums of this mission (and the second in the Konor campaign) that the forces of the Imperium are somewhat… favoured. I am not sure that is intentional or not on the part of GW (conspiracy!) but going into this battle I had figured it would be easier to destroy more units than it would be to keep them alive, and the single point for the Warlord is never going to be enough to tip that balance.
However, this was a decent showcase for the Death Guard, and we had a lot of fun with the armies. The Plague Marines were simply awesome and, once he gets in among the pigeons (as it were), the Lord of Contagion is all but unstoppable.
The Miasma psychic power is also a very good tool in the Death Guard’s arsenal, but not always in the way you might think. People hate having negative modifiers on their to hit rolls, and will often avoid a unit with a negative modifier altogether (unless there is really nothing to shoot at). So, if you put Miasma on a unit, do not get despondent if the enemy does not shoot at it – it is not wasted (not getting shot at all is way better than the negative modifier!), and you can begin using that to influence the opposing player into shooting the things you want him to shoot at.
And stacking Miasma on a large Plaguebearer unit that already has a negative modifier to be hit is just plain rude. Not that they do much once they get to grips with the enemy…
I am looking forward to expanding the Death Guard with the new releases. More Plague Marines, certainly, plus some heavy support in the form of tanks and Terminators will be greatly appreciated.